Brethren Bits for Feb. 7, 2013

The Inter-Agency Forum, which consists of the Annual Conference Officers, the general secretary and the chair of the Mission and Ministry Board, the executives and board chairs of Brethren Benefit Trust, Bethany Theological Seminary, and On Earth Peace, and two representatives of the Council of District Executives, met Jan. 24-25 to coordinate together the work of the denomination as a whole.

— Matthew (Matt) DeBall begins Feb. 11 as the Church of the Brethren’s program assistant for Donor Relations, a new position located at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill. He is a 2012 graduate of Judson University in Elgin, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communication arts with a minor in biblical studies and literature. He has begun his seminary studies at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Ill. He is a member of First Baptist Church in DeKalb, Ill.

— Parker Thompson has begun as director of Camp Pine Lake in Eldora, Iowa, as of Jan. 1. He will continue to be a co-pastor at Ivester Church of the Brethren, where he has served for the past 10 months in pastoral ministry with his wife Katie, according to a Northern Plains District announcement. He holds a master of divinity degree from Bethany Theological Seminary, and in college studied recreational management, and has worked at various camping, environmental education, and adventure facilities across the country.

— New from Annual Conference moderator Bob Krouse is a prayer guide designed to begin with Ash Wednesday, Feb. 13, through the time of the 2013 Conference in Charlotte, N.C., in  early July. The guide invites Brethren into a period of spiritual preparation for the Conference, beginning during the Lenten season with a focus on “The Inward Journey” and continuing in April with a focus on “The Outward Journey” and concluding in the months of May and June with a focus on “The Journey Forward.” Find it at .

— The Church of the Brethren has “made” the list of organizations and celebrities identified by the NRA as “anti-gun.” The list–referred to in the blogosphere as the “NRA enemies list”–is numerous and includes several Christian denominations as well as the YWCA, American Medical Association, American Bar Association, US Conference of Mayors, National Association of Police Organizations, and many many more. Find the list as reported by the Conservative Daily News at

— On Feb. 4 the Church of the Brethren took part in a national call-in day to Congress as part of the ecumenical coalition, Faiths Calling to Prevent Gun Violence. The denomination’s Advocacy and Peace Witness Ministries send an alert about the event that involved 40 religious organizations and was organized by the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism. “We hope that by teaming up with them and other religious organizations, Congress will hear an overwhelming and faithful voice demanding change,” the alert said. The alert noted the Church of the Brethren’s long history of witness against the proliferation of violence and church statements repeatedly calling on the nation to address gun violence. For the full alert, which includes a list of Annual Conference statements and church resolutions having to do with gun violence, and the policy changes suggested by the religious coalition, go to . For more about the Advocacy and Peace Witness Ministries, contact Nathan Hosler, advocacy officer, c/o National Council of Churches, 110 Maryland Ave. NE, Suite 108, Washington, DC 20002; or 202-481-6943.

— Brethren Press’ 2013 Lenten devotional, “The Practice of Paying Attention” by Dana Cassell, is still available to order in time for the start of Lent. $2.50 per copy, $5.95 for large print, plus shipping and handling. Or buy an e-book version in either e-pub or pdf format for $2. Call 800-441-3712 or purchase online at .

— Joshua Brockway, director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship, is presenting a paper at a conference at Regent University School of Divinity in early March. The paper, “One Body, Many Parts: Reclaiming the Ecclesial Context of the Spiritual Gifts,” is based on the work of the denomination’s Congregational Life Ministries staff on spiritual gifts. Brockway has been working on a spiritual gifts project for the Church of the Brethren, along with Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices, and Donna Kline, director of the Deacon Ministry. Find the schedule for the conference at .

— Brockway also again this year is offering a calendar for reading the Psalms during Lent. Find it at . It is one of two Lenten resources offered by Congregational Life Ministries staff, alongside a prayer blog accompanying the Brethren Press Lenten devotional. The Congregational Life prayer blog will be available starting Ash Wednesday, Feb. 13, at .

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
The worship planning team for the 2013 National Junior High Conference met at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., in early February. Shown here are team members (from right) Christopher Montgomery, Bethany Clark, Sarah Kolbe, music coordinator Mandy Garcia, Rachel Witkovsky who is the coordinator of the conference, and Becky Ullom Naugle, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries.

— “Dearest friends, registration for attendance at the 57th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women Forum is open,” says a note from Doris Abdullah, the Church of the Brethren representative to the UN. “The session runs from March 3-March 15. The theme is: Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls. Hope to see you.” Speakers at the opening “consultation day” on March 3 include Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkwol Karman of Yemen. Cost is $100 to attend the March 3 events, or $50 for youth participants. Find out more and register at .

— On Feb. 24, J. Floyd Wine will celebrate his 96th birthday by preaching at Calvary Church of the Brethren in Winchester, Va. Shenandoah District’s announcement of the milestone notes, “Brother Floyd, licensed in 1940 and ordained in 1942, was in ministry at Calvary from 1950-1968. He has been a significant mentor and role model for many.”

— “Job well done!” comments a note from South Central Indiana District congratulating the youth group at Northview Church of the Brethren in Indianapolis for raising $2,232 to help youth attend workcamps this summer.

— Codorus Church of the Brethren in Dallastown, Pa., assembled 165 Emergency Clean-Up Buckets in memory of Dean Godfrey, on Dec. 1, 2012. The buckets were shipped to the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. “Funds were raised throughout the year by special offerings, soup and salad lunches, Sunday school class donations, and silent auctions,” reports the Southern Pennsylvania District newsletter. “A special thank you goes to Zachary Wolgemuth, Bob Eisemann, and to Loganville True Value Hardware store for all their help and cooperation.”

— Eversole Church of the Brethren is hosting a Southern Ohio District event titled “Focus on Finance,” on Feb. 9. The Southern Ohio Shared Ministries Commission is offering workshops designed to help church members get a better handle on family finances including “How to Talk to Adult Kids about Your Finances,” “Help! There’s Too Much Month at the End of My Money,” “Missional Budget Planning: Not Your Parent’s Stewardship,” “Why Young Adults Leave the Church and What to Do about It.” An announcement noted this is a repeat event, and that “those who attended the January event appreciated the information and fellowship.” Cost is $10. Pre-registration is required. Child care will be available if needed. Go to to register online, payment requires a credit card.

— Mount Pleasant Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg, Va., is hosting the CrossRoads annual meeting and dinner on Feb. 8 at 6:30 p.m. For reservations call 540-438-1275.

— The annual World Hunger Auction in Virlina District has already kicked off events for 2013 with a Pancake Breakfast at Antioch Church of the Brethren on Jan. 12. The next event will be a Winter Music Festival at Germantown Brick Church of the Brethren on Feb. 10 at 4 p.m. featuring two gospel music groups, Haw Patch and After Jack. Refreshments will follow the music, plan to arrive early because a large crowd is expected. The main event of the World Hunger Auction is Aug. 10. at Antioch Church. “Great things have happened over the last 29 years because of the participation of many hard working and dedicated people who want to make an impact on hunger in the world,” said a note in the Virlina District “E-Headliner.”

— Other upcoming events in Virlina District include “Pilgrimage XVII” on March 15-17 at Camp Bethel, a spirit-filled experience for adults of all ages. The deadline for registration is Feb. 16, contact 336-765-5263 or .

— Shenandoah District has begun a “Mystery Guest” program and reports, “we now have several churches requesting visitations.” If you would enjoy visiting a church in the district, and completing a form about your experience there, contact Sandy Kinsey at the district office, 540-234-8555 or . Give your name, phone number, and e-mail address.

— Chaplain Dan Lehigh is thanking all who helped make this cookie season a success for Southern Pennsylvania District’s Truck Stop Ministry. Some 13,366 bags of cookies were supplied for distribution this holiday season. “It went smoothly with all cookies being distributed weekly,” said his note in the district newsletter. “We received many cards, letters, phone calls, and personal greetings from grateful drivers and travelers. Only eternity will reveal how many lives were touched.”

— Feb. 23 is Camp Mack’s “Maple Syrup Get Away Day”–an opportunity for family and friends to get together at the camp for “maple syruping.” “Nothing better than a snowy day with the sun shining and the sap dripping,” reads a Facebook post. The first run of maple syrup at the camp near Milford, Ind., has already begun, the post notes. Feb. 23 will start off with a pancake breakfast over the fire, and real maple syrup. Cost is $10. Register at .

— Three presidents of Brethren-related schools are among “College Presidents for Gun Safety,” a lengthy list of leaders of colleges, universities, and seminaries urging Congress to take steps on gun violence. Elizabethtown (Pa.) College president Carl J. Strikwerda, Manchester University president Jo Young Switzer, and University of La Verne president Devorah Lieberman have signed the open letter, which does not represent any formal group or organization. The letter reads in part: “As educators and parents, we come together to ask our elected representatives to act collectively on behalf of our children by enacting rational gun safety measures, including:
— Ensuring the safety of our communities by opposing legislation allowing guns on our campuses and in our classrooms
— Ending the gun show loophole, which allows for the purchase of guns from unlicensed sellers without a criminal background check
— Reinstating the ban on military-style semi-automatic assault weapons along with high-capacity ammunition magazines
— Requiring consumer safety standards for all guns, such as safety locks, access prevention laws, and regulations to identify, prevent and correct manufacturing defects.” Find the letter and list of those signing it at .

— Diana Butler Bass, noted author and theologian, will speak on the future of the church for the Anna B. Mow Endowed Lecture at Bridgewater (Va.) College on Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. in Cole Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public.

— A one-woman play based on the writings of a 23-year-old American who was killed by an Israeli Army bulldozer in 2003 will be presented at Bridgewater College Feb. 21-24 in Cole Hall. “My Name is Rachel Corrie,” recommended for mature audiences, was taken from Corrie’s writings and edited by Alan Richman and Katharine Viner. On March 16, 2003, Corrie was crushed to death in the Gaza strip as she was trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home. The play is composed from her journals, letters, and e-mails, creating a portrait of the young woman who left home and school to work as an activist in the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Since its first performance, the play has raised difficult questions about problems without easy solutions,” said a release. Performances are at 8 p.m. Feb. 21, 22, and 23, and at 3 p.m. on Feb. 23 and 24. A talk-back will follow each performance and Corrie’s parents will take part in the Feb. 22 talk-back. Reservations are required call 540-828-5631 for tickets. Tickets are $9 for adults and $7 for seniors and non-Bridgewater students. The production is directed by Scott W. Cole, associate professor of theater. Playing the role of Corrie are Jessie Houff (8 p.m. performances), a senior art major with a minor in theater, and Aislinn H. Mirsch (3 p.m. matinees), a junior international studies major with a minor in cultural studies.

— In a related event at Bridgewater College, the parents of Rachel Corrie will present their daughter’s story and their own work with the people of Palestine and Israel at 4 p.m. on Feb. 22 in the Boitnott Room in the Kline Campus Center. The presentation is sponsored by the Kline-Bowman Endowment for Creative Peacebuilding and is open to the public at no charge.

— An annual “Meal for CROP” was held at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., on Feb. 5 in the college dining facility. Sponsored by the campus ministry office, students sacrificed the evening meal so those meals could be sold to the general public. The money raised was donated to CROP, an organization of Church World Service. The Huntingdon Forum of Churches also sponsored the meal, said a release. Over 20 years, the Huntingdon community has raised more than $50,000 for hunger through this event, with each year 75 percent of funds going to CROP and 25 percent donated to the Huntingdon Area Food Bank.

— Juniata College also announces a new Environmental Geology Program of Emphasis (POE), approved for the incoming freshman class of next year. Students currently enrolled can now earn bachelor’s degrees in the new degree program. “A POE is an individualized program, similar to a ‘major’ …which can combine any area of study that interests students,” a release explained. “The Program of Emphasis allows students to take classes, work on projects, and pursue internships in two or even three study areas.” The new program differs from the core geology degree by emphasizing physical environmental science and requiring students to take a full year of introductory environmental science courses; students will take upper-level courses focusing on applied geosciences; and students will take courses from a Societal Impacts track in which they study how humans interact with the Earth. The new focus allows Juniata’s geology faculty to include a group of courses that are centered on geology and societal concerns including Death and Destruction by Nature, Oceanography, Energy Minerals and Society, Soil Science and Global Climate Change. For more go to .

— Elizabethtown (Pa.) College’s S. Dale High Center for Family Business is holding a seminar on “Energy Efficiency” Feb. 21 from 8-10:30 a.m. in Room 110 of the James B. Hoover Center for Business. Topics will include right and wrong ways to evaluate the financial viability of saving energy. The workshop will feature Mike Mumper of High Energy Solutions and Frank Richards of Richards Energy Group. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Call 717-361-1275 or e-mail to register.

— Elizabethtown (Pa.) College is holding Judy S. and Paul W. Ware Colloquium on Peacemaking and Global Citizenship this month. Events are free and open to the public. On Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Koon’s Activity Venue in Brossman Commons is a seminar on “Mass Shootings in America: Moving Beyond Newtown” with James Alan Fox, the Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law and Public Policy, at Northeastern University. On Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. in the Susquehann Room of Myer Hall is a panel discussion on Afghanistan with the CEO of Aid Afghanistan, and women’s rights activist Hassina Sherjan; Matt Southworth, legislative associate on foreign policy with the Friends Committee on National Legislation; Steve Simon from the International Institute for Strategic Studies-US; Joyce Davis, president of the Harrisburg World Affairs Council; moderated by Jonathan Rudy, Global Peacemaking Scholar-in-Residence who recently returned from Afghanistan where he worked with peace building and development issues under OXFAM. Visit for more information.

— Manchester University’s campus ministry reports that the Simply Brethren student group has been active this school year, with an average of 20 students attending any given gathering. “Our fall schedule included a love feast service, visits by Tracy Primozich of Bethany Theological Seminary and Becky Ullom of the denominational Youth/Young Adult Ministry office, a visit to the nearby Kindy-Gross farm, a retreat at Camp Mack, a Christmas party and, of course, ice cream!” said a recent newsletter. The report from campus minister Walt Wiltschek added that the ROBOT (Radically Obedient Brethren Outreach Team) is preparing for its third year of providing worship leadership with stops planned in Northern Indiana District and South Central Indiana District from late February to early May. For more about Simply Brethren go to .

— The February “Brethren Voices” comes all the way from Japan, where host Brent Carlson interviews Rachel Buller, a Brethren Volunteer Service worker at the Asian Rural Institute in Nasushiobara. Producer Ed Groff notes that BVS is currently training its 300th unit of volunteers since 1948. The Asian Rural Institute teaches sustainable organic farming to the grassroots leaders of marginalized countries, who come from many different countries for a 9-month training. “At the heart of the program is the concept of ‘Foodlife’–a term designed to recognize and value the Interdependence between life and the food that sustains all of life,” Groff writes. In March, “Brethren Voices” will focus on gun violence and actions recommended by the Church of the Brethren together with the coalition Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence. More information about “Brethren Voices,” a television show produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren, is available from Ed Groff at .

— This Saturday morning, the Springs of Living Water Academy for Church Renewal launches its new course “Foundations for Church Renewal.” Five interactive two-hour telephone conference calls will be spread over a 12-week period, guided by a syllabus with formal learning objectives. Pastors who take part will have members of their congregations “walk alongside” through readings and opportunities to give invaluable input. On a daily basis, participants will utilize a spiritual disciplines folder on the 12 classic disciplines from Richard Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline,” mimicking something congregations do when they take part in the Springs Initiative. The main text will be David Young’s “Springs of Living Water, Christ-Centered Church Renewal,” which focuses on John 4 and the story of the woman at the well to teach a comprehensive, spiritually centered, servant-led path of church renewal. Pastors who take the course are expected to write a seminal paper and will receive continuing education credit. For more information contact David Young at .

— A “Fact Not Fiction” campaign has been created by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) to help people of faith to “question the fictional account of history as seen in the movie ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ and to advocate for the public release of the facts of US-sponsored torture.” Fact Not Fiction aims to educate about the facts of torture, and advocate for release to the public of the Senate Committee on Intelligence Torture Report. NRCAT also is offering an alternate film particularly for viewing between now and the end of June, which is Torture Awareness Month: the 20-minute “Ending US-Sponsored Torture Forever.” Congregations are encouraged to show the short film particularly on the weekend of Feb. 22-24 to coincide with the Academy Awards. For more go to .

— A “Peace First Prize” for youth peacemakers has been announced by the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and by Peace First, a new national nonprofit “that teaches peacemaking skills to young people and empowers them to become engaged leaders in their communities,” according to a release. Youth winners of the prize will be age 8-22 and will receive a $50,000 fellowship over two years to further their peacemaking work. Said Peace First co-founder and president Eric D. Dawson, “The Peace First Prize signals a new era of peacemaking–one where young people are finally recognized for their important contributions and solutions to injustices they see around them on a daily basis.” Peace First partner organizations include 4-H, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Girl Scouts, Teach for America, the American Association of School Administrators, and American Federation of Teachers, among others. Prize Fellows will be chosen and announced in September. For more information visit .

— “Into the Next Chamber: A Journey Worth Considering” is a new book by a Brethren author, Ralph G. McFadden of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill. His second, the book includes 38 essays or reflections on the theme of “moving into the next chamber of life” based on the image of the Nautilus sea creature who repeatedly creates a new chamber in its shell and moves into the new and larger space as it grows. The book includes blank pages for readers to journal in response to essays. McFadden writes in a note to Newsline the book may be of most interest to “progressive thinkers” who want to reflect seriously on their own motivations and opportunities. Contact .

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