Brethren Bits for September 23, 2016

At its fourth annual conference, Iglesia de los Hermanos-Una Luz en las Naciones (the Church of the Brethren in Spain) officially received two new congregation, one in the Spanish city of León, and one in London, in the United Kingdom. Approximately 70 people attended the conference in the city of Gijon, on the theme “Now Is the Time for the Harvest” (John 4:35). “Give thanks for the continued growth of the Spanish church, and pray that God’s wisdom may guide its leaders in the year ahead,” said an announcement from Global Mission and Service.

Above: Representatives of the newly received congregations are anointed by members of the Spain advisory committee, Carol Yeazell and Joel Peña. Global Mission and Service executive director Jay Wittmeyer (left) attended the conference. Photo courtesy of Joel Peña.

Remembrance: Esther Eichelberger, 94, passed away on Aug. 29 at Golden Living Center in Hopkins, Minn. She served as coordinator of the Office of the General Secretary for the Church of the brethren, from 1978-86, supporting the work of general secretary Robert Neff. She left that position in June 1986 to become administrative assistant to Neff as he assumed responsibilities as president of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. A memorial service is being planned for Oct. 15 at St. John’s Retreat Center in Montgomery, Texas, a place Eichelberger loved and supported in many ways. Memorial gifts are received to St. John’s Retreat Center.

The end of this month is the deadline for pre-publication orders of two upcoming Brethren Press resources, “Witnesses to Jesus: Devotions for Advent Through Epiphany” by Christy Waltersdorff and “Speak Peace: A Daily Reader” edited by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford. “Witnesses to Jesus” is a pocket-sized paperback suitable for individual use and for churches to provide to their members during the season of Advent. “Speak Peace” is a collection of readings about peace and peacemaking, featuring writers past and present, from within and outside of the church. For detailed information about the “early bird” discounts for each of these books, call Brethren Press at 800-441-3712 or go to .

The Carlisle (Pa.) Truck Stop Ministry, which is related to Southern Pennsylvania District of the Church of the Brethren, has announced the appointment of co-chaplains Dave Braithwaite and Craig Shambaugh. “Even as we grieve the loss of chaplain Dan Lehigh, wehave been prayerfully seeking the Lord’s will regarding his replacement,” said the announcement from the ministry’s board of directors, published in the district’s newsletter. Braithwaite is retired from the U.S. Postal Service. Shambaugh has his own window and house washing business. The two new co-chaplains will be continuing the truck stop ministry on a seven day a week, eight hour a day coverage schedule, the announcement said.

On Sunday, Sept. 25, Lafayette (Ind.) Church of the Brethren celebrates its 70th anniversary with a special worship service and carry-in meal.

“Grazing money to goat-oward hunger relief,” said an announcement of one of the upcoming performances of Ted and Company’s “12 Baskets and a Goat.” These performances are hosted by Church of the Brethren congregations and proceeds benefit Heifer International:

Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren hosts “12 Baskets and a Goat” at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8. Ted Swartz and Jeff Raught will present their original play, “The Jesus Stories: Faith, Forks, and Fettuccini,” with a live auction of baskets of breads. Tickets are $5 per person.

“12 Baskets and a Goat” will be presented at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren on Sunday, Oct. 9, at 3:30 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. Bidding for baskets of bread will be open to all.

Northern Indiana District hosts “12 Baskets and a Goat” on Oct. 16, as a “fun”draiser for Heifer International. “A light-hearted auction of baskets filled with fresh bread and other goodies, and a major helping of laughter,” will be part of the experience, said an announcement from district executive minister Torin Eikler. “Please join us at Union Center Church of the Brethren (near Nappanee, Indiana) at 7 o’clock for a delightful evening of fun and fundraising for a good cause. All proceeds of the event will go to support Heifer Project International in its ongoing mission to alleviate hunger and poverty around the world.”

Carlisle (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren is hosting a Hispanic leadership conference titled “Para Su Gloria” (Colossians 3:23) on Oct. 22, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Admission is free and a lunch will be provided, according to an announcement in the Southern Pennsylvania District newsletter which noted that these “For His Glory” conferences are sponsored by the Renacer Hispanic Ministry of the Church of the Brethren. Spanish/English translation will be available. Conference topics will include the Hispanic reality affecting America, the Renacer vision, the power of unity, and reaching the Hispanic community.

“West Virginia flood offering stands at $45,755.32,” reported Virlina District in its E-Headliner newsletter. As of Sept. 30, 61 congregations in Maryland, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Virginia have contributed to the West Virginia Flood Offering, the newsletter said. Of the total donated, $30,000 has been distributed through the West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD). “It is our desire to distribute the remainder by Oct. 10, the announcement said.

Camp Emmanuel has received a “shout out” from Theresa Churchill, a senior writer for the “Herald and Review” newspaper of Decatur, Ill., who wrote a review of the family camp held over Labor Day weekend. Camp Emmanuel is an outdoor ministry center of the Church of the Brethren’s Illinois and Wisconsin District, located near Astoria, Ill. “Camp Emmanuel…has provided our family a wonderful respite from that busyness for more than a quarter-century now,” she wrote. “I’m talking specifically about Family Camp, a semi-structured 2 1/2 days that happen there every Labor Day weekend. Even if I’m stressed and tense when I arrive Friday evening, the beautiful setting and warm fellowship work their magic before Saturday is done. It’s a special time of reflection and relaxation.” Find the full article at .

A Quilters and Crafters Retreat will be held at Camp Eder near Fairfield, Pa., on Nov. 4-6, supported by Southern Pennsylvania District. As well as quilting, participants will have opportunities to engage in a number of activities including drop spinning, cross stitching, crocheting, creating felted soaps, and more. The retreat takes place in Schwarzenau Lodge. Cost is $125. For more information go to .

“On Sept. 17, 1977, the Church of the Brethren raised $11,715 for disaster relief at an auction at the Lebanon County Fairgrounds. Forty years–and more than $14 million later–the Brethren Disaster Relief Auction continues to thrive, annually attracting more than 10,000 people for what is now a two-day event on the fourth weekend in September,” reports Earle Cornelius, writing for Lancaster Online. The annual auction sponsored by the Atlantic Northeast and Southern Pennsylvania Districts of the Church of the Brethren, is held today and tomorrow, Sept. 23-24, at the Lebanon (Pa.) Expo and Fairgrounds. In recent years, the event has raised nearly $500,000 each year for disaster relief efforts including Brethren Disaster Ministries, the report said. “Last year, $500,000 from the auction went to the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria–Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria–for relief from the attacks by the militant Islamist group  Boko Haram.” Find the news article at .

Pacific Northwest District today convenes its annual district conference at Camp Koinonia near Cle Elum, Wash. The district conference continues through Sept. 25. Carol Wise of the Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests (BMC), will provide leadership.

Western Plains District holds the Gathering, an annual district event, on Oct. 28-30 at the Webster Conference Center in Salina, Kan. “Invite your family and friends to attend this event of fellowship, worship, music, education, and fun!” said an announcement. “This year’s gathering will focus on the theme ‘You Are Loved.’” The line up of preachers includes Carol Scheppard, Debbie Eisenbise, and Walt Wiltschek. General sessions will focus on “Disaster Ministries in Colorado” and engaging conversation around how we are “Living and Loving Together: A Simple Peace.” Workshops will include topics on the joy of family music, Restorative Discipline with children, including persons of all abilities, managing differences in the congregation, and working with kids at camp. Youth retreats also are offered, as well as children’s activities. For more information go to .

Photo courtesy of Samuel Sarpiya
Annual Conference moderator-elect Samuel Kefas Sarpiya has received the Jane Addams Peace Award from the Rockford (Ill.) Housing Authority. Sarpiya pastors Rockford Community Church of the Brethren and is co-founder of the Center for Nonviolence and Conflict Transformation in Rockford.

Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community is inviting area pastors to a “Meet Our New Chaplain, Russ Barb” event at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6, at the newly-renovated Lantz Chapel, followed by dinner at 7 p.m. at the Houff Community Center introducing the new Pastoral Enrichment Program. More information and RSVP to Marla McCutcheon, 540-828-2162, or .

New Community Project has announced 2017 Learning Tours. “NCP invites people of all ages to take part in Learning Tours to fascinating, welcoming, and challenging parts of the world,” said the announcement. “Neither mission nor service trips, these experiences offer a chance to build relationships with God’s people and God’s creation, learn about the gifts and challenges of each, and discover ways we can work together for a better world.” Here is the list of tour dates and destinations: Jan. 6-17 Myanmar; June 3-10 Ecuadorian Amazon; June 15-25 Democratic Republic of Congo, hosted by the Congo Brethren; July 9-16 Lybrook, N.M., hosted by Lybrook Community Ministries; July 25-Aug. 3 Denali/Kenai Fjords, Alaska. For more information, contact or 844-804-2985, or visit the Learning Tour page on the NCP website.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its Ecumenical Institute at the Château de Bossey. On Oct. 1 the institute will host a series of events, including a public lecture by H.E. Prof. Dr. Ahmed al-Tayyeb, Grand Imam and Shaykh of al-Azhar al-Sharif, a mosque and university in Cairo, Egypt. He is an advocate for religious dialogue and peace and a critic of religious extremism, and will speak on “The Responsibility of Religious Leaders for Achieving World Peace.” The lecture will also be live streamed on the web.

Two humanitarian groups, the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative and the Stefanus Foundation based in Nigeria, have reported figures on the scale of the crisis still affecting northeast Nigeria. “Over 14 million Nigerians are directly affected by humanitarian crises in the north-east region of the country,” the groups reported at a press conference held in the capital city of Abuja, and co-organized by the Christian Association of Nigeria, according to “Officially, there are 2.2 million Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs. Unofficially, there are five to seven million IDPs. Those in need of special assistance, are 2.5 million, comprising children under the age of five, pregnant women and nursing mothers,” said the executive director of the Stefanus Foundation, which has been a recipient of aid from the Nigeria Crisis Response of the Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Other statistics cited at the press conference as results of the insurgent violence in northeast Nigeria included: 611 teachers who died as a result, 19,000 teachers displaced, 1,500 schools closed down, 950,000 children denied the opportunity of accessing education, 13,000 churches abandoned or closed down or destroyed, 2,000 children abducted, 10,000 boys forced to join Boko Haram.

Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence is one of the national organizations supporting “The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence” on Sunday, Sept. 25. A series of live concerts on the theme “Remember” will be brought together by social media. Performers at the Beacon Theater in New York City include Jackson Browne, Rosanne Cash, Vy Higginsen’s Gospel Choir of Harlem, and more. A list of other locations across the country and more information about the concert event is at



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