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This week at FMC

December 1-7, 2021

My 8-year-old daughter had some pressing questions for me after church this past Sunday about my sermon.  She was really confused: “Mommy, I thought Jesus was born in a stable! What were you talking about??”  Maybe some of you were confused or disoriented, too, which is understandable. What I told Joanna is, yes, there was a stable, but it probably wasn’t what we imagine a stable to be.  And we talked about how important it is to be aware of how we are always interpreting scripture through our own lens and assumptions, which might not always be culturally or historically accurate. 

One of my primary resources for the perspective I shared in my sermon Sunday about the ‘inn’ (or kataluma in Greek) is the work of New Testament Biblical scholar Kenneth Bailey, who lived and taught for 40 years in the Middle East. In particular, he has a chapter about Jesus’ birth in his book: Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes,  I did a little searching online and found this article which gives a nice summary of Bailey’s perspective, if any of you want to do a little more reading (disclaimer: I don’t know much about the author of this article, but I appreciate his summary of Bailey’s chapter):  Jesus was not born in a stable (honest!) | Psephizo

I was also inspired by participating in a short Advent retreat this Saturday offered on ZOOM with Irish poet and theologian Pádraig Ó Tuama where he expounded on Bailey’s work and also led us in a poetry/prayer practice. The piece I wrote for my sermon was roughly based on the practice he taught us.  You can learn more about him and his work on his website:

Today I also wanted to briefly highlight the “Bread for our Journey” Faith Formation resource I’m sending out each Friday (with content for the week ahead).  This resource is based on our Advent Worship Theme from Worship Design Studio: “The Inn: Housing the Holy.”  You’ll find each week content under these categories, related to the theme of the week: READ THE WORD, PONDER THE TEXT, REFLECT ON OUR WORLD, LIVE IN WONDER, LOVE IN BELOVED COMMUNITY, REST IN GOD, AND PRAY.  Below is PONDER THE TEXT for you to consider as you journey through this first week of Advent.  You can find the full “Bread for our Journey” resource for Advent 1 here: 


Just before this passage [Jeremiah 33:14-16], in chapter 32, Jeremiah buys a field for future use. This was not just a purchase for a commercial transaction in normal times. This act was a statement about hope in the future, even when all was crumbling around him in a war-torn land. With this action Jeremiah is saying, “God is not done with this land yet.”

As Rev. Dr. John Holbert writes, “God’s final words for Jeremiah are never darkness or hopelessness or doom. Again and again Jeremiah followed predictions of disaster with intimations of a better future.” (Click here for this full reflection.)

What example of faith in a difficult time comes to your mind? When all was crumbling, what acts of faith have you done or witnessed?

Think of current events in the world and situations in your life. What do you envision or hope that God is not done with yet?

—Pastor Tonya

SUNDAY MORNING Worship In Person & Live Stream @ 9:30am

The link for Sunday morning worship (as well as archives of past worship services) is found on our website:! Join at 9:25am to see the announcements! 

REVISED STATEMENT (11/28/21) FROM CMT (Congregational Ministry Team)

to the congregation regarding COVID precautions.  This statement is based on recommendations from our COVID Response Team (Carol Moore, Joretta Martens, Todd Esau, Dohn Fast). 

CMT recommends that we continue to wear masks and practice social distancing while in the church building, especially during this time of increased exposure because of the holidays. We want to make this space as safe as possible.

SUNDAY, December 5:  The Inn: Housing the Holy.  “A Place at the Table (Peace)”

(Baruch 5: 1-5; Philippians 1:9-11)

  • Preacher:  Tonya Ramer Wenger
  • Worship Leader:  Carol Moore 
  • Scripture Reader:  Cheryl Warkentin
  • Children’s Time:  Susan Combs
  • Organist:  Shelley Kauffman
  • Ushers:  Stephanie & Jay Gehring
  • Nursery attendant:  Susan Combs
  • Sound:  Micah Wenger
  • Live Stream:  Jonathan Wenger

SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSES MEET @ 10:45am; also no Sunday School on December 26.


During each worship service, you are invited to text your prayer joys and concerns – usually to Pastor Tonya.  You are also welcome to send prayer joys & concerns during the week.  The recording of our worship service is public, so let us know if you’d prefer your request to only be shared via email during the week.


Announcements are scrolled Sunday mornings before (beginning around 9:25) and after the worship service.  There will be no spoken announcements unless there are pressing announcements that did not make it into the PowerPoint.  Please send any announcements you’d like to have included by Thursday each week. 


  • December 1 – Pastor Congregation Relations Committee (PCRC) at 7:00pm
  • December 5 – Second Sunday of Advent: “A Place at the Table” – with Christmas Tree Decorating!!
    • FMC Budget & Annual Meeting, Senior Youth Fundraisers (silent auction & lunch)
  • December 8 – “Housing the Holy”:  A Time of Guided Prayer & Meditation, 5:30-6pm
  • December 19 – Lessons and Carols worship
  • December 24 – 7:00pm Christmas Eve Worship for all ages

DEEPENING in Christ…


  • A Prayer group meets Thursday mornings from 10-11am in the Prayer Room.  All are welcome. 
  • A small ecumenical Centering Prayer group meets on ZOOM Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30-1:30pm.  If you’d like to learn more and receive the link to participate, contact Pastor Tonya. 


The pandemic has laid bare, and widened, economic disparity locally and globally. As we enter the Advent season, how can our churches become houses where the Holy will be born anew–offering respite, sustenance and care, opening the doors ever wider to those seeking shelter from the onslaught of life? No one church can do it all, but each can do something. As we study the biblical prophets that call us to care for our neighbors and “make room in the inn,” the lonely and frightened spaces within us are filled with the light of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. (created by Worship Design Studio)

This Sunday, December 5, we explore “A Place at the Table (PEACE)”.  Like the childhood game of “musical chairs,” we are convinced that there are not enough places at the table. And so we shrink the guest list just in case there is not enough, and we scramble to occupy the chairs first. And yet our sacred texts invite us to imagine and make real the gathering of all people to the table, robed in the garments of a Peace that comes with justice. This is what really matters–this is the fruit of what is right and good.

  • December 5       Advent 2: “A Place at the Table”  (Decorating the Christmas Tree & Annual Meeting)
  • December 12     Advent 3: “How Much is Enough?”
  • December 19     Advent 4: “A Room with a View”  (with Lessons and Carols)
  • December 24     Christmas Eve: “The Inn”
  • December 26     Sunday after Christmas: “Dwelling”

Check the STRETCHING section below for an announcement about a special ADVENT giving opportunity to Horizons Child Advocacy Center that will be coordinated with the Children’s Times in worship, but is for everyone to participate in!


  1. “Housing the Holy”:  A Time of Guided Prayer & Meditation led by Maggie Pounds.
    Wednesday, December 8, 5:30-6:00pm . . . Common Grounds Room @ FMC.
    This is an opportunity to take a gentle pause in the middle of the week and holiday season, to make space for the Holy in our hearts and in our lives through prayer and meditation.
  2. Bread for the Journey “At Home” resource for all ages, based on our “The Inn: Housing the Holy” worship series, will be made available via email on Friday of each week (so, Advent 1 will be sent this coming Friday).  Let the church office know if you want to receive the link but are not currently on our email list!
  3. Grace Episcopal Advent Quiet Day is THIS Saturday, December 4, 9:00am-12:30pm.  Led by Fr. J. Ted Blakley, the theme this year is “a crazy little thing called HOPE”.  There is time for worship, reflections, personal quiet time and sharing.  RSVP to .  Check the poster in the foyer or call the church office for details.  Grace Episcopal Church is located at 20th and Main in Hutchinson.
  4. Mennonite Church USA is again providing an “Advent At Home” resource, this year on the theme: Dare to Imagine.  You can access that resource at the following website: Advent At Home 2021 | Mennonite Church USA (
  5. Pastor Tonya has a number of Advent books she is making available for anyone to borrow during the season.  You can find them on one of the tall tables in the foyer – please be sure to sign the book out that you take, and enjoy (and bring back when you are done)!
  6. Some of you participated in Jan Richardson’s online Advent retreat last year.  You can find more information here for this year’s retreat:
  7. Check out for a Global Advent Calendar featuring an ‘Advent Word’ each day.  AdventWord provides visual and written meditations during the liturgical season of Advent (this year beginning on Sunday, November 28). The written meditations will be provided in English, Spanish, French and in American Sign Language on YouTube. Each morning during Advent, the meditations are distributed: on, EmailInstagramFacebook, and Twitter

FALL 2021 SUNDAY SCHOOL @ 10:45am

CHILDREN & YOUTH: Meet Jesus, the Messiah (SHINE Curriculum from MennoMedia)

  • PreK-Kindergarten (basement, room 3 – or outside)
  • 1st-5th grade (basement, rooms 1-2 – or outside)
  • 6th– 7th grade (all the way upstairs in the Jr Youth room – or outside)
  • 8th -12th grade (all the way upstairs in the Sr Youth room)


  • Younger Adults Class – meeting in the basement adult Sunday School Room
  • Adult Bible Study/Discussion – meeting in the basement fellowship hall.

Reminder: No Sunday School on the 5th Sundays of the month!!

UPPER ROOM and REJOICE! devotional magazines

REJOICE! and UPPER ROOM . . . new issues are available above the mailboxes.  Please let us know if you would like a copy mailed to you. 

STRENGTHENING Community Connections…

PASTOR CONGREGATION RELATIONS COMMITTEE (PCRC) meets Wednesday, December 1 at 7:00pm. 

Contact Stephanie Gehring, Dohn Fast or Jolene Yoder if you have concerns or affirmations regarding pastor/congregation relationships.


Mark your calendars and plan to attend FMC’s Budget & Annual Meeting Sunday December 5 + Fundraiser Meal & Silent Auction for Senior Youth!!  It’s going to a be a fun morning! All are welcome to participate in the meeting and discussion, although only members/associate members will cast votes.   The morning schedule is as follows:             

  • 9:00am – BIDDING BEGINS for the Silent Auction in the Common Grounds Room (bring your items by 8:45am please!!)  Bidding will be closed during worship (9:30-10:30).
  • 9:30am Worship (Second Sunday of Advent, including Decorating the Christmas Tree. The prelude will begin around 9:20am – adults will hang their ornaments as they arrive and families with children/youth will pick up their name ornaments at the back and hang them a little later in the service.)
  • 10:30am (or perhaps earlier!) bidding resumes for Silent Auction and ends when the Budget & Annual Meeting begins.
  • 10:45am-12:15pm Budget & Annual Meeting (with Sunday School classes & activities for children/Jr Youth running concurrently)
  • Senior Youth Fundraisers: 
    • Silent Auction. Bring your items to donate anytime to the basement fellowship hall – just put them on the designated table by 8:45am December 5 (if you bring items that morning, bring them to the Common Grounds room).  Suggested items:  quality used items, baked goods (can bring the morning of if you prefer), gift certificates, and more! 
    • Lunch: Take-home lunch provided for a donation of your choice


We need your stories about life at FMC!  They can be stories from yesterday or 50+ years ago.  And … do you have pictures you could share?  We welcome pictures from the past, but more recent pictures as well! 

You can submit photos and stories easily on our website: where you can access a form to fill out and submit. Please share the above link freely with those you know who were at First Mennonite once upon a time and might have a story and/or pictures to share … maybe friends, relatives, children, etc.??   You can also email your response or put your stories and/or photos in the respective boxes available at church in the foyer.   

BEAUTIFUL SALT CITY PODCAST                                    

A future story tells us what we want (vision), why we want it (values), and how we will create it (resources). Our own Pastor Jim Unruh talks with people in our community to learn their life stories and to dream together for a future story for our beautiful salt city.  Find it here:  While new episodes are not being added right now, this is your chance to catch up on previous conversations!


  • Tuesday and Thursday 9:00am – 2:00pm  
  • Wednesday 10am-1pm 


  • Monday: Sabbath Day
  • Tuesday-Friday: generally working 9:00am-5:30pm  
  • Office Hours:  9-2 Tuesday and Thursday; 10-1 on Wednesday
  • Available other times by appointment.
  • Available evenings and weekends (cell phone is most reliable)

REMINDER:  If you are last one out of the church building, be SURE the doors lock behind you when you leave.  Go out, watch the doors latch, give both door handles a tug, and make sure they are locked!  Thank you.

STRETCHING to Serve as Christ Served…

CHRISTMAS GIVING OPPORTUNITIES . . . sharing Christ’s love this season with those near and far! 


FMC children and families are specifically invited, as part of the Advent Children’s Times (but EVERYONE is welcome to participate!) to donate new or gently used toys to Horizon’s Child Advocacy Center (CAC) for their waiting room.  Bring your items (see below for suggestions) throughout Advent, and by the first Sunday after Christmas when we will bless the items to be donated.  There will be a box in the foyer for you to put your donations throughout Advent.

Horizons CAC is a program of Horizon’s Mental Health Center.

This partnership allows for child victims of abuse to be immediately linked to therapeutic services upon their first visit to the CAC. They also offer the Personal Safety Awareness Program which partners with dozens of area school districts to inform the public of body safety strategies.  Some suggestions for donations (the target age is kids age 2-10 and items can be new or gently used):  popits or other small fidget toys, large size puzzles, Thomas the Train items, and picture books. The CAC encourages a variety of cultures represented in the toys and books. They would also welcome packaged snacks for the children and their siblings visiting the center. This program depends on grants and donations, so your support is much appreciated!


Donations for “Santa Sacks” must be in the mail by December 1 to Trinity United Methodist Church, Salthawk Community Support, 1602 North Main Street, Hutchinson KS 67501.  Make checks out to Salthawk Community Support.   You can also donate online: As of the day before Thanksgiving, we had received $15,445 toward our goal of $18,000.  Thank you for your generosity!!

HAT & MITTEN TREE: During Advent we’ll have a tree in the foyer to collect hats and mittens.  These donations will be taken to Salvation Army for distribution to persons in our community.

INFANT CARE KITS – 50 of them are ready for MCC … dedication planned for CHRISTMAS EVE. 

Take a look at the two bundles on display on the table in the foyer.  Deanna Mace and Jane Kroeker have already done the shopping for you and have 50 bundles ready.  Your gift of $25.00 covers the cost of a bundle and shipping.  Make your check payable to FMC with memo line reading Infant Care Kits before Christmas Eve! On Christmas Eve we will bring the bundles into worship for a prayer of dedication.  Thank you for helping bring comfort to families around the world who are caring for new babies amid the struggles of conflict, poverty, displacement, famine and natural disasters.

FIRST CALL for HELP TEEN CHRISTMAS . . . contributions needed by December 9: 

New , unwrapped Christmas gifts appropriate for teenage boys or girls, or gift cards or monetary contributions.  Specifically requesting hoodies (especially in need of X-2XX), PJs and fun socks.  May be dropped off at 17 West 2nd Avenue, Tuesday and Thursday 9am-3pm, or Wednesday 9am-noon.  Or mail contributions to First Call for Help, PO Box 2203, Hutchinson KS, 67504-2203. A community member will be matching monetary donations received no later than December 9.

CHRISTMAS CONCERTS and EVENTS around the community . . . inspiration and sharing.

Hesston College presents Home for Christmas.  This performance explores what coming “home for Christmas” means for a diversity of people and cultures.  December 4, at 7:00pm in the Hesston Mennonite Church.   All performers fully vaccinated for COVID-19 will perform without masks.  Audience members are required to wear masks.  No tickets are required, but a free-will offering will be accepted following the performance.  Program and livestream available at

Annual Five Places of Christmas sponsored by Bethel College Women’s Association will be held Saturday, December 4, 10:00am–4:00pm.  Four locations — Carriage Factory Art Gallery and Warkentin House Museum in Newton and Goerz House and Kauffman Museum in North Newton will be open for free in-person visits. Harvey County Historical Museum will offer online information.  The Carriage Factory Art Gallery will feature a make-and-take ornaments from 10 a.m. to noon and 10% off non-sale items gallery wide all day as well as refreshments.  Warkentin House guests can explore the Victorian home that will be decorated to its holiday finest by local volunteers and interior decorators and enjoy pre-packaged peppernuts. The museum is located at 211 E. 1st Street in Newton.  At Goerz House at Bethel College the 2021 theme is “Homemade Holidays” and will feature handmade crafts and one-of-a-kind items and fresh homemade treats including peppernuts, candies, cookies, cinnamon rolls and other baked goods. Poinsettias and candy by the pound will also be available.  Bakers and craft makers are invited to support the Women’s Association by donating baked goods and craft items.  Please bring your items to Goerz House on Friday, December 3, from 1:30-4:30pm or Saturday, December 4 from 7:00-9:00am.  Thank you for your support of Bethel College!

Canadian Brass will perform as part of the 2021-2022 Sunflower Performing Arts series on Tuesday, December 7, at 7:30pm, in the Hesston Mennonite Church.  In its 49th season, Canadian Brass is known for concerts that display virtuosity, creativity and humor.  Information and tickets:   Audience members will be required to wear a mask, according to current Hesston College guidelines.   For more information or to purchase tickets, call 620-327-8158 or click

The McPherson Community Brass Choir under the direction of Jerry Toews will give their Christmas Brass Concert Sunday, December 12, at 7:30pm in the Goessel HS gym.  This event is sponsored by the Goessel Ministerial Alliance and a free will offering will be taken.  Note the location change accommodating for social distancing.  Come and enjoy a festive brass Christmas concert!


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, tooth paste and tooth brushes.  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.


Support Mennonite Friendship Communities – did you know that when you shop at Dillons or Amazon, you could be supporting MFC? Each of these companies have programs that give a portion of sales back to local non-profits.  Check out Dillon’s Community Rewards – or Amazon Smile – to sign up. Call Susan Nisly at MFC 620-663-7175 with questions.

CAMP MENNOSCAH announcements

  • Christmas Gathering on Dec. 18 at 2:30pm!  Join us in the Dining Hall at Camp Mennoscah for afternoon fun–bring games to play indoors or out.  Camp will provide popcorn and generic pop.  (Masks recommended and encouraged for inside activities.) 

BETHEL COLLEGE announcements

Tues., Dec. 7 – Bethel College Steel Drum Band concert, 7 p.m.Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center. Bethel’s current COVID-19 protocols require physical distancing to the extent possible and mask-wearing indoors with groups of 10 or more. 

Weds., Dec. 8 – Singalong to Christmas portions of Handel’s Messiah returns in-person, 11 a.m.Memorial Hall, with chamber orchestra, soloists and student conductors. Scores provided. Bethel’s current COVID-19 protocols require physical distancing to the extent possible and mask-wearing indoors with groups of 10 or more. 

Fri., Dec. 10 – Christmas Gala Jazz concert, 8 p.m.Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center. Bethel’s current COVID-19 protocols require physical distancing to the extent possible and mask-wearing indoors with groups of 10 or more. 

Sun., Dec. 12 – Lighting of the Green returns in-person this year; 8 p.m. on the Bethel College campus.


Have yourself a honkin’ good holiday, December 17 from 4-6 p.m.! MCC is thrilled to host this drive-thru event again this year. Order your charcuterie box(es) today to enjoy in the comfort of your home, spread Christmas joy and order extra to give as gifts! Suggested donation per box is $25. We’re also collecting items for MCC hygiene kits at this event. PLACE YOUR ORDER by 5 p.m. on DECEMBER 9.  Details and order form are on  Questions? Please call 316.283.2720.

MCC in North Newton currently has over 800 sets of comforter tops and backs that need to be tied, as well as kits of fabric that can be sewn into more tops. MCC’s partners all around the world value these handmade comforters as useful, beautiful and tangible expressions of love. If you or your sewing group would be interested in tying or sewing for MCC, or if you have questions and are curious about how to make a comforter, please contact Kate Mast at the MCC Material Resources Center at, or 316-283-2720.


Words continue to elude us in ways we can express our appreciation to your membership for the constant and continually in-kind support of food and hygiene items.  Your support provides us with an avenue to continue our programs that are so needed in the community.  In addition, through your $100 monthly contribution to the Hutchinson Community Foundation for support with prescription medications, your donation has helped us cover the prescription medication expenses of 194 qualifying clients through October 31st of this year.  We focus on help with life-sustaining medications and do not provide help with narcotics or over the counter medications.  Our average help per client is $57.  Your monthly donation helps us with the cost that we cannot cover in-house through our prescription medication program.  To date we provide around $1,100 per month for this program.