Brethren Bits for July 31, 2015


The Annual Conference Blood Drive plaque honoring the late R. Jan Thompson is given to his wife, Roma Jo Thompson, by Roy Winter of Brethren Disaster Ministries (left) and Stan Noffsinger, Church of the Brethren general secretary. Photo by Glenn Riegel

Tidbits of news from the 2015 Annual Conference that took place in Tampa, Fla., on July 11-15. For a full review of the Conference go to :

Brethren Disaster Ministries dedicated the blood drive at Annual Conference to honor the life and ministry of the late R. Jan Thompson, who died on Jan. 12. A plaque in his honor was on display during the two-day blood drive, and at the close of the event was presented to his wife, Roma Jo Thompson. He had started the annual blood drive in 1984. R. Jan and Roma Jo Thompson were the first full-time directors of the programs now known as Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services, respectively.

Congratulations to the four winners of the Brethren Press $1,000 church library book giveaway at Annual Conference: Locust Grove Church of the Brethren, Columbia City Church of the Brethren, Guernsey Church of the Brethren, and Decatur Church of the Brethren. Each selected an assortment of titles for their church libraries thanks to the generous gift of an anonymous donor. The Brethren Press library book giveaway started in 2011 and over the past five years has yet to have a duplicate winner.

Brethren Press is thanking everyone who stopped by the Annual Conference bookstore and those who attended the Brethren Press and Messenger dinner with speaker Peggy Reiff Miller. She is the author of an upcoming children’s picture book from Brethren Press, “The Seagoing Cowboy.” The Brethren Press staff also thanks authors Joyce Rupp and Alex Awad for stopping by the bookstore to sign books and share stories with Conference attendees.

The Brethren Revival Fellowship celebrated 50 years of publishing at some of its events in Tampa during the 2015 Annual Conference. The BRF has published details of its history over those 50 years in the latest issue of the “BRF Witness” newsletter, on the theme “Brethren Revival Fellowship: 50 Years of Publishing.” Contact the BRF Witness editor at 717-626-5079.

Annual Conference participants purchased 20 illustrated children’s books to donate to the Junaluska elementary school, jump starting a new service project at National Older Adult Conference (NOAC), which is held in Lake Junaluska, N.C., on Sept. 7-11. New this year at NOAC is “Share a Story,” an outreach project to the Junaluska Elementary School. The goal is that at least 350 new illustrated children’s books for students in grades K-5 will be collected. Books should be non-religious and without any inscription. NOAC participants are invited to bring books along or purchase books at the Brethren Press bookstore at NOAC, which will feature a display of appropriate books.


— Correction: A recent “Brethren bit” about the 32nd World Hunger Auction at Antioch Church of the Brethren included two errors. The Antioch Church is located in Rocky Mount, Va. The correct link to the auction website is .

— Remembrance: David L. Huffaker, 81, a former member of the Church of the Brethren denominational staff, passed away July 14 at the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville, Ohio. He served as Planned Giving officer for the former General Board from 1992 until his retirement in 2001. In volunteer service to the church, he served on the Brethren Retirement Community board from 1976-1993, serving six years as chair. He also was a co-owner of Huffaker Plumbing and Heating with his brother Keith, and co-owner of Cardinal Tool. He is preceded in death by his son Chris Huffaker. He is survived by his wife Marcia (Wheelock) Huffaker of West Milton, Ohio; daughters Annette (Nick) Beam of Pleasant Hill, Ohio, and Becky Ward of West Milton; grandchildren and great grandchildren. A memorial service was held July 20 at Pleasant Hill Church of the Brethren. Memorial contributions are received to the Brethren Retirement Community Resident’s Aid Fund. Online condolences may be left for the family at . A full obituary is at .

— Remembrance: Conrad Snavely, 97, a former Church of the Brethren mission worker in Nigeria, died July 19 at Timbercrest Healthcare Center at the retirement community in N. Manchester, Ind. Born May 19, 1918, he was married to Irma Snavely, with whom he served in Nigeria from 1968-73. His mission posting in Nigeria was in the business office and at Hillcrest School in Jos. His first wife, Irma, died Sept. 18, 1998. He then married Bertha Custer on April 15, 2000. She died this year on July 11. Conrad Snavely also was a Church of the Brethren pastor in Virginia, Indiana, and Michigan. He served as director of Camp Brethren Heights, Rodney, Mich., for six years. He also was on the maintenance department of Manchester College, now Manchester University, for seven years. He was a member of Manchester Church of the Brethren since 1979. His volunteer service to the church included a term on the Standing Committee of district delegates to Annual Conference, and a term of service as moderator of the Michigan District. He was a graduate of Manchester College and Bethany Biblical Seminary. He is survived by sons James Snavely of San Benito, Texas, and Brent Snavely of Royal Oaks, Mich. A memorial service was held July 25 at the Timbercrest Chapel. Memorial gifts are received to Wabash County Habitat for Humanity or the Memorial Garden Fund at Manchester Church of the Brethren. The full obituary can be found at .

— Remembrance: Jerry Rodeffer, 60, of Snohomish, Wash., passed away on July 19, following a brief illness. He served as chief financial officer for Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) in the early 1990s, overseeing financial operations and investments for pension, insurance, and socially responsible investing. He also is the husband of BBT’s director of Employee Benefits, Lynnae Rodeffer. It was after achieving national and international distinction for his farming involvement with Jersey cattle that he retired and joined the BBT staff. He continued to be an active supporter of dairy youth and was a coach for the Washington State 4-H Dairy Judging team that competed in Madison, Wis., last year. Memorial gifts are received to the Washington 4-H Foundation Dairy Endowment Fund. A celebration of life and fellowship meal was held July 25 at Cross View Church in Snohomish. In addition, a memorial service will be held at Buck Creek Church of the Brethren in Mooreland, Ind., on Saturday, Aug. 8, beginning at 11 a.m. A meal will follow. Several of the BBT staff will drive to Indiana and attend the service and luncheon. “Please continue to hold the Rodeffer family in prayer for peace and comfort,” said a prayer request from the Church of the Brethren General Offices. See for the full obituary.

— Remembrance: Emlyn Harley Kline, 87, of Manassas, Va., passed away July 20 at the Bridgewater Retirement Village. He served as a seagoing cowboy with Heifer Project, delivering cattle to Europe after World War II, and in the early 1950s volunteered with Brethren Volunteer Service for several years in Greece. In other volunteer service to the church, he was elected as a member of the Board of Trustees for Bridgewater College in 1985 and in 2000 became a Life Trustee of the college. A life-long resident of Manassas, he was a dairy farmer, and devoted member of Manassas Church of the Brethren. In his work with agriculture, he traveled to China in 1975 on an agricultural tour when that country opened up to western tourists, and was a member and served on the board of the Soil and Water Conservation District of Prince William County, Va., for many years. He is survived by his wife Vera; children Michael Kline and wife Charlene of Madison County, Kathy Kline-Miller and husband David of Pennsylvania, Ruth Mickelberry and husband David of Madison County, Christa Harrell and husband Louis of Alexandria; grandchildren; and great-grandchild. The funeral service was held July 24. Memorial gifts are received to Manassas Church of the Brethren. An online guest book is at .

— Kate Edelen will be working with the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness on a part-time basis through this fall as a policy analyst and advocate on Nigeria. Previously she served with the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), where she was a research associate and conducted research and analysis on peacebuilding, environment, and counterterrorism policy, with a special focus on Africa. During her time at FCNL she conducted field research in Nigeria. Her educational background includes a Fulbright fellowship at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) in Norway, where she conducted research on the relationship between political violence and climatologically-affected water resources in South Asia. She holds a degree in Water Science, Policy, and Management from the University of Oxford. Her work at the Office of Public Witness will support the broader work of the Nigeria Crisis Response of the Church of the Brethren in cooperation with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

— The World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) seeks a creative, innovative, dynamic, and energetic person to fill the position of Communication Campaign coordinator for eight months starting in September. The WSCF is an ecumenical organization empowering Christian students and young adults to engage in the work of peace, justice and global action, following Jesus’ call to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release of the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18). The WSCF supports Student Christian Movements regionally and globally in their work to build local networks of engaged students on campuses and communities and organizes conferences and other activities to provide opportunities for leadership training, biblical and theological reflection, ecumenical engagement, mutual support, and social change and action. The WSCF includes more than 1 million members in 90 countries around the world. In addition to running this campaign, the Communication Campaign coordinator will be responsible for the WSCF-NA website, e-newsletter, and database. Work location is anywhere in Canada and the US, with a preference for New York City. For more information and to apply, go to .

— Setting a budget parameter for denominational ministries in 2016 was one task of the Mission and Ministry Board at its July 11 meeting in advance of Annual Conference in Tampa, Fla. The denominational board set next year’s Core Ministries budget parameter at $4, 893,000. The board also welcomed leaders from Church of the Brethren bodies in Brazil, Haiti, Spain and the Canary Islands, and Nigeria, and guests from Rwanda and Burundi. Numerous reports were received including a financial review, a Brethren Service Center marketing report, and board members’ comments on a faith expedition to Israel and Palestine, among others. Board members were invited to sign a letter regarding the situation in Israel and Palestine which is being sent to their congressional representatives. In addition, the board celebrated the 2015 Open Roof Award, presented by the Disabilities Ministry to two congregations this year: Cedar Lake Church of the Brethren in Auburn, Ind., and Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren. Closing the meeting was a farewell to members who are leaving the board including Becky Ball-Miller–who has served as chair, Brian Messler, Tim Peter, Pam Reist, and Gilbert Romero. Don Fitzkee will serve as chair for the next term in the board’s work.

— Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger was one of 100 religious leaders in a group known as the “Circle of Protection” who have asked the US presidential candidates: “What would you do as president to offer help and opportunity to hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world?” Christian Churches Together (CCT), a national ecumenical organization of which the Church of the Brethren is a member, is supporting the efforts of the Circle of Protection and urging church members to ask themselves, “What can you do?” Suggestions for action include watching the candidate videos outlining their plans to address hunger and poverty at . Another idea is to ask the “poverty question” as presidential candidates prepare for debates. CCT gave the example of Fox News and Facebook announcing a partnership to set the questions for the Republican candidates’ upcoming debate: “The debate will also incorporate data from Facebook that will be used to gauge how strongly certain political issues are resonating with different demographic groups. This information will feed into the questioning put forth by the debate’s hosts.” The “National Catholic Reporter” has published some answers from candidates who have responded so far to the “poverty question” at .

— The On Earth Peace nonviolence organizing ministry is supporting Zandra Wagoner, campus chaplain at the University of La Verne, Calif., and a Church of the Brethren minister, to be present in Missouri on the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death “and the beginning of the Ferguson movement,” said an e-mail announcement. Wagoner plans to be in St. Louis on Aug. 7-11 and is anticipating participating in a major civil disobedience action on Aug. 10, the announcement said. “Please join me in prayers and celebration as Rev. Dr. Zandra Wagoner goes forth in the Spirit to gather with the #BlackLivesMatter movement in Ferguson,” wrote On Earth Peace executive director Bill Scheurer.

— The National Council of Churches is publicizing a conference at a church in Ferguson, Mo. “We Are All Ferguson” aims to bring people together in productive ways for a series of workshops and conferences on Aug. 2-9 at Wellspring Church, a United Methodist congregation. “The event will bring together community and business leaders to address the racial and economic issues that became widely known in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown last year,” said the announcement. Wellspring pastor F. Willis Johnson Jr. said in the announcement: “We Are All Ferguson is not just about the ZIP code. It’s about the shared human experience and the realities we’re all faced with across the country of immense inequities, injustice and the need for us to work toward the eradicating of them.” Find out more about the event at .

— David Sollenberger is making available a DVD recording of the EYN Women’s Fellowship Choir performance in North Manchester, Ind., one of the stops on the choir’s recent tour. The Nigerian Brethren choir from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) was a bit hit at Annual Conference as well, where they sand for three of the worship services and gave a concert during an Insight Session slot. The cost is a donation of $20 to the Nigerian Crisis Fund, make checks out to Church of the Brethren-Nigeria Crisis Fund and David Sollenberger will forward them to the denominational offices. To order a copy of the DVD contact .

— Spiritual Life director Josh Brockway is the keynote speaker for a Shenandoah District teacher training event on Saturday, Aug. 29, from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. on the topic, “Equipping God’s People–Discipleship Formation.” The district’s Congregational Care Advisory Team is sponsoring the training, which is hosted by Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren. Presenters and panelists also include Ricky and Beverly Funkhouser, Joan Daggett, Linda Abshire, Helen Silvis-Miller, and Bill Wood. “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,” said an announcement in the district newsletter. Workshops will address: “Attracting and engaging youth and young adults in study, growth, and discipleship,” “Role of creative storytelling in children’s ministry,” and “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, no later than Aug. 17.

— The Global Mission and Service office requests prayer and praise for the opportunity for three leaders of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and their spouses to spend “sabbatical” time in the United States and visit with several Church of the Brethren congregations. “These visitors include Jinatu Wamdeo, EYN general secretary, and his wife Rachel; Mbode M. Ndirmbita, EYN vice president, and his wife Tarfaina; and Zakariya Amos, EYN administrative secretary, and his wife Tabitha,” said the prayer request. “Pray for a time of rest and restoration and blessed interactions.”

— In related news, Somerset (Pa.) Church of the Brethren will be hosting Mbode Ndirmbita and his wife Tarfaina on Friday, Aug. 7. There will be a potluck dinner at 6:30 p.m. with a time of sharing and fellowship. Contact the church at 814-445-8853 for questions.

— Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries, will be the main presenter at the Virlina District New Church Development Committee event on Oct. 9-10, titled “Growing Leaders in New (and Older) Congregations.” The retreat takes place at Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va. 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 Friday, Oct. 9. The main retreat will begin with registration at 4 p.m. on Oct. 9, and will continue through Saturday afternoon at 4:15. Continuing education units will be available for those attending. A brochure is available from the Virlina District Resource Center. For further information, including how to register, contact the District Resource Center at or 540-362-1816; or contact Doug Veal, Virlina District New Church Development Committee chairperson, at 540-992-2042 or .

— Tanka, a Native American natural foods organization, has blogged a thank you to the Church of the Brethren workcamp group that visited earlier this summer–complete with photos of the youth and their advisors. Go to .

— Henry Fork Church of the Brethren helped sponsor a Candle Light Service in remembrance of the nine people killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. The Candle Light Service was held the evening of July 8 at the Pigg River Community Building on South Main Street in Rocky Mount, Va. The Henry Fork Church sponsored it jointly with several African-American congregations. “We want our community, both black and white, to come together and name this act as evil,” said an announcement of the service in the Virlina District newsletter. “The events of the past few days in Charleston demonstrate that we have not met the mark of where God wants us to be.”

— Creekside Church of the Brethren in Elkhart, Ind., has reported the amount raised at a Nigeria Relief Auction it hosted recently on behalf of Northern Indiana District. The auction raised $14,204 for the Nigeria Crisis Fund, after expenses. “Congregations, the district very much appreciates your hard work and donations. Thank you all!” said the announcement from Angi Harney of the Creekside Church.

— Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren is hosting the annual Bridgewater College Alumni Choir concert at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 16. Directed by Dr. Jesse E. Hopkins, professor emeritus of music at Bridgewater College, the concert features college alumni as vocalists and conductors. Admission is free.

— Mt. Pleasant Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg, Va., is raising funds for Gary Sturrock and his family as he prepares for a kidney transplant. “A donor has been found, and the family needs support to meet expenses not covered by insurance,” said the Shenandoah District newsletter. Fundraising events include a benefit lawn party on Saturday, Aug. 15, from 3-7 p.m., sponsored by the deacons, featuring food including Mt. Pleasant’s chicken barbecue, Patty’s ham pot pie and beans, and homemade ice cream, plus music by the Knicely Family and Adoration and Doyle Moats Sr., a dunking booth, a “cruise-in,” and a toddler train. In cooperation with Quaker Steak & Lube in Harrisonburg, all day on Friday, July 31, 20 percent of food purchases at the restaurant were donated to the transplant fund.

— The year’s district conferences are beginning to be held across the denomination:
Northern Ohio District held its 2015 district conference this past weekend, July 24-25, at Mohican Church of the Brethren in West Salem, Ohio.
Also this past weekend, on July 24-26, Southeastern District met in district conference at Mars Hill (N.C.) University.
Northern Plains District meets in district conference on July 31-Aug. 2 at West Des Moines (Iowa) Christian Church.
On July 31-Aug. 2 the Western Plains District Conference is hosted jointly by McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren and McPherson College.
Southern Plains District Conference is set for Aug. 6-7, at Clovis (N.M.) Church of the Brethren.
On Aug. 14-16, Camp Brethren Heights in Rodney, Mich., will host the Michigan District Conference.

— Southern Ohio District has announced an Adult Vacation Bible School on Aug. 3-6 at Salem Church of the Brethren. “This is an intergenerational event and all ages are welcome,” the invitation said. “Step back in time and experince the excitement of a biblical marketplace! Learn about Jesus and how people lived in bible times. Become a member of the twelve tribes of Israel and enjoy music, drama, storytelling, crafts, and more!” All ages are welcome. Children under 4 years old must be accompanied by an adult. Sack lunches are provided. A flier with details about the program is at .

— Shenandoah District’s Family Fun Day on Aug. 22, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., is sponsored by the district’s Auction Coordinating Committee. “Pie and cake judging will be held again this year,” said an announcement. The day also features food, games, pony rides, face painting, and music from the Hatcher Family, Pete Runion and Diana Cooper, and Lisa Meadows. “A new event this year is the Children’s Silent Auction from 1-2 p.m. Children will want to bring some money!” said the announcement. Location is 502 Sandy Ridge Rd., Waynesboro, Va., rain or shine.

— Camp Eder is offering a Young Adult Canoe Trip on Aug. 2-9. “Canoe cruise on the scenic Saranac Lakes in upstate New York,” said an announcement. “We’ll spend the days paddling on beautiful lakes reflecting the surrounding mountains and then spend the nights talking around the campfire and sleeping under the stars.”

— “Chosen to Live a Life of Love by the Law of Love” is the title of the new spiritual disciplines folder from the Springs of Living Water Initiative in church renewal led by David and Joan Young. The folder runs from Sept. 6 to the start of Advent, Nov. 28. “Embarking on a grand journey into Galatians and Ephesians written by the Apostle Paul, this folder has daily scripture readings for a time of prayer, following the Brethren practice to live the meaning of the text each day,” said the announcement. “Folders are designed to assist churches in congregational vitality and may be used individually, or by the entire congregation possibly coordinated with sermons, or for small group Bible study. Both the folder and Bible study questions to go with it are written by Vince Cable, retiring pastor of the Uniontown Church and becoming a Springs Ambassador.” Find the folder and questions on the Springs of Living Water website at . For more information, contact or 717-615-4515.

— Heeding God’s Call is asking for support in opposing the opening of a new gun store in Philadelphia, at the site of the former Colosimo’s, a notorious gun store which the movement helped to shut down. Heeding God’s Call is a movement to end gun violence on the streets of America’s cities, initiated at a Philadelphia conference of the Historic Peace Churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers). “You will recall the happy day in late 2009 when we learned Heeding God’s Call had embarrassed federal authorities into (finally!) shuttering notorious Colosimo’s Gun Center,” said the request for support. “That single gun shop, according to Philadelphia law enforcers, accounted for 20 percent of guns recovered from crime in the city. The new owner of Colosimo’s gun range, calling itself The Gun Range, is seeking a zoning variance to open a new gun store at the site, right around the corner from the old Colosimo’s store. This despite overwhelming community opposition, an earlier refusal by Phila. L & I, and the proximity of residences, senior housing, restaurants, a concert venue, and two faith communities.” Heeding God’s Call will host a public demonstration against the new gun store at the corner of Spring Garden and North Percy Streets at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 9, three days before the Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing. For more information contact .

— Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is requesting prayer for Kurdish villagers living in the mountainous border region between Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey, where bombing has resumed. “In 2012, Turkey and the Kurdish resistance entered into a delicate truce,” said the prayer request. “The bombing ended in the area where the villagers of Basta live. They rejoiced and put money into building a new mosque with the hope that people would come back to the village. This week the bombing started again.” On a related Facebook post, CPT reported that the villagers “were going to decide over the next few days if they should flee the village and go down to the valley.” Find the Facebook post and pictures from the village at . For more information about the work of CPT, which began as an initiative of the Historic Peace Churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers) go to .

— Christian Peacemaker Teams also is calling attention to a “significant increase in the targeting of Palestinian children by Israeli occupying forces,” witnessed by CPT members working in Hebron’s Old City. “From soldiers confiscating their bicycles to chasing them down in the street, the Israeli occupying forces are stripping children of their fundamental right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities,” the release said. In one example from the release, on Sunday, July 19, a six-year-old boy “was swarmed by the heavily armed Israeli military, forced to empty his pockets, and aggressively interrogated.” The release cites Articles 31 and 37 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: “States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities…. States Parties shall ensure that no child be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.” CPT is sometimes able to advocate for the rights of Palestinian children, the release noted, “but despite the presence of human rights observers, there is still a lack of accountability for Israeli occupying forces. Find the full CPT release and a list of recent incidents involving Palestinian children in Hebron at

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