Brethren Bits for March 4, 2014

Photo courtesy of Highland Avenue Church of the BrethrenHighland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., has been sending groups of volunteers to help out at Northern Illinois Food Bank. Said a Facebook post from this week’s volunteer effort, “3,144 pounds of pepperoni and salami feeding our hungry neighbors. Thanks to all of our volunteers.”

— A former staff member of the Church of the Brethren Northern Ohio District has admitted to embezzling about $400,000 from the district. The embezzlement took place over a period of five years, according to a report in the Ashland (Ohio) Times-Gazette newspaper, published Feb. 26. Kristen M. Bair, who has been administrative staff for the district, entered a guilty plea in Common Pleas Court. She was charged with aggravated theft, which is a third-degree felony.

— The Church of the Brethren is seeking a director for Brethren Disaster Ministries. The full-time salaried position is part of the Global Mission and Service team and reports directly to the associate executive director of Global Mission and Service. Major responsibilities include informing and engaging Church of the Brethren constituents in Brethren Disaster Ministries activities, maintaining ecumenical and interagency relationships to facilitate response to human need in the United States, coordinating with staff to employ strategy and operations to facilitate the church’s mission, providing sound financial budget management, and initiating grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund for domestic response activities. Required skills and knowledge include strong interpersonal skills; ability to articulate, support, and operate out of the vision, mission, and core values of the Church of the Brethren; ability to uphold and support the basic beliefs and practices of the Church of the Brethren as determined by Annual Conference; knowledge of International Building Code and ability to act within a multicultural and multigenerational team environment. Training or experience with making effective presentations and providing adult education, especially in conducting skill training workshops; managing staff and volunteers; and in-house construction and repair is required. A bachelor’s degree is required with a preference for an advanced degree. An associate degree or experience in relevant fields will be considered. This position is based at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Applications are being received and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Request the application packet by contacting the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; . The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

— The Church of the Brethren seeks a temporary part-time warehouse assistant to work directly with the director of Material Resources at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Applications will be received and reviewed beginning immediately until the position is filled. Request the application packet and complete job description from the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; .

— The Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service is publicizing a service opportunity in North Korea. The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) seeks MS-plus teachers for the more than 500 undergraduate and graduate students in the areas of plant/animal biological sciences, agronomic sciences, and biotechnology/genetic engineering for the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The university also has schools of Public Health, Electrical Engineering and Computer, and Management and Finance. Spousal appointments are supported. Appointments could be short-term or for multiple semesters, which run from September to December, March to June, and July. Classes are all held in English. Furnished on-campus apartments and cafeteria meals are provided. Global Mission and Service will cover visas, transportation costs, health insurance, and some personal costs. Downtown grocery shopping and some touring services are provided. For more information, contact Dr. Robert Shank, Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences, at . The program is now screening for the fall semester.

— Camp Galilee in Terra Alta, W.Va., operated by West Marva District, seeks a camp manager. The camp would consider someone as an interim manager for this year’s season. The camp provides opportunities in an outdoor setting for persons of all ages to grow in discipleship and relationship with Jesus Christ. In addition to week long camps for various age groups, the camp is also used by groups outside of the Church of the Brethren. The property is completely drug, alcohol, and tobacco free. Christian ethical standards are expected from all who utilize the camp property. The manager must be a Christian who has a good testimony of active relationship with Jesus Christ and is living a life that reflects Christian values and the values and beliefs of the West Marva District Church of the Brethren. Additional requirement include a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent. The manager should be proficient in basic computer skills, including office software, and the Internet, and is required to have knowledge of some maintenance, office, and kitchen equipment, should have a valid driving license, and reliable transportation. Duties and responsibilities include to direct operation of camp activities of staff including caretaker, inspect camp facilities prior to campers’ arrival and departure, coordinate maintenance duties, register as well as inform campers about camp accommodations regulations, employ and supervise staff to operate dining facilities, maintain required records and make reports, and is responsible for collecting camp fees, among other duties. The manager works independently within established policies and procedures under the general direction of camp trustees.  The camp is unable to provide the manager with a competitive compensation package, but a stipend will be offered as an expression of gratitude for the person who responds to God’s call for this opportunity. An apartment accessible from the Dining Hall is available for the manager. For more information and an application packet, contact West Marva District Church of the Brethren, 384 Dennett Rd., Oakland MD 21550; ; 301-334-9270.

— The Palms Estate of Lorida, Fla., has a position open for a manager or managers for the 55-plus Christian community. Computer skills are needed and knowledge of Quick Book is useful. Send resumes to Palms Estates, P.O. Box 603, Lorida, FL 33857.

— Early registration for the church planting conference, “Plant Generously, Reap Bountifully–Toward an Intercultural Future,” ends in mid-March. Register early for savings of $80 for first time attendees ($149) and $50 for others ($179). On March 18 all fees go up to $229. The conference is May 15-18 in Richmond, Ind. For more information and to register, go to .

— Shine, the new curriculum from Brethren Press and MennoMedia that starts this fall, is offering two training opportunities in upcoming months. The first, held jointly with MennoMedia, is a full-day event on Saturday, March 29, at the Westin Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. Cost is $10 per congregation. To attend, contact Dorothy Hartman at or 540-908-2438. The second is an insight session on Thursday evening, July 3, at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio. For those who find online training to be more convenient, short videos will be posted on the Shine website within several months. “We’re pretty excited about Shine, and we hope you are too,” said an announcement from Jeff Lennard of the Brethren Press staff. “Teaching children is a ministry of the whole church, and it’s a privilege to be part of that effort. In a time when many church publishing houses have had to abandon Sunday school curriculum, it’s gratifying that our congregations are still supporting the creation of well-thought-out resources from a Brethren and Mennonite perspective.” Lennard reports that advance copies of fall materials will be available by the end of March so that congregations have plenty of time to review them, starter kits will be available soon, and free sample sessions already can be found at .

— The Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness reminds congregations via a Facebook post that “participating in the March 13-16 National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend is as easy as incorporating a prayer or a hymn into your service.” Join more than 1,000 participating congregations by pledging your participation at . Heeding God’s Call also is offering resources for the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath. “As winter snows begin to melt, Christians and Jews head into the holy seasons of Lent and Passover–an especially important time to reflect on violence and to renew our commitments to ending so much preventable death caused by guns,” said an announcement from Heeding God’s Call. “For Christians this falls on the second week of Lent.” Professor Karyn Wiseman, who is on the faculty of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia where she teaches homiletics, has shared a sample sermon at . Rabbi Linda Holtzman who teaches at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and is rabbi of Tikkun Olam Chavurah in Philadelphia, has provided preaching ideas at . Heeding God’s Call chair Katie Day also requests copies of sermons preached on gun violence prevention, contact her at .

— The denomination’s Office of Public Witness also has joined with 39 other national organizations to support peace and diplomacy with Iran, including the National Council of Churches, J Street, Jewish Voice For Peace, Presbyterian Church (USA), and others. A letter from the group of organizations reads, in part: “The negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 are an essential opportunity for the United States and its negotiating partners to secure an agreement that prevents an Iranian nuclear weapon and averts a war.” Find the letter at .

— Monitor Church of the Brethren near McPherson, Kan., is holding a Bethany Weekend on March 8-9. This event is part of the Education for a Shared Ministry (EFSM) training program offered through the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. The Brethren Academy is a partnership of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Seminary. Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm, professor of Preaching and Worship at Bethany Theological Seminary, will teach two sessions on scripture interpretation on the morning of March 8, with afternoon sessions devoted to the role of scripture and prayer in worship. Lunch will be provided. Ottoni-Wilhelm will preaching on Sunday morning for services starting at 10 a.m., followed by a potluck meal. To attend, contact or 620-755-5096. An RSVP would be helpful for food preparations.

— Goshen (Ind.) City Church of the Brethren has helped the Interfaith Hospitality Network host two families, each with four children, for a stay from Jan. 26 to Feb. 2. “The children wanted to say ‘thank you’ to our church,” reports the church newsletter. “Thus, the children initiated and created the long banner that they hung in our Fellowship Hall.” The banner included a pocket with individually made bookmarks designed for church members to take as a reminder of their thanks.

— Sugar Grove Church of the Brethren is ready to put its addition under roof, says the Shenandoah District newsletter. The church will be having volunteer days March 27, 28, and 29, starting at 9 a.m.  Lunch will be provided. “We hope you can come and help us add bathrooms to our facility so we can serve God better,” said the district newsletter. Let the organizers know if you are coming so that they can plan for food, contact 540-459-2493 or .

— Gettysburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a choir from McPherson (Kan.) College in concert on Monday night March 17, at 7 p.m. The McPherson College Singers are a mixed group of 20 young men and women who will be touring the Mid-Atlantic region, said an announcement. “This is a free evening of music. There will be a donation basket but no free-will offering will be lifted.”

— The Virlina District Peace Affairs Committee will hold a “Prayers for Nigeria” service at Daleville (Va.) Church of the Brethren on Sunday, March 9, from 3-4 p.m. “Our Christian sisters and brothers in Nigeria are being threatened by Muslim extremists,” said the announcement of the event. “Many have been killed and much property has been destroyed. We are joining to pray for peace in Nigeria, for the safety for Christians there, and to mourn the loss of life and property. If you can’t come to Daleville, we invite you to set aside this hour on March 9 and pray for the country of Nigeria and our Christian sisters and brothers there.”

— Shenandoah District is once again hosting a Kit Depot at the office in Weyers Cave, Va., to receive Church World Service (CWS) kits, including school kits, hygiene kits, baby care kits, and emergency clean-up buckets. The depot will be open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Thursday from April 7 through May 15.

— The Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center (CrossRoads) on Saturday, March 22, holds its annual benefit auction at 9 a.m. at Bowman Auctions in Harrisonburg, Va. In addition to bidding on the varied auction items, attendees will enjoy baked goods, breakfast, and lunch. To donate items for the auction, contact CrossRoads at 540-438-1275. Items should be delivered to the center by March 19.

— Dates have been set for the annual meat canning in Mid-Atlantic District. Meat canning will be held for one week, from April 21-24, with labeling scheduled for April 25. All of the canned chicken is sent to local or international food banks, to help neighbors in need.

— “Did you miss our conversation with Paul Young, author of The Shack, last year?” asks an e-mail from the Children’s Aid Society, a ministry of the Southern Pennsylvania District of the Church of the Brethren. “Did you miss Michael Pritchard’s hilarious routine at our annual dinner in October? Now you have the chance to see them both! Videos of both these events are on our website and will be available for you to watch until the end of March.” Visit the video page at (click on “Resources”). The Children’s Aid Society is committed to helping at-risk children and their families build stronger, healthier lives through compassionate and professional services.

— A group of Bridgewater (Va.) College students and two staff will travel to Florida over spring break to volunteer as construction workers with Habitat’s Collegiate Challenge Spring Break 2014, said a release from the college. The students, accompanied by Stacie Horrell, assistant director of student activities, and David Nicholas, student accounts coordinator, leave for Delray Beach, Fla., on March 8. For the Spring Break Challenge, the group will work in partnership with the South Palm Beach County Habitat for Humanity. To raise money for the trip, the group held a chili cook-off and a Spirit Night fundraiser at New York Flying Pizza in Bridgewater. The campus chapter, established in 1995, is one of nearly 700 campus chapters worldwide, and is affiliated with Central Valley Habitat for Humanity in Bridgewater. This is the 22nd year that Bridgewater students have used spring break to work on various Habitat projects.

— “Grace Abounds” is the title of the Lenten/Easter disciplines folder from Springs of Living Water, an initiative for church renewal in which several Church of the Brethren districts and congregations are participating. Following the Brethren bulletin series, a Sunday text is included along with texts for daily reading and meditation, an interpretation of the theme, prayer guide, and insert for discerning next steps in spiritual growth. Vince Cable, pastor of Uniontown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, writes Bible study questions for individual and group use. Recently leaders of the initiative learned that the Springs Disciplines folder will be used in the Fayette County Prison south of Pittsburgh, Pa., coordinated through the Uniontown Church. Find the folder and Bible study questions on the Springs website at or contact David Young at 717-615-4515.

— The Death Row Support Project, a ministry connected with the Church of the Brethren and led by Rachel Gross of North Manchester, Ind., is sharing some good news. The project reached a goal of writing letters to 1,600 prisoners. The number of prisoners on death row currently stands at close to 3,100. Find out more at and at the projects’ Facebook page .

— In response to a request from its partners, over the past six months New Community Project has raised $33,500 to construct a girls’ boarding school in Nimule, South Sudan. “Surpassing the initial goal of $10,000, the additional funds will come in handy: demand has exceeded expectation and the school has been expanded to house 400 girls,” said a release from director David Radcliff. “According to NCP colleague Agnes Amileto of the Girlchild Education and Development Association, the school is needed to allow girls to focus on their studies (they are worked so hard at home that there is little time for homework), to keep girls from unplanned pregnancies (a frequent occurrence in mixed-gender schools), and to allow better access for disabled girls and girls coming from a distance.” In spite of the current insecurity in South Sudan, the foundation of the school has been poured and the school is planning to open in late spring. A New Community Project Learning Tour originally set for February, has been postponed until later this year or early 2015. For more information go to .

— The Open Table Cooperative of progressive Brethren, and Living Stream Church of the Brethren, an online fellowship based in Portland, Ore., are inviting church members to a “Living, Open Lent Journey.” Participants will share daily photos of nature and receive devotional reflections each Sunday by e-mail, during the six weeks leading up to Easter on April 20. The group will collect and share pictures and reflections from people across the country, as a way of finding signs of resurrection in daily life. During this time, Living Stream will hold “eco-spiritual worship” on Sunday evenings, said the announcement. See .

— “The World Council of Churches is deeply concerned by the current dangerous developments in Ukraine,” said Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, in a release on Monday, March 3. “The situation puts many innocent lives in grave jeopardy. And like a bitter wind from the Cold War, it risks further undermining the international community’s capacity to act now or in the future on the many urgent issues that will require a collective and principled response,” he said, in part. “Out of concern for the lives and security of all people who are or might in the future be affected by the continuing failure to resolve this situation peacefully, I call urgently on all parties to refrain from violence, to commit to dialogue and diplomacy, and to avoid escalation by rash words or actions.”

— Starting on Monday, March 3, the Ecumenical Water Network of the World Council of Churches (WCC) is inviting Christians to join in Seven Weeks for Water, a “pilgrimage towards water justice.” An online compilation of reflections shared every week during Lent raises awareness about universal access to water and sanitation. Since 2008, the campaign has attempted to create awareness on water issues around World Water Day on 22 March, which falls during the season of Lent on many churches’ calendars, according to a release. The theme for this year’s campaign is inspired by a call from the WCC 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea, “to join us in pilgrimage. May the churches be communities of healing and compassion, and may we seed the Good News so that justice will grow and God’s deep peace rest on the world.” Biblical reflections are posted every week on along with complementary links and ideas for activities.

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