Brethren Bits for Oct. 22, 2014

Irven Stern

— Remembrance: Irven F. Stern, 86, first principal and founder of Kulp Bible School (now Kulp Bible College) in Nigeria and a former district executive in the Church of the Brethren, died on Oct. 20. Along with his wife, Pattie, he was a missionary in Nigeria from 1954-62. The couple also served as co-executives of Pacific Southwest District from 1985-93. In addition, he served pastorates in Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Iowa, and California. Stern also co-authored “Invitation to Adventure: A 12-Week Study/Action Course on Church Growth.” He was born in Fredricksburg, Iowa, on March 8, 1928. He attended McPherson College, Bethany Theological Seminary, and Northwestern University. He married Pattie Bittinger in 1950, and she preceded him in death in 2006. As an avid gardener, he built his own greenhouse and started a business called Plants Please. Stern was an active member of McPherson Church of the Brethren, and even after a debilitating stroke in 2008 left him unable to walk or communicate verbally, he still attended church regularly. In 1991, Irven and Pattie Stern were honored by McPherson (Kan.) College with the Alumni Citation of Merit for service to profession, community, church, and college. He has three children: Gayle Bartel, Susan Boyer, and Gary Stern. He also has grandchildren and great grandchildren. A memorial service will be held on Oct. 28 at McPherson Church of the Brethren. Memorial contributions are received to McPherson Church of the Brethren, McPherson College, or the EYN Compassion Fund.

— James K. (Jamie) Risser has concluded his service as director, Brethren Disaster Ministries. He began in the position on July 1. “We wish him the best in his future endeavors,” said an announcement from the Church of the Brethren human resources office.

— Mary Ann Grossnickle began Oct. 20 as interim coordinator of hospitality at the Zigler Hospitality Center at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Her primary responsibilities are to coordinate meals and lodging for groups, guests, and volunteers visiting the Brethren Service Center, and oversee hospitality volunteers as well as the food service team.

— Richard Best began Oct. 20 as temporary full time baler for the Material Resources program at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. His work will include folding and baling quilts, filling tables, assisting with cardboard baling, and other warehouse duties.

— Laura Whitman of Palmyra, Pa., started Oct. 20 in a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) assignment as special projects coordinator in Congregational Life Ministries. One of her projects will be to assist with preparations for the 2015 National Older Adult Conference (NOAC). She is working out of the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. She is a 2014 graduate of Juniata College with a major in social work.

— Lebanon Valley Brethren Home, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Palmyra, Pa., has concluded a search for a full-time chaplain. Audrey Finkbiner has been serving as interim chaplain following the untimely death of former chaplain Norm Yeater. Mary Alice Eller will join the staff as chaplain effective Nov. 17. She is a second career clergyperson with a master of divinity degree from Bethany Theological Seminary, presently serving with her husband, Enten Eller, in a team ministry position at Ambler (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. She has completed an extended unit in Clinical Pastoral Education, and has served chaplain rotations at Brethren Village, Peter Becker Community, and the Lutheran Community at Telford. She also has served with the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership and was a program coordinator at the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center in Elizabethtown, Pa.

— Shine: Living in God’s Light, the new Sunday school curriculum from Brethren Press and MennoMedia, is accepting applications for curriculum writers. The curriculum is for children age three through grade 8. Accepted writers must attend  a Writers Conference in Indiana on March 6-9, 2015. Shine pays for meals and lodging during the conference and covers reasonable travel expenses. More details are available at . Applications and sample sessions are due by Dec. 15.

— “Join our Anti-Racism Transformation Team,” said an invitation from On Earth Peace. “The time is now for racial justice…as it has always been and always will be.” Since 2002, On Earth Peace has been engaged in an intentional process to understand how racism and other social oppressions prevent the organization from fully living in to its purpose of answering Christ’s call through powerful peace programs of training and accompaniment. Recognizing that racism affects all institutions and in an effort to live out the mission of the organization, On Earth Peace is seeking volunteer members to serve on an institutional Anti-Racism Transformation Team. For more information go to . Applications are available online at . Applications should be submitted on or before Jan. 15, 2015. Please submit questions to .

— October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, in an announcement from the Family Life office in Congregational Life Ministries. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men over the age of 18 experience physical violence from an intimate partner. Domestic violence affects individuals of every age, race, ethnicity, gender, religion or socioeconomic status. If you or someone you know is involved in a harmful relationship, please visit the Church of the Brethren’s website for useful information, including national hotline numbers and bulletin inserts at .

— There is a change in the series of webinars on “Opportunities and Challenges of Post-Christendom” offered jointly by the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries, Center for Anabaptist Studies at Bristol Baptist College in the UK, Anabaptist Network, and Mennonite Trust. Lloyd Pietersen and Nigel Pimlott are trading webinar dates because of changes in their personal schedules, said an announcement from Stan Dueck of the Congregational Life staff. Pimlott’s webinar on the subject “Youth Work after Christendom (Revisited)” will now take place on Nov. 20 at 2:30-3:30 p.m. (eastern time). Pietersen’s webinar on “Reading the Bible after Christendom” is now scheduled for Feb. 26, 2015, at 2:30-3:30 p.m. (eastern time). Registration and more information is at .

— A Celebration of Heifer International at Peace Church of the Brethren in Council Bluffs, Iowa, kicked off with an intergenerational worship service on Oct. 12 using resources from Animal Crackers, wrote pastor Laura Leighton-Harris in a report to Newsline. “We opened our service with a clip of ‘The Circle of Life’ from Lion King. Our youth and adults brought the Litany of Praise to life with their various animal sounds and movements. ‘Noah’ shared his story and the youth asked him for some animals to give to folks in other countries. Our youth handed out the arks and calendars during the offering time. ‘All Creatures of Our God and King’ and ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ were a few of our hymns.” A display table in the Fellowship Hall brings awareness of the program for groups who use the church facility and for those attending rummage sales, she added. A jar made by late members of the congregation, Jane Nelson and Toots Conaway, was set out for donations. Church member Anne Brooks and her students made a variety of animal bracelets, key chains, and bookmarks for sale, with the monies going to Heifer. Other fundraisers include a raffle for one of the plush animals around Christmas time, and a youth donation can at the Annual Trunk or Treat on Oct. 31. “In November after our collections of the arks and the other donations, the next fun part will be in selecting the animals for the individuals and families all around the world,” she reported. “We have many in our congregation for whom Heifer is very special and meaningful.”

— Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren held its First-Fruits Celebration this Sunday, Oct. 19. The guest speaker was Fred Bernhard, a “long-time friend of FCOB and noted church leader,” said the church newsletter. The morning also featured delicious “Tasting Stations” around the church, and was preceded by an annual Fall Festival held Saturday, Oct. 18, at the Miller Farm in Buckeystown with opportunities for fun and building community with the whole family including hayrides, face painting, games, pumpkin decorating, building a scarecrow to take home, s’mores and hot dogs. A special event was the congregation’s Third Annual Fall Bake-Off in two categories–desserts and side dishes–for children, youth, and adults. Recipes had to contain apples or pumpkin/squash.

— Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Port Republic, Va., will hold a Spiritual Renewal Weekend, “Harvest of Thankfulness,” on Nov. 15-16. The leader will be Tara Hornbacker, professor of ministry formation, missional leadership, and evangelism at Bethany Theological Seminary. Saturday’s service at 7 p.m on “The Other Commandment” will be followed by an ice cream social. After Hornbacker’s sermon at the 10 a.m. worship on Sunday, on the topic, “For Everything?” she will meet with youth. A carry-in meal at noon will be followed by an informal closing at 1:30 p.m. in the fellowship hall.

— Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., had 19 walkers participate in the Elgin CROP Walk on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 20. “We had a great time walking in the CROP Walk yesterday and raising money to help Church World Service fight hunger,” she reported via Facebook. “We raised more than $2,800 thanks to our generous sponsors.”

— Ted and Company TheaterWorks featuring Ted Swartz will present the Fall Spiritual Focus at Bridgewater (Va.) College on Nov. 4, in the Carter Center for Worship and Music. Ted Swartz and Jeff Raught will present “Creation, Dysfunction, and Destiny” at 9:30 a.m. and “Jesus Stories” at 7:30 p.m. Both performances are free and open to the public, said a release from the college. Swartz is well known among Brethren for his performances and leadership at National Youth Conferences and other venues, and will be one of the presenters at the 2015 Annual Conference.

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