Brethren Bits for Aug. 20, 2015

Photo courtesy of Shenandoah District
The Shenandoah District Office welcomed visiting Nigerian Brethren, Zakariya Amos and his wife Tabita, on Aug. 7. Brother Zakariya is administrative secretary of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria. Shown at the office’s peace pole, where “May Peace Prevail on Earth” is translated into the Nigerian language Hausa, are (from left) district executive minister John Jantzi, Sister Tabita and Brother Zakariya, and Jim Miller, retired Shenandoah District executive. Miller and his wife Mary hosted the Amoses during their week-long visit in the Shenandoah District.


— Remembrance: Harold C. Mack, 85, of Dallas Center, Iowa, passed away Aug. 12 in his home, surrounded by family. He was a former Church of the Brethren mission worker in Nigeria, where he served as business manager and taught at Hillcrest School in Jos from 1954-56, and carried out his alternative service as a conscientious objector. He was a lifetime member of the Church of the Brethren and in other volunteer service to the church he served in many capacities at the congregational and district levels including as a Sunday school teacher, youth leader, deacon, treasurer, and board member. He was born Dec. 21, 1929, in Wayne Township, Darke County, Ohio. He was married to JoAnn Royer on Aug. 16, 1959. He earned a degree from Manchester College in Indiana, graduating in 1953, and went on to take graduate classes at Purdue University and Drake University. Prior to serving in Nigeria he was a junior high and high school mathematics teacher in Ohio and in the Des Moines (Iowa) Public School System. After retiring from teaching, he worked for the State of Iowa as a labor market research economist. He is survived by his wife JoAnn of 56 years; children James (Suellen) Mack of Elgin, Ill., Kathryn Mack of Rochester, Minn., Susan (Gary) Mack-Overla of Dallas Center, Iowa, and Carol (Mike Sawyer) Mack of Leesburg, Va.; and grandchildren. A celebration of life service was held on Aug. 17 at Panther Creek Church of the Brethren in rural Adel, Iowa. Memorial gifts are received to the Nigeria Crisis Fund and Panther Creek Church of the Brethren. Find the full obituary and an online guestbook at www.ilesfuneralhomes.com/obituary/Harold-C.-Mack/Dallas-Center-IA/1535793 .

— Bethany Theological Seminary is requesting prayer for Brethren and others affected by wildfires in the northwest, including one of its faculty, assistant professor of reconciliation studies Debbie Roberts. In an e-mail sent to the seminary community today, prayer was requested following news that Roberts’ community in Tonasket, Wash., is one of the areas where fires are “literally moving across roadways,” affecting travel, causing problems with telephone communications, prompting evacuations, and having other effects on daily life. Roberts and her husband “are offering shelter to people who are being evacuated, and their congregation is also offering this ministry,” the e-mail said. The message closed with a prayer that read, in part, “O God, You have created this blessed creation full of the tame and the wild. It would seem that conditions have run amok, turning heat into raging infernos. Your people, your communities, your creation is on fire! Come to their aid…. that the firefighters have resources available, that neighbor saves neighbor, that churches not in harms way would open their doors and let the frightened in. Fill the people of Washington State, and where all  the fires burn…with courage and clear sight….”

— The 2015 Youth Peace Travel Team has completed its travels this summer, and has posted blogs from the camps and events where the team attended. One recent post reflected on the team’s participation in Brethren United Adventure Camp in North Carolina. This camp is hosted by Camp Carmel, run by Camp Ithiel, and also attended this year by Camp Bethel, Camp Brethren Woods, Camp Inspiration Hills, and Camp Harmony. Each of the six camps sent campers and counselors to the joint adventure camp. The 2015 Youth Peace Travel Team included Annika Harley, Brianna Wenger, and Kerrick van Asselt. Find their blogposts at https://www.brethren.org/blog/category/youth-peace-travel-team .

— The Church of the Brethren seeks a temporary part-time cook to work at the Zigler Hospitality Center on the campus of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The temporary part-time cook assists in the preparation and serving of food for guests of the Zigler Hospitality Center following all sanitation and health department rules and regulations as prescribed by the lead cook. The preferred candidate will have experience cooking in a professional kitchen environment and must be able to lift a limit of 35 pounds and exercise care in handling sharp equipment and power operated equipment. Applications will be received and reviewed beginning immediately until the position is filled. Qualified candidates are invited to request the application packet and complete job description by contacting the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; humanresources@brethren.org . The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

— Resources for the 2015 Mission Offering supporting the Church of the Brethren denominational mission program are now available online. The scripture theme for the offering, with a suggested date of Sunday, Sept. 20, comes from Philippians 1:15-18: “These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel.” Find a full order of service written by Ken Gibble among other worship resources at www.brethren.org/missionoffering . Give toward the offering at www.brethren.org/give .

— Nov. 1 is National Junior High Sunday in the Church of the Brethren. The theme is the same as that for this year’s National Junior High Conference, “Honor God by Honoring Others” (Matthew 7:12). Find worship resources and a logo in pdf format at www.brethren.org/yya/jr-high-resources.html .

— Dates have been announced for the next National Young Adult Conference, which will be held from Friday, May 27, to Monday, May 30, 2016, at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind. Young adults ages 18-35 are invited to put this event on their calendars and plan to attend.

Photo courtesy of Material Resources
Lisa Lee, of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, volunteering with Material Resources at the Brethren Service Center warehouses in New Windsor, Md.

— The Material Resources staff who help prepare, warehouse, and ship relief supplies from the warehouses at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., recently shared this “fun story” from a volunteer working at the warehouse: “Imagine putting together a Lutheran World Relief Baby Kit, including blankets you have made. Boxing it up with other kits from your church group, sending it off to the warehouse, and several months later, while volunteering at the warehouse, you unpack the kits you made. What a cool surprise and that is exactly what happened while Lisa Lee was volunteering with Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.” The Material Resources volunteers help out with a process that can take several months from beginning to end, including making and gathering relief items, putting together kits and packing quilts and blankets, processing the donations that are shipped to the warehouse or sent via a “kit depot,” unpacking and repacking donations in stronger cartons for cross county or overseas shipping, labeling and storing boxes until an agency requests them to be shipped to those in need.

— Registration is open for Bethany Seminary’s Presidential Forum weekend. A discounted rate is available through Saturday, Sept. 5. Join internationally known speakers, peace church leaders, and the Bethany community for “A Pilgrimage of Just Peace: Rejecting Cruelty, Creating Community, Rediscovering Divinity.” Plenary speakers including Fernando Enns from the World Council of Churches, Elizabeth Ferris from the Brookings Institution, and James S. Logan from Earlham College, will bring a global perspective. Breakout sessions will explore multiple interpretations and manifestations of peacemaking. Details and registration are available at www.bethanyseminary.edu/forum2015 . Contact forum@bethanyseminary.edu or 800-287-8822 for more information.

— On Earth Peace reports that Emily James has completed a cross-country bicycle ride as part of the continuing “3,000 Miles for Peace” campaign. “This project builds off the 3,000 Miles for Peace campaign conducted in 2013 with the goal of raising $300,000 to support On Earth Peace programs in honor of Paul Ziegler,” said the agency’s newsletter. Emily James is a graduate of McPherson (Kan.) College and her bicycle ride started from Paul Ziegler’s home in Elizabethtown, Pa. She wrote a blog while on the road, which “includes reflections on the people she met, the journey itself, and on the opportunities to confront privilege and prejudice in the work of peace,” said the On Earth Peace newsletter. Find the blog at www.3kmpep.com/#!blog/c233i .

— In more news from On Earth Peace, the agency is thanking La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren and and Peace Church of the Brethren in Portland, Ore., for creating fundraising campaigns to support the Rebuild the Churches Fund. The fund raises money for rebuilding black churches burned by arsonists this summer. The fund is being managed by Christ Church Cathedral (Episcopal) in St. Louis, Mo., which will also be disbursing the donations to the churches affected by arson. “Nearly $1,000 was raised” by the two Church of the Brethren congregations, On Earth Peace reported in its newsletter. Learn more about Rebuild the Churches Fund at https://cccathedralstl.dntly.com/campaign/2571# .

— Masons Cove Church of the Brethren in Roanoke County, Va., in Virlina District, celebrated its 90th anniversary on Sunday, Aug. 2.

— Bassett (Va.) Church of the Brethren also celebrates a 90th anniversary, on Sunday, Aug. 23.

— Members of First Church of the Brethren in Chicago, Ill., helped host a youth group from First Congregational Church of Westfield, N.J., when the youth were in Chicago for a short-term mission trip. The experience received coverage by New Jersey Online, which reported that the annual mission trip has become a summer tradition for the congregation which sends its youth to serve in a different city each year. “More than 30 church representatives, including middle and senior high students, friends, clergy members, and chaperones, traveled to Chicago, Illinois, from July 19 to 25, to work with Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection (DOOR), a faith-based organization that stresses local immersion while working with inner-city communities,” said the report. “Under the guidance of DOOR representatives from the First Church of the Brethren, the First Congregational Church volunteers took public transportation to work sites throughout the city, including community parks and gardens, an adult day care center, a food distribution warehouse, and a city-run Safe Haven program for youth. The students also learned about the challenges of living in South Chicago through speakers and activities arranged by DOOR.” Find the article at www.nj.com/suburbannews/index.ssf/2015/08/first_congregational_youth_fro.html .

— “Springfield News Sun” writer Pam Cottrel found evidence that “there is still good in the world” in a local ecumenical effort to pray for schools in New Carlisle, Ohio. Involved in the prayer effort were members of New Carlisle Church of the Brethren, along with members from First United Methodist Church, Honeycreek Presbyterian Church, Great Hope Church, and Medway United Methodist Church. The prayer event started at the Church of the Brethren parking lot where the group shared communion before heading out to pray at seven different local schools. “The group was careful to ask permission in advance before going onto school property,” the report said. Find the newspaper article online at  www.springfieldnewssun.com/news/news/local/local-churches-join-forces-to-prayer-for-schools/nnKMY

— This summer 17 women from area churches around Mount Lebanon, Pa., sewed 500 school kits bags for Church World Service, with most of the seamstresses from area Churches of the Brethren. The event was reported on by the “Lebanon Daily News”: “On Aug. 10, 30 volunteers met at Mt. Lebanon Campmeeting to assemble the kits. A special treat this year included 10 children from the Mountville United Methodist Church, who helped compile the kits as part of a Bible School project. Their teacher, Laureen Weller, decided to expose the children to a ‘hands-on’ experience germane to their lessons on Christian service when she learned about the drive. The children, also, gave a monetary gift in excess of $400 from their Bible School offerings and a program for the parents.” Jeanne Smith of McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren coordinates the drive, which has been going on for six summers and has put together more than 2,500 school kits. Other Church of the Brethren congregations that were involved included Mt. Wilson, Elizabethtown, Annville, Mt. Zion, Palmyra, Spring Creek. Read more at  www.ldnews.com/religion/ci_28644059/mt-lebanon-campmeeting-holds-church-world-service-school .

— The books have been closed on the 2015 Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Auction, reports the district newsletter. The net proceeds are $211,385.45. “This money supports the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries in this country and around the world,” the newsletter reported. “This year, $4,300 of the total was raised specifically for the Nigeria Crisis Fund.” The newsletter expressed thanks to all who volunteered at the auction, those who donated items to be sold, and those “who bid, bought, and ate! It’s a collaborative effort that reaps great benefits.”

— This year’s Disaster Relief Auction will be held on Sept. 25-26 at the Lebanon (Pa.) Valley Expo. Sale items will include arts and crafts, baked goods, coins, theme baskets, quilts, food including Amish-made pretzels and donuts, and more. The event includes a Farmers Market, Heifer Auction, Pole Barn Auction, Share a Meal, Silent Auction, Main Hall Auction, a blood drive, and children’s activities. This year the auction holds its First Annual 5K Race, starting at 8 a.m. on Sept. 26.

— Shenandoah District is holding a Family Fun Day on Aug. 22, with pie and cake judging held again this year. “To participate, please make two identical pies (one for judging and one for auction). For cakes, make two identical cakes or make one and cut it in half (one for judging and one for auction),” said an announcement. “Encourage all ages to participate in the pie/cake judging as it is more fun with a larger number of entries.” The Fun Day also features food, games, pony rides, face painting, a Children’s Silent Auction, music, and more. Location is 502 Sandy Ridge Rd., Waynesboro, Va., rain or shine, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

— Senior high youth in the western districts of the Church of the Brethren are invited to set aside Jan. 15-17, 2016, to attend Western Regional Youth Conference. On the theme, “Becoming the Beloved Community” (Luke 17:20), the event takes place on Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend on the campus of the University of La Verne in southern California. “Violence, conflict, and controversy can tear us down and break us apart,” said an announcement. “The beloved community seeks to raise levels of relationships and work for justice–peacefully, simply, together. Because the Kingdom of God is here; in our midst!” The cost is $45 for youth and their adult advisors. Registration forms will be available in the fall.

— The deadline to register for “Equipping God’s People” has been extended to Aug. 24, reports the Shenandoah District newsletter. The district-wide teacher training event is on Aug. 29 from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren, with leadership from keynote speaker Josh Brockway, denominational director of spiritual life and discipleship, among other presenters and panelists. “The focus of the event will be equipping and making perceptive Christians as transforming influences in the world, through effective and creative educational ministries of the church,” the announcement said. Workshops will address attracting and engaging youth and young adults in study, growth and discipleship; the role of creative storytelling in children’s ministry; identifying educational opportunities for those who are differently abled in our congregations. The registration fee of $20 includes lunch, and should be sent to Shenandoah District Church of the Brethren, P.O. Box 67, Weyers Cave, Va., 24486.

— The 2015 COBYS Bike and Hike is slated for Sunday, Sept. 13, at Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. “We’re looking to make it three years in a row with income over $100,000,” said COBYS director of development Don Fitzkee, in a release. “We’re hoping that our regular participants and some new faces will help us reach our goals.” Goals of 500 participants and $110,000 have been set. Last year almost 500 participants raised more than $108,000. Proceeds benefit the ministries of COBYS Family Services, a Church of the Brethren-related agency that educates, supports, and empowers children and adults to reach their full potential through adoption and foster care services, counseling, and family life education. The Bike and Hike consists of a three-mile walk, 10- and 25-mile bicycle rides, and the 60-mile Dutch Country Motorcycle Ride. Participants choose their event, donate a registration fee, and raise money from sponsors, or some of both. Events begin at different times throughout the afternoon, beginning with the motorcycle ride at 1:30 p.m. At the conclusion of the event, participants gather at Lititz Church of the Brethren for refreshments, fellowship, and prizes. Youth groups that raise $1,500 or more earn a gym and pizza night. For the second year a silent auction will run throughout the afternoon. The event sponsor is the Hess Agency. Major sponsors are Cocalico Automotive, Inc., and Hagy’s Towing; Fillmore Container; Speedwell Construction, Inc.; and Carl and Margaret Wenger through the Wenger Foundation, Inc. Advance registration is not required, although those who register by Sept. 7 can deduct $5 from the registration fee. For more information including an event brochure with pre-registration form, and cue sheets for the walk and ride routes, visit www.cobys.org/news.htm or contact Don Fitzkee at don@cobys.org or 717-656-6580.

— The Children’s Aid Society of Southern Pennsylvania District is holding its 19th Annual FORE Children Golf Benefit for Services for Abused and At-Risk Children on Sept. 3 at Hanover (Pa.) Country Club. Registration begins at 12:30 p.m., with the Shotgun Start at 2 p.m. The event is a four-person scramble. The fee is $95 for an individual player and $360 for a foursome team. The registration includes greens fees, carts, range balls, snacks, prizes, and a meal following the tournament. Sponsorship opportunities are available. A registration form and brochure may be downloaded from http://files.ctctcdn.com/5abcefe1301/03eaa115-075c-4a0f-b717-d5828be97133.pdf . For more information contact Jan Zeigler, director of Development and Marketing for the Children’s Aid Society, at 717-624-4461 ext. 203 or go to www.cassd.org .

— “Impressions of Hope: South Sudan 22 Years Later” is the title of the August “Brethren Voices” community television program produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren. The show reports on a recent trip by seven members of the Church of the Brethren to South Sudan, including Roger and Carolyn Schlock who previously served as mission workers there, among others. The visit was made in part to support the peacemaking efforts of Brethren staff person Athanasus Ungang and the Brethren Peace and Service Center being built in Torit, South Sudan. For copies of the August “Brethren Voices,” contact Ed Groff at groffprod1@msn.com . For other “Brethren Voices” programs, check out www.YouTube.com/Brethrenvoices .

— Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), which has been active in monitoring the situation of migrants fleeing into Greece in recent months, has issued “a call for emergency ferry transportation and better basic humanitarian assistance,” in a release sent from Lesvos Island, Greece. “We urge the EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos to organize immediately emergency funding from European Union sources to help process and care for the hundreds of migrants and refugees who are arriving on the Aegean Islands each day.” CPT is urging that the care for migrants include a dedicated ferry to take refugees and migrants to Athens; provision of good quality tents, blankets, food, and drinking water to migrants. Read the full release at www.cpt.org/cptnet/2015/08/17/mediterranean-call-emergency-ferry-transportation-and-better-basic-humanitarian-as .

— The re-opening of the Church of Panagia (Virgin Mary) Galakdodrofousas in Palekythro, Cyprus, after 41 years was hailed by the World Council of Churches (WCC) as an important sign of peace and reconciliation. A WCC release reported that the Church of Panagia reopened on Aug. 16. It was built in 1896, but has been closed for worship since 1974 following a coup on the island of Cyprus that led to a Turkish military invasion, and eventually a ceasefire and United Nations-patrolled buffer zone that divided Cyprus into two ethnically separated portions. “The Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders are currently engaged in active negotiations under UN auspices for a comprehensive settlement,” the release said. The liturgy celebrated by Bishop Porfyrios of Neapolis gathered some 400 worshipers from the village of Palekythro. Imam Fuat Tosun, regional mufti of Kyrenia, brought greetings of peace from the mufti of Cyprus and welcomed the worshipers in Greek. “God will help both Christians and Muslims to work together to achieve peace in Cyprus and we should continue our joint efforts in this regard.” he said. Find a release from the Office of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process at www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/files/PRAugust16Palekythro.pdf . Find the WCC statement on the Cyprus peace talks at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/general-secretary/statements/statement-by-wcc-general-secretary-olav-fykse-tveit-on-resumption-of-cyprus-talks .

— In more news from the World Council of Churches, a WCC release helped celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Taizé Community in France. The community has been a pilgrimage spot for young adults from around the world, including Church of the Brethren young adults and Bethany Seminary students, who experience times of worship with the peacemaking monastic community founded by Brother Roger. The Taizé Community also is known for its music that uses chant as a style of communal prayer. WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit shared a message at the anniversary celebration focused on the theme “Ora et Labora,” meaning “pray and work.” The WCC general secretary called the anniversary commemoration a “poignant moment” said the release. “Taizé is a village, it is a religious community, but more than that it is a spiritual home–a precious station on life’s journey and a meeting point with others together on the way,” said Tveit. Admiring the vision of peace and community life promoted by Taizé, Tveit said, “The experience of life in community is a compelling reflection of the interdependence of human beings…. It is vital for us today to cherish the deep spiritual truth that we belong together as one human family and that we are part of the entire web of life. The recognition of our interrelatedness is the beginning of the mutual trust and solidarity needed to change and transform the ambivalent reality.” Read full text of the WCC general secretary’s message to Taizé Community at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/general-secretary/messages-and-letters/message-on-75th-anniversary-of-the-taize-community .

— The National Council of Churches (NCC) and the NCC-related Creation Justice Ministries are celebrating the call of Pope Francis for Roman Catholics to join in Christian unity with the Orthodox Church in observing Sept. 1 as a World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. “For the Orthodox community in the United States, September 1 has significance beyond its proximity to back-to-school events and Labor Day weekend. It is the beginning of the liturgical year, which brings symbolism of renewal as well as significance to the date,” noted a release. Creation Justice Ministries is urging all Catholic and Orthodox congregations to unite in prayer on Sept. 1, and is inviting other Christian congregations to join in the ecumenical World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. Find out more at www.creationjustice.org .

— A free webinar about counter recruitment is offered by the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY, see www.nnomy.org ) and hosted by the American Friends Service Committee. An event flier is at http://bit.ly/nnomy_crwebinars . The webinar in three parts focuses on how to establish policies to restrict military recruiting in K-12 schools. Participants are requested to send name, e-mail address, and phone number to projyano@aol.com by Friday, Aug. 21, in order to reserve a place in the webinar. The webinar is offered in three parts on Aug. 26, Aug. 28, and Aug. 31 from 5-6 p.m. (Eastern time). Each session will cover a different set of topics.

— The “Mennonite World Review” has reported that the Church of the Brethren has been included for the first time in a count of Anabaptists worldwide, carried out by the Mennonite World Conference. Mennonites come out of the Anabaptist theological tradition. The Brethren movement began in central Germany in 1708 having been influenced by both the Anabaptists and the Pietist movements, and the Church of the Brethren is considered to have a combination of Anabaptist and Pietist theologies and styles of church. With the addition of the Church of the Brethren, the world Anbaptist membership rises to 2.12 million believers in 305 organized church bodies and national conferences located in 87 countries. “Three years ago, MWC counted 1.77 million Anabaptists in 243 conferences across 83 countries. The total includes both MWC members and bodies that are not members,” the report said. The Church of the Brethren is not a member of the Mennonite World Conference, but Annual Conference moderator Andy Murray attended the Mennonite World Conference assembly that was held July 22-26 in Harrisburg, Pa., “as an indicator of the developing friendships in the two movements,” the report said. “The listing of the Church of the Brethren [in the directory] simply was, as I understood it, acknowledgement of our places of intersection in the world and in the Anabaptist traditions,” commented Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger, in the article. Read the full article at http://mennoworld.org/2015/08/10/news/with-addition-world-conference-membership-rises .

— In more news from the Mennonites, the Executive Committee of Mennonite Church USA has responded to area conferences that are “discerning departure” from the denomination. According to a release, two conferences of the denomination–the North Central Conference and Lancaster Mennonite Conference–are making decisions about leaving. The North Central Conference “passed a motion at their July 17-19 annual assembly to begin a yearlong process of withdrawing from Mennonite Church USA,” the release said. “The following week, Lancaster Mennonite Conference leaders announced a proposal that ‘LMC withdraw as an area conference of Mennonite Church USA,’ which will be discussed in area meetings over the next weeks before a final decision is made this fall.” The letters of the Executive Committee read, in part, “As a leadership body within Mennonite Church USA, our Executive Committee longs for you to stay with us, for you to remain part of our church…. You are part of us, and we can’t imagine our church without you, without our shared mission and ministry, without our communion in the same denominational fellowship.” The letters also expressed gratitude for the ways in which God has worked through the ministries and presence of the two conferences, for each conference’s desire to follow Jesus faithfully, and for their support of the church’s mission across the world, and noted how the Holy Spirit heals divisions between people in the church, according to the release. “‘The church welcomes all people who join themselves to Christ to become part of the family of God,’ we’ve declared in our Confession of faith,” the Executive Committee wrote. “We are the family of God together. Mennonite Church USA is committed to remaining part of the same family as you, and we will welcome you again and again, even as you separate yourselves from us.” Read the release at http://mennoniteusa.org/news/executive-committee-responds-area-conferences-discerning-departure-denomination .

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