Brethren Bits for Dec. 5, 2015

Image courtesy of Heifer International


“Goats have accents. Who knew?” says an e-mail from Ted & Co. highlighting the new tour of “12 Baskets and a Goat.” This joint effort by the Mennonite comedy troupe along with the Church of the Brethren is hosted by Brethren congregations and benefits Heifer International. A goal is to raise enough money at each event to purchase an Ark for Heifer, says Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer, who is the Church of the Brethren representative on the Heifer board. Wittmeyer is inviting churches to host the tour in their own areas of the country. Find the Ted & Co. e-mail at . More information about the tour and how to book a performance of “12 Baskets and a Goat” is at .

— As of the new year, Diane Stroyeck will be working fulltime with Messenger magazine, as part of a rearrangement of some responsibilities within Brethren Press and communications. Previously, she had been working half-time with Messenger subscriptions, and half-time with Brethren Press in customer service. She also previously worked on subscriptions for “Basin and Towel.” She has been a Church of the Brethren employee for more than 12 years.

— Catherine Gong has tendered her resignation effective Feb. 29, 2016, as member services representative, Employee Benefits, at Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT). She has worked for BBT since July 28, 2014. “She has served the organization well in her position that was newly created,” said an announcement from BBT. “This news comes with sadness for BBT’s staff, but we wish God’s blessings to Catherine when she begins the next chapter of her life.”

— Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., has announced two new position openings. Applicants are sought for the following new positions: executive director of Admissions and Student Services, and regional advancement officer.

Executive director of Admissions and Student Services: This is an opportunity for a creative professional to serve the seminary, helping to identify and encourage leaders to develop their gifts through graduate theological education. The executive director will be responsible for developing, implementing, and evaluating a dynamic recruitment strategy and leading the seminary’s Student Services Department–which includes recruitment, student development, financial aid, and student service–to implement the strategy. The executive director will represent the seminary at off-campus events related to recruitment and enrollment management, develop relationships and conduct interviews with prospective students, design creative presentations for small and large group settings, and meet with church and college constituents. The work will include significant travel to visit students and attend camps, conferences, and other events. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree; a master’s degree is preferred. Affinity with the values and mission of the seminary is required and an understanding of the Church of the Brethren, in the Anabaptist-Pietist tradition, is beneficial. Three to five years of professional experience in admissions or enrollment management with demonstrated success in the development, implementation, and evaluation of a recruitment strategy is required. Applicants should demonstrate strong persuasive oral and written communication skills, listening skills, organizational skills, the ability to help individuals discern their vocational calling, and the eagerness to work as part of a team. Experience in communications technology and multicultural recruitment is highly preferred. Application review will begin on Dec. 15 and will continue until an appointment is made. To apply please send a letter of interest, resume, and contact information for three references to or Rev. Dr. Jeff Carter, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374.

Regional advancement officer, eastern United States: This position is a critical link in the region for initiating and cultivating relationships with potential major donors (individuals, corporations, churches, and foundations) who have the capability of making significant financial contributions to the mission of Bethany Theological Seminary. The officer will work collaboratively with the executive director of Institutional Advancement to build an effective development strategy in the eastern region of the United States with a strong emphasis on major gifts. This person will identify new prospective donors, build and maintain strong relationships with existing Bethany major donors, and professionally and effectively ask for financial gifts to further the mission and program of the seminary. The officer is expected to travel to visit donors and attend events up to 85 percent of the time. This person will also participate in visits to Church of the Brethren district conferences and congregations on a regular basis as part of an overall strategy as well as seek out opportunities for new donor relationships in other communities. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree and two years of professional experience in fundraising and development with demonstrated success meeting advancement goals. Affinity with the values and mission of the seminary is required and an understanding of the Church of the Brethren, in the Anabaptist-Pietist tradition, is preferred. However, fundraising experience in nonprofit environments will also be considered. Applicants should demonstrate strong oral and written communication skills, listening skills, organizational skills, and the eagerness to work as part of a team. Understanding of the planned gift field is a plus. If this area of expertise is not already present in the candidate, the candidate will be expected to receive training in this area. Application review will begin in December 2015 and will continue until an appointment is made. To apply please send a letter of interest, resume, and contact information for three references to or Executive Director of Institutional Advancement, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374.
The seminary’s policy prohibits discrimination in employment opportunities or practices with regard to race, gender, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, or religion. Full position descriptions and application information are available at .

— Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) is seeking to fill the position of member services representative, Employee Benefits. This is a full-time hourly position based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The primary function is to perform the daily operations of the pension and insurance plans and provide plan information to staff and participants as requested. Duties include maintaining a working knowledge of all pension and insurance systems and products; serving as secondary customer service contact for Pension and Insurance; maintaining/processing daily operational work for Pension and Insurance; assisting with maintaining Pension Plan Summary Plan Description and Plan Highlights, as well as Legal Plan Document Supplements; and performing tasks for Church Workers Assistance Plan. The Member Services Representative for Employee Benefits may attend Annual Conference and Plan Sponsor meetings, as requested. The ideal candidate will have knowledge in employee benefits, including an understanding of pension and health and welfare plans. This position requires a person who is very detail oriented, with the ability to prioritize workloads; proficient with computer systems and applications; exceptional organizational and telephone skills; and, impeccable follow-up abilities are a must. The candidate must be able to interact effectively with customers to provide information in response to inquiries about products and services and to handle and resolve complaints. BBT is seeking candidates with strong verbal and written communications skills, proficiency in Microsoft Office, and a demonstrated track record of providing superior customer service and a willingness and ability to expand knowledge and effectiveness through classes, workshops, and pursuit of professional designations. Current and active membership in the Church of the Brethren is preferred; current and active membership in a faith community is required. Salary and benefits are competitive with Church Benefits Association agencies of comparable size and scope of services. A full benefits package is included. Send a letter of interest, résumé, three professional references, and salary-range expectation to Donna March at 1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120, or . For more information about Brethren Benefit Trust, visit

— Shepherd’s Spring Outdoor Ministry Center in Sharpsburg, Md., is seeking a forward-thinking, energetic executive director with a proven track record of effectively leading a performance and outcomes-based organization and staff. The center, 220 acres of rolling, wooded land bordering Maryland’s Potomac River and historic C&O Canal, offers a variety of exciting programming and hospitality services which include Christian summer camping, a Road Scholar Adventures in Lifelong Learning program site, a Heifer Global Village experiential learning program, as well as functions as an active, year-round conference and retreat facility.  The executive director will serve as center administrator and leader providing managerial oversight of the various ministry programs, budget and finances, marketing, fundraising, staff and board development. This position will supervise and provide guidance to a diverse staff as well as implement and enforce policies and procedures which will maximize the effectiveness of the ministry. The qualified candidate will be a faithful Christian with a clear understanding and appreciation of the Church of the Brethren and have proven leadership, coaching, and relationship-management experience preferably in a faith-based outdoor ministry program.  Membership in the OMA, ACA, IACCA, or other appropriate professional organizations is desirable. Other required qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in a related field or equivalent experience in camp or retreat center administration plus a minimum of five years of management experience. For more information about the center, visit  . Send inquiries or requests for an application packet to .

— From the Annual Conference Office: There will be a change starting this coming year for congregations registering delegates for Annual Conference. Both delegate and non-delegate registrations will open on the same day, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. There will be no “early” delegate registration beginning in January as in the past. A letter with more registration details and information will be sent directly to all congregations in December. Anyone with questions can contact the Conference Office at or by calling 800-323-8039 ext. 365.

— The Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness signed on to a Nov. 30 letter to Senators and representatives in the US Congress, urging support for the United States refugee resettlement program. “The world is witnessing the largest refugee crisis since World War II,” the letter read. “More than 4 million Syrians have fled from their home country fleeing conflict and violence, and 12 million are displaced internally. At a time when the world needs humanitarian leadership, some are now calling for the suspension of the US refugee resettlement program or the imposition of restrictions on funding for Syrians and other groups of refugees. We oppose these proposals and believe they would jeopardize the United States’ moral leadership in the world. Syrian refugees are fleeing exactly the kind of terror that unfolded on the streets of Paris.” The letter continued, in part, “Refugees are the most thoroughly vetted group of people who come to the United States. Security screenings are rigorous and involve the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Defense, and multiple intelligence agencies. Department of Homeland Security officials interview each refugee to determine whether they meet the refugee definition and whether they are admissible to the United States. Refugees undergo a series of biometric and investigatory background checks, including collection and analysis of personal data, fingerprints, photographs, and other background information, all of which is checked against government databases. The entire process typically takes more than two years and often much more before the refugee would arrive in the US. In addition the Administration is already taking steps, with its existing authority, to increase the capacity of its security and screening procedures for refugees. There is no need for Congress to impose additional restrictions or security measures…. To turn our back on refugees would be to betray our nation’s core values. It would send a demoralizing and dangerous message to the world that the United States makes judgments about people based on the country they come from and their religion.”

— A Nigerian Brethren member of the Mubi congregation of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) is interviewed in a recent PBS News Hour report, “Civilians are caught in the middle of the war against Boko Haram.” The show is one in a week-long series on the topic “Nigeria: Pain and Promise.” Special correspondent Nick Schifrin reports from northeast Nigeria with producer and cameraman Zach Fannin on the Nigerian government’s attempts to wipe out the militant group. View the report and find a transcript at .

— Arlington (Va.) Church of the Brethren has announced a new ministry, working with the Dunker Punks movement to produce Dunker Punks Podcasts. “We began talking to Emmet Eldred and a few others about our idea of reaching out to youth and young adults who are most familiar with podcasts. They are our target audience,” reports pastor Nancy Fitzgerald. “The podcast is inspired by the Dunker Punks movement to encourage and inspire all ages, Brethren and neighbors alike, to emulate Jesus. We see folks popping in their ear buds as they walk the dog, head to class, or fold the laundry, spreading the ‘Mustard Seed Revolution’ as they go. We hope to reach youth and young adults who may have moved away from their home church, are away at school, or feel alienated by the atmosphere of the ‘Christianity’ they see around them.” Arlington’s social media minister Suzanne Lay co-hosts along with Fitzgerald, and does the production and editing. Jacob Crouse of Mutual Kumquat has written original music for the podcast. The first podcast in the series is available at and is available in the iTunes podcast store for free. Other Church of the Brethren podcasts are available at .

— Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren is part of a new coalition in the city that has taken on the challenge to slow the AIDS epidemic. “As part of World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, the nascent coalition will gather and invite public support,” reports the Frederick News Post. “The group has formed to align with national health goals set by President Barack Obama. The county reports about 15 new HIV cases a year, has approximately 300 people living with HIV who know it, and another estimated 50 or 60 who do not know it, Debbie Anne, AIDS certified nurse with the health department, estimated.” The Frederick Church hosts the next meeting of the Frederick HIV/AIDS Coalition at 7 p.m. Dec. 15. Read the full report in the Frederick News Post at .

— Camp Eder’s 5th Annual Celebration of the Birth of Christ and Christmas Tree Festival is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 11, Saturday, Dec. 12, and Sunday, Dec. 13, from 5-8:30 p.m. The Christmas Tree Festival is free to attend and focused on celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ with a Christmas Tree Decorating Contest, cookies and hot beverages, Christmas carols at the campfire, and a candle-lit reading of the Nativity story.

— The National Council of Churches Governing Board has issued a statement, “Keep Our Elections Free from Hateful Rhetoric.” Citing Proverbs 16:24, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body,” the statement “calls on all candidates for office to refrain from utilizing speech that reflects hatred of others and results in the division of society as a way to promote their candidacies.” The statement continues, in part, “We similarly call on media outlets covering the candidates and their campaigns, debates, and addresses to exercise care not to sensationalize such rhetoric at a time when we should be lifting up our best values, living out the democratic process.” The statement expressed particular concern about hostile rhetoric, which denigrates immigrants and casts suspicion on religious minorities, as well as demeaning rhetoric based on race and gender. The statement adds, “We express our deep concern about language of requiring a religious test for public office as deeply prejudicial and contrary to the founding principles of our Republic…. We have become critically aware of how our own language has contributed to the divisions in this country. We ask the candidates to engage in the same kind of self-reflection, to speak to our highest common ideals, and to work together with those who elect them to form a more just society.”

— “Please take a moment to watch the two 2015 tribute videos created for the 3rd Annual National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence,” says an invitation from the Newtown Foundation. Find the 2015 Tribute Video: Part One and Part Two featuring photos submitted by direct relatives of victims of gun violence at and . “While we mourn the loss of a mother, an Iraq War veteran and a police officer who were shot and killed in a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs…we face yet another senseless shooting in San Bernardino,” said the invitation. “Our heavy hearts go out to all the families of the victims, survivors, first responders, and the community of San Bernardino. We know too well what their community is going through at this moment.” Dec. 14 marks the 3rd anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting. Families and advocates from the Newtown area and families of victims and survivors of gun violence from 19 states will be traveling to Washington, D.C., for the 3rd Annual National Vigil to #EndGunViolence at St Marks Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill. The National Vigil is planned for Dec. 9, starting at 7 p.m. To reserve a seat go to . “For those who cannot join us in Washington, D.C., we invite you to attend one of the 265 nationwide events to honor all victims of gun violence and to learn more about what you can do to #EndGunViolence in our nation,” said the invitation. “Thoughts and prayers are not enough!” Find a local vigil or an event at .

— Peggy Faw Gish, a Church of the Brethren peace activist who has served as a volunteer with the Nigeria Crisis Response, will speak on Boko Haram at Goshen (Ind.) College on Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. The Institute for the Study of Global Anabaptism and College Mennonite Church will host a lecture by Gish titled “Learning to Love Boko Haram: A Nigerian Peace Church Responds.” The lecture will take place in the College Mennonite Church sanctuary on the campus of Goshen College. Gish will share stories and insights based on her work among the Nigerian Brethren and their search for nonviolent responses in a context of intense persecution.

— Shawn Kirchner, a musician and composer and member of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, has several original settings of Christmas carols featured on a new album by the Los Angeles Master Chorale. In a recent Facebook post he shared that “this new Christmas album has special Church of the Brethren connections–with several tracks (“Brightest and Best,” “Lo How a Rose,” and “Bring a Torch”) that originated with the CBS Christmas Eve special” produced by the Church of the Brethren in 2004. More information about the Los Angeles Master Chorale Festival of Carols Album is at .

— A workcamp in Honduras will be led by Camp Emmaus’ Bill Hare on Jan. 7-17. The workcamp will be constructing housing in a small village midway between Tegucigalpa, the capital, and the southern border. The project marks the 12th workcamp that Hare has organized and directed in Honduras.

— Jack Tevis has been named Carroll County Maryland person of the year for his community based philanthropy. He is a member of Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren and has served the denomination on the former Brethren Service Center Ministry Options Committee. “He took over the family business as a third-generation owner of S.H. Tevis & Son, Inc., which was founded in 1932. The business has grown to include a variety of enterprises such as Tevis Oil, Tevis Energy, Tevis Propane, Jiffy Mart, Modern Comfort Systems, Modern Comfort Security Systems and Tevis Real Estate,” the Carroll Magazine reported. Find the report online at .

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