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December 20, 2016

In this month's newsletter:
  • Resignation of Interim Regional Minister
  • 2017 Mission West School for Ministry
  • God in the New Testament seminar 
  • 2017 Healthy Boundaries Class Schedule
  • CCSW Ordained Clergy 2017 Standing Renewal-due Dec 31
  • Phillips Seminary Online Course
  • Financial Literacy Academy
  • Westmont Christian Church needs worship & wonder supplies
  • 2017 Rally and Camp Dates
  • Progressive Youth Ministry Conference 
  • Lead Minister Sabbatical
  • 2017 CCSW Christmas Offering
  • Week of Compassion Immersion Experience
  • Changes in healthcare legislation
  • Regional & General Church News

If you have news to share with Mission West please send it here:

Newsletter deadlines and publication dates:

Jan 15 - deadline
Jan 31- publication

Feb 15 - deadline
Feb 28 - publication
Dear sisters and brothers of the Southwest Region,
It is with mixed emotions that I have submitted my resignation as your Interim Regional Minister and President to our Regional Executive Committee; my last day with the Region will be Sunday, February 5th, 2017. I have accepted a call to serve as the Interim Regional Minister for the Christian Church in Virginia, beginning February 15th; as many of you know, Virginia is my home Region, and their long-term Regional Minister, Rev. Lee Parker, has retired after 19 years of ministry.
Johnny and I are looking forward to being back in Virginia and reconnecting with friends and family there, but we also will miss the wonderful friends and colleagues we have made here during the past twelve years. We will continue to keep the Southwest Region and the Search Committee in our prayers as they search for the right candidate for the position of Regional Minister and President. Our Regional Moderator and Search Committee Chair, Mr. Jeff Billings, and his committee, are continuing to work diligently toward the goal of finding and extending a call to that person; in the meantime, a small committee is being formed to search for someone to serve as Interim for the remaining interim period.
Thank you to all of you for your support, encouragement, love, and prayers; I will ask for your prayers as I begin this new ministry, and I hope our paths will continue to cross in the future. I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to walk alongside of you in this journey!
Grace and peace,
Coretha R. Loughridge
Interim Regional Minister & President

2017 Mission West School for Ministry

2017 Mission West courses and other educational opportunities have been posted to Mission West website.  You can find that information here.  These classes are offered to meet commissioned ministry education requirements, but are open to all clergy and lay leaders for continuing education.

Dates and and course info are confirmed as of 11.19.16  Course and teacher information to be added as available.  Changes have been made since first publication.   Check back often.

January Classes:

Jan 10 - Feb 7  Pension Fund's Financial Leadership Academy (see news article below) - Registration deadline Jan 3.

Jan 14 - AiBiS' God in the New Testament - Chalice Abbey, Amarillo - Register by email AiBiS2013@aol.com

Jan 28 - MW Prayer Through the Seasons: Creating and Facilitating Contemplative Prayer Groups - Monte Vista CC, Albuquerque - Registration deadline Jan 21 - Register here.

Jan 30 - Phillips Seminary online class - History of Christianity - Registration deadline Jan 13 - information below.
Loving and Liberative
Uncaring, Absent, Violent, and Merciless?
God in the New Testament: What Sorts of God We Construct 

This seminar looks at constructions of God in New Testament writings. While much contemporary reading of the New Testament focuses on Jesus and on the church, not much attention has been given to ways in which various NT writings present God. By attending to various passages across the New Testament, this seminar suggests that NT writings are primarily interested in what God does, on God-at-work in the world. They construct God-at-work in pursuing life-giving, loving and liberative actions. They also construct God in fearful and terrible ways that suggest God is powerless, uncaring, absent, violent, merciless, and an emperor-lookalike. The seminar raises questions about how we read the Bible, how we negotiate  New Testament "texts of terror," and what sorts of God we construct.

Warren Carter is Professor of New Testament at Brite Divinity School at TCU in Fort Worth. He came to Brite in 2007 after teaching for 17 years at Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City. He is a native of Aotearoa/New Zealand and did his theological study at Melbourne College of Divinity (BD; ThM) and Princeton Theological Seminary (PhD). His scholarly work has focused on the gospels of Matthew and John, and he is especially interested in the ways in which early Christians negotiated the Roman empire.

Saturday, January 14, 2017 at
Chalice Abbey Center for Spirituality and the Arts
2717 Stanley, Amarillo
9:30-Noon and 1:30-4:00pm
$40 Suggested Registration Donation
Accepted Credit for  Mission West Clergy
Sponsored by the Amarillo Institute for Biblical Studies

2017 Healthy Boundaries Class Schedule

In order to maintain standing, all clergy, ordained or commissioned (including retired) must receive Boundaries Training from a CCSW-approved provider every five (5) years. Clergy who have not had boundaries training since December 31, 2010, must complete training by June 30, 2017.

CCSW also approves the boundaries training program offered by our partners: Brite Divinity School, the South Central Conference of the United Church of Christ, Hispanic Institute and the FaithTrust Institute.

Upcoming 2017 Mission West Trainings:

Jan 21 - Monte Vista CC, Albuquerque
              3501 Campus Blvd NE
      Registration deadline Jan 14

Feb 18 - Amarillo, Chalice Abbey - 
Mar 18 - FCC, Las Cruces
Apr 1 - FCC, Abilene

Each training begins at 9 AM and ends at 2 PM local time. Registration is $50 and includes a Healthy Boundaries Workbook and a light lunch.  
Please register two weeks in advance, so that we are able to have enough workbooks on hand for each participant.  Register by calling the Mission West office - 806-358-9590 or emailing missionwest@ccsw.org.  You may also register online at this link.
 CCSW Ordained Clergy 2017 Standing Renewal

2017 Request for Renewal of Standing Form for Ordained Ministers - Find the form and instructions here.

Due Dec 31, 2016

ALL Ordained Ministers, including Retired Clergy, in the Christian Church in the Southwest should completed the Request for Renewal of Standing Form before January 1, 2017, for information to be reported to the Regional Committee on Ministry at their January meeting and submitted for inclusion in the 2017 Year Book. Late submissions will be accepted but may result in delay of receiving confirmation of standing for 2017 or may result in not being included in the Year Book. 

For those who need a copy mailed to you, call 817-926-4687 to request a copy.

Attn Commissioned Ministers - You do not complete this form.  You will be sent Renewal of Commissioned Minister Standing Forms in Feb, 2017 from the Mission West office.
Phillips Seminary Online Ministers Training Course
The History of Christianity: from the 11th to the 21st Centuries
Dr. John Imbler

Beginning with the separation of two major Christian traditions in 1054, this course will take a millennial survey of the history of the church concluding with the modern ecumenical movement of the 1900s and beyond.  Attention will focus on the people and events which impacted the expansion of the church in tis many world-wide forms.

Course Duration:
Online, 8 weeks: Jan 30-Mar 24, 2017

Cost: $100 + textbook

Mark A. Noll, Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity, 3rd ed.
Grand Rpids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012 $20 pbk.

Deadline for Application: January 13, 2017

For information call: 918-270-6464

To Register: ptstulsa.edu/MinistersTrainingCourse

And yes! This can count for Commissioned Minister required education!
Financial Literacy Academy

from the Pension Fund
A recent survey of Disciples pastors indicates that seven in ten pastors are feeling financial stress at home. A significant number of those pastors have considered leaving the ministry due to financial stress. In addition, 80 percent of church lay leaders worry about the finances of their church. Concerns about money are stressing our church.

When our church leaders feel financial stress, relationships become stressed. Resentment between pastor and church can grow. It becomes hard to lead a stewardship campaign, or invite others to give, or even keep up with one's own giving. Money becomes a barrier to ministry.

Pension Fund, with the help of Lilly Endowment, Inc. wants to help reduce the stress felt by our pastors and churches. This is the goal of the Excellence in Ministry program. One part of this program is financial education, which is why Pension Fund has partnered with Lexington Theological Seminary to offer an online Financial Literacy Academy for pastors, their spouses and congregational leaders.

This Academy is open to all pastors who are interested in sharpening their financial skills for both their household and their church. Household money topics include strategies for paying down debt, how to save for retirement and handling clergy taxes. Topics in church finance include what to know as an employer, training for those who handle money and how to build trust with donors.

Courses in personal finance (for clergy and their spouses) begin in January 2017. These courses will be offered on four consecutive Tuesday evenings. An additional four courses on Congregational Finance will be offered later in the spring for pastors and lay leaders. Registration for the Financial Literacy Academy ends January 3.

And yes! This can count for Commissioned Minister  required  education!
Westmont Christian Church is looking for worship and wonder supplies...

Westmont Christian Church in Lubbock, TX is looking for used worship and wonder supplies. Preferably a complete set. Westmont is interested in starting a worship and wonder program for their Jr. Worship time. We would love to support a congregation that is no longer using their worship and wonder supplies. If there are any congregations that have worship and wonder sets that would be interested in selling them please email Rev. David Clifford, senior minister, at david@westmontlubbock.org.

2017 Rally and Camp Dates

JYF Round-Up,
Chi Rho/CYF Spring Rally
Feb 24-26
First Christian Church, Amarillo and Lake Brownwood Christian Retreat

Grand Beginnings Camp
June 9-11
Ceta Glen

Chi Rho/CYF Summer Camp
June 12-17
Lake Brownwood Christian Retreat

JYF Summer Camp
June 25-29
Lake Brownwood Christian Retreat

A color flyer with CYF/Chi Rho dates can be found here.
Progressive Youth Ministry Conference

March 8-10, 2017
Montreat Conference Center
North Carolina

Changing Hearts and Lives: Reclaiming the Spirit of Metanoia

Find out more!
Lead Minister Sabbatical

Rev Charlotte Hoppe, Lead Minister for Mission West, will be on sabbatical beginning November 1 - December 31.  Charlotte receives a two month sabbatical every five years and this is her second one since beginning as Tres Rios Area Minister in 2006 and now serving as Mission West Lead Minister.

Her sabbatical will be a different pace and flow of work, retreat, reflection, study and writing - while the day to day email and phone call demands are channeled through the administrative office.  If assistance is needed, Angeline Martinez, Mission West Administrative Assistant will call on any of the three Area Moderators or Mission West Moderator.  The Regional Minister or an Area Minister colleague will be on stand-by if needed.

If you'd like to read some of Charlotte's sabbatical reflections, follow her on facebook or click here for her short postings on our website.

When you need assistance, please call Angeline at 806-358-9590 or email her at missionwest@ccsw.org.

Keep Charlotte in your prayers in these days of sabbath and renewal.
2017 CCSW Christmas Offering Information

Each year the Christmas Offering is received and distributed back to the region.  You can find Interim Regional Minister, Rev. Coretha Loughridge letter here.

The Christmas offering we give directly supports our Southwest Region. This allows for us to support ministries beyond the monies our Region receives throughout the year from our portion of the gifts given through Disciples Mission Fund.
Our Region is in a time of great transition. Changes are happening in our congregations, our Areas and in the Region as a whole.
Recently congregations throughout the Southwest Region responded to questions from the Regional Minister Search Committee about the leadership needs for the ministry of our Region. Based upon conversations held with persons across the Region, the Search Committee determined that the best way for us to move our Region forward is with two leadership positions: a Regional Minister and a Regional Executive.
We are the largest Region in our denomination and our leadership staff is smaller than many other Regions. The specific job descriptions of these two positions were approved at the Southwest Regional Assembly this fall and can be found on the website at  ccsw.org/search-committee.  
To adequately fund two positions, an additional $100,000 is needed in addition to our other 2017 budget needs.
We are asking congregations to prayerfully and generously give to the Christmas offering as we move into the coming year with hope and vision.

You can find links to a video segment and a  bulletin insert  designed for use by congregations in the Southwest Region to raise awareness of the importance of the Christmas offering. We would appreciate you making sure your church office and A/V staff or volunteers have this information to use. 
Week of Compassion Immersion Experience in Indonesia

Week of Compassion is inviting 6 Disciples seminarians and 6 Disciples clergy in their first five years of ministry to participate in an immersion experience in Indonesia during the first two weeks of August, 2017. 

This trip will involve site visits to a number of humanitarian and sustainable development projects across Indonesia implemented by our Church World Service partners; visits will likely include Resilient Village disaster risk management projects, agricultural projects related to child malnutrition and climate change, water and hygiene projects, and relief and protection for unaccompanied minors.

More information can be found here.
  Changes in healthcare legislation
This week the U.S. Congress passed and President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act. This legislation provides funding for major cancer research but also makes some changes in the way in which the Internal Revenue Service has been implementing the Affordable Care Act for small employers.
In summary, congregations (employers) who have only one employee who works 25 hours or more per week may provide a non-taxable reimbursement or payment for their employee's health insurance premium. They are considered to be a group of one.
If your congregation has two or more persons who work 25 hours a week or more, but less than 50 such persons, you now have the option to establish a qualified small employer health care arrangement (HRA) that would give opportunity for the congregational employer to provide up to $4,950 to a single employee and up to $10,000 to an employee plus one or employee with a family on a pre-tax basis. These are funds that the employer provides, not funds that the employee elects to set aside as a voluntary salary reduction. The same amount has to be provided for all employees of the same category. Funds may be paid to the employee for substantiated qualified medical expenses.
Below you will find a link to a document which has been provided by the Pension Fund to orient you to this issue. In addition you are encouraged to review other resources on the Pension Fund's website: http://www.pensionfund.org/employers Congregations and ministers are encouraged to consult with legal and financial counsel so that appropriate procedures are in place.
Regional and General Church News of Interest

Regional Calendar
The CCSW Calendar can be found 
Click here    to see the most recent CCSW Newsletter
General Church Updates
To see and subscribe to the Disciples News Service updates,  click here.