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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.

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.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 75

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXXV: ON PREPARING YOUR HEART

How are you preparing your heart to receive the Christ Child during Advent this year?

Dr. John Buchanan, pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church in downtown Chicago from 1985 to 2012, shared this story from a nursery school teacher in the Chicago suburbs. She asked her class if they knew what the season before Christmas was called. One child raised his hand and answered “Advil!”

The season of holy hub-hub, which begins with Black Friday and ends with Christmas services (and/or bargain-hunting), begs us to pause long enough to experience the wonder of Jesus’ birth. For myself, I am adding an exercise this year to my morning devotions from December 1 to December 25, that of writing a thank you note to God each day. No other rules or format, whatever come to mind that day. I hope by doing so I can slow down, so that I may experience the Miracle of Advent rather than the Season of Advil.

Story Circle Question: How will you welcome the Christ Child into your heart this year?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1.  Read the above reflection. Begin each day from Dec. 1 to Dec. 25 writing a thank you note to God. The content can be from that day or the past month or year. On Christmas Day, review what you have written.

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXXV.
  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 – 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.