The Annual Conference Office this week welcomed the 2020 Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee and Worship Planning Team to the Church of the Brethren General Offices for a series of meetings. On the Program and Arrangements Committee are Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey of Frederick, Md.; moderator-elect David Sollenberger, North Manchester, Ind.; Conference secretary James M. Beckwith, Elizabethtown, Pa.; Jan Glass King, Lebanon, Pa.; Emily Shonk Edwards, Nellysford, Va.; and Carol Elmore, Roanoke, Va. On the Worship Planning Team are Mandy North, Manassas, Va.; Cindy Lattimer, Huntingdon, Pa.; Robbie Miller, Bridgewater, Va.; and Josh Tindall, music coordinator, Elizabethtown, Pa., who joined the meetings via Zoom.
-- The Church of the Brethren Workcamp Office is welcoming assistant workcamp coordinators for the 2020 season: Liana Smith and Kara Miller. Smith comes from Atlantic Northeast District, where she is an active member of Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. Miller also is from Atlantic Northeast District, from Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, and is a 2016 graduate of West Chester University with a major in music education and a minor in elementary education. They will begin their work planning the 2020 workcamp season on Aug. 19.
Lauren Flora and Marissa Witkovsky-Eldred completed their service as assistant workcamp coordinators this week, working through Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS). They organized and led experiences of faith-filled service for 256 youth and advisors this summer, under the theme “Grow” (2 Peter 1:5-8).
Steve Van Houten also concluded some five months of service as interim coordinator of the Workcamp Ministry on Aug. 14.
Hannah Shultz began Aug. 5 as coordinator of Short-Term Service, which includes the Workcamp Ministry, serving as staff of BVS.
-- Monica McFadden will soon complete her term of service in BVS as racial justice associate in the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy in Washington, D.C. She has worked with ecumenical and interfaith partners to educate and hold faith communities accountable on issues of race. Partnering with the Church of the Brethren’s Intercultural Ministries, she helped spearhead efforts to bring attention to historic and current injustices against Native Americans.
-- Brethren Disaster Ministries is partnering with AmeriCorps and SBP in North Carolina to place an AmeriCorps member to work at a Carolinas rebuilding project site. Applicants must be 21 years of age or older. Funding for this AmeriCorps position is specific to Hurricane Florence disaster recovery in N.Carolina. Please share this link that includes a position description, benefits information, and directions to apply: https://recruitamc.workable.com/jobs/1084360 . Applications must be submitted by Monday, Aug. 19.
-- Bethany Theological Seminary announces an opening for office manager for “Brethren Life & Thought,” an academic journal of the Church of the Brethren. The position is expected to average eight hours per week. Many duties can be performed off site; some travel to Bethany’s campus in Richmond, Ind., is required. Major responsibilities include operations of journal production (subscriptions, communication with editors, logistics of printing); communicating with subscribers and donors (not including fundraising); providing clerical support for the Advisory Board of the Brethren Journal Association; maintaining an inventory of back issues and archives of the association’s work. Qualifications include a high school diploma and preferably a year’s experience in a business setting, organizational skills, self-motivation, and familiarity with database management and current computer technology. Familiarity with the Church of the Brethren is preferred. Desired start date is early September. Applications will be reviewed until the position is filled. Send a letter of interest, resume, and contact information for three references to firstname.lastname@example.org or Academic Dean’s Office, Office Manager, Brethren Life & Thought, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374; 765-983-1815. Bethany Theological Seminary’s policy prohibits discrimination in employment opportunities or practices with regard to race, gender, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, or religion.
-- Eglise des Freres d’Haiti, the Church of the Brethren in Haiti, has been holding its seventh annual conference in Croix des Bouquets. “Participants are gathered under the theme of ‘Proclaiming to the World that Jesus Is King of Kings,’ based on 1 Tmothy 6:15,” said a prayer request from the Global Mission and Service Office. “Pray for wisdom and discernment as they elect leaders and develop priorities for the coming year.”
-- Join On Earth Peace on Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. (Eastern time) for a Zoom webinar to learn more about making the case for peace on Peace Day. Dan Ulrich, Wieand Professor of New Testament Studies at Bethany Seminary, will lead a study of the Sermon on the Mount. Title of the webinar is “The Case for Peace in the Sermon on the Mount.” Said an invitation from On Earth Peace: “To build a case for peace from a Christian perspective, this webinar will focus on texts in the Sermon on the Mount that have inspired peacemakers from various faith traditions. According to Matthew 5:9, Jesus blesses peacemakers with the promise that they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:38-42 and 5:43-48 then expand on the wisdom of the Mosaic law to offer methods and motives for just peacemaking. Our discussion of these passages will help us see them in a fresh light and find renewed inspiration to work for shalom in these troubled times.” Contact email@example.com .
-- The 49th Annual Dunker Church Service held in the restored Dunker Church at the Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md., will be on Sunday, Sept. 15, at 3 p.m. This service commemorates the peace witness of the Brethren during the Civil War and takes place the Sunday closest to the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. Carl Hill, pastor at Potsdam (Ohio) Church of the Brethren, will bring the message, “Life in the Midst of Death” (Psalm 90:1-6). He and his wife, Roxane Hill, spent two years in northeast Nigeria teaching at Kulp Bible College. After sectarian violence erupted in the region, they spent two years as co-directors of the Nigeria Crisis Response, where Roxane Hill continues to serve. Carl Hill has presented at Civil War Roundtable events on the topic, “Religion in the Civil War.” The annual service is sponsored by Mid-Atlantic District and is open to the public. For more information contact Eddie Edmonds at 304-671-4775, Audrey Hollenberg-Duffey at 443- 340-4908, or Ed Poling at 301-766-9005.
-- Elm Street Church of the Brethren is one of the locations for three new bike repair stations in Lima, Ohio, according to a report from HomeTownStations.com. The program by Wheelhouse is made possible through one of seven $500 mini-grants awarded through the Department of Community Development. Find the article at www.hometownstations.com/news/grants-handed-out-to-seven-area-agencies-and-organizations/article_1c4d264a-bef4-11e9-965b-23f66d2d8f47.html .
-- Ivester Church of the Brethren in Grundy Center, Iowa, has hosted an event with former Democratic gubernatorial candidate and state representative Ed Fallon who has written a book about his march with a group of some 50 people from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., to bring attention to the environmental crisis. According to a report in the “Grundy Register,” Fallon said, “We want people to wake up and realize (that) climate change is not an issue.... It’s a crisis.” At the event at the Kling Memorial Library in Grundy Center, he signed copies of his book “Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim: A Memoir from the Great March for Climate Action.” See www.conradrecord.com/content/walking-walk-fallon-shares-climate-march-story-kling-memorial-library .
-- Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren in Weyers Cave, Va., is hosting a workshop titled “Grief from the Inside Out: Honoring Grief in the midst of Anger, Fear, and Shame.” Presenters Regina Harlow and Joshua Harris will lead an interactive workshop for pastors to hone their skills in recognizing and dealing with the anger, fear, and shame that is so often associated with grief, said an announcement from Shenandoah District. Harlow is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren and co-founder of the Sadie Rose Foundation. Harris is a marriage and family therapist and owner of Tasso Counseling in Staunton, Va. The workshop will be from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon. Cost is $10. Registration form is available at http://images.acswebnetworks.com/1/929/2019GriefFromInsideOutPleasantValley.pdf .
-- Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in Littleton, Colo., is hosting a Neighbor Climate Action Event on Aug. 20 from 7-9 p.m. “Check out what neighbors in Littleton want to do about the climate crisis,” said an invitation. “Reunite with neighbors who care about what we can do about the climate crisis before it is too late.”
-- Windber (Pa.) Church of the Brethren “says they have had such success with the ‘blessing box’ concept that they decided to add the blessing box farm stand, which offers fresh produce for the community to take.” The report from Channel 6 WJAC TV adds that “the idea of the blessing box came to the church when one of their parish members visited a church out of state and saw one. The church fills the blessing box with nonperishable foods.... Visitors can come and go as they please and anonymously select the food they need.” Pastor Joe Brown told the paper that he hopes this shows that the community cares about those who are struggling. Find the article at https://wjactv.com/news/local/windber-church-helps-the-community-with-blessing-box-that-offers-free-food .
-- The financial books for the Shenandoah District Disaster Auction and Sale closed on July 31, the district reported by email this week. “A net total of $206,092.56 came in through donations and sales.... $190,000 has been sent to the Emergency Disaster Fund...and $15,330.77 was given to the local District Disaster Fund, bringing that total to $60,000 available for local needs.” The district extended a “big thank you” to all who contributed this year, on behalf of the Disaster Auction Coordinating Committee. “Clearly, it takes many individuals to achieve this level of income and these proceeds are only possible because of the generosity of people who want to minister in practical ways to those who are experiencing disasters.”
-- “Heritage Fair 2019 is quickly approaching,” announces Middle Pennsylvania District. The fair this year takes place Sept. 21 and features “some new exciting things” the announcement said, such as an Escape Room, Diamond Dash, Dunk Tank, as well as several demonstrations throughout the day. The event also includes the Annual Auction, musical groups, a children’s area, and much more. The fair is held at Camp Blue Diamond and helps support the ministries of the camp and the district. Camp Blue Diamond is located midway between State College and Huntingdon, Pa., within the Rothrock State Forest. Find a series of fliers at https://1drv.ms/u/s!AoS-HGxUnUcqgr1VojHn7M7sZ6Gffg?e=WbUmof .
-- “WHY do we do what we do?” asked the Camp Bethel e-newsletter this week. The answer: “56 program and support staff taught 1,062 children and youth how to ‘Let the Peace of Christ Rule’ during Camp Bethel’s 93rd summer camp season.... This included 910 on-site campers, 152 campers in 3 Traveling Day Camps, and 32 participants in our Family Fun nights. 165 campers received Good-As-Gold funding from Virlina congregations, and 72 campers received ‘Campership’ assistance.” The camp is located near Fincastle, Va. View the camp’s weekly summer videos at www.campbethelvirginia.org/videos.html .
-- In an update from Brethren Woods, a camp in Shenandoah District, the summer program had 442 campers participate, led by 24 summer paid staff and 40 volunteer staff. A report in the district newsletter noted the use of the “Peace Works” curriculum that “helped the camp community to learn more about Jesus as the Prince of Peace who can make peace work in our hearts, between those closest to us, within our communities and churches, and even throughout the world. Each day featured a different word from around the world to help explain that day's theme and scripture. This international component was the springboard for staff to incorporate different ethnic foods and traditions into the regular camp structure.” Campers raised $292.71 as part of the summer service project offering shared with the Fairfield Center in Harrisonburg, Va., that provides conflict mediation and restorative justice services to the area. “This summer, Brethren Woods was also visited as part of the American Camp Association accreditation process and received a ‘Yes’ on all 180 of the applicable standards for a perfect score! Just one more example of how Brethren Woods is meeting and exceeding all industry standards for excellence in programming, staffing, and facilities!” the report said.
-- Bridgewater (Va.) College has landed on the list of “Best College Values, 2019" from Kiplinger, a Washington, D.C.-based publisher of business forecasts and personal finance advice, according to a release from the college. “Bridgewater College lands on the lists for best value for colleges and universities and best private liberal arts colleges,” the release said. “All of the schools on Kiplinger’s lists meet its definition of value: high-quality education at an affordable price. Key factors include academic measures, student-to-faculty ratio (Bridgewater’s is 14:1), test scores of incoming first-year students and sophomore retention rate. High points were also awarded for four-year graduation rates as well as to schools that graduate students who demonstrate financial need.... In 2018-19, 99 percent of Bridgewater students received financial aid.” In addition, The Princeton Review named Bridgewater College to its “Best in the Southeast” list in the website feature “2020 Best Colleges: Region by Region.”
-- There’s a new Dunker Punks Podcast on the topic, “Does the Bible speak to you? No, like does it SPEAK to you?” Said an announcement, “Listening back to Dylan Dell-Haro’s series on gender on the Dunker Punks Podcast, we get to hear him interview ‘The Bible’ about peoples’ cultural and literary perspectives on God and God’s ‘gender.’” Listen at bit.ly/DPP_Bonus7 . Subscribe to the Dunker Punks Podcast at bit.ly/DPP_iTunes .
-- The Brethren Voices show for August 2019 celebrates entering into the 15th year of this public access television show produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren and producer Ed Groff. “Brethren Voices began 14 years ago to tell the stories of modern day Brethren who live their faith in action and deed,” said an announcement. This August edition features stories from Brethren Disaster Ministries, musician Steve Kinzie, Mark Charles on being Native American, March for Our Lives concerns of children, and John Jones of Camp Myrtlewood asking, “What kind of world are we passing on to the children?” said the announcement. September’s program will feature Johnathan Hunter, one of the featured storytellers at the Song & Story Fest family camp co-sponsored by On Earth Peace, who has extensive experience working with the homeless population. “Johnathan dispels some of the myths about the homeless and informs participants of the realities faced by 1 percent of the population, during a year’s time.” Find Brethren Voices at www.youtube.com/brethrenvoices .
-- “Save the date for #EAD2020!” says an announcement shared by the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. The Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) on April 24-27, 2020, will focus on the topic of climate change, “re-imagining community for God's earth and people. Come to learn about the intersection of climate change and economic injustice, and to advocate for climate justice....Climate change affects everyone and disproportionately affects those struggling to overcome poverty. 2020 will be a pivotal year for the United States and the world with a general election that will set the course for the next four years--with an enduring impact on climate and economic justice.” Find out more at www.advocacydays.org .
-- Christian Peacemaker Teams is issuing an urgent call for reservists and interns to serve in Israel and Palestine. “Are you being called to engage in peacemaking?” asked an invitation. “Israel continues to ban human rights observers from Palestine, and CPT is committed to maintaining our presence with our partners in al-Khalil/Hebron. We request interns and Reservists to join the Palestine team ASAP!” Both trained CPTers and interns are welcome. Airfare and costs on the ground are covered by CPT with a three-month commitment. Contact Mona el-Zuhairi at firstname.lastname@example.org .
CPT also is seeking participants for a delegation to Iraqi Kurdistan on Sept. 21-Oct. 5. “Are you called to learn more about transforming violence and oppression? Join CPT in Iraqi Kurdistan to witness active peacemaking and nonviolent resistance, as our team members and partners join together to demand an end to the violence against Kurdish and Assyrian civilians,” said the announcement. “Cross-border bombardments of Iraqi Kurdistan communities have been worse than ever in 2019. In June, a Turkish airstrike killed three, and injured two members of one family driving in a car on a mountain road used daily by civilians. In July, Iranian shelling killed a teenage girl and wounded her two brothers. CPT partners with Kurdish and Assyrian Christian communities that are repeatedly bombarded in Turkish or Iranian military operations, their fields and crops burned, homes destroyed, and livestock killed.... Delegates will learn about the history and political realities that civil society and ethnic and religious minorities in Iraqi Kurdistan face. They will meet with families who lost their relatives in the bombardments, and visit farming and pastoral communities targeted by Turkish and Iranian military.” Contact the delegations coordinator at email@example.com .
-- Extended drought in Africa is threatening hunger for tens of millions of people in the horn, eastern, and southern parts of the continent, according to a report published by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and written by Fredrick Nzwili, an independent journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. The drought linked to climate change has become persistent in recent times, the report said, and is having an effect on church congregations. “Already, some priests and pastors say they are noticing a decrease in church attendance, as people stay away to tackle the challenge. Tithes and offertory have declined, according to the clerics. The rains have failed or have been too little for two consecutive seasons in these regions, leaving behind a serious food shortage, water scarcity and diminished pasture for livestock.” Said a pastor in Kenya: “We are telling our congregations to conserve the little food in their granaries and use water sustainably. It is a long way before the next harvest. Already, some people have nothing to eat and soon they may need some kind of aid.” In South Sudan, UN agencies estimate that nearly 7 million people are facing critical food shortages. Also affected are Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique.
-- Wilma Wimer of Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren received recognition in the Shenandoah District newsletter for her part in the congregation’s donation of 200 bags for Church World Service school kits. Two days after her 90th birthday Wimer delivered the bags that she sewed together from pieces cut by Mabel Lou Weiss from fabric donated by church members or surplus available to the district. Said the recognition: “It took Wimer a little over a year to craft all 200 bags, but she enjoys knowing they will be used to deliver Church World Service school supplies wherever there are needs.”