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District News & Announcements – December 2021

District News & Announcements

December 2021

“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 28th 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.

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In this issue

  1. Samuel Dali Medical Expenses
  2. Camp Pine Lake News
  3. Northern Plains Insight Session: December 21
  4. Treasurer’s Reminder
  5. District Youth Lock-in: January 15-16
  6. Continuing Education Courses
  7. Moderator Moment
  8. Holiness in our Midst
  9. Leadership Development Musings
  10. Jesus in the Neighborhood Grants
  11. Maria’s Kit of Comfort Books
  12. Remember BVS Volunteers
  13. GWP Advent Calendar
  14. IOWA PEACE NETWORK HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE & ALT. GIFT FAIR: DECEMBER 11
  15. Submit your Congregation’s Events to the Advent Newsletter
  16. Congregational Newsletters

Quick info

Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: Lisa Ames-Kruse’s licensing service on November 7th at Hammond Avenue Brethren Church.  Photo by Raechel Sittig.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

District News & Announcements – November 2021

District News & Announcements

November 2021

“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.

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. Samuel Dali Medical Expenses
  2. Camp Pine Lake News
  3. November 15th Northern Plains Insight Session
  4. Continuing Education Courses
  5. Moderator Moment
  6. Holiness in our Midst
  7. Leadership Development Musings
  8. BVS Mentorship Program
  9. Congregational Newsletters

Quick info

Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: A brand new Little Free Library was just installed by Rhonda and Jim Bingman in the front yard at the Church of the Brethren at Ankeny. Memorial money was used to purchase the library box, post and memorial plaque.  The box is made from composite material so little maintenance should be necessary. Jim was the first borrower when he checked out one of his own books that Rhonda donated :). A bench is planned to be added in the Spring. Hopefully the neighborhood and our own members will enjoy taking a book and leaving a book.  Photo by Rhonda Bingman.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 111

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION CXI: ON SCENT MEMORY

Story Circle Prompt: What fragrance do you associate with Christmas? Why? 

As the holidays near, I think about the scent of fresh oranges, the fragrance that instantly transports me back to opening my first Christmas stockings. Our Santa knocked on the front door and hand-delivered those stockings to us kids— Janet, Janis (me), Jerry and Jill, aka the Pyle stairsteps— early on Christmas mornings. Our names were on the long red stockings that were filled with pungent oranges and ripe apples along with new “colors” (as we called Crayons), rolled up coloring books, and small wind-up toys. There was also a single candy cane. (Back then, I was equal parts greed and politeness. I would take my father aside several times a year and ask him if he had any sway with Santa, and could he persuade him to do something, PLEEZ, about the ratio of fruit to candy.) I learned later that Santa was Innie Handsaker, our land lady from the big farmhouse next door; she tucked a pillow in the suit she kept hidden in the attic. For our family, she would help keep the magic and mystery of the Christmas Spirit alive (at least until the fateful day the Big Kids on the Bus would burst my bubble about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy all in one afternoon). More than pine boughs, peppermint candy, or cinnamon cookies, the smell of citrus, which clung to my stocking even during the offseason, is my direct link to memories of Christmases past. 

What fragrance recalls Christmas for you?

NOTE: It was French author Marcel Proust who most beautifully brought to the world’s attention the fact that smells can trigger memories. In Remembrance of Things Past, his character, while nibbling on a madeleine, recalled that “the whole of Combray and of its surroundings… sprang into being, all from my cup of tea.”

Long before it was studied by scientists and named the “Proust Phenomenon,” the link between odors and memories was a real thing. Perhaps, even back at the first Christmas ever. I wonder every year if Mary, Mother of Jesus, kept a Box of Precious Things to recall the night that Christ was born. Maybe the box that the wise men brought with the scent of frankincense still lingering? Or a satchel with a swatch of swaddling clothes still smelling of hay? Did she sometimes duck into a stable to breathe in again the remembrance of the Holy Night? Some things to ponder….

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the following: What scent evokes the holidays for you? Is there a story behind the memories?

FOR GROUP STUDY: 

 1.   Read aloud Session CXI.

  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.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 110

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION CX: ON A TRIP-OF-A-LIFETIME

Story Circle Prompt: What was your trip-of-a-lifetime? Where did you go? Who were you with? What made it memorable?

Our trip-of-a-lifetime, which I recall as the “Summer of ’66,” even has a theme song: “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson. For several weeks, we were like a band of gypsies going down the highway, my father Lloyd, stepmother Evelyn, younger brother Jerry, younger sister Jill and me. (Free as a bird between high school and college, I was able to savor a rare interlude without obligations or pressures.) Our starting point was the Denver suburb of Lakewood, where we lived. Dad, also an aficionado of frequently traded, brightly colored Volkswagen beetles, had rented a show stopping Rolite camper, collapsible for easy hauling on mountain roads. Packed tightly, music on the radio, our family set out to “see the sights.” Some vignettes from the open road, in chronological order: 

  • Watching the sun rise over multi-colored rock formations in Utah.
  • Breathing in the pine-scented air as we camped at Lake Tahoe.
  • Holding my nephew John for the first time when we visited my sister Janet in Napa Valley, CA. 
  • Looking out at the ocean, and later seeing the seals playing on the rocks below, when we dined at the Cliff House in San Francisco. (My parents had saved up for this occasion, and my dad convinced the staff to give us prime seats, even though we were dreadfully underdressed.) 
  • Feeling like I was in a cathedral when I walked in a redwood forest for the first time.
  • Smelling the roses in the Jackson & Perkins Gardens in Medford, OR. 
  • Nibbling on freshly picked Bing cherries in the car riding along the coast in Washington state.
  • Boarding the ferry in Seattle to cross over to Canada.
  • Beholding the lovely manicured Butchart Gardens in Vancouver. 
  • Viewing the scenery along the beautiful Trans-Canada Highway. 
  •  Riding a horse through the mountains in the early morning at the Kicking Horse ranch in British Columbia.
  • Sticking my head out the car window, not wanting to miss any scenic vista in the spectacular Grand Teton National Park. 
  • Stopping to photograph a weathered roadside chapel in Jackson Hole, WY. 
  • Pausing with gratitude back in our driveway at being able to take in so much natural beauty before resuming a fast-paced family life. 

Also, lingering still, is the magical memory of rolling into a different campground each night. Other campers gathered ‘round as we popped up the walls of the trailer and walked into a phenomenal furnished space, now twice its traveling size. On our last big family vacation together, we ourselves were a “road show” to remember.

What was your trip-of-a-lifetime?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the following: Capture in words your trip-of-a-lifetime. Where did you go? Who were you with? What made it memorable?

FOR GROUP STUDY: 

 1.   Read aloud Session CX.

  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 2021

District News & Announcements

October 2021

“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.

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. In Our Prayers
  2. Camp Pine Lake News
  3. Patrick Jackson Installation in Cedar Rapids: October 10
  4. Armouraires gospel concert at Dallas Center: October 16
  5. Continuing Education Courses
  6. Moderator Moment
  7. Holiness in our Midst
  8. Leadership Development Musings
  9. Congregational Newsletters

Quick info

Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: Northern Plains group attending National Youth Conference in 2018.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 109

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION CIX: ON ‘HOLY BURDENS’

Story Circle Prompt: Is God giving you a “Holy Burden’ to help address these times of national and international turmoil? What are you being called to do?

In a taped sermon on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, Rev. April G. Johnson, Minister of Reconciliation for the Christian church (Disciples of Christ), empowered all Ames First Christian Church members to be leaders and implored us to name our individual “holy burdens” from God to address these tumultuous times.

Because my attention has been focused recently on the lingering damage from the derecho of Aug. 10, 2020, my “holy burden” has become the planting of trees. I figure that each of us Iowans, all 3.2 million of us, will have to plant at least two trees just to replace the trees destroyed by what has been deemed “the costliest thunderstorm in U.S. history” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

The destruction is immense. In a Des Moines Register article on Sept. 17, 2021, reporter Donnelle Eller detailed an Iowa Natural Resources report on the extent of the derecho damage. “Iowa lost an estimated 7.2 million trees in cities and farms when last year’s hurricane-force derecho swept across the state,” she wrote. Daniel Perrault of TV station KWWL in Cedar Rapids interviewed Iowa DNR Disaster Recovery Coordinator Nick McGrath on Sept. 15, 2021, about recovery from the effects of the derecho. McGrath estimated that “it will take 30 to 60 years to get the ecosystem back to something close to what it was before the storm.” 

McGrath gave some direction to those of us who wish to plant trees. He said the DNR encourages all Iowans to plant new native trees to help the ecosystem recover. (The DNR state forest nursery gives out seedlings.)  He also said that “utility companies Alliant, Black Hills Energy, and Mid-American are funding some grants, and Trees Forever has held several tree adoption events.” In my research, I read that the Iowa Arboretum and Gardens in Madrid lost about 40 per cent of its collection and launched a “ReLeaf campaign this year. 

These are some starting points for those who also feel called to replace the trees that the winds destroyed. (Let me know about your tree-planting efforts!) If your focus is elsewhere, what is your call to action? 

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the following: What am I being called to do to make this world a more peaceful place for all?

FOR GROUP STUDY:

      1.   Read aloud Session CIX.

      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 2021

District News & Announcements

September 2021

“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.

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. In Our Prayers: Don Butler (1933-2021)
  2. Camp Pine Lake News
  3. 2021 District Conference Report, Business Overview, and Board Reorganization
  4. Introducing 2022 District Conference Theme
  5. Patrick Jackson Installation in Cedar Rapids: October 10
  6. Continuing Education Courses
  7. Holiness in our Midst
  8. Leadership Development Musings
  9. Dick Burger Honored at the Iowa State Fair
  10. Paul Shaver Called to Bethany Seminary, Concludes Ministry with Ivester
  11. BVS Volunteers Needed
  12. Congregational Newsletters

Quick info

Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: Participants gather over zoom for our virtual District Conference.  Photo by Paul Shaver. Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 108

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION CVIII: ON LIFE-CHANGING WORDS

Story Circle Prompt: Share some words that were life-changing for you. Who spoke them? Where were you at the time? What happened because of them?

It was only a two-minute happening 14 or 15 years ago, yet it has had lifelong instructive value. The scene was a parking lot outside of a guest house in Daytona Beach, FL. I was attending a National Council of Churches event, a meeting of the Education and Leadership Ministries Commission. My role was to represent mission educators among leaders of other interest areas. Gathered with a group that was going out to eat, I was catching up with an ecumenical colleague and continuing the conversation as we got into a car. The person driving, who was representing community churches, asked me a question: “Janis, do you mind reframing your conversation so that all of us can participate?” I was quietly called out for conducting a side conversation in a group setting. All during the meeting, participants were asked to be conscious of others when we were around tables. We were encouraged to sit with people we did not know well and were given thoughtful questions that everyone could participate fully in.  (Perhaps, this column was born in those hours.) New friendships all around were formed during that weekend. 

The parking lot encounter in Florida also awakened me to the toxicity of exclusion, no matter how commonplace, innocently conducted or socially acceptable the practice of engaging in private conversations in public. (Spaces for closed conversations can be easily arranged.) Especially now, when the pandemic carries with it inherent isolation, I find myself thinking about including others at work, community gatherings and even in grocery lines. On one hand, the consequences of unchecked deliberate exclusion can be devastating, ranging from hurt feelings to covert bullying if there in a power differential between the persons. On the other, the results of intentional inclusion can be awakening, enlightening and life changing.

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the following: Share the story behind words that changed your life. 
  1. FOR GROUP STUDY:

      1.   Read aloud Session CVIII.

      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 – August 2021

District News & Announcements

August 2021

“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 August 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. 2021 DISTRICT CONFERENCE: AUGUST 6-8, 2021
  2. DC Young Adult Worship Service
  3. Camp Pine Lake News
  4. Panora Pancake Breakfast & Ice cream social
  5. Disaster Ministries Building Project, King Lake, NE
  6. Continuing Education Courses
  7. Holiness in our Midst
  8. Leadership Development Musings
  9. National Youth Conference 2022
  10. Feeding America campaign for the Northern Plains District
  11. NOAC Scholarships
  12. CoB Olympic Athletes
  13. Congregational Newsletters

Quick info

Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: Campers and counselors acting silly.  Photo by Betsy Kuecker. Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 107

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION CVII: ON HORIZON-EXPANDING EXPERIENCES

Story Circle Prompt: Do you have a horizon-expanding experience (or experiences) to share?

This question is inspired by an event that happened Tuesday, July 20, 2021. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and of spaceflight company Blue Origin, flew into suborbital space with other civilian passengers in a rocket named New Shepard. Upon landing, he was interviewed by NBC’s Stephanie Ruhle about the horizon-expanding experience. 

“It’s amazing. There are no words. I’m not talented enough to put this into words. When you look at the planet, there are no borders,” Bezos said. “It’s one planet, and we share it and it’s fragile.”

He added: “We have to build a road to space so that our kids and their kids can build a future. We live on this beautiful planet. You can’t imagine how thin the atmosphere is when you see it from space.” (Personal note to Mr. Bezos: Hopefully, you can use some of your resources to make our lovely Earth a cleaner, safer, more equitable place. Note to self: Same message.)

Bezos’ reactions to his flight touched me and prompted me to contemplate my own horizon-expanding experiences. Three came to mind:

  1. When I was in my early twenties, I was a reporter for the Canton (IL) Daily Ledger. A trainer at a skydiving center in Peoria offered to pay for my jump school if I would write about the experience. I went for it! I jumped out of a small aircraft. From 10,000 feet above an Illinois field, I could see a big X where I would land. But all my fears suddenly turned to joy. I hadn’t anticipated the life-changing impact of a minute of free-falling. I hummed “Up, Up and Away” by the group, The 5th Dimension:

Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon
Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon
We could float among the stars together, you and I
For we can fly, we can fly

Caught up in the flying part, I landed with quite a thud, but also with a wider perspective on adventuring through life.

  1. In my early twenties, I was on a vacation trip to the Everglades. I was awakened in my motel room well past midnight by some primal force. I sat on the floor and looked out the large plate glass window into another eon. I was made aware that the world was millions of years old and would be here long after I was gone. The deep, dark, mysterious jungle-y beauty of the Everglades was lit by moonlight. I felt connected to the Earth in a once-in-a-lifetime way. Past, present and future problems seemed insignificant. I stayed there, transported, for a long, long time.
  1. In 2002, I was on a night flight over the Sahara Desert from Amsterdam enroute to southern Sudan. For hours, I could see nothing but a few pinpoints of light. The vastness and darkness of the beautiful ancient land of Africa seeped into my soul and stayed. 

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the question: Have you ever received “postcards” from God? What were the images or messages?
  2. FOR GROUP STUDY:

      1.   Read aloud Session CVII.

      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.