Brethren Bits for March 18, 2014


Photo courtesy of Brethren Disaster Ministries
Brethren Disaster Ministries is celebrating a milestone for one of its regular volunteers, with a Facebook post: “Barb Stonecash is on her 50th BDM trip this week…and she says she is ready to start on the next 50!” Stonecash has been serving at a Hurricane Sandy recovery project in Spotswood, N.J., with other volunteers from Southern Ohio District.

Corrections: The editor apologies for misspelling the name of Mission Advisory Committee member Jim Myer in the Newsline of March 11. Also, in the listing of a “Spirituality of Dying Well” continuing education opportunity May 17 at the Village Green in Martinsburg, Pa., sponsors of the event are the Village at Morrisons Cove and Middle Pennsylvania District, not the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center.

Phyllis Marsh, who has served as camp manager for Camp Galilee in West Marva District for several years, has tendered her resignation effective May 1. “We wish Phyllis all the best in the future. Please keep the camp in your prayers as we start the process of finding a new manager,” said an announcement in the district newsletter. To express interest in the position contact or 301-334-9270. See the job opening in the Newsline of March 4, in the “Brethren bits” at .

The Church of the Brethren seeks a maintenance mechanic for a full-time hourly position at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Applications will be received and reviewed beginning immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Request the application packet and complete job description by contacting: Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Avenue, Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; .

A new BVS blog features stories from Brethren Volunteer Service workers at . Readers may sign up to follow the blog and receive posts by e-mail.

Immerse! registration deadline has been extended. Slots are still available for Immerse!, a junior high Bible and Brethren history event sponsored by the Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults at Bethany Theological Seminary. The event will be held June 12-17. “Please encourage junior high youth who have completed 6th, 7th, and 8th grades to register by April 8 at ,” said an announcement. For more information about Immerse! see Bethany’s press release at .

First Church of the Brethren in Chicago, Ill., is hosting One Struggle, Many Fronts, a stop on the US-Africa Environmental Justice Tour, at 6:30 p.m. on March 28. “The tour, a first-of-its-kind bridge-building effort between US and African climate, environmental justice, human rights, and solidarity activists, aims to build solidarity and strengthen interdisciplinary groups’ push for justice, reason, health and survival in the face of social and climate catastrophe,” said a release. Main speakers are: Emem J. Okon, founder and executive director of Kebet-kache Women Development and Resource Centre in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region, who organizes women to resist oil drilling by Shell, Chevron, and ExxonMobil in the Niger Delta; and Mithika Mwenda, from Kenya, who is secretary general of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance he co-founded in 2008 to give Africans a voice in the climate debate and in United Nations climate negotiations, and which is Africa’s largest climate network with 300 member organizations in 45 countries. A panel on US fronts and the common struggle also will include: Debra Michaud of Tar Sands Free Midwest, Tom Shepherd of the Southeast Environmental Task Force, and moderator Kimberly Wasserman, recent recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize, co-sponsored by the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and South Side NAACP. A presentation by Tom Shepherd on petroleum coke (“petcoke”) ash will open the evening. An earlier Chicago Tour event will be at Roosevelt University on March 27, at 5 p.m. Other tour cities include Detroit, Washington, New York, Kalamazoo, Berkeley, and Atlanta. The full announcement is at .

The newly named Living Light of Peace congregation in Arvada, Colo., is holding a service on Sunday, March 30 at 3 p.m. to recognize this transformation of Arvada Mennonite/Spirit of Joy Fellowship Church of the Brethren. The church will install Jeni Hiett Umble as pastor. A reception will follow.

The Haiti Benefit Concert at McPherson (Kan.) Opera House on Feb. 23 was a success, according to the Western Plains District newsletter. Community musical groups presented the concert to raise funds for the Haiti Medical Project, part of a year-long effort by McPherson Church of the Brethren to raise funds to bring mobile medical clinics to Haitian communities. Concert attendees numbered around 200 and free-will offerings and matching gifts came to at least $13,400. “Funds from this event bring the congregation’s total money raised to more than its ‘$100,000 by Easter’ goal,” said the newsletter.

A Children’s Disaster Services training at La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren received coverage in the “Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.” The training showed 26 participants how to care for children traumatized by disasters. They “quickly got the point of the national Brethren ministry program lauded for its excellent track record in taking care of children while parents meet with emergency relief workers to restore normalcy to family life after a disaster. Lessons were simple and direct. Listen attentively, with empathy and without judgment or prodding. Understand the importance of play for children following a disaster. Comprehend how stages of development and ages affect children’s viewpoints, play habits, and reactions to disaster.” See .

Nappanee (Ind.) Church of the Brethren has begun the spiritual journey of Lent using “a much simpler process,” reports the “Nappanee Advance News” highlighting the use of the Vital Ministry Journey, a resource from the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries. “What we’re trying to do is get people to think for themselves,”  pastor Byrl Shaver said. “Instead of having one person say ‘This is what God says,’ you’re reflecting in on it.” Read the article at .

Osage Church of the Brethren in Kansas has begun sponsoring “a new adventure called Financial Peace University,” the church announced in the Western Plains District newsletter. The nine-week series started March 7. “We have nine people signed up. It is our hope not only to help those struggling with their everyday finances, but also that this is a life changing spiritual experience that will open our eyes to new ways of stewardship and care.”

Western Plains District has requested continued prayer for those affected by the extreme flooding in Colorado last year. In particular, the district requested prayer for Boulder Mennonite Church and the Church of the Brethren fellowship that worships there. “The church basement is usable again,” reported the district newsletter, adding however that “several families in the congregation are still working to recover from major damage to their homes.”

Southern Pennsylvania District installed district executive minister William A. Waugh on Sunday, March 9, at Newville Church of the Brethren. In attendance were Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger, Annual Conference moderator-elect David Steele, and associate general secretary Mary Jo Flory- Steury, reported the district newsletter. Leah Hileman, interim pastor at the Lake View Church, shared special music. District board chair Mike Miller shared the board’s journey from forming the Search Committee to the calling of Waugh. Traci Rabenstein and Jay Finkenbinger Jr. also assisted in the service. John Shelly delivered the sermon from Matthew 25:14-30 and Acts 13:22.

There is still time to register for a workshop on spiritual gifts, led by Congregational Life Ministries executive Jonathan Shively and hosted by Cross Keys Village-Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa., on April 12, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. “Vital Passions, Holy Practices: Exploring Spiritual Gifts” will help participants consider the gifts of the church community and how to discern ministries based on those gifts, according to the Southern Pennsylvania District newsletter. Cost is $10 per person or $25 for five or more participants from the same congregation. Ordained ministers may receive .4 continuing education units. Registration deadline is April 4. Contact the district office at P.O. Box 218, New Oxford, PA, 17350; 717-624-8636.

McPherson (Kan.) College hosts a Regional Youth Conference on March 28-30. The theme is a variation of the National Youth Conference (NYC) theme: “Called by God: Preparing for the Journey Together.” The main presenters will be Jacob and Jerry Crouse. Jacob was the 2010 NYC Youth Theme Song Contest winner and a member of last year’s Youth Peace Travel Team. Jerry is a member of the pastoral team at Warrensburg (Mo.) Church of the Brethren. The cost is $65. Register online at . The registration deadline is March 24.

At a rally last fall, the District Women’s Fellowship in West Marva District voted to give their offerings to establish a Children’s Fund. The district newsletter reports that the program is coordinated with the schools across the district. The school counselor or another staff member contacts the District Office when there is a child in need. The district has “shoppers” across the area who will go out and make the necessary purchases to assist the children. “The program has only been in place for one month and already the requests are rolling in,” the newsletter said. “We never imagined the dire circumstances that some of these children are in…. There have been requests for food, for basic clothing, and for hygiene items. It is heartbreaking and very humbling to hear the stories of the hardships these young people have already experienced in their lives.”

On April 12 Donna Kline, director of Deacon Ministry for the Church of the Brethren, is leading webinars on “Deaconing in Small Congregations” from 9-11 a.m. (central time) and “The Gift of Grief” from 1-3 p.m. (central time). Anyone who offers caregiving ministries is invited to participate. Go to for more information and to register. The registration fee is $15 per course and a group rate of $75 is available for 5 or more tuning in from one site. These are the final two webinars for this academic year being offered by Ventures in Christian Discipleship, a program of McPherson (Kan.) College primarily geared toward lay leaders in congregations.

The first Arab woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, human rights activist Tawakkol Karman, will speak at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College’s Ware Lecture on April 10. Karman was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. “Upon receiving the award she became the first Arab woman, the second Muslim woman, and, at 32, the youngest person to earn the prize,” said a release from the college. The passionate speaker and journalist will bring a message titled “Women, Human Rights, and the Arab Revolution” to the annual Ware Lecture on Peacemaking at 7:30 p.m. on April 10, in Leffler Chapel and Performance Center. The lecture, sponsored by Judy S.  and Paul W. Ware and the college’s Center for Global Understanding and Peacemaking, will be moderated by Brian Katulis, a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress. To reserve free Ware Lecture tickets, call 717-361-4757.

ABC Channel 27 in Harrisburg, Pa., has spotlighted the history of Elizabethtown College in a piece on a new book titled “Elizabethtown College” by faculty members Jean-Paul Benowitz and Peter J. DePuydt, published in February by Arcadia Publishing’s Campus History Series. In an interview, Benowitz spoke of the library’s extensive collection of historical photographs, which have been digitized. “We thought that this would be a great way to share those images with people,” he said. “Central Pennsylvania, particularly Lancaster County, is home to the largest population of Mennonites, Amish, Church of the Brethren, Quakers, historic peace churches…. What’s interesting is that most people don’t assume that those churches have an appreciation for higher education. And this is the only college in Lancaster County which was formed by one of the historic peace churches, or the Anabaptists.” Find the story and video at .

A Gospel Extravaganza at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 22, in the Carter Center for Worship and Music at Bridgewater (Va.) College includes the Bridgewater College Lift Your Voice Gospel Choir and James Madison University’s Contemporary Gospel Singers. Also featured are musician Joyce Garrett and the gospel group Roderick Giles and Grace. Garrett created the Eastern High School Choir of Washington, D.C., during her 27-year teaching career at the school. In retirement, she founded the Washington Youth Choir, a city-wide choral ensemble based on the principles of teamwork, perseverance, high achievement, and self-discipline, said a release. Giles, a former member of the Eastern High School Choir, is CEO of Giles Music Group LLC and founder of Grace, the primary singers for the Giles Music Group, and director and lead singer of the Harlem Gospel Choir (DC Division). The program is free and open to the public.

Bridgewater (Va.) College is implementing a composting pilot program for food waste from its dining hall. “Bridgewater College has always been environmentally conscious, but there’s always more that can be done,” said Anne Keeler, vice president for finance, in a release. “By instituting the composting pilot program, we are committed to do even more to help protect and preserve our environment.” Benefits of composting are numerous, the release notes: less methane is released into the air, reducing emission of greenhouse gases; diverting food waste from the landfill avoids adding even more waste to rapidly filling landfill areas; composting returns nutrients to the soil, supporting efforts to grow food without chemical fertilizers. The pilot program is providing educational opportunities for students, including two senior environmental science majors who are interning to learn the process of composting, as well as the business and outreach aspects. The program is a collaborative effort with Waste Management of Virginia Inc. and Black Bear Composting in Crimora, Va.

The “New York Times” has reported on a struggle to preserve a rural district known as Wood Colony, an Old German Baptist Brethren area near Modesto, Calif. The Old German Baptist Brethren and the Church of the Brethren split in the late 1800s. Many Brethren living in the area are fourth- and fifth-generation farmers of walnut and almond orchards, the Times reports, and are among local people objecting to “plans to bring about 1,800 acres of Wood Colony under city jurisdiction, which many residents regard as a blueprint for development…. The city’s Chamber of Commerce, supported by the mayor and other elected officials, says that some sort of ‘pathway to prosperity’ is needed to expand the tax base and address chronic unemployment, which hovers around 13 percent, twice the national average.” See .


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