Posts by Communications

District News & Announcements – October 2022

District News & Announcements

October 2022

“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.

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In this issue

  1. CAMP UPDATES
  2. DISTRICT EXECUTIVE SABBATH RENEWAL IN 2022
  3. DAY OF SPIRITUAL EMPHASIS FOR SE IOWA CLUSTER: OCT 16TH
  4. CHILDREN’S DISASTER SERVICES WORKSHOP: OCT 28-29
  5. INTRODUCTORY PASTORAL COMPENSATION WORKSHOPS
  6. DISTRICT SEEKING NEW FINANCIAL SECRETARY
  7. MODERATOR MUSINGS
  8. HOLINESS IN OUR MIDST
  9. LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT MUSINGS
  10. CONGREGATIONAL NEWSLETTERS

Quick info

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

Banner photo: Campers play games on the lawn at Camp Pine Lake during All Ages Camp this September.  Photo by Betsy Kuecker.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 121

SESSION CXXI: ON ‘GLAD SERVICE’

Story Circle Prompt: Where do you find examples of “glad service?”

More than a week later, I am still wearing black in honor of the way Queen Elizabeth II lived her life. In one news clip, she used the phrase “in glad service” for the way she sought to conduct herself as she executed her duties. In my eyes, she embodied Psalm 100:2: “Serve the Lord with gladness.” Her unwavering sense of being true to her calling, while also enjoying the tasks, touched me deeply. I, too, wish to serve “gladly,” all my days. 

I am always heartened when I see persons along my path serving without complaint or an ever-present behind-the-scenes snarkiness. I see many more examples of self-righteous, reluctant or disdainful service than “glad” service. I’m thinking now of my co-worker “Sandy,” who serves in the same assisted living center where I work. She works kindly and consistently, even when called in to work unexpectedly. She was a mail carrier most of her career, braving the elements without being grumpy about it. When her grandchildren needed a helping hand, she welcomed them into her home. “Sandy” lives with an enviable spirit of “gladness” that I can only hope to attain in the next life. But I am motivated by her to try and follow suit, here and now.

Who do you see, royalty or not, living life “gladly?”

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the following: Do I serve “gladly” in my place and time?

    FOR GROUP STUDY: 

       1.   Read aloud Session CXXX.

       2.   Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt.

Holiness in Our Midst: Sharing 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 2022

District News & Announcements

September 2022

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

In this issue

  1. 2022 DISTRICT CONFERENCE REPORT
  2. CAMP UPDATES
  3. IN OUR PRAYERS
  4. DISTRICT EXECUTIVE SABBATH RENEWAL IN 2022
  5. MODERATOR MUSINGS
  6. HOLINESS IN OUR MIDST
  7. LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT MUSINGS
  8. CONGREGATIONAL NEWSLETTERS

Quick info

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

Banner photo: At our 2022 District Conference, photos of churches were pinned to a giant map made by Moderator Susan Mack-Overla.  Photo by Hannah Button-Harrison.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 120

SESSION CXX: ON PEACE IN OUR TIME

Story Circle Prompt: Where are your finding hope for peace in our divided world?

Just for a moment last month, I caught a vision for world peace. I was attending the morning worship service at First Christian Church in Ames (IA) on Aug. 14, 2022. Eric Brown, an elder, was offering the prayer before we partook of communion. I was struck by his words, “Let every meal, every shared time, be communion.”  Though he had written the prayer hastily on the back of a bulletin, it seemed to me that it carried eternal weight. He gave me permission to share it here for you:

Dear God,

We gather here in your presence. In our time in your amazing world, let us know the way to live here in your spirit. As we join in this meal together, let us re-imagine, let us re-see how our actions, words, and thoughts can be guided by Jesus’ teaching, not just in this time and place, but in all our time in your world. Let every meal, every shared time, be communion. Let us learn your ways from each other, let us share your ways with all we meet. Come now, all of us, to this time of sharing your spirit together. Let us partake. 

In His Name, Amen.

Where do you find hope, inspiration, or vision to heal our divided world?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the following: In what ways do you see God working in our time and place? 
  1. FOR GROUP STUDY: 

       1.   Read aloud Session CXIX.

       2.   Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt

Holiness in Our Midst: Sharing 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 2022

District News & Announcements

August 2022

“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.

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. Northern Plains District Conference: August 5-7, 2022
  2. Live Music on the Lawn and All Ages Camp Coming Labor Day Weekend
  3. Clergy Ethics Training 9/10/22
  4. BDM Work Trip: Madisonville, KY – October 2-8, 2022
  5. Holiness in our Midst
  6. Congregational Newsletters

Quick info

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

Banner photo: The whole Northern Plains group gathered at the Church of the Brethren at Ankeny and waiting for the bus that will take them to National Youth Conference.  Photo courtesy of Tammy Kerkove.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 119

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION CXIX: ON GOING OFF THE BEATEN PATH

Story Circle Prompt: Remember a time when you ventured off the beaten path. What did you learn by altering your routine?

It was the summer of 2004, right after the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Charleston, WV. I had several days to meander through the country roads of West Virginia, the first time I ventured on my own without minute-by-minute plans. I knew only that I needed to travel from the southwest corner to the northeast corner of the state by the following Sunday morning. (A church was eager to learn more about denominational missions, and I was coordinator for mission connections at the time.) I had booked cheap motels near national parks, that much I had done, but the daytime hours were left to chance. 

I do not remember the name of the town or the local woman who decided to take me on her self-described “West Virginia Adventure of a Lifetime.” I do recall that it was a Friday, and I had stopped at an all-inclusive general store in the mountains. In addition to the standard groceries, there was also a hardware aisle, and even a soda fountain/grill tucked in one corner. The proprietor befriended me as she made me a sandwich and gave me a free coke. She began telling me the history of the area and her personal history, which were one and the same. 

“Oh heck, why don’t I just show you my life,” she said. “Are you game?” she asked. I nodded, not sure if my life was a risk, but it sounded fun at the time. All that afternoon she immersed me in the culture of north central West Virginia. First, she gave me a private showing of her late husband’s museum-quality model railroad, set up in a large shed across the road from the store. The trains chugged through mountains, past authentic-looking local people and landmarks, and featured bells, whistles, and railroad crossings. The whole scene was a thing of wonder!

Then she drove me to the gravesites of her relatives, detailing their eccentricities, and showed me the cemetery, with a breathtaking mountain view, where she would be laid to rest. She took me by her family acreage turned B & B, where Charles Kuralt, the news commentator who loved Appalachia, had once vacationed. The place featured a large oak tree with a lovely swing. I wanted to stay there forever and do nothing but sing the John Denver song about the state’s country roads.

“And you need to see the caves,” she said after the family immersion. She drove me to some famous caves and guided me through underground caverns of unearthly beauty before whisking me over more mountain passes and past scenic farmlands on the way back to the store. We sat for a while, savoring the day before she packed my “food for the road.” She sent me on my way with a big West Virginia wave. I left determined to go off the beaten path more often. What had I missed? Who had I missed knowing more deeply?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:
Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the following: What adventure would you like to go on that would take you out of your routine? What is holding you back?
 
FOR GROUP STUDY: 
       1.   Read aloud Session CXV.
       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 2022

District News & Announcements

July 2022

“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.

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. Song and Story Fest at Camp Pine Lake, July 3-9
  2. 2022 Annual Conference in Omaha: July 10-14
  3. Moderator Message
  4. Northern Plains District Conference: August 5-7, 2022
  5. Holiness in our Midst
  6. Leadership Development Musings
  7. Pine Lake Updates
  8. Disaster Ministries Trip
  9. Congregational Newsletters

Quick info

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

Banner photo: Volunteers install the new outdoor stage at Camp Pine Lake.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 118

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION CXVIII: ON GLIMPSES OF GLORY

Story Circle Prompt: Where have you glimpsed the glory, majesty, and power of God?

On an ordinary Saturday morning late last summer in Nevada, IA I got a glimpse into the vastness of God’s glory and power. I was driving south on 11th Street, returning home from a cappuccino run at my local Casey’s convenience store. Near the Memorial Lutheran Church, but on the other side of the street, a mother, father, and young girl hailed me over to their lemonade stand with broad sweeping gestures. A whole family welcomed me! Not able to resist their sales techniques, I parked safely and approached the cute little stand. There were the usual paper cups, pitchers of lemonade, and plates of chocolate chip cookies. But strikingly, there was a donation jar with a sign that read “Mahlia’s Retirement Fund.” It made me chuckle because Mahlia appeared to be only 8 or 9. I dropped a 5-dollar bill in the jar, helped myself to two cookies and took the offered cup of lemonade. I paused for a moment, wished Mahlia a happy retirement and a wonderful life between now and then, and thanked the family for the treats. I wanted to offer life coaching to Mahlia with tips like “Watch out for scams” and “You’ll have it made after middle school,” but I didn’t think that fast. As I was walking back to the car, sending up a prayer to God for a happy life for this enterprising little girl with such a supportive family, I “heard” a thought message from “the world beyond” that went something like this: I know all of Mahlia’s grandparents and ancestors since the beginning of time. I am with her in the present and will be with her until the end of time. I know who her teachers and influences will be and who she will become. The thought was so clear and kind that I wanted to ponder it more before I went back to my hectic day. I drove around for a while, praying for Mahlia’s well-being throughout her life. The “God-thought” reminded me that all of us are tenderly known by God in this way, myself included. I vowed then to keep trying to stay in touch with that all-knowing Higher Power each day.

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the following: When did I first get a glimpse of the glory, majesty, and power of God? Where was I?
  1. FOR GROUP STUDY: 

       1.   Read aloud Session CXVIII.

       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 2022

District News & Announcements

June 2022

“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.

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. Dale Shenefelt (1935-2022)
  2. District Insight Session on Camp Pine Lake: June 9, 7pm
  3. District Executive Sabbath Renewal 2022
  4. Song and Story Fest at Camp Pine Lake, July 3-9
  5. 2022 Annual Conference in Omaha: July 10-14
  6. Continuing Education Courses
  7. Northern Plains District Conference: August 5-7, 2022
  8. Holiness in our Midst
  9. Leadership Development Musings
  10. Faith X – Rwanda: June 2-13
  11. Mark Godfrey to Conclude Ministry with Panther Creek Church
  12. Celebrating Joys: Ankeny
  13. Congregational Newsletters

Quick info

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

Banner photo: Young adults from the Northern Plains District gathered at the 2022 Church of the Brethren Young Adult Conference in North Carolina.  Photo by Thomas McMullin.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 117

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION CXVII: ON LOVING YOUR ENEMIES

Story Circle Prompt: Share a story that sheds light on how to love your enemies.

Today, animosities abound between (and among) political parties, races, family members and ideological groups. Powerful forces even foment divisions, encouraging us to aggressively go after “the other” as an actual enemy. No wonder people are seeking examples of peacemaking in the face of incivility. Have you ever succeeded in really loving an enemy?

I’ve only been able to muster a respectful tolerance for those groups and persons with whom I disagree. I did, however, witness a model for loving enemies worthy of sharing. It is from my time as coordinator for mission connections for our Church of the Brethren denominational office. In 2002, I was on a Faith Expedition in southern Sudan. That Sunday morning our group worshipped in an Anglican church. Our contribution was forming ourselves into a choir and singing: “It is Well with Your Soul.” The truly unforgettable moment, though, was when a woman in a flowing white dress, the drummer in the praise band, rose and offered Prayers of the People. 

She prayed for the congregation, of course. But then, she offered prayers for their enemies: that those with who attacked them would know prosperity, that their crops would thrive, that their children and grandchildren would live in safety and that love would abound in their lives. It was a prayer of pure goodwill for those with whom her village was constantly at war. No mention that God should punish or inflict suffering upon the people who had killed their loved ones or for the Almighty to restore the enemies once they righted their wrongs. Hers was a true Prayer for Peace. 

I’ve carried the image of the Prayer of the Woman in White as a model for loving my enemies through the years. Perhaps the time has come to put it into action in my own life.

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the following: Have I ever succeeded in loving an enemy? Seen love in action from those experiencing adversity?
  1. FOR GROUP STUDY: 

       1.   Read aloud Session CXVII.

       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.