Among those raising money for the Nigeria Crisis Response is Sandy Brubaker of Chiques Church of the Brethren in Manheim, Pa., a congregation that has been very active in raising money for the Nigeria Crisis Fund. She has been making elephant and giraffe stuffed toys and offering them for sale to benefit the fund. So far her project has contributed $570. In a letter accompanying the check to the fund, she and her husband Paul Brubaker write that she is “planning to make 100 of these toys, and they will be offered for sale at various activities through the summer and fall. We hope that this small offering might benefit our brothers and sisters in Nigeria.” They added in a follow up e-mail their hopes that the effort also “will encourage other congregations and individuals to find creative ways to support this fund.”
— Camp Harmony near Hooversville, Pa., seeks a program director. “In August 2015, Cortney Tyger, program director at camp, will be leaving her position at camp to enter back into the teaching field. We will be sorry to see her go, but we wish her well in her new endeavors,” said an announcement from Western Pennsylvania District. Applications are being accepted for this position. Apply by submitting a job application, resume, and letter of recommendation from a person other than family. Forms are at www.campharmony.org or contact Camp Harmony at 1414 Plank Road, P.O. Box 158, Hooversville, PA 15936-0158; firstname.lastname@example.org ; 814-798-5885. A job description and additional information may be obtained by contacting Janice at the camp. The deadline for applications is the end of March.
— Long-time supporters and those interested in learning more about Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) are invited to upcoming BVS Connections Dinners. “BVS will be providing a (free!) simple meal of pasta and salad while we gather to share stories from any BVS alumni present. One of the BVS staff will be present to talk about BVS and its work in our world and how you can become involved,” said an invitation from volunteer assistant for recruitment Ben Bear. “See you there!” Dinners are scheduled for Tuesday, March 17, at 5:30 p.m. at Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren; and Tuesday, March 24, at 6 p.m. at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren. RSVP to email@example.com or call or 703-835-3612 (call or text) or by “attending” the corresponding Facebook event on the BVS page.
— An updated documentary about the situation in Nigeria, created by freelance Church of the Brethren videographer David Sollenberger, is being made available to each congregation in the denomination. A DVD of the new Nigeria video is included in the April Source packet, which is mailed to each church. Church members may request to view their congregation’s copy of the DVD, or request a copy from the Global Mission and Service Office, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 388; firstname.lastname@example.org .
— In related news, David Sollenberger and his documentation of the Nigerian Brethren received coverage in “The Journal Gazette,” a newspaper in northern Indiana. Sollenberger traveled to Nigeria in late 2014 to videotape and photograph the Nigerian crisis response. He talked to the paper about how Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and its members in recent years were working with Muslims on projects for the common good, such as economic development. In previous decades the Muslims and Christians in the area had “lived together, they’ve intermarried and worked together, and now, all of a sudden, this new strain (of Islam) has taken root,” Sollenberger is quoted. “There are a lot of Muslims who have also been displaced–if you’re not with them [the Islamist insurgents], with their radical jihadist approach to the Muslim faith, they (members of Boko Haram) will just kill them.” The article close with Sollenberger’s conclusion that “the only thing left is to try to help those affected by the crisis to rebuild their lives.” Find the news article titled “North Manchester Filmmaker Shows Refugee Plight” at www.journalgazette.net/features/faith/Laying-foundation-for-aid-5145160 .
— A “Mental Health Workshop” is being presenting by the Deacon Body/ Transforming Lives Team of West Charleston (Ohio) Church of the Brethren. Two sessions of the workshop have already occurred, on March 1 and 8 on the topics of depression and bi-polar disorder. A session on March 15, at 7-8:30 p.m., will be on Alzheimer’s and dementia. The workshop is open to deacons and others interested in strengthening the emotional and physical health of their congregations. The presenter is John D. Kinsel, MS, LPCC-S, who has been a Licensed Clinical Counselor in the state of Ohio for more than 30 years, working in community mental health settings and in private practice. He is a member of Beavercreek Church of the Brethren in Ohio.
— Washington (D.C.) City Church of the Brethren is hosting a production of “Peace, Pies, and Prophets–How to Buy an Enemy” by Ted and Co. on Saturday, March 14, at 7 p.m. Sponsors for this benefit for Christian Peacemakers Teams are the Washington City Church, Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore, and other groups. “This satirical and FREE performance will be stopped at various stages to auction off pies, the proceeds of which will go to the Christian Peacemaker Teams,” said an announcement in the Mid-Atlantic District newsletter. A flier with more information is available at https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/4240887/PPP/DC%20PPP%20Poster.pdf . More about Ted and Co. is at www.tedandcompany.com/shows/peace-pies-prophets .
— First Church of the Brethren in York, Pa., is hosting a “Celebration of God’s Power and Glory” benefit concert for Nigerian Christians on Sunday, March 15, at 2 p.m. The concert features the musical talents of Cathy Carson and Jacqueline LeGrand, both of Waynesboro Church of the Brethren. Preceding the concert and immediately after morning worship is a lunch benefit for the Nigeria Crisis Fund, a “Third Annual St. Patrick’s Day Baked Potato Bar” hosted by the church’s youth group.
Church of the Brethen general secretary Stan Noffsinger took this “selfie” with Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren, his host for the weekend. The church’s Spring Renewal Weekend included leadership from Noffsinger for a “Town Hall Meeting” about the denomination’s international ministries, two worship services, and a Sunday school presentation on the denomination’s US ministries. In his Facebook post, Noffsinger thanked the congregation: “What an amazing and wonderful weekend at the Staunton Church of the Brethren. Thanks to each of you for gracious hospitality.”
— First Church of the Brethren in Wichita, Kan., held a Benefit Concert for Nigeria on March 5. Performers included Delores and the Pickin’-Fretter, the Wichita-based acoustic duo of Jeffrey Faus and Jenny Stover-Brown, teaming up with Mutual Kumquat. According to the Western Plains District newsletter, all proceeds went to the Nigeria crisis response.
— The children at Diehl’s Crossroads Church of the Brethren in Martinsburg, Pa., have raised $500 to purchase a cow through Heifer International, reports the Middle Pennsylvania District newsletter. “Their next goal for Heifer is to raise money for lots of rabbits. They are saving now to help the Nigerian children,” said the report.
— The Roundtable regional youth conference is held at Bridgewater (Va.) College on March 20-22, on the theme “Follower and Friend: Our Relationship with God” (John 15:12-17). Leadership is provided by Carol Elmore, music and youth minister at Oak Grove Church of the Brethren. The event includes worship, small groups, workshops, a variety show, singing, vespers, recreation, and more. Participants stay on the college campus for the weekend and eat meals in the college dining hall. “Brethren from different districts come together to reconnect with NYC friends, or to make new friends,” said an announcement from Virlina District. Estimated cost is $50 per participant. Roundtable is open to senior high youth in grades 9-12. Pre-registration is recommended. For more information, go to http://iycroundtable.wix.com/iycbc or contact email@example.com .
— West Marva District events coming soon include a March 15 District Bible Study hosted at Westernport Church of the Brethren and led by presenter Dave Weiss, an ordained minister who is serving as Minister of Creative Arts at Ephrata (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. The Bible study is scheduled from 3-5:30 p.m. The district’s Praise Gathering is scheduled for Sunday, May 3, at 3 p.m. at Danville Church of the Brethren. An Equipping the Saints event is on Sunday, May 17, at 3 p.m. at Moorefield Church of the Brethren, with a segments to be led by Brethren Benefit Trust’s Scott Douglas and Jan Fahs on readiness for retirement and congregational financial procedures. Each session will enable credentialed ministers to receive .1 continuing education units, said the announcement in the district newsletter.
— Idaho District is publicizing a Southwest Idaho Pledge Campaign to help Boise Valley Church of the Brethren, which is “spreading its wings and building a new structure.” A note from district clerk Ann Roseman reported: “The land has been paid off and now the beginning stages will be defined. The plans have been approved and the contractor is on-board. Anyone who has commenced a project like this knows there are infrastructure costs that pave the way before the actual construction. This is where the campaign begins…. We all know just how important it is to get the wheels turning quickly. God is so much in charge and we in the Southern Idaho/Western Montana District follow where he leads. Stay tuned for progress reports.” For information about making donations to the project, contact Roseman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 208-484-9332.
— Camp Brethren Heights in Rodney, Mich., is holding a Spring Rally and Brethren Belief Weekend on March 20-22. “Join us for a weekend filled with fun and fellowship this spring season,” said an invitation in the Michigan District newsletter. Activities will include a Minute to Win It challenge, service project, getting in touch with our faith, and more. Cost is $35. Contact Denise Rossman at 989-236-7728. There is a $5 price reduction when bringing a friend.
— Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va., holds its annual Sow the Seed Scholarship Banquet on March 26 at 6:30 p.m. This is a rescheduled date and time for the event. “Plant seeds of FAITH in the lives of children, youth, and young adults!” said an invitation. Cost is $50 per person, with larger gifts accepted. The evening is a benefit for “camperships,” or scholarships for campers. Singer-songwriter Maggie St. John of Ninth Street Church of the Brethren will perform a set of original songs. RSVP by March 23 to 540-992-2940 or CampBethelOffice@gmail.com .
— A group of Bridgewater (Va.) College students and a faculty member will “trade suntan lotion and swim suits for hammers and tool belts” on a spring break with Habitat for Humanity, said a release from the college. The group is participating in Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge Spring Break 2015. The students are accompanied by Lou Pugliese, assistant professor of business administration, and will be volunteering with Habitat for Humanity of Athens/Limestone County Alabama. “To raise money for the trip, the group held a chili cook-off and helped a Bridgewater College alumna move to the Bridgewater Retirement Community,” the release said.
— Elizabethtown (Pa.) College’s 13th Annual Open Door Recital welcomes all on March 28. “Children and their parents are invited to the 13th Annual Open Door Recital at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 28, in the College’s Zug Recital Hall,” said a release from the school. “All expressions of joy are encouraged during the free interactive program of short pieces performed by the Elizabethtown College music therapy students. A reception follows the unique experience so children can meet the performers.” Reserve tickets by calling 717-361-1991 or 717-361-1212.
— The Global Women’s Project celebrated International Women’s Day with an e-mail to supporters highlighting the importance of the day. “Women’s rights around the world are an important indicator to understand global well-being,” wrote Carol Leland, on behalf of the Steering Committee. “A major global women’s rights treaty was ratified by the majority of the world’s nations a few decades ago. Yet, despite many successes in empowering women, numerous issues still exist in all areas of life, ranging from the cultural, political to the economic. For example, women often work more than men, yet are paid less; gender discrimination affects girls and women throughout their lifetime; and women and girls are often are the ones that suffer the most poverty.” The group highlighted the women’s rights issues in many Muslim nations, but noted that such problems exist worldwide. It called for attention to the progress made by women since the United Nation’s Women’s Treaty, but warned that “the world is still far from the vision articulated in Beijing.” The e-mail closed with a question: “How might you work to empower women in your community this International Women’s Day?”
— Tony Asta, an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren, will give a presentation about a Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) delegation to East Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron in Dec. 2014. The presentation is March 20, at 7:30 p.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church in Naperville, Ill., sponsored by End the Occupation Coalition of Northern Illinois. The public also is invited to a pre-program “Peace Builders” potluck at 7 p.m. Bring a dish to share. For more information about the event call 773-550-3991. For more about the work of CPT go to www.cpt.org .
— Mennonite Central Committee’s Washington Office is asking for help to stop the deportation of an Iowa pastor, Max Villatoro. The office has created an online petition to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) St. Paul Field Office in Minnesota, and ICE director Sarah R. Saldaña, asking ICE to “immediately release him from detention and grant him a stay of removal so that he can return to his wife and four US citizen children–and serve his Iowa City congregation.” The MCC staff also are asking for phone calls to ICE at 888-351-4024 option 2, urging a stay of removal for pastor Max Villatoro (A# 094-338-085). Max Villatoro is pastor of Iglesia Menonita Torre Fuerte (First Mennonite Church) in Iowa City, and has lived in the US for more than 20 years. He was detained on March 3 by ICE outside his home and was not given a chance to say goodbye to his wife and children. “His detention is absolutely devastating to his family, his church, and the community where he has been a leader for years,” the petition said. “As a pastor, community leader, and father of US citizen children, Max clearly presents no public safety or security threat and therefore might qualify for relief through the President’s recent immigration executive order. And, even though a federal judge has temporarily delayed some of the President’s immigration actions, ICE guidelines state that immigrants like Max should not be a deportation priority.” Find the petition at http://action.groundswell-mvmt.org/petitions/stop-the-deportation-of-beloved-iowa-pastor-and-community-member-max-villatoro .
— A report about Church of the Brethren member David Young’s community gardening initiative in New Orleans was published in “The Guardian,” a UK-based newspaper. Titled “Developing Food Security in Post-Katrina New Orleans, One Lot at a Time,” the article appeared March 4 in a series on “resilient cities.” David Young originally went to New Orleans as a Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteer, helping rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Now he is heading up Capstone, a nonprofit he founded in 2009. Capstone takes vacant lots and turns them into community gardens and orchards, and space to raise chickens and goats and bees, helping feed the Lower Ninth Ward which is a “food desert” without access to healthy groceries. Capstone is one of the community gardening projects that has benefited from a Going to the Garden grant from the Church of the Brethren Global Food Crisis Fund and Office of Public Witness. The Guardian reported: “David’s operations respond to the needs of the local community as voiced by its own members. As he understood before he even started, ‘what these people didn’t want to see was an organisation come in and do something for them–or to them–without them being involved or having taken into account what they would want to see happen.’” Read the Guardian article at www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/mar/04/food-security-post-hurricane-katrina-new-orleans?CMP=share_btn_fb .