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District News & Announcements – January 2018

District News & Announcements

January 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 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.

In this issue

  1. 2018 District Prayer Calendars
  2. Child Sexual Abuse Awareness and Prevention Sunday: Jan 21 or 28
  3. Regional Youth Conference & National Youth Conference: Mar. 2-4 & Jul. 21-26
  4. Women’s Retreat at Camp Pine Lake: April 19-21
  5. District Conference Auction 
  6. Message from the Moderator
  7. Holiness in our Midst
  8. Leadership Development Musings
  9. Jess Hoffert’s California Adventures
  10. New Courses in Ventures and Brethren Academy
  11. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info
Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: Fairview Church celebrates “Reading Through the Bible in 2017” with a cake and punch reception following worship December 31.  Photo by Diane Mason. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 64

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LIIX: ON MISSION FIELDS

Late last summer I went to a funeral in a church I had not attended before. As I was leaving the parking lot, a sign greeted me: You are now entering the mission field. The message on the sign stayed with me and prompts the story circle question: Where is my mission field for this New Year? My mission field for the New Year is informed by the limits imposed by my cancer journey, which began last June. After chemotherapy and a successful mastectomy, I will undergo radiation from late January through March. I remain dedicated to my local community mission causes of hunger and homelessness awareness and to the denomination’s international mission sites, but, by necessity, my mission field this year will be myself. I will dedicate time to exercise, healthy eating, positive self-talk, and attention to appearance and fashion. When I re-enter the public arena, hopefully, it will be from an enhanced self-awareness and the ability to sustain a life of advocacy with even more strength.

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: What mission field are you being called to during the New Year?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Picture Jesus handing you a personal invitation to join with Him working in a new mission field this year. What does the invitation say? Did you say ‘yes?’ Write about the spiritual exercise.

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LIIX.  
  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 2017

District News & Announcements

December 2017

 “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 December 29th 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 63

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXIII: ON QUAKER QUESTIONS

Writer’s note: The “Four Quaker Questions” are frequently-used ice-breakers in small groups. They are: 1) Where did you live between the ages of 7 and 12? 2) How did you heat your home then? 3) What or who was the center of human warmth in your family? Why? 4) When, if ever, did God become more than a mere word to you? If you ask participants these questions in a group setting, leave plenty of time for answers, because they call forth deep and strong emotions.

Following is my answer to Questions 3:

The center of warmth in my family between 7 and 12 was the family table each evening in Urbandale, IA, a suburb of Des Moines. Days were hectic with work and school, but at supper time we slowed down. We shared stories from our daily lives while savoring tasty meals. (The recipes were from the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook.) My father had remarried the year I was 9. My siblings, Jill, 5, Jerry, 8, and Janet, 13, and I were still coming to grips with the death of our mother two years earlier. In addition to moving from a farm setting, we acquired overnight a step mother, an older step brother, Arthur, who had just joined the Navy, and a step sister, Jean, who was in high school. Adjustments were required on all our parts, but our blended family came together with love and laughter as we passed around the spare ribs or pork chop casserole. On Sundays, we had pot roast that simmered in the oven while we were at church. When we got home, we added carrots, potatoes and onions while we changed clothes and anticipated another family time of togetherness. A testimony to our shared meals is the fact that the family table is still important to each of us as a symbol of security in our lives.

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: Ask the group to answer one or more of the four Quaker Questions.

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write expanded answers to the four Quaker Questions as an exercise in self-understanding.

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXIII.  
  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 2017

District News & Announcements

November 2017

 “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.

Healthy and Safe Congregations Training November 10-11, 2017 at Camp Pine Lake

Registration is still available for the Creating Safe Congregations training on November 10-11 at Camp Pine Lake. The District Board has very generously agreed to underwrite the costs of this training for all attendees, including registration, lodging at the camp, meals and transportation. We are delighted to have Kathy Reid as the presenter. Kathy, who is ordained in the Church of the Brethren, brings years of experience and competency in this area.

The training will be comprised of three sessions:

Session I – Definitions and Research – the prevalence of violence within families, dynamics of power and control, warning signs of abuse, how to identity potential abusers.

Session II – Prevention Policies and Practices – what to do if we suspect abuse, reporting laws, confidentiality, best practices for congregations.

Session III – After the Incident – caring for the church community, harmful beliefs, being proactive, spiritual crisis care for survivors.

You may register for the training online here.

Or you may download a mail in form here.

CEU credits for pastors will be available for $10, with checks made out to Brethren Academy. Those who prefer a hotel may stay at their own cost at the Americaninn in Grundy Center, Iowa.

The training will begin with dinner at 6:00 on Friday evening and end at 4:30 on Saturday afternoon. Pastors, church board members, Christian education workers, youth advisors and concerned adults, are all encouraged to participate in this important training. Please register today!

Holiness in our Midst: Session 62

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXII: ON CAMP

Did you ever come away from a week at camp with significant life experiences or new understandings?

For myself, I can trace back to a week at church camp three new understandings about God and my place in the world. Each one built upon the others. I was 12 the summer that the boys and girls from my church, Highland Park Presbyterian in Des Moines, convened at the YMCA Camp in Boone. My first new understanding was that the world belongs to God not me. That meant: God invited me into this world; I didn’t just happen. I can trace this learning back to the hymn that was our theme. The words to “This is My Father’s World” were printed on signs, line by line, along the main trail. Amid the old-growth beauty of the camp, I believed into my being these words:

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears

All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,

The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.

This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;

His hand the wonders wrought.

My second understanding came at the closing bonfire, in which we gave our whole selves and lives to Jesus. This was preceded by a dramatic ceremonial burning of pieces of paper in which we had written our failures and sins. We were to be given a fresh start in our new lives! Having just come into consciousness about it being God’s world, I added the thought: that I was brought into this scene for purpose. And I had just asked to be connected to that purpose!

My third understanding came from being given “Quiet Time,” something new to me. Our recently-blended family left me sleeping in a bedroom with two sisters. I lived in a crowded house without my own space. At camp, we were asked to go out in the woods and be alone with our Bible and nature and, the counselor said, to be alone with God! Before I would learn to hear Him as an “inner voice,” I began experiencing Him in the natural world, as I read these words along the trail:

This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair:

In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;

He speaks to me everywhere.

I took away a lot from church camp. The God who had created the Heavens had invited me to be on Earth. I had asked Him to reveal His purpose and believed He would. And through the practice of Quiet Time, I was convinced He was know-able on a personal level. It was heady stuff for a pre-teen! My spiritual formation began there in the woods. It continues (with less sexist language, of course!) but with the same basics at the core that I brought back along with my craft projects and sunburn.

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: Recall significant life experiences or new understandings from camp.

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write about what you brought home from a stay at camp. Was it a significant life experience? New understandings? Where was the camp? How old were you? Are you influenced still by camp memories or learnings? How?

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXII.  
  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 2017

October 2017 Banner

District News & Announcements

October 2017

 “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.

In this issue

  1. BVS Visit and Dinner at Stover Church: October 5th
  2. Southeast Cluster Spiritual Renewal: Oct. 8-11
  3. Ventures Course on Interfaith Cooperation: October 14th
  4. Building Centennial at Prairie City COB: Oct. 14-15
  5. Fall Women’s Retreat – October 20th & 21st
  6. Disaster Ministries Work Trip: Oct. 29 – Nov. 4
  7. Healthy and Safe Congregations Training: Nov. 10-11
  8. Ivester Lasagna Meal: Nov. 12
  9. Message from the Moderator
  10. Holiness in our Midst
  11. Leadership Development Musings
  12. Fairview Float Wins First Prize
  13. 2018 Annual Conference Nominations
  14. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info
Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: Beautiful sunset and smiles at the campfire hosted by Merlin Grady in observation of the International Day of Prayer for Peace.  Photo by Diane Sittig. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 61

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXI: ON COLLECTIONS

What do you collect? Why?

I collect Midwest art, mostly original watercolor paintings of Iowa fields, fences, barns, and windmills. Decorating my home with them is my way of preserving the Forties and Fifties way of life. Setting the mood in my living room are prints of a red one room schoolhouse and a little white church as well as a tapestry of a country home. My small town/rural theme happens to extend out my windows. My bedroom overlooks a field and forest. My office window features the road out of town. The living room view is of a parklike setting with three large trees and a quiet subdivision. My daily surroundings are all of one piece.

To describe some of my artworks:

  • Two paintings by Ankeny, IA artist Pat Hykes depict gas stations from my past. They were done from photographs. One is of the Handsaker gas station on Highway 65 between Colo and Zearing. I’m glad for the visual reminder of the landmark place where we filled up on our way to visit my paternal grandparents down the road Geneva. Only an overgrown stone marker and an abandoned farmhouse are currently on the site. Another painting is of a long-gone gas station/grocery store in Panora. A family friend, Naomi Beal, lived above the store growing up.
  • A panoramic watercolor depicts the rolling Iowa countryside in spring. The rows of corn are just visible in spring, magnifying the contours of the land. It is a study in greens.
  • A Midwest storm is brewing in black and deep blues and purples in another watercolor.
  • My favorite is called “Wash Day in May.” Clothes blowing on the line stretch from a farmhouse to a barn. In the foreground in a lush garden.

Rounding out my décor and colorful calendars and sayings that give me pause, like the plaque over the stove that reads: Gardens and families must be tended daily. My home helps me remember a time when people talked to each other face to face, families gathered for reunions, and churches were the social centers of the community. I can’t turn back time, but my collection reminds me to extend the spirit of civility that was the overlay of a vanishing way of life.

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: What do you collect and why?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write about a special collection. What was your first piece? Do others add to it? What special feelings do your things evoke?

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXI.  
  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 – September 2017

District News & Announcements

September 2017

 “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 September 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.

In this issue

  1. District Conference Review
  2. District Board Reorganizes for 2017-2018
  3. Camp News
  4. New Ventures season to begin September 16
  5. Southeast Iowa Spiritual Renewal Circuit Ride
  6. Building Centennial at Prairie City Church of the Brethren
  7. Fall Women’s Retreat – October 20th & 21st
  8. Healthy and Safe Congregations Training
  9. Message from the Moderator
  10. Holiness in our Midst – On Learning You Are Not Alone
  11. Leadership Development Musings
  12. NCP 2018 Learning Tours
  13. Michael Himlie to Serve with Christian Peacemakers
  14. Hurricane Harvey: Brethren Disaster Ministries Update
  15. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info

Banner photo: Cluster gathering of the Sheldon, Sioux and Worthington churches hosted by the Sheldon church at the Lutheran Bible Camp on West Okoboji Lake. Photo by Alan Cox. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.