Brethren Volunteer Service was named as one of the “Service Programs that Change the World: Class of 2017,” in a blog from the Huffington Post. BVS staff responded on Facebook, writing, “Thanks to our volunteers for inspiring and embodying!” Find the Huffington Post article and listing of volunteer organizations at www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/give-a-year-gain-a-lifetime-service-programs-that_us_587d48a2e4b06992b1b60a2a .
-- Remembrance: Terry L. Shumaker, 72, of Fort Wayne, Ind., died Jan. 14 at his home. He was a member of the former General Board of the Church of the Brethren, serving in the mid-1990s, and also served in various district leadership positions including moderator of South Central Indiana District where he also served on the district board, and on the district board of Shenandoah District. He served on the board of Camp Alexander Mack, and on the Committee on Interchurch Relations as well as the New Church Development Committee. He had been a pastor in the Church of the Brethren for many years, in both South Central Indiana District, where he was ordained, and in Shenandoah District. He was born Sept. 1, 1944, in Des Moines, Iowa, to Edward “Jack” and Betty Carter-Shumaker. He married Carolyn Miller in 1965. He held degrees from Huntington (Ind.) College, Indiana University, and Earlham School of Religion. A memorial service is planned for Saturday, Jan. 21, at Silver Creek Church of God in Silver Lake, Ind. Greeting time is from 10-11 a.m. followed by the service at 11 a.m.-12 noon. “Our prayers are with Carolyn and family, as well as the many whose lives have been touched by Terry’s ministry,” said a prayer request from South Central Indiana District.
-- The trustees of Camp Galilee in West Marva District are looking for an individual to serve as camp manager. Applicants should have a solid Christian foundation and live a life that reflects these values and have a love for children of all ages and the outdoors. A minimum of a high school education and basic computers skills are required. Responsibilities include inspecting and coordinating with the caretaker to maintain the buildings and grounds; working with cooks to prepare menus and food orders; keeping records for camps, finances, insurance, regulatory agencies, etc.; and overseeing all other operations of the camp with the help of the trustees. Most responsibilities are during the months of April through October and the manager must be willing to stay at the camp when campers are present. An apartment and all meals are provided as well as a limited mileage allowance for travel. Salary is negotiable. Request an application from the West Marva District Office at 301-334-9270. Questions may be directed to one of the following trustees: Mark Seese 304-698-3500; Bob Spaid 304-290-3459; Cathy McGoldrick 301-616-1147.
Some seven tons of food donated for Martin Luther King Day Food Drive in Elgin, Ill., was collected at the warehouses of the Church of the Brethren General Offices this past weekend, and distributed to eight area food pantries. The General Offices’ warehouse facility has hosted the food collection for several years now. The Elgin Courier-News reported that the food drive this year did not quite meet the goal of eight tons but came close. Organizer Joseph Wars “focused on the impact of feeding needy families,” said the newspaper report. Over the six years that Wars has organized the effort on behalf of the city, the annual food drive has raised a total of more than 30 tons of food. Among organizations giving donations of food to the effort was Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren, which is located in Elgin. Read the Courier-News story at www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/elgin-courier-news/news/ct-ecn-elgin-mlk-food-drive-st-0117-20170116-story.html .
Pictured above: Food drive organizer Joe Wars with Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein from Elgin's Congregation Kneseth Israel synagogue, sitting in front of the large collection of donated food in the General Offices warehouse. Photo by Jay Wittmeyer
-- The National Council of Churches in the USA (NCC) seeks an operations manager and executive assistant to provide administrative and organizational support to the general secretary/president of the NCC and to oversee all office management, computer networks and systems, office equipment, contracts administration, and human resources administration. This position will be located in the NCC’s Washington, D.C., offices and is non-exempt and non-bargaining unit. Since its founding in 1950, the NCC has been a leading force for ecumenical cooperation among Christians in the United States. The 38 NCC member communions are from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American, and peace churches and include 45 million people in more than 100,000 congregations. The Church of the Brethren is a founding member. Qualifications include a bachelor’s degree preferred, or significant operational and administrative experience; proficiency in Microsoft Office and Outlook with experience with GoogleDocs and WordPress preferred; experience working with Neon or other CRM database systems preferred; passion for ecumenism and the work of the NCC preferred; membership in an NCC member communion preferred; among others. An annual salary of $58,000 and pension benefits are offered, with 22 days of paid vacation, and a significant health care insurance subsidy. For detailed information go to http://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/job-announcement-operations-manager-and-executive-assistant . To apply, send a cover letter and resume by Feb. 15 to: Jim Winkler, General Secretary/President, National Council of Churches, firstname.lastname@example.org .
-- Global Mission and Service is praising God for the graduation of students from the livelihood training programs of Centre for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives (CCEPI) in Nigeria. “The program, which is sponsored by the Nigerian Crisis Fund, lasts six to nine months and trains widows and orphans in livelihood skills such as soap-making, computer programming, and tailoring,” said the prayer request. “The graduates received equipment such as sewing machines and computers to help start their own business. The program trains 75 participants in three locations.”
The prayer request also noted recent violence in northeastern Nigeria and requested prayer for the loved ones of those killed in Boko Haram bombing attacks in Madagali and the University of Maiduguri, and those killed when the Nigerian air force mistakenly bombed an IDP camp of displaced people in Rann. Roxane Hill, coordinator of the Nigeria Crisis Response, reports that the Rann camp is not one where the crisis response program of the Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has been involved. It is not likely that any EYN members were among some 170 people who were killed, she said via e-mail. Both the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders have been offering aid to the camp. In a tragic follow-up, today the Associated Press is reporting that Boko Haram extremists have attacked the Rann camp just days after the air force bombing on Tuesday. Find the AP report in the Washington Post at www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/boko-haram-attacks-camp-bombed-by-nigerias-air-force/2017/01/20/2c792532-defa-11e6-8902-610fe486791c_story.html .
-- Global Mission and Service worker Robert Shank, who has been serving in North Korea as a dean and teacher at PUST (Pyongyang University of Science and Technology), has been teaching courses at the University of Havana, Cuba, this week. Global Mission and Service staff report that he was invited to present lectures on molecular biology and plant breeding.
-- This weekend district executive ministers from the 24 Church of the Brethren districts will be traveling to Florida to attend meetings of the Council of District Executives. The council holds an annual meeting in Florida every January. Other church leaders also will meet with the district executives and will hold meetings in conjunction with their winter meeting, including the denomination’s Leadership Team (the Annual Conference officers and the general secretary) and the board chairs and executives of the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board, Bethany Theological Seminary, Brethren Benefit Trust, and On Earth Peace.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is being observed by Christians around the world from Jan. 18-25. This annual observance is sponsored by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Roman Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which have jointly prepared and published the resources since 1968. Material for this year’s celebration was prepared in Germany and highlights the commemoration of 500 years since the Reformation, “reflecting on the legacy of the Reformation and the current spirit of reconciliation in Christ,” said an announcement. Find out more at www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/unity-prayers-to-recall-reformation-celebrate-reconciliation .
-- Haxtun (Colo.) Church of the Brethren is celebrating its 100th anniversary of its church building with an open house on Sunday, Jan. 22. Events will include re-dedication of the worship space with a service starting at 2:45 p.m., as well as an art exhibit and organ and piano music. The “Holyoke Enterprise” is reporting that “the building reflects numerous individuals, most now gone, whose monetary, spiritual, and visual contributions remain etched in its history. The details of that history tell a story not just of a building but also of a people and their faith. It is a narrative that began centuries before the Jan. 7, 1917, dedication of a newly constructed house of worship on the northwest corner of Logan and Chase streets in Haxtun.” Find the news report at www.holyokeenterprise.com/news/local-news/haxtun-church-building-holds-a-century-of-history-CA103895 .
-- University Baptist Brethren Church in State College, Pa., for many years has hosted an Alternative Christmas Fair. “In typical Brethren fashion I've hesitated to ‘toot our horn’ about this event but it is truly amazing!” reports pastor Bonnie Kline Smeltzer. “In about three hours we raise $40,000-plus for over 20 non-profit organizations.” The 2016 fair was held on Sunday, Dec. 4, and collected some $44,300. Find an article about the event in the Centre Daily Times at www.centredaily.com/news/local/community/state-college/article118851118.html .
-- Evergreen Church of the Brethren in Stanardsville, Va., is participating in the Souper Bowl of Caring by collecting soup and other canned goods for a local charity, with a goal of collecting more than 104 cans of food. The congregation is challenging other churches to “pick your own local charity and participate in Souper Bowl 2017,” according to the Shenandoah District newsletter. Find out more about this annual nation-wide food drive at https://souperbowl.org .
-- Chiques Church of the Brethren, Manheim, Pa., has sent a workcamp group to Haiti. The 16 people who are serving for a week with l’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti (Church of the Brethren in Haiti) will work on renovations to the Brethren ministry center and guesthouse in Croix-des-Bouquets, will assist with a mobile medical clinic, and will help out with relief efforts that are continuing following Hurricane Matthew.
-- Little Swatara Church of the Brethren in Bethel, Pa., is sending a group of 10 to serve in Haiti from Feb. 4-11. “We will be staying at a YWAM base in St. Marc and helping construct a home for two families and community ministry,” reports pastor Matt Christ. The group includes Christ along with Ashly and Dan Landis, John and Dianne High, Josh and Cheryl Straw, Leah Blatt, Tiffany Bicksler, and Patti Timmons.
-- Washington (D.C.) City Church of the Brethren is hosting events related to the inauguration and marches occurring in the nation’s capital this weekend. This afternoon the church hosted one of several trainings in nonviolence and active bystander intervention. Tomorrow morning starting at 8:30 a.m. through 10 a.m. it will be a meeting point for Brethren attending the Women’s March in Washington. The church is located at the corner of 4th and North Carolina SE, just off of Pennsylvania Avenue. Find out more at www.facebook.com/events/1655427671423888 .
-- Bunkertown Church of the Brethren in McAlisterville, Pa., hosted a healing service on Sunday, Jan. 15, for the congregation of Niemonds Independent Church in Richfield, Juniata County, which was devastated by a fire. Investigators said the fire likely started in the church’s kitchen. See the news report at www.dailyitem.com/news/local_news/congregation-of-fire-damaged-church-will-hold-healing-service/article_34ba4ccf-5376-5e27-8c3d-aa89f075552f.html .
-- Moler Avenue Church of the Brethren in Martinsburg, W.Va., is gaining media attention for its generous aid to people in need this winter season. The church “is serving up home-cooked meals and offering clothes to people in need,” said a news report in December. Church volunteers are handing out free home-made meals and clothes in hopes of furthering their mission, “and the community is responding,” the report said. The newspaper quoted one volunteer, Joyce Fink, who said she gets “a lot of hugs from the people, and they know if they need anything they ask me.” The online report includes a video interview with pastor Eddie Edmonds. Go to www.your4state.com/news/west-virginia/martinsburg-soup-kitchen-offers-up-more-than-the-standard-experience/623968475 .
-- Living Stream Church of the Brethren, the denomination’s first online congregation, is publicizing a “Called to Community” Conference being held on Jan. 27 by the Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand. The event is the association’s 2017 National Gathering at the Long Point Conference Center outside of Sydney, Australia, on the theme, “A Weekend of Exploring Christ-Centered Community.” Online coverage starts at 3 a.m. (Eastern time) and the event will be live streamed, according to the announcement. For more information go to https://livestream.com/livingstreamcob/Called-to-Community?origin=event_published&mixpanel_id=13ac92ab2ea212-0c76a215fa61a18-43612442-fa000-13ac92ab2ebb2&acc_id=20280207&medium=email .
-- Dates for the 2017 Meat Canning Project are April 17-20 and 24-25, at Christian Aid Ministries in Ephrata, Pa. “The goal is to can approximately 50,000 pounds of chicken,” said an announcement. “The meat canning project is a great way for us to minister to those in need during these difficult economic times.” The project is jointly sponsored by two Church of the Brethren districts, Mid-Atlantic District and Southern Pennsylvania District, and is “powered” by numerous volunteers and donations.
-- “Peacemaking on a global scale is vital,” says an announcement of a new initiative at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. The college has created an informative graphic addressing the statistics of conflict and violence with the intention of keeping the ideals of peace and peacemaking alive and to help keep the public aware of “where we’ve been and where we’re going,” said a release. “With an estimated 191 million people dying due to conflict, the 20th century was one of the most violent periods in human history. The Second Republic of the Congo Civil War has taken the lives of 5 million, alone. On a local scale, more Americans die in gun-related deaths every six months than have died in the last 25 years in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, combined. Throughout human history there has been conflict, and in every conflict there has been a group of peacemakers dedicated to resolving differences, reconciling hurts and aggressions and finding a way to live together in community.” Find this new Internet resource at www.etown.edu/news/infographics/peacemaking.aspx .
-- Manchester University has selected a musician and author to be the keynote speaker at its 49th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance and Rededication Ceremony, said a release from the school. Daryl Davis, “who has made it his quest to understand and combat racism” will be the speaker for the special event, the release said. The presentation on the theme “No Place for Hate” takes place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, in Cordier Auditorium on the campus in North Manchester, Ind. It is free and open to the public. “The observance commemorates King’s last speech at a college campus,” the release notes. “He presented ‘The Future of Integration’ at Manchester on Feb. 1, 1968, two months before he was slain in Memphis, Tenn.” Davis’ journey to understand racism is featured in the documentary “Accidental Courtesy,” http://accidentalcourtesy.com .
-- The Kline-Bowman Institute for Creative Peacebuilding and the Forum for Brethren Studies at Bridgewater (Va.) College are presenting a symposium on the topic “Anabaptist Non-Resistance in the Age of Terror,” to be held March 16-17. Speakers include several Church of the Brethren members--Robert Johansen, professor emeritus at the Kroc Center, University of Notre Dame, addressing policing instead of military force; Donald Kraybill, emeritus at the Young Center and Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, addressing the Nickle Mines shooting and non-resistance on the personal level; Andrew Loomis of the Department of State addressing violence prevention; and past Annual Conference moderator Andy Murray, formerly of the Baker Institute at Juniata College--as well as Elizabeth Ferris of Georgetown University addressing refugee security; and Musa Mambula of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) who currently is a visiting scholar at Bethany Theological Seminary. The opening panel discussion will be free and open to the public. Friday’s program, which includes lunch, is open to the public for a registration fee of $20. Contact Robert Andersen at email@example.com or Steve Longenecker at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. For a list of speakers and issues to be explored go to http://files.constantcontact.com/071f413a201/af7daa23-fceb-4dba-a595-93f471b6573c.pdf .
-- The World Council of Churches (WCC) is planning a World Mission Conference to take place in March 2018. A recent planning meeting for the conference was hosted by the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Global Ministries in Atlanta, Ga. The World Mission Conference will be held Tanzania on the theme “Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship.” More than 700 delegates from churches worldwide are expected to attend, according to a WCC release. The conference will be the first such event to be held in Africa since 1958, when it was hosted in Ghana. The first World Mission Conference was held in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1910. A series of conferences has followed at approximately 10-year intervals.
-- “The world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population,” reports the Guardian newspaper of London, citing a report by Oxfam, a charity based in the UK. The report was published to coincide with the World Economic Forum, the newspaper said. Oxfam listed the eight “rich men headed by the Microsoft founder Bill Gates” who are worth $426 billion, which the newspaper said is equivalent to the wealth of 3.6 billion people or the poorest 50 percent of the world’s population. “Oxfam blamed rising inequality on aggressive wage restraint, tax dodging and the squeezing of producers by companies, adding that businesses were too focused on delivering ever-higher returns to wealthy owners and top executives,” the Guardian said. Last year, the newspaper noted, “Oxfam said the world’s 62 richest billionaires were as wealthy as half the world’s population. However, the number has dropped to eight in 2017 because new information shows that poverty in China and India is worse than previously thought, making the bottom 50 percent even worse off and widening the gap between rich and poor.” Find the Guardian news piece at www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/jan/16/worlds-eight-richest-people-have-same-wealth-as-poorest-50 . Find the Oxfam report at http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/an-economy-for-the-99-its-time-to-build-a-human-economy-that-benefits-everyone-620170 .
-- “In Elkhart County, a point of light is beaming into the Nigerian Church of the Brethren. And it’s all thanks to an 11-year-old Goshen girl,” reports the Goshen (Ind.) News. Sixth grader Gretchen Showalter of Middlebury Church of the Brethren is selling hand-made items to benefit the Nigeria Crisis Response, inspired by the plight of the schoolgirls abducted from Chibok. She sells the crafts in a small store she set up at her church, called Knick Knacks for Nigeria. “Items include small pieces of jewelry, notebook covers, children’s gifts and dream catchers. Her prices vary from 50 cents to $11, with 90 percent of her profit funding the Nigerian church. She keeps 10 percent for new supplies,” the newspaper reported. “So far Gretchen has sent one check to the Nigerian Crisis Fund for $500 and now she has at least $200 she will be sending.” See www.goshennews.com/news/local_news/year-old-goshen-girl-sells-crafts-to-aid-nigerian-church/article_9cb9ce9f-79a8-5bff-a93b-1a23e569978c.html .