Brethren make efforts to support Nigerians in the face of violence




Nigerian woman in ruins of destroyed building
Photo by courtesy of Jay Wittmeyer
A Nigerian woman stands in the ruins of a destroyed building. Brethren in the United States are making efforts to support and encourage Nigerian Brethren in the face of continuing violence.

Several efforts to support and encourage Nigerian Brethren affected by violence are being made by American Brethren, responding to concern for Nigeria expressed during the Annual Conference in July and to news of continuing incidents of terrorist violence including the recent shooting of a Nigerian Brethren pastor and 10 church members (see the report at www.brethren.org/news/2012/gunmen-kill-eyn-pastor-and-church-members.html ).

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A season of prayer for Nigeria has been announced by Annual Conference moderator Bob Krouse. The moderator read scripture and called the Brethren to pray for those affected by violence in Nigeria in a short online video, standing alongside general secretary Stan Noffsinger who prayed for the Nigerian Brethren, and Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer. View the video on the denomination’s home page at www.brethren.org (double click to view the video at full size).

Wittmeyer invites American Brethren to offer words of encouragement that will be shared with Nigerian families who have suffered loss, and is requesting contributions to the Compassion Fund of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

The Compassion Fund was initiated by EYN as a mechanism for Nigerian Brethren to demonstrate mutuality in support of one another. A primary focus of the fund is to financially support the surviving spouses of clergy who have been killed in the terrorist-type violence that has rocked northern Nigeria in recent years, Wittmeyer said. The fund also supports church members who have lost homes or businesses to the violence.

“Many Church of the Brethren members in the US have been in prayerful support of the Nigerian Brethren and have sent cards and condolences, as well as financial support to rebuild churches,” Wittmeyer said. “The Compassion Fund is an important means of offering our support for our sister church community.”

In one recent example, the congregation of Turkey Creek Church of the Brethren has given $10,000 to the EYN Compassion Fund out of moneys made available as the congregation merges with Nappanee (Ind.) Church of the Brethren. Former pastor Roger Eberly and his wife Mim took part in a goodwill delegation to Nigeria in Jan. 2010, and during their trip began hearing stories of the violence that Nigerian Brethren have suffered. Since then, he said in a telephone interview today, the couple have followed news from Nigeria. As they began hearing of increased violence recently, he said the time seemed right for such a gift.

Ironically, Nappanee was started as a “daughter” church to Turkey Creek, Eberly said, adding that Turkey Creek “came to a greying time” after a vibrant history in which it planted several daughter congregations. The opportunity to make significant gifts has helped make the congregation’s move more meaningful. Among other gifts made by Turkey Creek, which met for worship for the last time on Sept. 30, is a donation to help Camp Mack rebuild key facilities lost to a fire in 2010, a Bethany Seminary scholarship for students studying church planting, and gifts to a number of other organizations including Heifer International and Habitat.

Virlina District also is among the US Brethren announcing projects of support and encouragement for the church in Nigeria. The district reports in its recent newsletter that a project started at the Sept. 2012 Virlina District Peace Sunday Service, in response to the sharing about Nigeria that occurred at Annual Conference this summer. “In addition to remembering our Nigerian brothers and sisters in prayer, the Peace Affairs Committee is asking for individuals and congregations to write a brief message of encouragement and care,” the newsletter said. Wittmeyer, who is planning a late January trip to Nigeria, personally will carry the collection of postcards to the Nigerian Brethren.

Contributions to the EYN Compassion Fund and words of encouragement for Nigerian Brethren may be offered online at www.brethren.org/EYNcompassion or sent by mail to Church of the Brethren, Attn: EYN Compassion Fund, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.

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