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This week at FMC

December 15-21, 2021

Table of Contents

“Make of my heart a stable, a house for the holy …” * This prayer song keeps sounding in our house these days as we are going about our daily lives.  It’s a simple and profound desire many poets, theologians, pastors and more have pondered for years.  Consider, for example, these ending stanzas from a longer poem written by Madeline L’Engle:

It was time like this

of fear & lust for power,

license & greed and blight —

and yet the Prince of bliss

came into the darkest hour

in quiet & silent light.

And in a time like this

how celebrate his birth

when all things fall apart?

Ah! wonderful it is

with no room on the earth

the stable is our heart.

— Madeleine L’Engle

The second verse of our prayer song shifts focus .. “Make of my life a stable, a house for the holy’.   We might also imagine our life like a womb in which Christ grows, and Advent as a time of gestation and hidden growth in anticipation of future birthing.    13th century German Catholic theologian Meister Echkart put it this way:  “We are all meant to be mothers of God … for God is always needing to be born.” 

Similar themes are also found in my favorite Advent devotional book exploring the writings of Caryll Houselander who, according to Thomas Hoffman (editor of the book), “was a laywoman, mystic and poet whose timeless vision of spiritual childhood comforted and challenged the English-speaking world through the ravages of World War II and the London Blitz.” (1)  Here’s a bit of Houselander’s thoughts about Advent from her book The Reed of God:

“When a woman is carrying a child, she develops a certain instinct of self-defense. It is not selfishness; it is not egoism. It is an absorption into the life within, a folding of self like a little tent around the child’s frailty, a God-like instinct to cherish, and some day to bring forth the life.  A closing upon it like the petals of a flower closing upon the dew that shines in its heart.  This is precisely the attitude we must have to Christ, the Life within us, in the Advent of our contemplation.  We could scrub the floor for a tired friend … or lay the table and wash up for the family; but we shall not do it in martyr spirit or with that worse spirit of self-congratulation, of feeling we are making ourselves more perfect, more unselfish, more positively kind.  We shall do it for just one thing, that our hands make Christ’s hands in our life, that our service may let Christ serve through us, that our patience may bring Christ’s patience back into the world. …”  (A Child in Winter: Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany with Caryll Houselander. Edited with Scripture selections and comments by Thomas Hoffman)

God of Advent…

Make of our hearts, our lives, and our church a stable.

A house for the holy.

A warm and sturdy place, for your hope – peace – joy – love, to grow.  AMEN.

    (* words and music written by Amanda Udis-Kessler)

—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 (12/12/21) 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). 

With the increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations reported in Reno County and the state, CMT recommends continuing with the current practice of masking and social distancing plus good hand washing while in the church building.  There is evidence that these measures work to reduce the transmission of the virus. 

SUNDAY, December 19:  The Inn: Housing the Holy.  “A Room with a View (Love)”

(Luke 3: 10-14; Luke 1: 46-55)  Lessons and Carols Service

  • Worship Leader:  Tonya Ramer Wenger
  • Scripture Readers (in person and recorded): Magdalena Wenger, Trae Gehring, Michaela Esau, Jasper Nisly, Jacob Unruh, Adam Schrag
  • Children’s Time:  Ama Reimer
  • Organist:  Pauline Buller
  • Musicians:  Calvin Buller, Pauline Buller, Bailey Krehbiel, Duncan Krehbiel, Cathia Krehbiel, Nick Krehbiel, Esther Regier, Jonathan Wenger, Magdalena Wenger, Tonya Ramer Wenger, Reuben Wenger
  • Ushers:  Glenda & Rick Hooper
  • Nursery attendant:  Stephanie Gehring
  • Sound Tech:  Earl Ediger
  • Live Stream Tech:  Jay Gehring

SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSES MEET @ 10:45am; 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 17 – Alma Thiessen Memorial Service @ FMC (10:30am)
  • December 19 – Lessons and Carols worship
  • December 24 – 7:00pm Christmas Eve Worship for all ages ; dedication of Infant Care Bundles for MCC
  • December 26 – Worship as usual; no Sunday School classes

FMC CENTENNIAL . . . LightHouse Giving Opportunity

The LightHouse addresses the growing need of transitional housing for youths ages 18 to 21 in Hutchinson. The property at 1005 N. Washington Street is currently being renovated into eight one-bedroom apartments. 

Interfaith Housing & Community Services is leading this community project and needs our help with construction costs, furnishings for the apartments and ongoing maintenance.  The Centennial Committee would like for FMC to raise $22,000 by October 2022 to help with these expenses.  Your check can be made out to FMC, with “LightHouse” on the memo line.  Will you support this project with a year-end, tax deductible gift? Thank you!

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 Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30-1:30pm.  If you’d like to learn more, 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 Advent we have been listening to prophets: Jeremiah, Baruch, and Isaiah.  On December 19, we will listen to the whole sweep of God’s story of love unfolding and transforming humanity in a service of Nine Lessons and Carols. To the list of prophets we’ve been listening to, we’ll add the voice of Mary, who was the original house for the holy. She was “the inn,” her womb gestating love for the world. With all her heart, she proclaims that the lowly are lifted, the hungry are fed, mercy reigns. Like Mary, we must envision, must see, must prophesy and act on that vision for the world that God continues to call us to co-create. What is the view from the room that God has prepared?

  • 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”


Join us in person or on the livestream for Christmas Eve worship at 7:00pm December 24!

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!!

+ NO SUNDAY SCHOOL on December 26!

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…


Join the Thiessen family as we give thanks for and celebrate Alma’s life among us on Friday at 10:30am.  The service will be followed by lunch and then the burial in Memorial Park Cemetery. Friends may
visit Elliott Mortuary on Thursday, December 16, 2021from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. with the family present from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.   Watch for a private link for the livestream to be sent to the FMC church list by email.  The link will not be accessible on the FMC website. 


…   Thank you for your generous donations to the Senior Youth fund (coming in around $1600) and your participation in the Budget/Annual Meeting.  The 2022 Budget was approved as proposed, along with the Gifts Discernment slate.  DRAFT minutes (yet to be approved by the congregation) are included in FMC’s weekly email .  Hard copies are available in the rack next to the mailboxes.


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 

Church offices will be closed the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. 


  • 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!


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.


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.

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

Christmas Concert – Hope Mennonite Church, Wichita , Sunday, December 19, 4:00pm. 

Hopeful Blues (an eclectic instrumental group based at Hope) will host Doxology Ensemble (a 12-voice male acapella ensemble from the Anabaptist community near Hutchinson) in a concert of sacred music.  Donations are welcomed.  The Hope Mennonite is located at 868 N. Maize Road, Wichita.


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.

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.) 
  • Volunteering opportunities continue through the winter months!  The wish list is full of both items and volunteer projects for every group size, skill set and length of project.  These items and projects help with the faith formation that happens at Camp Mennoscah.  The list has more wishes and there are more projects to do.  Email or call 620-297-3290 to volunteer.  See the Wish List for other ways to support Camp Mennoscah!


Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) is monitoring the damage from the string of deadly tornadoes which moved through areas of the Midwest and parts of the South over the weekend. We extend our condolences to those who have lost loved ones and we offer prayers of support for the survivors.

Several MDS Early Response Teams are investigating several of the tornado sites to help determine how and where MDS will respond. Many of our partners via the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) which specialize in search and rescue, damage assessment and cleanup are already responding. We will determine when and where volunteers will be needed most. If you are interested in being added to a volunteer waitlist, please include your name, address and email address and send to:  If you wish to donate to the MDS response, you may do so on our website. Please click here.  As new information becomes available we will continue to update information at


The MCC Comforter Blitz Committee is looking for additional committee members! Would you be interested in assisting the making of comforters for Mennonite Central Committee, and helping to plan the annual three-day comforter making event in Yoder, Kansas? If so, we would love your skills and your voice! If interested, please reach out to Committee Chair, Kara Klingenberg at or call her at 620-983-9003 for more information. We are currently looking for a treasurer, advertising help, and anyone else who is interested in helping.

MENNONITE WORLD CONFERENCE . . . Indonesia – July 5-10, 2022

Travel to Indonesia . . worship with Anabaptists from around the world . . experience culture and geography and make new friends.  Are you interested in attending?

The Assembly team reflects on why they keep coming back for more.  Here are a few of their stories:

·         Liesa Unger, Germany, MWC chief international events officer

My first Assembly was Strasbourg 1984, France, when I was 20 years old. We went there by bicycle, riding 100km from our church in Germany. It was such a life- changing experience that I went to every single Assembly since, because I want more of those encounters with people from around the world that touch my life and broaden my perspective.

·         Nelson Martinez, Colombia, Assembly registration coordinator 

Indonesia 2022 will be my second Assembly, but I’m experiencing both Assemblies as a staff member. Pennsylvania 2015 was a huge event with a few staff, and what we could accomplish was amazing. That’s why I’m staying in the team, believing that God will make everything possible. When the event is over, there’s this sense of not wanting to leave the place and the people I’ve been working with so closely. I’m sure Indonesia 2022 will be like that too. Working toward the same cause globally is amazing. 

·         Jardely Martinez, Colombia, Assembly youth program coordinator 

Assembly is a great space not just to connect with others but also to be encouraged in our communal spiritual journey. Pennsylvania 2015 was my first Assembly and I was really encouraged after my return home, talking about how we’re part of a larger community of faith with those in my church. I want them to experience some of that. Assembly is an opportunity for us to be encouraged and then encourage others. I’m really thankful for that. 

·         Elina Ciptadi, Indonesia, Assembly communications

My first Assembly was in Bulawayo 2003, and I’ve been to every single one since then. Once you’ve been to one, you can’t stop because a global fellowship like this is rare. In normal times, you get together with people in your church, your small group, and feel that the challenges you’re facing are yours alone. Then you go to Assembly, where many people encounter and have worked on similar challenges. In listening to them, we see the many ways in which people seek to be better witnesses and followers of Jesus. There is strength and encouragement in this connection. And that connection is life changing.