Brethren Bits for Oct. 22, 2015

This Fall, both Middle Pennsylvania and Western Pennsylvania District Conferences hosted Nigeria Crisis Response co-directors Carl and Roxane Hill. During the busy schedules for both districts, time was set aside for an update on the progress of the relief efforts in Nigeria. At the Middle Pennsylvania conference the theme was taken from Ephesians 3:20, “More Than You Can Imagine.” At the conclusion of the presentation the whole assembly posed for a picture offering a prayerful gesture in support of Nigerian sisters and brothers (see photo above). A week later, Western Pennsylvania District Conference also posed for a picture at the conclusion of the Nigeria report (see photo below). The Western Pennsylvania conference theme was “Wonderful Grace of Jesus,” and one of the highlights was the sermon offered by retiring pastor and moderator Vince Cable, who is seen in the foreground of the picture. The two conferences showed their ongoing support of the relief effort by taking an offering for the Nigeria Crisis Fund. Photos provided by Carl and Roxane Hill.

Remembrance: Tracy Stoddart Primozich, who had served as director of admissions at Bethany Theological Seminary, died on Oct. 15. She had been under doctors’ care since July of 2014. Her employment at the seminary in Richmond, Ind., concluded at the end of August due to ongoing health issues. She had begun her employment at the seminary on Oct. 28, 2011. “For nearly four years she traveled the country sharing news of the seminary’s good work and seeking individuals called to deeper conversations of faith, learning, and exploration,” said a message from Bethany president Jeff Carter. “Tracy’s creative spirit, inviting sense of humor, and deep thinking will be missed. We as a community are in shock from this sad news and offer our prayers to Tracy’s husband, Tony, and their extended family.” Previous to her employment at Bethany, Primozich had served in Brethren Volunteer Service for two-and-a-half years, including a term of service at the BVS office at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., from January 2000-August 2002 when she was orientation assistant and then recruitment assistant for BVS. Her BVS service also included work in Washington, D.C., volunteering with the SOA Watch, an organization that monitors the military school formerly known as the School of the Americas. She was a 1997 graduate of McPherson (Kan.) College, where she also had been an employee, and received the McPherson College Young Alumni Award in 2012. Primozich also was an ordained minister and earned a master of divinity degree at Bethany Seminary in 2010, with emphases in peace studies and youth ministry. A memorial service was held on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at Happy Corner Church of the Brethren in Clayton, Ohio. A remembrance is posted on the Bethany Theological Seminary website at .

Registration remains open for the 2015 Presidential Forum at Bethany Seminary, on the topic of Just Peace. Registration and complete information is at . Continuing education credit is available for ministers who attend the forum and the pre-forum gathering. For more information, contact or call 800-287-8822.

Global Mission and Service is requesting prayer for the presidential election in Haiti on Oct. 25. “Pray for a peaceful and fair process that encourages Haitians to take part,” the request said. Parliamentary elections in August were marked by voter suppression, violence, and corruption. Pray for a stable government in Haiti that is dedicated to the rights and needs of its citizens. Pray for Eglise des Freres d’Haiti, the Haitian Church of the Brethren, in the midst of this process.” The Haitian church has postponed its next session of theological training in light of the country’s election tensions.

In Vietnam, Global Mission worker Grace Mishler reports that 160 participants walked the streets of Ho Chi Minh City to promote acceptance of the white cane, which is still stigmatized in Vietnamese society. Her part in the International Cane Awareness Day event held at the Nhat Hong Blind School, is an aspect of the disabilities ministry of the Church of the Brethren in Vietnam. Mishler joined with fellow university and blind school staff to help guide the event. Students from the National Vietnam University of Social Sciences, where she teaches, organized the event as a practical learning experience, and students from the two participating blind schools composed a song to depict life with blindness.

Brethren Disaster Ministries staff and volunteers are taking part in a 10-day project leadership training in Loveland, Colo. The training includes 18 volunteers who are willing to serve in leadership at Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding sites around the country for one or more months at a time.

A new webinar series on the theme “The Heart of Anabaptism” starts today, Oct. 22, at 2:30 p.m. (Eastern time). The seven webinars in the series are organized by the Center for Anabaptist Studies to explore the seven core convictions of the UK Anabaptist Network. Core Conviction 1–which is, in part, “Jesus is our example, teacher, friend, redeemer and Lord….”–will be examined by Joshua T Searle, tutor in Theology and Public Thought and assistant director of Postgraduate Research at Spurgeon’s College in the United Kingdom. Go to .

Kulp Bible College has reopened in Kwarhi, Nigeria. KBC is the theological college and ministry training school of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). It was forced to close and relocate staff and students last fall when its campus at the EYN Headquarters in Kwarhi was overrun by extremist Islamist insurgents. Now the security situation has improved to the point where classes are resuming there despite damage caused to the Kwarhi campus by the insurgents, and the loss of a number of resources including income from farming that students and staff relied on for payment of college fees, reported KBC provost Dauda A. Gava. He led in holding classes at a temporary location elsewhere in the country during intervening months. “The Lord has protected us,” Gava wrote in a recent report, “though some of our students and staff lost their belongings, and up till now there is no information about Sani Hyelabapri, a security man. All students were able to escape, but later on we heard that two students were abducted from their villages: Ishaya Yahi and Ishaku Yamta.” KBC’s 39 staff, both academic and non academic, all were displaced because of the insurgency and had scattered to different states across the country. A more recent report from Rebecca Dali, who also teaches at the college, said, “Most of the returning students…were in class and most of them are very attentive to learning. New students are few only…. Thirty percent of the teaching staff did not resume their teaching assignment although I saw some came on Friday.” About the security situation, she reported, “Students and staff are carrying on with their normal work, some are harvesting their groundnuts, maize etc., but most of them are not sleeping at night…. Many students [are] sleeping in class. Boko Haram still attacks villages near Lassa, Chibok areas, and also Madagali, and Wagga areas, and many students in those areas are looking sad and not free as other students. Economically it is very hard for them to pay school fees and feed themselves including paying medical bills.” Dali’s nonprofit organization CCEPI, which is one of the partners in the Nigeria Crisis Response, is providing food to the households at Kwarhi, but she warned, “Hunger will emerge and extreme poverty has already set in.” Find her report on the Church of the Brethren blog at .

The Outdoor Ministries Association of the Church of the Brethren holds its annual retreat on Nov. 15-20 at Shepherd’s Spring Outdoor Ministry Center near Sharpsburg, Md. The theme will be: “Seeds of Change: Multicultural Diversity and Stewardship in Outdoor Ministries.” Speakers include Gimbiya Kettering and Debbie Eisenbise of the Congregational Life Ministries staff, and Phil Lilienthal, an attorney from Reston, Va., who in retirement has established Global Camps Africa, originally called WorldCamps–an organization dedicated to helping AIDS-affected youth throughout Africa. In 2013, he was awarded the Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service by the Peace Corps. Carol Wise, executive director of Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interest (BMC), will present a workshop on “Striving for Inclusion: LGBT Campers and Staff.” Other breakout sessions include “Meatless Monday??” “Going Global without a Village,” “Child Protection Matters,” “Inclusion Conversations,” “Is There a Garden in Your Future?” “Baptism by Maintenance Staff,” “Livestock–Extra Staff or BS?” and “Global Food Sampler.” The event will include site tours, and a field trip to Antietam National Battlefield with worship in the historic Dunker Church. For more information go to .

Mt. Vernon Church of the Brethren in Waynesboro, Va., will host a workshop, “Honoring Our Grief,” led by Regina Cyzick Harlow at 7 p.m. this Sunday, Oct. 25. “The workshop will explore how relationships are affected by our journeys through grief,” said an announcement from Shenandoah District. “It is open to all congregations, pastors and deacons at no cost.” Harlow is founder of the Sadie Rose Foundation, dedicated to helping families through the death of a child, and is a licensed minister in the Church of the Brethren.

The youth group at Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind., will be performing “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” on Nov.20-21, at 7 p.m., with a dessert bar beginning at 6 p.m. “There is no admission charge,” reported the South Central Indiana District newsletter. “Instead, donations will be accepted, with proceeds to be divided among costs for the show and the Crazy for Our Kids campaign to build a new Early Learning Center (preschool and daycare) in North Manchester.”

Photo courtesy of Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village
Assisting with the ribbon cutting for the new water tank at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village: Brandi Burwell, USDA Program Specialist; Dr. William McGowan, USDA State Director; Steve Coetzee, FKHV President/CEO; Lerry Fogle, FKHV Board Chair; Julianna Albowicz, Office of US Senator Barbara Mikulski; Robin Summerfield, Office of US Senator Ben Cardin; Sonny Holding, Office of US Congressman John Delaney; and Terry Baker, Washington County Commissioner President.

A new 256,000-gallon water storage tank is in operation for Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community near Boonsboro, Md. Local and state officials joined executives and board members of the community on Sept. 24 for a ribbon cutting ceremony marking the end of 10 months of construction, said a release. “The water storage tank brings the community in compliance with Maryland state regulations to have a three-day water supply on hand.  In addition, the water storage tank is the reservoir for the fire suppression system.  The new tank with its extra capacity will afford Fahrney-Keedy the ability to grow its campus population in years to come.” The US Department of Agriculture Rural Development program assisted in the project with a low-interest loan of $885,000 and a grant of $291,000. Construction began in the fall of 2014.

Bridgewater (Va.) College has opened its new Center for Engaged Learning. The new institute will bear the name of benefactors Ben F. and Janice W. Wade in recognition of their support and their service to higher education, said a release. “The Wade Institute for Teaching and Learning, under the direction of associate professor of political science and history James Josefson, will create and implement new ways for faculty to teach and students to learn. The program enables students to engage in learning while working with faculty and community leaders to develop new opportunities for skill development and experiential learning. The Ben and Janice Wade Outstanding Teaching Award, established by the Wades in 1998, will now be administered by the Institute. The award is given annually to a Bridgewater College faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding teaching in the classroom during the academic year.” The Ben and Janice Wade Outstanding Teaching Award, Annual Pedagogy Project, the Teaching Resource Group, and The Big Question provide examples of the kinds of activities the Wade Institute will support to nurture the development of excellent teachers and to achieve student learning outcomes. The Wades are graduates of Bridgewater’s class of 1957. Dr. Ben F. Wade holds master’s degrees from United Theological Seminary, Boston University, and Columbia University, and a doctor of philosophy degree from Hartford Seminary Foundation, and served several institutions as a member of the faculty and administration before returning to Bridgewater College in 1979 to serve as executive assistant to the president and as the college’s first provost. Janice Wade holds a master of education degree from the University of Hartford and has taught elementary school, adult basic education, and college courses in elementary education.

Juniata College will host three political activists from the front lines of the Ferguson, Mo., protests, according to a release from the school located in Huntingdon, Pa. The Ferguson protests rose up after police shot and killed Michael Brown, an African-American teenager, in August last year. The college’s Activists in Residence series will host Calvin Kennedy, Ebony Williams, and Jihad Khayyam, all associated with Ferguson Frontline. They will be in residence at the college from Oct. 26-Nov. 6. The three activists will host a discussion at 7 p.m. on Nov. 4 in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science, titled “This Ain’t Your Parents Civil Rights Movement.” The presentation will include a question-and-answer session and is free and open to the public. Kennedy and Williams are members of Ferguson Frontline, an organization dedicated to spreading knowledge about police violence and promoting social justice, the release said. Khayyam, a financial literacy educator in the greater St. Louis Area, also is a member of Ferguson Frontline. During the week the activists will take part in classes and hold discussions for students taking Peace and Conflict Studies courses. Polly Walker, professor and director of Juniata’s Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, says that the series of residencies will serve as a “nexus of research and practice, enhancing practitioners’ ability to engage with theory while improving research and theory through a more rigorous engagement with practice.”

The McPherson (Kan.) College Automotive Restoration program is a finalist in the Industry Supporter of the Year category for the 2015 International Historic Motoring Awards, according to a release from the college. “Car enthusiasts across the globe submitted nominations for the competition. The winners of each of the prestigious awards will be announced at the International Historic Motoring Awards ceremony and gala dinner at London’s St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel on Nov. 19.” Other finalists include Hagerty, Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations, Porsche Motorsports North America, and the Royal Automobile Club. The International Historic Motoring Awards give awards in 14 categories ranging from Museum of the Year to Motor Sport Event to Personal Achievement. See .

Nov. 13 and 21 and Dec. 19 are the open dates for this Fall’s dinners at the John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va. The site is the historic home of Elder John Kline, a Brethren leader and martyr for peace during the Civil War. The dinners will start at 6 p.m. and will feature actors portraying Kline family members and neighbors while guests enjoy a family-style dinner. “In the fall of 1865, the Civil War has ended but devastation covers the countryside. Experience the struggle to recover from the war through conversations around the dinner table in the 1822 John Kline house,” said an invitation. Cost is $40 per plate. Seating capacity is 36. Call 540-421-5267 to make reservations, or e-mail requests to .

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has published a first-hand account from the current escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine, written by a member of CPT Palestine who was arrested for posting an Instagram photo of the violence, and who was held in prison during the time three Palestinian young people were murdered on the streets of Hebron by Israeli military forces and settlers. “Israeli forces and a settler shot dead three Palestinian young people on the streets of Hebron on Saturday 17 October 2015: Bayan Ayman Abd al-Hadi al-Esseili, 17, Fadil Qawasmi, 18, and Tariq Ziyad al-Natshe, 20. And I was arrested for taking an Instagram photo two weeks earlier,” the account begins. “With three youth killed  and settlers literally celebrating in the blood of Fadil Qawasmi, executed by a settler, it is perhaps little surprise that those with cameras slung over shoulders are increasingly coming under threat. Sitting in a cold room for hours, without access to a lawyer, I watched my beloved camera slammed on a table. Meanwhile, authorities at the base told my colleague I was not there. One of my photos, I was told, rendered me a threat to the ‘security of Israel.’ An Instagram photo? Me? A threat to one of the most powerful states in the world? The threat here? The truth. Cameras indicate that–Occupation–we are watching you, we are documenting you, we are here, and we see you. We see Palestinian blood running on occupied streets in Hebron. Indeed, I dropped my camera lens cap in Hadeel Hashlamoun’s a few weeks earlier. The Christian Peacemaker Palestine Team as a very small thread in the fabric of resisting this occupation, has recently come under increased attack from its actors and supporters, including abusive phone-calls, increased police aggression and checks, and now, arrest….” The report, titled “Bloody Saturday–the occupation murders three young people and arrests me for taking an Instagram photo,” was published on Oct. 22, and may be found at .

In related news, the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed deep concern over the renewed wave of violence in Jerusalem. In a letter to WCC member churches in Palestine and Israel issued on Oct. 19, he expressed solidarity with the churches and peoples of the land, and affirmed WCC’s commitment to justice and peace in Palestine and Israel. “We are following with increasing dismay events throughout the region and especially in the Holy City of Jerusalem, which we hold in our hearts and prayers as an open city of two peoples (Israelis and Palestinians) and three faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam),” wrote Tveit. “We continue to work and pray for a just peace for both Palestinians and Israelis, promoting respect for the status quo of the holy sites of Jerusalem as an important contribution to reducing current tensions.” Tveit went on to say that “as Christians, we must all seek an end to violence against any of God’s children, just as we seek an end to occupation and the injustices that present such formidable obstacles to peace in Israel and Palestine. Violent attacks are an unacceptable and counter-productive means of seeking justice. Proportional security measures and the rule of law are the appropriate instruments for responding to such attacks, not extra-judicial killings,” he added. “The WCC stands firmly with Christians in the Holy Land in our conviction that the illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territories must be brought to an end–not as a pre-condition for an end to violence, but as an essential foundation for any long-term, sustainable and just peace in the region,” Tveit stressed. Find the letter at .

Ben Cronkite, who is active in the children’s ministry at Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren, recently received a God and Family Religious Emblem award through PRAY (Program of Religious Activities of Youth) and the Frederick Church. The award was covered in a short article in the “Frederick News-Post.” Cronkite is in the fifth grade and an Arrow of Light at Cub Scout Pack 277. Find the report online at

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