Brethren bits for Aug. 28, 2019

— Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) seeks candidates for the position of director of Human Resources and Administrative Services, reportable to the president. The primary function is to provide leadership, vision, direction, and assistance with all functions related to human resources and administrative services. This full-time, exempt position is based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The position conducts employee searches and interviews for BBT staffing, offers other human resources leadership, serves as the corporate secretary, assists the board and president with regard to board and committee meetings, and assures the adequacy of office space for BBT’s staff. The director also coordinates and/or provides support for the president’s office. This position serves as a member of the Management Team. The ideal candidate will have a degree in human resources and/or equivalent management work experience. This position requires a person who enjoys working with people; has a professional, positive manner; has an understanding of human resources regulations and/or employee benefits or is adept at learning these functions; has exceptional organizational skills; is proficient in taking meeting minutes; is very detail oriented and has the ability to prioritize workloads; and is proficient with computer systems and applications. Impeccable follow-up abilities are a must. Candidates with strong verbal and written communications skills, and proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite are sought. Experience with the Paylocity web-based software is a plus, but not a requirement. Current and active membership in the Church of the Brethren is preferred; current and active membership in a faith community is required. This position requires some business travel. Salary and benefits are competitive with organizations of comparable size and scope of services. An exceptional full benefits package is included. To apply send a letter of interest, a résumé, three professional references, and salary range expectation to Donna March, 1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; . For more information about Brethren Benefit Trust visit .

— The Youth and Young Adult Ministry of the Church of the Brethren has issued a list of upcoming events and dates: The 2019 National Junior High Sunday will be celebrated on Nov. 3. Ministry Summer Service applications for the summer of 2020 are due Jan. 10, 2020. Next year’s Christian Citizenship Seminar will be in the spring of 2020 (stay tuned for finalized dates). The 2020 National Youth Sunday will be held on May 3. Next summer’s National Young Adult Conference will be May 22-25. The next National Junior High Conference will be in the summer of 2021. The next National Youth Conference will be held in the summer of 2022. Find out more about the Youth and Young Adult Ministry at .

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Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh- Cayford

“We received this print of the Liao Chou Church of the Brethren [in China] when a researcher, Liu Tingru, came to interview Bill Kostlevy,” reports Zoe Vorndran, shown here displaying the print. Kostlevy is archivist and director of the Brethren Historial Library and Archives, where Vorndran is serving as an intern. “Liu Tingru and his videographer, a University of Wisconsin-Madison undergraduate student, had been traveling around the country to interview people within the denomination about the Church of the Brethren’s influence in China in order to create a documentary,” Vorndran says. “While there are uncertainties of the plans for the building, Liu Tingru would like to see the former Liao Chou Church of the Brethren become a Heritage Center since the violence in 20th century China had destroyed some other cultural buildings and items. He would like to preserve the building’s culture since so many others had been destroyed or altered, especially during the Cultural Revolution.”

— The Church of the Brethren is thanked for supporting health care in northeast Nigeria in an article in the Nigerian “Sun” newspaper. Representatives of the Christian Health Association of Nigeria (CHAN) held a meeting focused on the challenges for “mission hospitals” in the northeast. Robert Tombrokhei, chair of CHAN Adamawa State Advocacy Committee, “lamented how the mission health workers are incessantly hampered by the unending wave of insecurity in the area, raising genuine fears that the residents need more than a mere miracle to be free. His narrative erased the hope that the strength of the Boko Haram insurgents is on the wane,” said the report. He told the paper, “As the Boko Haram insurgency raged, health facilities in the region, especially our clinics and hospitals were completely destroyed. But we thank God for the Church of the Brethren in the United States. Their assistance has been awesome; they have been sending money for the reconstruction of some of the damaged facilities. And now, we are resuscitating some of them.” He added, however, that “the other big challenge now is that the locals are not returning home. Even the clinics we have managed to rebuild are experiencing low patronage because the majority of the people from the area are still languishing in various internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camps.” Some medical facilities have not yet been rebuilt. “The Church of the Brethren in Nigeria clinics in Shua, Michika, and Madagali … which were earlier razed to the ground by the insurgents are still the way they are,” he said. “The insurgents carted away the equipment in the hospitals and stole their cars and motorcycles.” See .

— Onekama (Mich.) Church of the Brethren adopted a “Statement on Family Separations at the US Southern Border” at a council meeting on July 28, reports pastor Frances Townsend. “Members of the Onekama Church of the Brethren are deeply concerned about the separation and detention of families and children at the US Southern border,” the statement begins. “These people are desperately seeking protection from violence, persecution, and extreme poverty in their home communities across Central America. We are horrified by the reports of children being taken away from their parents based on a policy of intentional cruel treatment of asylum seekers and other refugees in order to discourage others who may try to seek asylum and safety in our country.” The statement cites scripture texts including Deuteronomy 24:17, Isaiah 58:6-7, Hebrews 13:1-3, Matthew 7:12, Ephesians 2:14 and 4:32. It also cites a report released on July 8 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights about conditions in which the migrants and refugees are being held in detention in the US, and that several UN bodies have found the detention of migrant children may constitute cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment that is prohibited by international law. “We, the members of the Onekama Church of the Brethren, condemn this cruel and inhuman travesty,” the statement concluded. “We challenge other churches and individuals to make similar declarations. We will push for immigration policies that affirm family unity and human dignity. We also seek ways to live out our faith by supporting refugees perhaps by offering resettlement support, family reunification in our community, and financial assistance. The challenge is enormous! Join us in meeting that challenge in whatever ways you are able.”

— Greenville (Ohio) Church of the Brethren hosts a Sewing Bee on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 9 a.m. “Bags will be sewn for Church World Service school kits,” said an announcement from Southern Ohio and Kentucky District. “Bring your sewing machine, an extension cord, and a sack lunch.” For more information contact Barb Brower at 937-336-2442.
     In related news, the district is thanking all who contributed to a cleanup bucket assembly in July and a school kit assembly in August in which 523 cleanup buckets and 2,500 school kits were completed for CWS. They being sent to the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., for processing and distribution. “We appreciate the donations from individuals and churches that help pay for the supplies that Ohio/Kentucky Brethren Disaster Ministries has purchased in bulk,” said the newsletter.

— Missouri Arkansas District will hold district conference on Sept. 13-14 in Roach, Mo. Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey will provide leadership for two events: a workshop on “Kingdom Building: Evangelism in All It’s Fullness!” on Friday afternoon, Sept. 13, where ministers in attendance will receive .3 continuing education units; and worship on Saturday morning, Sept. 14, where Mundey will bring a message titled “Does the Future Have a Church?” inspired by Acts 1:6-9 and Acts 26:16-18. For more information go to .

— Pleasant Hill Village, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in Girard, Ill., has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, reports the Illinois and Wisconsin District newsletter. The filing is “due to unprecedented and sustained non-payment from Illinois Medicaid,” the report said. “After closing its nursing home in August 2018 under the burden of $2 million of non-compensated care, Pleasant Hill Village now seeks bankruptcy protection in the interest of its ongoing Girard ministries of Senior Independent Living and Senior Assisted Living.” The newsletter article shared that “the board and leadership of Pleasant Hill Village wish to express our gratitude for the support and loyalty of our residents, families, employees, and friends at this challenging time.” Pleasant Hill Residence, the Senior Independent and Assisted Living facility constructed in 2002, continues to operate 48 apartments on the Girard campus. “It is our intention and plan to continue these stable and comfortable Independent and Assisted Living apartments for our residents and the community,” said the statement from the board.

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The Manchester University class of 2023. Photo courtesy of Manchester University

— Church of the Brethren-related colleges and universities are welcoming students on campus for the new school year. “Give it up for the Class of 2023!” said a tweet from Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., this week, accompanying a photo of the new class spelling out their expected graduation year. Manchester is tweeting the hashtag #MUWelcomeWeek. Elizabethtown (Pa.) College tweeted, “The sun is shining, campus is buzzing and classes have begun! It’s a great day to be a Jay!” “Welcome Class of 2023!” said a tweet from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., using the hashtags #collegedays and #Classof2023. Bridgewater (Va.) College posted a video of its new class spelling out 2023 on the football field, with the comment, “We see you, Class of 2023. We’re so excited for the new energy and talents our first-year students are bringing to BC!” Find the video posted at .

Bridgewater logo

— In more news from Bridgewater, the college kicked off the 2019-20 academic year–its 140th–with a new brand identity. “While the college continues to hold dear the same values it has for 140 years, the institution has changed greatly and flourished in the past five years,” said president David Bushman in a release. “Now is the time to present those positive changes to the world with a bold, new look and one strong voice.” The connected B and C in the college’s new logo illustrate Bridgewater’s expertise in building connections and relationships that encourage talents, foster knowledge, and give meaning so students will grow and flourish, the release said, adding, “It is the visual representation of the key messages that define the Bridgewater experience.” The rollout of the college’s new brand, led by associate vice president for Marketing and Communications Abbie Parkhurst and the Office of Marketing and Communications will take place over the course of a year. A new website will launch later this year.

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Photo courtesy of ULV

A special collection is being held at the University of La Verne, Calif., according to a ULV tweet this week. “Keep an eye out for these green donation bins around campus,” the tweet said. “They are part of a humanitarian campaign that is running from now until Sept. 11. Items donated during this campaign will given to migrant refugees along our border.”

— McPherson (Kan.) College has announced “a gift of $1 million from Richard and Melanie Lundquist, noted California philanthropists,” in a recent release. “The gift recognizes the work of renowned car restorer, Paul Russell and Company, and was announced at a private event hosted by McPherson College at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Russell serves as president of the college’s national advisory board for automotive restoration.” The release reported that Paul Russell and Company restored a 1938 Talbot-Lago T150-C SS Figoni and Falaschi Teardrop Cabriolet owned by the Lundquists that took top honors in Most Elegant Convertible class and was among four contenders for the Best of Show at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours. Chris Hammond, a McPherson graduate, was senior mechanical restorer on the project, and Paul Russell and Company currently employ three McPherson graduates. The McPherson College Automotive Restoration program began in 1976 with funding from local entrepreneur, Gaines “Smokey” Billue, and has evolved into a nationally recognized and award-winning leader in restoration education, offering the only four-year bachelor’s degree for restoration technology in the country, the release said.

—  CROP Hunger Walk is celebrating “50 years of walking. 50 years of ending hunger together” in 2019. Find new resources for this fall’s CROP Walks and related events at . Resources include a 50th anniversary prayer, bulletin insert, sermon starter, moment for mission, commissioning of walkers, and more.

— “The work of the World Council of Churches (WCC) related to disarmament continues to endure and expand, even as the world faces increasing injustice and tensions that threaten peace on a daily basis,” said a WCC release today. In June, WCC representatives joined some 80 diplomats, peace activists, researchers, and chaplains from across the globe for an “Idea Forum on New Arms Control Initiatives” included panels on nuclear arms control. “Though we are not yet in a new nuclear arms race or a new Cold War, all the indicators are pointing the wrong way as old treaties are abandoned and new threats are not addressed,” the release said. The release also noted a meeting of the Certain Conventional Weapons Group of Governmental Experts on lethal autonomous weapons systems held in Switzerland in March. “Discussions indicated that some states are intending to develop and use killer robots. Australia, Israel, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States spoke against any move to create a new treaty on autonomous weapons. Fortunately, other governments spoke out to express their concerns and belief that human beings must retain meaningful human control over weapons systems. The group met again in August, when Russia, the US, and some other governments continued to block attempts to restrict or prohibit the development of autonomous weapons technology. A disappointing report was adopted, which did not set out any meaningful process for the way ahead. Alarmingly, the report does not refer to human control, human rights, or human dignity. The WCC continue to support the aims of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, which is advocating for a pre-emptive ban on the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons.”

— In more news from the WCC, the organization convened a meeting of church leaders from Brazil on Aug. 26. “Churches in Brazil need to work more closely than ever to address the culture of violence and environmental concerns in the nation; so affirmed participants in the ecumenical round table meeting,” said a release. The meeting brought together representatives of churches and ecumenical organizations in Brazil along with leadership of the WCC, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, and ACT Alliance. The WCC has been following developments regarding the environment, the rule of law and human rights, and the impacts on indigenous peoples and other vulnerable communities in Brazil with increasing concern, the release said. “The roundtable meeting was convened as an opportunity to hear the analysis and learn about the responses of Brazilian church leaders, and to reaffirm the commitment of the WCC and the other participating international church-based bodies to intensified accompaniment and support for the churches in Brazil in their efforts to address these challenges.”

— Mark Kuntz of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., is beginning his 61st year as a cellist with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra. “ESO itself is commemorating 70 years, having been started in 1949 by a group of community players and acclaimed today as a highly professional regional orchestra,” reports Howard Royer in the Highland Avenue church newsletter.

— Richard Burger was recognized for 75 years of ordained ministry at the Northern Plains District Conference. According to a recognition shared by district executive Tim Button-Harrison, he was ordained in 1944 at Fairview Church of the Brethren, attended McPherson (Kan.) College and Bethany Seminary in Chicago, during which time he served as a pastor in Kansas, Illinois, and Iowa. After seminary he served for 11 years as a mission worker in Nigeria. He returned to pastor the Fairview congregation and the Middlebury congregation in Indiana, before returning to farming in Iowa. He was married to his late wife, Anna, for more than 70 years and they together had five children. District member Diane Mason shared with Newsline that Burger’s service in Nigeria included building the mission station in Shafa, “which the Boko Haram took a few years ago. Knowing that was hard on Dick,” she wrote. She added he was Heifer founder Dan West’s pastor while at Middlebury Church of the Brethren. “He still farms today,” Mason said, “still driving tractors and combines though his grandson does most of the farm work.”

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