Brethren Bits for July 16, 2014

Photo courtesy of CDS
The children and youth of Thornwell Home for Children in South Carolina recently voted to award Children’s Disaster Services with a gift of $222.16. “The children researched different organizations and choose recipients for their 2014 awards,” said a note from associate director Kathleen Fry-Miller. “One of the children had been a part of a CDS children’s center in disaster and wanted us to be on the list to receive a donation.” Children’s Disaster Services representative Sue Harmon was present to accept the gift. She said, “It was a sweet program on the steps of the church at the Children’s Home. Different children were given the envelopes with checks for the different entities, and when the director called out the organizations’ names and briefly explained what it was, the child with their check would step down and give the envelope to that representative.” For about the ministry of Children’s Disaster Services go to .

— Remembrance: Donald (Don) Link, 81, died on July 1. He and his wife Nancy served as Church of the Brethren mission workers in Nigeria from 1966-72, and also did volunteer service in the United States on a Navajo reservation. He was a faithful member of Lebanon Church of the Brethren in Shenandoah District, where a memorial service was held on July 7. His wife Nancy survives him. “Lift up prayers of comfort for the family and friends,” asked a remembrance in the district newsletter.

— Catherine (Cat) Gong has accepted the position of member services representative, employee benefits, with Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) in Elgin, Ill. She will begin her duties on July 28. She has been working as financial aid assistant/administrative support for Midwestern Career College in Chicago. She previously served in Brethren Volunteer Service and was coordinator for the Church of the Brethren Workcamp Ministry in 2012, and attends Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin. She holds a degree in sociology with minors in Italian and international studies from Pennsylvania State University. For more about the work of BBT go to .

— Update on Annual Conference Blood Drive: Brethren Disaster Ministries has provided a correction to the number of units of blood collected at the Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio, earlier this month: 150 is the correct number. The staff have shared the following thank you note from the Red Cross in Columbus: “Thank you all so much for such a successful blood drive at the Columbus Church of the Brethren Conference last week! It was so great to work with you all on this, and your passion and commitment were like no other. In an urgent need time period, and on a holiday time period your group came through in a BIG way! There were: 168 presenting donors, 150 units collected, including 11 double red cell donations. The number of patients’ lives potentially saved with these donations = 450!!!” The Brethren Disaster Ministries staff note that R. Jan Thompson started the first blood drive at Annual Conference in 1984 after driving in to Baltimore for the 1983 Conference and hearing a radio announcement about a need for blood donations in the community. Since then the largest Annual Conference blood drive took place a few years later in Cincinnati, Ohio, where the organizers set a goal of 500 units and received some 525, Thompson said.

— At the Bridgewater (Va.) College luncheon at the 2014 Annual Conference, Mary Jo Flory-Steury and Jennifer Jewell were presented the Merlin and Dorothy Faw Garber Award for Christian Service. Flory-Steury, a 1978 Bridgewater graduate, is associate general secretary and director of the Office of Ministry for the Church of the Brethren. Jewell, a 2014 graduate of Bridgewater from Luray, Va., is doing work in South Africa on behalf of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, reported the Shenandoah District newsletter.

— Production of a new minister’s manual for the Church of the Brethren is underway. Twenty one years after the publication of “For All Who Minister,” the task team working on a new manual is seeking input through an online survey. “This is your opportunity to join in the adventure and participate in the production process,” said an announcement from associate general secretary Mary Jo Flory-Steury. “Watch for additional ways to be involved including submitting a variety of worship resources.” Find the survey at .

— The staff at Brethren Disaster Ministries have directed an allocation of $8,200 from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to respond to violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The ministry received an appeal for relief funds from Shalom Ministry of Reconciliation and Development following an attack on the town of Mutarule in the eastern part of the DRC, which killed 37 people and left over 100 injured. Shalom Ministries will focus on contributing to the improvement of food and social life for the population of Mutarule and building peace and reconciliation between ethnic groups there. The EDF grant will support aid for approximately 2,100 people, including the provision of emergency food, household supplies, and school supplies. For more about the Church of the Brethren Emergency Disaster Fund see .

— Children’s Disaster Services staff Kathy Fry-Miller writes that “prayers and advocating for a compassionate response would be appreciated,” in response to the situation of more than 50,000 immigrant children refugees who have fled into the United States from Central America. Media reports have highlighted the cause of the influx of unaccompanied children as gang and criminal violence that is increasingly targeting children and families in Central America. “At this point Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services have been in touch with FEMA, the Red Cross, and Church World Service to offer assistance, but so far what we can provide is not where the greatest need is,” Fry-Miller wrote by e-mail today. “CDS is not anticipating being called out, but we are certainly willing, if services we can provide would match the need.”

— Bread for the World is requesting prayer for the tens of thousands of immigrant children refugees, saying “this is a humanitarian crisis.” An e-mail alert from Bread for the World today highlighted the story of Emilio, a 16-year-old from Honduras. “The journey is dangerous, and some children die on the way, but conditions in his home country are so desperate that Emilio says he will try again,” the alert said. “Emilio is one of tens of thousands of children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador attempting to flee violence and extreme poverty. We as people of faith must act to address the root causes of this humanitarian crisis.” Bread for the World is requesting prayer for the children and their parents, and is encouraging people of faith to contact their congressional representatives to respond to the surge of unaccompanied children crossing the border with “legislation that addresses the conditions of poverty, hunger, and violence in Central America that are forcing them to leave. The Bible tells us that Jesus has a special concern for children who belong to the kingdom of God (Mark 10:14). Christians must speak up for children like Emilio.” The alert said that since October 2013, over 52,000 unaccompanied children have crossed into the US, and by year’s end that number is expected to climb to between 70,000 and 90,000.

— The 2014 district conference season in the Church of the Brethren begins July 25-27 in Northern Ohio District, at the Myers Convocation Center at Ashland (Ohio) University, and in Western Plains District, at McPherson (Kan.) College and McPherson Church of the Brethren. Southeastern District holds its conference on July 27-29 at Mars Hill (N.C.) University.

— The Brethren Mission Fund, a ministry of the Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF), is contributing $2,500 to the EYN Compassion Fund of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The money will help support Nigerian Brethren who have lost a family member, home, or property to ongoing violence in Nigeria. An announcement from the Brethren Mission Fund newsletter noted that this is the second such contribution since the fall of 2013 when $3,000 was given. “Recently a Church of the Brethren in the West Marva District decided to channel some funds through the BMF to the EYN Compassion Fund. The BMF committee also decided to contribute some additional monies for this fund so that the total combined amount being sent to the EYN Compassion Fund at this time will be $2,500.” For more about this ministry of BRF go to .

— “The Power of God” is the title of the latest spiritual disciplines folder from Springs of Living Water, a church renewal organization. The folder is provided for Bible study and meditation for the period of time following Annual Conference through Sept. 6. The folder offers daily scripture readings and questions for meditation, looking at 10 ways in which the power of God can come into lives and into the church to fulfill the mission to make disciples, said an announcement. The folder was created by Thomas Hanks, pastor of the yoked congregation of Friends Run and Smith Creek near Franklin, W.Va. Find it at or by e-mailing .

— Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has announced in a release that “generous donors have surpassed the original $110,000 goal for its Plowing and Planting Campaign, contributing $123,300,” despite trends showing a decline in non-profit giving. The campaign was launched to “plow under” the debt for CPT’s Chicago training center and office, and “plant” seeds of investment in supportive care for full-time team members, the release said.  “We’re thrilled to have such generous supporters who believe so deeply in the work of CPT,” said executive director, Sarah Thompson. The additional funds will allow CPT to provide in-person psychosocial care to CPT team members involved in active peacemaking in the current project areas of Iraqi Kurdistan, Colombia, Palestine, and alongside the First Nations in Canada. The organization currently has 21 full-time, 8 part-time stipend-eligible CPTers, and 156 reservists (CPT volunteers). Find out more at .

— The World Council of Churches (WCC) has strongly condemned the violence in Gaza. In a July 10 release, the WCC condemned both the “attacks by the Israeli military on the civilian population in Gaza, as well as firing of rockets by militants from Gaza to Israel.” A statement by WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit said that “what is happening in Gaza now is not an isolated tragedy.” The failure of peace negotiations and the loss of prospects for a two-state solution to end occupation have led to this “unbearable and infernal cycle of violence and hatred that we are witnessing today,” Tveit said. “Without an end to the occupation, the cycle of violence will continue,” he said. In the statement, Tveit said that recent events in Israel and Palestine must be seen in the context of the occupation of Palestinian territories, which began in 1967. He added that calling for an end to the occupation and the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip by Israel has remained a long-term commitment of the WCC. Tveit urged the United Nations Security Council to demand an immediate end to all kinds of violence from all parties to the conflict and called on churches and religious leaders to “work together to transform the discourse of hatred and revenge that is spreading more and more in many circles in society into one that sees the other as neighbour and as equal brother and sister in the one Lord.”

— The “Brethren Voices” television program with Andy Murray, moderator-elect of Annual Conference, is now the featured program at . The July 2014 edition of this community television program from Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren features “A Conversation About Peacemaking” with Bob Gross and Melisa Grandison commemorating the 40th anniversary of On Earth Peace. For more information contact producer Ed Groff at .


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