Brethren bits for March 3, 2017




At least one Church of the Brethren family has been directly affected by the rash of tornados and severe storms that hit central Pennsylvania and north and central Illinois, among other areas in recent days. A property in York County, Pa., owned by Bob and Peggy McFarland of Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren sustained damage from a direct hit by a tornado. Pastor Pamela A. Reist reported by e-mail, “We had crews helping with clean-up (200-year-old barn flattened) Sunday and Monday.” The McFarlands expected two or three members from the Elizabethtown Church to show up and told Newsline that they were “shocked when a group of over 30 folks showed up with tractors, chain saws, and equipment to help clean up after the tornado. We have been truly humbled by the sense of community and outpouring of help given to us. Our hearts are filled with joy and blessings!” So far, Newsline has not received word of other Brethren directly affected by the recent storms.

-- Correction: A mention of Plymouth Church of the Brethren in last week’s “Brethren bits” incorrectly identified the district where the congregation is located. The church is in Northern Indiana District.

-- Remembrance: Martin Allen Gauby, 82, of Boise, Idaho, died on Feb. 6 at a local hospital. A former district executive minister of the Church of the Brethren’s Northern Plains District, he also had served as executive secretary of the former Tri-District (Northern Plains, Missouri-Arkansas, and Mon-Dak) from 1972-76. His ministerial career of 46 years also included pastorates in Oregon, Indiana, Idaho, Texas, and Kansas. He was born on Sept. 10, 1934, in Washington, Kan., to Harvey and Mabel Gauby, and grew up on various farms in Kansas and Texas. He attended McPherson (Kan.) College, where he met his wife, Edith, and graduated with a degree in religion. He also earned a master of divinity degree from Bethany Theological Seminary in Chicago, Ill. He was remembered by Northern Plains District with the publication of a letter her wrote last year, that was read at the 2016 district conference marking the 150th annual conference of the district. “Dear Brothers and Sisters,” his letter began, “The letter from your District Office inviting us to attend your District Conference in Des Moines this coming August was a wonderful offer which I would very much like to accept. However, my health at this time is not good enough to consider our being with you at that time.  We will be in prayer for your conference and your District life and work....” Gauby is survived by his wife of 60 years, Edith; daughter Norma Lockner, son Sidney (Katherine) Gauby, and son Jeffrey Gauby; grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A celebration of his life was held on Feb. 11 at Nampa (Idaho) Church of the Brethren. Memorial gifts are received to Boise Valley Church of the Brethren Building Fund and to Nampa Church of the Brethren. Find a full obituary at www.legacy.com/obituaries/idahopress/obituary.aspx?n=martin-gauby&pid=184073526&fhid=6415 .

For the latest Brethren news go to the main Newsline page

-- Kendra Flory has resigned as administrative assistant for Western Plains District, effective March 31. She has served in the position for seven years. An announcement from the district noted her “outstanding commitment to the work of the district and to the broader church.”

-- The Church of the Brethren’s Western Pennsylvania District seeks candidates to fill the full-time position of district executive minister. The position is available Jan. 1, 2018. The district is made up of 67 congregations, including rural, small town, and urban congregations, and extends from the northern border to the southern border of Pennsylvania. The district is interested revitalizing its congregations, and the preferred candidate is a pastoral leader who offers motivation through spiritual guidance, and will work together with district and congregational leaders to envision and carry out the work of the district. Responsibilities include serving as administrator of the leadership team of the district, facilitating and giving general oversight to the planning and implementation of its ministries as directed by district conference; assisting congregations and pastors with placement; encouraging congregational and pastoral vitality and spirituality, and continued personal, spiritual, and professional growth; building and strengthening relationships with congregations; ensuring effective means of communication at all levels within the district; supporting the mission and values of the Western Pennsylvania District and the Church of the Brethren. 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 and ordination in the Church of the Brethren required, with ministry experience preferred; a bachelor’s degree required, with a master’s degree or higher degree preferred; strong relational, communication, and conflict resolution skills; competence in administration, organizational skills, and electronic communications; passion for the mission and ministry of the church; flexibility in working with staff, volunteers, and pastoral and congregational leadership. Apply by sending a letter of interest and resume via e-mail to OfficeofMinistry@brethren.org . Applicants are requested to contact at least three people to provide a letter of reference to OfficeofMinistry@brethren.org . Upon receipt of a resume, a candidate profile will be sent that must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. The application deadline is May 19.

-- 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, live a life that reflects these values, have a love for children of all ages, and have a love for 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 the camp including 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. 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, 301-334-9270 or wmarva@verizon.net . Questions may be directed to one of the following trustees: Mark Seese, 304-698-3500; Bob Spaid, 304-290-3459; or Cathy McGoldrick, 301-616-1147.

-- Prayer is requested for the more than 20 million people in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and northeastern Nigeria who are facing devastating levels of food insecurity, as reported by the UN. This prayer request from the Global Mission and Service office notes that “violent conflict, with the ensuing displacement and agricultural disruption, is the root cause of the food crises in all four countries” and points up the situation in South Sudan in particular. “Famine has officially been declared in two South Sudanese counties, and other areas are heading toward this final level of food insecurity.” Specific prayer requests are for generous giving to supply immediate aid, for rains to end the droughts in places like Somalia and South Sudan, that aid workers and resources are able to reach those most in need, for sustainable agriculture and development, and for peace.

-- A Healthy Boundaries 101 training session is offered on May 8, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (eastern time). This web event sponsored by the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership is an entry level ministerial ethics training led by former academy executive director Julie Hostetter and provided for seminary students entering ministry formation placements and also suitable for EFSM, TRIM, and ACTS students and newly licensed or ordained ministers who have not yet taken ministerial ethics training. Said an announcement: “We will focus on Healthy Boundary issues in the morning: part 1, boundaries, power, and vulnerability; part 2, dating, friendships, dual relationships and gifts; part 3, the pulpit, transference, hugging and touch, intimacy; and part 4, personal needs and self-care, red flags, and final reflections. The topics of social media, Internet, and finances are not part of the DVD series but will be explored briefly. The afternoon session focuses on Church of the Brethren specific materials: a review of the 2008 Ethics in Ministry Relations Paper, a PowerPoint overview of the process.” Contact academy@bethanyseminary.edu or academy@brethren.org . A website link will be e-mailed to participants a few days prior to the webcast. Registration and payment of $30 or $15 for current students must be sent to the Brethren Academy by April 21. No phone or e-mail registrations will be accepted after this deadline date. 

-- “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 https://bethanyseminary.edu/2017-peace-essay-contest-announced . Submit essays at https://bethanyseminary.edu/events-resources/special-events-at-bethany/2017-peace-essay-contest/bethany-peace-essay-contest-submission .

-- On Earth Peace has announced its next Racial Justice Organizer clinic, a “web event” scheduled for March 15 at 7 p.m. (eastern time). “This clinic provides an opportunity to share and receive invaluable resources and support for your racial justice work,” said the announcement. The event will offer time to share about participants’ congregations or communities and goals for catalyzing them; ideas and encouragement from others who are stepping up to catalyze their communities; and upcoming opportunities to get involved in national and regional networks. This event also corresponds with the Movement for Black Lives’ policy webinar on March 8, focused on economic justice. In addition to participants in the clinic, On Earth Peace congregational peace and justice organizer Bryan Hanger is looking to meet in person with active organizers or people hoping to be active organizers; contact organizing@onearthpeace.org . Find more information and register for the free organizer clinic at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Ebh33xxGRyNcA2UIyed7XdFpk6avG-RTQEsmdq5UwmI/viewform .

The funeral for pastor Bitrus C. Mamza
Photo by Zakariya Musa

The funeral for pastor Bitrus C. Mamza

-- “It was another sad moment for EYN...when it buried another young pastor at Kele, Dille area,” reported Zakariya Musa, communications staff for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). EYN president Joel Billi has declared the health situation a state of emergency, counting the young ministers who have died of Hepatitis over the years, and has called for action against the killer disease, Musa wrote in an e-mail to Newsline. This latest death is that of pastor Bitrus C. Mamza, who died at age 48. He was born in February 1969, and served as a pastor at Attagara, Dille, Chibok, and Biu. The memorial service was conducted under a tree beside his burned-out church building. He left behind a wife and children. The service was attended by hundreds of pastors and members, who were there to pay their condolences, even in an area of Borno State that has been devastated by the Boko Haram insurgency.

-- In more news from EYN, Boko Haram attacks continue on the village of Bdagu. In recent weeks villagers from Bdagu have fled several attacks, and many have been sheltered in Lassa with help from the EYN congregation there. Zakariya Musa, communications staff of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), reports that the village was attacked again and the insurgents killing at least three people and abducted six men and four women, and burned most of the houses. “According to people from the neighboring villages, that have access to [communications] network, they attacked the village at about 5 until 10 p.m.” he wrote. “A pastor from Dille briefed that people are fleeing the area for their life and that the attackers dropped a letter that they will come back. Military men were said to have reached the the place.” Musa’s e-mail added that Bdagu is located not far from the notorious Sambisa Forest, which has been a Boko Haram hideout.

-- “Celebrate Black History Month” at Germantown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, the “mother church” of the Brethren in North America located in the Philadelphia area, drew a full house. A newspaper article published by the Philadelphia Tribune reported that the “evening of African drumming and dancing, gospel music ensembles, poetic recitations, praise dancing, and short sermons” centered on Isaiah 53:5, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.” This scripture was chosen because the event was about healing during this time, pastor Richard Kyerematen told the paper. Highlights of the program included a dramatic presentation of “Lord, Why Did You Make Me Black?” by poet RuNett Ebo, accompanied by Kira Brown-Gray, a young actress at the FreshVisions Youth Theatre, along with interpretive dance by dancer and choreographer Carmen Butler. Read the news report at www.phillytrib.com/religion/black-history-observance-has-diverse-opening/article_0a5a0c4b-d313-5284-ab9b-1c4fc1512359.html .

-- English River Church of the Brethren is hosting a performance of “Vang” on March 26, at 2 p.m. The church is located in South English, Iowa. The drama about recent immigrant farmers is a collaboration between Poet Laureate of Iowa Mary Swander, Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Dennis Chamberlin, and Kennedy Center award-winner Matt Foss, with a musical score by Michael Ching, past executive director of the Memphis opera, said an announcement from Northern Plains District. “Vang has been on tour since 2013 and has had performances throughout the U.S.  from farmers’ barns and church basements to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the Cambio de Colores Conference, Penn State University, and New York University.” The announcement noted that stories told in the play include those of a Hmong family who fled Communist Laos to a refugee camp in Thailand, a Sudanese man who was thrown into prison in Ethiopia for helping the Lost Boys, and a Mexican woman “who taught herself English by looking up the meaning of the profane words hurled at her at her first job in a meat packing plant,” among others. The production stars Rip Russell and Erin Mills, two well-known actors who reside in Iowa City. Admission at the door will be a free-will donation.

-- Standing in the Gap, a Church of the Brethren campus ministry at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan, is sending 21 students on a service trip to Haiti. The group will support l’Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Church of the Brethren in Haiti) with hurricane cleanup and will also work on projects for the Haitian church’s guesthouse and ministry center.

-- Cabool (Mo.) Church of the Brethren hosted “Ground Hog Breakfast,” a community event sponsored by the Cabool Revitalization Group, on Jan. 28. The Missouri and Arkansas District newsletter reported that the event, which was held annually for many years and was initiated again for 2017, allows a church to designate a specific community mission project and that church receives all the profit for that project. More than $600 was raised for Boomerang Bags, the church’s weekend food program through Cabool Elementary School. In a bonus for the congregation, leftovers from the breakfast event allowed the Fellowship Committee to follow up with a Valentine Breakfast for the whole church on Feb. 12.

-- A House of Prayer Retreat is sponsored by the Western Pennsylvania District Spiritual Formation Team, hosted at Camp Harmony on April 1, from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. “Come and get away for time with the Lord and other brothers and sisters in Christ,” said an invitation. Dick LaFountain will be the speaker. The cost of $15 includes lunch and snacks, along with .5 continuing education credit for minister. Registration is due by March 15 to Western PA District, 115 Spring Road, Hollsopple, PA 15935.

-- Mid-Atlantic District has announced an upcoming meeting of the Tri-District Peace Fellowship, a group originally based in the Atlantic Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Southern Pennsylvania Districts. “Taking literally the prophetic message of the angels at Jesus’ birth, we gather to worship, fellowship, and learn how better to live out ‘Peace on earth; goodwill to all,’” said the announcement. The next gathering is hosted by Ruth Aukerman in Union Bridge, Md.., on Saturday, May 13, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., including a potluck lunch. To register or for more information call or text Joan Huston at 717-460-8650.

-- Cross Keys Village is offering “Embracing Moments” Memory Care workshops. The Church of the Brethren-related retirement community is located in New Oxford, Pa. This is a free series of six dementia workshops for caregivers, starting March 15 and running every other Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. For more information and to register go to www.crosskeysvillage.org/embracingmoments .

-- The Board of Directors of Lebanon Valley Brethren Home has decided to change the public name of the organization to Londonderry Village, according to an announcement from president and CEO Jeff Shireman. The announcement emphasized that the legal name of the corporation will remain the Lebanon Valley Brethren Home. “Londonderry Village is more appropriately known as a ‘doing business as’ or DBA name,” said the announcement. “Other than the name change, everything else is staying the same. Our mission of service to the elderly, our commitment to providing benevolent care when needed, our affiliation with the Church of the Brethren, our nonprofit status...everything will remain exactly as it has been for the past 38 years. It will be difficult to get out of the habit of referring to ‘the Home,’ and instead calling ourselves ‘the Village,’ but we hope this will become more natural as time goes by.”  Find out more about the community at www.lvbh.org .

-- The Fellowship of Brethren Homes is highlighting two books, Atul Gawande’s “Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine, and What Matters in the End” and “Color Me a Memory.” Executive director Ralph McFadden writes that Gawande, a physician, “has a perspective that is compelling and draws one into one of the most difficult issues confronting us as we are involved with those who are aging: ‘What it is like to get old and die...and where our ideas about death have gone wrong.’ ...Gawande’s stories are on target and, for me, awaken a certain despair and fear for the future. I will, as a result of reading, be more aware of how I and my family might prepare for and consider the inescapable future.” The second book, “Color Me a Memory,” is an outcome of a program developed with the residents of Pinecrest Terrace Memory Care Community, connected with the Church of the Brethren-related Pinecrest Community in Mt. Morris, Ill. “The first 11 pages will give you, the reader, an understanding and history of an exciting painting process that has been beneficial to residents and families. There is also information about how you might carry out a similar program,” McFadden writes. For questions about “Color Me a Memory” contact Jonathan Shively, director of Advancement at Pinecrest Community, at  jshively@pinecrestcommunity.org . Both books may be purchased through Brethren Press: find “Being Mortal” online at www.brethrenpress.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=0805095152 ; find “Color Me a Memory” online at www.brethrenpress.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=1522710450 .

-- Shepherd’s Spring outdoor ministry center in Mid-Atlantic District is offering a Lenten Quiet Day on March 8, from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Leadership is provided by Ed Poling, on the theme “What! Me worry?” with Matthew 6:25-34 as the scripture focus. Cost is $35 and includes lunch. Register at www.shepherdsspring.org .

-- Two lead gifts have generated momentum for Bridgewater (Va.) College’s multi-million dollar library expansion and renovation, reports a release from the college. “A $4 million commitment from Bonnie and John Rhodes names the facility the John Kenny Forrer Learning Commons, honoring her father. A $2.5 million grant from the Morgridge Family Foundation names the Morgridge Center for Collaborative Learning, which will occupy the main floor of the facility and will integrate career development; assistance in writing, research and information, and media production; information technology help desk and peer tutoring. Once completed, the project will be the first in the college’s history to be fully funded through charitable donations,” the release said. The facility is planned as a “new-generation library” flexible environment complete with a café, indoor and outdoor learning and gathering spaces, group meeting rooms, and private study spaces throughout the building. John Kenny Forrer, for whom the Learning Commons will be named, was a deacon in Mount Vernon Church of the Brethren in Waynesboro, Va., president of the Bank of Stuarts Draft, and a prominent farmer and community leader. Fundraising for the Forrer Learning Commons will continue, with the intent to break ground in May 2018 for a formal opening of the building in August 2019.

-- “Experiencing Nigeria” is the theme for the March edition of Brethren Voices, a television show produced by Peace Church of the Brethren in Oregon for use on community access cable, and suitable for use in Sunday school classes and other small group settings. “In January 2016, the group from Elizabethtown, Pa., ‘Take 10, Tell 10,’ took a two-week learning tour to Nigeria with the goal of experiencing the African country, ‘like it really is,’” said an announcement from producer Ed Groff. “The group of 10, consisting of college students  and older adults were invited to make the trip, in support of the Nigerian EYN Church, which has partnered with the Church of the Brethren. Members of ‘Take 10, Tell 10,’ were treated to numerous opportunities, beyond their wildest imaginations. They came back to share their stories and experiences. Brethren Voices host Brent Carlson sat down with some of the members of the journey. Contact groffprod1@msn.com for more information, or view episodes online at  www.YouTube.com/Brethrenvoices .

-- Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is accepting applications for its Peacemaker Corps. CPT got its start as an initiative of the peace churches including the Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers. “Join us in building partnerships to transform violence and oppression!” said the announcement. Applicants must be 21 years of age or older and have completed, or plan to complete, a short-term CPT delegation or internship. Qualified applicants may be invited to participate in CPT’s intensive, month-long training from July 13-Aug. 13 in Chicago, Ill., where membership in the Peacemaker Corps is discerned. Trained Peacemaker Corps members are then eligible to apply for open positions on CPT teams. CPT builds partnerships to transform violence and oppression in situations of lethal conflict around the world, committed to work and relationships that: 1) honor and reflect the presence of faith and spirituality, 2) strengthen grassroots initiatives, 3) transform structures of domination and oppression, and 4) embody creative nonviolence and liberating love. CPT is a Christian-identified organization with a multi-faith/spiritually diverse membership. CPT seeks individuals who are capable, responsible, and rooted in faith/spirituality to work for peace as members of violence-reduction teams trained in the disciplines of nonviolence. CPT is committed to building a Peacemaker Corps that reflects the rich diversity of the human family in ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender identity, language, national origin, race, and sexual orientation. The application deadline is March 15. Direct questions to personnel@cpt.org .

-- The Ecumenical Water Network began its annual Lenten campaign “Seven Weeks for Water” with an ecumenical prayer service on Ash Wednesday in St. Mary’s (Sealite Mihret) Cathedral of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This year’s campaign raises awareness of water justice issues in Africa. “Water, the source of life and a gift from God, has yet become the issue of justice,” said World Council of Churches (WCC) moderator Agnes Abuom at the service. “We know that the water crisis here falls heavily on women and children, who are walking miles and miles to look for a water. On behalf of World Council of Churches, I invite everyone to resist commodification and commercialization of water at the expense of poor people.” A sermon by WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit reflected on Amos 5:24, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” This is the 10th year the network has provided weekly theological reflections and other resources on water for the seven weeks of Lent. Reflections, liturgies, and other worship resources will be uploaded to the network’s website every week, starting March 1. Find the resources at http://water.oikoumene.org/en/whatwedo/seven-weeks-for-water/2017 .

-- Facts and figures about water access and scarcity, from the World Health Organization and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (as shared by the Ecumenical Water Network):
     -- Around 663 million people are without access to safe drinking water.
     -- 1 in 3 people, or 2.4 billion, are without improved sanitation facilities.
     -- The vast majority of the above live in sub-Saharan Africa.
     -- 319 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are without access to improved reliable drinking water sources.
     -- 695 million out of the global 2.4 billion people who are living without improved sanitation facilities live in sub-Saharan Africa.
     -- Women and girls are responsible for water collection in 7 out of 10 households in 45 developing countries.
 

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