Brethren bits for Jan. 8, 2016





Oakley Brick Church of the Brethren located between Decatur and Cerro Gordo, Ill., is working to pull together again after having lost the roof of the church building in a storm in late December. The church building also suffered severe flooding from rainfall. A report from the local newspaper noted that the congregation had experienced something similar in 1982 when the then 100 year old church had its roof ripped off by a tornado. However, this time the blow may be “mortal,” the news report warns, although the spirit of the congregation remains strong according to the pastor and volunteers who came out to help clean up. Volunteers who helped salvage items from the building included Tyler Morganthaler, a great-great-great-great-grandson of founder Leonard Blickenstaff, representing the seventh generation of his family to belong to the church. Read the full news report from the Herald and Review at http://herald-review.com/news/local/oakley-brick-church-of-the-brethren-pulls-together-again/article_e47692e8-b209-5b16-a864-c4679baa40f5.html .

-- Correction: Newsline reported an incorrect amount given to the Nigeria Crisis Fund after last summer’s tour by the Women’s Fellowship Choir of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The correct amount was $22,206.56.

M.M. Gameti (at right) posed for a picture with then-Annual Conference moderator David Steele, during Steele's visit to the church in India. This picture originally was captioned,
Photo by Jay Wittmeyer

M.M. Gameti (at right) posed for a picture with then-Annual Conference moderator David Steele, during Steele's visit to the church in India. This picture originally was captioned, "Two moderators," because at the time Gameti was serving as moderator of the First District Church of the Brethren in India.

-- Remembrance: Makanlal Mangaldas Gameti, 102, a leader, elder, and ordained minister in the First District Church of the Brethren in India, recently passed away. He was a member of the Vyara congregation and served as a faithful trustee on several Brethren trusts in India. A remembrance and call to prayer from the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service office noted that “he was instrumental in procuring the legal status of the First District as the legal successor to the Church of the Brethren in India. Pray for comfort for family and friends as they mourn his death.”

-- The Office of Ministry has shared the following updates about district leadership:
     The Shenandoah District Leadership Team has welcomed back district executive minister John Jantzi, effective Jan. 1. Jantzi has completed a two-month Special Circumstance Leave and plans to ease back into his executive duties through the winter.
     The Atlantic Southeast District Board has selected Victoria Ehret as interim district executive beginning Jan. 1. Here is new contact information for the district office: 7360 Ulmerton Road, #13C, Largo, Fl. 33771; 727-709-0603.
     The Missouri Arkansas District Leadership Team has selected Paul Landes to be interim district executive beginning Jan. 1. The contact information for the district office: 11911 E 62nd St, Kansas City, MO 64133; 816-231-1347 or 816-419-8902; Moark.district23@gmail.com .
     The Northern Ohio District Board has selected Kris Hawk to be interim district executive beginning Feb. 14. The District Office contact information remains the same.

-- Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) is seeking to fill the position of member services representative, Employee Benefits. This is a full-time hourly position based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The primary function is to perform the daily operations of the pension and insurance plans and provide plan information to staff and participants as requested. Duties include maintaining a working knowledge of all pension and insurance systems and products; serving as secondary customer service contact for Pension and Insurance; maintaining/processing daily operational work for Pension and Insurance; assisting with maintaining Pension Plan Summary Plan Description and Plan Highlights, as well as Legal Plan Document Supplements; and performing tasks for Church Workers Assistance Plan. The Member Services Representative for Employee Benefits may attend Annual Conference and Plan Sponsor meetings, as requested. The ideal candidate will have knowledge in employee benefits, including an understanding of pension and health and welfare plans. This position requires a person who is very detail oriented, with the ability to prioritize workloads; proficient with computer systems and applications; exceptional organizational and telephone skills; and, impeccable follow-up abilities are a must. The candidate must be able to interact effectively with customers to provide information in response to inquiries about products and services and to handle and resolve complaints. BBT is seeking candidates with strong verbal and written communications skills, proficiency in Microsoft Office, and a demonstrated track record of providing superior customer service and a willingness and ability to expand knowledge and effectiveness through classes, workshops, and pursuit of professional designations. Current and active membership in the Church of the Brethren is preferred; current and active membership in a faith community is required. Salary and benefits are competitive with Church Benefits Association agencies of comparable size and scope of services. A full benefits package is included. Send a letter of interest, résumé, three professional references, and salary-range expectation to Donna March at 1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120, or dmarch@cobbt.org . For more information about BBT, visit www.brethrenbenefittrust.org .
 
-- The Church of the Brethren is seeking an individual to fill a full-time salaried position of database administrator. The database administrator is part of the Organizational Resources team and reports to the director of Information Technology. Major responsibilities include planning, coordinating, testing and implementing changes to computer databases; running routine processes related to databases including data sync, merging, and purging; working with various organizational databases and reconciliation of discrepancies caused by flow of information; assisting with or managing website-related projects; generating various reports, assisting users, serving as backup to the manager of Information Technology when he/she is absent. Required skills and knowledge include skilled competency in database management and queries, communication and problem solving skills, ability to tend to multiple projects, orientation toward details and customer service, ability to maintain confidentiality. Computer software and database experience is required. An associate’s degree or equivalent experience is required. A bachelor’s degree is preferred. The following experience is helpful: Raiser’s Edge or other Customer Relationship (CRM) system, Convio or other web-building solution experience, and/or Crystal Reports. This position is based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Applications will be received immediately and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Qualified candidates are invited to request the application form by contacting the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; humanresources@brethren.org . The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

-- Atlantic Southeast District seeks a district executive minister for a half-time position (100 hours of work per month) available June 1. The district includes 17 congregations and 2 fellowships in Florida, and is culturally, ethnically, and theologically diverse. Its congregations are rural, suburban, and urban. The district has a strong interest in new church development and church renewal. The preferred candidate is a spiritually wise pastoral leader who offers inspiration and works collaboratively to envision the work of the district. Responsibilities include to serve as administrator of the board of the district, facilitating and giving general oversight to the planning and implementation of ministries as directed by District Conference and the District Board, and providing linkages to congregations, the Church of the Brethren, and Annual Conference agencies; assist congregations and pastors with placement; facilitate and encourage the calling and credentialing of persons to set-apart ministry; build and strengthen relationships with congregations and pastors; use mediation skills to work with congregations in conflict; promote unity in the district. Qualifications include a clear commitment to Jesus Christ demonstrated by a vibrant spiritual life with a commitment to New Testament values and to Church of the Brethren faith and heritage; membership in the Church of the Brethren required with ordination and pastoral experience preferred; a bachelor’s degree required, master of divinity degree or beyond preferred; strong relational, communication, mediation, and conflict resolution skills; strong administrative and organizational skills; competence with technology and ability to work in a “virtual office”; passion for the mission and ministry of the church, with an appreciation for cultural diversity; bi-lingual preferred; flexibility in working with staff, volunteer, pastoral, and lay leadership. Apply by sending a letter of interest and a resume via e-mail to OfficeofMinistry@brethren.org and contact three or four people who are willing to provide a letter of reference. Upon receipt of a resume the applicant will be sent a candidate profile that must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. The application deadline is Feb. 14.

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-- Missouri and Arkansas District seeks a district executive minister to serve in a part-time (20 hours per week) position. The district is made up of 13 congregations in Missouri and Arkansas, and is culturally and theologically diverse. Its congregations are rural and urban. The district’s mission is to challenge and equip congregations to discover anew and live God’s grace, spirit, and love. The preferred candidate is a person with dedication to Christ and the church, and with good interpersonal and organizational skills. Responsibilities include pastoral placement and support, communications, relating to the District Leadership Team, managing office functions, professional growth, and leadership development. Qualifications include a clear commitment to Jesus Christ, membership in the Church of the Brethren, with ordination and pastoral experience preferred; strong relational, communication, and conflict resolution skills; administrative and organizational skills; and comfort with modern technology. Apply by sending a letter of interest and a resume via e-mail to OfficeofMinistry@brethren.org and contact three or four people who are willing to provide a letter of reference. Upon receipt of a resume the applicant will be sent a candidate profile that must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. The application deadline is Feb. 15.

-- The US military has announced that combat positions will be opened to women, and Brethren Volunteer Service director Dan McFadden is monitoring the situation in conjunction with the Center on Conscience and War and in communication with the Selective Service System. The military’s move has implications for women being required to register for the draft at some future time. At the moment only men age 18-26 are required to register. Congressional legislation would be necessary to require women to register, McFadden reported. “Young women in the Church of the Brethren who identify as conscientious objectors should begin to think ahead and be aware that documenting their personal peace stance may be necessary,” said McFadden. More information and a curriculum on conscientious objection, which includes help for documenting a personal peace stance, is available free online at www.brethren.org/CO .

-- The Church of the Brethren is seeking to fill the position of 2016 Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) intern. The purpose of the BHLA intern program is to develop interest in vocations related to archives and libraries and/or Brethren history. The program will provide the intern with work assignments in the Brethren Historical Library and Archives and with opportunities to develop professional contacts. Work assignments will include processing archival materials, writing descriptive inventories, preparing books for cataloging, responding to reference requests, and assisting researchers in the library. Professional contacts may include attending archival and library conferences and workshops, visits to libraries and archives in the Chicago area, and participation in a Brethren Historical Committee meeting. BHLA is the official repository for Church of the Brethren publications and records. The collection consists of over 10,000 volumes, over 3,500 linear feet of manuscripts and records, over 40,000 photographs, plus videos, films, DVDs, and recordings. BHLA is located at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The rerm of service is one year, beginning June 2016 (preferred). Compensation includes housing, a stipend of $540 every two weeks, and health insurance. A graduate student is preferred, or an undergraduate with at least two years of college. Requirements include interest in history and/or library and archival work; willingness to work with detail; accurate word processing skills; ability to lift 30 pound boxes. Request an application packet by contacting the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; humanresources@brethren.org; 800-323-8039 ext. 367. All submissions must be completed by April 1.

-- Applications for Ministry Summer Service 2016 are due this Friday, Jan. 8. MSS is an internship program which challenges Church of the Brethren college students to consider where God may be calling them. Similarly, MSS challenges Brethren mentors and host sites to consider how God is moving within their ministry settings. During the summer, interns spend one week in orientation and go on to work at their host sites for nine weeks, developing their leadership skills and exploring a call to ministry. Host congregations and their leaders are challenged to meet the deep hunger of the world around them, including the hunger for new and fresh leaders. For more information or to apply, visit www.brethren.org/mss or contact Becky Ullom Naugle at 847-429-4385 or bullomnaugle@brethren.org .

-- Registration for National Young Adult Conference (NYAC) 2016 is open online at www.brethren.org/nyac . NYAC will take place May 27-30 on the campus of Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind. Based on Colossians 3:12-17, the theme will be “Creating Harmony.” Early bird registration, which is available during the month of January only, is $200. Regular registration is $250. Scholarships are available through April. Registration includes food, lodging, and programming. “Make plans to attend today...and register!” said an invitation from the office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

-- “Mark your calendar for the 2016 Clergy Tax Seminar,” said an invitation from the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. The annual tax seminar for clergy will be held on Monday, Feb. 29. Students, pastors, and other church leaders are invited to attend. Participants may attend either in person at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., or online. Sessions will cover tax law for clergy, changes for 2015 (the most current tax year to file), and detailed assistance as to how to correctly file the various forms and schedules that pertain to clergy (including housing allowances, self-employment, W-2s clergy reductions, etc.). The seminar schedule includes a morning session from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (eastern time) which offers .3 continuing education credit for live (in person or online) attendance; and an afternoon session from 2-4 p.m. (eastern). Leadership is provided by Deb Oskin, EA, NTPI Fellow, who has been doing clergy tax returns since 1989 when her husband became pastor of a small Church of the Brethren congregation. During her 12 years with H&R Block (2000-2011), she achieved their highest level of expertise certification (master tax adviser) and teaching certification (certified advanced instructor), and has earned the status of enrolled agent with the IRS (qualified to represent clients to the IRS). She currently operates her own independent tax service specializing in clergy taxes. Sponsors include the Brethren Academy, the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry, and Bethany Theological Seminary. Registration is $30 per person, with registration fees for Bethany and TRIM/EFSM/SeBAH students fully subsidized (free). Contact Academy@bethanyseminary.edu or 800-287-8822 ext. 1824 for additional information.

-- Two upcoming Interfaith Conferences on Drone Warfare are receiving support from the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness. The conferences are a project of the Peace Action Education Fund in cooperation with the Interfaith Working Group on Drone Warfare. The conferences are planned for early in 2016: the first will be held on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 10, in Coral Springs, Fla.; and the second will be on Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 3, at the Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. “These are the second and third of at least six interfaith regional events on drone warfare being organized as a follow-up to the Princeton Seminary National Conference in January 2015,” said an announcement. Find a flyer and more information at http://interfaithdronenetwork.org .
 
-- The latest Action Alert from the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Public Witness highlights this spring’s Ecumenical Advocacy Days as an opportunity to put faith into action. “Want to put your faith into action?” the alert said. “Lift your voice with the Office of Public Witness on April 15-18, 2016, as we gather to promote justice and peace at Ecumenical Advocacy Days 2016 (EAD). EAD invites Christians from all over the country to come to Washington, D.C., to lend a Christian voice to important matters in public policy. Together we will explore the theme ‘Lift Every Voice! Racism, Class, and Power’ in workshops over the weekend to learn how racism and privilege affect society. Participants will then visit members of Congress to advocate for just legislation.” Visit www.AdvocacyDays.org for more information and to register. If the cost is prohibitive, contact Jesse Winter at the Office of Public Witness at jwinter@brethren.org to learn about scholarship opportunities.

-- The University of La Verne, Calif., will host senior high youth and their advisors from Church of the Brethren congregations in Arizona, California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington over the weekend of Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 15-17, for a Western Regional Youth Conference. “During our time together we will take a look at the world we live in, ask big questions, explore our values, and dream about another way of living as the beloved community,” said an announcement. The weekend will include worship, workshop sessions, interacting with a scripture wall, music, videos, recreation, and opportunities for creative expression. The cost of $45 covers all meals and snacks. Leaders include Matt Guynn, program director for Nonviolent Social Change for On Earth Peace; Zandra Wagoner, university chaplain; Richard Rose, professor of Religion and Philosoph; and Eric Bishop, vice president of Chaffey College and outgoing Pacific Southwest District moderator. “Please be in prayer for this event,” requested the announcement.

-- Oakley Brick Church of the Brethren located between Decatur and Cerro Gordo, Ill., is working to pull together again after having lost the roof of the church building in a storm in late December. The church building also suffered severe flooding from rainfall. A report from the local newspaper noted that the congregation had experienced something similar in 1982 when the then 100 year old church had its roof ripped off by a tornado. However, this time the blow may be “mortal,” the news report warns, although the spirit of the congregation remains strong according to the pastor and volunteers who came out to help clean up. Volunteers who helped salvage items from the building included Tyler Morganthaler, a great-great-great-great-grandson of founder Leonard Blickenstaff, representing the seventh generation of his family to belong to the church. Read the full news report from the Herald and Review at http://herald-review.com/news/local/oakley-brick-church-of-the-brethren-pulls-together-again/article_e47692e8-b209-5b16-a864-c4679baa40f5.html .

-- “Thank you for your Christmas donations!” said the newsletter of Covington (Wash.) Community Church of the Brethren, where 25 soccer balls were donated to World Relief as gifts for newly-arrived refugee children over the holidays. Additionally, the newsletter reported, more than 120 pair of socks and leggings and some 40 personal hygiene items were donated to local homeless ministries.

-- Camp Swatara in Pennsylvania is hosting a “Come to the Well” event connected with the Springs of Living Water initiative for church vitality, on Jan. 11-12. The two days of “Come to the Well” are designed as “spiritually restoring days” for pastors and other church leaders, said an announcement from Springs leader David Young. Leaders for the two days include Bethany Seminary professor Dan Ulrich, who will speak on Lukan Texts for Lenten preaching; forester and wildlife artist Dan Christ who will lead and Sabbath Nature Walk; Leon Yoder who will lead vespers; as well as Young and Father Joe Currie, a Jesuit retreat leader and former India missionary, who will present the second day as a spiritual discernment retreat. Atlantic Northeast District is a partner in the event. For more information go to the Springs of Living Water website at www.churchrenewalservant.org or call David Young at 717-615-4515.

-- New Community Project has launched a “...But Not Forgotten...” campaign in Nepal, aiming to raise $29,000 to support the work of partner Shakti Samuha, an organization begun two decades ago by formerly trafficked women. The effort is in response to last spring's earthquake in Nepal which left the economy in ruins, and young women even more vulnerable to sex trafficking than previously. “Girls found themselves at a higher risk of being sent to India, the Gulf States, or even East Asia as traffickers preyed on families seeking income from any available source,” said an announcement from David Radcliff, director of the New Community Project. Programs to be funded include keeping young girls in school, helping formerly trafficked girls return to school or receive vocational training, providing microloans and small livestock to help communities rebound, and rebuilding one of hundreds of schools destroyed by the quake. Radcliff reports that many individuals and congregations have supported the campaign, and two Facebook fundraisers initiated by young adults have raised over $3,000. By the end of 2015, the grant was sent. An NCP Learning Tour will travel to Nepal from Jan. 11-22 to visit communities affected by the earthquake and observe the overall work of Shakti Samuha. For more information contact Radcliff at ncp@newcommunityproject.org .

-- The January program of “Brethren Voices” features Bonnie and Ken Kline Smeltzer speaking about the dangers that took their daughter's life, in the hopes of helping others be saved from a heroin death. Elizabeth Kline Smeltzer died of an unintentional heroin overdose in Jan. 2014. She was nearly 22 years old, and had been an occasional user of heroin who had previously completed a month-long residential drug treatment program. “The Journey Continues: Save at Least One Person from a Heroin Death” is the title of the January “Brethren Voices,” a community television show produced by Peace Church of the Brethren in Portland, Ore., hosted by Brent Carlson with Ed Groff as producer. Bonnie and Ken Kline Smeltzer are both ministers in the Church of the Brethren and have served as pastors for several congregations. Ken is the director of the annual Song and Story Fest gatherings. Bonnie serves as pastor of University Baptist and Brethren Church in State College, Pa.  Their journey with the Church of the Brethren has not always been easy, but the Kline Smeltzers did not want their daughter's problem to be a secret, hoping to help people learn of the dangers, said an announcement of the program from Ed Groff. “Young people need to know that you cannot play around with this stuff,” Ken Kline Smeltzer told Brethren Voices. Copies of the program can be obtained by contacting Groffprod1@msn.com .

-- Angela Finet, pastor at Nokesville Church of the Brethren in Virginia, was one of several church pastors interviewed for an article in the “Prince William Living” magazine of Manassas, Va., about how Christians celebrate Christmas. “Christmas is a celebration of God’s love being made real in the person of  Jesus. It’s a reminder that God is active in our world, and invites us to be part of continuing to make God’s love real through our example and service,” Finet told the magazine. Find the full article at http://princewilliamliving.com/2015/11/christmas-christian .

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