Brethren bits for Sept. 20, 2017

Church of the Brethren Newsline
September 20, 2017

Global Mission and Service worker Grace Mishler has returned to Vietnam to continue her work with disabilities ministries there. She has shared this picture in a Facebook post of Phuc, a young toddler whose eye surgery expenses were supported by Brethren in the United States, wrapped in a “love blanket” from Union Center Church of the Brethren. American seed money for eye surgery expenses helped “to facilitate Vina capital foundation to take leadership in managing contributions in funds that support to babies facing retina detachment,” Mishler wrote. “The family of baby Phuc share their thankfulness and gratitude. They are happy because they were told their child will never see and thank God they found us and a miracle happened. He is seeing in one eye. He is active. He likes to play soccer.” She added that the older sister in the family is blind, and the family is working very hard to make sure their son keeps his contact lens in place to continue his healing. Courtesy of Grace Mishler.

— Remembrance: Donna J. Derr, a former Church of the Brethren General Board employee, died on Sept. 5. She served with Refugee/Disaster Services in New Windsor, Md., first as administrative assistant (1981-1987), then as director (1987-1996). In 1998, she joined the staff of Church World Service (CWS), a long-time partner of the Church of the Brethren through which Brethren Disaster Ministries extends its work internationally. CWS president and CEO John L. McCullough wrote in a remembrance of the “deepest sadness and grief” felt by CWS colleagues at her death. “Most recently, Donna served as Executive Director of CROP (CWS), overseeing a global program of sustainable development in response to hunger, poverty and disaster, and its fundraising program,” McCullough noted. “Donna began her work with CWS in January 1999 as the Associate Director of the Emergency Response Program, with particular expertise in US domestic disasters. She had been a consultant with CWS before that time and, worked with the Church of the Brethren in volunteer, refugee and disaster ministries. In 2005, Donna was appointed as Director of the Emergency Response Program. She was a member of the ACT Alliance founding board of directors, and served until recently on its governance, as well as on the board of the Foods Resource Bank. Our prayers are with her husband, Francis Stepanek, and her extended family, as well as the many colleagues among our member denominations, the VOADs, and the many, many networks and individuals with whom Donna interacted, who benefited from her beautiful energy and dedication to personal service.” Plans for a way to honor and celebrate the life of Donna Derr will be forthcoming.

 In a personnel announcement from Shenandoah District, Harrison Jarrett begins Sept. 27 as director of Youth Ministries for the district. He has been involved in young adult ministry on four continents and is completing a degree in Bible and Worship Arts at Lancaster Bible College, said the announcement. Working with Youth With a Mission (YWAM), in 2012 he was engaged in evangelical ministry in Australia, England, and Nepal. He grew up on the mission field in Italy, as the son of pastors Harry and Beth Jarrett, and has special interests in music and film production.

— The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership announces a quarter-time positionopening for a coordinator of Spanish-language ministry training programs. The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership is a ministry training partnership of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Theological Seminary, with offices located on the seminary campus in Richmond, Ind. The primary functions of this position are to administer the certificate-level ministry training programs in Spanish, work with various constituencies to provide leadership for these programs, and maintain regular and supportive communication with students and their district liaisons. Candidates should possess the following qualifications and abilities: fluency in Spanish and English, both in oral and written communication; experience in the Latino church, either in the United States or abroad; completed ministry training through the Church of the Brethren or similar; five years of effective leadership in pastoral ministry; ability to travel to meet with students and supervisors; ability to travel to the Bethany campus several times a year and to the Church of the Brethren General Offices as needed. Additional qualifications of benefit: Spanish as a first language; ordination in the Church of the Brethren; a master of divinity degree or equivalent. A complete job description is at . Applications will be reviewed upon receipt and will be accepted until the position is filled. Interested candidates should send their resumes, a letter of interest, and contact information for three references by e-mail to Janet L. Ober Lambert, Director, Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374; . Bethany Theological Seminary’s policy prohibits discrimination in employment opportunities or practices with regard to race, gender, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, or religion.

— “Praise God for the official government recognition of the Church of the Brethren in Venezuela!” said this week’s global mission prayer update from the Global Mission and Service office. The Venezuelan government has approved the group’s incorporation under the name Asociacion Iglesia de los Hermanos (ASIGLEH). The board of the Venezuelan Brethren will now visit each congregation to officially register them, and more than 60 congregations have expressed interest in joining, the update said.
Also shared was a prayer request from Lubungo Ron, a leader of Eglise des Freres au Congo (the Church of the Brethren in the Democratic Republic of Congo), for people of the South Kivu province where high levels of violence are occurring, especially in Fizi and Uvira territories. “Ron reports that ‘people are killed day by day–it is like a massacre,’” the update said.

The team planning worship and leading music for NYC 2018. Photo by Kelsey Murray.

— Leaders of the Ministers’ Association, and the group planning worship for National Youth Conference next year, both held meetings recently at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The Ministers’ Association team was hosted by Joe Detrick, interim director of the Office of Ministry, and included Stephen Hershberger, Karen Cassell, Barbara Wise Lewczak, Ken Frantz, and Tim Morphew. The NYC worship planning group includes worship coordinators Rhonda Pittman-Gingrich, Cindy Lattimer, Shawn Flory Replogle, and Brian Messler, and music coordinators David Meadows and Virginia Meadows (not present at this meeting). They were hosted by Becky Ullom Naugle, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, and Kelsey Murray, NYC coordinator.

— Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) Unit 318 gathers on Sunday, Sept. 24, at Camp Pine Lake in Eldora, Iowa, to begin a two-and-a-half week orientation. The volunteers and BVS staff will spend the orientation discussing mindsets of service, and living and working in community. The volunteers will discern where they will spend the next one to two years sharing God’s love through service. Find out more about the longterm volunteer opportunities available through BVS at .

— An article about the NOAC book collection for Junaluska Elementary School appeared in “The Mountaineer” newspaper, highlighting the school principal’s delight with the connection to Church of the Brethren older adults–as well as the special connection that two volunteers, Libby and Jim Kinsey, have built with the school and its staff and students. Find the article at .

— “We give special thanks to Jean Hollenberg of the Sebring (Fla.) Church of the Brethren and her family,” said an e-mail from John and Jeanne Laudermilch and Roger and Mary Kay Turner, volunteers who coordinated the very successful CWS kit collection at NOAC this year. “Jean sewed 50 bags and gave 3 notebooks to supply each of them for NOAC again this year, and family and church friends brought them, even though she passed to new life late in June.” They also thanked Ed Palsgrove for transporting on the Mid-Atlantic District bus 18 large cartons full of kits, and some extra items, back to the Material Resources warehouse at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The kits will be processed and prepared for shipment, to be distributed by Church World Service.

Brethren across the denomination are taking action to aid hurricane survivors, such as by collecting and assembling and donating Church World Service (CWS) Gift of the Hearts kits. Here are a few examples:

The 41st annual Brethren Disaster Relief Auction, to be held Sept. 22-23 at the Lebanon (Pa.) Expo and Fairgrounds, is dedicating a portion of proceeds to Hurricane Harvey relief, according to “Lancaster Online.” “It is the largest disaster relief auction in the world, run entirely by volunteers and attracting 10,000 people,” the article said. “Besides a general auction, the two-day event includes sales featuring everything from coins and quilts to heifers and theme baskets,” along with “the third annual Run for Relief and Run for Fun, a 5k race, starting from the fairgrounds at 8 a.m. Sept. 23,” and “more than 75 quilts…available for purchase.” Events this year include building Gift of the Heart school kits for children in the hurricane-affected areas, beginning at 1 p.m. on Sept. 22. Find the article at–/article_685421be-94c7-11e7-ad28-df46b2504efa.html .

Members of the Hutchison family of farmers in Easton, Md., who attend Fairview Church of the Brethren, have been organizing transportation of hay to aid farmers affected by Hurricane Harvey and the flooding in Texas, as reported in “The Democrat Star.” The newspaper reported that “Ethan Hutchison, 26, of Easton, has started a movement across the farming community to bring relief to the thousands of animals in Texas that have been affected by the devastating hurricane.” He told the paper, “Nobody really thinks about the animals…. They have nothing now, no feed or hay, like the people affected they have lost everything too.” He put out a call to friends via Facebook, asking for help to gather supplies and possibly take a truck load to Texas. “Within 12 hours the post had been shared 46 times and I had a trailer filled with hay and straw and was starting to fill a second trailer,” he said, in the interview. “With people there is long list of things they need, but when it comes to animals it’s simple–they need straw, hay and feed.” Find the article at .

At least three districts are collecting donations for hurricane relief and/or assembling Gift of the Heart kits. Virlina District is collecting cash donations toward disaster relief efforts. The Shenandoah District’s Kit Depot in Weyers Cave, Va., will be open weekdays 9 a.m.-4 p.m. through Friday, Sept. 29, to receive Church World Service kits, and the district office also is receiving donations via check. Southern Ohio District’s disaster ministry ordered supplies for 500 clean-up buckets for Church World Service, with each bucket valued at $75 and containing the items needed for a family to clean a home after a flood. Southern Ohio District also is receiving donations by check, at the district office in Greenville, Ohio.

Junior high youth in Mid-Atlantic District will assemble clean-up buckets during the district conference in October. Supplies and checks are being collected at Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren for this project.

Wichita (Kan.) Church of the Brethren is coordinating an effort in Western Plains District, working with friends at the Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, to collect clean-up buckets for those affected by the flooding from Hurricane Harvey. Roger Elkins, a member of the Wichita congregation, is one of the leaders of the project, and along with pastor Alan Stucky planned on driving the kits to the Church World Service distribution center in Little Rock, Ark., to deliver them.

Mount Hermon Church of the Brethren is one of the congregations that have teamed up to collect bottles of water to help those affected by Hurricane Irma. A report in the “Martinville Bulletin” said the churches teamed up with God’s Pit Crew, Autos by Nelson, and B&B Trucking Co. to deliver a truckload of bottled water to Florida totaling about 1,600 cases of water. The article credits Brian Fulcher from the Mt. Hermon church for coming up with the idea. Go to .

McPherson (Kan.) College students, faculty, and staff have been putting together disaster relief kits as one of several relief efforts organized by the Office of Spiritual Life and Service. A release from the college reported that the basement of Miller Library was turned into a kit assembly line on Sept. 8 when hygiene kits were assembled to be distributed to emergency shelters. “McPherson College is donating the supplies for the kits, which are part of Church World Service’s response to the recent disaster,” said the release. Jen Jensen, director of Spiritual Life and Service, also reported that the college has reached out to the roughly 20 students from the Houston area. “So far all of our students’ families seem to be in good shape,” Jensen said.

— The Etownian newspaper of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College is reporting on a unique class that teaches simple living. Taught by associate professor of sociology Michele Lee Kozimor-King, the course “traces the history and current outgrowths of the social movement,” the article said. “Simple living, also referred to as simplicity, voluntary simplicity, or the simple life, is a lifestyle focused on taking the complicated and unnecessary things out of life. According to Dr. Kozimor-King, simple living means living consciously and deliberately.” Find the full article at .

— The Brethren Nutrition Program in Washington, D.C., a ministry of Washington City Church of the Brethren, will be closing. “After much discernment and assessment, Washington City Church of the Brethren has decided to ‘lay down’ the Brethren Nutrition Program,” said a letter from Faith Westdorp, operations manager, and Jennifer Hosler, a minister at the church. “Our program was founded in 1980, under the leadership of Pastor Duane Ramsey and BVSer Richard Davis. Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, it was frequented by between 200-300 guests per lunch. Over the past 20 years, our program attendance has steadily declined,” the letter explained, in part. “Our program’s low attendance is not able to offset our bare-bones budget, which has resulted in a $12.55 cost per meal.” The letter cited the $50,000 expense of a needed renovation of the kitchen, alongside positive changes in the area including more grocery stores per capita, inroads made against chronic homelessness, and other local service agencies that are meeting needs. “Many meals have been served, kind words shared, and relationships built…. We are so grateful for the decades-long support from across our denomination. Congregations, workcamps, BVSers, individual volunteers, and more: the ministry of Brethren Nutrition Program has certainly been enriched, sustained, and encouraged by sisters and brothers across the US,” the letter said. “Please know that we did not enter into this conversation or this decision lightly. Thank you for what you have done and how you have supported the cause of serving hungry neighbors on Capitol Hill.”
In related news, a recent grant toward the kitchen renovation project, given by the Global Food Initiative, will be returned to the fund.
A barbecue lunch will celebrate the Brethren Nutrition Program’s 37 years of ministry to the Capitol Hill community. All guests, supporters, volunteers, and friends are invited. The barbecue is this Sunday, Sept. 24, from 1-3 p.m. at Washington City Church of the Brethren, 337 North Carolina Ave., Washington, D.C.

— Samuel Sarpiya, Annual Conference moderator, is leading a workshop titled “A Story of Biblical Peacemaking” from 9 a.m.-12 noon on Saturday, Sept. 30, at Harrisonburg (Va.) First Church of the Brethren. Ordained and licensed ministers who attend can earn .3 continuing education credit. 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 emailing Sandy Kinsey at 540-234-8555 or

— Mid-Atlantic District is celebrating the building of a Habitat house. A note from the committee chair Glenn Young, in the district newsletter, told the story: “At District Conference in 2015, a dream was created for the Mid-Atlantic District to build a Habitat House. A committee was formed and the house was named the ‘Mustard Seed II’ after the parable of Jesus moving mountains with the faith of a mustard seed…. Currently the house is 90 percent complete, with an open house scheduled on September 29 and the dedication and settlement in mid-October.” The district is still seeking some additional financial support as the project nears completion.

 A Facebook Live video about the annual worship service at the Dunker Church at the Antietam Civil War battlefield has been posted. The event took place Sept. 17. The video features information about the Brethren of the Civil War era and more, with Dennis Frye of Brownsville Church of the Brethren. Go to .

— Certified Dementia Practitioner Training will be offered on Oct. 26 from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Nicarry Chapel at Cross Keys Village-the Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa. The training is for those pursuing CDP® certification and who qualify through the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners, as well as other health care professionals, staff, family members, and students. Jennifer Holcomb, a Certified Dementia Practitioner and Certified Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Care Trainer, is the instructor. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. Lunch is “on your own,” with many choices on and off campus. Light refreshments will be available during morning and afternoon breaks. Any sort of recording or taping is prohibited during the session. Cost for professionals is $185, with a $75 cancellation fee. Cost for other participants is $40, with a $30 cancellation fee. Payment must be received by Cross Keys Village on or before the date of the seminar. The registration deadline is Oct. 13. Go to .

— The second course offering this season from the “Ventures in Christian Discipleship” program at McPherson (Kan.) College will focus on “Navigating Religious Diversity: An Introduction to Interfaith Cooperation.” The course will introduce participants to the concept of interfaith cooperation and will discuss the basic skills and knowledge necessary for  its successful implementation. Also considered will be practical strategies for navigating religious diversity. The class will be held online Saturday, Oct. 14 at 9 a.m.-12 noon (central time) taught by Zandra Wagoner, university chaplain at the University of La Verne in Calif. All classes are donation-based and continuing education credit is available for $10 per course. To learn more about Ventures in Christian Discipleship and to register for courses, visit

— Church World Service (CWS) is advocating for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and along with partners in the Interfaith Immigration Coalition is inviting congregations to stand in solidarity with immigrant youth by organizing a Dream Sabbath, “ideally before the end of October,” said a release. “A Dream Sabbath can be dedicating time during a regular weekly worship service to having immigrant youth share their stories and asking congregants to take action in support of the Dream Act, or it can be a vigil, meeting with your Senators and Representatives, etc.” Find a Dream Sabbath toolkit online at . Congregations that hold an event are invited to log it on a map at by the end of October, to demonstrate the breadth of support from people of faith across the country. For more resources, please visit .

— On Wednesday, Sept. 20, at the United Nations a treaty to ban nuclear weapons was formally opened for signature. “At the time of writing, some 49 states have signed,” reported a release from the World Council of Churches (WCC), which has been supporting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This is a historic new treaty, the release noted. The text of the treaty was adopted in July by two-thirds of the 193 UN member states after months of talks. It “bans the manufacture, possession and use of nuclear weapons and provides pathways for their eventual elimination. It not only prohibits nuclear weapons, it also requires the provision of aid to victims and environmental remediation,” the release said. The treaty will enter into force 90 days after 50 countries have ratified it, the final step after signature. Already three nations–the Holy See (Vatican), Thailand, and Guyana–ratified the treaty on the same day as it was opened for signature, according to the WCC. “By signing the treaty today, these nations have taken a lead in protecting all our countries and the planet that is our home,” said WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit. He urged national leaders to quickly ratify as well as sign the treaty. “This new treaty has to potential to save millions of lives, and creation itself, from the most destructive and indiscriminate weapons ever developed by human beings.”

— In more news from the WCC, the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland, is hosting an exhibition of hope for justice and peace. The exhibit is “part of the highly acclaimed ‘Seek#JusticeAndPeace in the Holy Land’ social media campaign, which began in June this year in connection with the 50-year mark of the Six-Day War and the occupation it entailed,” said a WCC release. “The opening of the exhibition on Monday coincides with the World Week of Peace in Palestine and Israel (WWPPI), a global yearly event to advance peace and join in prayers for the Middle East.” The exhibition in Geneva follows a pilot version displayed in Beit Sahour, Palestine, in June.

— Katie Schreckengast of Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, “Miss Pennsylvania,” appeared in this year’s Miss America Pageant. She was interviewed by Brethren Voices before she was named Miss Pennsylvania. Find that interview and more of her personal story at . Her webpage is at .

— Jim Therrien of Lybrook (N.M.) Community Ministries and pastor of Tokahookaadi Church of the Brethren has been interviewed for an extensive article on the role religious communities are playing in the work on climate change. “Churches that have long played a role in social justice are stepping up,” notes the piece written by Sarah Tory and published in the High Country News. “Before Pastor Jim Therrien, 49, moved to New Mexico, he rarely thought about environmental issues,” the article begins. “Back in Kansas, where he was born and raised, the grass outside his home was always green, and though the state had an active oil industry, companies fenced off well sites properly and promptly cleaned up spills. But then he and his family saw the impacts of energy development on the Southwestern landscape and their new church community. Therrien began to think about the connection between the local environment and the broader issue of climate change. Every day, Therrien, a blond, ruddy and tattooed man of Irish descent, looked out his window and saw a dry land getting drier.” The piece goes on to report about the situation of the congregation, mostly Navajo, located in an area heavily affected by the San Juan Basin oil drilling boom. Read the article in full at .

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