Brethren Bits for March 4, 2015

East Chippewa Church of the Brethren in Orrville, Ohio, is celebrating its 125th anniversary throughout 2015. The Anniversary Committee has multiple events planned throughout the year to highlight and mark the special occasion. The committee is made up of nearly a dozen long-time members of the Church of the Brethren family (mutigenerational names like Fike, McFadden, Hostetler, Everson, Cormany, and Snyder), reported the church in a release to Newsline. Pastor Brad Kelley is helping the committee in planning all the special events. “The committee members believe and know that God has been so good to East Chip and He continues to prove Himself faithful to us from generation to generation,” said the announcement. The anniversary theme is “Celebrating 125 Years of God’s Faithfulness” with theme verse from Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” The first formal occasion marking the anniversary will be Sunday, March 15, at 10:25 a.m. when Knute Larson, former senior pastor of the 8,000-plus member Chapel in Akron, Ohio, will be the special keynote speaker. He will preach on the anniversary theme, bringing the message “Celebrate A Church of Nobility.” That evening from 7-8:30 p.m., he will teach an open session on “Church Health” for church leaders and any area or district pastors and lay leaders who may want to attend. Two other events that are planned to highlight the 125th anniversary are a Church Homecoming Weekend on June 27-28 featuring keynote speaker and former pastor Keith Funk, who currently pastors Quinter (Kan.) Church of the Brethren, and other past ministers and interns; and on Sunday morning, Nov. 8, a special concert from Southern Gospel recording artist Mark Allen Chapman, which will be the climax of the celebration year. For more information about any of these events, call the church office at 330-669-3262.— Postponed: The Clergy Tax Seminar scheduled for February will be held on March 16. The deadline for new registrations will be midnight March 11 to ensure that registrants receive the necessary information to participate. Those who registered for the February date do not need to register again. Anyone who registered for the original date and cannot participate on the new date may request a refund before March 16. Refunds will be issued after March 25. This seminar is held onsite at Bethany Seminary in Richmond, Ind., and also offered as an online webinar. Sessions cover tax law for clergy, changes for 2014 (the most current tax year to file), and detailed assistance as to how to correctly file the various forms and schedules that pertain to clergy (including housing allowances, self-employment, W-2s clergy reductions, and so forth). Go to .

— Mary Ann Grossnickle began Jan. 20 as manager of hospitality for the Zigler Hospitality Center
at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Her primary responsibilities include coordinating meals and lodging for groups, guests, and volunteers visiting the Brethren Service Center. She will oversee hospitality volunteers as well as the food service team. She has served as interim coordinator of hospitality since Oct. 2014.

— John and Pat Krabacher have begun work with the Church of the Brethren Nigerian Crisis Response serving through Brethren Volunteer Service. The Krabachers will do grant writing and other communications about the Nigeria Crisis Response, working from their home in Ohio.

— Rodney Caldwell has been named as chaplain for Pinecrest Community, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Mt. Morris, Ill. Most recently he has served as pastor of Cherry Grove Church of the Brethren in Lanark, Ill. He is ordained in the Church of the Brethren. He was installed at a worship service on Sunday at the Pinecrest Manor chapel, led by Illinois and Wisconsin District executive minister Kevin Kessler.

— The Zigler Hospitality Center at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., seeks volunteer hosts and hostesses, and a volunteer office assistant to the manager.
Volunteer hosts and hostesses help coordinate and provide hospitality services to guests and visitors. Duties include guest check-in, providing host service during meetings and retreats, providing assistance in maintaining common areas and guest rooms, and assisting in the dining room during meals and banquets. Hosts and hostesses are as key members of the Zigler Hospitality Center team, ensuring good communication and follow through, and consistently making the needs of guests a top priority.
Volunteer office assistant to the manager will help schedule guests for private lodging, day and overnight conferences, and volunteer lunch groups. The position also assists with duties similar to those carried out by the volunteer hosts and hostesses.
Adult volunteers will serve for one month to one year. Room and board are provided as well as a monthly stipend. For a complete description of these volunteer positions, or to discuss these opportunities with a staff member, call 410-635-8700 or 800-766-1553, or e-mail .

— The spring meeting of the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board will be hosted by Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren on March 13-16. The meeting will be led by board chair Becky Ball-Miller. The schedule includes times when the meeting is open to guests and visitors who are interested in finding out more about the work of the denomination. Open sessions are held on Saturday, March 14, from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., and on Sunday afternoon, March 15, from 1:30-5:30 p.m. The board is in closed session on Sunday evening and Monday morning. On Sunday morning, board members and the denominational staff in attendance will worship with area congregations. More information about the agenda will be available soon.

— The denomination’s Global Mission and Service office requests prayer for a group of volunteers traveling to St. Louis du Nord, Haiti, to install a water filtration system at the New Covenant School of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Church of the Brethren in Haiti). “Pray that this water system, supported by the Global Food Crisis Fund and the Haiti Medical Project, will enhance the health of the school’s students and empower them on their path to education,” said the request.

— A video about the Jenkins, a couple whose home was repaired with help from Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers working in Spotwood, N.J., is linked at . The rebuilding project site in Spotswood repairs and rebuilds homes affected by “Superstorm” Sandy, working with the Monmouth County Long Term Recovery Group. The Jersey Shore is still feeling the impact of Hurricane Sandy. The Sandy recovery site in Spotswood, in northern Monmouth County, N.J., was begun on Jan. 5, 2014.

— Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm of the Bethany Theological Seminary faculty is among the professors working with a new three-year program of Vanderbilt University Divinity School that will train and certify coaches to initiate and lead peers in ministry to hone their preaching skills. Funded by Lilly Endowment, the David G. Buttrick Certificate Program in Homiletic Peer Coaching entails travel twice a year for three years to Vanderbilt’s campus in Nashville, Tenn., to train with cohorts. Two Church of the Brethren pastors are joining with pastors from other denominations as participants in the program: Jeanne Davies, associate pastor of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., and Katie Thompson, co-pastor of Ivester Church of the Brethren in Grundy Center, Iowa.

— Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren hosts Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, as guest speaker for a Spring Renewal Weekend on March 7 and 8. Noffsinger will lead a Town Hall Meeting on Saturday, March 7, from 4-5:30 p.m. to talk about international ministries and show a revised Nigerian video created by David Sollenberger. Dinner will follow, served by the Mexico Workcamp Team. Worship is at 7 p.m. with a message entitled “Imagine God’s Intention,” special music by Jessica Strawderman, and a Scott Duffey original song “For Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa.” On Sunday morning, Noffsinger will lead a Combined Classes Sunday School at 10 a.m. and talk about US ministries, followed by worship at 11 a.m. with a message entitled “Who Me?” A carry-in meal will follow. Guests are welcome and encouraged. For more information call 540-886-8655.

— Atlantic Southeast District holds its annual Venture Fun(d) Day at Camp Ithiel near Orlando, Fla., on Saturday, March 14, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. “The event, which began as a vehicle to raise funds for new church development, has expanded to include raising funds for all district ministries,” said an invitation from Ray Hileman, chair of the district’s Church Development Council. “There will be activities for all ages, including a bounce house for children, games for youth, races, horseshoes, and more. Some churches will make food items such as homemade soup or sandwiches to eat. They will be available for donations. Baked goods and craft items will also be sold for low prices. There will be fellowship and music as well.” Also on the agenda is a 1 p.m. report from district leaders on the good things that are happening in the district, followed by a worship offering of special gifts from the congregations. Congregations are being encouraged to take a love offering, do a fundraiser, or in some other way collect monies to bring on that day. The event concludes around 1:45 p.m. with the annual pie auction. This year, the District Board dercided that any funds raised above the $5,000 designated as Venture Fun(d) Day income in the district budget, will be tithed to the Nigeria Crisis Fund. “It is hoped that this will serve as an incentive to individuals and churches to come together with generosity,” Hileman wrote. The event is open to everyone, including non-Brethren folks who live in the area.

— Mutual Kumquat, a popular Brethren band, will be in concert at Hollidaysburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren on Saturday, April 18, at 7 p.m., sponsored by Camp Blue Diamond in Middle Pennsylvania District. Pre-concert music begins at 6 p.m. “Mutual Kumquat shares an eclectic sound and positive message through their unique combination of danceable rhythms, stick-in-your-head melodies, rich harmonies, and uplifting, fun-filled lyrics,” said an invitation to the event. Mutual Kumquat has performed at National Youth Conference, Annual Conference, National Older Adult Conference, Song and Story Fest, and other venues. Cost is $5, plus either a jar of peanut butter, jelly, or spaghetti sauce to donate to the American Rescue Workers of Hollidaysburg. For more information visit . For questions call 814-667-2355.

— Camp Hammond’s Mill in Missouri and Arkansas District is undergoing renovations, reported the district newsletter. “The good news is that there has been a lot of work done,” the newsletter said. At a recent work day, accomplishments included removal of a dead tree and trimming of low hanging limbs on all trees on the camp grounds, painting bunk beds, improvements to bath houses, and more. “Work has now started on the bath house remodel with new water heaters, sinks and countertops,” the report added. Renovations are to be completed this spring.

— Juniata College’s “Meal for CROP” will be held 5:30-7:30 p.m. on March 24 in the Baker Refectory in Ellis Hall. “Each year, Juniata’s Christian Ministry Board asks students to sacrifice an evening meal so those meals can be sold to the general public,” said a release from the college in Huntingdon, Pa. “Their places in line are sold to members of the community and the money is donated to CROP.” The Huntingdon Forum of Churches also sponsors the meal. Tickets for the March 24 meal may be purchased 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Campus Ministry office, or at the door on the evening of the meal. Tickets are $10 per person, $5 for children ages 6-12, with children 5 and under admitted free. CROP, an organization of the Church World Service, fights hunger throughout the world with programs that support hunger relief and self-help projects in developing countries, and within the United States.

— Elizabethtown (Pa.) College has become the first in the United States to offer a major in Interfaith Leadership Studies, inspired by a national call from Interfaith Youth Core founder Eboo Patel, according to a release from the school. Patel was college’s commencement speaker in 2013. The vision is for a new academic discipline that will create better diplomats, doctors, lawyers, politicians, peacekeepers, international business people, religious leaders, and educators, said a release. “Elizabethtown is the first college in the nation to develop an academic major in Interfaith Leadership,” Patel is quoted in the release. “With its Brethren heritage, high academic standards, and emphasis on educating leaders who serve the world, it is an ideal institution to be on the vanguard in this way. I expect many other colleges to follow Elizabethtown’s example in the years to come.” The proposal was funded by an Interfaith Youth Core/Teagle Foundation-funded grant, with the course set to launch in the fall for the 2015-16 academic year. The first Interfaith Leadership Studies graduates will be among the class of 2019. Christina Bucher, chair of the Department of Religious Studies, who developed the program with college chaplain Tracy Sadd, pointed out that the new major “is excellent preparation for students who want to pursue a path towards ministry.” Coursework is not only in religion, but also in business, political science, sociology, and even biology. “A broader understanding of the term ‘ministry’ has been adopted by the program to include leaders in community development, government agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and national and international service organizations. A minor in Interfaith Leadership Studies also will be offered.

— The Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) has announced dates for its 2015 Brethren Bible Institute, an annual event. Dates for this year are July 27-31. The institute is held on the campus of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. For more information go to .

— The “MCC Great Lakes Peace Gathering” sponsored by Mennonite Central Committee takes place in Chicago on Saturday afternoon, March 28 (including worship and dinner). “You are invited to join Mennonite Central Committee for workshops, worship, and dialogue centering on peace and justice concerns,” said an invitation to Church of the Brethren pastors and church leaders. Workshops will be held from 1-4:45 p.m. on the following topics: “Immigration: Welcoming the Stranger” led by Saulo Padilla, MCC US immigration education coordinator; “Behind the Camouflage: A Workshop on the Practical and Spiritual Questions Related to Military Recruitment” led by Titus Peachy, MCC US peace education coordinator; “Dodgin’ the Bullet: Do Guns Really Keep Us Safe?” led by Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz, MCC US restorative justice coordinator; and “Following Jesus to Ferguson #HandsUpDontShoot” led by Ewuare Osayande, MCC US anti-oppression coordinator. Worship will follow at 4:45-5:10, with dinner and further conversation at 5:10-6 p.m. The event is hosted at Living Water Community Church, 6808 N. Ashland Blvd., Chicago. For more information see . RSVP to Jorge Vielman at or 574-534-4133.

Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath bulletin insert from Heeding God’s Call

— A “Connecting Families East Retreat” sponsored by the Brethren and Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests takes place May 15-17 at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center in Mt. Pleasant, Pa. The speaker on the theme “Communicating a Theology of Holy Inclusion” is Loren L. Johns, professor of New Testament at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind., and author of “Homosexuality and the Bible: A Case Study in the Use of the Bible for Ethics.” An announcement explains that the retreat seeks to “provide support for families whose children are coming out to them and/or to their church. We are committed to maintaining confidentiality within the group, to providing a place to speak in safety or to remain silent, and to sharing in a non-judgmental atmosphere.” See .

— Heeding God’s Call is sharing information about the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend planned for March 20-22. The organization, which is focused on gun violence prevention, was started at a meeting of the Historic Peace Churches in Philadelphia, Pa. Heeding God’s Call is encouraging congregations to hold special worship services and other activities on that weekend in order to bring attention to the problem of gun violence for faith communities. “If you would like a guest presenter from Heeding God’s Call to visit your faith community, please let us know right away so we can work out arrangements,” said the announcement. “There are so many things your faith community can do to end gun violence! You can have children make peace posters. You might invite your members to write letters to your local, state, and national leaders asking them to vote for sensible gun laws. You could plan to install the Memorial to the Lost (the “Tee-shirt Memorial”) in your church yard soon. Whatever you do, let us know! Together, people of faith can raise a mighty voice so that lives might be saved.” Worship resources available through Heeding God’s Call include a litany and hymn focused on prevention of gun violence, a list of suggested scriptures, and sample sermons. Also available is a bulletin insert giving current statistics about gun violence, and more information. Contact Heeding God’s Call, 8812 Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill, PA 19118-2719; 267-519-5302; .

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