Posts by Communications

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.

District News & Announcements – March 2019

District News & Announcements

March 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 March 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 78

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXVIII: ON EVERYDAY ANGELS

Name some persons who have been “angels on earth” to you recently, offering help, spreading hope, or bringing sweet surprises to your daily life. Share details about the persons and/or details of gifts given.

My answer: It is noon on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. I am thinking: There is such a thing as a free lunch! I am savoring my favorite potato soup in the world and catching up on daily newspapers from the past week. I am remembering all the community angels I encountered the day before. The Bible verse from Hebrews 13:2 (KJV) flashes through my mind: Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Yesterday, when my usual morning restaurant was closed for repairs, I decided to go to Snack Time on main street in Nevada (IA). I hadn’t been there in a year. One of the waiters welcomed me and asked me if I wanted my “usual.”  I said yes and felt right at home. In short order, my vegetarian skillet (scrambled eggs on the side), white toast (toasted light), and coffee with cream appeared.

As I was leaving, I was greeted by Eddy, the owner who faithfully mans the kitchen and cash register day in and day out. “When will you serve your famous potato soup again? I asked. “It’s the best!”

“Oh, my, I just had it on the menu yesterday,” he said. He added, “Wait a minute!” He went downstairs to the big cooler and brought up two quarts for me. To take home. On the house.

On my way home, I stopped by a convenience store, where the clerks had held back newspapers each day for the past week when I was snowed in. “Anytime,” they said.

If there has been a benefit to Iowa’s record-breaking weather this past month, it has been time to pause to appreciate the everyday angels along my path. I vow—as I wonder how Eddy gets the perfect blend of potatoes, onions, butter, and milk—to do better at recognizing and thanking them daily.

Story Circle Prompt: Who were your “everyday angels” this week?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1.  Read the above reflection. Write in your journal about your recent experiences of “everyday angels.” How have you been an “angel” lately?

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXXVIII.
  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 2019

District News & Announcements

February 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 February 22nd 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 77

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXVII: ON LOVE STORIES

Share a love story. (It’s okay if you’re a part of it!)

February, the month in which we celebrate love, invites the telling of love stories. Miles and Gwen Albright, both gone now from this life, come to mind as an example of a quiet one. (Miles was a nephew to my grandfather, Joe Albright of State Center, IA.) They were a fun-loving couple devoted to their church, First United Methodist Church in Ames; their daughter Vicki’s family in Houston; and their sizeable social circle. What set them apart was their kindness to one another and an extraordinary awareness of each other’s needs, sensitivities and moods. They exuded “togetherness” when they related to each other.

I couldn’t quite put my finger on what elevated them among the many very close couples I’ve been privileged to know. I got a clue one day when I was with them in their car on the way to eat at our favorite Chinese restaurant. Miles told a story about being approached by several couples at church. They were planning a ceremony to renew their wedding vows. Would they, Miles and Gwen, like to do the same? Miles replied: “No thank you, we don’t need to. We renew ours every morning.” That was it! The intentionality to keep their promises to one another each day was their secret.

Story Circle Prompt: Share a love story.

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1.  Read the above reflection. Write in your journal about your own love story or one you have witnessed. What keeps/kept the relationship together over time?

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXXVII.
  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 2019

District News & Announcements

January 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 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.