WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
March 28, 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)
IN THIS ISSUE:
*From the Conference Minister’s Heart
From the Conference Minister’s Heart
by Heidi Regier Kreider, Conference Minister
This is the first of three articles on WDC’s mission statement: “WDC empowers Anabaptist/Mennonite congregations to Witness and invite others to faith in Jesus Christ, Dwell in just and loving relationships, and Connect to God’s mission in the world.” Today’s article is on the theme “Witness and Invite Others to Faith in Jesus Christ.”
WDC’s three-part mission resonates with Palmer Becker’s booklet, What is an Anabaptist Christian, in which he builds on three core concepts: Jesus is the center of our faith; Community is the center of our life; Reconciliation is the center of our work.
This first concept – Jesus is the center of our faith – is foundational to our calling to witness and invite others to faith in Jesus Christ. According to Palmer Becker, putting Jesus at the center of our faith means that we follow Jesus in daily life, we interpret the Bible from a Christ-centered point of view, and we give our ultimate loyalty to Jesus as both Savior and Lord of our life. So, when we witness and invite others to faith in Jesus Christ we are inviting them to observe our life in Christ and welcoming them to join us in that life.
As I consider what it means to witness and invite others to faith in Jesus Christ, examples from the gospel come to mind.
John 1 tells about a series of people – beginning with John the Baptist – who meet Jesus, and then go tell someone else about him. One of these is Philip, whom Jesus approaches and calls to follow him. Philip then finds Nathanael and reports, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth!” Nathanael skeptically asks, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip responds, “Come and see.”
In John 4 a Samaritan woman has a transforming encounter with Jesus at the well and immediately goes back to town to tell the people of her community, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! Could this be the Messiah?”
The invitation to “come and see” is at the heart of witness. To bear witness to Jesus is to tell others about our encounter with him, and then to invite them to come, observe, and experience it for themselves.
Last year I participated in a “Come and See” learning tour of Israel/Palestine co-sponsored by Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Central Committee. Members of our tour group encountered Christ in the suffering and oppression experienced by many people, and also in the courage and hope of those working for justice and peace. We were then challenged to share our stories and pictures with others at home so that they could get a glimpse of what we had experienced, seen and heard. We offered our witness with both confidence and humility: Confidence, because this was indeed our experience and we were compelled to share about it; and humility, because we are limited in our perspectives and have so much more to learn!
True witness is not arrogant, self-righteous or coercive. It is not about manipulating someone to come to our church or persuading them to agree with our beliefs or opinions. It does not present a simplistic or false picture that avoids the real truth about the church’s imperfections and the paradoxes of our faith.
Rather, true witness is honest. It means sharing with others about our authentic encounters with Jesus, not parading before others our presumed perfection as religious people. True witness acknowledges our struggles, wounds and doubts while also proclaiming Jesus’ gifts of healing, justice and true life. It means giving an account of our hope and faith, and inviting others to join us on the journey of following Jesus.
Every congregation in WDC has numerous occasions to witness and invite others to faith in Jesus Christ. We do so when we teach children the stories of Jesus, nurture youth in becoming followers of Jesus, and accompany adults in their walk with Jesus through seasons of suffering, loss and resurrection. We bear witness to Christ when we sing songs of worship and share stories of God’s faithfulness. We strengthen the authenticity of our witness when we renew our own relationship with Christ through prayer and scripture study. We invite others to “come and see” Christ as we extend hospitality to neighbors, strangers, and even enemies. We witness to Christ’s love when we step out of the safety of our church walls to build relationships with others and seek Christ’s presence in their lives.
To witness and invite others to faith in Jesus Christ is not just the job of the pastor or the preacher or Sunday school teacher. It does not require an academic degree, elected office or paid position. To share the gifts and good news that we have received in Christ is the vocation of every follower of Jesus, and the calling of every congregation!
April 2 – Pray for immigrants and refugees within WDC congregations and communities, and for congregations seeking faithful response to their needs and concerns.
April 9 – Pray for the WDC Annual Assembly planning team as they prepare for our annual gathering August 4-6 in Dallas, TX.
April 16 (Easter) – Give thanks for all WDC congregations as they witness and invite others to faith in Jesus Christ, whose resurrection we celebrate today!
April 23 – Pray for God’s wisdom and grace to surround WDC participants gathering this Saturday for a resourcing event on congregational ministry in the face of sexual abuse and domestic violence.
April 30 – Pray for WDC pastors and chaplains, that they would sense the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit as they provide leadership within their congregations, communities and other organizations.
March 30 (7 pm) – Meeting on immigration and refugee concerns
April 18 – WDC Church Planting Commission meeting
April 20 – Kansas Leadership Center Brown Bag Lunch & Mini Retreat, Dyck Arboretum, Hesston KS
April 29 – Congregational Resourcing Event: Congregational Ministry in the face of Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence, First Mennonite Church, Hutchinson, KS
May 6 – WDC Executive Board meeting
May 23 – WDC Chaplains breakfast
June 8 – WDC Resource Commission meeting
July 11 – WDC Executive Board meeting
Aug 4-6 – WDC Annual Assembly, Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Arlington DFW South, Texas
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org). Refreshments provided!
- 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/
- Western District Women in Mission is pleased to announce a significant event they are bringing to central Kansas. Sister Care: Level 2 “Going Deeper” week-end retreat (a program of Mennonite Women USA) led by Carolyn Heggen and Rhoda Keener will be offered May 5-7 at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kansas. Complete the attached registration form and email it to Darlene at email@example.com or send it to her at the address given on the form. We encourage you to register soon as space is limited. A brochure is also attached to tell you more about the retreat. The retreat will include new material while building on the core concepts from the original Sister Care seminar. (Prerequisite: Attend Sister Care Level 1 seminar or view Sister Care DVD and read manual.)
- Western District Women in Mission (WDWM) has a new Treasurer this year. Please send your contributions to: Darlene Powers, 116 SW 9th St., Newton, KS 67114. A contribution form is attached. (Church Offices – please pass this information along to your women’s group treasurer.)
Camp Mennoscah announcements
- 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!
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 620-297-3290. Being at Camp Mennoscah is fun!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 email@example.com or share them with us in person or at 620-297-3290!
- 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
- AMBS volunteer coordinator sought, beginning August 2017. Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana, is seeking a qualified individual or couple to coordinate the work of our short-term and local volunteers, connecting them with assignments from faculty and staff. If you like to work with people, have excellent communication and computer skills, and are well organized, please consider this volunteer assignment for a one-year, renewable term. The position opens August 1; the start date is negotiable. For more information, contact Jewel Gingerich Longenecker: firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-296-6222.
- Rooted and Grounded: A conference on land and Christian discipleship: April 20-22 at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana. Imagine and embody alternative ways of relating to the land that cultivate shalom between human beings, the rest of creation and God. This three-day event will weave together worship, theology, biblical study and praxis. Keynote speakers: Sarah Augustine, Dr. Stanley Saunders and Todd Wynward. Cost $100/standard, $25/students. ambs.edu/rootedandgrounded
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117
316-283-6300; FAX: 316-283-0620