November 8, 2016

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)


*Sabbatical:  Why it’s a Gift to Both Pastor and Congregation


Sabbatical:  Why It’s a Gift to Both Pastor and Congregation

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

Why should a pastor take a sabbatical?  It’s good for the pastor, the congregation and the broader church.  A revitalized, renewed pastor who has had some time away in retreat and study will stay longer and serve with greater energy in his or her congregation.  At the same time, the congregation will have the chance to exercise lay leadership gifts that they may not have used in some time.  They may also get a chance to hear diverse voices and insights.  The broader church gains stronger leadership and sharing of ideas across congregations which can only be to the conference’s good.

Pastors who are released for a time from their normal, pastoral duties experience restoration and renewal.  A sabbatical is not another name for a vacation.  Many sabbatical plans include some form of study.  It need not be in a formal, educational setting, but through seminars, historical tours or continuing education workshops, a pastor may develop skills in new ministry areas.

Retreat for prayer and solitude is also a key part of many sabbatical plans.  Even Jesus took time away for prayer and solitude, time to listen for the Father’s direction and receive blessing.

Meanwhile congregations may be exploring similar themes back home—how to deepen spiritual growth, or they, too, may be learning and practicing new skills of conflict transformation, congregational discernment, or exploring the possibility of a new service ministry.

Yes, but how can we afford it?  Congregations and pastors should have a conversation about their understandings about sabbaticals as they do about other aspects of any Memo of Understanding.  In other words, include reference to your sabbatical policy in your pastor’s Memo.  If you don’t have such a policy, discuss writing a sabbatical leave policy, so the specifics of timing and funding are spelled out.  Then, start dreaming and planning at least a year ahead for the specifics of one.  Put some money aside each year for three years in a sabbatical fund that is part of the congregational budget, then during the fourth year when (by MC USA guidelines) your pastor is due for a sabbatical, there is money available.  This money would cover an interim pastor or other financial needs during the sabbatical period.

In Western District Conference, we also have two funds that can help support the pastor (or other credentialed minister) for the purpose of sabbatical leave.  Grants from the Continuing Education Fund can be paired with a WDC Sabbatical Scholarship.  These two funds can help relieve some of the extra financial burden for pastors and other credentialed ministers.

If you’d like to read about one pastor’s very positive time of writing and prayer, read the chapter entitled “Desert and Harvest:  A Sabbatical Story” in Eugene Peterson’s book, The Contemplative Pastor which can be checked out from our Resource Library.  MC USA has a helpful document online:  “Sabbatical, Study and Service Leaves for Pastors.”  Conference staff are also happy to discuss any questions you might have about sabbatical leave. It’s a gift to both your congregation and pastor.

WDC Announcements

  1. Good news! WDC and South Central Conference have jointly received a grant to provide leadership training opportunities at Kansas Leadership Center in 2017.  Grants may be used for any of these three training events available at KLC in 2017:  You.Lead.Now, Lead for Change, or Equip to Lead.  All training programs take place at KLC in Wichita, KS.  For more information about these different programs, see http://kansasleadershipcenter.orgSome of WDC’s 2017 training slots are designated for WDC pastors or congregational leaders, and other slots are designated for members of WDC Executive Board and Commissions.  If you are interested in applying through WDC for a training slot, please contact Heidi Regier Kreider at 316-283-6300 or heidirk@mennowdc.org.  Training programs for 2017 are expected to fill up soon, so interested participants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible!
  1. At Home Family Devotions: Nurture children’s faith at home this Advent and Christmas through family worship. Find a free, downloadable guide at www.anabaptistfaithformation.org. For use between November 27 and January 6, it includes a daily Bible reading, short litany, songs, hands-on activities and questions to ponder together.  People of all ages enjoy this resource. Churches are encouraged to print copies for families with children ages 4-12. These daily lessons follow the scripture texts and themes to match the worship resources in Leader magazine.
  1. Hope Mennonite Church, 868 N. Maize Rd. Wichita, invites you to their annual Craft Bazaar and Peppernut Sale on Saturday, November 12 from 9 am – 4 pm Our vendors sell homemade products and Hope’s bake sale table is fabulous.  Lunch options include bierocks, smoked sausage sandwiches, homemade chicken noodle soup, homemade pies and much, much more.  Admission is either $1 or two canned good items.  The admission fees and canned goods go to the Kansas Food Bank; and all  other proceeds are donated to various missions projects.  The Flannelbacks will be providing music during part of the day.   We would love to see you there!
  1. Tamales for sale! Iglesia Casa del Alfarero, Pasadena, TX, is taking orders for pork or chicken tamales.  $15 per dozen, order by November 13 for delivery on November 19 in Newton, KS.  This is a fund-raiser for a new roof on their church building.  To order, call Suhelen Cazares at 316-227-0090.
  1. Pastors’ Brown Bag Lunch: All ministers welcome to conversation with Mennonite Mission Network’s, James Krabill, on “Anabaptist Evangelism?  Facing Down the Elephant in the Room,” Tuesday, November 15, 12 noon-1:00, WDC Office, 2517 N Main St, North Newton.  We encourage you to read two articles before then as conversation starters:  “Tongue Screws and Testimony” by Alan Kreider and “Keeping Good News and Good Works Together” by Ron Sider and Heidi Rolland Unruh.  Both can be found in the book “Fully Engaged:  Missional Church in an Anabaptist Voice” by Stanley W. Green and James R. Krabill, as well as free online downloads.  Bring your own lunch.  Drinks provided.  For more information, contact Kathy: kathynd@mennowdc.org or 316-283-6300.
  1. Iglesia Menonita Casa Betania, Newton, KS will have a fundraiser brunch on November 15 from 8 am – 1 pm at the First Mennonite Church (Newton) fellowship hall. The menu: biscuits and gravy, eggs, sausage, potato soup, cinnamon rolls, fruit, coffee and juice.
  1. We’ve got cookies! The Summer Youth Camp Volunteer Christmas Gathering is December 17 at 2:30pm-ish at Camp Mennoscah in the dining hall.  If you’ve ever been involved with our summer youth camps–counselor, program director, summer staff, nurse, cook, or other volunteer–you and your family are invited to join us to gab, chat, play games, and have fun.  There will be a white elephant gift exchange for those interested.  Cookies and hot drinks will be provided.  Feel free to bring a snack to share!  Contact us at 620-297-3290 with questions.
  1. Kitchen renovations are moving along! Check out the pictures on the Camp Mennoscah Facebook page to see all the activity going on.  The Facebook page can be accessed from the Camp Mennoscah webpage at www.campmennoscah.org if you do not have a personal Facebook account.

Mennonite Church Announcements

  1. Be in prayer for the meetings of the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board, taking place November 10-12 in Newton, KS; the MHS Board meeting November 17-18 in Columbus, OH; and for all the work of the churchwide staff.
  1. Registration for “Beyond Buried Treasure: Turning Hidden Resources into Assets” opened October 17.  This second joint MHS Mennonite Health Assembly and Mennonite Education Agency Education Leaders Gathering takes place March 9-12 in Jacksonville, FL  For more information or to register, visit mhaelgconference.wordpress.com.
  1. Pastors’ Lunch with MCC: Wednesday, Nov 16, 12-1pm, at the MCC Central States office, North Newton. You are invited to a pastors lunch with Jes Stoltzfus Buller, the new Peace Education Coordinator for MCC U.S. Come enjoy a boxed lunch and learn more about Jes, MCC’s peace education programs and how you and your congregation can best connect to this work.  For the past eight years, Jes has lived in Colombia, where she worked with MCC’s Anabaptist partner organization on the Caribbean Coast, Sembrandopaz (Sowing Peace). Her work included community development, nonviolent training and regional peacebuilding. Jes is currently living in Goshen, IN and working out of the MCC Great Lakes office.   Please RSVP to Patsy Dirksen at patsydirksen@mcc.org or at 316.283.2720 by Monday, Nov 14. (Please let  us know if you have any dietary restrictions). A free will donation will be accepted to help cover the cost of food.
  1. Shine: Living in God’s Light, the Sunday school curriculum produced by MennoMedia and Brethren Press, is accepting applications for curriculum writers.  The curriculum is for children age three through grade 8.  Accepted writers must attend a Writers Conference in Virginia, March 2-5, 2017.  Shine pays for meals and lodging during the conference and covers reasonable travel expenses.  More details are available at www.ShineCurriculum.com/writers.  Application and sample session deadline is December 1, 2016.
  1. The staff of The Mennonite, Inc. magazine and website invite you to a meet and greet event next Friday November 18. Come join staff members Hannah Heinzekehr, Executive Director, and Gordon Houser, Editor of The Mennonite magazine, for a come and go event on Friday Nov. 18 from 2-4 p.m. Gordon and Hannah want to thank readers in the area for their support of The Mennonite and chat about what’s in store for the future of The Mennonite. Light refreshments, coffee and tea will be available in the upstairs community area in the Mennonite Church USA offices, 718 N Main St, Newton, Kansas. You’re welcome to stop any time during those hours to say hello. Feel free to bring along fellow readers and/or others who may just be interested in learning more about The Mennonite.

 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