“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in” (Matthew 25:35).
1) Intercultural Ministry seeks to connect with churches in ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions
2) Nursing scholarships announced for 2016, applications are received for 2017
3) Church of the Brethren members invited to Oregon Senate for key vote
4) Big Rapids Song and Story Fest to be in Michigan following Annual Conference
5) From Gimbiya’s desk: Those who came before me
6) Remembering internment: Days of infamy
7) Brethren bits: CDS completes work in Oroville, BDM winter newsletter, prayer request for gatherings in DR and Venezuela, Shine spring curriculum, On Earth Peace plans Palestine delegation, Ventures course explores Lent, Holmesville returns to Founders Day tradition, more
Quote of the week:
“The time is now for every member of the church to be used of God to heal the brokenness in all peoples and races whom God hath made of one blood to dwell on all the face of the earth.”
-- From “The Time is Now to Heal Our Racial Brokenness: 1963 Church of the Brethren Resolution” adopted at the 1963 Annual Conference meeting in Champaign-Urbana, Ill. Find the full text of the resolution at www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1963-time-is-now.html .
Annual Conference registration and housing reservations for delegates and nondelegates open on Wednesday, March 1. The 2017 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren will be held June 28-July 2 in Grand Rapids, Mich. For the online registration go to www.brethren.org/ac/2017 .
1) Intercultural Ministry seeks to connect with churches in ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions
A letter from the Church of the Brethren Intercultural Ministry, signed by director Gimbiya Kettering, is part of a new effort to connect with congregations located in areas considered to be “sanctuary” jurisdictions across the country.
Opening with verses from Matthew 25: 34-35--“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in….’”--the letter invited prayerful discernment of “how we are called to witness, as members of the Church of the Brethren, how we feel called to stand with those who come to our communities seeking refuge.”
The letter invited congregations to join a denominational conversation about what it means to be a congregation in a sanctuary jurisdiction, to consider how congregations can articulate and act upon their convictions, and to share resources, stories, and experiences with one another.
“You are part of a community that has declared itself to be a sanctuary,” the letter said, in part. “While there is no official definition of a sanctuary city, town, county, or state, it is a continuation of our Judeo-Christian culture, national history, and our denominational witness in the wider world.”
The letter noted ways the Brethren have connected to the biblical vision of sanctuary and safety for those who are endangered, including the post-World War II effort to encourage each congregation to welcome and care for a refugee family, as early as the 1980s recognizing the injustice in efforts to deport and deny refugees from conflicts in Haiti and South and Central America, and more recently bringing Chibok girls from Nigeria to the US for healing and new opportunities.
“We, too, sought sanctuary when the Brethren of the 1700s fled religious persecution in Germany,” the letter noted.
Among other foundational statements, the letter referenced the Annual Conference statement of 1969, “Obedience to God and Civil Disobedience.” Kettering also urged readers, as individuals and congregations, to study and prayerfully consider the following Annual Conference resolutions and statements: “Making the Connection,” 1986; “Providing Sanctuary for Latin American and Haitian Refugees,” 1983; “Undocumented Persons and Refugees in the United States,” 1982; and “Action in the Refugee Crisis of Southeast Asia,” 1979. Find Annual Conference statements online at www.brethren.org/ac/statements .
To talk directly with Gimbiya Kettering in the Intercultural Ministry office of the Church of the Brethren, call 800-323-8039 ext. 387 or e-mail email@example.com .
2) Nursing scholarships announced for 2016, applications are received for 2017
By Randi Rowan
Six nursing students were named as recipients of Church of the Brethren Nursing Scholarships for 2016. This scholarship, made possible by the Health Education and Research Endowment, is available to members of the Church of the Brethren enrolled in LPN, RN, or nursing graduate programs.
The recipients are Logan Fultz of Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa.; Amanda Gibble and Cassidy McFadden of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill.; Malinda Heisey and Brooke Myer of Chiques Church of the Brethren in Manheim, Pa.; and Abby Maples of Panther Creek Church of the Brethren in Adel, Iowa.
Scholarships of up to $2,000 for RN and graduate nurse candidates and up to $1,000 for LPN candidates are awarded to a limited number of applicants each year. Information on the scholarships, an application form, and instructions are available at www.brethren.org/congregationallife/nursingscholarships.html . Applications and supporting documentation are due by May 1 to be considered for 2017 scholarships.
-- Randi Rowan is program assistant for the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries.
3) Church of the Brethren members invited to Oregon Senate for key vote
Florence Daté Smith and her daughter Barbara Daté on Feb. 16 were among at least 17 Japanese-Americans invited to sit on the chamber floor of the Oregon State Senate for a vote unanimously approving Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 14. The resolution recognizes the historical significance of Feb. 19, 1942, the date President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed executive order 9066 setting in motion the internment of some 120,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II.
The resolution recognizes how the executive order restricted “the freedom of Japanese Americans and other legal resident aliens through required identification cards, travel restrictions, seizure of personal property and incarceration,” and resolves to “support the goals of the Japanese American community in recognizing the national Day of Remembrance to increase public awareness of these actions.” Among other things, the resolution also calls on the people of Oregon to “pause to reflect upon the lessons learned from the Japanese American incarceration experience, appreciate the contributions that immigrants and refugees bring to our nation and commit to valuing all Americans, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion or country of origin” (see https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/SCR14 ).
Among those affected by executive order 9066 were Florence Daté Smith and her parents. Smith, now age 95, is a resident of Eugene, Ore. She sat with her state Senator Floyd Prozanski, and Daté sat with Republican Lead Senator Ted Ferrioli. Daté reported to Newsline that Ferrioli had worked hard on SCR 14.
The Oregon House vote on the measure is scheduled for March 28, which Daté notes is Minoru Yasui Day in Oregon. Yasui, born in Oregon, became a lawyer and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor fought laws targeting Japanese-Americans. Eventually his own conviction for breaking curfew made its way to the Supreme Court, which affirmed his conviction, and he spent most of World War II in internment camps. President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Nov. 24, 2015.
“One thing amazing about this is that at its inception, Oregon was designed for ‘white people’ only. So Oregon has come a long way,” Daté wrote in her report on the event. “This statement by the Oregon Senate is amazing and affirming even just as a stand-alone decision to acknowledge the historic, demeaning, and perhaps even unconstitutional Presidential Executive Order 9066.”
Find personal testimonies submitted to the Oregon legislature in support of SCR 14 at https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/Exhibits/SCR14 . Read Florence Daté Smith’s personal story of the internment--told originally in “Messenger” magazine in 1988, and now published in Messenger Online--at www.brethren.org/messenger/articles/2017/remembering-internment.html .
4) Big Rapids Song and Story Fest to be in Michigan following Annual Conference
“Rafting in the Hollow of God’s Hand!” is the theme for this year’s Big Rapids Song and Story Fest on July 2-8 at Camp Brethren Heights near Rodney, Mich. The Song and Story Fest is an annual family camp featuring Brethren musicians and storytellers. Ken Kline Smeltzer is the director. On Earth Peace co-sponsors the fest.
“Surrounded by four of the Great Lakes, lower Michigan looks like a mitten or hand on the map,” said an announcement. “With Camp Brethren Heights situated in the middle of the state, you could say that we will be gathering in the palm of God’s hand for this 21st Song and Story Fest!
“But it doesn't feel particularly comfy in this land just now,” the announcement said, in part. “Bouncing around and over big and dangerous rapids that threaten to capsize us, we are in the midst of deep waters on all sides: religious, political, and economic differences that divide and conquer any unity we might experience as one people, under God’s care and guidance.... Together we’ll find some islands of hope and understanding to rest upon and regroup, and to re-engage with the waters and the people around us. Climb aboard, our lifeboat is big!”
This year’s storytellers and workshop leaders are Susan Boyer, Matt Guynn, Jonathan Hunter, Lee Krahenbuhl, Jim Lehman, and Kathy Guisewite. Campfire, workshop, and concert musicians are Louise Brodie, Chris Good and Friends With the Weather, Jeffrey Faus and Jenny Stover-Brown, Tim and Byron Joseph, Mike Stern, Peg Lehman, Lilly Nuss, and Bill Jolliff.
Registration includes all meals, onsite facilities, and leadership, and is based on age. Children age 4 and under are welcome at no charge. The registration fee for adults is $320, for teens ages 13-19 is $200, and for children ages 5-12 is $150. The maximum fee per family is $900. Registration is open now, and fees should be paid in their entirety by June 1. Registrations post-marked after June 1 are charged a 10 percent late fee. There is no discount for off-site, tent, or RV housing. Register online at http://onearthpeace.org/song-story-fest-2017 .
5) From Gimbiya’s desk: Those who came before me
By Gimbiya Kettering, director of Intercultural Ministry
“What is at stake in this growing racial conflict? Apart from the restoration of human dignity and worth, and the need for bringing relief to those who have suffered long and patiently at the hand of injustice, nothing less than the integrity of the church itself is at stake. The world, and more specifically, the [African American] communities, have grown weary of the church’s lofty pronouncements and pious platitudes. They await our answer today. They want to see, to feel, and to taste of the redemptive love of Christ.” --Tom Wilson, Annual Conference 1963
It is Black History Month and this year, I find myself returning to the mystery of Tom Wilson. I have never met him, though I wish I could have. He was Brethren and black, an unusual combination in any era but especially so in the 1960s. He was a graduate of Bethany Seminary and pastor at First Church in Chicago when Martin Luther King Jr. had office space there. He also became the first (and at the time only) black Elgin staff member.
In 1963, he spoke up from the Annual Conference floor about the racial tensions of the Civil Rights movement with words that are as relevant and prophetic today as they were then.
Tom Wilson’s 1963 Statement to Annual Conference:
“I speak as few in this audience can. I wear the badge of color and, therefore, speak as one who has suffered the injustices you now discuss.
“Whether by coincidence or destiny or the will of God, history has made us travelers on the Jericho Road. We are confronted anew by Christ's command to love and to be neighborly. This is the challenge and the opportunity we face in the racial crisis of the hour.
“The problem has both historical and practical antecedents. Historically, it is rooted in custom and tradition, hundreds of years of servitude and second-class citizenship. For the Negro it is a quest for power and for the white a struggle to maintain the power that has rained blessing upon him.
“As long as whites insist upon metering out to Negroes rights which are constitutional and Godgiven, rights which they enjoy and take for granted, racial conflict will not abate but grow to an everworsening state, until it erupts with the madness and devastating destructiveness of a volcano--when brokenness will be compounded and healing made much more difficult.
“I am aware of some of the dangers involved in the Negro quest for full equality under the law. It is paradoxical that the Negro in his insistent bid for equality may in essence seek inequality. It is my judgment that the Negro must not ask for any more than any other citizen, and certainly he must never settle for less. Another real danger is that the Negro may seek to retaliate in kind to the white man for the injustices and suffering inflicted upon him, by trading insult for insult, by throwing stone for stone, or by swapping violence for violence.
“As I perceive the situation, the Negro has a unique role in this conflict. It is incumbent upon him to suffer, not in docility or cowardice, not in humiliation and despair, but in love, dignity, and poise that he might project a new self-image and thereby reveal to his white brother who he is and who Christ is.
“What is at stake in this growing racial conflict? Apart from the restoration of human dignity and worth, and the need for bringing relief to those who have suffered long and patiently at the hand of injustice, nothing less than the integrity of the church itself is at stake. The world, and more specifically, the Negro communities, have grown weary of the church's lofty pronouncements and pious platitudes. They await our answer today. They want to see, to feel, and to taste of the redemptive love of Christ.
“I am not unmindful of the fact that if the Negro is to achieve his full rights under the law he will need the aid and assistance of white brothers who will dare to risk themselves in the struggle for justice. Many of you as individuals hold positions and status that could effectively influence the power structure in your local community. And, certainly, if the church as a corporate body would dare speak with integrity and purpose, much of the world's brokenness could be healed.
“If the precipitation of racial crisis by Negro leaders and communities across this land of ours has done nothing else, it has given "white" churches and communities an "excuse" to confess their sins and to redeem themselves with resolute and courageous action. The question of the moment is whether this assembly convened under the deepening shadows of racial conflict and discord, of brokenness and alienation, can effect within its life a reasonable measure of reconciliation. Indeed, the hour is late, but not too late. The storm is upon us, but Christ still has the power to calm the raging winds and the troubled sea-if only we would put our trust in him.
“God forbid that this Conference, amidst the urgency of the hour, should simply pass another resolution. May we stand in His strength until he has wrought in us his holy will.”
-- Reprinted from “Gospel Messenger,” the Church of the Brethren magazine, July 27, 1963. Thomas Wilson made this statement during the discussion of the statement "The Time ls Now," at the 1963 Annual Conference. An ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren, he was the pastor of a Brethren congregation at the time.
6) Remembering internment: Days of infamy
By Florence Daté Smith
Sunday, Feb. 19, marked 75 years since the day in 1942 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed executive order 9066, setting in motion the rounding up and incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese-Americans. Florence Daté Smith was one of those who were put into internment camps during World War II. Here is her story, originally featured in the November 1988 issue of the Church of the Brethren magazine “Messenger”:
On December 7, 1941, I was in the library at the University of California. There was a sudden disruption in that customarily muted and somber sanctuary. Someone had brought in a radio. Whispered words swept through the halls: “Japan has attacked Pearl Harbor!” It seemed at that moment that the entire campus community came to an abrupt halt. My world as I knew it halted also, and a new one began.
I was a 21-year-old student, majoring in Far Eastern studies there in Berkeley. My parents had come to the United States from Hiroshima, Japan, in the early 1900s. I was born in San Francisco and so was a “Nisei,” or second-generation American, a US citizen. My parents, by US laws then in effect, could never become citizens, only permanent resident aliens.
The parents of us Niseis were concerned too. But, confident in the ways of democracy, they said that whatever happened to them now, we were to carry on in their places at home and at work. They never dreamed that their children--solid American citizens--would be affected.
For us Niseis on campus, changes occurred rapidly. One by one, students from out of town were called home. My own college support group quickly disappeared. Soon a curfew for all persons of Japanese descent--aliens and American citizens alike--was proclaimed. I felt as if I were under “house arrest,” since I usually spent my days and most of my evenings in the library or in class.
Now we were confined to our homes between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. Furthermore, we were restricted in travel to a 5-mile radius from our home. I wanted to shout, “Why us? What about persons of German and Italian descent?”
Then came another order: Turn in all cameras, flashlights, phonograph records, short-wave radios, chisels, saws, anything longer than a paring knife, even some items that were family heirlooms. Newspapers and radios daily blared headlines about the dangerous presence and activities of the Japanese. Commentators such as Westbrook Pegler wrote, “Herd them up, sterilize them, and then ship them back to Japan, and then blow up the island!”
Then followed another order. Each family was to register and thereby receive a family number. We were now No. 13533. Our country had made us mere numbers!
In April 1942, Civilian Exclusion Order No. 5 was announced by the Western Defence Command, addressed to all persons of Japanese ancestry. This order was posted publicly and conspicuously everywhere. Everyone in town could see it. I felt like a branded criminal, innocent, yet guilty of something. I was totally devastated. Did everyone have to know? I just wanted to disappear quietly, right then and there, like a ghost.
Parents had accepted our being denied entry to public swimming pools, restaurants, and hotels, as well as being restricted from land ownership or immigration quotas. But criminal accusations sufficient to warrant incarceration of citizens was another story.
Obviously I could not sink quietly under the waters without a ripple. One afternoon, while I was on my way home from my last day at the university, a group of young school children with long sticks in their hands converged about me, shouting, “A Jap! A Jap! A Jap!” I was uneasy, but not afraid. Very Asian thoughts went through my mind. How was it that these youngsters had no respect for an adult? But my second thought was, “Well, I am only No. 13533.”
The date of our departure for internment was announced. Four days later we reported dutifully to the Civilian Control Center. We had, in those few days, hurriedly disposed of our entire household goods. Rapacious, bargain-hunting neighbors and strangers descended upon us. We were at their mercy, and constrained by the urgency of time. They would say, “How about giving me your piano for $5, or your refrigerator for a couple of dollars?” We were helpless. We could only say, “Take it.” I saw my father give away my mother’s prized possessions.
We were instructed to go with our bedding, a tin plate, cup, knife, fork, and spoon, and “only what we could carry.” With these things we waited at the center to be sent to some mysterious “reception center” somewhere out there. I thought, “This is it. I am now an object.”
At the Civilian Control Center I was at first shocked to see armed guards. For the first time I felt extreme anger. Uniformed men with guns were stationed everywhere. “Why?” I wondered. We had presented ourselves peacefully and certianly we would continue to do so. Towering guarded herded us toward the buses. We quietly boarded, not because of the bayonets and guns, but in spite of them.
Perhaps you wonder why and how thousands of persons of Japanese ancestry, over 70 percent of them American citizens, so willingly and nonviolently left their homes in haste and entered into 10 concentration camps located in the barren, unproductive areas of the United States. All through my childhood, my parents encouraged me to integrate American values. I learned them well in the public schools--the beliefs and concepts of democracy, equality, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution. Yet, simply by observing my parents’ responses and behavior, I inherited their communication and relationship values, which were a mixture of Buddhist, Shinto, and Christian religious concepts. I felt enriched for I was a product of two worlds. I do not remember ever wishing I were other than Japanese and American.
Now I was confronted by this near impossible balancing of two different viewpoints--1) belief in liberty and the freedoms guaranteed by the US Constitution and 2) the precept that respects authority, offers subservience, and accepts “what will be will be.” This was difficult to face at that point in my life. I was deeply affected and agitated, more than I was able to acknowledge...until decades later.
Recent studies have proven helpful to me. Japanese and Western cultural values were compared in the areas of communication, personal relationships, and perception. In contrast to Westerners, the Japanese generally are more receptive than expressive, listen more than confront, show emotional restraint, exhibit humility and self-sacrifice, favor harmony and conformity, and have an unusually high respect for authority.
I was the product of a typical western educational system, but I held many Asian cultural values. Thus there had been a war waging within me. One side said, “Be assertive, verbally expressive, believe in equality, exercise the freedom to be an individual.” The other side said, “Be in unity, be humble, remember harmony and conformity, respect authority first, consider the welfare of the group and community rather than that of the individual. In this is your strength.” In this struggle the second side won, but at a heavy price. We followed all the proclamations and orders issued by both civilian and military authorities.
At the “reception center” I experienced added insults to my psyche. I could hardly believe that my new home was Horse Stall No. 48 at the Tanforan Race Track, in San Bruno. Manure had been shoveled out, hay removed, and the remaining debris--including spiderwebs--was whitewashed over. There was a semblance of cleanliness. We slept on mattresses that we filled with straw. Up in the grandstand there were functioning flush toilets with signs posted that proclaimed, “For whites only!” We had latrines. We had to go out in the weather for everything. We ate in mess halls. I wondered if anyone could imagine the depth of my pain.
We were there at the race track, behind barbed-wire fences, watched day and night by armed guards in sentry towers. There was roll call twice a day, at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. I refused to be counted at 6 a.m. All our mail was opened and censored. Edible gifts brought in by outside friends were cut in half, in search of smuggled weapons. Under armed guard, there were two unannounced, unexpected raids to uncover subversive materials and weapons. None were found. Indeed, we had become simply prisoners.
By the fall of 1942, children, youth, young people, and the elderly were located in one of 10 camps in bleak, isolated desertlands. No one was accused of any crime, and yet no one was able to call upon the protection guranteed us by our country’s constitution.
Relocated in Topaz, Utah, out in the desert, I taught in the upper elementary grades for $19 a month. My “appointive” Caucasian colleague told me she made $300, plus living expenses, for the same work. I had repressed feelings about that situation too.
One day I strolled over to see how my colleague lived. A large sign was posted boldly in her block, “For appointive staff only.” I wondered what would happen to me if I were apprehended. I even stopped and used their restroom before leaving. I confess that my resentment was showing.
It jarred my very personhood and integrity to be:
-- accused unjustly of being a dangerous citizen, forcibly moved to this remote area of the United States, while hundred of thousands of Hawaiian-Americans of Japanese descent, as well as German and Italian-Americans, were not;
-- confined behind barbed-wire fences, together with 10,000 persons in one square mile, with families living in accommodations meant for single men, in military barracks with mess halls and latrines;
-- watched day and night by armed guards who were ordered to shoot on sight anyone appearing or attempting to leave the area (it did happen in Topaz: A guard shot an elderly man who thoughtlessly stepped too near a fence to pick up an arrowhead);
-- incarcerated as a potential saboteur and then nine months later have the armed services begin to recruit volunteers from these camps;
-- asked to swear unqualified allegiance to the United States and also at the same time foreswear any form of allegiance to the Japanese emperor or any other foreign power.
Feelings ran high at this point. How could loyalty to the United States be questioned when at the same time the government was seeking among us volunteers for military service?
Over a thousand volunteers joined from these internment camps to become part of the most highly decorated American combat unit in the entire history of our country. These men were determined to demonstrate their loyalty to the United States.
In another area I was hurt to the quick. As a teacher, I saw the effects of this internment life upon the children of the camp community. They roamed about, no longer responsible to their own parents. Why should they be? These parents could not even provide their own children with protection or even support them. In the classrooms I was saddened to see children exhibit discourtesy and disrespect toward teachers, authority, and each other. They seemed lost, indeed. My task was to educate them academically and, in addition, help them regain self-respect.
My mother, a former teacher and an observant person, said that during those years I appeared rather grim. I was. I was unable to confide to her the fact that I was depressed, lonely, overwhelmed, and was facing a frightening future. Suddenly I had become the “head of the family,” for I was the sole American in the family in a country that was treating us hostilely.
To make matters worse, my father was hospitalized with tuberculosis. I was told by the unsympathetic Caucasian hospital administrator that my father would never leave the hospital and that furthermore the doctor did not care about this case. When I reported this incident to my minister, all the evacuee ministers in camp dressed in their Sunday best and made a “call” upon this medical officer. Misdiagnosed, my father lived for 13 years after being released from camp. But my mother died four years after entering internment. She needed medical care and surgery that neither the camp personnel nor the hospital could provide. For us, Father’s hospitalization marked a permanent separation for us as a family.
After we had been interned about a year and a half, the government realized its mistake and began to encourage us to leave. It saw that there was no good reason to keep us interned. The original reason for interning us was no longer valid, as there was no proof that we had done anything to undermine the US war effort. We were not potential saboteurs. But, more important for the government, keeping us in the camps was expensive.
Eventually I went to Chicago, through the Quakers, to work at a Presbyterian settlement house. From the 1950s to the late 1970s, I lived in Lombard, Ill., near the York Center Church of the Brethren. My husband and I were pacifists and we also believed in simple living and in outreach, so we were drawn to York Center church, while Lee Whipple was pastor. In 1978 we moved to Eugene, Ore., and became part of the Springfield congregation.
For over 35 years I did not talk to anyone about my internment years and the scandal of it. And I refused all speaking invitations. The reason I now go to schools to give presentations is that we former internees are a dying generation, and when I look at the school textbooks I see nothing about the internment. So I realized that if I didn’t speak out it would be come secondary information; the primary sources soon would be gone. I have created a slide presentation, and dug out pictures from books and old records, relying on the Armed Services and the government archives. We were not allowed to have cameras in the camps, of course.
Not even my children had known my story earlier. They complained that they did not hear about it. They heard their father talk and joke about his prison experiences as a World War II conscientious objector, but I did not make one peep. Of course our children saw this contrast between their parents. But I just could not talk about it. I know now that it would have been emotionally and psychologically healthy to talk and that I should have done it 30 or 40 years ago. But we were such zombies then. We thought it was violent or disrespectful to react like that. The experience was too traumatic; it devastated our personhood. This happened to all of us.
Through the years individuals such as the late Min Yasui and agencies such as the Japanese American Citizenship League have worked to obtain redress for the victims of the internment. The Church of the Brethren Annual Conference and the General Board, over the years, petitioned Congress to acknowledge the wrongness of the internment and to make just redress.
...In 1976 President Gerald R. Ford rescinded President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s infamous Executive Order 9066 of 1942 that sent over 100,000 Japanese-Americans to concentration camps. This past August 10, President Ronald Reagan signed H.R. 442, which offers restitution of $20,000 to each surviving victim of the internment and an official government apology.
This is my story. I tell it now, to help people to know about and to understand the pain taht the internment caused, so that such an atrocity will never happen in this country again.
-- First published in the November 1988 issue of the Church of the Brethren magazine “Messenger.” Florence Daté Smith lives in Eugene, Ore., and has had a long involvement with Springfield Church of the Brethren.
7) Brethren bits
-- Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) reports that its team of volunteers who were working with families and children affected by evacuations in Oroville, Calif., have returned home. “They were a team on the move, following the river flow downstream from the Oroville Dam area to Sacramento to San Jose,” said a CDS Facebook post yesterday. “Shelters closed as families were able to return home. The team cared for 106 children and also for each other! Thank you to the volunteers who were able to go and to other volunteers who were willing to be in the next group to go if the need for services had continued!” For more about the ministry of Children’s Disaster Services go to www.brethren.org/cds .
-- Brethren Disaster Ministries has published its Winter 2017 newsletter, available online as well as in print. This issue includes updates on the Nigeria Crisis Response and work in Haiti responding to Hurricane Matthew, as well as 2016 statistics for the domestic rebuilding program and Children’s Disaster Services, and a wrap up of the project site in Detroit, among other articles. Find the newsletter at www.brethren.org/bdm/files/bridges/bridges-winter-2017.pdf .
-- Global Mission and Service this week is requesting prayer for three initiatives for Church of the Brethren mission around the world: this weekend’s Asamblea, the annual conference of Iglesia de los Hermanos (Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic), meeting on the theme of resting in God’s grace based on 2 Corinthians 12:9; a gathering of ministers affiliating with the developing Brethren group in Venezuela, where organizers expect 200 people from 64 churches and ministries to attend a conference that will include continued instruction in Brethren beliefs and practices and discussion on how to further develop and organize the church; and a trip to Nigeria by Church of the Brethren members Carol Mason and Donna Parcell who will be recording interviews and take photographs for a future book project in partnership with Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The vision of the book is to paint a large-scale picture of the crisis of violence in northeast Nigeria featuring narratives from EYN denominational leaders, pastors, and displaced persons.
-- An insightful article about Boko Haram by Charles Kwuelum, a Nigerian man now working in Washington, D.C., who grew up in the neighborhood of young men who joined the Nigerian insurgent group, is recommended by the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness. The article is published by Sojourners. Find it at https://sojo.net/magazine/march-2017/my-neighbor-boko-haram .
-- “Looking ahead to spring!” announced the newsletter of the Shine curriculum published by Brethren Press and MennoMedia. The Spring 2017 quarter includes the season of Lent and Easter, and begins on Sunday, March 5. “The curriculum invites children to explore Jesus’ journey to the cross and the wonder of his resurrection as told by Matthew and John,” said the announcement. “After Easter, Primary through Junior Youth will have a series of six stories under the theme ‘God Cares for the Weak.’ Both Old and New Testament stories help children and youth know that God cares for the weak and powerless, and calls each of us to do the same. In late spring, preschool children hear stories from both the Old and New Testaments that encourage them to ‘Follow the Way of Peace.’” To order curriculum call Brethren Press at 800-441-3712.
-- On Earth Peace is planning a Palestine Witness Delegation to focus on conflict transformation, nonviolent social change, and community building in the West Bank. The announcement of the delegation in the agency’s e-mail newsletter noted that the Palestine Witness Delegation “focuses on the Israel-Palestine conflict from the Palestinian perspective. Delegates will have the rare opportunity to experience first-hand the interlocking complexities of Israeli occupation and apartheid, and explore the conditions which must be addressed to achieve a realistic, sustainable, and just peace in the region.” Participants will experience local immersion through an intensive two-week program, with local service providers and guides; engage in interdisciplinary, intersectional, and holistic dialogue through daily reflections, group debriefing, and seminars; hear a wide diversity of Palestinian and Israeli perspectives; build spiritual solidarity rooted in Christ, across cultures, religions, and nations; among other aspects of the trip. The delegation will travel in August, with specific dates to be announced. Cost is $1,990 including all in-country expenses. The cost excludes airfare and travel insurance. To learn more contact coordinator Sarah Bond-Yancey at firstname.lastname@example.org .
-- The National Council of Churches (NCC) has denounced recent anti-Semitic incidents and is condemning the rhetoric that fuels such acts in a statement released this week. “We stand firmly with our Jewish brothers and sisters during this difficult time,” the statement said, in part. “As a community of 38 Christian communions in the United States, the National Council of Churches continues to pray and work for a nation in which all persons may freely worship as they wish without fear.” The NCC statement notes the sharp rise in threats made against synagogues and Jewish community centers. “There have been at least 67 incidents at 56 Jewish Community Centers in 27 states and one Canadian province since the beginning of 2017. This week, bomb threats were called in to Jewish organizations across the nation, and a Jewish cemetery in University City, Missouri, was vandalized,” the NCC said. The statement also lifted up the “acts of love, moral courage, and solidarity among faith groups in response,” citing Jewish community leaders aiding members of a mosque that was destroyed in an apparent arson in Victoria, Texas, and Muslims raising funds to repair the Jewish cemetery that was vandalized. “We encourage churches to reach out to Jewish communities being threatened and offer similar acts of friendship and solidarity.” Find the full statement at http://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/statement-on-recent-anti-semitic-incidents .
-- Henry Fork Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va., is teaming up with Living Waters Assembly of God to provide a free meal to seniors, reports the Franklin News-Post. The once-a-month meal is prepared by master chef Robert Iuppa. The event has attracted as many as 100 people to share in food and fellowship. Read the article at www.thefranklinnewspost.com/news/seniors-enjoy-good-food-and-fun/article_baeedb4a-fa98-11e6-a900-ab49dcbfbdbc.html .
-- Holmesville (Neb.) Church of the Brethren has returned to an old practice of holding a “Founders Day” program each spring. On March 4, the congregation invites all interested persons to an afternoon event beginning with a lunch at 12 noon followed by two afternoon sessions and a hymn sing. The first session from 12:45-2:15 p.m. is on “The Power of Words” presented by Dylan Dell-Haro. The hymn sing will take place from 2:15-2:45 p.m. The second session from 3-4:30 p.m. is on “Unity in the Church” presented by Alan Stucky.
-- Manchester Church of the Brethren in N. Manchester, Ind., is hosting a concert by Friends with the Weather on March 11 at 7 p.m. The group is founded by singer-songwriter multi-instrumentalists Seth Hendricks, Chris Good, and David Hupp. They will be joined by drummer/
percussionist Dan Picollo and trumpet player Ross Huff. Admission is free; an offering will be taken. More information can be found at www.friendswiththeweather.com .
-- A member of Plymouth Church of the Brethren in South Central Indiana District, Kate Finney, has published a collection of children’s stories that she has presented in worship at the church. The book is titled “Worship With Kids! Sunday Morning Worship Stories for Children of All Ages.” Additionally, she is hosting the website www.worshipwithkids.net where she adds a new story every other week, and is developing a community page where others can contribute and collaborate. Contact her at email@example.com .
-- “Great news!” said the Western Plains District newsletter. “We have now reached $166,305 in donations to the Nigeria Crisis Fund!” The newsletter reported that the district has achieved 83 percent of a goal of raising $200,000. “Would it not be great to celebrate meeting our goal at District Conference?” the newsletter asked.
-- McPherson (Kan.) College is offering a Ventures course exploring the season of Lent, on Saturday, March 11, 9 a.m.-12 noon (central time). Steve Crain, pastor of Lafayette (Ind.) Church of the Brethren, is leading the event. He is “passionate about Christian spirituality and will help deepen our bonds of spirituality,” said an announcement. The title for the course is “Christ Is My New Me: A Lenten Exploration” (Galatians 2:19-20). A goal is for course attendees to explore the depths of what Paul means, interpret the passage in its context, ponder how spiritual teachers have understood it, and open hearts to its meaning for here and now. Ventures in Christian Discipleship is an online program of McPherson College, designed to equip church members with skills and understandings for faithful and dynamic Christian living, action and leadership. All courses are free, but donations are welcome to help continue this effort. Registration information is available at www.mcpherson.edu/ventures .
-- A group of Bridgewater (Va.) College students and a faculty member “will trade suntan lotion and swim suits for hammers and tool belts as they spend spring break volunteering as construction workers with Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge Spring Break 2017,” said a release from the college. The students are accompanied by Dr. Jason Ybarra, assistant professor of physics, and Louis Sanchez, admissions counselor. They will work in Hattiesburg, Miss., on March 5-11. Lauren Flora, a junior art major from Bridgewater, is serving as the student leader for the group. She is making her third Habitat trip. She has participated in Spring Break Collegiate Challenges in Athens, Ala., and Tucker, Ga. Flora said that one of the best and most rewarding parts of the experience for her is working alongside the family who will soon live in the house being built. “I get to see the joy and dedication they have and that always makes the long workdays worth it,” she said. This is the 25th year that Bridgewater College students have used spring break to work on various Habitat projects, including three trips to Miami and one each to Atlanta, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Independence, Mo. and Austin, Texas.
-- “Lent is just around the corner and it’s not too late to sign up for GWP's annual Lenten Calendar!” said an announcement from the Global Women’s Project. To order a free paper copy send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org , or request to receive a page-a-day by e-mail.
-- The Death Row Support Project directed by Church of the Brethren member Rachel Gross recently published a review of the state of the death penalty across the country last year. “It is a time of optimism and hope of the possibility of the abolition of the American death penalty,” the project’s February newsletter reported, adding however, that “in 2016, setbacks tempered that hope. Some troubling initiatives were voted in during the recent presidential election. The outlook isn't entirely bleak, and there is some good news that will hopefully lead to change and reform in the future.” The project reported a continued downward trend in executions and death penalty sentencing. In 2016 there were 18 executions, down from the previous year’s 28, and “along with the above reduced numbers, national death penalty support was at its lowest in 50 years, with polls showing 40 percent of the nation against it.” However, the report noted setbacks in Oklahoma, Nebraska, California, alongside good news from Florida, Texas, Oregon, Washington, and Alabama, and an announcement from drug company Pfizer that it will not allow its drugs to be used in lethal injections. Find the newsletter at http://support.brethren.org/site/MessageViewer?em_id=36240.0 . Contact the project care of Rachel Gross, Director, P.O. Box 600, Liberty Mills, IN 46946; www.brethren.org/drsp ; www.facebook.com/deathrowsupportproject ; www.instagram.com/deathrowsupportproject .
-- Joel S. Billi, president of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), has spoken out about the Nigerian government’s war on corruption. According to the Nigerian newspaper “The Guardian,” Billi said in a statement during EYN’s ministers’ conference that, “As a church, we support the anti-corruption crusade of the Federal Government, but the war against corruption should be executed within the ambit of the law.” Billi warned that an agency for fighting corruption may be seen as a government tool for witch-hunting opposition party members in the country. “He further urged the government to intensify efforts to ensure that the remaining Chibok girls are released,” the newspaper report said. Find it online at https://guardian.ng/news/your-anti-corruption-war-is-lopsided-church-leaders-tells-buhari .
-- “Standing at the threshold of the Sustainable Development Goals, the World Council of Churches (WCC) believes it is time for the church to reaffirm the role it has played over centuries as leader in global health, and to consolidate efforts towards health and healing for all,” said Dr. Mwai Makoka, WCC program executive for Health and Healing, in a WCC release. At a meeting in Lesotho next week, the WCC is starting the process of developing a Global Ecumenical Health Strategy, following the legacy of churches’ high profile in health care and mission historically. “The church has been engaged in health services for centuries,” Makoka explains, “and has insisted through the years that there is a unique Christian understanding of health and healing which should shape the way churches provide healthcare. The church realised and affirmed early, that health is more than medicine, more than physical and or mental well-being, and that healing is not primarily medical,” Makoka added. The consultation will bring together church leaders from Africa, heads of African Christian health associations, and church organizations from Europe and the USA. A second consultation will follow in May at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland.
Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Barbara Daté, Jan Fischer Bachman, Lois Grove, Gimbiya Kettering, Jon Kobel, Randi Rowan, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at email@example.com . Newsline appears every week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. The next regularly scheduled issue is set for March 3.