Brethren Bits for Jan. 27, 2015

Atlantic Northeast District sponsored two informational sessions on the crisis in Nigeria in January at Hempfield Church of the Brethren (shown in prayer, above) and Indian Creek Church of the Brethren (below). Musa Mambula, a spiritual leader of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) was a co presenter at each event, sharing from his personal experiences. A presentation on the US church’s response to the crisis was a central focus of the meetings. Roy Winter of Brethren Disaster Ministries presented at Hempfield on Jan. 4 and Mission and Ministry Board chair elect Don Fitzkee delivered Winter’s presentation at Indian Creek on Jan. 11. Both events included a time of prayer and an offering for the Nigeria Crisis Fund. About 90 people attended at Hempfield and gave $4,266. Some 50 people donated $972 at Indian Creek.

— Remembrance: C. Wendell Bohrer, who served on the former General Board of the Church of the Brethren in the late 1970s and early 1980s, died on Jan. 15 in Sebring, Fla., following a brief illness. A life long servant of the church, he was ordained to the ministry in 1961 and pastored congregations in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, and Florida, retiring in 2007. He most recently served as associate pastor of Sebring Church of the Brethren, and was an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren for 55 years. He will be remembered in Johnstown, Pa., for having pastored Walnut Grove Church of the Brethren and having led disaster relief work in the aftermath of the Johnstown flood of 1977. Bohrer and the congregation were lauded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development for their work to aid the community following the flood, and for serving as a center for thousands of Church of the Brethren volunteers that came in from outside the community to help out. “The Reverend Bohrer’s church on the hill fed 400 people a day over a time span reminiscent of God’s first deluge–40 days and 40 nights. It was open around the clock. Anyone in trouble was welcome. Anyone in need was helped,” said an article by B. Cory Kilvert, Jr., published by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in October 1978. Bohrer also led numerous tours to Brethren heritage sites in Europe and other trips as well, and was active at Annual Conference, National Older Adult Conference, and Brethren Benefit Trust events. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Ruth Joan (Dawson) Bohrer; their four children, Bradley Bohrer (wife Bonnie Rager Bohrer), Deborah Wright (husband Andrew Wright), Matthew Bohrer (wife Noel Dulabaum Bohrer), and Joseph Bohrer (wife Tammy Rowland Bohrer); grandchildren; and great grandchildren. A celebration of life service was held on Sunday, Jan. 25, at Sebring Church of the Brethren. Memorial gifts are received to Heifer International or the Nigeria Crisis Fund through Sebring Church of the Brethren.

— Camp Swatara in Bethel, Pa., seeks a new food service manager to begin on or around March 15. This is a full time, year round, salaried position based on an average of 40 hours per week with many hours during the summer season, less hours in the fall and spring, and more limited hours in the winter. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Camp Swatara is primarily a summer camp for children and youth. From Labor Day to Memorial Day, it is primarily a retreat facility with frequent weekend use and occasional midweek groups, including school groups. The food service manager is responsible to plan, coordinate, and carry out camp food service for all scheduled groups, activities, and events through the year. Candidates should have training, education, and/or experience in food service management, culinary arts, quantity food service, and staff supervision. Benefits include a salary based on experience and within the context of a nonprofit environment, employee insurance, a pension plan, and professional growth funds. Applications are due by Feb. 13. For more information and application materials, visit or call 717-933-8510.

— A recent post to the Nigeria blog reports on the first trauma healing workshop led by Toma Ragnjiya, director of the Peace Program of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteer Cliff Kindy reports on the training held at Vinikilang No. 1 Church. “Providing opportunities to heal from the trauma implicit in the tragedy that has overwhelmed EYN is a focus of the Crisis Management Team,” he reports. “Thirty four mostly displaced pastors were there for this three day workshop. Themes of the training ranged from stress, trauma, anger, and grief to trust and healing from trauma, with ample time for sharing personal experiences with each other.” Read more at .

— The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership will hold its annual TRIM (Training in Ministry) and EFSM (Education for Shared Ministry) orientation July 30 Aug. 2, at Bethany Seminary in Richmond, Ind. For additional information, contact or 800-287-8822 ext. 1820. “Please give thoughtful and prayerful consideration to those who might be called to enter these ministry training programs,” said an invitation.

— Two Pennsylvania congregations–York First Church of the Brethren and Bermudian Church of the Brethren–are engaged in a longstanding Brethren Souper Bowl competition. According to York First’s newsletter, “This is a friendly competition for the good of our food pantry.” However, the scoring is quite complicated. Here’s how the newsletter explained it: “For scoring purposes 1 Point is the standard 10 3/4 oz. Campbell’s Soup can. Some generics/store brands are 10 1/2 oz. and of course there are lots of odd size cans so it takes a little math work on the non standard cans (add up all the ounces and divide by 10.75). Ramen noodles score at 3 individual servings = 1 Point. For dollar contributions each dollar = 2 points. You may give the soup to whatever food pantries/ministries you choose.” The coveted trophy is “an old granite enamelware soup pot.” Each year a bronze plaque goes on the pot with the score and the winning church gets the honor of keeping the kettle for the next year.

— Make this Valentine’s Day “A Night to Remember” by attending a concert by pianist and songwriter Ken Medema on Saturday, Feb. 14, 7-9 p.m., at Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren. Across the years, Medema–who has been blind from birth–has shared his passion for learning and discovery through storytelling and music with an ever-growing circle of followers around the world. He has performed for more than 40 years in many different venues including the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference and National Youth Conference. The evening includes desserts served from 7-7:30 and the concert beginning at 7:30 p.m. Cost is $10 per person for tickets that can be purchased online or at the door, while supplies last. Childcare will be available by reservation with tickets purchased by Feb. 4. For more information or to buy tickets, visit .

— “God’s blessing was on the Convocando a Las Iglesia de Las Montanas (Call to the Churches of the Mountains),” said a report from David Yeazell, a pastor at Iglesia Jesucristo El Camino (His Way Church of the Brethren) in Mills River, N.C., which co-hosted the event. He reported that 300 people representing at least 11 local Hispanic churches from Asheville, Hendersonville, Mills River, and Brevard, N.C., attended an event of worship and teaching on Jan. 23. The evening on the theme Clamor de Naciones (Cry of the Nations), “culminated in an extended time of intercession for the nations and for our region,” he wrote. “Two additional churches from Lincolnton and Marion joined us on Saturday for a day of training and impartation. It was an amazing time of God bringing local churches and pastors together, starting new relationships; and prayerfully the start of more collaboration among the Hispanic churches of western North Carolina.”

Photo courtesy of David Yeazell
Pastors of Iglesia Jesucristo El Camino (His Way Church of the Brethren) Carol and David Yeazell (in the center) with guest leaders of the “Convocando a Las Iglesia de Las Montanas” from Costa Rica, Zulay Corrales (on the left) and Luis Azofeifa (on the right).

— Camp Emmaus in Mount Morris, Ill., is celebrating gifts that have paid off the expense of a major swimming pool renovation, and is planning a celebration of 50 years of leadership by Bill and Betty Hare. “On behalf of the Camp Board, I would like to extend a thank you for your contributions which have made it possible to completely pay off the expense of the pool renovation,” said a thank you to supporters from Mike Schnierla. “The pool renovation, which was completed three years ago, cost in excess of $250,000. Your gifts and the monies from the recent tree sale have allowed us to retire this debt. THANK YOU!” The e-mail note passed along by the Illinois and Wisconsin District office, also announced preparations to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bill and Betty Hare as camp managers. A 50th Anniversary Celebration that will include a Celebration-Appreciation Dinner is planned for June 13. Later in the year a Fall Festival is planned as a community event with a variety of activities for families to attend together.

— Southern Pennsylvania District is challenging its congregations to “collectively raise $250,000 during the next nine months,” said an announcement. “We are all aware of the devastation to the Nigerian Church of the Brethren. The loss of life, property, and livelihood is incalculable. The needs are incredible.” The challenge is in response to Brethren Disaster Ministries estimates of total costs of the Nigeria Crisis Response program over the next several years.

— “Curious about how visitors experience worship in your congregation?” said an announcement of a new program in Shenandoah District. “First impressions are often lasting impressions and determine whether or not someone will visit your church again.” The district’s Church Development and Evangelism Team has developed a Mystery Guest Program that helps a congregation see what the church looks like through a visitors’ eyes. The program assigns an individual to attend a worship service and provide feedback on the experience. For more information contact the district office at 540-234-8555.

— The Kit Depot will returns to Shenandoah District in April, the district newsletter announced. The disaster ministries utility building at the Shenandoah District Office in Weyers Cave, Va., will again function as a collection point for Church World Service kits this spring. Donations of kits will be received from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, April 7-May 14. “There is plenty of time to mobilize your congregation to make school kits, hygiene kits, and baby care kits and to fill emergency cleanup buckets. We should have mountains of kits and buckets ready for the truck by mid May!” the newsletter said. For kit instructions go to . The Kit Depot will have forms to send shipping fees of $2 per kit, or $3 per bucket, directly to Church World Service.

— A “Know Your Title IX” Carnival at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College will educate students on sexual assault. “Educating students on the issues surrounding sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking could be dry stuff, but Elizabethtown College is taking a look at these serious issues and drawing attention to their importance in a fun, interactive way,” said a release. The student wellness advocacy group has developed interactive booths and games to inform students during the carnival to take place from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 28, in the BSC Concourse. Students who attend and visit at least four booths are eligible for a free T-shirt. Booths will offer information about confidential resources on campus, stalking, sexual assault statistics, consent, and an opportunity to sign the “It’s On Us” pledge ( in addition to face painting, a duck pond, and “a kissing booth–stressing that ‘A KISS does not equal CONSENT,’” the release said. More information about Elizabethtown College is at .

— Thousands of people are planning to embark on a pilgrimage of climate justice–either on foot or on bicycles–in many parts of the world, mostly in Europe and Africa, mobilized by member communions of the World Council of Churches. A WCC release reported that “these faithful pilgrims, rooted in their religious beliefs, want to express solidarity with those affected by climate change–urging world leaders to produce a legally binding and universal agreement on the climate at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris.” Some of the pilgrims will end their journey in Paris, during the time of the COP 21 to be held from Nov. 30-Dec. 11. “Paris is a milestone in our pilgrimage of climate justice,” said Guillermo Kerber, WCC program executive for Care for Creation and Climate Justice, in the release. “Yet Paris is not a destination. As people of faith, expected to offer a moral compass to climate dialogue, we need to strategize for 2016 and beyond.” The concept of a “pilgrimage of justice and peace” is a vision promoted by the WCC’s 10th Assembly, and climate justice is a significant component of this vision, the release explained.

— Ron and Philip Good were among members of Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren interviewed by LNP News about the crisis in Nigeria and what the congregation is doing in response. The Good brothers are sons of former longterm mission workers Monroe and Ada Good and lived in Nigeria as children. Also interviewed was Nancy Hivner of the Witness Commission/Nigerian Communication Team. In November the Elizabethtown congregation pledged to raise $50,000, and has since exceeded that goal with donations of $55,481 “and has decided to send an additional $50,000 from its outreach and ministry fund,” the report said, in addition to $47,844 representing surplus from various church funds, for a total of $153,325. See .

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