Brethren bits for June 10, 2014




-- Correction: In the "Brethren Bits" of the last Newsline, dated June 2, the listing of districts supporting the meat canning project was incorrect. The project is a joint effort of Southern Pennsylvania and Mid Atlantic Districts.

Logo for the Office of Public Witness, Church of the Brethren

-- The Church of the Brethren staff position of coordinator of the Office of Public Witness has been upgraded to a director level position. Nathan Hosler began his work in this office in a joint position with the National Council of Churches. The title is being changed to acknowledge the scope and ecumenical nature of the work. For more about the Office of Public Witness, go to www.brethren.org/peace/office-public-witness.html .

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-- Atlantic Northeast District has announced the calling of Mary Etta Reinhart as the new director of Witness and Outreach, beginning June 15. She presently serves the district board as chair of the Church Development and Evangelism Commission and a member of the executive committee. She is a long-standing member at Mechanic Grove Church of the Brethren and resides in southern Lancaster County, Pa. Reinhart is a licensed minister and has completed the Training in Ministry (TRIM) programs in preparation for ordination. She recently completed an interim pastorate at Shippensburg Church of the Brethren and will be completing an interim pastorate at Swatara Hill Church of the Brethren in August. She is a graduate of Manchester University. Employed in customer service in the banking industry for 27 years, she spent much of her work career employed by the Bank of Lancaster County / PNC Bank. Reinhart follows Pat Horst in the district position; Horst continues chaplaincy work at Hershey Medical Center, as well as spiritual direction.

-- The Indiana Camp Board, which is the camp board for the districts of Northern Indiana and South Central Indiana, has announced that as of June 1, Galen Jay is serving as interim executive director at Camp Mack. Rex Miller has retired from the position. The announcement came in a letter to all the district congregations, and went on to read in part: “We have discovered that due to financial issues at camp, funds have been misallocated from the Growing From The Ashes fundraising campaign to cover operating expenses and capital improvements. We are in the process of securing an independent audit and most likely the services of a business/financial consultant(s) to assist us in dealing with these concerns. As a board, we are working to maintain the property and programs in a way that shares holy hospitality and a sense of God's presence with all who set foot on Camp Mack. We seek your prayers as we work through this uncertain time. If your congregation has given a gift to the Growing From The Ashes campaign, then as soon as we have an accurate accounting of our financial situation, we will be in touch with you regarding the funds you have already shared. From this day forward, all gifts received for the campaign will be placed in a separate Lake City Bank certificate of deposit, which will be administered by board-appointed trustees. Thank you for your support.” The letter was signed by J.D. Wagoner, chair of the Indiana Camp Board.

-- Robby May has been called as interim camp manager at Camp Galilee by West Marva District and the trustees of Camp Galilee. This position needed to be filled following the resignation of Phyllis Marsh, long-time manager for over 30 years. May is originally from Westernport, Md., and attends Westernport Church of the Brethren where his wife Diane May is pastor. He has participated at Camp Galilee since he was five years old and has been at the camp as a camper, counselor, director, member of the Camp Planning and Promoting Committee, and a member of the Trustees. Additionally, he has served several summers on the program staff at Camp Swatara in Atlantic Northeast District and has many friends throughout the Outdoor Ministries Association. He holds a bachelor of science degree in Social Science Secondary Education from Frostburg State University and a master of science degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Drexel University. He is a Nationally Board Certified Social Studies Teacher and continues as a lifetime Boy Scout leader and Eagle Scout. Additionally, he has volunteered as an Emergency Medical Technician with LaVale Volunteer Rescue Squad for more than 10 years. For more information about Camp Galilee go to www.camp-galilee.org .

-- “The People of God Set Priorities” is the title of the 2014 summer quarter of A Guide for Biblical Studies, the Brethren Press Bible study curriculum for adults. Written by Allen T. Hansell, with the “out of context” feature by Frank Ramirez, this issue of Guide offers weekly study sessions for Sunday school classes and small groups. The three themes for the study are: “Hope and Confidence Come from God,” “Living as a Community of Believers,” and “Bearing One Another’s Burdens.” Order from Brethren Press at www.brethrenpress.com or call 800-441-3712.

Rebekah Maldonado-Nofziger faces a flood in Virginia at the beginning of the BVS Coast to Coast ride
Photo by Chelsea Goss

Rebekah Maldonado-Nofziger faces a flood in Virginia at the beginning of the BVS Coast to Coast ride

-- “We're biking across the country advocating justice, encouraging the gift of service, and working for peace. Follow us in our journey!” write bicyclers Chelsea Goss and Rebekah Maldonado-Nofziger. Their cross-country tour, BVS Coast to Coast, promotes Brethren Volunteer Service and is on schedule to reach the Chicago area by the end of this week. Goss, of Mechanicsville, Va., and Maldonado-Nofziger, of Pettisville, Ohio, began the trip in May on Virginia’s Atlantic coast, and plan to reach Oregon’s Pacific coast by August. Follow the journey at http://bvscoast2coast.brethren.org or catch tweets and photos by following @BVScoast2coast. Communities interested in hosting them, or fellow cyclists interested in riding along for part of the journey, may contact bvscoast2coast@brethren.org or leave a telephone message with the BVS Office at 847-429-4383.

-- Brethren Volunteer Service and Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren are partnering for a BVS Connections Dinner on Thursday, June 26, at 6 p.m. These dinners are free and open to anyone who has served, supported, or may be interested in volunteering in the future with Brethren Volunteer Service. The menu will be a taco salad bar. Ben Bear, a current staff volunteer working with recruitment and orientations, will be hosting the event. There will be a time for BVS alumni in attendance to share how their time of service has shaped their priorities, faith, and world view. Please RSVP to 703-835-3612 or bbear@brethren.org or indicate your attendance on the Facebook event page “BVS Connections Dinner--Manassas, Va.” If you would like to see a BVS Connections Dinner event in your area or would be interested in having some BVS representation at a local or regional event, please contact Ben Bear for more information.

-- Lubungo A. Ron, a leader in Eglise des Freres au Congo in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has sent an e-mail sharing concern about a massacre of people in the Bafulero community, in a nearby village. “It is very sad to inform you about killing of more than 35 persons and 62 wounded with machete, gun, and knife yesterday night from Bafulero community in Mutarule, one of the villages of Uvira territory South Kivu province of DRCongo,” he wrote earlier this week. “People fled and numerous persons arrived here in the town. The wounded people were transferred in the hospital of Burundi, Bukavu, and Kenya yesterday by Red Cross International. People who were killed all were Christians who celebrate the Pentecost day in Mutatrule...under a Pentecost church for praying God. This killing is the outcome of land conflict between two ethnic groups in this area.” Concerns included the need for help for survivors and the displaced people. Eglise des Freres au Congo is a self-identified Brethren group in the Congo, who have been developing a relationship with the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service.

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A special event commemorates the 150th anniversary of the martyrdom of Elder John Kline

- On June 13-15 the John Kline Homestead has organized a weekend of events in memory of Elder John Kline, a Civil War-era leader in the Church of the Brethren and a martyr for peace. The highlight of the weekend is the play, “Under the Shadow of the Almighty,” depicting the last days of Elder Kline. The John Kline Riders will hold a heritage tour on horseback during the weekend. Other special events include activities for children and youth, lectures, historic house tours, and vesper services. Morning and afternoon activities based on Elder Kline’s interests and talents are planned for children age 6-11, junior highs age 12-14, and senior highs age 15-18, including crafts, music, scavenger hunts, and hikes, plus information about his gardening and medical practices. Most events are in the Broadway, Va., area. A full schedule and a weekend registration form are at http://johnklinehomestead.com/events.htm . On the registration form, senior adult prices are intended for those 65 and older.

-- Peters Creek Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., on June 22 will have a day of worship and education to remember the Battle of Hanging Rock and its effect on the church, according to an announcement from Virlina District. The Civil War battle took place June 21, 1864, and was fought near the Peters Creek Church at 5333 Cove Road, NW, in Roanoke. “The worship will include only hymns from before 1861 and be in the style of worship used by the Brethren at that time. David K. Shumate, Virlina District executive minister, will be the preacher for the worship,” said the district newsletter. The day will include educational presentations given by Clive Rice, whose wife Betty was a member of Peters Creek, and who has spent many years researching the Battle of Hanging Rock and is considered to be the expert on the battle. Rice’s presentations will be give before worship that morning, and again at 3 p.m. that afternoon. The afternoon event will include a hymn sing.

-- A Salvadoran sister church to Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind., is celebrating a 50th anniversary, according to the Manchester Church newsletter. “We pray for our sister church in El Salvador, Emmanuel Baptist,” the note said, adding prayer for “renewal of strength, new vision, and increased support.” Brad Yoder represented the congregation in worship and fellowship in El Salvador on the anniversary weekend.

-- First Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., is hosting a “Raise the Roof” concert and meal to raise funds to repair the roof of Camp Bethel’s Shelter-by-the-Spring. “Join us on Saturday, July 26,” said an invitation. Donations will be accepted. The meal begins at 4 p.m., with hot dogs, chili, baked beans, cole slaw, desserts, and drinks. At 5 p.m. is a steel drums concert. Please RSVP by July 22 to fcob2006@verizon.net .

-- Northern Plains District is announcing “some exciting new events” at this year's District Conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Aug. 1-3. A Women's Prayer Breakfast will be held Aug. 2 at 7 a.m. with leadership from Tara Hornbacker, professor of Ministry Formation, Missional Leadership, and Evangelism at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. The theme will be "Keep Calm and Pray Without Ceasing." Coffee and juice will also be available for men during this time, said the district newsletter. A Young Adult Dessert and Discussion on Aug. 2 at 12 p.m. will be held on the theme "A Real Life Faith: God in the Daily Details." Childcare activities are being expanded with leadership from Katie Shaw Thompson, and will include exploring a prairie labyrinth at the Indian Creek Nature Center. Youth will have a chance to meet with McPherson (Kan.) College representative Jen Jensen and enjoy the Noelridge Aquatics Center. The Witness Commission is collecting names of those who served as cowboys for Heifer Project, now Heifer International, and the names of Brethren Volunteer Service workers and college students. Also, the Witness Commission will be collecting donations of supplies for Church World Service Clean-Up Buckets and Hygiene Kits, and diapers for Haiti. More information is at nplains.org/dc .

-- In related news, members of Fairview Church of the Brethren will make a trip to Haiti to personally deliver diapers in advance of the Northern Plains District Conference. “The Northern Plains District has been sewing diapers for Haiti for several years,” reported the district newsletter. “The ladies sewing at Fairview talked about how fun it would be to take the diapers there and put them on the babies themselves. That conversation has taken wing...airplane wings, to be exact.” Three women from the congregation--Vickie Mason, Sarah Mason, and Diane Mason--will fly to Haiti in July to deliver more than 500 diapers sewn at Fairview, Ivester, and Panther Creek Churches of the Brethren. They will stay at the guesthouse operated by the Church of the Brethren in Haiti, and will participate in many projects with the Haitian Brethren as well as deliver the diapers and meet the babies, the newsletter said.

-- The Shenandoah Valley Writing Academy (SVWA) at Bridgewater (Va.) College takes place July 7-18. The SVWA provides teachers for elementary, middle school, and high school the opportunity to hone writing skills and learn to teach writing more effectively. Participants have two options to earn teacher licensure renewal points. “The focus is always on the students we teach,” said SVWA co-director Jenny Martin in a release from the college. “We write, read, and engage with new technology to meet students’ writing needs in the classroom.” The first option for registration is the course EDUC/ENG 475: Shenandoah Valley Writing Academy Writing Workshop in the Classroom, a team-taught course associated with registration in the SVWA. Upon completion of the course, participants receive three hours of undergraduate credit, which qualifies for 90 recertification points under option 1 of teacher licensure renewal. In addition to the two-week summer program, course registrants also take part in three Saturday seminars during the fall: Aug. 23, Oct. 4 and Nov. 15. Total cost for the course option is $325. Registration for the two-week summer program only costs $125. The deadline for registration is June 20. For more information see www.bridgewater.edu/writing-academy or contact Jenny Martin at jmmartin@bridgewater.edu or 540-271-0378.

-- Steven J. Schweitzer, academic dean and associate professor of Old Testament at Bethany Theological Seminary, will be the featured speaker at the Virlina District Practice of Ministry Day, Aug. 2, at Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren. He is the author of “Reading Utopia in Chronicles.” Practice of Ministry Day is required for students of the Christian Growth Institute and provides an opportunity for continuing education credits for ordained ministers. Cost is $50 for students in the Christian Growth Institute and $25 for ordained ministers or non-CGI learners.  The fee covers registration, lunch, and .6 continuing education units. For more information and a registration form, contact nuchurch@aol.com .

-- Western Pennsylvania District is planning a 2015 mission trip to Puerto Rico, to take place Jan. 17-24. “Are you ready to escape the cold and frigid air in January? Then think about a working vacation in sunny Puerto Rico,” said the announcement in the district newsletter. “God truly blesses everyone that spends time giving to others, no matter how small or large.” The mission trip will help the community of Caimito. Contact Shirley Baker, coordinator, at 724-961-2724.

-- Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village’s Auxiliary is selling daisies as a new aspect of its annual bake, food, and soup sale, on June 14 starting at 10 a.m. The Auxiliary is calling the event “Daisy Day,” said a release from the Church of the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md. Baked goods will be for sale in the Main Lobby. Other food including ham (country and regular) sandwiches, hot beef sandwiches, hot dogs, soup, and slices of cake and pie, may be purchased in the Dining Room. Cut daisies, at $5 a bunch, will be available in both locations. Ending time is about 1 p.m. or whenever food sells out. Pre-order daisies to be picked up at the sale by calling Diane Giffin, vice president of the Auxiliary and organizer of the flower sale, at 301-824-2340. Proceeds will be used for projects to enhance the lives of Fahrney-Keedy residents. Since its founding in 1955, the Auxiliary has contributed at least $500,000 for a wide variety of projects at the retirement community, the release said.

-- The National Council of Churches (NCC) “reset” its agenda at a Christian Unity Gathering--its first national meeting in more than three years, said a release. Member communions and partners came together in Washington, D.C., on May 19-20 for an event “filled with worship, music, Bible study, and a discussion of crucial national issues on which members will focus their attention,” the release said. “Foremost among those issues is the crisis of mass incarceration in the United States.” A Bible study on Isaiah 58 focused on mass incarceration, led by NCC Governing Board chair A. Roy Medley. A panel on the issue included Sojourners’ Jim Wallis, Iva E. Carruthers of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund, prison reform activist Janet Wolf, and Harold Dean Trulear of Healing Communities Prison Ministry and Prisoner Reentry Project of Philadelphia. Carruthers said the prison system was “the most virulent crisis at the heart of America’s moral center” and “a new caste system affecting millions of African-American and Hispanic families.” Also on the agenda: a celebration service and inaugural address by new NCC president and general secretary Jim Winkler; a new structure of four “convening tables” that include Theological Dialogue and Matters of Faith and Order, Interreligious Relations and Collaboration on Matters of Mutual Concern, Joint Action and Advocacy for Justice and Peace, and Christian Education, Ecumenical Faith Formation, Leadership Development; a tribute to Civil Rights leader Vincent Gordon Harding, who passed away during the time of the gathering. Officers and the governing board also condemned the death sentence in Sudan for Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag, whose only “crime” was to marry a Christian; thanked Habitat for Humanity for naming its summer building project in Vietnam in honor of the late Bob Edgar, NCC general secretary 2000-07; issued calls for human rights, peace, and security for Christians in the Middle East, Sudan, Syria, and Egypt; and issued a resolution on the violence and genocide in Darfur and South Sudan.

-- Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has published a release about the court case on the death of US peace activist Rachel Corrie, who was crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer more than a decade ago. Her parents Craig and Cindy Corrie were present in the Supreme Court of Israel on May 21 this year, appealing a verdict handed down last year by a judge in the Haifa District Court. The judge ruled that Corrie was responsible for her own death by entering Gaza during a time of conflict. The CPT release raised concerns that such a decision by an Israeli court “opens up the doors for legitimized attacks on internationals across Israel and Palestine,” and quoted the Corries’ attorney at the Haifa hearing: “While not surprising, the verdict is yet another example of impunity prevailing over accountability and fairness and it flies in the face of the fundamental principle of international humanitarian law--that in a time of war, military forces are obligated to take all measures to avoid harm to both civilians and their property,” said attorney Hussein Abu Hussein. Titled “Jerusalem: The Case of Rachel Corrie,” the full CPT release may be found at www.cpt.org/cptnet/2014/06/09/jerusalem-case-rachel-corrie .

-- A court sentence in Sudan ordering flogging and the death penalty for Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag has prompted an expression of “profound concern” from Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, according to a WCC release. He urged Sudan’s President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir to “prevent the implementation of this unjust and unconscionable sentence.” Ishag, a 27-year-old Sudanese woman, was criminally charged for converting from Islam to Christianity and charged with committing adultery for marrying a Christian man. In his letter, Tveit expressed shock over the court’s decision. “Whether Mrs. Mariam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag was born of Muslim parents or Christian parents, such a sentence runs counter to the letter and spirit of the Sudanese Constitution,” Tveit said. According to the Sudanese constitution, he added, all citizens have the “right to the freedom of religious creed and worship.” Tveit said that condemning Mariam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag violates a fundamental principle of international human rights law. Read full text of the letter at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/general-secretary/messages-and-letters/concern-over-mariam-yahya-ibrahim-ishags-death-sentence-in-sudan .

-- Betty Kingery has been honored by the United Methodist Administrative Council in Greene, Iowa, for her faithfulness and dedication to being the church pianist for the yoked congregation of the Church of the Brethren and the United Methodist Church. She also has been faithful in bringing a Heifer International Project quarter tube to church every Sunday, noted the announcement in the Northern Plains District newsletter. “Because of this, May was declared as ‘Betty Kingery Month’ and all donations to the Heifer Program were in her honor.” At the end of the month, $581.59 was given in her name.

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