Brethren Bits for Oct. 15, 2015

Powerhouse regional youth conference 2015 is held at Camp Mack. Dates are Nov. 21-22. Rich Troyer is the speaker on the theme, “An Attitude of Gratitude” (Colossians 2:7b). Find out more at

— The Mission and Ministry Board of the Church of the Brethren holds its fall meeting at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on Oct. 15-19. The meeting will be led by chair Donald Fitzkee and chair-elect Connie Burk Davis. On the board’s agenda are adoption of a budget for the denomination’s ministries in 2016, and a recommendation from an Ad Hoc Mission Philosophy Study Committee, among other items of business and numerous reports. A special item of business at this meeting is the dedication of the Donald Miller papers, which have been donated to the Brethren Historical Library and Archives. Miller is a former general secretary of the Church of the Brethren who also has served as a professor at Bethany Theological Seminary. A full report from the board meeting will appear in Newsline next week.

— Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, will give a seminar at Bridgewater (Va.) College’s Forum for Brethren Studies on Nov. 2, starting at 3:30 p.m. Noffsinger will reflect on his term of service in leadership to the Church of the Brethren. The event takes place in Room 109 of Bowman Hall and will include a question-and-answer session and discussion. The public is invited.

— Bethany Theological Seminary has posted worship materials for this year’s Bethany Sunday, to be observed on Oct. 18, at . The webpage offers worship elements, bulletin inserts, a “moment in mission,” and a prayer calendar, which may be downloaded, printed, and copied. For questions or to request printed materials, contact Monica Rice, coordinator of congregational and alumni/ae relations, at or 765-983-1823.

— In its most recent newsletter, On Earth Peace notes that “interns now outnumber staff.” The newsletter introduced the interns who are working with On Earth Peace this fall: Madeline Dulabaum is serving as newsletter editor; Emmett Eldred is social media organizer and the agency’s primary contributor on Facebook; Ellie Puhalla is children’s peace coordinator; Sarandon Smith is events manager for Church of the Brethren conferences and will be working to plan for the 2016 Annual Conference and district conferences; Sarah Ullom-Minnich is youth peace coordinator with a focus on youth peace retreats and contributions to DunkerPunks podcasts; and Zoë Van Nostrand is the racial justice organizer. “On Earth Peace offers paid internships in positions across the organization for college students and recent graduates,” the newsletter reported. Find more information including current openings and application instructions at .

— This is Food Week of Action for churches and related humanitarian organizations. The Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness invites congregations to “celebrate the good work being done to establish food security and food sovereignty around the world while also recognizing a call to action to collectively move forward in this work,” said an announcement. The 2015 resources for the week are co-sponsored by the Office of Public Witness. The resources encourage churches to engage in discussion on a variety of topics from the importance of healthy soils to farm worker solidarity, take part in actions such as the Zero Hunger Challenge from the United Nations, or become involved in a community garden or farm. A website for the 2015 resources is hosted by the Presbyterian Mission Agency at . More resources are available from the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance at . Also, congregations interested in creating or working with a community garden are encouraged to visit a nearby “Going to the Garden” congregation. Find a map of churches that participate with community gardens at .

— Grossnickle Church of the Brethren in Myersville, Md., on Sunday observes its 10th anniversary with a Foods Resource Bank (FRB) growing project, as well as the FRB’s 15th anniversary. The “Field of Hope” growing project is a joint effort along with other area congregations. The annual Harvest Celebration for the growing project takes place Sunday afternoon, Oct. 18, at 2:30 p.m. For more information go to .

— Flooding has affected Smith River Church of the Brethren in Virlina District, located near Woolwine, Va. The church has been cleaning up after having two feet of water fill its basement, and it lost a picnic shelter to water damage. However, also lost from the church property was a historic covered bridge. The bridge has been a landmark in Patrick County and, according to news reports, was one of the few remaining covered bridges in the state of Virginia. The Bob White Covered Bridge had stood for 94 years, and was a registered Virginia Historic Landmark, according to Roanoke’s WDBJ Channel 7. A group has begun raising money to restore the bridge. Pastor Danny Gilley is quoted in one of the two WDBJ7 reports expressing his strong faith in these words: “Things will work out. You know, God’s gonna take care of us.” Find the two WDBJ7 reports online at and at .

— Oct. 17 is the district conference date for Western Pennsylvania District. Location will be Camp Harmony in Hooversville, Pa. This will be the 149th annual district conference for Western Pennsylvania.

— “Travel the horn of Africa,” said an announcement from Western Plains District, publicizing an upcoming tour led by Herb and Jeanne Smith, widely traveled members of the district who have taught at McPherson (Kan.) College. The couple are leading an annual trip to the “New Jerusalem” of Africa: Lalibela, Ethiopia. The tour will “visit 11 rock-hewn churches carved into the earth, worship in a cave monastery with monks and priests, converse with the Orthodox Patriarch in his mansion, assemble PET wheelchairs for victims of polio, and enjoy the largest outdoor market in Africa,” the announcement said. Dates are Jan. 6-13, 2016. Brochures are available, contact or 620-241-7128.

— “Come to the Well, Partake of Living Water, and Depart for Ministry” is the title of a retreat to be held Jan. 11-12, 2016, at Camp Swatara near Bethel, Pa. The retreat is a cooperative effort of the Springs of Living Water initiative for church renewal in partnership with Atlantic Northeast District, Camp Swatara, and Bethany Theological Seminary. The event combines a day of Sabbath rest on Monday, Jan. 11, with a 19th annual Pastors and Church Leaders Conference on Tuesday, Jan. 12. “On Monday, pastors and ministers will gather for Sabbath rest with professional growth, a Sabbath walk, fellowship, rest, campfire, and vespers,” said an announcement from the Springs initiative. “Tuesday is for pastors and church leaders on the topic of seeking the mind of Christ in spiritual discernment and decision making. The vision of this two-day retreat is to have our spiritual lives restored and be commissioned for renewed ministry for vital churches.” The registration fee includes meals and usage of space. The fee for one day is $40, and the fee for two days is $80. Continuing education credit is available for an additional $10. A .4 credit is offered for Monday, Jan. 11, and a .6 credit is offered for Tuesday, Jan. 12. Overnight accommodations at Camp Swatara are available. Pastors, ministers, and church leaders are all welcome. The registration deadline is Dec. 28. Find a flier at . A registration form is online at . For questions contact David Young at or 717-615-4515.

— A “Celebrate Curt Rowland Open House” was held at Camp Alexander Mack near Milford, Ind., on Sunday, Oct. 11. The event celebrated Rowland’s completion of 13 years of service as Camp Mack program director. An announcement in the South Central Indiana District newsletter reported that he will be moving on to other ministries later this month.

— A Brethren Heritage Festival is planned at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College during the school’s Homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 17, from 1-4:30 p.m. Activities will include games, crafts, displays, snacks, quilting, and a hymn sing at 4:15 p.m. The Elizabethtown College Alumni Peace Fellowship will have a display.

— The University of La Verne, Calif., is holding a Fasnacht Lecture and Dinner on the evening of Oct. 22, with speaker Rabbi Eric Yoffie. The lecture is part of a series made possible by the Harold J. Fasnacht Chair in Religion. The Fall 2015 lecture features Yoffie, “a writer, lecturer, and internationally known religious leader,” said an announcement from the Religion and Philosophy Department. “A bold, compelling, and inspiring speaker, he has presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos and has appeared on Fox news, CNN, and many other news outlets. He has lectured on university campuses throughout the United States, and writes regularly for Time, The Huffington Post, The Jerusalem Post and the Israeli daily Haaretz.” The lecture topic will be “Immigration, Israel/Palestine, Sexual identity: Finding Solutions Through Interfaith Dialogue.” The lecture takes place in the Morgan Auditorium at 7 p.m. on Oct. 22.

— Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is asking for prayer that civil war will not break out in Iraqi Kurdistan. “The government has not paid civil servants’ salaries for three months,” explained the prayer request. “Demonstrations across the region have left five dead, and dozens injured, and dozens detained by the secret police. The ruling KDP party has forced the Gorran (Change) party to leave the government and the capital. The majority of those who demand changes to the current situation do not condone violence. They call for the changes to come through nonviolent means. Pray that those voices and actions prevail.” Find out more about the CPT work in Iraqi Kurdistan at .

— The National Vigil for Victims of Gun Violence has become an annual observance, held near the anniversary date of the murders of schoolchildren and teachers at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Conn. The vigil is sponsored by the Newtown Foundation and by Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence. The 2015 national vigil has been announced for Dec. 9, a date near the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings. The vigil will be held in Washington, D.C., starting at 7 p.m. at St. Marks Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill. Church and other groups are invited to hold their own vigils across the nation from Dec. 10-14. Reserve a seat at the national vigil online at (financial assistance to attend will be available for immediate family members of victims and survivors of gun violence, said the announcement). To submit a photo of a loved one lost to gun violence for the 2015 Tribute Video at the national vigil, go to . For a “Tool Kit” to help with planning of vigils contact .