Brethren Bits for April 8, 2014

— Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is asking for Christians to endorse an ecumenical letter urging a comprehensive agreement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger has signed the letter, and the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness is helping to promote it. A release from CMEP reported that “for the first time the Catholic, Coptic, Lutheran, and Episcopal heads of churches in Jerusalem and the Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Places are joining with US Christian denominations and groups to support urgent efforts to reach a comprehensive agreement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These prominent Christian leaders from Catholic, Orthodox, mainline Protestant, Evangelical, and Historic Peace Churches are endorsing Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to find a negotiated solution that will allow the communities of faith to flourish and improve in the Holy Land.” The letter “comes at a crucial time for the hope of peace in the Holy Land,” said CMEP executive director Warren Clark. More about the letter is at .

— The Haitian Family Resource Center–a ministry of Haitian First Church of the Brethren of New York, in Brooklyn–is hosting a re-registration event for Haitian Temporary Protected Status (TPS) on April 17. The event is co-hosted by New York City Council member Jumaane D. Williams, Brooklyn Defender Services, and Habnet and 45th District Haitian Relief Effort. This event is by appointment only, with lawyers and immigration professionals available to assist registrants with applications, said a release. “Eligible nationals of Haiti will receive an extended TPS for an additional 18 months, effective July 23, 2014, through Jan. 22, 2016,” the release said. This follows on the TPS status offered by the US to Haitians after the earthquake of 2010. “Hundreds of thousands of Haitians who lost their homes and loved ones continue to live in devastation in temporary tent cities,” said Williams in the release. “TPS has since helped many Haitians call the United States home while Haiti fights for recovery from this tragic disaster. In light of the sheer devastation, displaced families, homelessness crisis, and the broken economic system, we understand how impetrative TPS renewal is in reemergence of Haiti.” Those who want to extend their TPS status must re-register during a 60-day period from March 3-May 2, 2014. To RSVP for the event in Brooklyn contact Rachel Webster, director of constituent services, at 718-629-2900 or .

— Chicago (Ill.) First Church of the Brethren has launched a 12-week KAPacity! Violence Eradication Pilot Program. “Dr. E.L. Kornegay of the Baldwin-Delaney Institute at Chicago Theological Seminary is our facilitator,” said the Illinois and Wisconsin District newsletter. “Community members from across Chicago have joined us each Wednesday from 5:30-7:30pm for prayer, planning, and training as we collaborate together for youth and community development and the ending of violence. Please be welcome to join us.”

Photo courtesy of CDS
A view of the mudslide in Snohomish County, Wash. Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) deployed a team of volunteers to help care for children in nearby Darrington, where community members were lost in the slide.

— Pacific Northwest District executive Colleen Michael reports the district is collecting funds to aid those affected by the catastrophic mudslide in Washington State. “Donations received through the Pacific Northwest District Church of the Brethren (P.O. Box 5440, Wenatchee, WA 98807) are being sent directly to the Coastal Community Bank of Darrington,” she reports. “This fund (100 percent) is going directly to the immediate needs of families affected by this disaster.” The district also is encouraging donations to the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services, give at .

— The 22nd annual Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Auction is May 16-17 at the Rockingham County (Va.) Fairgrounds. “This year, the Auction Coordinating Committee has a new chair, Catherine Lantz of the Mill Creek Church of the Brethren, who succeeded Nancy Harlow when she completed her tenure,” the district newsletter said. The schedule of events is at and the auction is on Facebook at “Brethren Disaster Ministries Auction.”

— The Ministry and Mission in Virlina event will be May 3, starting at 8:30 a.m., at Topeco Church of the Brethren in Floyd, Va. The theme is “Taste and See” (Psalm 34:8). Patrick Starkey, pastor of Cloverdale Church of the Brethren, will be the preacher for the morning worship service. The district newsletter reported a number of workshops planned by the commissions and committees of the district board including “Her Finest Hours” by the Outdoor Ministries Committee, “NYC Bus Trip Information” by the Commission on Nurture, “Continuing Education for Ministers” and “Changes in Licensing Process” by the Commission on Ministry, “Do Diligence, Finances, and Taxes” by the Commission on Stewardship, “We’ve a Story to Tell!” by the New Church Development Committee, “Small and Serving the Lord” by the Commission on Witness. Continuing education credits are available. Refreshments and lunch will be provided by the Topeco congregation. Following lunch, an Annual Conference Delegate Briefing will begin at 1:30 p.m. led by the Virlina District Standing Committee delegates and Annual Conference moderator, Nancy Sollenberger Heishman.

— The 2014 Southern Ohio District Conference theme has been announced: “We Are God’s Servants Working Together.” The district conference will be Oct. 10-11 at Happy Corner Church of the Brethren.

— The “Brethren Helping Hands” group in Southern Ohio District has completed work at Mullen House at Bethany Seminary, announced the district newsletter. Mullen House was purchased by the seminary to provide affordable housing for students. Some 17 volunteers from Southern Ohio District worked a total of 62 days or 378 hours to help renovate the house. “Thank you to everyone who gave time and energy to assist Bethany to provide housing for our future leaders,” said the newsletter. “Brethren Helping Hands is now looking for our next project.” Go to .

— CrossRoads Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., will hold an Easter sunrise service at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 20, on the hilltop at CrossRoads (1921 Heritage Center Way). Bring a lawn chair or blanket. “The spectacular view of the sun rising behind Massanutten Peak warms even a chilly morning!” said the Shenandoah District newsletter.

— The 13th annual Sounds of the Mountains Festival of Music and Storytelling at Camp Bethel in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia, near Fincastle, Va., is April 11-12. The festival takes place rain or shine. The main stage will be inside the Deer Field Center. Featured are nationally known tellers Andy Offutt Irwin, David Novak, Ed Stivender, and Donna Washington, as well as music from the Luv Buzzards and New River Bound, plus the Back Porch Studio Cloggers. Go to for tickets and information.

— Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md., has announced that Dr. Sheikh Shehzad Parviz of Tristate Infectious Diseases LLC, will serve as a consultant to manage infectious disease. He will help treat residents who require antibiotic use, and will assist with the facility’s new Antibiotic Stewardship Program. “Antibiotic stewardship until recently was only practiced in acute care hospitals,” the release said. “Fahrney-Keedy’s stewardship program has several goals: limiting inappropriate use of antimicrobial medications; optimizing antimicrobial selection, dosing, and duration of therapy; and limiting the unintended consequences of antimicrobial use such as the emergence of resistance, adverse drug events and cost.”

— Five alumni of Bridgewater (Va.) College–three of them members of the Church of the Brethren–will be honored during an Alumni Weekend celebration April 11-13. Also on the weekend is inauguration of David W. Bushman as ninth president of Bridgewater (see the Newsline of March 18). Jim and Sylvia Kline Bowman, class of 1957 and members of Bridgewater Church of the Brethren, will receive the 2013 Ripples Society Medals. The Bowmans “were brought up in the Church of the Brethren and value the Brethren focus on nonviolence, peacebuilding, justice, and global unity,” a release said. “The Bowmans established the Kline-Bowman Endowment Fund for Creative Peacebuilding at Bridgewater. The endowment promotes programs, activities, academic work, and internships advancing the ideals of peace, nonviolence, and social justice, and protection of the earth’s environment. They hope this effort will cultivate these ethics in students as part of their broad education.” Christian M. Saunders, class of 1999 and a member of Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren, will receive the Young Alumnus Award. Saunders “has pursued a successful career in US intelligence…selected last year to attend the National War College,” the release said. Also honored: Douglas A. Allison, class of 1985, receiving the Distinguished Alumnus Award; and Bruce H. Elliott, class of 1976, receiving the West-Whitelow Humanitarian Award.

— In more news from Bridgewater, the college Equestrian Club will host “Horses’ Easter” at the Equestrian Center in Weyers Cave, Va., on Saturday, April 12, at 1 p.m. A release noted that elementary and pre-school students and their families are invited to the presentation, “The Guardians of Children,” featuring skits about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Jack Frost, Mother Nature, the Sandman, and the Tooth Fairy. Jerry Schurink, director of riding, will narrate the events. Children may reward horses with treats following the presentation. In lieu of admission, the Equestrian Club requests donations of canned goods for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.

— “The Juniata College art department enlisted three faculty artists and dozens of students to create hundreds of bowls for hungry diners for its eighth annual Empty Bowls event, which raises money to benefit various Huntingdon County food banks,” reports a release from the college. Empty Bowls starts at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 11, at Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa. Tickets are $10 for adults, $6 for children age 5 to 10, free for children under 5. Tickets are available at Unity House, where the campus ministry office is located, at Ellis Hall from 5:30-7 p.m. on April 9 and 10. Patrons who have paid the adult price will receive soup and bread, and a hand-made ceramic soup bowl from the college’s pottery program. A commemorative T-shirt may be purchased for $10 as part of the fundraising effort. Empty Bowls is sponsored by the college ceramics club Mud Junkies, the Art Alliance, peace studies club PAX-O, and the Catholic Council. Restaurants donate soups and other businesses donate services or supplies.

— In more news from Juniata, president James A. Troha will balance a cement block on his chest while lying on a bed of nails at Physics Phun Night. The event is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. on April 9, in Alumni Hall in the Brumbaugh Academic Center. It is free and open to the public. “Physics Phun Night’s highlight has always been the demonstration showing how the distribution of force over a wide area can lessen the effects of the force. President Troha will demonstrate this principle by allowing James Borgardt, professor of physics, to break the cement block with a sledgehammer as Troha lies on a bed of nails,” said a release. Other demonstrations at the event, sponsored by the Society of Physics Students, will include fiery methane bubbles, liquid nitrogen freezing a number of substances, an air cannon, the Bernoulli Effect with toilet paper, and more.

— Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., celebrates an International Fair with dance, food, music, children’s activities, and exhibits on Sunday, April 13, according to a release. Admission is free for the noon to 4 p.m. event in the Physical Education and Recreation Center. “A popular treat of the afternoon: samplings of international students’ favorite dishes from around the world, for a nominal fee,” said a release. “The students prepare the food in the university’s kitchen with assistance from Chef Chris and Chartwell’s food service personnel.” One student from Germany plans to make “linsen und spätzle,” a lentil dish,  and Schwarzwälder-Kirsch Trifle, a Black forest trifle. Also on the menu: a Vietnamese tofu dessert called Tau Hu Nuoc Duong, an Ethiopian spicy meat dish called kitfo, Bangladeshi mashed eggplant, and more. Twenty countries from six continents will be represented at the fair with dance and various art forms, music, food, and more.

— Send applications before May 1 to join the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) Corps summer 2014 training, said an invitation. “Did you participate 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? Does CPT’s style of peacemaking, confronting injustice, and undoing oppressions work fit with yours? Is now the time to take the next step and join the Peacemaker Corps?” The training will be held in Chicago, Ill., on July 11-Aug. 11. Find the application at . For answers to more specific questions, contact Adriana Cabrera-Velásquez, personnel coordinator, at .

— Five of the world’s major arms exporters are among a group of mostly European countries that ratified the world’s first Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on April 2, a year after the treaty was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The World Council of Churches (WCC) is celebrating this development. WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit release a statement saying, “It is especially important that five of the world’s top 10 arms exporters are among those ratifying today–France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK,” Tveit said. At this point 31 governments have ratified the ATT, but for the treaty to come into effect, 50 states need to ratify it, the WCC release said. Tveit noted that this example should be followed by the United States and Russia–the two largest arms exporters–as well as China. At the recent WCC assembly in South Korea, church delegates from more than 100 countries called for their governments to ratify and implement the Arms Trade Treaty. The WCC release noted that “armed violence and conflict kills approximately half a million people each year.” Read Tveit’s statement at .

— A group of Brethren scholars are developing a book series called “Passing the Privilege,” hoping to kick off the series with a first volume this year, according to a release. The series is planned “in order to contribute a Brethren perspective to the emerging interest in Anabaptist theology and practice,” the release said. The group includes Denise Kettering, assistant professor of Brethren Studies at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.; Kate Eisenbise Crell, assistant professor of Religion at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind.; Joshua Brockway, director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship for the Church of the Brethren; and Andrew Hamilton, adjunct faculty at Ashland (Ohio) Theological Seminary. The first book in the series titled “Cooperative Salvation: A Brethren View of Atonement” is by Eisenbise Crell and is to be published this fall with Wipf and Stock through a “Kickstarter” campaign seeking pledges for financial support. The book will offer an in-depth survey of historic views of atonement, including Anabaptist views of salvation, and a contemporary constructive theology of atonement, the release said. For more information contact .


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