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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.

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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.

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.

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. 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.