Brethren Bits for July 29, 2016

“Hello from among the miles of cornfield!” writes the Youth Peace Travel Team in its most recent blogpost at . This past week the team was “blessed to fellowship with the Senior High at Camp Pine Lake. These youth blew us away with their many gifts of singing, sharing their journey, and bracelet making.” Team members this summer are Phoebe Hart of Oak Grove Church of the Brethren in Virlina District, Kiana Simonson of Modesto Church of the Brethren in Pacific Southwest District, Jenna Walmer of Palmyra Church of the Brethren in Atlantic Northeast District, and Sara White of Stone Church of the Brethren in Middle Pennsylvania District. Follow their travels to Church of the Brethren camps and events across the nation at .

Remembrance: L. Gene Bucher, 79, died on July 22 at Lancaster (Pa.) General Hospital. He was a member of the former General Board of the Church of the Brethren, and was a denominational representative to the National Council of Churches (NCC). He also wrote Bible study curriculum for Brethren Press. He was an ordained minister and a graduate of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College and of Bethany Theological Seminary, where he received a doctor of ministry degree in 1981. As pastor, he served Church of the Brethren congregations in West Virginia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. In district leadership roles, he served as district moderator for three different districts including Atlantic Northeast District. He was an active member of Lancaster Church of the Brethren where he sang in the choir, taught Sunday school, and was a substitute leader of the morning prayer breakfast. He was married for 59 years to Fern (Liskey) Bucher. He is survived by daughters Debra Bucher of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., married to Mark Colvson, and Beth Martin of Terre Hill, Pa., married to Loren Martin, as well as grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, July 30, at 11 a.m. at Lancaster Church of the Brethren. The family will receive friends at a luncheon following the service. Memorial gifts are received to the Lancaster Church of the Brethren Youth Program. Find the full obituary at .

The Church of the Brethren seeks to fill a fulltime hourly position of conference and event assistant for Congregational Life Ministries. The major responsibilities of this multi-faceted position are to enhance and support the functions of Congregational Life Ministries conferences and special events through administration of a variety of tasks including support for the directing team, use of conference and event databases, assistance in program promotion, preparation for conferences, responding to various inquiries and issues as they arise, maintenance of paper and electronic files, coordination of work with other support staff, and other duties appropriate to the position. Required skills and knowledge include strong communication skills in English, both verbal and written; preference given for proficiency in Spanish and willingness to assist with translation; ability to problem solve, prioritize tasks, and work both independently and collaboratively; knowledge of financial processes; ability to handle sensitive information and maintain confidentiality; ability to communicate effectively and to deal graciously with the public; ability to work with and take direction from multiple supervisors, to be readily adaptable to change, and to work well with multi-dimensional programs to meet deadlines; excellent organizational skills, attention to detail, and ability to balance complex assignments and simultaneous tasks; ability to work with established style guides with an eye for print and image design; appreciation for Church of the Brethren values; sensitivity to other cultures and persons of various ages and abilities; ability to work as part of a diverse team. Two or more years of office experience required. A high school diploma or commensurate experience is required, as is proficiency in Windows-based computer systems and Microsoft Office Suite, particularly Word, Excel, and Outlook, and ability and willingness to learn other software programs. This position is based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Applications will be received beginning immediately and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Qualified candidates are invited to request the application and position description by contacting the Church of the Brethren Office of Human Resources, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; . The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Ambassador Warren Clark announced his retirement as executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) this week after leading the organization for the past eight years. The CMEP board has named Mae Elise Cannon as the new executive director, effective Aug. 1. Clark has headed CMEP since January 2008. During his tenure, he arranged meetings for church representatives with administration officials at the highest levels within the United States and foreign governments, and expanded CMEP’s grassroots network nationwide for targeted advocacy by supporters from every state and congressional district. Cannon is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) and formerly served as senior director of Advocacy and Outreach for World Vision US in Washington, D.C. She also has been consultant to the Middle East for child advocacy issues for Compassion International in Jerusalem; executive pastor of Hillside Covenant Church located in Walnut Creek, Calif.; and director of development and transformation for extension ministries at Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington, Ill. She received her doctorate in American History with a minor in Middle Eastern studies at the University of California (Davis) focusing on the history of the American Protestant church in Israel and Palestine. CMEP is a coalition of 22 national church denominations and organizations including the Church of the Brethren, working to encourage US policies that actively promote a just, lasting, and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ensuring security, human rights, and religious freedom for all people of the region.

The National Farm Worker Ministry has an immediate opening for a fulltime coordinator for its Youth and Young Adult Network (YAYA) based out of Orlando, Fla. “This is an exciting opportunity to be a part of the historic farm worker movement and to join a progressive organization of young and old alike committed to self-determination for the people who work our fields and whose labor puts food on our tables every day,” said the announcement. The National Farm Worker Ministry is seeking a passionate and experienced candidate. YAYAs organize their communities in support of farm workers, educating people and institutions about the conditions facing farm workers, and mobilizing them to support farm worker campaigns for justice. The YAYA coordinator builds relationships between YAYA members and farm worker groups as well as mentors group leadership. Applicants need experience organizing in the social justice arena and proven ability to relate to young adults and people of diverse cultures and faiths. Fluency in English and Spanish is highly preferred. The National Farm Worker Ministry is a faith-based organization committed to justice for and empowerment of farm workers. Since its organization in 1971, it has supported farm-worker-led efforts to improve wages and working and living both regionally and nationally. Salary range is $32,000-34,000, based on experience. Benefits are included. To apply send a cover letter, resume, and three references, including contact information, to .  Review of resumes will begin Aug. 8 and will continue until the position is filled. For the full position description go to

Photo by Ron Lubungo
Twa women pick maize with Congolese Brethren.

Church of the Brethren partners in three countries–the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi–will meet Aug. 15-19 for an African Great Lakes Batwa Conference. The Batwa, also known as Twa, are a hunter-gatherer people whose livelihood is imperiled by constant violence in the region. Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups also will be represented. The conference is supported by the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Initiative and Emerging Global Mission Fund.

The Global Mission Prayer Guide has shared requests for prayer for South Sudan this week, as well as this summer’s Church of the Brethren workcamps, a reconciliation tour by leaders of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethen in Nigeria), and a theological training for Brethren in Spain, among other prayer requests. “Pray that long-awaited peace in South Sudan may one day arrive, even as violence is renewed. Pray for all those affected by the eruption of escalated violent conflict between the country’s two dominant groups,” said the request. “May God comfort those grieving loved ones. The government estimates approximately 275 people have been killed this past week, but that number is likely much higher. Pray for the tens of thousands of people fleeing the violence, joining the hundreds of thousands of people already displaced and in desperate need for food and resources. Lord, have mercy.”

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership this week hosted five students for year’s TRIM/EFSM Orientation for the Training in Ministry and Education for Shared Ministry programs. The orientation was held at Bethany Seminary in Richmond, Ind. Bethany president Jeff Carter and dean Steve Schweitzer joined the students for lunch and conversation on one day, and the students also met with interim director of the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry, Joe Detrick. The academy staff who hosted the orientation include Julie Hostetter, Carrie Eikler, Fran Massie, Amy Gall Ritchie, and Nancy Sollenberger Heishman.

Belita Mitchell is the speaker for the 46th Annual Dunker Church Service will be held in the restored Dunker Church at the Antietam National Battlefield.

The 46th Annual Dunker Church Service will be held in the restored Dunker Church at the Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md., on Sunday, Sept. 18, at 3 p.m. This service will take place on the 154th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam and commemorates the peace witness of the Brethren during the Civil War. Belita Mitchell, pastor at Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren, will be the preacher. The event is sponsored by Mid-Atlantic District and is open to the public. For more information contact one of the three Church of the Brethren pastors who are helping to coordinate the event: Eddie Edmonds at 304-267-4135, Audrey Hollenberg-Duffey at 301-733-3565, or Ed Poling at 301-766-9005.

A number of congregations in Ohio are hosting disaster ministry events in August. Happy Corner Church of the Brethren holds an Ice Cream Social Fundraiser on Saturday, Aug. 6, from 4-7 p.m. Greenville Church of the Brethren hosts a Sewing Bee on Saturday, Aug. 13, starting at 9 a.m., for the purpose of making school bags for Church World Service kits (bring your sewing machine, an extension cord, and a sack lunch). A School Kit Assembly will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 17, at 7 p.m. at Mill Ridge Village Community Center in Union, Ohio, to assemble school kits for Church World Service, with a goal to assemble 1,000 school kits.

Jeff Carter, president of Bethany Theological Seminary, will be the featured guest at a Practice of Ministry Day on Saturday, Aug. 13, sponsored by the Christian Growth Institute and hosted by Montezuma Church of the Brethren in Dayton, Va. The theme will be “Paul’s Journey from Thessalonians to Romans.” The program is open to students, pastors, and others. Ordained ministers may earn .6 continuing education units. The deadline to register is July 29. For a registration form, e-mail For more information, contact Sarah Long at .

On Saturday, Aug. 13, Pinecrest Community’s Good Samaritan Banquet will be served at the Grove Community Center on the Pinecrest campus in Mt. Morris, Ill. Dinner reservations, requested by Aug. 4, cost $75 per person. Proceeds benefit the community’s Good Samaritan Fund.

“Sing Me High” is the title of a family friendly, alcohol-free music festival at CrossRoads, the Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., on Saturday, Aug. 27, starting at 2 p.m. Featured musicians include the Highlander String Band, the Hatcher Boys, and the Walking Roots Band. The evening will conclude with popcorn and s’mores around a campfire. Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for children ages 6-12, and free for children age 5 and under. Advance tickets are available at or by email at .

Southern Ohio District has announced next steps in its reconciliation process, that has included Congregational Listening Sessions and a summary report from the Reconciliation Team that was made available to each congregation. “The next step in the process is for members of the Reconciliation Teams to meet with interested persons from the Southern Ohio District in a series of face-to-face sessions to ask follow-up questions and get feedback on ideas the team has for future activities,” said the district newsletter. The district will be holding three regional meetings (East, South, and West) and the Reconciliation Team will have a presence at this fall’s district conference.

A Multicultural Trip to the Holy Land, with leadership from Church of the Brethren pastors, is planned for Nov. 28-Dec. 5. “You are invited to participate in the unique experience of a touring through key places of biblical times in the cities of Galilee and Jerusalem during an eight day multi-cultural trip to the Holy Land,” said an invitation from Virlina District. The price of $2,850 includes roundtrip airfare from New York to Tel Aviv, four-star accommodation, transportation, and meals. For more information and a brochure contact Daniel D’Oleo at 540-892-8791 or or  Stafford C. Frederick at 540-588-5980 or .

“Dunker Punks imagine a different world, and make it so by consistently choosing Jesus’ radical love,” said an announcement of the latest Dunker Punks podcast by young adults in the Church of the Brethren. Titled “Everyday Revolution,” the podcast interviews Joshua Brockway, the Church of the Brethren’s director of Spiritual Life, on the topic of discipleship. A new co-host, Dylan Dell-Haro, takes the lead on the microphone. Find the Dunker Punks podcasts at .

A roof raising for the Heritage Lodge at Camp Harmony in Western Pennsylvania District is scheduled for Aug. 16-25. Volunteers are needed for both roof crews and ground crews, said a district announcement. Work will include shingling, replacing windows, painting, and cooking and clean up. Housing and meals are provided to volunteers, either on a daily basis or for the whole week. Call the camp at 814-798-5885.

Southern Ohio District offered a new camping experience this year with Camp Safari for campers with special needs. “Our hope was to have 10 campers for the first year, but were blessed by having 15 participants,” said the district newsletter. “The camp met in the mornings into the afternoons with one overnight for the older campers. Each camper experienced unconditional love and acceptance by all the caring volunteers and leaders. 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,” said the newsletter. “Such joy that abounded is difficult to describe.”

This weekend, two districts are holding their annual conferences: Western Plains District meets July 29-31 at McPherson (Kan.) College and at First Church of the Brethren in McPherson, on the theme “We Are One.” Joanna Davidson Smith is serving as moderator. Northern Ohio District also meets this weekend, July 29-30, at Maple Grove Church of the Brethren in Ashland, Ohio.

Bridgewater (Va.) College is encouraging student-church connections with leadership from campus chaplain Robbie Miller and “a dedicated group of students,” according to the Shenandoah District newsletter. The college calendar is filled with events “that many of us from the Shenandoah District take part in each year,” the newsletter noted, “including the CROP meal (Oct. 27) and walk (Oct. 30) and the Fall Spiritual Focus, this year featuring Ted & Co. Theatreworks on Sept. 27.” Go to for a brochure about the spiritual life program at the college. Also this coming academic year, Bridgewater’s Church Travel Team is prepared to lead worship services, youth events, and Sunday school classes in local congregations in a program that provides leadership training for the travel team students and an opportunity for area churches to interact with Bridgewater. Go to for a letter about the travel team program. Go to for a form to request the team to come to your congregation.

The Springs of Living Water Academy for training pastors in church renewal is welcoming pastors and ministers to Tuesday morning classes starting Sept. 13, or Saturday morning classes starting Sept. 17. Both classes meet by telephone conference call from 8-10 a.m. (Eastern time). There will be five sessions offered for each class, with three weeks between sessions to allow time for reading, reflection, and interaction with a group from the congregation that walks alongside each pastor or minister.  Also, Springs leader David Young makes a “shepherding call” to each participant between each class session. “Rather than find out what is wrong and fix it, congregations find out what they are doing right and discover a focus and plan,” said an invitation to engage in the Springs training. “Pastors and ministers also enter daily spiritual disciplines using Richard Foster’s ‘Celebration of Discipline.’ The main text for the course is ‘Springs of Living Water’ by David S. Young.” Additional resources include videos on several topics, created by David Sollenberger and available on the website at . For more information or to register, call or e-mail David or Joan Young at 717-615-4515 or .

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is requesting prayer for the refugees currently trapped on the Greek island of Chios, who have waited four months for their asylum reviews in unsanitary conditions. CPT in particular requests prayer for a member of the organization’s Europe team who recently found out that his cousin was among the refugees who died trying to reach Europe in a forest along the Turkish/Bulgarian border. “He had to communicate the news of the death to his family,” the prayer request said. Find out more about the work of CPT, which was started by the Historic Peace Churches including the Church of the Brethren, at .

The Foods Resource Bank Annual Gathering will be hosted by several Growing Projects in the Sandwich, Ill., area on Aug. 5-6. Representatives from most of the 200 growing projects across the US will be in attendance, including Jim and Karen Schmidt from Polo (Ill.) Church of the Brethren. Jim Schmidt is a member of the Foods Resource Bank Board. During the event the $1,800 contributed by donors at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., will be presented to the Schmidts for this year’s Polo Growing Project, reports Howard Royer of Highland Avenue Church.

The international organization Doctors Without Borders, or Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), warns of a large-scale humanitarian disaster in the northern area of Borno State in northeast Nigeria. The organization estimates that there are more than 500,000 people in the area who are living in “catastrophic and unsanitary conditions” in a number of villages and towns. This area is some distance from the area of work of the Nigeria Crisis Response of the Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). MSF recently organized an exploratory mission and an emergency distribution for more than 15,000 displaced people living in dire conditions in the city of Banki, which is accessible only with a military escort. The organization is calling for the provision of more emergency aid for people in the area, reporting that displaced people there “are faced with a local economy that has collapsed, trade routes that have been cut, and crops and livestock that have been destroyed. Much of the population has been affected by months of food shortages. For children under five, in particular, the situation is especially concerning. Fifteen percent of children screened by our teams are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, putting their lives at risk.”
In related news, on Thursday a United Nations aid convoy was attacked by Boko Haram insurgents as it traveled through northern Borno State, from Bama to Maiduguri. The convoy was carrying staff from UNICEF, UNFPA, and IOM, and a UNICEF employee and an IOM contractor were injured.

A film clip of a Brethren contingent carrying a large sign proclaiming “Church of the Brethren” in a Civil Rights-era march is currently part of a television advertisement for an organization of neighborhood medical centers in the Chicago area. The clip gained the attention of Ralph McFadden, coordinator for the Fellowship of Brethren Homes, who shared with Newsline his feeling that having the denomination’s Civil Rights involvement displayed in such a good light this summer “was very interesting, enlightening, and encouraging.”



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