Brethren bits: Job openings, Annual Conference delegate registration, college news, and more




-- Shenandoah District seeks a full-time district executive minister for a position available May 1, 2012. The district includes 97 congregations, 5 fellowships, and 1 project. It seeks a strong, outgoing leader who will develop and build vital and growing relationships with congregations and ministers. The district is making a transition from multiple staff to a district executive minister who will work with a Leadership Team to develop additional staffing needs. Camp Brethren Woods is a significant aspect of district ministry. The camp director is part of district staff as an associate district executive. The district office is located in Weyers Cave, Va. Responsibilities include serving as executive officer of the district Leadership Team; facilitating and overseeing planning and implementation of ministries set forth by the District Conference and the Leadership Team; providing linkages between the district and its congregations, the Mission and Ministry Board, and denominational agencies; promoting and cultivating the vision set forth by the district; providing leadership in pastoral placement, development, and support, among others. Qualifications include a mature and personal commitment to Jesus Christ and a faith shaped by New Testament values and the heritage and practice of the Church of the Brethren; ordination in the Church of the Brethren with at least 5-9 years of pastoral experience; administrative and management skills; oral and written communication skills; interpersonal skills and ability to collaborate and work with a range of personalities; master of divinity degree preferred. Send a letter of interest and resume via e-mail to OfficeofMinistry@brethren.org. Applicants are requested to contact three or four people to provide a letter of reference. Upon receipt of the resume the individual will be sent a candidate profile that must be completed and returned before the application is complete. The application deadline is Jan. 31, 2012.

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-- The Gather 'Round curriculum, produced by Brethren Press and MennoMedia, is accepting applications to write for Preschool, Primary, Middler, Multiage, Junior Youth, or Youth age groups for 2013-14. Writers produce well-written, age-appropriate, and engaging material for teacher's guides, student books, and resource packs. All writers will attend an orientation March 19-23, 2012, in Chicago, Ill. See Job Opportunities at www.gatherround.org . Application deadline is Jan. 9, 2012.

-- Early registration for congregational delegates to the 2012 Annual Conference in St. Louis, Mo., will open at noon (central time) on Jan. 2. The early registration fee is $285 per delegate. The fee increases to $310 on Feb. 23. Congregations will be able to register their delegates online at www.brethren.org/ac and will be able to pay either by credit card or by sending a check. A memo and registration form also is being mailed to every congregation. Non delegate registration and housing reservations will begin Feb. 22. For questions or more information contact the Conference Office at annualconference@brethren.org or 800-323-8039 ext. 229.

--  Shipping of the 2012 Brethren Reminder has been delayed in order to provide up-to-date staff listings, and copies should arrive in early January. The complimentary pocket calendar is sent by Brethren Press to pastors and other church leaders. It includes key dates on the denominational calendar, as well as address information and staff listings.

-- The church’s advocacy and peace witness office in Washington, D.C., has signed on to a number of ecumenically sponsored letters. One calls for cuts in nuclear weapons spending, organized by staff of the Friends (Quaker) Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) and signed by 47 faith-based groups. Another communication on behalf of 26 faith-based organizations opposes an anti-diplomacy provision in House of Representatives legislation on sanctions against Iran. Again with organization from the FCNL, the communication expressed concern that “this legislation would undermine prospects for a diplomatic resolution of Iran’s disputed nuclear program, increasing the threat of war.” The Church of the Brethren also joined nearly 150 other organizations in a call to Congress to re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. The act creates an office within the Department of Justice to develop federal policies around issues relating to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

-- In recent work, the Material Resources program based at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., has shipped two 40-foot containers of Lutheran World Relief (LWR) quilts, soap, toothpaste, and kits to Tanzania; received and unloaded 11 boxcars and 6 piggyback trailers of LWR materials; shipped Church World Service (CWS) blankets to Michigan, Connecticut, and Florida for homeless and economically disadvantaged people; shipped 1,050 heavyweight CWS blankets to Pharr, Texas, for distribution by Methodist Border Ministries Network and Faith Ministry on both sides of the US/Mexico border; sent 30 CWS blankets to Wellsboro, Pa., for use by homeless individuals and families in Tiogo County; and sent two 40-foot containers on their way on behalf of a cooperative effort of International Orthodox Christian Charities, LWR, CWS, and IMA World Health: one container of school kits for Cameroon and one loaded with quilts, baby kits, and bed sheets for Serbia.

Speicher sisters in international meeting on HIV and AIDS
Photo by
The group who gathered for an international interfaith meeting on HIV and AIDS included two Church of the Brethren members: Anna Speicher, editor of the Gather ’Round curriculum, and Sara Speicher, a former staff of the Association of Brethren Caregivers.

-- Anna Speicher, editor of the Gather ’Round curriculum, was one of two Church of the Brethren members at an international meeting on HIV and AIDS organized by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance and hosted by the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Her sister, Sara Speicher, who is a former staff of the Association of Brethren Caregivers and a former Brethren Volunteer Service worker, was a primary organizer of the meeting. Leaders from five world religions gathered to encourage engagement and action on HIV in dialogue with people living with HIV. The group expressed dismay at the recent drop in funding for the AIDS response just as recent statistics show the effectiveness of prevention and treatment approaches, and stated in its final reflections: “As we ourselves recommit to deeper and more active engagement in the HIV response, we call on donor and recipient governments to fulfill their promises and provide the sustainable financial resources to reach the goal in the 2011 Political Declaration (UN declaration on HIV and AIDS) that we now see as attainable--zero deaths, zero new infections, and zero stigma and discrimination.” The 15 leaders from the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim traditions included religious leaders living with HIV, and met with representatives of organizations including the Global Network of People Living with HIV, UNAIDS, United Nations Population Fund, and World AIDS Campaign.

-- A spiritual disciplines folder for Epiphany has been announced by the Springs of Living Water initiative for church renewal, on the theme, “The Invitation to Discipleship, ‘Follow Me and I Will Make You Fish for People.’” Prepared so that churches can distribute them at their Christmas Eve services, this folder is a guide for persons to read the scriptures in their devotional life. The folder can be found on the Springs website at www.churchrenewalservant.org . Vince Cable, pastor of Uniontown Church of the Brethren, prepared study questions on the daily readings which can also be found on the website. For more information e-mail David and Joan Young at davidyoung@churchrenewalservant.org .

Florence Graff honored
Photo courtesy of Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village
Florence Graff (center), a volunteer and former board member at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village near Boonsboro, Md., was honored on Nov. 4 as a Distinguished Volunteer during the National Philanthropy Day luncheon at Ceresville Mansion in Frederick, Md.

-- Florence Graff, a volunteer and former board member at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village near Boonsboro, Md., was honored on Nov. 4 as a Distinguished Volunteer during the National Philanthropy Day luncheon at Ceresville Mansion in Frederick, Md. Graff served on the Fahrney-Keedy Board of Directors 1994-2007. Keith Bryan, president and CEO, said of Mrs. Graff, “Fahrney-Keedy is blessed to have been the recipient of Dr. (Henry) and Mrs. Graff's generosity both through endowments and volunteer efforts over many years. She is tireless in her dedication and hard work and we wish to express our deep thanks on behalf of the facility and its residents for her service to the board.” For more information visit www.fkhv.org.

-- Manchester College seeks nominations for its 2012 Warren K. and Helen J. Garner Alumni Teacher of the Year. To be eligible, candidates must be currently teaching (preschool -12) and have made significant contributions to education, provide exceptional service to the profession, are deeply concerned for the individual students, and are able to inspire learning. To nominate a Manchester graduate for the award visit www.manchester.edu or contact the Department of Education at 260-982-5056. Deadline for nominations is March 9. The Garners, who have endowed the Teacher of the Year recognition, are 1950 graduates of the college. A member of the Indiana Educator Hall of Fame, Warren Garner chaired the Manchester College Department of Education for more than 20 years and helped rewrite teacher training licensing standards. Helen Garner taught fifth- and sixth-graders for 22 years.

-- Theater at Bridgewater (Va.) College has been invited by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival to perform its fall 2011 theater production, “A Dream Play” by August Strindberg in a new version by Caryl Churchill at the Regional Festival at 8:30 p.m. Jan. 13, 2012, in Fisher Auditorium at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. “It is a great honor to have our show selected to participate in the Regional Festival,” said Scott W. Cole, associate professor of theater, in a release from the college. “It puts Bridgewater College and the theater program ‘on the map’ as a program of high-quality and excellence.” An encore performance of “A Dream Play” is free and open to the public at 8 p.m. on Jan. 7 in Cole Hall.

-- The University of La Verne, Calif., received one of 20 competitive grants awarded to Hispanic-serving institutions from the US Department of Agriculture, according to a release sent by the university. The USDA awarded a total of $8.8 million in the grants, as reported by HispanicBusiness.com . The grants are intended to enhance the ability of colleges and universities to support underserved students and develop a skilled American workforce.

-- McPherson (Kan.) College has announced the winning team of its Global Enterprise Challenge: Panama. The winners receive scholarships and all-expenses paid trip to Panama to explore what it would take to make their entrepreneurial idea a reality. The team proposed "Esperanza: Cultivating with Compassion,” a concept to establish a grade school with a circular model in which the Panamanian community helps sponsor promising students to receive higher education and in return students commit to returning to the community as teachers to help the next generation. The winning team included mentor Jonathan Frye, professor of natural science; Jacob Patrick, sophomore from Elizabeth, Colo.; Lara Neher, freshman from Grundy Center, Iowa; Emily James, junior from Westminster, Colo.; Sarah Neher, senior from Rochester, Minn.; and Tabitha McCullough, senior from Hill City, Kan.

-- The Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) is sponsoring an intergenerational work camp for ages 11-plus in Haiti from June 17–25, 2012. The number of participants is limited to 20. The team will be serving at the New Covenant School in St. Louis du Nord, helping to build a new school building as well as leading a vacation Bible school. Another BRF workcamp is planned for July 23-29, 2012, in Puerto Rico for youth who have completed grade 9 to age 19. The number of participants is limited to 20. The team will be at the new Church of the Brethren project in Morovis, and will do light construction or painting as well as community clean-up or working with children. Online registration for both workcamps opens Jan. 9, 2012, at 7 p.m. (central) at the Church of the Brethren website www.brethren.org .

-- Church Women United celebrated its 70th anniversary on Dec. 1-3. In a recent e-mail, the Global Women’s Project, a Church of the Brethren group, extended its congratulations to Church Women United, reporting that “since 1941, CWU has organized into more than 1,200 local and state units in the United States and Puerto Rico in its quest to create a more just and peaceful world.”

-- Bethany Seminary professor Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm has co-edited a new Bible lectionary commentary titled, “Preaching God’s Transforming Justice: A Lectionary Commentary, Year B.” The book was published by Westminster John Knox Press with a goal to “help the preacher focus on the implications for social justice in every biblical reading in the Revised Common Lectionary.” It also highlights 22 “Holy Days for Justice” such as World Aids Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The 90 contributors are a diverse group of biblical scholars, preachers, social activists, and professors of preaching. Find out more at www.wjkbooks.com.

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