Brethren Bits for Sept. 3, 2014

Photo by Kristin Flory
The volunteers serving at various Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) projects across Europe met for a retreat this summer: (from left) Megan Haggerty, Margaret Hughes, Megan Miller, Marie Schuster, Emma Berkey, Stephanie Barras, Sarah Caldwell, Hannah Monroe, Hannah Button-Harrison, Rosemary Sorg, Andrew Kurtz, Becky Snell, and Craig Morphew. Kristin Flory, who took this picture, serves as staff for Brethren Service Europe and coordinates the BVS Europe program.

— Remembered: Channie Bell Johnson, 81, of South Elgin, Ill., passed away on Aug. 24. She served as a receptionist at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., for some years in the 1970s. She also had worked at Oak Crest Residential Home on State Street in Elgin for many years. She was born Oct. 15, 1932, in Mississippi to Casey and Ida Mae (Winters) Kyles, and was a member and Church Mother of Bethesda Church of God in Christ. She is survived by daughters Cassandra Darrough and Maria Siedsma, who also served on the staff of the General Offices in previous decades, along with a grandson and great granddaughter. Find the full obituary at

— Robert Witt has resigned as executive director of the Children’s Aid Society, a ministry of Southern Pennsylvania District. A report in the district newsletter from Eli Mast, president of the Children’s Aid Society Board of Directors, noted that during Witt’s tenure “he was committed to helping increase the agency’s services to at-risk children. Current family commitments necessitated his resignation.” The board has named Patty Cashour as interim executive director. She is a long-time employee of the agency, and has been serving as the director of operations.

— Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., invites applications for a full-time, tenure-track, faculty position in theological studies, beginning fall 2015. Rank: open. PhD preferred; ABD considered. The appointee will be expected to develop and teach the equivalent of an average of five graduate courses per year, including at least one online course per year, and offer one nongraduate course for the Brethren Academy biennially. These courses will include the introductory course in theological reflection as well as advanced courses in an area of expertise. Other duties will include: student advising, supervision of MA theses in the area of theological studies as needed, serving on at least one major institutional committee annually, participating in the recruitment of new students through interviews and informal contacts, and regular participation in faculty meetings and other campus events. Commitment to the values and theological emphases within the Church of the Brethren is essential. Applications are encouraged from women, minorities, and persons with disabilities. The appointment will begin on July 1, 2015. The application deadline is Dec. 1, 2014. Interviews will begin in early 2015. Send a letter of application, CV, and names and contact information for three references to Theological Studies Search, Attn: Dean’s Office, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374; .

— This evening at 6 p.m. (Eastern time) the Church of the Brethren is one of the sponsors of a service of mourning and remembrance for those who have died in the recent Gaza conflict in Israel/Palestine. The service will be held at Calvary Baptist Church in downtown Washington, D.C. (755 8th Street NW, Washington DC 20001), and will be live streamed online at . “Whether you are in DC or on the other side of the country, we invite you to join us and many others in a time of prayer, mourning, and remembrance for the more than 2,000 people who have died during the violence of the last several weeks,” said an announcement from the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness. More information can be found at the event’s Facebook page, or send questions to Nathan Hosler, director of the Office of Public Witness, at .

— A shipment to Honduras from Brethren Disaster Ministries–prepared and loaded by the Material Resources staff at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.–filled a 40-foot container with 350 cartons of canned chicken, 87 cartons of household kits, 2 bales of blankets, 77 cartons of baby kits, and 233 cartons of hygiene kits. The chicken was canned by Mid-Atlantic and Southern Pennsylvania Districts. A thank you from Chet Thomas, director of Proyecto Aldea Global (PAG, Project Global Village) in Honduras, explained how the items would be used and distributed: “Thank you to each one of you and everyone from the different Church of the Brethren districts involved in this shipment…which will directly be distributed to those most needy in the communities where we work…. We have received canned chicken meat in the past and it has been used in many ways to attend those with greatest needs, especially  those children suffering from malnutrition here in Honduras. Over the past several years and in more than 600 communities, we have been using the canned meat to provide a nutritional supplement to impoverished families whose children have fallen below the acceptable level of nutrition. Our community health program volunteers actually weigh more than 6,000 children each month (birth to two years of age) to monitor the growth of the children in our target work areas. The canned meat has saved the lives of many children who simply do not have enough to eat and do not grow properly. Your hard work and efforts will pay off big and bless many children with healthier and more productive lives because you have cared.” For more about PAG: .

— The Church of the Brethren Youth and Young Adult Ministry is sharing a call for applications for the Tom Mullen Ministry of Writing Fellowship at Earlham School of Religion, a partner with Bethany Theological Seminary on the campus in Richmond, Ind. ESR is accepting applications for the fellowship for the 2014-2015 academic year. The recipient will spend the Spring Session (Jan.-May 2015) at ESR working on a “publishable” manuscript while attending a Ministry of Writing class. The fellowship awards $1,500 toward living expenses and tuition or audit fee (tuition is $1,251, audit fee is $400.) Applicants do not need to be current ESR students, but do have to attend the writing class on campus. A description of the publishable writing project is due with the application, and a brief chapter outline as well as a writing sample is suggested. The recipient covenants to provide ESR with copies of the completed work and a report about learnings while working on the manuscript, among other requirements. A $75 technology fee also is required. The recipient will be announced at the Writer’s Colloquium on Oct. 31. Submit application and details of writing project via mail, e-mail, or fax by Oct. 10 to Earlham School of Religion, Financial Aid Office, 228 College Ave., Richmond, IN 47374; fax 765-983-1688; . For information about the Writer’s Colloquium see . Contact Youth and Young Adult Ministries director Becky Ullom Naugle for a copy of the application form, at . Contact Tracy Crowe with questions at 765-983-1540 or .

— A Global Prayer Guide has been posted for the month of September by the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service office. Find it online at .

— Brethren Disaster Ministries is sharing information from the American Red Cross (ARC) campaign to mobilize communities around fire preparedness and prevention. The goal of the campaign is “to reduce the number of fire deaths and injuries in the United States by 25 percent within five years,” said an e-mail from the Brethren Disaster Ministries office. “Because reducing tragic loss of life is a worthy goal, Brethren Disaster Ministries encourages Church of the Brethren congregations to coordinate with their Red Cross chapter on local Home Fire Preparedness Campaign activities.” Red Cross chapters may be contacting churches to ask if they are interested in participating. Find local Red Cross chapters via zip code at click on “Find Your Local Red Cross.”

— On Earth Peace is inviting “prayer and action for justice” in solidarity with the citizens of Ferguson, Mo., according to a recent e-mail from the agency. “With grief, indignation, and hope, On Earth Peace asks our community to pray and act in solidarity with the citizens of Ferguson, MO, and anyone who seeks racial justice for all God’s children,” the e-mail said in part. “The death of unarmed African American youth Michael Brown at the hands of white police officer Darren Wilson comes in the context of centuries-old dynamics of racial oppression and white privilege. At root, our society repeatedly expresses a fundamental disrespect for the lives of black people, brown people, and all people of color. This reality is at odds with God’s song to all of us, that we are Beloved and forgiven.” On Earth Peace as an organization has been “learning to listen deeply to the stories of our sisters and brothers of color,” the e-mail said. “We seek to build our collective understanding, including listening to how God is leading us to move as an institution.” In addition to prayer, the e-mail suggested a number of actions including study of On Earth Peace statements on racism, and offering support for local organizations coordinating the organizing in Ferguson via the website Hands Up United at , as well as donations toward the legal expenses of the Mike Brown family and activists working in Ferguson. For more information or to let On Earth Peace know about Church of the Brethren participation contact .

— Members of York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren will be hosted by Brooklyn Church of the Brethren in New York for a special urban retreat, planned by the Spiritual Enrichment Ministry Team at York First. The event takes place the weekend of Oct. 24-26, according to the York First newsletter. “This will be a service oriented retreat,” the announcement said. “Our plan is to have an ingathering of food, here, for the Brooklyn food pantry and to take those items with us to help restock their larder. In addition, we will be preparing Saturday lunch at their soup kitchen, and we will also pack bag lunches for their clients. This is the way they insure that these families, whom they care for, will have a nutritious Saturday evening meal.” The group also will be sleeping at the Brooklyn Church’s facility.

— Every year Peoria (Ill.) Church of the Brethren joins with some Methodist churches to take clothing, furniture, tools, and other goods to Eastern Kentucky Missions. “We collect these items throughout the year and fill trucks, trailers, vans, and cars with usable goods for people who live in one of the poorest sections of the country,” said a note in the Illinois and Wisconsin District newsletter. “Then we drive together to Henderson Settlement and Red Bird Mission to deliver the much needed help.” This year’s trip begins on Oct. 30 and returns Nov. 2. Retirees and young people are welcome. To express interest contact 309-682-3980.

— “Why are there cell phones on the pulpit?” asks an article by Dawn Blackmon in the Illinois and Wisconsin District newsletter. The answer is that Champaign (Ill.) Church of the Brethren has begun keeping home-bound members in the loop through a “telephone service” in which cell phones and three-way calling help absent members attend in real time by using the speaker button on their home phones. “During a snow storm this past winter, when a 10-inch snowfall kept some members away, missing members were called on the phone and they were able to listen to the service on their telephones,” Blackmon reported. “Along with keeping temporarily homebound members engaged in church activities this Brethren Calling–Brethren Telephone Service has the added benefit of being a no cost ‘soul_ution’ as many cell phone carriers provide free nights and weekend service and incoming calls to land lines are also free. God has provided all the tools we need to help His people come together to worship!”

— Western Plains District is offering a leadership training event for pastors and lay church leaders on Oct. 9-11 at the Heartland Center for Spirituality, Dominican Convent, in Great Bend, Kan. The training will be led by Dan Ulrich, professor of New Testament Studies at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., on the theme “Courage in the Gospel of Matthew: Profiles and Parables.” Sessions will focus on the need for courage in ministry, profiles of courage in Matthew’s story, and courage in the parables. Costs are underwritten by district funds as a part of the Western Plains transformation initiative. Transportation is covered by participants. For more information contact the Western Plains District Office at 620-241-4240.

Photo by Sandy Kinsey
A young rider gets an assist from Dad (center) and the horse’s owner at the Shenandoah District Family Fun Day, held to benefit disaster ministries.

— The Family Fun Day sponsored by the Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Auction Coordinating Committee on Saturday, Aug. 23, “was a success!” said the district newsletter. The event raised almost $2,000 from a pie and cake auction and food concessions. Proceeds underwrite start-up costs for the 2015 auction. “Thanks to the coordinating committee and to Eddie and Linda Major for hosting the event and sharing their beautiful facilities,” said the newsletter.

— The Brethren Woods 19th Annual Golf Blast and Elzie Morris Memorial Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 6, starts at 7:30 a.m. at Lakeview Golf Course east of Harrisonburg, Va. Brethren Woods is a camp and outdoor ministry center in Shenandoah District. “The first hour includes a putting contest, hitting a few balls, and the opportunity to buy mulligans, gimme strings, and red tees. The shotgun start is at 8:30 a.m.,” said an invitation. Cost to take part in this fundraiser event is $70 per person which includes green fees, riding cart, prizes, and meal. Lunch for non-golfers is $8. In addition to winning teams, prizes will be awarded for the putting contest, a hole-in-one, longest drive, closest-to-the-pin, and more. To sign up call the camp office at 540-269-2741.

— Brethren Woods, a camp and outdoor ministry center in Shenandoah District, is dedicating its newest facility, Pine Grove, on Sunday, Sept. 28, at 2:30 p.m. A time of worship will be led by district executive minister John Jantzi, followed by a time of fellowship and refreshments. RSVP by Sept. 23 to the camp office at 540-269-2741 or .

— The annual Bridgewater Home Auxiliary Fall Festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 20, 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the Rockingham County (Va.) Fairgrounds. Breakfast is served 7:30-10 a.m. Lunch begins at 10 a.m. The benefit auction of art, quilts, and more begins at 9:30 a.m. Specialty shops and a silent auction also are planned. Proceeds benefit residents of the Bridgewater Retirement Community, a Church of the Brethren retirement center. A preview and reception for participating artists and quilters will be held on Sunday, Sept. 14, from 1-3 p.m. in the Alexander Mack Rooms of the Houff Community Center in Maple Terrace on the Bridgewater Retirement Community campus in Bridgewater, Va.

— An auction of two quilts will be part of the sales weekend on Sept. 12-13 for the Auxiliary at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md. A yard sale will take place from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. A food and bake sale with an array of soups, sandwiches, and baked goods will be offered from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sept. 13 in the Dining Room. The quilts will be auctioned at 1 p.m. on the 13th in the Dining Room, with auctioneer Robert Wilson volunteering his time for the event. One quilt measuring 76 by 80 inches is about 70 years old, donated by Harry and June Himes on behalf of Grossnickle Church of the Brethren in Myersville, Md. The second quilt at 74 by 82 inches is new, donated by independent living residents Connie and Dave Coleman who purchased it from the Daughters of Dorcas weekly quilting group at Springs (Pa.) Mennonite Church. Up until the day of the auction, the quilts will be displayed in the Fahrney-Keedy Gift Shop. Anyone wishing to contribute items for the yard sale or bake sale, or with questions about the quilts, may call Sara Wolfe, president of the Auxiliary, at 301-293-3491. All purchases will help the auxiliary with its fundraising efforts on behalf of the continuing care retirement community.

— “The Superiority of Christ–Worthy to Be Followed and Worshiped” is the theme of the next spiritual disciplines folder from the Springs of Living Water Initiative in Church Renewal. Running from Sept. 9-Nov. 29, the folder arises from a study of the book of Hebrews on the excellence of Christ. Daily scriptures are provided for daily prayer. Vince Cable, pastor of Uniontown Church of the Brethren south of Pittsburgh, Pa., has written the Bible study questions for both personal and group Bible study. All materials are available on the Springs website at . For more information contact David Young at .

— Among eight residents of Mount Morris, Ill., honored in the town’s July 4 parade for being age 100 or older were six residents of Pinecrest, a Church of the Brethren retirement community. One of those who accepted the invitation to be a parade marshal was Betty Solyom, who rode and waved from an open convertible driven by Ferol Labash, CEO of Pinecrest Community. Solyom will turn 102 on Sept. 15, according to a note in the newsletter of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., where she had been a member before moving to Pinecrest.

— The Juniata College board of trustees has added three new members to begin the 2014-2015 academic year. The new trustees appointed to begin their service for the Church of the Brethren-related college in Huntingdon, Pa., are Ethan Gibbel of Manheim, Pa.; Elaine Jones of Wayne, Pa; and William Rys of Alexandria, Va. Gibbel is president of Gibbel Insurance Agency in Lititz, Pa., and represents the fourth generation of family ownership of the agency as well as more than four generations of family relationship with Juniata College, dating back almost to the time of the college’s founding. Gibbel’s uncle, grandfather, and great grandfather also served as college trustees. Jones is executive director, venture capital, for Pfizer Venture Investments in New York City. Rys is director of federal government affairs for Citi and a previous executive secretary at the US Department of the Treasury.

— The newly completed renovation of Nininger Hall at Bridgewater (Va.) College will celebrated and dedicated at a ceremony on Sept. 9 at 10 a.m. Jopson Field was included in the makeover, said a release from the college, with the field receiving new turf and lights. The college plans a Fan Day on Saturday, Sept. 13, 4-6 p.m. prior to its first-ever night football game at 7 p.m., when fans and community members can take a guided tour of the new facilities and enjoy refreshments. Ninger Hall houses the department of health and human sciences and athletics program, and underwent a $9 million renovation. Speakers at the dedication include college president David W. Bushman, chair of the Bridgewater board of trustees Nathan Miller, and students. The year-long project increased the 56-year-old facility’s footprint by as much as 16,000 square feet and provided a renovated gymnasium, updated classrooms and laboratory for the health and human sciences program, renovated faculty and coaches offices, new locker rooms, training/rehab center, strength/conditioning facility, team room, new building façade and lobby, and new Athletic Hall of Fame Gallery.

— In more news from Bridgewater College, a number of special lectures, music performances, and theater productions are coming to the campus this fall and winter. Many are of interest to Brethren, among them: Scarlett Lewis, mother of one of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, Jesse Lewis, will speak on Sept. 18; Scott Jost, associate professor of art at Bridgewater, will discuss his recent book “Shenandoah Valley Apples” on Oct. 16; alumnus Peter Barlow, a former Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines who helped in the Brethren Disaster Ministries assessment following the typhoon that devastated that island nation last fall, will speak on Oct. 27 in the Carter Center; Ted and Co. TheatreWorks will present “Jesus Stories” on Nov. 4 in the Carter Center, as part of the Fall Spiritual Focus; the college’s Concert Choir, Chorale, and Oratorio Choir will present a concert on Sunday, Nov. 9, at 3 p.m.; the college Symphonic Band will give a concert on Sunday, Nov. 16, at 3 p.m.; and the college hosts a holiday extravaganza on Friday, Dec. 5, at 7:30 p.m. and on Saturday, Dec. 6, at 3 p.m. featuring classic Christmas music. All presentations are at 7:30 p.m. in Cole Hall unless otherwise noted, and are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

— Bread for the World is calling attention to new figures from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealing that 17.5 million American households, or 14.3 percent of households across the United States, were “food-insecure” in 2013. “This number is substantially higher than pre-recession figures,” said the Bread release. “This number is a slight decline since 2011 but remains well above the rates of food insecurity recorded before the recession…. In 2008, the number of food-insecure Americans increased by more than 30 percent as a result of the recession and has remained above 14 percent.” The USDA today released its annual report, “Household Food Security in the United States.” The USDA defines food insecurity as “when consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.” The report for 2013 also reveals that the working poor and families living in poverty are most vulnerable to food insecurity. The threat to children is especially high with 15.8 million children lived in food-insecure households. According to the USDA, for 360,000 households, “food insecurity among children was so severe that…children were hungry, skipped a meal, or did not eat for a whole day because there was not enough money for food.” “Our elected officials need to make ending hunger a national priority,” said Bread for the World president David Beckmann in the release. “It is unacceptable that 17.5 million households in this country must choose between paying for medicine, rent, day care, or food.” For more information go to



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