Newsline for Aug. 1, 2020




Look at the birds...
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

NEWS
1) COVID-19 Pandemic Grants Program issues grants to another 11 congregations
2) Fellowship of Brethren Homes signs letter to the US President, Vice President, and Congress
3) Southeastern District Conference approves withdrawal of 19 congregations
4) Illinois and Wisconsin District issues statement of response to racial injustice
5) Giveaway Garden produces good food and good will

UPCOMING EVENTS
6) Marking the 75th anniversary of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
7) Webinars explore path to healing racism, eco-discipleship

8) Brethren bits: Remembering Art Myers, Brethren Disaster Ministries updates on Hurricane Isaias, BBT extends COVID-19 Emergency Grant as part of Church Worker’s Assistance Plan, webinar on “COVID-19 Mental and Spiritual Health of Children and Teens,” Columbia City participates in “Bells for John Lewis”


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A note to readers: The next regularly scheduled issue of Newsline will be postponed to Aug. 21. For the next two weeks, the editor will be taking vacation time with family. Please continue to send article submissions and news tips to cobnews@brethren.org .

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Find our landing page of Church of the Brethren COVID-19 related resources and information at www.brethren.org/covid19 .

Find Church of the Brethren congregations offering online worship at www.brethren.org/news/2020/church-of-the-brethren-congregations-worship-online.html .

A listing to recognize Brethren who are active in health care is at www.brethren.org/news/2020/brethren-active-in-health-care.html . To add a person to this listing, send an email with first name, county, and state to cobnews@brethren.org .

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1) COVID-19 Pandemic Grants Program issues grants to another 11 congregations

Brethren Disaster Ministries is directing grants from the denomination’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to Church of the Brethren congregations and districts in the US and Puerto Rico that are carrying out pandemic-related humanitarian relief work.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Grants Program began in late April. As of the end of July, 25 congregations across 9 districts have received grants totaling $104,662. Programs have included food distributions, hot or takeaway meals, children’s summer meals, childcare, rental and utility assistance, hygiene and safety supplies, and shelter for vulnerable homeless populations. Brethren Disaster Ministries is beginning to receive reports about some of the first grants given, and it is clear that the assistance came at just the right time and has been received with gratitude.

A second round of COVID-19 grant funding for congregations and districts will be announced in September. Priority for the next round will be given to first-time grantees.

The following grants, totaling $46,562, were approved between May 27 and July 29:

Brake Church of the Brethren in Petersburg, W.Va., received $5,000 to continue its assistance to people in need in its community. During the pandemic, needs have increased dramatically at the same time that the church’s income has dropped. The grant has allowed the church to continue to provide assistance, particularly to an increased number of homeless people who need temporary housing and supplies before heading to longer term shelters.

Circle of Peace Church of the Brethren in the Phoenix metro area of Arizona--one of the nation’s hotspots for COVID-19--has received $5,000. The grant has helped the church purchase and deliver supplies to the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona, which is experiencing a basic supply shortage; support frontline healthcare workers who are in vulnerable situations and need assistance with food, housing, transportation, and more; and assist vulnerable people with an emphasis on BIPOC (Black and Indigenous people of color) populations in need of help with housing and transportation assistance to maintain employment.

Eglise des Freres/Haitian Church of the Brethren in Naples, Fla., has received $4,000. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, most of the church members (including the pastor) and many community members are not able to work. The grant allowed the church to provide a once-weekly distribution of food, hygiene, cleaning, and safety supplies to both church and community.

Iglesia de Cristo Génesis in the Los Angeles area of California has received $2,500. About 90 percent of the church membership is low-income many have been laid off from jobs or have difficult paying bills and buying food for their families because of pandemic restrictions. The grant has helped the church purchase food in bulk from local food banks, and hygiene and safety supplies for distribution, and has helped with rent and utility assistance particularly for families whose needs include access to the Internet for school children required to do lessons from home.

La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren has received $2,500 to provide meals for Hope for Home, a year-round homeless service facility in nearby Pomona. The three-month program provides homeless people assistance with finding housing, job opportunities, and in some cases reconciliation with their families. Due to the shutdown caused by the pandemic, many of the other organizations partnering in the project were unable to provide funding or volunteers to prepare meals. The grant enabled the church to increase its commitment from one meal a month to provide five meals for each of two months.

Maple Spring Church of the Brethren in Eglon, W.Va., received $5,000 for its food pantry. It has seen at least a 300 percent increase in need since it began to provide meals and pantry items a year ago. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, many small stores in the area have had to close, seriously reducing the available food supply particularly for elderly community members. Food donations also decreased so more food has had to be bought to supply the pantry. The grant is helping increase the amount and nutritional value of the food offered to families, both in take-away meals and take-home pantry boxes.

Miami (Fla.) First Church of the Brethren received $3,000 to help provide food in its multicultural immigrant area where many low-income workers became unemployed and many local businesses closed due to COVID-19. The church witnessed long lines everywhere of people looking for food. The grant will help purchase farm fresh produce from a local organization to distribute in the community, as well as a back-to-school event for the church’s ministry to youth in the area, where school supplies and uniforms will be distributed.

The Gathering Chicago, a Church of the Brethren project in the Hyde Park area of Chicago, Ill., received $2,800 to address community needs for health and safety supplies and information and spiritual/mental/emotional assistance to local leaders during the pandemic. The grant will support online events and, when possible, community events including a local wellness series program; a Wellness and Prayer Caravan “car parade” to drop off care packages and COVID-19 safety information and supplies to community members who are “sick and shut-in”; a “Play for Peace” event; and distribution of personal protective equipment as needed in the community.

Unify Christians Church of the Brethren located in a Haitian community in North Miami Beach, Fla., received $5,000 to help continued its distributions of food and supplies twice weekly. Many in the area have lost their jobs due to the shutdown and other restrictions, and the need has multiplied. The church had lost income amid increased need. The grant money is being used almost entirely to purchase food, with a small amount going to assist vulnerable people, particularly widows.

University Baptist and Brethren Church in State College, Pa., received $5,000 for its work to support the Out of the Cold Centre County homeless program during the cold months. The 2020 season was extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic and because of concerns about sheltering people in the churches that participate, supporters provided funding to house homeless people in hotels overnight. Once the congregate shelter was able to reopen there were some vulnerable people who still needed hotel housing. This grant allowed the church to commit to supporting this need for 6 guests for 15 nights.

Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren received $4,762 to support its longterm Loaves and Fishes noon meal on Saturdays. Since mid-March, the church has been limited to providing take-away meals and bottled water due to pandemic restrictions and safety issues. The church will use the grant money to provide hygiene items, masks, and extra food to clients, as well as assistance with rent and utilities.

Also distributed were the remainder of grants to Ephrata (Pa.) Church of the Brethren in the amount of $1,000 and to Sebring (Fla.) Church of the Brethren in the amount of $1,000.

Find out more about the COVID-19 Pandemic Grants Program at https://covid19.brethren.org/grants .

-- Sharon Billings Franzén, office manager for Brethren Disaster Ministries, contributed to this report.





2) Fellowship of Brethren Homes signs letter to the US President, Vice President, and Congress

Fellowship of Brethren Homes brochure cover

The Fellowship of Brethren Homes has joined other faith-based, aging services groups in a letter to the US President, Vice-President, and members of Congress, asking the nation’s leaders to “immediately deliver the leadership, resources, and support needed to ensure the health and wellbeing of millions of people facing special danger from the pandemic.”

David Lawrenz, executive director of the fellowship, provided a copy of the letter for publication in Newsline. The letter “was facilitated by our national organization, LeadingAge,” he reported. LeadingAge is a national association of long-term care and senior living communities. The Fellowship of Brethren Homes is an organization of the 22 Church of the Brethren-related retirement communities (see www.brethren.org/homes ).

The letter was dated July 28 and released while House and Senate leaders and White House representatives were negotiating the next coronavirus relief bill. “Our members have been dealing with these problems firsthand for six months,” the letter said, in part, “and know what is needed: a national plan that puts older adults and their care providers at the front of the line right alongside hospitals for life-saving resources like personal protective equipment, testing and significant additional targeted relief.” 

Five specific requests in the letter are for immediate access to ample and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for all providers who serve older Americans and those with disabilities; on-demand and fully funded access to accurate and rapid-results testing for care providers; assurance that states will consider the health and safety of older Americans as they reopen; funding and support for aging and disability services providers to support the increased costs of PPE, testing, staffing, isolation, and other care; and “pandemic hero pay,” paid sick leave, and health care coverage for frontline workers serving older people and those with disabilities.

LeadingAge has provided a form for people who want to contact their Congressional representatives in support of the letter, at https://mobilize4change.org/ahLGb2m . Additional suggestions for action are at www.leadingage.org/act .

Here is the full text of the letter:

Dear President Trump, Vice President Pence, Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Leader McCarthy, and Members of Congress:

The coronavirus crisis has been terrifying for all Americans--especially for older adults and the people who care for, serve, and love them. On behalf of over 5,000 faith-based and mission-driven aging and disability service providers across the country, we implore you to immediately deliver the leadership, resources, and support needed to ensure the health and wellbeing of millions of people facing special danger from the pandemic.

Our members have been dealing with these problems firsthand for six months, and know what is needed: a national plan that puts older adults and their care providers at the front of the line right alongside hospitals for life-saving resources like personal protective equipment, testing and significant additional targeted relief. Specifically, we request:

1. Immediate access to ample and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for all providers who serve older Americans and those with disabilities.

2. On demand and fully funded access to accurate and rapid-results testing for care providers.

3. Assurance that states will consider the health and safety of older Americans as they reopen.

4. Funding and support for aging and disability services providers across the continuum of care to support the increased costs of PPE, testing, staffing, isolation, and other care.

5. Pandemic hero pay, paid sick leave, and health care coverage for the heroic frontline workers who are risking their own lives serving older people and those with disabilities during this crisis.

Nearly 100,000 people over 65 have died from COVID-19 in just a few months, and millions more are threatened. The virus has been most deadly for older people of color, and nearly half of all COVID-19 fatalities have been nursing home residents and staff. For months, brave and dedicated workers have delivered care to older Americans, at great risk to their own health and safety.

It is not acceptable to continue on as we have been for months. This is a full-fledged crisis like we’ve never seen before that will only worsen in the crucial days and months to come.

Our organizations come from multiple faith-based traditions, and many have been deeply embedded in their communities for more than a century. Our members, including skilled nursing, long-term care, home health care, hospice, continuing care retirement communities, community-based services, and the entire field of aging and disability services, have long played a special and critical role in communities across the U.S. We represent mission-driven organizations that are guided by our faith and values to offer meaningful care and support to ensure all our neighbors can reach their potential regardless of age, race, religion or background.

Today we are coming together to urge you to find common ground, and deliver the live-saving relief we need to continue fulfilling our historic role in the lives of so many Americans.

Our organizations represent a diversity of faiths and denominations, but we are aligned in our ardent belief that the actions you as leaders of our country take in the next weeks will determine the life and death of many of our nation's most vulnerable older adults. This is an historic moment. It must be met with historic action. Older adults deserve nothing less.

Sincerely,

Katie Smith Sloan, President and CEO, LeadingAge

Don Shulman, President & Chief Executive Officer, AJAS

Sr. Mary Haddad, RSM, President and CEO, Catholic Health Association of the United States

Michael J. Readinger, President/CEO, The Council for Health & Human Service Ministries

David Lawrenz, Executive Director, Fellowship of Brethren Homes

Jane Mack, President & CEO, Friends Services Alliance

Charlotte Haberaecker, President & CEO, Lutheran Services in America

Karen E. Lehman, President/CEO, Mennonite Health Services (MHS)

Reuben D. Rotman, President & CEO, Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies

Cynthia L. Ray, M.Div, Executive Director, Presbyterian Association of Homes & Services for the Aging

Mary Kemper, President & CEO, United Methodist Association of Health & Welfare Ministries





3) Southeastern District Conference approves withdrawal of 19 congregations

The Southeastern District Conference on July 25 at Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren in Jonesborough, Tenn., approved the withdrawal of 19 congregations from the district and from the Church of the Brethren denomination. The withdrawing churches represent close to half of the 42 congregations that have been part of the district that covers Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, and the western parts of North Carolina and Virginia.

The withdrawal of congregations “was the main focus of the conference,” said district executive Scott Kinnick. “The conference was a half-day event, we followed our governor’s safety guidelines to keep everyone safe. There was no singing, only our moderator’s message, prayer, and a short business session. The moderator, Rev. Steven Abe, led the remaining churches in a blessing to the withdrawing churches, and a blessing from the withdrawing churches to the remaining churches. He then asked everyone to give a blessing to David Steele, general secretary.”

Steele, the general secretary of the Church of the Brethren denomination, attended the district conference in person as did Annual Conference moderator-elect David Sollenberger. Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey attended via Zoom.

The conference action follows on the creation of the Covenant Brethren Church in 2019. Earlier this year its leaders--which include Kinnick--indicated an intention to separate from the Church of the Brethren (see a Feb. 2020 interview with Steele at www.brethren.org/news/2020/our-end-goal-is-unity-interview-david-steele.html ). However, it is not clear how many of the withdrawing congregations will affiliate with the new organization.

Here are the names and locations of the withdrawing congregations:

Beaver Creek Church in Knoxville, Tenn.
Brummetts Creek Church in Green Mountain, N.C.
Community Church in Cleveland, Ala.
Ewing Church in Ewing, Va.
Hawthorne Church in Johnson City, Tenn.
Jackson Park Church in Jonesborough, Tenn.
Johnson City First Church in Johnson City, Tenn.
Knob Creek Church in Johnson City, Tenn.
Limestone Church in Limestone, Tenn.
Little Pine Church in Ennice, N.C.
Melvin Hill Church in Columbus, N.C.
Midway Church in Surgoinsville, Tenn.
Mill Creek Church in Tryon, N.C.
Mount Carmel Church in Scottville, N.C.
New Hope Church in Jonesborough, Tenn.
Pleasant Hill Church in Blountville, Tenn.
Pleasant Valley Church in Jonesborough, Tenn.
Spindale Church in Spindale, N.C.
Trinity Church in Blountville, Tenn.





4) Illinois and Wisconsin District issues statement of response to racial injustice

The Church of the Brethren’s Illinois and Wisconsin District has issued a statement of response to racial injustice, signed by district executive minister Kevin Kessler on behalf of the District Leadership Team.

The full text of the letter follows:
 
“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” --Amos 5:24 (NRSV)

“...What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” --Micah 6:8b (NRSV)
 
The Illinois/Wisconsin District of the Church of the Brethren continues the work of Jesus...peacefully...simply...together. Peacefully does not mean the work is without conflict. We enter conflict non-violently striving to treat everyone as we want to be treated. We stand on the side of justice and righteousness for all. The present socio-political climate has revealed that the lives of our black and brown brothers and sisters are under threat and that they are denied the protection and freedom that is justly theirs. We proclaim that we are all beloved children of God and that black and brown lives matter.

We will stand together in solidarity. We will work together to create change. The needed transformation of oppressive systems requires us to understand racial oppression in our culture. We must listen to one another. We who are white must listen to those of us who are brown and black, to understand their experience and learn from their wisdom. We commit to being in courageous conversation with open hearts and generosity of spirit.

The work before us is not simple. It is complex. It must be carried out with an intensity of kindness, humility, compassion, and adherence to the ways of Jesus. This work is not optional; it is required.  

The IL/WI District, in following the teachings of Jesus to dismantle racial injustice, must...
-- Listen actively. (John 4:4-42)
-- Stand in solidarity with all who seek justice. (Matthew 12:50)
-- Recognize where oppressive power dynamics within our own systems (denomination, district, congregations, communities) need transformation. (Matthew 7:1-5; Matthew 15:1-9)
 
We therefore commit to engage in the following:
-- A district-wide anti-racism book study (using the Zoom platform)
-- A prayer service of lament and commitment
-- Publishing links to webinars and educational events provided by Discipleship Ministries of the Church of the Brethren
-- Including a resource page on the district’s website

We hope for a world where justice rolls down like water, where righteousness flows on eternally, where loving-kindness is experienced as the norm, and where humility is the catalyst for understanding one another more completely. But let us do more than hope. Let us act, always, consistently, to make this hope reality.

Kevin Kessler, District Executive, on behalf of the District Leadership Team       





5) Giveaway Garden produces good food and good will

The youth team at the Giveaway Garden at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren

The youth team at the Giveaway Garden at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren

By Linda Dows-Byers

Despite world events limiting activities, 2020 has actually become a really active summer for our congregation’s Youth Ministry at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. Not only have we held a workcamp together online with two other churches, but our youth and their families have been nurturing our neighborhood too.

The youth Giveaway Garden was planted the first week of June next to the church playground. The team of 11 working that day transformed the new bed from grass to garden in under four hours. At that point we had no idea if our labor would be fruitful, or if anyone from the neighborhood would stop by to pick up some free produce. The answer to those questions has been yes and yes!

So far, every cucumber, every zucchini, and every pepper that has bloomed and matured has been gifted to our community. Produce started to flourish about three-and-a-half weeks ago and most of our harvest remains in the collection box for a day or two at most. In most cases, almost as soon as it’s picked people are coming to get it. Coming soon are tomatoes and egg plants.

The end of last week we added two features to our project. We now have a note pad for those enjoying the fruit of our labor to write messages back to encourage our youth. And we have a chalkboard where youth write encouraging Bible verses for members of the community.

One of the first messages to us read, “Thank you so much! If you only knew how much you’ve helped me and my parents. Again, thank you. Bless you always.”

Another message read, “What a great neighbor you are. Thank you.”

Church members and neighbors are joining in the giveaway. One day we found that a mystery gardener had shared some potatoes, tomatillos, and okra in our produce box under the porch at the playground. Donna and Doug Lunger have added their own extra garden produce too. Youth families who are gardening at home also are bringing more to share.

Youth have always enjoyed being a part of workcamps where they see change and know they have accomplished a goal to make a difference. Our garden project has successfully shown how God can be at work in us and through us as we give our time and effort. Our youth ministry, of eight youth from six families, is impacting our community this summer and that’s pretty cool!

-- Linda Dows-Byers is director of Youth Ministries at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.





UPCOMING EVENTS

6) Marking the 75th anniversary of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

75th Commemorative Remembrance of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Aug. 6 and 9, 2020, mark the 75th anniversaries of the nuclear bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. The Church of the Brethren has been involved in peace witness in Hiroshima through the placement of Brethren Volunteer Service workers at the World Friendship Center. Currently, Roger and Kathy Edmark of Lynnwood, Wash., are serving as directors of the center through BVS (see www.wfchiroshima.com/english ).

Ecumenical partner organizations of the Church of the Brethren are marking the anniversaries in a variety of ways.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) at its first assembly in 1948 declared that war with atomic weapons is a “sin against God and a degradation of man,” and since then has continued to call for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. In a release, the WCC noted that the US attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki “devastated those cities and killed or injured several hundred thousands of people. Many more suffered for years afterwards, from having been exposed to the deadly radiation released into the air and water on those days.”

Through August, WCC is publishing a series of blog posts highlighting different reflections and experiences of those who are calling for an end to nuclear weapons, from Japan, the Pacific, nuclear weapons states, and those advocating at the global level. Find the blog online starting with the first post, “75th anniversary of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Has your country ratified the UN treaty?” by Jennifer Philpot-Nissen at https://blog.oikoumene.org/posts/75th-anniversary-of-the-nuclear-attacks-on-hiroshima-and-nagasaki-has-your-country-ratified-the-un-treaty .

The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the US (NCC) is publicizing the “75th Commemorative Remembrance of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” an online event Aug. 6 and 9 marking the first use of nuclear weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Sponsors of the event include international ecumenical and peace organizations. Leaders include the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who serve as president and vice president of Mayors for Peace, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, former US Secretary of State George Shultz, and other international leaders. The event will call for the abolition of all nuclear weapons. Find out more and register at www.voices-uri.org/registration .





7) Webinars explore path to healing racism, eco-discipleship

Upcoming webinars are offered by the Church of the Brethren Discipleship Ministries, Intercultural Ministry, Outdoor Ministry Association, and Office of Ministry. Topics include “Witness of Churches on the Path to Healing Racism: A Theological Exploration” and “Cultivating a Verdant Faith: Eco Discipleship Practices for the 21st Century Church.”

Grace Ji-Sun Kim

Grace Ji-Sun Kim

“Witness of Churches on the Path to Healing Racism: A Theological Exploration” takes place on Aug. 12 at 1 p.m. (Eastern time).

Grace Ji-Sun Kim, theology professor at Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Ind., will lead this event sponsored by the Intercultural Ministry and Office of Ministry. She is the author of several books including “Healing Our Broken Humanity: Practices for Revitalizing Church and Renewing the World,” “Intercultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World,” and is editor of “Keeping Hope Alive: Sermons and Speeches of Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.” Intercultural Ministries director LaDonna Nkosi will serve as interviewer and moderator.

Continuing education credit of 0.1 CEU is available at no cost for Church of the Brethren ministers who register for and attend this webinar. Register at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_CE5lT14YR4qp9D-GM7_bjw .

“Cultivating a Verdant Faith: Eco Discipleship Practices for the 21st Century Church” is a two-part webinar scheduled for Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. (Eastern time) on the topic, “Ecodoxy (Eco Blueprint and Eco Theology)” and Aug. 22 at 11 a.m. (Eastern time) on the topic “Ecopraxy (Eco Stewardship and Eco Disciplines).”

Sponsored by the Outdoor Ministry Association and Discipleship Ministries, the webinar will be led by Jonathan Stauffer and Randall Westfall. Stauffer is a high school science instructor and freelance eco theologian who is serving on the Outdoor Ministries Association board, has served as camp counselor and nature program leader at various Church of the Brethren camps, has hands-on experience with wind and solar energy, and holds a bachelor’s in physics from Manchester University and a master of arts in Theological Studies from Bethany Seminary. Westfall is director at Camp Brethren Heights in Michigan and a licensed minister in the Church of the Brethren and a student in the Training in Ministry course, studied religion and psychology at Manchester University, and is a graduate of Wilderness Awareness School where he received masters-level certifications in naturalist studies, wilderness survival, wildlife tracking, ethnobotany, bird language, and nature mentoring.

Said a description: “Webinar presenters Jonathan Stauffer and Randall Westfall have come to believe that living attuned with God’s creation is now essential to our discipleship with Jesus. In recent years, they have rediscovered just how attuned to creation Jesus was. His teachings often made a point by drawing on the natural world around him. He knew God’s wisdom came from these encounters and sought them out intentionally. He sought the solace of the wilderness, the sea, the mountain, and the garden to regenerate his ministry and mission. Jesus was drawing on a blueprint as old as creation itself.” Each webinar session will weave eco-practices into the fabric of discipleship and spiritual formation with Christ.

Ministers may earn 0.25 continuing education units for both sessions (0.125 per session). Register for the first session at https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMkcyhqjopEtxTKYUgA2ISTf52GRd8KnjF .  Register for the second session at https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUsdOqurDwtGdH6pC1XxWCkTv6_xUqCkGtv .





8) Brethren bits

Brethren Disaster Ministries has provided updates on Hurricane Isaias via Facebook posts in recent days (see www.facebook.com/bdm.cob ). Here is yesterday’s update from Puerto Rico:
     “It is still down pouring rain. Lots of main rivers are on the brink of overflowing levels. On the south western part of the island where the earthquakes have been occurring, the coastal land has sunken 6” due to them and the sea currents flooded several homes in that community. In some areas it has accumulated over 10” of rainfall. It’s supposed to dwindle down sometime during this evening or tomorrow morning. Many homes are flooded or damaged due to flooding and mudslides. This farm that was supported by the Church of the Brethren Global Food Initiative to rebuild after Hurricane Maria has extensive damage due to heavy winds.”
     Brethren Disaster Ministries will continue to track the storm as it heads to the mainland of the United States.
     The ministry also offered a reminder that “we are now in hurricane season” and shared some links to resources for those needing to make hurricane plans, especially keeping COVID-19 in mind. Resources from the CDC are at www.cdc.gov/disasters/covid-19/disasters_severe_weather_and_covid-19.html . Resources from
FLASH: Hurricane Strong are at www.flash.org/hurricanestrong/index.php . The latter site also has a children’s section with basic information about hurricanes and how to track them. Also helpful are the numerous resources for children and families offered by Children’s Disaster Services at https://covid19.brethren.org/children .

-- Remembrance: Charles Arthur “Art” Myers, 89, died on June 9 at his home in Point Loma, San Diego, Calif., from complications of Parkinson’s Disease. He had been a member of the first unit of Brethren Volunteer Service, serving at Falfurrias, Texas, from 1948-49. After a career as a physician, he turned to photography and became well-known for portraits of women with breast cancer, orphans in Kenya, and women with HIV. “His work, whether it was through his writing or his photography, gave voice and visibility and optimism to people experiencing hardships,” said his daughter Diane Rush in an obituary highlighting Myers’ life and work in the “San Diego Union Tribune.” He was born Oct. 18, 1930, in what is now Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., the son of a Church of the Brethren minister. He held a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Akron, a master’s degree in public health from San Diego State University, and a doctorate from Philadelphia College of Osteopathy. His medical career included the position of chief of staff at Northwest General Hospital in Milwaukee, Wis., a private practice in Mission Hills, Calif., and work for the California Department of Rehabilitation. After retiring in 1997, he became a professional photographer. In Kenya, “he photographed children at the Nyumbani Village orphanage but it was his work documenting the plight of women fighting breast cancer that caught many people’s attention,” the newspaper said. “Those photographs were part of a series that collectively became a book and an exhibit titled ‘Winged Victory: Altered Images--Transcending Breast Cancer.’” The series was inspired by close family members’ experiences with breast cancer including his sister Joanne and his wife, Stephanie Boudreau Myers. He said in an article published by the newspaper in 1996: “The message of this book is that these are still whole women. That whether you lose a breast or not, you don’t need to feel diminished.” Myers is survived by his wife; children Diane Rush of Escondido, Calif., Lynn Mariano of Chula Vista, Calif., Chuck Myers of La Jolla, Calif., and Gretchen Valdez of Riverside, Calif.; grandchildren; and great-grandchildren. Due to coronavirus restrictions, services will be held at a later date. Memorial gifts are received to a Parkinson’s association of the donor’s choice, the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park, Calif., and the Kinsey Institute Library and Special Collections at Indiana University Bloomington. Find his obituary at www.sandiegouniontribune.com/obituaries/story/2020-06-21/art-myers-obituary-photographer-doctor .

Extended COVID-19 church workers grant flyer from BBT

Extended COVID-19 church workers grant flyer from BBT

-- Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) has extended the COVID-19 Emergency Grant as part of the Church Worker’s Assistance Plan. This program provides financial assistance to current and former clergy and lay employees of Church of the Brethren congregations, districts, or camps who have no other means of financial assistance. The extension of the COVID-19 Emergency Grant is in response to the additional challenges caused by the current pandemic. Applications will be accepted through November 30. For more information visit the Church Workers’ Assistance page at www.cobbt.org/church-workers%E2%80%99-assistance-plan , email pension@cobbt.org , or call Debbie at 847-622-3391.

-- The Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry is recommending “COVID-19 Mental and Spiritual Health of Children and Teens,” a town hall-style webinar on Aug. 6 at 1 p.m. (Eastern time). The event is presented by the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton (Ill.) College and the National Association of Evangelicals. Said a description: “As parents and educators continue to prepare for the back-to-school season during COVID-19, how can the church help? What impact has the pandemic had on the mental and spiritual health of children and teens? What is the church’s role in addressing those needs, both at home and through the church? In this Town Hall webinar, experts will share insights and answer questions looming in many church leaders’ minds.” Panelists include Ryan Frank of KidzMatter, Beth Cunningham of the Florissa Center, and Pam King of the Thrive Center for Human Development of the Fuller Graduate School of Psychology. Find out more and register at www.eventbrite.com/e/webinar-spiritual-mental-health-for-children-teens-during-covid-19-tickets-115401241219 .

Annamarie Yager rings the bell at Columbia City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren for
Photo courtesy of Dennis Beckner

Annamarie Yager rings the bell at Columbia City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren for "Bells for John Lewis"

-- Columbia City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren participated Thursday, July 30, at 11 a.m. in a nationwide honoring of Civil Rights leader and Congressman John Lewis’ 80 years of life. The effort called “Bells for John Lewis” invited churches with bells to ring them for 80 seconds, sponsored by the National Council of Churches as well as several church denominations. Columbia City member Annamarie Yager, pictured here, rang the church’s bell. The bell is believed to be original to the building that dates to 1886 and is one of the oldest active church buildings in Columbia City. Find out more about Bells for John Lewis at www.bellsforjohnlewis.com .

-- The Church of the Brethren contingent at the 1963 March on Washington happens to appear in the first few seconds of John Lewis’ video account of his participation as the youngest speaker at the podium that day. The video has been viewed many thousands of times since Lewis passed away on July 17. It is the opening of Oprah’s Master Class titled “John Lewis’ Pivotol ‘This Is It’ Moment at the March on Washington.” Find it on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=QV_8zSA3pyU .


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Newsline is the email news service of the Church of the Brethren. Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Dennis Beckner, Jeff Boshart, Jenn Dorsch-Messler, Linda Dows-Byers, Stan Dueck, Jan Fischer Bachman, Sharon Billings Franzén, Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Scott Kinnick, David Lawrenz, LaDonna Nkosi, Stan Noffsinger, Diane Rush, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Please send news tips and submissions to cobnews@brethren.org . Find the Newsline archive at www.brethren.org/news . Sign up for Newsline and other Church of the Brethren email newsletters or make subscription changes at www.brethren.org/intouch . All submissions are subject to editing. Inclusion in Newsline does not necessarily convey endorsement by the Church of the Brethren.

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