“Register for Mission Alive 2018!” said an invitation from the Global Mission and Service office. “Less than one month remains to meet the early registration discount deadline of Feb. 15. Join this chance to explore and celebrate the global Church of the Brethren and renew your energy for Global Mission!” Details and registration are at www.brethren.org/missionalive2018 . Contact Kendra Harbeck at 847-429-4388 or email@example.com with questions.
-- Remembrance: Roger Forry, 81, a former member of the Church of the Brethren General Baord, died on Jan. 8 in Somerset, Pa. He was a minister and pastor who served in pastoral ministry for more than 40 years in Southern Pennsylvania and Western Pennsylvania Districts, where he also held several district leadership positions. In addition to his term on the General Board from 1993-1998, he served on the Standing Committee of district delegates to Annual Conference from 2006-2008, and while on Standing Committee was chair of the Nominating Committee in 2007. A celebration of his life was held Jan. 10 at Somerset (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. A full obituary is posted at www.millerfuneralhomeandcrematory.com/blog/?p=2479#more-2479 .
-- Remembrance: Owen G. Stultz, 90, a former district executive minister in Virlina District, died on Jan. 16. He was born July 3, 1927, to Felix and Annie Lantz Stultz. He was licensed to the ministry in then-Northern Virginia District in 1948, ordained a year later, then advanced as an elder in 1957 while serving Sunnyside Church of the Brethren in then-First West Virginia District. He held degrees from Bridgewater (Va.) College and Bethany Biblical Seminary. In 1976, he completed a doctor of ministry at Bethany Theological Seminary. He was district executive for the First and Second West Virginia and Western Maryland Districts, which presently are West Marva District, from 1961-69. He began as district executive for Virlina District in 1969 and completed 23 1/2 years of service, retiring in 1992. After retirement he continued as an interim and associate pastor. His volunteer service to the church included representation at the West Virginia Council of Churches, and serving as a regional representative of the Mutual Aid Association. He was a member of Summerdean Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va. He is survived by his wife, Flemmie, their three sons Roger (Freida), Bruce (Susan), and Carl (Nancy), and their families. Aervices were held at Summerdean Church of the Brethren on Jan. 20. An obituary was published by the Roanoke Times at www.roanoke.com/obituaries/stultz-owen-g/article_46264140-9625-5928-b228-7a898db10944.html .
-- Remembrance: Claude H. Hess, 92, a founding member of On Earth Peace, died Jan. 16 at Brethren Village in Lancaster, Pa. The son of Abram Myer and Ruth Hollinger Hess, he was born in Bird-in-Hand, Pa., and was a lifelong resident of Lancaster County. In 1983, he was appointed a Pennsylvania Master Farmer. He served as president of the Master Farmers, a five-state association, in 1993. He was a founding partner of Plain and Fancy Egg Ranch, Elizabethtown, Pa., where he managed egg production from 1965-1975 before starting his own operations, Dutch Dozens Farm in Manheim, Pa., and Heritage Poultry Management Services. He was a survivor of polio, which he contracted at the age of three. In addition to being one of the founding members of the On Earth Peace Assembly, his commitment to the Church of the Brethren included sponsoring many foreign exchange students and active support for Heifer International. He is pre-deceased by his wife of 50 years, Irene Groff Hess. He is survived by his wife, Anita Carol Eppinger Hess, children Linda Hess Conklin (married to Alan S. Goldstein) and Clair Hess (married to Elizabeth Reese Hess), and grandchildren. A funeral service was held Jan. 22 at Conestoga Church of the Brethren. Memorial gifts are received to Brethren Disaster Ministries. An obituary published by Lancaster Online is at http://lancasteronline.com/obituaries/claude-h-hess/article_8caf895c-d8c2-5077-aac9-7e15771bda08.html .
-- The deadline for filing a QSEHRA has been extended to February, according to a communication from Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT). QSEHRA stands for the Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement, “a tool that can offer some pastors pre-tax savings on healthcare premiums,” BBT reports. “It is possible that some potential QSEHRA candidates did not have time to complete the process or did not even get started before the 2018 deadline passed. But the deadline for filing a QSEHRA has been extended to February 2018.” This is “great news” for pastors or churches who have not yet set up a QSEHRA or are interested in doing so. Visit the BBT website www.cobbt.org for more information on the QSEHRA process and an application, or call Jeremiah Thompson, BBT director of Insurance Operations, at 847-622-3368.
-- The Global Mission and Service office has shared prayers of thanksgiving for the rescue of Salomi Pogu, one of 276 girls and young women abducted from their school in Chibok in April 2014. “Pray for the physical, emotional, and spiritual recovery of Salomi as well as that of the 14-year-old girl who was discovered with her,” said the prayer request. “Pray that they may be reunited with their familes and re-welcomed into their communities. Pray for the Chibok girls and other victims who remain in captivity.”
-- A Seminar on Christian Minority Communities is planned for March 2, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., hosted by the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness and held at Washington City (D.C.) Church of the Brethren. “In 2015, the Church of the Brethren made a Resolution on Christian Minority Communities, expressing alarm at the trend of ‘rapidly diminishing Christian communities in places such as Iraq, Palestine, and Syria,’ and arguing that ‘the elimination of these ancient yet still vital Christian communities would not only be a human rights disaster and a loss for the peoples of the region, but also a tragic loss of historic Christian witness in the land where the church first took root,’” said an announcement. This day-long seminar has been planned to help church members and other learn more about this issue. Discussion will cover the historic and current situation, relevant US and international policies, and the theological implications of these communities. Guest speakers from government and faith-based organizations will be present. Action items for further reflection and advocacy will be included. Participants may receive .5 continuing education credit. Register at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe38PVLBf9jF6iNhhmaRqJYrILnpALCJZFs-wfDPB-SleE2Eg/viewform . For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
-- SERRV and the Church of the Brethren are mentioned as instrumental in starting the fair-trade movement in a recently updated entry in the Encyclopædia Britannica, written by Peter Bondarenko. Fair trade is a “global movement to improve the lives of farmers and workers in developing countries by ensuring that they have access to export markets and are paid a fair price for their products,” the article said. In a section on the history of the fair-trade movement, the piece noted that no one knows when the movement actually started, but “an instrumental development” in its development came in 1946 with a visit by American businesswoman Edna Ruth Byler to a women’s sewing group run by Mennonite Central Committee in Puerto Rico. “Byler began selling the group’s crafts to friends and neighbours in the United States.” Soon thereafter, in 1949, “a nonprofit organization called SERRV (Sales Exchange for Refugee Rehabilitation and Vocations) was established in the United States by the Church of the Brethren to form trade relationships with poor communities in South America,” the article reports. “The first formal fair trade shop in the United States, where goods from SERRV and other organizations were sold, was established in 1958.” See www.britannica.com/topic/fair-trade .
-- Lindsay (New Harvest) Church of the Brethren in Pacific Southwest District will be closing, the district has announced. “With beginnings in 1911 and a rich history of service and worship, the Lindsay (New Harvest) congregation voted to close this past fall due to their small size and the difficulty of continuing in ministry as a result of that,” said the announcement in the district newsletter. In November 2017, sale of the property to Vision Calvary Chapel of Porterville was completed with the congregation and the district as joint sellers. “While the closing of the congregation is a sad thing, we celebrate their faithful service through the years and the many who came to know Jesus through the Lindsay church’s ministry,” said the district announcement. “The church members are pleased that the buildings will continue in use as a church in their
-- New Carlisle (Ohio) Church of the Brethren is hosting popular speaker Missy Buchanan at “Go-Go, Go-Slow, No-Go,” a worship and workshop event exploring the topics of aging and faith. Questions that will be addressed include, according to an announcement: What are some of the “joys and jolts of aging?” How can congregations bring their generations together to learn from each other? How can congregations encourage spiritual formation of older adults? What would spiritual formation be for the “Go-Go, Slow-Go and No-Go” older adults in our congregations? Missy Buchanan was one of the keynote speaker for the 2017 Church of the Brethren National Older Adult Conference. She has appeared on “Good Morning America” with co-anchor Robin Roberts and her mother, Lucimarian Roberts. This event takes place April 13-14. For more information and to register, call the New Carlisle Church at 937-845-1428 or email Vicki Ullery, associate pastor, at email@example.com .
-- Oakland Church of the Brethren is among the community organizations supporting the survivors of a deadly house fire in Greenville, Ohio. The church is helping support the children of a family who suffered the fire Jan. 13 at a mobile home community. The fire took the life of their mother. According to pastor John Sgro, his congregation was “rallying around them and wanted to help the kids the best we can,” he said in a newspaper report. He told the media that the children’s grandfather had been a member of the Oakland congregation. The church has set up a clothing drive for the family.
-- Roundtable, a regional youth conference in the Church of the Brethren, will be held April 6-8 at Bridgewater (Va.) College. The speaker will be Marcus Harden, a member of Atlantic Southeast District who currently sits on the Mission and Ministry Board of the denomination. This event is planned by the Interdistrict Youth Cabinet, reported an announcement from Virlina District. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or see http://iycroundtable.wixsite.com/iycbc/roundtable .
-- “Camp La Verne needs help since recent burglaries,” said an announcement from Pacific Southwest District. The camp recently suffered two burglaries in the space a few weeks, reported the district e-newsletter. “The police have been notified and there may be a chance we retrieve some of the stolen items but at this time nothing has shown up. This is a plea to your congregations to look deep within their garages and work sheds and see if there are items camp might be able to use,” the newsletter said. “We appreciate anything the churches and individuals can do to help!” Needed items include recreational games, power tools, gardening and landscaping tools, among others. For more information contact Julia Wheeler at 909-720-9832 or email@example.com .
-- A series of “Pilgrimage Bible Studies” for the World Council of Churches’ Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace are available as free, online resources. “Seven pastor-scholars have crafted new Bible studies to enable congregations everywhere to wrestle with biblical insights into their journey of faith and the imperatives of contemporary discipleship that lie behind the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace,” said a WCC release. Susan Durber, a Reformed minister in the United Kingdom and moderator of the WCC’s Faith and Order Commission, commented that the Bible studies “provide food for the journey.... As the pastor of a small local congregation...I need so much to have the Bible in my ‘knapsack’ for the journey of faith and for my own pilgrimage, with others, on the path of justice and peace. It is a repeated wonder and blessing to me that even the most familiar passages so often bring new light into my days and open up new paths for these tired pilgrim's limbs. I need daily bread for body and soul, and in reading the Bible with others I find food for the journey.” The Bible studies are a project of a Theological Study Group of the WCC, written by pastors and scholars from Indonesia, Italy, Korea, the Netherlands, Tonga, the US, and the United Kingdom. One of the authors, European Mennonite scholar Fernando Enns, has worked with Brethren to encourage the WCC to focus on peacemaking issues over the years. Currently seven Bible studies are posted online, the first of a dozen that will be issued during 2018, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the WCC. Go to www.oikoumene.org/en/what-we-do/pilgrimage-of-justice-and-peace/bible-studies .
-- In more news from the World Council of Churches, the WCC and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have pledged to not only deepen their existing collaboration but also explore more joint projects to protect and provide for children. A WCC release reported that WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit and UNICEF deputy executive director Justin Forsyth signed a “Memorandum of Collaboration 2018-2021” that regulates a partnership in line with the newly approved UNICEF Strategic Plan. “A formal global collaboration between the WCC and UNICEF began in September 2015,” the release said. “As a result of the first two years of work together, a comprehensive participatory process involving 235 experts rallied WCC member churches to monitor and promote children’s rights in their communities and within their congregations through the initiative, ‘Churches’ Commitments to Children.’” Tveit said, “We share the faith that God came to us as a child. That changes our perspectives on all human beings.” Said Forsyth, “Children are the most vulnerable in any of the tragedies we deal with: forced migration, war, famine, and more. Collectively we have an obligation to protect and provide for children.... This joint effort by the WCC and UNICEF would lead to action that will save the lives of millions of vulnerable children globally.” Find resources from the Churches’ Commitments to Children initiative at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/public-witness/rights-of-children/resources-available-to-support-member-churches-in-the-implementation-of-each-principle .
-- Ivan Patterson, a Church of the Brethren member, has been recognized for closing out his 91st year of life by making his 500th lifetime blood donation. That milestone blood donation was made at the Greenville Ministerial Association blood drive Jan. 9, hosted at Greenville (Ohio) Church of the Brethren. “Patterson is a pioneer platelet and plasma donor with Community Blood Center and a member of the original LifeLeaders apheresis team,” said a newspaper report. “He declared two years ago, ‘My goal is to get to 500 during the year that I turn 90!’ and he kept his promise. He first donated in 1945 at age 18 and his 500th donation comes less than a month before his 91st birthday celebration on Feb. 7.” Read the full story at www.earlybirdpaper.com/patterson-90-makes-500th-donation .