Reflection on the 2020 Western District Conference Annual Assembly held virtually on August 1-2, contributed by Delon Martens, who served as a delegate for FMC.
When Pastor Tonya gave us “word” stars at the beginning of 2020, she invited us to carry that word with us through the upcoming year being open to how that word might be a “guiding star” in one way or other. My chosen word, availability, has been on my refrigerator since I got it staring at me every time I open the refrigerator waiting for inspiration on how it is guiding me in 2020. That inspiration finally arrived in the past week or two as I have reflected on availability as it relates to my and our relationship with Western District Conference.
That inspiration has led me to look at availability in two different ways. The first is to see it as “that which is accessible to you and me,” and the other to “allow one to hear and respond to a calling or responsibility.”
Being available often begins with a request allowing the respondee to make his/her response. Isaiah 6:8 reads: Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!” Throughout my lifetime whenever I have heard what I believe is a call from God to be available to take on tasks or assume responsibilities, it did and does make me take time to reflect on the pathway that is before me, but in the end, my response has almost always been, “Yes, Lord, I am available. I am willing to serve you.” That was again the case when I received a call to consider serving as moderator-elect for WDC. I have had opportunities of serving WDC in various roles over the years, including a prior term on the Executive Committee, but when I received this call, I felt that my availability was such that I could accept this call to serve knowing there will always be support from many people along the way.
Over the years I have come to realize there are many resources that WDC has available to all of us as members of WDC, and frankly, that excites me. I am currently on the pastoral search committee for an Associate Conference Minister of Texas who will work primarily with the Hispanic churches in Texas. In reviewing candidates’ applications and their vision for these churches, it is clear that whoever this person will be, he/she will bring gifts that will benefit not only the Hispanic churches and church plants in our conference, but all the churches of WDC. Additionally, WDC makes available resources that help us with youth ministry, faith formation, pastoral searches, and congregational evaluations. In addition we all have access to the vast supply of resources in the WDC Resource Library. How truly blessed we are.
One final thought—I have wondered what the Mennonite presence in Hutchinson would be if the Western District Conference had not provided leadership and made financial resources available to the people of Hutchinson a hundred years ago as a Mennonite church was building its foundation. We continue to be recipients of the strong Mennonite foundation that was laid a century ago and I am grateful for that and look forward to the future of not only FMC, but also WDC. I will continue to make myself available for service as God calls and I invite you to join me.
CALENDAR for this week
Check your email each week for the coming Sunday’s live-stream (email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help!)
Sunday, August 30: UNRAVELED: Seeking God When Our Plans Fall Apart
Moses’ Mother Gives Moses Up So He Can Live – -When Our Plans for our Children Unravel
Exodus 1:22; 2:1-10
Preaching: Tonya Ramer Wenger
Worship Leader: Delon Martens
Children’s Time: Jennalee Boggs
Scripture Reader: Delon Martens
Pianist: Peggy Stucky
Live Stream: Jonathan Wenger
SUBMIT YOUR ANNOUNCEMENTS AND JOYS & CONCERNS
During each worship service, you are invited to text your prayer joys and concerns – usually to Pastor Tonya but sometimes it will be someone else, and we’ll give you that info at the time!! Please continue to send announcements ahead of time if you can, and it’s just fine to call or send your prayer concerns ahead of time too.
ATTENDANCE @ 9:30AM SUNDAY MORNING LIVE STREAM
We are ready for more individuals to be present on Sunday mornings during our live stream of worship in addition to those leading worship. Masks and physical distancing required.
Contact the church office or Pastor Tonya by Thursday each week to make a reservation to attend in person.
(Note the change for your reservations to be in by Thursday instead of Friday.) For the next few Sundays, we will keep the total number of people in the sanctuary fairly small (around 15). Decision making about increasing this number will be on the August 27 CMT agenda, and will be informed by recommendations from the Re-Opening Taskforce (Carol Moore, Joretta Martens, Dohn Fast, Todd Esau, and Pastor Tonya).
DEEPENING in Christ…
WHAT’S YOUR GUIDING SCRIPTURE PASSAGE?
In preparation for our annual Bible Dedication Sunday on September 13, I (Pastor Tonya) have an invitation for anyone who chooses to respond: (1) Spend some time in prayer, reflecting on scriptures that have guided you, comforted you, challenged you … have been pivotal in your life and relationship with God. (2) Choose ONE of those and have someone record a video of you (or record yourself!) reading that passage. If you need help with recording, let me know! When you do your recording, clearly state your name, the scripture reference (book – chapter – verses) and then read the passage SLOWLY. Speak more slowly than you think you should and it will be just right. (3) Send your video to me by September 7 so I can combine them and share them on Sunday September 13. THANK YOU!! Pastor Tonya
SANCTUARY PRAYER – TUES & THURS 11AM-2PM
On Tuesdays and Thursdays between 11:00am-2:00pm, you are welcome to come to pray on your own in the sanctuary, following the procedures posted in the sanctuary.
UPPER ROOM and REJOICE! devotional magazines
The new issues of both magazines to begin in September are available above the mailboxes. Please let us know if you would like a copy mailed to you.
SUMMER WORSHIP 2020 – UNRAVELED: SEEKING GOD WHEN OUR PLANS FALL APART
Focusing on Exodus 1:22 and 2:1-10, this Sunday’s worship will invite us into the life and story of Moses’ mother, who gave him up so he could live. Her story necessarily includes additional characters: Pharaoh, Miriam, and Pharaoh’s daughter who found Moses and chose to save him. As the journal/study pages point out, she became an ally. She used her power, position and privilege to work for justice alongside the oppressed. She preserved a life Pharaoh had decided was disposable.
Prayer Prompt for this week:
God, soften my heart toward and open my eyes to see ………………………. (those in my community overlooked or seen as disposable) so I too can help nurture and preserve life. AMEN
Last Week’s Prayer Prompt:
“Jesus, when I am unraveled by grief and doubt, breathe your peace into my lungs so that ……………………..”
Send your completed prayer prompts to Pastor Tonya to be woven into our prayer medallion on the communion table.
I AM NOT YOUR ENEMY STUDY GROUP
Thanks for the responses to the survey sent out last weekend. Mark your calendars for an outdoor gathering THIS SATURDAY evening from 7:00-8:00pm. Bring your own chair and your mask. This will kick off our weekly gatherings this fall which for now will be on ZOOM and will begin the week of September 13. Exact day and time are yet to be determined. Watch your email for updates!
PLANNING FOR FALL SUNDAY SCHOOL – BEGINNING SEPT 13, 2020
The Faith Formation Team has been in conversation about plans for fall Sunday School which will begin the week of September 13. At this point we’re planning to continue (at least in September) with online Zoom sessions for grade school, junior youth, and high school youth. All of these groups have been meeting regularly online this summer and we hope to continue that pattern. We will also be considering creative and safe options for beginning to meet in-person along the way, depending on the comfort level of teachers and parents and the rate of COVID-19 community spread in Reno County. One offering for adults is the I Am Not Your Enemy study group mentioned above. Harold Kroeker’s Bible Study class will likely also be resuming – watch for details on that in the near future.
SUMMER SEASONAL PRAYER RETREAT
Some of you may remember that Pastor Tonya had decided to offer a series of 4 Seasonal Prayer Retreats this year at the Dillon Nature Center. While these retreats are not happening in person, Pastor Tonya is preparing ‘At Home Retreat Packets’ and plans to have the SUMMER packet available by the end of August. Watch for information on how to access it.
STRENGTHENING Community Connections
SUNDAY MORNING SCRIPTURE READERS NEEDED
Let the church office or Pastor Tonya know if you are willing!!
M&M – SUNDAY AUGUST 30 @ 12:15PM
Mentors and Mentees – plan to meet on Zoom this coming Sunday at 12:15pm for abou
STRETCHING to Serve as Christ Served
OUR SUNDAY MORNING DONATIONS FOR FIRST CALL FOR HELP
The Salvation Army and Inter-faith Housing Services are currently accepting donations on behalf of First Call for Help. Personal care/hygiene items such as these are appreciated: toilet paper, laundry detergent, bath soap, Kleenex, deodorant, disposable razors, paper towels, shampoo, dish soap, hand/body lotion. Travel size – new & unopened – are desirable.
Food bank donations may be brought to the Salvation Army. At this time the Food Bank is particularly in need of the following: tomato soup, cream of mushroom soup and green beans.
WDC ISRAEL-PALESTINE TASK FORCE DAY OF PEACE
The WDC Israel-Palestine Task Force invites you to celebrate the International Day of Peace with a virtual conversation on racial justice. Palestinians Alex Awad and Jonathan Kuttab join US citizen Sarah Nahar. They’ll share their own experiences of injustice and hope and discuss the similarities in both contexts. Join us for this free live event sponsored by WDC Resource Commission on WDC’s Facebook page on September 21, 7 pm Central Time. You’re welcome to donate to WDC at: mennowdc.org.
WESTERN DISTRICT WOMEN’S RETREAT 2020
And now for something completely different! After much discussion and prayer, the Western District Women in Mission Retreat Committee has decided not to meet in person at Camp Mennoscah this year. We will miss all of you and the energy and joy you bring to camp. However, we WILL gather virtually on Saturday night, September 12 from 7:00-8:30 PM via Zoom for a worship service. Our goal is to connect to and encourage each other through Christ and His love for us. Susan Jantzen (interim pastor of Worship/Visitation at First Mennonite in Newton) will lead us on “Reflections on God as Keeper.” Bethany Martin from Faith and Life Bookstore will review a few books. Annelle Claassen (Retreat Committee Chair) will lead singing, and Karen Mascho (Pastor and Retreat Committee) will lead communion together. No masks required! For free registration or questions, send your email to Tammy Duvanel Unruh at email@example.com Save the date and we look forward to seeing your whole face!
CAMP MENNOSCAH CAMPING UPDATES
Mental Health Spiritual Retreat at Camp Mennoscah will be a one-day event on Monday, September 7. This retreat is for those affected by mental illness, including friends and family. Activities will be outside. We will follow social distancing and mask guidelines. Please bring a mask with you. Those interested in attending the retreat should contact Camp Mennoscah at 620-297-3290.
Limited number of openings! Camp Mennoscah’s Scrapbook and Crafts Retreats will take place on Oct. 30-Nov. 1 and Nov. 6-8. Masks and physical distancing guidelines will be followed and the facility used has been changed. More spaces will be opened as determined safe and feasible, so put your name on the waitlist! Register online atcampmennoscah.org! Call 620-297-3290 for further information.
Men and Boys Retreat has been canceled for 2020. Men and boys (with adult supervision) and families are invited to contact Camp Mennoscah at 620-297-3290 about overnight stays or day visits. We’ll see you soon!
Camp Mennoscah welcomes guests! Camping areas and cabins are open to guests/groups for overnight stays and day visits. Spend time in the river, 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 additional facilities. We can’t wait to see you!
MCC CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION GEAR
Support Mennonite Central Committee and celebrate MCC’s centennial with a new shirt, hoodie, tea towel, bag or hat! Check out this online store set up by the Kansas Mennonite Relief Sale to place your order today (pssst, it’s never too early to start Christmas shopping!). Visitwearatomic.com/product-category/mcc/ and start shopping to support MCC!
MENNONITE CENTRAL COMMITTEE (MCC) ALUMNI GATHERINGS
MCC is hosting virtual alumni gatherings for four of the world regions where MCC works: Latin America and Caribbean, Asia, Europe & Middle East and Africa. And you are invited! Join us for this special time to hear updates from Area Directors about current programming, share stories of service experiences and engage in small group discussions to connect with your MCC friends or meet others who served in the same world region. Find out specific dates, times and register atmcc.org/virtual-alumni-gatherings. Questions? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 316.283.2720.
MENNONITE LIFE 2020 issue – online journal available
The 2020 issue of Mennonite Life, Bethel College’s online journal, is live atml.bethelks.edu, with articles and reviews by Alain Epp Weaver, Ben Nobbs-Thiessen, Ben Woodward-Breckbill, Cheryl Denise, Christopher Reed, Emma Beachy, Jason Schmidt, Joanne Lehman, Joyce Zuercher, Julia Kasdorf, Keith Sprunger, Lisa Schirch, Marc Gopin, Melanie Zuercher and Raylene Hinz-Penner.
BETHEL COLLEGE ANNOUNCEMENT/NEED
Do you have skills with a sewing machine? If so, you can help provide a safer campus for our students, faculty, and staff by making masks.
Click here to find the CDC pattern for an easy project, or use any simple mask pattern you already have.
You can drop masks off at Thresher Shop in Schultz Student Center, or send them to:
Masks for Threshers
Bethel College Advancement Office
300 E. 27th St.
North Newton, KS 67117
If sewing isn’t your thing, you can donate to the Masks for Threshers fundhere.
NOTICE: For the health and safety of participants and the wider community, Life Enrichment at Bethel College is canceled for the fall 2020 semester.
MENNONITE CHURCH USA LAUNCHES ANABAPTIST STORYTELLING
Collaborative storytelling project launched to capture 2020 through an Anabaptist lens: The creators ofAnabaptist History Today (AHT), a new collaborative storytelling project, are calling on Anabaptists across the United States and Canada to share their experiences during the remarkable historical, biological and social events of 2020. The AHT website invites individuals, congregations, schools and organizations to tell their
stories of living during these changing times. “We hope this collection will offer a unique perspective on the lives of ordinary people and how Anabaptist faith and identity has shaped responses to the momentous
events of 2020,” says co-creator Jason Kauffman. To learn more about the AHT project, visit https://aht.libraryhost.com/s/archive/page/Welcome.
MENNONITE MISSION NETWORK – BEYOND FAITH IN ACTION
During these trying times, our thoughts go out to you and your congregation as you navigate the ever-changing landscape caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. We pray for you and ask that you continue to pray for us and God’s mission around the world.
Due to the current challenges and in-person limitations brought about by COVID-19, we have decided to send Beyond Faith in Action flier to you electronically rather than the usual printed version. You can link to the online version here: Beyond: Faith in Action | Mas Allá: Fe en acción
(or at this link:https://www.mennonitemission.net/Resources and click on the publication Faith in Action).
MENNONITE CENTRAL COMMITTEE (MCC) many opportunities!!
Mennonite Central Committee is accepting donations to support people in need of food and other assistance in Beirut, Lebanon. A massive explosion on Aug. 4 destroyed the country’s main port and silos filled with grain and worsened an existing economic crisis. You can donate online at mcc.org/beirut-response, by calling (888) 563-4676 or by sending a check earmarked for “Beirut response” to MCC, 21 S. 12th St., Akron PA 17501.
MCC is in need of school kits to fulfill requests from our partners around the world! Complete kits and/or supplies (find a full list of items at mcc.org/kits) can be shipped to MCC Central States (121 E. 30th St. North Newton, KS 67117) or dropped off in the 24-hour donation room at MCC. If you would like help unloading, please contact Kate at (email@example.com, (316) 804-8432) to schedule a drop off time. Thank you for your continued support of MCC!
Canner Operator: MCC is looking for new canner operators! This two year service term is unique and offers the opportunity to travel around the U.S. and Canada, working as a team while meeting new people! Check out https://mcc.org/get-involved/canning for details!
Seed Program: Hola! Estas interesado(a) en aprender o practicar tu español? MCC is looking for young adults for its Seed programs in Colombia and Guatemala/El Salvador which offer experiential learning and formation focused on Reflection, Service and Peacebuilding. Application deadline is October 19, 2020. For more information or to apply, please visit https://mcc.org/get-involved/serve/openings