Brethren Bits for December 3, 2016

“Praise God for the ongoing distributions of food and supplies to Haitians affected by Hurricane Matthew and the resulting flooding that continues in many communities,” says a prayer request from Global Mission and Service. Eglise des Freres d’Haiti, the Church of the Brethren in Haiti, is leading the distributions with support from the Emergency Disaster Fund. Recent efforts have provided aid to 818 families in communities such as Saint Louis du Nord, Cap Haitian, Ouanaminthe, and Morne Boulage. “Continue to pray for all those affected by this large-scale disaster,” the request said.

Remembrance: (Alma) Ferne Strohm Baldwin, 97, of North Manchester, Ind., died at Timbercrest Health Care on Nov. 26. She served in the Church of the Brethren mission in Nigeria with her husband, Elmer, from 1944-62. Her work there included teaching in mission schools, language translation, producing books in a Nigerian language, keeping the mission books, and other office and deputation work. While home on furlough in 1958, she graduated from Manchester College with a degree in philosophy. After earning a master’s degree and a doctorate in social services from Ball State University, she served as professor of sociology and social work at Manchester College from 1969-89, and became department chair. She continued to teach part time after becoming the archivist, until 1999. She moved to Timbercrest Senior Living Community in 2004. She was born Sept. 29, 1919, in Kansas to John Alonzo and Mary Matilda (Derrick) Strohm. She went to Chicago in 1936 to attend Bethany Bible School where she met Elmer Rufus Baldwin. They were married in 1938. She also attended Nebraska Wesleyan University, the University of Wichita, and Bethany Seminary. She was preceded in death by her husband, Elmer, and her middle daughter and son-in-law, Louise and Phil Rieman. She is survived by daughters Barbara (Tim) Bryant of Jackson, Tenn., and Lois (David) Good of North Manchester, Ind.; grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A memorial service was held today, Dec. 3, at Manchester Church of the Brethren. Memorial gifts are received to the Baldwin Scholarship Fund and the Baldwin Rieman Peacemaker Fund at Manchester University and to Timbercrest Charitable Assistance.

Remembrance: Barbara McFadden, 81, of North Manchester, Ind., died Nov. 22 at Timbercrest Health Care Center. She worked in the Brethren Press/SERRV store at the Church of the Brethren General Offices beginning in 1972, and was a temporary employee in the stewardship area from 1973 into the early 1980s. She also served as switchboard operator/receptionist for the Church of the Brethren into the early 1990s. She was born Jan. 25, 1935, in Chicago to Raymond and Kathryn (Eller) Peters. She married Ralph McFadden in 1955. She was married to Ralph Royer, father of Nigeria Crisis Response coordinator Roxane Hill, from 2006 until his death in 2012. She was a teacher of home economics and English, counseled youth in several capacities and enjoyed working in both the SERRV shop in Elgin, Ill., and at Show of Hands in Denver, Colo. Also also was an accomplished organist and pianist. She was member of Manchester Church of the Brethren. She is survived by son Joel (Laura) McFadden of Thornton, Colo.; daughter, Jill (Anne Tapp) McFadden of Boulder, Colo.; and a grandchild. Memorial gifts are received to Manchester Church of the Brethren and Timbercrest Senior Living Community. Plans for a memorial service are pending. The full obituary is posted at .

On Earth Peace has immediate internship opportunities. The agency is seeking interns to fill the following roles: Dayton/Miami Valley (Ohio) Racial Justice Organizer, Social Media Organizer. On Earth Peace internship opportunities are intended for young adults ages 18-24 and college students, recent graduates, and seminary students regardless of age. Interns work closely with the executive director, program directors, and program partners. Internships are paid. For more information including how to apply, contact Marie Benner-Rhoades at .

The December 2016 edition of the Church of the Brethren Manual of Organization and Polity has been posted at . “Very little has changed since the 2015 edition,” reports Annual Conference secretary James Beckwith. “The few additions are identified in the Preface of the Overview chapter. As much as possible, this manual reflects the exact wording of Annual Conference polity decisions. It purpose is to unite, strengthen, and equip the Church of the Brethren to follow Jesus together.” Revisions were approved by the Leadership Team: David A. Steele, general secretary; Carol A. Scheppard, moderator; Samuel Kefas Sarpiya, moderator-elect; James M. Beckwith, secretary; and Conference director Chris Douglas as staff support.

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership will offer the “Healthy Boundaries 101–Basic Level Ethics in Ministry Relations” training via webcast on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern time). This session is for ministry training students and newly licensed or ordained clergy who have not yet had the training. Academy executive director Julie M. Hostetter will lead the training. The webcast will use the Zoom technology. The fee to participate is $30 for newly licensed or ordained clergy, which includes a book and a certificate for continuing education units. The fee is $15 for students currently at Bethany Seminary or in the TRIM, EFSM, or ACTS ministry training program. The registration deadline is Dec. 19. No registrations will be received via phone or e-mail after this deadline. A website link will be e-mailed to participants a few days prior to the webcast.  Dan Poole, director of educational technology at Bethany Seminary, will provide technology support for this event. For questions and more information contact .

The Office of Public Witness continues its exploration of how Christians can respond to displaced peoples in the latest episode of the Dunker Punks Podcast. Emerson Goering, a peacebuilding and policy associate, interviews Mark Charles about Native American history and the intersection of Columbus and other Europeans coming into the land. The Dunker Punks Podcast is an audio show created by more than a dozen Brethren young adults across the country. Listen to the latest episode at or subscribe on iTunes at .

Registration has opened for Christian Citizenship Seminar (CCS) 2017. CCS provides high school aged students the chance to explore the relationship between faith and a particular political issue, and then act from a faith perspective regarding that issue. The theme for next year’s event, which takes place in New York and Washington, D.C., on April 22-27, is “Native American Rights: Food Security.” Find out more and register at .

The Soybean Innovation Lab newsletter for November 2016 features a front-page article on a recent Church of the Brethren visit to the Soybean Management and Appropriate Research and Technology farm in Ghana. Brethren from the United States joined Brethren from Nigeria in the visit to learn more about soybean agriculture. The trip was sponsored by the Global Food Initiative. Find the article at .

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) put volunteers on alert to go to Tennessee to aid families and children affected by fires, but it now seems that childcare services will not be needed. “It sounds like the rain has been quite a blessing for the areas of the fires… So, at this time we are anticipating no calls out for childcare,” said an e-mail from staff to volunteers who offered to be on call. “However, we will keep you all in mind on our list, as we all know how quickly things can change.” For more about the ministry of CDS go to .


Volunteers pack books for Nigeria


“We have been collecting books for Nigeria for months,” reports Sharon Billings Franzén, office manager for Brethren Disaster Ministries. The deadline to collect books was Nov. 20. On Nov. 29-Dec. 1 she and others from Brethren Disaster Ministries and Brethren Volunteer Service gathered with volunteers from Bush Creek Church of the Brethren, Westminster Church of the Brethren, and Greenmount United Methodist Church to sort and pack books into boxes headed to Nigeria for school students and for Kulp Bible College. “Books came from all over the country. One of the farthest away was from San Diego First Church of the Brethren which mailed two boxes of books weighing over 100 pounds. Volunteers from the church worked with Rowan Elementary School which donated books.” A blessing service was held for the books, prior to their shipment to Nigeria early in the New Year.

An updated alternative gift catalogue from Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services is online at . These online purchases benefit the disaster relief ministries of the Church of the Brethren.

An announcement for those living near the Brethren Service Center campus in New Windsor, Md., or anyone who likes holiday cookies delivered by mail: Zigler Hospitality Center is making what one announcement described as “those huge, delicious cookies” for $4 per dozen. Information is at

“Making Friends at Camp Safari” is the title of an article published by Anabaptist Disabilities Network, written by Karen Dillon, director of Camping and Retreats for Southern Ohio District. Camp Safari was a new camp this year for the district, she writes. “The camp focused on providing a Christian camping experience for campers with special needs. Leadership was provided by Kylie and Matt Shetler, the deans, and District Camp staff. Campers hiked, swam, laughed, sang, and did all the things expected at camp. The exciting activities of clowning around, making kazoos from detergent jugs, to interactive Bible stories, a talent showcase, and closing campfire brought everyone in the camp close together in the family of God. The campers came as strangers, but left as friends. They knew they were accepted and celebrated for who they were. Such joy that abounded throughout this camping experience was wonderful to witness.” Read more about Camp Safari at

On Earth Peace is hosting several web-based “meet ups where participants will share in conversation about faithful Christian peace and justice work under the new administration, Congress, in state and local realities, and within church institutions,” said an announcement. “We are inviting you to offer up your ideas, plans, hopes, resources, and needs. During this time you will get to meet others with similar passions and join together in prayer as we seek spiritual power and nourishment for these times. These conversations will inform OEP’s nonviolent social change organizing in 2017 and beyond. You will also learn about organizing, training, and leadership development opportunities for social change leaders in the coming months.” A first event was planned for Friday, Dec. 2. The next two events are planned for Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m. (Eastern); and Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 12:30 p.m. (Eastern). For questions contact . For more information and to sign up to participate, go to


Photo courtesy of Zakariya Musa
Female theologians meet in Nigeria


EYN female theologians have conducted a seminar on forgiveness and reconciliation, reports Zakariya Musa of the communications staff of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). “A five-day workshop was organized by the EYN Female Theologians on Forgiveness and Reconciliation,” he writes in a release to Newsline. “It was held at Hometell Suite, Yola, the capital of Adamawa State. Thirty one EYN female theologians attended the seminar with two renowned facilitators. The Mission 21-sponsored event was facilitated by the Mission 21 country coordinator Yakubu Joseph, Ph.D., and Ephraim I. Kadala, EYN peace coordinator. EYN president Joel S. Billi and the EYN general secretary also met with the female theologians during the workshop. One of the participants, Ester Emmanuel from Kulp Bible College, shared that the workshop was a rich one ranging from the accommodation, feeding, and teachings on forgiveness, peace, and reconciliation, and on accepting God’s gifts. Female theologians headed by the first EYN female theologian Dr. Yamtikarya J. Mshelia have played roles in church development in diverse means despite none receiving ordination so far.”

Oakley Brick Church of the Brethren in Cerro Gordo, Ill., is experiencing a surge of new life, according to the News-Gazette. The congregation is planning to rebuild after strong winds destroyed its church close to a year ago, on Dec. 23, 2015. Pastor David Roe told the newspaper that he has trouble counting the blessings that have poured in since then, thanks to strong support from the community and from neighboring churches. Read the article at

Champaign (Ill.) Church of the Brethren was one of the participants in a first Thanksgiving program sponsored by the Interfaith Alliance of Champaign County, according to an article in the News-Gazette. Groups that came together for the event also included, among others, the Sinai Temple, a Jewish congregation; Community United Church of Christ, Champaign; First Mennonite Church, Urbana; the Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center; New Life Church of Faith, Champaign; and the Baha’i Center, Urbana. “The alliance, which meets once a month, came up with the idea of the Interfaith Thanksgiving Program as a way to grow and affect the community beyond the group’s monthly meetings at different places of worship,” the article said. See

Dranesville Church of the Brethren in Herndon, Va., has participated in a rededication of the Battle of Dranesville marker. The church is located at the battle site, and its annual Peace Service remembering those who were killed in the Civil War battle is planned for Sunday, Dec. 18, at 7 p.m.

The pastor and others from First Church of the Brethren in Lansing, Mich., are sending “love letters of support” to the Islamic Center in East Lansing, reports a Facebook post from the church. The supportive letters respond to a hate letter that was received by the center, among other mosques and Islamic centers around the country. Read news articles from the “Lansing State Journal” at and from the “Los Angeles Times” at

Atlantic Northeast District is holding a drop-in celebration for retiring district executive minister Craig Smith and his wife, Vicki Smith, to thank them for their years of service. “Following worship, please join us at the Hempfield Church of the Brethren on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, from 12:00-3:30 p.m.,” said an invitation from the district. The event will include food and refreshments and time for conversation to bless the couple in the next steps in life. Said the announcement: “We are so grateful for Craig and Vicki’s faithfulness and hope that you can be a part of sharing in this together.”

The Pinecrest Community’s annual craft and vendor fair and bake sale “is bigger and better this year at our new location!” says an announcement. The fair will be held Saturday, Dec. 3, from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m., throughout the Pinecrest Grove Community Center in Mount Morris, Ill. More than 30 crafters and vendors will be on hand and a “huge holiday bake sale” will be part of the event. All proceeds benefit the Good Samaritan Fund. This fund was established in 1988 to help cover the cost of care for seniors who have outlived their personal financial resources. Pinecrest is a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community.

Manchester University has received a $300,000 grant to support efforts to raise awareness about sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking, and enhance victim support. “This is the only such grant awarded to an Indiana institution this year by the US Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women,” said a release from the university. “It is among 61 such grants given nationwide totaling $25 million.” The three-year award allows Manchester to implement its CARE Initiative–Creating a Respectful Environment–for the North Manchester and Fort Wayne campuses in Indiana. The proposal calls for Manchester to partner with victim services providers Hands of Hope, the Beaman Home (Warsaw), the Fort Wayne Sexual Assault Treatment Center and Crime Victim Care, as well as the police departments in North Manchester and Fort Wayne. The grant will fund a CARE coordinator for the duration of the award.

While meeting in China from Nov. 17-23, the World Council of Churches (WCC) executive committee issued a “Statement on Climate Justice” that “reiterates the urgent concerns of churches in relation to climate change, and calls on all states to fulfill the commitments of the Paris Agreement,” said a release. “The Paris agreement, adopted at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015, has come into legal effect after a rapid ratification process in which both China and the United States of America joined. The Paris Agreement commits countries to keeping the global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius, making every effort to limit the rise to the lower threshold of 1.5 degrees. The WCC executive committee statement acknowledges and welcomes the example offered by the government of China in its ratification of the Paris Agreement, and ‘in leading the world in investing in development of renewable energy.’ The statement encourages the government of China to ‘show further global leadership by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement commitments.’ The statement also reaffirms the importance of continuing ecumenical advocacy and action for climate justice in the framework of a pilgrimage of justice and peace, and intensified interfaith cooperation for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.” See

In more news from the World Council of Churches, Stan Noffsinger was one of the ecumenical leaders who led by example at a World AIDS Day 2016 event. Noffsinger is the former general secretary of the Church of the Brethren and currently serves on the WCC staff in Geneva, Switzerland. He was one of the church leaders who volunteered to be tested for HIV on Dec. 1, which is commemorated as World AIDS Day. “It is an opportunity to remind ourselves that HIV has not gone away; that there is still a vital need to increase awareness, fight prejudice, stigma and discrimination, improve education, increase access to testing and treatment, raise funds and promote human rights,” said a release from the WCC, which has launched a campaign called “Leading by Example: Religious Leaders and HIV Testing.” The release continued: “We are encouraging religious leaders to promote HIV testing and get tested for HIV. The aim is to overcome the stigma of HIV testing by showing that having the test done is not a statement about morality, but a health practice that all should do. At present, fewer than 50 percent of people living with HIV know their HIV status. Faith leaders and communities can make a huge difference in overcoming the stigma surrounding HIV testing! We can show that knowing your status is important for everyone, because HIV is a virus, not a moral condition.” For more information go to

“See how we helped create the most beautiful ad of the season,” says a release from the National Council of Churches (NCC). “You may have seen it. Millions have, either on TV or in social media shares. People everywhere are talking about it, and the National Council of Churches helped create it. Here’s how it happened: Associate General Secretary Tony Kireopoulos was contacted by Amazon Prime and was asked to consult on the creation of this ad. They wanted to make sure the sensitivities of both Christians and Muslims were protected. Tony was involved throughout the production process. Together with input from other organizations, Amazon created an ad that appeals to our highest ideals and reflects the values of interreligious respect, peace, and kindness the National Council of Churches works for every day. The advertisement tells a story of a Christian Pastor and a Muslim Imam who are lifelong friends but aren’t as sprightly as they were in their youth. One day the pastor has a moment of inspiration and decides to do something to make the Imam’s life and work a little easier. What the pastor doesn’t know, is the Imam also has the same idea for the pastor.” The Church of the Brethren denomination is a founding member of the NCC. View the ad at

The current episode of the NCC Podcast features Catherine Orsburn, director of Shoulder-to-Shoulder, speaking about the recent uptick in anti-Muslim incidents in the US, and the signs of hope she sees for the future. Every week NCC communications director Steven D. Martin interviews faith leaders, activists, and people from across the NCC’s 38 member communions and affiliated organizations. The Church of the Brethren denomination is a founding member of the National Council of Churches, and is a member of the Shoulder-to-Shoulder campaign through its Office of Public Witness. For more information or to subscribe to the NCC podcasts go to

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has published a new perspective on the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, called “Saint Paul and Saint Luke on Lesvos–a new light on the refugee crisis from a Christian perspective” written by Annelies Klinefelter. The reflection begins: “In 56 A.D., Luke the Evangelist, the Apostle Paul and their companions stopped on Lesvos briefly on the return trip of Paul’s third missionary journey (Acts 20:14), having sailed from Assos (about 50 km away). From Mytilini they continued towards Chios (Acts 20:15). In 2016, Luke and Paul would have been picked up by coastguard ships and denied entry. Paul was a Turk and Luke a Palestinian. European governments now associate both of these nationalities with terrorism. In the many thousands of refugees now on the island there may be many Pauls and many Lukes….” Find the full reflection at

A Fourth Annual National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence will be held at St. Marks Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on the fourth anniversary date of the Sandy Hook tragedy. The event is sponsored by the hosting church along with the Newtown Action Alliance and the Newtown Foundation, Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Organizing for Action, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and Everytown Survivor Network. “We will be joined by hundreds of families of victims and survivors of gun violence and advocates from Sandy Hook, Aurora, Charleston, Virginia Tech, Chicago, Oakland, Hartford and elsewhere,” said an announcement. The coalition has hand-delivered an invitation to the National Vigil to every member of Congress on Capitol Hill and is extending an open invitation to join in the vigil. For those living outside the Washington area, there are 200 local vigils being planned across the nation. For more information contact

“A Child Born for Us; Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” is the title for the Advent Disciplines folder for daily Bible reading and prayer provided by Springs of Living Water. Springs is an initiative for church renewal in the Church of the Brethren. “The entire congregation joins in following these scripture readings which follow the lectionary readings using the Brethren bulletin series starting Nov. 27,” said a release. “The spiritual life and unity of the congregation grows…. With Christmas Eve being one of the most attended services, a Spiritual Disciplines folder can serve as a guide for daily discipleship and can be given out as a gift to all attendees. In this manner the entire congregation can continue on the next day with a pattern to move into the New Year and the first season of joy in the New Year, known at Epiphany or Season of Light.” In an additional note, the release includes a reminder that the next Springs Academy for pastors via telephone conference call begins Jan. 10, 2017. David and Joan Young lead the initiative. Vince Cable, pastor of Fairchance Church of the Brethren and moderator of Western Pennsylvania District, composed this disciplines folder. An interpretative DVD is on the front page of the website at . For more information call 717-615-4515 or e-mail .

The story of a Conestoga wagon that originally helped members of a Dunkard or Brethren family–the Wine family–head west in the days of the pioneers, is told by the Greeneville Sun newspaper. The wagon is now on display at the state museum in Nashville, Tenn., “after having spent decades on exhibit in Johnson City, first at the museum of the East Tennessee State Teachers College (now East Tennessee State University) and then the Carroll Reece Museum,” the newspaper reports. “In 1837, Christian Wine, of Forrestville, Va., in Shenandoah County, commissioned a wagon maker by the name of Garber to build the large curved wagon with extra-tall wheels for ease of fording rivers and keeping the contents dry.” The Wine family included carpenters who helped build the churches at French Broad in Jefferson County, Tenn., and Fruitdale and Cedar Creek in Alabama. Jacob Wine’s carpentry tools became part of a collection at a museum at Bridgewater (Va.) College, the article reports. See

Todd Hammond, pastor of Agape Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., has preserved the Saturday before the attack on Pearl Harbor with a model of the US military base in Hawaii as it was on its last day at peace Dec. 6, 1941. The 1-2,400 scale model has gained media attention recently. “Pearl Harbor and the world changed the next morning, Sunday, Dec. 7…. Hammond chooses to remember the last day before that dramatic and permanent change. It’s still a bright Saturday on Hammond’s little, peaceful Pacific island,” says a report from KPC News. The model is to go on display soon at the National Museum of the US Navy in Washington, D.C., after Hammond’s 25-year project won the support of a survivor of the attack. Find the story at

Steve Schwartz, who had served for 11 years as executive director of the Brethren Housing Association in Harrisburg, Pa., has been hired as the first director of development for Christian Churches United of the Tri-County Area in Harrisburg. CCU is a collaboration of more than 100 Anabaptist, Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, and Catholic member congregations uniting in collaborative ministry to combat homelessness and poverty, and to support ex-offenders as they transition back to the community.



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