Brethren Bits for February 12, 2016

The founder of Circleville (Ohio) Church of the Brethren is being honored among other local African-American trailblazers, according to an article in the “Circleville Herald.” Church founder John H. May was one of 175 African-American men who in 1870 met in Circleville to discuss the happenings of the April election that year, the newspaper reported. “They had attempted to exercise the newly acquired right to vote. News articles of that day reported a conspiracy in the state of Ohio to prevent any man of color from casting a vote.” Of the men at that meeting, 147 signed 2 petitions and sent them to members of Congress. The Pickaway County African American Heritage Association (PCAAHA) formed in 2003 to celebrate the historical significance of the event, and each year honors some of the men who took part, and their descendants. On April 2, PCAAHA hosts the Ninth Annual Heritage Banquet, with the honored families for 2016 including the May family. The newspaper reports: “In 1870, John H. May left the Baptist doctrine and started a German Baptist Dunkard church. He and his wife, Susan Dade Brown May, led family members in worship…. The church grew diversely becoming the Church of the Brethren.” A member of the Dade family will accept the 2016 Posthumous Legacy Award on behalf of Rev. May. Find the newspaper report at .

In personnel news from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., Rob Yelnosky, vice president for finance and operations since 2007, is transitioning to a new role. According to a release, his new position begins Oct. 1, when he will become the college’s point-person on strategic initiatives, including managing implementation and adoption of Juniata’s strategic plan with particular focus on experiential learning, community outreach, and institutional benchmarking. He will be replaced as vice president for finance and operations, effective Aug. 1, by John Wilkin, currently vice president of administration and business affairs at Heidelberg University. Between Aug. 1-Oct. 1, Yelnosky and Wilkin will work together to ensure a smooth transition.

District executives, executives of the Church of the Brethren, Bethany Theological Seminary, Brethren Benefit Trust, and On Earth Peace, and their board chairs, together with the Annual Conference officers, met for an afternoon during the Winter Council of District Executives (CODE) meeting. The group engaged in intentional conversation related to the upcoming business of Annual Conference, said a brief report from David Steele, district executive minister of Middle Pennsylvania District and chair of the Inter-Agency Forum. The conversation centered around three questions: What are our hopes for the church (Church of the Brethren)? Given the contentious issues coming to Annual Conference, what are our hopes for Annual Conference? How might we address the emotion which surrounds these issues? Knowing the business of Annual Conference is surrounded with heart-felt emotion, what must we do pastorally so that people feel heard in such a way that brings greater health to the Conference while not overwhelming the Conference or business process? Steele reported that the intent of the conversation was not to arrive at any particular answer or outcome, but to consider the health and well-being of the Conference prior to arriving in Greensboro, N.C. The conversations concluded with expressions of hope, appreciation for the conversation, and prayers for the movement of the Holy Spirit upon this year’s Annual Conference, its leadership, and the church.

The Global Mission and Service office has requested prayer for Iglesia des los Hermanos (the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic), and for Eglise des Freres d’Haiti (Church of the Brethren in Haiti). In the Dominican Republic, Brethren will be gathering for their annual conference, the Asamblea, and prayer is requested for safe travel and for the presence of the Holy Spirit in the conference. Members of the Church of the Brethren’s Mission Advisory Committee as well as denominational staff are traveling to the DR to attend the Asamblea. In Haiti, the church has been holding a theological training session in which 27 participants studied homiletics and explored the Old Testament books of Joshua through Esther. In addition, prayers are requested for a mobile medical clinic being held for a community of refugees near the border of Haiti and the DR, for people deported from the DR following court rulings that have stripped them of citizenship.  Leaders from Iglesia de los Hermanos worked with partners to provide the clinic, and Brethren congregations provided clothing and food for distribution.

Fourteen members of Buffalo Valley (Pa.) Church of the Brethren have served with Iglesia de los Hermanos (the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic), working on church construction projects with the congregations in Magueyal and Azua, and assisting with youth retreats. A prayer request for the experience from Global Mission and Service asked “for the forging of meaningful, lasting relationships.”

Mutual Kumquat will be recording the music for the 2016-17 “Shine Songbook” and CD, according to an announcement. Shine is a Christian education curriculum jointly produced by Brethren Press and MennoMedia. “Search for this amazing band online at as well as Facebook and My Space. Or watch them perform at the Church of the Brethren National Youth Conference,” said the announcement. “Our goal at Shine is to provide music that will help children sing their faith. The Shine Songbook and CD includes songs for Christmas and Easter, reflective prayer songs, upbeat songs that children can dance to, songs with motions, and blessing songs. There are seven languages represented on the 2016–17 CD, reflecting the diversity in the church.” For a preview of the Shine CD, listen to “Fluye, Espíritu, fluye” (Flow, Spirit, Flow) at .

Also new from Shine, a Lent 2016-Lent 2017 Bible reading plan based on “Shine On: A Story Bible” is now available at . This updated Bible reading plan comes from Nancy and Irv Heishman, pastors at West Charleston (Ohio) Church of the Brethren and incorporates Psalm readings with stories from “Shine On.” Purchase the Shine story Bible from Brethren Press at or call 800-441-3712.

Camp Eder in Fairfield, Pa., is offering maple sugaring tours from 9 a.m.-12 noon on two Saturdays, Feb. 27 and March 5, during the Mount Hope Maple Madness festivals of fun sponsored by Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve and the camp. Events also include a pancake breakfast, indoor arts and crafts vendors, music, and more. Go to .

Regional Youth Conference will be held at McPherson (Kan.) College on the theme “Strip Down: Changing from the Inside Out” (1 John 3:18-20, the Message) on Feb. 26-28. High school youth and their advisors, as well as college students who would like to assist with the weekend, are invited to attend. Leadership will include Jeff Carter, president of Bethany Seminary, and Mutual Kumquat. The cost is $65, with discounted fees available for college students who assist with activities. For more information and a registration link go to . For questions contact Jen Jensen at or at 620-2420503 (office) or 402-990-8682 (cell and text).

The 2016 Youth Roundtable at Bridgewater (Va.) College is planned for April 8-10, with speakers Tim and Audrey Hollenberg-Duffey. The Friday night entertainment will be the Walking Roots Band.

Southern Ohio District is beginning a Listening/Discerning/Visioning Process. “At the 2015 district conference, the body voted to have the district conduct a process for Listening/Discerning/Reconciliation utilizing an organization steeped in reconciliation work,” the district newsletter reported. Involved in leadership of the process along with district leaders are Leslie Frye of the Ministry of Reconciliation of On Earth Peace, and Bob Gross and Carol Waggy who conducted a training of volunteers in January. The District Gifts Discernment Team has identified several persons as prospective volunteers to go out in pairs to visit with groups from each of the 52 congregations associated with the district. Their task will be simply to listen and bring back appreciations, concerns, and suggestions regarding the district, expressed by the congregations. This information will be utilized in planning next steps for the district. “Your prayers are also coveted for the ministry,” said the announcement.

“Caregiving in the Midst of Conflict: The Deacon’s Role” is the title of a deacon training event on Saturday, Feb. 27, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Village Green on the campus of the Village at Morrisons Cove, Pa. “Churches are often at the center of our sense of community,” said an announcement from Middle Pennsylvania District. “We come to them for worship, support, communion, and conversation. We bring to them strongly held beliefs and diverse needs. These differences mean that our congregations are also sites of conflict. The Middle Pennsylvania District Shalom Team will provide deacons and other church leaders with listening and engagement tools for proactively dealing with the everyday differences that bring strength and creativity, along with struggle and hurt to our congregations. Over the course of the day we will explore how to identify emerging conflicts, strategies for addressing them, and the ways which the deacons can work together and with other leaders in the church to create healthy conflict practices.”

Civil rights leader Otis Moss Jr., a nationally respected and influential religious leader, spoke for the 48th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance and Rededication Ceremony at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind. The observance commemorates King’s last speech at a college campus. He presented “The Future of Integration” at Manchester on Feb. 1, 1968, two months before he was slain in Memphis, Tenn. Moss, who was a colleague and friend of King, presented “Learning from the Life and Teaching of Martin Luther King, Jr. from Generation to Generation” on Jan. 28 at Cordier Auditorium. The presentation was sponsored by the university’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, Peace Studies Institute and Program for Conflict Resolution, and the President’s Office, and was part of the university’s Values, Ideas, and the Arts series.

The February edition of the “Brethren Voices” community television program produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren features the Brethren Heritage Center in Brookville, Ohio. The center is dedicated to preserving the heritage of the Brethren bodies that trace their roots back to the baptisms in Schwarzenau, Germany, in 1708. Southwestern Ohio was chosen for the location of the center due to the large number of Brethren living in the Miami Valley Region. Beginning in the late 1970s, historian and genealogist Donald R. Bowman of Brookville, a member of the Southern Ohio District Historical Committee of the Church of the Brethren, began accumulating books, historical records and artifacts from several Church of the Brethren congregations. The collection was housed at the old Happy Corner Church of the Brethren and was open to the public for viewing by appointment, as the “Brethren Heritage Center.” In 1999, some Old German Baptist Brethren became concerned about preserving their books and records. Fred W. Benedict, who had earlier pledged his entire library for preservation, met Larry E. Heisey and Mark Flory Steury, each of whom pledged to supplement a project from their own extensive collections. It was at the same time that the Happy Corner project needed a new home. Today, it is known as the Brethren Heritage Center. This edition of “Brethren Voices” tours the center, guided by Gale Honeyman and Larry Heisey. The program is hosted by Brent Carlson in two versions, one for television and a 43 minute version containing more stories and detail about the center. For a copy or more information, contact producer Ed Groff at .

The Global Women’s Project is again offering a Lenten calendar that brings attention each day to issues of wealth and privilege and to global neighbors–specifically women. To receive the Lenten calendar at no cost, send an e-mail to and request to be mailed a paper copy, or request to be added to the daily Lenten calendar e-mail list. Participants will receive one page by e-mail each day during the season of Lent.

“Seven Weeks for Water 2016″ was launched on Wednesday by the Ecumenical Water Network. The effort raises awareness in advance of World Water Day on March 22. The World Council of Churches (WCC) has designated a regional focus on the Middle East in 2016, and accordingly this year’s Seven Weeks for Water “will take us on a pilgrimage of water justice in the Middle East, with specific reference to Palestine,” said a release. Online resources are provided for individual or group use. The biblical reflection for the first of the seven weeks is by Munib Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and one of the Presidents of Middle East Council of Churches, and currently president of Lutheran World Federation. “In this reflection he compares the New Jerusalem as envisaged by John in the book of Revelation where ‘the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city’ and the ‘thirsty Jerusalem’ of today,” said the release. Find this and more resources at .

Peggy Reiff Miller, author of the forthcoming illustrated children’s book from Brethren Press, “The Seagoing Cowboy,” is featured in the spring issue of the Heifer International magazine “World Ark.” Her children’s book tells the story of a seagoing cowboy who volunteered to accompany livestock shipped by boat to a devastated Europe following World War II. The seagoing cowboys were part of the Church of the Brethren’s Heifer Project–now Heifer International–with funding and help from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). Miller’s “World Ark” article titled “Mining for Gems in the Heifer Archives” tells how she is keeping alive the stories of the seagoing cowboys through research and personal meetings with former seagoing cowboys. Find the article at . Miller also will be the featured author at Heifer Village on April 16, as part of the Arkansas Literary Festival. Find out more about the Arkansas Literary Festival at



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