WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
May 19, 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:
by Kathy Neufeld Dunn, WDC Associate Conference Minister (Kansas-Based)
“16 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. 17 Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”
This seems like a good parable to consider in this day and time. What is the “new wine” that God is calling us to put into new wineskins? Maybe another way to ask this question is, “What is God trying to teach us right now?”
Sometimes we think that the new wine and old wineskins were a way for Jesus to refer to out-moded religious structures. Maybe. But, what if when Jesus was talking about wineskins, he was talking about those who are more or less willing to be taught? Are we willing to be stretched, and how far, by God’s word?
In this complicated time, what are the lessons that God has been trying to teach us about what to grab hold of, what to gently hold onto, and what to let go of? What are God’s lessons for you and your congregation about how to show compassion and service? About how to share the good news with others? About how to continue to shape disciples of all ages? About how to worship? About how to be followers of Jesus in this time and place? What are the crucial pieces of faith in action today?
I don’t claim to have all the answers. What I do hope is that we don’t waste this opportunity that God has given us. What can we learn from the past couple of months about who God is and who we are being called to be? I encourage you to ask these difficult questions about identity and faith practice. Ask them in your small groups, among your congregational leadership, or as a whole church.
If we don’t even discuss the questions, I fear that we will attempt to pour new wine into old wineskins in the days ahead. If we do take them seriously, we may be stretched. Some of us may be willing to be stretched more than others and that’s okay. It doesn’t always feel comfortable to be stretched, but it may lead to some unexpected gifts that we will have to offer for the sake of the kingdom of God.
by Kathy Neufeld Dunn, WDC Associate Conference Minister (Kansas-Based)
“16 Nadie remienda un vestido viejo con un paño de tela nueva, porque la tela nueva estira la tela vieja, y la rotura se hace peor. 17 Ni tampoco se echa vino nuevo en odres viejos, porque el vino nuevo revienta los odres, y entonces el vino se derrama y los odres se echan a perder. Más bien, el vino nuevo debe echarse en odres nuevos, y tanto lo uno como lo otro se conserva juntamente.”
Esto parece una buena parábola para considerar en este día y hora. ¿Cuál es el “vino nuevo” que Dios nos llama a poner en odres nuevos? Quizás otra forma de hacer esta pregunta es: “¿Qué está tratando de enseñarnos Dios ahora?”
A veces pensamos que el vino nuevo y los odres viejos eran una forma de que Jesús se refiriera a estructuras religiosas anticuadas. Tal vez. Pero, ¿qué si cuando Jesús hablaba de odres, hablaba de aquellos que están más o menos dispuestos a ser enseñados? ¿Estamos dispuestos a estar estirados, y hasta dónde, por la palabra de Dios?
En este tiempo complicado, ¿cuáles son las lecciones que Dios ha estado tratando de enseñarnos sobre qué guardar, a qué guardamos ligeramente y a qué dejar ir? ¿Cuáles son las lecciones de Dios para usted y su congregación sobre cómo mostrar compasión y servicio? ¿Sobre cómo compartir las buenas noticias con otros? ¿Sobre cómo seguir formando discípulos de todas las edades? ¿Sobre cómo adorar? ¿Sobre cómo ser seguidores de Jesús en este tiempo y lugar? ¿Cuáles son las piezas cruciales de fe en acción hoy?
No pretendo tener todas las respuestas. Lo que sí espero es que no desperdiciemos esta oportunidad que Dios nos ha dado. ¿Qué podemos aprender de los últimos meses sobre quién es Dios y lo que nos estamos llamando a ser? Los animo a que hagan estas preguntas difíciles sobre la identidad y la práctica de la fe. Pregúntense en sus grupos pequeños, entre su liderazgo congregacional o como una iglesia entera.
Si ni siquiera discutimos estas preguntas, me temo que intentemos a poner vino nuevo en odres viejos en los próximos días. Si las tomamos en serio, podríamos estirarnos. Algunos de nosotros podemos estar dispuestos a estirarnos más que otros y eso está bien. No siempre se siente cómodo estar estirado, pero puede dar lugar a algunos regalos y dones inesperados que tendremos que ofrecer por el bien del reino de Dios.
- WDC Office Reopening:The Western District Conference office has plans to reopen to the public when Kansas enters Phase 3 of the state reopening plan (currently no sooner than June 15). Visitor protocols will include wearing a mask and social distancing.
- Resource Library Reopening: We’re working on plans to reopen the WDC Resource Library. In order to protect library patrons, WDC staff, and recognizing limited library staff hours, we will be reopening with curbside checkout when Kansas enters phase 3 of the reopening plan (no earlier than June 15). You can reserve items through our online catalog anytimeat https://mennowdc.booksys.net/opac/crl/ Once the library is open for curbside checkout, these items will be pulled and available during pickup hours . In order to reserve items, you will need to log on with your library barcode number (please email the library if you need your library card number). You are also welcome to email Library Director, Jennie, at email@example.com in order to reserve items. Jennie is also happy to offer suggestions for individual study, children’s story, group discussion and other resourcing needs. Our Book Bundle for Group Study, Box of Books (bulk loans for churches) and service via the US Mail will resume when Kansas enters phase 3 as well. In the meantime, visit the library website at mennowdc.org/library to view currently available digital resources, information on the summer reading program (coming soon!) and the summer story hour for children (coming soon!)
- The Conference Resource Library now has its own FaceBook page. Like and follow WDC Resource Libraryto see what’s new in the library, how to access resources, giveaways, and more!
- A message from Rainbow Mennonite Church in Kansas City, KS: We know many in WDC have connections with us through our 43 years of MVS involvement. Please enjoy this short article and accompanying video documenting this history and what it means to close our MVS unit. https://www.mennonitemission.net/news/Kansas-City-MVS-unit-celebrates-a-43-year-history
- Gaza Needs Food!! According to the United Nations 2018 Socio-Economic Food Security survey 68%, about 1.3 million people in Gaza are “food insecure”. Gaza already had some of the highest unemployment in the world at 52% which has increased with the onset of COVID-19. In response, MennoPIN (Mennonite Palestine Israel Network) and WDC Israel-Palestine Task Force are working with the Youth Vision Society in Gaza to raise $37,000 to feed the poorest of families. Please consider making a donation to the Hand to Hand project through the Middle Eastern Children’s Alliance (MECA) at https://secure.everyaction.com/JkiApGXBskq8WNeoIrDQ7w2. A $75 donation provides food for a family for 2 weeks. See attached pictures.
Camp Mennoscah announcements
- This summer, Camp Mennoscah is committed to sharing the camp community and God’s love with you through videos, a Camp in a Box, and/or activities posted online. We hope you will connect with Camp Mennoscah in these ways! The videos and activities posted online will be free. A Camp in a Box will contain a camp tee shirt, crafts, activities, devotions, and nature fun. A box will cost $40; a tee shirt alone will be the usual prices of $11/$16. Boxes and tee shirts are available to anyone of any age! To order a Camp in a Box or a tee shirt, go to www.campmennoscah.organd click on Register Online at the top of the page or contact Camp Mennoscah at 620-297-3290. Orders accepted until June 3. After June 3, please contact Camp Mennoscah.
- It is with both appreciation and sadness that the Camp Mennoscah Board of Directors announces the resignation of Michael Unruh from the position of Executive Director, effective July 1, 2020. In a statement, Michael shared, “I am grateful for each staff person and board member who has worked tirelessly to develop camp’s ministry, and the hundreds of camp supporters I have had the privilege of getting to know.” Michael will begin as Campus Pastor at Bethel College this summer. In the interim period, the Camp Mennoscah Staff and Board of Directors will continue to fulfill camp’s mission by providing space and programs for people of all ages to connect with God, nature, others, and self. Full statement can be found at campmennoscah.org.
- In the midst of the cancellation of in-person summer youth camps, you still have some great opportunities to support the mission of Camp Mennoscah!
- By praying for the staff, volunteers, and campers to find creative ways to connect with one another this summer.
- By making a general fund gift to support creative summer connection content and to sustain camp operations. Maybe even a little extra this year, if you are able to do so!
- By encouraging others to remain involved in camp’s ministry.
- It is a blessing to have your support during this unique year! If you have questions about giving options, please contact Michael Unruh at 620-382-6560 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Camp Mennoscah is open to a limited number of individuals and families. Reservations must be made in advance. Contact Camp Mennoscah at 620-297-3290 for further information. We are excited to make this sacred space available to you!
Mennonite church announcements
- The first webinar of the “Adaptive Church Webinar Series” by MennoMedia – “Preaching to the Screen: Sharing the Good News Online in the Age of COVID-19” is now publicly accessible. View on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2642438216025869&utm_content=705490a7903f59eee8f782410c8efe14&utm_campaign=Preaching%20to%20the%20Screen%3A%20Recording%20Information&utm_source=Robly.com&utm_medium=emailOR view on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaozDSQhp80&feature=youtu.be&utm_content=705490a7903f59eee8f782410c8efe14&utm_campaign=Preaching+to+the+Screen%3A+Recording+Information&utm_source=Robly.com&utm_medium=email.
The next installment of the series “Pastoring From a Distance – Offering Pastoral Care While Practicing Social Distancing”, will be moderated by David Augsburger, professor emeritus of pastoral Care and Counseling at Fuller School of Theology and bestselling author of numerous books on pastoral care, on June 11 at 2 pm E.T. Contact email@example.com to register. (At a time when many of us feel the need for increased levels of spiritual support, pastors and congregations are no longer able to practice traditional forms of face-to-face pastoral care due to COVID-19. How can we be present to each other spiritually when we are physically distant? How might we provide spiritual accompaniment for those experiencing fear, anxiety, grief, and death? MennoMedia’s Leader magazine will host a panel discussion with Anabaptist pastors and church leaders to unpack practical advice as well as theological considerations for providing pastoral care while practicing social distancing. Join us!)
- Mennonite Central Committee Flatlander Bicycle Ride: The planning committee is going ahead with plans for the 2020 Flatlander ride to be held on September 19. More information about this event can be found at: https://mcc.org/get-involved/events/mcc-flatlander-bicycle-ride. We are currently looking for additional people to help on the planning committee, and also for individuals or groups to help us with the SAGs (refreshment stops) on the various bike routes. If you are interested in helping or have questions, please call Donna at 316-727-6346 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to see you there.
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.