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This week at FMC

September 16-22, 2020

Reflection from Pastor Tonya on the Western District Conference Assembly in July 2020:

For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.   Mt. 18:20

This morning in my praying, as I tried to honestly hold before God both the weight and gratitude I am feeling, these words of astounding assurance from Jesus are what entered my mind. Words that should not be removed from the larger context of Matthew 18 dealing with the very human realities of conflict, sin, and the sticky question of how many times we need to forgive.  

First Mennonite Church has been a worshipping community of ordinary fallible humans seeking to follow Jesus faithfully – together – for almost 100 years.  While I don’t know all the details, I’m sure there have been (and are, and will continue to be) opportunities to honestly address sin, practice healthy conflict and reconciliation, and struggle with Jesus’ command to forgive – not just seven times, but seventy times seven.  Which, I suspect, was not the answer Peter was hoping for!

We are a church located in a specific place: Hutchinson KS in the United States of America.  And, we are a church lodged in a larger body of churches called Western District Conference (WDC) which is made up of churches in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.  And through WDC, we are part of Mennonite Church USA.  WDC is the body that ‘planted’ us over 100 years ago in response to a nudge and a vision to start a Mennonite church in Hutchinson.  The focus was on ‘already Mennonite’ people moving to or living in the city, with a special eye given to single girls working in Hutch.  Right off the bat First Mennonite (or Hutchinson Mennonite Mission) showed flexibility and understanding, finding an alternative time for these girls to fellowship since they were not available on Sunday mornings.  

Almost two months ago now, the Western District Annual Assembly took place online, given the pandemic precautions we’re observing these days.  I gathered with our other delegates – Pauline, Delon, and Trae Gehring – in the foyer of the church to listen in and participate. It was good to see familiar faces on the screen as well!  As the current chair of the Church Planting Commission, I was on deck in the delegate session to answer questions about the commission’s work.  Interestingly, the question that came from the delegate body connected to an ongoing question of my own.  How might “legacy” churches (like our own) who have been around a long time and are decreasing in size, learn from church planters and new church plants about ‘re-planting’ ourselves in our communities – today.  Whether this is part of the scope of the Church Planting Commission is still an open question, but it’s clear that a number of churches in WDC are interested in doing some re-imagining, creative and adaptive work to look toward the future with hope.  

The Church Planting Commission has been working for some time on guidelines to guide and define what is unique about Anabaptist church planting in WDC.  While these guidelines are still in process and have not been adopted in any official way by the commission, I wanted to share these opening paragraphs for the perspective and grounding they bring.  We are indebted to Byron Pellecar who drafted the guidelines, and Heidi Regier Kreider who has since edited them.

Theological and Biblical Foundations for Church Planting:  We live in a constantly changing world that impacts our religious and local community contexts.  Within our communities we increasingly experience a  global reality with a diversity of cultural practices, food, political views, languages and faith traditions.  This reality impacts and challenges our ecclesiology (the way we do church), how we serve and reach out, and our understanding and practice of mission.

Mission is an attribute of God, not just an activity of the church. Moreover, the church is called to an incarnational understanding of mission – to  live out  God’s message within the reality of its community in deeper ways that meet  people where they are.

In the post-Christendom and post-modern context, when many established congregations are declining, new doors are opening for church revitalization and  church planting initiatives that engage local communities in incarnational ways, and embrace more relevant ways of being church in the current context.

In the midst of these realities, we understand that we are still called to the Great Commission (Matthew 20:18-20), to respond to this call (John 20:19-23, 1 Peter 2:9-10), to call people to repent from sin (Matthew 4:11), to invite people into the reign of God and to become followers of Jesus Christ, to equip the saints for ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12) and to share the good news with the world (Acts 1:8). 

Very recently, we’ve been learning about and are intrigued by work Mennonite Mission Network is doing in this area as well.  They are launching a new cohort program called SENT NETWORK

A number of people from our commission along with staff member Heidi Regier Kreider will be participating in this program this fall to learn more.  I am in conversation with Pastor Jim about his potential participation as I think it could benefit us here at First Mennonite as well.  Stay tuned as we learn and discover more about planting and ‘re-planting’ communities where we intentionally gather together saying that Jesus is our center, our hope and our life.  

As we orient ourselves around Jesus, we can trust that he is present in our midst.  His presence at the center of our focus and work is what makes it possible for us to be honest about sin, courageous in conflict, and gracious in forgiveness.   May it be so.            

—   Pastor Tonya

SUNDAY MORNING Worship Live Stream @ 9:30am

Check your email for confirmation of the link toward the end of the week. Worship is also recorded and can be watched later, at the same link as the live stream.  

Sunday, September 20PEACE SUNDAY

When one member suffers, all members suffer: Peace as accompaniment and solidarity

(Worship Resources developed by Mennonite World Conference)

1 Cor 12:12-27; Ruth 1:1-17; Ephesians 4:1-6; Galatians 6:1-5

  • Preaching:  Eldon Wagler
  • Worship Leader:  Tonya Ramer Wenger
  • Children’s Time: Diane Ziemer  
  • 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!!  Please continue to send announcements ahead of time if you can, and it’s just fine to call or send your prayer concerns ahead of time too. 


We welcome more individuals to be present on Sunday mornings during our live stream of worship in addition to those leading worship.  We are keeping the in-person group small right now – around 15 people.  Masks and physical distancing required.  Contact the church office  by Thursday each week to make a reservation to attend in person.  After Thursday, contact Pastor Tonya.  


  • September 27 – Guess Who’s Coming to the Lawn, 6:30pm (see invitation below)
  • October 4 – Dr. Joe Manickam, president of Hesston College (guest preacher via video), World Communion
  • October 4 – Guess Who’s Coming to the Lawn, 6:30pm (see invitation below)
  • October 25 – FMC Budget meeting
  • November 15 – Mission Festival with Michelle Armster from MCC (date tentative)
  • November 29 – First Sunday of Advent
  • December 6 – FMC Annual meeting

DEEPENING in Christ…


The Prayer group will meet Thursday, Sept. 17 10:00-11:00am in the Common Grounds Room.  We will wear masks and practice social distancing.  A welcome to everyone.


After observing Peace Sunday (Sept 20 – using Mennonite World Conference worship resources and Eldon Wagler preaching), we’ll spend 7 weeks exploring Anabaptist EssentialsJesus is the Center of our Faith (Sept 27), Community is the Center of our Life (Oct 4 – guest preacher Dr. Joe Manikam; also World Communion), and Reconciliation is the Center of our Work (October 11-November 8).  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.


Hello Ladies!!  I’ve been thinking about our gathering this fall, and am looking at October 20 due to my schedule and also because I’d like to gather us in-person if possible.  For those of you feeling uneasy about in-person gatherings or who are from a distance, I’d be open to considering also offering this on ZOOM at a different time. Two books are on my list for consideration and I’d welcome your feedback on which you’d prefer.  Thanks!!  Pastor Tonya

  1. Open and Unafraid: The Psalms as a Guide to Life. W. David O. Taylor (This book is published in 2020 and is a beautiful exploration of the Psalms with an eye to how the Psalms intersect with life today.  It was highly recommended to me by a retired pastor friend.  I’ve been reading it and especially appreciate the suggestions for reflection, prayer and action at the end of each chapter.  If we chose this book we would do ½ of it in the fall and the other ½ in the spring. It is a hardcover book so is a little more expensive).
  2. Signs of Life – Resurrecting Hope out of Ordinary Losses. Stephanie Lobdell  (Published by Menno Media in 2019, this has been chosen as a “Common Book Read” for MC USA this fall.  I’ve not read this one yet; the back of the book offers this summary: “Lobdell leads readers into the grand story of God’s saving action and resurrection power. Punctuated with stories of biblical figures such as Sarah, Naaman, Saul and Anna – who faced ordinary deaths and also God’s reviving power – Signs of Life makes the claim that Jesus’ resurrection matters now.  In candid and artful prose, Lobdell shares stories of her own depression, loss of confidence, and disillusionment with the church.”)

UPPER ROOM and REJOICE! devotional magazines

Copies of both magazines 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
  • Senior high: Sunday @ 1:00pm on ZOOM

Adult discussion class book study, I Am Not Your Enemy, by Michael 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 class taught by Harold Kroeker using Salt & Light study guide “Joining God: Relationship and Worship:”  Sunday @ 11:00am in person in the Fellowship Hall.  Copies of the study guide are available on the table in the foyer near the east entrance.  If you would like a copy 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.

STRENGTHENING Community Connections…


We are excited to announce that First Mennonite will soon have a brand new website!  We have contracted with Flint Hills Design in North Newton and the new site should be ready to launch this week.  With this new site comes the opportunity to make it our ‘place to go’ for information like the weekly email and the worship link, and more.  You’ll see more from us about this in the coming weeks.

One related change we will be implementing soon is switching our livestream link from private to public so that you can easily go to the website to access the link for Sunday morning instead of having to find the link in an email.  What this also means is that our worship service and recording will be accessible to anyone who might search for it on YouTube. So we will be asking that when you submit prayer requests for Sunday morning prayers you also indicate if you’d like the request to be shared on the livestream or prefer we only share it in the Prayers Email that goes out on Tuesdays.  


Sundays – September 27 and October 4, 2020 @ 6:30pm

More GUESTS are needed!! 🙂  You can STILL SIGN UP to participate!!  We’d love to fill out a few more groups for these events.  Let the church office or Pastor Tonya know as soon as possible.  


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


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

STRETCHING to Serve as Christ Served…


If you can provide any of the following, please drop them off at Trinity UMC (use the 16th street Office Door) on Tuesday between Noon-3pm or Thursday between 10am-1pm,  or bring them to the church and we will deliver them.

  • Men’s deodorant (NO women’s)
  • Small girl’s bags to put personal feminine products in
  • Chapstick
  • Hair ties/brushes/combs
  • 3-ring binders
  • Backpacks
  • Washcloths


Saturday, September 26 is our day at the Soup Kitchen.  We’re set for applesauce, but we do need three drivers for delivery and 1-2 people to help with food prep.  Call Jane (620 960 6312) or Eldon (620 960 6311) to volunteer.


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.


Is anyone up to a challenge?  Will any of us create our own walk to raise awareness about hunger?  The presumptive walk date is Sunday, September 27, so let the church office know if you or your family will be participating in the virtual walk. “The Walk is Virtual. The Need is Real.”  Your donations support the Reno County CROP Hunger Walk sponsored by Church World Service!  The Reno County Food Bank and the Christian Soup Ministry receive a quarter of funds; the rest supports global ministries with people who need food, water, and shelter.  By October 1, please (1) Write a check to “CWS-CROP.” Put [the name of your church] on the memo line. Send your check to Emanuel Lutheran Church (140 E. 30th Avenue, Hutchinson, KS, 67502) OR (2) Give securely on-line at Click “Donate,” then “General.” Every donation will be acknowledged.  Thank you for helping our neighbors—local and global!


Is anyone up to a challenge?  Will any of us create our own walk to raise awareness about hunger?  The presumptive walk date is Sunday, September 27, so let the church office know if you or your family will be participating in the virtual walk. “The Walk is Virtual. The Need is Real.”  Your donations support the Reno County CROP Hunger Walk sponsored by Church World Service!  The Reno County Food Bank and the Christian Soup Ministry receive a quarter of funds; the rest supports global ministries with people who need food, water, and shelter.  By October 1, please (1) Write a check to “CWS-CROP.” Put [the name of your church] on the memo line. Send your check to Emanuel Lutheran Church (140 E. 30th Avenue, Hutchinson, KS, 67502) OR (2) Give securely on-line at Click “Donate,” then “General.” Every donation will be acknowledged.  Thank you for helping our neighbors—local and global!

This auction features donations that would have been sold at the silent or general auction at the KMRS event last April.  Currently there are over 20 donations and items will continue to be added through the time period of the auction so check out the auction site often.  Bidding ends on September 26.  For more information click this KMRS link   OR go directly to the auction page at 

If you have something you would like to donate or have questions, contact or call 620-747-0186.


MCC is in need of SCHOOL KITS to distribute to families who struggle to afford basic school supplies. School kits often are requested after disasters and help bring normalcy to children whose families have been forced to flee their homes. Pick up a bag from the table in the foyer and purchase the specific supplies listed below.  If you like, get together with another family to make the purchases and then bring your bag to church by SEPTEMBER 20. Julie Goering will check the bags and deliver them to MCC.  Right now we have only 11 bags, so we would also welcome a volunteer who would make more bags.  Call the church office if you are willing to put your sewing skills to work.  We’d like to complete this project by SEPTEMBER 20.  

Contents (NEW items only)

  • 4 spiral or perforated-pages notebooks (8.5 in x 10.5 in and 70 sheets)
  • 8 new unsharpened pencils
  • 1 ruler (flat, good quality; must indicate 30 cm; inch markings optional)
  • 12 colored pencils (in packaging)
  • 1 large eraser
  • 2 new black or blue ballpoint pens
  • 1 small all metal pencil sharpener, one or two holes. All metal sharpeners can be found online at or in the art supply section of retail stores like Staples. Plastic case pencil sharpeners are not accepted because these are poor quality and do not last as long. If you cannot find all metal sharpeners please pack the kits without them and we will add the sharpeners. 

Register NOW for the MCC Flatlander Bicycle Ride! Due to COVID-19, the ride is a “virtual” event this year and open to EVERYONE.  Riders may register any time until September 29. Register online at Join us in raising money for MCC to fund the construction of new wells and repair existing water and sanitary systems at schools in Nicaragua. With these improvements, students will have safe water to drink and wash their hands. In this global pandemic, access to clean water is more essential than ever. Donations from non-riders are welcome! Checks to MCC Flatlander Bike Ride may be sent to MCC Central States, PO Box 235, North Newton, KS 67117.

Aid to Beirut, Lebanon. Mennonite Central Committee is accepting donations to support people in need of food and other assistance in Beirut, Lebanon. A massive explosion on Aug. 4 destroyed the country’s main port and silos filled with grain and worsened an existing economic crisis. You can donate online at, by calling (888) 563-4676 or by sending a check earmarked for “Beirut response” to MCC, 21 S. 12th St., Akron PA 17501.

MCC is in need of school kits to fulfill requests from our partners around the world! Complete kits and/or supplies (find a full list of items at can be shipped to MCC Central States (121 E. 30th St. North Newton, KS 67117) or dropped off in the 24-hour donation room at MCC. If you would like help unloading, please contact Kate at (, ‪(316) 804-8432) to schedule a drop off time. Thank you for your continued support of MCC!

If you can tie a knot you can help MCC! There are lots of comforters at MCC in North Newton that need to be tied and we’re looking for volunteers! If you would be interested in borrowing a set of sticks/stands from the MCC Workroom to set up and tie comforters at home, please contact Kate Mast at (, ‪316.804.8432). Thank you!

CANNER OPERATOR: MCC is looking for new canner operators! This two year service term is unique and offers the opportunity to travel around the U.S. and Canada, working as a team while meeting new people! Check out for details!

SEED PROGRAM: Hola! Estas interesado(a) en aprender o practicar tu español? MCC is looking for young adults for its Seed programs in Colombia and Guatemala/El Salvador which offer experiential learning and formation focused on Reflection, Service and Peacebuilding. Application deadline is October 19, 2020. For more information or to apply, please visit


Support Mennonite Central Committee and celebrate MCC’s centennial with a new shirt, hoodie, tea towel, bag or hat! Check out this online store set up by the Kansas Mennonite Relief Sale to place your order today (pssst, it’s never too early to start Christmas shopping!). Visit and start shopping to support MCC!

Celebrate with us! Mennonite Central Committee invites you to join Celebration 2020: MCC at 100, a livestreamed event commemorating a century of MCC’s ministry on Saturday, Oct. 17, starting at 6:50 p.m. (EDT). The event will feature photos, videos and storytelling that highlight MCC’s work over the years. Former MCC leader and pastor Leonard Dow of Philadelphia will inspire participants to walk boldly into the next century of MCC’s ministry while talented musicians will lead in prayer and thanksgiving. You can find more information about MCC’s centennial and log in for the livestreamed event at


The WDC Israel-Palestine Task Force invites you to celebrate the International Day of Peace with a virtual conversation on racial justice. Palestinians Alex Awad and Jonathan Kuttab join US citizen Sarah Nahar.  They’ll share their own experiences of injustice and hope and discuss the similarities in both contexts.  Join us for this free live event sponsored by WDC Resource Commission on WDC’s Facebook page on September 21, 7 pm Central Time.  You’re welcome to donate to WDC at:  


You are invited to read the September/October/November issue of WDC’s quarterly newsletter, WDC Garden.  This issue includes a review of the recent WDC annual assembly, reports on several ways WDC is providing support and hope in this time of COVID pandemic, and information about WDC Resource Library resources for children and adults.  Read this issue at:  


Limited number of openings! Camp Mennoscah’s Scrapbook and Crafts Retreats will take place on Oct. 30-Nov. 1 and Nov. 6-8.  Masks and physical distancing guidelines will be followed and the facility used has been changed.  More spaces will be opened as determined safe and feasible, so put your name on the waitlist!  Register online at!  Call 620-297-3290 for further information.


Now at KAUFFMAN MUSEUM (through Nov. 29) – “Sorting Out Race: Examining Racial Identity and Stereotypes in Thrift Store Donations.” Regular hours are Tues.-Fri. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 1:30-4:30 p.m., closed Mondays and major holidays, but with ever-changing COVID-19 protocols, you are advised to check the museum website,, or Facebook page or call 316-283-1612 before planning a visit.

For the health and safety of participants and the wider community, Life Enrichment at Bethel College is canceled for the fall 2020 semester.

The Bethel College Women’s Association (BCWA) is now online! See

Do you have skills with a sewing machine? If so, you can help provide a safer campus for our students, faculty, and staff by making masks.  Click here to find the CDC pattern for an easy project, or use any simple mask pattern you already have.  You can drop masks off at Thresher Shop in Schultz Student Center, or send them to:


Bethel College Advancement Office 

300 E. 27th St.

North Newton, KS 67117

If sewing isn’t your thing, you can donate to the Masks for Threshers fund here.


Collaborative storytelling project launched to capture 2020 through an Anabaptist lens:  The creators of Anabaptist History Today (AHT), a new collaborative storytelling project, are calling on Anabaptists across the United States and Canada to share their experiences during the remarkable historical, biological and social events of 2020.  The AHT website invites individuals, congregations, schools and organizations to tell their

stories of living during these changing times. “We hope this collection will offer a unique perspective on the lives of ordinary people and how Anabaptist faith and identity has shaped responses to the momentous

events of 2020,” says co-creator Jason Kauffman.  To learn more about the AHT project, visit


We are excited to present another Webinar Wednesday series. This series will offer a range of topics from Medicare and retirement income planning to socially responsible investing. “Make Medicare an Easy Step,” is scheduled for Wednesday, September 16.  Click here to register:   Coming up on September 23 is, “How to Enjoy Your Time in Nursing Care.  Plan now to participate.

For any questions, please contact Melissa Short at 800-348-7468 x 3392, 574-533-9515 x 3392 or 

Everence will host its popular workshop, Make Medicare an easy step, as a webinar on Tuesday, Sept. 15 at 6:30 p.m. Attendees will learn about the various Medicare plans and what they cover; plans that supplement Medicare; and enrollment details and deadlines. This webinar is free. Please register by contacting our office at 877-467-7294, 316-283-3800 or