Brethren Bits for October 19, 2016


Photo by Glenn Riegel
General secretary David Steele at a listening session in Atlantic Northeast District.


Remembrance: Galen Stover and Doris Law Beery, members of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, died in a car crash in New Mexico on Oct. 11. Galen Beery is remembered for his key role in the effort to resettle thousands of Vietnamese refugees known as “boat people” after the fall of Saigon, and also as a grandson of Brethren mission leaders Wilbur and Mary Stover who were pioneer missionaries to India. Doris Law Beery is remembered for her work as a fire safety specialist for the Ontario (Calif.) Fire Department, and for her volunteer service that over the years included work with Children’s Disaster Services and the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, a rape hotline, and more. Galen Beery for two decades in the 1960s and ’70s was a leading member of the Church of the Brethren serving in southeast Asia, where he worked with refugees, agricultural development, education, and healthcare, among other concerns. His role in the region over the years connected with various organizations including Church World Service (CWS), the US State Department, US AID, the International Rescue Committee, and others. He first went to Laos as a conscientious objector working for International Voluntary Services, the State Department, and US AID. He worked in Laos from 1962-72, during a time when the country became embroiled in the Vietnam War. He returned briefly to the US, but when Saigon fell in April 1975 he became the CWS officer in charge of helping to relocate southeast Asian refugees to the US, and in 1976 became a refugee caseworker for CWS, the International Rescue Committee, and Catholic Charities. In 1977 he went to Malaysia as a representative of the Joint Voluntary Agency, which was an organization of churches and humanitarian groups working with the American Red Cross, the State Department, and the US Immigration and Naturalization Service. In a 2001 interview he told the “Inland Valley Daily Bulletin” newspaper (published as the “City News” of San Dimas and La Verne), “My last official act in Malaysia was in December 1979 when I shook hands with the 50,000th refugee.” An interview with Galen Beery can be viewed in an episode of “60 Minutes” filmed after the fall of Saigon and now posted on YouTube. In the interview, Beery speaks about his work and that of other volunteers who aided, interviewed, and categorized the refugees, and the process that the refugees went through to gain admission into the US. Find the “60 Minutes” episode at . A life celebration for Doris and Galen Beery is planned for Saturday, Oct. 29, beginning at 11 a.m. at La Verne Church of the Brethren. A service will be followed by a light lunch. Memorial gifts are received to NAMI Pomona Valley, Camp La Verne, and the University of La Verne Archives and Special Collections.

Bethany Theological Seminary announces that Brian Schleeper has resigned his position in student services, effective Nov. 4. He joined the Bethany staff in 2007 as a student services associate and in January 2016 was promoted from financial aid officer and coordinator of student services to coordinator of student financial services and Title IX compliance. Bethany wishes him well in his new employment as Wayne County District Director of the Cardinal Greenways.

Paige Butzlaff has begun her term in Brethren Volunteer Service working with the Youth and Young Adult Ministry at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. She will be working with director Becky Ullom Naugle on planning for Christian Citizenship Seminar, National Junior High Conference, Young Adult Conference, Ministry Summer Service, and other projects. Her home congregation is La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren. She graduated from the University of California (Santa Cruz) with a degree in anthropology in May 2015.

Coordinators of the Church of the Brethren Workcamp Ministry plan to post a live announcement of the newest workcamp offering planned for next summer. “Facebook. Tomorrow. Live video introducing dates/location of Young Adult Workcamp! Completely new. Ages 18-35. See you then!” Find the Facebook page at .

Intergenerational Ministries director Debbie Eisenbise is raising awareness of a letter from Christian women in response to remarks made about sexual violence during the presidential campaign. “This being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Church of the Brethren congregations are encouraged to educate members about violence that occurs in intimate relationships and to advocate for victims of domestic violence,” she says. “Particular sensitivity to words and actions that justify and rationalize such violence is critical in addressing this issue.” The letter campaign was organized by Jennifer Butler, a Christian minister and CEO of the faith-based advocacy group Faith In Public Life Action Fund. The letter states that the women who have signed, which includes clergywomen in the Church of the Brethren, understand this as “an opportunity to teach our daughters and sons that they are loved, and to teach all Americans how to speak out against sexually violent language.” According to the last publicly noted count, more than 700 Christian women have signed the letter. Find the letter and some of the names of leading Christian women who have signed it at .

Musa Mambula, international scholar in residence at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., has been acknowledged by his home country of Nigeria for his contributions to the betterment of Nigerian society. On Sept. 20, Mambula was honored with the Custodian of Nigerian Dream Award at the Nigerian Rebirth Conference in Abuja, Nigeria. “The conference was the first event of the recently unveiled Nigeria Rebirth Project,” said a release from Bethany. The project is described as “an initiative of passionate and patriotic Nigerians who over the years have proven themselves meritoriously in various fields of endeavor.” With the theme “Activating the Secret Wealth of the Nation,” the conference focused on the human resource potential in Nigeria. During his two-year term at Bethany, Mambula is helping to build an educational relationship with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and to identify potential Nigerian students for the program.

A webinar on the situation in Syria, sponsored by the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy, is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 8:30 p.m. (Eastern time). This follows on a Global Day of Action and Prayer for Syria that coincided with this year’s Peace Day on Sept. 21. “We hope you were able to join on that day and in the continuing days in remembering the people of Syria and lifting up ‘the things that make for peace,’” said an invitation to the webinar. Connect with the webinar at .

Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren will celebrate its 120th anniversary on Oct. 30. The theme is “We’ve Come This Far by Faith: 120 Years Strong,” and the celebration will feature guest preacher and former minister Fred Swartz, as well as participation from many past pastors and community outreach ministers. A Celebration Class will begin at 10 a.m. for all ages, followed by worship at 11:05 a.m. and a fellowship meal.

Eglise des Freres Haitian Church of the Brethren in Miami, Fla., has several efforts underway to aid those affected by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. Pastor Ludovic St. Fleur has shared information that the congregation is putting together a shipping container of clothing, water, and other donated personal items to be sent to Haiti. The congregation will also be giving cash to members who have relatives in Haiti who have seen storm damage to their homes or who have lost animals to the storm. Individual members will be responsible for sending the money to their relatives in Haiti, but the congregation is receiving donations to send collected relief goods to Haiti.

The Gathering of Western Plains District is meeting this year on the theme, “You Are Loved,” on Oct. 28-30 at the Webster Conference Center in Salina, Kan. Annual Conference moderator Carol Scheppard will preach for the opening worship service. Saturday’s general sessions will include a presentation on disaster ministries in Colorado. Intergenerational Ministries director Debbie Eisenbise preaches the Saturday evening sermon, with a campfire and coffeehouse following. The Sunday morning service will hear a message from Walt Wiltschek, former Messenger editor and chaplain at Manchester University, currently working as communications staff for the Mennonite Church. “Gather with us for a transforming experience,” said an invitation from the district. Find a brochure and more information at .

In more news from Western Plains, the district has donated another $21,518 to the Nigeria Crisis Fund in the months of August and September, bringing the total donated to $148,264, “which is 74 percent of the total goal,” reported the district newsletter. The district has a goal of raising $200,000 for the crisis relief work in Nigeria. “Let’s see if we can meet and exceed our goal as the need is great!”

Tomorrow a workshop “Ministry to Dementia Patients” is sponsored by Good Shepherd Home in Fostoria, Ohio, along with the Alzheimer’s Association Northwest Ohio Chapter and Jonah’s People Fellowship. “Even if you have not yet registered there is room available and you are welcome to attend,” says an announcement. The workshop is from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. with check in beginning at 9:30 a.m. Pastors, chaplains, Stephen’s Ministers, volunteer lay visitors and other interested church members are invited to attend. Ministers may receive .45 continuing education units.

An Election Day Love Feast co-sponsored by Brethren Woods Camp and Retreat Center and Shenandoah District is being held on Nov. 8, 7-8 p.m. at the camp’s Pine Grove Building. The camp is located near Keezletown, Va. “It has been a long and divisive presidential election season,” said an invitation. “Whether you plan to vote Democratic, Republican, independent, third party, write-in, or not at all, let’s join together after the polls close to make the same choice together: Jesus Christ. Election Day Love Feast is an opportunity to affirm that our first allegiance is to Jesus, and this allegiance is more important than party, candidate, or country. Jesus is our true savior and the one with the actual power to change the world.” The event will include feetwashing or hand washing, a light Fellowship Meal of snacks, and communion.

Students from McPherson (Kan.) College joined in solidarity with a traditional sports rival, Bethany College, at a recent women’s volleyball game, reports Western Plains District in its newsletter. “The two schools came together in solidarity against racist messages written along sidewalks on the Bethany College campus in September. The event was covered in a story by Wichita’s KWCH 12 News, which featured McPherson College students and Western Plains Church of the Brethren members Grant Tuttle of the Holmesville, Neb., congregation and Logan Schrag of the McPherson, Kan., congregation.” Find the news report, “Rival colleges ‘unite against hate’ in McPherson,” at .
In related news, McPherson College president Michael Schneider made a statement a recent campus luncheon, saying, “McPherson College has been and will always be a place that welcomes diversity…It’s in our mission. Discrimination, racism, bigotry–in any form–is unacceptable.” Read the president’s statement at .

Bridgewater (Va.) College senior history major Charlotte McIntyre has produced “Legacies of Peace,” a video documentary about peacemakers whose papers and artifacts are in the college’s Special Collections and Reuel B. Pritchett Museum Collection. The documentary will be shown as part of Special Collections’ exhibition, “Seek Peace and Pursue it,” on Saturday, Oct. 22, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, on the ground floor of the Alexander Mack Memorial Library. There is no admission fee and the public is invited, said a release from the college. “Individuals featured in the documentary are former Bridgewater College president and peace advocate Paul H. Bowman; local Civil War evangelist John Kline; Peace Corps volunteer Lula A. Miller; author and teacher Anna B. Mow; founder of the Brethren Alexander Mack Sr.; Brethren ambassador W. Harold Row; missionary to China Nettie M. Senger; humanitarian Naomi Miller West; and Nobel Peace Prize nominee M. Robert Zigler,” said the release. “All voiceovers and interviews are done by Bridgewater faculty and students, including five theater students who give voice to historical characters such as John Kline and Nettie Senger. Interviews include Bridgewater President David W. Bushman, who talks about President Paul H. Bowman; Stephanie Gardner, special collections librarian, who discusses Nettie Senger and Lula Miller; Dr. William Abshire, the Anna B. Mow Professor of Philosophy and Religion, who talks about Anna B. Mow; Dr. Stephen Longenecker, professor of history and political science, who talks about Alexander Mack Sr., John Kline and W. Harold Row; and Dr. Dean R. Neher, a former Bridgewater physics and computer science professor, talking about M. R. Zigler and Naomi Miller West. Other Bridgewater participants include library director Andrew Pearson reading as John Kline, and Dr. Robert Andersen, dean of academic affairs and director of the Kline-Bowman Institute for Creative Peacebuilding, reading as W. Harold Row.” After Oct. 22 the documentary will be available for viewing by request in Special Collections at Bridgewater or on the Bridgewater College YouTube channel.

A Midwest Forum of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes, the organization of retirement communities related to the Church of the Brethren, was held in Goshen, Ind., on Oct. 13. Fellowship executive Ralph McFadden reported on the schedule for the event, which included get-acquainted time, sharing of information about the retirement communities, observations about opportunities and vulnerabilities of the homes and visions for their work over the next decade, among other highlights.


Photo courtesy of EYN / Zakariya Musa
A table loaded with goodies is part of the celebration of Women’s Ministry in Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).


The Women’s Ministry of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) held a livelihood program and a choir annual conference at the EYN headquarters compound in Kwarhi. “Special songs and prayers were presented by the host DCC [church district] Hildi for having the National Conference at Kwarhi after the Boko Haram occupation,” reported Zakariya Musa of the EYN communications staff, who also provided photos of the event.

Janice Davis, administrative assistant of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College’s Department of Biology, has received the 2016 National Association of Social Workers’ Public Citizen of the Year Award. “When Janice Davis saw homelessness, she didn’t just walk by, hoping someone else would take care of the problem. She acted. She created a winter shelter and has been instrumental in Elizabethtown Community Housing and Outreach Service organization (ECHOS), which aids and assists families and individuals facing homelessness or who are at risk of homelessness and are seeking help,” said a release from the college. Find more information at .

Dec. 4 is the release date for an album of music by Leah Hileman, a Church of the Brethren minister and musician who has led music at past Annual Conferences and other denominational gatherings. The album, titled “The Impossible,” has been “a labor of love,” said Hileman. Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a celebration of the album, a CD release concert starting at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 4. To purchase concert tickets or the album, go to



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