Brethren Bits for September 16, 2016

This Sunday, Sept. 18, is the suggested date for the Mission Offering to support Church of the Brethren mission efforts around the world. The theme is “Persevere–Stand Together in Faith” (Philippians 1:27). Find resources and more information at .

Barb York is resigning as Payroll and Accounts Payable specialist for the Church of the Brethren, effective Oct. 7. She has worked at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill., for more than 10 years. Her work has included preparing checks for vendors, maintaining records on special contracts, processing payroll, maintaining the church extension notes system, and other critical payroll and accounts payable functions.

The Anabaptist Disabilities Network has announced that Denise Reesor of Goshen, Ind., begins Oct. 3 as next program director. Christine Guth, outgoing program director, will work side-by-side with Reesor for about six weeks as she learns about her new role. Guth concludes her work with the network in mid-November. The Church of the Brethren participates in the Anabaptist Disabilities Network through the Disabilities Ministry of the Congregational Life Ministries.

Southeastern District has an opening for a director of the School of Spiritual Learning (SSL) Program that works with licensed and ordained ministers in the district. This program provides needed training for completion of licensing requirements as well as continuing education credits for pastors to fulfill their five-year ordination reviews. To express interest in this position send a resume with letter of interest by e-mail to or via postal mail to Southeastern District Office, P.O. Box 252, Johnson City, TN 37605. Resumes will be accepted through Oct. 15.

The Global Mission and Service office is praising God for a successful gathering of the emerging Brethren group in Venezuela. “Pastors from 41 Venezuelan congregations and ministries expressed intent to affiliate with the denomination,” said a prayer request. “United States Brethren Fausto Carrasco and Joel Peña joined with Alexandre Gonçalves, pastor with the Brazilian Church of the Brethren, to provide continued training in Brethren beliefs and practices and ministerial ethics. Pray for wisdom and harmony as this group continues to develop.”

The next Campus Visit Day at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., is Wednesday, Oct. 19. “This is a chance for anyone considering theological education to spend the day on campus attending class, meeting with current students and faculty, and getting a taste of what Bethany is all about,” said an announcement. “The day will also include our weekly chapel service and a chance to learn about the academic offerings and generous financial aid and scholarships available.” Lodging is provided for those who need it. To see the schedule for the day and register to attend, go to .

On Earth Peace and the Ministry of Reconciliation (MoR) is seeking congregations and districts to host the newly revised version of MoR’s Matthew 18 workshop. “We have been working again on re-envisioning the workshop with the best of the old material alongside current materials we have gathered,” said an announcement in the On Earth Peace e-mail newsletter. “It has been our desire to see a reinterpretation of Jesus’ words that will invite us to walk more closely with one another in truth and love.” If interested, contact On Earth Peace executive director Bill Scheurer at or 847-370-3411.


Photo by Zakariya Musa
EYN President Billi offers a blessing to the new congregation.


Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria has granted autonomy to and conferred Local Church Council (LCC) or congregational status, to the LCC Kwalamba. A release from EYN (the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) noted that this is the second congregation to be granted LCC status under the administration of new EYN president Joel S. Billi. General secretary Daniel Y.C. Mbaya gave a sermon at the event, and charged the new congregation: “You have to be prayerful, you must accept change for Christ, must be faithful and give cheerfully.” The event also included a history of the new congregation which was created under LCC Vurgwi, in the DCC or church district of Garkida, recited by church secretary Philip Ali. A former chairman of the EYN Trustees, Matthew A. Gali, is credited with initiating the establishment of the fellowship in 1983 or 1984. One of the seven pioneer members, Dankilaki Gyaushu, started worship in 1986 under a guava tree in front of Mallam Luka Baidamu’s house, the release said. The LCC certificate was presented to the pastor and evangelist James Dikante, and the congregation’s 170 members.

Plymouth (Ind.) Church of the Brethren will celebrate its 100th anniversary as a congregation in a Homecoming Worship and Celebration Event on Sunday, Sept. 18, reports Linda Starr who chairs the Celebration Committee. Festivities begin at 9:30 a.m. with worship, which will include organ and piano duets, special choir selections, a blending of the old and new with pastor Tom Anders preaching. A video of original footage of the groundbreaking ceremony of the church building will be shown following worship. Everyone is invited to participate in a potluck meal following worship, with the opportunity for anyone wishing to speak to share memories or messages. The afternoon program will feature Plymouth’s Mayor Mark Senter giving a proclamation from the city, introduction of guests and all former pastors, and former members who are visiting. Several displays depicting the church’s many projects and interesting memorabilia, photos, and documents will be available, as well as a trip to the past with oral history information about the seagoing cowboys, Sunday school classes, and more. A time capsule will be buried with the planting of two trees at the culmination of the event. For additional information contact the church office at 574-936-4205. The church’s website is .

Two churches in South Central Indiana District are celebrating significant anniversaries on Sunday, Sept. 18. Bethel Church of the Brethren celebrates its 130th anniversary with special events in the afternoon. Arcadia Church of the Brethren celebrates its 160th anniversary with a homecoming and worship beginning at 10 a.m., and a “Pitch-In Dinner.”

Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren pastor Belita Mitchell will preach for the 46th Annual Dunker Church Service in the restored Dunker Church at the Antietam Civil War battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md. on Sunday, Sept. 18. The service starts at 3 p.m. It will take place on the 154th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam and commemorates the peace witness of the Brethren during the Civil War. Mid-Atlantic District is sponsoring the service, which is free and open to the public. For more information, call Eddie Edmonds, 304-267-4135; Audrey Hollenberg-Duffey, 301-733-3565; or Ed Poling, 301-766-9005.

Sam’s Creek Church of the Brethren holds a 35th annual Homecoming on Sunday, Sept. 25. The guest speaker is Twyla Rowe, chaplain at the Fahrney-Keedy retirement community in Boonsboro, Md. Tina Wetzel Grimes is the guest musician. Events begin with worship at 10:30 a.m., followed by a fellowship meal.

Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., is hosting a presentation by Kathy Kelly, a peace activist, pacifist, writer, and speaker. The event is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 18, starting at 2 p.m., co-sponsored by the church’s Outreach and Witness Ministry Group, Fox Valley Citizens for Peace and Justice, Elgin’s First Congregational Church, and the Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva, Ill. Kelly will speak on “confronting government violence” as a member of peace teams that worked in Gaza, Afghanistan, and Iraq, “remaining in combat zones during the early days of both US-led Iraq wars,” said an announcement. “She has been arrested in the course of her peace work over 60 times, at home and abroad. In 2005, Kelly, a Chicago resident, co-founded Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a campaign to end US military and economic warfare.” There is no charge to attend; all are welcome.

It is a banner weekend for district conferences, with five Church of the Brethren districts holding their annual meetings.
Missouri and Arkansas District meets Sept. 16-17 at Windermere Conference Center in Roach, Mo., on the theme, “Servant Love” (John 13:3-5). The district has announced hymn 307 in Hymnal: A Worship Book, “Will You Let Me Be Your Servant,” as the hymn theme for the conference. John Thomas is serving as district moderator. Guest speaker for the two-day event is Carol Scheppard, moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference.
West Marva District Conference is Sept. 16-17 at Moorefield (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren, led by moderator Carl Fike. The theme for the conference will be “Stir Up the Gift” (2 Timothy 1:6-7). Speaking for the Friday evening worship service will be Don Fitzkee, chair of the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board.
The dates of Sept. 16-17 also will see Southern Pennsylvania District meeting together for an annual district conference at Buffalo Valley Church of the Brethren in Mifflinburg, Pa.
The Northern Indiana District Conference is held on Sept 16-17 at Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Ind.
Sept. 17 is the date for the South Central Indiana District to meet on the theme, “Reconnecting on Common Ground,” at Mexico (Ind.) Church of the Brethren. Among special events, the district will be collecting clean-up buckets for Church World Service.

Western Plains District has set a goal of giving $200,000 to the Nigeria Crisis Fund. The district newsletter reports: “Individuals and churches are invited to contribute as they feel led to share their resources. So far we have given $126,000  starting in 2014 with just under $74,000 to go to meet our goal.”

Juniata College has been rated 108th in the “US News & World Report” 2017 rankings of the best liberal arts college in the nation, according to a release from the college located in Huntingdon, Pa. “The US News rankings are an important indicator of of overall quality and we are glad to be rated in the upper tier of liberal arts colleges,” said James A. Troha, president of Juniata College, in the release. Juniata College was rated at 108, “along with four other liberal arts institutions, including Drew University, in Madison, N.J., Hope College, in Holland, Mich., Lake Forest College, in Lake Forest, Ill., and Stonehill College, in North Easton, Mass.,” the release said. “Last year, Juniata was rated at 105. In this year’s ratings, there are three institutions tied at 105th place, directly followed by the five schools rated at 108.”

Bridgewater (Va.) College will host a lecture by Dr. Bennet Omalu, the first person to identify, describe and name Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) as a disease in football players and wrestlers. The lecture sponsored by the Anna B. Mow Symposium on Comparative Religious Ethics takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 28, in Nininger Hall. “Omalu will speak about his research into brain damage in football players who have suffered repeated concussions in the course of normal play,” said a release. “Omalu made a career breakthrough when he became the first doctor to discover and identify chronic brain damage as a major factor in the deaths of some professional athletes. He first discovered CTE as the result of an autopsy he performed on Mike Webster, a legendary Pittsburgh Steeler and Hall of Famer. He continues to work as a forensic pathologist, neuropathologist, and epidemiologist. He is the president of Bennet Omalu Pathology Inc., a private medico-legal consulting corporation, which he founded, and he works part-time as a forensic pathologist and neuropathologist at San Joaquin County in California. The program is free and open to the public.

In more news from Bridgewater College, Ted Swartz of Ted & Co. will present the Fall Spiritual Focus on Tuesday, Sept. 27, in the Carter Center for Worship and Music. Swartz will present “The Big Story” at 9:30 a.m.–the story of the whole Bible in 60 minutes or less–and “Laughter Is Sacred Space” at 7:30 p.m. Sponsored by the Office of Spiritual Life and Bridgewater College Active Minds respectively, both performances are free and open to the public. Swartz and Ted & Co. have been popular presenters at numerous Church of the Brethren events including Annual Conference and National Youth Conference.

The Global Women’s Project steering committee will meet in South Bend, Ind., for its annual fall meeting on Oct. 14-16. “Some areas of focus for our meeting that weekend include preparing our annual newsletter to share updates on our partner projects, brainstorming new members for our team (if you are passionate about the work of GWP and feel called to give your time and talents, please contact us!), and discerning how best to utilize the wonderful increased generosity we have seen from donors in the past few years,” said an announcement. “If you’re in the area, we would love to see you on Sunday morning, where we’ll be worshipping with the Crest Manor Church of the Brethren.”

The World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, an annual event, will be observed this year beginning on Sept. 18, said a release from the World Council of Churches (WCC). “Churches throughout the world will join in prayer for the sake of peace based on justice for the peoples of Israel and Palestine,” said the release. The theme for this year’s observance is “Dismantling Barriers.” A “liturgy resource toolbox” is available at .

More than one million refugees have fled South Sudan’s ongoing civil war says the Associated Press, reporting new figures released by the United Nations. The refugees are “overwhelming aid agencies and creating one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters,” said AP, reporting that South Sudan joins Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia as countries that have produced more than one million refugees. Most of the people fleeing South Sudan are women and children, and most of them are being hosted in Uganda, but other countries that have received refugees from South Sudan include Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Congo, and the Central African Republic. “The UN praised the countries, some of the world’s poorest, for allowing refugees to enter,” the AP piece reported. In addition to the refugees, another 1.6 million people are displaced inside South Sudan, out of a population estimated at more than 12 million people.

“Flower ministry blooming at Longmeadow Church of the Brethren” proclaims the Herald-Mail newspaper. “From about mid-June into November, as long as they can keep the flowers going after the first frost, the Eckstines’ Sunday routine means getting up with the sun, when they can see the flowers. Trays in hand, they clip flowers and take them into the house where Rachel arranges them, then they deliver them to the church before the service.” The article on the work of Allen and Rachel Eckstine to support the congregation in Hagerstown, Md., through their love of flowers, may be found online at .

Peter Herrick of Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren has been featured in the Carroll County Times in a story about his coast-to-coast bicycle ride with the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. The group visited organizations serving people with disabilities across the country, and did fundraising for those organizations. Herrick told the paper, “I was overwhelmed by the support” of his home congregation in particular, who in just a few hours helped him raise $500 toward the total $8,000 he raised. Find the newspaper article at



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