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District News & Announcements

January 2020

"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.

Get a printable version of the newsletter here.

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In this issue

1. Correction: Celebrating New Life: Justus Paul Mauslein
2. 2020 Prayer Calendars
3. District Executive Sabbath Renewal Plan 2020
4. Camp Pine Lake Fundraising for Camp Scholarships
5. Employment Opportunities at Camp Pine Lake
6. Continuing Education Courses
7. Message from the Moderator
8. Holiness in our Midst - On Being Loved
9. Leadership Development Musings
10. New Northern Plains Cluster Ministers
11. Church of the Brethren signs 'Faith Statement on Escalating Violence with Iran'
12. Congregational Newsletters

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

Banner photo: Picture from the 1908 Church of the Brethren annual conference that was held in Des Moines on the 200th anniversary of the church.  Photo by I.U. Ikenherry from Adel. Send in your photos for future newsletters! Email communications@nplains.org.

1. Correction: Celebrating New Life: Justus Paul Mauslein

Tim Button-Harrison, District Executive
de@nplains.org | 641-485-5604

Our article in December misspelled the name of Caitlin Mauslein.  Below is the corrected version.

We join the family of Dane and Caitlin Mauslein in celebrating the birth of their son, Justus Paul, on November 2, 2019.  Dane is pastor of the Hammond Avenue Brethren Church in Waterloo where he has served since January 2018.  Notes or cards sharing our joy in the birth of Justus Paul may be sent to Dane and Caitlin Mauslein, 1614 Hammond Avenue, Waterloo, IA 50702.

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2. 2020 Northern Plains District Prayer Calendars

Tim Button-Harrison, District Executive
de@nplains.org | 641-485-5604

One of the most important things we do is pray for one another.  Our district-wide prayer ministry started in 2007 with churches praying for each other on a weekly basis following a special prayer made for each church.  We encourage you to especially pray for the pastors and church leaders and for the outreach and service ministries of our churches. 1. Print in your worship bulletin the sister church you are praying for each week and pray for that church during worship.  2. Send a card to the sister church you are praying for. 3. Publish your prayer calendar in your church newsletter. 4. Post your prayer calendar on a church bulletin board. 


Here are the 2020 Prayer Calendars.  Click on your church's name to access and download your prayer calendar.

Big Sky American Baptist/Brethren
Church of the Brethren at Ankeny
The Church on Northland
Common Spirit Project
Dallas Center Church of the Brethren
English River Church of the Brethren
Fairview Church of the Brethren
Greene Church of the Brethren
Hammond Avenue Brethren Church
Hands of Christ Project
Hillcrest Baptist/Brethren
Iowa River Church of the Brethren
Ivester Church of the Brethren
Lewiston Church of the Brethren
Libertyville Church of the Brethren
Living Peace Project
Monroe County Church of the Brethren
Open Circle Church of the Brethren
Panora Church of the Brethren
Panther Creek Church of the Brethren
Peace Church of the Brethren
Pickwick Community Church
Prairie City Church of the Brethren
Sheldon Church of the Brethren
South Waterloo Church of the Brethren
Worthington Church of the Brethren

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3. District Executive Sabbath Renewal Plan 2020

Tim Button-Harrison, District Executive
de@nplains.org | 641-485-5604

This year, following Church of the Brethren guidelines, and with approval from the District Board, I will set aside these dates for sabbath renewal: February 17-March 15; May 18-June 21; September 28-October 25.  During those time periods, Cluster Ministers will receive and handle specific needs that arise in their cluster.  Dave Kerkove, District Board President, will receive and handle general district needs that arise.  And neighboring District Executives and the Denomination’s Ministry Office will be asked to assist if needed.

My sabbath renewal plan includes spiritual renewal, physical exercise, vacationing with my spouse, house and farm projects, reading, writing and playing music.  My renewal will also have a study/action component which I described as follows to the District Board last November:

I believe the church, in every age, is called to see through the eyes of those who are the most hindered and hurt and impoverished among us.  Toward that end, in recent years, my attention and study have turned from the dominant voices around us, whose experiences and points of view are well known, to the muted, even silenced, voices, who are ignored, misunderstood, falsely accused, even vilified.  This all comes together for me in what is known as the Poor People’s Campaign (PPC): A National Call to Moral Revival.  By 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work as a civil rights leader had shifted to the Poor People’s Campaign.  But in that same year, he was assassinated, and the PPC faded away.  Then in the last several years, the Poor People’s Campaign revived under the leadership of Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis.  Today, it is “A National Call for Moral Revival focusing on the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.”  During this sabbath renewal time, I plan to focus my study and action toward increasing my knowledge of the five evils identified by the PPC, on understanding how these five evils intersect with each other, and on discerning the biblical, theological and moral convictions the church must name and proclaim if we are to witness faithfully and act effectively as the church in our time.  I plan to participate in the June 20, 2020 Poor People’s Campaign Assembly and Moral March on Washington.  I will also look for other workshops, conferences, projects, and study or action opportunities, related to these concerns, both locally and beyond, in which I can participate.

Please hold me in prayer as I plan and go through times of sabbath renewal during 2020.  Here’s a link if you want to learn more about the Poor People's Campaign: https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org.  Let me know if you’re interested in going with me to the June 20 March on Washington.  Also, I’m going to the Poor People's Campaign Mass Meeting this January 15th at 7 pm at First Christian Church, 2500 University Avenue, Des Moines.  Let me know if you’re interested in going with me.  The registration link is here.

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4. Camp Pine Lake Fundraising for Camp Scholarships

Betsy Kuecker and Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, Camp Pine Lake

“I love being barefoot. In my normal, day-to-day life, it’s like I’m always trying to fill somebody’s shoes. 

But when I’m at camp, it’s like I’m grounded to myself,
 and society has no effect on me.”



Eldora native Brayden Harris first came to Camp Pine Lake the summer after third grade. He joined the trial day camp with his buddy Gavin and returned for Middler a few weeks later. “Barbara (Wise Lewczak) called and said she wanted me to come to overnight camp,” said Harris. “The more I came, the more I wanted to come back.”

A senior involved in multiple sports, music and speech at South Hardin High School, Brayden has not missed his week at camp since third grade. This past summer, Brayden served as a counselor-in-training for both Middler and Junior Youth, coming at the last minute when additional help was needed. “I wanted to counsel because I felt I could do more good; I can see people grow up,” said Brayden. “I definitely want to do it again and hope to someday serve as summer staff.” 

Brayden feels his experience at Camp Pine Lake has been markedly different than youth activities through other denominations. “I felt the Brethren just accepted all, and no one judged me, even when I didn’t want to pray,” said Brayden. 

It’s this acceptance from staff and counselors, as well as the grounding experience of the camp itself, that have drawn Brayden back to camp each year. “I’ve made so many friends and become close with several families,” said Brayden. “I mean, I live for the meals and canoeing, but it’s the change of pace and just being there barefoot that gets me.”

Brayden’s years at Camp Pine Lake were made possible through the camp’s scholarship fund, and with your support, we can offer a camping experience to more children this season. One week of camp is approximately $200. Please consider contributing to the scholarship fund for the 2020 season. 

You can give by mailing a check to Camp Pine Lake  in the enclosed envelope. You can also give online using PayPal.

Additionally, our camps are only made possible through the work of dedicated volunteers. We welcome the gift of your talents and time at camp. Counseling, kitchen support, grounds -- there is always a place to serve. Contact camppinelakedirector@gmail.com to inquire about serving during the 2020 season.

Thank you for your continued support of Camp Pine Lake. 

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5. Employment Opportunities at Camp Pine Lake

Paul Neher, Camp Joint Committee Chair

CAMP DIRECTOR: Camp Pine Lake, a Church of the Brethren camp which borders Pine Lake State Park near Eldora, Iowa, is seeking an enthusiastic, multitalented individual to serve as Camp Director. The position is open as of January 1, 2020. The Camp Director position includes working with the camp board, general operation of the camp (including program, office and business management, personnel management, maintenance, etc.), district/public relations, and other responsibilities. In addition to hosting Church of the Brethren camps and events, Camp Pine Lake’s facilities are available for rental by other church groups, families, and individuals.  Qualifications for this position include strong hospitality, program, administrative and accounting skills, enthusiasm for the mission of Camp Pine Lake, leadership skills, a spirit of cooperation, and a desire to promote the ministries provided to the Northern Plains District through outdoor experiences. The Camp Director should be a committed Christian who supports the principles of the Church of the Brethren. A college degree is preferred, along with experience in Christian camping leadership, education, public relations, promotional activities, and communication.  Health benefits are not included, but a salary, on-site housing (in the form of a separate dwelling), and utilities are provided for the Camp Director. For more information, please call 641-751-0998.  To apply, send a cover letter and resumé to Camp Pine Lake, 23008 W Avenue, Eldora, IA 50627 or by email attachment to Camp Pine Lake Joint Committee Chair, Paul Neher, neherfamily@prairieinet.net.

SUMMER STAFF: Summer Staff at Camp Pine Lake do it all, from facilities to food to program. In the course of the season, Summer Staff learn what it takes to make camp happen. Half of the summer is spent facilitating camp for the Church of the Brethren campers, with a primary focus on program, and half of the summer is spent providing support and logistics for rental camps that utilize the Camp Pine Lake facility. As a small camp adjacent to Pine Lake State Park, we thrive on the creativity of all our staff and look to empower each Summer Staff member that comes to Camp Pine Lake.  Summer Staff arrive at camp somewhere around the last week of May or first week of June and work through the first week of August. If you are interested in a summer position for next season, please contact Camp Pine Lake at or by phone at 641-939-5334.  

Qualifications: The person filling this position:

1. Needs to respect the ministry of Camp Pine Lake and be willing to work toward the fulfillment of our Mission Statement.

2. Needs to have an understanding of their own faith journey and be on a track to continue to work at their faith during their time of employment.

3. Must be 19 years old and needs to be at least two years older than supervised campers. One full year out of high school. Work schedule and assignments will be determined by age.

4. Needs to have an attitude compatible with servant leadership.

5. Must be able to work with persons of all ages, and willing to work in all areas of operation.

6. Needs to have appropriate emotional maturity and stability.

7. Needs to accept the Responsibilities of Summer Staff.

KITCHEN STAFF: If you love to work as a team preparing great quality food for fun loving campers this job is for you.  Your responsibilities may include but are not limited to food preparation, dish washing, keeping kitchen organized and clean, food ordering, working with vendors and local food bank, and developing and planning healthy delicious meals.  Food service experience is not required but is a plus.  If you are interested in applying please contact Camp Pine Lake at or by phone at 641-939-5334.

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6. Continuing Education Courses, Winter/Spring 2020 



Saturday, February 29, 2020
Dustin Wilgers: “Examining the disconnect between society and the environment”

The environment is our home, and we rely heavily on it for all aspects of our lives. Technology is becoming so much a part of our everyday lives that some experience nature simply through images on a screen. Running items across the scanner, or clicking “Buy Now,” has made the purchase of products from foods to electronics to vehicles so easy, it comes often without a second thought—without thought of excess, of where these products come from in the first place, or of the natural and social environments impacted in the making of the products. This course will explore the disconnect between society and the environments on which we are so dependent and don’t even realize it anymore.

Saturday, March 21, 2020
Dan Ulrich: “Creation Care and the Gospel of John”

This course looks to the Gospel of John as a resource for renewing our love for God’s creation and overcoming complacency about the current environmental crisis. We will learn from John’s prologue that Jesus is the embodiment of the divine wisdom that gives light and life to all creation. The prologue can then serve as our guide for reading other portions of John, including stories where Jesus continues to work for the transformation of humanity and the healing of creation.

Saturday, April 18, 2020
Rhonda Pittman Gingrich: “Nurturing the spirit of the child without squelching the Spirit”

Jesus said, “Let the children come.”  In doing so, he invited children to enter into relationship with him and to participate in the practices of the community that gathered around him, thereby shaping their identity in new ways as beloved children of God.  As we seek to nurture the spiritual lives of our children, we can do no less. We will explore the cultural context that shapes the lives of children today (including nature deficit disorder); the innate spiritual capacity of children; spiritual styles and how they are embodied in children; and a variety of specific spiritual practices—individual and corporate—that can be used with children to help them notice and name God’s presence and activity in their lives and in the world around them, deepening their relationship with God. Following up on some of the other courses being offered this year, we will also explore the unique role of nature in nurturing the spiritual lives of children, for as author Ivy Beckwith notes, “it’s through nature that we (adults and children) see the creativity, imagination, and love of God for this world right in front of us.


Science and Faith
Instructor: Russell Haitch
April 29 – May 3, 2020
Bethany Theological Seminary
Registration Deadline: March 25, 2020
Brochure to come

The Reward of Risk: Church Planting and
Revitalization Emerging in Today’s Current Dynamics

Instructor:  Stan Dueck
May 13-15, 2020
Church Planting Conference, Elgin, IL
Registration Deadline:  April 8, 2020
Brochure to Come

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7. Message from the Moderator

Lucinda Douglas, 2020 District Conference Moderator

We are visiting our son, Colin in Janesville, WI. Christmas festivities are winding down and we start looking toward the New Year! I like to think of the New Year as a clean slate, ready to be filled with lots of activities, things to do, people to see and what kinds of possibilities there may be in store for us. I know of some of the plans for this new year and I look forward to them as well. Of course, there are many things I don’t know and adjustments will be made.
I’ve never really liked resolutions or the making of new year’s goals because I can’t seem to make them stick for longer than a couple of weeks at best! But, I would like to offer this litany as a sort of challenge for this new year. It was composed by Howard Thurman, an African-American theologian, educator, and civil rights leader.

"The Work of Christmas"
When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

The New Year is ahead of us. What can we do to help bring justice and peace to those that are displaced, lost, broken, hungry, prisoner and to help re-build the nations? These are ever the goals and ones we continue to strive toward. I may not be able to do all of these, but I will work toward what I can. I hope
you will do the same. It is the work of Christmas, after all. Happy New Year!

-Sister Moderator Lucinda Douglas 

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8. Holiness in our Midst - On Being Loved

Janis Pyle


Story Circle Prompt: Who loved you into being the person you are today?

In the movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” Esquire magazine writer Lloyd Vogel (played by Matthew Rhys) is assigned to do a profile on Fred Rogers (played by Tom Hanks), the gentle children’s TV star. Vogel wants to turn the piece into an exposé. But “Mr. Rogers” persists in encouraging the hard-driving investigative journalist to share his feelings, particularly his escalating anger toward a dismissive father. Vogel walks out on Rogers in one attempt. 

But after Vogel’s father suffers a heart attack, Vogel, tormented and confused, returns to Philadelphia to meet with Rogers. In a pivotal scene in a Chinese restaurant there, Rogers stuns Vogel (and the surrounding patrons) by asking him to spend one minute thinking about “the people who loved us into being,” as a means of encouraging him to forgive his dying father. My take-home from the movie was this powerful question, lingering long after the resolution of the father-son and writer-subject dramas.

So, I ask myself: Who loved me into being who I am today? (Note: It is easier to name the persons who hurt (or tried to silence) the essence of my being!) But two academic professionals from the University of Missouri College of Home Economics (now the College of Environmental Sciences) stand out. Both Veta Adams, assistant dean, and Dr. Virginia Fisher, director of the child development department, are long gone, but not forgotten. 

In the late Sixties, I was a transfer student forced to take dreaded home economics courses if I wanted to major in journalism. (“We don’t want you chasing ambulances for a living,” my family said.) I challenged the relevancy of the minutiae in every course and pointed out the inequities in requirements among home economics journalism majors. I clearly didn’t want to be there and soon came to the attention of the authorities. 

I was unceremoniously ushered into Mrs. Adams’ office and left there by my rather fussy advisor after I dared to question the importance of the college. Mrs. Adams shut the door and said, “Please call me ‘Veta,’” and smiled sincerely. She said, “You’re absolutely right. Our courses need to be re-vamped for the times.” That day I decided to stay in school and persevere with the coursework. Veta asked me if I wanted to work with her to create a club for home ec journalism majors. She opened her home for our meetings. “Janis,” she once said to me, “your problem is that you’re just too creative for your own good. We have to get you through the coursework and out there so you can make your mark on the world.” 

Early on in our friendship she told me: “You have to meet my friend Ginny. Dr. Virginia Fisher was equally non-conforming. She held strong ideas about children (and adults) needing their own sacred space. Her playground for preschoolers in the child development was an engineering marvel with its many spaces, shapes, nooks and crannies. I ended up taking as many courses as possible in her department. Together Veta and Ginny made it financially possible for me to attend a child development conference in Boston during my senior year. 

After I graduated, I spent many hours in their homes just sharing hopes, dreams and ideas. When I was ready for change, they recommended me for jobs with the blessing of the University of Missouri. One was food editor/feature writer for Today newspaper in Cape Canaveral, FL, the predecessor to USA Today. Later, I would be manager of food publicity for Quaker Oats Company in Chicago because of their advocacy.

Veta gave me the gift of unabashedly enjoying the freewheeling way I view the world. She did more than affirm my ability to write. She helped me focus my creative energy toward writing goals. For several years, I visited Ginny in Arrow Rock, MO during the town’s annual festival. I remember the wonder of learning to bake 20 pies one afternoon. My life-long love of regional folk music was born, as I watched her help a young couple, folk musicians, stage the cover photo for their first album. She was a visionary with more than a touch of quirkiness. “If you can think it, you can do it,” she said.

Veta and Ginny were life coaches before the concept existed. They “loved” my creative soul into being. And my creativity is still alive today, thanks to them. 

(Note: An endowment honors Veta Adams, a member of the MU faculty for 20 years. The award provides scholarships for students who show professional potential and who earn a part of their college expenses. Dr. Virginia Fisher was posthumously given a Distinguished Faculty award.)

1.   Read the above reflection. In your journal, answer the question: Who loved you into being the person you are today? 
2.  In the movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” Fred Rogers pulled puppets out of a suitcase and asks Esquire magazine writer Lloyd Vogel if he had a favorite stuffed animal or toy growing up. In your journal, write about your favorite “special friend?”

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

[View on our website]

[Past Sessions]

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9. 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

I’m a reflective person and I think it’s good to reflect on ourselves as individuals as to our areas of strengths and areas needing improvement in our personal as well as professional lives.

Leadership is, I believe, an area where there is always room for improvement. That being said, I invite you to reflect on these 5 questions as you begin to gather your board or leadership team in 2020.

  1. What went well? Did you try a new way of worship? Did more folks step in to help out in worship, events?

  2. What didn’t go so well? This question doesn’t mean that something was a complete failure, it may have been that, upon reflection, tweaking a few things would have made a difference.

  3. What changes need to be made? This might be changing the time of a service, an event, or program thus allowing more folks to be better able to attend. I remember at Peace COB, we moved our Maundy Love Feast Service to Sunday morning due to many of our folks not driving at night. It might entail changing from the traditional board format to a Leadership Team format. 

  4. What can be improved upon? Again, this does not always mean negative; with a few tweaks here and there-worship, Bible study, etc will be more inviting/flow better/allow for better attendance.

  5. What is something new for 2020? Maybe new folks in leadership/partnership with other church in the community/Something you haven’t done before/ Stepping out of our comfort zones to explore other possibilities for ministry.

So, ask your board or leadership team members to do some reflecting on these questions then take some time at your first meeting of 2020 to share and see what might be in store for your congregation, fellowship, your project, even our Northern Plains District Board as we begin a new in ministry across the Northern Plains.

Barbara and I are available should you have questions about Leadership Development and the ways this can be more effective in your ministry context.

Blessings upon your leadership and your ministry in this New Year.
Laura & Barbara

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10. New Cluster Ministers called by Northern Plains District

Tim Button-Harrison, District Executive
de@nplains.org | 641-485-5604

Sharon Heien, Dave Kerkove, Paul Shaver, Beth Cage and Laura Leighton-Harris have been called by the District to serve as Cluster Ministers.  They join five others who have served since 2013.  The District is sub-divided into five clusters with two Cluster Ministers serving each.  Cluster Ministers plan activities to strengthen ties between the congregations of their cluster.  They also help Pastors, church leaders, and the District Executive as needed.

Cluster 1 includes the English River, Libertyville, Monroe County, Fairview, Pickwick-Ottumwa and Prairie City congregations, as well as the Iowa City Brethren.  It will continue to be served by Tim Peter who is now joined by Sharon Heien.   Tim is Pastor of the Prairie City congregation.  Sharon is a member of the Fairview Pastoral Team and is succeeding Diane Mason who served from 2013-2019.  

Cluster 2 includes the Iowa River, South Waterloo, Ivester, Northland-Cedar Rapids, Hammond Avenue-Waterloo, Hillcrest-Fredericksburg and Greene congregations.  It will now be served by Dave Kerkove and Paul Shaver.  Dave is Pastor of the South Waterloo congregation and Paul is Pastor of the Ivester congregation.  Cluster 2 has not had Cluster Ministers for several years.    

Cluster 3 includes the Lewiston and Open Circle-Burnsville congregations, the Common Spirit-Minneapolis Fellowship and the Hands of Christ-Rochester project.  It will continue to be served by Rhonda Pittman Gingrich who is now joined by Beth Cage.  Rhonda is an ordained minister and member of the Open Circle congregation.  Beth is a leader in the Lewiston congregation and is succeeding Roger Peckover who served from 2013-2019.  

Cluster 4 includes the Panora, Panther Creek, Dallas Center and Church of the Brethren at Ankeny (Stover/Ankeny) congregations.  It will continue to be served by Barbara Wise Lewczak who is now joined by Laura Leighton-Harris.  Barbara is Pastor of the Church of the Brethren at Ankeny.  Laura is Pastor of the Dallas Center congregation and is succeeding Dave Kerkove who served from 2013-2018.  .  

Cluster 5 includes the Worthington, Sheldon, Peace-Council Bluffs and Big Sky-Montana congregations and the Living Peace-Sioux City project.  It will continue to be served by Lucinda Douglas and Ida Van Westen.  Lucinda is Pastor of the Living Peace project.  Ida is a leader in the Worthington congregation.

The purpose of Cluster Ministry is described well by the 2020 District Conference theme from Moderator Lucinda Douglas: One Body Together, Helping Each Other!  Please don’t hesitate to contact your Cluster Ministers or your District Executive with any needs, ideas, questions or concerns to help strengthen our ties and build up the church.

Tim Peter, 515-577-3926, tpeter5672@aol.com

Sharon Heien, 641-856-4030, sharonheien41@gmail.com

Dave Kerkove, 515-313-3705, davekerkove@gmail.com

Paul Shaver, 319-423-9034, revpaul.ivestercob@gmail.com

Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, 612-239-6214, rpgingrich@yahoo.com

Beth Cage, 507-951-4532, marble@hbcsc.net

Barbara Wise Lewczak, 515-240-0060, bwlewczak@minburncomm.net

Laura Leighton-Harris, 402-595-0716, ontheshortside@hotmail.com

Lucinda Douglas, 712-204-8950, nightowl21@q.com

Ida Van Westen, 507-360-7387, sivanwesten@gmail.com

11. Church of the Brethren signs 'Faith Statement on Escalating Violence with Iran'

Church of the Brethren Newsline
January 4, 2020

The Church of the Brethren has signed on to the following "Faith Statement on Escalating Violence with Iran'":

January 3, 2020

Faith Statement on Escalating Violence with Iran

As people of faith, we condemn the United States’ dangerous aggression towards Iran, including the assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani and the deployment of additional troops to the region. We urge the Administration to step back from the brink of war.

Our faith communities see the futility of war, and its power to dehumanize. We know that human flourishing entails breaking cycles of violence, being courageous peacemakers, and focusing on the root causes of conflict. Violent conflict is a path of mutual destruction.

Instead, all actors must move forward in a way that upholds our shared, sacred human dignity:

● All parties must begin by re-humanizing each other without excusing unjust and violent actions.

● The U.S. Administration must halt violent attacks and military escalations. It must return to a diplomatic process, recognizing that lasting peace requires a commitment to the shared well-being of every human, from Iran to the United States and everywhere in between.

● The U.S. Congress must act to reassert its war powers by refusing authorization for war with Iran and related attacks, and to block funding for war with Iran.

● U.S. actions and strategy in the region must address the root causes of the conflict, such as distrust, trauma, economic resources, and political influence.

● All of us must support nonviolent creative actions of resistance to any unjust and violent actions.

As communities of faith, we renounce the escalation of violence, and call on the United States to work towards lasting peace with Iran.


American Friends Service Committee
Center on Conscience and War
Christian Peacemaker Teams
Church of the Brethren
Churches for Middle East Peace
Coalition for Peace Action
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Conference of Superiors of Men (Catholic)
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces
Faith in Public Life
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Provincial Council Clerics of St. Viator
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas- Institute Leadership Team
Unitarian Universalist Association
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society

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12. 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:

Fairview Church of the Brethren
Ivester Church of the Brethren
Prairie City 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


  • January 11 – Camp Pine Lake Joint Committee Meeting
  • January 14 – Church Development and Renewal Committee, 7 pm
  • January 16 – Central Iowa Brethren Pastors, 10-12, Dallas Center COB
  • January 16 – Northeast Iowa Brethren Pastors, Golden China, Waterloo, noon
  • January 23 – District Conference Planning Committee Meeting, 7:30 pm
  • January 24 – Southern Iowa Brethren Pastors Meeting, Oskaloosa, 10 am
  • January 23-30 – Council of District Executives Winter Meeting
  • February 6 – Iowa Ecumenical Leaders Meeting
  • February 7 – District Executive Committee, Dallas Center COB, 5-9 pm
  • February 8 – District Board, Dallas Center COB, 8am-4 pm
  • February 10 – Ministerial Ethics Training, Lewiston COB, 10-5
  • February 13 – Central Iowa Brethren Pastors, 10-12, Panther Creek COB
  • February 17-March 15 – District Executive on Sabbath Renewal
  • March 12 – Central Iowa Brethren Pastors, 10-12, Dallas Center COB
  • March 24 – Cluster Ministers Video-conference Meeting, 8:15 pm
  • April 9 – Central Iowa Brethren Pastors, 10-12, Panther Creek COB
  • April 12 – EASTER SUNDAY
  • April 19 – Music Festival, Church of the Brethren at Ankeny, 4:00 pm
  • April 25-30Christian Citizenship Seminar
  • May 1 – District Executive Committee, Camp Pine Lake, 5-9 pm
  • May 2 – District Board, Camp Pine Lake, 8am-4pm
  • May 3National Youth Sunday
  • May 13-15Church Planting Conference
  • May 18-June 21 – District Executive on Sabbath Renewal
  • May 22-25Young Adult Conference
  • June 7-11 - Camp Pine Lake Summer Staff Training
  • June 13 - Camp Pine Lake All Staff Training 9:30am-5pm
  • June 19-20 - Primary Overnight Camp
  • June 28-July 1 – Council of District Executives Summer Meeting
  • July 1-5Annual Conference, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • July 13-18 - Sr. Youth Camp
  • July 20-25 - Jr. Youth Camp
  • July 26-30 - Middler Camp
  • July 31-August 2 – District Conference, The Church on Northland, Cedar Rapids
  • September 5-6 - All Age Camp/Songs of the Pines
  • September 28-October 25 – District Executive on Sabbath Renewal
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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
Co-Minister of Leadership Development
(515) 240-0060bwlewczak@minburncomm.net
Lucinda Douglas, Moderator, 2020 District Conference
(712) 204-8950nightowl21@q.com

Paul Shaver, Moderator-Elect, 2020 District Conference
319-423-9034 | revpaul.ivestercob@gmail.com

Dave Kerkove, District Board President
515-313-3705 | davekerkove@gmail.com 

Paul Neher, Chair of Camp Pine Lake Joint Committee
319-824-3286 | neherfamily@prairieinet.net
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 

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

Cluster Ministers:

Sharon Heien 

Tim Peter
(515) 577-3926 | peter.timothy@gmail.com 
Paul Shaver
319-423-9034 | revpaul.ivestercob@gmail.com

Dave Kerkove
515-313-3705 | davekerkove@gmail.com 
Rhonda Pittman Gingrich
(612) 926-9460 | rpgingrich@yahoo.com

Beth Cage
507-951-4532 | marble@hbcsc.net


Barbara Wise Lewczak
(515) 240-0060 | bwlewczak@minburncomm.net
Laura Leighton-Harris
(402) 595-0716ontheshortside@hotmail.com

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

December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019


2019 District Directory
2020 District Prayer Calendars
District Constitution and Bylaws
Church Development and Renewal Charter
District History Archives 

District Membership Task Force Resources

Annual Conference Statement “The Meaning of Membership”
List of Resources for Membership Training
Background and Notes for Discussion

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