Brethren Bits for April 22, 2014

“Oak Grove’s youth group has started on their NYC pillows! Has anyone else?” said a recent Facebook post from the National Youth Conference (NYC) office. Youth and advisors have just a few days left to register for NYC before the price goes up to $500 on May 1. All participants are encouraged to register as soon as possible to avoid a late fee. NYC is held every four years for youth who have finished ninth grade through one year of college, and their adult advisors. The week of NYC includes worship services twice a day, Bible studies, workshops, small groups, hiking, service projects, and outdoor recreation. NYC is held on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. The NYC 2014 theme is “Called by Christ, Blessed for the Journey Together” (Ephesians 4:1-7). Go to . Courtesy of NYC Office.

— The Annual Conference First Aid Room is looking for trained medical personnel who are planning to attend the Conference this July in Columbus, Ohio, who are willing to volunteer for a few hours. If you are an RN, LPN, MD, DO, or EMT and could serve at least a few hours, would you please contact Dr. Judy Royer at: .

— Brethren Disaster Ministries is seeking new project leaders. A two-week training in August will give new leaders the tools needed to help manage the volunteer household, manage weekly volunteers, and support the construction projects. No specific skills are required, but some construction experience is very helpful. Project leaders stay on the work site for a month or more each year. Contact Jane Yount at or call 800-451-4407.

— “Please pray for EYN,” said an e-mail from a leading member of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), after more than 200 girls attending a government secondary school in Chibok in northeastern Nigeria were kidnapped last Tuesday, April 15, by the terrorist group Boko Haram. The school was in Chibok, which is in the former Church of the Brethren Mission area in Nigeria, and the e-mail reported that most of the kidnapped girls are EYN members. “The media is not presenting true picture,” the e-mail added. Media reported incorrectly over the weekend that most of the girls had been rescued by the Nigerian military, a statement that was revealed to be incorrect in a Voice of America interview with the headmistress of the school. “Since the government decided to close down some schools in Bama, Maiduguri, and northern part of Adamawa State due to continued attacks on schools, southern Borno State became a save heaven for final year students,” reported another EYN staff member. “Chibok Government Girls Secondary School is an old school and has produced notable EYN members.”

The Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center Governing Board held its spring meeting at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College on April 9. The meeting also included district executive ministers from Atlantic Northeast, Southern Pennsylvania, Middle Pennsylvania, Western Pennsylvania, and Mid-Atlantic Districts. Donna Rhodes, executive director of SVMC, noted an “exciting collaborative spirit was present at the meeting” which included Bethany Seminary president Jeff Carter, Bethany Seminary academic dean Steven Schweitzer, and executive director of the Office of Ministry and associate general secretary Mary Jo Flory-Steury. Carter spoke of his early ministerial training that included involvement with SVMC and reaffirmed the cooperative relationship between Bethany Seminary and the district-based ministerial training provided by SVMC. Photo courtesy of Phil King.

— Jordan Run (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren in West Marva District will host an “Evening to Share About Bethany Seminary” on May 27 at 7 p.m. Ted Flory of Bridgewater, Va., will be the guest facilitator, and any interested persons are encouraged to attend, said the district newsletter. For additional information contact 304-749-8172.

— Two Praise Gatherings are planned this Spring in West Marva District. Each gathering will include a statement on the District Conference theme from moderator Steve Sauder, said the district newsletter. Adam and Katie Brenneman, Praise and Worship Leaders at Oak Park Church of the Brethren in Oakland, Md., will be among those leading worship at Living Stone Church of the Brethren in Cumberland, Md., on April 27 at 3 p.m. Music will be shared by the Bear Creek Church of the Brethren Choir as well as the Living Stone church’s Bluegrass Praise Band. The second gathering is to be at Shiloh Church of the Brethren near Kasson, W.Va., on May 25 at 3 p.m. An offering to support district ministries will be received at each event.

— Ephrata (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a “Creative Church Workshop” on May 3, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., led by Dave Weiss of AMOK Arts. “How do you take the unchanging message of the Gospel to an ever-changing world? Very creatively!” said an announcement in the Atlantic Northeast District newsletter. The event is for pastors, church leaders, “and creatives of all disciplines.” Cost is $30 per person. For more information contact .

— Gettysburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is planning ahead for the fall with a Peace Witness Event titled “Peace, Pies, and Prophets” on Sept. 21, presented by Ted and Company. “You will be entertained by a hilarious and poignant satire that explores peace, justice, and the American way–starring Ted Swartz and Tim Ruebke,” said an announcement. “This thought-provoking show allows us to laugh at ourselves, while engaging us to think about how to work for peace and justice worldwide.” The show “I’d Like to Buy an Enemy” will be interspersed with a pie auction fundraiser. Homemade pies will be auctioned for the cause of peace. Admission is free, but opportunities will be given for freewill offerings.

— Western Pennsylvania District has designated April 27 as “Tithing Sunday” focusing on a text from Deuteronomy 16:16-17, “…Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord God has blessed you.” The district is providing a special bulletin insert that also includes other biblical references to giving and tithing, as well as quotes from famous people about giving and why we give. “Our tithe is our way of thanking God who gives so much to us,” said the document from the district Stewards and Finance Team.

— Atlantic Northeast District will hold its district conference on Oct. 4, with the theme “Building up the Body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-16). The district newsletter has announced sectional meetings in September that will commit the district conference to prayer: Sept. 9 at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, Sept. 17 at Parker Ford Church of the Brethren in Pottstown, Pa., and Sept. 18 at Hershey (Pa.) Spring Creek Church of the Brethren. The district conference will be voting on a sectional reorganization of the district, among other items of business, the newsletter said. Sherry Eshleman is moderator of the conference.

— Also in Atlantic Northeast District, several opportunities for senior adults are planned. The district is holding two Senior Adult Spring Banquets: April 24 a lunch and program at Hanoverdale (Pa.) Church of the Brethren features the Bollinger Family Music group (cost is $12.50); and May 7 a lunch and program at Indian Creek Church of the Brethren in Harleysville, Pa., features the Miracles Quintet (cost is $14). Three senior adult trips are planned for June and July: a bus coach trip to Cape Cod and area attractions June 16-19, $649; a bus coach trip to Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio, July 2-6, $549; and a Pacific Northwest tour from Seattle to San Francisco including several national parks July 14-25, $4,598. Brochures with more information are available, contact 717-560-6488 or .

— The 20th annual Family Fun Walk will be hosted by COBYS Family Services at Peter Becker Community in Harleysville, Pa., on May 4. Registration begins at 3:15 p.m., the walk at 4 p.m. The three-mile walk will be followed by ice cream and refreshments, and door prizes. Walkers donate or enlist sponsors to benefit COBYS ministries to children and families. For more information contact 800-452-6517 or .

— Good Shepherd Workshops at Good Shepherd Home in Fostoria, Ohio, in April focus on the topics “Loving Well Through Difficult Times” on April 23, with refreshments at 6:30 p.m. and the workshop at 7-8 p.m. (this workshop is free and open to the public); and “Caring for the Caregivers” on April 24, starting with lunch at 12:30 p.m. and the workshop at 1-4:30 p.m.; and a second time on April 25, with continental breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and workshop at 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (cost is $20 to cover workshop, meal, and CEU credits). The presenter is Susan Parrish-Sprowl, Ph.D., LCSW, president of Parrish-Sprowl and Associates Inc. in Indianapolis. These workshops are sponsored in part by Northern Ohio District. Continuing education credit for either workshop is .325 for clergy through the Brethren Academy, 3.25 for nurses through the Ohio Nurses Association. Call the chaplain’s office at 419-937-1801 ext 207 with questions.

— Camp Swatara dedicates a Memorial Garden on May 18 at 3 p.m. Funds to establish the garden were given in memory of Grace Heisey, who with her husband Adam served as Family Camp managers, and in memory of Ron Mellinger, said the Atlantic Northeast District newsletter. People connected to the camp can request permission to use the garden for depositing ashes following cremation.

— Camp Galilee in West Marva District will host a Senior Citizen’s Camp on June 3. The morning events are led by David and Ann Fouts of Jordan Run Church of the Brethren, who will lead a discussion on opportunities to serve as volunteers and the choice to “wear out” and not “rust out.” A musical finale led by Jeannie Whitehair will follow lunch. A freewill offering will go toward repairs of a dam, as a local ministry. Register by May 27. Call the West Marva District Office at 301-334-9270.

— The John Kline Homestead is remembering John Kline’s life, 150 years later, with a special event on June 14-15. The homestead in Broadway, Va., will remember the Civil War-era Brethren leader and martyr for peace with a two-day event for all ages on the 150th anniversary of his death. The commemoration will include activities for children and youth, tours of the homestead and other historic sites, lectures by noted historians, worship, a closing memorial service, and a play written by Paul Roth, “Under the Shadow of the Almighty.” For more information contact 540-896-5001 or .

— Jeffrey W. Carter, president of Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., will provide the 2014 commencement address at Bridgewater (Va.) College on May 17, at 10 a.m. The topic of his address is “A Lasting Impression,” said a release from the college. As many as 385 seniors are expected to receive degrees at the commencement exercises, which will take place on the campus mall. W. Steve Watson Jr., associate professor of philosophy and religion, emeritus, will deliver the message at the baccalaureate service on May 16, at 6 p.m., on the campus mall. He will speak on “Why a Liberal Arts Education in a Christian Context?” Watson was a member of the Bridgewater faculty and community for 43 years, retiring at the end of the 2013 academic year. His students also included Dr. Carter. For more information go to .

— Manchester University’s union has a new name: Jo Young Switzer Center. D. Randall Brown, chair of the Board of Trustees, announced the naming at an April 10 donor appreciation dinner that quickly turned to a celebration of the leadership of President Switzer, said a release from the college. President Switzer retires June 30. “At the dinner, Brown praised the president for contributing a legacy of strategic and mission-focused leadership that has transformed the university’s academic breadth, financial strength, enrollment, and visibility,” the release said. “During the Switzer tenure, Brown noted, the university has increased enrollment 25 percent, added a four-year Doctor of Pharmacy program on a new Fort Wayne campus, raised more than 95 percent toward a Students First! $100 million campaign, and dedicated several new learning facilities, including the union. Manchester also embraced a new name: University.” Switzer and her husband, professor Dave Switzer, also were recognized at the dinner as members of the Otho Winger Society–donors who have included the university in their estate plans. The $8 million Jo Young Switzer Center opened as the Union in 2007.

— Composer Shawn Kirchner, of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, will share his Middle Earth guide to daily creativity with his alma mater when he will be on the Manchester University campus in North Manchester, Ind., to give a lecture. Kirchner will talk about his unconventional process and perform his music on April 28 in the Jo Young Switzer Center. The free lecture begins at 7 p.m.; reservations are not necessary. “It’s about the ability to see big possibilities in small things,” he said in a release. “I call it a ‘Middle Earth’ schedule, because my day is divided into hobbit time, elf time, dwarf time, and human time,” he explained, referring to characters in the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. Kirchner is the Swan Family Composer in Residence for the Los Angeles Master Chorale. He provided vocals for box office hits “Avatar,” “The Lorax,” “Frozen,” and “X-Men First Class.” His choral compositions are performed throughout the United States and abroad in concert halls, churches, schools, and on radio, television, and YouTube. The release noted that he is best known for his arrangement of the Kenyan song “Wana Baraka.” More information is at .

— Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., will dedicate its first single-room residence hall and the first new dormitory on campus since the 1970s, on April 25. A dedication ceremony will start with tours and refreshments at 4:15 p.m. at the building located off Cold Springs Road, said a release. The building is named Hilda Nathan Residence Hall in honor of Hilda Nathan, a longtime Juniata employee who worked in the treasurer’s office 1946-76. “Hilda throughout her time at the college became well known to students for her efforts to do all she could to help them pay for a Juniata education,” said Gabriel Welsch, vice president for advancement and marketing, in the release. “Hilda’s compassion for students is legendary among our alumni from the ’50s to the ’70s. She loaned students money, found scholarships, and helped them stay at Juniata when finances may otherwise have stood in the way of their earning their degrees.” The dedication ceremony itself will begin at 4:45 p.m. with several people bringing remarks including Juniata president James A. Troha, board of trustees chair Robert McDowell, chaplain David Witkovsky, president of student government Anshu Chawla and president-elect Kunal Atit, and Carly Wansing, project manager for Street Dixon Rick Architecture.

— In more news from Juniata, the college gained third place in an AVCA Top 15 Coaches Poll. In a release, Jennifer Jones, director of Sports Information, reported that “a couple days after earning their second consecutive Continental Volleyball Conference (CVC) championship, Juniata College men’s volleyball held onto its No. 3 national ranking, the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll announced.” To see the full coaches poll go to . Stay up-to-date on the Juniata College Eagles by logging onto or following on Twitter @JuniataEagles .

— In his Easter reflections, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit called this year an “opportunity for shared testimony to the Resurrection” since churches from both eastern and western traditions of Christianity celebrated Easter on the same day, April 20. “It is something that ought to happen every year, for the sake of Christian unity and common witness in the world,” said Tveit, who invited the churches to “press on with greater determination in seeking a way forward to the recognition of a common date for this festival.” He also offered prayers for people everywhere, particularly mentioning Syria and the Middle East, Ukraine, South Sudan, Nigeria, and the Central African Republic. Read the Easter letter at . The WCC has posted a FAQ document about the date of Easter at .

— In more news from the World Council of Churches, an international consultation on peace, reconciliation, and reunification of the Korean peninsula will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, in June. The announcement was made April 9 by WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit at a press conference in Seoul, Republic of Korea. This follows on a statement on peace and reunification of the Korean Peninsula adopted by the WCC Assembly in Busan last year, said a release. Those invited to the consultation will include representatives from the Korean Christian Federation in North Korea, South Korean churches, and other ecumenical partners committed to work for peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula. Find the WCC statement on Peace and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula at .

— Kristen Bair, former administrative secretary for Northern Ohio District, appeared in Ashland (Ohio) County Common Pleas Court yesterday for a sentencing hearing. She was convicted in February of embezzling $400,000 from the district. She received a six-month sentence in the Ashland County Jail for the crime of aggravated theft. The judge suspended two months of the sentence, making the length of her incarceration four months, after which she will serve five years probation, reported the district office in an e-mail yesterday. In addition she must receive counseling for her problems with handling money, serve 400 hours of community service, and pay $395,000 in restitution to the Northern Ohio District.

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