WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
October 31, 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)
IN THIS ISSUE:
*Tradition or Ritual?
Tradition or Ritual?
by Michael Unruh, Camp Mennoscah Executive Director
I am currently taking a class through Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary called “Christian Ritual in Worship.” In recent weeks, my classmates and I have been creating new rituals for Christian life. One of my classmates created a ritual of blessing for welcoming new board members into leadership. Another classmate designed a ritual of lament to provide youth space to express their anger, sadness, and disappointment. All the focus on rituals this semester has gotten me thinking: Are there rituals at Camp Mennoscah? If so, what are they?
Before even making it through the registration line for a summer youth camp, a camper engages in one of the first camp traditions: the name tag. Whatever campers choose to write on that tag is how they will be known to others for the entire week. “Should I be known this week by my full name, a shortened name, or even a nickname? (The dilemma between the formal “Michael” and the informal “Mike” has been one for me.) Writing one’s name on a piece of wood is simple, but it also carries a deeper meaning of identity.
During every youth camp, campers have the option to walk from the sandbar, through the river, and up to the dam. Once there, campers can sit against the planks that hold back the water and tip their heads back behind the waterfall. This experience is especially exciting when someone else joins in. Many conversations have been had behind this waterfall. This camp tradition introduces a special connection with the blessing of God’s creation at camp that is present in the Ninnescah River.
Some youth camps conclude the final campfire of the week by offering all campers the opportunity to share how they have felt the presence of God, experienced the love of Jesus, or seen the Holy Spirit moving throughout the camp week. An object is often passed down the rows as a speaking piece–a tangible symbol of whose turn it is to share. It is powerful to hear how campers and staff noticed divine movement through experiences both large and small.
The final official camp activity for the week before check-out is often the closing circle, where all gather for a song or two, closing words from the input leader, and saying final goodbyes. I have written and spoken about how this tradition brings to light the close personal relationships that are formed throughout the camp week. This is no coincidence, nor is it solely a product of human interaction. Something divine happens in the closing circle. All in the circle speak their words of affirmation and goodbyes to one another, not as campers and staff, but as brothers and sisters in the family of God.
Certainly not every camp tradition is a ritual. Maybe the four traditions I described above are merely regular activities that are a part of coming to camp. They certainly are not presented as rituals at the time they are happening. But because each of them reveals something new about ourselves, our relationships, and the divine, there is no question in my mind that these simple actions embody a certain divine knowledge that was not present before. And that says to me that they’re more than just traditions, they’re rituals.
Nov 5 – Give thanks for the participation of WDC church members in Mennonite Central Committee relief sales this weekend in Enid, OK, and next weekend in Houston, TX.
Nov 12 – Pray for the WDC Church Planting Commission as they meet next week, and in their support of church planters and emerging congregations in WDC.
Nov 19 – Pray that gratitude, wisdom and generosity would flow through WDC and its congregations, helping us to be faithful stewards of the spiritual gifts and financial resources God has entrusted to us.
Nov 26 – Thank God for the many ways WDC congregations support and join God’s work of mission in local communities and around the world.
November 14 – WDC Church Planting Commission meeting
November 14 – WDC Executive Board meeting
November 19 – Discovery: A Comic Lament, Bethel College, North Newton, KS
January 11, 2018 – WDC Resource Commission meeting
January 12 – WDC Ministerial Leadership Commission meeting
January 13 – WDC Executive Board meeting
January 19-20 – Year of Evangelism Kick Off, Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church, Goessel, KS
February 20 – WDC Stewardship Commission meeting
July 27-28 – WDC Annual Assembly, Tabor Mennonite Church, Newton, KS and Eden Mennonite Church, Moundridge, KS
July 29 – Annual Assembly Sunday worship option – Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church, Goessel, KS
- Working on the church Christmas program? Looking for a new way to prepare your heart, your family, or your congregation for the Christmas season? We’ve got a resource for you! Come see the Advent/Christmas resources now on display in the Conference Resource Library. Live at a distance? We’ll mail resources to you! Contact Jennie Wintermote, Resource Library Director – email@example.com; 316-283-6300.
- The WDC Israel Palestine Task Force is encouraging members across the Western District to show solidarity and support for one of our members, Esther Koontz, who has been denied employment by the State of Kansas because of her Anabaptist convictions. Find out more and support Esther at http://mennoniteusa.org/menno-snapshots/support-esther-koontz/.
- Take a break before you dash headfirst into the holidays! Camp Mennoscah invites you to join the Scrapbook and Crafts retreat, Nov. 17-19, for a delightfully creative time. This long weekend offers you hours of time to work on your projects (and maybe catch up!), devotions, fun people, and make-n-takes! It’s a blast whether you relax with friends or work industriously. Register online at campmennoscah.orgor call 620-297-3290! Be part of the fun!
- Christmas Gathering at Camp Mennoscah! It’s time to mark your calendars for the Christmas gathering of all Camp Mennoscah volunteers from any and all years. Write it in bold, black letters and highlight it with fluorescent colors. We’ll gather at the Retreat Center on December 16 at 2:30pm-ish for conversation, games (indoor or outdoor), and cookies! Questions? Call us at 620-297-3290or email firstname.lastname@example.org! Bring your families!
- Calling all volunteers! The remodeling of the Camp Mennoscah kitchen will begin this December, and we will need volunteers! Here is a beginning tentative schedule.December 2 – 9: Remove all present equipment and fixtures in kitchen. Remove ceiling and all plumbing pipes and electric as needed. December 11: Have kitchen area ready for plumbing and electrical contractors. Further dates will be advertised as we progress. If you are interested in working on the remodel project, please contact Jim Yoder at 316-284-3890 (call or text), email@example.com, or to Camp Mennoscah at (620)297-3290, firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, address, phone, and e-mail address. Thanks for considering this opportunity!
Mennonite church announcements
1. Hesston College Church Relations (Hesston, KS) invites area pastors to campus on November 8, to interact with Doug Hostetter, director of the United Nations Office of Mennonite Central Committee, and UN Office International Volunteer Exchange Program intern Tran Quang Thien Phuoc, son of a Vietnamese Mennonite pastor. This is an excellent opportunity to hear stories about Vietnam, conscientious objection to war, the power of love and truth to transform our enemies into friends and the work of the UN MCC office, advocating for peace around the world. We hope you will join us for this special event for church leaders at Hesston College. Schedule: 11 am chapel at Hesston Mennonite Church – “Conscientious objection: a retrospective”; 11:30 am-1:30 pm, complimentary lunch, discussion and presentation in Sauder Rooms, Bontrager Student Center – “Vietnamese Mennonites: living today with a legacy of war”. RSVP by Tuesday, Nov. 7, to email@example.com, 620-327-8110 or 866-437-7866. If you aren’t able to attend the entire time, indicate by email/phone the times you will attend.
A second opportunity to hear these speakers will be at the MCC Central States (North Newton, KS) “Lunch and Learn” program on November 9 from 12-1 pm, where they will share about “Living Peace in a Time of War: reflections on MCC service in the war zone during the Vietnam War”. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by November 6.
- Looking for that next great adventure? MCC SALT positions now available! Take chances. Make mistakes. Get messy. Be challenged. Learn some things. Teach some things. Spend a year living somewhere that you never dreamed you’d go… Serving and Learning Together (SALT) is a year-long, cross-cultural service experience. Through SALT, Christian young adults from Canada and the U.S. serve internationally in a wide variety of positions in fields like education, agriculture, health care, information technology, peace and more! Start now at salt.mcc.org, to find answers to frequently asked questions, assignment options and to apply!
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS 67117
316-283-6300; FAX: 316-283-0620