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This week at FMC

November 18-24, 2020

A blessing in disguise during this pandemic is the expanded opportunities for learning and connecting from the comfort of home or office!  For example, today I am planning to get together with local women clergy for lunch, have a planning meeting with Julie Goering for our I Am Not Your Enemy study group, and meet with Reno County clergy. This evening I’ll join a conversation hosted by KMUW and Kansas Leadership Center on Courageous Political Conversations followed by a webinar hosted by Mennonite Mission Network on the topic “Adapting to the Pandemic and Innovating for the Future” …  all on ZOOM!  Obviously, the challenge becomes choosing between all the wonderful opportunities, and dealing with ZOOM fatigue!!

I’m really glad I chose to participate on a recent Thursday evening in KIPCOR’s (Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution) Peace Lecture presented by journalist and author Sarah Smarsh.  Sarah focuses on socioeconomic class and rural America. Her book Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, an instant New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the National Book Award, examines economic inequality through her upbringing among the working poor on a Kansas farm. Sarah has reported on socioeconomic class for The Guardian, the New York Times, The New Yorker, Harper’s, and many other publications.In 2019, Sarah released a podcast entitled The Homecomers, which focuses on how a national blind spot toward rural and working-class America is driving misleading headlines, broken politics, and dangerous fissures in our social fabric.  The podcast showcases stories of people who, as residents or advocates, remain committed to their complex, embattled homes. ( 

Sarah Smarsh is a delightful, authentic and highly engaging presenter.  She spoke on the topic “Bridging the Cultural Divide in Difficult Times.”  For a limited time (I’m not sure how long!) you too can listen to her lecture here:

Sarah gave us two ‘inner challenges’ to consider.  My summary below is based on my notes and I’m sure I missed details or nuance, so encourage you to take time to listen to her yourself. 

Inner Challenge #1:  Shift from pride to humility.  We have become tribal in our politics.  We are so proud of our political identity. It gives us an ego boost.  The goal has become to tear down the other side, to see our own side as superior.  Her critique and caution is not in holding to values, but in seeing yourself as superior. She strongly encouraged separating ourselves from our ideas.  Ideas come largely from external forces, and ideas change over time.  There is a distinction between superior ideas and superior people.  She noted we are certainly divided by media sources … and she believes we are not divided in our hearts.

Inner Challenge #2:  Shift from follower to leader in the realm of ideas.  What’s happening in our country is full of ideas and concepts coming at us full tilt.  We can’t just follow the information flock, but need to question where information comes from. Don’t just share what validates what we believe.  Lead the way by scrutinizing information.  Also bring this into day to day conversations … are we being tribal, or willing to push back when things don’t feel right?

Since the lecture I’ve picked up her book, Heartland, and have had a hard time putting it down. Here’s a quote from early in the book capturing some of her story and questions:  “…in my early adulthood, I don’t think I’d ever heard the term ‘white working class.’ The experience it describes contains both racial privilege and economic disadvantage, which can exist simultaneously. This was an obvious, apolitical fact for those of us who lived that juxtaposition every day.  But it seemed to make some people uneasy, as though our grievance put us in competition with poor people of other races.  Wealthy white people, in particular, seemed to want to distance themselves from our place and our truth. Our struggles forced a question about America that many were not willing to face: If a person could go to work every day and still not be able to pay the bills and the reason wasn’t racism, what less articulated problem was afoot?” (13-14)

Friends … in the midst of all the challenges this pandemic is offering opportunities to listen to and learn about the experiences and stories of others whose lives have been different from our own.

This opportunity has of course always existed; the pandemic is forcing our eyes open in new ways.  Learning and growing are fundamental in the spiritual journey, particularly as we give ourselves to the Spirit of the Risen Christ and long to see the Fruit of the Spirit grow in our lives.  Our God is creative, active, and transforming … making all things new.  May we have the courage to yield to God’s shaping power in our lives.

—- 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 or less for the month of November.  This includes worship and Sunday School.  We encourage everyone who can to join in worship via the live stream and Sunday School by Zoom.  Typically, there will be space for a few more in worship in addition to those putting on the service, as well as the 11am Sunday School class. Continue to contact the church office the week before to check about coming in-person for worship; preference will be given to those unable to access the livestream or 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 reevaluate this policy during November, based on data from the Reno County Health Department.


  • Preacher:  Tonya  (litany of thanksgiving from many)
  • Worship Leader:  Heidi Unruh
  • Children’s Time:  Ama Reimer
  • Scripture Reader:  TBD
  • Pianist:  Peggy Stucky
  • Sound:  Murray Reimer
  • Live Stream:  Jonathan Wenger


Mission Festival this year featured Michelle Armster, Executive Director of Mennonite Central Committee Central States (in North Newton) as our guest speaker on November 15.  We invite you to send a donation during November to the church for a special “Mission Festival Offering” to be shared with MCC Central States and MCC’s New Hope in the Name of Christ 100th Anniversary Fundraiser.  Make your check out to FMC, and put ‘Mission Festival’ in the memo line.  You can read more about MCC’s 100th Anniversary Fundraiser and donate online if you prefer at this link:


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 announcements and 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. 


  • November 22 – ‘Come, Ye Thankful People … Raise Your Voice!’  (see below for details)
  • November 29 – First Sunday of Advent
  • December 9 @ 7:00pm – FMC Budget/Business & Annual Meeting  (Youth Fundraiser Meal delivered to you during the day – see details below!)

DEEPENING in Christ…


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


There’s still time to be a part of a video litany of gratitude and thanksgiving to be shared as part of worship.  All ages are invited to be part of this litany sharing what/who/where you are thankful for this year.  Many of us haven’t seen each other in a long time and this will give us a chance to hear from and see each other, and be encouraged!! 

The format is simple:  State your name and complete the sentence “Right now I am thankful for ………”

You have OPTIONS for adding your voice:

  1. Record a short video yourself (or ask a friend or family member to help) and send the video to Pastor Tonya on email or text. 
  2. NEW (since in-person doesn’t seem like a good idea right now) … contact Pastor Tonya to set up a time to get together on ZOOM where she can easily record you.
  3. Send your words in writing, and Pastor Tonya will add them in.

Please submit videos or written words by THURSDAY NOVEMBER 19 (although Pastor Tonya will take them through Friday if you need more time!).


You can still add yourself to FMC’s Group Rate for Jan Richardson’s Advent Illuminated Retreat, beginning November 29.  I love the simple and creative space Richardson creates in her online retreats through words, prayers, music, questions for reflection, and artwork.  The format is to receive three emails/week.  We were able to put together a group of 8, and can add more at any time.  The group rate is $60/person.  As part of that you also have access to an optional online forum where you can connect with everyone participating in the course (not just our group!).

Check out the details here: and let me know if you’d like me to add you to our group.  We’ll also be exploring our small group gathering periodically to share about what we’re learning and discovering this Advent season. 


Our Advent Theme this year, “On the Road…” is intended to create a sense of movement.  The planning team from Ohio Mennonite Conference wanted to bring to mind movement coming from traveling from one point to another.  As they describe it:  In the story of the magi from the East, they literally took to the road and drew closer to Jesus with each passing step. This rich imag­ery sets the tone for the Advent season as we seek to move ever closer to Jesus, wherever we might find ourselves along the road of faith. 

Each week we’ll set out on a new leg of this journey toward Christ. 

  • Advent 1 (Nov 29), we are “on the road to readiness,” staying alert for Jesus’ second coming.
  • Advent 2 (Dec 6), we are “on the road to repentance,” confessing our sins as John the Baptist taught.
  • Advent 3 (Dec 13) takes us “on the road to restora­tion,” where we recognize that God will ultimately overturn the injustices of our world.
  • Advent 4 (Dec 20) sends us “on the road to revelation,” where we learn that Jesus is the culmination of ancient promises.  This Sunday will also (if all goes well!) feature an adapted version of our traditional Nine Lessons and Carols.  While we cannot have the choir singing, we look forward to alternate options for music and scripture to guide us into celebration of Jesus’ revelation in the world. 
  • Longest Night Service (December 21)
  • Christmas Eve (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.
  • On Epiphany (Jan 3) we are “on the road to radiance,” basking in the glow of God that shines for people of all nations.  We anticipate once again receiving “Star Words” to guide our journey into 2021.

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!!

UPPER ROOM and REJOICE! devotional magazines

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


Sunday November 22 is the last Sunday in the Fall Quarter for children and Jr youth!!  The Winter Quarter begins November 29 and will continue the same schedule we had for fall:

  • Kindergarten – 6th grade:  Sunday @ 4:00pm on ZOOM
  • 7th-8th grades:  Sunday @ 11:30am on ZOOM
  • High School youth:  Sunday @ 11:00am at the church or online (decided week by week)

Adult discussion class book study, I Am Not Your Enemy, by Michael T. McRay:  Wednesdays 7-8:00pm on ZOOM.  Led by Pastor Tonya and Julie Goering.  This study ends this week on November 18. 

Adult Sunday School @ 11am on Sundays on ZOOM and in-person

The class is using the Salt & Light discussion guide.  This quarter our study centers on, “Joining God: Relationship and Worship,” using a variety of Old and New Testament texts.  All are welcome to join this class.  The winter study beginning December 6, is entitled, “In God’s Image,” written by Timothy J. Geddert, professor of New Testament at Fresno Pacific University.  If you would like a study guide mailed to you, please call or email the church office.

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


A new collection of books is available on the window ledge in the church library.  This is Pastor Tonya’s personal collection received through the Minister’s Book Club, and she is making them available for our reading.  Please come and browse, then check out the book(s) you would like to read.  Be sure to keep these separate from the regular library holdings by putting your name and book title on the sheet next to the books.

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 (  to listen to Jim’s Introduction, a conversation with Pastor William J. Green, and a conversation with Pastor Tonya. 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. 


As announced earlier, CMT has agreed to combine the Budget/Business Meeting with the Annual Meeting in December – we will meet Wed Dec 9 @ 7:00pm.  A fundraiser meal will be provided/delivered by the Senior Youth – see details below!!!  The CMT meets this week and will be making final decisions about this meeting – watch for more details soon.  A draft budget was sent as an attachment to last week’s Tuesday email.  Call the church office if you would like a printed copy.


Typically, the Senior Youth provides a meal for our Annual Meeting for a donation to the Youth Fund.  This fund helps support the youth in attending service projects and MC USA Conventions.  This year the Senior Youth will be preparing a meal of soup, bread, and dessert to be delivered to your home or picked up at the church during the day on Wednesday December 9. 

Please contact the church office ( or 620-662-9385) by Wednesday DECEMBER 2 to indicate:

  • How many meals?
  • How many each: Russian Noodle Soup or Chili?
  • Would you like to pick up your meal(s) at the church between 2-5pm on Dec 9, or have your meal(s) delivered to your home between 2-5pm on Dec 9?
  • If you would like your meal(s) delivered to your home, what time frame would be best between 2-5pm?


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


Let the church office or Pastor Tonya know if you are willing!!

STRETCHING to Serve as Christ Served…


This annual food drive will be held Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020.  Joining with other churches in the Hutchinson area, our doors will be open from 5-7pm to receive food for the food bank.  People will also be able to leave food at the church during the week prior.  This will be our 3rd year of participating in this wonderful event. Because of COVID 19 we will not do the soup supper this year.  If you bring food items on Nov 17 between 5-7pm, we request you enter the church parking lot from Rambler Rd, drive through the carport to drop off your items, and exit onto 21st Street.  Thanks for your support!!


Bring items to church by Thursday (we need to deliver them on Friday).  Suggested items (pre-packaged/individually wrapped): Granola Bars, Fruit Snacks, Fruit, Chips, Trail Mix, Crackers, Protein Bars, Peanuts, Candy Bars, Mints, Lotion, Chapstick.  Thank you for your very generous responses to this appeal!!


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.  Through the blessings of careful purchasing and generous donations, Jane and Deanna have prepared the 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. 


Given the unusual circumstances this year, Salthawk Community Support will be gifting families of HMS8 and Hutch High families with a Christmas Box, instead of the Angel Tree gifts as in the past.  These boxes will include food, hygiene items and a certificate to pick up a cooked family Christmas dinner from Dillons. The cost will be around $100 per box. Our goal is to provide boxes to 100 families at HHS and 25 families at HMS8.  The Salthawk Community Support Board will be putting the boxes together and organizing pick up.  The best way YOU CAN HELP is with monetary donations.  Any help is greatly appreciated.  The more sponsors we get, the more families we can help.   Checks should be made out to Salthawk Community Support and mailed to this address no later than November 23:

Trinity United Methodist Church

Salthawk Community Support

1602 North Main Street

Hutchinson KS 67501

You can give safely to Salthawk Community Support online through Trinity UMC:


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.


Service Adventure is accepting applications for the 2021-2022 service term!  Grow in leadership and faith as you spend a year serving and living in community with other 17-20 year olds and with unit leaders.  This is a great opportunity for students interested in a “gap year.”   Visit to learn more! 

Join Jason Kauffman, Mennonite Church USA director of Archives and Records Management, on Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 8 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. CT / 6 p.m. MT / 5 p.m. PT for a webinar on Mennonite relief workers serving during World War I and the influenza pandemic. The webinar is part of “The Anabaptist Story Lives On,” a multi-week, virtual museum and archive tour through TourMagination. Register here:

MCC CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION – great gift-giving idea!

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!


Now on display in the Regier Art Gallery, Luyken Fine Arts Center, at Bethel College: “Noir + More,” recent work by Denise Brueggeman. Gallery hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Mon.-Fri. Please note that face coverings must be worn and physical distancing observed on the Bethel campus.


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!

Looking for your next opportunity to come to Camp Mennoscah?  The Christmas Gathering is tentatively being planned as an outdoor event on Saturday, December 12 at 2:30pm.  Details forthcoming.


The fall Everence Webinar Wednesday series concludes on November 18, on the topic of, “The Transformative Power of Investing.”   Follow this link to register to participate

 For any questions, please contact Melissa Short at 800-348-7468 x3392 or