Brethren Bits for May 12, 2015

Church of the Brethren members from across the denomination are invited to participate in a special celebration of the faithful service of Church of the Brethren general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger, which is being planned for Annual Conference in Tampa, Fla. Along with the Celebration Planning Team, the Craft and Crop group of Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is creating a memory book that will be available for all attendees at Annual Conference to sign, and then will be presented to the general secretary. For those who are unable to attend the Annual Conference, greetings may be sent in advance by e-mail. “If you will not be in Tampa and would like to extend your thanks and well wishes to Stan, please send your greeting electronically, by June 1,” said an invitation from Pam Reist, a member of the Celebration Planning Team and of the Mission and Ministry Board. “Thanks for helping to make this a very special occasion, in recognition of devoted and excellent service to the church!” E-mails should include a one or two sentence greeting, the sender’s first and last name, congregation, and district. Send to haldemanl@etowncob.org .

— Tim McElwee has been named to Manchester University’s new post of vice president for academic resources, effective June 1. Melanie Harmon, executive director of development, will step into his role of vice president for advancement, according to a release from the university. McElwee is a 1978 Manchester graduate. He holds advanced degrees from Purdue University and Bethany Theological Seminary. For five years he served as director of the Church of the Brethren office in Washington, D.C. He has worked at Manchester University in a variety of capacities including as the campus pastor, director of development, vice president for advancement, and associate professor of peace studies and political science. In 2013, he returned to Manchester to become vice president for advancement, a position he had held for several years at Albright College in Pennsylvania. In this new post of vice president for academic resources, McElwee will oversee three of the University’s four colleges: Arts and Humanities, Business, and Education and Social Sciences. He also will oversee the new Student Experience Center and Center for Effective Teaching and Learning. For more about Manchester University go to www.manchester.edu .

— Cherise Glunz begins June 8 as program assistant in the Church of the Brethren Donor Relations department, to work at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill. She is a resident of Elgin, and a graduate of Judson University with a degree in worship arts and a concentration in media. She also holds a certificate of worship leadership from the Quad Cities School of Worship in Davenport, Iowa. Since Aug. 2013 she has worked in campus care at Willow Creek Community Church in S. Barrington, Ill.

— A “Day of Action on US Drone Strikes” has been announced for Friday, May 15. The Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness invites Brethren to take part, in support of the 2013 Annual Conference Statement on Drone Warfare. Participants are urged to call their representatives and senators in the US Congress (find information at House.gov and Senate.gov) in order to tell elected officials about the concerns of people of faith, on the moral implications of drone warfare, and the need to halt drone strikes. “Ask them to publicly call on the Administration to disclose all strikes to date,” said the alert from the Office of Public Witness. The alert noted several points for Brethren to be aware of, including the US administration’s conducting of “a covert war through the CIA by operating a ‘kill list’ without meaningful oversight and accountability from Congress or the American people. This is an enormous power and it is too dangerous to leave unchecked,” the alert said. Other concerns include the policy of relying on military drones to expand warfare around the world, the way military drones have been used to target individuals for their affiliations regardless of their locations and so the effect of military drones traumatizing or displacing communities, and the lack of real security or peace as a result of drone warfare. “Global terrorism is on the rise, and extremist groups use the trauma inflicted by drone strikes as a recruitment tool,” the alert noted. The full alert will soon be sent out by e-mail to the Office of Public Witness interest list. Sign up to receive alerts at www.brethren.org/advocacy/actionalerts.html .

— The Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness has signed on to a letter calling for an end to family detention in Immigration Detention Centers. In all, 188 denominations and other faith-based and humanitarian groups and organizations signed the national letter. The letter urged the President to end the detention of children and mothers fleeing violence in Central America. The following principles served as main points and headings in the letter: “Families must not be subject to detention except in exceptional circumstances…. Families must receive full due process at the border…. Families should not be detained for purposes of deterrence…. Families should not be separated…. DHS should use other tools besides detention to mitigate flight risk where there is a demonstrated concern.” The letter closed with a personal statement to the president: “DHS should not detain children and their parents in jail-like facilities. We urge you to undo the harsh family detention policies set in place in summer 2014 and implement a more just and humane approach. Family detention should not be your legacy. Now is the time to end it once and for all.” Find the full text of the letter online at www.aclu.org/letter/sign-letter-president-obama-re-call-end-family-detention .

— The Office of Public Witness also has signed on to a National Council of Churches-sponsored letter to the US Attorney General calling for full investigation into the situation in Baltimore, in support of Mayor Rawlings-Blaker’s request for a pattern and practice investigation into the Baltimore Police Department. More than 20 members of the faith community related to the NCC signed on to the letter, which was sent under the auspices of the Civil Rights Coalition on Police Reform. The coalition has “come together as a unified collective to urgently request that you open a pattern or practice investigation against the Baltimore Police Department. In the aftermath of the killing of Freddie Gray, the country has once again become more aware of the challenges and concerns of another urban police agency. Yet, the residents of Baltimore, particularly communities of color, have been complaining about these problems for years,” the letter said, in part. “While the Department of Justice has initiated an investigation into the death of Freddie Gray and is gathering information to determine whether any prosecutable civil rights violation occurred, we believe that it is necessary to expand the investigation into the entire police department in light of the long history of complaints and concerns from Baltimore residents.”

— A Mother’s Day 5K for Peace in Nigeria held in Bridgewater, Va., on Sunday has raised $5,295, with $4,460 donated to the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries, after expenses. The event was organized by Peter Hamilton Barlow.

— NBC News has published a report from the Michika area of northeast Nigeria close to where the headquarters of EYN was overrun by Boko Haram last October, and near the city of Mubi. “Along the main roads heading north from Adamawa’s state capital Yola, some trade has resumed in the towns but ghostly pockets and haunting reminders of the insurgent takeover are evident,” the report said. “Some three months after the fighting ended, the smell of rotting corpses still clings to the air by the headquarters of the Church of the Brethren near Mararaba.” The report focuses on the situation of survivors and displaced people returning to their homes, who face a severe food shortage and hunger. Find the report at www.nbcnews.com/storyline/missing-nigeria-schoolgirls/nigerias-boko-haram-survivors-now-face-battle-against-hunger-n356931 .

— A Nigerian television station has posted a video report on a visit to Chibok, Nigeria, by Rebecca Dali of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and Jon Andrews, who has been in Nigeria with a Church of the Brethren group. The report shows distribution of relief goods to people in Chibok, including family of the kidnapped schoolgirls and people displaced by violence perpetrated by the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram. Dali has founded and leads CCEPI, the Center for Compassion, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives, one of the Nigerian NGOs that are partnering with EYN and the Church of the Brethren in the Nigeria Crisis Response program. View the video at https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9nHTH_3NJjtSkNPUFprTHRWUVE/edit?usp=drive_web . Find out more about the Nigeria Crisis Response at www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .

— A webinar in the “Family Matters” series will explore the complexities of family life led by presenter Mary Hawes. The webinar on May 19 at 2:30 p.m. (Eastern time) is titled “Cradle to the Grave” and will offer ideas and ways that the wider church community can support and strengthen families as they deal with various challenges. Hawes serves as the Church of England’s National Advisor for Children and Young People’s Ministry for the Diocese of London, and is the parish priest of an Anglican congregation in South London. The free webinar offers 0.1 continuing education unit for ministers who participate in the live event. The webinar is one of those co-sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries with partners in the United Kingdom. More information and registration are at www.brethren.org/webcasts . For questions contact Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices, at sdueck@brethren.org .

— “Here’s a way we can support Brethren Disaster Ministries! Several of our BDMers are going to the Shenandoah Auction May 15-16. They are taking two items to be included in the auction,” according to an announcement from Burton and Helen Wolf. One of the items is a wooden tray that has been “going back and forth between our two districts,” the announcement said, referring to a tray made by Dick and Pat Via. The second item is an afghan knit by Nancy Jackson from the Brethren Retirement Community. “What is so amazing is that she is blind,” the announcement said. “She hopes the afghan brings at least $200 for BDM…. We look forward to helping our brothers and sisters in Shenandoah District.”

— Donald Kraybill will received an honorary degree from Elizabethtown (Pa.) College at commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 16, according to a release. The college will celebrate two graduations that day: at 11 a.m. the 112th Commencement where the 514 graduates will include 77 earning master of science degrees, 126 bachelor of arts degrees, 282 bachelor of science degrees, 15 bachelor of music degrees, and 14 bachelor degrees in social work; and at 4 p.m. the School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS) graduation ceremony for 178 students including 40 earning a master of business administration, 111 a bachelor’s degree, and 27 associate degrees. E. Roe Stamps IV, founder of the Stamps Leadership Scholars, is speaker for the traditional ceremony, and the first three Elizabethtown College Stamps Scholars will graduate with the class of 2015. Speaker for the SCPS graduates is Dana Chryst, CEO of the Jay Group. Along with Kraybill, who is retiring as Senior Scholar at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, honorary degrees will be given to Stamps and Chryst and Hatfield Foods’ Phil Clemens, an active member of the college’s High Center.

— To mark International Conscientious Objectors’ Day 2015, which is held annually on May 15, the First World War Peace Forum will hold a ceremony of remembrance in Tavistock Square, London, in the United Kingdom. “The speakers will include Sheila Triggs of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom which this year celebrates its centenary, and Mia Tamarin, a young woman who served four prison terms as an Israeli conscientious objector,” said an announcement from Ekklesia, a news service and think tank with partners in the Anabaptist Network of Organizations include the Mennonite Centre in Britain and Christian Peacemaker Teams UK. “Names of other conscientious objectors from around the world will be read out during the ceremony and flowers laid at the Conscientious Objectors’ stone in the square.” The ceremony honoring conscientious objectors is organized by the First World War Peace Forum, which the release described as a coalition made up of Conscience, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Movement for the Abolition of War, Network for Peace, Pax Christi, Peace News, Peace Pledge Union, Quaker Peace and Social Witness, the Right to Refuse to Kill group, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Find more news and views from Ekklesia at www.ekklesia.co.uk .