Newsline for May 22, 2020




Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’” (John 6:35).

NEWS
1) Continued engagement around the compelling vision is planned
2) Brethren Academy celebrates students who have completed their ministry training
3) Brethren Disaster Ministries shares updates on rebuilding sites in the Carolinas, Ohio, Puerto Rico
4) Intercultural Ministries conversation with Mungi Ngomane is a success
5) EYN is in a state of mourning
6) National commission focuses on strengthening the country’s ability to go to war

RESOURCES
7) Church districts offer recommendations regarding in-person gatherings

UPCOMING EVENTS
8) Denominational children’s worship time, worship gathering, and concert scheduled as virtual events
9) Webinar will offer tips for churches doing social media

INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES
10) Brethren in Brazil facing major COVID-19 outbreak

11) Brethren bits: Update on flooding in Michigan, urgent need for sewing PPE gowns, Pacific Southwest District Conference to go online, “Cooking Up a Healthy Community,” Manchester choir performs “We Shall Overcome,” Principe de Paz senior on “Graduate Together,” more


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

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

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An ongoing listing of Brethren active in health care is online at www.brethren.org/news/2020/brethren-active-in-health-care.html as a way to help us recognize, thank, and pray for Church of the Brethren members who are caring for people’s health right now--from nurses and doctors, to therapists and pharmacists and dentists, to aides and chaplains, paramedics and EMTs, hospital volunteers and staff of clinics and retirement communities, and other roles in direct health care. 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) Continued engagement around the compelling vision is planned

By Rhonda Pittman Gingrich

With the news that Annual Conference has been cancelled this summer, the Compelling Vision Working Group has outlined a plan for continued engagement around the compelling vision even as affirmation by the Conference body has been delayed.

We recognize that the context in which we live has changed dramatically since release of the vision. This has impacted not only the compelling vision process, but church life. Congregations are facing both unprecedented challenges and unprecedented opportunities in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are being compelled to live as innovative, adaptable, and fearless ministers of the gospel.

We know there are stories of congregations that have embraced the opportunity to radically live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ in their neighborhoods in response to the challenges presented by the pandemic. We want to hear and share those stories. They can be a source of inspiration as we all seek to live and minister in the midst of the new normal. If you have a story to share about how your congregation has engaged with your neighbors in new ways during this time, please send them to the Compelling Vision Team at cvpt2018@gmail.com .

In addition to inspiring new opportunities for ministry, this one-year extension of the compelling vision process gives us time to engage together in Bible study around the vision. Plans are in the works to develop a Bible study series around key themes in the vision to help us all discover and more fully embrace God’s call for us as the body of Christ in these times. Watch for more information later this summer.

This extension also gives us time to reflect more deeply on the potential institutional impact of the compelling vision. A truly compelling vision will not just inspire localized ministry and dreams about unity, but will prompt us to think about who we are, how we do things, how we make decisions, and how our life together is structured, inspiring meaningful transformation. We recognize that the potential impact of the compelling vision hinges on affirmation of the vision by Annual Conference; however, that doesn’t mean we can’t begin to think about these important questions.

Finally, we invite everyone to join us in prayer as we consider the potential transformation this vision could inspire in the lives of our members, our congregations, and our life together.

To read the compelling vision statement and the accompanying interpretive document, or for more information about the compelling vision process, visit www.brethren.org/ac/compelling-vision.html .

-- Rhonda Pittman Gingrich is chair of the Compelling Vision Team.





2) Brethren Academy celebrates students who have completed their ministry training

Logo of Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership

By Janet Ober Lambert

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership celebrates 10 students who have completed their ministry training program this year. Four students will receive certificates from the Training in Ministry (TRIM) program. Six students will receive certificates from Seminario Bíblico  Anabautista Hispano de la Iglesia de Los Hermanos (SeBAH-COB). These six represent the first-ever graduating class from SeBAH-COB.

All students will receive their certificates during celebrations within their districts. The Brethren Academy and Bethany Seminary offer a heart-felt “Congratulations!” to each and every one!

Following are the academy graduates:

Training in Ministry:
Robert Eugene Hollenberg of Northern Indiana District
Kristie D. Prejean of Southern Plains District
Ernest B. Shoemaker of Virlina District
Mike Trott of Mid-Atlantic District

Seminario Bíblico Anabautista Hispano de la Iglesia de Los Hermanos (SeBAH-COB):
Mayra Calix of Atlantic Northeast District
Nertha Castro of Atlantic Northeast Distric
Egda Franco of Atlantic Northeast District
Arlyn Morales of Atlantic Northeast District
Aida Sanchez of Atlantic Southeast District
Rebeca Zapata of Pacific Southwest District

-- Janet Ober Lambert is director of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, a joint program of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Theological Seminary. Find out more at https://bethanyseminary.edu/brethren-academy .





3) Brethren Disaster Ministries shares updates on rebuilding sites in the Carolinas, Ohio, Puerto Rico

Ohio tornado rebuilding - volunteers needed (poster from Brethren Disaster Ministries BDM)

By Jenn Dorsch Messler

Brethren Disaster Ministries is sharing updates including a schedule change for the Carolinas rebuilding site, news of the opening of a new rebuilding site in Ohio, and an update from Puerto Rico.

Carolinas schedule change

The Brethren Disaster Ministries Carolinas project has not hosted weekly volunteers since mid March due to COVID-19 concerns as well as a planned break in the schedule around Easter. Brethren Disaster Ministries also was notified by the church where our volunteer housing is located that they will not accept out of state volunteers this summer due to concerns around COVID-19.

Therefore, we will need to pack up that site in June, two months before we had previously planned to leave. This will affect our ability to host volunteers and we must cancel the groups that are on our schedule for June at the Carolinas site. The majority of these groups had either cancelled already or were down to very low numbers of people willing to travel.

Another local partner in Lumberton, the North Carolina Baptist on Mission, has offered to host our scheduled July groups that are still interested in serving as well as anyone else who is interested in serving at all in 2020. They have their own building for their housing that is not shared with a church or other group. Please contact Terry Goodger (tgoodger@brethren.org or 410-635-8730) for information on how to serve with the Baptists in Lumberton. A new location for the Project 1 site is being explored with a previously planned opening date in mid September.

Ohio site opening and volunteer needs

This Memorial Day weekend marks the one-year anniversary of the 15 devastating tornadoes that touched down in the area of Dayton, Ohio. Brethren Disaster Ministries is scheduled to open a rebuilding site for tornado recovery in Dayton in July, and we are looking for local volunteers to serve. No overnight lodging or meals will be provided during July so volunteers must live within driving distance. Those interested must be available for a full five days to serve for any of the weeks of July 13-31. There will be a limited number of volunteer openings each week due to COVID-19 safety protocols. Because of this, those interested will need to apply in advance by returning completed registration forms and COVID-19 Safety Agreements, and will be notified if there is a spot open for them. To apply to volunteer, contact Burt Wolf (SouthernOhioBDM@gmail.com or 937-287-5902) or Terry Goodger (tgoodger@brethren.org at 410-635-8730). See the poster pictured here for more details.

Details are being worked out for how to physically create safe spaces and other protocols around COVID-19 concerns for when overnight volunteers may be permitted to serve in Ohio. Right now that is projected to be August with those on the Brethren Disaster Ministries schedule, but this is subject to change based on the situation as that time approaches.

Puerto Rico

Social distancing by the Brethren Disaster Ministries leadership team when they crossed paths in person while delivering materials to families: (from left) Raquel and José Acevedo (District Disaster Coordinator), Carmelo Rodriguez, and Carrie Miller.
Photo courtesy of Carrie Miller

Social distancing by the Brethren Disaster Ministries leadership team when they crossed paths in person while delivering materials to families: (from left) Raquel and José Acevedo (District Disaster Coordinator), Carmelo Rodriguez, and Carrie Miller. Photo courtesy of Carrie Miller

The following update was provided by Carrie Miller, long-term Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteer serving at the Puerto Rico Rebuilding site:

At the beginning of travel restrictions due to COVID-19 in mid March, the Puerto Rico rebuilding site had to shut down completely for a whole month. As the pandemic has gotten worse, and in consultation with the Puerto Rico District of the Church of the Brethren, the decision to cancel any future volunteer groups was made. The project was previously only scheduled to be open for volunteers until May 23. Thankfully, with new protocols in place, work has been able to start back up slowly with a local contractor and with Brethren Disaster Ministries construction liaison Carmelo Rodriguez. An unexpected “plus” of strict stay-at-home orders is that many clients who were approved to receive construction materials paid for by the Emergency Disaster Fund, and then complete the work themselves, have been able to finish their work. To date, the project has completed work for 87 cases and has 25 cases in progress that are expected to be finished by the end of June. Although circumstances are not ideal, we are beyond grateful for our partnerships with the Puerto Rico District, local contractors, and community members as we work together in finishing out our work.

Continue to pray

Brethren Disaster Ministries staff continue to pray for you all and your districts as we all navigate the changes that have happened in our lives. Please keep in touch with ways that you, your churches, and districts are serving and let us know how we can support you. We also always welcome prayer requests and praises that we can lift up. Thank you for all you have done and are doing to help those around you and in your families who need support.

-- Jenn Dorsch Messler is the director of Brethren Disaster Ministries. Find out more about this Church of the Brethren ministry at www.brethren.org/bdm .





4) Intercultural Ministries conversation with Mungi Ngomane is a success

By LaDonna Sanders Nkosi

Recently, Intercultural Ministries hosted #ConversationsTogether with Mungi Ngomane, author of “Everyday Ubuntu: Living Better Together the African Way.” The online event was a success, wtih 46 participants from churches and districts across the US sharing in conversation.

Ngomane is the grand-daughter of Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. She spoke with the group sharing lessons from the African principle of Ubuntu, speaking specifically on the chapter, “Have Dignity and Respect for Yourself and Others.” (A note with her full biography follows this article.)

Watch a replay video of the event on the Church of the Brethren Intercultural Ministries Facebook page at www.facebook.com/372303020689/posts/10158113223900690 .

A group will continue to share in #ConversationsTogether in a weekly book discussion through July.

Nompumelelo (Mungi) Ngomane is the author of “Everyday Ubuntu: Living Better Together, The African Way” and patron of the Tutu Foundation UK. Ngomane has never felt that her family forced her to follow in their footsteps, but that their hope for justice and human dignity for all has been passed down through her genes. She has worked in Middle East conflict resolution and for the advancement of women and girls for some of the world’s foremost advocacy organizations and initiatives. She was recently campaign coordinator for Millions of Conversations, a bipartisan campaign aimed at tackling Islamophobia and discrimination in the US. She is passionate about human rights, specifically the advancement of women and girls, the protection of refugees, and the liberation of the Palestinian people. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies, with a focus on Peace, Global Security, and Conflict Resolution in the Middle East, from the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C. She completed a master’s degree in International Studies and Diplomacy from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London.

-- LaDonna Sanders Nkosi is director of Intercultural Ministries for the Church of the Brethren.





5) EYN is in a state of mourning

By Zakariya Musa

EYN president Joel Billi and other leaders and staff and their families bring condolence to the family of the late Marcus Vandi
Photo by Zakariya Musa, EYN

EYN president Joel Billi and other leaders and staff and their families bring condolence to the family of the late Marcus Vandi

President Joel Billi of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has said that “EYN is in a state of mourning.” He made this statement to the EYN congregation at LCC Jigalambu in his address at the funeral services of a key staff of the organization, the director of EYN’s Integrated Community Based Development Programme (ICBDP). The late Marcus Vandi, aged 59, died on May 12 after a brief illness. The president, who also read from the book of Psalms 49:1-10, encouraged the wife of the deceased to look unto God and be strong to take care of their children.

Vandi was buried at his ancestral home town in Bazza, Michika Local Government Area, Adamawa State, on May 14. A sermon was delivered by EYN’s director of evangelism, Musa Daniel Mbaya, who based his message titled “Ignorance About Death” on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. He said humans are made to die through different ways, which he said many people misunderstand. He admonished that only God gives life, and death is a change from body to eternity.

Vandi served from 1984 to 2018 and retired from a Nigerian government position as an assistant director in Health Personnel. His appointment as the director of ICBDP for EYN was confirmed in April 2019 by the EYN General Church Council (Majalisa). He supervised three departments under ICBDP: Rural Development and Agriculture, Community Development Department, and Rural Health Department. He is survived by his wife, Dangana Marcus, and five children. He also helped many orphans.

Many relatives, friends, and colleagues within and outside EYN witnessed the funeral service. Here are some of their tributes:

“We didn’t know God sent him to the Headquarters for a short period of time, a man of peace,” commented EYN vice president Anthony Addu’a A. Ndamsai.

The pastor of EYN’s LCC Yola Town congregation, Musa Z. Abdullahi, called him a “dedicated worker.”

Dlama Iyasco Taru, on behalf of the family, said their uncle was the one they depended on as orphans, and had been a friend and supporter to them.

Others who paid their tributes included the ICBDP representative, Emmanuel Timothy, a representative from Specialist Hospital Yola, his father-in-law Yohanna Kwatiri, and a Reverend from the Lutheran Church Council.

In continued mourning, EYN also has lost Ishaya Kwada, a retired minister from EYN LCC Waramboge congregation in the Michika district, on May 10; and pastor’s wife Mrs. Kamdadi Inusa of the EYN LCC Durkwa congregation in the Marama district, on May 13.

May their souls rest with the Lord.

-- Zakariya Musa is communications staff for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).





6) National commission focuses on strengthening the country’s ability to go to war

Center on Conscience and War is celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2020

Center on Conscience and War is celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2020

Maria Santelli, executive director of the Center on Conscience and War (CCW), provided the following update about the Commission on Military, National, and Public Service. It follows on a statement to the commission by a group of 13 Anabaptist church bodies represented at an Anabaptist Church Consultation on June 4, 2019 (see the Newsline report at www.brethren.org/news/2019/anabaptist-groups-send-joint-letter.html .) The CCW is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, having been created in 1940 by the historic peace churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers) as predecessor organizations NSBRO and NISBCO.

Just as the world began to shut down, the Commission on Military, National, and Public Service released its final report, with 49 detailed recommendations to Congress, and a companion bill, HR 6415, which was introduced last month.

Many of the commission’s recommendations are geared toward improving and increasing civic education and engagement. That’s wonderful. Unfortunately, the majority of its recommendations are focused on preserving and strengthening the country’s ability to go to war, including upholding the apparatus of the draft (the Selective Service System) and extending the draft to include women.

We were very disappointed that the commission rejected expanding protections for conscientious objectors. It was our primary objective to see the commission recommend abolishing the draft and draft registration altogether.

In our one-on-one meetings with the commission and their staff, we made it clear that the best way to protect rights of conscience is to discard any notion that it is acceptable for the government to conscript anyone for war. In the event they would not make that recommendation, we asked them to provide a way for conscientious objectors to make their objection to war known at the time of registration, e.g., a “CO check-off box.” The commission states, on page 102 of its report, that the commission members believe such a box would cause too much “confusion,” and therefore, they did not recommend it.

With respect to requiring women to register for the draft, the commission said this: “That women register, and perhaps be called up in the event of a draft, is a necessary prerequisite for their achieving equality as citizens, as it has been for other groups historically discriminated against in American history” (p. 118). Their argument is not new: it is what we have been hearing for years, since the idea of expanding draft registration to women was first raised in 2016. It is offensive, and it is simply not true.

Women’s equality in the eyes of the law should not be dependent upon their complicity in militarism. Either the law sees all people as equal, regardless of their willingness to support war, or it does not. Unfortunately, it does not: conscientious objectors who were drafted but served an alternative, non-military term of service are denied the benefits and privileges of military veterans. Their inequality is not based on gender, but on religion and belief.

In its three years of deliberation and debate, the commission missed an opportunity. They could have seriously considered concerns like ours and others, who asked them to question our national priorities and what true national security means. Instead, they doubled down on militarism, despite the grim truth a global pandemic has laid bare for all to see: a $738 billion annual military budget is powerless against a deadly and virulent disease.

As long as we prioritize military force over human needs and freedom of religion and belief, true equality under the law will not be possible. As Eisenhower so presciently warned, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

Instead of upholding the apparatus of the draft, whose purpose the commission affirms is wholly to support our ability to make war, let’s abolish the draft once and for all! There is a bill in Congress now to do just that: HR 5492.

A full analysis of the commission report and recommendations, and the legislation--ours and theirs--will be forthcoming in our next newsletter, “The Reporter for Conscience’ Sake,” due out this spring.

-- Maria Santelli is executive director of the Center on Conscience and War (CCW) based in Washington, D.C. Find out more about the CCW and to sign up to receive “The Reporter for Conscience’ Sake,” go to http://centeronconscience.org .





RESOURCES

7) Church districts offer recommendations regarding in-person gatherings

By Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, director of Ministry for the Church of the Brethren

Leadership teams of several Church of the Brethren districts have issued recommendations recently regarding congregations gathering in buildings. Districts that have begun sharing guidance include, among others, Mid-Atlantic, Middle Pennsylvania, and Southern Ohio and Kentucky.

Mid-Atlantic District leadership recommended that congregations not gather through June 30, stressing that congregations should “do no less than follow the reopening guidelines of their particular jurisdiction.” Mid-Atlantic congregations are located in five states and the District of Columbia. Of particular importance to district leadership is caring for the most vulnerable, including the elderly and children. Quoting from Philippians 2:4, the communication stressed looking “not to your own interest, but to the interests of others.” Specific advice for taking precautions was offered as well as guidance for prayer, keeping connections, and reaching out to their communities. (Find the Mid-Atlantic recommendations at www.madcob.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Coronavirus-Announcement.pdf .)

Similarly, both Middle Pennsylvania and Southern Ohio and Kentucky Districts issued recommendations to their member congregations. Middle Pennsylvania District leadership cited several ecumenical resources in preparing its document, “Considerations for Re-opening during COVID-19 Pandemic,” released May 8.  District executive minister David Banaszak wrote to ministers, “I want to say how proud I am of the job you are all doing in your service to Jesus Christ as well as the care you extend to God’s children near and far. Let’s continue to walk faithfully with our Savior so that no one can accuse us of anything but love for our neighbor.” (Find the Middle Pennsylvania recommendations at https://sites.google.com/site/midpacob/news/decheckinfridaymay82020 .)

Southern Ohio and Kentucky District board chair, Jennifer Keeney Scarr, and vice-chair, Todd Reish, wrote: “Your District Board urges you, sisters and brothers, to resist the temptation to begin in-person gathering at this time. Out of a deep care for one another we strongly advise our churches to continue to love one another from afar until the Board can re-evaluate the situation at the end of May.”

Here is the full text of the letter that the district board sent to congregations in Southern Ohio and Kentucky District:

May 13, 2020

Sisters and Brothers,

Many of us hoped for an immediate return to “normal” following the CoVid-19 pandemic; however, it has become clear that our churches will need to return to in-person gatherings in stages, with care, and not right away.

Your District Board urges you, sisters and brothers, to resist the temptation to begin in-person gatherings at this time.

Instead, use this time to consider and pray over the gathering practices your congregation will implement when we can begin gathering again. Take your time, move with intention and purpose. As people of faith, we are compelled to love our neighbor. In such a time as this, that love has been lived out through physical distancing, wearing masks, hand washing, figuring out online platforms, and more. In the coming weeks as we together consider how to resume gathering in person, what does loving our neighbor look like?

Out of a deep care for one another we strongly advise our churches to continue to love one another from afar until the Board can re-evaluate the situation at the end of May.

For your consideration, the following are documents the Board has found helpful in offering this guidance:

Wisconsin Council of Churches Statement (https://www.wichurches.org/2020/04/23/returning-to-church/)

Ohio Citizens for Community Values (https://www.ccv.org/2020/04/27/citizens-for-community-values-releases-phased-approach-guidelines-for-churches-resuming-public-worship-services/)

As one board member shared in our recent meeting, “if we are going to err, let’s err on the side of being too caring.” We are with you, sisters and brothers.

In the love and care of Christ,

Jennifer K Scarr, Board Chair
Todd Reish, Board Vice Chair
On behalf of your District Board





UPCOMING EVENTS

8) Denominational children’s worship time, worship gathering, and concert scheduled as virtual events
 
The Program and Arrangements Committee of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference has announced plans for a series of denominational virtual events on July 1 and 2. Although the 2020 Annual Conference that would have taken place in Grand Rapids, Mich., has been cancelled, the committee decided it is important for the denomination to gather, albeit in a different way, in recognition of the church’s ongoing life together.
 
A virtual Denominational Children’s Worship Time and Worship Gathering on the evening of Wednesday, July 1, will unfold as follows (all times are given in Eastern time):
 
-- At 7:30 p.m. a children’s worship time will include a variety of creative elements as part of this dynamic service.
 
-- At 8 p.m. the worship service will feature prayers, scripture, meditations, and music from across the denomination. During the worship gathering, a denominational virtual choir will perform two selections.
 
A virtual Denominational Concert will take place the next evening, Thursday, July 2, beginning at 8 p.m. (Eastern time). A wide range of musical gifts will be represented, providing many expressions of song celebrating the rich diversity and depth of the Church of the Brethren. The concert also will feature a third selection by the denominational virtual choir.
 
Commenting on the virtual events, Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey noted, “Though we can never replace Annual Conference, we feel these virtual events will gather the church together, nevertheless, in a creative way. Just as the recent online love feast events united the church during this challenging season, we anticipate these additional virtual offerings will resource us as we continue to find our way, through Christ, amid the disruption of COVID-19.”
 
Additional information will be made available soon.





9) Webinar will offer tips for churches doing social media

Jan Fischer Bachman

Jan Fischer Bachman

“There Is No ‘Should’ in Social Media” is the title of a webinar sponsored by the Discipleship Ministries with leadership from Jan Fischer Bachman, website producer for the Church of the Brethren. The webinar is scheduled twice, on June 11 at 2 p.m. (Eastern time) and on June 16 at 8 p.m. (Eastern time).

“With congregations unable to meet in person, you may feel pressured by the technology and skills that you feel you ought to have,” said an announcement. “This webinar will ask you to consider your ‘why,’ focusing on skills and assets you already have and the needs of your group. We will look at some of the most popular social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, with practical tips on setting up, scheduling, and using them.”

Jan Fischer Bachman is web producer for the Church of the Brethren. She has broadcast on Facebook Live for the denomination as well as her home congregation, Oakton Church of the Brethren in Vienna, Va. “And, yes,” the announcement added, “she has managed to take inadvertent selfies and shots featuring her fingers while live.”

This is a one-hour free webinar. Ministers may receive 0.1 continuing education credit. Register in advance for this webinar. Register for the June 11 event at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Rs0GekSBRNaQBjUuzAgOWQ . Register for the June 16 event at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_HfmP5L10T0iNIU11BYcGMw .





INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES

10) Brethren in Brazil facing major COVID-19 outbreak

The Global Mission office has received emails from Marcos Inhauser of Igreja da Irmandade (Church of the Brethren in Brazil) with updates about the situation in one of the globe’s “hot spots” for COVID-19. The city of São Paulo has become one of the largest localized outbreaks, according to media reports this week.

“We are 60 miles West of São Paulo,” Inhauser reported. “Campinas (where we are) is the second largest city of the state. Many people from Campinas travel every day to work at São Paulo. Many restrictions are limiting this commuting, people in the streets, and so on.

“I do feel that it is almost impossible to see this situation lessen before the ending of August. The epicenter is in the big cities (capitals of states), but, this week, it is moving to small towns. Many of them do not have ICUs, even some respiratory equipment.

“Many mathematicians that trained in the epidemic dissemination are saying that we can reach 500,000 deaths. It is hard to believe, but they show the statistics.

“This is why Psalms has been my favorite book of the Bible. Also Jeremiah 3, the
most painful chapter in the Bible.”

Inhauser shared the following reasons for giving thanks as well as prayer concerns from the Brethren in Brazil:

“I want to say thanks
1) Because, until now, no one of the church lost his/her job.
2) Because, until now, no one has been contaminated by COVID-19.
3) Because church members are supplying needs for those they know.
4) Even though we are not able to meet, we are using the Internet to have our time of sharing joys, concerns, and receiving a word of hope.
5) Because we did research with church attendees to find ways to go ahead after this time of pandemic and to grow as a church.

“We want to ask prayers for
1) Our future as a church.
2) For the health of the spiritual life of the people who are directly and indirectly involved with Igreja da Irmandade.
3) For the strengthening of our relationship with the church that rented the facilities at Rio Verde.
4) For the ministry of Suely doing Family Therapy, especially with couples stressed by this time of social isolation.
5) For Alexandre with his ministry with family violence, that increased during this time of social isolation.
6) For the people grieving the loss of relatives, especially those who, because of the regulation, couldn’t provide a ‘decent funeral.’
7) For the unemployed or sub-employed, who reach, in Brazil, more than 45 million.”

Inhauser shared the following text adapted from Psalm 5, as he wrote: “This is my prayer during this time when so many people are sick, and thousands have died. It is my prayer living in a country with a liar and crazy president that does not have any consideration for this awful time. Now we have no health secretary. An Army general who does not have any idea about medicine is in charge of dealing with the pandemic. Besides that, against all medical and scientific orientation, the president decided to give hydroxychloroquine to people affected by COVID-19 in the very beginning of the disease”:

Listen to my words, LORD;
consider our sighing.
Pay attention to the sound of our cry,
my King and my God,
for we pray to You.
At daybreak, LORD, You hear our voice;
at daybreak we plead our case to You and watch expectantly.
For You are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil cannot dwell with You.
The boastful cannot stand in Your presence;
You hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who tell lies;
the LORD abhors a man of bloodshed and treachery.
But we enter Your house
by the abundance of Your faithful love;
We bow down toward Your holy temple
in reverential awe of You. (Psalm 5)

11) Brethren bits

National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) planners have released the logo that will be used at the 2021 conference on the theme, “Overflowing with Hope” (Romans 15:13).

National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) planners have released the logo that will be used at the 2021 conference on the theme, “Overflowing with Hope” (Romans 15:13).

-- Brethren Disaster Ministries has shared an update on the Michigan flooding. Dan Rossman, director of Pastoral and Congregational Support for the Michigan District executive team, informed staff yesterday that none of the Brethren church buildings (Midland Church of the Brethren, the Church in Drive, and Zion Church of the Brethren) were affected by the flooding in the area. However, one family from the Midland church had to evacuate. There will be much need for assistance when the flood waters recede, with many homes in the community with basements or whole homes flooded. Beaverton Church of the Brethren has been in contact with local entities to see if they can be a support to shelters in the area as well.

-- Pauline Liu began work May 18 as the orientation assistant for Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS). She will work initially from her home in Arizona. She was in BVS orientation unit 319 and served from 2018-2019 at a L’Arche community in Kilkenny, Ireland. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado with a degree in psychology and is currently a student at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff working toward a master’s degree in Educational Psychology for Counseling-Student Affairs. She will be working with BVS for three months to help with the summer orientation.

-- “The Cross and the Lynching Tree: A Requiem for Ahmaud Arbery” is  a sermon by Otis Moss III, now posted online and recommended by the Intercultural Ministry. A description of this “sermonic movie” notes that Moss “delivers a sermon for a time such as this.... ‘A young man just shy of his 26th birthday stepped out into the sun and ran for the final time upon this earth.’” Moss pastors Trinity United Church of Christ on the south side of Chicago, Ill. View the sermon online at www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6985UG0Z3k&feature=youtu.be .

-- Southern Ohio and Kentucky District has shared an urgent need for sewing PPE gowns for the Brethren Retirement Community (BRC) in Greenville, Ohio, where there is an immediate need. The district is recruiting sewers to help meet this safety measure for staff and residents. The Brethren Retirement Community has purchased fabric and a member of the district, Barb Brower, is making kits for sewers to use. Each kit contains instructions, cut-out fabric, and binding for five gowns. For more information contact barbbrower51@yahoo.com .

-- Pacific Southwest District has announced that its district conference this year is going online. The event will be held virtually on Nov. 13-15. “Continue to plan to be present that weekend, you just won’t need to travel,” said the announcement. “This decision by the Program Committee and affirmed by the District Policy Board is necessary due to the uncertainty that the fall holds regarding what will be happening with COVID-19. We feel that however hopeful things may be, it is unlikely that gatherings the size of District Conference will be advisable. And so many of our attendees are in a key at-risk population based upon their age. So rather than planning to be in person and then scrambling at the last minute to go online, we are making that move now so that we can create the best possible opportunity for the members of the district to come together under our theme ‘Bless’d be the tie that binds.’ We believe this opportunity might even draw the largest attendance of any past district conference.”

-- “Cooking Up a Healthy Community” is a webinar sponsored by Brethren Community Ministries and bcmPEACE, scheduled for June 5 at 6-8 p.m. (Eastern time). Alyssa Parker, operations manager for the community organization that is related to Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren, reports this is the second in a series of webinars to help people focus on nutrition and other aspects of maintaining community health during the COVID-19 pandemic. “And this is a fundraiser for bcmPEACE,” she added. The link to register is www.eventbrite.com/e/cooking-up-a-healthy-community-ii-tickets-105279738532

-- Commencement at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., would have been last Saturday, May 16--now postponed to October. During the week before commencement would have taken place, the university posted a number of things on social media to help build up spirits. One of the posts featured members of the A Cappella Choir coming together virtually to offer an arrangement by professor Debra Lynn of “We Shall Overcome.” The song is a signature concert-ender for the choir, notes Anne Gregory, assistant director for Media Relations. Enjoy the choir piece at www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPtdLKfaS6M .

-- Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is sharing a campaign called “Hear us Now: Stop the Bombing!” This letter-writing campaign is being carried out by members of communities all over Iraqi Kurdistan, who “have joined voices” to call for an immediate end to “these cross border assaults that are deeply impacting the lives of so many living in the region,” said an action alert from CPT. “For over 30 years, the government of Turkey, and more recently, the Iranian government have engaged in cross-border bombing campaigns against multiple armed groups operating from within Iraqi Kurdistan,” said the alert. “These bombardments have taken the lives of many families within Iraqi Kurdistan. Though the Turkish and Iranian governments deny that these assaults are targeting civilians, since 2018, Turkish and Iranian targeted bombings have escalated, and civilian casualties continue to rise. In 2019 the Turkish military conducted over 350 bombings along the border region of Iraqi Kurdistan including targeting vehicles on roads between villages.” Find out more and find the text of the open letter to the Kurdistan Regional Government at https://cptaction.org/hear-us-now-stop-the-bombing .
 
-- Dennis Beckner has been voted “#1 Pastor” in the Reader’s Choice award from “The Post and Mail” newspaper. He serves as pastor of Columbia City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren.

Priscilla Arceo giving her speech during

Priscilla Arceo giving her speech during "Graduate Together"

-- Priscilla Arceo, who delivered a commencement message on all major TV networks as part of the "Graduate Together" nationwide celebration of the high school class of 2020, attends Principe de Paz Church of the Brethren in Santa Ana, Calif. She also is this year’s Valedictorian for Santa Ana High School. This link is to a video of her speech during “Graduate Together” was shared by Downtown Santa Ana. Go to www.facebook.com/downtowninc/videos/660874887808554 .


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Contributors to this Newsline include Jenn Dorsch-Messler, Jan Fischer Bachman, Anne Gregory, Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Marcos Inhauser, Paul Mundey, Carrie Miller, Zakariya Musa, LaDonna Sanders Nkosi, Janet Ober Lambert, Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, Maria Santelli, 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 . Newsline is the Church of the Brethren e-mail news service. All submissions are subject to editing. Inclusion in Newsline does not necessarily convey endorsement by the Church of the Brethren.

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