Brethren bits for Jan. 31,2020

Bethany Seminary president Jeff Carter receives award from Wayne County Chamber of Commerce

Bethany Theological Seminary president Jeff Carter has been presented with the Excellence in Higher Education award from the Wayne County (Ind.) Chamber of Commerce. The award, in its inaugural year, was presented Jan. 17, during the chamber’s annual dinner. It honors an individual who has served the higher education population in Wayne County--where the seminary is located--with exceptional leadership, innovative techniques, and community involvement. In presenting the award, chamber CEO Melissa Vance noted Bethany’s partnership with Earlham School of Religion and the schools’ collaboration on a new Master of Arts: Theopoetics and Writing degree, Bethany’s sponsorship of Richmond Symphony Orchestra’s Kids of Note program, a partnership with the symphony in offering the Recital Series featuring RSO musicians performing in Bethany’s Nicarry Chapel, the seminary’s Pillars and Pathways Residency Scholarship requiring student recipients to volunteer locally and reside in renovated housing near campus, the intentional hiring of local contractors for Bethany’s recent capital improvements, and the sponsorship of a farm-to-table fundraiser for Richmond Farmer’s Market. The Bethany campus is in Richmond, Ind.

-- The Church of the Brethren’s Michigan District seeks a district executive minister. The district includes 20 congregations in the lower peninsula of Michigan, north of the southern tier of counties. Camp Brethren Heights is associated with the district and the district office location is negotiable. The district is theologically diverse and seeks creative and biblically centered leadership with a broad, unifying perspective to find common foundation to continue to build God’s Kingdom together. This half-time position of approximately 25 hours per week is available on March 30. Travel is required both within and outside of the district. Responsibilities are in three main focus areas: 1. Direction, coordination, management, and leadership of the district program, as authorized by District Conference and implemented by the District Leadership Team; 2. Work with congregations in calling and credentialing ministers and in the placement/call and evaluation of pastoral staff, providing support and counsel for ministers and other church leaders and sharing and interpreting program resources for congregations; 3. Providing a crucial link between the congregations and the district and the wider church by working collaboratively with the Council of District Executives, Annual Conference and its agencies and their staff. Qualifications include ordination through an accredited program, with a master of divinity degree preferred; skills in organization, administration, and communication; commitment to the Church of the Brethren locally and denominationally, along with ecumenical skills; demonstrated leadership skills; pastoral experience preferred; biblical leadership. To apply, send a letter of interest and resume to Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Director, Office of Ministry, via email at . Applicants are requested to contact three or four people willing to provide a letter of reference. Upon receipt of a resume, a candidate profile will be sent that must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

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-- Bethany Theological Seminary seeks a communications and marketing coordinator as part of the Institutional Advancement Department. Responsibilities include interacting with and developing materials for a myriad of constituencies, developing and maintaining web content and a social media plan, creating copy for various print and digital communications, managing advertising campaigns, assisting in fundraising and donor communications. Qualifications include a bachelor’s degree; development, alumni relations, admissions, and/or marketing experience; experience with design software, web design software, e-communications, and social media; excellent communication abilities; strong project management skills; affinity with the values and mission of the seminary, required; understanding of the Church of the Brethren in the Anabaptist-Pietist tradition, preferred. A full job description is at . Application reviews will begin immediately and will continue until an appointment is made. Send a letter of interest, resume, and contact information for three references to .

-- Registration opens Feb. 6 for the New and Renew Church Planting and Church Renewal Conference on May 13-15 at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. “Are you looking for a spiritually rich and creative space to worship, learn, network, and grow?” said an invitation. “Are you looking to be in conversation with other Jesus followers who are exploring new forms of mission, church planting, church renewal and shaping community? If so, be sure to join us.” The theme is “The Reward of Risk.” Early registration will be available through April 15 with a special rate of $179 that includes two lunches and an Intercultural Celebration Dinner. On April 16 all registration rates will return to the regular rate of $225. Attendees are responsible for their own housing; conferences rates are available at local hotels but reservations must be made by April 19. To register and for more information Go to .

-- Food insecurity is the topic of this week’s action alert from the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. “Over 40 million Americans face food insecurity, which means lacking consistent access to nutritional food,” said the alert, in part. “Food banks play a crucial role in combating food insecurity by giving donated food to food insecure individuals. Following the holiday season, food donations to food banks begin to decline even though the need is still there.” Citing the Church of the Brethren 2006 resolution, “A Call to Reduce Global Poverty and Hunger,” the alert urged Brethren to call on the President and Congress to provide more funding for food programs like the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to help get more food to food banks. The alert include a link to look up legislators and a link to locate local food bank. Find the action alert at .

Ted & Co. production of
Photo courtesy of Ted & Co.

Ted & Co. production of "We Own This Now"

-- Ted & Co. is touring over coming months, with Church of the Brethren districts and congregations among hosting groups. Ted & Co. is led by Ted Swartz, a Mennonite comedian and a favorite at many Church of the Brethren conferences.
     On Feb. 29, at 7:30 p.m., Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., will host a performance of “We Own This Now,” which looks at love of land, loss of land, and what it means to “own” something. Accompanying Swartz in this production is Michelle Milne. Said an announcement, “Chris has farmed the land his grandmother found as a home in Kansas after fleeing Russia almost 100 years ago;  his daughter Riley is learning more about who was on that land before her Oma arrived, and the jarring connections she has to the fate of those people. We follow Chris and Riley as they navigate their changing relationship to each other and to the land their family has farmed for several generations.” Admission is free.
     On March 15 at 7 p.m., a new Ted & Co. and Ken Medema production called “Can We Talk?” is hosted by Southern Ohio/Kentucky District at Northmont High School Auditorium in Clayton, Ohio. Said an announcement: “Can We Talk?" is a rollicking 90 minutes of story, song, laughter, and moments of serious reflection around listening and conversation, especially when there is seemingly so much disagreement on issues in the church and society. The show includes classic and new material from Ted Swartz and Ken Medema. You will never be more than a few minutes from a laugh or a moment that makes you hold your breath. Don't miss this opportunity.” Donations will be received to the district’s Brethren Disaster Ministries Memorial Day Tornado Relief project.

-- Quoting from Jeremiah 6:14, “They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace,” Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) has issued a release on the peace plan for Israel and Palestine announced by President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel. The CMEP board is currently chaired by Nathan Hosler, director of the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. The release was signed by CMEP’s executive director Mae Elise Cannon. The plan is “nothing less than a recipe for endless oppression and injustice,” the release said, in part. “Palestinians for far too long have suffered under Israeli military control.... The proposed plan would further entrench the Israeli security establishment, ensuring that generations of Israeli young men and women will serve in a military tasked with continuing control of the Palestinian people. The inevitable result will be more human rights abuses, trauma, and violence.... It is clear that Christian values are being weaponized in an attempt to give a veneer of moral legitimacy to a plan that is, in fact, meant to facilitate further Israeli control over Palestinian lives, land, and resources. The use of Judeo and Christian religious and spiritual imagery to justify political aims and agendas is idolatry.” The release condemned parts of the plan, including the “land swap” that the release said in “meant to maximize the amount of land under Israeli control while minimizing the number of Palestinians living on the land.” Palestian despair, which leads to violence, is rooted in “decades of dispossession, violence, and lived humiliation--a perpetuated dynamic that is not without consequences for Israeli society,” the release asserted. “For Israelis to have hope for a future without fear, where their legitimate security needs are met, there must be a peace plan where U.S. and Israeli governments recognize and commit to just resolutions in response to the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people.” See .

-- “The Fierce Urgency of Now” is the theme for Creation Justice Ministries resources to equip congregations to celebrate Earth Day Sunday 2020. “Our 2020 materials include theological insights on what it means to live in this kairos moment for God's creation, stories of faith communities taking action, sermon starters, liturgy ideas, and action steps,” said an announcement. The landing page and supplemental materials are at . Find more information about Earth Day Sunday, including materials from previous years, at .

-- World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit has been named presiding bishop for the Church of Norway. His inauguration will take place during the church synod in Trondheim on April 26 in the Cathedral of Nidaros. He will step down from his post at the WCC at the end of March, after serving two terms in office. As WCC general secretary, Tveit has led the fellowship of churches through such gatherings as the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (Kingston, Jamaica, 2011) and the 10th Assembly of the WCC (Busan, Republic of Korea, 2013). He has also been instrumental in leadership of international consultations on such topics as climate change, peacemaking, and refugee resettlement.

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