— Heifer International has begun posting videos telling the stories of seagoing cowboys throughout April, with a new video story posted each week. This week’s video is an interview with Church of the Brethren member and former seagoing cowboy Merle Crouse. Find it at www.heifer.org/join-the-conversation/blog/2016/April/the-unsung-heroes-of-the-greatest-generation-part-2.html .
— A video recording of Ken Medema’s song created for Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) during the 2015 National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) has been posted online. Medema is a Christian musician and songwriter who has performed at numerous Church of the Brethren events in addition to NOAC, including Annual Conferences and National Youth Conferences. The song, which Medema created during an impromptu onstage performance, is called “Teach Me How to Play Again.” Find it at https://vimeo.com/160793908 .
— A new Parables Community has been started as a new church congregation in Illinois and Wisconsin District, hosted at York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill. The kick off event for the Parables Community took place on Sunday, April 10. The Parables Community is designed to be a congregation with children and adults who have special needs, and their families. “We will open up the social norms for worship so that everyone is free to sing out, speak up, move, dance, stim, and flap during the service,” said an announcement in the district newsletter. “It will be a ‘no shushing’ zone where all are free to come as they are and celebrate together.” The community hopes to become a place of empowerment where all of the participants’ gifts are welcomed, all serve in some way, and “every part of the Body of Christ is honored and necessary to the life of the whole.” Jeanne Davies is serving as the pastor. Visit www.parablescommunity.org to learn more.
— Illinois and Wisconsin District also has announced an emerging worshiping and service community called the Gathering Chicago, led by pastor LaDonna Nkosi who formerly served at Chicago (Ill.) First Church of the Brethren. The Gathering Chicago “will host retreats, prayer trainings and meetings, Peace in the City conferences, and serve as a place of spiritual refreshment, prayer, and intercession for those working and serving for justice, peace, healing, and restoration in and for the city,” said the announcement. The ministry will be located in the Hyde Park area of Chicago. The first launch event is planned for May 15, from 5-7 p.m. at 1700 E. 56th Street on the 40th floor. This event will include a Love Feast with feet washing and communion as well as intentional time for prayer.
— The Shenandoah District Office is again a Kit Depot for Church World Service and will collect kits through May 12. “You may bring your completed school kits, hygiene kits, and clean-up buckets to the depot from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday,” said an announcement from the district. For guidelines on assembling kits and buckets, go to www.cwskits.org .
— The annual Sounds of the Mountains Storytelling Festival is this weekend at Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va., on April 15-16. “In recent years, we’ve tended to schedule performers who make us laugh a lot,” said a Facebook post from the camp. “It’s no accident. This Festival is guaranteed fun and funny, plain and simple. Your ribs will ache…in a good way!” Tickets are available at the door, and food is offered all weekend. For more go to www.SoundsoftheMountains.org .
— The last Ventures course for the 2015-16 season, “Technology for Congregations,” will be held April 23 from 9 a.m.-12 noon (central time). Ventures courses are hosted by McPherson (Kan.) College and provide continuing education for church leadership. “In this course, there will be opportunity to explore various strategies to improve congregational communication, visibility, and even outreach by leveraging technology solutions that are affordable and appropriate for different contexts,” said an announcement. “Conference calls, virtual meetings, phone trees, e-mail strategies, websites, streaming or recorded services, and copyright considerations will be some of the topics. Of special interest will be an hour devoted to Internet safety with guest presenter Brandon Lutz, a school district Internet specialist in the greater Philadelphia area.” Enten Eller will be the main presenter. He has owned and operated his own computer business for over 30 years and is the former webmaster and director of Distributed Education, Electronic Communication, and Educational Technology at Bethany Theological Seminary. To register for the course, visit www.mcpherson.edu/ventures .
— Melanie A. Duguid-May, a former denominational staff member who served as ecumenical officer for the Church of the Brethren, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Manchester University in N. Manchester, Ind. The honorary degree will be part of ceremonies in which the university will be graduating its first pharmacy class on May 14, and launching its first pharmacogenomics program on May 17. Duguid-May is a 1976 graduate of Manchester University. She currently is the John Price Crozer Professor of Theology at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, N.Y., where she has been on the faculty since 1992. “She has focused her career on contemporary Christian life and faith, guiding Christians through the often-choppy confluence of faith and 21st-century challenges,” said a release from the university. “She teaches courses that explore religion, violence and peacemaking, the image and role of women in Christian tradition, Christian faith and LGBT persons, as well as courses in Christian belief and the life and thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.” In addition to earning a degree in religion and peace studies from Manchester, she also holds a master of divinity degree, a master of arts degree, and a doctorate in Christian theology, all from Harvard Divinity School. Her writings have been published widely in academic, ecclesial, and ecumenical anthologies, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and journals. Her books include “Jerusalem Testament: Palestinian Christians Speak, 1988-2008″ (Eerdmans Publishing, Co., 2010), “A Body Knows: A Theopoetics of Death and Resurrection” (Continuum Publishing, 1995), and “Bonds of Unity: Women, Theology, and the Worldwide Church” (Academy Series No. 65, Scholars Press, 1989).
— Jonathan Rudy, peacemaker-in-residence with Elizabethtown (Pa.) College’s Center for Global Understanding and Peacemaking, was recently named senior advisor for human security for Washington, D.C.’s Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP). The alliance works for peaceful and just societies around the world, serving as a think-tank and advocate for more than 100 member organizations. “By linking policymakers and citizens, AfP imagines innovative solutions to the most pressing conflicts facing our world today,” said a release from the college. “The program on Human Security specifically works to achieve a people-centered security strategy, which has been found to be more successful, cost-effective, and sustainable than traditional approaches. The program opens channels of communication between the Pentagon and local community organizations working to build human security through conflict prevention and peacebuilding.” Rudy’s work in the field of human security spans 30 years on three continents. Since 2005 he has been part of a team that has trained military officers in the Philippines in the area of conflict transformation and peacebuilding. His past involvement with the AfP has given him the opportunity to advise and engage civil society and military, in the US and around the globe, on people-centered security. He teaches two Humanities courses in the Peace and Conflict Studies minor at Elizabethtown: “Conflict Dynamics and Transformation” and “Peacebuilding Themes and Trends.” Read the full release at http://now.etown.edu/index.php/2016/02/19/cgups-rudy-named-senior-advisor-to-washington-d-c-peace-organization .
— Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., has been awarded a $1 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation to identify, select, and offer scholarships to at least four undergraduate students per year studying biology, physics, chemistry, earth and space science, general science, or mathematics with certification to teach in secondary schools. The program obligates the students upon graduation to teach science in rural school districts for at least one year for every year of scholarship support, said a release from the college. “Energizing STEM Teaching Across Rural Schools” (E-STARS) would use Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarships, a National Science Foundation award worth $15,000 per academic year, to support Juniata juniors and seniors studying science or math as they approach graduation and secondary teaching certification for teaching grades 7-12. Once they graduate, recipients of the scholarship would be obligated to teach biology physics, chemistry, earth and space science, or mathematics in a rural school district for a minimum of two years for each year they received the scholarship in any rural school district identified within the program. In addition to the scholarship, each E-STAR scholar will have a summer internship either in a research lab, doing statistical consulting, working on education research, or as a counselor for a middle school science camp. The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program honors Robert Noyce, who collaborated on the first integrated circuit, or microchip, and later cofounded Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957 and Intel Corporation in 1968.
— Bridgewater (Va.) College has announced its first graduate degree program, a Master of Science in Athletic Training (MSAT). The college anticipates welcoming its first group of graduate students in May of 2017, said a release. “Bridgewater has offered a highly successful and well-regarded bachelor’s degree in athletic training since 2001. After the 2016-17 academic year, the college will no longer admit undergraduate athletic training students and will instead admit undergraduate students to a 3+2 master’s program in addition to admitting graduates of other four-year institutions to its two-year post-baccalaureate master of science program. The two-year, 63-credit post-baccalaureate program focuses on preparing the athletic trainer of the future. To learn more go to bridgewater.edu/MSAT .
— The National Council of Churches (NCC) is publicizing an effort encouraging churches to display banners opposing anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States. The effort is led by Interfaith Action for Human Rights, the Shoulder to Shoulder campaign in which the Church of the Brethren participates through its Office of Public Witness, and T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Justice. “The campaign follows in the tradition of similar banner campaigns, such as Save Darfur, Stand with Israel, and Black Lives Matter,” said the NCC newsletter. “It aims to demonstrate that faith communities stand together with the Muslim American community.” There are three banner options, displaying the following statements: Honor God: Say No to anti-Muslim Bigotry; We Stand with our Muslim neighbors; [Organization Name] stands with Muslim Americans. Banners come in two sizes: two foot by six foot, costing $140; and three foot by nine foot, costing $200. Banners are weatherproof vinyl and have mounting grommets for easy hanging or posting. Price includes UPS Ground shipping and handling. For more information go to www.interfaithactionhr.org/banner_donation .