The Disciples Together Express

 December 2019/January 2020 - News from the Christian Church in the Upper Midwest (Disciples of Christ)                                                                                         





Rev. John Richardson,

Interim Regional Minister and President

For the several years, I have posted on Christmas Eve the poem by Wendell Berry with the opening lines:


“Remembering that it happened once

We cannot turn away the thought…”


We cannot turn away the thought, that into this world God came to us, in the form of a small child—a baby named Jesus, as we know the story.  As a pastor, every time I visited a newborn baby with mother and father, I left that visit, “remembering that it happened once.”  That “first” baby and every baby born brings hope into the world.  Advent calls us to remember…there is hope.  Living with hope—hope in God’s future—is a radical notion in our world today.


Just past the mid-point of his poem, Mr. Berry pens these lines:


“We stand with one hand on the door,

Looking into another world                                                                            That is this world…”


It is so easy to remember a distant—centuries ago—birth, and then quickly move to celebrating by opening presents under a lighted Christmas tree in a beautifully decorated house.  We, all too quickly forget, the baby we are called to remember was born in a stable with animals—not in costume, but with the animals that are dirty and smell badly.  We look not into another world this Christmas.  We affirm God came into this world—which can certainly be dirty and smell, but it is the world in which we live today.  God is with us, now.


Toward the end of his poem, Mr. Berry pens these lines:

“…We are here

As we have never been before,

Sighted as not before…”    


We are living in the here and now, and yet, because we are the followers of the one born in a stable, we see everything differently.  We have different priorities.  Our lives are changed.  And, because we are changed, we what others to share in the same hope, peace, joy and love.


As we journey together through these days of transition and await the calling of a new regional minister, I ask you to prayerfully consider a gift to the Christmas Special Day Offering.  Your gift supports the ministries of the Christian Church in the Upper Midwest.

Advent blessing,


2019-2020 Regional Calendar

 Things We Do Together

Below, @CCC = held at the Christian Conference Center

Dec. 19 Regional Operations Council Online

Jan. 23 Regional Operations Council Online

Jan. 26-29 Minister’s Institute @ CCC

Feb. 7-8 Committee on Ministry

Feb. 7-9 Junior Retreat @ CCC

This year’s event will be facilitated by a phenomenal teaching core with Rev. April Johnson from Reconciliation Ministry and Rev. Sandhya Jha, founder and director of the Oakland Peace Center, at the lead.   The event will include the usual opportunities for rest and renewal, good food, fellowship, and meaningful worship.  


Attending the event in full will meet the Anti-Racism/Pro-Reconciliation requirement included on the 2020 standing form (due January of 2021). 

Regional Minister Search

This fall the Regional Minister Search Committee sought to gather feedback from Disciples across the Upper Midwest about their hopes and dreams for the future of our region and for our next regional minister.  We met with approximately 100 people at in-person listening sessions held throughout the region, as well as gathered 96 responses from a written survey.  Thank you to all who participated!


Our task now is to synthesize all of your responses into a document called our Regional Profile.  This profile will contain demographic information about the Christian Church in the Upper Midwest, as well as the feedback you shared about what we hope to do and become with our next regional minister.  The Search Committee intends to have this document completed and ready to be circulated to interested candidates in January.


You can continue to be involved in these next steps of the search process by holding the Search Committee in your prayers.


Thank you,


The Regional Minister Search Committee

Winter Youth Retreats

The Chi Rho and CYF Youth retreats were held the 1st and 3rd weekends of November.  Our retreat theme for the year is "Love God.  Love People."  Youth and adult sponsors gathered to learn more about the Great Commandment and how we can each work harder to love God, love and serve our neighbors, and love and respect ourselves.  Our Upper Midwest Youth Council members planned and led both retreats, with the help of a few adult counselors.  The youth planned a special worship experience for Saturday evening that consisted of prayer stations set up all over Bright Hall.  We also played hard with lots of time breaking in the new gym floor, going on hikes and scavenger hunts around the camp, and split up into teams for a trivia night.  It is always great to be together on Holy Ground!  Please save the date for our Junior Retreat (grades 3-5) which will be held February 7-9, 2020.

CCC Staffing Changes


The Christian Conference Center has recently undergone some changes in staffing and staff structure. 


Please join us in welcoming Crystal Harvey​ to the role of Reservations Director. Many of you may already know Crystal as our Food Service Director which means you are also aware of the stellar job she has done for us in that role. Crystal is very gifted and also extremely dedicated to the CCC's ministry.  She is already bringing new passion and new ideas to the position.

Crystal has been on staff with us since March 2016. She is a Newton native and is an active part of our community. Crystal is excited to help continue to grow our retreat and rental business, which in turn helps us support our mission to offer summer camps and programs to children and youth.

We are also excited to announce that Greg Champion, our maintenance supervisor and groundskeeper, has agreed to an expanded role on our staff as the Facility Director. He will be taking on some of the property management details that previously fell on the Operations Manager.  This will leave our Reservations Director free to focus solely on the needs of our groups and facilitate their retreats.

Greg has been with the CCC for over a year and has already displayed a passion and dedication for his work at the camp. Greg also serves as a volunteer counselor in our Chi Rho Camp program during the summer. We are so glad that he has a love for our ministry and not just taking care of our facility. Greg is married to Joni and they have 3 adult children, all of whom attended camps here at the CCC.

From the Regional Staff…


Sending our gratitude to you, our partners in ministry, for an incredible year.  Wishing you a joyous Christmas and blessings in the new year!  

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. 


5064 Lincoln Street

Newton, IA 50208


T: 515-255-3168



Lori Krase-Cayton


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