“You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:5-6, NIV).
1) US religious leaders, WCC issue statements on violence in Iraq
2) Brethren Volunteer Service Unit 305 completes orientation, begins service
3) ‘100 Years for Nonviolence’ is celebrated at IFOR centennial gathering
4) Powerhouse regional youth conference to be at Camp Mack in mid-November
5) ‘Awake’ Advent devotional, fall ‘Guide,’ updated Generation Why are new from Brethren Press
6) Now is the time we say ‘No More Stolen Sisters’
7) Brethren bits: Remembering Channie Johnson, BVS Europe, CAS leadership, Bethany seeks faculty, service of mourning for Gaza, relief shipped to Honduras, Mullen Writing Fellowship, Bridgewater celebrates Nininger and plans first night game, USDA report on hunger, more
Quote of the week:
“While we celebrate the potential of executive action to alleviate the suffering caused by our nation’s broken immigration system–particularly in light of political inaction in Congress–it must not come at the cost of due process and access to humanitarian protection for children and families fleeing violence in Central America.”
— The one-sentence letter sent to President Barack Obama today by national religious leaders including Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger. The succinct message urges the President not to compromise the lives of children as his administration considers next steps on immigration. “With new reports of Honduran children being killed following their deportation from the US and Mexico, this incredibly short message underscores the critical importance of protecting children and families seeking safety,” said a release about the letter Church World Service. “Don’t trade the lives of kids,” said CWS president and CEO John L. McCullough in the release. “A detention center is no place for a child,” said Sharon E. Watkins, general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), who was one of those who signed the letter and who spoke at a press conference today. “As a nation, we have historically protected and offered due process to children who have endured such horrific conditions, and have united them with family members to promote healing as they await the opportunity for a judge to hear their case and story.” For more information contact the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness, director Nathan Hosler, at email@example.com .
1) US religious leaders, WCC issue statements on violence in Iraq
A Faith Forum on Middle East Policy and the World Council of Churches (WCC) have issued statements on the violence occurring in Iraq. Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, was one of the American church leaders to sign a letter to US President Barack Obama organized by the Faith Forum, that urged alternatives to US military action in Iraq.
The WCC statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council asked for an urgent mission and joint report, including the special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, on minority communities in northern Iraq victimized by the “Islamic State.”
Faith Forum letter on Iraq
The Faith Forum on Middle East Policy organized the letter to the President, which had 53 signatures from prominent religious groups, academics, and individual ministers. The letter was dated Aug. 27.
The letter expressed concern about the recent escalation of US military action in Iraq, stating that “while the dire plight of Iraqi civilians should compel the international community to respond in some way, US military action is not the answer. Lethal weapons and airstrikes will not remove the threat to a just peace in Iraq,” the letter said, in part.
“We believe that the way to address the crisis is through long-term investments in supporting inclusive governance and diplomacy, nonviolent resistance, sustainable development, and community-level peace and reconciliation processes,” the letter continued.
The document noted the complex factors that have led to the current crisis in Iraq and Syria, including “decades of US political and military intervention,” as well as pressure from neighboring countries, and inadequate social programs. It warned against short-term military tactics and violence that will lead to more longterm retributive violence flaring up in the region, and an escalation of armed intervention.
“There are better, more effective, more healthy, and more humanizing ways to protect civilians and to engage this conflict,” the letter said, suggesting “just peace” ways the US and others may begin to transform the conflict including
— stopping the US bombing in Iraq “that contribute to the global justification for the Islamic State’s existence,”
— providing “robust” humanitarian assistance to those fleeing the violence,
— engaging with the United Nations, Iraqi political and religious leaders, and others in the international community on diplomatic efforts for a lasting political solution,
— supporting community-based nonviolent resistance strategies to transform the conflict and meet the deeper need and grievances of all parties,
— strengthening financial sanctions against armed actors in the region–mentioning in particular the Islamic State–by working through the UN Security Council,
— bringing in and investing in professionally trained unarmed civilian protection organizations to assist and offer a buffer for refugees,
— supporting Iraqi civil society efforts to build peace, reconciliation, and accountability at the community level,
— calling for and upholding an arms embargo on all parties to the conflict.
The letter noted that “US arms and military assistance to the government forces and ethnic militias in Iraq, in addition to arming Syrian rebel groups, have only fueled the carnage, in part due to weapons intended for one group being taken and used by others. All armed parties have been accused of committing gross violations of human rights. Along with Russia, work with key regional players such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait to take independent initiatives and meaningful steps towards an arms embargo on all parties in the conflict.”
Find the full text of the letter and all the signatures to it at www.maryknollogc.org/article/53-national-religious-groups-academics-ministers-urge-alternatives-us-military-action-iraq .
WCC statement to the UN
The World Council of Churches has asked the United Nations Human Rights Council to mandate an urgent mission and joint report, including the special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, on minority communities in northern Iraq victimized by the “Islamic State” (IS).
A WCC release said the statement comes after a visit to the Kurdistan region of Iraq by a WCC delegation that met with displaced people from Christian, Yazidi, and Kaka’i (Sufi) communities, church leaders, and those doing humanitarian relief. “We were able to speak to and take testimony from a large number of people displaced from Mosul, the Nineveh Plain, and other places now under the control of the IS,” said delegation leader Peter Prove, WCC director for international affairs. “Their stories tell of the Islamic State’s inhumanly brutal, violent, coercive, and repressive efforts to eliminate any and all diversity in society in the region.”
The statement urges increased humanitarian support for the displaced population, a further binding Security Council resolution containing effective measures to deprive IS of financial and material support, urges an “end to the culture of impunity in Iraq and in the whole region,” and suggests a special tribunal for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Iraq and Syria.
In particular it calls attention to the plight of approximately 100 people known to have remained in Qaraqosh, a town taken by IS. “These people are indeed being held captive,” reads the statement, in part. “We fear especially for the women and girls in this group, having heard accounts of women held captive in cages, and bought and sold as slaves by IS jihadis.”
Beyond the humanitarian crisis, the statement raises concern about the collective suffering of religious minorities and longer-term consequences, pointing to the city of Mosul, which has been the home of Christians since the dawn of Christianity, but has been emptied of its indigenous Christian population while churches, monasteries and sacred texts were being destroyed.
The statement was presented Sept. 1 at the UN Human Rights Council Special Session on the Human Rights Situation in Iraq. See www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/statement-for-special-session-on-the-human-rights-situation-in-iraq .
2) Brethren Volunteer Service Unit 305 completes orientation, begins service
The summer unit of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) completed orientation on Aug. 8 at Camp Mardela on the eastern shore of Maryland. The group of 12 volunteers is the 305th unit of BVS. Following are the names of the volunteers, their home congregations or home towns, and project placements:
Estella Amador of Pomona, Calif., is serving with the Brethren Nutrition Program in Washington, D.C.
Bryan Bohrer of Crest Manor Church of the Brethren in South Bend, Ind., is posted at Arche Community in Ravensburg, Germany
Janina Bungarten of Koblenz, Germany, and Adom Wieneke of Unna-Hemmerde, Germany, are working for Abode Services in Fremont, Calif.
Elizabeth Batten of Menden, Mich., has gone to L’Arche Kilkenny, Ireland
Lukas Hilger of Neuwied, Germany, is serving with SnowCap in Portland, Ore.
Alice Kegley of Fort Defiance, Va., is going to Glebe House in Kilcief, Northern Ireland
Lars Mundin of Emmelshausen, Germany, serves at the Interfaith Hospitality Network, Cincinnati, Ohio
Annika Nuss of Tiengen, Germany, has been sent to Project PLASE in Baltimore, Md.
Sarah Seibert of Ipswich, Mass., is working at Highland Park Elementary School, Roanoke, Va.
Lee Walters of Chama, N.M., is going to L’Arche Dublin, Ireland
Melina Willems of Tuebingen, Germany, has gone to work for the Sisters of the Road in Portland, Ore.
For more about Brethren Volunteer Service go to www.brethren.org/bvs .
3) ‘100 Years for Nonviolence’ is celebrated at IFOR centennial gathering
By Kristin Flory
“Pray and resist!” That was the message from Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, Northern Ireland Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 1976, at the Aug. 1 opening ceremony of the Centennial of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR). The centennial celebration was held in Konstanz, Germany, on Aug. 1-3.
IFOR celebrated its “100 years for nonviolence” at this time and place because a conference of Christian pacifists was to be held in Konstanz on the eve of World War I, about a month after the Sarajevo assassination of crown prince Franz-Ferdinand. However, the international participants at the 1914 conference were forced to leave Germany during those early August days and were sent out of Germany by train; IFOR dates its birth to the Cologne train station platform pact between a German pastor and a British Quaker, who vowed, “Whatever happens, nothing is changed between us. We are one in Christ and can never be at war.”
IFOR today is a worldwide multi-faith movement of people who “share a vision of a world where conflicts are resolved through nonviolent means…and justice is sought as a basis for peace.”
The 2014 conference drew 300 participants from 40 countries. Workshops examined questions of nonviolence and justice in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America; nuclear disarmament and weapons exports; looking at the past in post-conflict societies; conscientious objection; military chaplaincy; the UN; and many other topics.
The Church of the Brethren through its Brethren Service office in Geneva, Switzerland, has a long history of cooperation with IFOR. That relationship includes a collaboration to create the European peace and development organization called EIRENE (which means “peace,” in Greek) in 1957, together with the Mennonite Central Committee.
More than 20 Brethren Volunteer Service workers have volunteered in past decades both in the IFOR headquarters in the Netherlands and in the branch office in Minden, Germany.
— Kristin Flory staffs the Brethren Service office in Geneva, Switzerland, and coordinates Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) Europe.
4) Powerhouse regional youth conference to be at Camp Mack in mid-November
By Walt Wiltschek
The Powerhouse regional youth conference has reached its fifth anniversary! Powerhouse will return to Camp Mack near Milford, Ind., on Nov. 15-16, providing a weekend of worship, workshops, music, recreation, and more for senior high youth in the Midwest and their advisors.
Join in this action-packed and faith-filled weekend following on National Youth Conference. The theme this year is “Almost Christian: Seeking an Authentic Faith,” drawing on the book “Almost Christian” by Kenda Creasy Dean and other studies that have been done in this area.
Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, is the keynote speaker for three worship times during the weekend. Seth Hendricks, pastor of Happy Corner Church of the Brethren in Dayton, Ohio, and a member of the band Mutual Kumquat, returns as music leader.
Opportunities also will be available to visit and tour the Manchester University campus in North Manchester, Ind., about 45-50 minutes from Camp Mack, before or after the conference, and perhaps as a workshop option on Saturday.
Groups coming from a distance and needing a place to stay in the area on Friday night may contact us and we can help make arrangements to stay at Manchester University or with congregations in the area.
Cost is $75 for youth, $65 for advisors (for extenuating circumstances, please contact us). Everyone will have a bed to sleep in. Participants should bring their own bedding and towels. The camp will be preparing the meals. All the forms needed to register and a host of other information is at www.manchester.edu/powerhouse.
Please be in prayer for this event and encourage your youth and advisors to attend.
— Walt Wiltschek is director of Religious Life and Church Relations at Manchester University. For more about Manchester go to www.manchester.edu .
5) ‘Awake’ Advent devotional, fall ‘Guide,’ updated Generation Why are new from Brethren Press
New resources from Brethren Press include “Awake: Devotions for Advent Through Epiphany,” the 2014 Advent devotional written by Sandy Bosserman; the fall 2014 quarter of “A Guide for Biblical Studies” on the theme Sustaining Hope written by Larry M. Dentler, Ken Gibble, and Frank Ramirez; and a series of Bible studies for youth as part of an update of the Generation Why curriculum. More information about each resource follows; order online at www.brethrenpress.com or from Brethren Press customer service at 800-441-3712.
Awake: Devotions for Advent Through Epiphany
Sandy Bosserman, a former district executive and an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren, is the author of the 2014 Advent devotional booklet. Brethren Press publishes an Advent and Lenten devotional each year, in a pocket-sized format suitable for individual use and for congregations to supply to their members. This year the theme “Awake” is inspired by the scripture text from 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6 (NIV): “You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.” Purchase for $2.75 per copy, or $5.95 for large print. Order by Sept. 22 to receive the pre-production price of $2.25 or $5 for large print. Shipping charges will be added to the invoice.
Sustaining Hope: A Guide for Biblical Studies
The fall quarter of A Guide for Biblical Studies offers weekly lessons for the months of September, October, and November, suitable for use by adult Sunday school or Bible study classes. Lessons for September on the theme, “The Days Are Surely Coming,” are written by Larry M. Dentler, pastor of Bermudian Church of the Brethren in East Berlin, Pa. The lessons for October and November are on the topic, “Dark Nights of the Soul” and “Visions of Grandeur” and are written by Ken Gibble, a retired pastor, freelance writer and poet from Camp Hill, Pa. The “out of context” feature is by Frank Ramirez, pastor of Union Center Church of the Brethren in Nappanee, Ind. Purchase for $4.50 per copy, or $7.50 for large print. One copy is recommended for each person in the study group. Shipping charges will be added to the invoice.
Brethren Press is offering an updated Generation Why curriculum for senior high youth, published in a joint venture with MennoMedia. Five of 15 studies to be published in the series are now available for this fall: “A Speck in the Universe: The Bible on Self-Esteem and Peer Pressure,” “The Radical Reign: Parables of Jesus,” “Testing the Waters: Basic Tenets of Faith,” “Keeping the Garden: A Faith Response to God’s Creation”–which all include six sessions, plus an extender session–and “How to Read the Bible: Building Skills for Bible Study” which includes five sessions, plus an extender session. These studies provide an all-in-one curriculum for adult leaders to guide youth on a journey for meaning and identity within the Christian faith, and are designed to encourage youth to encounter and explore scripture and make it their own. The studies are available in print for $18.99, purchase one copy for each teacher; shipping charges will be added to the invoice. They also are available as a digital download for $20.99, or on CD for $23.99, with permission granted to purchasers of the digital versions to copy them for additional teachers in the same class.
Order Brethren Press resources online at www.brethrenpress.com or from customer service at 800-441-3712.
6) Now is the time we say ‘No More Stolen Sisters’
By Kathy Moorehead Thiessen
This reflection, originally published by Christian Peacemaker Teams on CPTnet on Aug. 28, echoes the Church of the Brethren concern for women and girls abducted by the Boko Haram Islamist insurgents in Nigeria. Author Kathy Moorehead Thiessen calls for attention and action in a time when women in various places around the world “are being treated like rubbish, something to be used and thrown away”:
Today as I sit in Quito, Ecuador, a participant in the Christian Peacemaker Teams biennial gathering, messages are coming from both of my communities on two sides of the world. The calls have similar themes: sisters are being stolen, governments must investigate their disappearances and their murders, violence against women must stop.
From Suleimani, Iraqi Kurdistan, where my CPT team has been working with partners who have sought to help thousands of displaced minority groups, came a call from the Kurdish women’s group Jian (Life). They proclaimed Sunday, Aug. 24, a day for a civil demonstration on behalf of the Yazidi women whom members of the militant group known as IS (Islamic State) have captured and enslaved in the city of Mosul. Clandestine phone calls from a few of these women described desperate conditions and horrific abusive treatment. They told of women and girls forced to become wives of fighters and others sold into slavery.
Sixty activists from several women’s organizations and other civil society groups gathered in front of the United Nations office in the capital city of Hawler/Erbil. They demanded that the UN do more to help the Yazidi women and girls enslaved by the militant group. At the end of the march, several activists were able to take their message into the UN building to ask the representatives and the Kurdish Regional Government to act on this emergency and to take urgent measures to help the vulnerable women.
At the same time, in Winnipeg, Canada, a group of Anishinaabe women have created a protest camp on a strip of land outside the Manitoba provincial government legislature. They are saying to the Canadian government that they have waited long enough for an investigation regarding the 1,200 missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada.
The impetus for this protest is the murder of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, whose body was found wrapped in a plastic bag in the Red River two weeks ago. The Canadian federal government still refuses to acknowledge that the numbers of missing and murdered indigenous women are important enough to declare a national inquiry. As Justice Minister Peter MacKay rejected calls for an inquiry, he said, “The government is addressing the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women in other ways.” Yet, the indigenous women of Canada are still disappearing and many are turning up murdered.
These are messages from and about women of two minority cultures. They echo each other across the world–women are being treated like rubbish, something to be used and thrown away. This violence must stop. The Yazidi women of northern Iraq and the Aboriginal women of Canada deserve to live in homelands where there lives are safe and considered precious. Their governments and the rest of the world are under obligation to make that happen.
“Is now the time to make that change? Is now the time we say no sisters more stolen? We say that violence against women must stop. And if we go home and do nothing about this it’s a missed opportunity.” — Wab Kinew, Canadian Indigenous musician.
— Kathy Moorehead Thiessen is a Christian Peacemaker Team member serving in Iraqi Kurdistan, where Church of the Brethren member Peggy Gish also is part of the CPT team. The mission of Christian Peacemaker Teams is to build partnerships to transform violence and oppression, with the vision of “a world of communities that together embrace the diversity of the human family and live justly and peaceably with all creation.” CPT got its start with help from the three Historic Peace Churches: the Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Friends (Quakers). See www.cpt.org .
7) Brethren bits
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 www.madisonfuneralhomeelgin.com/channie-johnson .
— 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; firstname.lastname@example.org .
— 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 www.bit.ly/NationalServiceofMourning . “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 email@example.com .
— 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: www.paghonduras.org .
— 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; firstname.lastname@example.org . For information about the Writer’s Colloquium see http://esr.earlham.edu/news-events/events/writing2014 . Contact Youth and Young Adult Ministries director Becky Ullom Naugle for a copy of the application form, at email@example.com . Contact Tracy Crowe with questions at 765-983-1540 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
— 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 www.brethren.org/partners .
— 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 www.redcross.org 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 www.handsupunited.org , 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 email@example.com .
— 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.
— 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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
— 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 www.churchrenewalservant.org . For more information contact David Young at email@example.com .
— 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 be 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 www.bread.org .
Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jan Fischer Bachman, Jeffrey S. Boshart, Nancy Chappell, Kendra Flory, Kristin Flory, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Terry Goodger, Bryan Hanger, Kendra Harbeck, Mary Kay Heatwole, Nathan Hosler, Fito Moreno, Becky Ullom Naugle, Glen Sargent, Callie Surber, Kathy Moorehead Thiessen, John Wall, Jenny Williams, Walt Wiltschek, David Young, Jane Yount, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. The next issue of Newsline is scheduled for Sept. 9. Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org . Newsline appears every week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source.<