By Emma Jean Woodard
Virlina District has had individuals connected with ministry in Nigeria and has given support and prayers for the Nigerian Brethren for a long time. Because of the violence, destruction, and deaths that have taken place in Nigeria, the District Peace Affairs Committee decided to emphasize the peace efforts of Nigerian Brethren at the Sept. 2012 Virlina District Peace Sunday Service.
At that service, a portion of the DVD “Sowing Seeds of Peace” was shown, and postcards were distributed to participants to write words of support and encouragement for our Nigerian sisters and brothers. Those written postcards were given as the offering during that service.
Following that service, the Program and Arrangements Committee for district conference chose to continue the Nigerian support emphasis at the 2012 Virlina District Conference. A portion of the DVD was shown at conference as well, and blank cards on which persons could write a message were distributed. Delegates were encouraged to ask their congregations to write cards. Cards were collected and mailed to Jay Wittmeyer at the denomination’s Global Mission and Service office in January 2013, for him to deliver on his next trip to Nigeria.
As the Program and Arrangements Committee planned for the 2013 District Conference, they decided to continue the district’s support for Nigeria in a different way. The committee decided that the offerings taken during the two worship services at the district conference–which usually go to ministry projects in the district–would go to the EYN Compassion Fund of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).
District conference in 2013 was held at Greene Memorial United Methodist Church in downtown Roanoke, Va., on Nov. 8 and 9. That congregation truly hosted the district with multiple meetings in preparation for the conference, a reduced building usage fee, and 30 volunteers throughout the two-day event.
The conference officers approved a suggestion to give the offering taken during the business session to the EYN Compassion Fund in appreciation and recognition of the Greene Memorial congregation and volunteers. This action was enthusiastically supported by conference participants. That offering was our largest ever, and the total of the three offerings and other donations came to $5,195.92.
The conference theme was “Come Near to God and He Will Come Near to You” from James 4:7-8a. Because God is ever near, the offering was Virlina District’s opportunity to share love and support to those who live and serve in dangerous and difficult circumstances for their faith.
— Emma Jean Woodard is associate executive minister of Virlina District.