Orthodox Christian leaders from around the world are gathering at a Holy and Great Council this week on the island of Crete, in Greece. The World Council of Churches (WCC) has called this synod “a spiritual gift” to other churches. “We hope this meeting will serve both the unity of the Orthodox churches and the unity of our whole family of churches,” said WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit, in a release. Ten of the world’s 14 self-governing Orthodox churches are present at the council, which opened June 20 and ends June 25. “Orthodox primates are discussing the contemporary mission of the Orthodox church, marriage regulations, fasting guidelines, the place of Orthodox churches outside their historic venues, and ecumenical relations with non-Orthodox churches,” the release said. Commented WCC Faith and Order director Odair Pedroso Mateus: “The agenda for the Holy and Great Council has been discussed for more than 50 years, a time span that might surprise those unfamiliar with Orthodox tradition…. The fact that the synod has been in preparation for more than half a century is another gift of the Orthodox church to the ecumenical movement: an expression of the importance of understanding Christian faith as a corporate faith before an individualistic faith. Nobody is saved alone! We cannot have God as Father if we do not have the Church as Mother.” The difficulties encountered in the historic gathering are the kind of labors that yield mutual understanding and appreciation, he added. Find the WCC release at www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/orthodox-synod-201ca-spiritual-gift201d-to-other-churches .
Photo by Sean Hawkey, courtesy of the World Council of Churches
— Former Church of the Brethren general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger has been appointed director of the Office of the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The announcement was made by WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit earlier this week. Noffsinger’s work with the WCC will begin in July, with a relocation to Geneva, Switzerland, in September. In the meantime, he currently is attending the WCC Central Committee meeting in Trondheim, Norway. Noffsinger was elected to the WCC Central Committee at the WCC’s 10th Assembly in South Korea in 2013.
— Amy Beery has been hired as admissions counselor at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. A 2013 Bethany graduate, she brings chaplaincy experience to her new role, and a passion for helping others discern God’s call, said an announcement from Bethany president Jeff Carter. She begins work June 29 at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Greensboro, N.C.
— The Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center ( www.vbmhc.org ) in Harrisonburg, Va., invites applications for the position of full-time executive director. The successful candidate should have expertise in program visioning, strategic planning, fundraising, marketing, administration, public relations, volunteer coordination, and interpreting the vision of the center to the church and community. The director should be committed to the heritage that Brethren and Mennonites share, especially in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Salary and benefits as determined by the Board of Directors. Send a letter of application, resume, and three recommendations to J.D. Glick, Chair, Search Committee, 14 Joseph Court, Bridgewater, VA 22812 ( jdglick@Verizon.net ). The position is open until filled.
— The latest “News and Notes” newsletter of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) is now online. This issue focuses on the 200th anniversary of the 1816 birthday of James Quinter, whom the newsletter characterizes as “founder of the modern Brethren…. Known as the ‘boy preacher’ Quinter’s circle that included the noted woman preacher Sarah Righter Major pioneered in the use of such innovative religious strategies as protracted or revival meetings, Sunday schools, prayer meetings, publishing, foreign missions, higher education, supported the temperance movement, and opposed slavery,” the newsletter says, in part. Go to www.brethren.org/bhla .
— Limestone (Tenn.) Church of the Brethren is celebrating 170 years of service to God on Saturday, July 16, with an open house from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. “We will be serving hamburgers and hotdogs with sides. There will be activities throughout the day including door prizes. This is a great time to come by and walk through our church, and see the history of where God has brought us,” said an invitation. For more information call 423-534-0450.
— Elkins Church of the Brethren in West Marva District celebrated its 65th anniversary on June 18.
— New Carlisle (Ohio) Church of the Brethren has joined with Donnelsville Elementary School and the Korrect Plumbing (Ivan and Clara Patterson) Foundation in a service project for Heifer International, reports the “New Carlisle News.” With an initial goal of raising enough money to purchase an Ark of animals, the project netted over $10,000, with Heifer International matching that amount, the report said. Find the news article at www.newcarlislenews.net/index.php/school-news/tecumseh/1596-donnelsville-elementary-church-of-the-brethren-join-in-service-project .
— Mount Hermon Church of the Brethren in Bassett, Va., has built a Pneuma Pit for outdoor worship, concerts, and other activities. A dedication service will be held at 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 26. “Everyone is invited to come for the dedication and worship,” said the Virlina District newsletter.
— Bradford Church of the Brethren in Piqua, Ohio, is raising funds for a mission trip to Haiti by selling tickets for a chicken dinner, according to the “Piqua Daily Call.” Tickets sell for $7.50 per dinner and must be purchased by July 17. Dinners may be picked up at the church on July 23 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Contact the church at 937-448-2215 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
— Virlina District has shared with gratitude and thanksgiving that district executive minister David Shumate has been released by his doctor to return to work on June 25. He has endured a lengthy hospitalization during which time Emma Jean Woodard has served as acting district executive. Shumate will return to work at the district office on a gradual basis, as his strength allows.
— Sam Hornish Jr., a NASCAR driver who was baptized at Poplar Ridge Church of the Brethren in Defiance, Ohio, returned to racing fame last Sunday when he won the NASCAR XFINITY Series American Ethanol 250. The win came after a tough four seasons on the racing circuit, and in recent months media reports note that he has been working as a substitute teacher and taking time for family. On June 15, he received a call from Joe Gibbs Racing asking him to fill in for an injured driver in Sunday’s race. Hornish had not been in a car for 270 days, last appearing in a race in November. “I was so nervous on Friday getting into the car thinking I’m going to make a mistake,” he said in an interview with Nascar.com news. But he won Sunday’s race, holding the lead from lap 139 until the finish. In response to his Father’s Day victory, with his wife and children present to celebrate with him, Hornish commented “it doesn’t get much better than that.” Find the Nascar.com reports at www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2016/6/19/iowa-speedway-race-results-winner-xfinity-series.html and www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2016/6/23/sam-hornish-jr-wins-with-famiy-after-off-time-iowa-speedway-xfinity-series.html .