Disciples Together

Regional News of the Christian Church in the Upper Midwest

November| 2022

Holiday Traditions

Rev. Joshua Patty

Regional Minister and President

These weeks around Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas are filled with traditions – special things we do, music we share, and food we enjoy.  There are special worship services and extra gatherings, often filled with groups of extended family and friends.

Some of those traditions have been interrupted in the past couple of years.  The reasons for those traditions – sharing gratitude and love, celebrating the gifts and promises of God – have not changed.  The interruption may have caused some people to reevaluate what holiday traditions are important and which are not.  It has reminded many of us why we cherish certain holiday traditions.  It also has created an opportunity for new traditions to emerge.

With all of this, it seems especially important to be explicit about what we do and why we do it.  Often we assume things will happen, so we don’t always explain them.  Let’s remind ourselves and tell others why we… gather for Thanksgiving meals, hang greens and decorate, give gifts, anticipate during Advent, and burn candles on Christmas Eve.

Even more, I think it’s important to intentionally invite people to be part of these activities and celebrations in our families and in our congregations.  We can’t simply assume that people know they’re welcome.  Our gatherings will be richer – and likely include more people – if we take the time to invite specific people to join us in them.  And by broadening our invitations, we’ll be following Jesus’ example during this time when we celebrate Jesus’ birth and presence in our midst.

Where in the Upper Midwest is Josh?

Josh's travels take him across our four-state region to share in worship, support, and celebrate your ministries! Here's where Josh's travels have taken him in the last month.


  • October 23 - Worship with First Christian Church, Ames, IA
  • October 30 - Worship with First Christian Church, Estherville, IA
  • November 6 - Worship with Nichols Christian Church, Nichols, IA
  • November 11-12 Regional Committee on Ministry
  • November 13 - Worship with First Christian Church, Shenandoah, IA

2022-2023 Regional Calendar


For more details go to the Regional website:



Nov. 18-19 CMEP Retreat

Nov. 18-20 CYF Retreat

Nov. 20 Thanksgiving Offering Received

Nov. 20-30 Josh on Vacation

Nov. 24-25 Office Closed for Thanksgiving

Dec. 1 Regional Operations Council Online

Dec. 11 Christmas Offering Received

Dec. 18 Christmas Offering Received

Dec. 23-26 Office Closed for Christmas

Jan. 2 Office Closed for New Year's Day

Jan. 20 Ministerial Standing Applications Due

Jan. 26 Regional Operations Council Online

Jan. 30-Feb. 1 Ministers Institute

Regional Prayer Calendar

Video Archives

More Regional videos

More Disciples videos

General Assembly 2023

Learn More Today
News Around the Region
Learn More and Register Today!

After Christmas Sermon by Regional Minister

Need some pulpit supply around the holidays? Regional Minister Joshua Patty will offer a recorded sermon, "Echoes of Christmas" based on Luke 2:25-35. The sermon will be appropriate for January 1 or any Sunday after Christmas. 

The sermon recording will be available by December 21. Upper Midwest ministers and congregations will then receive an email with instructions for downloading the sermon or accessing it through YouTube.

Operations Council

Representatives were elected for the 2022-2023 Operations Council at the All Congregational Gathering in October. Representatives are split between clergy and lay leaders by geographic area. Officers were elected at their first meeting on Oct. 27.

Clergy Representatives

Dennis Sanders, Moderator

Tony Thurston

Mary Jane Button-Harrison

Leslie Dotson

J. Alexander

Mark Hall

Joel Aurand

Mark MacWhorter

Lay Representatives

Minnesota Area: Justin Carlson

Boone Area: Vern Hawkins

Waterloo Area: Dan Mineck

Oakland Area: Sharon Kearney

Des Moines Area: David Lester

Altoona Area: Tim Butler, Treasurer

Marshalltown Area: Mary Jane Hazelwood

Ottumwa Area: Betty Rae Potts

Muscatine/Davenport Area: Jay Thomas, Secretary

Hampton Area: Nancy Berneman

The following areas are currently without representation: Spencer/Sioux City, Keokuk, Panora, and Creston/Osceola. If interested in serving or submitting a nomination, please contact the Regional Office.

The Operations Council will meet virtually on Dec. 1 for a combined November/December meeting.

Shared Worship Resources

A group of pastors from our region who enjoy working together met recently to plan a common sermon series for the Thanksgiving and Advent seasons. They have decided to share those resources with the wider church. These materials are free for any congregation to use.

Shared Worship Resources

This Advent, FCC Keokuk & WDMCC are collaborating to put on two musical worship events celebrating Jesus' birth! Join Revs. Brian Nixon, Mark Ehrhardt, & Luke Ehrhardt as well as Des Moines Symphony violinist Robert Espe at one of the following events for a lively & uplifting evening of praise to the newborn Christ!

  • WDMCC: Friday, Dec. 2nd (doors open 6:30 pm)
  • FCC Keokuk: Friday, Dec. 16th (doors open 6:30 pm)

With well-known classics, original songs, Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God album, & storytelling, you won't want to miss this exciting opportunity to enter the story of God-With-Us!

Special Offering

Thanksgiving Special Offering will be received in congregations on Sunday, Nov. 20. Thanksgiving Offering supports Disciples colleges, universities and theological institutions.

Christmas Special Offering will be received in congregations on Sunday, Dec. 11 and 18. Christmas Offering supports regional ministries. This includes church camp and other youth programs, the training and support of pastors, walking with congregations in search and call and other pastoral needs, congregational ministry grants and more! 100% of all Christmas Offering gifts received remain here for Upper Midwest ministries and needs.

Give Today!

All Congregational Gathering

Learning Session Recordings

Now Available

The 2022 All Congregational Gathering Learning Sessions have all been uploaded to the region's You Tube channel and are available for viewing. Learning sessions took the form of TED Talk-style presentations and covered pertinent and innovative topics in 6 ministry areas: Christian Education, Worship, Resource Sharing, Mission, Church Finance, and Leadership/Innovation.

View the Playlist Here

News Around the Denomination

Join Antiracism Study Dialogue Circles (ASDIC) and The Leadership Center for Social Justice for two clergy specific trainings on Discerning Whiteness: The Unacknowledged Barrier.

Each three hour session will take place over Zoom so participants can engage from anywhere. The sessions count towards 6 Continuing Education hours for clergy members.


Details: 2 sessions over Zoom. January 19, 2023 from 9:00 a.m.-Noon CT and February 2, 2023 from 9:00 a.m.-Noon CT. 


Cost: $90

Learn more about ASDIC and their work. Reach out to Stella Pearce if you have any questions.


Hurricanes. Floods. Heatwaves. Our world is experiencing an increased amount of these natural disasters because of rising temperatures. What can Disciples do to address climate change and be responsible stewards of the environment? Learn the answer to this question and much more at New Church Ministry’s webinar. Host and interim Minister of New Church Strategies, Rev. Dr. Jose Martinez, will be joined by Pastor Dan Paul, the Director of the Blue Theology Mission Station, and Brooks Brendt, the United Church of Christ’s Minister for Environmental Justice. Sign up

Applications are now open for 2023 Disciples Peace Fellowship's Intern Program!

Learn More About it Today
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