March 21, 2017

A weekly communication for:

WDC Churches and Pastors

WDC Executive Board, Commission, Committee and Task Force members

Any content may be used in bulletins and newsletters and

 forwarded to congregational leaders and members.

WDC Sprouts is also available at:  www.mennowdc.org (Publications)


*A Get Together in my House


A Get Together in my House

     by Byron Pellecer, WDC Associate Conference Minister (Texas-Based)

After a long day of traveling, I needed to stop by a grocery store and purchase some food. Right next to the black beans aisle there was Hector, a store employee who was replenishing the shelves. As I reached for a specific brand that this store carries, Guatemalan beans, Hector and I greeted and introduced ourselves.

The young lad noticed that I pulled several cans of beans and then he asked: “What is so special about these beans?” I hesitated for a few seconds but then I shared that it reminded me of both my family and my birth place.

We engaged in a conversation that went on for at least half an hour. He also shared with me about his family and the challenges they were currently facing. After I offered a few words of encouragement, he asked about my religious background and I took that opportunity to briefly share about it.

As I reflected on this experience, I concluded that God will create the conditions for us Christians to share about our faith journey. It seems that God does not just want us to get acquainted with people, he wants us to meet them, and love them too.

Reading Levi’s conversion and discipleship call experience in the account of Luke 5:27-32, one can notice that in his response he does not show any hesitation to follow Jesus. He got up, he left everything immediately and then he followed him. To top it off, Levi threw a get-together party!

Pathak in The Art of Neighboring asserts that “Jesus didn’t tell us to become acquaintances with neighbors; he called us to love them.”  However, to be acquainted with another person, one needs to establish some form of connection. After one learns and remembers that person’s name, then one is ready to move into building a relationship. Consequently, learning to love someone does not happen overnight, it takes time.

I believe that loving our neighbors, the persons next to us, starts with having an actual relationship with them regardless of the physical, political, religious, racial and immigration status. This call to love implies concrete actions and it is not a utopia, a Sunday worship speech or a round table discussion, just to name a few.

It is impossible to love someone without establishing a relationship. Let us take Jesus’ example. He attended parties to move from getting acquainted to building relationships with people. It seems to be that getting together is so powerful.

Levi kind of knew this; he invited Jesus and his followers to a house party, to a get together movement, so to speak.

Among the attendees to the party, we find a large crowd of tax collectors, Pharisees, and teachers of the law in addition to Jesus and his followers.

One can only imaging the type of conversations and the friction in this gathering. Perhaps for some people this ambiance was very uncomfortable.  After all, they were associating with individuals that looked, lived, and believed differently.

More importantly, is the fact that Levi created the perfect environment for people to interact and connect with Jesus.

As we follow Jesus, we are challenged to be open to connect with people despite the uncomfortable situations that we might find ourselves in. Inviting people to our own turf and terms is not enough.  We need to be willing to enter another people’s world too.

In summary, it is in the midst of getting together with other people that we create a good atmosphere for them to become followers of Christ and for a good friendship.

WDC announcements

  1. Ministry to refugees & immigrants – WDC is facilitating a meeting on March 30 at 7 pm for congregations who are involved in or wish to be involved in ministries to refugees and/or immigrants. Local persons in the Newton, KS area can gather in the WDC office, and those from a distance who want to participate can request a video conference link for this meeting (contact wdc@mennowdc.org). Refreshments provided!
  1. Jewish and Palestinian Voices for Peace KS Tour – In preparation for this summer’s Israel-Palestine resolution in Orlando, join in conversation exploring diverse views on Israel-Palestine and prospects for peace in the current political climate. Laura Tillem, a local representative of Jewish Voice for Peace, will dialogue with Jonathan Kuttab, a Mennonite Palestinian human rights lawyer.  This tour is sponsored by Mennonite Church USA and Western District, along with local funding.  Freewill offerings will be received at each public event:

Ap 17  – 7 pm, Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church, 655 S Lorraine Ave, Wichita, KS

Ap 18  – 7 pm, Bethel College Chapel, Administration Bldg, North Newton, KS

Ap 19  – 11 am, Bethel College Chapel

–   7 pm, Ecumenical Campus Ministry, 904 Sunset, Manhattan, KS

  1. Self Care Lunch & Mini Retreat: Thursday, April 20, 12-3 pm, all ministering people are invited to the Dyck Arboretum Pavilion, 177 W Hickory St, Hesston, KS for the WDC’s next Kansas Leadership Center Competencies Lunch and mini retreat (flyer attached).  Take care of yourself.  Come for a catered bierocks lunch (provided by WDC KLC Fund), discuss “self care,” then practice it through worship and prayer, walking the nature paths at the Arboretum, or even a massage ($15 charge).  Bring your Bible and journal.  The lunch can be made vegan, if requested, but not gluten-free.  Please feel free to bring your own lunch if you need this option.  Please RSVP by April 5 to wdc@mennowdc.org.  Please indicate if you need vegan option or will bring your own lunch.  Thank you.
  1. Kansas Leadership Center training spots in 2017 are still available to WDC congregational leaders and members through a grant received by WDC, but sessions are filling up fast! To apply for one of these spots in a KLC programs and for more information on how you can take advantage of this tremendous opportunity to expand your leadership skills, contact WDC soon.  KLC is located in Wichita, KS. For more information on their training programs see http://kansasleadershipcenter.org
  1. Congregational Ministry in the Face of Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence – On April 29, congregational leaders and pastors are invited to First Mennonite Church, Hutchinson, KS for a day-long workshop on how congregational leaders can respond when abuse takes place that affects the broader congregation. Sponsored by WDC, Kathryn Goering Reid, a credentialed minister and Executive Director of Family Abuse Center, Waco, TX, will be our seminar leader. We will explore scenarios where the abuse takes place beyond or within the context of your congregation. We will consider how to respond when both the perpetrator and victim are members of the same congregation, neither are minors, and neither is a credentialed pastoral leader.  There will be other scenarios when only the victim or perpetrator is a church member, but the ministry implications are still complicated for all involved.  For example, what can a deacon do when he or she learns that a church member is abusing another adult? How can the church board respond if a board member’s spouse suddenly goes to a domestic violence shelter?   What can or can’t we say publicly in times of crisis?  How do we balance the needs of victims and survivors of abuse, and still be a place for sinners in need of repentance and restoration?  What if the abuser is not repentant?  We will look at theological responses and explore possible models and appropriate actions. Together we will look at models that have worked in some congregations and suggest actions that will help a congregation work through these complex situations.  Congregations can register your attendees together for the group rate of $100.  You may also register individually for $30 per person.  Online registration is available at:  www.mennowdc.org/congregational-ministry-in-the-face-of-sexual-abuse-and-domestic-violence/
  1. Calling all college students/young adults! Rainbow Mennonite Church in Kansas City, KS, hosts a summer enrichment program and we are looking for interns. This will be an eight week internship with a stipend, great for education majors or people interested in working with children/youth! For more information and to apply click here.
  1. Resources for pastors and church leaders: Consider subscribing to Alban Weekly at https://alban.org/about-alban/alban-weekly/ and Congregational Consulting Group at http://www.congregationalconsulting.org/perspectives/ to receive regular e-mails with helpful articles on ministry and church leadership. Recent articles address topics such as clergy wellness and mental health, creative ways to consider church closings, lament, politics, change, planning for the future, parenting and pastoring, politics, millennials, faith-based community organizing, and more.

Camp Mennoscah announcements

  1. Have you registered for Camp Mennoscah? Summer Youth Camps are right around the corner and we want to see you!  #BringAFriend with you who has never been to camp before, and you will both receive a free tee shirt.  Go online to campmennoscah.org to register!
  1. You are needed! Camp Mennoscah is looking for kitchen staff for our summer youth camps.  Kitchen staff are people with big hearts, smiling faces, and the ability to follow directions.  It’s not a big deal if you aren’t the world’s best cook.  We have a head cook to lead you in making wonderful meals for our youth campers!  Weeks available are June 11-17, June 25-29, and July 9-13 with only a smattering of spots for other weeks.  Contact us at olivia.bartel@campmennoscah.org or 620-297-3290.  Being at Camp Mennoscah is fun!
  1. Camp Mennoscah invites all you fun folks to our Retirees Relaxation Retreat, April 24-26! Our theme this year is “Believe It or Not–Stories of Our Lives.”  We’ll hear stories of courage, great journeys, and amazing things.  Amanda Rempel will lead us in music and Stan & Marlene Smucker will lead us in devotions.  Pick up a brochure at your church or contact us at 620-297-3290.  Brochures can also be found at www.campmennoscah.org under Retreats.
  1. Gather with Camp Mennoscah in community on Monday, April 3rd from 5:30 – 8:30 pm! We welcome all ages of camp folks to Mojo’s Coffee Bar for an evening full of conversation and laughter, all while supporting local business. Let us know you are coming on Facebook or join us whenever you decide!  We will be collecting name suggestions for the cabin throughout the evening and maybe singing some, too.
  1. Name the new cabin! Camp Mennoscah is now taking suggestions for the name of the new boys’ cabin.  We would like to have names that connect with our other boys’ cabins, which are Horseshoe, Waspnest, Sunrise, and Waldorf.  Send your suggestions to office@campmennoscah.org or share them with us in person or at 620-297-3290!
  1. We are putting in the dam! Come to Camp Mennoscah on Sunday, April 9th around 2:30 pm to help us prepare the river for the summer.  Both spectators and helpers are welcome!  Meet at the sports shack for instructions. The dam will go in regardless of the weather, unless it is unsafe to do so.  We’ll see you there!

Mennonite church announcements

  1. Bethel College seeks candidates for President. Nominations and/or letters of application with CV or resume may be submitted to Bethel College Presidential Search Committee at: pressearch@bethelks.edu or mail to:  Bethel College Presidential Search Committee, 300 E. 27th St., North Newton, Kansas 67117.  Candidates from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply.  Bethel College is an equal opportunity affirmative action educator/employer.  More information at: https://www.bethelks.edu/why-bethel/people/career-opportunities/current-position-openings/#president.
  1. Youth pastors and youth workers – Network with other area youth pastors/workers in a lunch Youth Ministry Symposium hosted by Hesston College and resourced by Bible and Ministry instructor Michele Hershberger. With a background in youth ministry, Michele has taught Bible classes at Hesston since 2000. Prior to coming to Hesston, she served as Conference Youth Minister for the Pacific Northwest Conference of the Mennonite Church, and youth pastor at Zion Mennonite Church in Hubbard, Ore. Michele is the author or co-author of four books, including The Bible as Story, the textbook for Hesston’s Biblical Literature class co-authored with Marion Bontrager and John Sharp.

Youth Ministry Symposium at Hesston College

Date: Tuesday, April 18, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Location: Sauder Rooms, Bontrager Student Center, Hesston College

Theme: What is our purpose?

We will gather for lunch and then a discussion based on Luke 4:16-30. We will do Lectio Divina on this scripture and then discuss these questions:

What is the purpose of youth ministry?

How are we seen as “Joseph’s son?”

How is our purpose misunderstood?

The Nazareth crowd didn’t like the idea of God-loving Gentiles. Who are the Gentiles in our situations?

What new conversions do we need? What new conversions do our churches need?

RSVP by Friday, April 14 to Dallas Stutzman, director of Church Relations, at dallas.stutzman@hesston.edu, 620-327-8110 or 866-437-7866.

  1. You are invited to pray for the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board as it meets March 30-April 1 in Kansas City, MO, to worship, discern and care for the business of the church.
  1. Want to learn more about Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary but can’t make it to our Elkhart, IN, campus? Connect with us at the Seminary and Theological School Virtual Fair on March 29.  The fair is a free online event where you can interact with faculty, students and admissions staff.  Register today to get answers to your questions.  ambs.edu/visit
  1. Transforming Congregational Conflict and Communication: April 12-May 23.  Explore the possibilities and pitfalls of courageously engaging in differences within congregational life in this online, six-week short course offered by the Church Leadership Center of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary.  Instructor:  Betty Pries, CMed, MTS, Ph.D. candidate.  Cost:  $200 up to March 22; $250 after March 22.  CEUs available.  ambs.edu/shortcourses
  1. AMBS webinar: Intercultural Leadership in Diversity-Oriented Churches:  Thursday, March 23, 2-3:30 pm EDT.  In this interactive webinar, A. Brian Leander, Ph.d., will introduce the concept of “cultural intelligence” and share findings from cultural intelligence research to help leaders who want to learn more about how they can enhance and support diversity in congregational and organizational life.  This webinar is an offering of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary’s Church Leadership Center.  Cost:  $20 by noon on March 22; $30 after.  Your first AMBS webinar is free of charge!  ambs.edu/webinars
  1. Call for submissions: Mennonite Church USA at age 15 – In 2017, Mennonite Church USA celebrated the 15th anniversary of the merger between the old Mennonite Church and the General Conference Mennonite Church to form MC USA.  In other words, MC USA turned 15 years old.  The May issue of The Mennonite magazine will feature reflections on the last 15 years for this denomination and where we’re headed.  The Mennonite, Inc. incites short 200-300 word reflections on one or more of the following questions, to be published alongside the larger reflections in the May issue.  Please send your reflections, along with a picture of yourself and a one sentence bio statement to:  editor@themennonite.org by Monday, March 27.

What has Mennonite Church USA meant for you or your congregation and conference?

What hopes do you have for the future of MC USA?

Where do you see the church heading?

What stories stand out for you from the last 15 years?


Western District Conference

2517 North Main, PO Box 306

North Newton KS  67117

316-283-6300; FAX:  316-283-0620

Email:  wdc@mennowdc.org

Website:  www.mennowdc.org