Brethren bits for October 19, 2018

Robert (Bob) Pittman, 88, of Astoria, Ill., died Oct. 12. An alumnus of McPherson (Kan.) College and the University of Illinois, he was a long-time project director for Brethren Disaster Ministries (BDM) after a career in teaching. An email from BDM said, “He was a faithful disciple, embodying gentle strength, servant leadership, and above all unconditional love.” Pittman also trained many project directors for the denomination, and he and his wife, Marianne, served as interim directors of BDM from January to June 1999. Their daughter, Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, currently serves as convener for the Compelling Vision Process Team. A celebration of life service was held Oct. 17 in Astoria.

Ruby Mae Bollinger, 95, died Oct. 7 at Carroll Hospice Dove House in Westminster, Md. A long-time employee of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., Bollinger served as head cook for 33 years until her retirement in 1989. A memorial service was held Oct. 12.

Sunnybrook Church of the Brethren (Bristol, Tenn.) on Oct. 7 premiered a national television program called “Sunday at Sunnybrook.” The weekly 30-minute program, an abbreviated version of the Sunday morning worship service, airs on the YouToo America network. The church celebrated the launch with a special love feast service. Senior pastor Jamie Osborne said Sunnybrook “plans to use the video distribution platforms as a means of launching what the church hopes will eventually be hundreds of local ‘missional communities.’ ”

—This year’s Floyd County (Va.) Historical Society calendar is featuring the county’s churches, and among the congregations featured with full spreads are Topeco Church of the Brethren, Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren, Burks Fork Church of the Brethren, and Copper Hill Church of the Brethren. Several other Brethren congregations are also featured among the 38 images.

Delegates at Mid-Atlantic District conference, held Oct. 12-13 in Manassas, Va., approved the creation of a new half-time Manager of District Operations position for a three-year period, with continuance dependent on ongoing funding. The position will assist district executive Gene Hagenberger by overseeing administrative and fundraising functions for the district.

Districts holding conferences this weekend include Southern Ohio/Kentucky at Salem Church of the Brethren, Englewood, Ohio; and Western Pennsylvania at Camp Harmony, Hooversville, Pa. Next up are Illinois/Wisconsin, meeting Nov. 2-3 at Cerro Gordo (Ill.) Church of the Brethren; Shenandoah, Nov. 2-3 at Antioch Church of the Brethren, Woodstock, Va.; and Atlantic Southeast, Nov. 3 at Saving Grace Church of the Brethren, North Fort Myers, Fla.

Pacific Southwest District will hold its conference Nov. 9-11 in La Verne, Calif. Items of business will include formally adding Nevada as part of the district (which currently includes California and Arizona) and disorganization of the New Harvest Lindsay (Calif.) congregation.

The Camp Eder (Fairfield, Pa.) Fall Festival takes place this Saturday, Oct. 20. The major annual fundraiser includes live and silent auctions, kids’ activities, a pig roast and turkey feast, a bake sale and food concessions, music, and more.

—Mount Aloysius College (Cresson, Pa.) partnered with Western Pennsylvania District to collect more than 2,500 pairs of shoes for a project to benefit nonprofit Funds2orgs, which works with children in developing countries, according to a report in the “Clarion (Pa.) News.”

—Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) leader Samuel Dali will be visiting congregations in Roanoke, Va., Nov. 3-4. He will speak about the recent struggles of EYN at 7 p.m. Nov. 3 at Roanoke Central and preach at the morning worship at Oak Grove on Nov. 4.

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) is urgently seeking an immediate volunteer, ages 21-30s, for its project at Quaker Cottage in Belfast, Northern Ireland. BVS is offering a special fast-track process for this placement. For more information, visit or contact the BVS office at or 847-429-4396.

—The Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry has announced Jan. 6-9, 2020, as the dates for the next Clergy Women’s Retreat, at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Ariz. Mandy Smith, lead pastor of University Christian Church in Cincinnati, will be the presenter. A brochure is available at

—The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership will again offer a Clergy Tax Seminar on Jan. 19, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., with a lunch break. Deb Oskin will provide leadership. Participants can attend in person at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., or online. Cost is $30 except for current Bethany or TRIM/EFSM/SeBAH students. Registration deadline is Jan. 10. Details are at

Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has announced it “continues establishing new congregations in the face of rebuilding and coping” in the wake of violence over the past several years. The EYN Leadership Team recently granted “certificates of autonomy” to the Kofare congregation, in Jimeta Yola, and Tsamiya, in Garkida (EYN’s birthplace), both in Adawama State. EYN’s Theological Education by Extension program also recently awarded diplomas to 51 new graduates. US representatives Galen and Doris Heckman attended.

—Foods Resource Bank, which had planned to change its name to “Growing Hope Worldwide,” is instead becoming “Growing Hope Globally.” “This adjustment was necessary to ensure we have a strong position in a very crowded space where many non-profit organizations use a combination of hope and worldwide in their name,” a statement from CEO Max Finberg said. The organization officially celebrated the change to the new name on Oct. 16, World Food Day.

Richard L. Bowman of Harrisonburg, Va., former professor at Bridgewater (Va.) College and Elizabethtown (Pa.) College and a former member of BCA (formerly Brethren Colleges Abroad) in Kochi, India, is among five new members recently elected to the steering committee of the Anabaptist Center for Religion and Society at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg.

Anabaptist Center for Religion and Society steering committee, October 2018. Courtesy of ACRS.
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