September 19, 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)


*How is God at work in your life, in your church and in your community?


How is God at work in your life, in your church and in your community?

     by Byron Pellecer, WDC Associate Conference Minister (Texas-Based)

Lately, I have been reading and reflecting on Nehemiah’s life and ministry. Nehemiah began his mission with self-reflection, repentance, and confession of sins (Nehemiah 1:4-11). The wellbeing of the city was his concern and despite mockery and criticism, he could mobilize a community towards God’s mission (Nehemiah 4:13).

I was inspired and challenged by his determination, willingness, and disposition when he was called and entrusted with a risky mission, to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 4:6).

By the way, the project did not happen overnight and it was not an easy one. On the contrary, it took time, resources, faith, and trust in God (Nehemiah 4:22-23; 7:1-3).

After reading about Nehemiah many thoughts came to mind, but one stood out with me the most. He was the right man to rebuild the walls. He was the man for a broken city.

Once he accepted God’s calling, he began all necessary preparations. He prayed over the project, he assessed the situation and then he moved into action.

He also listened to other people and their reports about the condition and circumstances of the city. One more important fact constitutes Nehemiah’s capacity to inspire others to join as investors or as coworkers in this endeavor (Nehemiah 2:7-10). It is important to have support systems to fulfill a vision, in the religious, social, political, and cultural context of a community matters.

Support systems are key in church planting, especially in the early stages of this spiritual endeavor. The formation of a prayer team, a mentor, a support group, and a sister church network, just to name a few, are important for the accomplishment of the emerging congregation. Church planters are encouraged to create this support system sooner rather than later.

Another factor to be considered is the overall culture of the intended community where the emerging missional congregation will witness to Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Context and culture matters, especially in church planting. This type of conversation needs to take place between the church planter, the sending body and his/her mentor-coach as early as possible even before the vision statement is formulated. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of the political, social, and religious context. Likewise, it is crucial to know about its culture.

For instance, proxemics or distances may vary from one culture to another. For the Hispanic culture the personal distance, eighteen inches to four feet, is the space for close relationships; this might explain also why Hispanic culture is prompt to expresses affection with a handshake, a hug and or a kiss while greeting each other or when meeting people regardless ethnicity.

For the most part, this affection expressed by Hispanic culture is more likely to happen inside of the eighteen inches distance and for some other cultures, this proximity among individuals could be seen and understood as an invasion of personal space.

On the one hand, understanding spaces-distances helps to understand how individuals and groups relate to one another.

On the other hand, spaces and relationships walk together. Therefore, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors-teachers, and the missional community needs to be aware of it.

In church planting it is natural, and somehow expected, to get more comfortable and familiar in personal proxemics. Yet, we need to be aware of these spaces and enjoy them without becoming invasive.

Emerging congregations are more likely to create the conditions to allow and welcoming one another to enter each other’s personal space not only for spiritual matters but also for the overall life.

Like I said earlier, I am inspired and challenged by Nehemiah’s faith, determination, and ability to connect with his community and to inspire them to join God’s mission.

Friends, I invite you to entertain these questions: How is God at work in your life, in your church and in your community? How are these three connecting?

WDC announcements

  1.  Leadership Lunch! Our next Leadership Lunch (bring your own sack lunch) is scheduled for this Thursday, September 21, from 12-1:30 pm at the WDC office.  Each month, we discuss a different Kansas Leadership Center (KLC) competency and how it relates to scripture, Anabaptist theology and practice, and our own areas of ministry.  All pastors and ministry leaders from both WDC and SCC are welcome even if you haven’t attended a KLC training or one of the previous Leadership Lunches.  We hope that these lunches will encourage and empower each of us to exercise more leadership for the common good in our churches and communities.  For more information, contact Kathy Neufeld Dunn at kathynd@mennowdc.org.
  1.  “Fall into a Good Book” with the Conference Resource Library’s Fall Story Hour.  Starts this week!  Join leader Carol Flickinger for stories, rhymes, and fun Thursdays September 28 through November 16 at 10:00am.  Sign up at https://goo.gl/forms/ZpYYWCRbiFdSLgbU2or by contacting the library at crlib@mennowdc.orgor (316)283-6300.  Please sign up by September 25.  (Newton-area churches, please post the attached flier and/or email to families with young children.  Thank you!)
  1. The South Central Conference/Western District Conference Sponsor Appreciation Evening is fast approaching, and you are encouraged to get the folks who work with youth in your congregation lined up to attend.  This is a chance for the conferences to express appreciation to these volunteers as well as to equip and encourage them in their roles working with youth and young adults.

When:  Sunday, October 1, 4-7:30 pm

Where: Faith Mennonite Church, 2100 N. Anderson Ave. in Newton

What:  Equipping:  from 4-6 pm, learning about and experiencing some spiritual practices, both to deepen the faith of youth workers as well as to equip them for their work with youth and young adults.  Appreciating:  from 6-7:30, enjoying a catered meal

Who:  This event is for the adult volunteers who work with youth and young adults in your congregation.  If you appreciate the time, energy, and love they give, and want to equip them for deeper ministry, send them!

Cost:  We are asking congregations to pay $10/participant to help offset the cost of the meal, but we will turn no one away.  We do not want the adult volunteers to pay their own way!  So line up your adult volunteers, and let us know how many we need to prepare for.  Please RSVP to dwightr@mennowdc.orgby Monday, September 26.

  1. Peter Goerzen, who serves on the WDC End Death Penalty Task Force, forwarded information about an upcoming abolition conference.  (Flyer attached.)

What:  “The Kansas Death Penalty:  What a Waste, 2017”    KCADP Abolition Conference
When:  October 21,1:00-3:30 pm
Where:  McPherson Church of the Brethren, 200 N. Carrie, McPherson, Kansas
Who:  Speakers include:  Roger Werholtz, retired Secretary of the Kansas Department of Corrections; Senator Carolyn McGinn, Chair of Senate Ways and Means Committee; Celeste Dixon, murder victim family member
Cost:  Free and open to the public
To Register:  To RSVP, email info@ksabolition.org or call 785-235-2237

  1.  Brad Roth, Pastor of West Zion Mennonite Church in Moundridge, KS, has authored a new book God’s Country:  Faith, Hope, and the Future of the Rural Church.  This book is available to be checked out in the Conference Resource Library.!  A book signing will be on October 7 from 1-3 pm at the Faith & Life Bookstore in Newton, KS.

Camp Mennoscah announcements

  1. Celebration for Kelly!  Kelly Stucky, long-time program director of Senior High Camp, has announced that he is retiring.  We will celebrate his 19 years as program director at the Camp Mennoscah annual meeting on October 1st (meeting begins at 5:30pm) and welcome all to attend.  Please RSVP online or call us at 620-297-3290.  We also invite everyone to share pictures, notes of gratitude, and memories.  These will be gathered into a scrapbook of sorts for Kelly.  Send them to Camp Mennoscah at olivia.bartel@campmennoscah.orgor by mail to Olivia Bartel, PO Box 65, Murdock, KS 67111.  You are welcome to bring them with you to the annual meeting, too!
  1. Camp Mennoscah invites you and everyone you know to Work & Play Camp from September 29 to October 3!  It’s a blast for folks of all ages.  We’ll be working on projects and making camp shiny from head to toe.  Interspersed with all that fun will be breaks, devotions, and friends to chat with and play games.  On Sunday, October 1, we’ll break from our routine with worship and the annual meeting.  Come for a day or for the full camp.  NO COST for this retreat!  Please let us know you’re coming by registering online at campmennoscah.orgor calling 620-297-3290.
  1. Camp Mennoscah’s Annual Meeting is October 1 at 5:30pm in the Camp Mennoscah dining hall.  Everyone is invited!  Please RSVP by registering online at campmennoscah.orgor calling 620-297-3290.  The meeting will include a Live Auction Fundraiser with meals for 6-10 people up for bid, hosted by board members and supporters of Camp Mennoscah.  Meals include “Mic Drop” Lasagna and Cheesecake, an Old-fashioned Sunday Dinner, Bed and Breakfast at Bluestem, and a German Sausage Tasting.  The agenda also includes recognition of Kelly Stucky’s 19 years as the Senior High Camp program director, updates on the dining hall and kitchen renovations, and stories from campers about Camp Mennoscah’s impact in life and faith.
  1. Scrapbook and Craft Retreats for everyone!  Pack up your pictures, punches, stamps and scissors and join us for one of our fall retreats, Nov. 3-5 and Nov. 15-17.  Enjoy the weekend however you’d like–create page after page of scrapbook and crafty artworks or take fall walks by the river.  Register online at campmennoscah.orgor call us at 620-297-3290 for a paper registration.  Retreats often fill up!

Mennonite church announcements
1.  Urgent! MCC Mobile Meat Cannery Volunteer Needed! MCC urgently seeks a volunteer that is at least 21 years old to work with the meat canner! Truck driving skills are ideal, but MCC is willing to provide training as well. The meat canning season starts up in October, please help MCC fill this vital need.  For more information, please contact John Hillegass at johnhillegass@mcc.org or (717) 859-1151.

  1.  MCC responds to Hurricane Irma damage in Cuba and Haiti: Hurricane Irma tore roofs from houses in Cuba and dashed houses to the ground. In Haiti, Irma’s rain turned into flash floods that rushed into houses and caused families to escape in waist-high water. In both countries, crops, gardens and livestock were destroyed. Your gift to Mennonite Central Committee helps people in Cuba to rebuild and people in Haiti to recover. You can donate online at donate.mcc.org/cause/hurricane-irma-response. Contributions can also be made by calling 1-888-563-4676or sending a check to MCC, 21 S. 12th St., PO Box 500, Akron, PA 17501  (See attached file: Bulletin insert – Hurricane Irma – US.pdf)
  1. The Mennonite Heritage & Agricultural Museum invites you to the annual Fall Heritage Lecture on September 23 at the Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church.  Pastor Willmar T. Harder, current pastor of Buhler Mennonite Church, and former MCC Bolivia Low German Program Coordinator, will be the speaker.  1st session: 9:00-10:00 am, Vivir Bien:  Low German Mennonites in Bolivia.  Intermission: coffeecake & coffee. 2nd session:  10:30-11:30 am, Kjenn Jie Noch Plautdietsch:  Is Mennonite Low German a Dead Language.  Event is free and open to the public.  Donations to the museum are welcomed.
  1. Announcing Great Day of Singing Events – Area congregations are invited to regional hymn sings – The Mennonite Worship and Song Committee, working under the name Resonate Team, has invited congregations to hold a “Great Day of Singing” this fall and has scheduled a series of regional hymn sings.  In WDC, on Sunday, November 19 (time TBD), Bethel College Mennonite Church, North Newton, Kansas, will host a hymnsing led by project director and general editor Bradley Kauffman.

“We want to bring Mennonites together around some new songs and worship resources while opening up a space for worshipers to reflect on God’s gift of song,” said Bradley Kauffman, general editor. “We also see these events as good ways to share excitement for the new hymnal coming in 2020.”  These events will draw from a new 16-page sampler designed for the denomination-wide Great Day of Singing (Sunday October 22), as well as other songs and worship resources. Congregations may download their own copies at MennoMedia.org/Resonate. In addition to the 16-page sampler, links to selected accompaniments, tutorial videos, and an image inspired by the Psalms are available for free download. A survey for congregational feedback on the sampler is also available there.  An offering to support the project will be received at most of these events as well. Individuals can also give online atwww.HymnalProject606.com.   For more information or to schedule an interview, contact LeAnn Hamby at 540-908-3941 or email LeAnnH@mennomedia.org

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