Brethren Bits for June 17, 2016

Brethren individuals and congregations have been participating in or planning services and prayer vigils and other special events for the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, Fla. Here are just a few that have gained media attention:
Ambler Church of the Brethren on June 15 helped host an interfaith service that was connected with a peace rally and march for the Orlando shooting victims, reported the Ambler Gazette. “Prayer vigils never end if we continue to pray without ceasing,” pastor Enten Eller told the newspaper. He was one of the local pastors who participated, as president of the sponsoring organization, the Wissahickon Faith Community Association. Among others, participants attended from Ambler Church of the Brethren, Trinity Lutheran Church, First Presbyterian Church, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Congregation Beth Or, Calvary United Methodist Church, North Penn Mosque, Progressive Christian Alliance, Ambler Area Coalition for Peace, Heeding God’s Call, and CeaseFirePA. “The evening started with a peace rally and walk, along with a call for federal legislation to block the availability of assault guns and large-capacity ammunition magazines,” the paper reported. An offering was taken to aid the people of Orlando. Go to .Warrensburg (Mo.) Church of the Brethren member Jerry Crouse was one of those who spoke at an event remembering the victims in Orlando, reported the Sedalia Democrat newspaper. “Members of the University of Central Missouri and Warrensburg communities gathered at the college Wednesday afternoon for a vigil,” the paper reported. “A constant theme throughout the hour-long event was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote: ‘Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’ People filled a room in the Elliott Student Union as they heard from community speakers, but some of the most powerful moments came from impromptu remarks from audience members at the end of the vigil.” The wide variety of speakers included a student who had personal friends among those killed, the president of the Musli Student Association, and the president of the university, among others. Find the article and photographs at .Amwell Church of the Brethren in Stockton, N.J., joined with Sergeantsville United Methodist Church to organize a Community Peace Vigil on June 16, responding to the shootings in Orlando. The event was publicized in the “Hunterdon County Democrat.” “The hope of the gathering is to draw the community together in unity and prayer after the latest violent attack in our world,” said the newspaper. See .WTHI Television Fox 10 in Indianapolis, Ind., is reporting on plans by Church of the Brethren member and Bethany Seminary graduate Richard Propes to do a wheelchair ride for Orlando victims. “A local man plans to travel 50 miles in one day to honor each person who died in the Orlando shooting–and he’ll make the trip by wheelchair,” the report said. Propes told the television station that after spending Sunday morning crying for the people shot and killed in Orlando, he came up with the idea of riding the Monon Trail on June 25. The report noted that this is not the first such ride for Propes. “In January, Propes wheeled around Monument Circle more than 100 times for local kids who died from gun violence. He lost his legs after an accident in his early 20s. Two years later, he wheeled 1,000 miles in 41 days to raise awareness and money for child abuse prevention. Now he’s raising $5,000 for Indiana Youth Group to provide education and support for LGBT kids.” Find the news report at .

— Jean Clements is resigning as Yearbook specialist for the Church of the Brethren, effective Sept. 28. She has worked at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill., for more than 16 years as a part of the Brethren Press team. As producer of the annual “Church of the Brethren Yearbook,” she has prepared the denomination’s annual statistical report and maintained the book’s lists of ministers, congregations, and organizations. In addition, she has coordinated the monthly Source mailing that goes to congregations and prepared the “Turning Points” section of “Messenger” magazine. She also has carried out projects for the Office of Ministry and the Information Technology department. “Her attention to detail is phenomenal, and the church has been well-served by her dedication,” said Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden. “With much gratitude, we wish her well over the next several months of transition and into her retirement.”

— The Church of the Brethren seeks a congregational support representative to fill a fulltime salaried position in Donor Relations. The location of this position is flexible; candidate must be willing to travel to the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., as needed. Major responsibilities include working to strengthen and nurture the congregational relationship with ministries of the Church of the Brethren through face-to-face, telephone, and online visits with congregations and pastors as well as through the conception and production of communication and solicitation media. The primary focus will be to positively impact the congregational connection with, and giving in support of, denominational ministries. Occasionally, assistance with financial campaigns and interaction with individual constituents may be requested. Required skills and knowledge include at least three years of experience in planned/deferred giving and/or five years in development-related activities in the not-for-profit sector, or other comparable experience; grounding in Church of the Brethren heritage, theology, and polity; ability to articulate and operate out of the vision of the Church of the Brethren; ability to relate with individuals and groups; basic computer skills working with Microsoft Word, Excel, e-mail, and Internet access; a bachelor’s degree or commensurate experience. Applications are being received and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Request the application form by contacting the 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.

— The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) seeks a full-time Communications and Program Associate to work in its Washington, DC office. The individual will split their time between NRCAT, a 501(c)3, and the NRCAT Action Fund, a 501(c)4. Through NRCAT, the individual will also provide assistance to the New Evangelical for the Common Good. This is a new position and the position will be evaluated after one year. We seek someone who can work independently and as part of a team. The individual will provide critical communications, program and administrative support across NRCAT’s program areas. For more information go to .

— This week’s chapel service at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., included a circle of welcome and prayer for David Steele, general secretary-elect. He visited the offices in mid-week for meetings with various staff and other groups. The chapel service was led by interim general secretary Dale Minnich, and was followed by a reception to welcome Steele to the offices.

— “Hello friends! The 2016 Youth Peace Travel Team is so excited to start sharing our experience with y’all this summer!” Thus starts the summer blog of the four-member Youth Peace Travel Team, a group of young adults who travel to camps and outdoor ministry centers across the denomination as Ministry Summer Service interns. The team this year includes Jenna Walmer, Kiana Simonson, Phoebe Hart, and Sara White. The team is jointly sponsored by the Church of the Brethren Youth and Young Adult Ministry, Brethren Volunteer Service, On Earth Peace, Bethany Theological Seminary, and the Outdoor Ministries Association. Follow the blog at .

— Bethany Theological Seminary president Jeff Carter will be the featured guest at a Practice of Ministry Day on Aug. 13 at Montezuma Church of the Brethren in Dayton, Va., in Shenandoah District. Carter will address the topic, “Paul’s Journey from Thessalonians to Romans.” The event is sponsored by the Christian Growth Institute and offers a .6 continuing education credit for ordained ministers. For more information, contact Sarah Long at .

— In more news from the seminary, Musa Mambula began June 16 as Bethany’s first International Scholar in Residence. He and his wife Sara are moving to the seminary campus in Richmond, Ind. Mambula’s work will focus on strengthening ties and building relationships between Bethany and the Christian community in Nigeria, working to create opportunities and pathways for potential students to receive theological education through Bethany, and working on writing projects. He also will work part-time for a neighboring Church of the Brethren congregation. He holds a doctorate from the University of Maiduguri. Sara Mambula has a master’s of business administration degree. They both plan to attend the 2016 Annual Conference.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
The 2016 Youth Peace Travel Team

— Nine Nigerian Brethren church leaders will be hosted by Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Port Republic, Va., as they travel to Annual Conference in Greensboro, N.C. On Tuesday, June 28, the Mill Creek church will host a supper and time for sharing with the Nigeria Brethren group from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The group will include Joel S. Billi, the newly elected president of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), the newly installed president of Kulp Bible College, and seven other church leaders, according to the Shenandoah District newsletter. “You are invited to attend,” said the newsletter. For the supper, Mill Creek will provide the main dish, and others are asked to bring a dish or two to share. RSVP to the church office at 540-289-5084 or .

— Arlington (Va.) Church of the Brethren announces the newest podcast in the Dunker Punks Podcast series. The church has just posted “a show about how music helps further our experience and expression of faith,” said the announcement from information minister Suzanne Lay. “We Don’t See Long” features a personal testimony by Nohemi Flores and the debut of an original song by Jacob Crouse. “Better yet, Jacob announces plans for more Dunker Punk music to come!” said the announcement. Go to .

— Southeastern District’s Witness Commission has asked every church in the district to make “pillow case dresses” for use at the New Covenant School St. Louis du Nord in Haiti. Also on the district’s wish list are t-shirts for the boys at the school. The New Covenant School was founded in 2008 by Ilexene and Michaela Alphonse, members of Miami (Fla.) First Church of the Brethren and mission workers in Haiti. “New Covenant School is currently providing education for 408 students from K to 6th grade,” said the Southeastern District newsletter. “They serve a hot meal twice a week. They provide jobs to eight teachers, one principal, one assistant principal, two cooks, one maintenance personnel, and one custodian. Ninety percent of those children would be on the street if it wasn’t for New Covenant School.” The dresses and t-shirts will be collected at the district conference on July 22-24. Linda McMurray and Winona Ball from Walnut Grove Church of the Brethren each already have made more than 30 of the dresses.


“Breaking Bread with Elizabeth Ripley” is a new video from Northern Plains District. “Jess Hoffert and Thomas McMullin got some baking tips from Elizabeth Ripley who is retiring from her role as communion bread baker at Stover Church of the Brethren,” said an invitation to watch the video Hoffert made of their experience. The video is posted at .

— Shenandoah District’s Pastoral Support Committee will host a second Brethren Heritage Tour this fall, Oct. 14-16, with stops in Maryland and Pennsylvania at historical sites significant to Brethren. The announcement in the district newsletter noted that the tour will travel by chartered bus and stay at Budget Host Inn in Lancaster, Pa. Cost is $175 per person (double occupancy) or $267 per person (single occupancy) and covers transportation, lodging, admission charges, instructor fees, and dinner in an Amish home. The registration form and a $50 deposit are due by July 20 with the balance due by Sept. 1. For more information go to . For a registration form go to .

— Cross Keys Village-The Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa., is holding its 56th Annual BBQ, Auction, Car Show, and Bake Sale on Aug. 13. “Mark the date on your calendar, round up the kids and grandkids, and come enjoy the food, the sale, and the fun for all,” said an announcement from Southern Pennsylvania District.

— An open house at CrossRoads, the Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., will commemorate a “Decade of Heritage.” The event takes place the afternoon of Saturday, June 25, from 1-3 p.m., and will include free admission for visitors, and a 30-minute commemoration service starting at 1 p.m. Visitors will be able to visit several buildings on the campus to hear reflections by leaders in the development of CrossRoads. Refreshments will be served in the Civil War farmhouse.

— Bridgewater (Va.) College has announced an honor received by Barbara H. Long, associate professor of Health and Human Sciences and division head of the division of professional studies at the college. She is one of two recipients of the 2016 Bob and Lynn Caruthers Service Award, presented annually by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education. A release noted that “the national award is presented to those who demonstrate the character and performance traits the Carutherses displayed in their careers, which includes significant and distinguished service to professional and specialized accreditation, and excellence when working directly with constituent institutions. Additional emphasis is placed on the delivery of accreditation programs and the institutions that house them.” The award is presented annually at the National Athletic Trainers’ Association convention. Long, who graduated from Bridgewater College in 1988 with a degree in biology, earned her master’s degree in sports medicine and fitness management from the United States Sports Academy and her doctorate in organizational leadership from Shenandoah University. She was certified by the Board of Certification as an athletic trainer in 1989 and licensed by the Virginia Board of Medicine as an athletic trainer in 2002.

— In more news from Bridgewater, the college has been awarded a $10,000 Curriculum Development Grant by the New York-based Teagle Foundation to develop courses in the emerging field of Interfaith Studies. “The project, led by Dr. Nancy Klancher, assistant professor of philosophy and religion, will bring together faculty from the four academic divisions at Bridgewater to teach core skills in interfaith engagement, cooperation, and understanding,” said a release. “Students will use these skills in their future careers as they work with people of different religious traditions in a variety of job settings.” The focus of the project is experiential and applied learning and leadership skills in interfaith advocacy and peacemaking including familiarity with the world’s major religions and appreciation of religious differences; communication skills that make possible interreligious cooperation, engagement, and understanding; knowledge of social, political, legal, and ethical barriers to, and opportunities for, interreligious work; and application of these skills through proposing solutions to interreligious case studies or directly engaging with people of different religious traditions. A number of faculty will participate including William Abshire, the Anna B. Mow Endowed Professor of Philosophy and Religion; Skip Burzumato, instructor of sociology; Scott Cole, associate professor of theater; Harriett E. Hayes, the Lawrence S. and Carmen C. Miller Chair in Ethics and associate professor of sociology; James Josefson, associate professor of political science; Brian Kelley, associate professor of psychology; and Jill Lassiter, associate professor of health and human sciences.

— A new report finds that malnutrition remains pervasive globally and has not received the attention it deserves, according to Bread for the World. The 2016 Global Nutrition Report (GNR) was launched in seven major capitals across the world, including Washington, D.C. “Malnutrition affects one out of three people globally,” the release said. “The effects of malnutrition include wasting, stunting, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. It is estimated to reduce the gross domestic product of countries in Africa and Asia by 11 percent.” At the launch in Washington, co-hosted by Bread for the World, the US Government Global Nutrition Coordination Plan 2016-2021 also was announced. “We are delighted the United States has fulfilled a commitment made at the 2013 Nutrition for Growth Summit and has released its global nutrition coordination plan,” said Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute. “The plan’s implementation will make it easier to track investments in global nutrition programs…. We hope the new global coordination plan will accelerate the impact of existing US investments in nutrition.” According to the global nutrition report, ending the malnutrition crisis will require a three-fold increase in funding. Bread’s 2016 Offering of Letters campaign calls for the US to double its funding for its international nutrition programs. Find out more at .

— LaDonna Sanders Nkosi, who is a church planter and ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren, has been published in The Christian Century magazine’s Living By the Word: Reflections on the Lectionary column. For the lectionary text of Luke 8:26-39, the story of Jesus’ encounter with a demon-possessed man, she writes, in part: “Transformation often has a price. There is a cost to freedom, even freedom from demons…. The one who once wore no clothes is clothed and in his right mind. Yet ‘all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them: for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned.’ Jesus does what he came to do and isn’t received, so he leaves. What is it that bothers the people most? What causes them to fear? Is it that they can’t fully comprehend or believe the miracle? Is it that the man who has been naked and living in the tombs, unruly and uncontrollable, is now clothed and in his right mind? Or that he is sitting at the feet of Jesus? …Deliverance has its consequences. Freedom and change are not always comfortable for everyone….” Her reflections are for the weeks of June 19 and June 26, and are available online at and at .

— A new musical, “The Persistence of Vision,” is being developed in Nappanee, Ind., conceived by Richard Pletcher, with book and lyrics by Frank Ramirez, and music and lyrics by Steve Engle. Pletcher is CEO of Amish Acres in Nappanee; Ramirez is senior pastor at Union Center Church of the Brethren outside of Nappanee; and Engle is a composer and writer from Alexandria, Pa. The musical will be presented on Sunday, July 17, at 6 p.m., and Monday, July 18, at 7 p.m., at the Union Center church. A free will offering will benefit Camp Mack in Milford, Ind. An additional performance will be given during worship and Sunday school time at the church on Sunday, July 17, with Act 1 starting at 9 a.m. and Act 2 starting at 10:30 a.m. The musical answers the question: How can an Amish newspaper, printed once a week and hopelessly out of date, continue to grow in circulation and support while most daily newspapers struggle in this digital age? “Maybe it’s because the real question is, ‘What’s worth reading if it’s not still news a week from now?’” said a release. The story centers on an Amish newspaper called “Vision,” along with the struggle of Hyrum Yoder, a widower who lost his wife in a buggy accident, and his fiance Lily Bontrager, who has been too busy caring for her aged parents to marry, as they seek to raise enough money to buy a new farm. The temptation to cut corners arises when documentarian Wintrop Llewis comes to town to film a reality show laying bare the shortcomings of the Amish. The cast of more than 30 adults and children is directed by Ramirez, with Kevin Ramer as musical director, and Pletcher as set designer. A professional production is set for 2017.



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