Posts by Communications

District News & Announcements – August 2019

District News & Announcements

August 2019

“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. District Conference is Here!
  2. Witness Service Projects
  3. CPL – Outdoor Movie August 9th, All Ages Camp Aug. 31-Sept. 1
  4. Looking for Stories and Pictures of Camp Pine Lake
  5. 2019 NOAC Scholarship
  6. Ministers Retreat (Sept. 19-20) and Ethics Training (Sept. 21)
  7. Marshalltown Disaster Recovery Work Trip Sept. 22-27
  8. Upcoming Online Brethren Academy Courses
  9. Holiness in our Midst
  10. Leadership Development Musings
  11. Brethren Reaffirm Opposition to Death Penalty
  12. Peace Church Bench and Little Free Library Dedication
  13. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info
Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: Common Spirit Fellowship gathered to welcome and dedicate Carolyn Fern Kirschenheiter on July 14, 2019.  Photo by Nicole Blissenbach. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 83

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXXIII: ON TURNING LEMONS INTO LEMONADE

Story Circle Prompt: Share an example of turning lemons into lemonade.

One afternoon in May of 2003, as I was riding through mountains near the southwestern coast of the Dominican Republic, I heard how a whole community turned lemons into lemonade. I was immersing myself in the work of Jeff and Peggy Boshart, community development staff for the Church of the Brethren; my purpose as coordinator for mission connections for the denomination was to interpret the microloan enterprises they supervised.

We had just left the town of Villa Nizao, where we had visited coffee-growing projects. Peggy pointed out a river that flows down to the Caribbean Sea about 30 miles from a city called Paraíso, Spanish for Paradise). She told us that every year during Holy Week, the villagers dammed this river, using sticks and branches, and created a lake. They were too poor to travel to “Paradise,” so they created their own. They drank coconut milk from the shells; enjoyed plantains and fried fish; and danced and sang into the night. At the end of Easter vacation, they “undammed” the river and went back to their daily lives. “They made their own beach when they couldn’t afford to travel to one,” Peggy marveled. This community’s choice to create their own joy still comes back to me when I am tempted to complain about circumstances.

 (Jeff is currently manager of the Global Food Initiative for the Church of the Brethren.) 

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, remember a time when you turned lemons into lemonade. Have you seen a community turn a challenge into triumph?

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXXXIII. 
  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 2019

District News & Announcements

July 2019

“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 82

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXXII: ON BRIDGE-BUILDERS

Story Circle Prompt: Who do you see being a bridge-builder in action? Between what groups? How is this person inspiring you to action?

One of my current inspirations is the Rev. April G. Johnson, Executive Director of Disciples Ministry of Reconciliation from Indianapolis. Rev. Johnson facilitates the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) process of awareness, analysis and action toward healing the fractures in the body of Christ that are caused by systemic racism. While publicizing an upcoming visit, I have been introduced to her experiences and insights. In my own life, she reignited a personal call to tackle social justice and personal issues, when she said: “God doesn’t ask us to agree to disagree. God asks us to love one another. We know that it is hard, which might be why we avoid the work of relationship with people who are not like us. God keeps calling us into opportunities to birth new relationships and new perspectives.”

Rev. Johnson’s career, building bridges between racial and other differences, is connected to her background. She said, “I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago. My parents moved there on my first birthday. Folding under the pressure of tuition of parochial school for my two oldest siblings, they anticipated a better public-school education for their children in the suburbs. Our subdivision was entirely populated by Black residents. Seeing the disparities in my own education as well as the lack of businesses owned by people who looked like me, propelled my nascent passion to right-align opportunities for all people. I was no young version of Angela Davis in my formative years by far, but the differences simply did not make sense to me and kept me exploring new ways to understand and change a system that excluded and withheld opportunity for ‘some’ people.

I am energized by her willingness to work toward social change. How do you keep from being overwhelmed by current political/racial divides? I asked. Her reply to this question moved me. She said, “Our choices today regarding the divisive rhetoric and tribalism in our current national and global dialogue for me are clear. It is our imperative to affirm each other’s humanity. We have made “othering” an art form. Sadly, when we legislate making people ‘other’ while affording a dominant group access to more resources and a better quality of life than those excluded or impacted by such legislation, we justify racism and other oppressions. I simply find no justification for dehumanization. So, I am not overwhelmed by the ministry and work of changing our churchwide and national narrative of division and devaluing people as a standard. Where I do get overwhelmed, or more accurately exasperated, is by the fear that is generated that halts dialogue that keeps ‘good people’ silent and inactive toward promoting inclusion and human dignity for all. As Christians, God reconciled us to all be in God’s beloved “in” group.  We are all “A-listers,” as annoying as that can be.”

Her vision stretches me to think bigger and bolder. She said, “It is my desire that as a communion we embody this work by turning our outrage into action on behalf of those whose lives and stories are dismissed, distorted and diminished by a narrative of exclusion and American exceptionalism. For those of us who are new to being outraged by racism and oppression, I hope that we can support and mutually develop new ways to be in dialogue and relationship with one another that transforms the way we worship and the way we vote. It is my hope that we become leaders in thought and deed that transform our world into one where exclusion is the exception instead of not the norm.”

At this moment, I anticipate the changes I will make in response to this bridge-building leader.

(Note: The General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada will hold its biennial gathering in Des Moines, July 20 – 24, 2019. Ames First Christian Church will be a host site for worship for General Assembly attendees on Sunday, July 21, where Rev. Johnson will speak.) 

 

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, write about a person you know who models bridge-building between groups or ideologies. How does he/she do this? 

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXXXII. 
  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 2019

District News & Announcements

June 2019

“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.

In this issue

  1. District Conference Updates
  2. National Older Adult Conference
  3. Upcoming Online Brethren Academy Courses
  4. Holiness in our Midst
  5. Leadership Development Musings
  6. National Young Adult Conference Pictures
  7. Women’s Retreat Recap
  8. Sarah and Levi Mason Family Moving to Kansas
  9. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info

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

Banner photo: At the district board meeting in April, with Samuel and Rebecca Dali, Nigerian Church of the Brethren leaders, who were guests of Fairview Church and District Board that weekend.  Photo provided by Barbara Wise Lewczak. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 81

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXXI: ON SPIRITUAL ANCESTORS

Name a “spiritual ancestor.” How did that person influence/nurture your faith life?

Recently my pastor, Rev. Mary Jane Button-Harrison at First Christian Church in Ames, IA, preached on the Old Testament, highlighting stories of Jesus’ spiritual ancestors. At the end of the sermon series, she asked members of the congregation to recall a spiritual ancestor (not necessarily a blood relative), someone whose spiritual life nurtured our faith formation. The next Sunday we came forward to add those names to Jesus’ family tree.

I pinned the name of my maternal grandmother, Bessie Albright, who passed away at age 94 in 1990. She was a woman who endured great trials. For example, my mother, her only child, died at age 38 of breast cancer. Yet, she had a great capacity to live in a gracious and balanced way…daily. She kept up her home; took care of her body; never missed church (or Ladies Aid or Farm Bureau meetings, for that matter); remembered our birthdays and milestones; stewarded her resources; and read her Bible. Her example was lived out in creating family tables, remaining faithful to everyday tasks and meeting the needs of those along her path—all with artistic flair and social grace. “My work is my baking, my flowers and my quilts,” she often said. She gave away the fruits of those labors, often to the poor. She entered each day by looking out the kitchen window. “Behold this day,” she would say. “There will never be another one like it.” Then she would set forth to fulfill its obligations and embrace its opportunities. (Idea used with permission of Mary Jane Button-Harrison)

Story Circle Prompt: Share about an inspirational spiritual ancestor.

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:
1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, write about how a person influenced your faith formation.

FOR GROUP STUDY:
1. Read aloud Session LXXXXI.
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 – May 2019

District News & Announcements

May 2019

“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 May 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. Global Women’s Project Mother’s Gratitude Project
  2. Spring Women’s Retreat: May 2-4 & Speaker Carol Leland: May 3rd
  3. An Ecumenical Prayer for Peace in Kansas City: May 15th
  4. Camp Updates & Manchester Choir Concert: May 21st
  5. Ivester Garage & Bake Sale: June 1st
  6. Ethics for Set-Apart Ministry: Basic Course training on June 1st
  7. National Older Adult Conference
  8. District Conference Updates
  9. Holiness in our Midst
  10. Leadership Development Musings
  11. Witness Service Projects
  12. Todd Yeaton, Fredericksburg Pastor, to Retire
  13. COB Uganda Pastor Bwambale’s Easter Greeting
  14. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info
Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: A group of singers share a piece of music at the Ankeny Stover music festival.  Photo by Barbara Wise Lewczak. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 80

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXX: ON REBIRTH

When and where have you been a witness to transformed community?

It is no secret that our political system is deeply divided, “wretchedly so,” according to a recent cable news commentator. It takes enormous energy just to engage in everyday conversations across differing viewpoints, let alone create events and make decisions that awaken entire communities or congregations. Therefore, in the spirit of continuing Resurrection Life after Easter Sunday, it is helpful to share examples of transformative community building. Lately an event keeps resurfacing as I look for models powerful enough to inform and influence the current partisan debates…

Ever see an organization being birthed? It is something to behold! I was in Toronto in the early 2000s as a member of the Program Committee on Education for Mission, a ministry of the National Council of Churches. (I was coordinator for mission connections for the Church of the Brethren.) Our group was invited to the ceremonial dedication of a new Canadian organization, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives. Ten struggling inter-church coalitions were blended into one new organization in a church service conducted in both French and English. Liturgical dancers held strips of cloth representing the entities that could no longer exist as fund-raising entities on their own. The dancers wove the strips of cloth into a tapestry that was placed on the altar and dedicated. It was a bittersweet occasion because there was loss of administrative personnel and individual identity from the disbanding of previous coalitions. But there was the joy of survival for the joint venture, administered by the United Church of Canada. KAIROS has thrived; it campaigns for human rights and social justice in the areas of prophetic witness; ecological justice; and gender, migrant and Indigenous rights. Its formation is an example of a successful holy compromise!

To research this example of rebirth, I looked up the current KAIROS organization online. In a full circle experience, I came across a beautiful fund-raising video by Jennifer Henry, executive director, inviting persons to look for evidences of new life all around us. Her documented examples were from nature and groups fighting against the odds for social change. (See kairoscanada.org.)

Story Circle Prompt: Where do you see examples of rebirth and new life in this post-Easter season?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:
1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, list energizing personal examples of mini-resurrections, drawing from your Lenten experience and the spring season.

FOR GROUP STUDY:
1. Read aloud Session LXXX.
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 – April 2018

District News & Announcements

April 2019

“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 April 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.

Correction:

In our newsletter, Carol Leland’s talk, Voices from the Desert, was advertised on May 2nd.  The actual date of the talk is Friday, May 3rd at 7pm at the Ivester Church of the Brethren.  The event is open to everyone in the district.  Please update your calendars accordingly!

Holiness in our Midst: Session 79

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXIX: ON EARTH DAY

How will you celebrate Earth Day, Monday, April 22, this year? What will you do during the coming year to honor creation?

My answer: The leaders of the movement are suggesting the theme, Protect Our Species, as a focus for 2019 Earth Day events. Because championing bees and butterflies is beyond my scope of influence, I will celebrate Earth Day this year by simply beginning to recycle my trash. It seems reasonable that I would have been doing this for years, but neither the waste hauler for my apartment building nor my city provide containers (or incentives) for separating paper, plastics, aluminum, glass or food waste. On my schedule, changing habits and finding receptacles will require intentionality of Herculean proportion. While I focus on implementation, I will also work on my year-long Earth Day goal: encouraging the city of Nevada, IA to consider curbside recycling and more community drop-off centers.

Story Circle Prompt: How will you celebrate Earth Day this year?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1.  Read the above reflection. In your journal, write a personal one-sentence mission statement about how you intend to care for creation during the coming year.

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXXXIX.
  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.