Brethren bits for Jan. 13, 2018

Church of the Brethren Newsline
January 13, 2018

Brethren Volunteer Service is advertising an urgent need for a volunteer to place with Quaker Cottage in Belfast, Northern Ireland. BVS is offering a special fast-track process for placement at this project. For information, please contact the BVS office at or 847-429-4396.

— Remembrance: Samsudin Moledina, a former employee of the Church of the Brethren Material Resources program at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., passed away on Dec. 21, 2017, in Orange Park, Fla. He began work at the Brethren Service Center on July 1, 1975, and continued until his retirement on Dec. 31, 2011. In his role, he received and tracked all IMA World Health inventory. He was very knowledgeable about the warehouse and many other subjects. Most recently, he lived in Florida near his four daughters and grandchildren. He also has a son and grandchildren who live in Westminster, Md. A memorial service was held on Dec. 27.

— John M. Loop began Jan. 8 as chief executive officer at Timbercrest Retirement Community in North Manchester, Ind. He is a former administrator of Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg, Md., and holds degrees from Ohio State University and Valparaiso University. He succeeds David Lawrenz, who retired after 45 years of service at Timbercrest.

— Rick Villalobos has been hired as production coordinator for Brethren Benefit Trust(BBT), working in the communications area. He will begin his duties on Jan. 29. He brings to the job creative and organizational skills from his previous experiences in graphic design, copywriting, and journalism. He is fluent in both English and Spanish. He received a bachelor’s degree in communications from DePaul University, with a minor in graphic design. Villalobos lives in West Chicago, Ill., where he is a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

— Camp Galilee in West Marva District has announced new staff: Asa Smith has been hired to serve as the camp caretaker. He and his family are now residing at Camp Galilee. Elizabeth Thorne has accepted the position of camp manager. She served as assistant camp manager during last year’s camping season.

— Bethany Theological Seminary seeks a full-time financial aid and enrollment assistant with an immediate starting date. This is an opportunity for a person with strengths in caring for details and supporting colleagues in the mission of the Admissions and Student Services Department on the seminary campus in Richmond, Ind. Responsibilities include overseeing student accounts, financial aid, and the Federal Work-Study program. This person also will be a vital part of the admissions team and will provide needed support to student development and alumni/ae relations. Eligible applicants will hold the minimum of an associate’s degree. Affinity with the values and mission of the seminary is required. Experience in student billing and the handling of confidential materials is preferred. Qualified applicants will be personable and able to be self-directed, manage a complex workload with attention to details, offer office support to colleagues, and quickly respond to phone and e-mail requests from prospective and current students. Experience with Salesforce, Excel, iContact, Cougar Mountain, or other accounting software, and creating web forms would be helpful. A complete job description is available. Application review will begin immediately and will continue until an appointment is made. Send a letter of interest, resume, and contact information for three references to or to Bethany Theological Seminary, Attention: Lori Current, 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.

— Jan. 25 is the date of the next online Town Hall with Samuel Sarpiya, moderator of the Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren. The conversation takes place at 7 p.m. (central time). These events are being held each month, as live online conversations using Zoom technology and sponsored by the Annual Conference office. For more information, go to .

— Children’s Disaster Services has not yet received a request for childcare teams to aid children and families affected by the mudslides in southern California. “We have a team ready to go if needed,” reported associate director Kathleen Fry-Miller. For information about the work of CDS and its volunteers, go to .

Global Mission and Service is praising God for the successful delivery of a vehicle to the Brethren Peace Center in Torit, South Sudan. The vehicle was sponsored by Church of the Brethren donors through the Emergency Disaster Fund, and “will greatly enhance Global Mission worker Athanasus Ungang’s ministry and enable him to better provide food and supply assistance to displaced persons,” said the prayer request.

– Two upcoming events in Washington, D.C., are being sponsored or publicized by the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness: a seminar on Christian Minority Communities on March 2, and the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days on April 20-23 on the theme “A World Uprooted.” The Office of Public Witness will host a day-long seminar on Christian Minority Communities from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 2. A .5 continuing education credit is available. “We will discuss the historic and current situation, relevant US and international policies, and the theological implications of these communities,” said the announcement. “The day will consist of guest speakers from government and faith-based organizations, discussions, and action items for further reflection and advocacy.” For more information contact . Register at

 “Ecumenical Advocacy Days 2018: A World Uprooted” is April 20-23. “Ecumenical Advocacy Days is a movement of the ecumenical Christian community that works to mobilize for advocacy on a wide variety of US domestic and international policy issues,” said an announcement. “The 2018 theme is ‘A World Uprooted: Responding to Migrants, Refugees and Displaced People.’ Through prayer, worship, advocacy training, and networking, attendees will seek policy changes that advance hope and overcome the devastating impacts of conflict, climate change, and corruption on God’s people.” Learn more and register at .

— The city of Elgin, Ill., is holding its annual Martin Luther King Day food drive on Monday, and the collection point again this year is the Church of the Brethren General Offices warehouse facility. Food collected in the drive will be received and sorted and distributed out of the warehouse facility, and will supply food pantries and soup kitchens throughout the area.

— Worship resources for Service Sunday in the Church of the Brethren are available online now at . This annual observance is schedule for Sunday, Feb. 4, and celebrates the many ways to serve in the name of Christ, including Brethren Volunteer Service, workcamps, Brethren Disaster Ministries, and many more volunteer ministries across the denomination.

— Germantown Church of the Brethren, the “Mother Church” of the denomination, is gaining media recognition for its service to and presence in the Germantown neighborhood near Philadelphia, Pa. “While stores were closing early for the holidays, the Germantown Church of the Brethren opened its doors to local organizations that distributed about 500 toys to children who otherwise might have gone without something under the tree,” reported the Philadelphia Tribune, “and frozen turkeys were distributed for free to parents after Sunday Service.” Pastor Richard Kyerematen commented, “We are one of the few mother churches in America that still have worshiping congregations in the very same spot…. A lot of mother churches have either been turned into museums or have closed down or forced to relocate so were just proud of the continuation from 1723 to this point,” he said. Find the article, and many details about this historic, first congregation of the Church of the Brethren in the Americas, at .

— Buffalo Valley Church of the Brethren near Mifflinburg, Pa., is the location for a Penn State Extension crops conference on Jan. 26 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. “Producers will have the opportunity to learn about farm transition… Xtend soybeans and Dicamba… top disease issues from 2017… and soil health for sustainable and environmentally sound high yields…,” said an announcement. “Other topics will be covered throughout the day with the opportunity to get 2 Core and 3 Category Pesticide Applicator Credits.” The announcement published in the “Daily Item” newspaper also noted that local agricultural companies will be on hand to discuss new products. Cost is $20 if pre-registered by Jan. 29, or $25 after Jan. 29 and at the door. Lunch is included. To register visit or call 877-345-0691.

— Western Pennsylvania District is holding a 2018 New Year’s Prayer Gathering on this Sunday, Jan. 14, at 3:30 p.m., at Indiana (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. “All Brethren folk are invited to gather and pray for 2018 to be a year of church growth and seeing new people come to Christ!” said an invitation from the district office.

— Southern Ohio District is holding a Sewing Bee to sew school bags for disaster relief on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 9 a.m. at Greenville Church of the Brethren. “Bring your sewing machine, an extension cord, and a sack lunch. These bags will be used for CWS school kits. Come not only to sew, but for great fellowship too,” said an announcement. For more information contact Barb Brower at 937-336-2442.

— Also in Southern Ohio District, a Hygiene Kit Assembly to put together CWS disaster relief kits is planned for Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. at Mill Ridge Village Community Center in Union, Ohio. The district’s disaster relief ministry is ordering supplies for 1,000 kits. “The need is great, due to a large number of hygiene kits being distributed this fall when hurricanes struck Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands,” said an announcement.

— Shepherd’s Spring Outdoor Education Center, a Church of the Brethren-related camp and outdoor ministry center in Sharpsburg, Md., is hosting the Interfaith Coalition of Washington County’s interfaith winter retreat on Feb. 3 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The all-day retreat will be led by Church of the Brethren minister Ed Poling on the theme “Interfaith Sacred Listening Circles.” Poling is a minister and a spiritual director, and the coordinator of the coalition. People of all faith traditions are invited to participate, said an announcement. The retreat will offer participants an opportunity to have “soul conversations” and small-group experiences of listening to one another’s stories of faith in an atmosphere of trust and confidentiality. The goal is to build a stronger sense of community and create spiritual friendships that bridge the gap between cultures and religions. Cost is $42, or $38 if registered before Jan. 27. The Interfaith Coalition of Washington County is affiliated with the Hagerstown (Md.) Area Religious Council. To register or for more information, contact Poling at 301-766-9005 or .

— “This is a very exciting year for Global Women’s Project as we mark our 40th anniversary,” said an announcement from the project’s Steering Committee. “We hope that you will join us as we celebrate the countless women that this organization has touched over the years.” To celebrate its 40 years, the project will be offering a “Challenge of the Month” throughout 2018. “We look forward to offering one each month to educate ourselves, live simply, empower women, and share resources. We know you are up to the challenge!” said the announcement. The Challenge of the Month for January is to “start the New Year off right by thinking of one woman who is at least 40 years old who inspires you and empowers you to be a force for good. Write a letter to her, make a phone call, do a Facebook post, or if she isn’t someone you can reach, write in your journal about what it is about her that inspires you, and think about ways you can show your care for women.”

— The National Council of Churches (NCC) has issued a statement condemning “President Trump’s obscene remarks” concerning Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries. The remarks “were deeply disturbing” and the NCC unequivocally condemns them, the statement said in part. “Further, President Trump’s stated preference for immigrants from nations such as Norway, combined with numerous other comments he has made over past years, reveals a deep-seated racism that is unacceptable. These attitudes must be publicly rejected by all people of faith.” The statement went on to call for the President to renounce his statements and apologize. The statement also sought concrete actions by the administration in support and welcome of immigrants, urged assistance to refugees, urged support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and urged Congressional action to protect immigrants. The statement concluded: “As followers of Jesus the Christ, himself a resident of and refugee from a poor and marginalized country, we ask everyone to join us, to act now, to unite, and to end racism.”

— The World Council of Churches (WCC) has begun celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2018, starting with a delegation to China. “In Beijing on Jan. 7, WCC general secretary Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit preached in Chongwenmen Church, one of the oldest Protestant churches in China, on the theme ‘Jesus Christ, the Joy of the World,’” the WCC reported in a release. “Chongwenmen Church is one of the oldest Protestant churches in China, built by American Methodists in 1870. In 1900, the church was destroyed in the Boxer Rebellion and then rebuilt in 1904. The church was closed during the Cultural Revolution, and it was reopened in 1980 and a point of reference for thousands of Christians. They celebrate five worship services every Sunday with many young participants. Today approximately 1,000 came to the worship service to pray together.” Tveit said, in his sermon, “We are called to share the good news of God’s love and God’s peace for all people, whoever they are, whatever people they belong to.” He especially mentioned the role of the churches in China and the WCC, protecting children and peace efforts on the Korean Peninsula, in the Middle East, and Colombia. Tveit and the WCC delegation also visited other member churches in China from Jan. 7-16, as well as seminaries and Bible schools, and will meet representatives from the State Administration for Religious Affairs in Beijing.

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