Brethren bits for April 8, 2019

— Remembrance: Dan McRoberts, 78, passed away on Saturday, March 23, in Caledonia, Mich. He served the Church of the Brethren as a member of the General Board (1999-2004), the Association of Brethren Caregivers Board (2005-2008), and the Mission and Ministry Board (2008-2010), and was planning to serve as usher coordinator for NOAC 2019. In addition, he held various leadership positions in his local congregation and Michigan District. He was born Sept. 3, 1940, in Lake Odessa, Mich., to Roy J. and Ruth Winey McRoberts. He was a life-long member of the Church of the Brethren. A Celebration of Life service was held on Thursday, March 28, at Hope Church of the Brethren in Freeport, Mich., with visitation. Memorial gifts are received to Hope Church of the Brethren. Condolences may be sent online at . The full obituary is available at .

— Remembrance: Naomi Kulp Keeney of Londonderry Village, Palmyra, Pa., passed away on Friday, April 5. She was the daughter of H. Stover Kulp, who with Albert Helser were the first Church of the Brethren mission workers in Nigeria, and of Christina Masterton Kulp. She was born in Lassa, Nigeria, and attended Hillcrest School in Jos, Nigeria. After moving to the United States she attended Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., and Temple University. Throughout her adult life she was actively involved at Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren, chiefly working with children and youth. She was a first grade teacher and a medical secretary for her husband’s family practice. Her interests included reading, learning, and listening to music of all genres, and she delighted in spending time with her children and grandchildren. She is survived by daughter Ruth and husband William Miller of Annville, Pa.; daughter Jane and husband Will Webster of Harrisburg, Pa.; and son G. Martin Keeney and wife Jill B. Keeney of Huntingdon, Pa.; grandchildren and a great-granddaughter. She was preceded in death by her husband, Galen E. Keeney, who was a physician in Colonial Park, Harrisburg, and her brother, Philip M. Kulp. 
     A memorial service will be held on Friday, April 12, in the chapel at Londonderry Village, and will be streamed live online (see information below). The service will begin at 12 noon and friends may greet the family beginning at 10 a.m. Burial will be private at the convenience of the family. Memorial gifts are received to the Living Witness Fund of Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren and to the Good Samaritan Fund of Londonderry Village. 
    Live broadcast of the memorial service will be streamed by Living Stream Church of the Brethren for those across the country and in Nigeria who may want to participate online. The live stream will begin with music at about 11:45 a.m. (Eastern time) or 4:45 p.m. (Nigeria time). View it at . A recording also will be available to view at this same link.

Three rural historic black Baptist churches have burned down in St. Landry Parish in Louisiana since March 26. The fires are being treated as criminal activity and state and federal investigators are examining the details of the case, said a state fire marshall investigator. Find the area news report about the congregations have come together for worship at this difficult time, at .

The Office of Ministry this week hosted a meeting of district staff at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The group that met from April 1 to 3 included Northern Ohio District executive Kris Hawk along with district administrative assistants  Mary Boone of Southern Ohio and Kentucky District, Andrea Garnett of Illinois and Wisconsin District, Carolyn Jones of Southern Pennsylvania District, Rachel Kauffman of Northern Indiana District, Jo Ann Landon of Mid-Atlantic District, Kris Shunk of Middle Pennsylvania District, Joe Vecchio of Pacific Southwest District, and Julie Watson of Northern Ohio District. Assisting with the meeting was Mishael Nouveau, office manager for the Office of Ministry. Hawk and Kauffman joined with Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, director of Ministry, to lead the General Offices’ Wednesday morning chapel service.

— Vita Olmsted has resigned as director of Information Technology for the Church of the Brethren, to accept another position. She concluded her work at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on April 1. She had worked in the position for a little more than a year, since Feb. 19, 2018.

— Brethren Disaster Ministries has signed a letter in support of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), which the proposed federal budget would eliminate. The Office of Peacebuilding and Policy reported that “this organization provides free legal services for a variety of communities including those impacted by disasters.” The request to sign came from the National VOAD, reported Roy Winter of Brethren Disaster Ministries, saying that “LSC has worked closely with National VOAD organizations in advocating for disaster survivors.” He shared the following statement from the National VOAD: “For many years, LSC has worked with many National VOAD members and disaster survivors through legal aid offices in disaster affected communities across the United States. Despite their great work, the submitted 2019 Federal Budget has eliminated all funding for LSC.”

— An action alert on “How to Celebrate Earth Day: Examples from Churches Around the Country” was published today by the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. Citing Numbers 35:33-34, “You shall not pollute the land in which you live…you shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell,” and the 2018 Annual Conference statement on “Creation Care,” the alert shared some ideas from congregations around the country to help celebrate Earth Day this year on April 22. Featured are stories from the congregations of Beacon Heights in Fort Wayne, Ind.; Montezuma in Dayton, Va.; Prince of Peace in Kettering, Ohio; and Washington City in Washington, D.C. Go to .

— The Global Mission and Service staff are praising God for new life and growth among Brethren in Spain and in Rwanda:
     Growth is being celebrated by Iglesia de los Hermanos-Una Luz en las Naciones (the Church of the Brethren in Spain). A prayer request reported that “independent congregations in the cities of Bilbao and Madrid joined the Church of the Brethren after their pastors attended Brethren ethics training sessions last year. Additional congregations are considering joining, and there are several church-planting efforts underway.”
     Two recent baptism services were held by the Church of the Brethren in Rwanda at Lake Kivu. “Multiple people from each of the four congregations in Rwanda were baptized into the church,” said the prayer request. “A third baptism service is planned for the day before Easter, when 15 people will officially join the family of Christ.”

Discipleship Ministries welcomed the New Church Development Advisory Team for meetings this week at the General Offices. The group gathered April 2-4 to vision and plan for church planting and the 2020 Church Planting Conference. The team includes Ryan Braught of Lancaster, Pa.; Steve Gregory of East Wenatchee, Wash.; Don Mitchell of Mechanicsburg, Pa.; Nate Polzin of Saginaw, Mich.; Gilbert Romero of Montebello, Calif.; Cesia Salcedo of Christiansburg, Va.; and Doug Veal of Kettering, Ohio. Joining the group for their meetings were district executives Russ Matteson from Pacific Southwest District and David Shumate from Virlina District. Stan Dueck and Gimbiya Kettering hosted the group on behalf of Discipleship Ministries, with assistance from Randi Rowan.

— La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren leaders have been interviewed by a National Public Radio station, according to a Facebook post on April 4. “Pastor Susan and Katrina Beltran interview with @npr @kpcc about La Verne Church of the Brethren for a piece on 88 cities,” the post said.

— Shenandoah District on May 9 holds its Living Peace Award banquet, a.k.a. “Peace Feast,” at Brethren Woods in Keezletown, Va. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. Lucile Vaugh will be recognized. Guest speaker will be David Radcliff, executive director of the New Community Project. Cindy and Doug Phillips will provide special music. Cost is $17 for adults and $10 for students. Contact the district office by May 1 at 540-234-8555.

— The 2019 Disaster Auction at the Rockingham County (Va.) Fairgrounds will be held May 17-18. Donations of livestock and handmade articles such as furniture, quilts, wall hangings, theme baskets and other miscellaneous items will be auctioned to raise funds for the Shenandoah District’s disaster ministries.

— The Meat Canning Project of Southern Pennsylvania District and Mid-Atlantic District is April 22-May 1 at Christian Aid Ministries in Ephrata, Pa. This is the 42nd year of the project.

— Camp Mardela is hosting a spring worship celebration for its commemoration of “150 Years of the Brethren on the Eastern Shore” of Maryland. Jonathan Shively is the featured speaker. The event takes place May 19 at 4 p.m.

Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock, Va., is hosting a fundraiser concert on June 21 at 7 p.m. featuring the Hoppers and the Promised Land Quartet. The concert will raise money for the church building fund. Tickets are $17.50 for advanced purchase or $27.50 advanced purchase for guaranteed seating in the first four rows. Tickets on the night of the event will be $21.50 at the door. Children 12 and under are free. Doors open at 6 p.m. Call 540-984-4359.

— Bridgewater (Va.) College celebrated 139 years of its founding and presented five awards on Founder’s Day on April 3. At the ceremony, three faculty members were recognized for excellence in teaching and scholarship. Inaugural awards for excellence were also given to a staff member and a student. Jennie M. Carr, associate professor of education, received the Martha B. Thornton Faculty Recognition Award. Erin Morris Miller, associate professor of psychology, received the Faculty Scholarship Award. Scott Suter, professor of English and American studies, received the Ben and Janice Wade Outstanding Teacher Award. Cynthia K. Howdyshell-Shull, registrar, received the Daniel Christian Flory Award. Johnny Haizel-Cobbina, a senior information systems management major from Frederick, Md., received the Bridgewater College Founder’s Award. Haizel-Cobbina sits on the executive board of Habitat for Humanity and the Spiritual Life Board at the college.

— “HIV and AIDS affect millions of people worldwide, so why don’t we talk about it much? This episode is dedicated to just that,” said an announcement of the latest Dunker Punks podcast. “Listen as Ben Bear interviews David Messamer on how the Brethren community relates to the subject.” Find the podcast at . Find a survey to fill out about the podcasts at .

— The World Council of Churches has hosted a meeting to assess the impact of Cyclone Idai on Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, according to a WCC release. “They came from governments, the United Nations, civil society, churches and other faith-based organizations to discuss the impact of Cyclone Idai that has wreaked death, havoc and destruction on Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe in recent weeks,” the release said. “Meeting at the World Council of Churches in Geneva on April 5, WCC deputy general secretary Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, who is from Malawi, said the gathering was called with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations.” The release noted that governments and international agencies believe the death toll is at least 1,000 and likely to climb as hundreds of thousands of people have been left displaced, homeless, and traumatized. Top diplomats from the three countries attended the meeting along with Alwynn Javier, head of Humanitarian Affairs for the WCC’s ACT Alliance; Roland Schlott, humanitarian coordinator for the Lutheran World Federation-World Service; Constanza Martinez Sr., the United Nations representative for World Vision International; as well as a member of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and others from the WCC and non-governmental organizations.

Illinois and Wisconsin District held its spring potluck on Saturday, an event that has become an annual celebration of district ministries and congregations. This year the event was hosted by Franklin Grove Church of the Brethren in northwest Illinois, and included worship and workshops in addition to potluck feast.

— The Brethren Church denomination has moved its National Office to a “new home” at 27 High Street in Ashland, Ohio, according to a release. An open house and ribbon cutting ceremony were held April 2 with remarks from Carlos Campo, president of Ashland University; Wayne McCown, interim executive dean and vice president of Ashland Theological Seminary; and Steven Cole, executive director of the Brethren Church. The Brethren Church is a sister denomination to the Church of the Brethren as one of the denominations that have a shared history in the Brethren movement that began with the baptisms in the Eder River, Germany, in 1708.

— David Curtis, a member of the Church of the Brethren from Warrensburg, Mo., will be raising pledges for On Earth Peace by doing the European Peace Walk this May and June, according to the organization’s newsletter. “He will be joined in this expedition by his wife, Barbara Curtis, Taryn Dwyer (their 19-year-old granddaughter), and Kent Childs (a hiker friend who had the idea to do the walk together),” the newsletter said. The 205-mile walk “is a trans-national walking adventure starting in Lenti, Hungary…. Participants pass through Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, and Italy, ending in Trieste.” On Earth Peace reported that Curtis “has backpacked over 10,000 miles since his retirement in 2006 and is known as ‘Old Drum’ in the hiking world. He has walked the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, the John Muir Trail, the Ozark Trail, the KATY Trail (including the Rock Island Spur), the Florida Trail, and the Camino Frances (the El Camino from St. John de Pied du Port, France to Santiago, Spain). Barbara is an avid long distance cyclist, biking coast-to-coast three times.” Curtis is personally pledging $1 per mile, or $205 if he makes it all the way. For more information visit the On Earth Peace Walk for Peace Facebook page at or the Walk for Peace website at .

— Vernon and Angela Stinebaugh of Mountville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, both centenarians, are being celebrated for their 77 years of marriage. The couple met at Manchester College (now Manchester University) where he was for many years professor of music theory. Lancaster Online has published an article about their long-lived romance, noting that “on Thursday, the couple planned to celebrate Vernon Stinebaugh’s birthday with brunch at Oregon Dairy. Angela Stinebaugh hit 100 on March 4, and the couple began a month of festivities…. In recent days, they have received nearly 100 cards, beautiful flower arrangements and proclamations from the state Senate.” Read the full article at–year-love-story-continues/article_1541e4c2-5724-11e9-a1fe-27005d79fb34.html .

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