Brethren bits for Dec. 11, 2020

“The Light of Hope Returning: An American Folk Oratorio” is a new, concert-length Christmas work for women’s choir by Shawn Kirchner of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren. The inaugural performance is scheduled to stream live Dec. 21 at 9 p.m. (Eastern time). Subscribe at for free admission.

Presented by WomenSing and Elektra Women’s Choir with soloist Allison Girvan and members of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, the music is by Shawn Kirchner with animation by Kevork Mourad, an Armenian artist living in New York. Kirchner worked with Newbery Award-winning author Susan Cooper of The Dark Is Rising series, who provided several Christmas lyrics.

In the December Messenger, Kirchner wrote about his inspiration in the New Testament figure of Anna, the prophetess who lifted her voice in praise of the Christ child as Mary and Joseph presented their newborn at the temple.

“I wanted to let the audience lean on the strength of an old woman who had ‘seen it all’ and lived to tell about it,” he wrote. “I imagined her welcoming each one to her fireside, sitting with them as they told of their troubles…. Someone who had lost–but regained–her hope. Someone with deep patience and faith who could sit with others until their own ‘light of hope’ returned.”

Two of the carols will be familiar to Brethren, having been first arranged for the denomination’s CBS Christmas Eve Special in 2004: “Brightest and Best” and “Lo, How a Rose.”

Remembrance: Lisa L. Hazen, 54, a former member of the Bethany Theological Seminary Board of Trustees and a former pastor, died on Nov. 27 at the Laurels of West Carrolton, Ohio. She served on the Bethany Seminary board for some years, elected as secretary of the board in 2008. Her work for the Church of the Brethren also included service on the Congregational Ethics Study Committee that submitted its report to Annual Conference in 2011. She filled pastorates for Beavercreek (Ohio) Church of the Brethren 1999-2004 and First Church of the Brethren in Wichita, Kan., 2004-2012. She held a bachelor’s degree from the University of Dayton, Ohio, and a master of divinity from Bethany Seminary in Richmond, Ind. She was preceded in death by her mother, Patricia Hazen. She is survived by her father, Richard Hazen, brother Rick (Rita) Hazen, nephews, great nephews, and a great niece. A graveside service and burial was held at Miami Cemetery in Waynesville, Ohio, on Dec. 2, with pastor Tim Heishman officiating. Memorial gifts are received to the Alzheimer’s Association. Find a full obituary at!/Obituary.

A reminder that the registration deadline for the annual Clergy Tax Seminar is Jan. 6, 2021. This virtual, online event takes place Jan. 16, sponsored by the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry, and Bethany Theological Seminary. It is recommended for seminary and academy students, pastors, and other church leaders who wish to understand clergy taxes. Participants will learn how to prepare clergy taxes correctly and legally and how to comply with regulations while maximizing tax deductions, and may earn .3 continuing education units for attending the first session. Registration costs $40 per person. Current students at Bethany Seminary and Earlham School of Religion and students in the academy’s TRIM, EFSM, and SeBAH programs may attend at no cost although registration is still required. Go to

Boxes of relief goods shipped to Beirut, Lebanon, by the Material Resources program at the Brethren Service Center appear in a short video about relief efforts following the Beirut explosion, posted by Lutheran World Relief. Brethren Disaster Ministries directed a grant of $10,000 from the Church of the Brethren Emergency Disaster Fund to support the effort. “This will show you some of our response to the Beirut explosion that Church of the Brethren were important donors for,” said a note from staff of Lutheran World Relief. “It is very LWR-focused but still should show you some of the work we are doing with your support.” Find the video at

A prayer request for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been received from Ron Lubungo, a leader in the Church of the Brethren in the DRC. “Tensions between supporters of Félix Tshisekedi and Joseph Kabila have reached an unprecedented level,” Lubungo shared from news reports about an “open war” that has broken out between political leaders and their respective parties. Lubungo’s email to the Global Mission Office detailed episodes of violence, even in the Parliament building, and media reports of allegations of corruption by national leaders.

Atlantic Southeast District has announced a new lead contact person and a new mailing address for the district following the untimely death of district executive minister Terry Grove. Bill Schaefer, chair of the district Leadership Team, will serve as contact person at or 419-606-3531. The new mailing address is Atlantic Southeast District, c/o Camp Ithiel, P.O. Box 25, Gotha, FL 34734.

One of the latest photos from the West Charleston Church of the Brethren celebration with “Flat Mack” features Dr. Aldo Estella. The congregation in Tipp City, Ohio, created Flat Mack as a fun, socially distanced way to celebrate the congregation and its members and what they are thankful for in a difficult Thanksgiving season 2020. Find the Newsline story at

In a third episode of the Dunker Punks Podcast series on the New Community Project, listeners will learn about two unique communities trying to live in peace with their members, the people around them, and the environment. Two of the project coordinators, Tom Benevento and Pete Antos-Ketcham, paint a picture in their talks about what’s happening in Harrisonburg and Starksboro in their talks with Emmett Witkovsky-Eldred. Listen to Episode #108 at or on your favorite podcast app.

Tim Joseph was awarded Volunteer of the Year by the Outdoor Ministries Association of the Church of the Brethren in recognition of his 50 years of dedicated service to Camp Brethren Heights in Michigan. The board of Camp Brethren Heights heard the announcement on a Zoom meeting with camp director Randall Westfall. In a normal year, the award would have been made during Annual Conference.

[gt-link lang="en" label="English" widget_look="flags_name"]