Brethren Bits for Feb. 21

— The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI has brought words of respect and appreciation from the World Council of Churches (WCC), of which the Church of the Brethren is a member denomination. A WCC release reported that WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit made a statement “to respect fully the decision of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to resign. With deep respect I have seen how he has carried the responsibility and burdens of his ministry in his advanced age, in a very demanding time for the church.” Tveit added, “I express my appreciation for his love and commitment to the church and to the ecumenical movement. Let us pray that God bless him in this moment and this phase of his life, and that God will guide and bless the Roman Catholic Church in a very important time of transition.” Benedict first announced his decision in a meeting of cardinals at the Vatican on Feb. 11. His deteriorating health was cited as the reason for him to step down from his post as of the end of February.

— Joel and Linetta Ballew have accepted the position of co-administrators at Camp Swatara, a Church of the Brethren camp in Pennsylvania. The announcement came from Shenandoah District, where Joel Ballew has been pastor at Lebanon Church of the Brethren in Mount Sidney, Va., and Linetta Ballew has been program director at Brethren Woods Camp and Retreat Center. The couple will make the move to Camp Swatara at the end of May.

— Brethren Woods Camp and Retreat Center ( ) is a year round Christian camp and retreat center owned and operated by the Shenandoah District of the Church of the Brethren, located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Brethren Woods is seeking a program director to plan and implement a vigorous year-round program including summer camp, retreats, outdoor education, the challenge course, and outdoor adventure. Areas of responsibility include the general operation of camp, program initiatives, publicity and promotion, the recruitment, training, supervision and evaluation of personnel, and maintaining relationships with individuals, congregations, and professional associations. Preference will be given to persons who are supportive of Church of the Brethren values and beliefs, have a college degree, experience in a camping/outdoor education related field, and skill or interest in low and high challenge course management. Candidates should also possess measurable administrative, organizational, relational, and communication skills. Brethren Woods offers a compensation package that includes a salary, health insurance, retirement benefits, professional growth, vacation, holidays, and reimbursement for business-related travel. For more information call the camp office at 540-269-2741 or e-mail . The search process will continue until a person has been employed, with the first deadline for consideration being March 15. Apply by sending a resume and two letters of recommendation to: Douglas Phillips, ADE, Brethren Woods, 4896 Armentrout Path, Keezletown, VA 22832; phone and fax 540-269-2741; .

— The Fellowship of Reconciliation, USA (FOR) is seeking a full-time executive director to fill a position carrying the overall strategic and operational responsibility for FOR’s staff, programs, expansion, and execution of its mission. The executive director will have a deep knowledge of the organization’s core programs, operations, and business plans. Interested applicants may check the FOR website for details: . The Fellowship of Reconciliation was founded in 1914 to promote nonviolence as a means of resolving conflict and achieving justice and peace worldwide. Its intentionally interfaith approach to peace and justice make FOR uniquely positioned to address the world’s problems in the 21st century. FOR serves as the US national office for this movement, and works with more than 10,000 members, 100 local groups, and over a dozen national religious peace fellowships. Location is the FOR headquarters in Nyack, N.Y. Qualifications and experience include a minimum of five years as an executive director of a nonprofit organization with experience in administration, staff supervision, board development and support, strategic planning, program evaluation, finance, and fundraising; proven ability to work with people from a variety of ethnic, socioeconomic, educational, and religious backgrounds, generations, and sexual orientations in building a highly-motivated and diverse staff team; record of successful fundraising and financial management with nonprofit agencies; record of program experience and program oversight and knowledge of FOR desired. Skills will include excellent oral and written communication skills and computer literacy. The deadline for applications is March 25. Send a cover letter and resume, with three professional references, to Ralph McFadden, Search Consultant, . For more information contact Ralph McFadden on his home/office phone at 847-622-1677.

Photo by
Former BVSer Leon Buschina (left) with his supervisor at Project PLASE in Baltimore

— Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) is remembering two former volunteers who have passed away recently, one who served in BVS during the Vietnam War era and one who completed his service in 2012.
     Leon Buschina, a member of BVS Unit 289, which held orientation in summer 2010, was killed by a train in Berlin in mid-December 2012. The BVS office only recently received confirmation of the news from EIRENE, the German program through which Buschina came to BVS. He had served as a BVSer at Project PLASE in Baltimore, Md., through September last year. At the project, Buschina had started an afternoon music and drumming group at his own initiative. “Please hold the Buschina family in your thoughts and prayers,” requested BVS director Dan McFadden. “We are deeply saddened and sorry for Leon’s passing.”
    Jeremy Hardin Mott, 66, the first Vietnam War draft resister to receive the maximum prison sentence of five years, was a BVSer 1966-67 when he served for some months at Bethany Brethren Hospital in Chicago. He died Sept. 2, 2012, in Roanoke, Va. Mott grew up participating in Friends (Quaker) meetings in New Jersey and New York and attended Sandy Spring Friends School in Maryland which also shaped his experience. In 1963 he joined the March on Washington, just before attending Harvard University for two years. When drafted in October 1966 he obtained conscientious objector status and joined BVS, serving three months at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Md., and four months at Bethany Brethren Hospital. He burned his draft card at the April 15, 1967, Mobilization Against the War in New York, and helped found the Chicago Area Draft Resisters (CADRE). In his individual witness, he resigned from BVS writing: “Both the joy which comes from acting in accordance with one’s conscience and the agony which comes from facing the risks of such action obscure the real agony of the Vietnam situation…By affirming the value of the lives of people and denying the righteousness of murder and slavery we can at least help keep some vestige of brotherhood a reality among men.” His letter to Selective Service stated “ My job, as a pacifist and as a person opposed to this war in Vietnam, is to resist our warring government, including the Selective Service System, rather than to seek special privileges from it.” In December 1967, he was one of the first in the country to go to trial for resisting the draft and was the first to receive the maximum prison sentence of five years, which was reduced on appeal to four. On his release from prison in 1969, he worked for the Midwest Committee for Draft Counseling, the Chicago office of the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors. There he wrote and published a regular newsletter about draft law, which was sent to 5,000 counselors nationwide who helped young men consider alternatives to the military. In later years, he worked for Amtrak as a dispatcher, and was active in the New York Yearly Meeting. He is remembered by a leading Quaker publication as “a one-man Quaker information center, a constant reader of the Quaker press with contacts in every corner of the Quaker world, and he often provided unique insights. Before he adopted e-mail, several Quaker periodicals would receive letters-to-the-editor from Jeremy in his novel format: a series of post cards. He would start writing on one post card, then continue on with as many as it took for him to express the complete thought.” Survivors include his wife Judith Franks Mott and daughter Mary Hannah Mott.

— Online registration opens March 1 at 9 a.m. (central) for the National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) on Sept. 2-6 in Lake Junaluska, N.C. Registration also is available by paper form that may be sent in by mail. More information and registration forms are at .

— A new edition of the “Bridge” newsletter for young adults is now online in a new e-pub format. Find the Winter 2013 newsletter on the theme “Soft Voices” at .

Photo by courtesy of CT Project
Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) cause bracelets from the CT Project

— The CT Project, a grassroots initiative to bring Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) to Connecticut, has succeeded in scheduling CDS training workshops in five areas of the state. Facebook posts at announce the following workshops: a Region 5 workshop on May 3-4 at Friendship Baptist Church in Litchfield, Conn.; a Region 4 workshop on May 31-June 1 at the Groton (Conn.) Senior Center; a Region 2 workshop on Sept. 20-21 hosted by the American Red Cross in New Haven, Conn.; and a Region 1 workshop on March 15-16 in Stratford, Conn. The workshop in Region 3 has already been held, on Jan. 18 in Canton, Conn. Fundraising to make these CDS training workshops possible is happening in part through the sale of CDS “Cause Bracelets” available in adult and child sizes for a $5 donation. The bracelets are available at the Canton Union Savings Bank at 188 Albany Turnpike, see .

— “Responding to Gun Violence” is the theme of the March edition of “Brethren Voices,” a community television program produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren. Hosted by Brent Carlson, the show features the Church of the Brethren in response to the continuing tragedies of gun violence in the US. The Church of the Brethren has been collaborating with a coalition of 47 religious groups known as Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence. This edition of “Brethren Voices” welcomes five guests commenting on the issue: Pastor Kerby Lauderdale of Portland Peace Church of the Brethren on the tragedies in light of the book of Job; Doug Eller, a life-long hunter, sharing his insight and respect for nature and the hunted; and Brethren Volunteer Service workers Amanda Glover from Virginia and Rebekka Adelberger and Jan Hunsaenger from Germany presenting their thoughts. “According to the volunteers from Germany, life appears much safer without all of the guns,” said a note from producer Ed Groff. To order a copy, contact . Several of the “Brethren Voices” shows also are available on YouTube, where the show now has over 5,500 views since July. Go to .

— A powerful testimony about Brethren-related efforts at peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is now online at . “We have to serve God and work in His service as we are human beings created in the image of God,” writes Imaja Itulelo. “Christ died because of our sins. We have to show our love and fellowship and consider the most hopeless people, serving them so that they may praise the Lord and reach their needs. God is our gear; He is protecting and conducting us in what we are doing.” The denomination’s Global Mission and Service office is supporting a peace church community in the Congo, and this testimony comes from a small group from this community that recently traveled to Pygmy camps in Northern Kivu Province.

— Some new photo albums displaying Brethren programs at work around the world are available online, with an index page and links at . New photo albums from Global Mission and Service show off the recent workcamp experience in Nigeria and Jillian Foerster’s teaching work in South Sudan, and photos from the 2012 workcamps also are posted.

— Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren in Glen Arm, Md., holds a Lafiya: Peacemaking seminar on April 27 featuring speakers knowledgeable about Nigeria, Rwanda, and the Congo. “For the past five years, Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren has held fabulous women’s retreats in the spring in our peaceful and historic valley near Prigel’s Creamery and Boordy Vineyards. Normally 50-70 area woman attend,” reports Jean C. Sack, who is working on publicity for the seminar. “In 2013 our focus is African conflict. This year the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers in our area are joining others for a April 27 Saturday peacemaking seminar focusing on two very troubled regions of Africa where women and children suffer the most from conflict. Recent news from the Congo/Rwanda about M23 takeover of Eastern towns and the flight of refugees as well as killings of Christians and polio vaccinators (in Nigeria) concerns the world.” The seminar is open to both women and men, and “mature young people” are encouraged to attend. Speakers are Nathan Hosler, director of the Peace Witness Ministry of the Church of the Brethren and a former peace worker with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), and David Bucura, Central Africa coordinator for the African Great Lakes Initiative and a pastor of the Friends Church in Rwanda. Find out more at or .

— Several Brethren youth groups participated in the “Souper Bowl Sunday” effort against hunger. The Southern Pennsylvania District newsletter notes that “a number of our congregations participate in Souper Bowl Sunday by collecting soup and donating it to local food pantries. Bermudian and West York have a ‘Soup Kettle’ trophy which they pass back and forth depending which church collects the most soup. However, Free Spring has an ‘Annual Souper Bowl Fellowship Meal’ on that Sunday, with the main course being soup. What a unique way to mix our secular and spiritual interests.” In Fort Wayne, Ind., Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren thanked its members for food bank contributions on “Super Food” Sunday Feb. 3, weighing in at 321 pounds of food. “Your help makes a difference in the quality of life for families in the community,” said the church newsletter.

— Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren held an “All Church Prayer Walk” on Sunday, Feb. 10, after morning worship as part of a sermon series on “Praying Circles Around Life!” The event started with an explanation about what a Prayer Walk is, and included a list of possible locations around town where individuals and groups could choose to go walk or drive and pray for the city. Attendees received a Prayer Card based on their choice of route, and prayer prompts for that specific location. Water and a small snack was provided as well.

— “Cultivating for a Great Harvest,” sponsored by the Church Development and Evangelism Team of Shenandoah District, will begin at 8:30 a.m. on March 2 at Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren in Weyers Cave, Va. The theme is “Revitalization Boot Camp 101,” and leadership will be provided by Fred Bernhard, Jeremy Ashworth, and John Neff.

— Atlantic Southeast District has announced its annual Venture Fun(d) Day, this year to be held on March 9 at Camp Ithiel in Gotha, Fla. The district’s goal for this year is to raise $10,000. Those funds and more will support the Unify Church in the Miami area, the West Palm Beach Haitian church, a new Youth Ministry person, TRIM participants through scholarship funds, theological education for ministry students in Puerto Rico through the new SEBAH program of the Brethren Academy and Bethany Theological Seminary, and the general program of the Atlantic Southeast District and the Puerto Rico Junta. “We have a huge vision to support and need your help,” said an invitation from Joseph Henry, chair of the Church Development Committee. Contact the district office at 321-276-4958 or .

— Nils Martin, outdoor education and adventure coordinator at Brethren Woods Camp and Retreat Center in Shenandoah District, is recruiting volunteers to help with Outdoor School this spring according to the district newsletter. Outdoor School brings elementary school groups to the camp near Keezletown, Va., where volunteers staff learning stations. Already 15 groups from kindergarten through fifth grade are scheduled. Volunteer help is needed April 12 and 18 and May 1-3, 7, 9-10, 14-17, and 22-24. Contact 540-269-2741 or .

— McPherson (Kan.) College has held its second annual JumpStart Kansas competition, which awards two grants of $5,000 to Kansas high school students who present the best entrepreneurial ideas in the areas of commercial and social entrepreneurship. The grants come with no stipulation that the students attend McPherson College, said a release. The grand prize winners also are offered a $5,000 annual scholarship to the college. The other eight finalists are offered a $1,000 annual scholarship to McPherson, which is increased to $1,500 annually if they also pursue the Transformative Entrepreneurship Minor. In addition, students can receive $500 for their idea from the college’s micro-grant Horizon Fund if they attend. Kayla Onstott of Kansas City, Kan., won the grand prize in the commercial category for her idea for a Build a Better Bra Boutique where customers would use a computerized system to order a bra to exact specifications. In the social entrepreneurship category, Brandon Mackie of Coffeyville, Kan., won the grand prize for his inspirational game called Highway to Heaven directed toward spiritual discovery within Christianity, healing sadness and depression, and teaching lessons of love.

— A series of John Kline Candlelight Dinners are scheduled for March and April at the historic John Kline homestead in Broadway, Va. The dinners on March 15 and 16 and April 12 and 13 start at 6 p.m. and feature a traditional meal with actors playing the parts of people in 1863 sharing concerns about drought, diphtheria, roaming Confederate scouts, and calling for Kline’s medical services. Cost is $40. Groups are welcome. Seating is limited to 32. Call 540-896-5001.

— March 1 is World Day of Prayer, a worldwide movement of Christian women. Over the decades, many women’s groups in Church of the Brethren congregations across the country have taken part in this annual ecumenical event in their local communities. Each year resources are provided by a different country. The host country for 2013, France, has developed resources on the theme, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” For more about the World Day of Prayer go to . For the 2013 worship resources go to .

— For International Women’s Day on March 8 the Global Women’s Project is providing a collection of worship resources to help pastors and congregations celebrate. Find the resources at . Included are litanies, hymn suggestions, and stories to enrich worship services.

— Belita Mitchell, pastor of First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., and a former Annual Conference moderator, received a “shout out” from the new board president of Heeding God’s Call, a grassroots initiative against gun violence in America’s cities that started at a Philadelphia meeting of the Historic Peace Churches. In her “state of the organizaiton” message, new board president Katie Day noted Mitchell’s service as chair of the Harrisburg chapter of Heeding God’s Call. She also noted recent accomplishments, including Heeding God’s Call participation in a Summit on Gun Violence at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University where “of the 450 participants, Heeding was the only grassroots, as well as faith-based, group represented and was acknowledged from the podium as such.” Day concluded, “As I write this, over 13,957 people have been shot in the US so far this year, 187 today…. We cannot ever forget these children of God. They are why we do what we do.”  More is at .

— Howard Royer, retired from longterm service on the Church of the Brethren staff, and his wife Gene made the news in Elgin, Ill., when they aided a postal carrier in distress. The “Courier News” covered the story under the title, “Police, post office praise elderly couple for helping hurt mail carrier.” The Royers stopped their car to help a woman lying on the sidewalk in severe pain, after she had slipped and fallen on ice. Find the story online at

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