The month of October offers congregations the opportunity to participate in two national observances promoting the welfare of families and children: Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Children’s Sabbaths Celebration. A calendar for learning the book of Philippians by heart also begins in October, offered by the Annual Conference moderator as a focus for Bible study in preparation for the 2014 annual meeting.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Throughout October, congregations are encouraged to raise awareness about the serious problem of domestic violence. Activities can be as simple as including a bulletin insert one Sunday, creating a bulletin board with facts about domestic violence, publicizing the National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-SAFE (7233) and 800-787-3224 (TDD), or remembering in prayer people who have been affected by domestic violence. Congregations may decide to ask a local domestic violence shelter to provide a program or help in a worship service or sermon focus on the topic. Whatever a congregation can do will raise awareness about domestic violence and may help someone in need. Materials include FaithTrust Institute’s bulletin insert and resource sheet, “Responding to Domestic Violence: What the Religious Community Can Do,” at www.brethren.org/family/domestic-violence.html . Additional information about domestic violence is available from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence at www.ncadv.org or 303-839-1852.
National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths Celebration
“Beating Swords into Plowshares: Ending the Violence of Guns and Child Poverty” is the theme for the National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths Celebration on Oct. 18-20. The third weekend of October is designated as a time for religious congregations of all faiths to unite in shared concern for children and common commitment to improving their lives and working for justice on their behalf. The Children’s Defense Fund sponsors this annual observation, guided by a multi-faith advisory committee. This year focuses on gun violence and the negative effects of poverty on children. Congregations are called to lift up and commit to realizing a vision in which all children and families know peace, security, and well-being. A Children’s Sabbath weekend typically has four elements: worship and prayer, educational programs, compassionate service, and follow-up actions to improve the lives of children. Find a link to a comprehensive manual to help a congregation observe Children’s Sabbaths on the Church of the Brethren Family Life Ministry page, www.brethren.org/family . The Family Life Ministry is a part of Congregational Life Ministries, and is staffed by Kim Ebersole.
A resource for learning Philippians by heart
Moderator Nancy Sollenberger Heishman is encouraging Brethren to read and study the New Testament letter of Philippians in preparation for the 2014 Annual Conference on a theme inspired by Philippians, “Live as Courageous Disciples.” She has provided a calendar for learning the book by heart, starting the week of Oct. 6 through June 29, 2014, the week prior to the 2014 Conference. “I invite us all to focus on just a few verses of Philippians each week, ‘treasuring God’s word in our hearts’ (Psalm 119:11a),” Heishman wrote in an introduction to the calendar. “Whether you actually memorize the entire book or selected passages or simply spend time each day in prayer and contemplation, it is my earnest desire that through these scriptures Jesus might call us all to boldly ‘Live as Courageous Disciples.’” Find the calendar online at www.brethren.org/ac/documents/philippians-memorization-guide.pdf .
More new resources available from Brethren.org
— The October Messenger study guide at www.brethren.org/messenger/studyguides.html is a resource for using the Church of the Brethren “Messenger” magazine for small group study and Sunday school classes.
— The Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) fall newsletter at www.brethren.org/gfcf/stories offers news and stories from this Brethren program working on food security and hunger.
— The October Missions prayer guide at www.brethren.org/partners/index.html#prayerguide gives a mission-focused prayer suggestion for each day of the month.
— A study guide from Christian Churches Together (CCT) at www.brethren.org/gensec is designed for small groups and Sunday school classes to study the response of church leaders 50 years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
— The Winter issue of “Seed Packet” at www.brethren.org/discipleship/seed-packet-2013-4.pdf is a newsletter for faith formation from Brethren Press giving information about the church’s latest Christian education and Bible study resources.
— October and November issues of “Tapestry,” a denominational newsletter provided for congregations and districts to share with their members, are posted at www.brethren.org/publications/tapestry.html .