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This week at FMC

THIS WEEK @ FMC – December 6-19, 2023

Table of Contents

Christmas festivities in Bethlehem have been cancelled this year. Standing in solidarity with brothers and sisters in Gaza who are experiencing unimaginable terror and suffering, Palestinian Christian clergy and leaders are calling for festivities to be replaced with a focus on the spiritual meaning of Christmas. I most recently read of this request for solidarity in an email update from Bethlehem Bible College.  There they shared their decision to focus in on Advent longing and hope during the upcoming Christmas season.

How does a weary world rejoice while also taking in the heartbreaking pain, loss, grief and fear in Gaza, the West Bank (Palestinian territories also occupied by Israel), and in Israel?  How do we open ourselves to the pain in the complexity of long standing and entrenched conflicts in that region without reaching for simple answers or ways to justify violence on one side or the other?  How do we seek God’s peace in a weary, broken and hurting world, and in particular this year, in the land where Jesus’ first advent took place? Can this weary part of the world rejoice?

One of the Advent books I’m reading this year is The First Advent in Palestine by Kelley Nikondeha.  Here’s an excerpt worth pondering in the context of our hard questions…

“After world peace was announced by the empire [Ceasar/Rome], God began a counter-campaign in the hills of Judea. On offer: a vision of peace with no reliance on violence or war, one that would not turn families out of homes or off their ancestral land. God’s peace would be good news to the poor and would cause anxiety for kings and power brokers of the empire. The imperial order would be inverted. Much like jubilee, the economic policy introduced during the days of Moses, this vision for change was good news for families trapped on the underside of a bad economy. And like the jubilee announced centuries earlier, God’s peace would come as good news (or hard news – depending on your social position).  …  The advent of God’s peace arrived as a grand reversal to challenge expectations about the shape of peace and to bring durable hope to hard times. And God’s advent initiative began with an ordinary priest [Zechariah] in the hills of Judea, just north of Jerusalem.” (27)

A new shape to peace and durable hope for hard times.  This is where joy bubbles up, whether or not traditional ‘festivities’ are observed.  Holding on fiercely to longing and hope is rooted, fundamentally, in the joy of belonging to God – an identity no one can take away.

We’re still trying to figure out today the ‘shape’ of God’s peace, and how we are called to be shaped by it, and give shape to it in our world.  Recently a group of Mennonites started organizing, seeking to take their grief and despair over the violence and death in Gaza, along with their longing for peace for all people in that region, Palestinian, Israeli, Jewish, Muslim and Christian alike, and put some flesh on it through concrete action.  I participated in the first virtual call last Tuesday evening with 800+ other Mennonites from around the world.  A number of concrete actions and invitations came out of that call that I wanted to be sure to share with you all (click on the blue underlined links to learn more and to sign up!):

Mennonite Day of Action for a Ceasefire: 
Dec 19    On Dec 19., Mennonites across Canada and the US will hold demonstrations at their representatives’ offices to ask them to support a ceasefire. Over 200 Mennonites from 93 different congregations have already signed up to participate. Sign up now to get involved.

Action Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays    Beginning this week (Dec. 5 & 7) , on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Mennonite Action will hold action hours where we will call our representatives together, as a Mennonite community. We encourage you to join as many of these action hours as you’re able, as our representatives need to continue to hear from us.

Peace School: Dec. 7   Mennonite Action will hold a public action training on Zoom called *Peace School* next Thursday, Dec. 7th at 8:15pm EST / 5:15pm PST. This training is for anyone that wants to participate in public action as a Mennonite. At Peace School we will answer your questions and give you everything you need to hold your action on Dec 19.

Next Mass Meeting: Dec 12  The 2nd Mennonite Action Mass Meeting will be held on December 12th at 8pm EST / 5pm PST on Zoom.


We hope to plan an opportunity for FMC folks (and beyond!) to participate in the December 19 “Mennonite Day of Action for a Ceasefire” – stay tuned, and/or contact me if you want to be involved in the planning. 

     Pastor Tonya


** This issue of THIS WEEK covers announcements for the next two weeks. Look for a new post on December 19.


Welcome to the annual “sickly” season!  It comes around every year but that doesn’t mean we should be complacent because even the common cold can be deadly.  You can become severely ill with an array of bugs other than COVID.  So protect yourself by following best health practices such as washing hands frequently, avoiding crowds or wearing masks, staying up-to-date with vaccinations, and staying home if not feeling well.  


The link to join is on our website:  Join 5 minutes early for announcements.


How Does a Weary World Rejoice?We find joy in connection

Luke 1:1-23; Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

  • Preacher: Maggie Pounds
  • Worship Leader: Joy Miller
  • Children’s Time: Lona Willems
  • Scripture Reader: Anita and/or Bryan Kehr
  • Pianist: Peggy Stucky
  • Song Leader: Bryan Kehr
  • Ushers: Glenda & Rick Hooper
  • Nursery Attendant: Anna Crable
  • Sound Tech: Adam Pounds
  • Live Stream Tech: Joel Iwashige


How Does a Weary World Rejoice? We allow ourselves to be amazed

Luke 1:57-66; Psalm 126

  • Worship Leader: Delon Martens
  • Scripture Reader: Joel Iwashige
  • Musicians: Chancel Choir; Calvin Buller, director
  • Pianist: Pauline Buller
  • Song Leader: Jonathan Wenger
  • Ushers: Susan Combs & Joretta Martens
  • Nursery Attendant: Jonathan Wenger
  • Sound Tech: Earl Ediger
  • Live Stream Tech: Jay Gehring

Worship service at Mennonite Friendship Communities (mfc)

This morning a group from FMC, including the children’s Sunday school class, are leading the worship service at mfc. Our prayers go with them as they minister in this way.


During each worship service, you are invited to text your prayer joys and concerns – usually to Pastor Tonya.  You are also invited 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 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 to the church office by Thursday each week. 


We welcome, and are grateful for, your financial donations to our ministry here in Hutchinson.  Instead of collecting an offering during worship (except on special occasions), an offering box is placed at the back of the sanctuary for your Sunday morning donations.  You can also now make a donation directly from our website ( using a credit card or your banking account.  You are also welcome to send a check to 52 Rambler Rd Hutchinson KS 67502. 

Thank you for your donations recently on Mission Sunday (for LightHouse expenses related to mentoring) and the fundraiser our senior youth hosted for Mennonite Central Committee’s Gaza response!


  • Dec 10 – Second Sunday of Advent: How Does A Weary World Rejoice? We find joy in connection
  • Dec 10-13 – Pastor Tonya gone on sabbatical retreat
  • Dec 13 – 6:30pm LPC (Listening-Prayer-Conversation) Group
  • Dec 17 –  Third Sunday of Advent: How Does A Weary World Rejoice? We allow ourselves to be amazed;   Lessons and Carols during worship; Eldon and Jane Wagler sharing about their work with MCC during Sunday School (Fellowship Hall)
  • Dec 19 – 11:00am LPC (Listening-Prayer-Conversation) Group
  • Dec 21 – 6:00pm Longest Night Service (Liturgy for the Weary); 6:45 Soup Supper; 7:30 Christmas Caroling
  • Dec 24 – Fourth Sunday of Advent: How Does A Weary World Rejoice? We sing stories of hope             7:00pm Christmas Eve Worship: How Does A Weary World Rejoice? We make room

REMINDER:  If you are last one out of the church building, be SURE the doors lock behind 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 Thursdays (in person @ FMC) from 12:30-1:30pm.  If you’d like to learn more, contact Pastor Tonya.     

LPC: Listening-Prayer-Conversation Groups

The Tuesday group meets again on Tuesday December 19 at 11:00am (note the time change!!)

The Wednesday evening group meets at 6:30pm on the second Wednesday in December (Dec 13).

ADVENT 2023: How Does a Weary World Rejoice?

Our 2023 Advent series, created by A Sanctified Art, was created “to acknowledge the weariness of our world while also seeking real and daily moments of joy. We need to remember that all of life can be a prayer.”  And, thus, the theme: “How Does a Weary World Rejoice?”which does indeed seem very relevant for where we find ourselves in the world today. Each week, an answer inspired by scripture is offered in response to this tender question. 

Opportunities for you to deepen your Advent Journey:

  • Read the Advent Devotional and/or the Daily Prompts for Joy on the Advent Calendar (you can still sign up with Pastor Tonya to receive these electronically, or pick them up in the church foyer!)
  • December 21:  Longest Night Service(6pm), Soup Supper(6:45pm) and Christmas Caroling(7:30ish)
  • Christmas Eve Service on Sunday December 24 (in addition to regular Sunday morning worship)
  • December 31 during Sunday School:  Journaling Prayer Exercise “At the Crossroads”  of 2023 and 2024:  (no regular Sunday School; childcare provided)

DECEMBER 31 “At the Crossroad” Journaling Exercise (after worship)

On this last day of 2023, as we stand at the crossroad between 2023 and 2024, you’re invited to pause and take a look in a number of directions at your life.  Based on a journaling exercise created by Helen Cepero (in her book Journaling as a Spiritual Practice), we’ll draw the ‘compass of our lives’ as a way to reflect on who we are, who God is, and who we are together with God.  Materials will be provided.  Childcare will be available.  If possible, RSPV to Pastor Tonya by the Friday before (Dec 29).  However, RSVP is not required to participate!  


Reno Choral Society Lessons and Carols – Sunday, December 10 at 7:00pm

Trinity United Methodist Church

Featuring a community choir and scripture readers from various churches in Reno County.


Handed out on Epiphany, the invitation of “Star Words” is to allow a word, randomly chosen, to speak to you throughout the year. We accept these words as a gift given, with the potential to reveal something true about us and God that we hadn’t realized before. If you participated in 2023, I invite you to return again to your word.  Maybe it’s been very present in your journey through 2023, or maybe it fell off your radar.  Either way, take the word out and consider it afresh now. I would love to share some of your reflections in the Epiphany 2024 Worship Service (Jan 7) when we’ll draw new words for a new year.  Please send your brief responses by Wednesday January 3!

SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSES FOR EVERYONE (no Sunday school on December 24 or 31)

            CHILDREN’S CLASSES (preschool-6th grade) meet in the basement.

            SENIOR YOUTH (8th-12th grade) meet upstairs.

ADULT BIBLE STUDY, using Salt & Light curriculum from Menno Media.  This class is facilitated by Calvin Buller and Marlene Thode and meets in the adult Sunday School room in the basement.

ADULT DISCUSSION CLASS meets in the Fellowship Hall in person and on zoom.  On December 10 the group will discuss Week 2 in the Advent Devotional “How Does a Weary World Rejoice?”.

And, the YOUNGER ADULTS CLASS meeting in the library.  For more details, talk with Maggie or Adam Pounds. 

December 17 – Gathering to hear stories from Eldon and Jane Wagler about their work as Country Representatives in Malawi and Zambia through Mennonite Central Committee. (Fellowship Hall, basement)

UPPER ROOM and REJOICE! devotional magazines

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

STRENGTHENING Community Connections…


  • Tuesday and Thursday 9:00am – 2:00pm  
  • Wednesday – 10:00am – 1:00pm (No office hours October 25)


Office hours:

  • Monday: Day Off
  • Tuesday-Friday: generally working 8:00am-5:30pm 
  • “In 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)

Upcoming “Day Apart with God” dates (for silence, reading, prayer & journaling – will NOT be checking email or responding to texts/calls (except for emergencies).  Typically this is the 4th Wednesday of the month.  The next date is: Wednesday December 27 (8am-5pm)

Pastor Tonya’s Sabbatical dates (spread out between summer 2023-summer 2025)

Pastor Tonya has joined a study program called, “Transforming Community.” Retreats take place in Chicago. Her next scheduled retreat for this year is December 10-13 (back in office on December 14).


Thank you for your generous support of our youth with $1,750 contributed for the Lunch and Silent Auction youth fundraisers to support faith formation and community building activities.

Annual Congregational Meeting

  • Service of remembrance – births and deaths in our Faith Family and Extended Faith Family.
  • Minutes of the October 29, 2023 budget meeting were approved.
  • The Audit Committee reported that our financial records are in order.
  • Through our Gift Discernment process and the congregation’s affirmation, the following will be taking positions in our leadership structure:
  • Todd Esau – Congregational Ministry Team (3-year term)
  • Joel Iwashige – Faith Formation Coordination Team (3-year term)
  • Joretta Martens (Faithful Community Coordination Team (1-year term)
  • Deanna Mace – Audit Committee (3-year term)
  • Julie Esau – Gift Discernment Committee (3-year term)
  • Adam Pounds – Pastor Congregational Relations Committee (3-year term)
  • Proposal to install Solar Collectors to generate power for our building usage – presentations by Adam Pounds and Jonathan Wenger, discussion, and a strong YES vote to proceed with the project.
  • Allen Yoder shared that the electro-magnetic door holders should be installed in December, giving us better access to the rooms now shut off by fire doors.
  • Allen also provided information about our antiquated fire alarm system and the congregation voted to authorize an upgrade to the system.
  • Mike Dirks shared that a gift from the Alma Thiessen estate has been given toward our kitchen renovation project.
  • Pastor Tonya provided a review of the resolutions passed in 2022 by delegates to the Mennonite Church USA assemble, and gave opportunity for attendees to rank these three in order of priority for First Mennonite Church:
    • Accessibility Resolution
    • Repentance and Transformation Resolution
    • For Justice in the Criminal Legal System – a Study Resolution

If you have interest in working with a small group to study one of these resolutions and then propose a path for FMC to take action, please contact Pastor Tonya for more information.

ARMS WIDE OPEN – FMC’s history book

The amazing story of First Mennonite Church’s 100 years is told in the history book prepared for our centennial celebration. Copies of the book are available for $25.00 (cash or check). You can also now purchase a book online at a price that includes the cost of shipping (click on the “DONATE” button on our website to find this option).   Check with the church office to pick up a book.

STRETCHING to Serve as Christ Served…


November: Canned Fruit (December: Pasta)

Personal care/hygiene items such as these are appreciated anytime: toilet paper, laundry detergent, bath soap, Kleenex, deodorant, disposable razors, paper towels, shampoo, dish soap, hand/body lotion, toothpaste and toothbrushes.  Travel size – new & unopened – are desirable.


*Salthawk Community Support Santa Sacks:  The goal is to provide 200 sacks at Hutchinson High School and 30 at HMS8. These ‘sacks’ will include ear buds, warm blankets and gloves, gift certificates, and favorite snacks.  The estimated value per sack will be $100.  Checks can be directed to Salthawk Community Support and mailed to 1602 North Main Street Hutchinson KS 67501. Or, you can donate safely online at the giving page of or use Trinity’s Venmo account at Trinity UMC-Hutch. All donations are fully tax deductible.  Deadline was December 1, but you can still send your donations and if they aren’t used this year, they will be used next year!

*Hat, Mitten, and Simply Socks Tree will be set up at church to receive new hats and gloves for distribution at the Salvation Army.

*MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) Baby Bundles: 65 bundles have been assembled! A donation of $25 covers the cost of one kit. Make your donations by check or online to First Mennonite Church with “Baby Bundles” in the memo line.  These kits will be dedicated on Christmas Eve and then delivered to MCC in Newton to be sent around the world. Look for the basket on the table in the foyer to see what items are included in a baby bundle.


Thanks for your continued donations for the food pantry at LightHouse!  When we have an updated list of needs, we’ll post it here!


A specific need right now is women’s deodorant!

CAMP MENNOSCAH needs volunteers for general maintenance

Volunteers are needed immediately to work (M-F) alongside the facilities director. Helping on regular maintenance tasks will allow more time for planning and preparation for the Retreat Center HVAC project.  The project is running behind and we need to make up time!  Call or text Jordan at 316-613-1848.  Calls/texts will be answered between 8am – 5pm.  Volunteer hours will also be 8am-5pm or a portion of that time.  Please bring a water bottle and your lunch.  

M&M Project Update:  End of Year Giving!

Please consider giving to Camp Mennoscah and/or the M&M Project as part of your end-of-the-year giving. It’s not that we aren’t thankful for all you’ve done – but there is a lot to be done at Camp, and we already know that God has touched your hearts and called many to be part of Camp’s mission. Let’s not just finish the M&M Project strong – let’s finish the year strong! Thank you for being a part of Camp Mennoscah! 75 years – There is still so much ahead!

The application for 2024 Summer Staff at Camp Mennoscah is open!  Summer staff must be 18 years old or older.  The staff leadership positions receiving stipends are naturalist, crafts leader, lifeguard, grounds/maintenance, music leader, and office/media.  Applications will be accepted until all positions are filled. The 2024 summer camp season begins June 2 with orientation for summer-long positions and ends August 4.  We can’t wait to hear from you! 


The mission of YOUTHRIVE is to broadly engage the community to empower, equip, and support our foster youth as they make the transition to a safe and successful adulthood. Volunteer community support is key in helping them discover new opportunities. YOUTHRIVE volunteer training will be held on January 8, 6:00-9:00pm at Journey Church, 808 South Poplar, South Hutchinson. Contact Margi Nisly at to RSVP. A light meal will be provided.

BETHEL COLLEGE announcements

Sun., Dec. 10 – 38th annual Lighting of the Green , 8 p.m. on the Bethel College campus

Now in the Regier Gallery in Luyken Fine Arts Center at Bethel College – annual Senior Art Exhibit in the Regier Art Gallery and the Drama Lab, both in Luyken Fine Arts Center at Bethel College, featuring the work of Rachel Geyer (lab) and Edel Miller (gallery). Hours are Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 2-4 p.m.


MCC Material Resources Center in North Newton critically low on inventory: An MCC kit cannot be distributed until each item for the kit is assembled, but some supplies in the Material Resources Center are so low that kits cannot be processed for shipping. You can help by filling the following needs: new infant onesies and sleepers (6-12 month sizes); new bath towels (dark colored, light to medium weight); new hand towels (dark colored). Locally, MCC distributes prisoner care and returning citizen care kits, for those kits we currently need:men’s shirts (sizes XL, 2XL, 3XL — any color) and men’s underwear (sizes 2XL, 3XL — any color). Buy online and ship it to MCC or bring items to MCC in North Newton (121 E. 30th St, North Newton, KS 67117). Questions are always welcome, please contact or 316.283.2720. A full list of MCC kit contents can be found at

HESSTON COLLEGE announcements

Melva Kauffman Lecture Series: Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery

This year the Melva Kauffman Lecture Series is pleased to host Mark Charles who will present on the topic of Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery. Charles is the son of an American woman (of Dutch heritage) and a Navajo man. He teaches with insight into the complexities of American history regarding race, culture and faith in order to help forge a path of healing and conciliation for the nation. The public is invited to hear his presentation at Hesston Mennonite Church Sunday, January 21, 2024, at 7 p.m.

Take a Bible Class at Hesston College

Interested in auditing a Bible course beginning in January? This spring semester Hesston College has opportunities to audit Biblical Literature, Jesus and the Gospels, and Peacemaking and Justice courses. Acceptance is based upon availability of open seating. If you are interested in enrolling in or auditing a Bible course, please contact before Jan. 9 to register. Spring courses are in session Jan. 10 to May 9. Be sure and ask about discounted rates for senior citizens.


Urge Congress To Pass The Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act

Background: Critical minerals are essential components of solar panels, wind turbines and electric batteries—all important in the transition to cleaner energy sources. The mining for these minerals, however, can have enormous negative effects: polluted air, water and soil; the exploitation of workers; and the desecration of sacred Indigenous sites. Mining on public lands in the U.S. is governed by the 1872 Mining Law, which fails to protect our public lands and the surrounding communities. More than a century of reckless mining has poisoned our air, waters, and lands—and has disproportionately impacted Indigenous communities.

Urge Congress to pass the Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act  (H.R. 3495S. 1742) to mandate strong environmental protections for water and land resources, and also protect tribal sacred sites that have been disproportionately impacted by mining operations. Other bills, like the Mining Regulatory Clarity Act (H.R. 2925S. 1281), offer false solutions that would further weaken mining laws. Please encourage your members of Congress to support the Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act and oppose the Mining Regulatory Clarity Act.

Faith Reflection: We are entrusted with a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19). We can be climate peacemakers if we approach changemaking with an attitude of love, humility and listening, restoring right relationships as we restore God’s Earth.

Action: Urge Congress to pass the Clean Energy Minerals Reform Act

MENNONITE WOMEN USA – invitation to join Christmas Examen

Women’s Christmas Examen on Saturday, January 6 at 3 pm Eastern, noon Pacific.
Women’s Christmas has Irish origins, called Nollaig na mBan. Think celebrating friendship among women—like Galentine’s Day—and appreciation for the women in one’s life—like Mother’s Day—rolled together on Epiphany. It’s a time for restfulness and recognition of the disproportionate domestic work of women, especially around the holidays. Epiphany marks the formal and liturgical end of Christmastide (December 25 – January 5), and of course we start the new calendar year on January 1. So a Women’s Christmas Examen on Epiphany is a time for reflecting on the past and dreaming about the future while deeply sighing. 
Don’t miss this special Coffee and Conversation! We will form a community grove via Zoom for this time of inspired rest together. We’ll start by identifying the recent times we have felt God’s presence and the times we could not. And we’ll conclude by reflecting on what we want to take (and leave behind) into the New Year.
Mark your calendar to prioritize a time of sisterhood for you! Register by clicking the live link in the first line.