“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it” (Psalm 24:1).
1) Church of the Brethren reaffirms its historic commitment to opposing the death penalty
2) Global Food Initiative makes grants for community gardens, pig raising, more
3) ESPANA 2025: Congregations in Spain work on a new strategy plan
7) Brethren bits: Corrections, job openings, updates on Annual Conference, letter on the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, seminary open house, Nigeria news, SVMC seminar on preaching, Voices of Conscience display, webinar on religious perspective on carbon pricing, news from districts and congregations, and more
Quote of the week:— Beth Sollenberger writing in the South Central Indiana District newsletter. She serves as executive minister for the district. Find her full reflection at www.scindcob.org/August_2019.pdf .
“Jesus said some things about standing in line. The last in line shall be first for eternity. But second? Second can be tough. It takes perspective to feel good about second, to take joy in someone else’s good fortune, to stand proud of the accomplishment and not regret the almost part. Perspective remembers we are all valuable in God’s sight. No matter where we place in the line, we have a place in God’s family.”
1) Church of the Brethren reaffirms its historic commitment to opposing the death penalty
From the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy
On July 25, 2019, Attorney General William Barr announced that the federal government would resume the use of the death penalty, after a 16-year halt, and directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBP) to schedule the executions of five inmates currently on death row. (1)
In the wake of this troubling announcement, the Church of the Brethren reaffirms its decades-long theological and moral opposition to the death penalty.
As stated in the 1987 Annual Conference statement on the death penalty, “Matthew 25:40 reminds us, ‘I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers (or sisters) of mine, you did it for me.’ There is an element of God in each of us, and so we must hold all human life as sacred. To take the life of any person is to destroy what has been created by God and redeemed by Christ. To admit that there are those who are beyond saving is to deny the ultimate power of redemption, the cross and the empty tomb.” (2)
Since 1973, more than 160 people who had been wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in the US have since been exonerated. (3) A justice system that makes mistakes in life-or-death cases has no place sentencing people to die. Additionally, there are racial disparities in the use of the death penalty, which has a high rate of white-victim cases and non-white defendants. (4) The death penalty is an irreversible punishment carried out in a flawed and racist system, and thus should be ended immediately.
“The death penalty only continues the spiral of violence,” the 1987 statement went on to say. “The only real way to deter further violence is to cease our claim to a ‘life for a life,’ to recognize that life and death decisions belong to God, and to seek mercy and redemption of God’s lost children.” As a peace church, the Church of the Brethren is committed to countering violence with Christ’s radical peace, and we are deeply opposed to further contributing to the cycle of violence that the death penalty perpetuates. “In a broader sense, we Christians must lead the United States in a total commitment to non-violence as public policy. All violent systems, structures, and ideologies should be challenged at their very core.”
The Death Row Support Project, a Church of the Brethren initiative led by Rachel Gross, offered this response to the attorney general’s announcement: “Last week’s decision by the Federal Government to move ahead with executions is a sobering reminder of how Church of the Brethren members, following the way of Jesus, are out of step with the ways of the world: the world says we need to punish those who hurt others, whereas Jesus told us to ‘turn the other cheek’ and Paul implores us to ‘overcome evil with good.’ Following Jesus’ example of forgiving those about to take his life, we Brethren have the witness of SueZann Bosler who has forgiven James Campbell, the man who killed her father and severely wounded her (see the June 2019 issue of the Church of the Brethren “Messenger” magazine). Thankfully, most of us will never face that kind of challenge. However, we can witness to our faith by using last week’s decision as an opportunity to take action.” (See action suggestions below.)
Our faith through Jesus Christ calls us to love our neighbor, to take care of the least of these, to visit those in prison. We believe in a radical love that is broad enough for those affected by violence and those who commit violent acts. This Justice Department announcement is a step in the opposite direction of this radical love.
The words from decades past about the death penalty are evergreen: “[The story of the Bible] is a very human story which is graced by the inspiration of God’s loving call to justice, reconciliation, peace, repentance, faith, hope, redemption, new life, grace, mercy, and forgiveness seventy-times-seven. This is still God’s call today. Our mission is still to seek and save. It is not to search and destroy.”
Suggestions for action:
Contact your elected representatives in Congress to share the Church of the Brethren witness against the death penalty. The 1987 Annual Conference statement provides several talking points, find it at www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1987deathpenalty .
Send a message of Christian love to one of the people whose execution dates have been set. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Learn more about Church of the Brethren work on the death penalty through the Death Row Support Project at www.brethren.org/drsp .
(1) “Trump administration to bring back federal death penalty after 16-year lapse,” Axios, www.axios.com/federal-death-penalty-justice-department-576a2e44-5cf0-4f95-a301-34216eb0eaf2.html
(2) “The Death Penalty,” 1987 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference statement, www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1987deathpenalty
(3) “Innocence,” Death Penalty Information Center, https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/policy-issues/innocence
(4) “Race,” Death Penalty Information Center, https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/policy-issues/race
2) Global Food Initiative makes grants for community gardens, pig raising, more
The Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Initiative (GFI) has announced several grants for community gardens related to church congregations in various US states. Also listed among recent grant recipients are a pig raising project in Rwanda and a refrigeration project for Navajo families.
A grant of $20,000 has been given to the emerging Church of the Brethren in Rwanda to establish a pig raising project. “One central farm will be built, where pigs will be raised for the first year,” said the grant announcement. “Animals from the farm will be given to families belonging to the Twa–formerly a hunter-gatherer tribe that continues to be a major outreach focus of the Brethren in Rwanda. Each family will in turn build individual pig farms near their houses in their village. Among the many benefits of this project for the community are creation of jobs, education on modern pork breeding, and lower meat prices on the market due to the abundance of pork, leading to an economic growth for all involved.” Funds will build pig barns, purchase animals and feed, and pay for veterinary care.
Lybrook Community Ministries in Cuba, N.M., has received $8,000 for the purchase of solar panels and batteries as part of a larger refrigeration project. “In 2018 a model unit was set up to be used as a demonstration for LCM’s Navajo neighbors and for LCM to gain experience with the unit before installation in the community,” said the grant announcement. “Three community members received training in the installation and maintenance of the units.” Funds will purchase 20 solar panels and 20 batteries to provide refrigeration to 10 households. Priority will be given to seniors or families with infants in the Navajo community. Last December a previous grant provided $3,000 to this project.
Oakton Church of the Brethren in Vienna, Va., received a grant of $5,000 for a food initiative to jump start its 2019 Farmers’ Market program. “The past two years, through county and private grants, matching funds were available for low income individuals receiving support from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to purchase fresh produce at the Reston Farmers’ Market. This partnership doubles the purchasing power of SNAP dollars and also benefits local farmers,” explains the grant announcement. “This year the matching funds (over $9,000) are not available. In addition to this one-time GFI grant request, the Oakton congregation is seeking to replace the lost dollars in various ways, including local fundraising. Members of the church will also be involved in advocacy efforts to restore the funds for the 2020 Farmers’ Market season.”
New Carlisle (Ohio) Community Garden, an ecumenical ministry supported by the New Carlisle Church, received an additional allocation of $5,000. The garden was established over three years ago in an area considered to be a food desert. It has helped provide educational programs, market local foods, give access to health foods, and supply fresh vegetables to the local food pantry. Grant funds will be used to help pay a part-time student or a person in need of extra money to oversee operations of 10 acres of community garden. Previous allocations to this project include $1,000 in 2017, $7,000 in 2018, and $15,000 in a grant made this past January.
Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren Community Garden received a grant of $5,000 to address the lack of nutritious food in Rockingham County, Va., with the most sustainable practices possible and to provide education about sustainability and nutritious food. More efficient equipment also is needed for an expanded operation. Grant funds will be used to purchase a walk-behind tractor with rear tine tiller and water pump attachments. Another $3,000 allocation to this project supports a garden coordinator for the summer of 2019.
Lafayette (Ind.) Church of the Brethren’s community gardening project received a grant of $2,114.45. The congregation has had a community garden for five years, serving an area that recently lost its grocery store. There are other community gardens in town, but none are handicapped or wheel-chair accessible. The goal is to build tall raised beds for those who are in wheelchairs or unable to bend to the ground to work in their garden. Funds will be used to purchase lumber for raised beds, topsoil, mulch, plants, and trellis materials.
Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren’s community garden received a grant of $1,500. The garden was established in 2016 in an area considered to be a food desert. The garden provides green space for the community, opportunities for education, availability of fresh produce for community members, and an avenue for interaction between the church and the community. Funds will be used to purchase topsoil, seeds, plants, fencing, paint, and other gardening supplies. A previous allocation of $3,952 was made in 2016.
Rockford (Ill.) Community Church of the Brethren received $1,500 to support its community garden project. “Two garden plots will be used to teach youth how to grow and prepare produce, allowing understanding for the nurturing process of organic gardening and how to prepare food from fresh ingredients,” said the grant announcement. “In addition, fruit trees and berry bushes will be planted on the church property to provide fresh fruit and to reduce the amount of land requiring mowing. Funds will be used to purchase a tiller, top soil, lumber for raised beds, fruit trees, seeds, and other gardening supplies.” Two previous allocations have been given to this project, $1,000 in 2017 and $1,500 in 2018.
Nuevo Comienzo/Deerwood Elementary collaboration received $1,000 for the combined community gardening project of the Nuevo Comienzo Church of the Brethren (Kissimmee, Fla.) and Deerwood Elementary School. “Iglesia de los Hermanos Nuevo Comienzo currently holds services at Deerwood Elementary and has assisted the school by organizing a food drive to help with their Weekend Backpack program,” said the grant announcement. “The garden project will focus primarily on students currently receiving non-perishable items every week as part of the Weekend Food program. The community garden will provide students and their families the opportunity to receive nutrient rich, freshly grown produce to supplement non-perishables.” Funds will purchase lumber for raised beds, top soil, seeds, plants, tools, and ground cloth.
An allocation of $505 supported the attendance of three staff members of the Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) Integrated Community Based Development Program at an agricultural conference of ECHO held in Jos, Nigeria, in May. EYN covered the cost of two other staff members to attend. The GFI has supported staff participation in ECHO’s agricultural conferences in past years. Ideas learned at past conferences include zero graze animal raising and mulch-based vegetable gardening.
For more information about the Global Food Initiative go to www.brethren.org/gfi .
3) ESPANA 2025: Congregations in Spain work on a new strategy plan
By Daniel D’Oleo
Close to 65 people gathered for 2 full days to brainstorm about the future of the Church of the Brethren in Spain under the theme “Un Lider Para las Naciones” (a leader for the nations) The idea of this gathering was in the making since the last Mission Alive conference where leaders from Spain first heard about becoming a global Church of the Brethren.
Leaders and members talked about vision casting, strategy planning, unity, and team building. “It is important that the Church of the Brethren in Spain establishes a strategy plan with a unified vision that paves the road for the next five years,” indicated Pastor Santos.
After several group activities and conversation, the group concluded that:
a. The church in Spain must be a Christ-centered church: The life of Christ and his gospel is paramount for our faith and the gospel we preach. We must seek to glorify His name in everything we do. Also, we need to be intentional about loving God and loving people, while keeping our eyes on Jesus and his word.
b. The church in Spain must embrace a missional church model: The Great Commission is our mandate and we will continue sharing the transforming gospel of Christ to unbelievers. “We must be intentional in reaching people for Christ and making disciples not only in Spain but in all Europe,” Santos said.
c. The church in Spain must be theologically sound: Our congregations must have a knowledge of Brethren theology and the practices and beliefs of our denomination. Our leaders must have a profound knowledge of scripture and theology in general.
d. The church in Spain must be united: The unity in vision, goals, strategy, program, and fellowship is key for the success of our present and future goals. We must be intentional in our gatherings as we promote more spiritual maturity and collaboration among our congregations.
The proposed vision statement for our strategy plan: Our vision is to be a Christ-centered missional church that is united, makes disciples, and loves God and others.
The event concluded with worship, with the sermon on Joshua 1:8 encouraging the congregation to be strong and courageous in practicing all the commands as laid out in scripture. The success of our gospel is not to create a new one, but to be faithful, brave, and courageous with the one that has been entrusted to us to preach.
— Daniel D’Oleo pastors Iglesia Cristiana Renacer Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va.
4) Kendra Harbeck resigns as manager of Global Mission and Service office
Kendra Harbeck has resigned as manager of the office of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren, effective Aug. 31. She has worked in the position for six years, since Sept. 1, 2013.
Her work has included production of the Global Mission email prayer guide, helping to host international guests during their visits with the Church of the Brethren in the US, providing logistics for visits of US Brethren to international venues, helping to organize the Mission Alive conference, relating with staff who are working internationally, maintaining regular communication with international church leaders, general office oversight, and more. She has been a regular contributor to Newsline and “Messenger” magazine.
She served during a critical time for the mission work of the denomination, in the years of intense violence in northeast Nigeria affecting Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).
Harbeck will be pursuing a graduate degree in teaching students with visual impairments. She and her family attend Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin.
5) Hannah Shultz to begin as coordinator of short-term service
Hannah Shultz has been hired by the Church of the Brethren as coordinator of short-term service, working as staff of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS). She will begin her new position at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on Aug. 5.
She served as assistant workcamp coordinator for the 2015 summer workcamps, working at the General Offices from 2014-2015 as a volunteer through BVS.
Shultz recently earned a master of divinity degree from Emory University, Candler School of Theology. She is a 2014 graduate of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., where she earned a degree in religious studies and was actively involved in campus ministry and during her senior year was president of the Christian ministry board on campus. She is originally from the Baltimore, Md., area and is a member of Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.
6) Children’s Disaster Services announces fall trainings
Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) has announced its fall training workshop line-up. The training workshops are for those interested in volunteering with CDS, and for returning volunteers to re-certify. Go to www.brethren.org/cds for more information and to register.
Here are the fall workshop dates and locations:
Sept. 20-21 in Fort Lupton, Colo., hosted at the Fourway Baptist Church
Sept. 20-21 in Roanoke, Va., hosted at Oak Grove Church of the Brethren
Oct. 11-12 in Tampa, Fla., hosted at Hyde Park Presbyterian Church (CLS specific)
Oct. 11-12 in Portland, Ore., hosted at Fruit and Flower
Oct. 18-19 in Omaha, Neb., hosted at Omaha Rapid Response
7) Brethren bits
The Newsline of July 1 incorrectly reported the location of First Central Church of the Brethren. The church is located in Kansas City, Kan., not in Missouri.
The Newsline of July 13 incorrectly reported that Virlina District has been holding “Calling the Called” workshops annually. The district has been holding the events periodically, in 1996, 1999, 2002, 2009, 2012, and 2018. The last event was in cooperation with Shenandoah District and an event planned for 2020 will be held at Brethren Woods.
In continuing updates from Annual Conference 2019, a final report on webcast viewing has been received from Enten Eller. The numbers include views of the live webcasts as they were occurring, at the peak of the viewing numbers, and a total including views of recordings up to a week after the Conference ended. The recordings are still available to watch at https://livestream.com/livingstreamcob/AC2019 .
185 live views of Wednesday evening worship, with 1,191 views total as of a week later
117 live views of Wednesday evening concert by the Blackwood Brothers, 814 total
138 live views of Thursday morning business, 1,169 total
154 live views of Thursday afternoon business, 985 total
225 live views of Thursday evening worship, 993 total
129 live views of Friday morning business, 919 total
149 live views of Friday afternoon business, 839 total
207 live views of Friday evening worship, 984 total
136 live views of Friday evening concert by Friends with the Weather, 592 total
130 live views of Saturday morning business, 847 total
174 live views of Saturday afternoon business (including love feast), 886 total
255 live views of Saturday evening worship, 1,124 total
205 live views of Sunday morning worship, 1,474 total
— The Church of the Brethren seeks an executive director of Organizational Resources and chief financial officer (CFO). This full-time salaried position is located at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., and reports to the General Secretary. The position supervises the operations of the finance office, information technology department, buildings and grounds, and the Brethren Historical Library and Archives, and serves as orporate treasurer, overseeing all aspects of the organization’s finance and asset management and organizational resources. Required skills and knowledge include a commitment to operating out of the Church of the Brethren vision, mission, and core values and dedication to denominational and ecumenical objectives; an understanding and appreciation of Church of the Brethren heritage, theology, and polity; and integrity, excellent financial management skills, and confidentiality. A bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, business administration, or a related field, and a master’s degree in business administration or a CPA is required, as well as ten years or more of significant proven financial and administrative experience in the areas of finance, accounting, management, planning, and supervision. Active membership in the Church of the Brethren is preferred. Applications are being received and reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Send a resume to COBApply@brethren.org ; Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60142; 800-323-8039 ext. 367. The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
— The Church of the Brethren seeks a full-time salaried manager for the office of Global Mission and Service. This position is responsible for administrative processes assigned by the executive director for areas including global mission, Brethren Volunteer Service, the Global Food Initiative, and more. Major responsibilities include development of unit-wide synergies among programs, coordination of staff meetings, and cross-promotion of activities in internal and external communications. Additional responsibilities include responding to general inquiries, promoting financial support, facilitating the functioning of the Mission Advisory Committee, assisting in creation and development of promotional materials, facilitating multiple tasks including financial processes, international travel, mission worker speaking tours, internal and external communications, mission worker communication, maintaining extensive files and records, unit-wide organizational functions, and being knowledgeable on international travel. Requirements include strong communication and organizational skills; skilled competency in Microsoft Office Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint; ability to problem solve, exercise good judgment, prioritize tasks; ability to work both collaboratively and independently with minimal supervision; ability to maintain confidentiality; appreciation for the church’s role in mission with an awareness of mission operations; ability to act within a multicultural and multigenerational team environment; and ability to interact gracefully with the public. Three to five years of executive administrative experience is required with a preference in a not-for-profit environment. A bachelor’s degree or other education relevant to the position is required. This position is based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Applications are being received and reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Send a resume to COBApply@brethren.org ; Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60142; 800-323-8039 ext. 367. The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
— Applicants are still sought for the position of district executive minister of West Marva District. This three-quarter-time position of approximately 30 hours per week includes many evenings and weekends. Travel is required in and outside the district. Responsibilities are in three main areas: direction, coordination, management, and leadership of the district program; work with congregations to call and credential ministers and place and evaluate pastoral staff, providing support and counsel for ministers and other church leaders, and sharing and interpreting program resources for congregations; provide a link between congregations and the district and the wider church by working collaboratively with the Council of District Executives, Annual Conference, its agencies, and their staff. Qualifications include Christ-centered belief and practice; commitment to, membership in, and extensive experience of the Church of the Brethren; strong interpersonal and communication skills; ability to serve and work with people from diverse cultural, social, and theological backgrounds; ordination and pastoral experience preferred; a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college along with a seminary degree or completion of TRIM or another Brethren Academy program; prior church experience as a pastor, staff person, or other related service is desirable; administration and organizational training or experience is highly recommended. Send a letter of interest and resume to Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Director, Office of Ministry, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; email@example.com . Contact three or four people to provide letters of reference. Applications are accepted until the position is filled.
— Brethren Disaster Ministries seeks candidates for a “project lead” position at a rebuilding site in Lumberton, N.C., serving through SBP and AmeriCorps. The position plays a vital role in the rebuilding program as volunteers’ main point of onsite contact and actively leads construction efforts on homes, and is responsible for managing and facilitating training for around five volunteers per day. Monitoring safety, ensuring quality work, effectively participating in construction, and completing tasks on schedule are critical functions. Core competencies include excellent verbal communication skills; experience or comfort with public speaking; ability to lead diverse groups of volunteers in a wide array of tasks; strong organizational skills and ability to delegate; experience or interest in developing project management skills; willingness or enthusiasm to receive constructive feedback from supervisor and peers; positive attitude; ability to take initiative and be self-motivated; high regard for safety; strong interpersonal skills including active listening; ability to maintain a calm, professional demeanor in challenging situations including client crises; ability to clearly communicate needs and expectations to people of various backgrounds; demonstrated problem-solving skills; passion for the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries. No construction experience is necessary, although it is helpful. Candidates must be at least 21 years old, have a high school diploma or equivalent, and be a citizen, national, or lawful permanent resident alien of the US. This is a full-time position serving 1,700 hours from August 2019 to June 2020. Training is provided. AmeriCorps benefits include a stipend of $1,373 per month not exceeding $13,732 for the term of service, a post-service education award of $5,920 upon completion of the 10 months and 1,700 hours, health benefits, loan forbearance for most federally guaranteed student loans, and childcare assistance. See www.americorps.gov/for_individuals/benefits/benefits_ed_award.asp for more information on the education award. Find an application link and full position description at https://recruitamc.workable.com/jobs/1084360 .
— Brethren Press has announced winners of the daily drawing at the Annual Conference bookstore. Each of the winners–three congregations and one camp–received one $250 gift certificate to spend onsite to stock their church or camp library, thanks to a generous $1,000 gift from an anonymous donor. “The donor has been very generously doing this since 2011,” said a report from Karen Stocking of the Brethren Press staff. “None of these winners have won in previous years.” Wednesday’s winner was Arcadia (Fla.) Church of the Brethren, represented by Joe Longenecker. Thursday’s winner was Camp Brethren Woods in Keezletown, Va., represented by Linetta Ballew. Friday’s winner was San Diego (Calif.) First Church of the Brethren, represented by Sara Haldeman-Scarr. Saturday’s winner was Happy Corner Church of the Brethren in Clayton, Ohio, represented by Laura Brown.
— The Office of Peacebuilding and Policy for the Church of the Brethren has signed on to a letter commending the House of Representatives for including in the Defense Appropriations bill a Section 9025 that would repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) eight months after enactment. “We share a common view that the Executive Branch has expanded its interpretation of the 2001 AUMF far beyond Congress’s original intent, in order to justify an ever-increasing number of military operations around the world,” the letter said, in part. “The Framers of the Constitution, recognizing the Executive Branch’s inclination to war, wisely and deliberately assigned to Congress the power to decide whether, when, and where the United States goes to war…. Three days after the 9/11 attacks, Congress passed the 2001 AUMF to authorize military force against the groups responsible for those attacks and those who harbored them. Now, after nearly 18 years, three successive administrations have cited the 2001 AUMF as authority for the United States to use lethal force around the world against a growing number of groups, including some that did not exist in 2001…. The Founders vested in Congress the authority to make the hard decision about whether, when, and where to go to war as the branch most accountable to the people of the United States. Congress should repeal the 2001 AUMF and hold a public debate as to whether endless war actually serves the American people.” The letter was signed by some 54 groups, both religiously based and secular, including various peace- and human rights-focused groups among others.
— Bethany Theological Seminary is holding an open house on Sept. 27 as part of its celebration of 25 years in Richmond, Ind., and 115 years in ministry as an educational institution. “During 2019-20, we will be celebrating this milestone and invite you to join us!” said an invitation. The open house will take place 3:30-5:30 p.m.
— “Give thanks for the opportunity for Samuel and Rebecca Dali to attend the Ministerial on International Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C.,” said the Global Mission and Service office in its email prayer guide. “The Ministerial was the largest human rights event ever held by the State Department, with representatives from over 120 countries participating.” Samuel Dali is immediate past president of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), and Rebecca Dali is director of the Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives (CCEPI). The Dalis also presented at the event’s smaller stage, leading a panel on “Displacement, Building Resilience, and Data: Responding to and Documenting the Victims of the Boko Haram Insurgency in Northeast Nigeria” accompanied by Nathan Hosler, director of the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy.
— The renewal of one of its destroyed churches is being celebrated by Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Reports communications staff Zakariya Musa, “following the recent posting of an evangelist to Pulka, about 300 EYN members worshiped at the EYN LCB Pulka. The evangelist Filibus Ishaku…appreciates the leadership who arranged for his going to the area. He said they worshiped with about 300 people on Sunday, June 30. This is the second EYN congregation being restored from hundreds destroyed since the area was overrun by Islamists in 2013.” The pastor “called for continued prayers for some communities especially in the Southern Borno and Madagali areas who still experience attacks from Boko Haram.”
— “Preaching: Basic Steps, Story, and Money” is a seminar offered by the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center on Sept. 14 at the Brethren Village in Lititz, Pa., in the Great Room in Fieldcrest. It takes place from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. Presenter Mark Wenger is pastoral team leader and pastor of administration at Franconia Mennonite Church and previously directed pastoral studies at Eastern Mennonite University for 12 years. “This seminar will explore a simple method for preparing to preach expository messages drawn from a Bible text,” said an announcement. “The afternoon will shift into the topics of preaching and story, and preaching about money.” Registration is due by Aug. 30. Cost is $60 including a light breakfast, lunch, and .55 continuing education units; or $50 including only the light breakfast and lunch. Contact the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center at 717-361-1450 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
— Northern Ohio District Conference takes place Aug. 2-3 at Mohican Church of the Brethren in West Salem, Ohio. The theme is “Give Me Jesus.” Doug Price is serving as district moderator. Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey is the guest speaker. Events include worship, insight sessions, a Peace Auction to support the Peace Endowment Fund, youth activities, an ice cream social, and more. The service project will support the Mohican Church’s Grocery Bag Ministry. A special offering will be received for Brethren Disaster Ministries. For more information go to www.nohcob.org/district-conference .
— South Waterloo (Iowa) Church of the Brethren gained media attention for its participation in Harvest of Hope along with St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church in Hudson, Zion Lutheran Church in Hudson, and others. The program raises corn, soybeans, and a steer to sell and gives the profit to Growing Hope Globally (formerly the Foods Resource Bank), which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this summer. The funds go to agricultural development programs in various areas of the world. “The Courier” reports that the anniversary was celebrated with “a two-day event Friday and Saturday at the BCLUW High School in Conrad. Speakers at the Conrad events include Kevin Skunes, chairman of the Corn Board with the National Corn Growers Association and leader of the Arthur, N.D., Growing Project; Elizabeth Righa, head of finance and administration at Anglican Development Services in Pwani, Kenya; and Roger Thurow, Pulitzer-finalist author who writes about world hunger.” Read the news article at https://wcfcourier.com/news/local/harvest-of-hope-area-group-combats-world-hunger/article_56102b94-dff3-576b-9e51-34b5cb5cdd7a.html .
— Reading (Ohio) Church of the Brethren was one of the participating congregations in the Alliance Area’s 50th Habitat for Humanity structure in the Carnation City, Sebring, and Beloit areas. “Angela Anderson proudly laid a mat at the front door to her new home Saturday after a ribbon-cutting ceremony,” said an article in the “Alliance Review.” “The WELCOME mat was a gift to Anderson and her family. Their new home, on Noble Street, is the product of this year’s Habitat Apostle Build project, which was funded by several area churches and donations of money and labor from community members.” Read the full story at www.the-review.com/news/20190728/alliance-family-receives-habitat-for-humanitys-50th-home .
— The youth of Warrensburg (Mo.) Church of the Brethren are participating in the Festival of Sharing 2019 by collecting gently-worn, closed-toed shoes. The “Daily Star Journal” article titled “Calling all kids to help with shoe drive” announced: “We would like to invite the youth of other congregations to also collect shoes and then bring them to us so that we can send them to Nicaragua. This could also be kids in any local organization, official or otherwise, even just a neighborhood effort.” Find out more about the ecumenical Festival of Sharing at www.FestivalofSharing.org or www.facebook.com/pg/FestivalofSharing . All donated shoes are to be at the Church of the Brethren no later than Sunday, Sept. 21. Read the article at www.dailystarjournal.com/calendar/outdoors_recreation/calling-all-kids-to-help-with-shoe-drive/event_39cb0ac4-ad98-11e9-9ff3-a34677ce04a9.html .
— Antioch Church of the Brethren, which hosts the annual World Hunger Auction on Aug. 10, will also be hosting a representative from Heifer International to mark the 75 years since the organization started as the Church of the Brethren’s Heifer Project. “Bidders are welcome to join the adventure as funds are raised for this wonderful organization and others. Thank you to Heifer for 75 years; may there be many more.”
— The children at Cabool (Mo.) Church of the Brethren “have all been ‘adopted’ by adults in the church to shop for backpacks and school supplies, with lunch thrown in as opportunity permits,” reports the Missouri Arkansas District newsletter. “They have also enjoyed area swimming opportunities through the purchase of family pool passes by Daughters of Shalom.”
— Evergreen Church of the Brethren in Stanardsville, Va., is holding a Blessing of the Backpacks Luncheon and Tie Dye event on Aug. 4 from 12 noon to 2 p.m. Said an announcement in the Shenandoah District newsletter, “This event is for people in school, college students, teachers, pre-schoolers, school-aged kids, school nurses, principals, counselors, assistants, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, janitors, resource officers…and anyone else that educates or is educated. Bring a covered dish to share, your backpack or school badge…or just yourself!”
— Smith Mountain Lake Community Church of the Brethren in Virlina District is offering a free Workshop on Dementia and Spirituality. The event is open to the public and takes place Saturday, Sept. 7, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Presenter Heddie Sumner is a member of Daleville Church of the Brethren and is a retired nurse who specializes in care for patients with dementia and their families. “She will talk about what dementia is and how it affects people and their families, as well as how it affects a person’s faith,” said the district newsletter. For more information contact Tabitha Rudy at email@example.com or 540-721-1816.
— Brethren who will be performing at the 4th annual “Sing Me High” music festival of the Brethren and Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., on Aug. 23-24 include Andy and Terry Murray, Friends with the Weather, Mike Stern and Louise Brodie, and Brent Holl. “Sing Me High Music Festival is a rich and joyful community celebration of music and its role in faith formation,” said Greg Yoder, executive director of the Brethren and Mennonite Heritage Center, in a release. “The faith values imbued in the music of these Brethren musicians are something we want to share with our community, within the church and beyond it.” Festival co-hosts are the Walking Roots Band. Advance tickets are on sale now with discounted pricing, and tickets are also sold at the gate Aug. 23-24. Tickets, line-up, full schedule, and more information is available at www.singmehigh.com . To learn more, visit www.brethrenmennoniteheritage.org .
— “As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, we’re reminded of our limited perspective of the universe. We are but a few of nearly 8 billion unique persons on this planet who all identify and relate to gender differently,” said an announcement of the latest episode of the Dunker Punks Podcast. “We explore this idea by revisiting two interviews by Dylan Dell-Haro with his guests, Jonathan and Stephanie, as a continuation of our summer series on gender.” Go to bit.ly/DPP_Bonus6 or subscribe to Dunker Punks Podcast on your favorite podcasting app.
— The display “Voices of Conscience: Peace Witness in the Great War” is at Henderson (Neb.) Mennonite Heritage Museum until Sept. 14, reports the “York News-Times.” The traveling display, which premiered at the World War I Museum in Kansas City, Kan., in 2017, “highlights the stories of pacifists during World War I (1914-1918), particularly Amish, Mennonite, Hutterite, Quaker, and Church of the Brethren pacifists,” the report says, “including men and women, religious believers, humanitarians, political protesters and separatists. This exhibit lifts up the insights and personal courage of WWI peace protesters, who suffered community humiliation, mob violence and federal imprisonment at facilities like Fort Lewis, Alcatraz Island, and Fort Leavenworth.” Read more at www.yorknewstimes.com/news/traveling-conscientious-objector-exhibit-comes-to-henderson/article_b8818816-b01d-11e9-bd37-9bdaf26d29a7.html .
— Creation Justice Ministries is offering a webinar on “A Religious Perspective on Carbon Pricing” on July 31 at 12 noon (Eastern time). “As the impacts of the climate crisis worsen, Congress is considering policies to limit our contribution to climate change and support communities suffering its effects,” said an announcement. “Carbon pricing is one of the proposed solutions. Join us for an overview of: carbon pricing’s goals and how it works; how faith communities are engaging with carbon pricing; An overview of the current carbon pricing bills in Congress; Specific questions religious groups are using to evaluate legislation.” Speakers include Cassandra Carmichael of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, Emily Wirzba of the Friends Committee on National Legislation, and Rebecca Eastwood of the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach. Register for the webinar at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_LZ42umDNRo-DIGY_ySIBgw .
— “Israeli authorities have demolished 16 Palestinian buildings, containing some 70 apartments, in Wadi Al-Hummus, in occupied East Jerusalem. This is against international law,” said World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit in a WCC release dated July 24. He called on Israel to stop the illegal demolitions immediately. “At the 41st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, held in Geneva on June 24 to July 12, WCC delivered a statement calling on the government of Israel to cease demolishing Palestinian homes and structures,” the release said. Tveit underlined that “Israel as an occupying power is bound by International Humanitarian Law to protect the Palestinian civilian population.” He added “the 4th Geneva Convention clearly states that the occupier cannot destroy or seize property on territory it is occupying, and that forcible transfer of residents of an occupied territory, unless for imperative military reasons, constitutes a grave breach of international law.”
— Brenda Brown of Akron (Pa.) Church of the Brethren was featured in the “Ephrata Review” on July 24. “Brown has never been to the Philippines, Guyana, Honduras, Kenya, Haiti, or the Dominican Republic. But her hand-sewn dresses have,” said the article. “In these countries, some 250 little girls have received the pretty dresses that Brown has lovingly made for them.” Brown has lost vision in one eye and has only partial vision in the other eye, due to a medical condition. Seeking something meaningful to do, she learned at her church how to make the simple dresses from pillowcases. Read the full story at www.ephratareview.com/news/a-job-tailor-made-for-her .