Brethren in the News

A plaque honors Martin Luther King Jr. at First Church of the Brethren in Chicago. The congregation hosted Dr. King in 1967 for some months when he fought for open housing in the city. Recently a one-woman show was held at the church about King’s work in Chicago, and received good media attention:

“The Don’t-Miss List,” Onstage/Backstage blog from WBEZ National Public Radio, Chicago, Ill. (Feb. 23, 2012) – To close out Black History Month, Writers’ Theatre brought its one-woman show, “The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Rights,” to First Church of the Brethren on the West Side of Chicago. King preached from the church’s pulpit during his stay in Chicago in the late 1960s, when he fought for open housing against violent opposition. This Saturday free matinee on Feb. 25 was only the second public performance of the show, which included poetry, hip-hop, and excerpts from interviews with Chicago leaders of the civil rights movement. Find the blog at

“Writers’ Theatre presents ‘The MLK project,’” Windy City Times, Chicago, Ill. (Feb. 22, 2012) – First Church of the Brethren in Chicago has hosted a performance of “The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Rights,” produced by Writers’ Theatre, written by Yolanda Androzzo, directed by Jimmy McDermott, and featuring Melanie Brezill. The Feb. 25 event closed the piece’s 6th annual tour. When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to Chicago in the mid 1960s to fight for free and equal housing, First Church of the Brethren offered him and his organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, office space. King preached at this church during his tenure in Chicago. The building now houses two additional congregations: The Chicago Community Mennonite Church and the Roca de Esperanza Mennonite Church. The Chicago Community Mennonite Church and First Church of the Brethren joined together to co-host the production. Read more at

Obituary: Mack Alexander Caudell Sr., Jefferson Post, West Jefferson, N.C. (March 1, 2012) – Mack Alexander Caudell Sr., 87, of Sparta, N.C., died Feb. 23 at his residence. He was preceded in death by his wife, Reba Sanders Caudell. Funeral services were conducted Sunday, Feb. 26, at New Haven Church of the Brethren in Sparta. The full obituary is at

Obituary: Virginia K. Shreckhise, News Leader, Staunton, Va. (Feb. 29, 2012) – Virginia King Shreckhise, 91, a resident of Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community, formerly of Weyers Cave, Va., passed away Feb. 27. She was a homemaker and a member of Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren. On April 12, 1940, she married Richard “Dick” C. Shreckhise, who preceded her in death in 2003. Read the full obituary at 

“Mac College hires campus minister.” McPherson (Kan.) Sentinel (Feb. 27, 2012) – McPherson College has chosen a new campus minister with deep roots in both the spiritual and the scientific –Steve Crain. The campus minister is responsible for the spiritual life of the McPherson College campus. The full story is at

“Trained volunteers ready to respond to help children cope in disaster areas,” Herald and Review, Decatur, Ill. (Feb. 25, 2012) – As a mother, grandmother and former after-school program director, Rosemary Brandenburg knows children. But until she completed the 8½-hour drive to southwestern Missouri from her home in Piatt County a little more than 48 hours after a deadly tornado steamrolled through the center of Joplin, she had never seen children like this. Read more about the work of Children’s Disaster Services at

“Church of the Brethren pastor believes in a relationship to God through Christ,” Public Opinion, Chambersburg, Pa. (Feb. 25, 2012) – Daniel House, who has been pastor of Chambersburg Church of the Brethren since August, believes the goal of Christian ministry is to help people discover and develop their relationship to God through Christ and to live out Christ’s call to love God and their neighbors as themselves. Find his interview at

Obituary: John Eugene Stouffer, Record Herald, Waynesboro, Pa. (Feb. 25, 2012) – John Eugene Stouffer, 76, of Waynesboro, died Thursday evening, Feb. 23, 2012, at Waynesboro Hospital. He was a member of Hades Church of the Brethren.From 1972-99, he worked for Grove Manufacturing, Shady Grove. Formerly, he farmed and worked with Greencastle Livestock Auction and Franklin Feed Store.  He was the husband of Lorraine Yeager Stouffer, his wife of 43 years. See

Obituary: Claude “Ed” Barrick Jr., News-Tribune, Keyser, W.Va. (Feb. 25, 2012) – Claude Edward “Ed” Barrick, Jr., 81, of Keyser, W.Va., died on Feb. 22 at the Heartland of Keyser Nursing Home. He was a member of Keyser Church of the Brethren and was a life deacon of the church. He was previously employed at the Celanese Amcelle Plant, Kelly Springfield Tire Company, Allegany Ballistics Laboratory, and Centofonti Trucking. Surviving is his wife of 54 years, Betty Jean (Likens) Barrick. Find the obituary at

“Commentary: Demand at food banks doesn’t have off season,” Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa. (Feb. 24, 2012) – It doesn’t matter what time of year it is for the area’s food banks; the demand for their services never takes a break. In fact, more and more residents of the Hershey/Hummelstown/Palmyra area need the food and support supplied by three local food banks. The Caring Cupboard began in 2001 as a ministry of Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. Today, it serves more than 430 families a month. The organization estimates one in seven people in the region don’t get enough to eat. Read the column at

“Organization rebuilds storm damaged homes for free,” WAFF-TV, Arab, Ala. (Feb. 23, 2012) – It’s been almost a year since the April 27 tornadoes that hit in the area of Arab, Ala., and some families are still trying to rebuild from the damage. One organization is helping one woman do just that. Brethren Disaster Ministries is rebuilding 79-year-old Hazel Ralph’s Arab home for free. For the story and a news video go to“Nine-church Modesto choir show to benefit Habitat for Humanity,” Modesto (Calif.) Bee (Feb. 23, 2012) – About 120 singers from nine churches in Modesto and Turlock, Calif., will combined their voices in a 20th annual ecumenical choral concert to benefit Habitat for Humanity. Stephen Reddy, minister of music at Modesto’s Church of the Brethren, directed the choirs. The event was held at First United Methodist Church in downtown Modesto. Read more here:

“Foreign Policy Discussion Series Kicks Off at Church of the Brethren,” Riverdale Park/University Park (Md.) Patch (Feb. 23, 2012) – University Park Church of the Brethren is hosting a discussion series sponsored by the Foreign Policy Association, titled “Great Decisions 2012.” The FPA is an independent, non-governmental, non-partisan organization that promotes foreign policy education. The group meets at the church on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. Subjects range from the effects of the Arab Spring to cybersecurity, climate change, and the US-Mexican border. A full list of topics can be found at

“La Verne Church of the Brethren offering training for Children’s Disaster Services volunteers,” San Gabriel Valley (Calif.) Tribune (Feb. 22, 2012) – Thousands of volunteers have been trained by Children’s Disaster Services to mobilize and assist in an emergency. The program was initiated in 1980 when, during a Laguna Beach (Calif.) landslide, the simple question, “Who is taking care of the children?” had no good answer. Then director for disaster services for Church of the Brethren, Jan Thompson took that opportunity to set up a training session for the first group of volunteers to care for children affected by natural disasters. Find the full story at

Obituary: Frances M. ConnerMartinsburg (W.Va.) Journal (Feb. 22, 2012) – Frances Marie (Bartles) Conner, 84, widow of Charles Raymond Conner, of Martinsburg, W.Va., died Feb. 20 at Fahrney-Keedy Memorial Home, Boonsboro, Md. She was a member of Moler Avenue Church of the Brethren. Funeral services were held Feb. 23 at Brown Funeral Home with the Rev. Eddie Edmonds officiating. Find the obituary at–Conner.html?nav=5007

“DVARP Speaks at Ambler Church of the Brethren on SEPTA,” Lower Gwynned-Ambler-Whitpain (Pa.) Patch (Feb. 21, 2012) – With gas prices going up, DVARP suggests now being the time to try the train or the bus. Ambler Church of the Brethren held a coffee house featuring Andy Sharpe, from the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers (DVARP), as the speaker for the night. Read the post at

“Where in the world is Washington Township in York County,” York Town Square blog from the editor of York (Pa.) Daily Record/Sunday News (Feb. 20, 2012) – This blogpost by James McClure includes pictures of the outdoor chapel on the grounds of Bermudian Church of the Brethren in western York County, Pa. It is described as “one of York County’s most beautiful scenes.” View photos and read the post at

Obituary: Robert G. Sanger, News Leader, Staunton, Va. (Feb. 18, 2012) – Robert Guild Sanger, 85, died Feb. 17. He was choir director at Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren for 38 years. He received his bachelor in music education from Bridgewater (Va.) College, master of music from Northwestern University, and also studied at Moorehead University, the University of Virginia, and James Madison University. He was a band director for 36 years in the public schools in Virginia, started the instrumental music program in two high schools in Page County, at Nelson County High School directed the instrumental program for 11 years, and in 1966 became band director at Lee High School in Staunton where he taught for 19 years until his retirement in 1985. After retirement he taught private instrumental music at Bridgewater College on a part-time basis. He played with “The Esquires” during the big band era, was a member of the Staunton Stonewall Brigade Band, was musical director for the Oak Grove Theater, sang with the Staunton Choral Society and was instrumental coordinator and associate director, and was a member of “The Retreads,” later known as “The Retros.” Survivors include his wife of 64 years, Marguerite Coffman Sanger. The obituary is at

Obituary: Michael S. Smith, Martinsburg (W.Va.) Journal (Feb. 17, 2012) – Michael Scott “Mike” Smith, 50, of Falls Church, Va., died on Feb. 13. He was a member of Moler Avenue Church of the Brethren in Martinsburg, W.Va. In his early years he was a chef with the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown and the Washington Hilton. Most recently he was Stratos Government Services Inc’s (SGSI), which is now INMARSAT, vice president of Government Services for Mobile and Fixed Satellite Voice, Fax and Data Products and Services including INMARSAT, IRIDIUM, MSV/ SkyTerra and Ku Band Services. He managed direct sales to the Department of Defense, federal, state, and local markets, as well as managed the DITCO Inmarsat contract program. Prior to joining Stratos in 1998, he held positions at Iridium North America, COMSAT Mobile Communications, Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile, and Bell Atlantic Paging. Funeral services were held on Feb. 18 at Moler Avenue Church of the Brethren. A Celebration of Life service will be held at a later date in the Washington, D.C., area. Read the complete obituary at–Smith.html?nav=5007

“Homeless get conditional welcome in Greencastle,” Echo Pilot, Greencastle, Pa. (Feb. 15, 2012) – Greencastle Church of the Brethren pastor Leon Yoder is one of the church leaders interviewed for this newspaper report on how the homeless and those in need fare in Greencastle, Pa. The Church of the Brethren will distribute local store gift cards in modest amounts, he told the paper. The most frequent visitors “are on the edge of homelessness, rather than homeless,” he observed. The complete report is at

Obituary: Walter L. Thompson, Palladium-Item, Richmond, Ind. (Feb. 11, 2012) – Walter L. Thompson, 74, of Boston died Feb. 9 at Reid Hospital after a long illness. He was a member of the United Church of the Brethren. He was past Chief of the Boston Fire Department, member of the Sheriffs Association, life member of the FOP 4-H Fairboard, officer of the year Wayne County, and reserve officer of the year. He was retired from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department where he served for 24 years. He is survived by his wife of 52 years Marlene Thompson. Go to

Obituary: Virginia M. Haworth, Advertiser-Tribune, Tiffin, Ohio (Feb. 11, 2012) – Virginia M. Haworth, 94, of Fostoria, Ohio, died Feb. 9 at Good Shepherd Home in Fostoria. She married Paul Haworth on June 18, 1939, and he preceded her in death in 2007. The funeral took place at the Church of the Brethren in Fostoria. Read the obituary at–Haworth.html?nav=5011

Obituary: Dorsey Clayton, Intelligencer/Wheeling News Register, (Feb. 11,2012) – Dorsey A. Clayton, 75, of New Martinsville, W.Va., died Feb. 10 at Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling, W.Va., after a lengthy illness. He was a member of Shiloh Church of the Brethren in Kasson, W.Va., and a graduate of Bridgewater (Va.) College. He was retired from Ormet Corp in Hannibal and while there served as union president for four years. He also was a former employee of Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and Acme Construction Co. Survivors include his wife of 56 years, Rosalea Shaffer Clayton. See

Obituary: Wanda Horst, Salem (Ohio) News (Feb. 10, 2012) – Wanda Horst, 88, of Columbiana, Ohio, passed away Feb. 9 at Whispering Pines Village. She was an active member of Zion Hill Church of the Brethren in Columbiana, where she was involved in the Dorcas Circle. She also resided in Florida during the winter months. She was employed by the Hunt Valve Co. in Salem for 40 years, as an insurance and payroll clerk, retiring in 1983. She belonged to the Columbiana and Mahoning County Extension. She was also a member of the Heather & Heather Herb Club of Columbiana and the Salem Bird Study Club. She and her husband were both master gardeners. She was preceded in death by her husband Howard, whom she married in 1973 and who died in 1994. See the obituary page at

“Majestic Sounds Quartet at Saving Grace Church,” North Fort Myers (Fla.) Neighbor (Feb. 8, 2012) – There were three days of performances and a special dinner when the Majestic Sounds Quartet visited Saving Grace Church of the Brethren in North Fort Myers, Fla. The events started Sunday, Feb. 12, and continued through Feb. 15. Formerly known as First Church of the Brethren of North Fort Myers, the church is on Pacific Avenue in North Fort Myers. Go to

Attorney: Porn should not be part of pastor’s case,” Waterloo Cedar Falls (Iowa) Courier (Feb. 7, 2012) – Defense attorney Kevin Engels says authorities lied to his client and obtained a search warrant without probable cause. During a hearing at the Bremer County Courthouse, Engels argued to suppress evidence that could be used against his client, Dennis Brown, 67, of Eldora. Brown, former pastor at Ivester Church of the Brethren in Grundy County, Iowa, is charged with third-degree sexual abuse. Read more at

Obituary: Jessie H. Byerly, News Leader, Staunton, Va. (Feb. 4, 2012) – Jessie Hammer Byerly, 105, of Augusta County, Va., passed away peacefully at her home on Feb. 2. She was an active member of Moscow Church of the Brethren in Mount Solon, Va., for 72 years. She felt it was her calling to visit members of her community and often brought along one of her famous custard pies. She was preceded in death by her husband, J. Glen Byerly, in 1963. Find the full obituary at

“Three in 90s reflect on lifetimes with historic church,” Toledo (Ohio) Blade (Feb. 1, 2012) – Chet Herrington, 95, and Oscar Garner, 96, both attended Lakewood Church of the Brethren for decades, as did Dorothy McCamey, who lives in the same senior home. Their memories are of a simpler time, when people caught streetcars from Toledo or rode in horse-drawn buggies to get to church. A controversial topic in the church congregation in the 1940s? Buying a piano. Find the full story at

Obituary: Dodie Rathke, Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune, (Feb. 1, 2012) – Frances Doylene “Dodie” Rathke, 76, of Columbia died on Jan. 28. She was a lifetime member of the Church of the Brethren. She graduated from nursing school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1957. That same year, she married James Edward Rathke, who preceded her in death. She and her family settled in Columbia in 1966, where her husband, James, accepted a faculty position with the University of Missouri. She retired from University Hospital in 1992 after 25 years. Read the full obituary at

Obituary: Gary A. StewartThe Journal, Martinsburg, W.Va. (Feb. 1, 2012) – Gary Allen Stewart, 59, of Hedgesville, died on Jan. 30 at his residence. He was a member of Snyder’s Bible Church and attended Johnsontown Church of the Brethren. He retired as a machine operator for Ecolab. He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Debra Sue (Clark) Stewart. Find the obituary at–Stewart.html?nav=5007

Obituary: Carolyn Saunders, Canton (Ill.) Daily Ledger (Feb. 1, 2012) – Carolyn Saunders, 83, passed away on Jan. 30. She was a member of Woodland Church of the Brethren in Astoria, Ill. She worked at E-Z Plumbing and Farm King in Canton and in the Dietary Dept. of Graham Hospital in Canton. She married Charles Lee Saunders in 1945. He preceded her in death in 1955. She then married Howard William Foutch in 1957. The obituary is at

“Church group to build Pulaski home in a week,” WSLS Channel 10, Roanoke, Va. (Jan. 31, 2012) – Volunteers like Dennis Luther love to rebuild homes even though it is tough. To make the job even more of a challenge, members of Brethren Disaster Ministries from Floyd and Henry counties are sticking to a strict deadline. There are a dozen volunteers determined to finish rebuilding this home destroyed by a tornado last April, in only a week. When it’s all finished, it will be the fifth home that members of the church group have put back together. A video report and the full story are at

“For-Profit Solar Group Sets Sights on Churches, Schools,” Ecopreneurist (Jan. 31, 2012) – In University Park, Md., the roof of the Church of the Brethren is adorned not with religious symbols, but with solar panels. The group responsible for the solar panel installation, the for-profit University Park Solar, includes members of the church’s congregation like Don Monroe. “In this church,” Monroe said, “there’s a real sort of consciousness of what we call ‘care for creation,’” adding that solar energy “very much fits into that idea.” The story is at

“Church crash suspect says he panicked,” Dayton (Ohio) Daily News (Jan. 31, 2012) – A motorist claims he fell asleep when he crashed his maroon Chevy Impala into a church, and ended up in the middle of the sanctuary on the early morning of Jan. 19. Police have charged John Hatmaker with reckless operation, failure to stop after an accident, and driving under suspension after he crashed into Happy Corner Church of the Brethren. Read more at

“Steeple placed atop Edinburg church more than 70 years after it was rebuilt,” Northern Virginia Daily (Jan. 25, 2012) – A handful of people gathered around the small country church and gazed heavenward. They stood transfixed as a pure white steeple was affixed to Palmyra Church of the Brethren in Edinburg, Va. It was a picture-perfect day, with warmer temperatures, blue skies and high, wispy clouds. “The Lord just gave us a great day,” the Rev. David Reedy said. Find the story and photos at

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