Brethren Bits for Sept. 25, 2015

“Game on!!” writes Gail Erisman Valeta, in a new Ice Bucket Challenge from Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in the Denver, Colo., area, where she is a minister. Prince of Peace has offered up an Ice Bucket Challenge to other Church of the Brethren congregations, as a way to raise funds for the Nigeria Crisis Response. Shown above: earlier this month, Dave Valeta took the Ice Bucket Challenge in honor of Jeff Neuman-Lee’s retirement. Who will be next…?

— Remembrance: Phyllis Tickle, 2013 National Older Adult Conference keynote speaker and inspiration for the 2015 NOAC theme of storytelling, died peacefully at her home in Lucy, Tenn., on Sept. 22. The 2013 NOAC theme was “Healing Springs Forth,” and during her keynote, “The Healing Gift of Story,” Tickle expressed appreciation for being asked to share stories from her own life when she had experienced healing and grace such as she told in her books “The Shaping of a Life,” “What the Land Already Knows,” and “The Graces We Remember.” The popularity of her more recent books about emergent Christianity, she said, meant that speaking invitations were often issued to address that topic, yet the power of story remained dear to her heart. Her keynote challenge to NOAC participants to share God’s story, and their own stories, resonated with those who heard it, and directly inspired this year’s conference theme, “Then Jesus Told Them a Story.” “Our hearts are heavy with sorrow at Tickle’s passing, but are also filled with gratitude for her inspiring message to the older adults of our denomination,” said Kim Ebersole, director of NOAC. “Tickle’s influence will live on as we continue to tell the story.”

— Remembrance: Carrie Beckwith, 89, a former mission worker, died on Sept. 19 in La Verne, Calif. Together with her husband Carl Beckwith, from 1963-66 she served as a Church of the Brethren missionary in Garkida, Nigeria. She worked as full-time secretary to Carl, who was business manager, and also kept the provisions store stocked for the mission field. In 1966, they moved to Modesto, Calif., where Carl served as director of the former Brethren Service Center that was located there. In 1970, he transferred to the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., and became chief financial officer for SERRV International, while Carrie worked a few years as secretary for the regional CROP office. She also worked at the state hospital in Sykesville, Md., where she helped instigate legislation to obtain a smoke-free office environment. From her high school service on the Idaho District Youth Cabinet to her college years as secretary to the pastor of McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren and taking dictation from Dr. Boitnott while he taught at McPherson College, to her service as a deacon already in her young adult years, and her work with the Idaho District young adult ministries, she unknowingly prepared for the decision made jointly with her husband Carl to move to Chicago to train for ministry at Bethany Seminary where she took some courses at the Bible Training School. In subsequent years she served as an active, traditional pastor’s wife during Carl’s pastorates in Montana, Idaho, Colorado, and California. After retirement in 1988, the Beckwiths worked as volunteers, helping several church and district offices transition into computerized record keeping in Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, and Kansas. They spent most of 1992 as volunteer co-directors of the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima, Japan. They also volunteered several months each year for SERRV or at the hospitality department at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor. In 1999, they were awarded a Citation of Merit from McPherson College as a testimony to the many ways in which they worked together as a team throughout the years. In their late 70s, after moving to La Verne where they most recently lived at Hillcrest, a Brethren retirement community, they began five years of half-time work for the Pacific Southwest District office. Carrie served as an office co-worker alongside Carl in his role as financial and property manager. She is survived by her husband of more than 69 years, Carl C. Beckwith. Among her surviving children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren is son Jim Beckwith, who currently serves as secretary of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference and continues his mother’s legacy of meticulously taking care of details. Among other legacies she shared a concern for people especially those who were lonely, confused, or struggling, and for human rights particularly for women and for minority persons. A memorial service was held Sept. 23 at Hillcrest Retirement Community in La Verne, Calif. Memorial donations are received to “Church of the Brethren–Nigeria Crisis Fund,” 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.

In an update on the Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) response to the Valley Fire in northern California, associate director Kathleen Fry-Miller reports that 16 CDS volunteers are at work in Calistoga. “They have cared for 159 children as of Sept. 24, and will be there at least another week. We are excited that our new CDS program assistant, Kristen Hoffman, is leaving today to join the team in California. It’s her first full week on the job. This is what we truly call on-the-job-training!” Fry-Miller requested prayers for the team as they support families and care for children displaced by the fires. For more information go to .

— Remembrance: Lois Alta Beery Schubert, 80, a former employee at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, died on Sept. 14. She was born Aug. 17, 1935, in Mishawaka, Ind. Although she was raised and baptized Baptist, her family was originally Brethren and after World War II she joined Osceola (Ind.) Church of the Brethren. After graduating high school, she entered Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) and worked in south Florida at a migrant camp nursery. In 1957, she went to work at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill., as a secretary. In 1958 she went to Europe for the 250th anniversary of the founding of the Brethren movement and worked in a World War II workcamp. She earned a degree in sociology from McPherson (Kan.) College and from 1964-70 was a social worker in Wisconsin. In 1970 she began work at the office of Pacific Southwest District in La Verne, Calif., serving as administrative assistant for Truman Northup. She met her husband Neil Schubert at Glendora (Calif.) Church of the Brethren where they were married in 1972. In other employment following her marriage, she was secretary for the Glendora Teachers Association for approximately 14 years, and also served in numerous offices and volunteer capacities in the Glendora congregation. She is survived by her husband of 43 years Neil Schubert, sons Craig Schubert (Melissa) and Eric Schubert (Allison), and grandchildren. A celebration of life service was held on Sept. 19 at Glendora Church of the Brethren.

— Huma Rana joined the staff of Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) in July as assistant director of Financial Operations. She has more than 20 years of experience in public accounting, auditing, professional services, and working with a non-profit organization. She spent 10 years as the budget and accounting analyst for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and prior to that worked for Ernst and Young. She is a CPA with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, Ill., and is a member of the Illinois CPA Society and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. She and her family reside in Elgin, Ill.

— In more news from Brethren Benefit Trust, there are changes of membership on the BBT board. At the 2015 Annual Conference, delegates elected Harry Rhodes to the BBT board. At the BBT board meeting held in July, the board voted to appoint Eunice Culp to fill the unexpired term of Tim McElwee, who resigned in April 2014. Craig Smith completed his second term on the BBT board, having served for seven years. Finally, Donna McKee Rhodes was elected to a four-year term on the BBT board by the Brethren Pension Plan members, representing churches and districts. For more about the ministries of Brethren Benefit Trust go to .

— The National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund and the Peace Tax Foundation are searching for an executive director. Both are based in Washington, D.C. They seek a qualified individual to assume the part-time position averaging 24 hours per week. Decision-making in both organizations is largely consensus-based and depends on a high level of cooperation and consultation between the executive director and the boards of the two organizations. Submit a resume and other pertinent materials to the chairperson of the Personnel Committee of the NCPTF/PTF Boards of Directors prior to Oct. 15. Find details at .

— The Friends Committee on National Legislation is searching for a legislative director to be responsible for leading a multi-issue federal policy and lobbying effort for peace and justice. The legislative director guides and builds FCNL’s Quaker-based presence on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C., and effectively represents the legislative policies and priorities established by the FCNL governing body, the General Committee. Details are at .

— “Praise God for the reopening of Kulp Bible College and the Comprehensive Secondary School of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) in Kwarhi,” said this week’s Global Mission Prayer Update from the Global Mission and Service office. The Bible college and secondary school had been closed since last fall when the area was overrun by Boko Haram, the extremist Islamist insurgency. The Global Mission staff are requesting prayer “for the safety of all the students, staff, and faculty, as the security situation in the area has improved, but risks remain. Pray for the secondary school children and the young adults attending the Bible college, in their quest to learn and to study God’s Word.” For more about the situation in Nigeria and the church’s Nigeria Crisis Response go to .

Photo courtesy of EYN
A school hosts orphans in Nigeria, with sponsorship from the Nigeria Crisis Response

— A school in Nigeria that receives sponsorship from the Nigeria Crisis Response of the Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) is housing 60 orphans, according to Carl and Roxane Hill, co-directors of the crisis response effort. A recent post from a volunteer at the school, reported, “Today is a day of widows at the COCIN church in Jos. They visited our orphanage home in Jos. It was a day of tears.” The post quoted a scripture text from James 1:27: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

— The Office of Ministry is hosting a meeting of the Council of District Executives (CODE) this coming week at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The meeting will gather district executive ministers of the denomination’s 24 districts. Included on the agenda is a time to share the Love Feast together.

— Newville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is celebrating its 90th anniversary. Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger has been invited to preach for an anniversary service on Sunday, Sept. 27.

— New Carlisle (Ohio) Church of the Brethren took part in the Bethel Churches United annual CROP Walk this past Sunday afternoon. The walk route started and ended at the New Carlisle Church. The goal for the 62 registered walkers is to raise $10,000 for hunger, by the end of the month. As reported by “New Carlisle News” online, “Carol Dutton is always an active participant in the annual event, donning her ‘Coco the Clown’ suit and rallying the crowd. Before Sunday’s walk began, Dutton spoke to the walkers about the origin of the church’s involvement with CROP Walk. Dutton said that Wilmer Funderburgh was the founder of New Carlisle’s participation in CROP Walk, noting that he was also a member of New Carlisle Church of the Brethren. She showed a picture of Funderburgh at one of the first CROP Walks in New Carlisle, dated 1954. ‘Something has been done each year since then to help our community as well as people around the world,’ she said.” Find the full article at .

— Also in the news this week: Lick Creek Church of the Brethren in Bryan, Ohio, has donated $1,028.79 to Williams County Habitat For Humanity. The donation came out of funds raised at the church’s annual ice cream social, and was reported in the “Bryan Times.” Find a picture of the check presentation at .

Photo by Leah Jaclyn Hileman
The tractor face-off at Southern Pennsylvania District Conference

— More than $250,000! That’s the goal celebrated this past weekend by the Southern Pennsylvania District Conference, in the district’s fundraising campaign for the Nigeria Crisis Response. “It warms my heart to hear of all the wonderful things our congregations are doing in order to help support the EYN Church of the Brethren,” said district moderator Traci Rabenstein in the district newsletter. “The efforts that you as a body have put forth towards monetary assistance allows their community a ‘leg-up’ as they attempt to re-build as best they can.” In response, two pastors in the district–Larry Dentler and Chris Elliot–both avid tractor owners of different manufacturers, swapped tractors and drove the other’s tractor to the conference. Carolyn Jones, district office staff, reported to Nigeria Crisis Response co-director Carl Hill that the tally of the total raised will be around $270,000, although a final number will not be available for some time. The district conference was Sept. 18-19 at Ridge Church of the Brethren in Shippensburg, Pa., with Jeff Carter, president of Bethany Seminary, as guest speaker.

— Pacific Northwest District Conference will be held this coming weekend, Sept. 25-27, at Camp Myrtlewood in Myrtle Point, Ore.

— In a recent district board meeting, the Southeastern District board voted to adopt the Brethren congregations in the Democratic Republic of Congo as sister churches to support with prayer and financially as led, and voted to encourage congregations to consider sponsoring refugee families from Syria as the opportunities unfold though disaster and refugee ministries. The brief news bulletin from district moderator Gary Benesh also noted that the district board is exploring the addition of two new Hispanic congregations in the district.

— Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md., is welcoming USDA Rural Development state director Bill McGowan to a ribbon cutting ceremony marking completion of improvements made to the water system. Others joining in the ceremony include the community’s Board of Directors, staff, and residents. The improvements included a new water storage tank required to provide the community with a three-day water supply per state regulations, supply the main building fire suppression system, and also enable the community to grow its campus in coming years. The ribbon cutting takes place today, Sept. 24, at 11 a.m.

— “Dr. Richard Newton has been researching scriptures for some time and as an African-American, he sees how the Bible can be a blessing and a curse,” said a release from Elizabethtown (Pa.) College about an upcoming event that may be of interest to Brethren. Newton will share his findings on Oct. 7 at the Elizabethtown College Presidential Community Enrichment Series. The noontime talk, in the Susquehanna Room at Myers Hall, costs $15; lunch is provided. Audience discussion has a significant role in Newton’s lecture as he finds that “discussion is writing the next chapter.” Current events constantly create connections between the Bible and black culture–from issues with the Confederate flag, to the Black Lives Matter campaign, the constant conflicts involving African-Americans show the phenomenon of the Bible and its ties to everyday life. “For better or worse, there’s always something to talk about,” explained Newton in an interview published at .

— Lancaster (Pa.) Online reports that the Wheatland Chorale, a nonprofit chorus which has had ties to Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, will sing in the International Choral Competition in Rimini, Italy. The competition is from Friday  to Monday, Sept. 25-28. The group held an informal “open rehearsal” on Sunday at Lancaster Church of the Brethren, where chorale member Emery DeWitt is director of music. The Wheatland Chorale is the only chorus from the US scheduled to perform in the prestigious competition in Rimini, where they will compete against 22 other vocal groups from around the world, according to the news report. Find the full article at .

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