— The Office of Public Witness is joining with other faith based groups for a special event in support of Congress passing comprehensive criminal justice reform this year. “We will gather with national faith leaders, people, and families directly impacted by incarceration, Senators, and civil rights leaders to pray for justice, fairness, and quick action by Congress to implement reductions in federal mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses,” said a recent Action Alert. The Interfaith Prayer Vigil for Sentencing Reform is planned for June 15 at 9 a.m. on the grounds of the US Capitol, in Washington, D.C., across from the United Methodist Building located at 100 Maryland Ave. NE. “The 1975 Annual Conference recognized the need for criminal justice reform since ‘most of our correctional centers–prisons, jails, and lock-ups–dehumanize and brutalize individuals, especially those who are poor, members of minority ethnic groups, and generally the helpless members of our society,’” the alert cited as support for Brethren involvement. Also cited was Hebrews 13:3: “Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them.” Said the alert: “This event is a great way to continue that advocacy and the advocacy of the youth that attended Christian Citizenship Seminar.” This event is sponsored by the Interfaith Criminal Justice Coalition, which includes the Office of Public Witness, the National Council of Churches, and the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights. For more information contact Nathan Hosler, Director, Office of Public Witness, firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-333-1649.
— The June 15 webinar “Forming a Christian Community in the Midst of Struggle for Good Mental Health: Reflections from The Geoff Ashcroft Community” features Phil Warburton, leader of a missional faith community (E1 Community Church) that is “sincerely concerned about people in its local area,” said an announcement. “Aware of the risk factors of people struggling with poor mental health, the Geoff Ashcroft Community (GAC) was launched in 2006 to provide care as well as combat stigma and discrimination in relation to poor mental and physical health. GAC invests itself in culturally appropriate mental health promotion.” Join the webinar on June 15 at 2:30 p.m. (Eastern time) at www.brethren.org/webcasts . A continuing education credit of .1 is available for those who attend the live event. For more information contact Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices for the Church of the Brethren, at 800-323-8039 ext. 343 or email@example.com .
— Global Mission and Service executive director Jay Wittmeyer is recommending a new report titled “Nigeria Fractured and Forgotten: Discrimination and Violence Along Religious Fault Lines” from the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative. “If immediate action is not taken, religious minorities in northern Nigeria will continue to face policies and practices that seek to remove their very presence, while the violence of Boko Haram and Fulani militants will further compound one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world,” says the introduction to the report, which is available online. The lengthy and detailed report includes chapters on discrimination throughout northern Nigeria, discrimination and underdevelopment in northern Nigeria, discrimination within northern Nigeria against religious minorities, defining the roots of this foundational discrimination, Boko Haram as “an explosion of violence,” the four stages of Boko Haram development, Fulani militants threatening to engulf the Middle Belt of Nigeria, an introduction to the Fulani, accelerating inter-communal violence in the Middle Belt, rationales for an escalating trend among Fulani militants in the Middle Belt, the devastating and potential impact of Fulani militants to fracture Nigeria, and case studies from Kadarako in Nasarawa State, Sho and Jol in Plateau State, and Agatu in Benue State. Find the report at www.standwithnigeria.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/NIgeria-Fractured-and-Forgotten.pdf .
— Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) is seeking 100 more dolls and stuffed animals for traumatized children in Nigeria. “We have been working with women theologians of EYN (Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) on the Healing Hearts Curriculum, trauma healing for children affected by the violence of the Boko Haram,” said a request. “This spring, over 300 hand-sewn dolls and stuffed animals were given to 7 teams of trainers as part of a Kit of Comfort to take back to their local communities to share with children and adults who will then work with children. We invite anyone who likes to sew to help us make 100 additional hand-sewn soft dolls and stuffed animals (new only, not used) to use as examples of the kinds of comfort items that could be made locally in the future.” Find a Newsline article about the effort, and a pattern that fits onto an 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of paper. Dolls should be dark-skinned with bright dresses or shirts/pants. Stuffed animals should have a simple face or no face. Dolls and animals will be collected by Aug. 1, and then again by Oct. 1. Mail toys to Children’s Disaster Services, P.O. Box 188, New Windsor, MD 21776. They also can also be brought to the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference to be delivered to CDS. For more information contact Kristen Hoffman, CDS program assistant, at firstname.lastname@example.org .
— On Earth Peace’s Racial Justice Organizing Community of Practice is presenting a “Racial Justice Field Report from Flint” on June 21, 8-9:30 p.m. (Eastern time) in the form of a telephone conference call. The call will provide a multi-ethnic and multi-denominational reflection and update on the Flint, Mich., water crisis, with an exploration of issues of underlying racism. “Hear from people actually living with this water crisis, about how they are dealing with the everyday aspects of ‘Bottled Water Life,’” said an invitation. “Members of the local Church of the Brethren will discuss what has been the federal, state and local government response as well as volunteer efforts. Churches involved in direct relief will share some of what they’ve experienced and how it has molded their focus. The panel will discuss aspects of the role racism and white privilege has played. Has it been heightened by institutional racism, or are there more deliberate actions in both the cause and response? The call will include a spiritual power moment, and information about how to get involved in ongoing racial justice organizing initiatives.” For more information and to register to participate, go to http://goo.gl/forms/G6gDSshux0uXRrUs2 . Registration closes on June 19 at 8 p.m.
— Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., is presenting a Solar Panel Forum in cooperation with Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light on June 18 from 2-4 p.m. “Join us to learn more about the positive impact of solar panels in your organization’s mission, reducing energy costs and Earth Care,” said an announcement. Special guest speaker Ray Wilson is chair of Indy Green Congregations and project leader for the Using Energy Prudently program, and will speak about the financial benefits of solar panel installation as well as the process for starting installation. RSVP by calling 260-482-8595.
— Camp Bethel in Virlina District, located near Fincastle, Va., is hosting special 150th anniversary events this weekend, June 10-11. The program “150 Years of District Ministry” takes place on June 11 from 10:30 a.m.-12 noon, with guest speaker Andy Murray, the 2016 Annual Conference moderator and a native of Cloverdale Church of the Brethren in Botetourt County, Va. All are invited. Additionally, activities on June 10 include at 5:30 p.m. a Summer Staff Commissioning Dinner (for reservations contact 540-992-2940 or CampBethelOffice@gmail.com ); at 7-9 p.m. open pool; and at 9:30 p.m. campfire songs and s’mores. Events on June 11 also include at 5:15 a.m. a sunrise hike and devotions on Vesper Hill; at 7:30 a.m. Morning Watch at the Spring Pond; at 8 a.m. continental breakfast in the Ark (suggested donation is $8); at 9 a.m., and 1-4 p.m. a variety of games such as 9-Square-in-the-Air and GaGa Ball on the Ark Lawn or the Pool Lawn; at 2-4 p.m. open pool. Overnight lodging and camping are available, contact 540-992-2940 or CampBethelOffice@gmail.com .
— At an interfaith prayer service on June 7, people from diverse faith communities issued a call to action to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, according to a World Council of Churches (WCC) release. “The call focuses on reducing stigma and discrimination; increasing access to HIV services; defending human rights; and ensuring testing and treatment for all, including children,” the release said. The service, held at the United Nations (UN) Church Center in New York, preceded a UN High Level Meeting on AIDS held on June 8-10. The service was presented by the World Council of Churches (WCC) Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.