Brethren Bits for February 27, 2016

Beavercreek (Ohio) Church of the Brethren is hosting a concert and fundraiser featuring Mutual Kumquat on Saturday, March 12, at 7 p.m. Mutual Kumquat, a Church of the Brethren soul-folk-pop band that blends sacred and secular music, will perform the event as a benefit to provide medical attention for a Nigerian family with three hearing-impaired children. “A free-will offering will be collected to purchase a hearing aid for one child and cochlear implants for her sisters as well as to provide for additional medical needs,” said an announcement and invitation from the church. “Cecilia, age 13, and hard of hearing from birth, has never spoken and communicates only through signs. Omega, age 7, has a twin brother with perfect hearing. When she was a baby, Omega contracted measles. After experiencing a high fever, she was unable to hear again. Hanatu, age 4, suffered an ear infection resulting in very limited hearing. This family with seven children, facing relocation as a result of the destruction and deadly attacks by insurgents in northeast Nigeria, cannot afford the devices that doctors say can help the girls to hear.” For general information about the ongoing crisis in Nigeria, visit . To learn more about Mutual Kumquat, visit . For more information about the concert, call 937-426-0615 or visit .

Erika Fitz has resigned as program coordinator for the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC) based in Elizabethtown, Pa., effective April 30.  She leaves SVMC in order to have more time to pursue art, teaching, and social activism. “At SVMC she guided students through their ministry training program with care-filled attention, and utilized her creative artistry to design a new logo for SVMC as well as update promotional materials. She added a thoughtful perspective to our continuing education events,” said an announcement from executive director Donna M. Rhodes. “While we will miss her presence and creativity, we pray God’s rich blessings on Erika’s venture into using her skill in new ways.”

The Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center, a ministry training partnership in the Church of the Brethren, is accepting applications for a full-time program coordinator who will oversee day-to-day management of the SVMC office based in Elizabethtown, Pa. Responsibilities include administrative support, student and instructor contacts, course record keeping, financial record keeping, and creative promotional work. The successful candidate will demonstrate strong technological, communication, and organizational skills; have the ability to maintain confidentiality; have knowledge of basic accounting skills; demonstrate positive attitude and collaborative work style; have a heart for service. Church of the Brethren membership is preferred. Send a letter of interest, resume, and contact information for three references to Donna M. Rhodes, Executive Director, at . Applications will be reviewed beginning immediately and will continue until the position is filled. For information regarding SVMC visit .

The Church of the Brethren is seeking an individual to fill a full-time hourly position of systems specialist. The systems specialist reports to the director of Information Technology. Major responsibilities include providing strategic and tactical support to the Church of the Brethren by analyzing and interpreting system data to provide creative solutions; planning, coordinating, testing, and implementing changes to computer databases; assisting in website related projects including online registration forms and support of Office of Ministry secure online placement system; generating various reports, assisting users, and serving as technical assistance backup to manager of Information Technology when he/she is absent. Required skills and knowledge include skilled competency in database management and queries, communication and problem solving skills, ability to tend to multiple simultaneous projects, orientation toward details and customer service, ability to maintain confidentiality. Computer software and database experience is required. An associate’s degree or equivalent experience is required. A bachelor’s degree is preferred. The following experience is helpful: Raiser’s Edge or other Customer Relationship (CRM) system, Convio or other web-building solution experience, and/or Crystal Reports. This position is based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Request the application form by contacting: Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; . The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

“Pray for the 13 participants from the Brethren Revival Fellowship serving with Eglise des Freres d’ Haiti, the Church of the Brethren in Haiti,” said a requqest from the Global Mission and Service office. The group will work at New Covenant School in Saint-Louis-du-Nord, Haiti, building a latrine and a clinic and leading children’s activities. “Pray that the encounters will bring encouragement and learning to all involved,” said the request.

A special session to “Explore Theology Behind the Fight Against Racism” will be offered at the 2016 Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C., in mid-April. The session takes place April 15 beginning at 1 p.m. “Christians gathering at the 2016 Ecumenical Advocacy Days will be lifting their voices in support of those who are oppressed and marginalized because of racism and classism,” said an announcement. “We only have to be familiar with the headlines of the past two years to know that these two ills are realities in our society, and on the hearts and minds of candidates and voters alike as we head toward the November election. But what is the theological basis for our message when it comes to fairness and justice?” This workshop will analyze the Christian foundations of faith when it comes to affirming the political and economic rights of all. The panel will include: Doug Foster, professor of Church History, Abilene Christian University; Joyce Shin, associate pastor for Congregational Life, 4th Presbyterian Church, Chicago, Ill.; Kenneth James, pastor, Memorial AME Zion Church, Rochester, N.Y. The moderator will be Greg Carey, professor of New Testament, Lancaster (Pa.) Theological Seminary. Register for Ecumenical Advocacy Days at .

The Ventures program at McPherson (Kan.) College is offering a Saturday morning seminar on March 5, led by Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm, Brightbill Professor of Preaching and Worship at Bethany Theological Seminary. The seminar will focus on trends in worship, under the title “Cymbals and Silence: The Changing Sounds of Worship and Prayer.” An announcement explained: “During the past 30 years, North Americans have witnessed some of the most surprising, powerful, and worrisome trends in worship since the time of the Protestant Reformation. What are these changes? What are we trying to ‘do’ in worship today and why? What are some of the ways that you and your congregation can invite new and faithful practices into your worship services.” The seminar will be held from 9 a.m.-12 noon (central time), and participants may attend the webinar online. There is no charge to attend, but .3 continuing education credit is available for a $10 fee. Register online and find out more about the event at .

Arlington (Va.) Church of the Brethren has posted Episode 4 of the Dunker Punks Podcast that is being sponsored by the church. A note from the congregation’s information minister Suzanne Lay notes that the most recent in the series of podcasts “features Dylan Dell-Haro exploring gender with folks he met in passing at NOAC. It’s a lot of fun hearing them talk it through and is sure to give rise to some good thought on the meaning of gender in your life.” Other recent episodes include “Undoing Oppression,” “Awakened to Empire,” and “Even When the Path Is Hard.” The effort is described as follows on its website: “Dunker Punks are united in following Christ’s radical love by the power of the Spirit to the glory of God. The podcast team speaks up to record witness of Dunker Punks growing Heaven on Earth. We relay the freedom we’ve found in obedient service, study, and community to encourage listeners in their walk on the Jesus way to God’s revolutionary reality. We see ear bud cords stretching like the mustard seed weed, as people regularly tune-in, actively engage, and enthusiastically recommend the Dunker Punks Podcast.” Find the podcasts at . Listeners may subscribe on iTunes, add in Stitcher, or search Dunker Punks Podcast on Beyond Pod.

Roundtable will be held at Bridgewater (Va.) College on April 8-10. Roundtable is a regional youth conference for Church of the Brethren high school youth, planned by the Interdistrict Youth Cabinet. Tim and Audrey Hollenberg-Duffey of Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren will speak on the theme “Carefree in Christ” (Matthew 6:25-34). Walking Roots Band will provide entertainment on Friday night. Registration is open online at .

The annual Brethren Disaster Ministries Appreciation Dinner in Southern Ohio District will be on March 19 at 6 p.m. at Castine Church of the Brethren in Arcanum, Ohio. “Come for dinner, inspiration, fellowship, and BDM updates. First time volunteers will be recognized,” said an invitation. RSVP to Burt Wolf at 937-287-5902 or or to Mary Weikert at 937-667-8155 or .

The Christian Education Task Team in Virlina District is sponsoring its first training day for congregational leaders and teachers on March 12, on the theme “Know, Teach, Grow, Live” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). “This informational and inspirational event will feature many voices from around the district and focus on How to Call, How to Equip, and How to Support those in congregational leadership and teaching positions,” said an announcement. Insights will be shared by Eric Anspaugh, Gary Basham, Angela Carr, Tabitha Rudy, Barry Lenoir, and others. Sunday school teachers, deacons, age group leaders, Bible study facilitators, board and committee members, and all others interested in congregational leadership are encouraged to attend. The event is at Roanoke (Va.) Oak Grove Church of the Brethren from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For more information visit . RSVP by March 9 by contacting the District Resource Center at 540-362-1816 or .

The Shenandoah District Peace Feast, also known as the Living Peace Recognition Banquet, will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, at Harrisonburg (Va.) First Church of the Brethren. The Living Peace Award will be presented to two Brethren farmers, Mike and Susan Phillips, for their work in developing innovative and sustainable agriculture practices. They operate a 300-acre beef cattle farm and work with students from Virginia Tech, James Madison University, and Ferrum College in education and research. They are members of Cedar Run Church of the Brethren. The evening also will include a presentation by Tom Benevento of New Community Project and special music by Beth Jarrett, pastor of Harrisonburg First Church. The registration deadline is March 8. Find a registration form at .

The spring candlelight dinners at the John Kline house will be March 18 and 19 and April 22 and 23, 6 p.m. each evening. “Hear the conversations of John Kline’s family and friends during the reconstruction period of the spring of 1866,” said an announcement. “Enjoy a country meal while actors come around the tables to recount their efforts to start anew after the Civil War ended nearly a year ago.” Cost is $40 per plate. Seating capacity each evening is 40 people. Groups are welcome. For reservations contact 540-421-5267 or .

A group of Bridgewater (Va.) College students and a faculty member will spend spring break volunteering as construction workers with Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge Spring Break 2016, said a release from the college. The students, accompanied by Robbie Miller, college chaplain and Habitat chapter adviser, will leave for Tucker, Ga., on March 6 and return to campus March 12. For the 2016 Spring Break Challenge, the group will work in partnership with the Habitat for Humanity-DeKalb Inc. affiliate. Seniors Ashley B. Epping, a health and exercise science major from Luray, Va., and Melissa McMindes, a psychology major with a minor in cultural studies from Waynesboro, Va., are student leaders for the group. Both are making their third Habitat trip. They have participated in Spring Break Collegiate Challenges in Delray Beach, Fla., and Athens, Ala. The BC Campus Chapter, established in 1995, is one of nearly 700 campus chapters worldwide. Organized by Bridgewater students, the group is affiliated with Central Valley Habitat for Humanity in Bridgewater, and helps provide shelter to the residents of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. This is the 24th year that Bridgewater College students have used spring break to work on various Habitat projects, including three trips to Miami and one each to Atlanta, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Independence, Mo. and Austin, Texas.

The Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College has scheduled its spring lectures and annual banquet. Amish courtship and wedding practices are the topic of the 2016 Durnbaugh Lectures on April 7-8. Karen Johnson-Weiner, professor of anthropology at SUNY Potsdam, is this year’s speaker. The author of “Train up a Child: Old Order Amish and Mennonite Schools” and “New York Amish: Life in the Plain Communities of the Empire State” and co-author of “The Amish,” has been studying culture and language use in Amish communities for more than 30 years. The lectures will be preceded by the annual Young Center banquet at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 7, in the Susquehanna Room of Myer Hall. The dinner is open to the public. Cost is $23. Reservations, required by March 24, can be made by calling 717-361-1470 or visiting . The Durnbaugh Lecture, “Getting Hitched Amish Style: Change and Continuity in Amish Weddings,” begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Susquehanna Room. The talk is free and does not require reservations. At 10 a.m. Friday, April 8, Johnson-Weiner presents the Durnbaugh Seminar, “Hinglefleish Frolics,” in the Young Center’s Bucher Meetinghouse. She will take an in-depth look at Swartzentruber Amish courtship and wedding practices. An optional lunch follows the seminar. Cost for the lunch is $10. The reservation deadline is March 24. The Durnbaugh Lectures, established in 1993, are funded by an endowment created to honor the work of Don and Hedda Durnbaugh, two of the original Young Center fellows.

Two additional Young Center events take place this spring. At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, center director Jeff Bach presents “Gender, Shame, and Jacob’s Hip: One Communal Society’s Views,” on the Ephrata Community’s unique interpretation of the biblical story of Jacob that allowed it to criticize patriarchy and male domination. At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 21, two Honors students discuss Amish and Brethren topics. Annemarie Hartzell, a senior at Elizabethtown College, discusses Brethren conscientious objectors during the Civil War, and Temple University senior Quinton Meil examines Amish interactions with the criminal justice system. Both events are free and will be held in the Bucher Meetinghouse. Contact the Young Center at 717-361-1470 or .

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is celebrating the historic meeting of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill. The event was the first meeting of the heads of the Roman Catholic and the Russian Orthodox Churches since “eastern and western Christianity split over matters of doctrine in the Great Schism of 1054 and formally separated from one another in 1438,” according to a WCC release. The WCC is hailing the meeting held in Cuba on Feb. 12 as a step toward peace and unity. The Russian Orthodox Church is the largest member church in the WCC, which for the past 50 years has cooperated with the Roman Catholic Church through their Joint Working Group. “The Council therefore celebrates this important meeting of the two church leaders as a great step forward in healing the schism between Western and Eastern Christianity,” said a WCC statement. “The Pope’s openness to dialogue with the Orthodox Church leaders…shows a growing commitment to unity among Christians, which in turn is a sign of hope for peace in our world. Indeed, the meeting comes at a time of grave challenges to the vision of peace, due to unresolved conflicts in Syria, in Ukraine and elsewhere, causing intolerable suffering and displacement. Churches and Christians everywhere are called to be instruments of peace in the midst of conflict, and of compassion in response to the suffering of fellow human beings. There is more than ever before a need for concerted efforts to bring peace and stability in conflict-affected countries, and to provide protection and refuge to those who flee from war and oppression.” The statement went on to express the hope that the historic meeting, coming directly after the announcement of agreement by world powers to seek a cessation of hostilities in Syria, “will strengthen the faint glimmers of hope for an end to this appalling conflict, and to the suffering of Syria’s people.” Read the joint declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill at . Find a video of the meeting in Cuba at .

In wake of the cyclone that hit Fiji, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has expressed its concern and extended prayers and condolences. Tropical Cyclone Winston killed at least 29 people and left more than 13,000 in shelters. The WCC release reported that strong winds and flooding from Winston caused severe damage across the island nation, which has declared a month-long state of disaster. The Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma, WCC’s member church in Fiji, was sharing relief information and public advisories with cyclone survivors and organizing volunteers to assist with relief efforts, the release said. Churches were working with Fiji Red Cross offices to pack relief supplies for the thousands of people affected by the storm. Church halls were made available for evaluation shelters.

Conscientious objector checklist, from the curriculum Call of Conscience published by the Church of the Brethren at .


“It is time to abolish draft registration and restore full rights to people of conscience,” says a statement from Bill Galvin and Maria Santelli of the Center on Conscience and War (CCW). “With the combat restriction for women in the US Armed Forces now lifted, discussion of draft registration is back in the news, the courts, and the halls of Congress. But the problems with Selective Service System (SSS) registration go much deeper than gender equality. There is little political interest in bringing back the draft. Yet draft registration remains a burden upon our nation’s young men–and now, potentially our young women, as well. The extrajudicial penalties imposed upon those who choose not to or fail to register make life more difficult for many who already are marginalized, and they particularly target conscientious objectors who believe that registering with Selective Service is a form of participating in war,” the statement says, in part. On Feb. 2, the Chief of Staff of the Army and the Commandant of the Marine Corps testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in support of extending the registration requirement to women. Two days later, the Draft America’s Daughters Act was introduced in the House of Representatives to extend the registration requirement to women. CCW is instead encouraging support for HR 4523, a bill introduced on Feb. 10 into the House to repeal the Military Selective Service Act and abolish the registration requirement for everyone. “A petition is now circulating to support this sensible and timely effort,” the statement reports.

In the meantime, youth and young adults in the Church of the Brethren are still encouraged to consider conscientious objection to war, and to prepare a personal file of documentation of their stand of conscience. Find out more about conscientious objection and how to create documentation in the “Call of Conscience” curriculum, free to download from . A companion workbook may be purchased from Brethren Press at or by calling 800-441-3712.

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