Brethren Bits

— Correction: Following is an update to a previous Newsline announcement about the Annual Meeting and Dinner of CrossRoads Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va.: The CrossRoads Annual Meeting and Dinner will take place Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m. at Shady Oaks at Weavers Mennonite Church. All are invited to join in a meal prepared by the Rhodes sisters and provided by a generous donor. Highlights will include “A Walk Down Memory Lane” slideshow compiled by Allen Brubaker and “Voices from the Courthouse Prison,” a re-enactment of the imprisonment of Mennonite and Brethren leaders in the early spring of 1862.

— Remembrance: Ruth Ellen Early, 94, the Church of the Brethren’s first Washington representative and a former director of Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services, died Dec. 17, 2011, in Richmond, Mo. She was born Nov. 1, 1917, in Hardin, Mo., to Jesse and Maggie (Mason) Early. She first became an employee of the Church of the Brethren as regional representative for the western area, centered in McPherson, Kan. She then moved to the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., to direct the refugee settlement program for several years. She was involved in peace work that saw the beginning of what is today On Earth Peace. Moving to Washington, D.C., she returned to school at the American University where she also worked in the field of international relations, then took a position with the Friends Committee on National Legislation, became the first woman to serve as associate director of the National Service Board for Religious Objectors, and followed that appointment with her service as first Washington representative for the denomination. She opened the Washington office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 1, 1962, in response to an action of Annual Conference asking for the establishment of a church office in the nation’s capital. For a short time, she also was associate director of the Disarmament Campaign in Nyack, N.Y., and her career included service on committees of Church World Service, namely the Operations Committee of Immigration Service. She earned a master’s degree in psychology and counseling from American University and spent the last of her working years as an academic counselor there. In 1985, she retired and moved to the Palms in Sebring, Fla., for the next 15 years, then returned to her home state of Missouri where she lived in the Kansas City area. A memorial service Dec. 31 was led by Western Plains District executive minister Sonja Griffith. The family suggests memorial contributions to On Earth Peace and the Church of the Brethren.

— Randi Rowan started Jan. 2 as program assistant for Congregational Life Ministries, at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Her responsibilities include general support for the staff and breadth of programming related to Congregational Life Ministries. Previously she was office coordinator for the director of Health Professions at Wheaton (Ill.) College, and has worked with the Evangelical Alliance Mission’s US office in Wheaton. She also has been active at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill. She majored in graphic design at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She and her family live in Carol Stream, Ill.

— In district staff changes, Ed Kerschensteiner has begun as interim district executive for the Church of the Brethren’s Idaho District. Jennifer Jensen has resigned as district youth coordinator in Western Plains District, effective Jan. 1. She had served in the position for seven years.

— On Earth Peace, an agency of the Church of the Brethren, is seeking a full-time executive director. The executive director has the overall strategic and operational responsibility for On Earth Peace’s staff, programs, expansion, and execution of its mission. S/he will have a deep knowledge of the organization’s core programs, operations, and business plans. Interested applicants may check the On Earth Peace website for details of the mission and program: . The responsibilities and duties will include longterm strategic planning, rigorous program evaluation, and consistent quality of finance, administration, fundraising, and resource development, marketing, and communications. The executive director will engage and energize On Earth Peace staff, board members, volunteers, donors, and partnering organizations, and represent OEP to the larger church and ecumenical gatherings. S/he will develop and implement fundraising and revenue generating plans and goals, and establish and maintain relationships with top donors and volunteers. Qualifications and experience: A bachelor’s degree required; advanced degree preferred; at least 10 years of experience in nonprofit senior management, including in the areas of human resources, marketing, public relations, and fundraising/resource development; solid business and financial experience, including the ability to set and achieve strategic objectives and manage a budget; strong marketing, public relations, and fundraising experience with the ability to engage a wide range of constituents; and knowledge of the Church of the Brethren denomination desired. Skills will include excellent oral and written communication skills and computer literacy. The deadline for applications is Feb. 29. Send a cover letter and resume to Ralph McFadden, Search Consultant, . Or contact McFadden at his home/office telephone 847-622-1677.

— Prayer is requested for Nigeria, where terrorist-type violence has prompted the government to declare a state of emergency in parts of four northern states. In recent weeks, attacks perpetrated in the name of the Islamist group Boko Haram have shifted from targeting government facilities to targeting people of the southern Igbo tribe who are living in the north, as well as Christian churches. Christians in the southeast have begun threatening and attacking Muslims from the north living in their areas. Many Igbo are fleeing the north and Muslims have been leaving the southeast. Unlike previous episodes of interfaith mob violence that have plagued northern cities like Maiduguri and Jos, church leaders report the new violence echoes Nigeria’s civil war of the late 1960s and is rooted more in economics, ethnic and political struggles, and control of oil. The majority of Christians and Muslims in Nigeria condemn Boko Haram’s activities, and the church leaders request that the violence not be treated as a conflict between Christians and Muslims. Prayer is requested for the Nigerian Brethren, their congregations, pastors, and denominational leaders, and for Church of the Brethren mission worker Carol Smith.

— This week’s Action Alert from the church’s advocacy and peace witness office calls attention to Jan. 11 as the 10th anniversary of prisoners being detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The alert invites Brethren to join the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) in urging President Obama to live up to a promise he made three years ago to close the prison camp. The alert follows up on the 2010 Annual Conference “Resolution Against Torture” and includes a responsive prayer for the closing of Guantanamo. Find the Action Alert at .

— Jan. 11 also is Human Trafficking Awareness Day, declared by an act of the US Congress. Faith-based organizations are calling on Americans to become more aware of the millions who are victimized by trafficking, and more involved in finding ways to stop it. A release from the National Council of Churches said “the US Government recently reported that 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year; 80 percent of them are female and almost half are minors. These figures do not include the millions who are trafficked into labor and sexual slavery within national borders.” Find the 2008 Annual Conference resolution on modern-day slavery and more resources at .

— Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) is announcing the start of its 2012 Winter Orientation, to be held Jan. 19-Feb. 17 at Camp Ithiel in Gotha, Fla. This will be the 296th BVS unit and will include 15 volunteers from across the US and Germany. Several Church of the Brethren members will attend, and remaining volunteers come from varied faith backgrounds adding a healthy diversity to the orientation experience. A highlight will be a weekend immersion in Miami. In both the Miami and Orlando areas, the group will have the opportunity to work at area food banks, Habitat for Humanity, and various nonprofits. The group also will experience a “Toxic Tour” showing the devastation of agricultural chemicals on the land and water of Lake Apopka and its farmworkers. A BVS potluck is open to all those who are interested on Feb. 7 at 6 p.m. at Camp Ithiel. “Welcome the new BVS volunteers and share your own experiences,” said an invitation from orientation coordinator Callie Surber. “As always your thoughts and prayers are welcome and needed. Please remember this new unit and the people they will touch during their year of service through BVS.” For more information contact the BVS office at 800-323-8039 ext. 425.

— The Outdoor Ministry Association is accepting environmental grant proposals from camps, outdoor ministry centers, and congregations. OMA also seeks nominations for Outdoor Ministry Volunteer and Staff Person of the Year, to be honored at aluncheon at the 2012 Annual Conference. Forms and information are at . All forms are due by Feb. 20.

— In November, McPherson (Kan.) College announced “Jump Start Kansas,” offering a $5,000 grant to the Kansas high school student who comes up with the best new commercial venture with another $5,000 for the team of students who present the best entrepreneurial idea–one in the area of commercial entrepreneurship and one for social entrepreneurship. Grants come with no stipulation that the students attend McPherson College. In addition, the college is offering scholarships for the winners and 10 finalists. A recent release notes that the deadline for Kansas high school students to take advantage of this opportunity is Jan. 25. Enter ideas at An independent panel will select finalists to attend a pitch competition on Feb. 15 for the top prize of a $5,000 grant to develop the idea, as well as a $20,000, four-year scholarship to McPherson. The other eight finalists also will receive a $4,000 scholarship to the college.

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