Brethren Bits for Sept. 20, 2012

— Correction. Newsline reader Sam Funkhouser has noted a correction to the feature on hymns in the last Newsline: the oldest in the list is not “Amazing Grace” but “Praise God from Whom.”

— Remembrance: William G. “Bill” Willoughby, 94, died on Aug. 28. He was a Brethren historian and ordained minister, and author of a number of articles and books including “Counting the Cost: The Life of Alexander Mack” and “The Beliefs of the Early Brethren 1706-1735.” He also translated the book “Hochmann von Hochenau” by Heinz Renkevitz from German into English. The Brethren Press website notes that “Willoughby’s translation is the only work on Hochmann in English,” adding that some regard Hochmann, an important Pietist leader, as a co-founder of the Brethren movement. Willoughby taught at Bridgewater (Va.) College and the University of La Verne, Calif., and was an early supervisor for Brethren Colleges Abroad. He was predeceased by his wife, Lena. Survivors include daughters Nancy (Frank) Garcia and Susan Rocheleau, and son Tom Willoughby; son James Willoughby died in 2001. Also surviving are brothers Robert Willoughby of Frederick, Md.; James Willoughby of Roseville, Calif.; David Willoughby of Elizabethtown, Pa.; and Don Willoughby of North Manchester, Ind.; sister Evelyn Bortner died in 2006. More information about a memorial service is to come.

Photo by Jeanne Davies
Kayla and Ilexene Alphonse

— Kayla Alphonse has served her last summer as program director at Camp Ithiel in Gotha, Fla., before leaving for a term of service in Haiti working for the Church of the Brethren on a contract basis. She will join her husband, Ilexene Alphonse, who is serving at the headquarters of L’Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti). She will be working with a special focus on theological education.

— The Church of North India (CNI) consecrated three bishops at a ceremony in late August, including a new bishop for the diocese of Gujarat where former Church of the Brethren members are part of the denomination. Silvance S. Christian was consecrated bishop for Gujarat. A thanksgiving and farewell service for the retiring Bishop Malaviya was held in late June, according to a CNI release. CNI is one of the largest Protestant churches spread across northern India, with a membership of nearly 1.5 million.

— The Conference Office has announced the opening of nominations for offices to be filled by election at the 2013 Annual Conference. Nominations may be made either by filling out a paper form or online through a nomination tool on the Annual Conference website. Nominations are due by Dec. 1.  Go to . The positions that are open are moderator-elect, Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee, Mission and Ministry Board, On Earth Peace Board, Brethren Benefit Trust Board, Bethany Theological Seminary Trustees–clergy and laity, and Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee.

— “One People…One King” is the theme for a special worship emphasis for the Church of the Brethren, being planned for Sunday, Nov. 25. This year there is a Sunday between Thanksgiving and the start of Advent called “Christ the King” or “Reign of Christ” Sunday in the church calendar, inviting Christians to be reminded–before a season of waiting–of whom we await. In a year of contention and partisan rhetoric surrounding the upcoming national election, Christians also threaten to become a people divided. For the potentially divisive time after the election, a group of denominational staff are planning a worship emphasis based instead on the New Testament understanding that followers of Christ are a people with one ruler, from Philippians 3:20, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Special worship resources for Nov. 25 will be available online at by early October. The resources will help invite Brethren, as we enter into preparations for Christmas, to spend this one Sunday recalling that “our citizenship is in heaven.”

— October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Family Life ministry is encouraging individuals, pastors, and congregations to learn more about domestic violence, how to recognize signs of domestic violence, ways it may be prevented, and how to respond if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship. Links to information and resources from the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the Domestic Violence Awareness Project, and FaithTrust Institute are at .

— An update on the REILLY concert at Mission Alive 2012 has been shared by planners of the conference. The concert is open to the public for the admission price of $5 at the door. The concert is on the evening of Saturday, Nov. 17, starting at 8:30 p.m. at Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. REILLY is a Philadelphia-based band known for a unique blend of rock and dueling violins, an energetic live show, and spiritual depth. For more about Mission Alive 2012 go to .

— Church of the Brethren staff last week participated in a conference call with peace church partners to share Selective Service updates. Participating were Dan McFadden of Brethren Volunteer Service and Nate Hosler of the Advocacy and Peace Witness Office. This was one of regular twice-a-year conference calls that have resulted from a conference on Selective Service held in March 2005. “It is an effort for us to stay in touch and connected in the event that sometime in the future we need to coordinate our work,” McFadden reported. In addition to the Church of the Brethren, the following groups usually participate: Mennonite Central Committee; Mennonite Disaster Service; Mennonite Mission Network (Mennonite Volunteer Service); the Bruderhof Communities; Christian Aid Ministries–an umbrella group that works with a number of Anabaptist groups including the Beachy Amish, Old Order Amish, New Order Amish, and the Old Order Mennonites; the Quakers represented through the Friends Committee on National Legislation; and the Center on Conscience and War. “The message out of the Selective Service office is that there are no initiatives for a new draft law,” McFadden said.

— Dates and a theme have been announced for the next Christian Citizenship Seminar for high school age youth and their adult advisors. The 2013 CCS will be held March 23-28 on the theme, “Childhood Poverty: Nutrition, Housing, and Education,” according to an announcement from the Advocacy and Peace Witness Office. CCS will be held in New York City and Washington, D.C. Registration costs $375, and opens online on Dec. 1 at 10 a.m. (central time). More information and registration details will be made available at .

— “Another response completed successfully,” wrote Judy Bezon-Braune, associate director of Children’s Disaster Services, in a note on the CDS Facebook page after the program closed out its response to Hurricane Isaac in Louisiana. “It was a great response,” Bezon-Braune wrote. “Hopefully there will not be another disaster this year, but if there is, we’re ready.”

— The Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund has made a grant of $10,000 to Nagarta, a Christian NGO in the African country of Niger. This grant will be used to dig 10 gardening wells to supply drinking water, water for off-season gardening, and water for livestock. Five previous grants made to Nagarta from 2009-2012 total $35,000.

— Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both responded to an invitation by the “Circle of Protection” initiative to go on the record about their intentions for dealing with poverty, according to a release from the National Council of Churches. View the presidential candidates’ video statements at . Brethren staff person Nate Hosler is one of the Christian leaders quoted in the NCC release about the Circle of Protection, which is made up of more than 65 heads of denominations, including Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger, alongside relief and development agencies and other Christian organizations. “The Church of the Brethren has firmly believed that as followers of Jesus we are called to serve one another in the way that Jesus demonstrated by washing his disciples’ feet,” Hosler said in the release. “We urge all leaders to support programs that care for persons in poverty. We recognize that as individuals and families are assisted they will not only lead healthier lives but will be able to assist others in need.”

— Disaster Tip Sheets for Religious Leaders are a new resource provided through the National Disaster Interfaith Network. The network is offering 26 downloadable tip sheets covering a wide array of topics from disaster sheltering to spiritual care to how to prepare for an active shooter situation in church. “Disaster preparedness isn’t something most churches think about until after a disaster happens in their community,” remarked Jane Yount, coordinator for Brethren Disaster Ministries. “These tip sheets can help get the discussion started.” The effort is part of National Preparedness Month this September with the theme, “Pledge to Prepare.” Find the tip sheets at .

— Smith Chapel Church of the Brethren in Blue Field, W.Va., celebrates its 125th anniversary  on Sunday, Sept. 23. Mike Gallimore, pastor of Boones Chapel (Snow Creek) Church of the Brethren will be the guest speaker for the 11 a.m. worship service, followed by a covered dish lunch and an afternoon of  fellowship and singing. For more information call 304-425-5639.

— Sept. 30 is the 125th anniversary celebration and dedication of a new fellowship hall at Prairie View Church of the Brethren near Friend, Kan.

Photo by courtesy of Northern Plains District
A painted stone outside the Friendship Lodge at Camp Pine Lake in Eldora, Iowa

— Northern Plains District on Sept. 2 celebrated the 50th anniversary of Friendship Lodge at Camp Pine Lake. The district posted several anniversary resources online, including photos at and a video of longtime district member Harold Mack sharing stories from camp history at .

— Northern Plains District also is mourning the loss of Kirby Leland, 59, who passed away unexpectedly on Aug. 21 at his home. He was serving as chair of the Camp Pine Lake Board, and had been active in the renovation of Friendship Lodge for its 50th anniversary re-dedication. He was a leading member of Ivester Church of the Brethren in Grundy Center, Iowa. Memorial gifts are received to Camp Pine Lake.

— Spirit of Joy Fellowship in Arvada, Colo., is requesting prayer for a time of change, in a note in the Western Plains District newsletter. The fellowship and Arvada Mennonite Church have voted to become one entity, which may mean a name change for both congregations as well as dual affiliation with the Church of the Brethren and the Mennonite Church USA. “Our new focus is on creating community,” the prayer request said. “Change does not come without loss. We have lost some longtime members. We need prayers for God’s guidance, for healing of brokenness and loss, for comforting our fears of the unknown and acceptance of change.”

— Dixon (Ill.) Church of the Brethren recently gave a substantial grant to a project in Honduras that is led by Bill Hare, who manages Camp Emmaus in Mount Morris, Ill. The deacon body at the church had recommended the gift, to come from memorial funds. “A great way to honor and remember our members who cared so much about helping God’s people and our denomination,” said a note from Marty Creager. “We would like to challenge other churches to do the same.”

— First Church of the Brethren in Springfield, Ill., has announced a new ministry called COMPASS in partnership with Harvard Park Elementary School and the Family Service Center. The ministry provides an after-school program for homeless and low-income students. “Each Thursday of the week some 30-plus students will walk from the school to our meetinghouse where they will follow a schedule that includes a snack time, help with homework, life skills lessons, and a family style dinner,” said the announcement.

— Middlebury (Ind.) Church of the Brethren is one of the congregations hosting a “Peace, Pies, and Prophets” Ted & Company benefit for Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) this fall. The show, “I’d Like to Buy an Enemy,” is interspersed with auctions of freshly baked pies, according to a CPT release. Middlebury hosts a show on Oct. 17. Other upcoming shows are Sept. 21 at 7-9 p.m. at Kaufman Mennonite Church in Davidsville, Pa.; Sept. 22, 7:30-9:30 p.m. at Central Christian School in Kidron, Ohio; and Sept. 23, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Sharon Mennonite Church in Plain City, Ohio. For more information contact .

— York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill., is hosting a performance of “The Cotton Patch Gospel” on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. Originally written by Clarence Jordan, founder of the Koinonia Community in Georgia, and transformed into a bluegrass musical by Harry Chapin, this one-man show is performed by actor/musician Phil Kaufman. Proceeds benefit Lombard Villa Park Food Pantry and Mcc Food Programs. Cost is $10 plus free-will offerings. Children 12 and under are free. Contact the church office at 630-627-7411.

— Cloverdale Church of the Brethren in Virlina District is hosting a “Renacer Festival Banquette” on Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. The benefit raises funds for the Renacer new church planting ministry. Cloverdale will provide entrees, bread, dessert, and drinks, and Renacer members will bring various ethnic dishes. Attendees are invited to bring a salad or side dish if they wish. Guest speaker is Maria Conley, social worker for the Chip of Roanoke Valley.

— The Brethren Disaster Relief Auction will be held on the theme, “To God Be the Glory” on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 21-22, at the Lebanon (Pa.) Valley Expo.

— The 2012 Northern Plains District Conference recognized a number of milestones in ministry. Sarah Mason and Barbara Wise-Lewczak were recognized for completing Training in Ministry (TRIM). Others  were recognized for significant years of ministry: Marilyn Coffman for 10 years, John Glasscock for 15 years, Earl Harris for 20 years, David Lewis for 40 years, Dale Shenefelt for 50 years, Carl Heien for 55 years, and Charles Lunkley for 70 years.

— West Marva District is offering two more events in its “Equipping the Saints” series: “Christian Caregiving” at Keyser (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren on Sept. 30, 2-5:30 p.m., led by Fred Swartz who recently completed 10 years of service as Annual Conference secretary. “Christian Educator’s Toolbox” at Oak Park Church of the Brethren in Oakland, Md., on Oct. 20, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., led by Amy Elmore Williams, elementary school librarian and former kindergarten teacher. Pastors receive continuing education credit.

— Virlina District’s board and Commission on Ministry are holding “Calling the Called” events to encourage participants to consider ministerial vocation and the call to Christian service. All three days will be held at Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren in Floyd County, Va., from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. On Sept. 29 “When God Calls–Listen!” is the theme with keynote speaker Dana Cassell, minister of youth formation at Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren. On Oct. 13 “When God Calls–Prepare!” is the theme with keynote speakers Julie and Michael Hostetter, executive of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership and pastor at Salem (Ohio) Church of the Brethren, respectively. On Oct. 27 “When God Calls-Respond!” is the theme with speaker Mary Jo Flory-Steury, associate general secretary of the Church of the Brethren. For more information contact Emily LaPrade at .

— Western Pennsylvania District office is hosting a “Fountain of Youth” event Sept. 23 from 3-6 p.m. Youth workers, pastors, and parents are invited to come and talk about “encouraging youth to worship an unchanging God in a rapidly changing world,” according to an announcement. The event is free, participants are invited to bring money for ordering supper from Fox’s. Register by Sept. 21 by contacting 814-479-2181 or

— A number of church districts are holding annual meetings the next two weekends: Missouri and Arkansas District Conference is Sept. 21-22 in Roach, Mo. West Marva District Conference is Sept. 21-22 at Moorefield (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren with the theme, “Soaring to New Heights in God” (Jeremiah 29:11). South Central Indiana District Conference is at Marion Church of the Brethren on Sept. 22, preceded by a special event the evening of Sept. 21 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of “Hymnal: A Worship Book” with leadership from Nancy Faus-Mullen and Jenny Williams. Idaho District Conference meets Sept. 28-29 at Mountain View Church of the Brethren in Boise, Idaho.

— The 16th annual COBYS Bike & Hike set records for income and participation, reports a release. Held Sept. 9 at Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, the event attracted 514 participants and raised more than $90,000 to support the ministries of COBYS Family Services. Overall attendance was the best in five years. Income and participation for 2011 were $89,605 and 428, respectively. The Bike & Hike consists of a three-mile walk, 10- and 25-mile bicycle rides, and the 65-mile Dutch Country Motorcycle Ride. Participants choose their event and either pay a registration fee, obtain support from sponsors, or both. Participating were 203 walkers, 169 motorcyclists, and 142 bicyclists. Seven Church of the Brethren youth groups participated, including four who earned a gym and pizza night by raising at least $1,500: Little Swatara, Midway, Chiques, and West Green Tree. COBYS Family Services educates, supports, and empowers children and adults to reach their full potential, carrying out this mission through adoption and foster care services; counseling for children, adults, and families; and family life education programs.

— Friends of Timbercrest, a supporting organization for the Church of the Brethren senior living community in North Manchester, Ind., celebrates 40 years with a Fall Fellowship Pie and Ice Cream Social and Benefit Auction the evening of Sept. 22, featuring Nordmann’s Nook Pies and the Singing Auctioneer. Tickets are $5.

— Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va., has reported meeting and exceeding an “ambitious goal” for 2012: to increase by 99 to 925 campers. “We registered 933 campers in 67 program choices, compared to 826 total in 2011. This is a 107-camper and 13 percent increase from 2011!” said a recent camp newsletter.

— Camp Bethel is host for a “Soul Care: Music of the Heart” day-long retreat on Sept. 22. The theme is “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Leaders are Bill Hinton, Becky Rhodes, and Patricia Ronk, with Terry Garman and Judy Mills Reimer leading worship. A fee of $15 covers lunch, snacks, and materials.  Pre-registration is required, contact the Virlina District Resource Center at 540-362-1816 or .

— The Heritage Fair that supports the ministries of Middle Pennsylvania District and Camp Blue Diamond is planned for Sept. 29 at the camp. The fair includes an auction, a Children’s Basket Activity, sales of donated items from businesses, and more. District youth are planning a 1st Annual Heritage Fair Four Square Tournament. Information is at .

— The Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., holds its annual Harvest Day on Sept. 29. The day features family fun, opportunities to feed barnyard animals, boil molasses, press cider, make butter, and enjoy homemade food. See .

— Kimberly McDowell, pastor of University Park Church of the Brethren in Hyattsville, Md., has been named church trustee on the Juniata College board. The college in Huntingdon, Pa., also has added four other trustees: Bruce Davis, who was executive director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for more than 20 years, and who started his career as an instructor at Juniata in 1968; Douglas Spotts, alumni trustee, a family physician and chief medical information officer at Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg, Pa.; John Nagl, a senior fellow of the Center for a New American Security and a research professor at the US Naval Academy; and John Hill II, president and chief operating officer of Magna Carta Companies.

— A course on “Brethren Heritage” will be offered at Manchester University this coming January, for the first time in several years reports campus minister Walt Wiltschek (find his full update at ). The course will include travel to significant sites in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions to do hands-on learning about Brethren heritage. “About 6 percent of Manchester’s student body is Brethren, the second largest group among the Brethren colleges and universities. Many participate in our ‘Simply Brethren’ group, and they are often among the top students and most actively involved leaders on campus,” Wiltschek writes.

— Brethren Voices is now on YouTube. Produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren, this monthly show designed for use on community access cable television and for small study groups can now be viewed at . The most recent Brethren Voices segment features an interview with Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden.

— Organizers of the Progressive Brethren Gathering hosted by La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren on Oct. 26-28 have announced the theme: “Holy Work: Becoming a Beloved Community.” This marks the fifth year for the gathering, said a release. A full schedule of events begins with a Friday evening dinner and celebratory worship with La Verne pastor Susan Boyer as preacher. On Saturday, professors Abigail Fuller and Katy Gray Brown from Manchester University will speak on the dynamics and characteristics of social justice movements including ways Brethren have responded to, and helped shape, the Civil Rights, anti-war, feminism, lgbt rights, and environmental movements. Also on the schedule: a screening of the award winning film “Two Spirits,” a music and worship experience exploring songs that inspired and strengthened justice movements throughout history led by Shawn Kirchner and artists from the La Verne congregation, a Sunday morning report from sponsoring groups, and Sunday morning worship with the La Verne congregation led by guest preacher Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles with the mission “to provide hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and recently incarcerated men and women.” The gathering is sponsored by Womaen’s Caucus, Open Table Cooperative, and the Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests. Registration is online at .

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