Brethren bits for Jan. 18, 2019

— Remembrance: Joan Deeter, who served on the executive staff of the Church of the Brethren, died Jan. 8 at Timbercrest in North Manchester, Ind. During her tenure on the denominational staff she filled two different executive roles, from 1988-92 as executive of the Parish Ministries Commission and then from 1992-97 as associate general secretary for the World Ministries Commission. She retired in 1997 and then worked as chaplain at Timbercrest Senior Living Community until 2008. Among her many contributions to the Church of the Brethren she served on the study committee that developed the 1979 Annual Conference paper on “Biblical Inspiration and Authority,” authoring a study guide for the statement after its adoption; served on the Standing Committee of district delegates to Annual Conference; led Annual Conference Bible studies; and contributed to numerous denominational publications including the Church of the Brethren magazine “Messenger,” “Brethren Life and Thought,” the “Deacon’s Manual,” “Fresh from the Word,” and “Who Are These Brethren?” She also had been a pastor, an adjunct faculty for Bethany Theological Seminary, one of the faculty for Bethany Extension at Bridgewater (Va.) College, a member of the Brethren Health and Welfare Board, the Brethren Journal Association, and the New Church Development Committee, among others. She held leadership roles in South Central Indiana District, including moderator of the district conference. In the late 1960s she was executive director of the Mental Health Association in Wabash County, Ind. In the mid-1960s and again in the early 1980s she was staff for Brethren Colleges Abroad in Marburg, Germany. In 1976 she was one of seven representatives of the Church of the Brethren to the Irish Peace March. She held degrees from Manchester University (then Manchester College), Northwestern University, and Bethany Seminary, and studied at Phillipps University in Marburg. She was preceded in death by her husband, Allen Deeter. She is survived by sons Michael (Abby Alpert) Deeter of Evanston, Ill.; Dan (Jamie Marfurt) Deeter of Spartanburg, S.C.; David (Serena Sheldon) Deeter of Irvine, Calif.; and grandchildren. A memorial service will be held Saturday, Feb. 23, at 2 p.m. at Manchester Church of the Brethren with visitation to follow. Memorial gifts are received to Manchester Church of the Brethren and to Timbercrest Senior Living Community. A full obituary is at www.mckeemortuary.com/notices/Joan-Deeter .

— Remembrance: Dr. John L. Hamer, 95, former Nigeria mission worker, died on Jan. 15 at Timbercrest Senior Living Community in North Manchester, Ind. A physician and an ordained minister, he and his wife, Esther Rinehart Hamer, worked in a hospital in Lassa, Nigeria, for 16 years from 1953-1969. Following the illness and subsequent death of a nurse co-worker at the hospital, Laura Wine, his insistence that further testing be conducted led to the discovery of the deadly viral disease Lassa Fever. He was born in 1923 in Waterloo, Iowa, to parents O. Stuart Hamer and Gertrude (Sharp) Hamer. In his youth the family moved to North Manchester where he served on the church’s Middle Indiana Youth Cabinet. His life was influenced by church leaders including Heifer founder Dan West and Nigeria mission leader Desmond Bittinger. He earned degrees from Manchester University (then Manchester College), and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, where he met his wife, who was attending the School of Nursing. Upon returning from Nigeria in 1969 he joined a group family practice in LaGrange, Ind., and then had his own family practice of 18 years in Fort Wayne, Ind. He was the first hospice physician when the Parkview Hospital Hospice Program began. He was a member of Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne. He is survived by his wife; daughters Harriet Hamer (Abram Bergen) of South Bend, Ind., and Krista Hamer-Schweer (Thomas Schweer) of Colbe, Germany; step-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren. Service arrangements are pending. Memorial gifts are received to the John L. and Esther L. Rinehart Hamer Endowed Professorship in Music at Manchester University; to Timbercrest; and to Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren. A full obituary is at www.mckeemortuary.com/notices/John-Hamer .

— Remembrances: Brethren Press is remembering three former long-term employees who have died over the past month:

     Winfield (Dick/Win) Knechel, 95, died Dec. 20, 2018, in Allentown, Pa. He worked for the Church of the Brethren publishing house in Elgin, Ill., as a bindery operator for 30 years, from 1958 until his retirement in 1988. During World War II he was a conscientious objector and served in Civilian Public Service (CPS) assignments on both coasts. Following the war he accompanied a shipment of relief animals to Poland. Services were held in Allentown on Dec. 24.

     Loring Pease, who had lived in West Dundee, Ill., passed away on Jan. 4. He served at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin as a press operator for 28 years, from 1959 until the presses were closed in 1987. His wife, Catharine Pease, also worked for the Church of the Brethren denomination. She died in 2004.

     Ruby Mae (Koehnke) Warnke, 94, of Fort Collins, Colo., died Jan. 14. She was born in Elgin in 1924 to Charles and Neva (Schairer) Koehnke. As a young adult she became involved with Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren and became a devoted member of the denomination. She worked as a cost accountant for Brethren Press over a span of 40 years starting in 1946, spending one interlude as a switchboard operator and receptionist. In 1968 she married Lee Warnke, a widower with three daughters, and they enjoyed 38 years together before his death in 2006. When they retired in 1986, they moved to Colorado and found a church home at Peace Community Church of the Brethren in Windsor. She was preceded in death by her husband, stepdaughter Jean Kay and husband Willy. She is survived by stepdaughters Dianne and husband Roger Perry, and Andrea Warnke and husband Geoff Brumbaugh, step-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren. A full obituary is at www.legacy.com/obituaries/coloradoan/obituary.aspx?n=ruby-warnke&pid=191277764&fhid=16071.

Stained glass image of Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. appearing in a stained glass window at First Church of the Brethren, Chicago, Ill.

      Manchester University is hosting a presentation by David Pilgrim, founder and curator of the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University, on holding difficult conversations about race, using lessons from the museum. The museum in Big Rapids, Mich., holds the nation’s largest collection of racist artifacts, said a release. “On Feb. 1, 1968, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to an overflow audience at the campus of what was then Manchester College in rural Indiana. What no one would have predicted then was that this was to be King’s last campus address before his death. Manchester marks the occasion each year with a keynote address for the MLK Remembrance and Rededication Ceremony,” the release said. Pilgrim is a leading expert on issues relating to multiculturalism, diversity, and race relations, currently serving as vice president for Diversity and Inclusion at Ferris State, and is the author of the books “Understanding Jim Crow” and “Watermelons, Nooses, and Straight Razors.” The Jim Crow Museum is a 12,000-piece collection of racist artifacts that is used to educate, teach tolerance, and promote social justice. The presentation at Manchester is sponsored by the university’s Office of Multicultural Affairs with support from the Ira W. and Mable Winger Moomaw Lectureship/Seminar Fund and the Manchester Peace Studies Institute. The presentation is 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, in Cordier Auditorium on the Manchester University campus in North Manchester, Ind. It is free and open to the public.

      “Celebrating the Dream, Continuing the Journey of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” is the theme as Bridgewater (Va.) College invites congregations of Shenandoah District to a day of events on Monday, Jan. 21. Beginning at noon at Oakdale Park in Bridgewater, the day will include a community march to the Bridgewater College campus; an afternoon workshop with Derek Greenfield, a popular speaker who has led a wide range of conferences and gatherings of companies and colleges including McDonald’s Corporation, NCAA, International Conference on Cultural Diversity, Hilton Hotels, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, National Dropout Prevention Conference, Progress Energy, and the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks; and “An Evening of Poetry, Love, and Enlightenment” led by Nikki Giovanni, a renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. All events are free and open to the public. A schedule and more information are at http://wp.bridgewater.edu/mlk2019 .

— Virlina District has called Mary Sink St. John to serve as director of District Conference, Nurture, and Witness beginning March 1. This new part-time position replaces the former associate district executive minister position. St. John is a member of Ninth Street Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va. She formerly served the district as the first full-time program director at Camp Bethel from 1991 to 1996 and as director of Children, Youth, and Young Adult Ministries from 2007 to 2016. In denominational volunteer positions, she has served on the Outdoor Ministries Association Steering Committee and on the National Junior High Conference team.

— Shine: Living in God’s Light seeks a part-time contract content editor. Shine is a cooperative curriculum project of Brethren Press and MennoMedia. Contract content editors report to the project director, work closely with curriculum writers, and edit manuscripts in accordance with Shine editorial and production guidelines. Applicants must have excellent editorial and writing skills, understand faith formation and developmental stages, operate well in a collaborative environment, and be well-grounded in Anabaptist beliefs and practices. A bachelor’s degree is required, a graduate degree in theology or education is preferred. Application documents are available online and will be received through Jan. 31 at www.ShineCurriculum.com/jobs . Email Joan Daggett at joand@mennomedia.org with questions.

— The Brethren Historical Library and Archives seeks an archival intern to work at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The Archival Internship Program develops interest in vocations related to archives, libraries, and Brethren history. The program will provide the intern with work assignments and with opportunities to develop professional contacts. Work will include processing archival materials, writing descriptive inventories, preparing books for cataloging, responding to reference requests, and assisting researchers in the library. 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. The Brethren Historical Library and Archives is the official repository for Church of the Brethren publications and records with a collection of more than 10,000 volumes, 3,500 linear feet of manuscripts and records, 40,000 photographs, plus videos, films, DVDs, and recordings. The term of service is one year, beginning June 2019 (preferred). Compensation includes housing at a Church of the Brethren volunteer house, stipend of $550 every two weeks, and health insurance. Requirements: a graduate student is preferred, or an undergraduate with at least two years of college; interest in history and/or library and archival work; willingness to work with detail; accurate word processing skills; ability to lift 30-pound boxes. Submit a resume to COBApply@brethren.org or to 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.

 “Christian Peacemaker Teams Palestine needs you!” said a recent announcement from CPT. The urgent call for reservists and interns has been made “due to last year’s denials at the border, CPT Palestine is at risk,” said the announcement. “We call on the CPT community for immediate action, so that we may continue to be present with our partners in al-Khalil/Hebron.” The organization is requesting new presence on the Palestine team by the fourth week of January. Both trained CPT volunteers and untrained interns are welcome. The CPT Palestine team works in English. Airfare and costs on the ground will be covered by CPT, with a three-month commitment. Contact Mona el-Zuhairi at monazuhairi@cpt.org .

— Also from CPT, the organization has announced peacemaking opportunities in 2019 and opportunities to join a CPT delegation. “This year, take another step into the world of nonviolent direct action, and stand in solidarity with CPT’s partners,” said an invitation. “Engage with the work of CPT, witness our commitment to nonviolent action firsthand, and share new insights into global peace work!” Find out more about how to join a CPT delegation to the areas of Iraqi Kurdistan, the US/Mexico borderland, Colombia, Palestine, and areas where CPT works in solidarity with indigenous peoples, at https://cpt.org/delegations .

— Nathan Holser of the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuiding and Policy has been in Nigeria for the past week or more. So far, his trip has included visits with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria); participation in the first International Religious Freedom Roundtable held in Nigeria’s capital city Abuja, along with two members of EYN from Abuja; and visits to two camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). In addition, Hosler has been engaging in discussions and gathering perspectives regarding the upcoming elections and the ongoing conflict in the country; visited Dutse Uku in Jos, Plateau State, and listened to how crisis has affected the area; visited the National Mosque in Abuja; and attended a meeting at the US Embassy where he was able to discuss the trip as well as the concerns of EYN and the Nigeria Working Group. His trip will feed into the continued advocacy of the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy on Nigeria in Washington, D.C., as it convenes the Nigeria Working Group. Watch for a blogpost from Hosler once the trip is complete.

— The United Nations representative for the Church of the Brethren, Doris Abdullah, has reported a name change for the department where the church’s membership resides. As of Jan. 1, the name of the department is the Department of Global Communications. “The new name anticipates the new ways of working underscoring the interactivity and co-operation in information management between the United Nations and its stakeholders,” said an announcement. The name of the NGO Relations unit is being changed to become the Civil Society Unit. The liaison functions of the former Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS) are a new addition to the unit, “which will allow for a well-rounded coordination of the civil society engagement in UN activities,” the announcement said. The conference that Abdullah has attended in past years as the church’s representative will now be called the United Nations Civil Society Conference. This year, the 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference (formerly known as UN DPI/NGO Conference) will take place in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Aug. 26-28.

— “The best in classical music will fill Bethany Seminary’s Nicarry Chapel in early 2019 through the seminary’s new partnership with the Richmond (Ind.) Symphony Orchestra,” said a release from Bethany. The seminary and the orchestra have announced the Recital Series, a collaborative performance series that is free and open to the public. It will feature musicians from the orchestra in three performances, including a string quartet, a brass ensemble, and a woodwind ensemble. Concerts will be performed at the seminary chapel. The first of these free Sunday concerts are scheduled for Feb. 10 and March 24 at 4 p.m. (A concert this weekend has been canceled because of the weather forecast for heavy snow.) For more information, email contactus@bethanyseminary.edu .

— The Western Plains District Office has moved from McPherson (Kan.) College to the Cedars Retirement Community at 1021 Cedars Dr., McPherson, Kan. The move took place Monday, Jan. 14. The district office mailing address remains the same: P.O. Box 394, McPherson, KS 67460. The district office email address is no longer wpcob@sbcglobal.net but has changed to office@wpcob.org .

— McPherson (Kan.) College assistant professor Kirk MacGregor, who chairs the philosophy and religion department, recently published a textbook titled “Contemporary Theology: An Introduction–Classical, Evangelical, Philosophical, and Global Perspectives.” He also created a 38-lecture video series to accompany the text, according to a release from the college. Published by Zondervan, the book :provides a chronological survey of the major thinkers and schools of thought in modern theology. The text is described as an accessible, wide-ranging overview of the contemporary theological scene,” the release said. MacGregor joined the McPherson faculty in 2016 and was recognized as Professor of the Year in 2018 and received the Non-Tenured Faculty Teaching Award in 2017. He has taught at James Madison University, Radford University, the University of Northern Iowa, Western Illinois University, and Quincy University.

— Another “Prayer and Worship Summit” is planned for this spring. The event will focus on “Praying for the Vision” and will be held on March 29-30 in Harrisonburg, Va. This is an informal gathering inviting Church of the Brethren members to “devote time for worship and prayer over the visioning process,” said an announcement. Annual Conference moderator Donita Keister and moderator-elect Paul Mundey are among the speakers. The event is free but registration is required. For more information go to www.brethrenprayersummit.com .

— The Dunker Church (a Brethren meetinghouse) at Antietam is featured in the January 2019 edition of “Brethren Voices,” the community television program produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren. This current program is a “step back in time” as Brethren Voices visits the National Park of the Antietam Battlefield near Sharpsburg, Md., where an estimated 23,000 soldiers were killed or wounded between 9 a.m.  and noon on Sept. 17, 1862. For the rest of the story about the “Dunker

Church,” Jeff Bach of the Young Center of Elizabethtown College shares more about this congregation, as it dealt with the Civil War on its doorstep. Brent Carlson, host of “Brethren Voices,” places this battle in the perspective of perhaps our greatest challenge of today, climate change. Youtube.com/Brethrenvoices is the home of over 80 Brethren Voices programs for easy viewing and has nearly 400 subscribers. For a copy of this current program, contact groffprod1@msn.com .

— Following presidential and parliamentary elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Dec. 30, 2018, the World Council of Churches (WCC) is calling for a peaceful democratic transition of power. The DRC’s National Electoral Commission announced election of opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi as president. “This is a pivotal moment in the history of the DRC,” said WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit. “If confirmed and if no violent unrest ensues, it will be the first since the DRC’s independence in 1960.” The WCC and its member churches have been praying for peace and stability in the DRC, said a release.

— In more news from the World Council of Churches, the theme for the WCC’s 11th Assembly, to be held in Karlsruhe, Germany in 2021, has been announced. “Christ’s Love Moves the World to Reconciliation and Unity” will be the theme used in development of programs and other preparations. “The theme will help to focus on the ecumenical movement as a movement of love, seeking to follow Christ and witness to Christ’s love–expressed in the search for justice and peace, and unity based on that,” said WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit in a release. “The one human family needs love and needs to love to face our future together.” The assembly is the “supreme legislative body” of the WCC, and meets every eight years to review programs and determine the overall policies of the WCC as well as to elect presidents and appoint a Central Committee to serve as chief governing body of the WCC until the next assembly.

— Week of Prayer for Christian Unity devotions are offered this year by four heads of communion in the United States and Canada: Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA); Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop and primate, the Episcopal Church; Fred Hiltz, primate, Anglican Church of Canada; and Susan C. Johnson, national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. The series of devotions are for the ecumenical celebration on Jan. 18-25. Each year, churches from around the world mark a week to pray together for Christian unity. The theme for 2019 is based the 16th chapter of Deuteronomy, which states, “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue.” The ELCA is providing a download of the devotions at https://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Four-Way-Week-Devotionals-2019.pdf .

— Jennie Waering, a member of Central Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., made the front page of “The Roanoke Times” when she retired after 35 years as a federal prosecutor, at the end of 2018. The extensive piece published on Dec. 29 focused on her retirement plans to do more social justice work, “to support more deeply the missions and ministries in the Roanoke Valley that oppose hate, help the poor, and reach across the divisions of faith and ethnicity.” She told the newspaper: “Seems to me we need to stand up to violence and hate in all its forms…. I don’t know all the answers yet. I just know I want to explore it.” The piece highlighted various social justice ministries in Roanoke including that of the Church of the Brethren. Read the article at www.roanoke.com/business/news/roanoke/retiring-federal-prosecutor-plans-further-pursuit-of-justice/article_cf8ad61d-c08e-5f82-9a1b-abe506227730.html .

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