— Paul Mundey, moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, has posted a video Easter message. The message frames the COVID-19 crisis in the hope of Easter/Eastertide, in a video filmed at the historic Dunkard Church on the Antietam Battlefield, Sharpsburg, Md. The video titled “God’s Glad Surprise” can be viewed at https://youtu.be/5Eim7SZyeCw .
— “Spend a few minutes with Josh Brockway and Traci Rabenstein thinking about online offerings!” said an invitation to view a video conversation about online offering possibilities for congregations during a time when traditional offerings are not being received during in-person worship services. Find the video featuring Brockway of the Discipleship Ministries staff and Rabenstein of the Mission Advancement staff at https://youtu.be/8fsWttUXPMI .
— Remembrance: Jane Marchant Wood, 87, passed away on April 14 in Boones Mill, Va. She served on the former General Board of the Church of the Brethren from 1988 to 1993, and was a member of the Standing Committee of Annual Conference from 1985 to 1986. Her other volunteer work for the denomination included serving on the Committee on Interchurch Relations from 1994 to 1998. She worked at the Virlina District office, and served on the district’s Staff Counseling Committee from 1984 to 1990. There will be a private burial, with a possible memorial service at a later date. The full obituary is available at www.florafuneralservice.com/obituary/jane-wood .
— Allison L Snyder will begin June 22 as the 2020-2021 intern in the Brethren Historical Library and Archives. She is a graduate of McPherson (Kan.) College with a bachelor of arts in history and English. She currently works as a lead/co-teacher for Little Tigers Learning Center and volunteers as a youth advisor for Panther Creek Church of the Brethren.
— The Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy has welcomed Galen Fitzkee as a new intern working remotely from his home in Manheim, Pa. Fitzkee is wrapping up his junior year at Messiah College where he is majoring in Peace and Conflict Studies and minoring in Spanish and politics. He is a member at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.
— The Global Mission office is requesting prayer for the Democratic Republic of Congo where the Mulongwe River has flooded in the Uvira area. This devastating flooding has occurred as the people continue to struggle with the effects of the pandemic. Reports from the DRC said 3,500 homes were destroyed, 27 people perished, and thousands are currently displaced. Some 25 families related to the Church of the Brethren in the DRC are among those affected. Please pray for the Uvira area.
— The Older Adult Ministry is posting worship resources for Older Adult Month in May on the older adults page of the Church of the Brethren website. The theme is “Still Bearing Fruit” (Psalm 92:14) and the worship resources can be used for online worship. The ministry also is inviting congregations to share their experiences of ministry with older adults. “We, in the Church of the Brethren, are blessed by the presence and wisdom of the elders in our congregations. Perhaps you can set aside one Sunday in May to honor your older adults. Maybe you can ask younger folks to share stories of how an older adult has been a blessing in their life.” Go to the Facebook page of the National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) to share your experiences of worship honoring older adults, at www.facebook.com/cobnoac . Find the downloadable worship resources at www.brethren.org/oam .
— Messenger magazine is offering online puzzle pages for children and families staying safe-at-home during the pandemic. The two pages of puzzles have been put together with help from Zoe Vorndran, intern at the Brethren Historical Library and Archives, based on the Church of the Brethren camps at www.brethren.org/messenger/articles/2020/puzzles-brethren-camps.html and the church-related colleges and universities at www.brethren.org/messenger/articles/2020/crossword-brethren-colleges.html . “Zoe, thank you for the challenging clues!” said a note from the Messenger editorial team. Messenger is the denominational magazine of the Church of the Brethren.
— On Earth Peace is publicizing a “Song & Story Fest Campfire/Concert in Place” as an online gathering of “folks who enjoy each other, jokes, folk songs, and stories of community solidarity and hope!” The events take place via Zoom as interactive open meetings during which participants may share a joke or a short story, a reflection on these times, a song, or a word of hope for the peace and justice community. Contact host Ken Kline Smeltzer at firstname.lastname@example.org to request the Zoom meeting link and login instructions. The next gathering is planned for 90 to 120 minutes on Friday, May 1, starting at 7 p.m. (Eastern time).
— Shenandoah District has shared a document created by Ken Fox to assist congregations with cutting costs and properly maintaining church buildings and their HVAC systems. Fox is pastor of Cedar Run Church of the Brethren in Virginia, and manager of HVAC systems for James Madison University. “We extend our thanks to Ken for sharing his expertise through these thoughtful tips,” said the district newsletter. Find the document at https://files.constantcontact.com/071f413a201/fa7b2c08-d7f6-41d1-b93e-fc0cb475ace6.pdf .
— The 31st Annual World Hunger Bike Ride in Virlina District “will be new and different” this year because of concerns presented by the COVID-19 virus, said a district announcement. “Rather than riding designated courses on a single day, cyclists are invited to ride routes of their choosing in accordance with social distancing practices and record their mileage from May 1 through September 1. As always, they are asked to seek pledges or donate an entry fee to participate. Cyclists will be asked to submit their donations and the number of miles they ride by September 5. A donation of $500 will be made to the Auction in honor of the one with the most total miles.” Contact World Hunger Auction, 130 Hickman Road, Rocky Mount, VA 24151.
— Bridgewater (Va.) College has announced a number of awards:
The Nelson T. Huffman Award for Musical Excellence has been given to Christopher A. DeFreeuw, a senior music major from Suffolk, Va. The award is made in honor of the late Nelson T. Huffman, longtime professor and chair of the department of music.
The Stephen Tayman Memorial Music Scholarship was given to Cayla L. Riddick, a junior music and mathematics double major. The scholarship is given by his family in memory of Stephen Tayman, a member of the class of 1999 who died while a student at Bridgewater.
Rachael M. King received the Esther Mae Wilson Petcher Memorial Scholarship. The award is named in memory of Esther Mae Wilson Petcher, a member of the Bridgewater class of 1944 and a former missionary to Nigeria. King is a health and exercise science major from Fredericksburg, Va.
Kayla D. Wilson has received the Melissa D. Jett Community Service Award in memory of Melissa D. Jett, who would have graduated with the class of 1999. She died Jan. 15, 1997, as the result of a traffic accident on campus. Wilson is a sociology major with a minor in social work and a gender studies concentration, from Virginia Beach, Va. She is a member of the Spiritual Life Board at the college, raised money and material items for people who lost possessions or had homes damaged from Hurricane Harvey, has served as a student leader for the CROP Meal and Hunger Walk, among other service activities.
— The World Council of Churches (WCC) has announced a webinar and a new e-book offering examples of “best practices” from churches across the world that are taking their ministry and services online because of COVID-19.
The webinar on “New Ways of Being the Church” is scheduled for 9 a.m. (Eastern time) on April 29. “The webinar will bring inspiration and knowledge to churches who want to develop their ministry online, discovering how churches continue to pray and worship together,” said an announcement. “Via livestreamed speakers, the hour-long webinar will also offer time for questions and discussion. A video will be available for replay as well. Speakers will include pastors and communication experts from around the world.” The webinar is organized by the WCC in partnership with the Lutheran World Federation, World Communion of Reformed Churches, Global Christian Forum, World Association for Christian Communication, and European Christian Internet Conference.
A new publication by one of the featured speakers at the webinar, Heidi Campbell, professor of communication at Texas A&M University and director of the Network for New Media, Religion, and Digital Culture Studies, is called “The Distanced Church: Reflections on Doing Church Online.” This e-book was created with input from 30 practitioners and researchers sharing their current experiences and observations. Contributors come from 10 different countries, representing 12 different Christian denominations. “The goal is to get this material out to those who will most benefit from a project of this nature–religious communities wrestling with the sudden move from offline to online ministry through digitally-mediated contexts,” said Campbell.
Find out more at www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/taking-your-ministry-online-webinar-new-publication-will-give-solid-how-tos .
— An interfaith message issued for Earth Day, April 22, calls for “ambitious and urgent action to address the climate emergency, urging that efforts to rebuild economies put people’s health before profit,” said a release from the World Council of Churches (WCC). The message acknowledges and mourns the trauma, anxiety, vulnerability, and loss of life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among already vulnerable communities, the release said. The message reads, in part: “We are appalled by the increase in human rights violations, including racism, extreme surveillance, xenophobia, misuses of emergency powers and domestic violence…. The choices we now make will shape our society for years and it is crucial that efforts to rebuild economies put people’s health before profit. Governments have pledged extraordinary amounts of money to prevent economic disasters because of this pandemic, but that money must not be used to finance future environmental degradation…. The plans for a just recovery from COVID-19 must take into account the necessary measures to tackle climate change with a managed, planned and fair approach. We call for a rebuilding which upholds the human rights, health and wellbeing of citizens as critical to the stability and security of all countries…. This is the time to create a healthier and more resilient society together.” The message will be sent from the Interfaith Liaison Committee of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Read the full message at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/an-interfaith-earth-day-message-in-times-of-covid-19-and-climate-emergency/view .