Brethren bits for Aug. 31, 2017

Church of the Brethren Newsline
August 31, 2017

“Praise God for the recent baptism of 36 ‘Chibok girls,’ young women who were abducted from their school in Chibok in 2014,” said this week’s Global Mission and Service prayer update. “These young women have been released from Boko Haram captivity in the past year and join 10 other Chibok abductees who have been baptized by Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).” EYN pastor Paul Abraham Chandumi conducted the service in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria, where the baptisms were held at the center where the young women are still under Nigerian government security. Two of the young women’s children also were dedicated during the service.

— Sarah Thompson is completing her tenure as executive director of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), as of October. “As Sarah’s time of service comes to a close, the Steering Committee, program director Milena Rincon, and members of CPT would like to take the opportunity to thank her for her hard work, leadership, and commitment to the organization, and the holy work of peacemaking,” said an announcement shared by Nathan Hosler of the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness. “Sarah’s term has been marked by vision, intelligence, and relentless energy. Her dedication to the well-being of CPT is matched only by her desire to further its reach in building partnerships to transform violence and oppression. During these years Sarah has taken CPT to new places and started new conversations while tending well to the history and relationships that formed the organization. That is not an easy task, but she performed it with wisdom and grace.” Thompson began as executive director of CPT in January 2014, after serving on CPT’s Steering Committee 2010-12 and working for a year as CPT’s outreach coordinator.

— Patty Sturrock is completing her work as kitchen manager at Brethren Woods, a camp and outdoor ministry center in Shenandoah District. She will finish out her term of service this fall. “We will be sad to see her go, but so appreciate her service to Christ and the church. Thank you, Patty!” said an announcement from the district. Brethren Woods is seeking a kitchen manager for the camp. A complete job description is available on request. Contact the camp office at 540-269-2741 or .

— Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) seeks an accountant/bookkeeper for a full-time, exempt position based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The primary function is to manage all aspects of day-to-day bookkeeping and accounting processes. Duties include managing all aspects of daily bookkeeping and accounting processes for A/P, A/R, payroll, journal entries, and bank reconciliations in accordance to GAAP. The ideal candidate will have an undergraduate degree in accounting and a strong working knowledge of fund accounting.  Experience with Microsoft Great Plains is preferred. This position requires a person who is very detail oriented, with the ability to prioritize workloads; proficiency with computer systems and applications; and exceptional organizational and telephone skills. Impeccable follow-up abilities are a must. BBT is seeking candidates with strong verbal and written communications skills, proficiency in Excel, and a demonstrated track record of providing superior customer service and a willingness and ability to expand knowledge and effectiveness through classes and workshops.  Current and active membership in the Church of the Brethren is preferred; current and active membership in a faith community is required. Salary and benefits are competitive with Church Benefits Association agencies of comparable size and scope of services. A full benefits package is included. Send a letter of interest, résumé, three professional references, and salary-range expectation to Donna March at 1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120, or . For more information about Brethren Benefit Trust, visit .

— Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is seeking to fill the position of interim administrative director. The position is anticipated to be for one year, with hours and wages to be negotiated. Responsibilities include to strategize, coordinate, and aid communication within the organization, working alongside the Program Director to help CPT better align with the mission of the organization to confront areas of lethal conflict and undoing oppressions; to help CPT assess the administrative components of its work and how it connects to the organization as a whole with regard to projects and Steering Committee including: structure, roles, decision making flow, constituency relations; bring skilled understanding of organizational structures and models, and how to make organizational change. The interim nature of the role will allow for greater freedom to provide constructive criticism of areas that are weak in relation to fulfilling mission, vision, and values of partnership which are not in line with stated CPT values of partnership. Their main purpose is to help the organization change into the new model and prepare for working with a new administrative director. Duties also include participating in the onboarding process of the Development Coordinator and the newly hired Communication Coordinator, including developing internal communication processes and practices, and engaging with the Program Director to consider areas where projects and the Administration Team can more efficiently and effectively work together; among others. Qualifications include experience in working with Christian, ecumenical, and interfaith organizations; experience in director level and interim leadership; ideally 10 years of leadership experience; graduate studies in relevant field to organizational management or CPT’s work. Apply by submitting a resume, cover letter, and brief description of approach to interim and transitional processes to . Review of candidates will begin immediately.

Virlina District is offering a new church development retreat led by Intercultural Ministries director Gimbiya Kettering on the theme, “Justice Like Water–Examining Racism,” on Oct. 20-22. The retreat is held at the W.E Skelton 4-H Center in Wirtz, Va. “This retreat will be examining issues of racism in the church with special emphasis on church planting and evangelism,” said an announcement. “Sharing about racism is especially relevant in our current context. Be inspired, encouraged and motivated with other brothers and sisters longing to grow and help others in the process of church planting.” Lodging is available at the center, with three meals included, for $150 (double room for 2 nights), $110 (double room for 1 night), $135 (single room for 1 night), $210 (single room for 2 nights), or $80 (commuter for 2 days). For more information or a brochure, contact Anne Mitchell at 540-345-5030 or . Brochures are also online at .

— One of the features of “The New Inglenook Cookbook” that meant so much was the stories and essays on aspects of cooking that connected our past with the present. Brethren Press wants to do something similar with “Inglenook Desserts,” the next cookbook in the series. Brethren Press invites submissions of stories about favorite desserts or traditions that your family has, or tips that you’ve learned over the years. Here are some questions to guide the submissions: What was your favorite dessert growing up? What is your favorite one now? What is the quintessential Brethren dessert, in your opinion? Tell us about a special dessert used for a holiday celebration or birthday. Describe memories about making desserts (picking blackberries on the farm, watching your mother make that famous lattice-top pie, sharing cookies at a church bazaar). Share tips or shortcuts you’ve learned over the years. How do you ensure your pie crust won’t shrink around the edge? Which varieties of apples make the best pie? Share a funny story that’s happened to you making or eating a dessert. Submit stories, memories, and tips by Oct. 4 at . Some of these will be published in “Inglenook Desserts.”

— The International Day of Prayer for Peace is coming up on Sept. 21, and On Earth Peace has named Virginia Rendler as its Peace Day Organizer for 2017. The theme for this year’s On Earth Peace campaign is “Praying Together,” with the scripture theme from Psalms 37:37 (NLT), “A wonderful future awaits those who seek peace.” “On September 21, we invite you to reach out and connect with someone, and pray for peace and justice with them,” said an announcement from Rendler. To stay connected with other individuals, congregations, districts, and community groups observing Peace Day, On Earth Peace has created a Facebook group at . Participants are encouraged to post information about their events or stories to the Facebook group, and photos are welcomed. Contact Rendler with any questions at or 612-750-9777.

— Blue Ridge (Va.) Church of the Brethren will observe its 130th anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 17.

– Two weekends in September will be filled with district conferences across the Church of the Brethren, held in the districts of Northern Indiana, South Central Indiana, Missouri and Arkansas, Southern Pennsylvania, West Marva, and Pacific Northwest. Northern Indiana District will be hosted at Union Center Church of the Brethren in Nappanee, Ind., on Sept 15-16. South Central Indiana District meets at Camp Mack near Milford, Ind., on Sept. 16. Missouri and Arkansas District will be meeting at Windermere Conference Center in Roach, Mo., on Sept. 15-16. Southern Pennsylvania District will gather at New Fairview Church of the Brethren in York, Pa., on Sept. 15-16. West Marva District will be hosted by Moorefield (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren on Sept. 15-16. Pacific Northwest District will be at Covington (Wash.) Church of the Brethren on Sept. 22-24.

— The Pacific Southwest District Office is moving from the campus of Hillcrest, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in La Verne, Calif., to space in Pomona (Calif.) Fellowship Church of the Brethren effective Sept. 1. The office has a new phone number: 909-406-5367. Other contact information including e-mail and mailing addresses remain the same.

— Annual Conference moderator Samuel Sarpiya will be leading a workshop titled “A Story of Biblical Peacemaking” on Saturday, Sept. 30, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at Harrisonburg (Va.) First Church of the Brethren. Ordained and licensed ministers who attend can earn .3 continuing education units. The workshop is sponsored by the Pastoral Support Committee of the Shenandoah District Ministerial Leadership Team. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. The cost is $10, and reservations are due by Sept. 25 by calling or e-mailing Sandy Kinsey at 540-234-8555 or .

— The Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community holds an annual fall festival on Sept. 15-16 planned by the Bridgewater Home Auxiliary. The event takes place at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds with music, food, and a number of auctions including a silent auction and live auctions of artwork, quilts, antiques, and more.

— McPherson (Kan.) College began the 2017 fall semester by welcoming the largest class of freshman to campus in more than 40 years, reports a release from the college. “The freshman class of more than 200 coupled with a fall-to-fall overall retention rate of 75 percent continues the college’s 20-year steady trend of enrollment growth. First time freshman numbered more than 200, all new students totaled nearly 270, and McPherson College total enrollment is more than 700.” The release quoted Christi Hopkins, vice president for enrollment management: “We are very excited that students are continuing to choose McPherson College. It is a strong endorsement of the quality programs and faculty that can be found on our campus.” The college was listed as the top-ranked small college in Kansas on Money Magazine’s 2017 “Best Colleges for Your Money,” the release said.

— Church World Service (CWS) has announced a call-in day today “to tell elected leaders to keep the DACA program intact.” CWS is concerned that the federal government could terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which “would turn our nation’s back on immigrant youth who are valued members of our communities,” said the announcement. “Terminating DACA would place the nearly 800,000 DREAMers whom the program allows to work and live legally in the United States at immediate risk of deportation.” DREAMers are undocumented immigrants who were brought into the US as young children, and who have grown up in the US. “DACA recipients should not be used a political bargaining chip to increase a deportation force and tear apart families and communities,” the release said. CWS is calling elected officials to “support a clean passage” of S.1615/H.R.3440, the Dream Act of 2017 ( ).

— PBS News Hour has published a report that “Boko Haram has used 83 children as human bombs so far this year.” The report by Synclaire Cruel, dated Aug. 23, says that “the radical militant group Boko Haram has already used four times as many child suicide bombers in northeast Nigeria this year than it did in 2016,” citing the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Eighty-three children have been used as “human bombs” since the start of 2017, including 55 girls and 27 boys. “In once instance, a baby was also strapped to a girl,” the report said. “The use of children, especially girls, as human bombs, has now become one of the most defining and alarming features of the conflict in northeastern Nigeria,” said Milen Kidane, UNICEF’s chief of child protection. Find the full report at .

— Several Church of the Brethren members have been participating with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in recent weeks, in news provided to Newsline by Rick Polhamus. Completing the CPT training were Jennifer Keeney Scarr, pastor at Trotwood (Ohio) Church of the Brethren who graduated from Bethany Theological Seminary in 2015 with an emphasis in Peace Studies and a ministry focus in Conflict Transformation, and who spent a few years teaching nonviolent conflict resolution to teens; Michael Himlie, a student at Manchester University from Minnesota, and previously a Brethren Volunteer Service worker who has been active with New Community Project and Brethren Disaster Ministries as well as the Ministry of Reconciliation and On Earth Peace; and Turner Ritchie of Richmond (Ind.) Church of the Brethren and also a former BVSer who has studied Peace Studies at Manchester University concentrating in Chinese history and politics, and who has worked at the Asian Rural Institute empowering rural leaders from Africa and South/South East Asia in sustainable rural developmen. Ritchie also attended CPT’s US/Mexico Borderlands delegation in February this year. In addition, Brethren Woods directors Katie and Tim Heishman recently participated in CPT’s Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Delegation in Manitoba and Ontario, Canada. Tim Heishman reported to Polhamus: “We learned so much about racism, colonialism, and the experience of Native Americans in North America.” A summary of the CPT training and a prayer for the participants can be found at .

— Two creative Brethren are collaborating on a new musical called “Plain Paper: Amish News That’s Print To Fit.” Author and pastor Frank Ramirez, of Nappanee, Ind., and composer Steve Engle, of Alexandria Pa., have set the musical in Nappanee, where the script follows two outsiders who come to film a reality show “exposing” the local Amish community. “One of them is intrigued by the success of the Amish Newspaper ‘The Vision,’ which thrives while mainstream newspapers fail,” explained a release. “Hyrum Yoder, an Amish widower with three children, whose wife died in a buggy accident, wants to buy a new farm before he remarries and is tempted to take part in the television show.” The musical is described as taking on the questions of how we tell the truths of the faith, and what powerful answers Christians can give to the lies of the world. The Anabaptist heritage is reflected in songs like “Mennonites in Big Black Cars,” “Corn Roast,” and “The Martyr’s Mirror.” In development since 2014, this is the fifth muscial Ramirez and Engle have co-authored. It was presented in a different form under a different title at Union Center Church of the Brethren before 550 people during three performances in 2016. This new version is the next step in its development before a full-scale production next year at the Round Barn Theatre. On two upcoming Sundays, Sept. 10 and 17, at 6 p.m., the musical will be presented as staged readings at the Locke Township Meeting Hall adjacent to the Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres. Admission is a donation to FCDC. General admission seating can be reserved by calling 800-800-4942 or through .

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