Brethren Bits for Nov. 19th, 2015

— The general secretary’s office is requesting stories from congregations that have been involved in resettling refugees within the last 5 to 10 years, for a project of sharing those stories in our communications. “At a time when we’re hearing such incredible rhetoric that is so inconsistent with our understanding of caring for the stranger in our midst, we would like to highlight stories of refugee resettlement within the Church of the Brethren,” Noffsinger said. “If your congregation has participated in resettling a refugee family, we would love pictures if possible, and a short story that we could share with the whole church. At this time when there is so much concern about Syrian refugees it is important to note the vigorous screening process that is in place with the UNHCR and Homeland Security and others. Church World Service has been a stellar part of the process and we hope to work more closely with them.” Send stories and photos to and copy .

— Prayer is requested for a consultation on the medical and community development ministries connected with Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti). Church staff and leaders from the US and Haitian Brethren leaders will meet together in Haiti later this week to review the vision and progress of the four-year-old Haiti Medical Project. This program of mobile clinics now serves 16 communities. In addition, a series of community development projects have been started in the areas of maternal health and clean water. “Pray for safe travels and good health for the participants,” said the request, “and for the Spirit’s wisdom as they discuss how to most effectively meet the needs of Haitian communities.”

— The board of SERRV will hold meetings at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., from Nov. 19-21. “We look forward to their visit,” said an announcement from the denominational staff. Begun as a Church of the Brethren program, SERRV is a fair trade organization working to eradicate poverty by providing opportunities and support to artisans and farmers worldwide. SERRV is in its 65th year of operation, offering customers unique handcrafted products that help to build a more sustainable world. Find out more and find an online product catalogue at .

Courtesy of Shepherd’s Spring
The pavilion in Shepherd’s Spring Poplar Village

— Shepherd’s Spring Outdoor Ministry Center in Sharpsburg, Md., is seeking a forward-thinking, energetic executive director with a proven track record of effectively leading a performance and outcomes-based organization and staff. Ann Cornell has tendered her resignation as executive director of Shepherd’s Spring, effective the end of June 2016. The center, 220 acres of rolling, wooded land bordering Maryland’s Potomac River and historic C&O Canal, offers a variety of programming and hospitality services that include Christian summer camping, a Road Scholar Adventures in Lifelong Learning program site, a global village experiential learning program affiliated with Heifer International, as well as functions as an active, year-round conference and retreat facility. The executive director will serve as center administrator and leader providing managerial oversight of the various ministry programs, budget and finances, marketing, fundraising, staff and board development. This position will supervise and provide guidance to a diverse staff as well as implement and enforce policies and procedures which will maximize the effectiveness of the ministry. The qualified candidate will be a faithful Christian with a clear understanding and appreciation of the Church of the Brethren and have proven leadership, coaching, and relationship-management experience preferably in a faith-based outdoor ministry program. Membership in the OMA, ACA, IACCA, or other appropriate professional organizations is desirable. Other required qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in a related field or equivalent experience in camp or retreat center administration plus a minimum of five years of management experience. For more information about the center, visit . Send inquiries or requests for an application packet to .

— “Tuesday evening we stood together for peace and made a bold statement to the community,” writes pastor Sara Haldeman Scarr of First Church of the Brethren in San Diego, Calif. “Our witness for peace, justice, and inclusion continues as we stand together for the human community!” The church was one of the community groups participating in an annual gathering for peace, for which Scarr served as organizer. The event also included partner organization the Islamic Center of San Diego, and concluded with a sharing of aid with those in need. Read the report from a San Diego news station at

— “Christmas: An Alternative Way” is the theme of the December edition of “Brethren Voices” community television show produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren. The show provides an interesting video resource for Sunday school discussions at this time of the year, reports producer Ed Groff. “It takes a look at two Brethren-related programs that give individuals a chance to advocate for social justice, work for peace, serve human needs, and care for the creation in a variety of settings in the United States and other countries.” Featured are Heifer International and the New Community Project’s “Give A Girl A Chance,” Springfield (Ore.) Church of the Brethren’s SERRV shop called “Fair Trade On Main,” and Southern Pennsylvania District’s outreach program “Cookies For Truckers” as supported by residents of Cross Keys Village–The Brethren Home Community as well as Brethren congregations around Carlisle, Pa. For copies of this special edition, contact Ed Groff at .

— Manchester University is offering the nation’s only pharmacogenomics master’s degree, according to a release from the school. “The intensive one-year program is designed to propel graduates into well-paying jobs in the emerging field of pharmacogenomics (PGx), a key component of personalized medicine. PGx relates an individual’s genes (DNA) to their response to medications. PGx empowers physicians and other clinicians to identify correct medications and to optimize an individual’s drug therapy early on. PGx can replace the trial-and-error approach, greatly decreasing medication costs and side effects,” the release said. “Pharmacogenomics can be utilized across therapeutic areas, such as cardiology and psychiatry. PGx may well have its most dramatic effect on cancer treatment, where approximately 75 percent of patients don’t respond to the initial prescribed medication.” The Master of Science in Pharmacogenomics Program is designed for individuals with an undergraduate science degree or a professional degree in health care or health sciences. Classes begin in the summer term, and enrollment will be limited in order to maximize personal attention and collaboration. Information about the program based at the university’s campus in Fort Wayne, Ind. and how to enroll can be found at .

— The Elizabethtown (Pa.) College Alumni Peace Fellowship has established a scholarship in honor of Eugene Clemens, emeritus professor of Religion. According to the campus newspaper “The Etownian,” the $500 scholarship will be awarded to a student who has shown promise in the promotion of peace. Clemens is being honored for his work toward peace and tolerance on the college campus, and is remembered for his efforts during the Vietnam War, the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident, and the Iraq War years. He is an active member of the college’s Alumni Peace Fellowship, the report said, noting his continuing efforts for peace.

— Presenters from Bridgewater (Va.) College will be part of a statewide workshop focusing on the prevention of sexual assault on college and university campuses and how to handle it if it does happen. The event will be held Friday, Nov. 20, at Wintergreen Resort. Other presenters include the Virginia attorney general’s office, the department of education’s office of civil rights in Washington, D.C., and others from the educational community, said a release. The “Navigating Sexual Assault & Title IX Workshop” is on the final day of the Virginia Student Services Conference sponsored by the Virginia Association of Student Personnel Administrators and the Virginia Association of College and University Housing Officers. “Everyone in higher education realizes the gravity of sexual assault and Title IX on our campuses, and this workshop addresses many of the timely components of this issue,” said William D. Miracle, dean of students at Bridgewater College and organizer of the workshop. “For people in higher education to have the opportunity in such a forum to ask questions of the chief attorney of the DC office of OCR is a rare opportunity,” said Miracle. “This should be very enlightening.” The entire three-day VSSC conference may be viewed online at .

— In the midst of a mounting climate of fear of refugees and immigrants, the World Council of Churches (WCC) is calling on Christians to be true to the biblical imperative to “welcome the stranger,” said a release this week. “A weeklong workshop that concluded in Geneva on Friday, hours before the terrorist attacks in Paris, focused on multiculturalism, ministry, and mission,” the release said. “Twenty-five participants from 13 countries gathered for a five-day workshop (Nov. 9-13) to explore ways of promoting multicultural dialogue and activities at the parish and community levels. The objective was to equip ordained leaders and lay people to work in increasingly culturally mixed communities. Theological education, liturgy, and intergenerational dynamics in migrant churches were featured in the program. The intent was to encourage both established churches and migrant churches to overcome fear and distrust of people different from themselves and to create inclusive and welcoming communities.” The WCC plans further work in the field of multicultural ministry, in order to equip local churches from established and migrant communities to work together to counter rising xenophobia and intolerance in the wake of mass refugee migrations and violent incidents. Read the full release at .

— The role of Bethany Theological Seminary in the development of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) is noted in a new feature article in the “Mennonite World Review.” The forerunner seminary of AMBS began 70 years ago in Chicago, where for a time classes were hosted on the Bethany campus. “While most Mennonites lived on Woodlawn, classes were held 11 miles away on the campus of the Church of the Brethren’s Bethany Theological Seminary. MBS was affiliated with Bethany, which granted the degrees. MBS professors worked with the Bethany instructors as a practically seamless faculty.” Find the article at .

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