The Conference Office has released the logo for the 2018 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, on the theme, "Living Parables." The Conference takes place July 4-8 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Find out more at www.brethren.org/ac .
-- Remembrance: Julie Mader Hostetter, 66, former executive director of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership and former staff of the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries, passed away on Nov. 12 in Bridgewater, Va. Her leadership of the Brethren Academy--a partnership of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Seminary--began in 2008. In this role, she was a member of the Ministry Advisory Council, assisting with oversight of ministerial education in the Church of the Brethren and the recent revision of the Ministerial Leadership Paper. Academy programs and responsibilities expanded during her tenure, including in 2011 launching of the Seminario Biblico Anabautista Hispano (SeBAH-COB) certificate program in cooperation with the Mennonite Education Agency. Development of an EFSM Spanish-language track also began during her tenure, as did the position of coordinator of Spanish-language ministry training programs. Hostetter administered and led many sessions for the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program underwritten by the Lilly Endowment Inc. This was succeeded by Sustaining Ministerial Excellence in 2015. In 2015, the academy assumed responsibility for ministerial ethics training in the denomination, involving dozens of seminars nationwide, many led by Hostetter. She retired from the academy this January. Her previous work for the denomination included service as a pastor and service as one of the former Congregational Life Team members. She coordinated the Congregational Life Team for Area 3 (Southeast) December 1997-April 2005, then became academic coordinator for United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. She received her master of divinity from United in 1982 and, after graduation, served on the school’s administrative staff for more than five years. In 2010 she completed a doctor of ministry degree through the Center for Ministry and Leadership Development at Union-PSCE (Union Presbyterian Seminary) in Richmond, Va. She first became involved in church work when she started as a church organist at age 15. Over the years, her volunteer service to the church included a term as moderator of Southern Ohio District in 2013. Ecumenical involvements including service as interim executive director of Metropolitan Churches United in Dayton. She wrote numerous Christian education resources, and for several years helped edit and produce the “Seed Packet” newsletter as a joint publication of Congregational Life Ministries and Brethren Press. She is survived by her husband of 44 years, Michael L. Hostetter; daughters Elizabeth (Kate) Hostetter and husband Rick Thompson of Tennessee, and Abigail Hostetter and fiancé Joel Parker of Virginia; and grandchildren. To honor her dedication to ministry education, Hostetter’s family has established the Julie Mader Hostetter Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership Scholarship Fund. Memorial gifts are received to this fund care of Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374. After a private burial, a memorial service will be held at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren on Dec. 2 at 11 a.m. Condolences may be shared at www.rothermelfuneralhome.com/notices/Julie-Hostetter .
-- Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks a full-time development coordinator to serve as a member of the Peacemaker Corps in expanding financial capacity and building fiscal sustainability. Responsibilities include creating and implementing funding strategies, providing administrative oversight, cultivating major gifts, overseeing donor acquisition and renewal, writing and managing grants, organizing events, and participating in the overall work of the administrative team. The position involves close collaboration with a development working group and includes some international travel to meetings and/or project sites each year. Candidates should demonstrate passion for cultivating donors to support the work of CPT, commitment to grow in the journey of undoing oppressions, and ability to work independently and collaboratively as part of a dispersed team across continents. Preference is for candidates with development experience and a focus on grassroots social change organizations. This is a three-year appointment. Compensation and benefits include: $24,000 per year; 100 percent employer-paid health, dental, and vision coverage; four weeks of annual vacation. Location is based in Chicago, Ill. Start date is negotiable; the position is available as of Jan. 15, 2018. To apply, submit electronically, in English, the following to firstname.lastname@example.org : cover letter stating motivation/reasons for interest in this position, a résumé or CV, a list of three references with e-mail and daytime telephone numbers. Application review begins Jan. 5, 2018. See the full position description at https://cpt.org/files/PD-Development%20Coordinator%202017.pdf .
-- Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no online Town Hall Meeting with Annual Conference moderator Samuel Sarpiya in November.
-- Belita Mitchell and Nancy Sollenberger Heishman have shared a Sankofa Journey experience. Mitchell pastors First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., and is a former Annual Conference moderator. Heishman has begun this month as director of the Office of Ministry for the Church of the Brethren. The Sankofa Journey on Oct. 26-29 traveled to the cities of Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma in Alabama, and to Memphis in Tennessee. The goal was “to visit various sites of importance in the civil rights period of our nation’s history,” Heishman said. The Sankofa Journeys are organized by the Evangelical Covenant Church for the purpose of “Seeking to assist Christ-followers in their journeys toward a righteous response to the social ills of racism.” Heishman reported, “Our group consisted of 17 cross-racial, same-gender pairs of participants. It was a powerful experience that was both sobering and inspiring.” Mitchell commented, “Being a part of the experience was deeply moving for me as I relived some of my own history; and was able to share with others in their sobering and firsthand exposure to the brutality of racial injustice.”
-- Church of the Brethren representative to the United Nations, Doris Abdullah, was at a recent meeting between the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, and the NGO community, at UN headquarters in New York. “I was the fourth person called upon,” she reported to Newsline. “He spoke directly to my question on the situation in northern Nigeria. I thanked him for meeting with us, civil society, and gave my wishes that he could come to New York more frequently. NGOs in Geneva have access that is not given to us here in New York. My introduction of the Church of the Brethren included the fact that the Chibok girl we were praying for here in New York is still unaccounted for.... But mainly I wanted him to know now that some girls had been returned, the rest have seemingly been forgotten. And the despair, hunger and struggles are still going on in the area as the terror of Boko Haram continues.” Abdullah added that she is working on a request to receive a formal response from the High Commissioner.
-- “Join us for this informational and instructive seminar!” invites the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. The next Clergy Tax Seminar is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a break for lunch. Deb Oskin returns as the leader for this event. Students, pastors, and other church leaders are invited to attend either in person at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., or online. Participants will learn how to file clergy taxes correctly and legally, and how to comply with regulations while maximizing tax deductions. Participants may earn .3 continuing education credit. This seminar is highly recommended for all pastors and all other church leaders who wish to understand clergy taxes including treasurers, steward commission chairs, and church board chairs. Sponsors include the Brethren Academy, the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry, and Bethany Theological Seminary. Registration costs $30 per person. Current Bethany, TRIM/EFSM/SeBAH, and Earlham School of Religion students may attend at no cost, although registration is still required. Registrations are not complete until payment is received. The registration deadline is Jan. 19, 2018. Register at https://bethanyseminary.edu/brethren-academy/clergy-tax-seminar .
-- Henry Fork Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va., held a vigil for those killed in the mass shooting at a church in Texas earlier this month. Pastor Ronald Coleman told WDBJ Channel 7, "Twenty-six people these innocent people, those children, I went home that Sunday evening and I couldn't sleep. So the next morning I made some phone calls that we needed to send our love and our support to those folks." Find the news report and a video at www.wdbj7.com/content/news/Rocky-Mount-church-holds-vigil-for-victims-of-Texas-shooting-457863653.html .
-- Four Church of the Brethren congregations joined together for a combined Thanksgiving meal and service on Sunday evening, Nov. 19, in the Ashland, Ohio, area, according to the "Times-Gazette." The group included the Dickey Church, First Church, Maple Grove Church, and Mohican Church, which hosted the event.
-- Wyomissing (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is hosting an interfaith service of Thanksgiving on Wednesday, Nov. 22, at 7 p.m. Dale Davis, pastor of Immanuel United Church of Christ in Shillington, will deliver the message. Participating faith communities will include First Unitarian Universalist Church of Berks County, the Islamic Center of Reading, the Reading Buddhist Community, Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom, and Washington Presbyterian Church USA, according to an article in the “Reading Eagle.”
-- “Poetry scene thriving in Northwest Philadelphia,” reports the Montgomery News/Germantown Courier, and Germantown Church of the Brethren is at the center of it. The church is hosting a Poetify event next week, in a series that will feature Germantown poets RuNett Nia Ebo and Victoria Peurifoy, along with an open microphone where all-local talent can perform in a profanity-free environment, the paper reports. “Added in the mix is poet Terri Lyons. She already has a soldout crowd for the ‘Philly Flow’ that was scheduled to feature her along with the Mark Jackson Band soloist Carolyn Sims-Nesmith. Poetify is scheduled from 3-7 p.m. on Nov. 26, and a meal will be available for purchase during the evening.
See the article in the Montgomery News/Germantown Courier at www.montgomerynews.com/germantowncourier/news/poetry-scene-thriving-in-northwest-philadelphia/article_d0664e72-9817-5f2f-ac0b-7c0c5f172136.html .
-- Dupont (Ohio) Church of the Brethren is offering its annual Christmas Dinner Theater again this year. “This Little Light of Mine” will be presented on Friday, Dec. 8, at 6:30 p.m., and on Sunday, Dec. 10, at 6 p.m. Cost is an $8 donation. A description of the program was featured in the “Continential Enews”: “Miss Marie is a slightly disorganized Sunday school teacher in charge of organizing the church’s Nativity program. Adeline, a young girl with very little church experience, joins the children participating in the Nativity. What Miss Marie thought was going to be a routine Nativity Pageant becomes an opportunity to explain Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection.” The meal includes chicken parmesan, salad, garlic bread, pie, drink, and dessert. Reservations are requested; call the church office at 419-596-4314.
-- Oak Grove Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., hosted a Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension class on the painting and prepping of barn quilts, on Oct. 30. “Ideally, the concept will result in a barn quilt trail that will premier via a website and driving trail in Franklin County,” organizers told the "Franklin News-Post." Barn quilts are decorative four-by-four foot painted boards that are nailed on barns, sheds, and garages, and the newspaper reported that “they really look like a sewn quilt. Each was designed by the owner to put their creativity on display.” See www.thefranklinnewspost.com/news/local/quilts-color-the-countryside/article_6998d3a0-ca3a-11e7-9f32-dfc6e0813060.html .
-- In a news tidbit from the Illinois and Wisconsin District Conference, moderator Allegra Hess shared that the one dozen freshly laid brown eggs from the “Brethren hens” that she owns raised $50 in the district conference auction. The auction proceeds go to the district budget.
-- Youth gathering at Camp Inspiration Hills in Northern Ohio District for the Senior High Winter Fest on Dec. 1-2 will be assembling Church World Service (CWS) Hygiene Kits alongside other more usual youth activities. An invitation said, “Join us for tie dye t-shirt making, spending time with new and old friends, and learning about Jesus!”
-- Timbercrest, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in North Manchester, Ind., holds its Christmas Bazaar on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 10 a.,m.-2 p.m. The event features cocoa, cookies, and more. “Come see the district’s Christmas tree!” said an invitation from South Central Indiana District.
-- In another note from Timbercrest, there will not be a retirement party to celebrate David Lawrenz’s 45-plus years of service to the community, at his request. Instead, persons are invited to honor him by giving a gift to the Pathways to Wellness Campaign. More details about the campaign can be found at www.timbercrest.org .
-- Cross Keys Village, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in New Oxford, Pa., has announced the holiday schedule for its Harmony Ridge Train Room. "Another season for a beloved holiday tradition," said the announcement. The Train Room features a "magnificent model railroad display" and is open to the public on the following dates, from 1-4 p.m.: Nov. 25 and 26, Dec. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, and 27-31. Children of all ages and generations are welcome. Entrance is free.
-- Church World Service (CWS) has issued an Action Alert after federal officials terminated the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Haiti, effective July 22, 2019. This follows the recent TPS terminations for Sudan and Nicaragua. “Our Senators and Representatives need to hear that their constituents stand with Haitian TPS holders and call on Congress to ensure all TPS holders can stabilize their immigration status and are protected from family separation,” the alert said, in part. “Ending TPS is devastating to tens of thousands of families in the United States, including the 27,000 US citizen children with a Haitian TPS holder parent. When TPS expires, those families will face impossible choices: separation, moving US citizen children to harsh and dangerous conditions in an unfamiliar country, or risk deportation by remaining in the United States without legal status. Since the devastating 2010 earthquake, Haiti’s recovery has been marred by subsequent and intervening natural disasters, public health crises, ongoing displacement, and hunger. Terminating Haiti’s TPS designation now means turning our backs on the vulnerable Haitians whom we pledged to protect, and places considerable burdens on the country as it struggles to rebuild.” CWS is calling on supporters to contact their members of Congress.
-- Alan Stucky, pastor of First Church of the Brethren in Wichita, Kan., was one of the ministers and church goers interviewed for an article titled, “When Churchgoers Pack Heat,” in the “Wichita Eagle.” He told the newspaper that the beliefs of the historic peace traditions are rooted in teachings like the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus says “Blessed are the peacemakers” and “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also,” the paper reported. “We are not ignoring the reality of evil in the world, but we are trying to not participate in that cycle of violence,” Stucky said. Find the article at www.kansas.com/news/local/article185427508.html .