May 16, 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 Witnessing and Multicultural Experience


A Witnessing and Multicultural Experience

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

As I visit our established and emerging congregations in Western District Conference, I find myself praying a simple, respectful, and honest prayer: “LORD, help me to see you at work in this community of faith and in this neighborhood.”

 I try to be alert to the movement of the Holy Spirit and how He leads us to be healthy missional churches and how much we allow Him to work in and through us.

Through Scripture, especially the book of Acts, in both personal and communal experience, one notices how the Holy Spirit moves and leads people and congregations to be missional, to reach out beyond the four walls of the church buildings.

I am both challenged and inspired with Phillip and the Ethiopian narrative of Acts 8:26-40. I would like to think of this interaction as both an evangelistic and witnessing approach and as a multicultural experience.

Contrary to contemporary thought, the Ethiopian here is not to be taken as the target of mission simply because of the color of his skin nor is he to be considered a despised or deprived person. Quite the opposite, this person was a powerful court official and prominent man. Yet, he was also receptive to the message of the Gospel.

In the accounts of Luke, the eunuch despite of his influence and power, is unable to understand Scripture and yet, he is open and willing to beseech Phillip to interpret the text that he is reading. It seems to be that he has many questions about the Word of God. Once his “inquisitiveness” was satisfied, he experienced repentance, conversion, and baptism.

But the story does not end with the baptism of this Ethiopian. One cannot leave out another important detail here; the fact that Phillip was willing to hear and follow the instructions of the Holy Spirit in one of the most contradictory situations. He was asked to go to the desert and join a person who was reading Scripture.

Intriguing is also the fact that, according to this narrative, neither the angel nor the Spirit explained the Scripture to the eunuch; this duty was reserved for Phillip – the Church – it was and still is reserved for Christ’s followers.

Knowledge of Scripture, obedience and guidance of the Holy Spirit marked Phillip’s witnessing. God will find the way and the vessel to make himself known to the world.

The challenge for WDC is just the same. From the corners of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, we are called and sent by God to witness to Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, whether we look alike or not, the call is just the same, to join God’s redemptive work.

WDC Announcements

(Attn churches, please run this announcement in your May 21 and 28 bulletins.) The WDC Annual Assembly will be August 4-6 in Arlington, TX.  A bus may be chartered from the Newton, KS area, the cost of which would be dependent upon the number of passengers. Please let us know BY MAY 30 if you have interest in traveling to Assembly by bus.  A bus will only be chartered if enough interest is expressed, so it is important that you let us know!  Thanks!

Leadership Lunch! Our next Leadership Lunch (bring your own sack lunch) is scheduled for this Thursday, May 18 from 12-1:30pm at the WDC offices. Each month, we are discussing a different Kansas Leadership Center (KLC) competency and how it relates to scripture, Anabaptist theology and practice, and our own areas of ministry. Thus far this year, we have reflected on: “Take the temperature,” “Raise the heat,” “Speak to loss,” and “Take care of yourself.” This month, we will focus on “Identify who needs to do the work.” All pastors and ministry leaders from both WDC and SCC are welcome even if you haven’t attended a KLC training or one of the previous Leadership Lunches. We hope that these lunches will encourage and empower each of us to exercise more leadership for the common good in our churches and communities. If you have questions, please contact Kathy Neufeld Dunn (kathynd@mennowdc.org), Rachel Siemens (rsiemens@sbcglobal.net) or Phil Schmidt (pschmidt@tabormennnonite.org).

(Churches near Newton, please put this announcement in your May 21 and 28 bulletins. Thanks!)  Children ages 3-8 are invited to Summer Story Hour at the WDC Resource Library June 14 through July 26 (not July 5).  Register TODAY (space is limited*) at https://goo.gl/forms/kQwNSzl9Bw8rr1q03 or by emailing/calling the library crlib@mennowdc.org or 316-283-6300.  Due to limited space, children should be able to attend at least 4 of the 6 weeks offered.

Digging for Treasure: Parables Revealed is the summer 2017 Vacation Bible School curriculum (available at mennomedia.org).  The WDC Resource Library has most of the books suggested to go along with the curriculum.  Contact the library (crlib@mennowdc.org; 316-283-6300) to reserve books for your week of VBS.

Share your congregation’s story! As part of WDC’s 125th anniversary in 2017, congregations are invited to share stories of their history to post on the WDC website.  Check out the stories already posted, at https://mennowdc.org/congregation-history-stories/.  To submit your congregation’s story, go to https://mennowdc.org/wdcs-125-year-anniversary-is-in-2017/ where you will find several questions to respond to. This ongoing project provides one way for us to learn more about each other’s congregations, and be inspired to live faithfully in the future.

Two distinguished scientists will be coming to Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church, Goessel, KS, to speak and present their findings on their research and its connection to Mennonites. Dr. Michael Crawford of the University of Kansas has been since 1979 collaborating with the Mennonite communities of Kansas on biological aging and the history of Alexanderwohl.  He has published a book entitled “Different Seasons: Biological Aging among the Mennonites of the Midwestern United States.”  The Mennonite communities because of their past histories and unique life styles offer a unique opportunity to determine causes of complex diseases.   Dr. Francis McMahon, who has conducted research on the genetics of depression and schizophrenia will be visiting Kansas.  He is Chief of the Human Genetics Branch of the National Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD.  He is a highly distinguished physician, psychiatrist with specialties in risk for mood and anxiety disorders, methods of diagnosis and treatment. He has identified and mapped genes associated with bipolar disorders and schizophrenia. Dr. McMahon will give an address and explain his research and clinical diagnoses of mood disorders.  The public is invited to attend on Sunday, May 21, 7 pm for this free lecture.

Camp Mennoscah announcements

Bring a Friend to Camp Mennoscah! We have EIGHT wonderful weeks of camp for you to share with your friend or neighbor.  Our theme this summer is Branching Out: Connecting Through Christ.  We’ll be looking at how “branching out” is a way to make new friends and learn more about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  Register online at campmennoscah.org!  Scholarships are available.  Contact us at 620-297-3290 or olivia.bartel@campmennoscah.org.

Two by Two! Camp Mennoscah is looking for two kitchen volunteers for July 16-22 and two for July 30-August 4.  No great skills are needed, just a kind and willing heart and the ability to follow directions.  Questions?  Contact us at 620-297-3290 or olivia.bartel@campmennoscah.org.  We’d like to add you to our Noah’s Ark of amazingly fun camp people!

Looking down the Road! Camp Mennoscah has some summer events that aren’t summer youth camps.  Our Family Weekend is July 29-30 and our Young Adult Weekend is August 4-6.  Check out the information at campmennoscah.org under Retreats or call us at 620-297-3290!

Mennonite church announcements

Join a ministry of hospitality and compassion in Germany with Journey International. Germany has taken in more than a million refugees from all over the Middle East in the past few years, and local Mennonite congregations have been actively extending welcome and hospitality to them. There are only two spots left – find out more and sign up today at www.MennoniteMission.net/JourneyInternational, or contact SharonN@MennoniteMission.net.

Mennonite Church USA Archives is hosting an open house on Thursday, June 1, from 2-4 pm, at its new location in Elkhart (3145 Benham Ave, Suite 1, Elkhart, IN 46517). A short dedication program will take place at 3 pm. Come join us as we dedicate the new space and celebrate the many people whose service and generosity have sustained the work of the archives for the last 80 years. All are welcome to attend!

Attending the 2017 Convention in Orlando? The convention planning office has arranged discounts at Orlando-area attractions.  Visit:  mennolove.orlandomeetinginfo.com.

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