Moderator Calls for a ‘Season of Prayer and Fasting’

Church of the Brethren Newsline
May 19, 2009

Annual Conference moderator David Shumate along with the leaders of the Annual Conference agencies and the Council of District Executives is urging every congregation and every member of the Church of the Brethren to set aside May 24-31 as a “Season of Prayer and Fasting” on behalf of the denomination in particular and the wider church and society in general.

Shumate in a letter sent out earlier this month, identified the past few months as “difficult for the world economy in general” and seriously affecting the church. “Staff reductions have taken place,” he wrote. “Giving has decreased significantly in some areas. Investments have been frozen or not as productive. Pastoral programs have been reduced. Pensions for retired pastors and church workers are facing a reduction in the assumption rate.”

In the face of these difficulties, he wrote in part, “the first reaction to difficulty and trouble is to devote ourselves to prayer and fasting.” Shumate quoted from Nehemiah 1:4, a prophet he identified as a model for the church in engaging in “two of the most effective spiritual disciplines in the Hebrew tradition, prayer and fasting. As he did so, a new vision from God began to become clear.”

The letter encouragec the placement of the following suggestions for prayer and fasting in worship bulletins on Sunday, May 24, and the placing of this information on church bulletin boards and websites. “Make a special effort to draw attention to them during your worship services, Bible studies, and prayer meetings,” Shumate requested.

Following are daily themes and scriptures suggested as resources for the Season of Prayer and Fasting from May 24-31:

May 24: Theme “Deeply Rooted,” Psalm 1(3). Prayer emphases: Acknowledge God’s goodness, power, and abundant love for all. Give thanks for God’s steadfast love for the Church of the Brethren over the past 300 years. Give thanks for the faithfulness of Brethren leaders, past and present.

May 25: “You will be my witnesses,” Acts 1:1-10(8). Prayer emphases: Give thanks for the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board as it leads our denomination in service and mission to a hurting world. Pray for the church as it reaches out to individuals and communities near and far with the healing love and power of the gospel. Give thanks for those servants of the church who have recently lost their employment. May they receive wisdom and guidance as they discern God’s will for their life and ministry. Pray for God’s wisdom and guidance for all who serve in positions of leadership within the Church of the Brethren.

May 26: “Together,” Acts 2:42-47(44-45). Prayer emphases: Give thanks for the ministry of Brethren Benefit Trust and the challenge it gives to us to care for the needs of the church and for the needs of one another. Pray that your congregation might be attuned to the needs of persons in your community who may be struggling during these difficult economic times. Ask God to help you to find ways to work to strengthen relationships within your congregation, your district and the wider church.

May 27: “Messengers of Reconciliation,” 2 Corinthians 5:18-19. Prayer emphases: Give thanks for the ministry of On Earth Peace and Christ’s vision peace and reconciliation that it holds before us. Pray for a greater awareness of our need for reconciliation within our families, our congregations, our communities and our world.

May 28: “Many Gifts, One Spirit,” 1 Corinthians 12:4-11(4-6). Prayer emphases: Give thanks for the ministry of Bethany Theological Seminary as it prepares pastors and leaders for the church. Give thanks for God’s gifts of knowledge. Ask God to give you wisdom as you cultivate this gift within yourself so that you will use it for “the glory of God and my neighbor’s good.”

May 29: “Many Parts, One Body,” 1 Corinthians 12:12-20(12-13). Prayer emphases: Praise God for the many men and women who serve Christ and the church faithfully in our districts and congregations. Pray for God’s wisdom and direction for our pastors and district leaders as they lead us during these challenging times. Pray for a greater awareness of our connectedness and dependence upon one another as members of the Body of Christ.

May 30: “The Old Has Gone; the New Has Come,” 2 Corinthians 5:16-21(17). Prayer emphases: Give thanks for the ministry of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference as it facilitates the work of the church. Ask for God’s guidance and inspiration for our Moderator and officers who lead the conference. Pray for the gathering of the community of faith on June 26-30 in San Diego. Ask God to show you what new thing He is creating in your life and in the life of the church today.

May 31–Pentecost Sunday: “Renewal of the Spirit,” Acts 2:1-21(18). Prayer emphases: Give thanks for your faith community and its impact upon your life and spiritual growth as a disciple of Christ. Pray for the outpouring of the Spirit on all God’s people as they worship today. Pray for the leading of the Spirit as the Church of the Brethren and its congregations look to the future.

Suggestions for fasting include fasting in any manner a person may choose, consistent with good health practices. Particular methods include fasting from one meal per day, fasting from desserts, simply keeping meals very light for the entire week, or fasting for one day during the week from sunset to sunset.

The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by 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. Contact to receive Newsline by e-mail or to submit news to the editor at For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.

Brethren in the News

“‘Here Is the Church, Here Is the Steeple’: Mill Creek Church of the Brethren Gets New Tower,” Daily News Record, Harrisonburg, Va. (May 19, 2009). A famous nursery rhyme came to life Monday morning as crane operators placed a 39-foot-tall steeple on top of Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Port Republic, Va. “There was the church”–a building under a $2 million renovation, and “there was the steeple”–a $12,000 fiberglass structure. Church members said they plan to finish the renovation and dedicate the building this fall.

“Donnels Creek church marks ‘200 years of living water,’” Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun (May 17, 2009). “Frontier conditions made the early settlers of Clark County into practical people,” begins an article about the history of Donnels Creek Church of the Brethren in Springfield, Ohio. “And in 1835, it was nothing if not practical for the members of the Donnels Creek German Baptist Brethren Church to use Jacob Frantz’s new bank barn as a place of worship.”

“Annual Auction Raising Money for Disaster Relief,” WHSV Channel 3, ABC, Harrisonburg, Va. (May 15, 2009). Money is currently being raised in the Valley to help communities around the nation and the world recover from disasters. The Shenandoah District of the Church of the Brethren is holding its 17th Auction and Sale for Disaster Relief at the Rockingham County Fair Grounds. Last year, the auction raised more than $200,000, and organizers are hoping for a better outcome this year.

“Ecumenical project rebuilds homes,” Disaster News Network (May 14, 2009). Church of the Brethren writer and Messenger magazine editor Walt Wiltschek provides this story on the ecumenical Blitz Build in New Orleans, a Hurricane Katrina rebuilding project sponsored by Church World Service and including the Church of the Brethren and Brethren Disaster Response among several denominations providing volunteers to rebuild homes.

Obituary: Mary Kidd, Salem (Ohio) News (May 13, 2009). Mary Kidd, 76, passed on May 11 at Salem (Ohio) Community Hospital. She was a homemaker and attended Zion Hill Church of the Brethren in Columbiana, Ohio, where she was a member of the Dorcas Circle and recorded and taped music for the church.

Obituary: Bertha Lester, Palladium-Item, Richmond, Ind. (May 13, 2009). Bertha (Johnson) Lester, 88, passed away on May 11. She was a longtime member of Cedar Grove Church of the Brethren in New Paris, Ohio, where she also taught adult Sunday school class. She was a homemaker, teacher’s aide for Nettle Creek School Corp. in Hagerstown, Ind., and a Township Assessor for Jefferson Township in Wayne County. She is preceded in death by her husband, Herbert Lester, whom she married in 1948.

Obituary: Charlene H. Long, News Leader, Staunton, Va. (May 13, 2009). Charlene Howdyshell Long, 79, passed away on May 13 at her home. She was a member of Briery Branch Church of the Brethren in Dayton, Va. She worked for Jordan Brothers Hatchery and in the cafeteria for Augusta County schools, and farmed with her husband, Lenford Quinton Long, whom she married in 1945.

“Hope for homeless in New Orleans,” Disaster News Network (May 12, 2009). Church of the Brethren writer and Messenger magazine editor Walt Wiltschek provides this story on a center for the homeless in New Orleans.

“Couple Heralds Brethren Center’s World ‘Embrace,’ “ Daily News Record, Harrisonburg, Va. (May 11, 2009). R. Jan and Roma Jo Thompson have written a book about what they call one of America’s best-kept secrets: the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The couple co-wrote the book, “Beyond Our Means: How the Brethren Service Center Dared to Embrace the World,” which is published by Brethren Press. The 286-page soft-cover text chronicles the birth and growth of the Brethren Service Center where, for 65 years, the Church of the Brethren and other denominations have collected and shipped donated goods to the world’s needy.

“Fundraising For Global Disaster Relief: Brethren Auction Returns For 17th Year,” Daily News Record, Harrisonburg, Va. (May 9, 2009). The 102 churches that compose the Shenandoah District of the Church of the Brethren are getting the opportunity to make a big difference next weekend. The district’s most productive fundraiser returns May 15-16, with the 17th annual Disaster Ministries Auction at Rockingham County Fairgrounds. The auction features an array of locally donated items that include handmade crafts, baked goods, and livestock.

“A glimpse of Enid’s history,” Enid (Okla.) News and Eagle (May 9, 2009). Waverley Historic District will celebrate Enid Historic Preservation Month May 17 by showcasing some historic structures during its annual parlor tour, including Family Faith Fellowship Church of the Brethren. The church in the Neoclassical-style was built circa 1947. Its historic owner was First Church of Christ, and it was purchased by Family Faith Fellowship Church of the Brethren in 1995.

“A ‘grand’ donation feeds hungry,” Sentinel-Tribune, Bowling Green, Ohio (May 8, 2009). Through a joint effort, the Toledo Northwest Ohio Food Bank recently received a total of $1,000 from members of Lakewood Church of the Brethren in Millbury, Ohio. The church donated the first $500; while the donation was matched by the Church of the Brethren’s Hunger Matching Grant program.

“Homeless girl comes to grips with a hard life,” Associated Press (May 8, 2009). A homeless center at Peace Church of the Brethren in Portland, Ore., has helped house a young girl and her family, in a story told by Mary Hudetz of the Associated Press. “At first, 9-year-old Brehanna didn’t seem to understand. Her family was being evicted from their home…. Her father, Joe Ledesma, a homebuilder for 20 years, was without a job and couldn’t find another. He couldn’t pay the $800 rent on the three-bedroom house where he, his wife Heidi and daughter lived.”

Obituary: Earline S. Chapman, News Leader, Staunton, Va. (May 8, 2009). Earline Spitzer Chapman, 84, died on May 7 at Augusta Medical Center. She was a member of Middle River Church of the Brethren in Fort Defiance, Va., where she was organist and pianist for 60 years, and an associate member of Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren. She had studied organ at Bridgewater College. She was a secretary for the Virginia Employment Commission prior to her retirement in 1994. She also managed Augusta Expoland for five years, taught “The Art of Flower Arranging” at Blue Ridge Community College for 10 years, and taught piano lessons. She held a National Accredited Master Flower Show Judge certificate and a Master Landscape Design Consultant certificate. She is survived by her husband Kemper “Kelly” Chapman.

“Pinecrest Community selected as Business of the Year,” Ogle County Newspapers (May 7, 2009). Support and dedication to the health and well-being of residents helped make the Pinecrest Community the 2009 Business of the Year. Carol Davis, Pinecrest’s CEO, learned that her facility was selected as the Business of the Year during the annual Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce dinner on April 30. The Loaves and Fish Food Pantry is also supported by the Pinecrest Community.

“Retirement Party Held,” Gridley (Calif.) Herald (May 6, 2009). A retirement party was held at Live Oak (Calif.) Church of the Brethren for outgoing pastor Barbara Ober. The church celebrated over 11 years of service provided by the pastor, which included work with Casa de Esperanza and the Leo Chesney Center.

Obituary: Jean A. Gray, Chillicothe Gazette (May 6, 2009). Jean A. Gray, 75, passed away on May 4. She was a member of Charleston Church of the Brethren in Chillicothe, Ohio, for more than 60 years. She worked with Head Start and at Pioneer School, and ran a catering business for a number of years. Her volunteer service included running a branch of the public library from her home, work on the charter committee of Harrison Township volunteer fire department, being the first woman to serve on the Ross County Agricultural Society Board, and service on the board of the Good Samaritan Food Network of Ross County. She is survived by her husband, William W. Gray.

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