Brethren Bits for Aug. 26, 2014

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
The assistant workcamp coordinators for the 2015 workcamp season are Theresa Ford and Hannah Shultz

— The Workcamp Office of the Church of the Brethren has welcomed Theresa Ford and Hannah Shultz as assistant coordinators for the 2015 Brethren workcamp season. They will serve through Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS), working at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Ford has spent the last year serving in BVS in Waco, Texas, and comes originally from Atlantic Northeast District. Shultz graduated from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., in May with a degree in Religious Studies, and is originally from the Baltimore, Md., area.

— A shipment of relief materials has been sent to Kentucky by the Material Resources program based at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., in response to an urgent request from Church World Service (CWS). Clean-up buckets, blankets, and hygiene kits were shipped to Garrett, in Floyd County, Ky., “bringing practical comfort to people…who are struggling amidst multiple disasters–including flash flooding that overwhelmed schools and homes on Aug. 12,” said a note from Glenna Thompson, office assistant for Material Resources. “Extending solace is a local group called Sisters of Hope Charitable Community and Disaster Relief, based in Garrett.” The shipment left New Windsor, Md., today and will be delivered tomorrow.

— The Church of the Brethren is one of the sponsors of a National Service of Mourning in remembrance of those who have died in Palestine and Israel, to take place Sept. 3 at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. “The loss and suffering resulting from the latest conflict between the Israeli military and Palestinian groups in Gaza is staggering,” said an announcement shared by the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness. “More than 1,400 civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been displaced. Weeks of overwhelming destruction have devastated land, homes, and infrastructure. The siege of Gaza and the military occupation of Palestinian territory cripple normal life. As the people of the region cry, ‘How long, O Lord?’ we join our prayers with theirs in a service of worship. In the midst of sorrow and grief, please join us in a witness to faith, hope and love.” Other sponsoring groups include the Alliance of Baptists, American Friends Service Committee, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Friends Committee on National Legislation, and Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, among many others. The service is coordinated by the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy, a network of national Christian denominations and organizations working for a just peace in the Middle East with a primary focus on Israel and Palestine. The service will start at 6 p.m. In addition to the in-person service, live streaming will be available.

— Shenandoah District’s Congregational Care Advisory Team is sponsoring two deacon training events this fall, under the title “Equipping for Leadership: His Hands and Feet.” The training will be led by Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries for the Church of the Brethren. Leake’s Chapel Church of the Brethren in Stanley, Va., will host the first training on Saturday, Sept. 27, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., with three sessions on the topics “What Are Deacons Supposed to Do, Anyway?” “Deacons and Pastors: The Pastoral Care Team,” and “The Art of Listening and Caring Support During Grief and Loss.” Waynesboro (Va.) Church of the Brethren will host the second training on Saturday, Oct. 4, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. with three sessions on the topics “What Are Deacons Supposed to Do, Anyway?” “Answering the Call,” and “Reconciliation and Peacemaking.” The registration fee of $15 per person, or $25 per couple, includes lunch. Ministers will receive continuing education credit. Find a registration form at . For additional information about the training at Leake’s Chapel contact 540-778-1433; at Waynesboro, contact 540-280-0657.

— Geiger Church of the Brethren is celebrating 100 years of serving the Lord in its present location in the village of Geiger just northeast of Somerset, Pa. The first sermon at the Geiger Church was preached by J.H. Cassady 100 years ago on Aug. 20, according to a newspaper announcement of the anniversary.

— The 44th Annual Dunker Church Remembrance Service held in the restored Dunker Church at Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md., will be on Sunday, Sept. 14, at 3 p.m. Pastors Tim and Audrey Hollenberg-Duffey of Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren will be the preachers. This remembrance service sponsored by area Churches of the Brethren reflects on what the Dunker Church symbolizes for 1862 and 2014. The service is open to the public. For more information, contact Eddie Edmonds at 304-267-4135, Tom Fralin at 301-432-2653, or Ed Poling at 301-766-9005.

— Arlington (Va.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a presentation on the New Community Project “Give a Girl a Chance” program. The speaker is New Community Project director David Radcliff. The program starts at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 19.

— Berkey (Pa.) Church of the Brethren joined Bethany Covenant Church in Mayfield, Ohio, again this year for an annual Kentucky Mission Trip. Youth and adults traveled to Kentucky to do physical labor and to teach Vacation Bible School in Caney Creek holler, said a story in the Western Pennsylvania District newsletter. The trip took place July 6-12. “Since we have done this VBS for more than a decade, we are known in the community and God is able to build each year on the work He did through us the years before,” the report said.

— Northern Plains District Conference recognized a number of ministers for significant years of ordained ministry with the church: Christina Singh, 5 years; Dave Kerkove, 15 years; Alan McLearn-Montz, 15 years; Marlene Neher, 20 years; Lucinda Douglas, 25 years; Marge Smalley, 25 years; Vernon Merkey, 60 years; Richard Burger,70 years. Video highlights from the district conference by Jesse McLearn-Montz are posted at .

— Western Pennsylvania District’s 31st Annual Brethren Heritage Festival at Camp Harmony near Hooversville, Pa., takes place on Saturday, Sept. 20. Events start at 7:30 a.m. with breakfast, followed by devotions and bread and cup communion, and continue through the day and into the evening, closing with a heritage auction at 3 p.m. In between are activities for all ages including booths, hayrides, a district choir, a children’s program, climbing tower, the “Love Tones” (pastor Larry and Judy Walker), “Tabernacle Time” with Jim Myer, and a Red Cross Blood Drive from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. For more information contact the camp at 814-798-5885.

— “You still have time to sign up for the Brethren Heritage Tour that will visit sites of significance in Brethren history in Maryland and Pennsylvania over the weekend of Oct. 17-19,” said an announcement from Shenandoah District. The tour has been arranged through the district’s Pastoral Support Committee and offers 1.4 continuing education units for ministers. However, it is open to everyone “until the bus is full,” said the note from the district. Among other sites, the tour will visit the Civil War battlefield at Antietam and the Brethren meetinghouse there, Sharpsburg African American Chapel (Tolson’s Chapel), the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, Ephrata Cloisters in Ephrata, Pa., the Kreider Meetinghouse in Lititz, Pa., and Germantown Church of the Brethren and its historic cemetery in the greater Philadelphia area. The cost of $158 per person includes chartered bus transportation, an evening meal in an Amish home, two nights lodging, and admission and instructor fees. Registration and a $50 deposit are due by Sept. 5. Find a schedule at .

— The Springs of Living Water Academy is convening another class in church renewal, intended for pastors. The class meets by phone five times over a 12-week period, beginning Sept. 10 from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The class is designed for growth in spiritual disciplines, using Richard J. Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline, The Path to Spiritual Growth.” A guided syllabus with learning objectives provides the framework for discussion of readings out of “Springs! of Living Water, Christ-centered Church Renewal” by teacher David S. Young. A few persons from each congregation walk with pastors to begin the journey of a spiritually-focused, servant-led path to renewal for individuals and congregations. Find an interpretative video about the Springs Initiative by David Sollenberger at . The registration deadline is Aug. 20. Contact .

— As part of its 125th anniversary celebration, Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., is offering an evening of entertainment by the Chicago comedy powerhouse Second City, said an announcement from the alumni office. The Second City performance is part of that group’s 55th Anniversary Tour. Held at the Embassy Theater in Fort Wayne, Ind., on Nov. 7 at 8 p.m., the performance will feature “a special improv routine dedicated to Manchester,” said the announcement. To reserve tickets, contact 888-257-ALUM or . Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Aug. 29.

— Pacific Southwest District is publicizing a “Healthy Conversations Workshop” to be held Sept. 20, from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. in the President’s Dining Room at the University of La Verne, Calif. “Have you ever felt frustrated, hurt, or discouraged by another’s words?” asked an invitation. “In this workshop you will discover what happens in unhealthy conversations and what you can do to get different results. The workshop goal is to create a foundation for conflict resolution, relationship building, and spiritual growth. Jesus gave us the key to thriving and conflict resolution 2,000 years ago. Love God with your heart, mind, and soul and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22: 37-40). In this workshop we will learn how to do this!” Cost is $50. Continuing education credit is available for ministers. Find a flyer with details at .

— “The National Council of Churches USA grieves for the plight of Christians and other religious minorities, including Yazidis, Turkmen, and Shabaks, in Iraq,” said an NCC news release this week. The release noted that in the early part of the last decade, there were some 1.5 million Christians living in Iraq, but now it is estimated that less than 400,000 remain and numbers are dwindling in the midst of ongoing unrest. “The evolving disappearance of the Christian community from that ancient landscape, as well as the displacement of neighbors of other faiths and traditions, is a cause for great alarm,” the NCC said. The statement went on to express concern for the suffering of the Iraqi people in general, saying that it is not limited to religious minorities and mentioning the murder of American journalist James Foley as well. The release called for a greater role for the United Nations in Iraq, saying that the NCC is hesitant to endorse a military campaign by the United States. “The continual reliance on military action as the default solution to conflict must be called into question, and alternative, more far-reaching solutions to the vicious cycle of violence must be found,” the release said, in part. “As we reflected on the war in Iraq eight years ago, ‘We believe that freedom, along with genuine security, is based in God, and is served by the recognition of humanity’s interdependence, and by working with partners to bring about community, development, and reconciliation for all.’”

— Church of the Brethren member Peggy Gish is one of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) volunteers working in Iraqi Kurdistan, who are accompanying a Kurdish women’s organization in its efforts to aid Yazidi women and girls abducted by the Islamic State. In a release, CPT encouraged creation of “a nonviolent alternative to the terror of the IS [Islamic State]. We urge international governments to step up their humanitarian aid donations to agencies desperately trying to help the hundreds of thousands Iraqis fleeing the IS onslaught and to open their borders to refugees.” The release told about a protest on behalf of the abducted Yazidi women and girls held Aug. 24, when more than 60 activists from the woman’s organization marched to the UN Consulate in Erbil to demand that the UN do more to help. “They carried banners reading, ‘UN, Take Action, Our Women and Girls are Enslaved,’ and ‘Committing Genocide Against the Minorities is a Stark Violation of International Humanitarian Law.’” Leaders who went into the consulate to speak with representatives from the UN were accompanied by Gish and another member of CPT. The release said Islamic State militants have forced some of the women to become wives of fighters, have sold others into slavery, have threatened women with death, and have killed men who refused to convert to the group’s version of Islam. The Yazidis are a small ethnic and religious community in Iraqi Kurdistan, and are among minority groups targeted by the militants along with Christians and others. The Islamic State has “attacked the Yazidis with particular viciousness,” the release said. For more about CPT, go to .

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