Brethren bits for Jan. 14, 2017

Church of the Brethren Newsline
January 14, 2017

“Praise God for the ordination of two ministers with Eglise des Freres d’Haiti, the Church of the Brethren in Haiti!” said a recent prayer request from Global Mission and Service. “Viony Desir was ordained to pastor the Cap Haitian church, four months after the death of the church’s pastor and Eglise des Freres’ general secretary, Elie Freny. Georgia Altenour, pastor of the Delmas church, is the first woman ordained with Eglise des Freres d’Haiti. She was one of the first Haitian Brethren to be baptized, and her home hosted the beginning of the Delmas congregation, which was the starting point for the Haitian Church of the Brethren.”


Praise God for the ordination of two ministers with Eglise des Freres d’Haiti, the Church of the Brethren in Haiti!” said a recent prayer request from Global Mission and Service. “Viony Desir was ordained to pastor the Cap Haitian church, four months after the death of the church’s pastor and Eglise des Freres’ general secretary, Elie Freny. Georgia Altenour, pastor of the Delmas church, is the first woman ordained with Eglise des Freres d’Haiti. She was one of the first Haitian Brethren to be baptized, and her home hosted the beginning of the Delmas congregation, which was the starting point for the Haitian Church of the Brethren.”

— Remembrance: Wayne F. Geisert, 95, who died Jan. 4, at Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community, served as president of Bridgewater College for 30 years. He was moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference 1973-74. Geisert also served the Church of the Brethren as a member of the former General Board from 1977-82; as chair of the Pension Board from 1979-82; and as a member and chair of several special denominational committees including the Review and Evaluation Committee. He was on the faculty at Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., beginning in 1951, becoming head of the Department of Economics and business in 1955. He served as dean at McPherson (Kan.) College from 1957-64. He served as president of Bridgewater College from 1964 until his retirement in 1994. He was a graduate of McPherson College and earned a doctorate in economics from Northwestern University. His wife, Ellen Maurine Gish Geisert, preceded him in death in 2005. He is survived by sons Gregory, Bradley, and Todd Geisert; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Memorial gifts are received to Bridgewater College’s E. Maurine and Wayne F. Geisert Scholarship Fund, and to Bridgewater Church of the Brethren. A memorial service is planned for 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14, at Bridgewater Church of the Brethren. The family will receive friends following the memorial service.

— Remembrance: Elsie Marie Hall, 84, of Wentzville, Mo., a former mission worker in Nigeria, passed away on Dec. 22, 2016. She served in Nigeria with her late husband, Von, from 1957-74. There they coordinated a community development program initiated in Uba District by the Church of the Brethren, providing leadership from the program’s inception in 1970 until it was turned over to Nigerian leadership in 1974. In 1975 the Halls were seconded to community development service in Niger with Lutheran World Relief, where they served until 1976. She was born April 2, 1932, in Portis, Kan., to Ellsworth and Edith Kindley. In addition to her work in Nigeria, she was an elementary school teacher in Missouri and worked with Family Foundations International. She is survived by son Douglas (Cindy) Hall of Owasso, Okla.; daughters Beverly (Jim) Holloran of St. Charles, Mo., and Brenda (Don) Granger of Prince Anne, Md.; grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by daughter Roberta Miller, who passed away in 2007. Memorial gifts are received to New Hope Cemetery or Church of the Brethren Mission Nigerian Girls’ Brigade (send to Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120). A memorial service was held on Sunday, Jan. 8, at Life Gate Church in St. Peters, Mo. A full obituary is at .

— Remembrance: Ann Witmore Burger, 92, a former Church of the Brethren mission worker in Nigeria, died on Jan. 12. With her husband, Richard, she was in Nigeria for at least three terms of service starting in 1945. Her husband was a builder for the mission and worked on various construction projects while also serving as a pastor. She managed a dispensary and an elementary school. Although illness forced the couple to return to the US before the end of their first term, they went back to Nigeria in 1949 and again in 1956. During their time in Nigeria, they lived and worked in the communities of Chibok, Shafa, and Garkida. They also raised six orphans, as well as their own children. Ann Burger was born in Rich Hill, Mo., in 1924, and attended Happy Hill Church of the Brethren in Bates County, Mo. She met and married her husband at McPherson (Kan.) College. She completed her college experience in Chicago while her husband attended Bethany Seminary. After the family’s return from Nigeria, she continued her teaching career at various schools in Iowa, and attended Fairview Church of the Brethren in Unionville, Iowa. She and her husband lost two sons, John and Samuel Curtis. She is survived by her husband and three children: Dr. Richard Burger (Gail), Annette Graves (Andrew), and Nonie Downing (Chip/Forrest). A memorial service will be held on Sunday, Jan. 15, at Fairview Church of the Brethren, with visitation from 1-3 p.m. and the funeral at 3 p.m. Burial will follow at Eaton Cemetery. Memorial gifts are received to the Nigeria Crisis Fund.

— Remembrance: Marylee Lang, 91, passed away on Jan. 3. She served the former General Board of the Church of the Brethren as secretary of the Stewardship Team/Office of Direct Gifts from Feb. 1985 until her retirement in Sept. 1989. A memorial service was held on Jan. 7 at First United Methodist Church in Elgin, Ill. The full obituary is posted at .

— The Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., has named Greg Yoder as executive director, effective Jan. 1. He is known as a member of the Walking Roots Band as a singer, instrumentalist, and composer, and also has taught music at Redeemer Classical School. He previously taught five years in the Rockingham County Public Schools where in 2014 he was named Teacher of the Year at Peak View Elementary School. He has operated a farm and a community supported agriculture (CSA) business for the past two years. He is a graduate of Goshen (Ind.) College with a degree in music and education and attends Community Mennonite Church.

— Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) seeks a director of Insurance Operations to fill a full-time, exempt position based in Elgin, Ill. The primary function is to manage the daily operations and assist the director of Employee Benefits with the growth and administration of employer-sponsored Insurance Services. This individual also serves as HIPAA Compliance Officer. Duties include developing and administering daily operational procedures for medical, dental, vision, life, and long-term disability insurance coverages; being knowledgeable in legislation and regulations affecting the insurance services; supervising Insurance Services support staff; working with the Long-Term Care representative. The ideal candidate will have an undergraduate degree in business or human resources or management work experience in the employee insurance benefits field. It is also preferred that the candidate holds a license in life and/or medical insurance. This position requires a person who is very detail oriented, with the ability to prioritize workloads; proficient with computer systems and applications; exceptional organizational and telephone skills; and, impeccable follow-up abilities are a must. The candidate must be able to interact effectively with customers to provide information in response to inquiries about products and services and to handle and resolve complaints. BBT is seeking candidates with strong verbal and written communications skills, proficiency in Microsoft Office, and a demonstrated track record of providing superior customer service and a willingness and ability to expand knowledge and effectiveness through classes, workshops, and pursuit of professional designations. 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. Apply by Jan. 20 by sending 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 .

— Northern Ohio District seeks a district executive minister to fill a full-time position available Sept. 1, 2017. The district includes 48 congregations and 2 fellowships, and extends across the northern half of the state of Ohio from border to border. It includes rural, small-town, and urban congregations. The preferred candidate will be a calm and steady presence with a shepherd’s heart, communicating trust and continuing to foster hope through new forms and styles of ministry. Responsibilities include serving as the executive of the District Board, its commissions, and any authorized committees; supervising all employed staff; overseeing District Office operations; ensuring effective means of communication at all levels within the district; working closely with the Ministry Commission in calling, developing, training, and credentialing ministerial leadership; conducting pastoral evaluations with congregations when requested; overseeing the Ministerial Ethics process within the district, including training and Ethics Committee intervention; developing relationships with pastors and visiting each pastor and credentialed minister at least annually; encouraging open communication and good working relationships between congregations and pastors; encouraging congregational and pastoral vitality and spirituality; among others. Preferred qualifications include a deep commitment to Jesus Christ, vibrant commitment to New Testament values and to the Church of the Brethren faith and heritage; completion of an approved course of theological education and/or ministerial training; Church of the Brethren ministerial credentials and membership in the Church of the Brethren; pastoral experience; strong written and oral communication skills; electronic communication skills; a working understanding of ministry, congregational life, and district life within the Church of the Brethren; ability to relate well to churches of all sizes and theological perspectives; among others. Apply by sending a letter of interest and resumé via e-mail to . Applicants are requested to contact at least three people who are willing to provide a letter of reference. Upon receipt of a resumé, an applicant will be sent a candidate profile that must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. The application deadline is March 9.

— The Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) seeks an intern to serve in the Archival Internship Program. The purpose of the program is to develop interest in vocations related to archives and libraries and/or Brethren history. The program will provide the intern with work assignments in the BHLA and with opportunities to develop professional contacts. Work assignments will include processing archival materials, writing descriptive inventories, preparing books for cataloguing, responding to reference requests, and assisting researchers. Professional contacts may include attending archival and library conferences and workshops, visits to libraries and archives in the Chicago area, and participation in a Brethren Historical Committee meeting. BHLA is the official repository for Church of the Brethren publications and records. The collection consists of over 10,000 volumes, over 3,500 linear feet of manuscripts and records, over 40,000 photographs, plus videos, films, DVDs, and recordings. BHLA is located at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The term of service is one year, beginning in June (preferred). Compensation includes housing, a stipend of $540 every two weeks, and health insurance. A graduate student is preferred, or an undergraduate with at least two years of college. Requirements include an interest in history and/or library and archival work; willingness to work with detail; accurate word processing skills; ability to lift 30-pound boxes. Request an application packet from the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; ; 800-323-8039 ext. 367. All submissions must be completed by April 1.

— The Roundtable regional youth event will be held March 31-April 2 at Bridgewater (Va.) College. “Wildfire in Our Very Soul” will be the theme for speakers Tyler and Chelsea Goss from West Richmond (Va.) Church of the Brethren. Friday night’s entertainment will be Mutual Kumquat.   This event is planned by the Interdistrict Youth Cabinet. For more information contact or go to .

— Stephen Reid of Waco, Texas, has joined the Manchester University Board of Trustees. He is a professor of Christianity at Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary, is ordained in the Church of the Brethren, and is a former dean at Bethany Theological Seminary. He also has served on the Bethany Seminary board of trustees. He graduated from Manchester in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in religion. His doctorate is from Emory University, Atlanta, Ga., 1981, and his Master of Divinity is from Bethany Theological Seminary, Oakbrook, Ill., 1976. Manchester also is welcoming two other alumni to the board in 2017: Sara Edgerton, who was previously on the board from 2004-13, and is co-founder and CEO of Community Cancer Care, based in Indianapolis; and James Lambert, a systems administrator at AT&T, also from Indianapolis. Learn more about the university at .

— The January edition of “Brethren Voices,” the community television program produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren features Matt Guynn who serves as program director for Nonviolent Social Change for On Earth Peace. He discusses the Nonviolent Social Change ministry which is rooted in the philosophy and leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr. The program can be viewed on . The February program features the ministry of Arlington (Va.) Church of the Brethren.

— “The rest of the world is winding down from Christmas fever, but we Christians are just entering the season of celebrating God with us. Take a listen to the latest Dunker Punks Podcast to get in the spirit,” says an invitation from Suzanne Lay at Arlington (Va.) Church of the Brethren. The congregation hosts the Dunker Punks podcast. In this issue: Josh Brockoway and Jarrod McKenna talk about continuing the story of the New Testament by embodying the character of our faith. Take the challenge to live out the best traditions of our faith in “Way of Life,” Episode 22 of the podcast created by Brethren young adults. Listen on the show page at or subscribe on iTunes at .

— Katie Shaw Thompson, pastor of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., and her husband, Parker Thompson, and family have been featured for their “bicycle heavy” lifestyle in the Elgin “Courier News” newspaper. The feature piece titled “Elgin family ditching car in favor of bike as main transportation,” tells the story of how the couple deliberately choose to bicycle, carrying along their 4-year-old and 2-year-old boys, rather than use a car–whenever possible. Read the full news report at .

— Donald Miller, a former Church of the Brethren general secretary and professor emeritus at Bethany Seminary, is the Martin Luther King Day Community Celebration speaker at Ashland (Ohio) University. “Donald Miller’s message of a ‘just peace’ will highlight Martin Luther King’s condemnation of militarism and advocacy of creative alternatives,” said a release. Miller was involved in the Decade to Overcome Violence initiative of the World Council of Churches, and was a coordinator for a number of conferences of the Historic Peace Churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers) on various continents that took place during the decade. His presentation will be held at 7 p.m. in the Ridenour Room in the Dauch College of Business at Ashland University. All are welcome, no registration is necessary. The event is sponsored by the Ashland Center For Nonviolence.

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