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South Central Conference Messenger

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Tornadoes--Hesston (Kan.)


Mennonite Conference publication


South Central Conference, Mennonite Church USA


Hesston Public Library


May-June 1990


South Central Conference Messenger








South Central Conference Messenger.pdf

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South Central Conference
May/June, 1990
Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, OklAHoMA. Texas
Worship Services --March 18 At Hesston Mennonite Churches
What Is A Word From the Lord?
(Sermon Title of Our Pastor, Fred Obold) by Justus Holsinger, Church Historian
The worship service of March 18 was unlike any worship service in the eighty-year history of the Hesston Mennonite Church. It was in memory of that fateful Tuesday when the tornado passed over the city of Hesston.
As families filed into the sanctuary they noted the basin, towel and old chair on the platform and at the rear of the church. These symbols reminded the congregation that we are a people of the basin and the towel.
Many families had suffered heavy damages to their property, many of whom lost their houses and personal property and some, their businesses.
Obold reminded us that the pitcher of water must be emptied, the basin must be filled, and the towel must be shared.
He quoted a poem by the poet, L. Elaine Rosenberger from the book I Have A Song entitled:
The Towel Has Two Ends
We recall our Master fs words And name ourselves "A servant people; "
"The people of the basin and the towel." And the pitcher, it is tall;
And the basin it is round;
And the towel has two ends.
"The basin and the towel,"
It is a phrase to say,
A symbol to admire.
One that fires imagination into reality.
But the pitcher must be emptied,
And the basin must be Sited,
And the towel must be shared.
It is not glamorous.
Where life is commonplace.
Traces of ignorance, prejudice Smear our feet. We need A common cleansing in healing community. Where the pitcher, it is tall;
And the basin welcomes all;
And the towel has two ends.
The children’s time was also different from other services in that they were invited to share their experiences from the Tuesday evening tornado.
When asked the question "Where were you when the tornado struck?" one said, "We were scrunched down in the garage." Another said, "We were safe."
In response to the question "What were you doing to help someone?" one said "I was picking up wood" and another "I was helping the homeless."
Speaking on the subject "What is a Word from the Lord?" Obold asked the question, "Where does one look for a sermon after a nine million dollar loss?"
While wandering among the debris after the tornado he noted a piece of paper being tossed about in the breeze and his first impulse was one of anger toward God for permitting such a destruction of property.
In picking up the paper, which was tom at the comer, he noted that it was Chapter 12 from a book describing the different patterns of prayer. One of the messages from the paper said that our prayers should not begin with petitions to God which if granted would not be for our own spiritual welfare.
Sometimes we ask for a stone and God gives us bread, and sometimes we ask for a serpent and he gives us a fish. Our prayers should begin with thanksgiving and praise rather than with petitions.
The hymns "Praise to God, Immortal Praise" and "Lord, Should Rising Whirlwinds" were sung antiphonally by the congregation.
There were few dry eyes among the congregation in the singing of "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" with Phyllis Rhodes as soloist on two stanzas.
God, Come to Us As a Gentle Wind
Phil Harrington, associate pastor of Whitestone Mennonite Church in Hesston, Kan., gave this prayer of invocation on Sunday morning, March 18, live days after the tornado ravaged the town.
Once again, O God, we gather in this place as your people. But we are not the same people we were last week. We have been visited and violated by a force of nature we did not invite. A force invoked by large and unusual air masses and currents that we do not even understand. Yet it came and in a way is still here because our lives have not recovered.
Our lives feel like a photograph of scattered debris. We are here and there and even lost. Part of us is still huddled in a basement, a corner or walk-in freezer, listening to frightening noises. Or waiting along the road outside of town watching. Or racing in a car, trying to imagine.
Part of us is still worrying about friends and family across town. Or wandering through rubble or dirty streets not quite believing yet that this has really happened to us. Wanting, even on our way to church today, to find things the way they were last week.
Part of us still feels the relief of being alive, reassuring others over the phone, telling our story over and over.
Part of us is wondering. Why our town? Why was our home destroyed? Or, why was our home spared? Wondering at the miraculous way so many individuals survived when death was so close.
Part of us feels exposed. As a town, our roof has been lifted, our walls knocked down, our privacy gone. The hundreds of volunteers are here with desperately needed help and care. The National Guard was here. The newspeople showed our pictures and told our stories to the world around us. The
continued on page 8
continued from page 1
onlookers came and left.
Part of us feels loss. Loss of homes, the places we always felt secure. Loss of possessions, things we were attached to, that we invested part of our lives in. Loss of memories. Loss of regular schedules and activities.
Part of us feels weariness. We are tired from cleaning up, from caring in many ways for victims and volunteers. We have felt the excitement, the adrenalin that keeps us going in times like this, but it is running out.
And so, in the midst of all our feelings of fear, anger, pain and uncertainty, part of us is looking this morning. Looking for regularity. Looking for things that have not changed. Looking to see if you, God, are still the same.
Come and find us, God. Come to us as a gentle wind this morning. A wind that can gather together our scattered parts. That can soothe our bodies and spirits. A wind in which we can catch our breath.
The Sunday Following the March 13 Tornado
by Vernelle Koehn
Hesston Inter-Mennonite Fellowship
Our worship service the Sunday following the Hesston tornado was a time of sharing, listening and prayer ministry. Persons shared of how they, or a friend, felt God’s protective hand. "The deeds of kindness that were performed during this time were deeds that were done to Him." Matthew 25:40. "God has answered so many, many prayers!" "What Satan meant for evil, God will turn into good." Several members experienced a total loss of their homes and job, some experienced serious damage to their homes. We are deeply grateful for God’s providential care and that no lives were lost.
Pastor Herb Minnich’s message was entitled "Thoughts From A Tornado," using Psalm 77 as a scripture passage. A special offering of over $5,000 was received to share with those persons who experienced losses from the tornado.
Conference Calendar
Jun 2-3 40th Anniversary Celebration, Kiowa County
Memorial Hospital, Greensburg, Kansas.
Jun 10-14 Mennonite Church Planters Workshop, New
Albany, Ind.
Jun 18-20 Western District (and dual conference) Church
Planters seminar, Bridgeport, Texas.
Jul 10 Conference Messenger deadline.
Jul 13-14 Hesston College Board of Overseers, Denver,
Jul 24-29 Mennonite World Conference Winnipeg,
Aug 9-10 Conference Executive Committee meeting in
Oklahoma City.
Aug 10-12 South Central Mennonite Conference Annual
delegate session, Central Plaza Motel and Convention Center, Oklahoma City.
Aug 31-Sep 1 Mid-Texas District Pastors Retreat, San Antonio, Texas.
Jul 29-Aug 3 Mennonite Church General Assembly, Eugene, Oreg.
Tenth Anniversary of Faith Mennonite Church
Sunday, April 8, Faith Mennonite Church, South Hutchinson, Kans., celebrated their tenth anniversary.
Devotional meditation was by an interim pastor, Duane Yoder.
The sermon entitled "Living Today in the Light of Gods Past," was by Bruce Hostetler.
The childrens choir sang "Sing to the Lord."
A noon fellowship meal was served at their sister church—South Hutchinson Mennonite.
A special celebration service was held in the afternoon.
Don Patterson, pastor of the Yoder Church was in charge of the Devotional meditation.
Marion Bontrager delivered the sermon entitled "A Community of Celebration."
The Faith Ensemble and Faith Mens’ Quartet gave several numbers of special music.
There was a time of remembering - - such as the Beginning Ideas, from the School House to 1 403 S. Main, remembering our leaders and a memorial to Daryl Miller.
After the closing song, "Bound Together, Bound To Love," a tree was planted for the tenth anniversary.
For Your Information
Conference Office
Box 448, North Newton, KS 67117
Telephone: 316-283-7080
William Zuercher Conference Administrator Home Phone: 316-327-4498
Wayne Hochstetler Conference Moderator Home Phone: 316-665-0529
Lois Leinbach Administrative Secretary Home Phone: 316-327-4119
Velma Hershberger, Editor 347 S. Main Hesston, KS 67062 Home Phone: 316-327-4439 Work Phone: 316-327-4831
The CONFERENCE MESSENGER is the official organ of the South Central Mennonite Conference and its associate organizations. To be published bi-monthly.
Address all correspondence to the editor.

Original Format

Church conference periodical