Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Northern Plains meets under the banner of 'Faith, Hope, Love.'

Sisters and brothers in Christ gathered from across Northern Plains District July 31-Aug. 2 at Pine Lake Christian Conference Center in Eldora, Iowa, for the 2009 District Conference. The official registration was 137 adults including 66 delegates from 21 congregations.

Moderator Alice Draper led the conference under the theme from 1 Corinthians 13:13, "Faith, Hope, Love.... The Greatest of These Is Love."

The Friday evening worship service heard Annual Conference moderator Shawn Flory Replogle preach on John 21:15-19, "Loving the Idea of Church Is not Enough." The Saturday evening service consisted of love feast and communion provided by the deacons of Ivester Church of the Brethren and led by a group of ministers from the district. The Sunday morning service heard Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, preach on 1 John 4:7-21, "Fear Not" (his sermon has been posted online at as the Aug. 10 post). Offerings totaled $3,353.71.

The business session on Saturday, Aug. 1, consisted of four business items, elections, and a number of reports. A 2010 budget totaling $111,805 was passed by the delegates. Delegates also approved the closing of Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren in York, N.D., where a final worship celebration will be held on Sept. 30; and approved fellowship status for the Common Spirit Project in Minneapolis, Minn. Approval was given to explore both the Baptist and Brethren Camps at Pine Lake as possible locations for the 2010 District Conference.

In elections, Richard Gingrich was chosen as moderator-elect. Those elected to the district's Board of Administration included Kathy Mack, Paul Little, Sandi Cox, Ronald Steege, Ernest Dicks, David Oliver, and Terri Hansen. Laura Leighton-Harris was elected to the Program Committee. Doyle Harper and Raechel Sittig were elected to the Nominating Committee.

Marge Smalley was consecrated as the new moderator of Northern Plains District. The District Board reorganized for 2009-10 naming Kathy Mack as president, Mark Gingrich as vice-president, Barb Lewczak as chair of the Ministry Commission, Linda Lantz as chair of the Nurture Commission, Roger Emmert as chair of the Stewards Commission, and Ida Van Weston as chair of the Witness Commission.

Eight ministers were recognized for "Milestones in Ministry": Richard Burger, ordained for 65 years; Vernon Merkey, ordained for 55 years; Lorene Moore, ordained for 30 years; Marge Smalley and Lucinda Douglas, ordained for 20 years; Marlene Neher, ordained for 15 years; and Dave Kerkove and Alan McLearn-Montz, ordained for 10 years. New pastors and newly ordained and licensed ministers were recognized by the district executive during his report. Also named were beginning seminary students and those approved for licensing.

Following the business session, the annual district auction was held with a total of $4,000 raised for a general fund and to purchase a "mud-out trailer" for flood clean-up efforts. Also, the Witness Commission invited members to bring items for Church World Service Health Kits. A total of 373 Health Kits and 4 Clean-Up Buckets were presented, along with $221.85 donated for the kits.

At last year's District Conference, Panther Creek Church of the Brethren distributed quarter tubes to each church to raise funds for Heifer International, with the goal of raising $5,000 to purchase an "Ark." As of Aug. 10, $4,204.68 had been collected and turned in to the district.

Another service project was done by roughly 11 youth, under the leadership of Matt Tobias, McPherson College admissions counselor. The youth spent time working with the Little Rock Ministry Center that operates out of a mobile home park in Eldora. The youth helped with outdoor maintenance, some indoor cleaning, and picking up trash with neighborhood children. When the work was done, the youth gathered up the neighborhood children and led them in games and playing, then cooked hot dogs and led in a time of singing camp songs. (This article is excerpted from a report in the district newsletter.)

Source: 9/9/2009 Newsline

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