-- Remembrance: John Crumley, a former Church of the Brethren mission worker in Nigeria, passed away suddenly on May 18. He and his wife, Patricia, served in Jos, Nigeria, from December 1999 to July 2004. His work there began as a supportive role to Patricia, who taught music at Hillcrest School. He repaired musical instruments and tutored students as needed, while being a house husband and father. He also sought ways to support the local Nigerian Brethren congregation and its outreach ministries. During their final year in Jos, he was invited to teach at the women’s program of the Theological College of Northern Nigeria. A memorial service was held on Thursday, May 24, at Polo (Ill.) Church of the Brethren.
-- Former mission workers Carolyn and Roger Schrock are traveling to South Sudan for two and a half months of volunteer service with the Brethren Peace Center in Torit. The Schrocks will train agronomists and work with the Eastern Equatoria Farmer's Association, an organization seeking to fight the region's pervasive hunger by encouraging farmers to pool resources and leverage assets. The Global Mission and Service office of the Church of the Brethren is requesting prayer for the Schrocks' health and safety as they serve. “Pray for the efforts of all working to ease the hunger crisis in South Sudan,” said the announcement.
-- Bethany Theological Seminary has announced that Mark Lancaster’s role will change. He will begin work in the newly created position of assistant to the president for strategic initiatives on Aug. 1. He has been executive director of institutional advancement since July 2015. In his new part-time role, he will focus on goals and objectives of Bethany’s new Strategic Vision Implementation Plan, working to maintain Bethany’s relationship and education partnership with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), explore grants and other funding sources, and continue to maintain institutional connections with major donors.
In related news, Lancaster also will begin Aug. 1 as part-time director of the Brethren Heritage Center in Brookville, Ohio. “The Brethren Heritage Center has reached a level in its 15-year history where the need for a salaried director is recognized,” said an announcement. “The hiring of Mark Lancaster by the Board of Directors moves the BHC from an all-volunteer staff.” Lancaster brings to the position more than 40 years of experience in working with mostly nonprofit organizations including Heifer International and American Friends Service Committee as well as Bethany Seminary. Some of the activities he will lead include strategic planning, outreach, fundraising, donor relations, supervision of volunteer staff, and promotion of the archives regionally, nationally, and internationally. The center is a research and educational facility focusing on the history and genealogy of a number of the bodies that share the heritage of the Brethren movement that began in 1708 in Schwarzenua, Germany.
-- Ed Shannon has accepted the position of retirement planning consultant for Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) beginning June 18. He has been a retirement plan specialist for Converge Retirement for just over five years and has a background in Defined Benefit and Defined Contributions Church Plans. He holds a degree in Human Resources Management from Judson University in Elgin, Ill., where he and his family live and are members of First Baptist Church of Elgin.
-- The Church of the Brethren seeks an associate director for the Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) program within Brethren Disaster Ministries and Global Mission and Service. Major responsibilities include providing oversight, leadership, and administration of CDS. Additional responsibilities include leading the response of CDS volunteers, leading and coordinating new program development and expansion of CDS, managing and supporting the development of ecumenical relationships, and providing sound financial management of CDS. Required skills and knowledge include program development and management, volunteer management, effective training and presentation skills, knowledge of child development and the impact of trauma on child development, strong written and verbal skills in English, ability to communicate effectively with multiple agencies and constituencies and deal gracefully with the public, ability to work with minimal supervision, appreciation for the church’s role in mission with an awareness of mission operations, and ability to act within a multicultural and multi-generational team environment. Training or experience making effective presentations, managing staff and volunteers, working directly with children (teaching, counseling, providing program, etc.), and skilled competency in Microsoft Office component applications are required. Previous disaster response experience is preferred. A bachelor’s degree is required with a preference for an advanced degree. This position is based in the Brethren Disaster Ministries office at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Applications will be received beginning immediately and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Send a resume to COBApply@brethren.org or Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367. The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
-- The denomination’s Workcamp Ministry, in preparation for the summer 2018 workcamp season, has prepared commissioning materials for churches to use to affirm and support youth, young adults, and advisors participating in workcamps this year. Materials include a litany and prayer that revolve around the workcamp theme scripture, as well as a description of the service being done at each workcamp. Commissioning materials were sent out to the pastors of churches that have youth, young adults, and advisors participating from their congregations. The resources also may be found online at www.brethren.org/workcamps . The workcamp office would encourage all congregations to support the workcamp ministry through their prayers.
-- Global Mission and Service is sharing a prayer request from Gustavo Lendi Bueno, president of Iglesia de los Hermanos (Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic). Prayer is needed because of tensions between Dominicans and Haitians living in the DR. “There has been an increase in retaliatory attacks on innocent Haitian families, such as when one Haitian commits a crime of robbery or assault against a Dominican, mobs form to attack Haitians or burn their homes in response. Many Haitians in the Dominican Republic are especially vulnerable because they lack citizenship or residency rights and thus face discrimination and inadequate access to government services. Gustavo requests prayers for himself and other members of the Dominican-Haitian Pastors for Peace group as they work against hate and try to help people gain residency. Pray for an end to the cycle of violence, for improved relationships between Haitians and Dominicans in the DR, and for more effective cooperation between the two countries’ governments.”
-- The SERRV board of directors was hosted by the Church of the Brethren General Offices for meetings on May 9-11. SERRV International is a fair trade organization that had its start as a Church of the Brethren program. SERRV headquarters are in Madison, Wis., but the organization continues to maintain a distribution center at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.
-- Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren is releasing a set of six podcasts on the first 11 chapters of Genesis. The series, called “Other Questions,” has been created by James Benedict, interim pastor for Spiritual Formation and Discipleship. “Each podcast is between 15 and 20 minutes long, and may be listened to online or downloaded. They are designed for people on the go or others who may be looking for a way to go deeper in their understanding of scripture,” said an announcement. Benedict holds four graduate degrees including a master of divinity from Bethany Theological Seminary, a doctor of ministry from United Lutheran Seminary in Pennsylvania, and a doctorate from Duquesne University. He has served as a pastor in the Church of the Brethren for more than 30 years. Links to the podcasts are at http://fcob.net/get-involved/grow .
-- Two new episodes of the Dunker Punks Podcast are available for listening. A recent Brethren Volunteer Service worker with the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, Emmy Goering, reflects on “the good grown from giving ourselves for others.” And Tori Bateman, who currently serves in the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, interviews Gimbiya Kettering, director of Intercultural Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, who shares her insights on race relations within and beyond the church. “Learn how the Church of the Brethren and Martin Luther King Jr. are connected in ways you may not expect,” said an announcement. The Dunker Punks Podcast is an audio show created by more than a dozen Brethren young adults across the country. Listen to the latest on the episode pages http://bit.ly/DPP_Episode57 and http://bit.ly/DPP_Episode58 or subscribe on iTunes: http://bit.ly/DPP_iTunes.
-- “Brethren Woods is turning 60!” says an announcement from Shenandoah District. “Join Brethren Woods for a fun day of celebrating 60 years of ministry!” The 60th Anniversary Party and Campfire will take place Saturday, June 9, from 3-8 p.m. From 3-5 p.m., activities feature the pool, waterslide, fishing, paddle boats, a photo booth, camp store, a history exhibit, and a nature talk. Dinner, a program, and campfire worship will follow. RSVP to the camp office at 540-269-2741 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
-- “Farm to Table Dinners” are being presented at Shepherd’s Spring, an outdoor ministry center near Sharpsburg, Md., in Mid-Atlantic District, on May 26 and June 23 from 1-3 p.m. These meals are prepared by Chef Heilman for $30 per person as a special “taste of spring and summer.” The menu and more information is at www.shepherdsspring.org .
-- Peter Becker Community is hosting a groundbreaking ceremony for its newest cottage neighborhood, Maplewood Crossing, on Monday, June 21, at 2 p.m. Peter Becker is a retirement community in Harleysville, Pa., that is related to the Church of the Brethren. The event will be held on the sites of the #1 and #2 Maplewood Crossing Cottages at Maplewood Estates. “There are nine cottages in the project that will connect our existing cottage neighborhood to the Maplewood Estates apartment complex,” said a release. “This event will host the individuals and organizations who are making this expansion possible including top executives, board members, architects, designers, future home owners and more.” For more information go to www.peterbeckercommunity.com .
-- Carol Scheppard, professor of philosophy and religion at Bridgewater College and past Annual Conference moderator for the Church of the Brethren, delivered the message at the Bridgewater baccalaureate service on May 4. Approximately 398 seniors received degrees on May 5, in a ceremony on the campus mall. Among the 398 students in the class of 2018, 157 earned bachelor of arts degrees and 142 earned bachelor of science degrees; 17 graduated summa cum laude--the top academic honor which requires students to achieve at least a 3.9 grade point average on a 4.0 scale; 22 earned magna cum laude honors--a 3.7 or better average; and 55 earned cum laude honors, requiring a 3.4 grade point average.
-- In more news from Bridgewater College, four juniors have received the college’s 2018 Summer Christian Experience Scholarship and will work at a variety of church-related camps this summer. Each student was awarded $3,000 from the scholarship program, which is funded by the Bridgewater College endowment fund. Receiving the scholarships are Rosanni Lake Montero, a psychology major, who will serve at Camp Mardela in Denton, Md.; Clara O’Connor, a family and consumer sciences major, Selena Spriggs, a sociology major with a minor in cultural studies, and Jasmine Monique Wright, a psychology major with a minor in neuroscience, who will all serve at Shepherd’s Spring Outdoor Ministry Center in Sharpsburg, Md. The Summer Christian Experience Scholarship Program was created by Bridgewater College to memorialize a number of outstanding church leaders.
-- Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) has issued a statement that it “fervently opposes the decision to relocate the American Embassy to Jerusalem and the subsequent refusal of the administration to acknowledge the role of this decision in the escalation of violence in Gaza.” In an email sharing the statement, director of communications Katie McRoberts wrote, “We support the sharing of Jerusalem by the two peoples and the three faiths--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Unilateral actions in Jerusalem and incitement to violence create tensions that undermine trust and make resuming meaningful negotiations and achieving a two-state solution more difficult.” Read the full text of the statement at http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5575/t/0/blastContent.jsp?email_blast_KEY=1415427 .
-- Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is seeking participants for a delegation to Colombia on June 26-July 6, and for an Indigenous People’s Solidarity delegation to Canada on July 20-30.
About the Colombia delegation, a CPT announcement explained that the “El Magdalena Medio is a region rich in renewable and non-renewable natural resources. Due to its richness and strategic position in the country, the city of Barrancabermeja and the Magdalena Medio region have suffered high levels of violence. Massacres and forced displacements left whole communities uprooted where criminal interests took advantage to take the lands and develop their economic projects. Armed groups and paramilitaries control Barrancabermeja and the region. High levels of unemployment and poverty have created a situation where young people see no other options but to get involved with these groups. When judicial efforts to evict communities from their lands do not work, paramilitary groups are used to threaten them.” The Colombia delegation will learn how national agrarian policies of development violate the human rights of campesinos and will delve into the history of the armed conflict and learn how its legacy continues to haunt the people of the area.
About the Indigenous People’s Solidarity delegation, a CPT announcement said that the group will “explore what it means to be an ally to indigenous communities engaged in healing, resisting colonialism, and struggling for sovereignty. For years, Anishinaabe people in treaty 3 have been defending their land and way of life, and resisting imposed crises, such as mercury contamination of the English-Wabigoon river system 40 years ago which continues to poison fish that is a traditional staple of their diet. Also, clear-cut logging on their traditional land.” Starting in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the delegation will meet with community development workers and indigenous leaders, spend time with the community in Grassy Narrows, undertake an analysis of colonialism, participate in anti-racism exercises, and critically reflect on how to live in right relations with the Earth and indigenous neighbors.
More information about the delegations is at https://cpt.org/participate/delegation/schedule .
-- Ruth Willert of Glendora (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, age 96, was celebrated recently for almost four decades of service as church organist. “Before she first played the organ at the Church of the Brethren in Glendora (at age 60), she was already a longtime piano teacher and accompanist with Glendora Unified School District,” reported the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. “This month, Willert, at a gracious 96 years old, retires from her post at Sunday services. She’s been making music here for more than 36 years.” Find the newspaper article at www.sgvtribune.com/2018/05/11/96-year-old-glendora-church-organists-career-ends-with-a-crescendo .