WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
March 31, 2020
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)
We invite your continuing support for WDC! Contributions may be made HERE.
IN THIS ISSUE:
*Pausing to reflect on coronavirus
Pausing to reflect on coronavirus
by Heidi Regier Kreider, WDC Conference Minister
Wow, March has been a long month…or at least it feels that way! Just a month ago I attended a 100th anniversary celebration banquet for Mennonite Central Committee along with several hundred other people. Now, that kind of gathering seems unthinkable! Every day since then the coronavirus pandemic has brought changes and challenges that we never considered before: Cancellations, school closings, lay-offs and economic downturn, stay-at-home orders, daily news of suffering, death and rising numbers of COVID cases, the exhaustion of medical providers and the anguish of making hard choices about care-taking and social isolation… These are just a few of the new realities that surround us and bind us together with our global community.
As conference minister, I have been focusing on offering encouragement to pastors, gathering resources to communicate to congregations and leaders, exploring forms of financial assistance, and coordinating adjustments for WDC staff. As we prepare to enter another month of this unfolding situation, I pause a few moments to share some reflections and observations:
In a crisis, priorities shift. Hygiene and meeting basic daily needs are now our first concern. Suddenly hand sanitizer and toilet paper are scarce! Other staple supplies like flour, sugar and milk have become more precious. Garden seeds and baby chicks are in high demand for their promise of fresh vegetables and eggs in the months to come. Emotional and mental health practices are more crucial now than ever, whether that means a daily walk, listening to music, chatting with a friend (by phone/video or from a distance, of course), or just getting enough sleep. Beneath the stress and anxiety of this time, we are also feeling a lot of sadness and loss as our dreams, plans and goals have been set aside with the cancellation of church events, conferences, banquets, fund-raisers, concerts, birthday parties, graduation ceremonies, vacations, projects, travels, family visits and more. Yet, at the same time, resourcefulness abounds! Pastors and church leaders are creatively using all kinds of social media, phone calls and old-fashioned mail to connect with church members, hold Sunday school, worship together, pray for one another, and reach out to their communities. Congregations are sharing ideas and resources with each other. New gifts and talents are being realized and offered for the common good. New skills are being learned that will serve us well into the future.
On a deeper level, the coronavirus pandemic is revealing very starkly the systemic inequities that have always existed in our society. While some of us are only experiencing minor inconvenience, others among us are facing immediate crisis due to lack of dependable income, healthy food, child-care, adequate medical care, or internet connection. The pandemic also exposes our common humanity and frailty, and contradicts the myth that we are invincible and in control. While we should, of course, do all we can (please, please follow guidelines for stopping the spread of COVID-19!), we must also humbly acknowledge our human limitations and mortality. This is a time to be honest with our doubts, questions and fears – and also to affirm our hope and trust in our Creator God who enters our suffering in solidarity with us. In the same way, this crisis is a time for us to practice compassion and generosity, to share sacrificially with others, to give what we can to support those who are struggling most. It is a time to practice patience and kindness for care-providers, our families and friends, co-workers, and ourselves.
As we find our way forward in these uncertain times, may we know the deep peace of God’s care, Christ’s call to justice and compassion, and the wise guidance of the Holy Spirit.
April 5 – Pray for WDC pastors as they plan creative and meaningful ways for congregations to observe Holy Week and celebrate Easter in the midst of difficult circumstances.
April 12 – On this Easter Sunday, give thanks for God’s gift of life! Pray that WDC congregations and members will be a witness for healing and hope in the Easter season.
April 19 – Pray for WDC members who serve as chaplains, medical staff, social workers, counselors and others offering care for people experiencing illness.
April 26 – Pray for WDC pastors and congregation members facing financial stress due to the impact of coronavirus.
Due to Covid-19 concerns, all meetings of WDC Executive Board, Commissions and Committees are being held via Zoom video conference until further notice.
Apr 1 – WDC Gifts Discernment Committee meeting
Apr 3 – WDC Ministerial Leadership Commission meeting
Apr 4 – WDC Executive Board meeting
Apr 6 – WDC Staff Relations Committee meeting
Apr 15 – WDC Gifts Discernment Committee meeting
Apr 17 – Healthy Boundaries 101 Training (Zoom)
Apr 23 – Leadership Lunch (Zoom)
May 14 – WDC Church Planting Commission
May 19 – WDC Stewardship Commission meeting
May 21 – WDC Resource Commission meeting
July 31-Aug 2 – WDC Annual Assembly (Plans are being assessed and updates will be provided in April.)
Aug 25 – WDC Stewardship Commission meeting
Sept 26 – WDC Reference Council
- Due to Covid-19 concerns, the WDC office and Resource Library are closed until further notice. As staff is working from home, the best way to communicate with WDC is by email. Email addresses are listed below for your convenience, and they can also be found on our website (www.mennowdc.org/staff/).
*Kathy Neufeld Dunn, Associate Conference Minister (Kansas-Based): firstname.lastname@example.org
*Nancy Funk, Administrative Assistant: email@example.com
*Heidi Regier Kreider, Conference Minister: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Lee Lever, Interim Conference Ministry Liaison for Texas: email@example.com
*Sandra Montes-Martinez, Administrative Assistant (Texas): firstname.lastname@example.org
*Dwight Regier, Bi-Conference Youth Ministry Network Team Leader: email@example.com
*Jennie Wintermote, Resource Library Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Beth Yoder, Business Manager: email@example.com
- COVID-19 response resources:
**How does the new CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act relate to churches? On Friday, March 27, the President signed into law the CARES Act which provides financial assistance to both 501(c)(3) organizations and small businesses. This includes the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding 2 ½ months of an organization’s average monthly payroll costs (including benefits) as a loan. This loan can be forgiven if the size of the organization’s workforce remains the same in 2020 as it was in 2019. Mennonite Church USA has sent out more information about this from Vanderbloemen, a Christian staffing and search firm: Click here to see a webcast from last Friday, Mar 27. Click here for more resources.
**Eastern Mennonite Seminary is offering an Online Pastors Forum, led by Sarah Bixler, this Wednesday, April 1, at 3 pm (EDT). The spread of COVID-19 brings unprecedented challenges for congregations. Pastoral leaders are navigating their own personal transitions while scrambling to take worship services online and care for their congregants. With social distancing practices in place, how can pastors resist isolation in their ministry during this time? Now more than ever, pastoral leaders need networks of support and spaces for innovation. Join Sarah Bixler, EMS instructor in formation and practical theology, for an online facilitated conversation about the realities, challenges and innovative ideas you have for ministry during this time. Register here to receive the Zoom link:
Camp Mennoscah announcements
- Camp Mennoscah will be closed at least until April 30 with respect to your health and the statewide Stay Home order. Camp staff will be working from home and at a distance. You can reach us at 620-297-3290 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep in touch on the Camp Mennoscah Facebook page! We send you many prayers. Stay healthy!
- You can still sign up for summer youth camps! Camp Mennoscah is planning to have summer youth camps, but recognizing the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 situation, a final decision will be made closer to the start of camps. Your camp fees, including the non-refundable, non-transferable deposit, will be refunded if camp is canceled. Further information can be found at www.campmennoscah.orgor by calling 620-297-3290.
- With attention to the safety of all, our Retirees Retreat (scheduled for April 20-22) has been cancelled. It has not been determined if the retreat will be rescheduled for a later date. Take a moment over these next weeks, have a personal coffee break, remember a story about Camp Mennoscah, and know we are thinking of you.
- Men and Boys Retreat (previously scheduled for April 3-5) at Camp Mennoscah has been rescheduled to September 4-6, 2020!
- The 2020 Camp Mennoscah tee shirt contest ends April 30! We’re looking for three two-word phrases representing the important parts of Camp Mennoscah. The best combination of phrases will become our camp tee! One (generic) example would be River play, Campfire songs, Love all. Be creative! Send all your stunning ideas to email@example.com! (Or send a message to the Camp Mennoscah Facebook page.)
Mennonite church announcements
- The Mennonite, Inc., invites your original submissions for our June 2020 print magazine issue and corresponding online content focusing on Community in the face of COVID-19. https://themennonite.org/june-2020-call-submissions-community-face-covid-19/
- Don’t miss your chane to join in the work God is doing in Spain, Colombia, Arizona, Peru, Nazareth Village or Benin. Visit www.MennoniteMission.net/Serveto learn more, or contact Lauren Eash Hershberger at: LaurenEH@MennoniteMission.net today! Term: 2-3 weeks. Application deadline April 1.
- Join an international community with peers, serve with a local nonprofit, and plug into your neighborhood and local congregation. Join MVS and do work that matters. Age: 20+; term: 1-2 years. Learn more at www.MennoniteMission.net/Serve.
WDC Sprouts announcement guidelines: Announcements pertain to Western District Conference (WDC) ministries and churches, institutions with which WDC has formal relationships, and Mennonite Church USA agencies and ministries.