Brethren Bits for Aug. 26, 2015

Shown above: the Program and Arrangements Committee and Annual Conference officers (from left) Founa Inola Augustin-Badet, James Beckwith, Andy Murray, Carol Scheppard, Conference Office director Chris Douglas, Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, and Shawn Flory Replogle.

The Annual Conference officers, Program and Arrangements Committee, and Worship Planning Team have been holding meetings this week at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, to begin planning for next year’s Annual Conference in Greensboro, N.C. The Annual Conference officers are moderator Andy Murray, of Huntingdon, Pa.; moderator-elect Carol Scheppard, Mount Sidney, Va.; and secretary James M. Beckwith, Lebanon, Pa. The Program and Arrangements Committee includes the three officers along with elected members Shawn Flory Replogle, McPherson, Kan.; Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, Minneapolis, Minn.; and Founa Inola Augustin-Badet, Miami, Fla. The Annual Conference Worship Planning Team includes Shawn Flory Replogle along with Greg Davidson Laszakovits, Elizabethtown, Pa.; Stafford Frederick, Roanoke, Va.; Jan Glass King, Martinsburg, Pa.; Shawn Kirchner, La Verne, Calif.; Jesse Hopkins, Bridgewater, Va.; and Terry Murray, Huntingdon, Pa. “Kindly keep them in prayer as they begin this important work for the church,” said a request from the Conference Office.

Shown below: the Annual Conference Worship Planning Team for 2016 (from left) Shawn Kirchner, Stafford Frederick, Greg Davidson Laszakovits, Jan Glass King, Jesse Hopkins, Terry Murray, and Shawn Flory Replogle.

— “Register now for SVMC’s fall Continuing Education event!” said an invitation from the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center, highlighting the upcoming continuing education symposium “The Gospel of Mark and 21st Century Ministry.” The event is held on Nov. 9 at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. Bethany Seminary professor of New Testament Dan Ulrich will talk about the implications of Mark’s gospel for renewed ministry in the changing contexts of 21st century Christianity. The following panelists will respond from different ministry contexts: Belita Mitchell, pastor of Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren; Eric Brubaker, pastor of Middle Creek Church of the Brethren; David Witkovsky, chaplain at Juniata College; Steven Schweitzer, academic dean of Bethany Theological Seminary; Jeff Carter, president of Bethany Theological Seminary. Cost is $60 and includes a light breakfast, lunch, and .6 continuing education units. The registration deadline is Oct. 19. A flier and registration form are online at
. For more information and questions contact or 717-361-1450.

— From Intercultural Ministries and On Earth Peace comes an invitation for Brethren to join in a Day of Confession on Sunday, Sept. 6, called by the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. This is an invitation for congregations across the nation to take time for confession related to racism during their Sunday services on Sept. 6,using the theme “Liberty and Justice for All: Day of Confession, Repentance, Prayer, and Commitment to End Racism.” An announcement explained the AME Church initiative: “Founded because of racism and injustice, the African Methodist Episcopal Church is preparing to celebrate its bicentennial next year. Once again, they are committed to leading the nation to move the nation to face, confront, and act on the issue of race.” The invitation reads: “Racism will not end with the passage of legislation alone; it will also require a change of heart and thinking. This is an effort which the faith community must lead, and be the conscience of the nation. We will call upon every church, temple, mosque, and faith communion to make their worship service on this Sunday a time to confess and repent for the sin and evil of racism, this includes ignoring, tolerating, and accepting racism and to make a commitment to end racism by the example of our lives and actions.” For more information and resources go to .

— The Interreligious Working Group on Domestic Human Needs which is based in Washington, D.C., is hosting an informational webinar on Congress’ fall agenda on Monday, Aug. 31, at 4-5 p.m. (Eastern time). Brethren are invited to take part by the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness and its Food, Hunger, and Gardening ministry. The webinar is offered in part through Bread for the World which is urging people to faith to be in touch with their congressional representatives to strengthen national child nutrition programs. “A series of high-stakes deadlines greet lawmakers as they return to Washington next month,” said an invitation to the webinar. “On the agenda: keeping the government open, passing a child nutrition bill, tax extensions, raising the debt limit, extending funding for highways. The consequences will be significant.” The webinar will address a number of questions including: What do all these fall policy cliffs mean for families struggling in poverty? What’s the latest on Capitol Hill? What are the threats? Where are the opportunities? What role can people of faith play to make poverty and hunger a true priority in these decisions? What is the one thing members of Congress most need to hear but aren’t? A flyer and a link to the registration page are at . Click the “RSVP for this event” button to register.

— Jonathan Shively, executive director of the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries, is the main speaker for “Growing Leaders in New (and Older) Congregations,” a retreat offered in Virlina District on Oct. 9-10. The district’s New Church Development Committee is hosting the retreat, which will be held at Camp Bethel’s House of Pillars. The theme will focus on leadership development in congregational life, with a special focus on new church plants. The registration fee of $60 includes admission to the retreat as well as dinner on Friday and breakfast and lunch on Saturday. The retreat opens with an optional session at 2 p.m. on Oct. 9. The main retreat will begin with registration at 4 p.m. on Oct. 9, and will continue through that Saturday afternoon at 4:15 p.m. Continuing education units will be available for ministers. For further information, including how to register, contact the Virlina District Resource Center at .

— Several district are advertising special events around their annual district conferences this year:
South Central Indiana District is offering a continuing education event for ministers on Sept. 18 from noon to 5:30 p.m. at Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind. Steven Schweitzer, academic dean at Bethany Theological Seminary, will present a Bible study on covenant.
Bethany dean Steven Schweitzer also will lead an event in advance of the Illinois and Wisconsin District Conference on “The Book of Chronicles and the Church: Theology, Continuity, Innovation, and the Kingdom of God.” The workshop will be held Nov. 5 from 7-9 p.m. and Nov. 6 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Peoria (Ill.) Church of the Brethren. Ministers may receive .8 continuing education units. Cost is $40, with an additional fee of $10 for continuing education units. A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided on Nov. 6. Contact the district office at 309-649-6008 of .
Pacific Southwest District Conference will be preceded by an event for ministers and other congregational leaders, with congregations encouraged to send a team of one to three lay leaders along with their pastor. The pre-conference event is titled “Finding Hope” and will be presented by Jeff Jones, associate professor of Ministerial Leadership and director of Ministry Studies at Andover Newton Theological School. The date is Nov. 13, from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., and the location is Brethren Hillcrest Homes in La Verne, Calif. Cost is $40 per attendee, or $100 for groups of three or more from the same congregation. Registration includes Friday lunch with the Women’s Fellowship, and copies of Jeff Jones’ book for all participants.

— “Please save the date for this event” says a note from Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village near Boonsboro, Md. The retirement community is planning a Water Tower Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Sept. 24 at 11 a.m.

— The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) Centennial is planned for Seabeck, Wash., next July. The Fellowship of Reconciliation, a faith-based peacemaking organization with ties to the Historic Peace Churches, “for a century has been ‘leading from behind’ in social movements throughout the world,” said a release. The FOR will celebrate its 100th anniversary from Nov. 11, 2015, until its “blowout centennial conference” on the theme “Persevering FOR Peace” at the Seabeck Conference Center in Washington on July 1-4, 2016. Keynote speakers will be Erica Chenoweth and Jamila Raqib, researchers in how the use of nonviolence may overthrow despotic regimes. “Their research has shown that nonviolence is far more effective than violence when it come to social and political change,” said the invitation. “A special emphasis is being made to invite and give training to young nonviolent social activists, and scholarship funding will be available.” For more information see the FOR Centennial event page at .

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