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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.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 76

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXVI: ON PICURING PEACE

If you drew a picture of peace, what would you draw?

This was a question that the late Roger Emmert, longtime Northern Plains District leader, asked during devotions at a board-development workshop, “Weaving Our Stories Together,” for district board members in October of 2010 at the Greene (IA) Church of the Brethren. My role was to model intentional story-telling to help them get better acquainted and to suggest ways to create story-sharing platforms in meetings they would lead. (We passed out small notebooks called story catchers, not only for notetaking during the workshop, but also for capturing the small but significant moments that happen each day.)

As 2019 begins, Roger’s question keeps coming my mind. Perhaps this is because his recent death and his example/legacy as a person of peace is on my heart. But his question also seems particularly relevant in this time of great national political turmoil. Words sometimes fail us these days. My drawing of a peaceful world is a round table with President Trump and Republican and Democratic legislators, all sitting quietly with Jesus. In a grand gallery surrounding them are a sea of faces representing all nations of the world. The drawing is labeled 2019: The Year They Came to The Table.

Story Circle Prompt: What does peace look like to you (in words or artwork)?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1.  Read the above reflection. Write a word description of what peace would look like to you. Or, if you prefer, do a pen and ink drawing depicting peace in a sketchbook.  

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXXVI.
  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 – December 2018

District News & Announcements

December 2018

“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 1st 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. Iowa Peace Network Open House & Holiday Gift Fair: Dec. 8
  2. South Waterloo Live Nativity: Dec. 8
  3. Brethren Academy Upcoming Courses
  4. Church Treasurer Allocations
  5. Brethren Disaster Ministries Update
  6. District Members Recognized in Midwives for Haiti Newsletter
  7. Iowa River COB Provides more Disaster Relief at Police Ride-along
  8. Message from the Moderator
  9. Holiness in our Midst
  10. Leadership Development Musings
  11. Remember BVSers this Christmas
  12. Open Denominational Positions
  13. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info
Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: Iowa River Church of the Brethren member Sharon Somers, left, and Marshalltown Police Lt. Rick Bellile ready to face the cold and give out gift cards and cash to those in need in Marshalltown.  Photo by Adam Sodders of the MarshalltownTimes-Republican. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

District News & Announcements – November 2018

District News & Announcements

November 2018

“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.

Banner photo: Bill & Lois Grove provided altar decoration for World Communion Sunday at Peace COB from their collection of material and utensils from their time as missionaries in Nigeria.  Photo taken by Laura Leighton-Harris. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 74

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXIV: ON HIDDEN GIFTS

What is a hidden gift you would like to develop?

But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. I Corinthians 12:7 (NIV)

Sometimes the “front and center” gifts we bring to our congregations are obvious, such as preaching, teaching Sunday school, staffing the nursery, playing the organ or organizing events. These may even be taken for granted year after year. But is there something you would like to do for your church, a gift you would like to develop, but have kept hidden for some reason? The first step is to name it. As for me, I would like to learn to sing. Perhaps take lessons. I discovered my singing voice as I created church services with local pastors and musicians for persons with disabilities. When guitarists would assume I would sing with them, I learned that I could carry a tune within a certain range! Fortunately, a key to renewal at my church, First Christian in Ames, IA, has been to create an atmosphere where persons can feel free to picture themselves in different roles. Slowly, I am creating small opportunities to perform…

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: Name a gift you would like to develop with the help of those around you.

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Dream on paper about a gift that is not yet visible to those around you. Create a plan. Picture a community around you, helping you achieve it. How are you feeling at each step along the way?

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXXIV.
  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 – October 2018

District News & Announcements

October 2018

“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.

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

  1. In this issue

    1. In Our Prayers: Brad Harris (1965-2018)
    2. Southeast Iowa Circuit Ride: Oct. 6-9
    3. West Central Iowa Love Feast: Oct. 7
    4. 3rd Annual Lasagna Supper at Ivester: Oct. 14
    5. Michael Himilie to Speak on his time in CPT: Oct. 20-21
    6. Fall Women’s Retreat: Oct. 25-27
    7. Compelling Vision Conversations: Please Plan to Participate
    8. Camp Pine Lake 2019 Staff Openings and Dates
    9. New Community Project 2019 Learning Tours
    10. Holiness in our Midst
    11. Leadership Development Musings
    12. District Conference Recap Video
    13. Congregational Updates
    14. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info
Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: Barbara Wise Lewczak speaks during Beaver Church of the Brethren’s closing service.  Photo by Rhonda Bingman. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 73

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXIII: ON BEING REMEMBERED

How would you like to be remembered?

This question was inspired by my pastor, Mary Jane Button-Harrison, from First Christian Church in Ames, IA, when she suggested that we try writing our own obituaries and by the recent and very memorable funeral of Sen. John McCain. As for myself, I would like to be remembered for Five Simple Things:

  • For having a sense of humor, lightness and goodwill.
  • For being a good friend to a few people,
  • For advocating for hunger, homelessness and disabilities causes,
  • For sharing stories and creating tables for others to share theirs, and
  • For showing up each day, wherever in the world I was, building community with kindness.

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: How would you like to be remembered?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write your own obituary.

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXXIII.
  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.

Compassion: A Marshalltown Disaster Report

Paul Daniel, Iowa River COB

For the world, 07.19.2018 @ 4:38 in the afternoon is just a date and time on a calendar.  But for a specific group of people, in Marshalltown, Iowa, it is not just numerals, but they are characters that remind us of a specific moment that altered the course of our hometown.  This date will be branded in our memories. The EF3 tornado that rampaged through our community changed the landscape of our hearts and souls.  This transformation is visible in the city’s infrastructure to the deep-rooted trees that no longer provide shade and shelter to the traumatized mental and emotional lives.  Yet, in the aftermath of this disaster, our comm“unity” compelled by an innate desire to “love thy neighbor as yourself” chose to act.  Neighbor helping neighbor; churches united; businesses halted to take care of others; compassion for each other was felt and experienced.

One month post-tornado, our initial crisis relief efforts are mostly complete.  Many individuals jumped in working collaboratively with all those impacted by the disaster.  Government, churches, and non-profit agencies, local, state, and national, have put “boots on the ground.” They came, they saw, they helped, some left, others stayed and some will come back again.  We were “all hands on deck” post-disaster. We did well and we continue to persevere in our longing to help each other.

Iowa River Church of the Brethren has been blessed to receive support throughout this disaster.  Although not directly impacted, we had families from our congregation who experienced loss.  Yet, the church surrounded not only them, but took on the idea of becoming the Matthew 25 church helping where it was needed.  Immediately following the crisis, church banded together to provide basic needs (food, water, shelter); church was opened up for volunteers to use while helping the impacted; church provided meals for volunteers and the law enforcement agency; prayer walks in the community were part of our “boots on the ground;” ministry of presence to those families was done; food coupons and cards were passed out to families.  Iowa River COB was truly alive and doing ministry.

The fervent prayers of the faithful received to date are unmatched and we continue to welcome your prayers to sustain us during this time of crisis.  The donations received from individuals in the area, various Brethren Churches, the Northern Plains District, and Brethren Disaster Ministry has overwhelmed us to propel us to ministry and become the hands and feet of Jesus.  There is no greater joy we find as we become messengers of the Good News of Jesus Christ.  On August 29 2018, our NP Disaster Coordinator and the Brethren Disaster Ministries Director toured the city and received a report on the impact that Iowa River COB is having in the community.  Leadership of the church are involved in the rebuilding process through long-term recovery and Chaplaincy with the Marshalltown Police.During Thanksgiving week 2018, working with the Marshalltown Police and Sheriff, Iowa River COB will do  ride-a-longs with law enforcement passing out “Thanks-living” Cards for basic food and needs.  In December, we plan to initiate the Kingdom Assignment of giving each church family $100 to “Pay it Forward” as they deem necessary in the community.  Our church is on the move, a church without walls.

As a community, we are moving into the long term healing process.  We have provided and/or made available immediate response and relief for all those impacted.  Now, we move onto the next level of rebuilding.  This is a long process yet our resiliency is strong.  With God as our guide, we will rise again.  We will not be defeated.  We will rebuild.  We will be restored.  We are MarshalltownStrong but most importantly, we are GodStrong.