Brethren Bits for Dec. 6, 2013

Photo courtesy of South Central Indiana District
Lower Deer Creek Church of the Brethren in South Central Indiana District has collected over a ton of food for two food pantries, according to the district newsletter. A total of 2,032 pounds of food was dropped off at local food pantries in time for Thanksgiving.

— Remembrance: Rolland Perry Smith, 72, a former mission worker with the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, died Nov. 9 following a lengthy struggle with cancer. He was born Oct. 15, 1941, to Harvey and Margaret Cozad Smith in Newport, R.I., and grew up in Huntington, Ind. He earned degrees from Manchester College and Bethany Theological Seminary, and also attended Colgate-Rochester Divinity School. He served with Brethren Volunteer Service from 1964-67, first at National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., then as a math teacher at Waka Teacher’s College in Biu, Nigeria. After he was married to Bonnie Throne in 1968, they served together as teachers at Waka Teacher’s College with the Church of the Brethren mission program for three years. In his professional career, he also served as a pastor in Indiana, and as a math teacher in Illinois. The family moved to Iowa in 1987, where Rolland taught math, physics, and Bible at Iowa Mennonite School until 1999, and after completing the chaplaincy program at the University of Iowa, served as a pastor for nine years, retiring in 2010. He is survived by former wife Bonnie Smith; children Daniel (Kathryn) Smith-Derksen of Seattle, Wash.; Timothy (MJ) Smith, of Atlanta, Ga.; Rachel (Bruce) Headings of Iowa City; and Sarah Smith of Boston Mass.; and by grandchildren.

— The National Council of Churches Governing Board has elected James E. Winkler as general secretary/president of the NCC. Winkler has been serving as general secretary of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society. He will succeed Peg Birk, who has served as transitional general secretary of the NCC since July 2012, following the resignation of former general secretary Michael Kinnamon in 2011. The office of general secretary/president is the leading staff position in the NCC. Winkler has been a member of the Justice and Advocacy Commission of the NCC, a member of the steering committee of the Campaign for Health Care Now, and a board member of several organizations including the Faith and Politics Institute, Churches for the Middle East Peace, and Africa Action. He has served as general secretary of the General Board of Church and Society, the international public policy and social justice agency of the United Methodist Church, since Nov. 2000.

— Camp Alexander Mack has announced the retirement of office manager Phyllis Leininger as of the end of December. She has been with the camp for 25 years “and has been at the heart of all that describes Camp Mack,” the announcement said. A Retirement Open House was held on Dec. 1 at the camp, located near Milford, Ind. Camp Mack also gathered memories and photos of Leininger for the celebration. Cards for Leininger may be mailed care of Camp Mack, P.O. Box 158, Milford, IN 46542. Leininger has requested that any gifts in her honor be directed to Camp Mack for the “Growing from the Ashes Campaign” for building the new Becker Retreat Center.

— The Church of the Brethren seeks an assistant workcamp coordinator for 2015, to fill a volunteer position located at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The position is a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) placement and includes service as a BVS volunteer and being a member of the Elgin Community House. The position is an administrative and a practical ministry position with the first three-quarters of the year spent preparing for youth and young adult summer workcamps, and the summer spent traveling from location to location serving as coordinator of workcamps for youth and young adults. The administrative work includes choosing an annual theme, preparing promotional materials, writing and designing a devotional book and leaders resources, setting up financial spreadsheets, setting up and maintaining a registration database, sending letters to participants and leaders, workcamp site visits, collecting forms and paperwork, and other administrative work. During the summer the assistant coordinator is responsible for the overall administration of particular workcamps including housing, transportation, food, work, and recreation, and may be responsible for planning and leading devotional, educational, and group activities. Requirements include gifts for and experience in youth ministry, passion for Christian service, understanding of mutual ministry both giving and receiving, spiritual and emotional maturity, organizational and office skills, physical stamina and the ability to travel well. Preferred experience and skills include previous workcamp experience as a leader or participant, computer skills including experience with Microsoft Office, Word, Excel, Access, and Publisher. For more information go to www.brethren.org/workcamps . To request an application, contact Emily Tyler, Church of the Brethren Workcamp Office, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; etyler@brethren.org ; 800-323-8039 ext. 396.

— Applications for Ministry Summer Service in 2014 are due by Jan. 10. Ministry Summer Service (MSS) is a leadership development program for college students in the Church of the Brethren who spend 10 weeks of the summer working in the church, either a congregation, district office, camp, or national program. The 2014 orientation dates are May 30-June 4. For more information and application forms for interns and mentors see www.brethren.org/yya/mss .

— The Church of the Brethren was one of 29 organizations warning Congress against new Iran sanctions. The church’s Office of Public Witness noted that “current sanctions have hindered the diplomatic process already and have caused numerous problems for Iranian citizens” A joint letter sent to key Senators by the 29 national organizations warned against new Iran sanctions or restrictive policy language that could sabotage diplomatic progress with Iran, and came at a time when the Senate was considering amendments on the National Defense Authorization Act and the day before the US and Iran were to re-convene for a third round of nuclear negotiations in Geneva. The letter and signing organizations are at www.niacouncil.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=10061&security=1&news_iv_ctrl=-1 . Public Witness staff also supported a campaign by Bread for the World encouraging the message to Congress that “this is the wrong time to prevent families from putting food on the table.” Bread for the World is requesting calls to members of Congress at 800-326-4941 or e-mail messages to protect food aid for those in need this holiday season. Find out more at http://blog.bread.org/2013/11/200-million-meals-eliminated-as-thanksgiving-approaches.html .

— The Shine curriculum project of Brethren Press and MennoMedia has been awarded a grant of $10,000 to make the “Shine On” story Bible available in Spanish, reports Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden. The grant comes from the Schowalter Foundation, a Mennonite organization that has provided funding in the past for specific components of the Jubilee curriculum and the Gather ’Round curriculum, and will go toward expenses for editing, development and consulting, translation, design, and printing.

— Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries, will lead a workshop on “Vital Passions, Holy Practices: Exploring Spiritual Gifts” on Dec. 14 at Cross Keys Village the Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa. The event takes place from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. and offers .4 continuing education credits for ministers. Cost is $10 per person or $25 for five or more people from the same congregation. Contact the Southern Pennsylvania District office at 717-624-8636. Registrations are due by Dec. 11.

— Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service, has been named to the executive committee of the board of Heifer International. He has been serving on the board as a representative of the denomination. The Church of the Brethren has a permanent seat on the board as the founding organization of Heifer International, which was started as the Church of the Brethren’s Heifer Project.

— Karis, an outreach ministry with connections to Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren, is celebrating the second anniversary of its shop and café in Mt. Sidney, Va., reports the Shenandoah District newsletter. “Proceeds benefit numerous organizations–local, denominational, and international,” the newsletter said. “A special interest has been setting up a garden to help feed the 30 children served at an orphanage in Haiti.”

— Ridge Church of the Brethren in Shippensburg, Pa., is holding a re-enactment and live nativity on Dec. 13, 14, and 15 at 7 p.m. “Over 30 characters participating, dressed in costume of the biblical period, along with live animals,” said an announcement in the Southern Pennsylvania District newsletter. Refreshments will be provided, and all are welcome.

— County Line Church of the Brethren’s live Nativity in Champion, Pa., received media attention for adding a twist. “This year, besides the live Nativity, we are going to have a couple choirs sing each night,” Linda McGinley, event coordinator, told the Tribune newspaper. Various church choirs will participate along with singer Patty Kerr. The live Nativity will be held on two nights, Dec. 13 and 14, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Read more at http://triblive.com/news/fayette/5209841-74/nativity-church-mcginley#ixzz2mpevACfG .

— The Goshen News is reporting on a new collaborative effort between Nappanee (Ind.) Church of the Brethren and Faith Mission of Elkhart, Chicago/Michiana Five for the Homeless. The collaboration is bringing a new soup kitchen to Nappanee. John Shafer, founder of Chicago/Michiana Five for the Homeless, shared his vision for a new soup kitchen on Facebook and Deb Lehman of the Nappanee church mentioned it to her pastor, Byrl Shaver, “who loved the idea,” the paper reported. “Right now plans are to host the soup kitchen Mondays and Thursdays every week from 5 to 6 p.m.” See www.goshennews.com/local/x1636702933/Nappanee-soup-kitchen-to-open#sthash.sg9EyELA.dpuf .

— The board of Southern Ohio District met for an annual retreat with business centered “around how to best honor the decisions of our District Conference as we move forward with Outdoor Ministries and the facilities at Camp Woodland Altars,” said a report in the district newsletter. “The camp will require costly repairs and updates in order to meet state recommended life health and safety standards.” The board created a new Camping and Retreat Commission with members of the Outdoor Ministries Transition Team invited to be a part of it. “Their purpose will be to develop the camping and retreat ministry in Southern Ohio and to manage the property of Woodland Altars,” the report said. “$100,000.00 of our reserves will be released to the Camping and Retreat Commission to make needed repairs and updates to meet state requirements for life and health safety in time for the 2014 summer camping season. All loans to Outdoor Ministries have been removed from the books.”

— Candlelight Dinners at the John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va., will be held at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 20 and 21. “In addition to enjoying a home-style meal, guests will learn about the family’s struggles in the fall of 1863, including the Virginia cavalry raids, high inflation, and fleeing war refugees,” said an invitation from John Kline Homestead board of directors president Paul Roth. Seats are $40 per person. Call 540-896-5001 for reservations. Groups are welcome; seating is limited to 32 guests.

— Peter Becker Community, a Church of the Brethren retirement community, has partnered with Home Helpers of Lansdale, Pa., in a move to enhance choices and meet the changing needs of community members said a release. Peter Becker has entered into a preferred provider arrangement. “Home Helpers at Peter Becker Community” will have campus presence with staffed office hours. The agency will provide personal care assistance, homemaker services, and companionship to residents in all levels of care, as requested by residents and their families.  In addition, campus residents will receive preferential pricing. A concierge caregiver program will be launched in early December to allow campus residents to engage these services. As an integral part of this new strategic relationship, Home Helpers is committing to formalizing and increasing its previous and ongoing commitment to Peter Becker Community’s Benevolent Fund.

— Camp Bethel’s Christmas TOGETHER Banquet on Dec. 6 was also a fundraiser for a new tractor for the camp located near Fincastle, Va. The banquet included a Christmas music program presented by the Jones Family. Gifts helped toward the tractor purchase. “Our collective support of Camp Bethel puts TOGETHERness into practice as described in Acts 2:43-47,” said an announcement.

— McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a performance by the McPherson College Choir on Sunday, Dec. 8. “Christmas at McPherson: Music for Harp and Choir, A Service of Lessons and Carols” will begin at 7 p.m. The music is by contemporary British composer Benjamin Britten, said a release from the college. “A Ceremony of Carols op. 28 was originally written as a series of unconnected songs, but was later connected into one unified piece with a processional and recessional chant. A solo harp based on these chants are worked through the compositions,” the release noted. “Written in 1942 during a transatlantic voyage, Britten’s cantata is based on Middle English, Latin, and modern English poetry.” The choir is directed by Josh Norris, assistant professor of music and director of choral activities. The public is invited. A free-will offering will be received at the door to help underwrite expenses of the concert.

— Bethel Ministries in Boise, Idaho, connected with Mt. View Church of the Brethren, is holding a Graduation Banquet on Dec. 14 at 4 p.m. at the church. The ministry aids people who have been in prison to re-enter society. Speaker for the banquet is David Birch, Area 4 Supervisor for the Department of Parole. “Come join us as we celebrate changed lives and God’s grace,” said an invitation from David McKellip, who is a leader in the ministry. Contact P.O. Box 44106, Boise ID 83711-0106; 208-345-0701; www.bethelministries.net .

— The Springs of Living Water church renewal initiative has released an Advent/Christmas spiritual disciplines folder titled “Awake to the Joy, Christ the Savior is Born!” The folder is intended to help individuals and congregations experience spiritual growth in this season of preparation and celebration, said an announcement from Springs leader David Young. The Sunday texts follow the Church of the Brethren bulletin/lectionary series. An insert gives options for persons to consider where God is leading in next steps of spiritual growth. Vince Cable, pastor of Uniontown Church of the Brethren, has written the Bible study questions. Find the folder at the Springs website www.churchrenewalservant.org .

— December’s “Brethren Voices,” the cable television program produced by Portland Peace Church of the Brethren, features the Brethren Disaster Relief Auction of Atlantic Northeast and Southern Pennsylvania Districts. This large auction raises funds for disaster relief, with all types of items are donated and auctioned off and proceeds contributing to assist Brethren  Disaster Ministries. This year “60 heifers were auctioned as well as beautiful quilts, antique cars, household furnishings, tools, and equipment,” said an announcement from producer Ed Groff.  “Those attending this 37th Annual Brethren Disaster Relief Auction were treated to the tasty food prepared for this event. A prize red and white heifer is auctioned and sells for $3,400. It’s a delightful story.” For a copy contact groffprod1@msn.com .

— The Open Table Cooperative, an organization of progressive Brethren, has created a daily Photography Advent Practice. “Guided by the calendar each day you are invited to take a photo, use a smart phone…a point and shoot camera, film, even a mental snapshot, whatever medium works for you. The idea is to capture a moment of your day, to see it with new eyes through the lens of a camera, and bring intention into your day as we prepare for the birth of Christ,” said an announcement. The group invites the sharing of photographs through Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, using the hashtag #PhotoAdvent13. Or upload photos to the group on Flickr photostream, www.flickr.com/groups/advent2013 .

— Heeding God’s Call is taking steps to become an independent 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. The initiative against gun violence in America’s cities got its start at a meeting of the peace churches. It is expanding quickly, with a new chapter in southeastern Pennsylvania called the Chester/Delco Chapter holding a kick-off rally on Nov. 3, with over 140 people in attendance. There is conversation about expansion into Virginia as well. A Greater Washington (D.C.) Chapter has begun participating in demonstrations held the 14th of each month at the NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, Va., in honor of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. The Harrisburg, Pa., chapter constructed a “Memorial to the Lost” featuring t-shirts bearing the names of those killed by handguns in the area since 2009. “It has been on display at six sites already since being constructed in August,” the newsletter said. “Harrisburg, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia all now have or soon will have a Memorial to the Lost.” For more go to www.heedinggodscall.org .

— A faith sharing page for the Christmas movie “Angels Sing,” offers a sermon and children’s story by Church of the Brethren pastor Frank Ramirez, titled “Blue Christmas True Christmas.” The movie featuring Harry Connick Jr., Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson, among others, “centers around a man who experienced a terrible tragedy as a child at Christmas time, and who struggles during the holiday,” Ramirez reports to Newsline. The sermon and children’s story are at www.angelssingmovie.com/faith-sharing-resources/#.Uo1RiHco7cs .

— Bill Galvin, who has worked for the Center on Conscience and War (previously NISBCO) for over 30 years, will receive a Lifetime Achievement award from the Washington Peace Center in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 12. He has worked as a GI Rights counselor and has become an all-around expert on rights of conscience in the military, said an announcement from the board of directors of the Center on Conscience and War. “His expertise has been foundational to the GI Rights and resister movement and critical for countering military recruitment with a true picture of the reality of military service,” said the announcement, adding that the board is “very excited that someone who is doing ‘our work’ will be recognized in this way.” For more about the award, go to http://washingtonpeacecenter.net/activistawards .