Brethren bits for Oct. 24, 2019




A report on the data from the compelling vision conversations that took place at the 2019 Annual Conference this past July is now available at www.brethren.org/compellingvision .

     “We want to express our gratitude to all who participated in the Compelling Vision conversations at Annual Conference for your prayerful and thoughtful engagement,” said a message from Rhonda Pittman Gingrich who chaired the Compelling Vision Process Team and is now part of the Compelling Vision Team that is continuing the work. “The conversations were deep and rich. What a sacred honor and blessing it has been to read through the data generated by those conversations and in doing so to be given a glimpse into the hearts, minds, and souls of our brothers and sisters across the denomination. While differences remain, it is clear we all share an abiding love for Jesus Christ and the Church and a genuine desire to live as faithful and passionate disciples in a turbulent world.”

     In the weeks following Annual Conference, the Compelling Vision Working Group and the Compelling Vision Process Team joined into the Compelling Vision Team, which is continuing the work to articulate the emerging and compelling vision for the Church of the Brethren. The team is expected to bring a recommendation to the 2020 Annual Conference.

     For questions or comments, contact the team at cvpt2018@gmail.com .

-- The Church of the Brethren seeks a manager for the Office of Global Mission and Service, to fill a fulltime salaried position at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill. This position is responsible for administrative processes assigned by the executive director for areas including Global Mission, Brethren Volunteer Service, and Global Food Initiative. Major responsibilities include development of unit-wide synergies among programs within Global Mission and Service, coordination of staff meetings, and cross-promotion of activities in internal and external communications. Additional responsibilities include responding to general inquiries; promoting financial support; facilitating the functioning of the Mission Advisory Committee; assisting in creation and development of promotional materials for publication, displays, videos, presentations, and booths; facilitating multiple tasks including financial processes of the office, international travel, mission worker speaking tours, internal and external communications, and mission worker communication; maintaining extensive files and records; carrying responsibilities for unit-wide organizational functions; and being a knowledgeable resource on international travel. Required skills and knowledge include strong communication and organizational skills; skilled competency in Microsoft Office Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; ability to problem solve, exercise good judgment, prioritize tasks; ability to work both collaboratively and independently with minimal supervision; ability to maintain confidentiality; appreciation for the church’s role in mission with an awareness of mission operations; ability to act within a multicultural and multigenerational team environment; and ability to interact gracefully with the public. Three to five years of executive administrative experience is required with a preference in a not-for-profit environment. A bachelor’s degree or other education relevant to the position is required. Applications are being received and reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Send a resume by email to COBApply@brethren.org or by mail to the 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.

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-- Bethany Theological Seminary invites applications for a full-time, tenure-track faculty position in theological studies, beginning July 1, 2020. Rank: open. PhD preferred; ABD considered. The appointee will be expected to develop and teach an average of five graduate courses per year, including the introductory course in theological reflection and advanced courses in an area of expertise. The seminary will consider a variety of areas, with the following of particular interest: theology and the arts, theopoetics, ecological theology, theology and science, peace studies, and intersectional theology. Other duties will include student advising, supervision of MA theses in theological studies as needed, participating in student recruitment, and regular participation in institutional meetings and events. Commitment to the mission and values of the seminary is essential. A detailed posting is available on Bethany Seminary's website. Applications are encouraged from women, Latinx, African-Americans, and other ethnic groups traditionally underrepresented in the seminary professorate. Application deadline is Nov. 1. Interviews will begin in December. Send a letter of application, CV, and names and contact information for three references to Theological Studies Search, Attn: Dean's Office, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374; deansoffice@bethanyseminary.edu . 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.

Sharing a Facebook photo from Brethren Volunteer Service worker Kathy Edmark, welcoming people of all ages to her project site at the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima, Japan. Find out more about the WFC, a longterm BVS project site with the motto “To foster peace, one friend at a time,” at their brand-new website http://wfchiroshima.com/english .
Photo by Kathy Edmark

Sharing a Facebook photo from Brethren Volunteer Service worker Kathy Edmark, welcoming people of all ages to her project site at the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima, Japan. Find out more about the WFC, a longterm BVS project site with the motto “To foster peace, one friend at a time,” at their brand-new website http://wfchiroshima.com/english .

-- The World Council of Churches (WCC) invites applications from young adults, ages 18 to 30, to be stewards at the 2020 Central Committee in Geneva, Switzerland. The application deadline is Dec. 1. The Stewards Program aims to bring together a dynamic and diverse group of 20 young people from all over the world to serve as assistants at the meeting on March 12-25, 2020. The invitation is open to people from a variety of backgrounds, churches, and regions. English is the working language of the program. Key attributes of stewards are patience and the ability to work with people from other countries and cultures as a team. Find more information and a link to application guidelines at www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/events/wcc-invites-applications-to-central-committee-stewards-programme-1 .

-- Five nursing students are recipients of the Church of the Brethren Nursing Scholarship for 2019.  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. Recipients are Peter Barlow of Montezuma Church of the Brethren in Dayton, Va.; Lauren Becker of Chiques Church of the Brethren in Manheim, Pa.; Rebecca Bender of Heidleberg Church of the Brethren in Myerstown, Pa.; Krista Panone of Nokesville (Va.) Church of the Brethren; and Amanda Wampler of Annville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. 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. More information and an application form are available at www.brethren.org/nursingscholarships . Applications and supporting documentation are due by April 1 of each year.

-- An interview with Mandy Smith, featured speaker for next January’s Clergy Women’s Retreat, will be viewable via Facebook Live on Thursday, Nov. 7, at 1 p.m. (central time, 2 p.m. Eastern). An announcement will be made from the Church of the Brethren’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/churchofthebrethren with more information. Smith is author of “The Vulnerable Pastor: How Human Limitations Empower Our Ministry” and pastor of University Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Find a brochure at www.brethren.org/ministryoffice/documents/2020-clergywomens-retreat-1.pdf .

-- In more news about the Clergy Women’s Retreat, “early bird” registration ends Nov. 1, after which the registration cost increases to $350 for a shared room. Regular registration closes Dec. 1. The retreat on Jan. 6-9, 2020, will be held at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Ariz. Visit www.brethren.org/ministryoffice to register. Contact officeofministry@brethren.org with questions.

-- The annual Clergy Tax Seminar is scheduled for Jan. 25, 2020, for seminary and academy students, pastors, and other church leaders. Participants will learn how to file clergy taxes correctly and legally, how to comply with regulations while maximizing tax deductions, and may earn 0.3 continuing education units. There will be two sessions: Session 1, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Eastern time), will focus on the rules surrounding clergy tax returns; Session 2, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. will teach participants how to complete a clergy tax return using H&R Block's highest tier (Premium and Business) downloadable software. Leadership for the seminar is provided by Deb Oskin, a tax professional and an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren, who is currently serving on the Pastoral Compensation & Benefits Advisory Committee. She has been teaching and presenting nationally on clergy taxation to clergy, treasurers, administrators, and tax professionals since 2004. Sponsors of the seminar are the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry, and Bethany Theological Seminary. Registration is $40 per person. Current Bethany, TRIM/EFSM/SeBAH, and Earlham School of Religion students may attend the seminar at no cost, although registration is still required. The registration deadline is Jan. 15, 2020.

-- The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership is highlighting two upcoming courses:
     “Ministry in an Urban Context,” a travel intensive in Atlanta, Ga., on Jan. 6-16, 2020. Josh Brockway, co-coordinator of Discipleship Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, will lead this course for academy students in the TRIM/EFSM programs and for continuing education students. They will be attending alongside graduate students from Bethany Seminary taught by faculty member Dan Poole. The course represents an educational partnership with pastor Bruce Deel and City of Refuge Ministries. Said a description: “This will be an immersive urban experience with a focus on the ministries of care in Atlanta dedicated to the goals Jesus outlined in Matthew 25.” The registration deadline is Nov. 1. Go to https://bethanyseminary.edu/brethren-academy .
     “Nurturing Vital Spirituality in a Changing World,” an eight-week online course Jan. 22-March 17, 2020, is taught by Rhonda Pittman Gingrich. The course is open to academy students in the TRIM/EFSM programs, continuing education students, and laypeople for their own enrichment. Said a description of the course: “To support and nurture the spiritual life of its members, the congregation must embody a sense of vital spirituality: inviting people--individually and corporately--into the presence of God, increasing their awareness of God’s presence and activity, and empowering them to bear witness to God’s presence and activity in the world.” The registration deadline is Dec. 18. Register online at https://bethanyseminary.edu/brethren-academy .

Doris Abdullah, Church of the Brethren representative to the United Nations, reported from the 74th opening of the General Assembly, in New York in September. “I was able to obtain special UN entry tickets to attend the General Assembly morning session on Sept. 26,” she wrote to Newsline. She also attended the Africa-Open for Business Summit on Sept. 27 and the 74th side event lunch of the Organized Crime Index for Africa on Sept. 24. “The security clogged the streets and made even walking to the UN difficult, as it usually does when the UN opens, but this year was very different otherwise,” she wrote by email. “A sense of general disorganization dominated the speeches of the few world leaders that even bothered to show up. I was used to speeches at each General Assembly openings not being on topic. But this year was dominated by nationalistic speeches led by the USA and very little on the Sustainable Development Goals.... The written General Assembly topic for the year 2020 calls for environmental action. The 17 sustainable goals depends on Earth being able to survive the assaults on its very foundation. From the destruction of the Amazon and Congo basin, to the melting ice caps, the world is in a crisis.... We know that the wind, rain, and hunger do not have borders. Neither can they be prevented or stopped with weapons of war or words. Action now is the only solution.” Abdullah noted that the 74th session lead speaker on day 1, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, dared the world leaders to confront the climate crisis with action. Abdullah also reported that she continues her work in UN circles to raise awareness of human trafficking, also known as modern day slavery, which she said “is still the number one crime issue in Africa...[and] also remains high on the crime list in the USA.”
Photo by Doris Abdullah

Doris Abdullah, Church of the Brethren representative to the United Nations, reported from the 74th opening of the General Assembly, in New York in September. “I was able to obtain special UN entry tickets to attend the General Assembly morning session on Sept. 26,” she wrote to Newsline. She also attended the Africa-Open for Business Summit on Sept. 27 and the 74th side event lunch of the Organized Crime Index for Africa on Sept. 24. “The security clogged the streets and made even walking to the UN difficult, as it usually does when the UN opens, but this year was very different otherwise,” she wrote by email. “A sense of general disorganization dominated the speeches of the few world leaders that even bothered to show up. I was used to speeches at each General Assembly openings not being on topic. But this year was dominated by nationalistic speeches led by the USA and very little on the Sustainable Development Goals.... The written General Assembly topic for the year 2020 calls for environmental action. The 17 sustainable goals depends on Earth being able to survive the assaults on its very foundation. From the destruction of the Amazon and Congo basin, to the melting ice caps, the world is in a crisis.... We know that the wind, rain, and hunger do not have borders. Neither can they be prevented or stopped with weapons of war or words. Action now is the only solution.” Abdullah noted that the 74th session lead speaker on day 1, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, dared the world leaders to confront the climate crisis with action. Abdullah also reported that she continues her work in UN circles to raise awareness of human trafficking, also known as modern day slavery, which she said “is still the number one crime issue in Africa...[and] also remains high on the crime list in the USA.”

-- Several district conferences are planned for the first and second weekends in November:
     Atlantic Southeast District meets Nov. 2 at Lorida (Fla.) Church of the Brethren, led by moderator James Link.
     Illinois and Wisconsin District meets Nov. 1-2 at Dixon (Ill.) Church of the Brethren. Leslie Lake will serve as moderator.
     Pacific Southwest District conference is Nov. 8-10 at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Ariz. Bob Morris is the moderator.
     Shenandoah District conference is held Nov. 1-2 at Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock, Va.
     Virlina District conference is Nov. 8-9 in Roanoke, Va., on the theme “Don’t Hide the Cross” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

-- This year's Powerhouse regional youth conference will be held Nov. 16-17 at Camp Mack near Milford, Ind., hosted by Manchester University. This event is for Church of the Brethren youth and advisors from Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. “Bring your youth group and your friends and register today!” said an announcement. Register at www.manchester.edu/student-life/religious-life/powerhouse-youth-conference/registration .

-- Iglesia Jesucristo El Camino/His Way Church of the Brethren in Hendersonville, N.C., celebrated its 15th anniversary on Oct. 13. “In keeping with the Hispanic custom of young women celebrating their quinceanera at age 15, the church is celebrating her quinceanera,” said an announcement. The event included a retelling of the history by the founding pastors and members, special presentations, and a meal.
 
-- Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., is hosting a lunch and informational session with Church of the Brethren general secretary David Steele on Sunday, Oct. 27. Lunch will be served at noon, provided by the church, with the informational session following from 1-2:30 p.m. Steele will share about the ministries of the Church of the Brethren and new efforts of the Mission and Ministry Board.

Twenty people from Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., recently spent a morning at the Northern Illinois Food Bank packing 6,792 pounds of food for a student backpack program. The food is distributed to schools to provide to students and families in need over the weekends when school lunches are not available. The congregation sends a group of volunteers to serve at the food bank on a regular basis, usually once a month, organized by Ralph Miner.

Twenty people from Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., recently spent a morning at the Northern Illinois Food Bank packing 6,792 pounds of food for a student backpack program. The food is distributed to schools to provide to students and families in need over the weekends when school lunches are not available. The congregation sends a group of volunteers to serve at the food bank on a regular basis, usually once a month, organized by Ralph Miner.

-- In celebration of CROP’s 50th anniversary, Bridgewater (Va.) College will hold a CROP Meal from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31, in the main dining hall in the Kline Campus Center. A release reported that members of the local community may purchase CROP Meals surrendered by students and enjoy “dinner out” in the dining hall. The meals have been paid for on the student meal plan, and all proceeds go directly to CROP’s hunger relief, education, and development programs in 80 countries around the world. The cost of the meal is $10 for adults; $6 for children 12 and under. In addition, a CROP Hunger Walk sponsored by the Bridgewater/Dayton area will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, at the Bridgewater Community Center. Bridgewater College students and members of the local community will get sponsors for every kilometer of the 6-kilometer (3.7-mile) route they walk. Money will be put toward stopping hunger. Last year’s CROP Meal and Hunger Walk raised more than $4,000 for Church World Service’s hunger-fighting development efforts around the world.

-- McPherson (Kan.) College has raised $10.5 million toward its Building Community Campaign, a comprehensive funding campaign that launched during Homecoming on Oct. 12. In a release, the college said the centerpiece of the $20 million campaign is a proposed new student center. Starting the campaign with more than 50 percent of the goal raised is unprecedented in the college’s campaign history, the release noted. As part of the campaign’s launch, the college also announced receiving an anonymous gift of $1 million to fund the community health care initiative, in partnership with the McPherson Hospital. This follows another $1 million gift given to the college’s automotive restoration program by Richard and Melanie Lundquist, Californian philanthropists. It was the largest single gift in the history of the program, the release said. The Building Community Campaign focuses on three funding areas: $13 million for capital projects including a new student center and athletic development center, along with updates to residence halls, $3.5 million for restricted gifts, and $3.5 million for the annual fund. “The steady enrollment growth trend over the past 20 years is a remarkable accomplishment for our college,” said president Michael Schneider. “However, that growth requires us to focus on how we develop, maintain, and utilize campus facilities to sustain a growing and thriving community.”

-- The Bittersweet Gospel Band will be in Virginia on Nov. 13-17, according to an announcement from one of the band members, Scott Duffey. The group will be in studio for two days before doing a first program at a Juvenile Detention Center in Verona, Va. Then they will give concerts at three church: Luray (Va.) Church of the Brethren on Friday, at 7 p.m.; Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren on Saturday, at 6:30 p.m.; and Central Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., on Sunday at 4 p.m. The group includes several Church of the Brethren pastors--Gilbert Romero, Scott Duffey, Leah Hileman, Dan Shaffer, and Andy Duffey--as well as David Sollenberger, Annual Conference moderator-elect, and Trey Curry. The band is planning a new recording of the song “Beans and Rice and Jesus Christ,” and planning to record a new song, “When Grandma Prays,” making it available in English and in Spanish.   

-- The "Brethren Voices" show for October is now posted at www.youtube.com/brethrenvoices . This episode, suitable for broadcast on community access cable stations and with small study groups, focuses on workcamp volunteers putting their faith into action. Members of a summer workcamp who came to Portland, Ore., from around the country helped the homeless, providing emergency food and clothing to those in need. This program produced by Portland's Peace Church of the Brethren “captures the spirit of 21 youth and advisors who ventured to the Great Northwest,” said an announcement. “Brent Carlson hosts the program featuring interviews with workcamp volunteers as well as with the SnowCap Executive Director, Kirsten Wageman. SnowCap  provides a vital safety-net to approximately 9,000 families each month, in East Multnomah County, Ore. Workcamps for youth and adults are one of the ways that the Brethren reach out to others. This year, workcamps were held in 15 cities around the country.... There was even a workcamp in China, for those who were able to make that trip.” Find out more about the Church of the Brethren Workcamp Ministry at www.brethren.org/workcamps .   

-- “Are your jeans dirty?” asks an announcement of the latest Dunker Punks Podcast. “Have you been living well? Get inspired to live your best life with Christa Craighead in this week’s episode.” Listen online at bit.ly/DPP_Episode88 or subscribe to the Dunker Punks Podcast on your favorite podcasting app.

-- A live webinar on the topic “Peacemaking in Colombia” is offered by Christian Peacemaker Teams. The CPT-Colombia team will talk about the realities of peacebuilding after decades of conflict. The webinar takes place Oct. 29, from 5-6 p.m. (central time), including a presentation and question and answer session. Register at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Ct65g8bBS7yBFHw7HFCIWw .

-- The National Council of Churches (NCC) issued a release urging an end of the conflict and protection for minorities in Syria, on Oct. 11. The NCC “joins the Middle East Council of Churches in raising prayers for peace and for an end to the cycle of violence now expressed through Turkish attacks on northeast Syria,” the release said, in part. “While the primary target of the Turkish invasion is the Kurdish population, for whom we are urgently concerned, we also have serious concerns for the Christian communities that are in the path of the Turkish military, including Syrian Orthodox, Armenian, and Assyrian Christians, as well as for the plight of the Yazidi peoples.” The release also called for withdrawal of Turkish forces from Syria and for immediate international diplomatic efforts to resolve the longstanding crises in the region. “Our deepest beliefs as followers of the Prince of Peace is that war is evil,” the release said. “We are committed to the values of love, justice, human rights, interreligious dialogue, and common responsibility in peacebuilding.” Jeremiah 27:13a concluded the release: “Why should you and your people die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence?”

-- The tally of undernourished people is climbing again after decades of worldwide progress in the fight against hunger, said a release from the World Council of Churches (WCC). This is of grave concern for the WCC, its ecumenical partners, and the United Nations, the release said. Information on the situation was presented at an interactive panel discussion sponsored by the WCC’s Food for Life Campaign with several international organizations including the World Food Program on the topic, “Healthy Diets for a #ZeroHunger World,” which was the theme for World Food Day. “We have to reflect on why, amidst plenty and abundance, 26.4 percent of the world population, amounting to about 2 billion people, continue to experience hunger and moderate-to-severe levels of food insecurity,” said WCC deputy general secretary Isabel Apawo Phiri in a welcome message. “A similar proportion of people in the world are also consuming contaminated drinking water. We have to reflect on why we are increasingly trapped in a combination of unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles, leading to obesity and non-communicable diseases.” Participants noted a number of factors in the rise in numbers of undernourished people including poverty, inequity, lack of access to land and resources, conflicts, climate change, compromising food sovereignty, and self-determination. Manoj Kurian, coordinator of the WCC Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, who organized the session, stated, “We have focus on the welfare and wellbeing of each person; keeping people at the center, over and above narrow commercial interests; and always taking care for the planet and its diverse creation, as our God-given home.”

-- An article on the history of the former Daleville College in Botetourt County, Va., has been published by the Roanoke Times. The college was started by Brethren and later affiliated with the Church of the Brethren. “The private ‘Select’ school opened in 1890 under the sponsorship of two prominent local Dunkards, Benjamin F. Nininger and George Layman Jr.,” said the article by Ray Cox. “Nininger was a successful orchardist, one of the county’s pioneers in that regard. Layman was said to be a talented singer and was for many years the ‘song leader’ for the Valley Church of the Brethren.” The two men recruited I.N.H. Beahm, a well-known Brethren leader, as the teacher for the school’s first class of 12 students. The school grew and developed over the years, becoming known as Daleville College. Eventually Bridgewater College “absorbed the Daleville school in its last years of operation. Then it became a high school, at last operating under the name of Daleville Academy. The school closed in 1933,” said the article that is one of a “What’s on Your Mind?” (WYOM?) series answering readers’ questions. Find the article at www.roanoke.com/news/local/woym-the-story-behind-the-college-that-once-operated-in/article_3363f657-640c-54b6-a842-071ee10efd26.html .

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