Brethren bits for Feb. 15, 2020

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The “Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church” program, a grant-funded effort of the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry, hosted nine leaders at its “Circuit Rider Training” event in Richmond, Va., on Jan. 31-Feb. 2. The program is designed to support the 77 percent of pastors who are multivocational. These regionally based circuit riders will be sent out to visit, listen, encourage, and connect multivocational pastors with specific resources helpful to them in their particular contexts. The training included worship, fellowship, and learning from Sandra Jenkins, who teaches a Brethren Academy course called “Defining Set-Apart Ministry within the Bivocational Reality” and from Dan Poole, assistant professor of Ministry Formation at Bethany Seminary. The program expects to begin welcoming applications from pastors in March at .
     Shown above, participants at the circuit rider training (from left): Cole Scrogham of Shenandoah District; Sandra Jenkins, resource leader; Don Hubbell of Atlantic Northeast District; Nancy Heishman, director of the Office of Ministry; Aida Sanchez, serving Spanish-speaking pastors; Jan Largent of South/Central Indiana District; John Fillmore of Idaho District; Mayra Calix of the advisory committee; Angela Carr of Virlina District; Keith Funk of Western Plains District; Dana Cassell, program manager. Not pictured are Dan Poole, resource leader; Erin Matteson of Pacific Southwest District; Bill Schaefer of Atlantic Southeast District.

— Gieta Gresh has resigned as camp administrator for Camp Mardela in Denton, Md., one of two camps in Mid-Atlantic District, effective the end of August. She and her husband, Ken Gresh, will move to Pennsylvania following the 2020 summer camp season. She has served in the position since April 2005. In an online post Gresh said, “These 15 years have been an amazing journey…it has been my honor to serve as the camp administrator. I am thankful to be a part of a ministry where many lives have been touched by the love and transforming power of Jesus.” Camp Mardela has enjoyed a strong run during her tenure, with improved facilities, increased community connections, solid summer camper and rental numbers, and a stable budget. The camp board expressed its gratitude for the long service of “Chief Gieta” and said it looks forward to continuing to work with her during upcoming months of transition.

— Priscilla Weddle has begun as an intern at the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy in Washington, D.C. She is pursuing a master’s degree in public administration, with a concentration in nonprofit management and governance from Old Dominion University. “Priscilla’s passion for peacebuilding and policy stems from her academic background and previous experiences with poverty,” said an announcement. “As a child, Priscilla and her family experienced homelessness and relied on organizations for assistance. Because of this experience, she recognizes how important it is to help others in need, volunteering at the local homeless and animal shelters. This has led to her desire to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector to combat food insecurity.”

— “Mission and Money in Church Planting” is the topic of a webinar offered by the Church of the Brethren’s Discipleship Ministries as a “New and Renew” event sponsored by the New Church Advisory Committee. This free event is led by David Fitch and scheduled for Tuesday, March 10, at 3-4 p.m. (Eastern time), with Spanish translation available. Fitch is the Betty R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary in Chicago, Ill., and founding pastor of Life on the Vine Christian Community, a missional church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He also coaches a network of church plants linked to Life on the Vine. His latest books are “Faithful Presence” and “The Church of Us vs. Them.” Those who attend the live webinar may earn 0.1 continuing education units. To attend the webinar go to “Mission and Money in Church Planting” at .

— Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) is publicizing upcoming training workshops: Feb. 29-March 1 in La Verne, Calif. (full, waiting list only); March 6-7 in Bridgewater, Va.; March 27-28 in Lombard, Ill.; April 17-18 in Tulsa, Okla.; May 1-2 in Victor, N.Y. For more information about training to become a CDS volunteer serving children and families affected by disaster, go to .

— A call for Congress to oppose the expansion of the “Muslim Ban” was issued by the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy as an action alert. On Jan. 31 the US administration announced an expanded ban that suspends immigrant visas that can lead to permanent status in the US for people from Nigeria as well as Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Burma. In addition, it banned people from Sudan and Tanzania from obtaining “diversity visas” provided to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration into the US. The alert cited the 1982 Annual Conference “Statement on Undocumented Persons and Refugees in the United States” for Brethren to take action on behalf of “our brother and sister immigrants.” The Annual Conference statement says, in part, “Christ has made another appearance among us, as Himself an immigrant and refugee in the person of political dissidents, the economically deprived, and foreigners on the run. We are to join them as pilgrims in search of that city yet to come, with foundations of love and justice whose architect and builder is God.” The alert asked Brethren to contact representatives in Congress to urge the adoption of legislation called the “NO BAN Act” (S.1123/H.R.2214).

— The Office of Peacebuilding and Policy was represented at the National Farm Worker Ministry board meeting Jan. 30-Feb. 2 in Tampa, Fla., by office associate and Brethren Volunteer Service worker Susu Lassa. “The meeting was centered around working in solidarity with farm workers calling for better wages and working conditions, recognizing the inherent dignity of all persons, and galvanizing to support farm worker movements nationally,” said the office newsletter. “The board heard from groups such as the Farm Worker Association of Florida, and spent a day in Immokalee, Fla., meeting with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to find ways in which the faith-based ministry can support CIW’s national Fair Food Campaign.” Learn more at .

— The Workcamp Ministry has chosen Rwanda for this year’s international workcamp from May 28-June 8. “Often referred to as the land of a thousand hills, Rwanda is known for its breathtaking scenery, exotic wildlife, and safari experiences,” said an announcement. “It is also home to a new Church of the Brethren community that is actively worshiping, praying, and training students to be theologians and peacemakers. The Rwanda Brethren are rapidly growing their community by meeting the needs of the community around them including the marginalized Batwa Pygmy community, an indigenous group from the Great Lakes Region in Africa. During this workcamp, participants will engage in relational service, getting to know the four congregations and their various ministries, and getting a sense for Rwandan history and culture.” The workcamp will serve alongside Rwandan Brethren in a construction project for a new church building in Gisenyi. The Workcamp Ministry is receiving donations to purchase building materials. Donations may be sent to the Workcamp Office, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; or donate online at .

— Bethany Theological Seminary has been recognized among “Seminaries that Change the World” by the Center for Faith and Service, for the fifth consecutive year. The recognition goes to seminaries and divinity schools that demonstrate a commitment to service and justice through their curriculum, scholarships, internships, and student-life experiences. In addition, qualities considered for inclusion in the list are collaboration, affordability, and innovation. “The selection of Bethany reflects our commitment to the values of service and justice exemplified in our curricula and in the opportunities that students have to make a difference in the world and embody the gospel,” said Steve Schweitzer, academic dean, in a release. See .

— The Church in Drive, a Church of the Brethren congregation in Saginaw, Mich., is among the football fans who are helping the City Rescue Mission of Saginaw according to Mid-Michigan Now and Fox Channel 66. The church hosted a game-night party and collected clothes and food for the mission. “It’s really good for us to contribute money to organizations overseas or other really good causes,” pastor Nate Polzin said. “But when you can actually put something in somebody’s hands–that’s going to directly benefit them–that’s a different kind of feeling.” See .

— Church of the Brethren congregations and venues across several districts are hosting the new “Can We Talk? Conversations for Change through Story and Song” from Ted & Co. that for the first time features Mennonite actor and comedian Ted Swartz and Christian musician Ken Medema together in a joint production. Here is a list of upcoming locations where Brethren may see “Can We Talk?”:
     Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren on March 6 at 7 p.m.;
     Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren on March 7 at 7 p.m., free admission with an offering for Harrisonburg-Rockingham Bridge of Hope;
     Central Roanoke (Va.) Church of the Brethren on March 8 at 4 p.m., free admission with donations accepted for the World Hunger Auction;
     Avalon Theatre in Easton, Md., sponsored by Easton Church of the Brethren, on March 11 starting at 7 p.m., admission is $15, proceeds over expenses will benefit the Talbot Interfaith Shelter, for tickets contact the church at 410-822-0475 or ;
     Union Center Church of the Brethren in Nappanee, Ind., on March 13 at 6:30 p.m., free admission;
     Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind., on March 14 at 7 p.m.;
     Northmont High School Auditorium in Clayton, Ohio, hosted by Southern Ohio and Kentucky District, on March 15 starting at 7 p.m., free admission with an offering for Brethren Disaster Ministries Memorial Day Tornado Relief.
     For the full schedule go to .

— The February 2020 program of “Brethren Voices” television show updates a May 2018 program on “March for Our Lives” with a focus on the alarming statistics on gun violence in the US. “Every day, 100 people are killed from gun violence in this country,” said an announcement. “Following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, there were marches in Washington, D.C., and over 800 locations throughout the United States and around the world. It was described by many as a possible tipping point in this country for gun control legislation.” In 2018 “Brethren Voices” joined with other Brethren to support the youth at one of the 800 sites. John Jones of Myrtle Point, Ore., marched with the walkers to get their thoughts about the event, and also was interviewed by host Brent Carlson. This February the program provides an update about the organization, March For Our Lives, and current statistics on gun violence in the US. Brethren Voices is a monthly public access TV show produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren and is available on YouTube.

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An Annual Ministers Council has been held by Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). As reported by EYN communications staff Zakariya Musa, the council was held at the EYN Headquarters with over 1,000 ministers from across the denomination in attendance. The theme, “Fear the Lord and Serve Him with All Righteousness,” from Joshua 24:14, is EYN’s theme for the year. Dondo Iorlamen from CAPRO Ministry was the guest preacher. He asked the participants to compare the state of Christianity between 1961 to 1990 and 1991 to 2020 in terms of population, wealth, resources, mobility, and spiritual being. EYN president Joel S. Billi addressed the gathering about the state of the church before the council entered into its annual business session. Photo by Zakariay Musa

— Iglesia de los Hermanos (the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic) held their Asamblea, or annual conference, on the first weekend in February. Jeff Boshart, director of the Global Food Initiative, reports that the Asamblea was led by moderator Santa Elena Gramonte Contreras. She and her husband, Ariel Rosario Abreu, are pastors of the Vid Verdadera congregation in Los Guaricanos, Santo Domingo.

 A webinar on “Zionism and Palestine” is presented by Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). “The roots of Zionism run deep in Christianity and Judaism, and their impacts are felt in Palestine. In this webinar, Linda Holtzman and Amy Yoder McGloughlin will share stories about their recent trip to Palestine, and how they see Zionism impacting this occupied territory,” said an announcement. Holtzman is a Jewish rabbi and the organizer of Tikkun Olam Chavurah, a group that pursues social justice work together as a community. She serves on the Board of Directors for Jewish Voice for Peace. McGloughlin is pastor at Frazer Mennonite Church in Malvern, Pa., and since 2015 has been leading multi-faith delegations to Palestine with CPT. She serves on the CPT Steering Committee representing the Mennonite Church USA. Register at .

— The World Council of Churches (WCC) has begun a worldwide campaign for 70 days of prayer to end the 70-year Korean War. “A war erupted on the Korean Peninsula 70 years ago that divided Korea and that has yet to end,” said a release. The campaign was inspired in part by the WCC’s increased ecumenical efforts for peace and reunification of the divided Korean people since its 10th Assembly was held in South Korea in 2013. One goal is to replace the Armistice Agreement with a peace treaty, the release said. The campaign will last from March 1 to Aug. 15, “during which hundreds of thousands of people worldwide will say: ‘We Pray, Peace Now, End the War!’” the release said. “The Korean War that divided the country in two was fought from 1950 to 1953, but fighting ceased only with an armistice, and a peace treaty is yet to be signed. At least three million people are thought to have died in the fighting and families were wrenched apart by the division of the country.” Aug. 15 was chosen as the end date for the campaign because it is the anniversary date of the division of the peninsula, but also is celebrated as Liberation Day in both North and South Korea as the date in 1945 when Korea won independence from Japanese colonial oppression. WCC work has included bringing together representatives from the Korean Christian Federation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and from the National Council of Churches in the Republic of Korea to reflect together.

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