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Online Worship and Resources

Church of the Brethren, Covid-19 Pandemic Response, listing financial resources and grants: https://covid19.brethren.org/

Bethany Theological Seminary, Ministering through Covid-19: https://bethanyseminary.edu/covid-19-resource-list/

Northern Plains District pastors and congregations, online worship and devotions.  Go to https://www.facebook.com/NorthernPlainsCoB/ and “like” the District’s page and check it periodically for updates.  Do the same with Facebook pages of our congregations:

COB@Ankeny

The Church on Northland (Cedar Rapids)

Dallas Center

Fairview

Hammond Avenue (Waterloo)

Hilcrest Baptist/Brethren (Fredericksburg)

Ivester

Iowa River

Lewiston

Libertyville

Living Peace (Sioux City)

Open Circle  (Burnsville)

Panora

Panther Creek

Peace  (Council Bluffs)

Pickwick  (Ottumwa)

Prairie City

South Waterloo

Denominational listing of congregations posting worship online:

http://www.brethren.org/news/2020/church-of-the-brethren-congregations-worship-online.html

District News & Announcements – June 2020

District News & Announcements

June 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 June 24th for inclusion in next month’s newsletter to Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications, communications@nplains.org.

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Quick info

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

Banner photo: Masks made by Elizabeth Bechtol from the Church of the Brethren at Ankeny, for friends, family, and the community.  Photo taken by Elizabeth Bechtol.  Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Call to Prayer and Learning and Action

Tim Button-Harrison, District Executive
de@nplains.org

On May 25, in South Minneapolis, a 46 year old black man, George Floyd, who worked as a security guard, was arrested on suspicion of passing a $20 counterfeit bill, and after he was handcuffed, while being held in custody, several officers held him to the ground while one officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on Mr. Floyd’s neck for a period of nine minutes, restricting his air supply, as he repeatedly cried out “I can’t breathe” and as onlookers cried out on his behalf, and continued kneeling on his neck even after he became silent and lost consciousness.  The police reported that he died due to a “medical incident” in a “police interaction.”  But the truth was captured on video by the onlookers and shared on social media.  On May 26, people started gathering where this horrific event happened, organizations and officials began to denounce the police action, and by afternoon, the four arresting officers were fired, and by evening the protest had begun.  On May 29, Derek Chauvin was arrested and charged with murder and manslaughter.

The killing of George Floyd is not an isolated incident but part of a larger history and cultural system of racial prejudice, fear, hatred, violence, injustice and inequity in our society.  Related events have recently occurred in Georgia where citizens acting as vigilantes killed Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was jogging, in New York’s Central Park where a racialized call was made to police concerning Christian Cooper, a black man who was bird-watching, and in Des Moines on May 16 when a black man, DarQuan Jones, was attacked and nearly killed in an incident being investigated as a racial hate crime, and the list of black bodies harmed and black lives lost goes on and on.  

Over the past week, from that place in South Minneapolis where Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of George Floyd, protests and rallies have spread across the country.  The planned protests and rallies have been nonviolent, and in many cases, police and public officials have united with protesters to condemn racism and inappropriate police force.  In other places, nonviolent protests have been met with tear gas and rubber bullets, amplifying anger, frustration and despair, leading some to break windows and loot stores.  And while rally organizers have worked diligently to keep protests on message and nonviolent, young white male extremists (some are call them manarchists or simply white knuckleheads) have been leading out in property destruction to encourage rioting and discredit the protests.  It is a volatile mix and we need to be more quick to examine the root causes than we are to judge those who are expressing their anger, frustration and despair, hearing again the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when he said, “I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air.  Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots.  And in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard.  And what is it that America has failed to hear…?”   (Listen to the speech here.)

The events of the past week are most certainly an urgent call to prayer, especially if prayer leads us to greater humility, listening, love, acknowledgement of wrongs, and commitment to repair those wrongs and do what is right.  This kind of prayer leads to hard work and change.  It has led me to change who I am primarily following and listening to.  In the past, almost all of my guides and teachers, those to whom I had granted authority to lead me, because I trusted their knowledge and experience in areas religious, theological, moral, academic and professional, where white people.  And for almost all of my life, my guides and teachers had been mostly white people.  I was certainly not deficient in having a white understanding of life.  But I was certainly deficient in understanding life from other points of view.  So I’ve dedicated myself to listen to and learn from and be guided by black and indigenous and latinx voices and leaders.   And I have done this not alone or in isolation, but in community and alongside many of you who are working to do the same, who are likewise adjusting your focus and attention.  With encouragement and support from some of you, I’ve become part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).   I decided to go on the 2019 Waterloo Freedom Bus ride from Iowa to Alabama, blacks and whites together, retracing the events and places of the Civil Rights Movement.  And I’ve become involved in the Poor People’s Campaign.   

I’ve had a basic understanding of the Black Civil Rights movement.  But five years ago, I couldn’t tell you much about some other things I now consider essential and required knowledge.  And I’m still just scratching the surface.  Here are some very important things I’ve learned about, or learned more about, just recently, and I’ve found some helpful links you can follow to go deeper in your own learning.  I’ve learned about the Doctrine of Discovery, West African slave fortresses, the Middle Passage, the developing American culture of white supremacy, the amassing of wealth in this nation from slave labor and seizure of lands from Native Americans, the life and work of Frederick Douglass, the events surrounding the mass hanging of 38 Dakota Indians in Mankato, MN, the rise and fall of Reconstruction after the Civil of War, the slavery loophole in the 13th amendment, Jim Crow laws, convict leasing, Ida B. Wells and her anti-lynching campaign, the coming together of former Union and Confederate soldiers in the US wars to annex Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines, the racist aspects of those wars, and the rise in attacks on black communities by returning white soldiers after those and all subsequent wars, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the restoration of the Confederate flag and the erection of Confederate Memorials, the writings of W.E.B. DuBois, the flood of Northern advertising and media depicting African Americans as deficient, ridiculous and dangerous, “The Birth of the Nation” (the highest-grossing film of the silent movie era), the Great Migration, sundown towns, redlining, mass incarceration and the environmental justice movement.  I now understand these are some of the facts and realities we need to know and comprehend, particularly as white Christians in the U.S., if we want to truly understand where we are now, and how we got here, and where we can and need to go from here. 

There are other helpful resources.  The 2019 Ministers and District Board Workshop was on race and racism and led by Michaela Alphonse, Pastor of the Miami First Church of the Brethren and Josh Brockway, Church of the Brethren Director of Discipleship Ministries.  On May 31, Josh offered these recommendations:

There is also a great resource called “Talking About Race” that was just released by the National Museum of African American History.

Friends in Christ, I am committed to the deep prayer and learning and action that I believe we are being called to.  Will you pray and learn and work with me?

Special Announcements Regarding District Conference, District Executive Renewal and Annual Conference

2020 NORTHERN PLAINS DISTRICT CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENT

Our 2020 Northern Plains District Conference will NOT be meeting face to face at The Church on Northland, Cedar Rapids, IA, July 31 – August 2.  HOWEVER, we will still be gathering together on the same dates, through technology-based platforms, yet to be decided.   District Conference Planning Committee made this decision after conferring with the District Board.  The Committee is exploring how to provide a meaningful program of worship and business along with opportunities for fellowship, learning and giving.  Congregations should still select and register their voting delegates for the business meeting, noting that participation in the meeting will be through computer or telephone.  Those preparing reports for the Conference booklet should still send them to Ida Van Westen by May 15 for inclusion in the booklet.  The Planning Committee meets next on May 18 and will provide updates with additional information as it is available.  If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of the Planning Committee.

Ida Van Westen, Conference Support, dc-support@nplains.org, 507-478-4552

Tim Button-Harrison, District Executive, de@nplains.org, 641-485-5604

Lucinda Douglas, District Moderator, nightowl21@q.com, 712-204-8950

Paul Shaver, District Moderator-Elect, revpaul.ivestercob@gmail.com, 319-423-9034

Lois Grove, GROVE19@msn.com, 712-326-8266

Roger Peckover, rbpeckover@gmail.com, 507-429-9653

Chris Tobias, christobias71@gmail.com, 641-750-8169

Sue Bollinger, sbolli1004@aol.com, 507-251-0333

 


 

DISTRICT EXECUTIVE POSTPONING SABBATH RENEWAL

Tim Button-Harrison, District Executive, de@nplains.org

I had arranged three times periods for sabbath renewal this year, following denominational guidelines.  The first happened mid-February to mid-March. The second was scheduled for mid-May to mid-June.  Because of greater needs and concerns in the District due to the pandemic, in consultation with the District Board, I’ve decided to postpone the second time period until after District Conference.

 


 

ANNUAL CONFERENCE WILL NOT BE HELD THIS SUMMER

The Standing Committee of Annual Conference met today (May 7) and decided, with great sadness, to cancel the Annual Conference scheduled for July 1-5 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Read the full Brethren Newsline announcement here.

District News & Announcements – May 2020

District News & Announcements

May 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 May 25th for inclusion in next month’s newsletter to Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications, communications@nplains.org.

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District News & Announcements – April 2020

District News & Announcements

April 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 April 24th for inclusion in next month’s newsletter to Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications, communications@nplains.org.

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Holiness in our Midst: Session 91

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION XCI: ON THE CORONAVIRUS

Story Circle Prompt: How has the coronavirus affected your life?

It was on the first day of spring, March 20, 2020, that I understood what the Facebook philosophers and cable commentators meant as they said things like: “The good old days were two weeks ago,” and “Life will never again be the same.” Almost overnight, as the Coronavirus pandemic reached into my hometown of Nevada, IA, every aspect of my existence was altered.

My daily rounds, for instance. For years, I have merrily chit-chatted my way through the days, first enjoying breakfast with the regulars at local restaurants. As I live and breathe, I neighbor. (Yes, “neighbor” is a verb, meaningto associate in a neighborly way.” And the dictionary definition of “neighborly” is characteristic of a good neighbor, especially helpful, friendly, or kind.”). On that Friday, as I drove through town on my way to the bank, I was in a state of shock. Central Elementary School and the community school resource center were closed. The Nevada Public Library had this sign: STAY SAFE. WE ARE CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. The First United Methodist Church was closed. Its sign read: 9 AM SUNDAY: LIVESTREAM SERMON ON FACEBOOK. Downtown Nevada was a ghost town, except for restaurants serving take-out, and a few retailers. I reached Great Western Bank. The lobby was closed. The drive-through was open, but I needed to talk to a teller. On my way to Fareway for groceries, I drove by my hair salon, the Rusty Razor on Lincoln Way. There was a car out front, much to my relief, because I depend on Lorry to make me presentable enough to go out in public. (Unfortunately, the shop is now temporarily closed.) Fareway was open, a very good thing, though there was a sign by the carts that said: OUT OF WIPES…SORRY! I was able to stock up on supplies, an oasis of normalcy in my otherwise social desert. My first human contact of the day was with the young man who took my groceries to the car. “I guess there’s no place to go but home,” I said to make conversation.  “At least you don’t have to deal with toilet paper fiends,” he said, putting a positive spin on my social isolation. I smiled, silently blessing him for activating my inner funny during this personal trauma.

Since the initial shock, I’ve tried to adjust to the new normal. My church connections and community volunteer roles are lived out differently, as places of worship and non-profits close physical spaces. We at First Christian Church in Ames stay sweetly together through regular worship and prayer times on Zoom. On a recent Sunday, worshipping at home, my pastor suggested we use the elements at hand to participate in Communion. I chose a piece of slider bun and V-8 juice in the absence of unleavened bread and grape juice. Community organizations are also meeting through phone and computer links. Rightly, the instant historians have termed this new era, The Great Adaptation.

How has work changed for this culinary server at an assisted living center? Meals are now served in rooms rather than in the communal dining area. I’m a touchy-feely kind of person, suddenly thrust in a socially distanced workplace. I’m still a feely person, but without being able to offer service with a gentle physical touch. This is hard!

The virus has put a crimp in my style, but I still neighbor whenever I can. Others are doing the same, I note. I wave to persons cycling or walking their dogs. They wave back. Recently, I saw a pink sign with floral balloons. It said, “HONK! I AM 40 TODAY!” I honked.

“What are the gains from this time?” an astute friend asked. Upon reflection, I said that I find myself treating this time alone like a gift of a sabbatical. In the quiet and solitude, however enforced, I’ve come up with my list of essentials. I now know that I cannot live without work, family chats, church, social justice causes, friends, nature walks (I’ve noticed that birds have not yet enforced social distancing…), legal pads, black Flair pens, Chlorox wipes, toilet paper, newspapers (the paper kind), and M & Ms. What are your essentials?

 

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, explore the following: Record on paper a day in your life since the pandemic. As an additional exercise: Remember on paper a day in your life before the current pandemic.

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session XCI.
  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 – 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.

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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.

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.