|Olympian Clayton Murphy, 21, who took bronze in the men’s 800 meter race in Rio, grew up in Cedar Grove Church of the Brethren in Southern Ohio District. It was the first US Olympic medal in the men’s 800 since 1992. “Murphy’s 1:42.93 made him the third-fastest American ever, and buried his previous personal best (1:44.30),” reported USA Today.
“We are very proud of his accomplishments!” said Dave Shetler, district executive minister for Southern Ohio. In 2009 Shetler was Murphy’s pastor for some eight months, when he was interim pastor at Cedar Grove Church, and then led the church’s youth ministry. Shetler still lives in the community, his house is only three miles from Tri-Village High School where Murphy attended. He describes the now-famous athlete as “very thoughtful, good sense of humor, strong commitment to his values and community.” Shetler has continued to stay in touch and texted congratulations after Murphy won Olympic bronze.
Shetler reports that two members at Cedar Grove Church were leaders at Murphy’s high school and influential in his career: athletic director Brad Gray, and principal Bill Moore, now retired. A hometown reception is being planned for Murphy’s return in September. There is “lots of excitement and support for him here,” says Shetler.
Find a Yahoo Sports article about Murphy’s life and accomplishments, “From pig farm to Olympic podium: The unlikely story of Clayton Murphy,” at http://sports.yahoo.com/news/from-pig-farm-to-olympic-podium-the-unlikely-story-of-clayton-murphy-044914611.html .
Find the USA Today article, “Clayton Murphy earns the USA’s first medal in the 800 since 1992,” at http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/rio-2016/2016/08/15/clayton-murphy-800-meters-bronze-medal/88814806 .
Find Dayton Daily News report, “From New Madison to Rio: Olympic Bronze Medal for Clayton Murphy,” at www.daytondailynews.com/news/sports/clayton-murphy-ready-to-represent-miami-valley-in-/nsDgF .
— Corrections: There are two corrections to items in the last issue of Newsline’s “Brethren bits.” The Renacer banquet raises funds for the Roanoke (Va.) Iglesia Cristiana Renacer, and not for the whole of the Renacer movement of Hispanic congregations in the Church of the Brethren. The correct date for Camp Harmony’s Brethren Heritage Festival is Saturday, Sept. 17.
— Remembrance: William “Bill” Henry Kaysen, a long-time volunteer with Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Brethren Service Center, died Aug. 8 in Wenatchee, Wash., after a battle with brain cancer. He was born in Wenatchee on Dec. 30, 1928, the only child of Hilda and William Henry Kaysen, Sr. In 1949 he married Catherine “Cathy” Elaine Wise, and for more than 60 years they resided in Wenatchee and raised four children. They were approaching their 61st wedding anniversary when Cathy passed away in 2010. Kaysen spent 31 years as production and plant manager for Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company in Wenatchee. Following retirement in 1991, he and his wife volunteered for many different organizations. For many years, they traveled to the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., to serve for several months at a time. The couple were long-time volunteers with SERRV in the 1990s and early 2000s, and he also assisted with upkeep and maintenance of the Brethren Service Center property. In addition, he volunteered with Brethren Disaster Ministries, helping to rebuild homes at 12 different disaster relief project sites across the United States. He made two mission trips to Africa–the last at age 83. At home in the Wenatchee area he volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and still found time to work part-time for Pepsi well into retirement. He was a member of the Brethren Baptist Church in Wenatchee, where he served as a deacon for many years. He is survived by his children Gary (Jean) of Spirit Lake, Idaho; David (Denise) of Waterville, Wash.; Camille (Greg) Wallis of Beaverton, Ore.; and Cindy (Dave) Fishbourne of Wenatchee; grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 4 p.m., on Friday, Aug. 26, at Ohme Gardens in Wenatchee. Memorial gifts are received to the Brethren Baptist Memorial Fund or Central Washington Hospital Hospice. An online guestbook is available at www.jonesjonesbetts.com .
— Middle Pennsylvania District has called an interim team of three people to provide leadership for the district following the departure of former district executive David Steele, who begins Sept. 1 as general secretary of the Church of the Brethren. Mark Liller began Aug. 8 as interim district executive in a half-time position with primary areas of focus on pastoral placement and administrative and credentialing oversight. Connie Maclay will assist with pastoral placement. Mike Benner will coordinate pastor care needs for pastors and their families. There is a change in the e-mail address for the district executive effective immediately. The new address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
The district is holding an open house for Steele this Sunday, Aug. 21, from 3 to 5 p.m. to celebrate his ministry in Middle Pennsylvania. The event takes place at the Bistro at the Village at Morrisons Cove, Pa. “Join us in celebrating with David and his family!” said an invitation.
— Emmy Goering of McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren has begun work as a peacebuilding and policy associate at the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C. She is serving through Brethren Volunteer Service. She graduated from McPherson (Kan.) High School in May.
Thursday, Aug. 18, was a final occasion for Source volunteers from Mt. Morris (Ill.) Church of the Brethren and Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., to stuff the packet that is mailed to each Church of the Brethren congregation. The Source packet is filled with fliers, bulletin inserts, posters, and other information about denominational programs and activities. Long-term Source coordinator Jean Clements retires in late September, and future preparation of Source packets will be handled by a mailing firm. Shown here (from left) are volunteer Donna Lehman, Jean Clements and Karen Stocking who work for Brethren Press, volunteer Pat Miller, and volunteer Uldine Baker.
— “Pray for the African Great Lake Batwa capacity-building conference being held this week,” said a request from the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service. This conference builds on the work of the three Brethren-related partners in the region: Shalom Ministry for Reconciliation and Development (SHAMIRED) in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services (THARS) in Burundi, and the fledgling Brethren group in Rwanda. The 26 participants represent leaders from Twa communities in the three countries as well as both the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups. They will share experiences with discrimination, trauma, and low-self esteem among the Twa people, and will address work for economic and agricultural development in their communities. The conference is funded by the Global Food Initiative and Global Mission and Service, with support from Chiques Church of the Brethren near Manheim, Pa.
— Another prayer request from Global Mission and Service is for a conference that is building connections with Venezuelan pastors and churches interested in affiliating with the Church of the Brethren. The conference is organized and led by Church of the Brethren leaders from Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and the United States. Topics include Brethren history and beliefs, footwashing, and the work of the minister.
— Agape-Satyagraha training has begun for a group of youth in the city of Bethlehem, Palestine, according to the most recent e-mail newsletter from On Earth Peace. “Agape-Satyagraha training began in July 2016 at Wi’am Center for Conflict Transformation/Resolution,” said a report from Lucas Al-Zoughbi, an Agape-Satyagraha training intern. “We began with a small number of participants. Over the course of the training the participants have gained skills for analyzing and resolving conflict through nonviolent means. One of the participants reported that she really enjoys the training and that she has grown as a person in the little time she has participated. On one of the first training days, a group of around 30 soldiers were running around the perimeter of the organization after they had arrested a young man. The group was very brave in the face of this direct violence, as they [the soldiers] pointed their guns at the participants and yelled orders. Yet Tarek, one of the mentor responded with ‘You need Agape-Satyagraha!’ which lightened the mood, but also was a refusal to be silent in the face of unjust violence.” Agape-Satyagraha training develops youth leaders in conflict transformation and nonviolent social change. On Earth Peace reports that the current site partners include Brethren Community Ministries in Harrisburg, Pa.; the Boys and Girls Club of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, Va.; Peace Place in Trotwood, Ohio; Hope Center for Kids in Omaha, Neb.; Warrensburg (Mo.) High School; as well as the Wi’am Center. “We continue to seek site partners in the US,” the newsletter said. Contact Marie Benner-Rhoades at email@example.com .
— A centennial celebration at Oak Dale Church of the Brethren in West Marva District is planned for Sunday, Aug. 28. However, the district newsletter included an extensive article on the history of the beginnings of the Oak Dale Church in the Pre-Civil War era in what was known then as the Greenland congregation. “Exact dates are vague but Elder John Kline ordained ministers in 1849 at Greenland according to his diaries,” the history said, in part. The centennial celebration will begin with worship, led by guest preacher Jim Myer, followed by Sunday school, a covered dish meal at noon, and a special afternoon service where members will be sharing their memories of the church. The emphasis of the day will be on the history of Oak Dale, the activities over the years, and fine fellowship.
— Wilmington (Del.) Church of the Brethren celebrates its 100th anniversary on the weekend of Oct. 1-2. Festivities begin Saturday afternoon, followed by a potluck dinner and an evening worship service. Worship on Sunday starts at 10:30 a.m. followed by a catered lunch. There will be lots of time for sharing fellowship, memories, pictures of the church over the years, and a church history. A church cookbook will be for sale. RSVP to the church office at 302-656-5912 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
— Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren in Shenandoah District is one of the groups sponsoring a performance of Ted & Company’s “Laughter Is Sacred Space,” in recognition of September as Suicide Prevention Month. The play will be offered on Thursday, Sept. 1, at 7 p.m., at Weyers Cave (Va.) Community Center. “This work, written by Ted Swartz, explores his relationship with his friend and business partner, Lee Eshleman, who took his own life in 2007,” said an announcement. “The evening promises ‘laughter, tears, joy, sorrow, inspiration and comedy–all in one show.’” Admission is free, and refreshments will be served.
— York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill., is planning special events in August, September, and October.
This year, York Center Church of the Brethren is celebrating 60 years in its church building, and 20 years of leadership by pastor Christy Waltersdorff, and an ice cream social on Aug. 26 will start off the celebration. “August 26 is the 60th anniversary of the first worship service in our current building,” she reports.
On Sunday, Oct. 16, the church will celebrate both anniversaries in worship with the theme, “Here in this Place.” A catered meal and program will follow worship and Sunday school.
On Sept. 24, a Unity Picnic from 12 noon to 3 p.m. will gather together the three congregations that share the church building: the York Center congregation; Parables Community new church plant focused on persons living with disabilities; and an African-American church called God’s Congregation Worship Center. The three congregations have invited the DuPage County Sheriff’s Department and the Villa Park Police Department to the picnic to enjoy good food, games, and fellowship.
— Aug. 19-20 are the dates for the 2016 Michigan District Conference. The event is held at New Haven Church of the Brethren in Middleton, Mich.
— Missouri and Arkansas District is helping to recruit volunteers for a 100-day interfaith “Blitz Build” in St. Louis, Mo., to aid families affected by flooding. In an announcement from district disaster coordinator Gary Gahm in the district newsletter, the effort that started July 25, and is expected to continue through Nov. 1, has the goal of getting “20 families back to normal in 100 days.” The flooding took place in the St. Louis area last December, but “there are still many families living with bare insulation, no heat or air conditioning, and no one to help,” the announcement said. The Salvation Army is providing case management for the project, to identify family needs. A United Methodist Church in Eureka, Mo., is hosting volunteer work teams.
— Atlantic Northeast District is hosting a Christian/Muslim workshop on Oct. 13, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., at the district office in Elizabethtown, Pa. The event will be led by Musa Mambula, former national spiritual advisor for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and currently a scholar in residence at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. The day will address topics including the Christian and Muslim perspectives on peace, facing the challenge of Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria, and building Christian-Muslim relations. Cost is $40, which includes lunch and .6 units of continuing education for ministers. The deadline to register is Oct. 5. Go to http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07ecpdp9bd3a8039b7&llr=qsqizkxab .
— “Needs of Our Neighbors” is a Northern Plains District workshop hosted by Camp Pine Lake on Oct. 7-8. The goal of the event is “to share and explore findings from the current Sending of the Seventy,” said the district newsletter. “Churches are exploring several scriptures and questions and visitors are meeting with them to listen and collect their insights. This workshop will be a time to share insights, develop skills, and discern ways to help each other.” The guiding scriptures are Matthew 25:31-46, Luke 4:16-21, and Luke 10:25-37. Guiding questions include: What are the crying needs of your neighbors that God hears and knows and that God wants you to also hear and know? What are the groups or persons outside your church that God wants you to work with to address the needs of your neighbors? How can we help each church in the district become more informed and effective in response to their neighbor’s needs?
— Camp Harmony near Hooversville, Pa., is holding a Pig Roast on Saturday, Sept. 10, from 12 noon to 2 p.m. Ticket prices are $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-11, and free for children age 5 and under. The menu includes pulled pork sandwiches with a choice of sauces, baked potatoes, baked beans, applesauce, drink, and dessert. The event benefits the camp and its ministries, and is held with the help of B&C Bar-B-Que and Friends of Camp. For more information go to www.campharmony.org .
— The COBYS Bike and Hike, which is in its 20th year, seeks to raise $120,000 when it is held on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 11, starting at Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. In addition to a silent auction, the event includes a 3-mile walk, 10- and 25-mile bicycle rides, and the 65-mile Dutch Country Motorcycle Ride, which this year will travel across the Susquehanna River into York County. “The first COBYS Bike and Hike was held in fall 1997,” said a release. “Prior to that COBYS hosted three walks in Ephrata, Palmyra, and Harleysville. The Harleysville event continues each spring as the Family Fun Walk at Peter Becker Community. The other two walks were combined in 1997, bicycle and motorcycle rides were added, the event was moved to Lititz, and rebranded as the Roll and Stroll. Except for the name, which later was changed to Bike and Hike, it turned out to be a winning combination. Improved publicity, expanded business support, and in recent years the addition of a silent auction have helped Bike and Hike income to grow every year since 1999. All told, more than $1.1 million has been raised.” Walkers and bicyclists donate a $25 registration fee, obtain support from sponsors, or both. Motorcycles are $35 per cycle, plus $25 for an additional passenger. Those who pre-register by Sept. 6 receive a $5 discount. Individuals who raise $25 or more in pledges do not need to pay the registration fee. Each participant receives a free t-shirt, ice cream and refreshments, and a chance to win a door prize. Those who raise certain levels of support earn additional prizes. Junior and senior high youth groups who raise $1,500 or more earn a gym and pizza night. A WJTL radio personality will provide live reports from the event. The event raises funds for the COBYS mission to educate, support, and empower children and adults to reach their full potential through foster care and adoption services, counseling, and family life education. For more information go to http://cobys.org/news-events .
— A Nigerian family from Chibok recently paid a special visit to former missionary Lois Neher in McPherson, Kan. The ABC television station KAKE was one of the Kansas media outlets to run the story. The station reported that the Nigerian family made the visit to thank Neher and her late husband, Gerald Neher, for their “hard work developing their country. Thlela Kolo and his family traveled across the world to visit the people they credit for helping their culture develop from a primitive society to a more modern one,” the report said. It quoted Kolo as saying of the Nehers: “They sacrificed everything, and we felt that we should come and hold their hand and say, ‘Thank you very much for this great work.’” The Nehers were among the first Church of the Brethren mission workers to serve in Chibok, in 1954, and spent some four years there as teachers. They wrote and published several books about the Chibok people, who are a unique ethnic group in northeast Nigeria, and about their experiences living and working in Nigeria. Find the KAKE report at www.kake.com/story/32704147/brethren-missionary-receives-special-visit-from-foreign-friends#.V6pHMTDJjV0 .