The Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., welcomed the We Are Able workcampers last week. This workcamp recognizes the gifts of youth and young adults with intellectual disabilities and gives them an opportunity to serve. This year, We Are Able served at projects around the Fox Valley area of northern Illinois. At the General Offices, they helped with a project for the Conference Office and led the Wednesday morning chapel service. The workcamp leader this year was Jeanne Davies, pastor of the Parables Ministry hosted at York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill.
-- Atlantic Northeast District seeks a district executive minister to fill a fulltime position. The district comprises 70 congregations, 6 fellowships, and 3 projects for a total of 79 churches. It is culturally, theologically, and geographically diverse, and has a strong interest in unity, cross-cultural ministry, and service. The preferred candidate is a spiritually wise pastoral leader who offers inspiration and works collaboratively to envision, guide, and oversee the work of the district. Responsibilities include serving as the administrator of the board of the district and providing oversight and administration of the district office and staff, assisting congregations and pastors with placement, facilitating and encouraging the calling and credentialing of persons to set-apart ministry, building and strengthening relationships with congregations and pastors, fostering unity in the district, and using mediation skills to work with congregations and/or agencies in conflict internally, with one another, or with the district. Qualifications include a clear devotion to Jesus Christ demonstrated by a vibrant spiritual life with a commitment to New Testament values and to Church of the Brethren faith, heritage, and polity along with strong relational and communication skills, mediation and conflict resolution skills, administrative and organizational skills, technological competence, flexibility in working with staff and volunteers as well as pastoral and lay leadership. Membership in the Church of the Brethren, ordination, and pastoral experience are required. A bachelor’s degree is expected, with a master’s degree, a master of divinity, or higher degree preferred. Apply for this position by sending a letter of interest and a resume via e-mail to OfficeofMinistry@brethren.org . Applicants are requested to contact three or four people who are willing to provide a letter of reference. Upon receipt of the resume, a candidate profile will be sent that must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. The application deadline is July 31.
-- Pacific Southwest District seeks a district youth advisor and a ministry training coordinator for the district. These are part-time contracted positions, which will be paid for hours worked, and the rate will be determined based on the employees’ skills and experience. The district youth advisor is responsible for calling and working with the District Youth Cabinet, coordinating youth events at District Conference and other times throughout the year, and, for the year ahead, coordinating district support of National Youth Conference 2018. The expectation is for 20-25 hours per month, with heavier work time around district events. A new position beginning this summer will be the ministry training coordinator. This individual will work with licensed ministers in TRIM, EFSM, and SeBAH, overseeing their progress, and working with students and leadership of the Brethren Academy. The expectation is for 15-20 hours per month. Apply by sending a cover letter outlining interest in and experience for the position, to the attention of Russ Matteson, District Executive Minister, at email@example.com . Attach a brief resume that details relevant education, training, and experience. Application review will begin Aug. 1 and will continue until the positions are filled.
-- A National Council of Churches podcast features Office of Public Witness director Nate Hosler speaking about the Going to the Garden ministry of the Church of the Brethren. Specifically, he talks about how churches are relating to community gardens, and about the unique Capstone Community Garden founded in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans by Church of the Brethren member David Young. Find the podcast, plus more information on community gardening, at www.brethren.org/publicwitness/going-to-the-garden.html .
-- Global Food Initiative manager Jeff Boshart has been interviewed by “Seed World” magazine, in an article titled “Faith Based and Seed Focused International Agricultural Development.” His opening statement: “I see incorporation of seed as an investment in capacity building, allowing our international partners to enhance their own skills and programs focused on food security and ultimately economic development.” Find the full interview, which reviews Boshart’s personal story, his professional experience in international development, and his philosophy of church involvement in agriculture, at http://seedworld.com/faith-based-seed-focused .
-- Jeff Boshart, Global Food Initiative manager, is sharing news of an important break-through collective bargaining agreement for farmworkers. A release that Boshart shared with Newsline reported: “On June 16, 2017, Familias Unidas por la Justicia and Sakuma Berry Farm signed an historic two year collective bargaining agreement.... We rejoice with the farm workers that they now have better wages and protections,” the release said, in part. Among the benefits union members will receive is an average $15 an hour wage. The contract will be in effect for two years, from June 16, 2017, to June 15, 2019.
-- The members of Loon Creek Church of the Brethren in South Central Indiana District have voted to disband their congregation, according to the district newsletter. The district board has appointed a committee to consider the future of the church building, have invited representatives from neighboring congregations to join in their discussions, and have asked the district to contribute ideas as they consider the future of the property on State Route 5, south of Huntington, Ind.
-- On July 10, First Church of the Brethren in Chicago, Ill., voted unanimously to support the Palestinian Christian churches’ call to boycott HP. “As a community of faith, we recognize that mass incarceration, restrictions on movement, and illegal settlements and occupation are unjust, unsustainable, and irresponsible practices,” said a statement provided to Newsline by Joyce Cassel, chair of the congregation’s Servant Leadership Board. “Until Hewlett Packard ends it complicity in the illegal Israeli occupation and ceases to profit from the violation of Palestinian human rights, we pledge to not buy Hewlett Packard products, including printers, computers, and ink. We encourage other churches to consider to this call.”
-- La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren awarded the annual Benton and Doris Rhoades Peace Award to Sarah Hamza, a student from the City of Knowledge School in Pomona, Calif. Hamza was honored for her video “All Around Me I See....” Dr. Haleema Shaikley, principal of the City of Knowledge School, accepted the award on Hamza’s behalf at the church’s Celebration of the Arts. A copy of the poem that narrated the video was published in the church newsletter in June. Here is the closing stanza:
“One day, as I fall asleep at night,
I dream of a world of peace and light.
But then around me I see,
People uniting and doing big and small things to regain peace,
And I realize no more do I need to dream.” -- Sarah Hamza
-- An article on a Master Gardeners Garden Walk in the “Goshen News” noted the participation of Middlebury (Ind.) Church of the Brethren. “The adventure started at the hospitality center at the Middlebury Church of the Brethren along C.R. 8 just west of the Krider Gardens. A plant exchange and craft sale of healthy potted plants and garden-related crafts contributed by Master Gardeners was attended to by this year’s willing participants who were eager to make the walk yet another successful experience," the article said. Find the full article at http://www.goshennews.com/news/lifestyles/the-dirt-on-gardening-another-successful-master-gardener-s-garden/article_9c0f60cf-9d4e-5229-9ab1-39eed9544e52.html
Northern Ohio District holds its district conference on July 28-29 at Hartville Church of the Brethren on the theme “Be Thoroughly Equipped” (2 Timothy 3:16-4:5). The event includes special activities for children (K-5) and a full weekend of events for junior and senior high youth. More information is at http://nodcb.memberzone.com/events/details/district-conference-2017-1126 .
-- Church of the Brethren members will lead Vespers at CrossRoads, the Valley Brethren Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., on July 23 and July 30. The John Kline Riders, representing several Church of the Brethren congregations, will share the story of Elder John Kline for Children’s Night at vespers ton Sunday, July 23, at 7 p.m. On July 30, at 7 p.m., Youth Night vespers will feature a message by Walt Wiltschek of Linville Creek Church of the Brethren and music by Jonathan Prater of Mt. Zion/Linville Church of the Brethren. Bring lawn chairs, and relax in the peaceful outdoor setting.
-- “Created to Create,” a spiritual development retreat, takes place Saturday, Sept. 30, in the House of Pillars at Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va. The scripture focus will be Isaiah 64:8, “Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Stephanie L. Connelly, an artist and a member of New Covenant Church of the Brethren, will be the retreat leader. For more information contact the Virlina District at firstname.lastname@example.org .
-- African American pastors and church leaders have been speaking with Republicans and Democrats to protest a “devastating budget and its adverse effects on the poor of this country,” according to a release from the National Council of Churches. “The National African American Clergy Network came to Washington, D.C., to call on black clergy from around the country to stand up for justice and human dignity for all Americans,” the release said. “On July 18, a diverse coalition of Black clergy and lay leaders met with key members of Congress, including staff of House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senator Chuck Schumer to plead on behalf of the most vulnerable Americans are protected and that our leaders pass a budget that is faithful, just, and cares for all of God’s children.” Eleven clergy leaders spoke at a rally and prayer vigil outside the US Capitol. Their comments addressed the need for affordable health care, and the problems of militarization, deportation, and incarceration. “Our law book (the Bible) says, ‘Woe unto those who legislate evil, and rob the poor of their rights, and make women and children their prey.’ These people here make a big deal out of putting their hands on the Bible to be sworn into office; we have come to tell them what is inside of it,” commented William Barber, architect of the Moral Mondays movement, and founder of Repairers of the Breach. A follow up social media campaign is designed to magnify the concerns people of faith have about the federal budget and health care proposals currently in Congress, follow the hashtags #BlackClergyUprising and #BlackClergyVoices.
-- Christian leaders in Jerusalem have issued a call to maintain access to al-Aqsa Mosque and its courtyard, as well as other holy sites in the city, according to a release from the World Council of Churches.
The WCC staff are expressing deep concern and request prayer following today’s news of flaring violence in the area. “Three Palestinians have been killed and dozens if not hundreds were hurt in clashes with Israeli police across the West Bank and East Jerusalem as tensions that began in the Temple Mount spread,” reports the newspaper Haaretz. “Police presence in Jerusalem was virtually unprecedented on Friday as prayers and protests on the Temple Mount turned violent” (find the Haaretz update at www.haaretz.com/israel-news/LIVE-1.802668 ).
In their letter about the situation around the mosque, the patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem expressed concerns over changes in the historical status quo of holy sites. “Any threat to its continuity and integrity could easily lead to serious and unpredictable consequences, which would be most unwelcome in the present tense religious climate,” the letter reads. The WCC reported that “last week, after three Palestinians and two Israeli police officers were killed in a gun battle in the mosque compound, Israeli police closed and cancelled Friday noon prayers at the mosque, marking the first time in decades for such a closure.” Find the church leaders’ letters at www.elcjhl.org/2017/07/19/jerusalem-heads-of-churches-release-statement-concerning-haram-ash-sharif .
-- The WCC is reporting on a launch event for the first-ever action plan specifically designed to enable religious leaders to prevent incitement to violence. The Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent Incitement to Violence that Could Lead to Atrocity Crimes was launched by secretary-general António Guterres at a meeting at United Nations Headquarters in New York, on July 14. The Action Plan was developed in response to “an alarming spike in recent years in hate speech and incitement to violence against individuals or communities, based on their identity,” the release said. “Incitement to violence, in public discourse and the media, is both a common warning sign and a precursor of atrocity crimes. The Action Plan is the first document to focus on the role of religious leaders and actors in preventing incitement to violence that could lead to atrocity crimes and the first to develop context specific regional strategies with this objective.” The WCC release gave the history of the plan, which was “developed over two years of intensive consultations at the global and regional levels organized by the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, with the support of the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID), the World Council of Churches (WCC), and the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers. A total of 232 religious leaders and actors from 77 countries took part in the consultations. Participants included Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and Sikhs from different groups and denominations, as well as representatives from various religious minorities, including Baha’i, Candomblé, Kakai, Yazidi and humanists. At least 30 percent of participants at all meetings were women.” Read the plan at www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/documents/Plan%20of%20Action%20Advanced%20Copy.pdf . On social media, follow #FezProcess.
-- Brian Flory, pastor of Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., made the news this week when he was one of those interviewed by the “Journal Gazette” at a health care demonstration outside the E. Ross Adair Federal Building and US Courthouse. “Regardless of what you may have heard the last six months, health care is not a political issue, it’s not a fiscal budgetary issue. It’s a human being issue. It’s also a faith issue,” Flory told the newspaper. “I’ve not met anyone yet who believes the Affordable Care Act is perfect. But the answer is to work together to improve coverage and to ensure quality health care for everyone.” He told the paper that he obtained medical insurance through the Affordable Care Act, “so this is personal for me.” Find the newspaper article at www.journalgazette.net/news/local/20170718/dozens-demonstrate-against-gop-health-care-bill .
-- Lowell Miller of Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren will celebrate his 100th birthday on July 28.