October 29, 2019

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)


*Feature article: Hierarchy by Michael Unruh, Camp Mennoscah Executive Director

*Prayer requests

*Coming Events



by Michael Unruh, Camp Mennoscah Executive Director

In mid-October, I attended a two-day Doctrine of Discovery training at MCC Central States in North Newton.At the beginning of our time together, we sat in a circle for a time led by Michelle Armster, Executive Director of MCC Central States. She read Genesis 1:28, in which God blesses humanity: “God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’”

This passage introduces a picture of humanity’s role within creation, and it contains some key verbs: “be fruitful,” “multiply,” “fill,” “subdue,” “have dominion.” Over the last several years I have come to understand the call to subdue and have dominion over creation as a call to responsibility–to care for creation. Others have understood this passage as grounds for extracting resources from the earth and “taming” a wild creation through destructive and oppressive forces to make way for humanity’s growing reach.

In both of these cases, a certain hierarchy is in place, and it actually appears to be based on Genesis 1, in reverse order:

  • God
  • Humanity
  • Animals
  • Plants
  • Earth

There is some logical sense to this, as we often think of humans as the most advanced creature, and the Earth as a composition of molecules and substances that aren’t quite as sophistically organized. So, other than God, humanity is at the top of the hierarchy, with the power to enslave or care for creation, depending on your understanding of Genesis 1.

As we went around the circle, Erica Littlewolf, of MCC Central States’ Indigenous Visioning Circle, shared that in many Indigenous cultures, this hierarchy is almost exactly reversed:

  • God
  • Earth
  • Plants
  • Animals
  • Humanity

As humans, we’re dependent on each of the things above in this hierarchy. Think about this for a moment. Could we survive without one of the things above? Likely not. Alternatively, could the Earth survive without us? Absolutely yes. This new ordering of creation has reshaped my own thinking. Though I still believe humanity has a special role in creation, acknowledging our dependence on other aspects of creation changes how we interact with them. What would it look like to orient our lives with the understanding that we’re dependent on everything else? How would that affect our relationships with creation, other people, and God? As usual, I don’t have all the answers, but I am trying to incorporate these two questions into choices and daily living, in our work at Camp Mennoscah, and personally as well. Maybe you’d like to give it a try, too.

Prayer Requests

Nov 3 – Pray for Prairie View, a regional mental health center and institutional partner of WDC, as it nurtures healing and hope and offers resources for members of our communities and congregations.

Nov 10 – Pray for the WDC Resource Commission as it equips congregations for faith formation, justice and peacemaking, safe sanctuaries, evangelism and community connections, historical storytelling, and other aspects of congregational ministry and outreach.

Nov 17 – Pray for Peter Emery, as his ordination is celebrated today at Southern Hills Mennonite Church, a WDC congregation in Topeka, KS.

Nov 24 – Pray that we as WDC congregations and leaders will sense God’s peace and presence as we prepare for the season of Advent and enter the fullness of the holiday season.

Coming Events

Nov 16 – WDC Executive Board meeting

Nov 21 – WDC Resource Commission meeting

Nov 28-29 – WDC Office and Resource Library closed for Thanksgiving

Dec 13 – WDC Ministerial Leadership Commission meeting

Dec 24-Jan 1, 2020 – WDC Office and Resource Library closed for Christmas & New Years

April 17, 2020 – Healthy Boundaries 101 Training

July 31-Aug 2, 2020 – WDC Annual Assembly, Camp Copass, Denton, Texas

WDC announcements

  1. Tabor Church Mennonite Men will host their 50th Anniversary Chicken BBQon Thursday, November 7, 5-7 pm, at Tabor Mennonite Church, 891 Chisholm Trail, rural Newton, KS (8 miles north of Newton on Hwy 15, 1 mile east).  Bring your appetite and a donation!  Donations will go to Core Communities Marion County and Mennonite Men Join Hands.
  1. All are invited to the annual Mission Supper at First Mennonite Church in Halstead, KS, on Saturday, November 16, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. Menu includes Smoked German Sausage, Chicken Borscht, Sauerkraut, Fried Potatoes, Green Beans, Zwieback, homemade Pie or Cake. Cost is by donation. Part of the proceeds will go to Safehope.  Safehope has offered more than twenty-one years of advocacy and outreach services for domestic violence and sexual assault victims in Harvey County, and have now expanded to offer services in McPherson and Marion Counties. Other proceeds will be used to support Mennonite Mission Network workers Dan & Kathryn Smith Derksen family and Dave and Rebekka Stutzman Family.  The Smith Derskens serve in Cape Town, South Africa developing peacebuilding programs, and engaging partners in program development.  The Stutzmans serve in Germany networking with church planters in a multicultural urban context.
  1. Southern Hills Mennonite Church will celebrate the ordination of interim pastor Peter Emery during the worship service on Sunday, November 17, at 9:30 a.m., with a reception following.  All are welcome!  SHMC is located at 511 SE 37th Street, Topeka,KS.

Camp Mennoscah announcements

  1. We’re so glad you’re interested in being on Summer Staff!  Camp Mennoscah is recruiting at Goshen (Nov. 8) and Hesston, Tabor, Bethel, and McPherson Colleges on Nov. 11-14 respectively.  Stop by, pick up information, and say hi!  A pizza gathering for all interested in summer staff positions will be Nov. 7 at 6pm in the Connector at Goshen College and on Nov. 13 at 6:15pm at Papa John’s in Newton.  Response needed!  Please let us know you plan to come at olivia.bartel@campmennoscah.orgor 620-297-3290.  (No responses = no pizza gathering.)

Mennonite church announcements

  1. Pastors and Chaplains– you are invited to the next pastoral luncheon at Prairie View mental health center at noon on Thursday, November 7, in the Prairie View Chapel, 1901 E. First St., Newton, KS.   Dr. Elizabeth Guhman, Prairie View’s Vice President for Clinical Services, will speak on the topic of “having civil conversations in a polarized society.”  There will be time for discussion and questions. Free lunch available for those who RSVP (email schragej@pvi.orgwith any dietary restrictions).  Lunch begins at 12:00 pm, presentation from 12:15-1:15 pm.  Please RSVP by November 5 to Eric Schrag @ schragej@pvi.org 316-284-6385.  Free will donations accepted to support the Prairie View Chaplaincy and Pastoral Resourcing program.
  1. See a report from the recent meeting of the Mennonite Church USA Constituency Leaders Council (CLC), a denominational advisory group of conference, agency and constituency leaders, in Glendale, Arizona at: mennoniteusa.org/news/clc-denomination-full-of-love
  1. You can still join in the Mennonite Church USA Faith Formation fall webinar series on Anabaptism and American Politics. The third session, Vision: Policy & Possibility When Jesus is Lord,will take place on Tuesday, November 19. Sign up and find more information at thegatheringplace.us.
  1. MC USA has issued a statement commemorating 1619 and the ongoing impact of slavery. This year marks 400 years since 1619, the year when a ship carried enslaved people from West Africa to the British colony of Virginia for the first time. This is a season to grieve for all those who have been dehumanized in our country’s particularly brutal system of slavery, and it’s a time for action. Learn more at: mennoniteusa.org/menno-snapshots/statement-1619-slaverys-ongoing-impact
  1. Join the conversation on faith and health!Mennonite Healthcare Fellowship (MHF) invites any Anabaptist working or interested in any healthcare field to join MHF! Students, practitioners, retirees–-you are all welcome! Write to info@mennohealth.org, call 888-406-3643 or go to www.mennohealth.org/JoinTheConversation.

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