Brethren Bits for Oct. 2, 2015

— Remembrance: Lydia Walker, a former national director of the Church of the Brethren’s Cooperative Disaster Child Care program, (now Children’s Disaster Services, or CDS), died on Tuesday, Sept. 29. “Lydia Walker was a beloved leader of the Children’s Disaster Services program in the ’90s and early 2000s,” wrote current CDS associate director Kathy Fry-Miller. “She and Roy Winter, new Brethren Disaster Ministries director at the time, led volunteer groups through the Sept. 11 child care response.” Information about services will be shared as it becomes available. “Please hold Lydia’s family and friends in your prayers,” said a request from the Office of the General Secretary.

— Remembrance: Gerhard Ernst Spiegler, 86, a former president of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, died on Aug. 24. He served as the college’s president from 1985-96. During his tenure he oversaw the building of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, as well as other renovations, demolitions, and new buildings on the campus. His tenure saw the then brand-new High Library receive a digital upgrade, a first version of the Pledge of Integrity instated in the Student Handbook, and the first Environmental Science major. Previous to his leadership at Elizabethtown, he was provost and acting president at Haverford College, taught at the University of California in Berkeley, was provost of Temple University, and was a visiting professor at the University of Hamburg in Germany. Honors he received during his career included a University of Chicago Distinguished Research Award, and the Danforth Foundation lauded him for excellence in teaching. He was the author of several books that spanned subjects from theology and ideology to world politics and interfaith dialogue. When he retired, to honor his contributions to the college, Elizabethtown trustees and members of the college community established an endowment to support Prestigious Scholarships. Memorial gifts are received to the Salvation Army, the United Nations Refugee Agency, and the American Heart Association.

— Remembrance: Gordon W. Bucher, 89, a former executive minister of the Church of the Brethren’s Northern Ohio District, died on Sept. 28 at Timbercrest Healthcare Center in North Manchester, Ind. He is reportedly had the longest tenure of any district executive in the denomination, having served Northern Ohio District for some 33 years, from 1958-91. He was born at Astoria, Ill., on June 20, 1926, to Harry and Ethel (David) Bucher. In the summer of 1945, he was a “sea-going cowboy” on the first ship to take 500 horses to Patras, Greece, from New Orleans for UNRRA, Heifer Project, and the Church of the Brethren. He married Darlene Fair in 1947. In the late 1940s and ’50s he worked as a teacher, and as a pastor, serving churches in Indiana and Illinois. He held degrees from Manchester College (now Manchester University) in North Manchester, Ind., Bethany Theological Seminary, and Northwestern University. Following retirement, the Buchers moved to North Manchester. Surviving him are his wife Darlene Bucher; sons Barry (Diana Eberly) Bucher of North Manchester, Brent (Janet Board) Bucher of Fresno, Ohio, and Brad (Therese Daley) Bucher of Plymouth, Ind.; grandchildren and great grandchildren. Family and friends may call on Friday, Oct. 2, from 6-8 p.m. at McKee Mortuary in North Manchester. The funeral service will be held Saturday, Oct. 3, at 2 p.m. at Manchester Church of the Brethren. Burial following the service will be in the Oaklawn Cemetery, North Manchester. Memorial gifts are received to Northern Ohio District, Manchester University, Timbercrest Senior Living Community, and Manchester Church of the Brethren. Condolences may be sent online at .

— General secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger has signed on to a letter to President Obama on behalf of the Church of the Brethren, addressing the growing need for nonviolent ways to address the current refugee crisis. Noffsinger was one of a number of church and religious leaders to sign the letter. According to a communication from the Office of Public Witness, the letter builds on the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference statement of 1982, which calls for the United States “To support and harbor refugees from war, oppression, famine, and natural disasters,” as the letter requests the US government to invite more refugees into the United States, decrease military involvement, and instead opt for diplomatic transformation and increased humanitarian aid. The letter encourages increased action in Syria to solve the root problems of the conflict, in addition to requesting aid for those displaced by the conflict, seeking to emphasize dissolving the source of the refugee crisis as a nonviolent, diplomatic approach reorienting US foreign policy in the Middle East away from militarism. Other involved in the effort to write and send the letter included the Mennonite Central Committee and the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy. Find the letter and list of those who have signed it at .

— Webinars and more webinars! A number of upcoming webinars are being offered that are of interest to Brethren:
The Office of Public Witness is publicizing a webinar on the federal budget titled “What’s Happening and Where Is All the Money Going?” on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 3 p.m. (Eastern time). Leadership will be provided by a number of ecumenical partners including the United Church of Christ, Friends Committee on National Legislation, and the American Friends Service Committee, among others. Go to .
There is a new webinar series on the topic, “The Heart of Anabaptism,” offered with Anabaptist-related groups in the United Kingdom in cooperation with the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries. The seven webinars in the series will explore the “seven core convictions of the UK Anabaptist Network.” So far, the first three webinars in the series have been announced: on Oct. 22 at 2:30 p.m. (Eastern time) led by Joshua T. Searle, tutor in Theology and Public Thought and assistant director of Postgraduate Research at Spurgeon’s College in England; on Nov. 23 at 2:30 p.m. (Eastern) led by Alexandra Ellish, a development worker with the Mennonite Trust and UK Anabaptist Network; on Dec. 2 at 2:30 p.m. (Eastern) led by Andrew Suderman, director of the Anabaptist Network in South Africa. The seven core convictions of the Anabaptist Network can be found at .

— Every year, the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness works with ecumenical partners to organize Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice (EAD). EAD is an event that invites Christians from all over the country to come to Washington, D.C., to learn about a specific area of public policy. The event concludes with EAD’s Lobby Day, when a prepared legislative “Ask” is taken to members of Congress by gathering participants. EAD 2016 is entitled “Lift Every Voice! Racism, Class, and Power” and will take place April 15-18, 2016, at the DoubleTree Crystal City Hotel in Arlington, Va. Visit for more information and to register for this opportunity for Christian citizenship.

— Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Port Republic, Va., will celebrate 175 years as a congregation on Sunday, Oct. 18. According to an announcement in the Shenandoah District newsletter, the 10 a.m. worship service will feature leadership from Jim Rhen, who served as student pastor at Mill Creek in 1984. During the Sunday school hour at 11 a.m., children will participate in a scavenger hunt to discover historical objects in the church and adults will learn about Brethren Valley migration and the start of the Mill Creek congregation in a presentation led by Paul Roth, retired pastor at Linville Creek Church of the Brethren. After a carry-in meal, participants will enjoy “A Walk with the Witnesses,” which includes a tour of the church cemetery and stories of faith and witness of former church leaders. Historical displays will be featured in the library and gathering area. All are invited to join in the celebration.

— Grottoes (Va.) Church of the Brethren celebrates its 100th anniversary with a special worship service at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 18. Randy Simmons, pastor of Mt. Vernon Church of the Brethren, will bring the message. Special music will be provided by Southern Grace. A fellowship meal will follow.

— Stover Memorial Church of the Brethren is holding a 70th anniversary celebration on Saturday, Oct. 17, at 3 p.m. “Please join us in this important celebration in the life of our congregation,” said an invitation from pastor Barbara Wise Lewczak. The church has been in existence from 1945 through 2015, having started out with 50 charter members meeting at the YMCA of Des Moines, Iowa. It moved to the current location in the Oak Park and Highland Park neighborhoods of Des Moines in 1949, after having been named “Congregation of the Year” by the denomination in 1947. Its name, Stover Memorial, was chosen in honor of missionaries Wilbur and Mary Stover. Among the church’s first pastors were Harvey S. Kline, accompanied by spouse Ruth, and Dale Brown, accompanied by his wife Lois, “and many other gifted pastors and their families” have served over the years, Lewczak noted. “We continue to plant and water knowing that God will provide the growth in God’s time. We provide ministry to our community through the Food Pantry, DMARC, Lap Quilts to care centers, hospitals, the homeless, shut ins–to name a few of the ways we try to live our lives in Jesus’ example, Simply, Peacefully, Together.” The anniversary speakers are Tim Button-Harrison, Northern Plains District executive; Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, district moderator; pastor Lewczak; Leadership Team members Jess Hoffert and Thomas McMullin; and long-time member Gene Wallace. Music will be brought by Rhonda Kiefer of Dallas Center Church of the Brethren, the Hoffert family, and Doris Covalt. Refreshments and sharing will follow the program. The Stover Memorial Leadership Team includes Harley Wise, chair Doris Covalt, Jess Hoffert, Thomas McMullin, secretary Marilyn Richards, and the pastor. Friends of the church who cannot attend are invited to send memories and/or photos to the church. For more information contact 515-240-0060 or .

— Community Church of the Brethren in Hutchinson, Kan., made the “Hutchinson News” on Sept. 25 for its leadership of a renewed local CROP Walk focused on fighting hunger. “A group of local churches wants to educate Reno County residents about hunger and walk to end it,” said the article, in part. “The Reno County CROP Walk is slated for 1:15 p.m. Oct. 4 at Rice Park. The Community Church of the Brethren and several other Hutchinson congregations are leading the renewed effort to raise money for US and global hunger.” Find the article at .

— Atlantic Northeast District holds its district conference this weekend, on Oct. 3, at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College’s Leffler Chapel.

— The 10th Annual Western Pennsylvania District Auction is planned for Saturday, Nov. 7, at Camp Harmony near Hooversville, Pa. The event includes auctions, food including fresh baked pies, and more. This year, an announcement from the district noted that 10 percent of the auction profits will go to the Nigeria Crisis Fund.

— West Marva District has honored the following ordained ministers for their years of service: Chester Fisher 45 years, Roger Leatherman 25 years, Philip Matthews 10 years, Kevin Staggs 10 years, Barry Adkins 10 years, Brian Moreland 10 years, Charles Twigg 10 years, Mike Bernard 5 years, Terry Gower 5 years, and Sherri Ziler 5 years.

— Camp Bethel has canceled its annual Heritage Day Festival, which was scheduled for Oct. 3, because of concerns about weather, safety, and participation. The camp is located near Fincastle, Va. “However, on Oct. 17 the Summerdean Church of the Brethren (6604 Plantation Rd, Roanoke) will host Heritage Day Light from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. for any congregation wishing to sell accumulated crafts and foods,” said an announcement from the camp. Contact Rick Beard at by Oct. 8 to participate. Also, apple butter will be made at Camp Bethel overnight tonight, Friday, Oct. 2, and canned and sold hot on Saturday morning, Oct. 3 in Deer Field Gym from 9-9:30 a.m. Cost is $5 per pint and $10 per quart. “Big thanks to each congregation holding an event or offering in honor of Camp Bethel,” continued the announcement. “Heritage Day is our most important fundraiser of the year, providing over 6 percent of our total budget. Thank you to ALL the hundreds of persons who have already committed so much time and effort into this event. Camp Bethel is very blessed to have so many wonderfully supportive congregations and families!” To make a donation to Camp Bethel’s ministries in honor of Heritage Day, go to .

— Bridgewater (Va.) College will open its new Center for Engaged Learning with a reception on Oct. 14, said a release from the school. “The Center for Engaged Learning, located at Third and East Broad streets, unites three important institutional initiatives at Bridgewater–the Zane D. Showker Institute for Responsible Leadership, the Kline-Bowman Institute for Creative Peacebuilding, and the new Institute for Teaching and Learning. In addition, several existing programs under the office of academic affairs, including the Foundations in Liberal Arts (FILA) general education program, the Center for Cultural Engagement, study abroad, endowed lectures and convocations, and the Flory Honors Program will also find a home in the Center for Engaged Learning,” the release said. Jamie Frueh, professor of history and political science, is the director of the new center.

— The Global Women’s Project Steering Committee was hosted for its fall meeting by Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill. The project “invites all women to live in solidarity with women around the world and seeks to empower women and girls in their own communities in living a life of dignity and respect,” said an announcement. The meeting was held Sept. 25-27 to discuss the work of the project and do shared discernment of continuing woman’s projects around the world as well as within the United States. “We covet your thoughts as we review project updates, discuss donations and the stewardship of what has been generously contributed  to GWP,” the announcement said. “Gratitude is said to be the highest possible emotion we can experience, it is an experience of love. The Global Women’s Project Steering Committee experiences gratitude for your care and support. We dwell in it and allow it to nourish our spirits.”

— The School of the Americas (SOA) Watch is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the movement to close the military training school with a special event on Nov. 20-22. In past years, peace studies student groups from various Church of the Brethren-related colleges and universities and other Brethren have regularly joined in the annual SOA Watch vigil outside the gates of Fort Benning. This year the special anniversary event will also call for the closure of the Stewart Detention Center, “one of the largest private for-profit immigrant prisons in the country,” said the announcement. “It is incumbent upon us to continue making the connections between SOA violence and the root causes of migration. Join us as we continue to denounce the failed US policies, which have left a brutal legacy of impunity and human rights violations throughout the hemisphere. Since 1990, our movement has brought together torture survivors, human rights defenders, students, teachers, families, inter-faith groups, labor activists, migrants, and immigrant rights activists for a weekend of collective action, education, commemoration, and solidarity across all fronts of the struggle.” For more information go to or call 202-234-3440.

— War Resisters International is organizing a 2nd International Week of Action Against the Militarization of Youth from Nov. 14-20. “The week is a concerted effort of anti-militarist action across the world to raise awareness of, and challenge, the ways young people are militarized, and to give voice to alternatives,” said an announcement. “Any planned activity can be added to this international action to show solidarity to ending a global culture of war, even if it is just your local event!” Find out more at .

— Leaders of major religious faiths and interfaith networks have joined forces with some politicians and city mayors, urging world leaders to commit to nuclear abolition and replace nuclear deterrence with shared security approaches to conflicts, according to a recent article from Inter-Press Service (IPS). “A joint statement, presented to Mogens Lykketoft, the President of the UN General Assembly, calls specifically on world leaders to negotiate ‘a nuclear weapons convention or framework of agreements that eliminate nuclear weapons,’ a proposal advanced by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and supported by over 130 countries,” said the report, in part. “The joint statement was adopted in Hiroshima on August 6th–the 70th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of that city, and is endorsed by religious leaders, mayors and parliamentarians from Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States, and Zimbabwe.” Find the full report at .

— Mutual Kumquat is featured in the October edition of the community television program “Brethren Voices” produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren. “So, what’s a Mutual Kumquat?” said an announcement from producer Ed Groff. “Mutual Kumquat is widely known in Brethren circles as an inspirational group of musicians who are known for their creativity. Mutual Kumquat has regularly performed during the past 15 years at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conferences and National Youth Conferences and have traveled across country to perform for numerous congregations, colleges, and festivals. Over the years, they have recorded five albums.” Also featured in the October edition of Brethren Voices are Brethren Volunteer Service workers Debbie Kossmann of Duisburg, Germany, who is serving at Sisters of the Road in Portland, and Anna Zakelj of Modoc, Ind., who is a volunteer at SnowCap Community Ministries serving families of East Multnomah County, Ore. DVD copies of the program are available, contact . Many of the Brethren Voices shows can be viewed at . Become a subscriber and receive monthly notices of newly released programs.