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District News & Announcements

May 2019

"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.

In this issue

  1. Global Women's Project Mother's Gratitude Project
  2. Spring Women's Retreat: May 2-4 & Speaker Carol Leland: May 3rd
  3. An Ecumenical Prayer for Peace in Kansas City: May 15th
  4. Camp Updates & Manchester Choir Concert: May 21st
  5. Ivester Garage & Bake Sale: June 1st
  6. Ethics for Set-Apart Ministry: Basic Course training on June 1st
  7. National Older Adult Conference
  8. District Conference Updates
  9. Holiness in our Midst
  10. Leadership Development Musings
  11. Witness Service Projects
  12. Todd Yeaton, Fredericksburg Pastor, to Retire
  13. COB Uganda Pastor Bwambale's Easter Greeting
  14. Congregational Newsletters
Quick info
Calendar of Events | District Staff & Leadership Contacts | Documents & Resources

Banner photo: A group of singers share a piece of music at the Ankeny Stover music festival.  Photo by Barbara Wise Lewczak. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

1. Global Women’s Project’s Mother’s Day Gratitude Project

Kim Hill Smith, Global Women's Project

Each Spring, Global Women’s Project kicks off our annual Mother’s Day Gratitude Project – an opportunity for you to honor a woman you know and love by celebrating and supporting women around the world. Instead of buying more material gifts for your loved one, express your gratitude with a gift that keeps on giving. In return, your chosen recipient(s) will receive a lovely, hand-written card indicating that a gift has been made in her honor, with a brief description of GWP.
To participate in the Mother’s Day Gratitude Project, mail your donation to:
Global Women’s Project
c/o Kim Hill Smith
5315 36th Ave. S. 
Minneapolis, MN 55417

(write checks to GWP) 
Remember to include your name(s) and recipient’s name and address. You may also make memorial donations, which will be listed on our website: www.globalwomensproject.wordpress.com.
Gratitude cards will be mailed in time for Mother’s Day if you send your request to Kim by May 1st, 2019. After that date, they will be sent out as soon as possible.
This Mother’s Day, share a gift in honor of a woman you know and in honor of women in Togo, Mexico, India, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, and the United States, who are improving the lives of people in their communities.

2. Spring Women's Retreat: May 2-4 & Speaker Carol Leland: May 3rd

LaDonna Brunk, Ivester COB
labrunk@heartofiowa.net | 319-328-6063

Spring District Women's Retreat at Ivester COB

Thursday May 2 (1:00) to Saturday May 4 (3:00)

Ivester Church is hosting with overnight lodging in a couple local homes.

Donations will be accepted for use of the church and lodging.

Meals will be served for $7 each.  

We have room for more women to join the retreat on Friday thru Sunday.
Call LaDonna asap at 319-382-6063.

Also people of all ages and genders are invited to hear Carol Leland Friday evening May 3rd at 7:00 at Ivester as she shares about her learning tour of the southern US border. Donations will be accepted and refreshments and fellowship time will follow her sharing.

Voices from the Desert 
From the lens of a borderland peace delegation, we examined how immigration reform does and does not impact our neighbors, and ourselves. We met some of those directly affected by public policy: Migrants, local residents, activist, law enforcement personal. We walked the desert trails, visited sites which included shelter centers, human resource centers, cooperatives, traveling back and forth across the border each day. Listen to their voices.

3. An Ecumenical Prayer for Peace in Kansas City: May 15th

Paul Cesare, Peace Coordinator at First Central Church of the Brethren

We hope you are able to join an ecumenical gathering of people on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, for a ceremony related to the 2019 International Conscientious Objection Day.   A special focus of this gathering will be to dedicate engraved stones remembering those who, in the spirit of two cherished Bible passages (Isaiah 2:4 and Luke 19:42), were conscientious objectors of WW1.  The memorial stones will be placed on the premises of the nation's only World War 1 Museum and Memorial, at the entrance, near those stones already dedicated by the Hutterites in 2017 at the Remembering Muted Voices Symposium (https://www.theworldwar.org/learn/remembering-muted-voices).

Please join us to remember in our present age the values we still hold dear as Christians interwoven with the gospel message of non-violence and reconciliation.  Although entrance to the ceremony is free and open to the public, we would prefer you RSVP at: https://my.theworldwar.org/4216  

Following is information about the event.  A program is forthcoming with additional detail.  For questions, please contact Paul Cesare, Peace Coordinator at First Central Church of the Brethren, by e-mail at peacecoordinator@hotmail.com  

An Ecumenical Prayer for Peace & Recognition of All Who Served During World War I 
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
6:00 - 7:00 pm.
The World War 1 Museum and Memorial
Paul Sunderland Bridge
2 Memorial Drive, Kansas City, MO 64108

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4. Camp Updates & Manchester Choir Concert: May 21st

Abbey Beck Brunk, Camp Director
(641) 939-5334 | camppinelakedirector@gmail.com
Barbara Wise Lewczak, Camp Program Director
(515) 240-0060bwlewczak@minburncomm.net

Manchester University A Cappella choir and Chamber Singers Concert Tour

Come enjoy excellent music at beautiful Camp Pine Lake with a time of fellowship with the Choir members and CPL staff.  Concert starts at 7pm.  Print a flyer for your congregation here.

Camp Updates

Thank you to everyone who attended Camp Clean up day on April 6th. We are so thankful for the work that was done and for the time of fellowship in our beautiful space. 

Donation List:
Outdoor volleyball net (1)
Ping Pong Paddles (4)
Fishing poles (5)
Mini Fridge (1)
Microwave (1)
Outdoor furniture for Timberline (?)
*If you would like to donate please contact the director to arrange a time to bring to camp as we only need specific amounts for each item and not enough storage space for mass quantities.

We are getting so close to camping season and we are excited to see registrations starting to come in. Please register as soon as possible to help us with our planning. All registrations will be online this year, if you have any questions or concerns please contact the director at camppinelakedirector@gmail.com or the program director at 515-240-0060 or bwlewczak@minburncomm.net  If you have a first time camper or your camper belongs to a church that has scholarships, please contact your pastor or the camp director for discount codes.

Remember we are having Day Camp at CPL June 17-21 and would like to see as many CoB campers within short driving distance attend as possible. 

Last but certainly not least, we have had a few donations towards our bible fund and we are so excited to see it might be possible to do this year. Our goal is to give each camper a bible which has been carefully chosen by our program director and deans. If you would like to assist in the purchasing of these Bibles, please mark it as such on your donation.

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5. Ivester Garage & Bake Sale: June 1st

Jennie Barwick & Christine Sheller, Ivester COB

Ivester Church’s 5th Annual Garage/Bake Sale will be Sat. June 1.  We will be open 9-1, as usual, at Ivester Church of the Brethren, 25056 E Ave., Grundy Center, IA.  The only major change is we will not sell clothing this year.  We invite the district to share in this fundraiser for flood relief for western Iowa/ Council Bluffs and Omaha areas!  

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6. Ethics for Set-Apart Ministry: Basic Course training on June 1st

Fran Massy, Brethren Academy

The Brethren Academy is offering a training session with the new ethics material, Ethics for Set-Apart Ministry: Basic Course, created by James Benedict.  This webcast training is for newly licensed ministers and others seeking basic clergy ethics training.  The webcast will be held June 1 from 10:00-4:00 EST with a break for lunch.  Registration deadline is May 21st.

View flyer & registration here.

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7. National Older Adult Conference: September 2-6

Christy Waltersdorff, NOAC Coordinator

Church of the Brethren National Older Adult Conference
September 2-6, 2019
Lake Junaluska, North Carolina


** NOAC is a spirit-filled gathering of adults who love learning and discerning together, exploring God’s call for their lives and living out that call by sharing their energy, insight, and legacy with their families, communities, and the world.

** Registration Information:

  • General Registration will open May 1.

  • Please register online if you are able to do so. You can find the link at brethren.org/NOAC.

  • If you need a paper registration form, please call 1-800-323-8039, ext. 302 and leave a message.

  • Early registration for those who need to reserve a room in Terrace (handicap accessible, close to events) will be open April 22-30.

  • Registration fee before July 15 is $195. $20 off for first time attendees.


** Worship Services every day with Church of the Brethren preachers: Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm, Jennifer Keeney Scarr, Jeanne Davies, Walt Wiltschek, Dennis Webb.

** Keynote Speakers Sister Joan Chittister, Professor Drew Hart, Musician Ken Medema and Actor Ted Swartz.

** NOAC News Team, Dave, Larry, and Chris will once again provide informative and humorous “news” reports each day.

** Interest groups every afternoon on a variety of topics.

** Arts and Crafts opportunities.

** Day Trips to the Biltmore Estate, Basilica of St. Lawrence and Ashville Botanical Gardens, Carl Sandburg Home and Farm, Arboretum of North Carolina, Museum of the Cherokee Indian, and a Hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway. You can sign up for day trips when you register.

** Service Projects include reading with students at the Lake Junaluska Elementary School. We will be collecting books to donate to the school. Please bring your favorite children’s books to donate. We will also assemble 1000 Hygiene Kits.

** Afternoon Programs will include the J Creek Cloggers, Birds of Prey, and an organ recital/ hymn sing led by Jonathan Emmons and Bev Anspaugh.

** Welcome Festival Monday afternoon (9/2) with games, music, tie dying, and fellowship.

** Fundraising Walk around the lake.

** Talent Nights on Tuesday and Thursday nights.* Exhibit Hall with information about Church of the Brethren and related agencies and organizations.

** Brethren Press Bookstore with book signings by our Keynote Speakers.

** Recreational Activities include garden walks, boat rides on the lake, walking trails, tennis, swimming pool, Fitness Center, golf.

** Early Morning Bible Studies led by Nancy Sollenberger Heishman and Fred Bernhard.

** Morning Bible Study led by Paula Bowser.

** Lodging at Lake Junaluska must be reserved through the Lake Junaluska rental office at 800-222-4930 ext. 1.

** District Buses are coming from several districts. Contact your District Office for more information.

** NOAC Planning Team includes: Glenn Bollinger, Karen Dillon, Rex Miller, Pat Roberts, Paula Ziegler Ulrich, Christy Waltersdorff (Coordinator), Josh Brockway (Discipleship Ministries staff), and Stan Dueck (Discipleship Ministries staff).

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8. District Conference Updates & Announcements

Ida Van Westen, District Conference Support

Announcing our speakers for the 2019 District Conference:

Friday evening preacher:
Michaela Alphonse, Pastor at Miami First (FL) COB

Saturday evening preacher:
Daniel Butler, District Conference Moderator

Sunday morning preacher:
Josh Brockway, Denominational Director of Spiritual Formation

Remember that all of the documents and current information about District Conference can be found on our website at www.nplains.org/dc2019

9. Holiness in our Midst - On Rebirth

Janis Pyle


When and where have you been a witness to transformed community?

It is no secret that our political system is deeply divided, “wretchedly so,” according to a recent cable news commentator. It takes enormous energy just to engage in everyday conversations across differing viewpoints, let alone create events and make decisions that awaken entire communities or congregations. Therefore, in the spirit of continuing Resurrection Life after Easter Sunday, it is helpful to share examples of transformative community building. Lately an event keeps resurfacing as I look for models powerful enough to inform and influence the current partisan debates…

Ever see an organization being birthed? It is something to behold! I was in Toronto in the early 2000s as a member of the Program Committee on Education for Mission, a ministry of the National Council of Churches. (I was coordinator for mission connections for the Church of the Brethren.) Our group was invited to the ceremonial dedication of a new Canadian organization, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives. Ten struggling inter-church coalitions were blended into one new organization in a church service conducted in both French and English. Liturgical dancers held strips of cloth representing the entities that could no longer exist as fund-raising entities on their own. The dancers wove the strips of cloth into a tapestry that was placed on the altar and dedicated. It was a bittersweet occasion because there was loss of administrative personnel and individual identity from the disbanding of previous coalitions. But there was the joy of survival for the joint venture, administered by the United Church of Canada. KAIROS has thrived; it campaigns for human rights and social justice in the areas of prophetic witness; ecological justice; and gender, migrant and Indigenous rights. Its formation is an example of a successful holy compromise!

To research this example of rebirth, I looked up the current KAIROS organization online. In a full circle experience, I came across a beautiful fund-raising video by Jennifer Henry, executive director, inviting persons to look for evidences of new life all around us. Her documented examples were from nature and groups fighting against the odds for social change. (See kairoscanada.org.)

Story Circle Prompt: Where do you see examples of rebirth and new life in this post-Easter season?

1.  Read the above reflection. In your journal, list energizing personal examples of mini-resurrections, drawing from your Lenten experience and the spring season. 
1.   Read aloud Session LXXX. 
2.   Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt. 

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.

[View on our website]

[Past Sessions]

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10. Leadership Development Musings

Barbara Wise Lewczak, Minister of Leadership Development
bwlewczak@minburncomm.net | 515-240-0060
Laura Leighton-Harris, Minister of Leadership Development
ontheshortside@hotmail.com | 712-322-1872

In reviewing and discussing what we have done thus far in this capacity, Barbara and I think maybe it is time to focus more on being a resource catalogue regarding Leadership Development for the various ministry contexts in our district. That being said, we would share about upcoming webinars, conferences, seminars that focus on this topic and how it can be implemented in that ministry context. We also would like to do an Insight Session at District Conference on Gifts Discernment as we wonder if folks know what this really is and how it can be beneficial in a congregation, a fellowship, a project and how it might answer those questions of being a traditional board structure or a leadership team design and truly discerning people’s gifts in their ministry context.

As always though, we are open to coming to your congregation, fellowship, and or project to visit about leadership development and/or gifts discernment as well as provide resources for further discussion with your board or leadership team. We are also available by phone and email.

Blessings on your ministries in the Northern Plains District
Laura & Barbara

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11. Witness Service Projects

Diane Sittig, Witness Comission

CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets will be collected at District Conference in August 2019.   See the list below.  Cash donations are also welcome for processing/shipping.

- One five-gallon bucket with resealable lid (if used, clean well but do not use if it has held chemicals of any kind)
- Four scouring pads
- Seven sponges, including one large
- One scrub brush
- Eighteen reusable cleaning towels (e.g. Easy Wipes)
- One 50 oz or two 25 oz bottles of liquid laundry detergent
- One 16-28 oz bottle of liquid disinfectant dish soap
- One 12-16 oz bottle of household cleaner that can be mixed with water (no spray bottles)
- One package of 48-50 clothespins
- Clothesline, two 50 ft or one 100 ft
- Five dust masks
- Two pair heavy duty, waterproof dishwashing gloves (latex-free, nonsurgical)
- One pair work gloves, cotton with leather palm or all leather
- 24-28 heavy duty or contractor type 30-45 gallon trash bags on a roll and removed from carton
- One 6-9 oz bottle of non-aerosol insect repellent.  

All items must be new--all liquid items must be capped and securely tightened.  Place all items into the bucket, making sure they are packed securely to avoid damage during shipment.  Snap the lid on tight and seal with packing tape.
Value: $75.00
Processing Fee:  $3.00 per bucket.
Shipping is expensive--We ask that our donors help cover a small amount of this cost.  You can cover these fees online at (https://cwskits.org/cws-kits-transport-and-processing/)

Flood Relief
If you would like to help flood victims of recent floods in Iowa and Nebraska, here are a couple ways to help:

1.  Cleanup Buckets are needed--If your congregation wants to prepare them before District Conference, they can be delivered to the West Des Moines Christian Church, 4501 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines, IA   50265, 515-223-1639

2.  Cash Donations may be sent to Brethren Disaster Ministries at 601 Main St, PO Box 188, New Windsor, MD  21776-0188 or to the Salvation Army 715 N 16th St Council Bluffs, IA  51501 

12. Todd Yeaton, Fredericksburg Pastor, to Retire

Tim Button-Harrison, District Executive

In November 2011, Todd Yeaton began serving as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist and Brethren Church in Fredericksburg, Iowa.  Last month, Todd announced he will retire the end of May.  Todd is an ordained American Baptist minister.  He graduated from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary (Oak Brook, IL).  Before serving Fredericksburg, he pastored American Baptist congregations in Indianola and Des Moines, IA, and Tecumseh, Nebraska. His wife, Ruth, is also an ordained American Baptist minister.  She retired last year after serving First Baptist of Charles City.  At the gathering of Brethren Pastors on April 11th Todd and Ruth received a special prayer and blessing from those assembled.  Todd has been a regular at the Brethren pastors meetings as well as at District Conference.   Cards or notes of appreciation and retirement well wishes may be sent to Todd and Ruth Yeaton, 604 N. Grand Ave., Charles City, IA 50616 or emailed to Todd at crescorev@hotmail.com

13. COB Uganda Pastor Bwambale's Easter Greeting

Gordon Hoffert, Lewiston COB

On our recent trip to Uganda, Jess and I were able to meet with Pastor Bwambale Sedrack, who is planting Church of the Brethren congregations there. We videoed his Easter greeting.

Click here to view the video.

14. Congregational Newsletters

In addition to the monthly District Newsletter, some of our churches have their own newsletters!  Check out what these congregations are up to this month:

Ivester Church of the Brethren
Panther Creek Church of the Brethren
South Waterloo Church of the Brethren

If your church has a newsletter that's not listed here, make sure to forward it to communications@nplains.org.

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Calendar of Events


  • May 2-4 - Spring District Women's Retreat, Ivester COB
  • May 2 - Voices from the Desert: Presentation by Carol Leland, Ivester COB, 7pm
  • May 4 – District Conference Planning Committee, Church on Northland, 2 pm
  • May 5 – National Youth Sunday
  • May 15 – Due Date for District Conference Booklet Reports to Ida Van Westen
  • May 15 - An Ecumenical Prayer for Peace, 6pm @ the WWI Museum and Memorial, Kansas City, MO
  • May 19-27 - District Executive on vacation
  • May 21 - Manchester University Choir Concert, Camp Pine Lake, 7pm
  • May 24-26, Brethren Young Adult Conference, Camp Blue Diamond
  • June 1 - Ivester Garage & Bake Sale
  • June 3 – District Conference Planning Committee, 7 pm
  • June 11 – Church Development and Renewal Committee, 6:30 pm
  • June 13 – Waterloo Area Brethren Pastors, Golden China, 12 pm
  • June 14-16 – National Junior High Conference, Elizabethtown, PA
  • June 15 – All Camp Staff Training, Camp Pine Lake, 9:30 am – 5:00 pm
  • June 16 – Installation of Pastor Mark Godfrey, Panther Creek COB, 10:30 am
  • June 17-21 – Day Camp, location, CPL Campus
  • June 28 – Primary Overnight Camp, Camp Pine Lake
  • June 30-July 3 – Council of District Executives Summer Meeting
  • July 3-7 – Annual Conference, Greensboro, NC
  • July 15-20 – Senior Youth Camp, Camp Pine Lake
  • July 22-27 – Junior Youth Camp, Camp Pine Lake
  • July 26-27 - Growing Hope Globally Annual Meeting, Conrad, IA
  • July 28-August 1 – Middler Camp, Camp Pine Lake
  • August 2-4 – Northern Plains District Conference, Cedar Rapids Baptist/Brethren
  • August 30 - Sept 2 - All Ages Camp, Camp Pine Lake
  • September 2-6National Older Adult Conference, Lake Junaluska, NC
  • September 7-8 – Panther Creek COB 150th Celebration
  • September 19-20 – Ministers Retreat, Camp Pine Lake
  • September 22-25 – Spiritual Renewal Circuit Ride, 6 pm supper, 7 pm worship
    - Sept. 22 at Prairie City COB
    - Sept. 23 at English River COB
    - Sept. 24 at Ottumwa Brethren/Baptist
    - Sept. 25 at Fairview COB
  • September 21 – Ministerial Ethics Training, Camp Pine Lake
  • October 13-17 – Western District Executives Annual Retreat
  • November 1 – District Executive Committee, location tbd
  • November 2 – District Board, location tbd
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District Staff & Leadership

Tim Button-Harrison, District Executive
1211 Clark Ave, Ames, IA 50010
(641) 485-5604 | de@nplains.org

Hannah Button-Harrison, Director of Communications
(515) 460-5365communications@nplains.org

Ida Van Westen, District Conference Support
(507) 478-4552dc-support@nplains.org

Laura Leighton-Harris
TRIM Coordinator
Co-Minister of Leadership Development
(402) 595-0716ontheshortside@hotmail.com

Barbara Lewczak
Camp Pine Lake Program Director/Pastor
Co-Minister of Leadership Development
(515) 240-0060bwlewczak@minburncomm.net
Daniel Butler, Moderator, 2019 District Conference
(319) 939-1526 | bagona@yahoo.com

Lucinda Douglas, Moderator Elect, 2019 District Conference
(712) 204-8950nightowl21@q.com

Beth Cage, District Board President
(507) 932-5598 | marble@hbcsc.net

Gordon Hoffert, Chair of Camp Pine Lake Joint Committee
(507) 454-1503 | ghoffert@hbci.com
Rhonda Bingman, Financial Secretary
820 Raven Lane Madrid, IA 50156
(515) 480-7017 | jbingman@mchsi.com 

Matthew Kuecker, Camp Pine Lake Property Manager
(641) 640-1931 | matthewkuecker@yahoo.com 

Abbey Beck Brunk, Camp Pine Lake Director
(641) 939-5334 | camppinelakedirector@gmail.com

Aaron Beck Brunk, Camp Pine Lake Chef 
(641) 858-6950 | aarono_bb@hotmail.com

Cluster Ministers:

Diane Mason
(641) 895-7661 | rdmason@netins.net

Tim Peter
(515) 577-3926 | peter.timothy@gmail.com 
(currently discerning new cluster ministers)
Rhonda Pittman Gingrich
(612) 926-9460 | rpgingrich@yahoo.com

Roger Peckover
(507) 458-2517 | peckover@luminet.net


Barbara Wise Lewczak
(515) 240-0060 | bwlewczak@minburncomm.net
Lucinda Douglas
(712) 204-8950 | nightowl21@q.com

Ida Van Westen
(507) 478-4552 | sivanwesten@gmail.com

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Documents and Resources

Recent Newsletters


District Membership Task Force Resources

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