WESTERN DISTRICT CONFERENCE
September 15, 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:
*An open letter to ministers in WDC
An open letter to ministers in WDC
by Heidi Regier Kreider
Dear pastors, chaplains and other ministers in WDC,
I know you don’t need me to tell you that this is a stressful time for ministers! Even in “normal” times, you carry significant responsibility, work under high expectations, and frequently relate to people dealing with pain, conflict, loss, trauma, suffering and death. But these days you are offering ministry under the accumulation of multiple stress factors: COVID-19, political polarization in an election season, racial injustice and social unrest, fear of natural disaster (such as hurricanes), and the uncertainties of a new school year. You have been pressed to use technology in new ways, develop new patterns of leadership, discern difficult decisions in the midst of conflicting values – while managing additional personal and family concerns. Some of you have delayed (or reduced) vacation or sabbatical time, or had a cut in pay due to the impact of COVID.
In the midst of all this, you have demonstrated amazing creativity, compassion, and faithful leadership! Yet, six months into COVID, I also hear some of you saying you are very tired. You are weary of working relentlessly to manage all these issues. You may be observing rising rates of depression, grief, anxiety and domestic violence in your community, and feeling overwhelmed trying to respond to the cumulative impact of trauma and loss among people around you.
Please know that what you are feeling is a natural response. And you are not alone.
Soon after COVID began, I attended a webinar on Recognition of Trauma Exposure and Resilience in the Face of Compassion Fatigue with presenter Dr. Melissa Hofstetter, director of Shepherd Heart Ministry Consulting (see https://www.shepherdheartconsulting.com/about/). She noted that the stress of ministering to people in trauma takes a heavy toll on ministers. Because ministers tend to be compassionate and hard-working people, they can easily become overwhelmed in the face of continual crisis. This can result in burnout, a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.
In the face of such realities, Hofstetter reminded us that a “rest-ethic” is just as important for ministry as a “work ethic.” She noted three dimensions of care that are crucial to sustain health and wholeness for ministers and those with whom we minister:
– Bottom-up (Grounding): Care for the body, through deep breathing, exercise, stretching, and healthy touch. Allow for tears – and laughter. Take time for sleep and rest.
– Top-down (Clarity): Care for the mind and spirit, through routines, rituals and structures that offer a sense of meaning and purpose in the midst of circumstances beyond your control. Discern prayerfully what God is calling you to do – and what is beyond your calling or capacity to do.
– Side-to-Side (Connection): Care for relationships with others, through nurturing healthy connections with people who provide encouragement and counsel. Engage others to support you and to partner with you in ministry: Talk with leaders in your congregation, utilize mental health organizations in your community (for personal support or referral of congregation members), reach out to your pastor peer group, or call your WDC conference minister liaison for conversation.
As you seek life-giving practices in your ministry, I invite you to consider how you are nurturing these forms of care for yourself – and for others. May God grant you strength, courage and daily renewal for your ongoing journey of ministry.
Attached is a list of resources on mental health and self-care.
Una carta abierta a los ministros de la WDC
– de Heidi Regier Kreider
Estimados pastores, capellanes y otros ministros de la WDC:
¡Sé que no necesitan que les diga que este es un momento estresante para los ministros! Incluso en los tiempos “normales”, ustedes tienen una gran responsabilidad, trabajan bajo altas expectativas y con frecuencia se relacionan con personas que enfrentan dolor, conflicto, pérdida, trauma, sufrimiento y muerte. Pero en estos días están ofreciendo ministerio bajo la acumulación de factores múltiples de estrés: COVID-19, polarización política en una temporada electoral, injusticia racial y malestar social, miedo de desastres naturales (como huracanes) y las incertidumbres de un nuevo año escolar. Se les ha pedido usar la tecnología en formas nuevas, desarrollar patrones nuevos de liderazgo, discernir decisiones difíciles en medio de valores en conflicto, mientras manejan preocupaciones personales y familiares adicionales. Algunos de ustedes han retrasado (o reducido) las vacaciones o el tiempo sabático, o han tenido una reducción salarial debido al impacto del COVID.
¡En medio de todo esto, han demostrado una creatividad, compasión y liderazgo fiel asombrosos! Sin embargo, a los seis meses del COVID, también escucho a algunos de ustedes decir que están muy cansados. Están cansados de trabajar sin descanso para manejar todos estos problemas. Es posible que estén observando tasas crecientes de depresión, dolor, ansiedad y violencia doméstica en su comunidad, y se sientan abrumados al tratar de responder al impacto acumulativo del trauma y la pérdida entre las personas que los rodean.
Por favor, sepan que lo que sienten es una respuesta natural. Y no están solos.
Poco después de que comenzara el COVID, asistí a un seminario web sobre el Reconocimiento de la exposición al trauma y la capacidad de recuperación frente a la fatiga por compasión con la presentadora Dra. Melissa Hofstetter, directora de Shepherd Heart Ministry Consulting (https://www.shepherdheartconsulting.com/about/). Ella señaló que el estrés de ministrar a personas en trauma tiene un precio alto en los ministros. Debido a que los ministros tienden a ser personas compasivas y trabajadoras, pueden sentirse abrumados fácilmente ante una crisis continua. Esto puede resultar en agotamiento, un estado de agotamiento emocional, físico y mental causado por un estrés excesivo y prolongado. Ocurre cuando se sienten abrumados, emocionalmente agotado e incapaz de satisfacer las demandas constantes.
Frente a tales realidades, Hofstetter nos recordó que una “ética de descanso” es tan importante para el ministerio como una “ética de trabajo”. Señaló tres dimensiones del cuidado que son cruciales para mantener la salud y la integridad de los ministros y aquellos con quienes ministramos:
- De abajo hacia arriba (conexión a tierra): cuiden el cuerpo a través de la respiración profunda, el ejercicio, el estiramiento y el tacto saludable. Permitan las lágrimas y la risa. Tómense un tiempo para dormir y descansar.
- De arriba hacia abajo (Claridad): Cuiden la mente y el espíritu, a través de rutinas, rituales y estructuras que les ofrecen un sentido de significado y propósito en medio de circunstancias fuera de su control. Disciernan con oración lo que Dios les está llamando a hacer y lo que está más allá de su llamado o su capacidad de hacer.
- De lado a lado (conexión): cuiden las relaciones con los demás, fomentando conexiones saludables con personas que brindan aliento y consejo. Involucren a otros para que los apoyen y se asocien con ustedes en el ministerio: hablen con los líderes de su congregación, utilicen organizaciones de salud mental en su comunidad (para obtener apoyo personal o referencias de miembros de la congregación), comuníquense con su grupo de pares de pastores o llamen a su WDC enlace del ministro de la conferencia para la conversación.
Mientras buscan prácticas vivificantes en su ministerio, los invito a considerar cómo están nutriendo estas formas de cuidado para ustedes y para los demás. Que Dios les conceda fuerza, valor y renovación diaria para su continuo camino de ministerio.
Se adjunta una lista de recursos sobre salud mental y autocuidado.
- KLC Leadership Lunch: On September 24 from 12:00 noon – 1:30 pm, our theme will be “Manage Self: Getting Used to Uncertainty and Conflict”. Participants are invited to bring examples from their own lives and ministries. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the Zoom link.
- MC USA Common Read Book Discussions: Join us in September’s MC USA Common Read! Contact the library to borrow your copy of “Signs of Life: Resurrecting Hope out of Ordinary Losses” and join us for a discussion via Zoom on Thursday, September 24 from 7:00-8:00pm. Contact Jennie at email@example.com the Zoom link.
- The WDC Immigration Task Force introduces its second installment in a series of thought pieces, mindful of immigrants among us without a voice this election season. They seek to make visible what is too often invisible with regard to immigrant lives and immigration issues. Watch for these topics in the coming weeks: “Positions on Immigration Issues of the 2020 Presidential Candidates;” and “Voices of Our Immigrant Brothers and Sisters.”
“Migration as a Metaphor for Faith and More: A Summary of Danny Carroll’s Assembly Keynote and Sermon”
As people of God’s word, we do ourselves and others a disservice when we try to start a conversation about immigration with politics. While immigration justice, including health care for migrants, family reunification, and immigration legal reform are all very important, we need to find common ground. Our common ground is scripture. What about Romans 13 that we have to obey those who govern? This is a valid text to discuss, but what about all of the other scriptural wisdom that comes before it? It’s better to begin where the bible begins, with every person described as created in the image of God—with inherent worth and with the potential to do immense good in partnership with God… (To read the full length article, go to: mennoniteswithoutborders.org/resources.)
- Policies and Practice: If your congregation is updating your child, youth, and adult safety (“Safe Sanctuaries”) policy and/or wants an updated safety training or Circle of Grace orientation, contact Kathy Neufeld Dunn, WDC Associate Conference Minister (firstname.lastname@example.org, 316-283-6300). She keeps current on sexual abuse prevention and response and is happy to help congregations do so too, on paper or in-person.
- Include a gift to Western District Conference in your will or estate plan, as a great way to support WDC’s work of sustaining pastors, resourcing congregations and nurturing church planting into the future! To learn more about basic tools of creating an estate plan, see a recording of the recent Everence webinar What to do with your stuff: basic estate planning(https://www.everence.com/everence-articles/core-markets/national-advisors-and-representatives/webinars/20200129-ww-basic-estate-planning). This is part of an 11-week “Webinar Wednesday” series by Everence.
- WDC Executive Board comments on the Payroll Protection Program (PPP): At the WDC annual delegate assembly (via zoom) on August 1, there were questions and conversation regarding WDC’s application last Spring for a PPP loan as part of the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act. A straw poll was conducted, asking “Is it appropriate for WDC to accept government loans?” Of the 120 delegates on Zoom at the time, 64 approved, 13 were neutral, and 21 disagreed.
At subsequent meetings following the delegate assembly, the Stewardship Commission and Executive Board reaffirmed the decision that had been made to apply for a PPP loan (and for loan-forgiveness, as long as no additional requirements are added that oppose WDC’s mission). We noted that this decision was made by WDC leadership under the pressure of short deadlines, to support WDC’s mission in the face of financial uncertainty, and because the PPP specifically included faith-based and non-profit organizations along with small businesses. Everence (the stewardship agency serving Mennonite Church USA) offered assistance for conferences, congregations or other church-related institutions seeking to apply for a PPP loan.
We discussed additional ways that WDC also connects to government, such as social security tax and benefits, housing allowance tax benefits for credentialed employees, tax-exempt status for federal corporate income tax, and paying property taxes. WDC’s Low German Mennonites from Mexico Support Committee also facilitates payments and support for health promoters for migrant and seasonal farm workers, through the Kansas Statewide Farmworker Health Program of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. We affirm that engagement with government should be directed by WDC mission and values, fiscal responsibility, concern for justice and the common good, and in recognition that our ultimate loyalty and trust is in God. We recognize that among WDC congregations and members there are a variety of perspectives on these issues, yet we share a common commitment and desire to live faithfully as followers of Jesus in today’s context. – WDC Executive Board
Camp Mennoscah announcements
- A few openings for Scrapbook and Crafts Retreats! Camp Mennoscah’s retreats with limited numbers are October 30-Nov. 1 and Nov. 6-8. Participants will stay in the Retreat Center with their own bathroom and scrapbook/crafts tables will be set up in the dining hall to provide more space and better ventilation. Register at campmennoscah.org! Call 620-297-3290 for more information.
- Camp Mennoscah’s annual meeting is September 27. An online link will be shared soon! Get ready to hear about Camp Mennoscah’s year!
- The weather is great! Where are you? Camp Mennoscah’s facilities are open to guests/groups for overnight stays and day visits. Spend time on the trails, go canoeing, have a campfire cookout, and enjoy the open spaces of the tallgrass prairie and the Ninnescah River! Contact Camp Mennoscah at 620-297-3290 to make a reservation and to inquire about use of facilities. We can’t wait to see you!
Mennonite church announcements
- SAVE THE DATE—IBA BENEFIT DINNER: The annual Instituto Bíblico Anabautista (IBA) benefit fundraiser will take place Friday, October 16 at First Mennonite Church in Newton, Kansas. A burrito order to go will take place instead of the usual dinner. Burritos will be cooked by chef Carlos Lujano. (You can order Pork, Chicken or Meatless burritos. Sold by ½ dozen-6 burrito and a dozen-12 burritos)Pick up between 4:30-6:30 pm, instructions will be sent later.
Sale by donation. If you are not able to order you are invited to give a donation. Your generous gift will help ensure the future of this vital ministry. IBA is a program of Mennonite Education Agency’s Hispanic Ministries for Leadership Development and Pastoral Education. For any inquiries or to ORDER contact Violeta Ajquejay Suastegui at: VioletaA@MennoniteEducation.org or call 316-281-4342. DEADLINE to order: Thursday Oct. 9.
- Bethel College Women’s Association is inviting area churches and former BCWA members to help with Fall Fest Baking. Check out items needed and sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70a0e4ca8a72fa3f58-fall/. Thank you for your continued support of Bethel College!
- Due to the pandemic, Mission Network’s Donor Relations team is not traveling to visit with our wonderful donors, but we are on the phone and writing notes! Please know you are appreciated, valued, and prayed for. Thank you for your continued generosity.
- Mennonite Church USA staff invites you to join them in supporting the Mennonite World Conference Global Sharing Fund to provide COVID-19 reliefto congregations with less access to aid and resources, especially in parts of Africa, Latin America and Asia. For more information:
5. Mennonite Church USA is offering Justice Fund grants to congregations that are actively addressing racial justice, poverty, police brutality/reimagining policing and immigration or are seeking start-up money to engage in these areas. For more information on how to apply or donate: https://www.mennoniteusa.org/news/applications-for-justice-fund/
6. “FORGOTTEN.” This is the word that Ana Alicia Hinojosa, an MCC immigration education coordinator, said has been on her mind since South Texas/Rio Grande Valley was hit with Hurricane Hanna in late July. Read her powerful call to action in her blog, “Do something bold for immigration justice.” https://www.mennoniteusa.org/do-something-bold
7. In his blog, “Building stamina for anti-racism,” Goshen student Cade Fisher talks about the need for young people to prepare for the long, hard work of anti-racism. Read it here: https://www.mennoniteusa.org/menno-snapshots/building-stamina-for-anti-racism/
- The MC USA colleges and universities will be hosting a series of virtual Family Nights in conjunction with their Mennonite College Days (MCD) schedule. In a typical year, admissions counselors from the five colleges (Bethel College, North Newton, Kan; Bluffton University, Bluffton, Ohio; Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Va; Goshen College, Goshen, Ind; Hesston College, Hesston, Kan.) travel to the private Mennonite high schools during the fall recruitment season, and host the chapel service that day. They set up tables in the halls, host giveaways and games, and hold individual meetings with prospective students. At some of the schools, they host information sessions in the evenings to connect with parents and families. Due to COVID-19, the in-person collaborative travel schedule is not possible this fall. Instead, the reps will “visit” each chapel service virtually, with a pre-recorded video, and host Instagram raffles and virtual visits to their respective campuses. There will be a Family Night information session, over Zoom video conferencing, coordinating with the chapel “visit” that day. However, all prospective high school students, their families, and youth groups are invited to attend, including those who do not attend a Mennonite high school. Students are welcome to register for whichever session suits their schedule; the content will be identical for each 45 minute session. Topics covered include: What to do as a sophomore, junior, and senior in high school to be a strong applicant, financial aid, the value of Mennonite higher education, how to prepare for your college visits, and an open time for Q&A. Representatives of all five institutions will be on hand to speak privately with families afterwards, or to schedule a more in-depth visit. The MCD Family Night sessions are as follows:
Monday, September 21 (8:30 p.m. EST) Hillcrest Academy (all are welcome)
Wednesday, September 30 (7:30 p.m. EST) Bethany Christian School (all are welcome)
Monday, October 5 (7:30 p.m. EST) Dock Mennonite Academy (all are welcome)
Tuesday, October 6 (7:30 p.m. EST) Lancaster Mennonite School (all are welcome)
Thursday, October 8 (7:30 p.m. EST) EMHS (all are welcome)
Monday, October 12 (7:30 p.m. EST) Central Christian School (all are welcome)
Thursday, October 15 (8:30 p.m. EST) All are welcome!
To register for a session, click on the session you’d like at the bottom of this page: https://www.mennoniteeducation.org/mcd
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.