Brethren bits for April 19, 2019

— Correction: The Blackwood Brothers Quartet concert scheduled for July 3 at 8:30 p.m. at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Greensboro, N.C., is free only to registered Conference attendees. Name tags will be required for entrance. Concert tickets will be available for purchase for $50 at the door and in the onsite Conference office for those who are not registered attendees.

— Remembrance: George Milton Kreps, 87, who directed the Church of the Brethren mission in Ecuador, died April 2. He and his family lived in Ecuador 1955-70, returning to the US briefly in 1959 when he attended Bethany Seminary and earned a master of divinity degree. Dale Minnich, a former mission worker in Ecuador, described Kreps as “a perceptive and visionary leader,” reporting that after an initial volunteer assignment beginning in 1955 he assumed leadership of the work in Ecuador including staff in education, agriculture, public health, family planning, church planting, theological education, and community development. Kreps was born in Pottstown, Pa., to John and Elizabeth (Hess) Kreps. He grew up in Coventry Church of the Brethren. He completed a degree in sociology at Manchester College. His first marriage in 1953 was to college classmate Wilma Lois Studebaker, and their four children were born while the family was based in Ecuador. In 1970 they relocated to Columbus, Ohio, where he worked for Franklin County Children’s Services. He earned a master’s in anthropology and a doctorate in sociology from Ohio State University. During this time he lost his first wife to cancer. He became a professor at Ohio State Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster. In 1978 he married Marty Woolson LeVora. After retirement they moved to Frederick, Md., where he taught at Frederick Community College, did volunteer chaplaincy at Frederick Memorial Hospital, and attended Middletown United Methodist Church. He is survived by his wife, Marty; children Susan (Terry) Luddy of Pittsburgh, Pa., Teri (John) Lightner of Harlingen, Texas, Steven (Seiko) Kreps of Charlotte, N.C., Joel (Joann) Kreps of San Diego, Calif., Scott LeVora of Boyd, Md., Brad (Holly) LeVora of Urbana, Md., and Barbara LeVora of Columbus, Ohio; grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Memorial gifts are received to the Homewood Foundation in Williamsport, Md.; Middletown United Methodist Church; and Heifer International.

— Remembrance: Jacob Jay Stevens, 79, a former employee in the Church of the Brethren treasurer’s office, died April 3 at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill. He was born Dec. 8, 1939, in Hollsopple, Pa., the youngest of the eight children of Cora (Imler) and Jacob Stevens. He worked at Hallman’s Chevrolet in Johnstown, Pa., and attended Cambria-Rowe Business College in Johnstown following high school graduation. In October 1962, he moved to Elgin to work in the treasurer’s office at the Church of the Brethren General Offices starting in October 1962. There he met Catherine (Cathy) Ann Weimer, whom he married on April 12, 1969. In 1970, he took a job with the Union 76 Oil Company (later Unocal) in Schaumburg, Ill., as an accountant and retired from that job in December 1994. He fully retired in 2000 after working at Chase in Elgin for several years. He is survived by his wife, Cathy; son Cortland Stevens; daughter Joylyn Johnson and her husband, Eric Johnson; and grandchildren. A memorial service was held at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin on April 14. A memorial service at Maple Spring Church of the Brethren in Hollsopple will be held later this year. Memorial gifts are received to Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren.

— Remembrance: Janet Flory Flaten, 65, of Bridgewater, Va., passed away April 11. She served the Church of the Brethren as a music teacher at Hillcrest School in Jos, Nigeria, from 1976 to 1982. She was born in Bulsar, India, on Nov. 26, 1953, a daughter of the late Wendell and Marie (Mason) Flory. She earned her first bachelor’s degree in music from Bridgewater College, class of 1976. She then taught music at Hillcrest School in Jos, Nigeria, where she met Dale Flaten. They married on July 12, 1980, and returned to the US to start a family in 1982. She started work at Bridgewater Home as a CNA in 1994, then returned to school and earned a second bachelor’s degree in nursing from James Madison University, class of 2000. She transitioned into an RN role and continued her work at Bridgewater Home until she retired in 2018. She was a member of Bridgewater Church of the Brethren. She was preceded in death by her sister, Mary Jo Flory-Steury. She is survived by her husband, Dale; son Leroy Flaten and wife Allison in Norfolk, Va.; and daughter Sharon Flaten, who currently is working in Jos as part of Bethany Theological Seminary’s educational partnership with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). A memorial service will be held at Bridgewater Church of the Brethren on Saturday, May 11, at 11 a.m., with pastor Jeffery Carr officiating, followed by a time of fellowship. Memorial gifts are received to the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service program. Online condolences may be sent to the family at .

The Global Mission and Service program is praising God for the first love feast of the Brethren Church of Rwanda. “The celebration of this ordinance follows a time of congregational training and discussion of Brethren beliefs and practices, as detailed in the book by Galen Hackman,” said the program’s weekly prayer guide. “The inaugural Rwandan love feast took place on Palm Sunday for the Mudende and Humure congregations. The Gisenyi and Gasiza congregations will celebrate love feast on Easter Sunday.”

— The Church of the Brethren seeks a fulltime manager of information technology to work at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The major responsibility is to manage the information technology needs and activities for the General offices including application design, development, maintenance, and network applications at the direction of the director of Information Technology. Required skills and knowledge include understanding of Church of the Brethren heritage, theology, and polity; ability to articulate and operate out of the vision of the Church of the Brethren; knowledge and experience to implement a vision for ongoing technical growth that will coordinate efforts at many levels of the denomination; strong technical skills in database management and systems analysis; verbal and written communication skills; positive customer service attitude; ability to assist in budget development and management; knowledge of Raiser’s Edge system, VOIP phone systems, Microsoft Office Suite, and related products; a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in information technology or related field. Applications are being received and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Send a resume to or to Human Resources Manager, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694; 800-323-8039 ext. 367. The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

— The Clergywomen’s Annual Conference Breakfast will feature “Snapshots of Calling.” As a way of celebrating stories of calling, clergywomen from throughout the denomination are invited to submit photos of people who were instrumental in their calling to ministry. A visual presentation of submitted photos will be created by Julia Largent of McPherson (Kan.) College, and inspiring stories will be welcomed during the July 4 program led by Donna Ritchey Martin, co-pastor of Grossnickle Church of the Brethren. To submit a photo go to This form asks for information about who is in the photo and their role in the clergywoman’s calling. It requires use of Gmail/Google Drive to submit photos. Others may email information and photos to Largent at . Please supply photos in original size for best quality, and rename the photo file name to include the submitter’s last name. For questions about how to make submissions, contact Largent.

Rally to end drone warfare

— “Join us as we protest the US weaponized drone program,” said an invitation from the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy to church members to join the May 3 Rally to End Drone Warfare in Washington, D.C. The event will start with a gathering in Edward R. Murrows Park at H and 18th Northwest. “The US drone program is illegal, immoral, and ineffective, and negatively impacts our neighbors around the world,” the announcement continued. “At this rally, we will call for an end to CIA drone strikes, and for General Atomics to sign a commitment to not develop Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems. The speaker program will begin at 12 p.m., and at the end of the hour we will march towards the General Atomics offices on 19th Street.”

— “Navigating Change: Proceed with Caution” is the title of a Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center continuing education event at Cross Keys Village in New Oxford, Pa., on May 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jennifer Holcomb, director of Memory Support at Cross Keys Village, is the presenter. “Every three seconds someone around the world develops symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease or another related dementia,” said an announcement. “Preparing for change in that person is critical and inevitable. Together we will learn best practices to steer the conversation when driving poses challenging, how to effectively manage a hospital stay, and best approaches to use when behaviors pose as a threat.” Registration is due April 22. Cost is $60 including a light breakfast, lunch, and 0.5 continuing education credits, or $50 without the continuing education credit. Contact the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center for registration, at 717-361-1450 or .

— Donnels Creek Church of the Brethren in Springfield, Ohio, is celebrating its 210th anniversary on April 28-30 with a conference on the theme “Discovering the Heart of God and the Future of Our World.” Contact the church at 937-964-8032.

— Reading (Ohio) Church of the Brethren is one of the participating churches in the 5th Apostle Build, which is also the 50th Alliance Area Habitat for Humanity home, according to an article from “The Alliance Review.” “The home will go to Angela Anderson and her three teenage children,” the report said. “During a groundbreaking ceremony in early March, Anderson explained her joy at receiving the home. ‘I’ve always worried about the boys not having someplace to go if something would happen to me,’ Anderson said.” Read the full report at .

— The pastor and members of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren were interviewed by “LAist” for an online and radio series exploring Los Angeles County’s 88 cities. Characterized as “a small town with a welcoming heart,” the piece noted that it is the story of La Verne Church of the Brethren that “helped La Verne become the city it is today.” Brethren interviewees including pastor Susan Boyer, as well as Katrina Beltran, 24, who grew up in La Verne and whose grandfather, Chuck Boyer, was an influential figure at the denominational and local levels. The piece reviews the role that the Brethren played in the history of the city, first called Lordsburg, and in the history of the University of La Verne, which was founded by the Brethren and continues to have strong church connections. The piece also reviews the role the congregation has played in leading out in peacemaking and extending a welcome to all in the community. “A big part of the Church of the Brethren are its pacifist values,” Beltran is quoted, “and specifically here in La Verne, inclusion and equality are two of the biggest values.” The article features pictures of the church building and notes that “a peace pole stands outside the church, with welcoming messages in different languages for all the cultures in the area, and rainbow flags fly on both sides of the chapel’s doorway.” Find the full article at .

— Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren pastor Greg Davidson Laszakovits is interviewed in an article titled “Elected Officials in Our Nation’s Capital Could Learn from Lancaster, America’s ‘Refugee Capital,'” published by Lancaster Online. “In Washington, the debate over immigrants, asylum-seekers and refugees is mostly political and philosophical,” the article says. “In Lancaster County, the subject is personal. Here, refugees endure long waits for family members to join them in this place where they’ve been welcomed, where they’re valued as individuals and as workers in a local economy that needs them. And where a network of agencies and religious organizations stand ready to assist them as they rebuild their lives.” Laszakovits reported that his congregation has helped refugees from Iran, Myanmar, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. “They have made us a richer community economically, culturally, religiously.” Read the full article at .

— The Shenandoah District office is again hosting a Church World Service Kit Depot drop off, to be open through May 10, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. School kits, hygiene kits, and emergency clean up buckets will be received at the side door of the green Brethren Disaster Ministries garage. For instructions for dropping off kits, call the district office at 540-234-8555.

CPT steering committee
The Christian Peacemaker Teams steering committee: (back row, from left) Marcos Knoblauch (Peacemaker Corps representative from Argentina, serving with the Colombia Program), Julie Brown (Peacemaker Corps representative from the US, serving with the Iraqi Kurdistan Program), Jakob Fehr (German Mennonite Peace Committee representative); (middle row, from left) Rafael Lopera (Congregation of St. Basil representative from Colombia), Annelies Klinefelter (at-large representative from the Netherlands), Chrissy Stonebreaker-Martínez (at-large from the US), Nathan Hosler (chair and Church of the Brethren representative, director of the denomination’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy); (front, from left) Steve Heinrichs (Mennonite Church Canada representative), Tori Bateman (at-large from the US, a member of the staff of the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy), Marie Benner-Rhoades (vice-chair and representative of On Earth Peace, an agency of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference), Timothy Wotring (Presbyterian Peace Fellowship representative). Not pictured but present at the meeting via teleconference: Jason Boone (Mennonite Church USA representative), Carolina Gouveia Santana (Peacemaker Corps representative from Brazil, serving with Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Program). Remaining members not pictured: Omar Harami (at-large representative from Palestine), Wilson Tan (at-large representative from Singapore). Photo courtesy of Nathan Hosler

— Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is giving thanks for a successful steering committee meeting held last week. Chairing the committee is Nathan Hosler, director of the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. Marie Benner-Rhoades, from the On Earth Peace staff, is serving as vice-chair. The organization shared the following prayer request: “Pray for an increase in the size of Christian Peacemaker Teams’ donor base and that the organization finds a full-time Development Coordinator soon. The needs of CPT’s partners in Colombia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Palestine and the immigrants’ rights community are great; we want to continue supporting them to the best of our ability.”

— The Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) “turn faith into action for peace,” said an announcement of the latest Dunker Punks Podcast. “Experience what that means through this interview brought to us by the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. Monica McFadden interviews Tori Bateman on her recent trip with the CPT delegation to Iraqi Kurdistan. Learn more about becoming involved and find out what Christianity, peacemaking, and tea have in common!” Listen at . Visit for more information.

— The Global Women’s Project is announcing its annual Mother’s Day Gratitude Project. This is “an opportunity for you to honor a woman you know and love by celebrating and supporting women around the world,” said an announcement. “Instead of buying more material gifts for your loved one, express your gratitude with a gift that keeps on giving. In return, your chosen recipient(s) will receive a lovely, hand-written card indicating that a gift has been made in her honor, with a brief description of GWP.” For more information go to .

— The 46th annual Brethren Bible Institute has been announced by the sponsoring group, the Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF). The institute’s summer term will take place July 22-26 on the campus of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. The theme scripture is Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Twelve courses will be offered. Cost is $300 for dormitory students or $125 for commuting students. To register, request an application form from Brethren Bible Institute, 155 Denver Rd., Denver, PA 17517. Applications must be completed by June 25.

— In a joint statement, the Liberian Council of Churches and the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) expressed gratitude to the US administration for its extension of the deadline for people affected by the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) program dating back to March 1991. “This program, set to end its ‘wind-down’ period on March 31, 2019, and thus force deportation of 4,200 Liberians currently living under protected status in the United States, has been extended one year,” said a release. “On a recent trip to Liberia to address the 32nd General Assembly of the Liberia Council of Churches, General Secretary/President Jim Winkler pledged to Bishop Kortu K. Brown, President, members of the LCC, and the Liberian people in general through the mass media, that NCC would advocate to protect the status of Liberians in the US. This is a response to the biblical mandate to welcome and care for the sojourner and immigrant and refugee. A bill currently before Congress would help protect Liberians in the US: the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act, sponsored by Rep. David Cicilline and Sen. Jack Reed, will give Liberians an opportunity to apply for permanent residency and, eventually, a path to citizenship.”

Delta 8 tool to track modern slavery
UN civil society conference

— News of the launch of a new United Nations data tool on modern-day slavery has been shared by Doris Abdullah, the Church of the Brethren’s representative to the UN. This interactive data tool called Delta 8.7 has been created by the UN University Centre for Policy Research, and “shows a mismatch between where modern slavery occurs, and where governments are spending resources to address it, [and] could help make a positive impact on policy debates surrounding the issue,” said a UN announcement. “Check out a modern slavery map which includes information on the organizations that work with the business sector to combat modern slavery.” Find the map and more information at .

— In more news from Abdullah as UN representative, registration is open for the 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference on Aug. 26-28 in Salt Lake City on the theme “Building Inclusive and Sustainable Cities and Communities.” This is “the premier event in the civil society calendar at the United Nations,” said the website. “It typically attracts an average of 2,000 representatives from more than 500 civil society organizations from over 100 countries…. This international forum also brings together senior UN System officials, prominent international civil society organizations, academicians, public opinion makers, and international media to discuss issues of global concern.” Participation is open to representatives of civil society organizations associated with the UN Department of Global Communications or in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council, with others welcome to register with an endorsement from a United Nations entity that is familiar with their work and can provide feedback on their eligibility. Conference segments include roundtable discussions, NGO workshops, exhibits, youth-led activities, networking opportunities, and side events that reflect the theme of the conference. A call for applications to organize workshops is open, with a deadline of May 17. Submissions will be reviewed by June 10. Workshop details are at
 . More about the conference is at .

— “The Nation” newspaper in Nigeria reports on a vigil held in Lagos by the advocacy group Bring Back Our Girls. Prayers were raised for the schoolgirls–now women–abducted from Chibok by Boko Haram five years ago on April 14. Samuel Dauda, a former EYN pastor serving in Chibok for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), was present alongside a leader of Bring Back Our Girls, executive director of Enough Is Enough Nigeria, other Christian pastors, and Muslim imams. The advocacy group planning the vigil also held simultaneous vigils in Nigeria’s capital city Abuja, London, New York, and Washington, D.C. The event featured the reading of a prayer written for the girls by Jewish rabbis in New York titled “An Interfaith Prayer for Chibok–Five Years in Captivity.” Read the full article at .

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