Brethren Bits for Dec. 20, 2013

— A note from the Finance Office: Donations to support Church of the Brethren denominational ministries must be postmarked no later than Dec. 31, 2013, and received by Jan. 13, 2014, to be credited to the 2013 tax year. Mail to Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. Donations also can be made online at before year end. The Church of the Brethren staff extend thanks for the financial support from congregations and individual members across the denomination that make these ministries possible.

— Correction: The “save the date” note in the last Newsline gave an incorrect date for the Goodbye Still Night concert in North Manchester, Ind. The correct date is April 26, 2014, for the concert featuring Brethren musicians including Andy and Terry Murray, Mutual Kumquat, Shawn Kirchner and Ryan Harrison, and Kim Shahbazian.

Photo courtesy of Nancy Ulrich
Larry Ulrich

— Remembrance: Larry K. Ulrich, 72, a Brethren leader in ecumenical circles and the denomination’s representative on the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches, passed away Dec. 7. In January he was named to the Church of the Brethren study committee on “The Church of the Brethren and Ecumenism in the 21st Century.” Ulrich was an ordained minister, clinical pastoral educator, and director of chaplaincy services and medical ethicist in Rush Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago, Cook County Hospital, and University of Chicago Hospitals. From 1979-84 he was dean of Supervised Ministry and Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at the Vincentian seminary, DeAndreis Institute of Theology, in Lemont, Ill., perhaps the first Protestant dean in a Roman Catholic seminary. He was a leader in the Chicago area in promoting hospice care for the dying. At the 1969 Annual Conference he was instrumental in a resolution that created the Fund for the Americas for racism education and direct assistance to minorities, after having participated in civil rights activities in Louisiana and Chicago while at seminary. From 1972-76 he chaired the Annual Conference Committee on Health and Welfare relating to the 22 hospitals and retirement communities of the Church of the Brethren at the time. On behalf of the denomination, he testified to the US House Ways and Means Committee in support of a “comprehensive and accessible” national health insurance (reported by “Messenger” in Oct. 1974). From 1975-83 he was vice-president and a director of the Brethren Health Education Foundation, and in 1977-79 chaired the Board of Trustees of Bethany Hospital in Chicago after being on the board since 1974. Most recently, he represented the church’s Illinois and Wisconsin District on the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, which was awarded the Chicago Theological Union’s prestigious “Blessed Are the Peacemakers” award in 2004. In his role with the National Council of Churches, he promoted the World Interfaith Harmony Week to Brethren as “an opportunity to remember that we are called to be the best believers we can be within our Christian faith tradition, and encourage followers in other religions to be the best believers they can be…. Loving believers in other faith heritages isn’t easy, but it’s what God’s Living Spirit calls us to.” In 2012 he was designated a Friend of the Muslim Educational Cultural Center of America for helping facilitate the building of mosques in western suburbs of Chicago against opposition. He was a member at York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill., and a 35-year resident of the interracial York Center Community Cooperative. He was born in 1941 in Greencastle, Ind., the only child of Kenneth and Ruth Ulrich. He held degrees from Manchester College, Bethany Theological Seminary, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, and Chicago Theological Seminary. He spent some years as a pastor in Maryland, Indiana, and Illinois, and also was a family therapist and pastoral counselor. He is survived by his wife Nancy Studebaker Ulrich; children Michael (Emily), Andrew Ulrich, and Joel Krogstad (Faith); and grandchildren. A memorial service will be held Jan. 11, 2014, at 3 p.m. at the York Center Church. Memorials are received to York Center Church and the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago.

Christian Peacemaker Teams
Sarah Thompson

— Sarah Thompson has been appointed executive director of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), an organization that was begun with help from the peace churches including the Church of the Brethren. Thompson starts in the position in January 2014. She served on CPT’s Steering Committee 2010-12 and has worked for the past year as CPT’s outreach coordinator. Her church involvements include six years of volunteer work as the North American representative to Mennonite World Conference’s Youth and Young Adult Executive Committee and Global Youth Summit planning group, as well as service with Mennonite Central Committee in Jerusalem, Washington, D.C., and her hometown of Elkhart, Ind. She holds a degree from Spelman College in Comparative Women’s Studies and International Studies with a minor in Spanish, and a master of divinity degree from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. For more go to .

— The Church of the Brethren seeks an office assistant for Material Resources, a full-time position located at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Responsibilities include facilitating Church World Service kit pickups; preparation of domestic and overseas shipments and maintaining documentation and reports; knowledge of transportation related regulations and compliance; working with outside trucking firms; maintaining driver logs and other driver files; auditing monthly reports, bills, and invoices related to trucks, transportation, and drivers; customer service; and daily collaboration with office manager and warehouse staff. The preferred candidate will be well organized, skilled at creating and maintaining spreadsheets and recordkeeping, able to effectively manage multiple simultaneous tasks, able to work collaboratively in a team environment, comfortable making suggestions and process improvements, with a flexible and positive attitude. A high school diploma or the equivalent, and competency in Microsoft Office Outlook, Word, and Excel are required. Applications will be received and reviewed until the position is filled. Request an application packet and job description from the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; .

— Bethany Theological Seminary, a graduate school of the Church of the Brethren located in Richmond, Ind., seeks a part-time project director with education and experience in financial planning and program implementation to fulfill the aims of a grant received from Lilly Endowment Inc. This appointment will be renewed annually for up to three years. The grant will fund research to identify the unique financial challenges for Bethany students in the local and distance programs and to design and implement ways Bethany can better prepare and support students and alumni/ae to face the economic challenges of pastoral ministry. Duties will include overseeing the collection of new data outlined in the grant narrative; presenting research findings to Bethany staff and faculty (and others, as needed); introducing students to new ideas about “simple living”; connecting students with career counseling resources; increasing student awareness of available outside financial aid and sources of funding for seminary; exploring bivocational ministry preparation at Bethany and throughout the denomination; facilitating financial education for Bethany staff and faculty; establishing new programs to strengthen the financial literacy of students; informing alumni/ae of financial stewardship resources available to them; compiling grant reports; assessing grant initiatives. Candidates should have strong organizational abilities, good interpersonal skills, and excellent financial expertise. A bachelor’s degree is required. Additional education and familiarity with the values of the Church of the Brethren is preferred. Copies of the grant can be requested from Brenda Reish at . Mail a letter of interest and resume to Project Director Search, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374 or . The application deadline is Jan. 31, 2014, or until the position is filled. Bethany Seminary does not discriminate in employment opportunities or practices on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital status, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by law. Find this full announcement online at .

— “We’re watching the situation” in South Sudan following an outbreak of violence there, said Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer. Church of the Brethren staff in South Sudan are not working in the affected areas and are not in immediate danger, he said. Athanasus Ungang and Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker Jocelyn Snyder are working in Torit, in the eastern part of the country, and BVS volunteer Jillian Foerster has completed her work in Yei in the southwest of the country and has returned home to the United States. Violence has erupted in South Sudan’s capital city Juba this week, with varying statements by political leaders and others blaming an alleged coup linked to the recent deposing of the country’s vice president, and to ethnic tensions between the Dinka and Nuer. Thousands have fled the Juba area, according to news reports, although a United Nations statement yesterday said peace seemed to be returning to the capital city. In the meantime, fighting also broke out in the city of Bor in Jonglei State. “We ask for special prayer for South Sudan,” Wittmeyer said. “We’re watching the situation and continue to stay in contact with staff.”

— Registration for the 2014 Clergy Women’s Retreat closes at 4:30 p.m. (central time) today, Dec. 20. “We have 42 participants registered so there is still room for several more,” reports Mary Jo Flory-Steury in a Facebook post encouraging clergy women to participate. “If you haven’t registered yet and have been pondering the possibility of joining us please come. We will be blessed by your presence and we trust you will be blessed by your participation.” The retreat takes place Monday, Jan. 13, through Thursday, Jan. 16, at Serra Retreat Center in Malibu, Calif. To register and for more information go to .

— “Plan your registration party now!” say the NYC coordinators. Jan. 3, 2014, 7 p.m. (central) is opening time for online registration for the 2014 National Youth Conference, to be held in Fort Collins, Colo., on July 19-24. Go to .

— “As you look for last-minute gifts for Christmas, consider GFCF alternative giving options,” invites manager Jeff Boshart. Global Food Crisis Fund gifts are listed at;jsessionid=EF8E80E63481265AC69F31F979827C0C.app263b?store_id=2141 . The latest newsletter from the Global Food Crisis Fund offers stories from community gardening, animal raising in Honduras, crop success in North Korea, and ministry with the Twa (pygmies) in Rwanda: . Information about this Church of the Brethren fund that invests in small-scale economic development and supports efforts to improve diet and health practices, soil conservation, and awareness-raising and advocacy on hunger issues, is at .

— A “3rd Thursday Middle East Action Alert” from the denomination’s Office of Public Witness highlights the problem of restrictions on movement for Palestinians in Israel. Referencing Psalm 122:6-9, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.’ For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, ‘Peace be within you” (NIV), the alert was a part of the ecumenical advocacy community’s Third Thursdays for Israel-Palestine initiative. “Over the next few days,” it noted, “thousands of visitors from around the world will begin arriving in Bethlehem for the celebration of Christmas…. However, in the Bethlehem District after the visitors have left and the Christmas decorations have been taken down, a stark reality will surface. The buses used to ferry foreign guests to and from the city will have passed easily through the steel gates in the wall that separates Jerusalem from Bethlehem, and Christmas visitors will have felt little impact from the closure imposed over the city. For the Palestinians that remain, however, movement into and out of the city remains restricted and those Palestinians given permission to move between Jerusalem and Bethlehem are forced to wait in line for hours as they wait to pass through crowded tunnels and turnstiles that are contained in the terminal hidden just out of sight of the tourists.” The Office of Public Witness asked for help from church members to contact representatives in Congress urging US policy toward Israel and Palestine to “support freedom, not restriction.” The alert also asked for prayer: “As we celebrate the arrival of our Lord to the town of Bethlehem, take time to pray and reflect for the current situation in his birthplace.” Find the full Action Alert online at . Contact the public witness ministries of the Church of the Brethren at or 717-333-1649.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
A task team has begun the process of creating a new ministers manual for the Church of the Brethren. The group met at the General Offices this week, and plans to offer an insight session at the 2014 Annual Conference to share more information and gain input for the new book.

— A task team has begun the process of creating a new ministers manual for the Church of the Brethren. The group is led by the Ministry Office and associate general secretary Mary Jo Flory-Steury, and includes Dana Cassell, Laura Stone, Paul Roth, Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm, Becky Rhodes, Josh Brockway, and Wendy McFadden. The task team had its first meeting in August and a conference call in October. At a meeting this week at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, the group began to shape the purpose and draft an outline for the book. The book will be several years in the making, and is anticipated to serve the denomination as ministry changes in the 21st century. The process of creating it will include a future call for submissions of worship and other resources. The task team will provide more information and seek input at an insight session at the 2014 Annual Conference.

— A short video invitation to the 2014 Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio, on July 2-6 is posted at . Created by Brethren videographer David Sollenberger, it includes interviews with Conference-goers who have enjoyed the experience of the denomination’s annual meeting and with moderator Nancy Heishman on the theme “Live as Courageous Disciples” taken from Philippians, and highlights the range of activities planned for families and children as well as the culminating Sunday morning worship on the theme “Rejoice in the Lord.”

— Danville Church of the Brethren near Rawlings, Md., presents its annual Living Christmas today, Dec. 20, and Saturday, Dec. 21, from 6-9 p.m. at the Narrow Gate Farm on Route 220. Visitors will walk along a lighted path from station to station to witness and hear the miracle of the Christmas story. “Everyone welcome,” said an announcement in the “Mineral Daily News.”

— Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren received praise from the “Frederick News Post” for an innovative interactive “pageant” that “captured the essence of the Christmas story Saturday in a more significant way than sitting in a pew and watching a play,” the newspaper said. The event titled “Search for the Christ Child” transformed the church building into ancient Bethlehem, and visitors were led on a half-hour guided tour through the story of the first Christmas. The newspaper quoted one visitor as saying: “I’ve been to many Christmas pageants, but nothing like this. It was intellectual–a tool you walked through, not sitting in a church watching.” The event was a success despite being held on a day when several inches of snow fell in the area. Read more at

— Western Pennsylvania District is extending “a special thanks to all who supported the District Auction that was held at Camp Harmony on Nov. 2, with their prayers, donations and purchases.” To date, without expenses, $7,892 has been received for district ministry, reported the district newsletter. Camp scholarships will be given to first place and second place churches that raised the most funds. Maple Spring Church of the Brethren took first place raising $1,950. Scalp Level Church of the Brethren took second place raising $697.50.

— Also in the Western Pennsylvania District newsletter: A call for support for relief efforts following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The district will be contributing $5,000 from its
Disaster Fund to the Brethren Disaster Ministries effort, and is calling on congregations and members to contribute as well.

Logo by Debbie Noffsinger

— Illinois and Wisconsin District has announced a theme for the year 2014: “Abide in the Vine, Abide in My Love” (John 15:1-17). This will be the theme also for the district conference next year, led by moderator Stan Rodabaugh. The theme logo was designed by Debbie Noffsinger.

— The Christmas Tree of Stars program at the Church of the Brethren Home in Windber, Pa., is in its 30th year. Donations to help decorate the tree honor or memorialize a loved one or friend, and help provide benevolent care for residents.

— The board of Pinecrest Manor, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Mount Morris, Ill., has established a $1,000 scholarship in honor of Jim Renz, a 49-year board member who died in May. The scholarship is to be awarded in the spring to a graduating high school senior from Oregon High School or a student who is a member of any Church of the Brethren congregation in the northern district of Illinois-Wisconsin District, said the district newsletter. The scholarship is to focus on a future interest in health care, social work, or pastoral care. Contact Ferol Labash of Pinecrest Manor, 815-734-4103.

— The Camp Harmony Reunion Dinner has been announced for Dec. 30, at 6 p.m. The camp in Hooversville, Pa., is holding a reunion dinner in place of an appreciation dinner at the end of the year said an announcement that invited: “Come join camp staff, volunteers, and friends from Camp Harmony over the years.” Cost is $10 per person and the deadline to register is Dec. 23. Contact or 814-798-5885.

— Elizabethtown (Pa.) College was awarded a $531,885 grant by the National Science Foundation to support the Engineering Practices with Impact Cohort (EPIC) Scholarship for High Achieving Women in Engineering program. A release from the school reported that this selective scholarship specifically is offered to academically talented women who have interest in the college’s engineering program. “The college’s EPIC scholarship program falls in line with the STEM Educate to Innovate initiative promoted by the Barack Obama administration this spring. The initiative intends to provide students at all levels of education in fields of study in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as a means to improve the nation’s competitiveness in these areas,” said the release. Elizabethtown’s EPIC scholarship program is under the direction of Sara A. Atwood, assistant professor of engineering and physics, and Kurt M. DeGoede, professor of engineering and physics, and serves up to four scholars per year. Each receive up to $10,000 per year for all four years at Elizabethtown, with the total amount based on financial need. Each EPIC scholar will have expanded opportunities for Signature Learning Experiences and professional mentoring from STEM employers and graduate programs, will reside on campus in the Partners In Engineering Living/Learning Community, and will have fully funded summer research opportunities and access to Elizabethtown’s Engineering Co-op program. To qualify for the scholarship, a student must maintain a 2.75 grade point average. Application deadline for the EPIC scholarship is Feb. 1. Go to .

— Manchester University president Jo Young Switzer has received the 2013 Chief Executive Leadership Award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, reports a release from the university in North Manchester, Ind. She received the honor for “outstanding efforts in promoting and supporting education and institutional advancement. As the first female president of the 125-year-old school, Switzer has boldly led Manchester through transformational change, praised CASE,” according to the release. CASE recognized Switzer’s ability and conviction in actively supporting advancement and fundraising for the university, inspiring others to Manchester’s vision, establishing a positive image for Manchester while leading it to higher levels of success, increasing Manchester’s stature, and encouraging innovation and risk-taking among employees. Learn more about Manchester University at

— Manchester University has been in the news for a statement from the President’s Cabinet that the university will remain neutral on a proposed amendment to the Indiana state constitution that would ban gay marriage and civil unions. Today “The Journal Gazette” of Fort Wayne reported on a petition opposing that decision by Manchester students, staff, faculty, and alumni, and an upcoming protest fast by some students. The cabinet’s statement in November explained that the university has not historically taken positions on political issues. Today’s newspaper article is at .

— A Facebook post from Mutual Kumquat announces that “Was It You” co-written by Church of the Brethren musicians Seth Hendricks and Chris Good of Mutual Kumquat, and performed by Jacob Jolliff with “his other band” Joy Kills Sorrow, has been honored on the National Public Radio (NPR) Music and Folk Alley listing of best music of 2013. Find NPR’s “Best Music of 2013” at . Joy Kills Sorrow made its NPR Mountain Stage debut this year, listen to the recording online at .

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