Brethren bits for June 15

— National Junior High Conference 2019 began yesterday, Friday, June, 14, at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. Meeting on the theme “Strong and Courageous” (Joshua 1:9), the event is for junior youth who have completed grades 6 through 8 and their adult advisors. It is intended to help the youth “sing, laugh, worship, make friends from all over the country, and spend time with God!” said the website for the conference. Youth and Young Adult Ministry director Becky Ullom Naugle and Brethren Volunteer Service worker Emmett Witkovsky-Eldred are the main organizers, with help from volunteer leadership for worship, music, and other activities throughout the weekend. For more information see www.brethren.org/yya/njhc .

— Karen Garrett, office manager for the Brethren Journal Association, will resign her position as of Sept. 30. She has served the association and its publication, “Brethren Life & Thought,” since September 2007. “On behalf of the Brethren Journal Association board, I am writing to express our thanks to Karen for her 11 years of dedicated work in this role,” said Jim Grossnickle-Batterton, association president. Garrett, who earned a master of arts degree from Bethany Theological Seminary in 2009, also works as coordinator of assessment for the seminary and will continue in that role.

— Andie Garcia has been hired by the Church of the Brethren as systems specialist in the information technology department at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill. He has worked as a Level 1 Technician for School District U-46 and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University with a bachelor of general studies and an emphasis in computer science. He is pursuing a master of science degree in management information systems. He begins his work on July 15.

— On Earth Peace has welcomed two new interns, according to its recent newsletter: Arielys Liriano, a junior at Southern New Hampshire University with double majors in law and politics and sociology and a minor in world languages and culture, will serve as migrant justice organizer. Katie Feuerstein, a junior at Oberlin College majoring in English with minors in philosophy and Hispanic studies, will serve as gender justice organizer. On Earth Peace offers paid internships in positions across the organization for young adults, college students, and recent graduates. More information, including all current openings and application instructions, can be found at www.onearthpeace.org/internships .

— Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice is seeking an event planner-conference director for the April 17-24, 2020, Advocacy Days event. The event planner-director will build on the tradition established by 17 successful previous annual meetings and will be committed to facilitating an ongoing exploration of ways to make the 2020 event even more exciting and powerful, with an expanded impact on the domestic and international policies addressed. To apply, submit a resume and cover letter to Martin Shupack, Church World Service, email: mshupack@cwsglobal.org , 110 Maryland Ave. NE, Suite 110, Washington, DC 20002.

— Food distributions and trauma care continue in northeast Nigeria following recent continued violence by Boko Haram, reports the Nigeria blog from the Nigeria Crisis Response. The disaster team of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) also continues work to complete a wall around EYN headquarters and Kulp Theological Seminary and continues work to re-roof homes destroyed in the violence, among other activities. Find the blogpost at https://www.brethren.org/blog/2019/home-repairs-security-wall-and-emergency-food-distribution-in-may .

The We Are Able workcamp took place in Elgin, Ill., this week, hosted for a portion of the time by the Church of the Brethren General Offices. Workcampers led the Wednesday chapel service followed by a special cupcake break for the staff, and also worked on projects for the Annual Conference office. Participants came from a variety of states including Jasmine Brown from Indiana, Megan Maclay from Pennsylvania, Jonah Neher from Illinois, Aubrey Steele from Pennsylvania, and Krista Suess from Michigan, along with assistants Karen Biddle and Lorijeanne Campbell from Pennsylvania, and nurse Amy Hoffman from Indiana. Jeanne Davies of West Dundee, Ill., and Dan McFadden of Elgin led the event.

— An Action Alert from the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy invites Brethren to attend a Conference on Drone Warfare organized by the Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare. Scheduled for Sept. 27-29 at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J., this, national training conference will equip people of faith interested in organizing on the issue of drone warfare within the faith community. “The use of drone strikes by the US government has increased dramatically in the last few years,” said the alert. “There has never been a more urgent time for members of the Church of the Brethren to speak out against these immoral drone strikes, which kill civilians and destabilize communities. The Church of the Brethren’s 2013 resolution against drone warfare called for ‘individual members to study this issue in relation to our Brethren history of peacemaking and our biblical understanding of peace, so that Brethren may continue to be dynamic and prophetic peacemakers in a world riddled with violent behavior.’” Those attending should be willing to organize their communities on drone warfare until at least Feb. 1, 2021. Cost including room, board, and registration fee, is $50, and some financial help will be provided to cover travel costs. Contact Nathan Hosler at nhosler@brethren.org .
— On Earth Peace reports that on May 21, 10 people completed a 6-week webinar series called “Why We Can’t Wait: Learn Organizing in the Tradition of King” co-facilitated by Matt Guynn from the agency’s staff and Curtis Renee from Black Lives Matter Detroit and the Detroit Safety Team. “The group included members of the Church of the Brethren congregations in Illinois, Indiana, and California, alongside individuals from other faith and community organizations in Washington, Colorado, Michigan, and Oregon. The series was sponsored by PeoplesHub, together with On Earth Peace,” said the newsletter report. In related news, the Kingian Nonviolence Coordinating Committee supported by On Earth Peace has recruited the first several participants for an intensive 18-month “deep dive” into the Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation Curriculum. The course will begin in September this year.

— A two-weekend course on “The History of the Church of the Brethren,”taught by Jeff Bach, will be offered by the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College on Sept. 27-28 and Nov. 15-16. TRIM/EFSM students will receive one credit in Ministry Skills; continuing education students will receive 2 credits. This course is also available for laypersons for their own personal enrichment. The registration deadline is Aug. 15. Go to www.etown.edu/programs/svmc/History%20of%20the%20COB%20Registration.pdf .

— First Church of the Brethren in Chicago, Ill., is one of the community groups across the city that will be celebrating Juneteenth this year. First Church’s celebration will take place 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 19, at 425 S. Central Park Blvd. “Juneteenth may not be a national holiday yet, but Chicago will be celebrating,” said the article published by BlockClubChicago.org. This year’s celebrations mark 154 years since slavery was abolished in the United States. Find the article at https://blockclubchicago.org/2019/06/11/juneteenth-may-not-be-a-national-holiday-yet-but-chicago-will-be-celebrating .

— Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in Littleton, Colo., located in the Denver area, has begun publishing a series of videos titled “Candid Conversations.” Filmed by church member Paul Rohrer, with original music by Scott “Shack” Hackler, the videos record leaders in the congregation discussing various topics in response to the denomination’s invitation to seek a compelling vision together. “Candid Conversations I” features David Valeta and Lyall Sherred in conversation about their own paths into the church, the Church of the Brethren peace position, conscientious objection, how to love God and neighbor, and more (58 minutes); find it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=OknpCOfpwVI . “Candid Conversations II” features Vickie Samland and Lyall Sherred in conversation about their deep connections with the church, being in ministry and experiencing seminary education, Pentecost and where people are finding the Spirit of God, connections between peace and justice, and more (38 minutes); find it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kl-RfpjnS5o .

— Cabool (Mo.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a workshop on racism and breaking down barriers on Saturday, June 22. “Being the Body of Christ: Separate No More” starts at 9 a.m., includes lunch, and is offered free of charge. Presenters are Jerry and Becky Crouse, former Church of the Brethren mission coordinators in the Dominican Republic and members of the pastoral team at Warrensburg Church of the Brethren. Find the Ozark Radio News report at www.ozarkradionews.com/local-news/church-workshop-on-race-to-be-held-in-cabool .

— Buffalo Valley Church of the Brethren has been recognized by the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) for its annual paper drive donation. “What a donation it was!” said a CAS e-newsletter. “They donated 1,540 diapers, 2,930 wipes, 285 rolls of toilet paper, 147 rolls of paper towels , and the list goes on! Thanks to the children (and the parents) at Buffalo Valley Church of the Brethren for their continued support of the children of CAS!”

— Southern Ohio and Kentucky District is continuing to respond to the needs of those affected by tornadoes in west-central Ohio. The district has completed registration with the Ohio VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) and are now accepting unaffiliated volunteers outside of the Church of the Brethren to serve with them, reports Jenn Dorsch-Messler of Brethren Disaster Ministries. She added that Northern Ohio District’s co-coordinator for disaster Brenda Hostetler has been serving as assistant secretary for the Ohio VOAD and helping to monitor and share information about the response across the state. The Southern Ohio and Kentucky volunteers have scheduled workdays each week through June to help affected families clear debris and brush, cover damaged roofs with tarpaulins, and help move belongings into storage. The volunteer groups gather each morning at Happy Corner Church of the Brethren and several other congregations in the district have been providing breakfast. Oakland Church of the Brethren held a garage sale June 26-28 with all proceeds going to the district’s disaster ministry. This Saturday, June 15, volunteers are picking up donations including a refrigerator, freezer, and beds for a family who is beginning anew after surviving the tornadoes. For more information or to offer volunteer help contact Sam Dewey at 937-684-0510.

— Elizabethtown (Pa.) College has announced cuts in program and staffing beginning this fall, according to ABC Channel 27 News in Lancaster, Pa. “A college spokesperson said E-town will phase out majors in philosophy and theater and minors in theater, peace and conflict studies, and film studies over the next academic year,” said the news report. “Seven faculty/instructional staff positions will be furloughed on July 1, 2020…. Seven staff positions were eliminated. Fourteen open positions at the college will remain vacant at this time.” Read the full report and find a video at www.abc27.com/news/local/lancaster/elizabethtown-college-announces-program-staff-cuts/2077312400 .

— “Thanks to a grant, a Bridgewater student and professor, along with a few others, will work on researching food insecurity in Rockingham County throughout the summer and teach children in the community about it,” reports ABC TV’s WHSV Channel 3 in Harrisonburg, Va. The TREB grant from Bridgewater (Va.) College supports student research projects. This is the second year that student Sydney McTigue has received the grant for her and professor Tim Kreps to plant a garden to serve local food pantries. “The garden is behind the Bridgewater Church of the Brethren on ground the church owned but was not using,” WHSV reports. Read the full report at www.whsv.com/content/news/College-students-research-local-food-insecurity-educate-children-with-summer-project-511190741.html .

— Cross Keys Village-Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa., is celebrating “the longest day” as a Day of Light and Love on June 21. This day-long event for affected individuals and their allies recognizes June as Alzheimer’s Disease and Brain Awareness Month. An announcement said that “the Alzheimer’s Association encourages its partners to schedule ‘Longest Day’ celebrations on the day of the Summer solstice. This year, Cross Keys Village is participating in a big way, with a community event scheduled to stretch over the entire day! Our Memory Care Coach Kim Korge hopes you will come and enjoy the lineup of activities during this amazing day.” Find a schedule, cost information, and more at www.crosskeysvillage.org/blog/planning-a-memorable-day .

— The Brethren Revival Fellowship is offering its 46th Brethren Bible Institute on July 22-26 hosted at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. The event is for those 16 years of age or older. Students may take one, two, or three courses. Cost is the same regardless of how many courses are taken. It is expected that dormitory students take three classes, unless special arrangements have been made. Classes meet every day, Monday through Friday. Cost for dormitory students (including room/board/tuition) is $300 for the week. Cost for commuting students is $125 for the week. Applications must be received by June 25 at BBI, 155 Denver Road, Denver, PA 17517. For more information see www.brfwitness.org/brethren-bible-institute .

— In the latest Dunker Punks Podcast, Warrensburg (Mo.) Church of the Brethren and Jesus Saves Pentecostal Church are working on race relations in their small town and Christian communities by building new relationships with each other. “A lot has changed in American society since 1954 but it’s said that Sunday at 11 o’clock is still the most segregated hour. How do we challenge this stigma?” Listen to “Unity in Christ, Not Segregation by Color” at http://bit.ly/DPP_Episode85 .

— North Woods Song and Story Fest will be held July 14-20 on the theme “Voices in the Wilderness,” hosted by Camp Myrtlewood in Bridge, Ore. This annual family camp is co-sponsored by On Earth Peace and features Brethren musicians and storytellers. The theme scripture, Psalm 19:1-3, proclaims, “The heavens are telling the glory of God and the universe proclaims God’s handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares understanding…their voice goes out through all the earth.” Said a statement on the event page: “We will be listening for these voices in the fields and forests of Camp Myrtlewood. And we will be using our own voices as we join in proclaiming the light of God’s presence in a time of conflagration, global warming, and the scorched earth policies being pursued by many. Can you hear God calling you to the mountain to lift up song and spirit in grace and gladness amidst the confusion and cacophony? Why not answer the call and join with the moon and stars that sing together in wonder and praise!” For more information including leadership, schedule, and cost, go to www.onearthpeace.org/song-story-fest-2019 . Contact Ken Kline Smeltzer at bksmeltz@comcast.net .

— Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is requesting prayer for a delegation of seven people going to Colombia at the end of June. The delegation will be hosted by CPT Colombia and will focus on measures of self protection for social leaders and the work to defend human rights in the country, said a recent email alert. “Since the signing of the Peace Agreements in December 2016, more than 500 social leaders and human rights defenders have been assassinated. Colombian authorities have tried to minimize the issue of assassinations, not recognizing the connection of this violence to the work of human rights defenders. In some declarations, the victims have been accused of involvement with criminal activities, raising the stigmatization and threat against them.” The alert asked for prayer for those “living under threat and for those leaders who have fallen. And pray for our delegates and for our team so we can provide the necessary support to the communities and organizations we will meet.” Find out more at www.cpt.org

— The June episode of “Brethren Voices” meets with Annual Conference moderator Donita Keister, who will preside over the Conference to be held in Greensboro, N.C., from July 3-7.  Instead of a usual business schedule, the delegate body will spend much of its time in “compelling vision conversations.” Non-delegates may reserve seats at tables during the business sessions in order to fully participate in those conversations. Carl Hill and Judy Miller are also interviewed about the outreach of Potsdam Church of the Brethren to provide funding for various Nigerian Brethren families in need. View “Brethren Voices” on YouTube or contact produced Ed Groff for more information, at groffprod1@msn.com .
— Dinesh Suna, coordinator of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Ecumenical Water Network, spoke at the G20 Interfaith Forum on June 7-9 in Tokyo, Japan. This year’s theme was “Peace, People, Planet: Pathways Forward,” reported a WCC release. About 2,000 participants attended the gathering, which precedes the G20 summit in Osaka. The interfaith forum submitted recommendations for G20 leaders. “Suna spoke as part of a panel on ‘Food and Water: Resources of Life,’” said the release. “He emphasized two good practices of the Ecumenical Water Network: promoting the concept of Blue Communities and the ‘10 Commandments of Food.’ Suna attributed the loss of forests the size of 30 football fields every minute to meat industries, encouraging participants to eat locally sourced food to reduce the water footprint. ‘Given that 70 percent of fresh water is used for agriculture and food production and only 10 percent for drinking and sanitation, we can save a lot of water by choosing our food wisely,’ he said. He urged participants to become ‘Blue Communities’ by respecting the human right to water and saying no to the privatization of water and to the bottled water industries.”

— Pastor Don Judy of White Pine Church of the Brethren in Purgitsville, W.Va., is one of the community advocates leading an effort for Purgitsville residents to sign up for public water, reports the “Hampshire Review.” Water issues have been discovered in local wells, leading to the effort to access public water from lines out of Moorefield in neighboring Hardy County, the newspaper said. “Water testing in the area has shown Purgitsville to have high levels of radium, arsenic, lead, methane and ethane gases, although they do not exceed state standards.” Read more at www.hampshirereview.com/article_e07ecd70-8d17-11e9-8846-53f9f97f1f73.html .

— Irricana United Church in Alberta, Canada, is marking 100 years since it was first built as a Church of the Brethren. Irricana United Church had its start when “members of the Church of the Brethren migrated from North Dakota around 1908 and began to settle in the Irricana area,” reports the “Rocky View News” of Airdrie, Alberta. “It wasn’t until 1918 a decision was made to build a church. The church was originally a Church of the Brethren…but in 1969, members voted to join the United Church of Canada. In October 1919, construction of the present building was finished.” The report continued, “The historic building is mostly original, save for the loss of its windows in a devastating hailstorm in 2016. In 2011, the church was designated a Provincial Heritage Resource, which means the structure cannot be destroyed, restored, or altered in any way without permission from the government.” Read more at www.airdrietoday.com/rocky-view-news/irricana-united-church-to-celebrate-100-years-1469197 .

— Jim and Mary White of Antioch Church of the Brethren near Callaway, Va., are featured in an article titled “In sickness and in health: Husband shares his unconditional love for a wife with dementia” by Leigh Prom for the “Franklin News-Post.” Prom reports that “Jim’s faithfulness in caring for Mary is a testimony to those around them. Eric Anspaugh was the Whites’ pastor for six years before retiring. He and his wife Bev remain friends with the Whites. The Anspaughs described Jim and Mary as ‘faithful to their church and their beliefs and always willing to serve.’ Eric added, ‘Jim deeply loves Mary. He embodies those [wedding] vows. [In sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part.]” The article is published in part to recognize June as Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Read it in full at www.thefranklinnewspost.com/news/in-sickness-and-in-health-husband-shares-his-unconditional-love/article_97827db2-c9c0-561c-b99c-11ceb3a8ca6f.html .

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