Brethren Bits for June 17, 2015

Photo courtesy of @TrinityPrez
University Park Church of the Brethren in Hyattsville, Md., hosted a t-shirt memorial to victims of gun violence in the greater Washington (D.C.) area.

— Corrections have been made to the published schedule for the summer tour of the EYN Women’s Fellowship (ZME) Choir and the BEST group of Nigerian Brethren. In addition to several corrections, two concert dates were inadvertently omitted from the itinerary, both in Shenandoah District: July 1 at 7 p.m. at the Carter Center for Worship and Music at Bridgewater (Va.) College; and July 2 at 7 p.m. at Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock, Va. A full updated schedule is online at www.brethren.org/news/2015/tour-schedule-for-eyn-womens-choir.html .

— Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md., has announced the appointment of acting president Cassandra P. Weaver, upon the retirement of president Keith R. Bryan. Weaver, chief operating officer, began as acting president effective May 30, and will perform the duties of the president during the interim time until a full-time president/CEO is secured, said a release. Weaver joined Fahrney-Keedy in 2007.

— Spurgeon Manor, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in Dallas Center, Iowa, has approved the addition of a new position on staff, according to an announcement from Northern Plains District. The community seeks candidates for a director of development. The purpose of this position is to plan, organize, and manage all fundraising activities for Spurgeon Manor. Responsibilities include maintaining accurate files on all donors and fundraising events. The development officer will work with interested parties in the calculation of gift annuities. Contact Spurgeon Manor director Maureen Cahill for more information at mcahill@spurgeonmanor.com .

— The National Religious Campaign Against Torture sent a letter expressing concern about the use of torture to the United States Senate in advance of today’s Senate vote approving legislation that bans the US from subjecting prisoners to waterboarding, “rectal feeding,” and other torture techniques that have been employed in past administrations. Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger was one of the American religious leaders who signed the letter calling for support of the McCain-Feinstein amendment prohibiting torture, when the Senate voted on the amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act. “The Hill” reported on the Senate action as follows: “In a 78-21 vote, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle supported a new prohibition on ‘enhanced interrogation’ practices and other novel detention methods…. The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would limit the entire US government to the interrogation and detention techniques outlined in the Army Field Manual. That would codify in law an executive order delivered by President Obama days after he entered office in 2009 and expand the scope of a 2005 law that limited the Pentagon–but not intelligence agencies such as the CIA–from engaging in the harsh interrogations. The measure would also require the government to update the Army Field Manual every three years, to make sure it both complies with US law and ‘reflects current, evidence-based, best practices for interrogation.’ It would also require the International Committee of the Red Cross to get ‘prompt’ access to anyone detained by the US government.” Find “The Hill” report at http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/245117-senate-votes-to-permanently-ban-use-of-torture . For the NRCAT letter see www.nrcat.org/storage/documents/interfaith-letter-to-us-senate-061515.pdf .

— Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) is holding a Connections Dinner at Easton (Md.) Church of the Brethren at 5 p.m. on June 22, and at Brownsville (Md.) Church of the Brethren at 4 p.m. on June 28. On June 24, a BVS Ice Cream Social will take place at Long Green Valley (Md.) Church of the Brethren at 7 p.m. All are welcome. Call or text BVS recruitment volunteer Ben Bear at 703-835-3612 or go to the BVS Facebook page for more information.

— The Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) has begun publishing a newsletter titled “BHLA News and Notes.” Issue 2, now available online, includes an article by Stephen Longenecker about the late Ralph Smeltzer’s role in the Civil Rights struggle in Selma, Ala. Smeltzer served for many years on the denominational staff of the Church of the Brethren. Go to www.brethren.org/bhla .

— Bethany Theological Seminary is making available videos of talks from the 2015 Young Adult Forum “Anabaptism, the Next Generation.” Go to www.bethanyseminary.edu/YAForum2015 . Included are videos of Church of the Brethren speakers Josh Brockway, Jeff Carter, Dana Cassell, Russell Haitch, Tara Hornbacker, Steve Schweitzer, Laura Stone, and Dennis Webb as well as ecumenical speakers Chuck Bomar and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. The schedule from the event also is available. “Plan to join us for next year’s Young Adult Forum, April 15-16, 2016,” said the announcement.

— Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., welcomes Philip Gulley as preacher next Sunday, June 21. The church’s newsletter reports that the popular author, storyteller, and Quaker minister will speak on the topic, “So We Must Think Anew,” with a focus on Exodus 13:17-22. After worship and a potluck lunch, Gulley also will lead a storytelling workshop. Worship begins at 10:30 a.m. The afternoon workshop begins at 1 p.m. For more information about the Beacon Heights Church go to www.beaconheights.net .

— Southeastern District has announced that there will be a Benefit Auction on June 27 at 8:30 a.m. at the Jonesborough (Tenn.) Flea Market to benefit the Jackson Park Church of the Brethren Land Fund. Food and drinks will be available for purchase, as well as a variety of auction items. “Bring your chair and join us for a fun day,” said the announcement.

— Camp Bethel is offering day camps at three congregations in June and July, according to an announcement from Virlina District. The free day camps are for families in the congregation and communities in Roanoke/Salem, Franklin County, and Henry County. Peters Creek Church of the Brethren, Roanoke, Va., will host a day camp on June 15-19 (see www.campbethelvirginia.org/OnLineReg/RoanokeSalemDayCamp.htm ). Antioch Church of the Brethren will host a day camp in Franklin County on July 13-17 (see www.campbethelvirginia.org/OnLineReg/FranklinCountyDayCamp.htm ). Bassett Church of the Brethren will host a day camp in Henry County on July 27-31 (see www.campbethelvirginia.org/OnLineReg/HenryCountyDayCamp.htm ). Campers will enjoy games, crafts, songs, Bible lessons, nature lessons, daily “Voice Your Choice” group activities, as well as site-specific outdoor adventures, said the announcement. The summer theme is “Power Up: Live in the Holy Spirit!” Contact 540-992-2940 or CampBethelOffice@gmail.com .

— Good Shepherd Home, a Church of the Brethren-related community in Fostoria, Ohio, has built a new therapy facility to serve not only it’s residents, but the general public as well. A release reported that this is the result of a three-year capital campaign and construction program providing a large therapy gym with consultation rooms; occupational therapy house with kitchen and laundry; two swimming pools, a plunge pool and another pool with two treadmills for resistance aquatic therapy. The home also has added 18 more beds to the facility. Chris Widman, executive director, has overseen this construction campaign. A celebration was held with an open house on the afternoon of June 14.

— Western Plains District held its “First Annual Western, Western Plains Picnic” in connection with KonXion on June 13 at Bethel Church of the Brethren in Arriba, Colo. Information about the district’s new program that promotes congregational visits and exchanges, called KonXion, is at www.westernplainschurchofthebrethren.org/2014/10/02/konxions-in-western-plains .

— Southern Ohio District is holding a Brethren Disaster Ministry Sewing Bee on June 20, at 9 a.m., at Eaton (Ohio) Church of the Brethren Baron Street building. “Sewers bring your sewing machine for sewing school bags. Others may bring scissors to cut out gowns for baby kits,” said an invitation from the district. Lunch will be served.

— Shenandoah District is publicizing World Refugee Day on June 20. An e-newsletter from the district shared an invitation “to consider the plight of refugees who have been displaced from their homelands and who have the courage, stamina, and resilience to seek a fresh start in a new country. For example, 9.5 million Syrians have been displaced, and 3 million have fled to neighboring countries. Worldwide, there are 43 million refugees and internally displaced persons.” The district’s Refugee Resettlement Task Team is offering to meet with congregations or groups within congregations to talk about how to be involved. Contact Dean Neher, RRTT coordinator, at deanneher@gmail.com .

— Citing Matthew 25:35, the World Council of Churches (WCC) executive committee has spoken out on migrant crises with concern especially for those “driven to undertake journeys of desperate risk and danger.” In a statement the committee said, in part: “All members of the international community have a moral and legal duty to save the lives of those in jeopardy at sea or in transit, regardless of their origin and status.” The committee met in Armenia from June 7-12. In its public issues statement on migrants, the WCC executive committee identified the multiple contemporary crises as “an escalating global problem, with different expressions and responses in different contexts” and fatal consequences including the deaths of unprecedented numbers of migrants and refugees seeking to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, and the deaths of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants on the Andaman Sea. A release from the WCC also identified the recent killings of Ethiopian Christian migrant workers by the so-called “Islamic State” in Libya, and xenophobic violence against migrants in South Africa as illustrative of the vulnerability of people who leave their home countries in pursuit of safety and a better life for themselves and their families. The WCC is urging all countries to provide for generous, safe, and accessible procedures for the legal migration of people, is calling on all governments to fulfil their moral and legal duty to save lives and refrain from any actions that might further endanger lives, and is calling on the international community and governments to commit to stronger and more effective long-term international action to resolve conflicts, end oppression and occupation, and eliminate the extreme poverty that drives population movements. The statement also “invites WCC member churches and ecumenical partners, together with all people of goodwill, to promote a more open and welcoming approach to the stranger, and to the neighbour in need and distress.” Find the full statement at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/executive-committee/etchmiadzin-june-2015/statement-on-responses-to-migrant-crises-doc-no-29-rev .

— Lois Hoffert’s 85 years of music ministry will be celebrated on Sunday, June 28,at Lewiston Church of the Brethren in Northern Plains District with a short ceremony and a lunch following worship. Hoffert turned 92 on June 13. She first played the piano in church at age seven, said an article in the district newsletter. “Lois grew up on a farm near Quinter, Kan., the youngest of four children and the daughter of music loving parents,” according to the article. “There was always a piano in the home. She remembers evenings with her father holding an oil lamp at the piano while her mother accompanied their singing. Her mother, Edna Metsker, was the church chorister and was instrumental (pardon the pun) in the church’s purchase of its first piano. Up to that time all singing was accapella. Edna, who had learned to play the organ from her older sister, began giving Lois piano lessons at the age of 5. Two years later Lois had an opportunity to play a special number during worship. Her mother suggested the hymn, ‘Wonderful words of life,’ because of its simple melody. Lois remembers playing the bass part with one finger.” The article added that at her retirement ceremony, Hoffert will accompany a men’s chorus as they sing this same song.