Brethren Bits for May 20, 2014

Photo courtesy of the Brethren Church in Ankleshwar
Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer is currently in India to visit with the Church of the Brethren there and the Church of North India. He is shown here at the Brethren Church in Ankleshwar. He also has attended the annual meeting of the India Brethren.

— Remembrance: Marvin Earl Blough, 86, a former Church of the Brethren mission worker in Nigeria, passed away on March 7. He was born July 27, 1927, near Windom, Kan., to Ona and Earl Blough. The failure of a wheat crop led to the family’s relocation to Idaho in 1929. Blough grew up in Nampa, Idaho, and attended McPherson (Kan.) College where he graduated in 1948. On June 5, 1948, he married Dorris Murdock. Blough attended medical school at Kansas University and on his graduation from medical school, moved to Nigeria where he ran a hospital in the village of Garkida, which at the time was the headquarters of the Church of the Brethren Mission. His obituary notes that he was the only physician for the 78-bed hospital, working without modern plumbing or electricity. After three years he and his family returned to Wichita, Kan., where he completed a year of residency in internal medicine. After he worked for some time in Nampa, specializing in internal medicine, he returned to Nigeria in 1960 for another four years of service in Garkida. “When they left Garkida in 1964, Marvin and his family were honored in a village ceremony attended by hundreds of people from the surrounding area,” said his obituary in the “Idaho Press Tribune.” Upon returning to the US, Blough worked in Wichita, Kan., and in Nampa, where he joined the Salzer Medical Group in 1966. The group formed the first hospice in Idaho in 1978, where Blough became the medical director. He retired from the Salzer Medical Clinic after 37 years. In 1982, he and Dorris divorced. He later married Mary Glover Lambert. In 1990, he and Mary made the first of nine trips to Puerto Rico to serve in the Church of the Brethren-founded hospital in Castañer. He is survived by his wife Mary; children Susan (Larry Standley), Kim, Lee (Linda), and Lynn (Amy Swingen); step-children John (Marsha) Lambert, Mary Kay (Anne) Lambert, and David Lambert; grandchildren and step-grandchildren. A service of celebration of his life was held at the Nampa Civic Center on March 30. Memorial contributions are received to Doctors Without Borders. Find the full obituary as published by the “Idaho Press Tribune” at .

— The Church of the Brethren Workcamp office has announced the assistant coordinators for the 2015 season: Hannah Shultz and Theresa Ford. Ford has spent the last year serving in Brethren Volunteer Service in Waco, Texas, and comes originally from Atlantic Northeast District. Shultz is graduating from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., this month with a degree in Religious Studies and is originally from the Baltimore, Md., area. They will begin their work in planning the 2015 workcamp season in August.

— Washington (D.C.) City Church of the Brethren is seeking applicants for a food ministries coordinator position to direct the Brethren Nutrition Program, a lunch program for those homeless and in need on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Some experience with social work, social justice ministries, or working with marginalized people is required. The position begins July 1 and is a full-time 40-hour stipend position with benefits and housing at Brethren House, a community house on Capitol Hill. View the full position description at . To apply, send a cover letter and resume to .

— The Church of the Brethren Workcamp Ministry is offering commissioning resources to those congregations that have youth or young adults attending workcamps this summer. Congregations are encouraged to recognize and affirm these youth, young adults, and advisors as they prepare to leave for their workcamp through a commissioning service. Each congregation should receive a copy of the resources in the mail, but they are also available on the Workcamp Ministry web page at .

— The president of the Dominican Republic has initiated legislation that would allow people of Haitian descent born in the DR to receive the rights afforded to citizens of the country through documentation or an offer of permanent residency. Last year the high court in the DR ruled that children born in the DR to undocumented immigrants are not automatically entitled to citizenship. The new legislation has passed the lower house of parliament but still needs to clear the Senate. If adopted, it will favorably affect Dominican Brethren who are of Haitian background. Pastor Onelys Rivas reported to Global Food Crisis manager Jeff Boshart that he and Jay Wittmeyer, executive of the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service, last week met to discuss the bill with the head of CWS partner Servicio Social de Iglesias Dominicanas. The “regularization” for Dominicans of Haitian descent will not be free of charge, however, Rivas reported. Speaking for the Junta or leadership of the Church of the Brethren in the DR, Rivas is hoping to help Haitian Dominican Brethren understand the process and become registered under the new law. He plans to soon meet with the leaders of the Haitian Dominican Brethren churches to make a plan of action. Once the bill is adopted it will take some time to learn the proper procedures for registering, and will require a major mobilization of resources for the Dominican government as many thousands of people will be affected. Boshart recommends this Reuters report on the bill as offering helpful analysis:;_ylt=AwrBEiGpCHpTrSYAPhXQtDMD .

— The 2014 Orientation for students taking part in the programs of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership will be held July 31-Aug. 3 on the campus of Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond Ind. The registration deadline is June 16. The orientation is for students interested in the Training in Ministry (TRIM) or the Education for Shared Ministry (EFSM) programs. To enter either program, students must have the support of their district. After a student is fully registered for the 2014 Orientation with paperwork completed and registration fee received, he or she will receive individual consultations with the coordinator of TRIM and EFSM or the executive director of the Brethren Academy to begin their ministry training program before attending orientation. For additional information, contact Carrie Eikler (TRIM) at or Julie Hostetter (EFSM)at ..

Photo courtesy of Going to the Garden
Bees are raised at Capstone Community Gardens and Orchard in New Orleans, with help from a Going to the Garden grant.

— “This is what the Church of the Brethren Going to the Garden grant and the Southern Plains and Roanoke Church of the Brethren assistance helps us do! Such a blessing!” writes David Young from New Orleans, La., where the Capstone community garden has benefited from church support. The garden is one of several receiving $1,000 grants through the Going to the Garden project of the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) and the denomination’s Office of Public Witness. An interview about the Capstone garden, titled, “Volunteer grows food for the hungry on formerly blighted Ninth Ward lots,” was published by “The Times-Picayune” on May 13 at .

— Harrisonburg (Va.) First Church of the Brethren holds its annual Community Fun Fair on Saturday, May 24, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. at the church at 315 S. Dogwood Dr. “The day includes a yard sale, pancake breakfast, demonstrations by the Harrisonburg Fire Department, kids’ fingerprinting by the Rockingham Country Sheriff’s Department, pork barbecue lunch, great food, inflatable rides, kids’ games, and much more,” reports the Shenandoah District newsletter.

— Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren and Hagerstown Choral Arts are offering a concert on Sunday, May 31, at 7 p.m. titled “I Hear America Singing.” The event, described by a flyer as “an evening of a range of American style music…not to be confused with a patriotic concert, but rather a mixture of energizing and soothing American songs,” will also receive a free-will offering for the choral arts group as well as the church that hosts their rehearsals. The group is in its 21st season of bringing choral music to the community.

— Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren hosts a concert by “The Westminster Ringers” on Friday, June 6, at 7 p.m. The Maryland handbell ensemble includes 16 ringers playing one of the largest collections of handbell instruments in the mid-Atlantic region, directed by Larry Henning. The public is invited. A love offering will be received.

— Shenandoah District has issued an update on outcomes from its recent disaster auction. “Beautiful Weather! Wonderful Results!” the update began. The event supports Brethren Disaster Ministries. “Blessed with gorgeous weather, the 2014 Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Auction successfully celebrated its 22nd year this weekend.” Among outcomes: 1,023 people enjoyed an oyster/ham/chicken dinner; 280 diners had an omelet breakfast and 152 chose pancakes for breakfast; a plate lunch was served to 198 people; preliminary accounting showed gross receipts of $199,635. “The livestock auction alone brought in $20,445.50,” the report said. Figures are preliminary because “some expenses are yet to be paid, and some income is yet to be received.”

— Illinois and Wisconsin District is calling for volunteers to help serve in the city of Gifford, Ill., which is rebuilding in the aftermath of last year’s tornado that hit the central part of the state. “Gifford is a small town about 15 miles northeast of Champaign,” reports the district disaster coordinator Rick Koch. “Beginning the second week of June they are going to have three homes with foundations poured and they are in need of persons who are skilled in framing up a home. In the weeks ahead there will be a call for plumbers, electricians and others with various construction skills. You are needed whether you can stay one day or one week.” Housing is at a local church on cots, or volunteers can seek housing at a hotel in the nearby city of Rantoul. Lunches will be provided. “Please contact me soon, if you having framing experience and if you are available beginning June 9 or thereabouts,” Koch requests. Contact him at or 815-499-3012.

— South Central Indiana District is asking every congregation in the district to bring one Church World Service (CWS) clean-up bucket to District Conference this year. The conference will be held at Pleasant Dale Church of the Brethren in Decatur, Ind., on Sept. 13. “We hope every congregation will agree to sharing one bucket of cleanup supplies with someone experiencing the aftermath of a disaster,” said the district newsletter. “Soon you will be receiving an empty five-gallon bucket with a lid (provided by the committee) for your congregation to fill.” The district also is requesting each congregation to bring two pies to be auctioned off during the district conference, with proceeds supporting the Education Ministry Fund and the District Budget, and the district board is encouraging each church to “take the Vital Ministry Journey between now and District Conference.” The Vital Ministry Journey is an initiative of the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries offering a process that empowers congregations to recapture a dynamic vision and mission. Find out more at .

— West Marva District Student Ministries is offering a “Revive 412 Conference” based on 1 Timothy 4:12. The evening of worship and more takes place June 6 at Danville Church of the Brethren, starting at 6 p.m. All eighth grade, high school, and college students are invited. The event includes worship, the Grains of Sand Praise Band, door prizes, pizza and wings, and more. Contact 301-785-6271 or .

— Elizabethtown (Pa.) College’s inaugural class of master’s degree students graduated on Saturday, May 17, from the School of Continuing and Professional Studies at the Edward R. Murphy Center. Twenty-three graduates received master of business administration (MBA) degrees, said a release from the college. Along with them were 16 bachelor of arts graduates, two bachelor of professional studies graduates, 121 bachelor of science graduates, and 43 who earned associate degrees.

— The Brethren Mission Fund newsletter is reporting on developments at the New Covenant School in Haiti, where an intergenerational work camp was held from March 12-19 led by Doug and Holly Miller from the Upper Conewago Church of the Brethren in Southern Pennsylvania District. The fund is a ministry of the Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF). The newsletter reports: “Some time ago the New Covenant School in Haiti had an opportunity to purchase some adjoining land for $30,000, on which they wanted to build a church and an orphanage. In 2013 the BMF committee was made aware that enough funds were in place for the school to finally purchase the land. The transaction was finalized just before the intergenerational work camp arrived in Haiti in March.” In addition, the fund and the workcamp contributed to construction of a church house at the school in St. Louis du Nord.

— Chandler Comer, a high school senior and member of Oakton Church of the Brethren in Vienna, Va., celebrated the world premiere of his work “Dawn of a Nation” when it was performed by the Westfield High School Wind Symphony. The piece of music in four movements represents the early history of the US starting with Jamestown: I. Colonization, II. Confrontation, III. Starvation, IV. Dawn of a Nation. The performance may be viewed at .

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