Brethren Bits for April 8, 2015

Photo courtesy of Spurgeon Manor
Spurgeon Manor, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in Dallas Center, Iowa, celebrated Read Across America day on March 2 with the reading of Dr. Seuss books. The day is celebrated on his birthday, noted the Spurgeon Manor newsletter. Bernie Limper is shown here reading Dr. Seuss books for fellow residents. In other news from Spurgeon Manor, the community’s book club meets once a month, and Limper also is reading the book “Heaven Is for Real” once a week for those who are interested.

— Kenneth Bragg, warehouse assistant at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., has announced his retirement effective April 9. He began his work with the Church of the Brethren in July 2001 as a truck driver for service ministries. He served in this position for 13 years. Since November 2014, he has been a warehouse assistant for Material Resources. “His work has been characterized by sincere dedication and an understanding of and commitment to the mission of the Church of the Brethren,” said an announcement of his retirement.

— The framework agreement reached last week between the P5+1 and Iran is being welcomed by the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness. “The framework agreement…is a welcome sign for the future of US relations in the Middle East and nuclear weapons policy more generally,” said the office’s blogpost about the agreement. “The framework agreement significantly limits Iran’s capacity to produce material for a nuclear weapon in the near future and is hopefully a building block towards more diplomacy with Iran and other important countries in the region. It took political will and courage for all sides to come together despite their differences and hammer out this framework for an agreement that will benefit all sides in different ways. We commend these diplomatic leaders for coming together and finding common ground even after many groups and actions threatened the potential for an agreement. Anytime diplomacy pushes the world towards peace we applaud these efforts, and we also hope that this agreement will lead to a more substantial conversation about nuclear weapons across the globe.” Read the full blogpost at http://blog.brethren.org/2015/office-of-public-witness-welcomes-nuclear-framework-agreement-between-p51-and-iran .

— The Fellowship of Brethren Homes 2015 Forum is April 14-16 hosted by Maureen Cahill, administrator of Spurgeon Manor in Dallas Center, Iowa. A near record number of Brethren retirement communities will be represented, reported organizer Ralph McFadden, who wrote in a note to Newsline that expected attendance includes 21 persons, representing 14 of the 22 Church of the Brethren-related retirement communities. The focus for Wednesday, April 15, will be on Strategic Planning. McFadden, who is interim executive director of the fellowship, and Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries, will facilitate. The Strategic Planning will include a review of an in-depth CEO/administrative survey taken prior to the forum. On Thursday, April 16, business items will include follow-up on the Strategic Planning proposals, review of a by-laws proposal, election of the Executive Committee, budget reviews, and business items from Congregational Life Ministries and Brethren Benefit Trust.

— The Shine curriculum of Brethren Press and MennoMedia is one of the sponsors of a conference held by “Faith Forward,” an organization aimed at re-imagining children’s and youth ministry. The event takes place in Chicago on April 20-23. Brethren Press staff who will be present include publisher Wendy McFadden and Jeff Lennard. Other Church of the Brethren members are expected to attend as well, including Highland Avenue member Michael Novelli from Elgin, Ill., who is one of the planners and a workshop leader. For more information go to http://faith-forward.net .

— Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa., is hosting a Nigerian Benefit Concert on April 17 at 7 p.m. in the church sanctuary. “We have heard in the news and in our worship services about suffering in northeastern Nigeria…” said an announcement. “This represents a huge injury to our Body of Christ. Stone Church has several personal connections to this part of the church as well. Some of the primary founders, Stover Kulp, his first wife Ruth Royer (who died in childbirth in the early days of the mission), and his second wife, Christina Masterton, are well-known to Juniata College and Stone Church. Specifically, Stover was a graduate of Juniata and pastor at Stone for approximately a year. It was during his time at Juniata that he formed ideas with Ruth to start a mission in Africa and take Christianity to places where it had not previously been known.” Organizer Marty Keeney also noted his family’s strong relationship with the church in Nigeria in the announcement, sharing with the congregation that his mother was among family members born in the 1930s in the Nigerian towns of Lassa and Garkida.” The benefit will help raise money for the Nigeria Crisis Response and the Nigeria Crisis Fund. Performing will be a number of the church’s musicians and music groups including the Stone Church Ringers, Donna and Loren Rhodes, the Huntingdon Singing Doctors, Terry and Andy Murray, and the Stone Church Chancel Choir. “We are anticipating a varied and enjoyable evening of music,” the announcement said.

— Dranesville Church of the Brethren in Herndon, Va., is organizing a fundraiser titled “Eat Out to Support the Nigerian Crisis Mission” on April 1-June 1. Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren is among those helping to support this effort. Participating restaurants in the “Eat Out” fundraiser are the Jukebox Diner in Sterling, Va., at 46900 Community Plaza, and in Manassas, Va., at the Canterbury Village Shopping Center at 8637 Sudley Road. “Leave your receipt in the jar at the register and 10 percent will go to the Nigerian Crisis Fund…administered by the Church of the Brethren,” said an announcement. “The need is great, join in the mission to heal communities destroyed by hate and violence.” On May 30 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. the Dranesville Church also hosts a sale that will benefit the Nigeria crisis effort–an arts and crafts sale that also will include home-made baked goods. For more information contact the Dranesville Church at 703-430-7872.

— Southeastern District holds a Family Fellowship Rally on Sunday, April 19, at 4 p.m. at Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren. “There will be activities for children ages 5-11 and youth ages 12-18,” said an announcement from the district. “Pleasant Valley will provide a meal after the service. This will be an afternoon of worship and fellowship with Annual Conference moderator David Steele.”

— Brethren Woods is sponsoring a spring concert series and is excited to welcome Southern Grace at 7 p.m. April 12 and The Promised Land Quartet at 7 p.m. April 19. Both concerts will be held in Brethren Woods’ newest facility, Pine Grove.

— Camp Emmaus in Illinois and Wisconsin District holds a Camp Kick Off Day on Saturday, June 13, from 2-5 p.m. Events include a cake and punch open house for Bill and Betty Hare in celebration of their 50 years of service as camp managers. At 4 p.m. a ceremony to name the lodge the “Hare Lodge” will take place.

— Bridgewater (Va.) College yesterday celebrated 135 years since its founding, presenting three awards during a morning convocation. “President David W. Bushman will recognize three faculty members for excellence in teaching and scholarship,” said a release from the college. Larry C. Taylor, assistant professor of music and department chair, receives the Faculty Scholarship Award. Julia Centurion-Morton, an associate professor of Spanish and chair of the department of world languages and cultures, receives the Martha B. Thornton Faculty Recognition Award. Brandon D. Marsh, an assistant professor of history, receives the Ben and Janice Wade Outstanding Teaching Award.

— In more news from Bridgewater College, Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, will speak at “An Evening of Entrepreneurial Spirit, Social Responsibility and Radical Business Philosophy,” at 7:30 p.m. on April 16, in Cole Hall. “In 1978, with $12,000, Jerry Greenfield and Ben Cohen opened Ben & Jerry’s in a refurbished gas station in Burlington, Vt. The first franchise followed in 1981, distribution outside Vermont began in 1983 and the company went public in 1984. In 2000, the pair sold the ice cream business for more than $325 million to Unilever, with Greenfield remaining active in the company,” reported a release from the college. Recognized for fostering commitment to social responsibility by the Council on Economic Priorities, Ben & Jerry’s was awarded the Corporate Giving Award in 1988 for donating 7.5 percent of their pre-tax profits to non-profit organizations through the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation. In 1993, the duo received the James Beard Humanitarians of the Year Award and in 1997 the Peace Museum’s Community Peacemakers of the Year Award. Beyond Ben & Jerry’s, Greenfield serves on the board for the Institute for Sustainable Communities and is involved with Businesses for Social Responsibility and TrueMajority.

— A Juniata College student has received attention from ABC News and other media for his project to live in a self-made hut in the woods outside of the campus in Huntingdon, Pa. Dylan Miller, who is a senior at the Church of the Brethren-related college, has chosen to live outdoors for close to two years now. “I got sick of living in the dorms, and I thought I could save $4,000 a semester living outside, where I love to be,” he told ABC News. Taking up a suggestion from his father, he has made this life style choice a school project, and built a hut in the college’s Baker-Henry Nature Reserve. The ABC News story reported that “the makeshift structure is minimally furnished: there’s a small kitchen table and writing desk he built himself along with a small foldable bed and a chest for his clothes…. Miller also has a small cooking stove and outdoor fire pit for cooking, and he showers in communal bathrooms on campus.” His final undergraduate project is called “Content With Nothing.” Find the ABC News story at http://abcnews.go.com/US/pennsylvania-college-senior-lives-forest-hut-campus/story?id=30080643 .

— The Church of the Brethren Global Women’s Project (GWP) has announced its annual Mother’s Day Gratitude Project. “Rather than buying more material gifts for your loved one, express your gratitude with a gift that helps other women around the world,” the announcement said. “Your donation allows us to fund projects focused on women’s health, education, and employment. In return, your chosen recipient(s) will receive a lovely, hand-written card indicating that a gift has been made in her honor, with a brief description of GWP.” A bulletin insert about the project is available online at http://files.ctctcdn.com/071f413a201/1268ddbc-e7e5-411f-8d7d-0511ca2abd2b.pdf .

— “How is CPT responding to ISIS? Come and see for yourself,” said an invitation from Christian Peacemaker Teams for those interested in an upcoming delegation to Iraqi Kurdistan on May 30-June 12. A conference call on April 9 is being made available to answer questions about the delegation. Communications and engagement director Jennifer Yoder and delegations coordinator Terra Winston will discuss safety, fundraising, logistics, and their experience on delegation to Iraqi Kurdistan when ISIS invaded Mosul in June 2014. The call is scheduled for 4 p.m. (eastern time). Register to take part in the phone call at www.cpt.org/node/11135 . For more about Christian Peacemaker Teams go to www.cpt.org .