Brethren Bits for March 21, 2013


In an ongoing celebration of its 275 years in ministry, Black Rock Church of the Brethren in Glenville, Pa., welcomed back its first paid minister–Earl K. Ziegler–as guest preacher on the first Sunday in March. Black Rock was established in 1738, and only hired its first full time pastor in 1960 after 222 years of plural nonsalaried ministry, said an announcement from current pastor David W. Miller. Following worship, church members joined in a carry-in meal and the sharing of stories, memories, and photos from the congregation’s long history. Upcoming activities include a Spring Fair on May 4, a summer focus on service to the community launched with a Vacation Bible School on the theme of peace, and a Fall Festival and Homecoming Weekend.

— James Edward Forbus, interim director of SERRV in the late 1980s, died March 7 at Frederick (Md.) Memorial Hospital. SERRV, a nonprofit organization with a mission to eradicate poverty by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide, began as a Church of the Brethren program. Forbus was born in Maverick, Texas, on June 15, 1932, to J. Douglass and Ruth M. Forbus. He married Elin B. Forbus on Aug. 22, 1953. He graduated from Baker School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a trombonist with the Austin Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Ezra Rachlin, and also did graduate study in public administration at the University of Southern California. His professional career included directing band for the Lubbock (Texas) Public Schools, and 30 years with the Social Security Administration and Internal Revenue Service in Texas, Louisiana, New York, and Maryland. He retired as IRS Deputy Associate Commissioner for Operations in Maryland in 1986. His service as interim director of the SERRV program based at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., followed his retirement. He is survived by his wife of almost 60 years, Elin Broyles Forbus, and son David Edward Forbus of Kerrville, Texas. He was preceded in death by an infant daughter, Deborah Lee Forbus. A memorial service will be held at Brook Hill United Methodist Church in Frederick on March 16 at 4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials are received to a charity of choice or to Brook Hill UMC music ministry. The full obituary from “The Frederick News-Post” is at .

— Northern Plains District has shared a remembrance of Herbert Michael, 96, who died on March 15. He served the Church of the Brethren as a mission worker in Nigeria from 1948-61, alongside his wife Marianne. His work in Nigeria included setting up generators to provide electricity for a mission hospital, wiring a mission station for electricity, operating the maintenance shop for mission vehicles, and setting up a two-way radio communication system. He also is remembered for planting trees for fruit and shade, and building a merry-go-round for village children out of used car parts. He was born Aug. 28, 1916, the son of a Church of the Brethren minister, and had a life-long commitment to peace. He attended McPherson (Kan.) College, Kansas State University, and Bethany Bible School. As a pacifist he served in Civilian Public Service (CPS) camp at Cascade Locks, Ore., during World War II, fighting forest fires. His witness for peace included joining in the protests at Fort Benning against the School of the Americas, and traveling with a contingent to Nicaragua to protect coffee pickers there. His extensive files on peace issues were donated to PEACE Iowa. In 1944 he married Marianne Krueger of Panora (Iowa) Church of the Brethren where he remained a member. Many Brethren were touched by the hospitality of the Michaels, who gathered a monthly Brethren Fellowship in their Iowa City home. A memorial service was held March 19 at Sharon Center United Methodist Church in rural Kalona, Iowa. The family has asked that memorial gifts go to On Earth Peace. A link to Herbert Michael’s full obituary is at .

— The World Council of Churches (WCC) has noted the ecumenical presence at the papal installation of Pope Francis, the new pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, who was installed on March 19 at the Vatican in Rome. The general secretary of the WCC, Olav Fykse Tveit, attended the mass along with other prominent religious and political leaders from around the world.
Ecumenical leaders who were present included Bartholomew I, the first Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople to attend a papal installation since the schism of 1054, the release said. Tveit attended “in order to give a significant expression of the WCC’s collaboration with the Roman Catholic Church, as well as our mutual commitment to church unity and the ecumenical movement,” the WCC said. “In close collaboration with Pope Francis, we look forward to building on this positive relationship with the Catholic Church that has been nurtured so carefully in the past,” Tveit said in his letter to the new pope. He also called on Christians to “use this opportunity to pray for and with Pope Francis to reconfirm that we need one another, to address the challenges of the world in our time.”

— Karen McKeever began March 15 as a temporary part-time assistant for National Older Adult Conference (NOAC), working with Kim Ebersole who is coordinator of NOAC and director of Family Life and Older Adult Ministry. She holds a bachelor’s degree in linguistics from Cal. State Fresno and a master’s degree in writing from De Paul University in Chicago. While assisting with NOAC preparations she will continue in her current position as assistant access services supervisor in the library at Judson University. She is a member of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill.

— April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. “Children are a gift from God and have been entrusted to us for nurture and care,” says Kim Ebersole, director of the denomination’s Family Life ministry. “Our congregations can play an important role in educating people about child abuse and ways to prevent and respond to abuse if it does occur.” Ebersole encourages congregations to devote some time in April, which is Child Abuse Prevention Month, to learning more about this serious problem. Resources are available at . Congregations also are encouraged to consider adopting a child protection policy if they have not already done so. Visit for information and sample policies.

— “Praise God!” says an announcement from the Global Mission and Service office. “On Feb. 6, L’Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti) became a legally recognized entity.” With this legal status, the church in Haiti can function as a denomination, mission staff report, and it can now ordain ministers and perform official ceremonies. This new legal status has broad implications for the Haiti Medical Project as well.

— Global Mission and Service will host a workcamp in South Sudan on April 19-28. Work will include digging foundations and clearing brush in preparation for the building of a Brethren Ministry Center. Another possible project will be construction work at a school in Lohila village. Cost of the workcamp is $2,500 per person, which includes roundtrip airfare, visa fees, overseas travel insurance, and all in-country expenses (lodging, food, and transportation). Visit for more information.

— “Leaders Shape the Future” is the title of a training event for deacons and other church leaders who provide care in congregations, hosted by First Church of the Brethren in Roaring Spring, Pa. Leading the workshop will be Stan Dueck, the Church of the Brethren’s director for Transforming Practices. The event takes place Saturday, April 20, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, with a continental breakfast served beginning at 8:30 a.m. Cost is $10. The registration deadline is April 15. Contact First Church of the Brethren, 901 Bloomfield St., Roaring Spring, PA 16673; 814-224-4113; .

— Hempfield (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a Church Leadership Conference on the topic “A Desert Spirituality: Learning from the Desert Fathers and Mothers” on April 10, 8:15 a.m.-4 p.m. Leadership is provided by Chris Hall, a chancellor of Eastern University and dean of Palmer Theological Seminary, who also leads Renovare Retreats and is the author of a number of books. Cost is $40, plus $10 for continuing education units. For more information contact David Young at or 717-615-4515.

— The Bittersweet Gospel Band has produced a music video to its song “Jesus in the Line,” written by Scott Duffey and produced by David Sollenberger. The Bittersweet Gospel Band is composed of several Church of the Brethren pastors–Gilbert Romero, Scott Duffey, Leah Hileman, and Dan Shaffer–as well as Brethren members Trey Curry and Kevin Walsh. They were assisted in this endeavor by Roanoke (Va.) First Church of the Brethren and Roanoke Renacer Church of the Brethren while filming a great deal at the Roanoke Rescue Mission. The band currently is looking for a sponsor to cover the costs of production and distribution (by DVD). Said an announcement: “If a church agency, a congregation, or an individual is interested in more detail, including putting a ‘Brought to you by…’ message at the beginning of the video, please be in touch with Scott Duffey ( or David Sollenberger (” The band hopes to release the music video sometime around Annual Conference.

— For the 36th year the Church of the Brethren will can meat in Ephrata, Pa., for disaster relief. The canning begins April 1 and continues through April 4, with April 10 scheduled for labeling. need volunteers for labeling on Wednesday, April 10. Funds are needed to purchase and ship the meat, and congregations that would like to send volunteers should call the Southern Pennsylvania District office at 717-624-8626.

— FaithQuest, a spiritual retreat for youth in grades 10-12 who are interested in growing in their faith, takes place at Camp Bethel on April 5-7 led by Virlina youth and adults who will teach about discovering God, self, and our relationships with others. Also at Camp Bethel later in the month, the Virlina District Children’s Cabinet will sponsor a “Back in Time Activity Day” on April 27 in the Deer Field Center with activities beginning at 9 a.m. This is for children K-5th grade and families, with living history demonstrations, presentations, activities, music, crafts, games, and snacks.

— John Staubus of Harrisonburg (Va.) First Church of the Brethren is bringing the meditation for the Easter Sunrise Service at CrossRoads Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center, held on the hilltop at CrossRoads at 7 a.m. on Easter Sunday. The men’s quartet from Harrisonburg First Church will provide special music. “Worship as the sun rises from behind Massanutten Peak,” said an invitation. For more information go to .

— A John Kline Lecture originally scheduled for this Sunday at the John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va., has been postponed until April 28.

— Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., has received a $445,039 grant from the National Science Foundation to fund a series of faculty development workshops to be held at Juniata College and other college and university campuses on genomics education over the next five years. A release from the college announced that the grant–which is one of about 20 awards spread across the US through the Research Coordination Networks: Undergraduate Biology Education program–will allow the Juniata-headquartered Genome Consortium for Active Teaching Using Next-Generation Sequencing Network (GCAT-SEEK) to recruit collaborative institutional partners from beyond the region. In its first year, the grant will fund a four-day seminar on Juniata’s campus, with subsequent locations for workshops the following years. The second-year workshop will be held at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa. In the third and fourth years, two workshops are scheduled each summer–one at Juniata and one at a minority-serving institution. Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md., hosts during year three and California State University at Los Angeles in year four. In the fifth year, only one workshop at Hampton University in Hampton, Va., is planned. “We’re creating educational laboratory modules that can be applied at liberal arts institutions across the United States,” says Vince Buonaccorsi, associate professor of biology at Juniata and lead principal investigator on the grant.

— McPherson (Kan.) College is marking its fifth year in a row on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor roll, reports a release from the college. McPherson is one of only five institutions in Kansas to accomplish a similar streak. “The joy of giving of self was apparent on the McPherson College campus last school year,” said Tom Hurst, director of service. Established under the Corporation for National and Community Service in 2006, the honor roll recognizes those institutions that encourage and support community service. Learn more at .

— Elizabethtown (Pa.) College was named to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction. This designation is the highest honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement said a release from the college which added that only four other Pennsylvania institutions of higher education earned the Honor Roll with Distinction award. “Elizabethtown College has a long history of service-learning and believes strongly in preparing our graduates to be active leaders and participants in an ever changing world,” said president Carl Strikwerda. “We’re honored to receive this prestigious award again this year–and owe much of it to the students themselves. They’re the energy driving our commitment and they’re the ones who make it all happen.”

— The Corporation for National and Community Service also has recognized Bridgewater (Va.) College. A release notes this is the second year that Bridgewater has been named to the Honor Roll. “Admission to the president’s honor roll pays high tribute to Bridgewater College and its ongoing commitment to community service,” said Roy Ferguson, interim president. Recent service-learning projects that have involved students, faculty, and staff include operating sports camps for children from impoverished backgrounds, volunteering at Special Olympics events, the “Read With an Eagle” program, food drives, trail maintenance for natural reserves, and Relay for Life fundraisers for the American Cancer Society.

— A public auction of classroom and faculty office furniture and electronics from the historic Administration Building of Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., is set for Saturday, April 13. Bidding begins at 10 a.m. inside the building at 604 E. College Ave. “Lots and lots of memories will go on the auction block,” said a release from the university. “While we expect to have a fair amount of alumni and faculty bidders, the sale will attract antique collectors and church schools, too. Much of the old furniture is solid oak. Even the chalk boards will go!” More than 400 student desks, 75 computers and data projectors and screens are up for bidding. Also on the sale bill: pews from Petersime Chapel. The auctioneer is Larry J. Miller of North Manchester. Preview items at 7 a.m. on the sale day. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Terms are cash or checks with identification. For more information about the sale visit or contact Scott Eberly at 260-982-5321.

— Manchester University also seeks nominations for its 2013 Warren K. and Helen J. Garner Alumni Teacher of the Year award. The honor goes to a current teacher in preschool through 12, who has made significant contributions to education, provides exceptional service to the profession, is deeply concerned for the individual students, is able to inspire learning. To nominate a Manchester graduate find more information at or contact the Department of Education at 260-982-5056. Deadline for nominations is March 29.

— Josh Fox, writer and director of “Gasland,” a finalist for an Academy Award in Best Documentary, is keynote speaker on April 23, during Elizabethtown (Pa.) College’s 6th annual Scholarship and Creative Arts Day. His visit culminates a year-long program of learning activities centered on natural gas production and resource extraction, reports a release from the college. At 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, in Leffler Chapel and Performance Center, Fox shares his thoughts on the processes of fracking and offers insights about how the process impacts individuals and society at large. The complete schedule of events for the day is at and includes a screening of the film “Gasland” at 7:30 p.m. that evening.

— Chicago (Ill.) First Church of the Brethren board chair Duane Ediger has been taking up the issue of fracking in the state of Illinois. Ediger has been doing prominent advocacy for renewable energy at the Chicago City Council and in the state capital Springfield, where he has been among those seeking a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” in Illinois.

— Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) invites applications to join Christian Peacemaker Corps. Applications are due by May 1. “Have you participated in a recent CPT delegation that whetted your appetite for embodied peace work, partnering with others working nonviolently for justice, and confronting the injustice that leads to war?” said the announcement. “Does CPT’s style of peacemaking, confronting injustice, and undoing oppressions fit with yours? Is now the time to take the next step and join the Peacemaker Corps?” Those who apply before May 1 will take part in CPT’s Peacemaker Training in Chicago, Ill., on July 19-Aug. 19. The organization seeks applicants available for stipend-eligible service, as well as reservists. Applicants must have participated in a short-term CPT delegation. For questions, e-mail Adriana Cabrera-Velásquez, personnel coordinator, at . The application and more information is at .

— Chet Thomas, executive director of Proyecto Aldea Global (PAG) in Honduras, has made an appeal for donations of two hay binder units in fairly good condition to help power a ferry boat. The ferry functions near a large hydroelectric dam called El Cajon, or “the box,” in an area where several PAG programs work. Two decades ago an access road between two rivers was cut off by the dam, greatly increasing the length and hardship of the trip between peoples’ homes and markets in northern Honduras. The connection of this area to the north is very important economically and politically, but the dam is too wide and deep to support a bridge. Volunteers built the first ferry in 2000, “Miss Pamela,” using out-of-date steel propane tanks, steel girders, etc. In order to move the 40- to 60-foot boat, a power unit was installed using motorized hay binders. The system has worked for 12 years, moving people, vehicles, heavy equipment, and cattle across a three-mile stretch of water 11 hours a day, 7 days a week–but the original hay binder units are now in need of replacement. Once donated, PAG staff will prepare units for shipment to Honduras. Contact Chet Thomas at or 305-433-2947.

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