Brethren Bits for May 27, 2015

Two courses that offer credit at Bethany Theological Seminary
will be hosted by Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC) at Church of the Brethren-related colleges this fall. “New Testament Foundations of Ministry” will be held at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., and “Brethren Beliefs and Practices” at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. Both courses are on Sept. 11-12, Oct. 2-3, and Nov. 6-7. “New Testament Foundations of Ministry” is taught by Dan Ulrich, Wieand Professor of New Testament Studies at Bethany Seminary. “Brethren Beliefs and Practices” is taught by Denise Kettering-Lane, assistant professor of Brethren Studies at Bethany Seminary. Participants may earn 3.0 graduate credits or audit for 3.0 continuing education credits. Registration is due July 15. Contact Bethany Seminary admissions at or call 800-287-8822, or contact the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center at or 717-361-1450 or visit .

— Remembrance: Gerald Neher, a former Church of the Brethren mission worker in Nigeria, died on May 25 at the Cedars in McPherson, Kan. He and wife, Lois, lived in McPherson since his retirement from teaching. Since the April 2014 abduction of the 200-plus schoolgirls from Chibok by Boko Haram Islamist insurgents, Neher became known for authoring perhaps the only book published in English about Chibok and its people. The book, which Neher wrote with his wife, Lois, also may be the only scholarly study of Chibok society, culture, traditions, and history. The Nehers worked with the Church of the Brethren Mission in Nigeria from 1954-1968, serving in Chibok and at Kulp Bible School. While at Chibok, they helped expand the size of the school building, making it possible for the first girls to attend the school. The Nehers lived and worked in Chibok early in their missionary career, and made a thorough study of those among whom they lived, including numerous interviews. The book, “Life Among the Chibok of Nigeria,” was published in 2011 offering an extensive record of what the Nehers learned about the Chibok during their time there. They “listened to the elders speak about their land, their lineage, their ethos, their farming, religious beliefs, kinship, and much more,” according to a description of the book, “so that the Chibok people would have a record of their past and their present as devastating changes have overtaken them.” A follow-up book featured photographs of the people of northeast Nigeria, under the title “Glimpses of Life in Northeast Nigeria 1954-1968,” and was published in 2014. After the abductions of the Chibok schoolgirls, the Nehers were interviewed by Michael Daly for “The Daily Beast.” In the interview, “We Built a School in Boko Haram’s Heartland,” Daly noted that “the very opposite of terrorists arrived in Chibok more than a half-century before the world came to know this remote Nigerian village as the place where maniacal members of Boko Haram kidnapped more than 270 girls and burned down their school. While the terrorist group struck in recent days intending only evil, Gerald and Lois Neher of Kansas came to Chibok in 1954 with the purpose of doing as much good as they were able. They helped make it possible for girls to attend school there in the first place.” See . A memorial service for Gerald Neher is planned for Saturday, May 30, in McPherson.

— Kathleen Nofziger Yeakey of Goshen, Ind., has been named executive director of the Anabaptist Disabilities Network (ADNet). The Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries is one of the partners in ADNet. Nofziger Yeakey has more than 20 years of experience working in development and public relations with non-profit organizations, and also is executive director of Chain Reaction Bicycle Project Inc. in Goshen, a community bicycle shop and bicycle transportation advocacy organization. She is a member of North Goshen Mennonite Church. She began working half-time in ADNet’s office in Elkhart, Ind., on May 18. Organized in 2003, ADNet is an advocacy ministry committed to supporting congregations, families, and persons touched by disabilities, and nurturing inclusive communities. Rebekah Flores serves as the Church of the Brethren ADNet associate. Contact ADNet at 877-214-9838 or or visit .

— The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership seeks a coordinator of Spanish Language Ministry Training Programs for the Church of the Brethren, to fill a quarter-time position. The primary functions of the position are to administer the Seminario Biblico Anabautista Hispano (SeBAH-CoB) educational program, design and administer the new Spanish-language track of the Education for a Shared Ministry (EFSM) educational program, and work with various constituencies to provide leadership for Spanish-language ministry training programs. Interested candidates should possess the following qualifications and abilities: five years of effective leadership in pastoral ministry, ordination in the Church of the Brethren, fluency in Spanish and English both in oral and written communicatio, a master of divinity degree, a record of regular continuing education experiences, residence in Richmond, Ind., or the surrounding area preferred. A more complete job description is available from the executive assistant to the president. Applications will be received and reviewed immediately, and will be accepted until the position is filled. Send a resume, letter of interest, and contact information for three references to: Shaye Isaacs, Executive Assistant to the President, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374; or by e-mail to . The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership is a ministry training partnership of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Theological Seminary.

— The last webinar in the “After Christendom” series for 2014-15 is offered on June 2, from 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Eastern time). The webinar titled “God After Christendom?” is based on a book by the same name. Authors and webinar presenters Brian Haymes and Kyle Gingerich Hiebert will discuss why Christians cannot sustain a life of peacemaking and discipleship without talking about God, said an announcement of the event. “Haymes and Gingerich Hiebert are committed to radical practice and show how the great tradition of Western theology enables this. Humbly and biblically they think about suffering in light of the Christlike God and peacemaking in light of the Trinity. Haymes and Gingerich Hiebert give participants new (old) language to talk about the God, who is known in history and mystery, wonder and worship, and above all in Jesus Christ.” The webinar is free. Ministers who attend the live session may earn 0.1 continuing education credit. Registration is at . For more information contact Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices for the Church of the Brethren and a member of the Congregational Life Ministries staff, at 800-323-8039 ext. 343 or .

Photo by Neal Fitze
Carl and Roxane Hill gave presentations about Nigeria Crisis Response to audiences in Ohio in late April. The Hills were hosted by Troy (Ohio) Church of the Brethren and the Brethren Heritage Center in Brookville, Ohio, on April 29-30.

— Nigeria Crisis Response co-directors Carl and Roxane Hill were hosted by Troy (Ohio) Church of the Brethren and the Brethren Heritage Center in Brookville, Ohio, on April 29-30. The Hills recently returned from working with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and “spoke of their observations of conditions among our Brothers and Sisters in Nigeria,” reported Larry Heisey. The Hills’ presentations reviewed the situation in northeast Nigeria where the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency has carried out violent attacks against communities in which many of the one million-plus EYN members and other Christians and moderate Muslims lived. Those at the Ohio gatherings learned of the effects of the violence on the Nigerian church, including the burning of church buildings, the killing of pastors and other members, the kidnapping of women and children, and how the violence has driven many thousands of people into the central and southern parts of Nigeria seeking refuge. “Attendance at these two events totaled approximately 135,” Heisey reported. “Approximately 60 people were treated to a typical Nigerian dinner at the Brethren Heritage Center, prepared by John and Pat Krabacher, New Carlisle Church of the Brethren, prior to the evening program. Donations to the Nigerian Crisis Fund from the two events totaled over $2,800. We continue to pray for our EYN Sisters and Brothers as they cope with this crisis.”

— Bethany Theological Seminary will be offering “Explore Your Call,” a program for high school students, on July 24-Aug. 3 on the seminary’s campus in Richmond, Ind. “Students have the opportunity to study theology in the classroom, then head out into the world to shadow pastors and do real-life ministry,” said an announcement. “Faith and vocation will be explored through a combination of classes taught by Bethany professors, congregational visits, service projects, personal and spiritual enrichment, and recreation. All qualified applicants will receive a full scholarship to Explore Your Call. The only cost to participants is their transportation to and from Richmond,” the announcement said. For more information and an online application see .

— On May 21, Emily James began a bicycle trek as part of an ongoing On Earth Peace campaign “3,000 Miles for Peace.” Previously, On Earth Peace staff member Bob Gross trekked 3,000 miles for peace by foot as the first effort in the campaign. “3,000 Miles for Peace” honors the late Paul Ziegler, and his commitment to peacemaking. Ziegler was a McPherson (Kan.) College student who had a dream of biking across the country for peace, but tragically died in a bicycle accident before he got the chance to make his journey.

— Christian musician and singer/songwriter Ken Medema will present the Sunday morning worship service at York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren on May 31 at 10:30 a.m. Medema has been a popular presenter at Church of the Brethren conferences over the years, appearing at several National Youth Conferences, and is one of the major presenters at this year’s Annual Conference in Tampa, Fla., in July. “All are welcome!” said an invitation from York First. A free-will offering will be taken during the service.

— Madison Avenue Church of the Brethren in York, Pa., hosts a benefit event to raise funds for the Nigeria Crisis Response on May 31, at 7 p.m. “Come for an evening of Praise and Worship led by the Madison Avenue Praise Team and Friends,” said an invitation. “We will lift our voices to praise our Lord and Savior, and we will join together in prayer and giving generously in a free will offering for our Brothers and Sisters in Nigeria.”

— An afternoon of “fun, food, faith” was held by the Sugar Valley Church of the Brethren Youth Group in Eastville, Pa., to raise funds and awareness about the crisis in Nigeria.

— June 13, at 6 p.m., is the 2015 Kick Off Banquet for the Brethren Disaster Relief Auction. The family style dinner and concert will be held at Yoder’s Restaurant in New Holland, Pa., featuring the Tribute Quartet.

— Pacific Northwest District’s disaster response ministry is planning a summer “build” to construct two houses near Brewster, Wash. They will replace homes that were totally destroyed in the Carlton Complex Fire last summer. Volunteers are needed. Housing and meals are provided. Contact Frosty Wilkinson at .

— On June 6, guests are invited to “Sip Back and Enjoy” at Camp Eder’s third Tea-Lightful Celebration. The camp is located near Fairfield, Pa. The tea is from 12 noon-3 p.m. Cost is $35 per person. Men and women and youth age 12 and older are welcome. The event features afternoon tea with inspirational speaker Sharon Weisser and live music performed by Celtic Harpist Sharon Knowles. Please bring your own tea cup. The tea will consist of several homemade courses including salad, scones, savory, and a sweet course, and three different types of tea served throughout the afternoon. There also will be vendors and door prizes. Contact the camp at 717-642-8256.

— Five students at Bridgewater (Va.) College are receiving 2015 Summer Christian Experience Scholarships to spend 10 weeks working at Church of the Brethren camps. According to a release, each student was awarded $2,800 from the scholarship program. Receiving scholarships are: Emely D’Oleo, a freshman biology major with a minor in Spanish and the daughter Mr. and Mrs. Daniel D’Oleo of Roanoke, Va., who will serve at Camp Bethel in Fincastle, Va.; Lauren Flora, a freshman communication studies major and daughter of Dawn Flora of Bridgewater, Va., who will serve at Camp Mardela in Denton, Md.; Imani Harris, a sophomore communication studies major and daughter of Rabah Penn of Ashland, Va., and Michael Harris of Smyrna, Ga., who will serve at Shepherd’s Spring in Sharpsburg, Md.; Jacob Potts, a freshman history and sociology double major and son of Martha Tumer of Norfolk, Va., and Mark Potts of Chester, Va., who will serve at Shepherd’s Spring; and Emily Strom, a sophomore liberal studies major from Blacksburg, Va., who will serve at Brethren Woods in Keezletown, Va.  The Summer Christian Experience Scholarship Program memorializes a number of outstanding church leaders. It enables students to gain valuable experience and training in various forms of Christian ministry while providing useful service to church-related camps. For more about the college go to .

— Annual Conference moderator David Steele is featured by “Brethren Voices,” the community television program of Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren, in its June show. He is interviewed by host Brent Carlson for the 120th monthly television program of “Brethren Voices.” Steele has been involved with the Church of the Brethren his entire life. A graduate of McPherson (Kan.) College and Bethany Theological Seminary, he has held pastorates in California and Pennsylvania and is currently district executive minister for Middle Pennsylvania District of the Church of the Brethren. He will be presiding over the 223rd Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren. “Brethren Voices has featured the past eight Annual Conference moderators since 2007 when Belita Mitchell, pastor of First Church of the Brethren, Harrisburg, Pa., began a tradition” of being on the show, said producer Ed Groff in a note to Newsline. In May, “Brethren Voices” has featured EcoFaith Recovery, a broad network of faith-based volunteer leaders of the Pacific Northwest who feel that it’s time for bold action to save the Earth and its peoples. Six of the organization’s leaders including Matt Guynn, a staff member of On Earth Peace, discuss the EcoFaith Recovery’s Beyond Fossil Fuels Initiative as it relates to a huge propane terminal proposed for establishment within the city limits of Portland. For copies of these programs, contact Ed Groff at . More than 30 community access stations have broadcast “Brethren Voices” and 60-plus programs can be viewed at .

— As the tragic situation of conflict in South Sudan moves into its 18th month, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) continue calling for an end to the senseless conflict, the WCC announced in a release. “Human rights are being abused at every level, both on the battlefield and in peaceful areas. People are being killed, raped, and tortured. The humanitarian situation is deteriorating. South Sudan, a rich and fertile land, should be the bread basket of Africa yet instead is relying on foreign aid,” said the release. In a statement issued in Juba on May 26, the SSCC challenged “the military and political leaders of all sides, most of whom call themselves Christians: why are you not listening to the voice of your church leaders, who echo the voice of the ordinary citizens of South Sudan?” The statement also said: “Children are being recruited into armed groups. Looting is endemic. People are being arrested for no reason. Security organs appear to be acting as if they are above the law. The space for citizens and civil society to speak out appears to be narrowing.” The church leaders concluded their statement: “We will take more proactive steps to try to achieve peace and reconciliation for the people of South Sudan. Any long term solution to the conflict must take account of the needs of the ordinary people, not the agenda of the political and military elite.” Commented WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit, “The church leaders are playing a significant role to bring peace to South Sudan. The churches are representing the people and the civil society and they speak the truth and the true will of all the people of a real and just peace for South Sudan…. Together as the South Sudan Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches, we will convey the message we have as one worldwide fellowship of churches: Stop the war!” Find the May 26 statement from the South Sudan Council of Churches at .

— Groups opposed to gun violence are inviting supporters to wear orange on June 2 to symbolize support for life and to honor those whose lives have been destroyed by gun violence. “Orange is the color hunters wear to alert other hunters they’re there. It’s a color that symbolizes the value of human life,” said an announcement. June 2 has been designated National Gun Violence Awareness Day. The effort is being led by Everytown for Gun Safety

[gt-link lang="en" label="English" widget_look="flags_name"]