May 8, 2018

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)


* 15 Puzzle and Ministry Transitions


15 Puzzle and Ministry Transitions

     by Kathy Neufeld Dunn, WDC Associate Conference Minister (Kansas-Based)

When I was young, I had a “15 Puzzle.”  It was a plastic square with three rows of four square tiles each, plus a row of three with one blank space.  On each tile, was a number from one to fifteen, hence the name “15 Puzzle.”  The object of this puzzle was to move the tiles around on the square until all of the jumbled numbers were in order.  (See attached picture.)

Why am I reflecting on a childhood puzzle?  This has become a metaphor for the ministry I do with departing pastors, Search Committees, transitional ministers, and pastoral candidates.  It’s a fairly simple object lesson of all of the sometimes complicated moving parts of pastoral and congregational transitions.  This process includes helping the congregation and pastor who is leaving say goodbye to each other in healthy ways, putting a potential interim or transitional minister in contact with the church chair, orienting pastoral Search Committees to their work, forwarding pastoral candidates’ Ministerial Leadership Information (MLI) forms to Search Committees, and listening to the needs and hopes of numerous pastoral candidates inside and outside of Western District Conference.

I find this work fascinating, and once in a while, like the 15 Puzzle, quite challenging, as well.  This work is not linear, and it can’t be.  Many of these transitional tasks are happening simultaneously, with one congregation’s Search Committee discussing multiple pastoral candidates at once, while pastors in search processes are in conversation with more than one congregation at a time, as well.  Multiple, moving parts of complex discernment processes continue, sometimes for months at a time.

Unlike a child’s puzzle, however, it is so much more than just my (and Heidi and Byron’s) attempts to bring order to seeming chaos.  I trust that the Holy Spirit is in the midst of each congregational transitional discernment process.  As each step falls into place—the congregation and departing pastor celebrate the ways they helped each other grow and develop and release each other, a transitional pastor agrees to offer this unique and vital ministry to a particular congregation for a brief time, and finally a particular pastoral candidate and congregation say yes to ministering together in the coming years—there is a sense of peace and rightness.  There is holy affirmation that prayer and discernment on the pastor’s and the congregation’s part that this mutual “yes” will be the first step in a fruitful ministry partnership for years to come.

For those congregations and pastors currently in transition, trust that I (and Heidi and Byron) am holding you in prayer and supporting you.  For those pastors and congregations who are anticipating such a change soon, know that there are best practices for how to navigate these shifts, and that you will not face them alone.  Then, in God’s own good time, all of the pieces will fall into place.

WDC announcements

  1. “Mustard Seed” Grants!  Want to have a community concert and invite your neighbors?  Want to send neighborhood kids to Camp Mennoscah, then invite them to Wednesday night Kids Club to learn more about Jesus?  Maybe you have other ideas about how to connect with neighbors and friends, but the church budget is tight.   An offering was received at the WDC Year of Evangelism Kick Off in January 2018.  Resource Commission matched these funds and now has some grant money to offer to Western District congregations who have great ideas for how to share the good news of Jesus in new and creative ways, but no seed money.  Several grants of $250 each will be awarded.  Check out the Mustard Seed grant application at https://mennowdc.org/mustard-seed-grants/.  It’s quick. It’s simple, but there are a few criteria.  Resource Commission would love to see and support your ideas for creative evangelism in your area!  Like a mustard seed, maybe a tiny idea will sprout into something bigger than we can imagine with the Holy Spirit’s tending. So, pray, plan, and apply!
  2. Courageous steps into evangelism:  What steps has your congregation taken to share the good news during this Year of Evangelism?  Have your studied a book together?  Discussed new ideas for how to reach out to your neighbors?  Told stories of God’s goodness as practice for sharing them with those who need to know God’s love?  Planned how to integrate sharing the good news of Jesus with service projects you already do?  Do you want to encourage others?  Send a brief update to Nancy, Byron or Kathy and we’ll put it up on the WDC Facebook page.
  3. Does your church need dinner plates (approx 250), glasses (249 various sizes), coffee cups (227) and saucers (215)? Faith Mennonite Church, Newton, KS is offering their used tableware to a church that needs/wants them. There is no charge, but you must arrange to pick them up by May 31, 2018. Please contact Teresa at office@faithmenno.org or (316) 283-6370.

Camp Mennoscah announcements

  1. Be a part of our new kitchen crew!  Camp Mennoscah is looking for people to help break in the new kitchen as kitchen volunteers for the weeks of June 24-30 and July 15-21.  No special skills are needed, just willing hands and the ability to follow directions.  Call us at 620-297-3290 or email olivia.bartel@campmennoscah.org!  Parent discounts are available.
  1. Bring a friend to Camp Mennoscah!  We love having new campers at Camp Mennoscah and you can help us share camp by bringing a friend.  Bring a first-time friend to camp and each of you will get a free tee shirt.  (And a week of fun activities at camp with delicious food and happy people.)  Call us at 620-297-3290 with questions.
  2. New Look, Same Address!  The Camp Mennoscah website (campmennoscah.org) is looking brand new.  It has the same address and information, but a different format and image.  Take a look and let us know what you can’t find or what doesn’t work well.  Tell us, too, all the great things about the website!  The switch was made possible by a generous donation by Dan K. and the Foundation for Educational Services/SOCS.  Amy W. did all the hard work of designing the website and entering all the information. Thank you, Amy and Dan!
  3. Soon and very soon!  Camp Mennoscah plans to start construction of the new playground, “The Whale,” soon and we’ll be looking for volunteers to come out and help!  Stay tuned to your church bulletins, e-mail, and social media for the types of work we’ll be doing, dates, and times. With your help, we’ll have it ready to go for summer youth camps!
  1. Looking for Hair Dryers!  You really don’t need more than one, but we’re going to use them for a nifty craft this fall with our Mental Health Spiritual Retreat.  (We’re going to melt crayons into designs.)  If you have a working hair dryer that you no longer want, contact Camp Mennoscah at 620-297-3290 or office@campmennoscah.org.  Just in case you’re a hair dryer collector or have connections with the cosmetology community, please note that we do not need more than 10.

Mennonite church announcements
1.  MUSEUM DIRECTOR:  Kauffman Museum, an affiliate of Bethel College, North Newton, KS seeks an inter-disciplinary, entrepreneurial full-time director.  Non-profit or private sector leadership experience required, museum and/or appropriate teaching, library or business experience preferred. Minimum Masters degree in related field.  Reviews begin May 8 and continue until position filled. EOE/AA  For job description and application go to https://kauffman.bethelks.edu/Director-Search-2018

  1. Mennonite Church USA invites congregations to be part of the “Learn, Pray, Join” initiative for the Korean Peninsula.  Commit to learning more about the history of the Korean Peninsula and the dynamics of tension and conflict there.  Pray for peace and clear minds for all leaders engaged in historic talks regarding the future of North and South Korea, and nuclear disarmament using MCC’s “A prayer for peace in North Korea”.  Consider ways you can actively promote peace in this region.  Learn more:  http://mennoniteusa.org/korea/.

    3.   MCC is looking for new canner operators! This two year service term is unique and offers the opportunity to travel around the U.S. and Canada, working as a team while meeting new people! Check out mcc.org/canningfor details, or contact heidihuber@mcc.org.

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.  

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