“The church collected 76 boxes of books for the community of Flint, Mich.,” reported the Workcamp Ministry of the Church of the Brethren, in a Facebook post this week. “We are estimating around 2,500 books! The church can do a lot of good things when we come together!” Workcampers spent a day distributing the books at a local festival in Flint.
-- Remembrances (more information about life accomplishments and memorial services for some of the following people will be shared in upcoming issues of Newsline):
The “Conference Journal” during the 2017 Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., “noted with sadness the passing of two venerated Brethren matriarchs”:
Elsa Groff, 94, passed away June 25. She was a nurse at the Brethren hospital in Castañer, Puerto Rico, from its founding and for many years afterwards. Jaime Diaz, pastor of Castañer Church of the Brethren, said, “I always told her she is the Mother Teresa of the church in Puerto Rico.”
Florence Daté Smith died June 26 in Eugene, Ore. She was a survivor of the Japanese-American internment camps, and was interned at Topaz from 1943-45. She was one of the early members of the Global Women’s Project board, was a Church of the Brethren representative to the National Council of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and took part in the Historic Peace Churches teachers exchange with the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima, Japan. While a member of York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill., she served as director of education for the congregation. While attending Springfield Church of the Brethren, she was a member on the Brethren Community Services Board.
Shantilal P. Bhagat, who served on the denominational staff for many years, died on Friday, July 7. His children were with him at Hillcrest, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in La Verne, Calif., as he was declining, reported Pacific Southwest District executive minister Russ Matteson. Last year, he was honored with the Revelation 7:9 award from the denomination’s Intercultural Ministries. Originally from India, where he worked with the church for 16 years at the Rural Service Center in Anklesvar, he came to the United States to take a position in Elgin, Ill., in 1968. He served with the former General Board for more than 30 years in a variety of roles including coordinator of Social Services for the Foreign Mission Commission, Community Development consultant, Asia representative, United Nations representative, Global Justice consultant, Education/Economic Justice consultant, staff and then director of Eco-Justice and Rural/Small Church Concerns. From 1988-97 he wrote three books, many articles, and several education/resource packets. In 1995, he was honored by the Black Church Committee in appreciation for his editing the resources “Racism and the Church, Overcoming the Idolatry,” and “Now is the Time to Heal Our Racial Brokenness.”
Ray Tritt, a former Church of the Brethren mission worker in Nigeria, passed away on June 28. He served in Nigeria from 1960-63, supervising the construction of hospitals, schools, and other buildings. He brought work experience gained when he served in Brethren Volunteer Service in Kassell, Germany, in 1953-55. There he helped to build Brethren Haus, a hostel and a center for relief operations in Germany during the years following World War II, and a key place in the development of the Brethren Service effort in Europe. A memorial service celebrating his life is planned for Saturday, July 8, at Westminster Presbyterian Church in DeKalb, Ill. A full obituary is online at www.legacy.com/obituaries/aurora-beacon-news/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=185963618 .
Beth Glick-Rieman, 94, died at home in Ellsworth, Maine, on May 13. She had been an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren and from 1975-78 served on the denominational staff as Person Awareness coordinator, a position created to develop programing to sensitize groups and individuals about the issues of the roles of men and women, equality, and personhood. She was born Elizabeth Cline Glick on Oct. 2, 1922, to Effie Iwilla Evers Glick and John Titus Glick, in Timberville, Va. Her father was a minister in the Church of the Brethren, and a farmer. She was a graduate of Bridgewater (Va.) College, where she earned a bachelor of science degree in Music Education. She became a public school music teacher and organist in Somerset County, Pa., where she met and married Glenn Walker Rieman in 1947. She went on to earn a master’s degree in Religious Education, and then a doctor of ministry from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. She started her own consulting company, Human Empowerment In Religion and Society (HEIRS), and worked as a consultant in California and other areas of the west coast. Her volunteer service to the Church of the Brethren included a term as representative to the World Council of Churches. As a lifelong pacifist, she marched with the Peace People movement in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. She is survived by children Jill Christine Rieman Klingler of Cincinnati, Ohio; Marta Elizabeth Clayton Rieman of Ellsworth, Maine; and Eric Glick Rieman of Berkeley, Calif.; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Two children died before her, Peggy Ruth Rieman (age 19), and Linnea Rieman (stillborn at term). Memorial services will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Ellsworth on Saturday, July 8, and at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley in Kensington, Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 30.
-- The Church of the Brethren seeks a full-time packer for Material Resources at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The packer folds quilts and blankets, opens cartons, fills tables with materials as needed, and assists with unloading when requested. The packer also works with volunteer groups, answers the doorbell, receives donations, and acts as a backup packer for other programs. Required skills and knowledge include the ability to handle a variety of tasks accurately and efficiently, comprehension of product codes and other detailed information, working compatibly and cooperatively with co-workers and volunteers. Must be able to lift 50 pounds, and have the ability to work with minimal supervision. The preferred candidate will have a high school diploma or equivalent, or equivalent experience. Applications will be received beginning 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: Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; COBApply@brethren.org . The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
-- Timbercrest Senior Living Community (www.timbercrest.org) seeks an executive director to lead its 300 resident retirement community in North Manchester, Ind. The community is one of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes and is Church of the Brethren affiliated. The community has 200 employees serving residents across the following unit profile: 65 healthcare beds, 142 licensed residential care apartments, 79 entrance fee neighborhood homes, and 16 market rate rental homes. The executive director reports to a 14-member board of directors and provides oversight to an $11 million annual budget. Preferred candidates will have a master’s degree, be eligible for NHA licensure in Indiana, have 7 to 10 years of not-for-profit senior leadership experience, be comfortable in the board room, have a passion for serving older adults, be a Christian who is active in a faith community, hold an appreciation for the Anabaptist faith tradition, and demonstrate a commitment to living in the Midwest. Contact Kirk Stiffney with Stiffney Group at 574-537-8736 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
-- The World Council of Churches (WCC) is looking for a program executive for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation to facilitate reflection and action on dialogue and cooperation with other religions, especially with Islam and Judaism. The deadline for applications is July 30. Find a full description of the position opening and more information at www.oikoumene.org/en/get-involved/job-openings/vacancy-programme-executive-interreligious-dialogue-and-cooperation/view .
-- The 2017 Annual Conference received two new fellowships and three new congregations into the denomination. The new fellowships are the Lost and Found Church in Michigan District, and the Wildwood Gathering in Pacific Northwest District. The new congregations are Iglesia de Cristo Sion in Pomona, Calif., in Pacific Southwest District, and two congregations in Michigan District, Common Spirit Church of the Brethren in Grand Rapids, and the Church in Drive Church of the Brethren based out of the Standing in the Gap Ministry at Saginaw Valley State University.
-- Church of the Brethren general secretary David Steele is holding listening sessions in Michigan District, as follows: at the Church in Drive on Wednesday, July 19, at 7 p.m.; and at Hope Church of the Brethren on Thursday, July 20, at 7 p.m.
-- So far, online donations received from viewers of the Annual Conference webcasts have totaled $2,755. The donations were received from 44 “entities” (people and/or churches). In addition, three churches each sent in $100 by check in support of the webcasts.
-- A Snapchat filter created for the Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., was viewed 3,773 times and was used in 134 total snaps, according to the denomination’s web staff. “Those could be individual users or the same user using the filter multiple times,” the staff explained. “A view is defined as when a somebody views a snap that uses the filter. The filter was swiped over 1,000 times. A swipe is defined as a user seeing the filter as an option when creating a snap.”
-- Legislators are invited to a Nigeria Briefing in Washington, D.C., organized by the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Public Witness, along with the Nigeria Working Group. In an Action Alert, Brethren across the country are asked to contact their senators and representatives to urge them to attend the special congressional briefing that is planned for Tuesday, July 11, from 3-4:30 p.m. in the Russell Senate Office Building, Room 188. “Thank you all for your prayers and action over the last few years as our brothers and sisters in Nigeria have faced famine, kidnappings, destruction of churches and homes, and violence,” said the Action Alert, in part. “The situation in Nigeria deserves to be at the forefront of humanitarian and foreign aid policy-makers’ minds. The work done through the Church of the Brethren Nigeria Crisis Fund and other programs has been incredible, but as we continue this work, it is essential that we partner with more legislators, organizations, and individuals who care deeply about the issue and can make a meaningful difference in policy.” The briefing is intended for policy makers and their staff to gain background knowledge on local solutions, US policy, and interfaith organizing happening in regards to Nigeria. For a sample letter that church members may use to encourage their senators and representatives to attend the briefing, go to http://support.brethren.org/site/MessageViewer?current=true&em_id=36660.0 .
-- The World Council of Churches is reiterating its urgent appeal, issued by its Executive Committee in June, for “all states engaged in the perilously escalating military confrontation in the [Korean] region to refrain from further escalation and to pursue instead initiatives to reduce tensions and to create a window for new dialogue initiatives.” The appeal was first issued by the WCC Executive Committee in June. The reportedly successful intercontinental ballistic missile test by North Korea on July 4, and the joint US-South Korean ballistic missile drills it provoked, have raised tensions in the region to a dangerously new high, according to Peter Prove, director of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. Noted Prove, “confrontation by military or other means carries far higher risks of conflict--with catastrophic consequences for all people of the peninsula and the region--than prospects of leading to peace. A sustainable peace, and the peaceful de-nuclearization of the region, cannot be achieved through mutual provocation, but only through dialogue. In this particularly dangerous moment, self-restraint is indeed all that separates armistice and war. We call on all parties to beware of this perilous threshold.” Find a full WCC statement on the escalating tensions in the Korean peninsula at www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/wcc-asks-for-sanctions-suspension-and-immediate-talks-to-defuse-korean-conflict .