Brethren bits for Dec. 4, 2020

A photo of one of the home Advent wreath kits sent to members of the Church of the Brethren at Ankeny, Iowa. Photo by Barbara Wise Lewczak, courtesy of Northern Plains District

Remembrance: Clyde R. Shallenberger, a former chair of the Church of the Brethren General Board, passed away on Dec. 2 at Broadmead Retirement Community in Baltimore, Md. He served on the General Board 1968-71 and 1973-81, serving as board chair 1974-81. An ordained minister who also held degrees in clinical counseling and psychotherapy, he retired in 1993 from a 30-year career as the first director of the hospital chaplaincy service at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Upon his retirement the hospital named a lectureship in medical ethics in his honor. Shallenberger served on at least two Annual Conference study committees, helping to write the “Life Stewardship” statement of 1975 ( and the “Christian Ethics and Law and Order” statement of 1977 ( Born in Connellsville, Pa., to Belle and Nathaniel Shallenberger, at age 3 he moved to Uniontown, Pa., where he grew up in Uniontown Church of the Brethren. He studied at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree; Bethany Theological Seminary in Chicago, where he earned a master of divinity; and Johns Hopkins University, where he earned a master’s degree in clinical counseling and psychology and a certificate of advanced studies. He completed his clinical training at Western State Hospital in Staunton, Va. He was awarded honorary doctorates by Elizabethtown College and by Bridgewater (Va.) College. He was a member of numerous professional organizations and advisory groups including the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education and the Committee on Religion and Health, Medical and Chiurgical Faculty of the State of Maryland. “God Is a Big Boy. He Can Defend Himself” was the title of just one of the many articles about Shallenberger’s groundbreaking hospital chaplaincy ministry, published by the Johns Hopkins Magazine. His first call to ministry came during his senior year at Elizabethtown, when he started at Reading Church of the Brethren as an interim pastor. It was during that time that he met and married Helen Louise Kaucher in 1950. He went on to pastor congregations in Virginia and Maryland before going to work for Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1963. He was a longtime member of Columbia United Christian Church (CUCC) in the Church of the Brethren’s Mid-Atlantic District. Pastor Philip Curran wrote in a remembrance from the district: “Clyde was a groundbreaker in the field of pastoral care at Johns Hopkins Hospital and led a life of peace and kindness. To the CUCC community, Clyde was a model of Christian discipleship and devotion. To his family, he was husband of 70 years to his beloved Helen and proud father to Karen, Nancy, and Rick. All who knew Clyde loved him and he will be sorely missed.” A service of remembrance will take place in late spring or summer next year.

Terry Goodger has resigned as program assistant for Brethren Disaster Ministries, as of Dec. 31. She is leaving to take another job. She has been the program assistant for the disaster rebuilding program for more than three years, since June 2017. Her work has included scheduling and interacting with weekly volunteer groups and district disaster coordinators, tracking and updating rebuilding program information, among numerous other tasks to help keep the rebuilding project sites running. Goodger previously worked for the Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources program for 10 years, starting in Sept. 2006 and ending in Sept. 2016, serving as office coordinator. Her work for the Church of the Brethren has been at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

Creation Justice Ministries, the ecological justice counterpart to the National Council of Churches, is currently hiring for three positions: A new Washington, D.C.-based advocate to help facilitate faith communities’ ocean-climate action, embedding in the Washington Inter-religious Staff Committee and establishing strong relationships in the Biden-Harris Administration and with key committee staff in Congress (see Two fellowships based in California; if an applicant emerges who is well-qualified to complete the scope of work in both job descriptions, Creation Justice Ministries is open to employing the same person to do both for up to a total of 1,000 hours: A California Conservation Equity Fellow to center narratives of Black and Indigenous peoples in California, helping to form a network of relationships with California stakeholders for equity in the US public lands and waters system, with a particular focus on Indigenous and Black leaders, among other tasks (see A California Truth and Healing Fellow to closely follow the work of the California Truth and Healing Council, as well as the Reparations Task Force, among other tasks (see

There are still openings for the Winter orientation unit of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS). Dec. 14 is the application deadline for this virtual training for volunteers in Unit 328, to take place Jan. 31-Feb. 12, 2021. Following the same format as the summer and fall units, the winter orientation will be two weeks long and will be done while volunteers are already at their project sites. This builds in a two-week quarantine time so that volunteers are ready to begin serving as soon as orientation is completed. The BVS staff is working hard to include as many aspects of the traditional orientation as possible including growing in faith; learning about Brethren history, service, and social justice issues; building community; working together to accomplish common tasks; and having fun. Because of this new format, staff will be working with volunteers to discern their project placements ahead of the orientation. The application form is online at To express interest and request more information send an email to

Brethren Volunteer Service is inviting Church of the Brethren congregations and members to help support BVS volunteers this Christmas by sending cards and greetings. “Our volunteers love receiving cards and greetings from Brethren congregations!” said an announcement. For a list of current BVSers and their mailing addresses, formatted for printing on labels, contact

— The Office of Peacebuilding and Policy this week issued an action alert calling for support to “halt executions scheduled by a lame-duck administration.” The alert called on Brethren to contact their congressional representatives to oppose the current administration’s “record-setting number of executions before they leave office in January.” The alert noted that on Nov. 19, Orlando Hall was the eighth person to be killed by the US federal government since July this year; the Attorney General has announced five scheduled executions this month; and the Justice Department is proposing amending regulations so that federal killings can take place in state facilities and may use other means than lethal injection. The alert cited the Church of the Brethren’s 1987 statement against the death penalty: “Our Christian sense of justice compels us to abolish the death penalty. While we share society’s concern regarding violent crime, we support other methods far more effective and humane than the death penalty. We must redouble our efforts at effective crime prevention and, for victims of crime, creative means of reparation and healing.” The alert included a sample script for contacting legislators, and also a link to sign a petition at For the full action alert go to

1700s Publications” is the topic of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives’ next Facebook Live event scheduled for next Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 10 a.m. (Central time) at

“Congratulations to our first two groups of grant recipients for our Community Engagement Grants for Youth Groups,” said an announcement from On Earth Peace. The two recipients are the Borderless Relations Committee of Findlay, Ohio, which will use the grant to learn about anti-racism and the dynamics of race within their community through providing books and workshops to elementary schools; and the Agape Satyagraha Graduate Program with their project Peace Through Art. Read more at

The Parables Community, a fellowship of Illinois and Wisconsin District that has focused on serving those with disabilities and their families, will close on Dec. 31. “The COVID pandemic contributed heavily to the decision to close,” said an announcement from the fellowship’s board. “The Parables Community ministry incorporates many sensory elements when meeting for worship and other events. When in-person gathering ceased because of the pandemic, using non-sensory virtual methods for meeting were inadequate to meet the needs of ministry participants. In addition, a significant fundraising event, which would have helped to sustain the ministry, had to be canceled due to pandemic restrictions. The converging of the aforementioned factors impeded the ability of Parables Community to sustain operations.” The board expressed hope that the fellowship has helped the district learn and grow “in ways which will translate into future opportunities for unique ministries to emerge and serve among us.” The closure will be affirmed at the 2021 district conference.

Cabool (Mo.) Church of the Brethren’s ministry team and deacons are planning an abbreviated observance of Los Posadas, a Hispanic Christian tradition, at each door of the 25-some households in the congregation during the week of Dec. 14. Reported the Missouri and Arkansas District newsletter: “Bearing a three-piece nativity of a pregnant Mary, Joseph, and a donkey (created by Nathan Ferree, a fine potter raised among us), we will knock on each door, distanced and masked, asking ‘Will you make room for Jesus?’” The team will leave small lamps at each household, symbolizing light during the long Advent nights, and symbolizing “welcome of Christ and all the least of his sisters and brothers throughout the world. In the year ahead, anticipating some months of continued distancing, we will ask that these lamps be lit as symbols of our commitment and unity when prayer concerns, local and international, are expressed.”

Barrier-Free Grants from Anabaptist Disabilities Network (ADN) help congregations be more accessible for people with disabilities. Congregations can apply for a matching grant for up to $500 for projects that remove barriers to community life, raise awareness, provide caring support, or offer education on accessibility. Even small changes can make a big difference. This October, Salem Mennonite Church in Dalton, Ohio, received a Barrier-Free Grant to help purchase an adaptive swing for their playground. Shown here is Merida Moody of the Salem Mennonite congregation, enjoying their new adaptive swing (photo by Holly Moody). To learn more about the grant or to get an application, go to or contact the ADN office at 574-343-1362 or

Walnut Grove Church of the Brethren in Johnstown, Pa., on Sunday honored Kenneth Reed and Arn Locher, both in their 80s, for 30 years of service with the church’s food pantry. The men have been working with the food pantry ministry since 1992. Pastor Brad Griesheimer told WJAC Channel 6 that the men have touched the lives of 60 to 70 families per month. Find the news report and a video of Reed and Locher being honored by their congregation during Sunday morning worship at

Children in Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren’s child care outreach recently made cards to be delivered to homebound elders who have been significantly impacted by social distancing requirements this year, according to the Shenandoah District newsletter. The cards were part of a project through the Virginia Program for Aging Services, which delivered them on behalf of the children. “Children are finding ways to serve in small but impactful ways,” said the newsletter, “even when person-to-person contact is not possible.”

The Northern Plains District Board is providing Brethren Press gift certificates to all its ministers and churches in an action “taken as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is straining the financial resources of Brethren Press and putting extra demands on churches and ministers,” said the district newsletter. “Northern Plains District recognizes that we are all in this together–ministers, churches, Brethren Press, district.” The district is sending the certificates “with encouragement in these challenging times and with gratitude for our partnership in the gospel ministry.” The district board is using special funds to provide a $25 gift certificate to each minister and TRIM student in the district, and a $50 gift certificate to each of the district’s congregations, fellowships, and church projects.

Western Plains District has announced a “Celebration of Transformation/the Gathering” as a feature of the 2021 District Conference next July. Dale Minnich wrote the announcement in the district newsletter on behalf of the Gathering Banquet Celebration Team. The event will celebrate the district’s initiatives for transformation since 2003, when “a series of Spirit-led events led to new district leadership, development of an Area Ministry Team, study by district leaders of a book on transformation, the calling of a Transformation Team to help Western Plains ‘take transformation seriously,’ and the creation of a Gathering conference that began a 15-year run in 2005,” said the report. “It also resulted in creation of a visionary mission statement, the redesign of the district leadership system, and the development of a pastor/leader training system resulting in some 40 training events over the years. These events have featured Junior High and Youth retreats at all 15 conferences, as well as interaction with each Annual Conference moderator the past 10 years. Gathering was a strongly supported event with attendance reaching 340 in its early years…. The transformation movement, by which Western Plains in now well known across the Church of the Brethren, deserves a reflective thank you from our district.” The report noted that the celebration may be in-person or virtual depending on the pandemic situation by mid-year 2021.

Southern Pennsylvania District is thanking Rich Shaffer for his many years of serving as chair of the Meat Canning Committee and chief coordinator of the annual meat canning events that are co-sponsored with Mid-Atlantic District. “Rich resigned this position to devote more time to his dear wife, Joy,” said the district newsletter. “Rich’s service has provided countless meals for hungry people all over the world.”

The National Council of Churches (NCC) is inviting participation in “40 Days of Prayer to Transform: A Journey to Newness.” Beginning Dec. 12 and continuing daily through Jan. 20, 2021, members of the NCC and partner communions will offer prayers for hope, unity, and healing, said a release. “During this Advent/Christmas season and into the New Year we put our hope in the ability and desire of God, through Jesus Christ, to heal and transform hearts and minds. We look for the Holy Spirit to breathe God’s newness into individual lives, faith communities, the soul of our nation, indeed, the whole world.” Beginning Dec. 12, more information will be posted at

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has announced a gathering of Advent songs from across the world intended to unite people in hope. The initiative is in partnership with Red Crearte, a Latin American network that produces spiritual and liturgical material. Titled “A Common Song for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany,” the collection “seeks to make visible our unity in diversity through the gift of music. This is achieved by highlighting the musical contributions of composers from different confessional families and cultural backgrounds. All the music is based on a common text but presented in various languages.” The songs will be rolled out throughout Advent and Christmas, ending on Epiphany on Jan. 6, on the WCC’s YouTube channel at The WCC has shared more information and the first two songs in the collection—“Florescer em Esperança” by Louis Marcelo Illenseer of Brazil, and “Vi Anar Dig Jesus, i Ljusen” by Per Harling of Sweden–at

H. Lamar Gibble was recognized for his 65 years as an ordained minister by the Illinois and Wisconsin District conference in November. Gibble served for many years on the denominational staff of the Church of the Brethren, working in the areas of peace witness and ecumenical and international relations.

Peggy Reiff Miller has announced her first-ever Zoom presentation on seagoing cowboys, for the Indian Valley Public Library in Telford, Pa. “Five young men from Telford, Pa., took to the seas after World War II to deliver horses, heifers, and mules to war-devastated countries in Europe. Seagoing cowboy historian Peggy Reiff Miller will share their fascinating stories and more,” said the description of the event on Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). Register at

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