Announcements for December 31, 2023–January 7, 2024

December 31, 2023

To livestream the worship service:
On Sunday morning, around 9:45, go to BCMC’s webpage at and click the green button labeled LIVE STREAM on the right side of the screen, which will take you to the worship service. If you get a message in the black box that the video is unavailable, click the gray box below that says “View Live Stream on YouTube”.   Anytime after the service concludes, you can watch a recording of the service at your convenience by clicking the same green LIVE STREAM button.  Again, you will probably have to go to the gray box that says “View Live Stream on YouTube”.  That will transfer you to the BCMC YouTube Channel.  You will have to click on the tab “Videos” to see all of the BCMC videos. Click the red button to see the bulletin/order of service. 
OR – click on this link for this Sunday:

December 31, 2023
First Sunday After Christmas

Prelude—Go Tell it on the Mountain—Verlene Garber & Ben Lichti
Welcome and Prayer —Roger Neufeld Smith
Hymn—Come Away from Rush and Hurry—VT 9
*Advent Candle Hymn—Hope Is a Candle, verses 1-5 VT 211

Advent Candle Lighting—Elizabeth, Gabby, Jake, Jill & Adam Robb

*Advent Litany—Christ—VT 916
*Hymns—O Come, All Ye Faithful (Verses 1, 3, 4)—VT 241
                  Hark! The Herald Angels Sing—VT 247
Scripture Reading—Isaiah 11:1-6—Roger Neufeld Smith
Hymns—What Child is This—VT 267 and Helpless and Hungry—VT 268
                 Holy Night, Blessed Night—VT 262
Scripture Reading—Luke 2:22-40
Children’s Conversation based on Luke 2:22-40—The Robb Family
*Hymn—Come, Join in Mary’s Prophet-Song—VT 246
Meditation—Roger Neufeld Smith
*Hymn—Joy to the World—VT 240
Prayers of God’s People
*Hymn—Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light—VT 269–People with December birthdays come forward for a blessing, please bring a hymnal
Benediction—VT 1064  
Postlude— In Dulci Jubilo  (VT 261)–Verlene Garber and Ben Lichti
*You are invited to stand
Audio-Visual—Francis Toews
Keyboard—Verlene Garber
Trumpet—Ben Lichti

Sunday, December 31, the worship service will begin at 10 a.m.  We will sing a lot of Christmas hymns so come prepared to sing and rejoice!  There will be no Sunday School.

The congregation is invited to join Jim and Beaty Robb in celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary with a cake and punch
reception after worship Sunday, December 31. Please join the Robb family in the Gathering Space for fellowship time as we celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, which was on December 28. All are welcome!


Roger’s Whereabouts :  Roger will be driving back to Newton on Sunday, December 31. He will be back in Newton on Wednesday, January 10.
Whether he’s in Newton or Topeka, Roger checks his email and phone regularly, so feel free to contact him via email, text or phone call (785-220-1968).

BCMC Offering for December 24, 2023:  General $29,197.61; MCC $25; Gen Fund 2024 $1,500; Library Reserve Fund $10; Living Stones $900; Women’s Fellowship $513; Caring fund $1,020.16.

This Week at BCMC:  December 31, 2023—January 7, 2024
Sun., Dec. 31, 2023—First Sunday After Christmas
10 a.m. Worship  No Sunday School
Worship YouTube Link for this Sunday:
Mon., January 1, 2024—Happy New Year!
Church will be locked; church office closed for the holiday
Wed., Jan. 3, 2024
7:30 p.m.  Chancel Choir Rehearsal in the sanctuary
Thurs., Jan. 4, 2024
6:30 p.m.   Chancel Bells Rehearsal in Room B7
7 p.m.         Church Board meets in Room 14
Sun., Jan. 7, 2024—Epiphany
9:30 a.m.    Worship with sermon by Trent Voth; music by the Chancel Choir
10:45 a.m.   Faith Formation
Trent Voth is Bethel College’s Assistant Professor of Bible and Religion. He grew up near Bethel’s campus (Halstead, KS) but comes to Bethel by way of Toronto, ON where he obtained his PhD in Theology in New Testament studies. His primary research interests are in the Gospel of Mark and Anabaptist Theologies.
1:30 p.m.  Memorial Service for Jim Banman and Judy Coover in the
Kidron Bethel Hall
4 p.m.  Service of Remembrance in the sanctuary—All are invited

From the Board:
Congregational Meeting:
Our next congregational meeting will be held at 12:45 p.m. on January 28, 2024.  The following two items will be on the agenda:

Welcome Statement:
The BCMC board has approved a recommendation from the Inclusion Task Group to revise our congregation’s welcome statement which is in the church’s constitution.  This announcement constitutes the required 30 day notice for a vote on a constitutional change.  The revised version follows: 
Bethel College Mennonite Church is an open and affirming congregation centered in the life and teachings of Jesus. Embracing the divine within each person, we warmly welcome any and all  into fellowship without regard to race, ethnic background, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, economic status, marital status and age.

Change in Moderator Model:
The Board has proposed a bylaws change to shift church officer positions from Moderator Elect and Moderator, each serving two-year terms with a total commitment of four years, to Moderator Elect, Moderator, and Past Moderator.  In the new model, each position would be held for one year with the Moderator Elect moving on to Moderator and Past Moderator in the following years, thus serving a three-year commitment.  In summary, the new model shortens the term of commitment by one year and establishes a three-person leadership team. 
The proposal and rationale can be accessed here. 

Pastoral News:
The Board has renewed Roger Neufeld Smith’s half-time contract for an additional year (or less if a new regular pastor is found).  We are so grateful for his willingness to continue offering his fine work, administrative and communication skills, and wisdom to our congregation in this transitional time. 
The Board has also renewed Elizabeth Schmidt’s half-time contract for an additional year.  Since she is now credentialed, her title has been changed to Pastor of Congregational Care.  Her job description, although revised, remains fundamentally the same.  Feedback from those working most closely with her was overwhelmingly positive and confirmed her pastoral gifts, organizational skills, and caring concern for congregants.  Thank you, Elizabeth!

Service of Remembrance
As we are in the holiday season that brings joy with the promise of new life and love birthed into our world, there is also grief as we miss those who have passed from this world in 2023.  In order to recognize and mourn the loss of our loved ones from 2023, Bethel College Mennonite Church is hosting a Service of Remembrance on January 7, 2024 at 4 p.m., in the BCMC sanctuary.

We offer sympathy to the family of Don Kaufman.  Don died December 18 at Kidron Bethel Village.  Please pray for Don’s children, Kendra Kaufman, Galen Kaufman, and Nathan (and Jill)  Kaufman, and their families.

Memorial Service for Jim Banman and Judy Coover
 Please remember in your prayers Jim’s children, Steven, Susan, Christine, and T.J., and their families as they mourn the death of Jim on December 9.  A joint memorial service for Jim and his wife, Judith Coover, who died in 2020, will be held on January 7, 2024, 1:30 p.m. at Kidron Hall, Kidron Bethel Village.

The library’s theme for the month of December is Advent/Christmas. We have quite a number of fiction/nonfiction choices for all ages. You might want to consider checking out books for visiting family members. We have so many good choices. Also, due to the Advent/Christmas Everybody books in the children’s section of the library, all the puzzles are now located in the library on the west wall. There are some wonderful choices for holiday family time. A suggested donation of $5 for a puzzle helps support the supplies needed to run the library. 
Also on the west wall are a number of new books that were recently purchased through our budget and sale at Faith and Life Bookstore. Come check out the new selections in all genres. A brief write up of the new books is available by the library computer.   Happy Holiday reading!
— Library Committee

The bulletin covers for Advent are used by permission from Salt Project,

Changes for the Beginning of Worship
As we begin 2024, the Worship Commission will be experimenting with a new format to begin our time of worship. There will be no prelude, but instead worship will begin with the sound of a bell or chime and lighting of the Christ candle at 9:30 a.m., then will move into a time of gathering/centering music, and will then move to the welcome and opening prayer. As you enter the worship space, we ask that once the chime sounds and the candle is lit, you refrain from conversation so that all can prepare for our time of worship together. The Worship Commission appreciates your flexibility and openness to trying new things in the new year!

Questionnaire for the Solar Project is due by January 3, 2024

At the December 10, 2023 congregational meeting, BCMC approved initiating Phase I of the Solar Panel project.  As part of Phase I, BCMC is using this Questionnaire.

For the questionnaire and more information click here

Paper copies of the questionnaire are available on the ledge in the BCMC Gathering Place.  Place these completed forms in the basket on the ledge.  Envelopes have been provided.  
Contact Margaret Toews with any questions.

.Bethel College Announcements
· Kauffman Museum at Bethel College invites you to visit during the holidays. Open hours are Tues.-Fri. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and weekends 1:30-4:30 p.m. (closed Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve). The permanent exhibits are “Of Land and People,” “Mirror of the Martyrs” and “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture,” and the museum store is also open during those hours, with books, games, art and other gift items for sale (see
· Sun., Jan. 7 – Sunday-Afternoon-at-the-Museum, “The Western Meadowlark: The State Bird, but Not the Only Exceptional Bird in Kansas,” with local birding expert Gregg Friesen, 3 p.m., Kauffman Museum at Bethel College.

Western District Conference Announcements
Western District Conference invites you to visit our website to read the latest news, stories and announcements.

The WDC Office and Resource Library will be closed through Jan 1. We will open again on Tuesday, Jan 2. 
Register now for the MCC South Texas Learning Tour, February 4-9, 2024! This immigration-focused learning tour presents a unique opportunity to engage directly with organizations making a positive impact on our neighbors. You won’t want to miss this opportunity. Details and online registration can be found at Deadline to sign up is Jan. 20. Please contact Abraham Diaz Alonso with questions,

For Mennonite Mission Network “News from around the world” press here
For Christmas and New Year’s message from Mennonite World Conference press here

From Mennonite Mission Network year end message press here

Mennonite Church USA Announcements
Menno Snapshots

H.A Penner, war tax resister/redirector, explains the benefits of the Mennonite Church USA Church Peace Tax Fund, which offers an opportunity for Mennonites to redirect the portion of their taxes that would have otherwise supported war efforts toward peacebuilding efforts. Read more here: 

Mennonite Church USA is helping to fuel growth and diversity with its 2023 Thrive Church Planting Grants. This year’s repeat award recipients, Brooklyn (New York) Peace Church and Community of Hope Mennonite Church, Bellingham, Washington, are building circles of community in creative, Jesus-centered ways. Read more here:

Mennonite Mission Network Prayer Request: Although 2023 is ending with much suffering and violence around the world, join Mennonite Mission Network personnel in proclaiming our hope in Jesus, who has overcome evil and injustice. May each of us continue to “be the Gospel” wherever we find ourselves.

Western District Conference Prayer Request:  We lift up our church mission before God, seeking His divine intervention and guidance. We pray for the success of our church planting efforts, that hearts may be touched, and lives transformed by God’s love. Bless our church planters, provide resources, and strengthen the commitment of all involved. May Your light shine through our mission, bringing hope and healing to those we serve. In Jesus’ name, we present these requests. Amen. -WDC Church Planting Commission