Brethren bits for July 13, 2019

Leaders from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) visit Washington, D.C., following the 2019 Annual Conference in order to meet with legislators and other policy-makers to talk about the situation in northeast Nigeria and the need for more protections of religious freedom. Shown here (from left): EYN president Joel S. Billi; Nathan Hosler, director of the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy; Markus Gamache, EYN’s liaison officer; and Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren.

— A reminder to register for National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) now, before prices go up on July 15. The event for those age 50-plus is held at Lake Junaluska in western North Carolina on Sept. 2-6. Cost per person is $195 for those who register before July 15. After that date the cost will be $225. First time attendees will get a $20 discount. The registration fee does not include housing or meals, which must be reserved and purchased separately. More information and a registration link are at .

— Nikifor Sosna will be joining the Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) office team as a second-year volunteer, serving as orientation assistant. He served his first BVS year with Brethren Disaster Ministries in North and South Carolina. He is originally from Saskatchewan, Canada. He will begin his work at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on July 15.

— Brethren Disaster Ministries has announced a new rebuilding project site in the area of Jacksonville, Fla., where Hurricane Irma caused extensive flooding and damage in 2017. Work at the new site will begin Sept. 1, after Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers pack and move half of the current rebuilding project site in the Carolinas to Florida in late August, said the announcement. The program will continue to work in the Carolinas into 2020. The Florida site is expected to be active through the end of 2019 with possible extension into 2020 depending on the work and volunteer housing availability. “All groups that were previously listed as Project 2 on the 2019 schedule will now be going to this [Florida] location,” the announcement said. A maximum of 15 volunteers can be accommodated each week due to the available tools, transportation, and leadership. For more information go to or contact Brethren Disaster Ministries at or 800-451-4407.

— “The WCC’s work to organize member communions to address statelessness is a critical addition to the growing movement addressing this important topic,” said Nathan Hosler, director of the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, in a recent World Council of Churches release. Hosler was a participant in a WCC-organized ecumenical delegation that attended the World Conference on Statelessness and Inclusion on June 26-28 in the Hague, the Netherlands. “More than 290 stateless activists, academics, non-government organizations, UN officials, artists, government officials, and journalists from across the world met to critically assess and formulate responses to statelessness in the world today,” the WCC reported. Prior to the conference, the delegation met with “Stad en Kerk,” an organization of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, and learned about the “Church Asylum Project.” This 96 day round-the-clock prayer service extended from fall 2018 to January 2019 to prevent an Armenian family from being deported from the Netherlands. Read the full WCC release at .

— Hosler also is one of numerous American faith leaders who have signed a joint letter opposing war with Iran. He signed the letter as director of the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy for the Church of the Brethren. With an opening scripture citation of Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God,” the letter said, in part: “Jesus’ words, ‘children of God,’ are directed not to those who merely proclaim their opposition to violence and war, but to those who seek better, life-saving ways to resolve inevitable human conflicts. A United States war with Iran would be an unmitigated disaster, morally and religiously indefensible; US faith leaders must be among the first to rise up, say ‘No!’–and call for better, more effective, and life-saving ways forward. Given the escalation of confrontation between the United States and Iran, it is time for leaders from our faith communities to point to more effective ways to transform conflict and to speak strongly against military action that could have enormous human and financial costs, and which could easily and broadly escalate.” The full text of the letter with names and titles of those who have signed it, along with an option for visitors to the site to add their signatures, is at .

— Salkum (Wash.) Church of the Brethren has closed the doors of its church building after recently holding a final worship service there. “The remnant of Brethren have chosen to continue worshiping monthly,” reports Pacific Northwest District executive Colleen Michael. “Their ministry of providing safe space for the community based pre-school will continue as will the outreach ministries to provide much needed food and clothing. Pastor George Page has served faithfully for many years and intends to continue as needed for the monthly services.” The district has assumed ownership of the property and district leaders will be working with former congregational leaders to discuss the future of the property. Former pastor David McKellip remembered the congregation in a Facebook post about the closing, noting that the church “has been a leading church in the area.” His post noted the church’s ministry to the community including hosting the SOMMA Food Bank, God’s Helping Hand Food Closet, and the community pre-school. He wrote: “Congratulations and best wishes to the congregation for a long history of ‘Continuing the work of Jesus, Peacefully, Simply, Together’ in that community. It has been an outstanding run of faith service and care.”

— Marilla (Mich.) Church of the Brethren is celebrating its centennial, reports the “News Advocate” in Manistee, Mich. Events celebrating the church’s 100 years take place Aug. 10-11. The article, which quotes church member Cindy Asiala, says the “Little Church on the Hill” as it’s affectionately known, on Aug. 10 will host an open house at 3 p.m. followed by a “church favorite” noodle and chicken dinner at 6 p.m. and a sing-along of gospel hymns at 7:30 p.m. On Aug. 11, breakfast will be served at 9:30 a.m. followed by a special service. The church’s anniversary will be commemorated by the Arts and Culture Alliance (ACA) of Manistee County with the commissioning of a quilt and the designatit as a stop along the Manistee County Quilt Trail. The church was originally founded in 1897 as First Baptist Church of Marilla, and in 1919 was purchased and organized as Marilla Church of the Brethren. Find the news article at .

— “Growing Together” is the title of an article by Warrensburg (Mo.) Church of the Brethren delegate to Annual Conference, Barbara Siney, in the “Daily Star Journal” reviewing the compelling vision process. “At a time when many Christian believers are at odds with one another, confrontation is sometimes the first approach in meeting disagreements. This year, the Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren convened in Greensboro, North Carolina, to worship, pray and fellowship together. And we met with the primary purpose to grow together toward a ‘Compelling Vision,’” she wrote, in part. Find the article at .

— A benefit festival “comes full circle for a couple in the Hollidaysburg congregation,” reports Middle Pennsylvania District. Rockin’ the Lot (RTL) has been a way that Hollidaysburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren reaches out from its large parking area on Route 36 with a summer music festival has raised funds for various causes over the years. Reports the district: “This time organizers quickly chose the Hollidaysburg Area Public Library…because many on the team knew of a library fundraising effort recently launched by a couple in the congregation, Keith and Janet Eldred. The Eldred family, including sons Ethan and Emmett, helped produce RTL during its first five years. Then Keith and Janet stepped aside from RTL (and some other activities in their lives) for a challenging reason: Janet’s diagnosis of early-stage dementia. Eventually, their response became a moonshot goal to raise $1 million for the library by making Keith’s debut novel a bestseller while Janet could still enjoy the effort and contribute.” The project called “This is RED” will be discussed at the church on July 24 at 7 p.m. Advance copies of Keith Eldred’s novel “Rubrum” will be displayed. Find out more at .

— Kimberly Koczan-Flory of Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren was one of the organizers of an event in downtown Fort Wayne, Ind., on the evening of July 12. It was one of the “Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Inhumane Detention Camps” that took place in many communities across the country. She told the “Journal Gazette” that the event was organized by residents who share a concern that children and families seeking asylum are not being treated well by US authorities. “The welfare of children is vitally important to us, and we know that trauma is being inflicted, and that trauma affects children not only now but for a lifetime,” she said. Beacon Heights pastor Brian Flory was one of the speakers at the event. Find the article at .

Aug. 23-34 come enjoy... music
4th annual “Sing Me High” festival

— The Brethren and Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., is one of the hosts of the 4th annual “Sing Me High” festival celebrating music and faith in the Shenandoah Valley. The festival is held Aug. 23-24 at 1001 Garbers Church Road in Harrisonburg. In the 2019 line up are Friends with the Weather, Mike Stern and Louise Brodie, the Walking Roots Band, Ryan and Friends, Honeytown, Good Company, the Clymer Kurtz Band, and more. Go to the festival website at for information about tickets, a songwriter contest, camping options, food, and more. 

— The Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) has announced its General Meeting on Sept. 14 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Trinity Church of the Brethren near Blountville, Tenn. “Everyone welcome,” said the flier for the event that includes messages by Craig Alan Myers and Roy McVey, a report on the 2019 Annual Conference, confirmation of committee members, the BRF chairman’s report, and a time for open discussion. Lunch is provided by the host church.

— Church World Service (CWS) is inviting Christians to join in a campaign of sanctuary churches for immigrants, identified by the hashtag #SacredResistance. The Church of the Brethren is a member denomination of Church World Service, and CWS is an important, long-standing partner of Brethren Disaster Ministries and the sponsoring organization for the annual CROP Hunger Walks in which many Church of the Brethren congregations participate. “As people of faith, we have a moral calling to stand with our undocumented siblings in times of fear and turmoil,” said the CWS invitation. “The Sanctuary Movement has had broad support for years among faith communities, but now, we’re calling on congregations to resist raids by opening their houses of worship publicly, and join the call for #SacredResistance: a public list where local immigrants rights leaders and community members in need can find safe spaces in case of raids and deportations.” The campaign has four goals: continue to build a network of houses of worship that are safe spaces; accompany undocumented community members and provide assistance such as shelter, food, clothing, legal service, and family reunification when possible; complement local organizing efforts around rapid response; and “make a profound prophetic faith statement and publicly resist raids and deportations.” Find out more at .

— Citing Zechariah 7:9-10, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another; do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another,” the National Council of Churches (NCC) has issued a statement calling the US government not to carry out threatened deportation raids this Sunday. “Indeed, these raids may very well take place while millions of Christians are attending Sunday services,” said the statement, in part. “The raids have struck fear and dread into the hearts of countless people who are living peaceful and productive lives in our nation…. People of faith cannot turn a blind eye this weekend and we must rely upon the strength of God, revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, to accept the freedom and power to resist evil, injustice, and oppression.” Find the full statement at .

— Harold Martin is being recognized by the Brethren Revival Fellowship for his 40 years of service as editor of the “BRF Witness” newsletter. At age 89, “his health now prevents him from an active role in writing, editing, and speaking,” said the most recent edition. Martin and his wife, Priscilla, have moved to an assisted living facility in Ephrata, Pa. The BRF requests cards of thanks and encouragement to be sent to the Martins. Contact current “BRF Witness” editor J. Eric Brubaker at .

— Stephen L. Longenecker, the Edwin L. Turner Distinguished Professor of History at Bridgewater (Va.) College, has received the 2019 Nelson R. Burr Prize given by the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church. He is being honored for his article titled “Randolph H. McKim: Lost Cause Conservative, Episcopal Liberal,” published in the Sept. 2018 issue of “Anglican and Episcopal History.” In a release about the award, the historical society notes that “this article is part of a larger study that compares the faith and politics of former Confederate chaplains after the Civil War. ‘Randolph McKim is one of those persons who makes history come alive,’ Longenecker noted, ‘and I had easy material to work with.’ His most recent book is ‘Gettysburg Religion: Refinement, Diversity, and Race in the Antebellum and Civil War Border North.’”

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