Riverside welcomes new pastor

Pictured above are Rev. Arthur Stewart, Rev. Travis McKee who brought the message, and Rev. Renee Bridwell. 

Rev. Arthur Stewart was installed Sunday, September 29, by Regional Minister Renee Bridwell as the new settled minister of Wichita’s Riverside Christian Church.

Stewart, 35, comes to Wichita from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, where he earned his Master of Divinity from Brite Divinity School. In addition to having served as pastor, he brings experience in youth ministry and in regional, interfaith and community ministry.

At his first meeting with the elders, Arthur told the group he wanted to be invited to everyone’s homes for dinner and indicated, with a mischievous smile, that if he didn’t get invited, he might invite himself. Almost immediately they started receiving informal reports of his visits to homes and hospitals.

Prior to his calling, Rev. Stewart was a professional jazz musician and comedian. His hobbies include book binding and pie baking. He has been married a little over a year to Brian Irwin. The couple wasted no time finding a vintage house near downtown and are going through the strenuous qualifying process to adopt a child.

Walking in my shoes

October Thoughts from your regional minister

By Steve Martin

I shared with Girard First Christian Church, “I wish you could walk in my shoes!” If you could walk in my shoes, you would recognize the Body of Christ at work throughout the Kansas Region. Here are only a few of these:

I so much appreciate the monthly gathering of ministers in support groups across the Region, where they come together to know and hear each other, and to provide support and encouragement! This support brings health to their ministries and provides stability for the congregation.

Congregations are giving serious discernment to calling pastors, and discovering the wonderful gifts which younger clergy bring to the congregation. I am constantly amazed by the vision and the energy which these younger clergy bring to ministry.

The sharing of prayers, concerns and efforts whenever there is an emergency due to storm or other disasters. When pastors and leaders hear that Week of Compassion will help, they are amazed and so very grateful! This was true at Lewis Christian Church only a short while ago.

I read every camp evaluation from last summer’s program and I am pleased to report that we had a very good camp season. Our leaders are the best and they take their role seriously, which goes to make the camp experience so rich. Several campers commented, “This is my favorite place always!” or other words to that effect. Some say “this is the ONLY place where I can truly be myself.” Campers not only enjoy the camp, but they gain so much from relationships they form each summer and this nurture continues into their future. What a tremendous gift we offer at Tawakoni.

Our vision is to connect and equip that together we will build up the Body of Christ. We trust that YOU will join us as we seek to be faithful disciples!

Manhattan church dedicates new building

On August 18, Manhattan First Christian Church dedicated its new facility at 3001 Grand Mere Parkway. Comprising nearly 18,000 square feet, the contemporary structure houses a sanctuary, narthex, offices, conference room, kitchen, fellowship hall, and classrooms that double as a childcare center. The seven-acre property also includes a patio, parking lot and  playground.

Approximately 165 people attended the dedication. Pastor Ben Hitzfeld led the service and participated in the ribbon-cutting as did Building Committee Chair Dr. Richard Gallagher, Regional Minister Steve Martin, and Coordinating Council Chair Ruby K. Brower, and others.

“We were delighted with the turnout, which included our members, plus local dignitaries and special guests,” says Dr. Gallagher. “We were also happy to welcome Rick Reisinger, President of Disciples Church Extension Fund (DCEF) which has been so instrumental to this project. We have a wonderful working relationship with them,” he notes. “Prior to breaking ground, we were able to obtain a construction loan from DCEF that allowed us to move forward and stay on schedule. That has been greatly appreciated.”

President of Disciples Church Extention Fund Rick Reisinger, Vice President at Christian Church Foundation Kirby Gould, and Kansas Regional Minister Steve Martin

DCEF is the ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) that inspires and empowers congregations to create Holy Places where people connect with God, each other and their community. Over the years, First Christian Church has relied on the counsel of DCEF Building and Capital Service Advisors in Building Evaluation, Planning, Site Consultation, Fund-raising, Loan and New Beginnings – a transformational service focused on helping church leadership re-imagine their future mission and ministry for the good of their community.

“We are proud of our long and mutually beneficial association with First Christian Church,” says Rick Reisinger, DCEF President. “They have a positive vision for the future dedicated to welcoming all to God’s table and to serving their Grand Mere neighbors both inside and outside church walls.”

Manhattan FCC was founded in 1867 with 36 charter members. At first, the church had no governing board and all business was brought before the entire congregation; the first board met in 1889.  Major decisions are still brought before the congregation including the decision to relocate from downtown Manhattan to alleviate a chronic parking shortage and aging building issues.

Major decisions are still brought before the congregation including the decision to relocate from downtown Manhattan to alleviate a chronic parking shortage and aging building issues.

Tawakoni: Second Decade and Beyond

On August 21, Mr. Mike Carr, CEO of United Camps, Conferences & Retreats (UCCR) visited Disciples Center to bring an outside expert view of the camp and to advise on operations and development.

Consistently, Mr. Carr complimented the improvements since CCK purchased the facility in 2004, many of which were done by volunteers with minimal staff involvement. He was pleased to see the obvious care and attention to detail, in maintenance and in cleanliness.

He viewed the renovated pool and the lodges which allow groups to have housing while providing their own meals. The group reviewed three years of camp usage and were pleased to see both new and repeat clients, to the point that most weekends are booked.   

Financially, Carr was pleased to learn that we operate with a facility budget that is separate from our summer camping program. This way, we know what it costs for the camp to function.

The pool renovation is fully paid and the bathhouse/fence, nearly so. The recent sale of a small parcel on the east edge of camp allowed for repaying small operational deficits and helped establish a maintenance fund. 

Currently, our challenge is to build Jones Lodge, the much-needed motel-style cabin which will replace cabin 3. Ground-breaking was held at the recent Disciples Connect & Equip (#DCE) on August 10, but work will not begin until at least ½ of the projected $350,000 cost is on hand. A $10,000 challenge match offer stands at $3800 to date; it will expire at the end of 2019.

Overall, Mr. Carr said again and again, “what a wonderful place… for both facilities and as a place to enjoy the natural world.”

He affirmed the determination of the camp leaders to continue development on a near-fully-funded basis, borrowing only internally and only on a short-term basis.

Get involved at Tawakoni in 2020

Seeking camp leaders for 2020 season

Curious about how you can get involved in the summer camp program? If you are a leader in our summer camp program or want to be one, this is for you! 

“It’s About the Campers!”
6 p.m. – 2 p.m.
March 27-28
Disciples Center at Tawakoni, Augusta

The Camp Program Team is bringing together current and future camp adults and those who are curious about whether they might fit into the program, to share their wisdom and learn from others about best practices in various leadership roles:

  • Counselors
  • directors and chaplains
  • nurses
  • counselors-in-training
  • maintenance volunteers

There’s something here for everyone who cares about summer church camp ministry!  Workshops and discussion groups will help participants learn how the pieces fit together and how each person contributes to the whole camp experience. Don’t assume–come and find out!

The program will begin with supper on Friday at 6 PM and includes both breakfast and lunch on Saturday.  The closing circle will be no later than
2 p.m.  Bring bedding and spend the night in one of the cabins.

Rev. Greg Rea will present two keynotes on Trust-Based leadership for our youth campers.  Greg has done much research regarding challenged youth, and he brings information which is insightful and helpful.  He knows youth and knows camp as well!

Register early and save big!
Register by Tuesday, March 10, and pay $25. Beginning March 11, the registration fee is $45, still a great deal! Register online below or download a registration form and mail with payment to the Topeka Regional Office.

Register online below or download a registration form and mail with payment to the Topeka Regional Office.

IAS 2020

To be serious about Christian faith in the 21st century is to live self-consciously as a global citizen. International Affairs Seminar (IAS) is designed to help Christian High School Juniors/Seniors participate in a Disciples congregation experience what it means to live this reality. 

The 2020 IAS trip will be Friday, March 13, through Saturday, March 21. Steve Martin, Regional Minister, will serve as director/coordinator.

Fee: $1,850 plus a possible $75-$150 surcharge depending on airfares at time of booking. A $250 deposit is due Friday, Nov 1, with $100 monthly payments, or, a fund-raising plan. The total balance is due March 1.  

            Fee includes airfare, train, shared hotel rooms in New York, ground transportation, program fees, two Broadway shows, a comedic “who done it?”  show at the Kennedy Center, and meals. Participants will sleep in a Washington DC church on floor. 

The low fee for this trip is made possible due to a generous grant from the Kansas Bible Chair.

Register: Please send the following:  Name, Address, Email contact, with $250 deposit (check made to CCK – “IAS” in memo). Mail to:  CCK – 2914 SW MacVicar – Topeka KS 66611. 

Additionally, a Reference letter from both a pastor and a school counselor/principal, and 250-word essay, “Why I want to attend IAS” are required.

Adult Sponsors for the Seminar will reflect the communities from which the youth are enrolled and will provide a 1:5 ratio.

For additional information – contact Steve Martin at call 800-737-8130.  OR – send an email to smartin@kansasdisciples.org.

Tawakoni Welcomes Sid Rutland

With the reconfiguration of staff that’s made necessary by the coming retirement of Regional Minister Renee Bridwell, the Regional Board approved creating the full-time position of Camp Manager, a role that’s been on the camp wish list for ages.

A search team reviewed 10 applicants, interviewed four, and chose Sid Rutland as our best fit. Rutland’s background in horse ranching and all the handy skills learned there, his common sense and maturity, and his deep care for the success of the camp stood out.

Rutland’s home church is First Christian Church in Independence where his family were very active. His early camping experiences date back to Christian Hills, and he is proud that he never missed an event for which he qualified.

In recent years, he has proven himself in service as an intern, camp counselor, and for the past two years has been the intern supervisor during the summer camp sessions.

Sid brings great experience and useful training for this role: emergency wilderness rescue, medical training toward an EMT certificate, ropes course certification, and water safety certification. He is ready to learn more about the operating functions of the facility.

A new challenge will be marketing to outside entities including family reunions, business clientele, etc. He will be available to bring camp information and programs to your church as well.

Beginning October 1, we will begin to see the results of Sid’s work at the camp.  He will live in the Caretaker’s House, and will receive calls through the camp office, 316-775-1222. 

Tawakoni Fall Work Days

Join us Thursday, Nov. 14, through Saturday, Nov. 16, for fall camp workdays at Tawakoni.  Work at 10 a.m. on Thursday and finish on Saturday afternoon.

Overnight lodging and meals are provided.  Registration is required so that meals and material can be purchased before work begins.

Register online below or sign-up with Vern Failor or call 785-231-3960.

A number of projects are planned to prepare the new shower building for inspection, prepare the camp for winter, and the caretaker house ready for the new camp manager. Projects include:

  • Insulate ceiling and install some ceiling in new shower building
  • Repair the shower in Cabin 4B
  • Complete new restroom electrical in new shower building
  • Repair the trim on the administration building
  • Install sheetrock in the caretaker’s house basement
  • Winterize cabins 1 & 2 and the pool pump house
  • Repair and paint water line markers
  • Repair the weather stripping on all Dining Hall doors

Racism: Fact or Fiction

Miss the “Racism: Fact or Fiction” workshop? 

Click on the links below to hear Rev. David Bell of the Yakama Christian Mission in White Swan, Washington talk about Anti-Racism/Pro-receconcilation presented at the 2019 Disciples Connect and Equip regional gathering.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

KDYC Youth Conference

Rev. Virzola “Virgi” Law will keynote the 2019 Kansas Disciples Youth Convention. Spend time with other youth, grades 6-12, from across the region Nov 8-10 at Hutchinson Conference Center.

Law is well-known among Disciples for her years of service including most recently, supporting the XPLOR program of the National Benevolent Association. She currently serves as the newly called pastor at Northway Christian Church in Dallas. 

Download event schedule here.

The $55 registration fee includes program, t-shirt, and Saturday lunch and dinner. SAVE! Register before October 21 and save $10. Hotel Rooms are $81/night. Call 800-362-5018, ext 270 for details.

The $55 registration fee represents only one-third of the costs of the convention. A generous grant from Kansas Bible Chair makes this low fee possible.

Register and pay online below or download the registration form and mail with payment to the Topeka regional office.