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This week at FMC

October 28 – November 3, 2020

Jesus was on a roll that day with seeds, culminating in a parable about the (drum roll…) … smallest of all seeds … the mustard seed!  (Mark 4)

I wonder if any of the disciples had to keep themselves from rolling their eyes in frustration.  Really?  A mustard seed?  The smallest of all the seeds … that’s what the kingdom of God is like?  I imagine they were hoping Jesus was, at some point, going to unleash military power and strength against the occupying Romans so as to send them packing and liberate the people of Israel once again.  A mustard seed is not what we’re looking for here.  We want to be the biggest, strongest, greatest.  Domination is the only answer.  At least Jesus could have chosen a seed growing into the tallest tree.  Wouldn’t a towering oak tree be a better description of the kingdom of God?  The tiniest of all seeds growing into the biggest shrub in the garden. 

What are we supposed to do with that?  What kind of ‘kingdom ways’ does the mustard seed and plant invite us into?  Once we get potential eye-rolling out of the way, we might really hear:  “it puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

The humility and blessing of the kingdom of God is unmistakable.  It is the kingdom Jesus proclaimed and claimed as being ‘not of this world.’  This is the kingdom we give our allegiance to as God’s people. Even when we feel as tiny as a mustard seed and the future feels impossibly bleak.  Even when we look around and realize we’re part of something that is big, or is small, depending on your perspective.  And especially when we see the shelter, refuge, and blessing this kingdom is and will be to those needing a place to ‘build their nests.’

In Mark, this day of teaching in ‘many parables’ closed with Jesus’ invitation to get in the boat and cross over to the other side.  This is the first of several stormy sea crossings in Mark.  A great storm rose up and they were convinced they were going to die, while Jesus slept soundly.  With the storm raging, they woke him with this question:  “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

I’ve been reading through the gospels (as I invited you all to do recently!) alongside Alexander John Shaia’s book Heart and Mind: The Four Gospel Journey for Radical Transformation.  Shaia revives an ancient church practice of seeing the four gospels not as conflicting accounts of Jesus but rather as each necessary in understanding and traversing the unfolding path of spiritual transformation we are all on.  In his reading, each gospel has its own core question and metaphor:

  • Matthew:  How Do We Face Change? Climbing the Great Mountain of Matthew
  • Mark:  How Do We Move Through Suffering?  Crossing Mark’s Stormy Sea
  • John:  How Do We Receive Joy? Resting in John’s Glorious Garden
  • Luke: How Do We Mature in Service? Walking Luke’s Road of Riches

Shaia reminds us of the persecution Mark’s audience of Messianic Jews were experiencing in Rome.  They were “asking themselves if their belief was true and whether it was worth the sacrifice of their lives and their children’s lives.  Mark’s stark language and his metaphorical images of wilderness and trackless sea reflected the bleakness of their terrible dilemma.” (47)  The stormy seas are a vivid image of endurance through faith.  This second path is bleak and frightening, where we long for an all-powerful force to save us.  On this path we may feel lost and as though we might die.  And yet, through faith, we “remain on a course to a distant future, a place we cannot yet discern.  The glimmers of hope and faith that we remember and find in prayer and meditation sustain us.” (48)  We remember: the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.  It grows into the greatest plant in the garden; its branches stretch out to welcome and provide shelter and a home. 

May God grant us all ‘mustard seed’ faith to sustain us in these stormy days. 

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:

Given the recent up-swing in the pandemic in Reno County, our Re-Opening Taskforce is currently evaluating guidance and information from the Reno County Health Department and will be making a recommendation to CMT regarding in-person activities at FMC.  Please watch your email for an update later in the week after a decision has been made.


Reconciliation within human systems (Isaiah 65:17-25)

  • Sermon:  Jim Unruh
  • Worship Leader:  Tonya Ramer Wenger
  • Children’s Time:  Heidi Unruh
  • Scripture Reader:  TBD
  • 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 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 15 – Mission Festival with Michelle Armster, Executive Director of Mennonite Central Committee, Central States.   Send your Mission Festival Offering in November (see below for details)
  • November 22 – ‘Come, Ye Thankful People … Raise Your Voice!’  (see below for details)
  • November 29 – First Sunday of Advent
  • December 9 (Wednesday evening) – FMC Budget/Business & Annual Meeting

No Donuts this Halloween

Due to the CDC’s recommendation to not trick-or-treat this year, and the interactive and physically close nature of our donut event, we will not be handing out donuts this year on Halloween.  Instead, we will look forward to Halloween 2021!

DEEPENING in Christ…


The sanctuary will be open for your praying on Tuesday, November 3, from 10am-4:00pm.  Scriptures and prayers to help guide you will be available at the church and will also be sent electronically for your praying at home.


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


As we continue to explore “Anabaptist Essentials” our focus through November 8 is on different facets of “Reconciliation is the Center of our Work.” 

  • November 1: Reconciliation with human systems (Isaiah 65:17-25) Pastor Jim Unruh preaching
  • November 8:  Reconciliation with others (2 Corinthians 5:11-21) Pastor Tonya preaching

We hope Sunday morning worship, whether you are joining in person or from home, provides a spiritually grounding and growing space for you as we travel through ongoing complexities of the pandemic and the upcoming Presidential election. 


Mission Festival this year will feature Michelle Armster, Executive Director of Mennonite Central Committee Central States (in North Newton) as our guest speaker.  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:


This year, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, you are invited to add your voice to 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 by an outpouring of gratitude in this time when much feels heavy and challenging. 

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. Contact Pastor Tonya and she would be happy to come to your home and take a video of you at your front door or outside your house (at a safe distance and with her mask on).
  3. Send your words in writing, and Pastor Tonya will add them in.


Due to rising COVID numbers, this study will be put on hold for a couple weeks.  Stay tuned for more information.   Talk with Pastor Tonya if you have questions.

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.


  • 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.  Call the church office if you would like to join.

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.  Study guides are available in the foyer or call the church and we’ll send you one).  All are welcome to join this class.

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

STRENGTHENING Community Connections…


As announced earlier, CMT has agreed to combine the Budget/Business Meeting with the Annual Meeting in December.  Traditionally the Annual Meeting is accompanied by a noon fundraiser meal hosted by the Youth.  With possible restrictions concerning social distancing its probably not a good idea to host a meal as part of the meeting.  Therefore, we are moving the meeting to Wednesday evening, December 9th (exact time TBA).  Watch for more information about whether this event will be in-person, online (Zoom or livestream), or some combination of these options.  A draft budget will be shared with you in the next two weeks.  Thank you to all as we work our way through these very trying times together!   Congregational Ministry Team (Russ Wedel, Delon Martens, Julie Esau, Kevin Martin Nisly, Mike Dirks, and the pastors)


  • 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, the community assistance task force decided that we will not do the soup supper this year.  Volunteers – We are seeking one or two volunteers who would be in our foyer during these hours to receive the food donations.  Call or email the church office if you can help.


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).  Through the blessings of careful purchasing and generous donations, Jane and Deanna have prepared the bundles and wrapped them for us.  Please make your contribution to adopt one bundle – or several – by Christmas Eve.


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:


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.

MASK ASK!  MCC REQUEST on behalf of Northern Cheyenne

MCC is responding to a request from people on the Northern Cheyenne reservation in southeastern Montana for cloth face masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19. If you would like to sew masks, please use the following guidelines:

  • Adult sized
  • Use at least 2 layers of good quality cotton fabric (solid colors preferred)
  • Elastic ear loops
  • Nose wire/filter pockets optional

 Please ship purchased or completed masks to the MCC Central States Material Resources Center (Attn: Kate Mast) at 121 East 30th Street, North Newton, KS 67117, or drop off in the 24 hour donation room at MCC by November 15th. They will all be collected and transported to Montana in time for the winter season. Questions? Please contact

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!


Sarah Smarsh will kick off the 2020-2021 Peace Lecture Series, speaking in a live-streaming event on Thursday, November 5.  Smarsh will present, “Bridging the Cultural Divide in Difficult Times.”  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 is a regular political commentator in national media and has spoken internationally on poverty, rural issues, and cultural divides.  Check the KIPCOR website at


Camp Mennoscah is a year-round campground!  Ask about winterized facilities or conquer the prairie wilds in a tent.  It’s a whole new world in the winter–and available for you!  Contact Camp Mennoscah at 620-297-3290 to make a reservation.


The Everence Webinar Wednesday series on October 28, features , “Strategic generosity at year-end: Nine ideas to increase your charitable giving in 2020.”  Register here.

Coming up on November 4 is, “Business transitions:  How do I get out of this?”  Plan now to participate.  For any questions, please contact Melissa Short at 800-348-7468 x3392 or