Posts by Communications

District News & Announcements – May 2022

District News & Announcements

May 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 May 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. Prayers Appreciated Following My April 19 Mishap
  2. District Insight Session with Brethren Historian: May 10, 7:00pm
  3. District Executive Sabbath Renewal in 2022
  4. National Young Adult Conference: May 27-30
  5. National Youth Conference: July 23 – 28 
  6. Camp Pine Lake News
  7. Continuing Education Courses
  8. Northern Plains District Conference: August 5-7, 2022
  9. Holiness in our Midst
  10. Leadership Development Musings
  11. Jesus in the Neighborhood Grants
  12. 2022 Annual Conference Childcare Needed!
  13. Alice Draper to Serve as Cluster Minister
  14. Congregational Newsletters

Quick info

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

Banner photo: This is the table that the Peace Church created for their Hand washing, Love Feast, and communion they celebrated on Palm Sunday. All were really happy to be together for this service since this was the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.  Photo by Lucinda Douglas. Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 116

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION CXVI: ON ‘WAILING WALL’ PRAYERS

Story Circle Prompt: What prayer note would you tuck into the Wailing Wall to address these times?

Historically, the Wailing Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem has been the holiest site in Judaism. For 2002 years, the cracks in the ancient stone wall have been the repository for the most fervent, heartfelt written prayers. Prayerfully, tearfully, pilgrims of all faiths bring their deepest, most desperate needs to this place. 

Since the start of the War in Ukraine, the Wailing Wall has become central to my prayer life. When I needed a visual image to address huge issues, like senseless war, I found myself writing “Wailing Wall” prayers. I read that people actually send their prayers to be placed in the wall, addressing them to “God, Jerusalem.” For myself, I established a section in my journal to preserve my outpourings about intractable situations, ones where the possibility of a healthy outcome eludes me. Mindful of the Wailing Wall, I feel connected to Peoples, Ancient and Modern, who find themselves in grievous circumstances.

One of my Wailing Wall prayers grew out of a news story I heard on Craig Melvin Reports on MSNBC on St. Patrick’s Day, 2022. An older woman named Katerina from Kyiv, Ukraine was standing outside her apartment building when it was hit with a missile. It blew off her leg and sent shrapnel in her back, piercing her lung. From a hospital on the outskirts of the city, she said, “Before, I had a house and work. Today I am disabled and homeless.” 

My prayer: 

Dear God,

Please take good care of Katerina. Keep her strong by day and help her sleep at night. Be with her and the other refugees of all wars as each seeks to find a safe place in the world. Show me ways that I can be an instrument of peace. 

Love always, Janis

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the following: What is a personal prayer that you would like to place in the Wailing Wall? 

FOR GROUP STUDY: 

       1.   Read aloud Session CXVI.

       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 New & Announcements – April 2022

District News & Announcements

April 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 April 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. April 19 Northern Plains Insight Session
  2. Worthington to hold last service on April 10
  3. National Young Adult Conference: May 27-30
  4. National Youth Conference: July 23 – 28 
  5. Camp Pine Lake News
  6. Continuing Education Courses
  7. Northern Plains District Conference: August 5-7, 2022
  8. Holiness in our Midst
  9. Leadership Development Musings
  10. Jesus in the Neighborhood Grants
  11. 2022 Annual Conference in Omaha, NE: July 10-14
  12. Congregational Newsletters

Quick info

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

Banner photo: On March 20th Michelle Leonard was ordained at the Panora Church of the Brethren.  The sanctuary was filled with members of the Panora congregation, Michelle’s family and friends, plus pastors and members of Panther Creek COB, Dallas Center COB, COB at Ankeny, Fairview COB and Pickwick Baptist/Brethren from Ottumwa, and prayers from across the District were felt.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 115

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION CXV: ON ‘FRUIT(S) OF THE SPIRIT’

Story Circle Prompt: These are unprecedented times marked by pandemic and war. Which of the qualities named as fruit(s) of the spirit would you like to work on cultivating at this point in history? 

As my senses are assaulted daily with images of deadly conflict in Ukraine, examples of political incivility, lingering reminders of COVID-19 and reports of climate disasters, I have found an antidote to war. I am being drawn to studying, one at a time, the fruit (or “fruits,” as I like to call them) of the spirit listed in Galatians 5. The Apostle Paul exhorts the people to be free indeed, liberated from the yoke of slavery. After listing the temptations of the flesh, he urges them to walk by the spirit, writing: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (vs. 22, 23).  (NIV) 

The first quality I choose to work on is peace, that is, moving toward embodying it in my daily rounds. 

The peace I am seeking is not one that propels me outward in public activism as a response, though it may in time. I am being called inward to establish an “Island of Peace” in my soul. My guide is Howard Thurman (1899-1981), a black spiritualist and mystic. In his book Mediations of the Heart (Boston: Beacon Press, 1953) he wrote: “Each one has to deal with the evil aspects of life, with injustices inflicted upon him and injustices which he wittingly or unwittingly, inflicts upon others. We are all of us deeply involved in the throes of our own weaknesses and strengths, expressed often in the profoundest conflicts within our own souls. The only hope for surcease, the only possibility of stability for the person, is to establish an Island of Peace within one’s own soul (p. 17).” Quiet contemplation of my personal transgressions in the company of my Creator seems a worthy first step in my counter offensive to these times. The first question I will dare to ask: How am I contributing to the discord in the world? 

What fruit of the Spirit speaks to you in this hour? What can you do to cultivate this quality?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the following: What fruit of the Spirit speaks to me in this hour? What can I do to cultivate this quality? What changes might I have to make in my life to exhibit it?

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 – March 2022

District News & Announcements

March 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 March 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. March 24 Northern Plains Insight Session
  2. District Executive Sabbath Renewal
  3. National Young Adult Conference: May 27-30
  4. National Youth Conference: July 23 – 28 
  5. Camp Pine Lake News
  6. Continuing Education Courses
  7. Holiness in our Midst
  8. Leadership Development Musings
  9. Fairview COB – A Busy Saturday and Sunday
  10. 2022 District Directory
  11. Congregational Newsletters

Quick info

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

Banner photo: BUKURU, NIGERIA – Global Women’s Project received a one-time request to help purchase a school bus for the Theological College of Northern Nigeria Sta Nursery/Primary School. A bus would allow them to pick up and return girls and boys to school safely in this time of COVID and abductions by Boko Haram. In addition to GWP’s one-time grant, gifts from individuals, congregations, and the Southern Ohio District of the Church of the Brethren, the school received over $15,000 for purchase and maintenance of a bus and had leover funds to purchase playground equipment for the school.  From the GWP Global Links Newsletter.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 114

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION CXIV: ON ‘OPEN DOORS’

Story Circle Prompt: Name an “open door” inviting you in. How can you prepare for this new opportunity during Lent?

Revelation 3:8; “I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut; I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word. (RSV)

This Lent, which begins on March 2, you can follow the traditional pattern of letting go of an old habit or taking up a new activity. Or you can allow the next 40 days to be a time of discernment about an “open door,” especially for you. Is there a new vocational (or volunteer) opportunity, stage of life, project, or relationship beckoning on the horizon? Jesus’ message about open doors in Revelation (see above) was directed to the church in Philadelphia, but it is also a universal call to persons and communities for renewal.

My call to growth is to sort through years of boxes. I simply need to let go of excess. My Lenten goal will be to discern the criteria for what to keep and how to organize what is left. What sounds so easy will be one of the hardest tasks of my life. 

What “open door” is inviting you to enter in?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the following: What “open door” is beckoning to you? What changes are necessary to fully enter a new vocational (or volunteer) opportunity, stage of life, project, or relationship? How can you prepare for this new opportunity during Lent?

FOR GROUP STUDY: 

 1.   Read aloud Session CXIV.

  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 2022

District News & Announcements

February 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 February 22nd 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. February 15th Northern Plains Insight Session
  2. District Executive Sabbath Renewal
  3. National Young Adult Conference: May 27-30
  4. National Youth Conference: July 23 – 28 
  5. Camp Pine Lake News
  6. Continuing Education Courses
  7. Moderator Moment
  8. Holiness in our Midst
  9. Leadership Development Musings
  10. Annual Conference: Information Sent to Congregations
  11. Ushering at Annual Conference
  12. Congregational Newsletters

Quick info

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

Banner photo: Another witty sign at Panther Creek Church of the Brethren.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 113

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION CXIII: ON MAKING A ‘DONE LIST’

Story Circle Prompt: What is on your “done list” for today? Last week? Last year?

Lately, I’ve been under the influence of the book Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021). Its premise, stated on the jacket flap, is clear: “The average human lifespan is absurdly, insultingly brief. Assuming you live to be eighty, you have just over four thousand weeks.”

The above question is inspired by one of the “Ten Tools to Embrace Your Finitude” explained in the final chapter. Tool Number Four reads: “Focus on what you have already completed, not just on what’s left to complete.” Burkeman suggests keeping a “done list” rather than a “to do” list (p. 239). That idea of tracking accomplishments has caught hold in my life. The “to do” list is not a thing of my past, but its tyrannical hold has lessened. A newfound consciousness of my days being numbered has even infiltrated my prayer life. I now ask God how I can approach each day with more reverence.

To answer the Story Circle Prompt: On my “done list” for this day (Jan. 27, 2022) is the note: “Kept up by phone with sisters Janet and Jill.” Last week I cleaned my house, served almost 300 meals to residents in assisted living and finally wrote my Christmas thank you notes. Last year, I entered a three-year spiritual formation course of study called Prairiefire, offered through the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center; wrote a series for the Ames (IA) Tribune, which I informally call my Coronavirus Chronicles; and savored significant friendships.  

What is on your “done list?”

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the following: What is on my done list” for last year? How can I build on these accomplishments as I plan this year? How can I approach my days with more reverence?

FOR GROUP STUDY: 

 1.   Read aloud Session CXIII.

  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 2022

District News & Announcements

January 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 January 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. District Youth Lock-In: January 15-16
  2. January 18th Northern Plains Insight Session
  3. Jesus in the Neighborhood Grants
  4. Camp Pine Lake News
  5. Continuing Education Courses
  6. Moderator Moment
  7. Holiness in our Midst
  8. Leadership Development Musings
  9. Quilt Blocks for Annual Conference
  10. Maria’s Kit of Comfort Books
  11. 2022 Prayer Calendars
  12. Congregational Newsletters

Quick info

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

Banner photo: Beautiful sunrise over the Prairie City Church of the Brethren.  Photo by Phyllis Peter.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 112

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION CXII: ON KEEPING CHRISTMAS

Story Circle Prompt: How can you keep Christmas, that is, the spirit of goodwill, throughout the New Year? 

I was writing my 2021 Christmas “thank you” notes when a Salvation Army commercial came on about keeping Christmas going after the holidays. Thus, the inspiration for this question and my answer. To “keep Christmas,” I will think of myself as a living, breathing thank you note whenever I am served by clerks and waiters or as a walking grace note when I serve residents in my assisted living workplace. Perhaps this simple plan will do as much to change the world as taking on a new cause or practice in my already-busy schedule. I’m looking forward to finding out. How can you keep Christmas alive during the New Year?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the following: How will I keep the spirit of Christmas alive during the New Year?

FOR GROUP STUDY: 

 1.   Read aloud Session CXII.

  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.