Posts by Communications

District News & Announcements – October 2018

District News & Announcements

October 2018

“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.

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

  1. In this issue

    1. In Our Prayers: Brad Harris (1965-2018)
    2. Southeast Iowa Circuit Ride: Oct. 6-9
    3. West Central Iowa Love Feast: Oct. 7
    4. 3rd Annual Lasagna Supper at Ivester: Oct. 14
    5. Michael Himilie to Speak on his time in CPT: Oct. 20-21
    6. Fall Women’s Retreat: Oct. 25-27
    7. Compelling Vision Conversations: Please Plan to Participate
    8. Camp Pine Lake 2019 Staff Openings and Dates
    9. New Community Project 2019 Learning Tours
    10. Holiness in our Midst
    11. Leadership Development Musings
    12. District Conference Recap Video
    13. Congregational Updates
    14. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info
Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: Barbara Wise Lewczak speaks during Beaver Church of the Brethren’s closing service.  Photo by Rhonda Bingman. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 73

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXIII: ON BEING REMEMBERED

How would you like to be remembered?

This question was inspired by my pastor, Mary Jane Button-Harrison, from First Christian Church in Ames, IA, when she suggested that we try writing our own obituaries and by the recent and very memorable funeral of Sen. John McCain. As for myself, I would like to be remembered for Five Simple Things:

  • For having a sense of humor, lightness and goodwill.
  • For being a good friend to a few people,
  • For advocating for hunger, homelessness and disabilities causes,
  • For sharing stories and creating tables for others to share theirs, and
  • For showing up each day, wherever in the world I was, building community with kindness.

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: How would you like to be remembered?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write your own obituary.

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXXIII.
  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.

Compassion: A Marshalltown Disaster Report

Paul Daniel, Iowa River COB

For the world, 07.19.2018 @ 4:38 in the afternoon is just a date and time on a calendar.  But for a specific group of people, in Marshalltown, Iowa, it is not just numerals, but they are characters that remind us of a specific moment that altered the course of our hometown.  This date will be branded in our memories. The EF3 tornado that rampaged through our community changed the landscape of our hearts and souls.  This transformation is visible in the city’s infrastructure to the deep-rooted trees that no longer provide shade and shelter to the traumatized mental and emotional lives.  Yet, in the aftermath of this disaster, our comm“unity” compelled by an innate desire to “love thy neighbor as yourself” chose to act.  Neighbor helping neighbor; churches united; businesses halted to take care of others; compassion for each other was felt and experienced.

One month post-tornado, our initial crisis relief efforts are mostly complete.  Many individuals jumped in working collaboratively with all those impacted by the disaster.  Government, churches, and non-profit agencies, local, state, and national, have put “boots on the ground.” They came, they saw, they helped, some left, others stayed and some will come back again.  We were “all hands on deck” post-disaster. We did well and we continue to persevere in our longing to help each other.

Iowa River Church of the Brethren has been blessed to receive support throughout this disaster.  Although not directly impacted, we had families from our congregation who experienced loss.  Yet, the church surrounded not only them, but took on the idea of becoming the Matthew 25 church helping where it was needed.  Immediately following the crisis, church banded together to provide basic needs (food, water, shelter); church was opened up for volunteers to use while helping the impacted; church provided meals for volunteers and the law enforcement agency; prayer walks in the community were part of our “boots on the ground;” ministry of presence to those families was done; food coupons and cards were passed out to families.  Iowa River COB was truly alive and doing ministry.

The fervent prayers of the faithful received to date are unmatched and we continue to welcome your prayers to sustain us during this time of crisis.  The donations received from individuals in the area, various Brethren Churches, the Northern Plains District, and Brethren Disaster Ministry has overwhelmed us to propel us to ministry and become the hands and feet of Jesus.  There is no greater joy we find as we become messengers of the Good News of Jesus Christ.  On August 29 2018, our NP Disaster Coordinator and the Brethren Disaster Ministries Director toured the city and received a report on the impact that Iowa River COB is having in the community.  Leadership of the church are involved in the rebuilding process through long-term recovery and Chaplaincy with the Marshalltown Police.During Thanksgiving week 2018, working with the Marshalltown Police and Sheriff, Iowa River COB will do  ride-a-longs with law enforcement passing out “Thanks-living” Cards for basic food and needs.  In December, we plan to initiate the Kingdom Assignment of giving each church family $100 to “Pay it Forward” as they deem necessary in the community.  Our church is on the move, a church without walls.

As a community, we are moving into the long term healing process.  We have provided and/or made available immediate response and relief for all those impacted.  Now, we move onto the next level of rebuilding.  This is a long process yet our resiliency is strong.  With God as our guide, we will rise again.  We will not be defeated.  We will rebuild.  We will be restored.  We are MarshalltownStrong but most importantly, we are GodStrong.

District News & Announcements – September 2018

District News & Announcements

September 2018

“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.

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

In this issue

  1. Songs of the Pines and All Ages Camp: Sept. 1-3
  2. District Conference Recap
  3. District Conversations Begin as Part of Compelling Vision Process
  4. National Youth Conference Reflections
  5. Closing Service for Beaver Church of the Brethren: Sept. 8th
  6. Continuing Education Courses for the Fall
  7. District Educational Event: Sept. 16-18
  8. Ankeny 150th Anniversary Celebration: Sept. 29
  9. Southeast Iowa Circuit Ride: Oct. 6-9
  10. Fall Women’s Retreat: Oct. 25-27
  11. Holiness in our Midst
  12. Leadership Development Musings
  13. Compassion: A Marshalltown Disaster Report
  14. Sabbatical Reflection: Laura Leighton-Harris
  15. Meet Our BVS Rep!
  16. District Board Reorganization
  17. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info
Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: Northern Plains youth doing a service project at Habitat for Humanity ReStore during District Coference.  Photo by Jeff Finke, ReStore Manager for Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 72

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXII: ON WHY WE ARE BORN

Why are we born? Why has God put us here?

In a classic episode of the sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond,” daughter Ally, age 8, asks these questions. Her mother Debra had just assigned her father Raymond to give Ally the “facts of life” talk. Ally wasn’t interested in the “birds and bees” details, which he had prepared extensively to give her. Instead, she wanted answers to these deeper questions of life (which baffled Raymond and the whole Barone family, who deferred them, in an emergency call, to the family priest).

What is your answer to these questions? As we listen to each other’s answers, we gain insights into what motivates and shapes the perspectives of those with whom we agree and differ. My answer comes from the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which I had to study to join Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Des Moines, IA at age 11. The first question was: What is the chief end of man? The answer: Man’s Chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. Having put aside the masculine language, I still retain the belief that I exist to glorify the Creator, but my primary goal has always been to enjoy the Creator. This carries with it the capacity for relationship. That means that the Holy One can enjoy me back! I also believe we are here to make our little corner of Earth more like Heaven, and, using our highest gifts, work toward the common good. How do you view Life’s purpose?

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: Why are we here?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Reflect in your journal on the ultimate meaning of life.

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXXII.
  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 – August 2018

 

District News & Announcements

August 2018

“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 August 25th for inclusion in next month’s newsletter to Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications, communications@nplains.org.

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

In this issue

  1. Message from the Moderator
  2. District Conference Announcements: August 3-5
  3. District Conference Worship on Facebook Live
  4. Annual Conference DVDs for Borrowing
  5. Songs of the Pines: Sept. 1st
  6. Closing Service for Beaver Church of the Brethren: Sept. 8th
  7. Continuing Education Courses for the Fall
  8. District Educational Event: Sept. 16-18
  9. Southeast Iowa Circuit Ride: Oct. 6-9
  10. In Our Prayers
  11. Holiness in our Midst
  12. Leadership Development Musings
  13. Pastoral Transitions
  14. Principe De Paz: A Journey of Grace – By Jess Hoffert
  15. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info
Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: Northern Plains youth and advisers pose in front of their bus on the way to National Youth Conference.  Photo by Barbara Wise Lewczak. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 71

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXI: ON INFLUENTIAL TEACHERS

Share how a teacher influenced your life.

I was only in the company of the teacher who most influenced my life for 15 minutes. Her name was Mrs. Talbot, and she taught in the combined third and fourth grade classroom at the K-12 Fernald (IA) Consolidated School in the mid-Fifties. I was a second grader, being escorted to her classroom to determine if I read well enough to advance a grade. I whizzed through the pages in an advanced reader. After all, I had read 80 books in a reading contest (and won!) in the first part of my school year. Mrs. Talbot suddenly asked me to stop reading, closed the book, and said these life-altering words: “Young Lady, don’t you ever, ever read ahead!” “Okay,” I said. The following month, I moved away, so I never learned her verdict on skipping a grade. Nor did I ever understand the reason for the words. I only knew that they were said with a frowny face and enough gravity and force that they stuck with me. To this day, I don’t read tomorrow’s daily devotionals today.

In retrospect, this teacher’s influence proved to be both detrimental and helpful. On the negative side, I never worked on or anticipated future assignments throughout my schooling, I was a good but not outstanding student. After college, I didn’t spend enough time looking out for my personal future.

On the positive side, as a writer type, I owe Mrs. Talbot a debt of gratitude. In following her warning, I have stayed rooted to the day at hand, immersing myself in the lives of people along my path, in rural Iowa or far-away mission sites, and recording their everyday stories in magazines and newspapers. My religion involves seeing God in the ordinary and encouraging others to do the same. My writings are a record of the sweet, quirky meandering journey, even as I continue to spend more time looking around at today’s scenery than mapping the road ahead.

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: How was your life changed by a teacher?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Remember on paper an influential teacher and his/her life lessons.

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXXI.
  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 – July 2018

District News & Announcements

July 2018

“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 July 25th for inclusion in next month’s newsletter to Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications, communications@nplains.org.

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 70

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXX: ON VISIONS FOR THE CHURCH

What is your vision for the church? It’s a question that denominations, congregations, and individuals are wrestling with in this Age of Incivility.

The question was inspired by a wall hanging in the office of my optometrist, Dr. Kristian Dugger, on Main Street in Nevada, IA. The framed sign reads: VISION: The art of seeing what is invisible to the eye. My answer, addressing a vision for my local congregation, is informed by my current read, A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community by John Pavlovitz.

The author’s suburban upbringing had not prepared him for the cultural diversity that he would find in the city. He writes: “Philadelphia provided a free master class in beautiful, messy diversity…I found myself to be a new, tiny, irregular piece shoved awkwardly in a massive mosaic of need and affluence, of diverse dialects and unfamiliar spices, of street vendors and corner prostitutes, of young families and elderly beggars—and I found every second of it thrilling, if not regularly terrifying.” He wrote that it laid “the foundation for the kind of pastor I would one day become, an all-people pastor.”

Building on Pavlovitz’s awakenings, I vision for my church to construct a bigger table, based on his four “legs,”: radical hospitality, total authenticity, true diversity, and agenda-free community. I picture my church, First Christian Church in Ames, IA, hosting frequent interfaith services; developing ongoing small groups with persons of differing races, faith traditions, and sexual orientations; putting on dinners hosted by persons from other cultures; and delving deeper into the study of other religions and traditions. And that is just the beginning…for us becoming known for radical diversity that is visible to the eye.

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: Fill in the blank: What is your vision for your (denomination) or (congregation)?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Create a word portrait of what is happening in your ideal denomination, congregation, or Sunday School class.

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXX.
  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 – June 2018

District News & Announcements

June 2018

“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 June 24th for inclusion in next month’s newsletter to Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications, communications@nplains.org.

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.