Brethren bits for Oct. 11, 2019

— Annual Conference seeks nominations for open positions on the ballot in 2020. “You can help shape the future of the church!” said an announcement. “Each member of the Church of the Brethren is invited to recommend possible nominees for the 2020 Annual Conference ballot. As you pray about this, who comes to mind? Whom will the Lord prompt you to nominate? Please make this “Request for Nominations” document available to the leaders and members of your congregation and urge them to submit nominations. We need nominees from every part of the church.” Positions include moderator-elect, Program and Arrangements Committee, Mission and Ministry Board, Bethany Seminary trustee, Brethren Benefit Trust board, On Earth Peace board, and the Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee. To make nominations, go to .

The Workcamp Ministry has posted a “sneak peek” preview of the international workcamp location for summer 2020. In lieu of offering a young adult workcamp, the program is offering an international workcamp open to anyone over the age of 18. By making this change, the Workcamp Ministry hopes to increase participation in the international workcamp, offer all adults the opportunity to serve, and expand the options for intergenerational service. Although not all of the 2020 locations are available yet, visit to see where the adult workcamp is going in 2020!

— This is a big weekend for district conferences! Here is the list:
     Idaho and Western Montana District meets at Boise Valley (Idaho) Church of the Brethren on Oct. 11-12. The moderator will be David Bethel.
     Mid-Atlantic District holds its annual conference on Oct. 11-12 at Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren, with Sona Wenger as moderator.
     Middle Pennsylvania District has announced its first one-day district conference on Oct. 12 at New Enterprise (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, moderated by Deb Gary. The conference speakers are Ben and Cindy Lattimer, co-pastors of Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa.
     Southern Ohio and Kentucky District holds its conference Oct. 11-12 at Happy Corner Church of the Brethren in Clayton, Ohio. The moderator will be Carl Eubank. Kicking off the conference at 6:15 p.m. this Friday evening is a concert by the newly formed District Men’s Chorus. Brian Messler, pastor of Ephrata (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, is the guest speaker.

— Western Pennsylvania District will hold district conference on Oct. 19 at Camp Harmony. The theme, “All Scripture Is God Breathed,” is based on 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

— Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., is holding a “Blessing Bags” effort coordinated by the church’s Witness Commission. “These are bags that you can have in your car to give out if you see someone in need,” said an announcement. “We will be collecting items until the end of October and then putting the bags together. We are asking that people bring in items such as the following: $5 or$10 fast food gift cards, socks, gloves, granola bars or other snacks, tooth-brushes and toothpaste (small size), chapstick, lotion.”

— Bridgewater (Va.) College will host a production of Ted & Company TheaterWorks “We Own This Now,” a play by Alison Brookins and starring Ted Swartz and Michelle Milne. This is the college’s Fall Spiritual Focus. The performance takes place Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the Boitnott Room. The performance is free and open to the public. “The play looks at love of land, loss of land and what it means to “own” something,” said a release. “What is the relationship between “owning” and “taking”—and what is the relationship between “ownership” and (taking) responsibility?” Ted Swartz is a writer, actor, and producer who has performed at numerous Church of the Brethren events including Annual Conference, National Youth Conference, and National Older Adult Conference.

Northern Plains District had a group of 16 volunteers work in Marshalltown, Iowa, the week of Sept. 22-27, reports Alice Draper. “Marshalltown was hit by a devastating tornado in July of 2018. The group partnered with the local Iowa River Church of the Brethren congregation to find work as well as to provide lunches during the week. The volunteers worked for three families that were hard hit. We installed new windows and re-sided a home, replaced a driveway and installed a sump pump system, and helped a homeowner finalize repairs to a garage and repair a deck.” Photo by Alan Oneal

— What is billed as “the largest disaster relief auction in the world” took place Sept. 27-28. The 43rd annual Brethren Disaster Relief Auction was held at the Lebanon (Pa.) Valley Expo in cooperation with Atlantic Northeast and Southern Pennsylvania Districts of the Church of the Brethren. A release from David L. Farmer noted that the auction began in 1977 and “has provided over $16 million in disaster relief to victims of natural disasters both in the US and internationally.” Recent recipients of funds raised by the auction have ranged from people affected by earthquakes in Haiti to people affected by a tornado in Campbelltown, Pa. The event is actually several auctions rolled into one weekend, including a General Auction, Children’s Auction, Quilt Auction, Theme Basket Auction, Silent Auction, Heifer Auction, Coin Auction, and two Pole Barn Auctions–with as many as five auctions taking place at the same time, the release said. Numerous additional activities are part of the festivities such as barrel train rides, a  concert, car and tractor shows, a 5K walk/run, and of course food. To find out more go to .

— The October edition of Brethren Voices features the Church of the Brethren Workcamp Ministry. “They came from Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Texas and California, traveling to Portland, Oregon, to participate in a summer workcamp, assisting the homeless by providing emergency food and clothing to those in need,” said an announcement of the show produced for use on public access cable television, or for viewing by Sunday school and discussion groups. “Workcamps for youth and adults are one of the ways that the Brethren reach out to others. This year, Brethren workcamps were held in 15 cities around the country including Waco, Texas and Heifer International in Perryville, Arkansas. There was also a workcamp in China, for those who were able to make that trip.” Brent Carlson hosts the program, produced by Portland Peace Church of the Brethren, featuring interviews with workcamp volunteers as well as with SnowCap executive director Kirsten Wageman. For a copy contact producer Ed Groff at .

— The National Council of Churches (NCC) will host American and international church leaders in a special gathering to remember and lament the 400 years since the arrival of enslaved Africans in what is now the United States. The gathering Oct. 15 at Old Point Comfort on the coast in Hampton, Va., is titled a “Day of Remembrance, Lament” and is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. Events continue that afternoon at 1 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Hampton. This is planned as a public witness during the NCC’s annual Christian Unity gathering. Those expected to attend include Agnes Abuom, moderator of the World Council of Churches (WCC); Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary; Kortu Brown, bishop and president of the Liberian Council of Churches; Elizabeth Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America; civil rights leader Ruby Sales; Jim Winkler, NCC general secretary and president; Franklyn Richardson, chair of the Conference of National Black Churches and chair of the Board of Trustees of Virginia Union University; Ibram X. Kendi, award-winning author of “Stamped from the Beginning” and “How To Be An Antiracist”; Melanie R. Hill, accomplished violinist originally from the Hampton Roads area; among others. The event will include a short ceremony at the bandstand (gazebo) followed by a procession and ceremony at the Historical Marker noting where enslaved Africans were first brought. This will be followed by a short ceremony at an oak tree a few yards away. After this ceremony, Kendi will give a keynote address at First Baptist Church of Hampton.

— The World Council of Churches (WCC) has issued a release condemning the violence in Syria. “As Turkey pursues its military operation in north-east Syria, the World Council of Churches (WCC) is gravely concerned about the humanitarian impact on the people of the region. It is reported that tens of thousands of civilians are fleeing from the first waves of the Turkish attack, and that hundreds of thousands of people are now directly in harm’s way,” the release said. WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit is quoted in the release: “The Syrian people have already been subjected to too much conflict, and far too much bloodshed, destruction and displacement. The churches of the world demand an end to it – an end to the suffering of the people. Enough fighting, chaos and death. It is time for peace, for respite, for dialogue, and for justice for the victims of atrocities perpetrated through these catastrophic years of violence.”Find the release at .

— Shaun Deardorff, a Church of the Brethren member and a high school senior, is raising money for a unique Eagle Scout project to create and build a community garden. “My Eagle Scout project is influenced by my Brethren values: to create and build a community garden that would help represent world peace and inspire more peaceful thoughts in a world that faces unprecedented chaos, violence, and terror–a world which makes no public space feel safe anymore,” he said in a release. The goal is to build the garden at an inner-city public park in Durham, N.C.–the Campus Hills Park–including a peace sculpture, bench, peace pole, with surrounding flower beds. Names of donor organizations will be displayed on donor plaques at the project site.

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