Brethren Bits for October 7, 2016

Claysburg Church of the Brethren celebrated 90 years of ministry in the Claysburg area on Sept. 11. “The Claysburg Church began in the early 1920s when some of the Leamersville Brethren thought there should be a Sunday school in Claysburg,” reports pastor Ron Bashore. “A large room over the old bank building was rented, and in 1921 the Sunday school was in operation during the summer months. In 1923 the Middle District started a mission of the Church of the Brethren in Claysburg. Services were held in a summer tabernacle built on the ground where the church stands today. The district board made plans for the construction of the present building in 1925…. On September 1, 1926, the church was officially organized.”
The church celebrated by welcoming new members on Sunday, Sept. 4. Seven new members were received, some through a letter of transfer from their previous churches, and some through baptism. “The outdoor baptism setting was in the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River near the church,” Bashore reports. “Those who were baptized were Joe Kennedy, Ryan Kennsinger, Susan Dodson, and Jane Strittmatter. Along with them, Jean and Don Matters, as well as two of our existing members, Heidi Kennedy, and Roger Grace, were also baptized.”

Remembrance: Stewart Kauffman, 97, of Lancaster, Pa., passed away on Thursday, Oct. 6. He served on the Church of the Brethren denominational staff from 1955-1960 as director of Ministry and Evangelism, and as staff for Stewardship Enlistment/Planned Giving from 1970 until his retirement in 1986. Previously he had been a pastor and was regional executive (a position equivalent to today’s district executive) for the former Eastern Region of the Church of the Brethren from 1953-55. In volunteer service to the church, he also was a member of the former General Board of the denomination from 1963-1970, serving as chair during his final year on the board. In 1961 he was awarded an honorary doctor of divinity degree by Bethany Theological Seminary. He directed both worship and music for Annual Conferences held in the early 1960s. He chaired the Estate and Financial Planning Action Team for the National Council of Churches for six years and was instrumental in shaping the programming of the North American Council of Christian Philanthropy to include the needs of congregations as well as institutions. In 2000 he was recognized for his volunteer work with the Zella J. Gahagan Charitable Trust Advisory Committee, receiving a special commendation from the General Board. The multi-million dollar Gahagan Trust provided yearly income and one-time distributions for ministries with children, youth, and young adults. Kauffman wrote a book about the life and work of Zella Johns Gahagan (1899-1984) titled “Zella’s Mountain,” which was published by Brethren Press. Kauffman earned degrees from Elizabethtown (Pa.) College and Bethany Seminary, did graduate work at Garrett Biblical Institute and the University of Pittsburgh, and also studied at Mansfield College in Oxford, England, and the Bossey Ecumenical Institute in Switzerland. A memorial service for Kauffman will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 1 p.m., in the chapel at Brethren Village Retirement Community in Lancaster.

— Western Pennsylvania District has called William (Bill) W. Wenger to serve as interim district executive beginning Jan. 1, 2017. The appointment is intended to be for a one-year term. Wenger began his connection with the Church of the Brethren in Shippensburg, Pa. He was licensed to ministry in 1980 and ordained a decade later, at Mount Zion Road Church of the Brethren in Atlantic Northeast District. He is a graduate of Messiah College, Grantham, Pa., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in religion, and earned a Master of Divinity degree from Evangelical School of Theology. In addition to experience in pastoral leadership in congregations, he brings experience of chaplaincy having served at the Peter Becker Community, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in Harleysville, Pa. He currently is pastor at Moxham Church of the Brethren in Johnstown, Pa., and is a member the board of directors of the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC) and serves as adjunct faculty teaching courses in church history, biblical interpretation, and introduction to the Old Testament.

Manchester University seeks candidates for the Gladdys Muir Professor of Peace Studies, an endowed professorship in the Peace Studies Program at the university’s campus in North Manchester, Ind. The university invites applications for the position at the associate professor or professor rank depending upon qualifications. This is a full-time, tenure-track position that will begin in the fall of 2017. The program seeks a person with a strong commitment to, and demonstrated excellence in, undergraduate teaching and interdisciplinary collaboration. Manchester University is home to the world’s first undergraduate peace studies program, established in 1948. The program is grounded on commitments to nonviolence, the promotion of human rights, and an international system congenial to just peace. It is coordinated by a council of faculty from across the academic disciplines. For more information about the essential job functions, qualifications, work schedule, pay and benefits, and how to apply, go to . Review of applications will begin Oct. 15, and will continue until the position is filled. Manchester University is an equal opportunity employer. Applicants who further diversify the faculty and staff are warmly welcome.

— The Valley Brethren Mennonite Heritage Center 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. Salary and benefits determined by the board of directors. Send letter of application, resume, and three recommendations to Glen Kauffman, Chair, Search Committee, Everence Financial Advisors, 841 Mt. Clinton Pike, Harrisonburg, VA 22802; . Position open until filled. For more information about the center go to

“We can cover your insurance needs,” says the 2017 open enrollment announcement from Brethren Benefit Trust. BBT offers the following insurance services, available to all eligible active and retired Church of the Brethren employees: short-term disability, long-term disability, critical illness, accident, Medicare Supplement, dental, vision, and life insurance. Visit after Oct. 31 for eligibility and to find rates, options, and enrollment forms. Open enrollment takes place Nov. 1-30. Coverage is effective Jan. 1, 2017. Current members do not need to re-apply unless they wish to change their coverage level. To find out more contact

The Nigeria Crisis Response continues to collect books for Nigeria. EYN-related schools are in need of books for their libraries and classrooms; donations of new or gently used children’s books that are in good condition are requested, suitable for children ages 6 to 16. Specifically requested are paperback chapter books for children, such as those recognized by the Newberry Award. Non-fiction books and children’s encyclopedias also are requested. Books also are being collected for Kulp Bible College, the ministry training school of EYN, which needs materials for training pastors including books on Christian education, theology, preaching, Hebrew and Greek, pastoral counseling, and ethics, along with Bible commentaries and reference books. All books should be in good condition and published in the last 20 years. The college staff have provided a wish list of specific titles, go to . Call 410-635-8731 for more information. Send books to: Books for Nigeria, Brethren Service Center Annex, 601 Main St., New Windsor, MD 21776. Books must arrive at the Brethren Service Center by Nov.  20.

— “Paul’s Thought and the Pauline Tradition in the New Testament” is an online course available through the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC) in cooperation with the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, and taught by Bob Cleveland. The course is offered Jan. 30-March 24, 2017. Course fee is $285. Students may receive TRIM or EFSM credit or continuing education units. Registration and payment are due by Dec. 30, 2016. For more information contact 717-361-1450 or or go to the website

The 2016 National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths® Celebration, “Children of Promise: Closing Opportunity Gaps” will be held Oct. 21-23. The focus this year is on closing opportunity gaps due to poverty and lack of access to high-quality early childhood development and a high-quality education so that every child can reach their God-given potential. “For that to happen, we as people of faith need to stand tall within our communities and push our nation to keep our promises of love and justice, equality, and dignity for all,” said an announcement from the National Council of Churches. “Join thousands of churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other faith communities across the country in this celebration by holding a community-wide interfaith special worship service or a special service in your place of worship, add educational programs, and advocacy activities to engage people of faith in improving the lives of children and their families in your community, state and in our nation.” Read more at the Children’s Defense Fund website:

The theme for Mid-Atlantic District’s 50th annual conference

Four Church of the Brethren districts are holding district conferences this weekend:
     Middle Pennsylvania District meets Oct. 7-8 at Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, The theme, “Make My Joy Complete,” comes from Philippians chapter 2. “This is a time when our witness as the Christian church must embody a unity and reconciliation that goes beyond partisanship, nationality, or theological stance,” said an invitation from moderator Dale Dowdy. “If we fail at this important calling, then we shall be like salt that has lost its taste. Paul’s words to us found in Philippians remind us of the awesome responsibility we have to carry the gospel into the world with a joy and oneness of purpose that cannot be denied.” Andy Murray, immediate past moderator of Annual Conference, will deliver the Friday evening message.
Idaho District also holds its conference on Oct. 7-8, meeting at Mountain View Church of the Brethren, Boise, Idaho.
The Atlantic Northeast District Conference is Oct. 8 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College’s Leffler Chapel.
Also meeting Oct. 8 is Mid-Atlantic District, using the theme “Coming of, the Moving of, and the Work of, and the Comfort of the Holy Spirit” (2 Timothy 1:7). This is the 50th annual conference for Mid-Atlantic District, which is meeting at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Easton, Md.

— A new book features Northern Ohio District’s Lick Creek congregation and the family from Vietnam that they helped resettle in the 1980s, reports Kris Hawk, interim district executive. The book is titled “Refugees! A Family’s Search for Freedom and the Church That Helped Them Find It,” and is written by Church of the Brethren authors Jeanne Jacoby Smith and Jan Gilbert Hurst. Find out more at

— “Brethren Woods has a new website!” says an announcement from the camp and retreat center near Keezletown, Va. “After many months of hard work, we are pleased to officially announce our new and redesigned website! The web address remains the same but the entire site has been redesigned and reimagined.” Go to

— This year’s Brethren Disaster Relief Auction raised about $365,000, according to the Lebanon (Pa.) Daily News. The annual auction is held in cooperation with Atlantic Northeast District and Southern Pennsylvania District. The paper reported that the auction “began in 1977 and has provided over $14,000,000 in disaster relief to victims of natural and man-made disasters, both in the US and internationally.” Read the article at

— Steve Schweitzer, academic dean and professor at Bethany Theological Seminary, will be the presenter for the next Ventures course, 9 a.m. to 12 noon (central time) on Saturday, Nov. 12.  His topic will be “The Book of Chronicles and the Church: Theology, Continuity, Innovation, and the Kingdom of God.” While the book of Kings explains why the people of Israel ended up in exile, the book of Chronicles was written after the exile, in the midst of significant cultural shifts, to provide a way forward. Participants will explore several central themes in the book and think together about how Chronicles might help the church to be faithful in the midst of cultural change. Registration information is available at . Ventures in Christian Discipleship is an online program of McPherson (Kan.) College, designed to equip church members with skills and understandings for faithful and dynamic Christian living, action, and leadership. All courses are free, but donations are welcome to help continue this effort.

— On Oct. 30 Steve Longenecker, Edwin L. Turner Distinguished Professor of History at Bridgewater (Va.) College, will give a lecture on “The Politics of Anbaptism.” This Valley Brethren Mennonite Heritage Center lecture is hosted by Community Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg, Va., and starts at 4 p.m.

The Indigenous People’s Solidarity Team of Christian Peacemakers Team (CPT) recently organized a short trip to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation “to explore what support they could offer water defenders,” said a CPT release. “The camps have become a gathering place for many peoples opposing the threat the Bakken oil pipeline poses to the Missouri River and other shared waterways.” The delegation visited the Sacred Stone Spirit Camp where they heard from a Lakota tribal historian about objectives including protection of water and land, and opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. “We heard repeatedly that ‘this is a camp founded on prayer,’” the release said. The group also went to the main camp, Oceti Sakowin, and the smaller Red Warrior Camp, where they met with a legal assistance team to learn more about the call for international observers. “We were also able to meet with organizers who are committed to stopping the construction of the pipeline through nonviolent direct action. We heard about recent actions, arrests, and the ongoing need for trained volunteers who can observe and document these actions,” the release said. “A few days before our visit, riot police arrested 24 people at gunpoint during a nonviolent direct action at the nearby construction site, and several leaders reported the presence of snipers in nearby hills.  Police have met the nonviolent actions of camp participants with a heavily militarized response arresting 21 during a September 28 prayer action at the construction site.” Find the full release at

— Bread for the World has commented on statements released by presidential candidates Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton prior to their Oct. 9 debate, about how they would address hunger and poverty in the US and around the world. “Both statements provide valuable insights into how each candidate would address hunger and poverty in our country and around the world, and in many ways stand in stark contrast to each other,” said David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, in a release. “The statements also set the stage for Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper, the moderators of this Sunday’s debate, to ask Trump and Clinton to defend their competing plans to reduce hunger and poverty. One in five U.S. children struggles with hunger. So why has there been virtually no mention of hunger and poverty in the presidential and vice-presidential debates?” The statements were provided to Vote to End Hunger, a coalition of 166 groups working to make hunger, poverty, and opportunity a higher political priority in 2016. These and other groups have been working for some time to make hunger and poverty election issues. VTEH has also been coordinating a social media campaign urging the debate moderators to ask about hunger and poverty. Find the Bread for the World release at . Read the statements from Trump and Clinton at

Friends with the Weather, a new project from a trio of musicians known for their work with Mutual Kumquat, has released a debut album and is touring in the Midwest. Founders are Seth Hendricks, pastor at Happy Corner Church of the Brethren in Englewood, Ohio; David Hupp, youth choir director and accompanist at Manchester Church of the Brethren and adjunct music professor at Manchester University in Indiana; Chris Good, member at Manchester church currently living in Ann Arbor, Mich. Other musicians involved include producer/guitarist Seth Bernard of the Earthwork Music Collective, bassist Brennan Andes (The Macpodz), drummer Julian Allen (Theo Katzman, Michelle Chamuel), and singers Lindsay Lou and Madelyn Grant. “To be a human is to live in a world of fear, grief, injustice, and disillusionment,” Good explains the new project. “How do we learn and grow in those challenging times, and strive to be sources of love, hope, passion and vision? The weather inevitably comes at us every day…how do we choose to live amidst the unpredictability of the storms and the sunny skies?” “Blessed for the Journey,” the 2014 NYC theme song written by Hendricks and Good, is the opening song on the new album, which also includes “Love Makes a Way,” inspired by NYC speaker and Australian activist Jarrod McKenna. Friends with the Weather has tour stops in Indiana this weekend: a Fall Festival at Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne on Friday, Oct. 7, at 6 p.m.; and Manchester University Homecoming activities in North Manchester on Saturday, Oct. 8, at  3:30-6 p.m. For more see

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