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District News & Announcements – February 2022

District News & Announcements

February 2022

“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.

Trouble viewing pictures and videos? 
Click here to view the newsletter in your browser.

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In this issue

  1. February 15th Northern Plains Insight Session
  2. District Executive Sabbath Renewal
  3. National Young Adult Conference: May 27-30
  4. National Youth Conference: July 23 – 28 
  5. Camp Pine Lake News
  6. Continuing Education Courses
  7. Moderator Moment
  8. Holiness in our Midst
  9. Leadership Development Musings
  10. Annual Conference: Information Sent to Congregations
  11. Ushering at Annual Conference
  12. Congregational Newsletters

Quick info

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

Banner photo: Another witty sign at Panther Creek Church of the Brethren.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 113

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION CXIII: ON MAKING A ‘DONE LIST’

Story Circle Prompt: What is on your “done list” for today? Last week? Last year?

Lately, I’ve been under the influence of the book Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021). Its premise, stated on the jacket flap, is clear: “The average human lifespan is absurdly, insultingly brief. Assuming you live to be eighty, you have just over four thousand weeks.”

The above question is inspired by one of the “Ten Tools to Embrace Your Finitude” explained in the final chapter. Tool Number Four reads: “Focus on what you have already completed, not just on what’s left to complete.” Burkeman suggests keeping a “done list” rather than a “to do” list (p. 239). That idea of tracking accomplishments has caught hold in my life. The “to do” list is not a thing of my past, but its tyrannical hold has lessened. A newfound consciousness of my days being numbered has even infiltrated my prayer life. I now ask God how I can approach each day with more reverence.

To answer the Story Circle Prompt: On my “done list” for this day (Jan. 27, 2022) is the note: “Kept up by phone with sisters Janet and Jill.” Last week I cleaned my house, served almost 300 meals to residents in assisted living and finally wrote my Christmas thank you notes. Last year, I entered a three-year spiritual formation course of study called Prairiefire, offered through the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center; wrote a series for the Ames (IA) Tribune, which I informally call my Coronavirus Chronicles; and savored significant friendships.  

What is on your “done list?”

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the following: What is on my done list” for last year? How can I build on these accomplishments as I plan this year? How can I approach my days with more reverence?

FOR GROUP STUDY: 

 1.   Read aloud Session CXIII.

  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 2022

District News & Announcements

January 2022

“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.

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. District Youth Lock-In: January 15-16
  2. January 18th Northern Plains Insight Session
  3. Jesus in the Neighborhood Grants
  4. Camp Pine Lake News
  5. Continuing Education Courses
  6. Moderator Moment
  7. Holiness in our Midst
  8. Leadership Development Musings
  9. Quilt Blocks for Annual Conference
  10. Maria’s Kit of Comfort Books
  11. 2022 Prayer Calendars
  12. Congregational Newsletters

Quick info

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

Banner photo: Beautiful sunrise over the Prairie City Church of the Brethren.  Photo by Phyllis Peter.  Send in your photos for future newsletters!  Email communications@nplains.org.

Holiness in our Midst: Session 112

Holiness in our Midst

SESSION CXII: ON KEEPING CHRISTMAS

Story Circle Prompt: How can you keep Christmas, that is, the spirit of goodwill, throughout the New Year? 

I was writing my 2021 Christmas “thank you” notes when a Salvation Army commercial came on about keeping Christmas going after the holidays. Thus, the inspiration for this question and my answer. To “keep Christmas,” I will think of myself as a living, breathing thank you note whenever I am served by clerks and waiters or as a walking grace note when I serve residents in my assisted living workplace. Perhaps this simple plan will do as much to change the world as taking on a new cause or practice in my already-busy schedule. I’m looking forward to finding out. How can you keep Christmas alive during the New Year?

FOR PERSONAL/JOURNAL REFLECTION:

  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the following: How will I keep the spirit of Christmas alive during the New Year?

FOR GROUP STUDY: 

 1.   Read aloud Session CXII.

  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.

2021 Advent Calendar

District Advent Calendar 2021

Church Events:
Church of the Brethren at Ankeny
Fairview COB
Ivester COB
Open Circle COB
Panora COB
Panther Creek COB
Prairie City COB
South Waterloo COB

Please contact each church if you have questions about the programs mentioned below.

Other News:
Northern Plains Insight Session: December 21
National Youth Conference Early Bird Registration
2022 Prayer Calendars

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.

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. 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.