Brethren Bits for May 7, 2014

Olympic View Church of the Brethren in Seattle, Wash., and Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) co-hosted a dinner this past Thursday, May 1. BVS alumni were invited to come and share their stories, during a visit by BVS assistant for recruitment Ben Bear. Shown above: some of the area youth who joined in the meal, along with youth program coordinator Bobbi Dykema. Two BVS alumni–Ryan Richards and Frosty Wilkinson–shared their stories of what they did during their BVS terms. Pastor Ken Rieman, also a former BVSer, was at the event. “We had spaghetti, bread, salad, and cookies for the meal,” reported Bear. “Bobbi’s friend, J. Scott, made a delicious homemade sauce for the pasta. There were about 30 people who attended.” For more about BVS go to . Photo by Ben Bear.

— Correction: an incorrect link was given for more information about Brethren Housing Association 25th Anniversary events. The correct link is .

— Washington City Church of the Brethren in Washington, D.C., seeks a food ministries coordinator to direct overall operations of the Brethren Nutrition Program, a lunch program for people who are homeless and in need on Capitol Hill. The coordinator will supervise day-to-day functions, and lead communications, public relations, and fundraising; utilize faith and skills of administration, organization, development, and public speaking. 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, including housing at Brethren House, a community house on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. To view the complete position description go to . To apply, apply send a cover letter and a resume to .

— Bethany Theological Seminary has announced new alumni/ae in leadership. Following on an Alumni/ae Association ballot this spring, Brian Flory (MDiv ’99), and Becky Baile Crouse (MDiv ’88), were selected to represent alumni/ae at Bethany as a trustee and on the Alumni/ae Coordinating Council, respectively. Flory has been pastor of Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., since 2007 and previously pastored Ambler (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. He was a member of the Atlantic Northeast District board from 2001-06, including two years as vice chair of the Nurture Commission, and directed workcamps for Brethren junior high and high school youth from 2001-05. Other church involvement has included serving as an Annual and District Conference delegate and on planning committees for the Supportive Communities Network Pastor’s Retreat and the Progressive Brethren Gathering. Crouse has been a member of the pastoral team at Warrensburg (Mo.) Church of the Brethren since 2004, and works full-time as a pediatric chaplain at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. She completed a doctor of ministry in children and poverty in 2013 from Saint Paul School of Theology. In 2005-06 she was on the denominational Review and Evaluation Committee, and she has preached at both National Youth Conference and Annual Conference.

Photo courtesy of BVS
BVS Coast to Coast sets off from the Atlantic Coast of Virginia on May 1

— “Wheels in Each Ocean’: Grads Trek Cross-Country” is the title of an article about the BVS Coast to Coast bicycle ride posted by the “Daily News-Record” of Harrisonburg, Va. Reporter Candace Sipos interviewed the two Brethren Volunteer Service workers who began their nation-wide trek on May 1 from the Atlantic coast of Virginia: Chelsea Goss and Rebekah Maldonado-Nofziger. “Hopefully, we’ll have our wheels in each ocean,” Goss told the paper. BVS director Dan McFadden commented, “Over the years, people have said, ‘They ought to have a team of volunteers going around to churches … [to] promote BVS,’” so when Goss had the idea for this trip, “We very much jumped on the bandwagon.” Read the full newspaper story at .

— New online resources available at the denominational website include a sample article from the May issue of “Messenger” magazine. “Colors of Peace” by Gabriella Stocksdale, a high school student from Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., took third-place honors in Bethany Theological Seminary’s 2014 Peace Essay Contest. “In an atmosphere where police roam the hallways and violent fights erupt without notice, what–if anything–can one Brethren high school student do to foster peace and understanding?” says a preview of the piece. Find it at .

— Also new at, additional online content from “Basin and Towel,” which is published by Congregational Life Ministries. Sample articles have been posted from an issue on “The Calling Community,” the second in a series focused on congregational vitality. “Calling communities are communities of power,” said the introductory reflection, in part. “Not power over one another, to make someone do what we want, but power with–with God through the work of the Holy Spirit, with one another for the release of gifts and passions, with the world for transformation.” Also posted are documents showing how the Peoria (Ill.) congregation shared sabbath time during the pastor’s sabbatical, and a video interview with Josh Brockway about the new spiritual gifts resource “Vital Passions, Holy Practices: Exploring Spiritual Gifts.” Go to to find these resources and more. Purchase “Vital Passions, Holy Practices” from Brethren Press for $7 per copy plus shipping and handling at or call 800-441-3712 to order.

— With the help of David Sollenberger and many others, the Office of Public Witness has put together a new video about the Going to the Garden initiative that is being implemented in coordination with the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF). “Check out how churches are using their grant money to cultivate gardens and community,” said an announcement. “And make sure to ‘Like’ the new Going to the Garden [Facebook] page for future updates about what congregations are doing and how you can get your congregation involved!” View the video at . Find Going to the Garden on Facebook at .

— A Shine Training Event will be held on Thursday, May 8, from 7- 9 p.m. at 3145 Benham Ave., Elkhart, Ind. Shine is the new curriculum published by Brethren Press and MennoMedia for use in Christian education and Sunday school classes. “Who should attend?” said an invitation from South Central Indiana District. “Anyone interested in learning more about the Shine children’s Sunday school curriculum and how to use it in your congregation. All nearby Church of the Brethren and Mennonite churches are invited.” For more information visit .

— A new issue of “Roundabout Online,” the newsletter for the Gather ’Round curriculum published by Brethren Press and MennoMedia, is posted at . This issue features a reflection on the “big miracle” in John 21 and the “simple miracle” of sharing food with Jesus, as well as links to a freshly redesigned website for Gather ’Round and to preview materials from successor curriculum Shine, which begins this fall.

— “Tractor Sunday draws 368 farmers to church in E-town” said a Lancaster Online news article about the Sunday, May 4, service at West Green Tree Church of the Brethren in Elizabethtown, Pa. The event in which two other churches participate, Chiques Church of the Brethren whose pastor Nathan Myer was the speaker, and Mount Pleasant Church of the Brethren whose men’s quartet sang, includes a morning service and a lunch for farmers. It is “a thank you to our farmer friends for the job they do and thanking the Lord for the harvest,” organizer Doug Breneman told the reporter. He is a deacon at the church and has organized Tractor Sunday since it started in 2011. Read the article at .

— Cedar Grove Church of the Brethren at Ruckersville, Va., held a special service of blessing for bikers and bikes on Sunday, April 13, according to the Shenandoah District newsletter. “Receiving blessing for safety and traveling mercies were 42 bikes and approximately 60 bikers. Two people came forward during the altar call for healing and laying on of hands. After that, another visitor asked to be saved and accepted Christ as Lord and Savior.”

— The 2014 Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Auction will get under way at the Rockingham County (Va.) Fairgrounds the weekend of May 16-17. A bulletin insert about the auction, which benefits Church of the Brethren disaster ministries, is online at . An invitation to the auction golf tournament on May 16 (rain date May 23) in Harrisonburg, Va., is at . “It’s going to be a great weekend,” said the Shenandoah District newsletter.

— The Global Women’s Project has again held its annual Mother’s Day Gratitude Project. The annual event “celebrates not only the important women in our lives but helps women and girls in our Partner Projects throughout the world!” said an announcement. Supporters send in a note with the name and address of women they would like to honor on Mother’s Day, enclosed with a check for the ministry, and the women who are being honored receive a note back from the project noting how women in Partner Projects in places like South Sudan, Rwanda, Nepal, Uganda, and Wabash, Ind., are receiving support. For more information go to .

— The 2014 Brethren Bible Institute sponsored by the Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) will be held July 21-25 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. Classes meet from 8:50 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Total cost including room, board, and tuition is $200. Find an application form including a roster of instructors and course offerings at . Application forms also may be requested from Brethren Bible Institute, 155 Denver Road, Denver, Pa. 17517.

— The World Council of Churches (WCC) is encouraging “swift and peaceful” action to restore Nigeria’s missing girls, in a release dated May 6. The abduction has prompted “profound concern” the release said. In his letter to Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit wrote, “This tragic situation is devastating not only to the immediate community, but also to all Nigerians praying and working for peace. It touches the World Council of Churches directly, as many who have lost their daughters are members of our church families in Nigeria,” said Tveit. He said the WCC’s concern is “intensified in the face of increasing global sexual exploitation of girls and women, and the possibility that these abducted students may become victims of just such injustice and violence…. Following the rescue of these children for which we pray, the impact of exploitation may require long-term accompaniment of the young women and their families by the Nigerian government, faith communities and local networks of care and support.” Tveit said the WCC is ready to assist in “mobilizing the inter-religious and international communities to seek effective and peaceful means towards safely restoring these students to their homes, loved ones and communities.” Read full text of the letter at . A list of the WCC member churches in Nigeria is at .

— In more news from the World Council of Churches, an ecumenical delegation has visited South Sudan, where fighting has culminated in a humanitarian crisis. “The senseless war in South Sudan must end now,” said WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit, in a release. “It is shocking to see how leaders in both parties involved in the conflict have led their own people to such pain and suffering,” Tveit said. “From the stories I was told, it is impossible to comprehend the scale of killings and atrocities taking place.” Tveit stressed the need for leaders on both sides to use the negotiations resuming this week as an opportunity to agree and implement a ceasefire immediately. “This will enable aid groups, including ACT Alliance, to respond effectively to the humanitarian crisis resulting from the violence,” the release said. The high-level delegation was led by WCC Central Committee moderator Agnes Abuom, and included ACT Alliance general secretary John Nduna, general secretary of the World YWCA Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, former WCC general secretary and ecumenical special envoy for South Sudan and Sudan Samuel Kobia, who also represented the All Africa Conference of Churches, and WCC program executive for advocacy for Africa, Nigussu Legesse. The group expressed solidarity with local churches, met with the South Sudan vice-president James Wani Igga and UN representative to South Sudan Hilde Frafjord Johnson, and with political detainees from the opposition in Juba, released recently by the South Sudanese government. One goal of the pastoral visit was to encourage the churches in Sudan to keep pressing for an end to the violence. The delegation also brought the message that there are churches around the world who stand in solidarity with them.

— Bread for the World will celebrate its 40th anniversary during a National Gathering on June 9 in Washington, D.C., followed by the organization’s annual Lobby Day June 10. Bread’s mission is to be “a collective voice urging our nation’s decision-makers to end hunger at home and abroad.”

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