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District News & Announcements – July 2018

District News & Announcements

July 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 July 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 70

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXX: ON VISIONS FOR THE CHURCH

What is your vision for the church? It’s a question that denominations, congregations, and individuals are wrestling with in this Age of Incivility.

The question was inspired by a wall hanging in the office of my optometrist, Dr. Kristian Dugger, on Main Street in Nevada, IA. The framed sign reads: VISION: The art of seeing what is invisible to the eye. My answer, addressing a vision for my local congregation, is informed by my current read, A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community by John Pavlovitz.

The author’s suburban upbringing had not prepared him for the cultural diversity that he would find in the city. He writes: “Philadelphia provided a free master class in beautiful, messy diversity…I found myself to be a new, tiny, irregular piece shoved awkwardly in a massive mosaic of need and affluence, of diverse dialects and unfamiliar spices, of street vendors and corner prostitutes, of young families and elderly beggars—and I found every second of it thrilling, if not regularly terrifying.” He wrote that it laid “the foundation for the kind of pastor I would one day become, an all-people pastor.”

Building on Pavlovitz’s awakenings, I vision for my church to construct a bigger table, based on his four “legs,”: radical hospitality, total authenticity, true diversity, and agenda-free community. I picture my church, First Christian Church in Ames, IA, hosting frequent interfaith services; developing ongoing small groups with persons of differing races, faith traditions, and sexual orientations; putting on dinners hosted by persons from other cultures; and delving deeper into the study of other religions and traditions. And that is just the beginning…for us becoming known for radical diversity that is visible to the eye.

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: Fill in the blank: What is your vision for your (denomination) or (congregation)?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Create a word portrait of what is happening in your ideal denomination, congregation, or Sunday School class.

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXX.
  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 2018

District News & Announcements

June 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 June 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.

 

Holiness in our Midst: Session 69

 

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXIX: ON ‘WHEN I WAS A CHILD____’

My friend Tamara Andrews, a French teacher at Johnston (IA) High School, uses this story prompt both to teach tenses used in French and to encourage her students to share their stories: When I was a child, I_________. With her permission, I pass it along as an excellent starting point to elicit deep sharing among group members.

What is your answer? Mine is: When I was a child, I actually had a childhood. I ran free as a red-winged blackbird on our Iowa farm. I skipped alongside my father to feed the cows and pigs; my mother protected me as I gathered eggs from the feisty laying hens. My little hands were welcomed to weed and hoe our big garden. In season, I helped can and freeze the fruits of our labors. My labor was always voluntary.

I had time to swing, dance and turn somersaults and cartwheels. Late in the evening, under the yard light, I chased lightning bugs or played tag with my brother and sisters. On Sundays, I went to church, twirling all the way in my pinafores. I feasted on delicious casseroles and red fruit punch at church basement potlucks and family reunions. I accompanied my mother to Garden Club and Farm Bureau meetings, playing under watchful eyes with the other tag-along boys and girls. On Friday nights, we rooted for local sports teams. Church, school, community and extended family were strong threads woven together seamlessly, forming the fabric of our everyday lives. Life would get more complex beyond my first years. My mother passed away when I was seven, and we moved many times after that. But I’ve retained a sense of rootedness and place from my idyllic beginning.

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: Fill in the blank: When I was a child, I_________.

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write about your childhood, using the story prompt. Because it is so open-ended, try several variations

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXIX.
  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 2018

District News & Announcements

May 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 May 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 68

 

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXVIII: ON HITTING THE ‘PAUSE BUTTON’

In a series of Lenten sermons, my pastor, Mary Jane Button-Harrison from First Christian Church in Ames, IA, explored the subject of personal renewal and growth during these trying times. With her permission, I share one of the questions from a series of “take home” exercises she handed out in a bulletin insert:

How do you renew, hit the “pause button?”

My answer is to take out my trusty yellow legal pad and do some journaling. The entries are functionally letters to God. They serve the purpose of anchoring whatever thoughts are preventing me from focusing on the tasks at hand. The act of writing down my real thoughts and feelings calms me down before I head back into my daily routine. (The “letters” can be divided into four categories: wonderment, gratitude, questionings, and desperate pleas for mercy.)

Pausing with pen in hand is the main way that I pray. I view the events, experiences, and encounters that come my way each day as God’s answers to these written prayers. In that way, my journal/letters are a form of dialogue with God, a constant source of renewal.  Sometimes I wonder: What if Jesus had a pen and paper when He went off by himself for “alone” time? How would His Record read?

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: How do you hit the “pause button,” renew?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write about renewal in your journal, using the Story Circle Prompt. Also, try re-creating Jesus’ journal from His time in the wilderness, or moments away from His disciples, or His last hours on Earth as he waited alone in the Garden.

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXVIII.  
  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 – April 2018

District News & Announcements

April 2018
Happy Easter!

 “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.

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

In this issue

  1. Address Correction: David and Judith Whitten
  2. Venture’s Course: April 14th
  3. Ministers’ Professional Growth Event: April 15-17
  4. Women’s Retreat at Camp Pine Lake: April 19-21
  5. Child Abuse Prevention Workshop: April 21st 
  6. 42nd Stover Memorial Music Festival: April 29th
  7. District Conference Announcements: August 3-5
  8. Message from the Moderator
  9. Holiness in our Midst – On Signs of Hope
  10. Leadership Development Musings
  11. Song of the Pines with Friends with the Weather: Sept. 1-3
  12. Announcing New Camp Director and Kitchen Manager
  13. Jess Hoffert’s California Adventures
  14. Church Updates, Pictures, and Announcements
  15. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info
Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: The EYN work team poses by the finished well, funded by the Northern Plains District.  Photo by Zipporah Samari. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 67

 

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXVII: ON SIGNS OF HOPE

What signs of hope for peace on earth do you see these days?

My friends and I have been tossing around this question, finding more examples of a world divided (and waxing eloquently about them) than one united. But on Sat., March 25, 2018, I was imbued with hope by three young women speakers at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. Organized by survivors of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, the event created a platform for Emma Gonzalez, Naomi Wadler, and Yolanda King.

  • Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the shooting, embodied the power of silence as tears streamed down her face. She stood for six minutes and 20 seconds, the time it took for the shooter to kill 17 and wound 15 students and teachers. She listed some of the events and interactions that would never happen again in the lives of the fallen before she stood silently before the crowd. Her final message: “Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job.”
  • Naomi Wadler, 11, a fifth-grader from Alexandria, VA, said: “I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper. I represent the African American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential. For far too long, these names, these black girls and women, have been just numbers.” Wadler ended, “I’m here to say, ‘Never again’ for those girls, too.” Black women are disproportionately represented among the victims of gun violence. She helped organized a walkout at her elementary school on March 14 to protest gun violence. She emphasized that she was not a tool of any organization, but rather represented herself and her own viewpoint.
  • Yolanda King, 9, the granddaughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, joined Jaclyn Corin, junior class president at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, onstage after her talk. In the surprise appearance, King said: “I have a dream that enough is enough, and that this should be a gun-free world,” She closed by asking the crowd to repeat the words: “Spread the word! Have you heard? All across the nation, we are going to be a great generation!”

Though media attention was paid to these particular speakers and the rally itself for only a short news cycle, the event gave me a fresh vision for a better world. My take-home question: Where can I add my voice to larger issues with as much fearlessness as these young leaders exhibited?

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: What signs of hope for peace on earth are you seeing?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write about your deepest reaction to current political events in your journal, using the Story Circle Prompt.

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXVII.  
  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 2018

District News & Announcements

March 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 March 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. Ministers’ Professional Growth Event: April 15-17
  2. Women’s Retreat at Camp Pine Lake: April 19-21
  3. 42nd Stover Memorial Music Festival: April 29th
  4. Teachers to Haiti: June 19-26
  5. Important Information for National Youth Conference: July 21-26
  6. Camp Pine Lake seeks Camp Director
  7. Protective Factors Training Report
  8. Message from the Moderator
  9. Holiness in our Midst – On Asking Jesus
  10. Leadership Development Musings
  11. Jess Hoffert’s California Adventures
  12. David Whitten Accepts Call to Virginia Pastorate
  13. Lent Bulletins at Peace Church
  14. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info
Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: Pastor Timothy Curtiss speaks during the children’s time at Ottumwa Church of the Brethren.  Photo by Joseph Cudal. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 66

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION LXVI: ON ASKING JESUS

If Jesus were standing right here, right now, what would you ask Him?

I heard this question on Sunday morning, Sept. 19, 2004, during worship at a Church of the Brethren fellowship in Limeira, a city located 95 miles from Sao Paulo. I was traveling with a delegation visiting the denomination’s churches in Brazil in my role as coordinator for mission connections.

The pastor asked each of the thirty persons present, including children, to answer as a way of introducing ourselves to one another. The service was held in a poor section of the city, but there was a richness of spirit pervading the room. To a one, the children asked for help for others, not just themselves: a job for a mother, health for a sibling, food for their family, freedom from addiction for a friend. The depth of the local answers was enlightening; we as North Americans tended toward asking for things that enriched ourselves. (One pastor from our delegation was so taken with this question that he brought it back to his congregation to use for sharing time in his worship services.)

Having just completed my cancer journey (successfully!), my current answer to this question would be to ask Jesus to make plain my path in the coming months. I would ask Him: Where would You have me focus my time and energies as I go forth in gratitude with a new appreciation for the gift of life?

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: If Jesus were standing right here, right now, what would you ask Him?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write about a deeper need in your journal, using the Story Circle Prompt.

FOR GROUP STUDY:

  1.   Read aloud Session LXVI.  
  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.