Posts by Communications

District News & Announcements – March 2020

District News & Announcements

March 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 March 25th 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: Todd Himlie (1958-2020)
  2. Panora Soup Luncheon: March 15 & Ecumenical Service: April 9
  3. Shawn Kirchner and the LA Master Chorale in Iowa City: March 28
  4. Jr. Youth Lock-in: March 28-29
  5. Camp Pine Lake: Cleanup Day: April 4, Call for Campers & Counselors
  6. Continuing Education Courses
  7. Nurture Commission Announcement: Youth and Young Adult Scholarships
  8. District Conference 2020 Updates
  9. Message from the Moderator
  10. Holiness in our Midst – On Small Groups
  11. Leadership Development Musings
  12. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info
Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: South Waterloo Church serves monthly at Waterloo Salvation Army.  Photo taken by Diane Sittig. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 90

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION XC: ON SMALL GROUPS

Story Circle Prompt: What small groups energize or enhance your current life?

Because this question comes to me as I’m taking inventory of my life, something I do every Ash Wednesday, it takes on more seriousness. Today happens to be the first day of Lent, Feb. 26, 2020. This year, as a Lenten focus, it seems a worthwhile endeavor to prayerfully name and reflect on the groups that enrich my life. 

First, I note that Jesus himself was an aficionado of small groups: calling together disciples; dining frequently with Mary, Martha and Lazarus; and hanging out with raucous and fun-loving bands of outcastes. Thus, the holy significance of small groups is reinforced in my mind.

Next, I pause to review my first experience with small groups. Circles of belonging have enriched and informed my days, ever since I was part of a cell group at LaSalle Street Church in downtown Chicago in the early Eighties. Several of us met every Tuesday evening for over three years. There I began a life-long friendship with my friend Linda. She and I have checked in with each other every Ash Wednesday for more than 30 years. (In fact, I contacted her this morning…) I remember other life-enhancing small groups, including hunger and housing coalitions and collaborations, spiritual growth gatherings and Sunday school classes, and college and special interest courses.

Today, I am energized and fed by less formal but still valuable small groups:

 

  • My work team is a source of quiet emotional support in a physically demanding environment. I am a culinary server at an assisted living center several evenings a week.
  • Beginning many mornings by reading my newspapers, eating my breakfast special, and conversing with the waitresses and the other patrons makes me a regular at Niland’s Café in Colo, IA.
  • I help create events as a co-leader of the Women’s Gathering at First Christian Church in Ames, IA.
  • A collaboration of faith groups bands together to provide emergency food, rent, and gas to those in need. I am on the Board of Directors of this non-profit called Good Neighbor in Ames.
  • As many Saturday mornings as possible, I am part of the neighborly Cambridge Coffee Club at the Cambridge (IA) Public Library. Community members of all political stripes gather to share about the books we’ve been reading. Like a book-centered adult show and tell!

 

In the naming, I realize I often take for granted these sweet sources of support and my circle of significant friends/family who also soften the bumps and bruises of everyday living. Instead of eating more leafy vegetables or consuming less chocolate this Lenten season, I believe I’ll concentrate on strengthening these ties the next 40 days. I think Jesus would be pleased. 

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, explore the following: Remember a small group that enhanced your life. When were you involved? How did it energize you? Is it ongoing? 

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session XC.
  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 – February Special 2020

Special February Announcements

1. Coverage During DE Sabbath Renewal
2. 2020 District Directory
3. Young Adult Email Group
4. Jr. Youth Lock-in

Banner Photo: District Board Meeting at Camp Pine Lake, November 2nd, 2019

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

District News & Announcements – February 2020

District News & Announcements

February 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 February 23rd 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.

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

In this issue

  1. In our Prayers: A Letter from the Himlie Family
  2. District Executive Sabbath Renewal Plan 2020
  3. Continuing Education Courses
  4. Faithful Readiness Workshop in Ames: March 5
  5. Western Plains Men’s Retreat: March 27-28
  6. Shawn Kirchner and the LA Master Chorale in Iowa City: March 28
  7. Nurture Commission Announcement: Youth and Young Adult Scholarships
  8. Camp Pine Lake: Dates & Employment Opportunities
  9. Message from the Moderator
  10. Holiness in our Midst – On Stewardship
  11. Leadership Development Musings
  12. District Peace & Justice Commission
  13. Dr. Tod Bolsinger & Dr. Michael Gorman to speak at 2020 Annual Conference
  14. Moderator Paul Mundey’s “Trail Thoughts”
  15. Global Women’s Project Resources
  16. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info

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

Banner photo: August 16, 1990 – Two young pastors in Northern Plains District, Tim and Mary Jane Button-Harrison, in front of a red horse trailer belonging to Fred and Dee Reynolds.  All their worldly possessions are In that trailer as they are being moved from Panora, IA, where they had been serving as student pastors, to Ankeny, IA where they have been called to serve as Co-Pastors of the Ankeny Church of the Brethren.”   Photo taken by Dee Reynolds. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 89

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXXIX: ON STEWARDSHIP

Story Circle Prompt: Who or what influenced your understanding of stewardship? How?

I can pinpoint the exact moment in my stewardship formation that I understood my Creator to be one of abundance rather than scarcity. The catalyst was a profound prayer about “enough-ness.” 

The scene was the dining area at the headquarters of the Church of the Brethren in Elgin, IL. (I was coordinator for mission connections for the denomination from 2001 to 2009.) The room looked out on a lovely courtyard filled with trees. A peace pole, with the words Peace on Earth printed on it in many languages, was visible just outside the wall of windows. A colleague, Ken Neher, director of stewardship and donor development, was asked to say the table grace.

Ken said: “Lord, it would have been enough if you had just given us bread…but you provided us with a banquet.” (A world-class caterer often prepared our meals.)

He continued: “It would have been enough if you had given us a cloudy day…but you provided us with blue skies and bountiful sunshine.”

In his prayer, he was also thankful for the special group gathered there to do the Lord’s work and expressed gratitude for the many other unique aspects of that moment. 

I had been familiar with the Passover song, the Dayenu (“It would have been enough.”) It is about being grateful to God for all the gifts given to the Jewish people: like taking them out of slavery, giving them the Torah and building the Temple, etc. If God gave only one of the gifts, it would have been enough.

But during Ken’s prayer, I realized that I had seldom paused to be grateful for my small daily bonus blessings, so abundantly given. Since then, I have appropriated his prayer pattern many times. As examples, I have prayed:

  • Lord, it would have been enough if I had gone into remission…but you cured me of cancer.
  • Lord, it would have been enough if you had just given me a job…but you gave me one that utilizes my strongest gifts.
  • It would have been enough if you had given me one good friend, but you have given me numbers of them, each encouraging growth in a different aspect of life.

Ordinary days are now infused with wonder, shot with grace when I prayerfully acknowledge that I am often given more than I ask.

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, explore the following: Trace the history of your understanding of stewardship.

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.

District News & Announcements – January 2020

District News & Announcements

January 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 January 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.

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

In this issue

1. Correction: Celebrating New Life: Justus Paul Mauslein
2. 2020 Prayer Calendars
3. District Executive Sabbath Renewal Plan 2020
4. Camp Pine Lake Fundraising for Camp Scholarships
5. Employment Opportunities at Camp Pine Lake
6. Continuing Education Courses
7. Message from the Moderator
8. Holiness in our Midst – On Being Loved
9. Leadership Development Musings
10. New Northern Plains Cluster Ministers
11. Church of the Brethren signs ‘Faith Statement on Escalating Violence with Iran’
12. Congregational Newsletters

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

Banner photo: Picture from the 1908 Church of the Brethren annual conference that was held in Des Moines on the 200th anniversary of the church.  Photo by I.U. Ikenherry from Adel. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

District News & Announcements – December 2019

District News & Announcements

December 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 December 29th 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.

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

In this issue

  1. In Our Prayers: Marilyn Coffman & June Grove
  2. Celebrating New Life: Justus Paul Mauslein
  3. Abbey Beck Brunk to Conclude Work as Camp Director
  4. Employment Opportunities at Camp Pine Lake
  5. District Advent Calendar & Panora Festival of Trees: Dec. 8th
  6. Nurturing Vital Spirituality Course with Rhonda Pittman-Gingrich
  7. Allocations Deadline: December 20
  8. Message from the Moderator
  9. Holiness in our Midst – On ‘Filling Your Cup’
  10. Leadership Development Musings
  11. National Young Adult Conference Reflection
  12. Remember BVS Volunteers this Christmas
  13. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info

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

Banner photo: Ivester Church’s World Communion Sunday worship center, featuring eleven breads from around the world.  Photo by Marlene Neher. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 87

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXXVII: ON ‘FILLING YOUR CUP’

Story Circle Prompt: How do you “fill your cup?” That is, how do you replenish your spirit?

My long-time friend Dawn from suburban Chicago visited family and friends over Labor Day weekend. The verbal snapshots of her adventures were in vivid detail, like photographs in an album: combing beaches along the Pacific Coast, staying in a home overlooking Mt. Ranier in Washington and strolling along a stream in the Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado. Along the way, she even met some cousins for the first time. She pronounced her vacation “a precious time.” In summary of the trip, she said her “cup was filled,” a phrase I hadn’t heard before. As she spoke, I immediately thought of the line, “My cup runneth over…,” from the Twenty-third Psalm.

When we hung up, some questions lingered in my mind: How do I fill my cup? How do I find renewal these days? The current answer that bubbled up was retreats. During May and October of this year, I got away from my demanding routine by attending Northern Plains district women’s retreats at the rural Ivester Church of the Brethren. The 50-mile drive itself was a centering time, as I rolled through open countryside during planting and harvest seasons. At both events, we “retreatants” took our time creating colorful quilts for hospice patients (each doing our designated task), eating tasty home-cooked meals, taking walks, pondering the insights of guest speakers and sharing spiritual stories. I came home refreshed from the fellowship and fresh air. 

In September, I also came back revived from attending a three-day Disciples of Christ Upper Midwest Region Women’s Retreat in Paynesville, MN. This was in spite of (or maybe because of) being a passenger for eight hours each way in a four-car caravan. Memories return when I’m feeling stressed: seeing a bald eagle up close; riding for an hour in a pontoon boat; playing the spatulas in a kitchen band; learning about friendship, while experiencing it with friends old and new; coloring late into the night; eating s’mores around a campfire in the rain; and worshipping in a woodsy chapel setting. Recollections from my retreats are right there to refill “my cup” when it gets empty. 

 

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the question: What activities (or places or persons) “fill my cup?” 

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXXXVII.
  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 2019

District News & Announcements

November 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 November 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.

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

Holiness in our Midst: Session 86

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXXVI: ON ‘SHOW AND TELL’

Story Circle Prompt: What would you bring to “Show and Tell” today? 

Sydni, the activities director at the assisted living center where I work, recently revived a kindergarten staple. She added “Show and Tell” to her schedule of events, much to the delight of the residents. Among the items shown, she said, were a 15-foot snakeskin; a birdhouse made of wood from an old building; an alligator head; a pin from Ireland; and a digital photo frame. Things created by the residents included a poem, painted home-grown gourds; and a rosemaling board. 

The excitement of the residents sharing their special items prompts me to consider what I would “Show and Tell” today. The item that comes to mind is a lapel pin given to me by my friend Tammy. It is about 1-1/2 inches square. The word hope is written in script on a sky-blue background; a pink butterfly rests on top of the word. I wore the pin the last two years during cancer treatments. Hope—in the form of friends and family; gifts large and small; and advanced medical science—saw me through 15 invasive diagnostic tests, 12 weeks of chemo, a major surgery, three outpatient procedures, 25 days straight days of radiation, two hospitalizations for side effects from chemo, and one hospitalization for radiation burns. And, did I mention, four blood transfusions? Thanks to that hope, I am currently diagnosed as N.E.D. (No Evidence of Disease.) I still wear my “hope pin” whenever I am facing an unresolved issue or unanswered question. Wearing it serves as a reminder that hope can win the day, no matter how dark the future looms.

 

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the question: What would you share at “Show and Tell” today? What is the story behind your offering?

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXXXVI.
  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.