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The Disciples Together Express

March/April 2020 - News from the Christian Church in the Upper Midwest (Disciples of Christ)                                                                                         

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Rev. John Richardson,

Interim Regional Minister and President

We are living in a time we only imagined in science fiction stories. Worldwide, one-third of the population is under movement restrictions, schools are closed, retail shops shut down, travel in any form limited, over half a million people have contracted the COVID-19 virus, and the number grows exponentially every 24 hours.  Convention centers are being transformed into hospitals, as traditional medical care facilities are overflowing. In the United States, as I write this on Thursday afternoon, the number of confirmed is quickly moving toward 100,000, with over 1,200 dead. Those numbers are growing rapidly.  Churches are closed.   And, it will all get worse over the next several weeks, or months, depending our response.   We are saturated with this news every day.

Recently, a colleague was thinking about how the regional church might help congregations maintain their ministries during this COVID-19 health crisis.  He then realized that no congregation, large or small, should be the same after this crisis is over.  Therefore, how to maintain what we have is the wrong question.  He then began to wonder, how can the regional church enable congregations to imagine how to be church in new and different ways than ever before, post COVID-19?

A few days later, reflecting on the rapid adaptations pastors and congregations are now making into being a digital church, another colleague posted a reminder from books written by Nancy Ammermann, Ronald Heifetz, and Marty Linsky that many church leaders were reading and discussing 12 plus years ago:  “Ammermann agrees with Heifetz and Linsky that adaptation is not an easy process.  She says adaptation requires determined effort at finding resources, establishing new partnerships, and developing new leaders, new programs, and new ideas, and often involves fighting among people who love each other.  Ammermann warns that congregations that do not choose adaptation are, by default, choosing to die.  Therefore, clergy and lay leaders who ignore the Digital Reformation and make no effort to adapt to these technological changes are by default choosing to die.”

Changing the way we do things is so hard.  We know how to do church the way church has been done for several centuries.  We even think the way we do church is a scriptural design that must be followed.  If we are honest, that thinking is rather arrogant.  Followers of Jesus have been church together in a vast variety of ways over the past twenty centuries. 

It’s not the way to which we are accustomed, but if you have internet access, a smart phone, and a free Facebook account, all you need to do is spend about $25, or less, to get a tripod with phone attachment and you can live stream your worship service via Facebook Live.  With a free Zoom account, you can have a 40 minute live streamed worship service, where the whole congregation can be present, each from their respective homes.  For $14.95 per month you can have an unlimited amount of time.  Yes, it can be intimidating, at first, but it is not super expensive. 

Today, being church means taking care of each other.  It means radical community, even without touching.  It means taking initiative to check on our neighbors—especially the vulnerable.  It means being, rather than, doing.  It means a profound hope that we are followers of a God who loves us.

The Washington Post described the closing moments of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent daily briefing on his state’s response to the COVID-19 crisis:  “As he wrapped up Tuesday morning, his throat seemed to tighten as he expressed his love for New York and said: ‘At the end of the day, my friends, even if it is a long day. . . love wins, always, and it will win again through this virus.'"

May it be so.

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Summer Camp 2020 Update


The Camp Council for the Upper Midwest camping program held an emergency meeting on March 26th to discuss evolving plans for the 2020 summer camp season.  The Camp Council decided we do not have enough information at this time to determine if summer camp will proceed as scheduled.  We talked about several scenarios for the summer and are beginning to make contingency plans in case our calendar is disrupted by the spread of the coronavirus. 


The Camp Council has decided that they will wait no longer that Friday, May 8th to decide if some sessions will be canceled, combined, or shortened.  For now, camp directors will proceed to plan their events as if they will still occur on their original dates.  We believe that by May we should have more guidance from school districts, state governments, and the CDC about safety and health concerns for overnight camping.  We will do everything in our power to hold our summer camps, if we can do so safely and responsibly, because we know that our campers will be craving time in community like never before.  More information will be forthcoming as it becomes available to us.

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In compliance with Governor Reynolds' extended order to limit gatherings to no more than 10 people, including food service and houses of worship, the Christian Conference Center office will remain closed through April 7th, 2020.

Facility staff are working hard around the camp to finish several ongoing maintenance projects while our office is closed.  Our Holy Ground will be even better when things return to normal! If you need to reach someone on the CCC staff, please leave a message on our office phone at 641-792-1266 and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

Christian Conference Center Closed

2020 Regional Calendar

 Things We Do Together

Below, @CCC = held at the Christian Conference Center

Mar. 28 Regional Property Committee Online

Apr. 23 Regional Operations Council Online

May 1-3 CCC Work Retreat @ CCC (may be rescheduled)

May 1-2 Regional Committee on Ministry Online

May 28 Regional Operations Council Online

May June 5 Camp Season Begins!

Regional Minister Search Committee

Here's the latest update from the Search Committee:

"Letters of Interest for the position were due March 1 and we received 10.  At this time, those interested in being considered are preparing their candidate profiles.  When those are completed at the end of the month, they will be sent to a third-party screener who will evaluate and rank them based on what our regional profile says we are looking for in a candidate.  The Search Committee is hopeful that we will have the results from the third-party screener by mid-to-late April and could begin lining up interviews with candidates in May; however, the Covid-19 outbreak obviously leaves a lot of things (especially travel) uncertain right now.  Thankfully we are currently at a stage in the process that does not require in-person meetings, so hopefully things can continue on track without much delay.  Your prayers are appreciated."

You can see the position announcement and watch the committee’s progress on our Regional Minister Search Committee page.

Please continue to keep this group and this process in your prayers!

Crews began work on the decking for the new McKee Cabin just as soon as the ground would allow this winter.  They wrapped up work this week and our Facility Director, Greg Champion snapped some great pictures.

Up next is an ADA ramp and sidewalk to the parking lot!

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McKee Cabin Porch Complete!

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Technology Grants Available

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Congregations throughout the Upper Midwest are finding innovative and creative ways to keep connected and keep worshiping and growing in faith despite the need to maintain social distancing.  For many, this has been a steep learning curve in exploring options through technology.  

The Region is prepared to lend a hand by providing technology grants.  Congregations are welcome to apply for a grant of $300 (more can be requested with extenuating circumstances) to purchase or improve technological capabilities for worship or online gatherings.  Purchases might include recording equipment, copyright licenses, video meeting applications, or more.

Also, depending on the degree of complication of your plan, we may be able to connect you with a "technology mentor" who can guide you through your first steps of live-streaming.

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We want your news!

Does your church have an article, story or event for the Disciples Together Express?  The Region wants to know!

Please email your editor Lori Krase-Cayton

or call the Regional Office at 515-255-3168

or mail an article to CCUMW,

5064  Lincoln Street, Newton, IA 50208. for more information. 

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The ministry of the church continues (and even expands) during this time when none of us are using the buildings.  Please don't let your absence from the building result in a lack of financial support.  

There are many options to make online giving possible for your congregation.  Givelify is a free church giving app on which members can set up their offering to be made electronically. 

If your congregation does not already have a method for online giving set up, please feel free to use the regional office as a resource to explore the best option.


COVID-19 Resources

Regional Staff continues to share resources for churches and clergy on facebook as well as our COVID-19 Resource Page.

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