Posts by Communications

District News & Announcements – January 2021

District News & Announcements

January 2021

“District News and Announcements” is a monthly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Church of the Brethren in the Northern Plains District.  District Leaders, Commissions, Committees, and those doing special ministries share information on programs and activities.  Local churches share news and invitations.  Send submissions by January 25th for inclusion in next month’s newsletter to Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications, communications@nplains.org.

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Holiness in our Midst: Session 100

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION C: ON OPEN SPACES

1: Story Circle Prompt: Do you have an open space or prairie you visit for renewal? Where is it? What does it mean to you?

2: Going deeper: What New Year’s Resolution can you make for the coming year related to climate action? 

Even as the Covid pandemic has forced us to stay at home more, it has also propelled us to intentionally seek get-away places where we can rediscover nature. Friends, near and far, their Christmas letters affirm, have been exploring the “open spaces” of state and national parks and local nature preserves. 

As an example, my former colleague, Howard Royer, and his wife Gene from Elgin, IL, wrote this about their “discombobulating” year: “…we attest to alternate measures of enrichment and joy. One is a deepening appreciation of nature, of sunsets and moon rises, of tending growing things in yard and garden. Of achieving a longtime goal of summer outings, 30 in all, to surrounding forest preserves and parks, most within a half hour of home.” 

My friends, retired librarians David and Mary Gregory, wrote on their Christmas card: “…we took great delight in visiting as many of Iowa’s state parks as we could, hiking around lakes and along rivers, and enjoying quiet picnic lunches in all kind of weather, right into December. What a joy to discover all this natural beauty, within a day’s drive of Ames. So far, we have visited 42 of Iowa 64 state parks, and learned, incidentally, that this is the 100th anniversary of the founding of Iowa’s state park system.”

My “open space” is on the north side of Ames, IA. Ada Hayden Heritage Park is a 430-acre local treasure named for the first woman to earn a doctorate from Iowa State. It features hiking trails, two lakes for fishing and boating, scenic overlooks, picnic areas and seasonal gardens. Where better to maintain social distance, breathe in fresh air and behold pristine prairie land!

Tying my New Year’s Resolution with preservation of my favorite outdoor spot, I plan to become a member of Friends of Ada Hayden Heritage Park this year. I want to undergird this organization’s mission to expand “public awareness, educational programs and research efforts” connected to the park. How can you support the spaces and places that sustain you in these times?

 

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, explore how you can better care for creation this year. As a starting point, reflect on this quote by Aldo Leopold (highlighted in David and Mary Gregory’s Christmas card): “When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” 

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1. Read aloud Session C. 
  2. Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt. 

 

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our MidstSharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com.

Advent Newsletter 2020

District Advent Calendar 2020

Fairview COB
Ivester COB
Panther Creek COB
Sheldon COB
South Waterloo COB

Please contact each church if you have questions about the programs mentioned below.

Other News:
The Light of Hope Returning – Concert by Shawn Kirchner

District News & Announcements – December 2020

District News & Announcements

December 2020

“District News and Announcements” is a monthly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Church of the Brethren in the Northern Plains District.  District Leaders, Commissions, Committees, and those doing special ministries share information on programs and activities.  Local churches share news and invitations.  Send submissions by December 29th for inclusion in next month’s newsletter to Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications, communications@nplains.org.

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In this issue

  1. In Our Prayers
  2. Camp Pine Lake Updates
  3. BVS Informational Session & Remembering Volunteers
  4. Church of the Brethren Pandemic Resources
  5. Moderator Moment
  6. Holiness in our Midst
  7. Leadership Development Musings
  8. Lisa Ames-Kruse Begins Interim Ministry with Hammond Avenue Brethren Church
  9. Northern Plains Ministers and Churches to Receive Brethren Press Certificates
  10. Reminder: Allocation Deadline December 15th
  11. Submit your Congregation’s Events to the Advent Newsletter
  12. Congregational Newsletters

Quick info

Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: Home Advent Wreath kits sent to members of the Church of the Brethren at Ankeny.  Photo by Barbara Wise Lewczak. Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 99

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION XCIX: ON CHRISTMAS TOYS

Share about a memorable Christmas toy or game you found under the tree. 

Is there a Christmas present you remember even now? 

Mine was a shiny saucer snow sled made of aluminum or steel, given to me when I was 9. Its debut was on the steep and slippery slopes of the Wakonda Club, a golf course just off Fleur Drive in Des Moines. The park-like grounds of the private club were opened to the public for sledding. I hung on tight to the straps on the sled as I soared down the hill time after time. My rides were made more fun (and risky) because my father spun me like a top before pushing me in a direction that steered me away from danger. 

I did not want to go home after adventurous Saturday afternoons in the snow, those winters when I was a human whirligig!! On each run down the hill, I entered another dimension, like being closer to God! On my sled rides, I experienced my first 360-degree, panoramic view of the world. There was a hushed holiness on those hillsides! Anything seemed possible before I crashed into reality at the bottom, that is, other sledders or (once) a tree. Those slick little rides made me feel like I was flying, something I would not feel again until my early twenties, when I jumped out of an airplane and went into freefall before my parachute opened. 

Even though my Christmas saucer sled disappeared on one of our family’s many moves, its lesson has followed me through the years: there is madcap joy in taking risks and gaining new perspectives. No small gift!

 

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. Is there a Christmas toy or game that influenced your career choice or jump-started a hobby? Write about the gift in your journal. 

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session XCIX.
  2.   Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt. 

 

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our MidstSharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com.

District News & Announcements – November 2020

District News & Announcements

November 2020

“District News and Announcements” is a monthly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Church of the Brethren in the Northern Plains District.  District Leaders, Commissions, Committees, and those doing special ministries share information on programs and activities.  Local churches share news and invitations.  Send submissions by November 24th for inclusion in next month’s newsletter to Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications, communications@nplains.org.

Trouble viewing pictures and videos? 
Click here to view the newsletter in your browser.

TO PRINT – go to browser view
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Mac: [Ctrl] + click + Print OR [Command] + P

In this issue

  1. In Our Prayers: Jerry Tobias (1948-2020)
  2. Pastor’s Professional Growth Event
  3. Message from Iowa Faith Leaders: Voting Matters
  4. Continuing Education Opportunities
  5. Moderator Moment
  6. Holiness in our Midst
  7. Leadership Development Musings
  8. Fairview Church of the Brethren Calls Thomas McMullin as Pastor
  9. Dane Mauslein Concludes Ministry at Hammond Avenue Brethren Church
  10. Treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons receives 50th ratification
  11. Reminder: Allocation Deadline December 15th
  12. Congregational Newsletters

Quick info

Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: Picture shared by Bwambale Sedrack who writes, “The Church of the Brethren in Uganda is engaging in crop farming to increase food production which will provide food security to the orphans, widows and the poor families in our community. Please join us to thank Brother Gordon Hoffert and his wife Uli for their generous financial support towards this project. We will keep you posted!”  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 98

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION XCVIII: ON “SNOW DAYS”

Story Circle Prompt: Share about a special “snow day,” a day when an unexpected event (perhaps an actual snowstorm) interrupted your routine. Where were you? What did you do with this gift of time?

I was reminded of the wonder of “snow days” on a recent morning in late October. The light dusting of snow on treetops and grassy areas was not enough to keep me home all day, like those blessed blizzards in elementary school that signaled time away from school. But the unexpected sight of a world turned white recalled the freedom of unplanned hours away from routines. Because this snow was accompanied by a dangerous coating of ice on the sidewalks and parking lot, I did enjoy a “snow morning” while everything melted. 

During that morning’s reflection time, my thoughts kept turning back to “snow days.” First, I remembered actual snowstorms, ones that miraculously granted me time to complete junior high English papers or study a bit more for tests. Then I remembered times when, out of nowhere, I had a whole day away from my routine. “Found time,” my friend Tammy calls such experiences. My most dramatic “snow day” memory came floating back. I was on a layover in Thailand in February 2004: 

I had traveled in Vietnam nonstop for a week in my role as coordinator for mission connections for the Church of the Brethren denomination. Finally, I was on my way back to Elgin, Il. I had spent the night on the outskirts of Bangkok and gotten up in the wee hours. But I was not early enough, as it turned out, to catch a catch a 6 a.m. flight back to Chicago O’Hare. Why? Perhaps I misjudged the amount of time to go through the line; the hotel, after all, was connected to the airport. Perhaps I was still trying to comprehend the contrasts I had witnessed in Vietnam: the exquisitely beautiful sights with the horror of war museums. Perhaps I had not factored in time changes.

Nevertheless, there I was at the ticket counter, hearing that I could not rebook until the next day. I had checked out of my hotel, suitcase in hand. What to do next? Fortunately, a well-travelled American couple saw my plight and took me under their wing. Within minutes, I rode with them to downtown Bangkok, checked into the cheaper hotel where they were staying and planned my day. I chose “River Ride” over “Temples and Shopping” and other, less savory, guided tour options. In no uncertain terms, my travelling companions had asked the hotel desk clerk to make sure I was not ripped off by the tour operators ready to show me the city sights.

My “snow day” included several hours cruising the Chao Phraya River in a longtail boat with my own boat driver. (He stopped whenever I declared a “photo emergency,” a picture I wanted to take!) Alongside other river craft, we glided through floating markets, with goods delivered to boats via pulley systems; the boats did not even have to dock. Along the shore were temples and pagodas, all landscaped with tropical flowers. The rhythm of the waves and the everyday sounds of life on the water quieted my heart. Back on shore, lunch was traditional Thai street food. I rested in the afternoon and ate a wonderfully seasoned pasta dish and a decadent dessert in the hotel restaurant for my late dinner. The next morning I was ready to resume my breakneck pace and deadline schedule with a better sense of balance from a perfect day away under the Southeast Asian sun.

 

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, recall a “snow day” or “found day,” where you ventured outside your usual routines. Where were you? What did you do differently? What did you learn?

 

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session XCVIII.
  2.   Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt. 

 

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our MidstSharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com.

District News & Announcements – October 2020

District News & Announcements

October 2020

“District News and Announcements” is a monthly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Church of the Brethren in the Northern Plains District.  District Leaders, Commissions, Committees, and those doing special ministries share information on programs and activities.  Local churches share news and invitations.  Send submissions by October 25th for inclusion in next month’s newsletter to Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications, communications@nplains.org.

Trouble viewing pictures and videos? 
Click here to view the newsletter in your browser.

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Mac: [Ctrl] + click + Print OR [Command] + P

In this issue

  1. October is Pastor Appreciation Month
  2. Pastor’s Professional Growth Event
  3. Opposing Racism and Working for Racial Justice
  4. Continuing Education Opportunities
  5. Moderator Moment
  6. Holiness in our Midst
  7. Leadership Development Musings
  8. Rhonda Pittman Gingrich Signs On As CPL Program Director
  9. District Takes On Derecho Clean Up Through Brethren Disaster Ministry
  10. Dallas Center – Celebrating Heifer International
  11. Annual Conference moderator offers ‘Sabbath rest’ sermon for use by congregations
  12. Congregational Newsletters

Quick info

Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: Flowers that were grown in the Camp Pine Lake garden over the summer.  CPL has partnered with the Eldora Community Garden and is donating all excess produce to the Pine Lake Food Shelf.  Photo by Betsy Kuecker.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 97

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION XCVII: ON THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

Story Circle Prompt: Reflect on one of the Ten Commandments and its meaning in your life.

One Sunday morning several years ago, my pastor, Rev. Mary Jane Button-Harrison of First Christian Church in Ames, engaged the congregation in a spirited dialogue about our “favorite” and “least favorite” of the Ten Commandments. The answers were wide-ranging and revealing, sometimes humorous. In one exchange, I silent agreed with several persons that my favorite was the Sixth Commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” because, as they said, they could keep this one. At least, they hadn’t shot any one…

Just then, Don Withers, a fellow parishioner, spoke up from his seat in the choir and said that he used to think this way too, until he realized the impact of the “little murders” we commit each day. It was a sermon in a sentence. He named some of the ways we “kill off” the spirits and self-confidence of each other. It was an eye-opening moment.

In researching the origin of phrase “little murders,” I found this exchange, illustrating how the concept can be lived out. It references the movie “Little Murders,” a 1971 black comedy film by Jules Feiffer. The interview, “Oprah Talks to Maya Angelou,” was in the December 2000 issue of The Oprah Magazine:

Oprah: Earlier you were telling me that your life is defined by principles. And one principle you have taught me is that we can’t allow ourselves to be “pecked to death by ducks.”

Maya: That’s true. Some people don’t have the nerve to just reach up and grab your throat, so they just take….

Oprah: Little pieces of you—with their rude comments…They try to demean you.

Maya: Reduce your humanity through what Jules Feiffer called little murders. The minute I hear [someone trying to demean me], I know that that person means to have my life. And I will not give it to them.

Oprah: It’s an assassination attempt by a coward.

Maya: Yes. Some people don’t have the courage to just walk up to you and pull the trigger. If somebody just walked up and said “Boom!”—well, there you go. Bye. But when a person commits these little murders, and then you catch him or her at it, he or she might say, “Oh, I didn’t mean it.” But make no mistake: It is an assassination attempt.

Oprah: What about when a person makes a mistake and says, “I need a second chance?” Do you give them a second chance?

Maya: Well, I have to say yes.

Oprah: But when people show you who they are, believe them!… Because you see rudeness as a little murder.

Maya: Yes.

Oprah: And you also don’t allow anybody to say anything negative about anybody while in your home.

Maya: That’s right.

Oprah: I’ve seen you put people out of your house for telling a racist joke! And you are not the least bit embarrassed about disrupting the whole room.

Maya: I believe that a negative statement is poison…I’m convinced that the negative has power. It lives. And if you allow it to perch in your house, in your mind, in your life, it can take you over. So when the rude or cruel thing is said—the lambasting, the gay bashing, the hate—I say, “Take it all out of my house!” Those negative words climb into the woodwork and into the furniture, and the next thing you know they’ll be on my skin.

Oprah: The same is true with the positive spirit.

Maya: I believe so.

Since I was introduced to the idea of “little murders,” whenever I am tempted to talk down to, gossip about, raise my voice at, blatantly ignore, demean, exclude, put down, or otherwise dismiss another as “the other,” I am conscious of my actions having potential to do grave harm. There are laws with penalties against the killing of physical bodies, but there are also spiritual consequences we do not see for the “little murders” we commit in our daily life. Thanks to Don, the Sixth Commandment now has the most meaning of all the Ten Commandments; it is a useful guide in these Days of Great Divides. 

 

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, write a reflection on one of the Ten Commandments. Which one would you choose? Why? 

 

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session XCVII.
  2.   Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt. 

 

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our MidstSharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com.

District News & Announcements – September 2020

District News & Announcements

September 2020

“District News and Announcements” is a monthly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Church of the Brethren in the Northern Plains District.  District Leaders, Commissions, Committees, and those doing special ministries share information on programs and activities.  Local churches share news and invitations.  Send submissions by September 24th for inclusion in next month’s newsletter to Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications, communications@nplains.org.

Trouble viewing pictures and videos? 
Click here to view the newsletter in your browser.

TO PRINT – go to browser view
Windows: right click + Print OR [Ctrl] + P
Mac: [Ctrl] + click + Print OR [Command] + P

In this issue

  1. In Our Prayers: Jerry Tobias
  2. BDM Work Trip September 3rd-7th
  3. Moderator Town Hall meeting on Racism with Andrew Young
  4. Northern Plains Holds Historic 2020 Virtual District Conference
  5. Northern Plains District Board Reorganized for 2020-2021
  6. Continuing Education Opportunities
  7. Host/Camp Assistant position and College Connections at Camp Pine Lake
  8. Moderator Moment – District Conference Moderator Paul Shaver
  9. Holiness in our Midst
  10. Leadership Development Musings
  11. Rev. Patrick Jackson Called to The Church on Northland
  12. News from the Church of the Brethren in Uganda
  13. Bill and Lois Grove Move to McPherson, Kansas
  14. Congregational Newsletters

Quick info

Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: Randy Boldt, member of the Panther Creek Church of the Brethren, uses his truck to help clear away felled trees from the derecho that hit Iowa in early August.  Photo by Kris Marshall.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.