Brethren Bits for Dec. 2, 2014

Photo by Ralph Miner
On Nov. 8, while the delegates to the Illinois and Wisconsin District Conference were in business session, 24 people attending the district youth retreat took 16 bags of donated food to the Northern Illinois Food Bank and packed more than 6,500 pounds of potatoes. “They wanted to thank everyone who donated food at the conference,” said a report in the newsletter of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., which hosted the district conference. The Illinois Wisconsin District Youth Cabinet planned the service project.

— Correction: The final tally of the funds raised by the Polo (Ill.) Growing Project for the Foods Resource Bank, with the addition of an anonymous gift by a Polo area grower, now totals $34,285. In recent years the proceeds have been designated for sustainable food development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Find the Nov. 4 Newsline article about the Polo Growing Project at .

— The Fellowship of Brethren Homes has announced the retirement of Carol Davis as executive director, as of Dec. 31, and the appointment of Ralph McFadden as interim executive director beginning Dec. 1. “We are grateful for Carol’s service in this leadership role over the last year and a half and we wish her well as she enters into full retirement,” said the announcement from the executive committee of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes, an organization of Church of the Brethren-related retirement communities. McFadden will work with Davis to complete a month of transition in December, the announcement said. Several years ago he served a term as executive director of the fellowship, in his role with the former Association of Brethren Caregivers. He has served in a number of capacities in the Church of the Brethren over the years including as a pastor and district executive, and on the denominational staff. He has been a hospice chaplain, and in retirement has been actively engaged in consulting work. He has been a five-year member of the board of directors for Pinecrest Community in Mount Morris, Ill., where he has chaired the Strategic Planning Committee. In addition to working directly with the 22 retirement communities that hold membership in the Fellowship of Brethren Homes, the executive director has a significant role in the governance of the Peace Church Risk Retention Group, the Peace Church Health Insurance Program, and Resource Partners. Any inquiries about the Fellowship of Brethren Homes may be directed to .

— As part of the Nigeria Crisis Response, Brethren Disaster Ministries is seeking people interested in long-term volunteer placements in Nigeria, with the following expectations: three-month minimum stay; experience in stressful international settings; independent, able to care for yourself in this setting; experience or expertise in a needed program area including international disaster response or development, crisis counseling and trauma healing, program monitoring and evaluation, photography and reporting/writing, pastoral care. Contact Roy Winter at for more information.

— Online registration opened Dec. 1 for Christian Citizenship Seminar 2015, an event for senior high youth and their adult advisors sponsored by the Church of the Brethren Youth and Young Adult Ministry on April 18-23 in New York City and Washington, D.C. The seminar’s study of US immigration will be guided by the theme scripture from Hebrews 13:2: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Space is limited to 100 people so early registration is advised. Cost is $400. Go to .

— Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren will be hosting a LOVE EYN Worship Night on Saturday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. in the FCOB Multipurpose Room. “This will be an acoustic worship to pray and lift up members of our sister church in Nigeria who are affected by the current crisis,” said an announcement. “A love offering will be taken to go to the Nigeria Crisis Fund. Donations can also be given as an alternative Christmas gift for your family, friends, and coworkers and you will receive a card to present as the gift.” Gifts may be given at the LOVE EYN Worship night or every Sunday until Christmas at a table in the Sanctuary Hallway at the Frederick Church. For more information visit .

— More selections of Advent and Christmas events from Church of the Brethren congregations and organizations:
Jackson Park Church of the Brethren in Jonesborough, Tenn., will be part of the Jonesborough Christmas Stroll on Dec. 6, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. “People are invited to come inside and experience  the Christmas decorations and to reflect upon the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of the Son of God!” said an invitation from Southeastern District.

The Christmas Tree of Stars at the Church of the Brethren Home, a retirement community in Windber, Pa., is in its 31st year. “Your donation will not only honor or memorialize a loved one or friend, it will help provide benevolent care for our residents,” said an announcement in the Western Pennsylvania District newsletter. “The names of those being remembered will be displayed on the Christmas tree located in the Home’s Circle Lounge.” Contact the Church of the Brethren Home, 277 Hoffman Ave., Windber, PA 15963, ATTN: Tree of Stars.

“At our Alternative Christmas Gift Market two Saturdays ago, we garnered approximately $3,100 for the Nigeria Crisis Fund,” reported Jeanne Smith in a Facebook post about the event hosted at the Cedars, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in McPherson, Kan.

Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va., is holding a Winter Camp on Dec. 29-30. “Give yourself a Christmas gift and send the kids to Winter Camp,” said an announcement. The camp is described as “a fun and spiritual holiday program for campers in 1st through 12th grades (grouped by age) led by our reunited Summer Staff.” The cost is $70 and includes 4 meals, lodging, and program including games, hiking, crafts, Bible study, sledding (if there is snow), a summer 2014 slide show, a bonfire, singing, and an exclusive first look at summer 2015. For more information and registration go to .

— Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren’s exhibit marking the William Stafford Centennial will receive wider exposure in January when it will be displayed at Elgin (Ill.) Community College’s Writing Center, and later on at the Church of the Brethren General Offices. Rachel (Tecza) Stuart, director of the college Writing Center, regularly incorporates Stafford’s poetry in her work with students, said the church newsletter. Stafford was a Church of the Brethren member and an award winning poet, and was Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1970.

— Community Church of the Brethren in Twin Falls, Idaho, held a 5th annual Thanksgiving Dinner for those who were without a meal or without family. The event on Thanksgiving afternoon, Nov. 27, was reported by KMVT television. Some 200 dinners were served over the course of 3 hours. Pastor Mark Bausman told KMVT that every year the dinner grows, and the church looks forward to the event all year long. Find a news article and video clip at .

— “Diners eat up history at Va. homestead” is the title of an Associated Press article about a candlelight dinner at the John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va. “While for some, a candlelight dinner is a ticket to romance, at the John Kline Homestead it’s a ticket to another time,” said the piece, which reviewed a Nov. 22 dinner at the historic homestead of Civil War-er Brethren elder and martyr for peace John Kline. The article appeared in the Richmond (Va.) “Times Dispatch” newspaper and the “Daily News-Record” of Harrisonburg, Va. “As guests supped on pork loin and sweet potatoes in the historic home of Elder John Kline, a national leader in the Brethren faith, actors portraying Kline’s family, friends and even his spirit played out scenes from the fall of that year.” The piece quoted Paul Roth, president of the John Kline Homestead Trust, explaining how the dinners bring history to life: “”History can be very dry and static…. I believe people need to be able to have an experience and everyone likes to eat.” Read the full article at .

— “Christians are called to be peacemakers and to build just peace,” said a release from the World Council of Churches (WCC) reporting on an Ecumenical Peace Consultation currently being held in Sweden. The WCC theme of pilgrimage towards peace and justice, formed the theme of remarks by WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit that opened the consultation. “This consultation is one of the means by which we are seeking to give further form and content to the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, and to determine how we might practically travel together on this journey,” he said, in part. “Just peace in a comprehensive sense requires that just peace be established as an end of armed conflicts. Christians are called to be peacemakers and to build just peace. That means that we need to be peace builders, building the Shalom/Salaam in the wider and deeper sense.” Other speakers included Agnes Abuom, moderator of the WCC, who said: “It is only through peace we can bring development and prosperity…. Reconciliation will cost. It requires sacrifice on all sides of any conflict.” Leonardo Emberti Gialloreti from the Sant’Egidio community said in his presentation, “Peace has to be a passion, not a profession! Blessed are the peacemakers!” The WCC consultation and workshop on peace building and advocacy for Just Peace, Dec. 1-5, brings together more than 80 ecumenical advocacy experts, church leaders, civil society leaders, and United Nations partners, the release said. For more about the event go to .

For the full text of the speech by the WCC general secretary go to .

— In more news from the World Council of Churches, the WCC Executive Committee on Nov. 25 made a strong recommendation urging all countries to take special measures to protect and support refugees and displaced people from the Middle East, especially those from countries like Syria, Iraq, and Israel-Palestine. A release said the statement is based on the Christian premise of welcoming the stranger. The statement urges an end to the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Israel-Palestine, enabling return of the refugees and displaced people to their homes safely and with dignity, and urges all parties to the conflicts to “respect the dignity and rights of all human beings, to observe all the principles of international humanitarian law concerning the protection of civilians.” The statement recommends that all states sign, ratify, and implement the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1954 and 1961 Statelessness Conventions. It also recommends increased financial and material support for all countries hosting displaced people, urging countries to share the burden more equitably with the most affected host countries and communities. The statement particularly appreciates efforts by countries like Lebanon and Jordan to keep their borders open. The WCC has a number of churches and partner organizations working on the issue in the Middle East, the release said. Find the full statement on forced displacement, refugees, and internally displaced people in the Middle East at

— Dec. 14 marks the second anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. A release from the Newtown Foundation, a Newtown-based all-volunteer organization formed after the school shootings, said that by December “an estimated 60,000 more Americans will have died from gun violence. It’s a heartbreaking toll that affects ALL of our communities. But the victims are often forgotten in the discussions of gun violence in this country. Therefore, the Newtown Foundation plans to bring families of victims and survivors of gun violence from Newtown and from around the country–from urban, rural, and suburban communities–to a vigil at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.” On Dec. 11 the National Cathedral will host a service of mourning and loving remembrance for all who have fallen victim to gun violence. Similar vigils are also planned at other locations around the country. “Please help us shine a light on the human toll of gun violence and show the families we care,” said the release. For more about the Newtown Foundation, and the Dec. 11 National Vigil for Gun Violence Victims, go to .

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