Brethren Bits for March 11, 2014

Photo courtesy of Children’s Disaster Services
Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) carried out “a brief, yet significant response” in Pennsylvania in February, following an ice storm. CDS responded in an American Red Cross shelter in West Chester, Pa., for two days. The caption to a photo from the response, posted on the CDS Facebook page: “One little boy at the CDS play area in West Chester used toy figurines to portray people helping others who had fallen down. Did they slip on the ice?”

The Baltimore Orioles are remembering Monica Barlow, a Church of the Brethren member who was the team’s public relations director. She died on Feb. 28 at the age of 36, after a long struggle with cancer. Her husband, Ben Barlow, recently completed a term of service as chair of the denomination’s Mission and Ministry Board. The Comcast Sports Network in Baltimore reported that about 30 members of the Orioles including manager Buck Showalter planned to leave Friday’s game against Philadelphia after four or five innings, to fly to Virginia to honor Barlow. Team owner Peter Angelos provided the plane for the trip from Sarasota to Virginia. Find the Comcast news report at . Monica Barlow’s obituary in the “Baltimore Sun” is at,0,4022940.story .

Northern Plains District of the Church of the Brethren is seeking to fill four part-time staff positions: communications minister, minister of leadership development, TRIM (Training in Ministry) coordinator, and district conference support. The time commitment and responsibilities vary by position; complete position descriptions are available at . A single search committee is tasked with filling all four positions and is open to the possibility of one individual filling more than one position. Northern Plains District comprises 31 congregations: 1 in Montana, 6 in Minnesota, and the remaining congregations in Iowa. Congregations are located in rural, urban, and suburban contexts and represent a healthy mix of theological diversity. The district is committed to strengthening the work of each congregation–and the district as a whole–through spiritual growth, leadership support and development, communication and connection, stewardship, church growth and new church development, peacemaking and service. The minister of leadership development and the Training in Ministry coordinator positions require ordination in the Church of the Brethren. Applicants for either of these positions should first contact their district executive for assistance in following placement protocols prior to following the instructions below. Apply by sending a letter of interest, a resume, and three references to Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, convener of the search committee, at either or 4820 Upton Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55410. The application deadline is March 28.

Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va., seeks a facilities manager to fill a fulltime salaried position beginning immediately. The camp seeks a motivated, dependable, caring worker with good interpersonal, organizational, and leadership skills. The facilities manager ensures that facilities and site enhance the experience of guests and campers by overseeing all housekeeping and maintenance. The preferred candidate will have experience or proven ability in repair and renewal of facilities including construction, carpentry, electrical wiring and control, plumbing of water and sewage, vehicle and camp/farm equipment maintenance. Starting benefits package includes salary of $29,000, optional family medical insurance plan, a pension plan, professional growth funds, and optional on-site family/individual housing. Camp Bethel is a tobacco-free workplace. An application, a detailed position description, and more information will be made available at or send a letter of interest and an updated résumé to Barry LeNoir at .

The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), the nation’s first interfaith peace and justice organization founded a century ago, seeks a national director of organizing to work with a team of field organizers in three regions (West, North, and South) to move forward relationships, communities, actions, and events to address key issues and practices that promote peace. The position includes capacities in organizing, management, communications, and fundraising. Other qualifications include: embraces and promotes principles of nonviolence; appreciates and is motivated by spirituality and faith-based change work; ability to work successfully on a multi-racial, multi-faith, multi-gendered team; actively seeks an anti-oppressive world through personal and professional commitments; understands the culture and history of the FOR and the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and knows how to utilize our broad network of expertise and resources; knowledge of the membership and affiliate base in the FOR network. Job location is virtual office in contiguous United States, with travel twice yearly to Nyack, N.Y., required. Salary commensurate with experience. Benefits include four weeks of vacation, three weeks of sick leave, five personal days, health and life insurance, pension. The FOR actively seeks the voices and visions of persons of all backgrounds. To apply send a resume and cover letter to . Review of applications will begin on March 19. The position is open until filled. For detailed information see job-listing-for-national-director-organizing.pdf and .

World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed joy at the release of Greek Orthodox nuns kidnapped by rebels in Syria. He said that “fervent prayer offered by Christians around the world” was answered, in a WCC release. The group of nuns from the Convent of St Thecla were abducted in December 2013, and have been freed as part of a prisoner exchange, according to media reports. Tveit said this raises hope for the freedom of five church leaders who also have been kidnapped: Archbishop Mar Yohanna Gregorios Ibrahim, Archbishop Paul Yazigi, Father Maher Mahfouz of the Greek Orthodox Church, Father Michel Kayyal of the Armenian Catholic Church, and Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, a Jesuit priest. Tveit also invoked prayers for an “end of the armed conflict in Syria” and “for all people affected by the indiscriminate violence and humanitarian calamity in Syria…. Innocent children, women, and men are being killed, wounded, traumatized, and driven from their homes in uncounted numbers. We hear their cries and we pray at this time for the Spirit of God to dwell in all leaders of the church so that they may have courage in these days of tribulation.” Read the full text of the statement at .

The National Youth Conference (NYC) office has learned that Southwest Airlines will be offering a 5 percent discount on economy fares and a 10 percent discount on business/first class to anyone attending National Youth Conference. The event takes place July 19-24 in Fort Collins, Colo. Contact for more information. Find out more about NYC and register online at .

In more news from the Youth and Young Adult Ministry, the Youth Cabinet met at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., last week to discuss, reflect, and continue planning for National Youth Conference 2014. The members of the cabinet are: Emmett Eldred of Middle Pennsylvania District, Brittany Fourman of Southern Ohio District, Sarandon Smith of Atlantic Northeast District, Sarah Ullom-Minnich of Western Plains District, Kerrick van Asselt of Western Plains District, Zander Willoughby of Michigan District. Adult advisors are Rhonda Pittman Gingrich of Northern Plains District, Dennis Lohr of Atlantic Northeast District.

Bethany Theological Seminary is holding informational meetings in Virlina District, according to the district newsletter. Those interested in learning more about the seminary are invited to evenings of conversation with a current student and a seminary staff member, Tara Shepherd and Lowell Flory. Discussion will be built around questions and challenges facing the wider church and the denomination, as well as how to prepare ministerial leadership. The duration of the meetings will be approximately 90 minutes. Reservations are not required but are helpful for those preparing room setup and refreshments. The meetings will be held at two locations and times: Mount Union Church of the Brethren in Bent Mountain, Va., on Thursday, March 20, beginning at 6 p.m. with a light supper (contact 540-598-9002 or ); Peters Creek Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., on Friday, March 21, at 7 p.m. (contact 540-977-4321 or ).

A continuing education event on the “Spirituality of Dying Well” will be held on May 17 at The Village Green, Martinsburg, Pa., sponsored by the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC). The event takes place from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Cost is $25 and includes lunch and continuing education credit. Leaders are Bob Neff who will offer a biblical perspective, Kaye Burket who will outline medical dimensions of ministry in the context of critical illness, Linda Banaszak and Dottie Steele who will look at the interface of nursing home and hospice spiritual care, along with Heather Rosamilia and an interdisciplinary team of specialists who will provide case studies to assist exploration of the ministry of hospice care in the ministry of dying well.

First Church of the Brethren in York, Pa., is making preliminary plans to upgrade its facilities for ADA handicapped accessibility and environmental stewardship. Preliminary plans include replacing the six main entrance doors, upgrading the narthex windows, and adding an accessible restroom facility, said a report in the church newsletter.

Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren on Sunday hosted a “teach-in” by Christian author and pastor Brian McLaren and Lancaster-based pastor and teacher Michael Hardin. The event was reported by Lancaster Online under the title “Theologians urge a Christianity of peace.” Reporter Dan Nephin wrote that the conversation “about how Christianity must get back on-message as a religion of peace” was presented to “a receptive audience.” A follow up event later in the day included a dinner and presentation to a Mennonite audience. Nephin reported that “McLaren told the audience, ‘If there’s not a movement to mobilize Christians for peace, then there will be a movement to mobilize Christians for violence.’” Find the article at .

Spring Run Church of the Brethren is once again hosting the annual Middle Pennsylvania District Youth Volleyball Tournament at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., on Saturday, March 15. The district Youth Cabinet also is sponsoring a Soup Kitchen and Service Trip to Washington, D.C., on April 2-5 for senior high youth. Cost is $140 if registered by March 14 and $150 after March 14. For more information go to .

The 2014 Peace Feast in Shenandoah District will be held 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, at Sangerville (Va.) Church of the Brethren. The event will celebrate the service of the Seagoing Cowboys who volunteered with Heifer Project following World War II.

The annual Mid-Atlantic Disaster Auction is planned for Saturday, May 3. This will be the 34th annual auction in the district. The event opens at 9 a.m. at the Carroll County Agricultural Center in Westminster, Md. Last year’s auction raised $66,000 for the Emergency Disaster Fund that supports Brethren Disaster Ministries work around the world.

Virlina District has announced the theme and leadership for its 2014 District Conference on Nov. 14-15 in Roanoke, Va. The theme will be “Taste and see that the Lord is good…” (Psalm 34:8). David A. Steele, 2015 Annual Conference moderator, will preach for the Saturday worship service. Jeffrey W. Carter, Bethany Seminary president, will preach Friday evening. Gary L. Basham will serve as moderator of the District Conference. In line with the theme and scripture text, he is suggesting three actions for the year: solitude, study, and service. “Individuals are asked to find a moment each day to spend time alone with God in prayer and Bible reading,” said the district newsletter. “Pastors are asked to preach a message based upon the theme scripture before District Conference and individuals were asked to commit to reading through the entire Bible by conference time. For service, everyone is asked to serve as examples to our youth and young people as they walk their journey of faith. They need to see the adults in their lives praying, reading the scripture and living a life worthy of their calling.”

Northern Plains District Conference on Aug. 1-3 at Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Church of the Brethren will be participating in several collections for disaster relief. The collections are sponsored by the district Witness Commission. Collections will include donations of Church World Service (CWS) Hygiene Kits, CWS Clean-Up Buckets, and diapers for use in Haiti.

Camp Bethel’s 13th annual Sounds of the Mountains Festival of Music and Storytelling will be held April 11-12. It will feature nationally known tellers, Andy Offutt Irwin, David Novak, Ed Stivender, and Donna Washington, and music from the Luv Buzzards, plus the Back Porch Studio Cloggers. Go to for tickets and information. Camp Bethel is located near Fincastle, Va.

The speaker for a program at Bridgewater (Va.) College sponsored by Harry W. and Ina Mason Shank Peace Studies Endowment, Harold H. Hersch Educational Fund, and the Center for Cultural Engagement, is Robert Edsel, author of “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History.” He will speak on March 19, at 7:30 p.m. in Cole Hall. “Edsel spent more than 12 years doing painstaking and far-reaching research to discover how many monuments and great works of art survived the thefts and devastation of World War II,” said a release from the college. The program is free and open to the public.

Among April events at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College are presentations by Rwandan speaker Joseph Sebarenzi. He will present at 6 p.m. on April 3 in Gibble Auditorium, followed by a screening of the film “Sometimes in April.” The event remembers the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda that took the lives of nearly 100,000 people. Sebarenzi, a Rwandan who survived the genocide that killed most of his family, will talk about “Peace, Conflict Transformation, and Restorative Justice.” A question and answer session will follow the film.
Also on April 3 is the Annual Young Center Banquet, Reception, and Lecture, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Susquehanna Room of Myer Hall. The lecture on “Abstract Art or Country Craft? The Quilts of the Amish” is given by Janneken Smucker, an assistant professor of history at nearby West Chester University (cost is $20, reservation deadline is March 20, contact the Young Center at 717-361-1470). At 7:30 p.m. on April 10 the Ware Lecture on Peacemaking will feature Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkol Karman in the Leffler Chapel. Karman was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 in recognition of her work in nonviolent struggle for the expression of women’s rights and safety in Yemen. She is the first Yemeni, the first Arab woman, and the second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, said a release from the college (cost is free, but tickets are required, call 717-361-4757).

The Global Women’s Project Steering Committee is holding its next meeting in Missouri. “Please hold us in your prayers are we do the good work of supporting women’s empowerment and educating ourselves about global poverty and our own privilege,” said an announcement from steering committee member Tina Rieman. The group will participate in worship at Warrensburg Church of the Brethren on Sunday, March 16.

A blog post by Heifer International at honors the heritage of the organization, founded by Church of the Brethren staff member Dan West, and in particular the years that church volunteers took to the oceans as “sea going cowboys” to help ferry heifers to Europe and other places in need following World War II. Heifer’s Seagoing Cowboys Exhibit is opening at the Heifer Village in Little Rock, Ark., with a presentation and celebration on March 14 at noon.

The New Community Project, a Brethren-related nonprofit, is offering inter-generational Learning Tours to Africa, Asia, the Arctic, and Latin America. “The trips increase awareness of the challenges facing God’s creation and our neighbors, while building relationships with the communities visited,” an announcement said. Trips are planned June 12-21 to the Ecuadorian Amazon, July 12-21 to the Dominican Republic, July 27-Aug. 4 to Denali/Kenai Fjords National Parks, Alaska, and Jan. 8-19, 2015, to Burma (Myanmar). Date is pending for a trip to South Sudan. Contact David Radcliff at for more information, or visit .

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is accepting applications for a delegation to Colombia focused on the situation of organized labor. The trip is scheduled for May 17-31. “Colombia continues to be the most dangerous place on earth for trade unionists,” said a release. “Participants in this delegation will meet with public and private sector union leaders, as well as organized informal sector self-employed workers. Activists in all three groups are threatened because of their efforts to protect workers’ rights and livelihoods.” Find more information and a poster at or contact .

“Brethren Voices,” a public television show produced by Peace Church of the Brethren in Portland, Ore., has announced upcoming shows. In March “Brethren Voices” features Merle Forney, founder of “Kids as Peacemakers.” Forney is interviewed about his own peace journey beginning at Hanover (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. “It led him to a unique idea of assisting youth in a discussion of peace and then transmitting their thoughts onto an artistic work,” said a release from producer Ed Groff. “The work of art is then displayed in front of the church or sponsoring organization.” Kids as Peacemakers is now a sponsored program of On Earth Peace; for more information see . In April, “Brethren Voices” features Annual Conference moderator Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, interviewed by host Brent Carlson at Cross Keys Village-the Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa. She is the seventh moderator to share his or her story with “Brethren Voices.” In May, the show features Brethren Disaster Ministries, and travels to South Toms River, N.J., to meet with a group of Brethren volunteers from Indiana rebuilding homes affected by Hurricane Sandy. Also in the works is a program with Andy Murray who has retired after many years at Juniata College and who, with his wife, Terry are well known in Brethren circles for their music ministry. Viewers are treated to a special visit to their home in Huntdingdon, Pa., overlooking the campus of Juniata College. Copies of “Brethren Voices” may be obtained from Portland Peace Church of the Brethren. Contact Ed Groff at . Over 50 of the programs can be viewed on .

— Every now and then Newsline takes note of books by Brethren authors. Here are some of the more recent:
Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm of the Bethany Theological Seminary faculty is one of the editors of “Preaching God’s Transforming Justice: A Lectionary Commentary,” published by Westminster John Knox Press as a three-volume set last year. A release explains that the commentary “helps the preacher identify and reflect on the social implications of the Revised Common Lectionary readings. In addition to providing commentary for each day in the lectionary calendar, this series introduces 22 Holy Days for Justice.” For each lectionary day and Holy Day for Justice an essay helps integrate a variety of social justice concerns into preaching. The contributors are a diverse group of homileticians, pastors, biblical scholars, theologians, and social activists. In addition to Ottoni-Wilhelm, the editors are Dale Andrews of Vanderbilt University, and Ron Allen of Christian Theological Seminary For more information go to .

Bridgewater (Va.) College professor of history Stephen L. Longenecker has written his sixth book, “Gettysburg Religion: Refinement, Diversity, and Race in the Antebellum and Civil War Border North (The North’s Civil War),” published by Fordham University Press in January. The book focuses on the diversity of religion in a small town that saw one of the most horrific battles of the Civil War. “This famous little place and the surrounding region are just full of fascinating surprises,” said Longenecker, in a release from the college. “The Gettysburg community was much more diverse and complicated than might be expected, and pursuing this project was fun from beginning to end. Rhett Butler’s phrase ‘some little town in Pennsylvania’ doesn’t come close to articulating all the twists and turns in Gettysburg during this period.” More about “Gettysburg Religion” is at .

Peggy Faw Gish has written her second book on the experience of Iraq and the war, titled “Walking Through Fire: Iraqis’ Struggle for Justice and Reconciliation” (Cascade, 2013). Shane Claiborne writes about the book: “It reads like a journal, but a thrilling journal filled with horror and hope, written from the trenches of one of the most troubled war zones in the world. Peggy has seen things that did not make the news–some of them are more terrible than we can ever imagine, and some of them are more beautiful than we could ever dream. Her life and words are a daring call for us to get in the way of violence.” Gish’s first book about working in Iraq with Christian Peacemaker Teams was “Iraq: A Journey of Hope and Peace” (Herald Press, 2004).

James Lehman, whose book of Brethren history “The Old Brethren: People of Wisdom and Simplicity Speak to Our Time” was recently republished by Brethren Press, has written his first full-length novel titled “Ties That Bind.” He describes the book as “a story for progressive Christians, for thoughtful people with open hearts and minds. It walks the fine line between making you glad to be human and being honest about human problems and failings…. Ordinary congregational life looks interesting in this book, which portrays the polarizing reality in the church of same-sex relations and then shows a painful and dramatic conflict resolving itself in unexpected ways.” Contact .

Noah S. Martin, who has been a leader in the New Day Inc. Christian ministry to at-risk children, youth, marriages, and families based in Johnstown, Pa., has self-published a manual intended to help encourage marriages and the understanding of issues that affect relationships. Written from a Christian perspective, the workbook-style publication is titled “A More Excellent Way.” Contact the author at 814-266-6489 or .

Joseph Kip Kosek, associate professor of American studies at George Washington University, has written “Acts of Conscience: Christian Nonviolence and Modern American Democracy” (Columbia University Press). A review describes the book as tracing the impact of radical Christian pacifists beginning with World War I and ending with the work of Martin Luther King Jr. “Tracing the rise of militant nonviolence across a century of industrial conflict, imperialism, racial terror, and international warfare, Kosek recovers radical Christians’ remarkable stance against the use of deadly force, even during World War II and other seemingly just causes.” More information is at .

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