Brethren bits for March 18, 2017


“Finding Creative Ways to Work at Race Relations” is the theme for a series of area clergy meetings in Northern Ohio District this spring, presented by James and Sandra Washington from “TIME-OUT” Ministries. James Washington Sr. is serving as an interim pastor in the district. The Washingtons co-founded “TIME-OUT” Ministries (Today’s Interaction May Encourage Our Unity Tomorrow) as a faith-built program to develop relationships and goals to grow in the Lord, and are also members of “Best Friends,” a multicultural singing group that has performed at Church of the Brethren intercultural events. “We live in a world saturated with racism--much of it below the surface of our awareness,” said an invitation from the district. “Come as we learn about what the church can and should bring to race relations within our communities.” Ministers may earn .2 continuing education credit. Meetings are held at various locations throughout the district, March 18 through March 29. For more information contact Northern Ohio District Church of the Brethren, 419-281-3058.

-- The Church of the Brethren is seeking candidates for the position of director of Ministry. This position, within the office of the general secretary, reports directly to the general secretary. Responsibilities include directing the program and ministry of the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry, including working collaboratively with the Council of District Executives, and the academic dean of Bethany Theological Seminary in shared oversight of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. Additional responsibilities include discerning the leadership needs of the denomination and developing new programs to meet the needs while consulting with partners in ministry; overseeing processes for the calling, training, credentialing, placing, and nurturing of leaders, especially pastors; overseeing the Office of Ministry administration including supervision of the program assistant, and serving as steward of ministry documentation; serving as consultant and direct placement for district ministries; collaborating with Global Mission and Service in establishing guidelines for ministerial credentialing in new mission initiatives; collaborating with Congregational Life Ministries; and serving on various programs, committees, and groups. Requirements include grounding in Church of the Brethren heritage, theology, and polity; ability to articulate and operate out of the vision of the Church of the Brethren; 15 years of pastoral ministry including administration; expertise and skills in group dynamics, including networking with diverse groups of people; knowledge and experience in budget development and management. A master of divinity degree or equivalent is required. This position is based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Applications are being received, with interviews beginning immediately and continuing through April 17. To apply request the application form and complete job description, submit a résumé and letter of application, and request three letters of reference to be sent to Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; . The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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-- Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) is seeking candidates for the position of network administrator, to develop and maintain a working knowledge of all infrastructure systems to provide server, database, and network leadership; PC support; and Internet security. This person will be proactive in assisting BBT staff leverage technology for efficiency and effectiveness. This is a full-time, exempt position based in Elgin, Ill., for a not-for-profit, faith-based organization that provides employer-based pension, insurance, and asset management services for 5,000 individuals and client organizations nationwide. The ideal candidate will have an undergraduate degree in information technology or equivalent work experience in the information technology field. This position requires a high level of technical knowledge and aptitude, intense attention to detail, and proficiency with computer systems and applications. The candidate must be able to interact effectively with colleagues and customers to provide information in response to technical help-desk inquiries. For a detailed job description and requirements, contact Diane Parrott at For more information about Brethren Benefit Trust, visit . Applications are due by March 27.

-- The Cedars is accepting resumes for the position of Licensed Nursing Home Administrator. The Cedars is a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in McPherson, Kan., and is a member of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes. Candidates must have a valid Kansas state administrator license and have previous experience in a Continuous Care Retirement Community. Apply by e-mailing a resume to . For more information go to . The Cedars is an Equal Opportunity Employer.        

-- The National VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) is hiring a new Members Services manager based out of an Arlington, Va., office. Follow this link for more information: .

-- German Gongora has been promoted to the position of director of Operations for Information Technology for Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) effective March 27. He will be in charge of the administration of the IT department, provide oversight to the new network administrator, and continue to serve as program developer for BBT. He was first hired by BBT on Sept. 19, 2011, as a programmer analyst and technology support specialist. He holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from Universidad del Rosario, Bogota, Colombia, and a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Universidad Catolica de Colombia in Bogota; has taught Spanish at Berlitz Chicago; and has taught computer courses in Miami and Colombia. 

-- A date change has been announced for the next Nigeria workcamp. The workcamp will now be held from May 12-28. This change was announced by leadership of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) after the national airport in Abuja was closed from March 8 to April 30, and most airlines have not accepted an alternative route into the Kaduna airport. The EYN leadership reported to the Global Mission and Service office that “we are not sure of security movement from Kaduna to Abuja.” In addition, the date that had been selected did not consider the Easter period from April 16-18.

-- New webinars have been announced by Congregational Life Ministries:
     “Mental Health: Developing Inclusive Communities, Promoting Wellbeing” will be presented by Jo Fitzsimmons on Wed., March 22. This event will address how to safely support children, young people, adults, and whole families in our faith communities in regard to mental
health issues, and related questions. Fitzsimmons is a youth and community worker and counselor.
     “What Have the Children Done for Us?” will be presented by Sara Barron on Thurs., April 20. This event explores how to grow intergenerational communities that enable people of all ages to flourish. Barron is a Baptist minister and a development worker for CURBS, which resources, trains, and supports children’s workers in urban and housing development areas.
     Webinars are held at 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Eastern time). To connect go to . Ministers may receive .1 continuing education credit for attending a live event. For more information contact .

-- Brethren Disaster Ministries is sharing a new video about its work and ministries. The piece has been posted to YouTube. Find it at .

-- The Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., is hosting a weekend event for people who feel a special connection with the center and its ministries to gather to remember and celebrate. A sale of the “upper campus” of the center is expected in the next few weeks, with the “lower campus” continuing as the Brethren Service Center housing the offices of Brethren Disaster Ministries and warehouses of Material Resources program. Find a “Baltimore Sun” article opn the remembrance weekend at .

-- “Pray for an upcoming assembly of Igreja da Irmandade-Brasil, the Church of the Brethren in Brazil,” said this week’s prayer request from Global Mission and Service. Some 30 members of the Brazilian church will gather in the city of Campinas to elect the church’s national board.

-- Quoting from Leviticus 25:23, “The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me,” a new blogpost from the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness expresses support for indigenous people opposing the Dakota access pipeline. The group “braved the sleet and 30 degree weather in Washington, D.C., on Friday, March 10th to once again take a stand for Standing Rock,” said the blogpost, in part. “Years of work by water protectors was written away with the swipe of a pen on January 24th, when an order was presented to begin construction of the Dakota accesses pipeline, a 1,100-mile oil pipeline and Keystone XL pipeline through Indigenous land.” This year’s Christian Citizenship Seminar will also connect with the struggles of indigenous people. See .

-- “Are you a college student, a seminary student, a graduate school student, or a high school student? Or do you know somebody who is? Enter the Bethany Theological Seminary Peace Essay Contest!” said an invitation. The theme is “Where Do You See Peace?” The deadline to submit essays is March 27. The contest offers a first-place prize of $2,000, a second-place prize of $1,000, and a third-place prize of $500. Learn more about the theme, essay guidelines, and details at . Submit essays at .

-- Bethany Theological Seminary was one of the sponsors of “Theopoetics: A Transdisciplinary Conference with Workshops and Dialogue” held at The Hive: A Center for Contemplation, Art, and Action in Cincinnati, Ohio. To learn more about the conference go to .

-- In more news from Bethany, the seminary is holding “An Evening of Inspiration with Shawn Kirchner” in Nicarry Chapel on Friday, March 31, from 7-8:30 p.m. “Join Shawn Kirchner and the Bethany Theological Seminary community for a group sing of your favorite hymns and songs, along with an exploration of ancient and contemporary gems in the Church of the Brethren hymnal. Return home humming, with new ideas and materials to make your worship vibrant,” said an announcement. Hymnals will be provided, but guests are invited to bring their own if they choose. Kirchner, who is a member of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, works as a professional musician and composer, and has led music at all levels of the Church of the Brethren denomination including at last year’s Annual Conference.

-- Warrensburg (Mo.) Church of the Brethren is holding a retirement reception for pastor Ethmer Erisman, including a celebration of his 74 years of ministry. The reception is Saturday, March 18, from 2-4 p.m., with a special recognition planned for 2:45 p.m. An article in the “Daily Star Journal” reports that Erisman began his ministry in 1942 at Shoal Creek Church of the Brethren in Fairview, Mo.; was ordained in 1944; served churches in Johnson County, Mo., including Kingsville, Leeton, and Warrensburg, until 2016; and spent the last 14 years at the Warrensburg Church participating in a team ministry. For more information contact pastor Becky Crouse at 660-422-8165. Find the newspaper article at

-- The Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center is holding a hymn sing, "How Can We Keep From Singing," featuring songs of hope and peace, at 7 p.m. on Sunday, March 19, at Harrisonburg (Va.) First Church of the Brethren. Mennonite and Brethren song leaders and pastors will lead the program as people from different faith traditions come together to celebrate in unity the beliefs we hold in common. An offering will support the ministry of the Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center.

-- Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community will present a workshop for pastors, "How to Become a Dementia-Friendly Faith Community," from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5, in the Houff Community Center. A box lunch will be provided. The speaker, Annie Mars, is family services director for the Alzheimer's Association of Central and Western Virginia. Ministers may earn .2 continuing education units. To register, contact Marilyn Miller at 540-828-2652 or . The deadline to register is April 3.

-- “Bread for the World is alarmed by today’s release of the Trump administration’s ‘skinny’ budget for fiscal year 2018, which targets international and domestic programs that serve poor and hungry people,” said a Bread for the World release this week. “If passed, this budget would make it nearly impossible to end hunger and extreme poverty. The unprecedented spending cuts President Trump is proposing to the State Department and other international programs would roll back the tremendous progress we have made against hunger and poverty.” The release notes that the proposed budget would make a 31 percent cut to the State Department and USAID, which fund many of the United States’ foreign aid and development assistance programs; would eliminate the Africa Development Fund and the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, which in 2015 benefited 2.9 million children; includes significant cuts to programs that serve poor and hungry Americans, such as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program that supports before-school and after-school and summer programs for at-risk youth. Bread for the World’s 2017 “Offering of Letters: Doing Our Part to End Hunger” initiative asks Congress to pass a budget that puts us on track to end hunger by 2030. Bread for the World ( is a collective Christian voice urging the nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.

-- A United Nations peace emphasis is being publicized by Doris Abdullah, the Church of the Brethren UN representative. Japan is the collaborating member state this year, she reports. This is part of the UN’s annual agenda theme, with a series of events entitled, “Peace is ...” The purpose of these events “is for Japan and other member states to show their support to the three pillars of the UN agenda (Peace and Security, Development, and Human Rights) in the form of interactive cultural events. This year’s theme is peace, which can be expressed in diverse ways. Peace is family, water, and education, just to name a few examples. The Japan Mission, along with the DPI and other Member States, will decide on a topic to be highlighted each month.”

-- A video clip of Slim Whitman singing at the 1982 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren recently was rediscovered by Brethren videographer David Sollenberger, who has posted it to the denomination’s YouTube channel. “I think it’s the only known video version of that performance,” Sollenberger reported to Newsline. “I checked with Bill Kostlevy in the Brethren Historical Library and Archives, and he can’t find any other footage of that appearance, only an audio copy. No one knows who shot the footage,” he added. The videotape had been in a district library for 35 years until all the VHS tapes were discarded as obsolete, and Sollenberger acquired it. Country singer Slim Whitman was a longtime member and deacon emeritus at Jacksonville (Fla.) Church of the Brethren, ande was the subject of the 1982 Brethren Press book “Mr. Songman,” written by Kenneth L. Gibble. He died on June 19, 2013; find the Newsline remembrance at . View the video clip of his Annual Conference performance at .

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