Brethren Bits for May 20, 2015

— This summer’s tour by Nigerian Brethren groups BEST and the EYN Women’s Fellowship Choir is beginning to garner media attention. FlipSidePA published a notice about the concert at Nicarry Meetinghouse at Cross Keys Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in New Oxford, Pa., to take place on July 3 at 7 p.m. Find the notice at . In Elgin, Ill., the choir and BEST group will hold a public concert at a bandshell in Wing Park on June 26 at 7 p.m., under the title “Songs for Chibok.” A freewill offering will be taken to support the Nigeria Crisis Fund’s grants for education in northern Nigeria.

— Young adults from across the Church of the Brethren will be gathering on May 22-24 at Camp Swatara near Bethel, Pa., for Young Adult Conference 2015. The theme, “You Shall Go Out with Joy:  Transforming the World’s Thorns into Joyful Action!” is inspired by Isaiah 55:12-13. Find out more at at .

— Global Mission and Service is lifting up for prayer two volunteers serving with Proyecto Aldea Global (Project Global Village) in Honduras: Alan and Kay Bennett. The volunteers are requesting prayer for a water line project designed to provide the community of Magueyal with a year-long water supply for irrigation and household uses, “but identifying and fixing leaks has been a major challenge,” said the prayer request. “Please pray for diligence and the safety of the leak-repairing team, and for the patience of all the stakeholders.”

— Three members of Dupont (Ohio) Church of the Brethren who are all Continental High School seniors earned Honor Graduate recognition recently, and were listed among other classmates by the Continental ENews. Cody Etter, president of the FFA and a member of the National Honor Society also is president of church youth board and has been involved in several volunteer activities including canned food drives, Habitat for Humanity, and the Salvation Army at Christmas time. Derek Foy is an honor graduate who attended a mission trip to Joplin, Mo., and is involved in several volunteer activities including the Red Cross drive, his church’s food pantry, the local animal shelter, and Meadows of Kalida church services. Christina Sarka participated in varsity soccer in which she received the PCL Scholar Athlete award, is a Project MORE mentor and a blood donor for the American Red Cross, and has been active in Relay for Life and a community clean-up day. Find the full article at .

La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren awarded $1,500 in scholarships to 6 high school students out of the 40 entries for the Benton Rhoades Peacemaker Scholarships. All of the local high schools were invited to submit entries, reported a release from the church. A committee of the Peace and Justice Commission reviewed the 40 entries and selected 6 winners: Hanna Isidoro, a senior at Pomona High School, for an essay; Ariana Mendez, a senior at Pomona High School, for an essay; Angela Gonzalez, a senior at Ganesha High School, for an essay; Jessica Estrada, a senior at Pomona High School, for a painting; Celestina Martinez, a sophomore at Village Academy High School, for art work; and Joseph Orozco, a senior at Pomona High School, for an essay. Each has received a check for $250. Presentations were made at the eighth annual Festival for the Arts held at the La Verne Church. The winning artwork and some of the essays are being displayed at the church. For additional information, contact the church or Maurice Flora at .

— The “Modesto Bee” newspaper in California reports that “come May 31, the term ‘spiritual journey’ will take on additional meaning for members of the Church of the Brethren in west Modesto. Member volunteers are putting the finishing touches on a labyrinth they will dedicate that day.” The labyrinth was donated by the Couchman family in memory of Thelma and Hurley Couchman. Find the full report and a picture of the new labyrinth at

— Snake Spring Valley Church of the Brethren in Middle Pennsylvania District is planning “An Evening of Worship and Song” with Annual Conference moderator-elect Andy Murray. The event is planned for Aug. 14.

— “Another great weekend!” said a Shenandoah District e-mail sharing early results for the district’s 2015 Disaster Ministries Auction. “The 23rd annual Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Auction is now history–and has some great early results to report. Receipts for Friday and Saturday totaled $177,052 plus $32,050 from the livestock sale. This does not include miscellaneous income such as golf tournament fees, oyster purchases, etc. And, of course, all bills are not paid yet either–but it’s looking good for a very successful 2015 auction to support Brethren Disaster Ministries.” The district reported at least 1,050 oyster/ham dinners consumed,  “with great enjoyment,” as well as 445 breakfasts and 170 plate lunches. The district also thanked all the people who clear the fairgrounds of the remnants of the auction and pack supplies “to get a start on 2016!” Find a report and video about the auction from WHSV-TV at .

— Camp Mardela in Denton, Md., is planning a Birdwatchers Retreat as a new, three-day event from Sept. 18-20. An announcement said the event will take participants to Cape May, N.J., in a trip led by experienced birders Doug and Sally Ruby. “Mark the date and watch for more details to follow!” said the announcement.

— As Bridgewater (Va.) College’s graduating seniors and their families celebrated on the campus mall Saturday, May 16, Dr. Phillip C. Stone urged the 361 graduates to retain, nurture, and strengthen their core values, reported a release from the college. Stone, a practicing attorney with the Stone Law Group, is a 1965 graduate of Bridgewater who served as the college’s president from 1994-2010. His address, “Missing Pieces,” noted that the process of developing one’s life and character is like building a mosaic one piece at a time, the release said. “Our lives constitute a mosaic which will be built over a lifetime,” Stone said. “At the end of life, there will likely be pieces still missing from our mosaic, things undone, errors made and failures of one sort or another. Missing pieces will not unduly detract from the mosaics of our lives if the missing pieces are not from the core of our mosaic.” The core, he continued, is made up of fundamental values without which the mosaic can never be truly beautiful and complete. Stone said that integrity, empathy for others, loyalty, accountability, and humility are among those most fundamental values, and that if any of those are missing in the core of life’s mosaic, it fails entirely. “All the pieces surrounding the absent spots cannot compensate for pieces missing from the core,” he said. Among the 361 students, 78 earned bachelor of arts degrees and 242 earned bachelor of science degrees. Eighteen graduated summa cum laude–the top academic honor which requires students to achieve at least a 3.9 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. Thirty-six earned magna cum laude honors–a 3.7 or better average. Cum laude honors, requiring a 3.4 grade point average, were earned by 54 graduates.

— On Saturday, May 16, Elizabethtown (Pa.) College celebrated its 112th Commencement. The graduating class boasted 79 earning master of science degrees, 125 bachelor of arts degrees, 279 bachelor of science degrees, 15 bachelor of music degrees, and 14 bachelor’s degrees in social work, said a release from the college. Also held May 16 was commencement for the Elizabethtown College School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS). The school graduated 178 students with 40 earning a master of business administration, 111 bachelor’s degrees, and 27 associate degrees.

— The New Community Project, a Brethren-related nonprofit organization, is offering intergenerational Learning Tours to Africa, Asia, the Arctic, and Latin America. The trips increase awareness of the challenges facing God’s creation and the people of the world while building relationships with the communities visited. Tours will go to the Ecuadorian Amazon on June 12-21, to Honduras on July 16-25, to Denali/Kenai Fjords in Alaska on July 29-Aug. 6, and to Arctic Village, Alaska, on Aug. 7-16. Contact director David Radcliff at or visit .

— An online petition in support of South Korean conscientious objectors (COs) has been posted by Amnesty International. Many of the COs in South Korea are Mennonites, Church of the Brethren staff learned at the World Council of Churches Assembly held in Busan, South Korea, in late 2013. The Amnesty petition site notes that South Korea is “the world’s top jailer of conscientious objectors” and that the nation “imprisons more people for their conscientious objection than the rest of the world put together. The country has held at least 10,000 conscientious objectors in prison since 2000 for their refusal of military service, the largest number in the world.” In South Korea there is no legal provision for alternative civilian service for conscientious objectors, and military service is compulsory for all young men. COs who object face imprisonment, life-long criminal records, and the social stigma of being “unpatriotic.” Find the Amnesty petition and more information at .

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