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District News & Announcements – April 2017

District News & Announcements

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

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

In this issue

  1. New Camp Pine Lake Director
  2. Fairview Reads Through the Bible in 2017
  3. Root River Closing Service
  4. Stover Music Festival
  5. Youth and Young Adult Conferences
  6. Church Anniversary Celebrations
  7. District Conference Announcements
  8. Message from the Moderator
  9. Leadership Development Musings
  10. Holiness in our Midst
  11. District Executive Coverage during May
  12. District Witness Commission Projects
  13. April Ventures Courses
  14. Panther Creek Handbell Choir & Italian Supper
  15. In Our Prayers: God is Doing a New Thing in Ottumwa
  16. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info
Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: A Prayer Center from the Ministers retreat this March. Photo credit Barbara Wise Lewczak. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 55

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LV: ON HOSPITALITY

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: Remember a time when you extended or received exceptional hospitality.

Our 12-person Church of the Brethren Faith Expedition was welcomed in unforgettable fashion in southern Sudan (now South Sudan) in February of 2002. Hospitality was refined to an art form by the Sudanese.

They welcomed us with open arms. Ours was the first North American group to visit the Anglican compound of Rokon. Men, women and children, in their finest dress, lined the roadside for miles, straining for the sight of our Land Rover. As we approached, the women trilled a greeting for us, then danced and sang for us. The school children had learned a song in English: “We are so happy to see you.”

They remembered our names. The women formed a receiving line and asked each of us our names. Four days later, without prompting, one woman came to me and said, “Jan-eese, thank you for coming and visiting us in our desperate plight. We knew you would come.” She had remembered my name! Had I done as well? No.

They practiced sacrificial generosity. This compound went without enough food for a week—and gladly!—so that we might be given a banquet. They gave from their substance, not their abundance. It wasn’t the fatted calf they served; it was the skinny goat running around the day before. On that trip, I learned to never refuse food prepared with love. Yes, even goat! In a drought-stricken land, from a people pummeled by war, I understood that I was the one who was spiritually impoverished, in dire need of their true hospitality.

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write about your extended or received exceptional hospitality.

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LV.     
  2.   Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt.

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our Midst: Sharing 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 2017

March 2017 Banner

District News & Announcements

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

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 54

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LIV: ON BUMPER STICKERS

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: How would you answer: I’d rather be_______.

I’ve always been intrigued with bumper stickers that begin with “I’d rather be_____.” Depending on where I was traveling at the time, I’ve seen ones that read hunting, fishing, parasailing, mountain climbing, scuba diving and surfing. My first response on this day, as I prepare to go to work is: I’d rather be writing. The first step in making life changes is to name what makes one happiest. I think: Is there way I can rearrange my days so that I can fit in more writing time? Get up earlier? Go to bed later? Is there a place you would rather be today? How would you fill in the blank? How can you connect this exercise to your dreams?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write about your dream job or avocation.

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LIV.    
  2. Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt.

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our Midst: Sharing 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 2017

District News & Announcements

February 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 February 22nd for inclusion in next month’s newsletter to Hannah Button-Harrison, Interim Director of Communications, communications@nplains.org.

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 53

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LIII: ON PICTURING HEAVEN

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: What would Heaven look like to you?

Heaven for me would need to have all the elements of a warm coffee shop on a frigid morning. I know that now. Last week, I experienced good food, good background music, and good company, all at the same time. At Niland’s Café in Colo, IA, I was savoring a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs (with cheese), hash browns (extra crispy), white toast (golden brown), and heavily-caffeinated coffee (with cream). Oldies were playing on the radio; I was humming along. Something Simon and Garfunkel. In walks a group of local coffee shop “regulars.” I have been an ad hoc member of their group for 25 years. Our topic of the day was about Heaven, about our fervent wish that Wherever We Go After We Die, that there should be a place where we could replicate the togetherness and understanding we have known for hundreds of mornings. When we are together, political differences dissolve. We all love stories about funny dogs and life’s daily ironies. We debrief. We sometimes cry. We laugh a lot. We like it that we are aware of each other’s strengths and interests. Mary says to me, “There would have to be pencils and paper for you.” Yes! I often sit and write after I have finished my paper. I add that I would hope for daily newspapers to read, ones I could hold in my hand. We conclude that, until We Know For Sure, we will just keep enjoying our little Heaven on Earth, with a side of biscuits and gravy.  

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write about what Heaven would look like to you. Do you have a place that is a slice of “Heaven on Earth?”

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LIII.  
  2. Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt.

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our Midst: Sharing 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 2017

District News & Announcements

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

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 52

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LII: ON KEEPING CHRISTMAS

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: How will keep you Christmas alive in the coming year?

This holiday season has already held memories of good times with co-workers, clients, family and friends. My fervent wish is to keep this spirit of peace and goodwill alive in the New Year, especially the upcoming one that holds so much local, national and global turmoil. As I ponder how I will keep Christmas alive, a poem by Howard Thurman comes to mind. He reminds us that after the “song of the angels is stilled…the work of Christmas begins.” He urges us “to find the lost, heal the broken, feed the hungry…and to make music in the heart.” His message invites me to keep advocating for the hunger and homelessness causes in my community. Perhaps, instead of throwing up my hands and speaking of hopelessness, I can identify my circles of influence and vow to always speak positively about those with whom I disagree and to keep on “doing good” in my own neighborhood. How will you keep the holiday spirit alive?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write about your plan to “Keep Christmas.”

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LII.    
  2.   Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt.

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our Midst: Sharing 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.

Message from the Moderator: January 2017

District Theme 2017-Clean copyEnter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise, give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations (Psalm 11:4-5 NIV).

On our first Sunday in Nigeria we attended a thanksgiving celebration. This was not your typical American turkey and gravy kind of thanksgiving held once a year on the fourth Thursday of November. A Nigeria church thanksgiving celebration is when a family or individual wants to give explicit thanks to God for a particular reason. It can range from a return to health after a serious illness, the gift of a child after an extended barrenness, the passing of an old, old person, and a family returning thanks for their parents’ dedicated lives to the church, family, and community. The last example was what took place last Sunday. Judith’s family, with the pastor’s permission, invited the congregation and friends of the family to come to a designated church service to give thanks to God for the many blessings given to Judith’s parents, Demi and Icho Ravo. Along with the normal offering, a special offering was given the church on behalf of the Demi family. Video 1 shows the family offering time and Video 2 shows the normal offering. Family and close friends were dressed in matching cloth; the men in white and green, the women in yellow and green. Following the two and a half hour service we returned to the Demi compound for food and festivities along with the excruciating “photo-op.”
The celebration was touching. The way the Spirit filled the church with praise and thanksgiving was wonderful. Honestly, I have never felt the same kind of joy and spiritual energy back home as I have here in Nigeria. I was truly blessed to be a part of this celebration. And when I compare what they have with what I have, when I consider the hardships of life in Nigeria, raising a family of eight on the very modest pastor’s income compared to my life back in the States, when I experience their joy, praise, and thanksgiving and compare it to my own, I begin to understand, if only a bit, the Beatitudes of Jesus. Jesus often used the introductory phrase “The kingdom of God is like . . .” and then followed it with a lesson. Let me finish by also saying, “The kingdom of God is like a Nigerian thanksgiving celebration whose people entered His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Amen.
Video 1:
Dave Whitten, District Conference Moderator, 2017

District News & Announcements – Advent 2016

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District Advent Calendar 2016

Church Events:
Ankeny
Correction:
Panora’s address was incorrectly listed.
The Address for Panora Church of the Brethren is:
2964 200th Rd, Panora, IA