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This week at FMC

December 16-22, 2020

“Mary, consenting to what none could guess, replied with conviction, “tell God I say yes.”  (John L. Bell in “No Wind at the Window” STS 11)

Power.  We might not think about Mary exercising power, but in her ‘yes’ she was using her own power to act.  This is what power is: the ability to act.  In this definition, we all have power.  Or, to use Kansas Leadership Center language (about leadership):  “leadership is an activity, not a position, and anyone can learn to exercise leadership at any time.”

In her society Mary was a nobody, without power, without agency to bring change to the difficult world she lived in.  Yet at some level she recognized her own power, her ability to act in the small corner of the world she’d been born into, the room in which she stood when the Angel Gabriel announced the outrageously impossible.  The dangerous craziness of this story is often lost on us.  Yet we can trace this power of God to work through the powerless and weak throughout scripture.  When we see this, we remember how dependent we are on God.  And perhaps we’re reminded of the weight of our power – our ability to act – when we are wanting to be faithful followers of Jesus.  We have many choices. Will we use our power to heal or to harm?  To hate or to love?  To sow trust or to fan flames of fear?  To embrace or to kill? In reality, these are not either/or dichotomies – we live somewhere on the spectrum between healing and harming, hating and loving, etc.  We make choices about which direction we are moving.  Right now, those choices feel extremely weighty as various leaders seek to influence us one direction or another. 

Sectarianism is a word I had not associated with our country until reading I Am Not Your Enemy by Michael McRay this fall.  The rhetoric and power plays at work to undermine a legitimate election are taking us dangerously deep into the “Scale of Sectarian Danger” as defined in the northern Irish context by Joseph Liechty and Cecilia Clegg.  They provide 11 statements as measurements for acknowledging and assessing difference (pg 123 in (I Am Not Your Enemy):

  1. We are different, we believe differently.
  2. We are right.
  3. We are right and you are wrong.
  4. You are a less adequate version of what we are.
  5. You are not what you say you are.
  6. We are in fact what you say you are.
  7. What you are doing is evil.
  8. You are so wrong that you forfeit ordinary rights.
  9. You are less than human.
  10. You are evil.

McRay reminds us that naming difference or believing in our moral or intellectual correctness does not need to be dangerous. Calling out evil is a moral obligation.  However, we can, as Pastor Jim said in one of his recent podcasts (slightly paraphrased): “hold our convictions close, but hold each other closer.”  The danger comes in the violent potential of some of these statements (especially 8-11).  When we choose to say: “‘You are evil, demonic, less than human, and undeserving of the same rights I am worthy of,’ we become accomplices to and perpetrators of violence.” (Mc Ray 124)  And, I would add, we have strayed dangerously far into the sin of idolatry … placing human rulers, or even ourselves, in the place of God.

Here’s the thing we MUST learn from Mary: our trust can never be in our own power, in securing our own positions, preferences, and dominance.  We trust GOD to save us, as vulnerable as that makes us feel.  We are given the power to receive, make space for, embrace and expect the mighty and amazing work of God.  Mary’s song is not a call for fellow Jews to violently overthrow Rome because God told her now was the time.  No. Mary’s song is about God’s justice and deliverance brimming over in the world to bring about a moral (scatters the proud hearted), political (brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly), and economic (filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty) revolution.  This is God’s doing, and the verbs Mary uses indicate these are things God has already done.  We live in this already … but not yet … world.  Advent – and Mary – reminds us we have the power to act in accordance with what God has – and is – doing to save us all from ourselves and each other. With Mary, we can say ‘YES’ to love that conquers hate and restores the world.

“With every passing day, as sunlight disappears, the dusk descends, and prayers ascend for strength to calm our fears. Uncertain is this time, when rancor seems to reign, and illness leaves within its wake such sadness, grief, and pain. Yet soon a star will shine. Look up! Keep watch and wait.  Then hear within a newborn’s cry the love that conquers hate.  That love, whose light becomes the dawn of God’s new day, when peace and justice will prevail and sorrows flee away.”  (Rev. Thomas Mousin

With love and prayers this third week of Advent …  Pastor Tonya

SUNDAY MORNING Worship Live Stream @ 9:30am

The link for Sunday morning worship (as well as archives of past worship services) is found on our website:!


Based on recommendations of the FMC Re-Opening Taskforce (Carol Moore, Dohn Fast, Joretta Martens, Todd Esau) and the Reno County Health Department regarding the current increase in community spread of COVID-19, the CMT (Congregational Ministry Team – Russ Wedel, Delon Martens, Julie Esau, Kevin Martin Nisly, Mike Dirks, and both pastors) has decided to limit in-person gatherings at the church to 10 (preferably less).  This includes worship and Sunday School.  We encourage everyone who can to join in worship via the live stream and Sunday School by Zoom.  Masks, physical distancing, and handwashing are required of everyone in the building.  We realize this is not the situation any of us want to be in, and feel it is an important step to take as we care for each other and our neighbors in the community.  CMT and the Re-Opening Taskforce will continue to evaluate this policy, based on data from the Reno County Health Department.

Sunday, December 20:  (ADVENT 4) On the Road to Revelation

Service of Lessons and Carols

  • Worship Leaders:  Heidi Unruh, Tonya Ramer Wenger
  • Scripture Readers:  College Students & Friends
  • Organist:  Pauline Buller
  • Sound:  Jasper Nisly
  • Live Stream:  Jonathan Wenger


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!!  You are also welcome to send prayer joys & concerns during the week.

Since our worship link is now public, when you submit prayer requests be sure to let us know if you’d prefer it NOT be shared on Sunday morning.  We can keep requests more private by only sharing them in the weekly prayer email sent out on Tuesdays. 


We will now be scrolling printed announcements prior to the service (beginning around 9:25) and after worship.  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 21 – Longest Night Service @ 7pm (livestream)
  • December 24 – Christmas Eve Service @ 7pm (livestream) followed by ZOOM Fellowship
  • December 27 – NO Sunday School

REMINDERS . . . HIGHLIGHTS . . . details below

  • FMC 2020 Annual Reports (printed copies) are available on the table in the foyer
  • Contributions for Infant Care Kits for MCC will be received through Christmas Eve . . . $25 per kit
  • Gift giving ideas that support MCC ministries around the world
  • Smithsonian traveling exhibit “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” @ Kauffman Museum thru Jan. 17

DEEPENING in Christ…


This group meets Thursday mornings from 10-11am in the library (with masks and distancing).  All are welcome. 


Our Advent Theme this year, “On the Road…” is intended to create a feeling of movement.  While many of us are experiencing less physical movement in our lives, perhaps we’ll discover in this Advent season new possibilities of inner spiritual movement opening up.  Each week we’ll set out on a new leg of our ongoing journey toward Christ. 

  • Advent 4 (Dec 20) sends us “on the road to revelation,” where we learn that Jesus is the culmination of ancient promises.  Nine Lessons and Carols will guide us in celebration of Jesus’ revelation in the world. 
  • Livestreamed Longest Night Service @ 7:00pm (December 21)
  • Livestreamed Christmas Eve Service @ 7:00pm (December 24)
  • The Sunday after Christmas (Dec 27), we are “on the road to rejoicing,” inspired by the psalmist to praise God for the birth of Jesus Christ.  Pastor Tonya preaching.
  • On Epiphany (Jan 3) we are “on the road to radiance,” basking in the glow of God that shines for people of all nations.  You will receive “Star Words” to guide your journey into 2021.  Pastor Tonya preaching.

In the end, the sin­cere hope is that when this Advent journey has been completed, we will be closer to the heart of Jesus than when we began.  May it be so for each of us!!  Many thanks to Pauline Buller and Esther Regier for creating our Advent visual this year.


While Nine Lessons and Carols will look different this year, Pastor Tonya is excited to offer an adapted version that will include both live and recorded portions.  Our college students will be reading scripture via video and the music will feature the Wichita Guitar Ensemble (including Magdalena Wenger) along with music from others at First Mennonite and some ‘live’ congregational hymns.  Be sure to join in this unique time of worship!!


2020 has been full of all kinds of losses!!  You may be grieving the deaths of loved ones or simply the ‘death’ of normal life! How would you name the losses you are carrying and the grief you are working through? Join Pastor Jim and Pastor Tonya in a livestreamed time of worship inviting your expressions of lament and grief as we remember those in our lives and community who have died, as well as the many losses we have experienced in 2020.  Woven into our lament will be invitations toward hope despite the loss. 


All are invited to join virtually in the sanctuary for our Christmas Eve service, complete with candlelight singing of Silent Night.  Have your candle ready! Although we won’t be able to see each other’s candles this year, we can celebrate knowing throughout the city and beyond Hutchinson there are lights of hope and joy shining as we celebrate the birth of the Christ Child.  We’ll hear three reflections on Christmas Eve: from the perspective of Joseph, Mary, and a Shepherd.  And we’ll pray, sing, listen to scripture, dedicate baby bundles for MCC, and re-focus our hearts and lives on Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

UPPER ROOM and REJOICE! devotional magazines

The January/February issue of UPPER ROOM is available above the mailboxes.  Please let us know if you would like a copy mailed to you.  REJOICE! magazine (December – February issue) copies are gone.  Please let the office know if you would like for us to order one for you.


  • Kindergarten – 6th grade:  Sunday @ 4:00pm on ZOOM
  • 7th-8th grades:  Sunday @ 11:30am on ZOOM
  • High School youth:  Sunday @ 11:00am – currently meeting online

Adult Sunday School @ 11am on Sundays on ZOOM  (Meeting THIS SUNDAY December 20!)

Below is the schedule for the rest of December for this Adult Bible Study using the Salt and Light discussion guide written this quarter by Timothy J. Geddert, professor of New Testament at Fresno Pacific University (copies available at the church, or can be sent to you):

  • DEC 20 – In God’s Image: Becoming God’s Children (John 1:10-18)  Pastor Jim facilitating

Check your email for the ZOOM link or contact Pastor Tonya.  If you are unable to access ZOOM and want to participate, you may come in person. 

Masks and physical distancing practices will continue for all in-person gatherings at the church.

STRENGTHENING Community Connections…


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.  Visit our website ( Keep checking back because more conversations are coming!  And don’t forget to tell your friends about these conversations aimed at creating a future story for our beautiful salt city. 


Many thanks to all who attended our ZOOM Congregational Meeting last week!  We had around 40 individuals in attendance, which was amazing!  A recording of most of the meeting is available – contact Pastor Tonya if you’d like that sent to you.  The proposed budget was approved with the following amendment: that we adopt a deficit budget to bring the community assistance line item to $10,000.00 and if there are excess funds, restore the other cut line items.

The Gifts Discernment slate was also approved.  Deep thanks to Russ Wedel who is finishing 4 years on the CMT (2 as chair elect and 2 as chair).  We also thank Eldon Wagler who has served multiple years on the Faithful Service and Outreach Coordination Team as well as the Community Assistance Committee – he and Jane will be greatly missed.  And, gratitude to Jean Gaeddert who has also served multiple years on the Faithful Community Coordination Team. 

Finally, special thanks go to Pauline Buller and Julie Goering for serving on the Gifts Discernment Committee. They presented the following names to serve on the stated committees:

  • CMT:  Chair-elect to serve for two years, then move into chair position for two years—Jennalee Boggs.
  • CMT:  Carol Moore will fill the vacant two year at-large position.
  • Faith Formation:  Lona Willems
  • Faithful Community:  Mary Wade
  • Faithful Service and Outreach:  Diane Ziemer


  • Tuesday and Thursday 9:00am – 2:00
  • Wednesday 10am-1pm
  • Offices will be closed December 25-January 1.


Let the church office or Pastor Tonya know if you are willing.  We’d especially like to have more male voices!

STRETCHING to Serve as Christ Served…

INFANT CARE KITS for MCC – please make your contribution by Dec 24

Adopt a bundle!  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 (ICK).  Please make your contribution to adopt one bundle – or several – by Christmas Eve.  Contributions given to date cover the costs for 16 bundles.  Twenty-four more bundles are waiting for funding.  Through the blessings of careful purchasing and generous donations, Jane and Deanna have prepared 40 bundles and wrapped them for us.  Cheryl Warkentin has donated her time and talent to crochet the tiny hats for the baby bundles.  Thank you to all who have generously shared their gifts for the well-being of children around the world. 


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.


Kauffman Museum at Bethel College is hosting the Smithsonian traveling exhibit “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” through Jan. 17. Accompanying it is a local companion exhibit, “Of Land and People: Our Community at the Crossroads,” created from the museum’s permanent exhibit “Of Land and People.” The museum is open 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Tues.-Fri; 1:30-4:30 p.m., Sat.-Sunday; and closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission to the “Crossroads” exhibit is free on Saturdays.


A memorable, meaningful and unique MCC gift to give this Christmas! Grab a piece of MCC history to use in a modern day Mennonite feeding station – your home! Get one for yourself and order more for family and friends. Hang it on the wall in your kitchen or dining room, display it on a shelf or use it as a serving tray! Remember the kitchen at your church, too. Each tray was uniquely handcrafted by an artisan in Siberia using Siberian hardwood. The tray is 16” in diameter and 2” deep. Suggested donation per tray is $150. Full details and pictures are available at

Support Mennonite Central Committee and celebrate MCC’s centennial with a new shirt, hoodie, tea towel, bag or hat!  Check out this online store and support MCC!


Free resource from MCC: Learning about generosity! Help children learn about generosity with MCC printable worksheets including activities, a story, a craft to make and Christmas gift ideas that benefit global neighbors with colorable greeting cards, find it all at Explore the full list of Christmas giving options from MCC at

MCC asks for support for Central American hurricane recovery. Not one, but two hurricanes within two weeks have caused extensive flooding in Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Hurricanes Eta and Iota have destroyed crops and forced people from their homes. MCC is working with churches and community organization to provide emergency food, hygiene supplies and cleanup support. Join us as we help these communities recover. You can donate online, by phone (888) 563-4676 or by mail at MCC, 21 S. 12th St., PO Box 500, Akron PA 17501.

Join MCC for a series of “MCC and me” webinars to hear more about service opportunities. Are you ready to step out and into service? To gain new skills and experiences while working for relief, development and peace in the name of Christ?

MCC is working to adapt our programming as the situation with COVID-19 develops. All sessions relate to anticipated service needs, though timing and some other details may be subject to change.

  • January 13 at 3 p.m. EST: Summer Service leadership program
  • February 25 at 10 a.m. EST: Sharing With Appalachian People (SWAP) summer staff
  • February 25 at 8 p.m. EST: International service worker
  • March 6 at 12 p.m. EST: International service worker
  • March TBD: Mobile Meat Canner

For more information and to register:


Camp Mennoscah is a wonderful place for family gatherings of whatever size!  A variety of facilities fit any number of family groupings.  Or maybe you only need a space during the day for walking the trails or playing disc golf.  There is plenty of outdoor space!  Contact Camp Mennoscah at 620-297-3290 or to reserve!  You are welcome here!