Brethren Bits for May 27, 2016

Photo by Matt DeBall
Pierre Ferrari (right), CEO of Heifer International, visited the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., last week to speak about Heifer’s work and its historical ties to the denomination. Also pictured is Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service and a Heifer board member since 2011. “Pierre referred to the Church of the Brethren as the ‘tap root of Heifer’ and expressed deep appreciation for the support of the Brethren community for Heifer’s work,” reported Wittmeyer. “Pierre was particularly grateful that the Church of the Brethren was able to give relief grants for the Philippines, Nepal, and just recently Ecuador, which came within days of the earthquake and allowed Heifer staff to implement the funds immediately in impacted communities. Brethren funds in this case were used to reconnected community water systems that were destroyed by the disaster.”

Remembrance: Graydon “Grady” F. Snyder, 85, died on May 26 at Timbercrest, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in North Manchester, Ind. He was a former dean and Wieand Professor of New Testament Studies at Bethany Theological Seminary, the Church of the Brethren graduate school of theology, where he taught from 1959-87. “We can be in remembrance and prayer for a fine life of theological scholarship that has impacted several generations of ministers and members of the Church of the Brethren,” said a communication from the Bethany Pastoral Care Team. Snyder left Bethany to teach at Chicago Theological Seminary until his retirement. Over his career he wrote many books, commentaries, articles, and curriculum, including publications for Brethren Press and pieces for “Messenger” magazine. A native of Huntington, W.Va., he was a graduate of Manchester College (now Manchester University), held a bachelor of divinity degree from Bethany Seminary, obtained a doctor of theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, and did graduate work at several European universities. He was active in the Brethren Health and Welfare Association and was a member of the Governing Council of Bethany Hospital formerly located on the west side of Chicago. For many years, he and his wife Lois Horning Snyder were staunch members of Chicago First Church of the Brethren. The family is planning a burial to take place in the Chicago area, and a memorial service to be held at a future date.

Remembrance: Beth Burnette passed away on Nov. 20, 2015. She had served in a two-year temporary position with the Church of the Brethren as promotions specialist for “Messenger” magazine, beginning in 2005, after retiring as administrative assistant for the Illinois and Wisconsin District. She also had been Christian education director at York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill. A memorial service will be held at the York Center Church on Saturday, June 4, at 10 a.m. A full obituary can be found at .

Ann Cornell has begun as interim executive director of Camp Eder, a Church of the Brethren outdoor ministry center near Fairfield, Pa. She began in the interim position on May 9, after completing a long tenure as administrator of Shepherd’s Spring Outdoor Ministry Center, a Church of the Brethren camp and retreat center near Sharpsburg, Md.

On Earth Peace has welcomed two new interns: Sarah Bond-Yancey is starting as impact assessment coordinator, working with program staff to develop and improve impact assessment practices and reports. She is a recent graduate of the Evergreen State College in Washington State, with a degree in community-based planning and development. Kristine Harner is starting as social media organizer, managing the On Earth Peace Facebook page. She will be a senior at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia, studying psychology. On Earth Peace offers paid internships for college students, recent graduates, and graduate students. More information, including current openings and application instructions, can be found at .

Brethren Press seeks an individual to work within the customer service team. The ideal candidate will be a person of faith who enjoys helping congregations find the right resources, and is adept at maintaining detailed systems for inventory management. This person must be able to work in a religious setting and communicate knowledgeably with customers in congregations. The customer service representative works with purchasing and inventory, takes orders via the telephone and website, and maintains a thorough knowledge of products offered by Brethren Press. Applicants should be competent in Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, and be a quick learner of new systems. They should have training or experience in areas such as sales and customer service, inventory management, accounting, e-commerce, customer database systems. Candidates should be familiar with congregational life and resources such as Sunday school curriculum, books, hymnals, and bulletins. They should be comfortable handling multiple simultaneous projects, meeting deadlines, and working within a team. This position is full-time, though part-time work can be negotiated. The position is based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Applications will be received beginning immediately and will be reviewed until the position is filled. Qualified candidates are invited to 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; .

On Earth Peace has announced two job openings:
     A new full-time job opening for a development director. This position has remained vacant since Bob Gross retired at the end of 2014. The job description for this new role includes a distinct advantage for a fundraising professional who is a person of color. This reflects the emerging commitment to anti-racism transformation work by On Earth Peace, along with a practical assessment of what kind of expertise the agency needs to grow to the next level at this time as a community of practice for justice and peace. The need is for a development professional who can keep pace and work in synergy with ongoing program efforts and achievements toward becoming a fully multiracial community. Find out more at .
A part-time contract position for an Interim Coordinator of Ministry of Reconciliation (MoR). This person will manage requests for MoR services-such as workshops, trainings, facilitations, mediations, and consultations-from On Earth Peace constituents, mostly Church of the Brethren districts, congregations, families, and other related groups. Meeting these needs with this interim role will give On Earth Peace time to consider and discern what kind of staff configuration we will need going forward as our work continues to change and expand and our community grows. Find out more at .
For both positions, apply by July 15 with a cover letter e-mail, resume, and list of references. Apply to On Earth Peace executive director Bill Scheurer, by e-mail to .

Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) seeks an executive director to lead the organization. IWJ has been a leader in the fight for economic and worker justice in the United States since 1996. IWJ educates, organizes, and mobilizes people of faith, workers and advocates in support of economic justice, and worker rights at the local, state, and national levels. For more information go to .

The World Council of Churches is looking for a director of the office of the general secretary, based in Geneva, Switzerland, to be responsible for coordinating the activities of the general secretariat; strengthening program management and development; giving leadership and coordination for specific staff functions; contributing to business analysis and opinion, working together with the finance director; and participating in leadership of the organization as a member of the staff leadership group. The deadline is May 31. For more information go to .

The Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) is seeking nominations for its 2016 Nsedu Obot Witherspoon (NOW) Youth Leadership Award. The award was created as part of the CEHN 20th anniversary celebration in 2012, in honor of executive director Nsedu Obot Witherspoon. This award honors a young person, age 12-21 at the time of the nomination, who has demonstrated exceptional environmental health leadership–efforts to protect human health, especially of most vulnerable populations, through actions including: raising awareness of, advocacy for, and outreach around safer, healthier environments across places. CEHN encourages submissions of nominees who are young leaders involved and committed to environmental health, participate in community action, and have strong leadership skills. Submissions must come from non-family members. This award will be presented at CEHN’s 11th Annual Child Health Advocate Award Event in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 13. The winner must be able to travel to Washington and attend the event to accept their award. Submit nominations by 4 p.m. (Eastern time) on July 15. For more information go to .

Young adults from across the denomination are gathering at Manchester University in Indiana on May 27-30 for the 2016 National Young Adult Conference. The theme is “Creating Harmony” (Colossians 3:12-17). Worship and Bible study will center the conference, which also includes workshops, service projects, time for fellowship, and recreation among other activities. Featured speakers are Christy Dowdy, pastor of Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa.; Jim Grossnickle-Batterton of the admissions staff at Bethany Theological Seminary; Drew G. I. Hart, a doctoral candidate in theology, part-time professor, and writer; Eric Landram, pastor of Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; Waltrina N. Middleton, associate for National Youth Event Programing with the United Church of Christ; and Richard Zapata, who with his wife Becky pastors Príncipe de Paz Church of the Brethren in southern California. For more information go to .

June 2 begins the Church of the Brethren’s summer workcamp season 2016. A young adult workcamp will be serving in Northern Ireland from June 2-12. The first of eight senior high workcamps will be in Washington, D.C., June 6-12. The first of six junior high workcamps takes place in Brooklyn, N.Y., June 15-19. Also on the schedule are intergenerational workcamp experiences and the “We Are Able” workcamp. The theme for this year’s workcamps is “Blazing with Holiness” (1 Peter 1:13-16, The Message version). Find the full workcamp schedule and more information at .

The Global Mission and Service office seeks prayer for a group of McPherson (Kan.) College communications students who have been traveling in Haiti, led by Paul Ullom-Minnich, consultant for the Haiti Medical Project. “The group is visiting several communities throughout Haiti to learn about the mobile medical clinics and the other social service programs of Eglise des Freres d’Haiti, the Church of the Brethren in Haiti,” said the request. “Pray for safe travels and meaningful interactions.”

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) is looking for volunteers to begin their year of service in the summer orientation, July 17-Aug. 5. Call Jocelyn Snyder, BVS orientation coordinator, to express interest in beginning a year or two of service. She can be reached at 847-429-4384. For more information about BVS go to .

The latest issue of the BVS newsletter “The Volunteer” includes articles written by current volunteers Penny Radcliff, serving in New Oxford, Pa.; Rachel Ulrich in Roanoke, Va.; Katy Herder in Chicago, Ill.; and Bernd Phoenix in Hiroshima, Japan. An Alumni Corner has stories shared by Nancy Schall Hildebrand. Go to .

Kathy Fry-Miller of Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) was one of a “Think Tank Panel” at the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD) Conference in Minneapolis. She spoke about working with vulnerable populations in non-traditional disasters, according to a Facebook post from Brethren Disaster Ministries. Find out about the work of CDS at .

Bethany Theological Seminary president Jeff Carter joined seven seminary presidents who are Princeton Theological Seminary alumni in a panel presentation entitled, “The Future of Theological Education.” The panel was part of PTS Reunion at Princeton and was attended by alumni, faculty, trustees, and friends. “Seminaries represented included McCormick Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Lancaster Theological Seminary, New York Theological Seminary, Columbia Theological Seminary, Near East School of Theology, Indian Sunday School Union, and yes, Bethany Theological Seminary,” Carter wrote in an e-mail report to the Bethany community. “President Barnes opened the discussion with a few questions and then asked the audience for questions. It was an incredible two hours of sharing.” In the audience was Bill Robinson, former president of Manchester University and current trustee chair for Princeton Theological Seminary. Carter reported, “It was both an exciting and humbling experience to be with so many esteemed leaders and now, conversation partners.”

On Sunday, April 24, Elkhart Valley Church of the Brethren in Indiana kicked off its 150th anniversary with a concert and hymn sing. Richard Yoder, unofficial church historian, was interviewed by the Goshen News about plans for four special events this year to celebrate the anniversary. Yoder told the paper that Elkhart Valley Church was established in 1866 as a “daughter church” of West Goshen Church of the Brethren, which was the first Brethren church in Elkhart County, Ind. “Yoder said as people in congregations moved and because the ride in the buggy became too far, new churches were started. He said West Goshen Church of the Brethren started both Yellow Creek Church of the Brethren and Elkhart Valley. The two congregations were merged until 1870, although Elkhart Valley Church was built in 1866.” Find the Goshen News report at .

Goshen City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren has held a vote to recognize same-sex marriages and to allow its clergy to take part in them. The action has garnered significant media attention in the area. A report in the Elkhart Truth newspaper noted that the church “had been discussing the issue for more than a year,” and quoted a statement from the church that said, in part: “The congregation sees itself as a safe place in the community that provides Christ-centered love and compassion for all individuals–including those who feel marginalized. This vote is another step in discerning how we, as a congregation, can and should move toward a more loving way of being in community with each other.” See . Prior to the vote on Sunday, May 22, the then-pending decision was the subject of a May 17 article in the Goshen News, which interviewed co-pastors Bev Weaver and Steve Norton and the denomination’s director of News Services Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford. “Our vote is about whether the congregation would support pastors in doing weddings for people–gay or straight–who want a Christian wedding,” Weaver told the newspaper. “This is not an advocacy position. This is more of pastoral care as a result of evangelism work of the church. We have people in our midst who love Jesus and are LGBT.” Find the article at .

Photo courtesy of Duane Bahn
The Dunkard Valley Live Christian Music Festival.

Dunkard Valley Live Christian Music Festival is planned for Aug. 6 and 7 (rain dates are Aug. 13 and 14) at Codorus Church of the Brethren in Dallastown, Pa. “The hills and hollows around the Codorus Church of the Brethren will again echo with sounds of Christian music,” said an announcement. “Come hear the gospel being shared through song and the spoken word.” Events take place on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and are free and open to the public. The festival began 13 years ago after Becky Innerst of Red Lion, Pa., attended Creation, the release said. “God laid it on me to do this,” she said. “I was just overwhelmed with the idea, and I said ‘God, I can’t even sing,’ but he kept telling me this was something he wanted me to do.” She took the idea to Duane Bahn who along with Becky formed a committee and the event took shape. Many volunteers help with the festival, including the groups and speakers who perform. The Saturday afternoon and evening is geared toward youth, and features some of the louder groups, the release said. The performances on Sunday are more traditional and family oriented. A kid’s tent provides activities for children. T-shirts will be for sale along with food and desserts. See .

New Fairview Church of the Brethren in York, Pa., is holding a “Cruise-In” on Sunday, June 5, starting at 9 a.m. The event includes a coffee and donut breakfast, worship, lunch, and fellowship. All makes and models of cars, trucks, and bikes are welcome.

— “The 24th annual Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Auction is now history, and preliminary numbers point to another great success!” said a report on the district’s annual auction. “The two-day income at the fairgrounds totaled $175,162.99; the cattle auction brought in $15,889.50; the other auctions combined for $92,038.50. These numbers do not include any money received at the district office (golf fees, oyster sales, etc.) prior to the auction. And there are always late-arriving bills to be paid and some additional income.” Other outcomes, by the numbers: 1,124 people dined on 75 gallons of oysters plus country ham and chicken; 465 breakfasts were served (265 omelets, 200 pancakes); 226 plate lunches were served. “Thanks to all who volunteered to make the auction a reality and to those who came to eat, bid, buy, and enjoy what has become an annual reunion,” said the district announcement, which also noted that next year the auction will celebrate its 25th anniversary.

— “All are invited to participate in the June 24-25 ‘Faithful Witness in a Time of Endless War’ conference at the Christopher Dock Mennonite High School featuring Shane Claiborne, Medea Benjamin, Titus Peachey, and others,” said an invitation to Brethren from one of the organizers of the event, Harold Penner. “The event will conclude with a nonviolent public witness at the US military’s new drone warfare command center in Horsham, Pa.” Co-sponsored in part by the Mennonite Church USA Peace and Justice Support Network as well as Mennonite Central Committee East Coast, the conference will pursue the message of the July 2015 resolution on “Faithful Witness amid Endless War” adopted at the Mennonite Church USA convention. For more information contact the Peace Action Education Fund at or 609-924-5022. Print a registration form for mailing at . Youth are encouraged to participate free of charge.

Southern Pennsylvania District has published a wrap-up report from the 2016 meat canning project, a joint effort with Mid-Atlantic District: 54,240 pounds of chicken were canned, 4 skids of canned chicken will be sent to Honduras and 4 skids to Haiti, each district involved in the project received more than 350 cases of chicken to distribute, and $46,537.05 was donated. “There are 50 cases per skid, and 24 cans per case,” the newsletter noted.

Southern Pennsylvania District also is raising funds to purchase a four-wheel drive Land Cruiser for the Church of the Brethren mission in South Sudan. “Traveling in South Sudan, the newest and poorest country in the world, is practically impossible,” explained Eli Mast in the district newsletter. “Roads are almost impassable, especially during the six-month rainy season…. Athanasus Ungang, Church of the Brethren staff person, currently uses a motor bike for travel. This limits his ability to transport people and supplies.” The district hopes to raise $30,000. The district board has designated $5,000 to the fund. Churches and individuals also have contributed, with almost $15,000 raised to date. Donated funds are sent directly to the Global Mission and Service office of the Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill.

At a lunch in Palmyra, Pa., on May 17, some 35 people gathered to meet with Rachel and Jinatu Wamdeo, who has served as general secretary of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The event was hosted by Annual Conference secretary Jim Beckwith. Those present were from the districts of Atlantic Northeast and Southern Pennsylvania. Said a report about the event: “Jinatu shared some personal/family information and then gave an update on the church in Nigeria. Though many have been displaced, fleeing to places such as neighboring Cameroon, it has only been by the grace of God that EYN has not closed. They are especially grateful for the US Brethren who have been able to come alongside them in support…. ‘Boko Haram has renewed our faith!’ Jinatu stated.”

Missouri and Arkansas District is inviting each of its congregations to take part in a project called “Weave Us Together.” The congregations will each choose two or three people to be visitors, to send to neighboring congregations. “The congregations are asked to have a pre-visit conversation to weave together what they wish to share about the past, present, and possible future life of the church. To explore the ways we make a difference in the lives of our members and the surrounding community,” said the district announcement. “Please hold this process in prayer as we call on Jesus to weave us together.”

A first-ever “Church of the Brethren Camp Road Trip Retreat” has been announced by Camp Eder. “Take a journey with us in our shiny school bus! To learn some Church of the Brethren camping history and meet some of our closest friends at nearby camps,” said an invitation. The bus trip from Aug. 12-14 will begin at Camp Eder near Fairfield, Pa., and proceed to Camp Harmony near Hooversville, Pa., and then to Camp Blue Diamond near Petersburg, Pa., and return to Camp Eder. The event is for all ages and costs $95 per person.

Bridgewater (Va.) College graduated 417 seniors on May 14–the largest class in the history of the 136-year-old college according to a release. Among the students in the class of 2016, 107 earned bachelor of arts degrees and 279 earned bachelor of science degrees. The degrees were conferred by Bridgewater College president David W. Bushman. Receiving the President’s Medal at the ceremony were Julia C. Morton, associate professor of world languages and cultures; Paul J. Bender, professor of mathematics; and Mary Frances Heishman, professor of health and human sciences, all three of whom are retiring. An honorary degree was presented to the ceremony’s keynote speaker, G. Steven Agee, who is a justice on the United States Court of Appeals and a 1974 Bridgewater alumnus as well as a member of the board of trustees of the college.

In more news from Bridgewater College, three alumni have been honored for their achievements and humanitarian service. The West-Whitelow Humanitarian Award was presented to Nancy Moore Link, a former mission worker who with her late husband Donald served in Nigeria with the Church of the Brethren from 1966-69. She was an instructor at a teacher training school, and then after a brief furlough in the United States returned to Nigeria to serve as houseparent at Hillcrest School in Jos. More recently, Link volunteered for Children’s Disaster Services, and for some months lived and worked at the Lybrook Mission and Tokahookaadi Church of the Brethren in the Navajo community in New Mexico. At home, the Links established and maintained a 30-mile nest box trail in Augusta County, Va., and Nancy Link continues to monitor and record activity for the Virginia Bluebird Society. Two additional alumni received awards also: the Distinguished Alumnus Award was presented to Robert R. Newlen, chief of staff of the Library of Congress where he has worked for more than 40 years; and the Young Alumnus Award was presented to Holly Wagner Fowler, a public affairs specialist at the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

— “Thank you to all of you who honored mothers and mother figures in your life with a donation to Global Women’s Project for Mother’s Day,” said an e-mail from the GWP. “Over $3,000 was raised in order to support the mission of educating about wealth, power, and oppression, encouraging one another to live more simply, being mindful of our luxuries, and joining in empowerment with women around the world, sharing resources with women’s initiatives.” The GWP is supporting projects in India, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, and Wabash, Ind.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Quilt block featuring the Alexander Mack Seal.

“Quilting in the Brethren and Mennonite Traditions” takes place June 3-4 at the Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., in cooperation with the Virginia Consortium of Quilters and the Virginia Quilt Museum. On June 3, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., historians will be available to document family heirloom quilts. The documentation fee is $5 per quilt with a three-quilt maximum. Register at . On June 4, visitors may browse a quilt display and learn about quilts at two Quilt Turnings at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Talks on quilt care and on quilting for disaster relief are scheduled as well as a quilting demonstration. Admission for the day is $10; lunch will be available for $5; no registration is required. To volunteer during the event or to offer unique quilts to display call 540-438-1275.

— “Local and national organizations must be enabled to participate more in humanitarian decision-making,” said a release from ACT Alliance, international faith-based humanitarian and development network in which the Church of the Brethren participates. The release came out of a World Humanitarian Summit roundtable held recently in Turkey. “Moving from delivering aid to ending need requires more participation of local and national organizations in policy and decision-making processes, international faith-based humanitarian and development network,” the release said. ACT Alliance general secretary John Nduna was one of the speakers at the roundtable. “As an alliance committed to the accompaniment of local and national actors, more than 70 percent of our membership are local and national responders rooted in communities before, during, and after crises,” he said. “We are part of the communities we seek to assist, and are emboldened to see commitments which aspire to reinforce local systems, increase genuine community engagement, and enhance complementarity among local, national, and international responders.”

June 2 is the Second Annual National Gun Violence Awareness Day, an effort of a number of organizations working against gun violence including Newtown Action Alliance, Connecticut Against Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and Sandy Hook Promise. “Over 100,000 Americans have been killed by guns and over 250,000 Americans have been injured by guns since the tragic shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School,” said an announcement. “We must continue to shed a light on the epidemic of gun violence in our nation to engage more Americans to make gun violence prevention a priority.” The day of national events will include an “Orange Walk” in Newtown, Conn., starting at 6:30 p.m. “If you are not able to join us in Newtown, we encourage you to #WearOrange on June 2nd to honor all victims and survivors of gun violence on National Gun Violence Awareness Day,” said the announcement. For more information contact .

Retired Church of the Brethren minister Bob Kettering will lead a hymn sing at the 1871 Historic Wenger Meetinghouse in Jonestown, Pa., on Sunday, June 12 at 2:30 p.m. Kettering “is known for his hymn leading of congregations, his participation with the quartet the Ministers of Music, and his involvement with Mt. Gretna Camp Meeting,” said a notice in the Lebanon Daily News. Hymns will be sung a capella from the 20th century, when the Wenger Meetinghouse was in use by the United Zion Church. An open house of the restored meetinghouse will be held at 2 p.m., before the hymn sing begins. A freewill offering will be taken to support the restoration.

Don Wagstaff, former pastor of Piqua (Ohio) Church of the Brethren, has been honored by the Piqua Association of Churches with a “Hero of Faith” award. PAC president Paul Green told the Pique Daily Call newspaper that Wagstaff was chosen because of his personal qualities: “You can’t go into ministry and not affect somebody’s life, and you can tell how…by seeing those people around him.” See .



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