Brethren bits for May 30, 2020

The killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis is condemned in statements by two ecumenical organizations of which the Church of the Brethren is a founding member:
     The killing “is an outrage,” said a statement from the National Council of Churches (NCC). Citing Psalm 9, “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble,” the statement said, in part, that “this incident adds to a string of occurrences in the last few weeks and too many incidents to count in the US over hundreds of years, where racism and bias coupled with policing are a lethal combination for Black people…. Racism has infected this country since its beginnings and this virus has seeped into every aspect of American life.” The NCC called on member churches “to be beacons of light in their own communities by addressing racism where they are, acknowledging the trauma experienced by those in the Black community and working tirelessly to end racism and white supremacy once and for all.” Find the full statement at .
     The World Council of Churches (WCC) condemned violence, racism, and police brutality in the US in a statement that said, in part: “As part of our Christian understanding and our witness in the world, we reject the brutality of both violence and racial injustice…. How many more must die before there is a collective affirmation that black lives do matter, and fundamental root-and-branch reforms in the culture and practices of law enforcement agencies are implemented? This must stop. There must be a conversion (metanoia), reflection, repentance and rejection of all forms of racism and racial discrimination, and a true and genuine acknowledgement of the equal God-given dignity and worth of every human being, regardless of colour or ethnicity. Superficial measures will no longer suffice.” Read the full statement at .

Central Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., has issued a statement from its Race Education Team, which was shared with Newsline by Intercultural Ministries director LaDonna Nkosi. “Racism must end! Racism must not be tolerated by anyone! Rise up! Stand up! Just say no!” the statement began. It continued, in part: “In recent days and weeks this nation has seen something more horrible than a virus that takes the breath away. We have seen a trifecta of racism caught on video that takes away the breath of conscience and decency. We must examine our souls and our actions to stop this racist virus and learn to stand in solidarity with the victims of those who have been killed and oppressed. As members of an historic peace church, we believe that Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:38), and to do unto others as we would have them do unto us (Matthew 7:12). If there is no sign of love and justice in our hearts, then there is reason to at least question whether Christ is in our hearts and whether we are people of God.” The statement specifically shared about the killings of Ahmaud Aubrey and George Floyd, and an incident affecting Christian Cooper in New York. “As witnesses to these deplorable incidents, we must acknowledge a heritage of toxic white privilege and our own racism and work to dismantle it,” the statement said. “We must learn that all life is precious regardless of the color of the skin.” Among others, it included the specific confession that “white privilege blinds us to racism and its effects,” and a call for others to join in such confession: “If you need to re-examine your thoughts and actions concerning racism and justice, NOW is the time to do so.” The statement invited others to join with Central Church in anti-racism study and activities. Contact .

— “Faith, Science, and COVID-19″ is the topic of the Annual Conference Moderator’s Town Hall, a virtual event scheduled for Thursday, June 4, at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). The online town hall will feature Dr. Kathryn Jacobsen, professor in the Department of Global and Community Health at George Mason University, Fairfax, Va., and a member of Oakton Church of the Brethren in Vienna, Va. She is a specialist in infectious disease epidemiology and global health who has consulted with a number of organizations during the COVID-19 crisis. Commenting on this event, moderator Paul Mundey noted: “As we continue to move through the COVID-19 crisis, the relationship between faith and science is rising in importance, especially as church leaders gauge when to reopen church campuses. I anticipate our town hall will provide a lively dialogue about the tension between ‘moving out in faith,’ and the wisdom of heeding medical, scientific realities.” To register for the town hall go to . For more information contact .

— Western Pennsylvania District has announced that its 154th District Conference will go ahead as planned on Oct. 17, with more information and updates to appear in the district newsletter in coming months. However, the Financial Resource Team of the district “has decided after a lot of prayer to cancel the 15th Annual District Auction on November 7,” said the announcement. “They are hoping to have the Auction again in 2021.”

— McPherson (Kan.) College is celebrating the class of 2020 with its first-ever virtual graduation ceremony. Said a release: “Although the McPherson College 132nd Commencement Ceremony took place on campus in an empty Brown Auditorium, it will likely be one of the most memorable commencements in the history of the college. McPherson College conferred degrees on 139 students…. The ceremony was streamed live on the college’s website. In his address to the graduates, President Michael Schneider reminded students of the simple advice he learned from his grandmother and has passed along to students each year as freshmen. ‘Every year I share a couple of secrets to success at McPherson College, and here they are again. Number one is show up, and number two is ask for help. It seems easy but when you do it over and over again, guess what? You end up right where you are sitting as McPherson College graduates.’ Commencement celebrations kicked off earlier in the day with a President’s Zoom Brunch for seniors and their families. The virtual event featured special faculty guests, class memories, a cap-decorating contest, and the senior address given by Diamond Marshall, 2019-20 SGA president. In her address to the class, Marshall said, ‘Celebrate your perseverance and each other. Each of you should be proud because when the world came to a close; our community strengthen and continued on.’ Prior to the ceremony, Lillian Oeding and Kento Aizawa, both members of the graduating class, performed an instrumental duet of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’” Find a recording of the entire ceremony and a list of graduates on the college website at .

— Bridgewater (Va.) College has continued to announce awards and honors for its students. Following is a selection of the awards made in honor of former faculty or alumni:
     Benjamin B. McCrickard of Westminster, Md., received the M. R. Zigler Service Award named for a leading Church of the Brethren peace advocate, ecumenist, and humanitarian who graduated from Bridgewater in the class of 1916.
     The Dale V. Ulrich Physics Scholarship, which honors the former professor of physics and dean and provost of the college, has been awarded to Stephen C. Pincus Jr. of Yorktown, Va.
     The Zane D. Showker Institute for Responsible Leadership awarded its 2020 prize to the student team NetZero Plastics, which sought to tackle plastic waste on campus. Winning team members were Rashad Alfarra, Sophie S. Hargrave, Joan Lee, Anh H. Nguyen, and Eli W. Quay. Due to the unique circumstances of the competition this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the judges distributed the $5,000 cash prize across all four teams who competed.
     Calen E. Sparks received the Rugby H. St. John Endowed Scholarship in Family and Consumer Sciences.
     Kallie M. Moyer of Harrington, Del., received the Robert L. Hueston Endowed Scholarship honoring the contributions Hueston made to the study of accounting while a member of the faculty from 1953-86.
     Dylan M. Craig of Stuarts Draft, Va., received the David E. Will Endowed Scholarship in honor of Will, a 1983 graduate and a partner and certified public accountant with Mitchell Wiggins and Company LLP in Richmond, Va, before his death in September 2018.
     The David G. and Margie Messick Smith Endowed Scholarship was presented to Mary S. Monaco of Alexandria, Va. The scholarship was established by two Bridgewater graduates in memory of their grandparents, David G. and Margie Messick Smith.
     Luke C. Morgan of Churchville, Va., Anh H. Nguyen from Hanoi, Vietnam, and Jacob K. Talley of Mineral, Va., received the Daniel W. Bly-Lamar B. Neal History and Political Science awards named for Bly, assistant professor of history, emeritus, and Neal, associate professor of political science and history, emeritus.
     Erin M. Fitzpatrick of Wyoming, Mich., McKenzie N. Melvin of Dover, Del., and Hannah C. Weisenburger of Windsor, Va., received the Dr. David K. McQuilkin Endowed Scholarship.
     Decklan R. Wilkerson of Swoope, Va., received the John W. Wayland Scholarship in Public History.
     The Ruth and Steve Watson Philosophy Scholarship Award went to Rachel E. Petterson of Lovettsville, Va.
     The John Martin Award for Organic Chemistry in memory of Martin, class of 1947, who served on the faculty for 24 years preparing students for careers in medicine and pharmaceutical work, went to Benjamin C. Hanks of Henrico, Va.
     The Dr. Stuart R. Suter Endowed Scholarship was awarded to Youmna K. Moawad from Rockingham, Va., and Lane Phillips of Timberville, Va.
     The Garland L. Reed Chemistry Award named in memory of Reed, a 1948 graduate in chemistry who had a distinguished career in the Food and Drug Administration, was given to Jyailah Friendly of Manassas, Va.
     The Joseph M. and Jane A. Crockett Award went to Era Shehu of Rockingham, Va., and Mary Ruth Shifflett of Grottoes, Va. Dr. Joseph Crockett retired at the end of the 2020-21 academic year holding the position of A. LeRoy and Wanda H. Baker Chair of Science, after serving as professor of chemistry for 35 years.

— The launching of a new organization named Corus International has been announced by IMA World Health, a partner organization of the Church of the Brethren, and Lutheran World Relief. Corus International is described in a release as “a model of the international NGO of the future and the new parent of a family of faith-based nonprofits and for-profits.” Daniel Speckhard has been named Corus president and CEO, and also continues as president and CEO of IMA World Health. In addition to IMA World Health and Lutheran World Relief, the Corus “family” includes UK-based technology company Charlie Goldsmith Associates; impact investing firm Ground Up Investing; and direct-trade coffee producer LWR Farmers Market Coffee. Explained the release: “Longtime collaborators, IMA World Health and Lutheran World Relief have for more than a year blended IMA’s expertise in public health with LWR’s work in rural economies and humanitarian assistance, together expanding efforts to end Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo, for example. Now, alongside Corus, they are mounting a worldwide initiative to prevent and treat COVID-19 while fighting poverty stemming from related economic setbacks. Corus also leads for-profits Charlie Goldsmith Associates, acquired in 2019, and Ground Up Investing. CGA develops and applies context-suitable technology to meet the needs of people in the world’s hardest to reach and most complex environments. Along with other farmer-forward investments, Ground Up owns a coffee wholesaler in Uganda that works to increase farmer incomes by improving quality, yields and prices. This summer, IMA World Health and Lutheran World Relief are transitioning their logos to reflect the new mark of the Corus family. With a staff of 800 throughout Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, Corus maintains headquarters in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.”

— “Rebuilding Roots” is the theme for a World Refugee Day celebration on June 21 hosted by Church World Service (CWS). The evening of music, poetry, and storytelling will take place online from 6-9 p.m. (Eastern time) “to celebrate our refugee and immigrant neighbors,” said an announcement. “Performers will share stories and music that touches on the concept of Rebuilding Roots and how it relates to those who seek refuge and safety in new lands. The event is free to attend, and donations will go towards supporting the work of CWS Jersey City.” Poets, writers, and those who have a personal story to share are invited to submit their works for the event, go to . The link to attend the celebration is forthcoming.

— Bread for the World’s 2020 Virtual Advocacy Summit will be held on the topic “Our Faith, Our Future” on June 8 and 9. The event is intended to “build on last year’s legislative success when Bread members persuaded 28 senators from both sides of the aisle to co-sponsor legislation to help end maternal and child malnutrition,” said an announcement. “This year’s Virtual Advocacy Summit will consist of both pre-recorded and livestreamed sessions, as well as select opportunities to chat online in real-time with workshop moderators and engage in virtual online advocacy actions. In addition to the annual Pan African Consultation and Latino Leaders Convening, other highlights include legislative briefing and Q&A, documentary screening of “Hunger and Hope: Lessons from Ethiopia and Guatemala” followed by a Q&A with producer and host Rick Steves, ‘Advocating Alone Together’ and ‘Healing the Divide’ workshops. Go to .
— A new guide for eco-theological worship resources and activities for the 2020 Season of Creation is now available from ecumenical partners including the World Council of Churches. A WCC release reported that the theme is “Jubilee for the Earth,” and the guide provides creative ways for churches to participate in this liturgical season between Sept. 1 and Oct. 4. Resources include a prayer service, liturgical resources, meditations, and ideas for action and advocacy to help “explore the reality that, this year, the global reach of the novel coronavirus revealed our shared human nature and the inter-connectivity of our economies, political structures, health care systems, food production chains, and energy and transportation systems in devastating ways,” said the release. The beginning and the end date of the Season of Creation are linked with the concern for creation in the Eastern and the Western traditions of Christianity. Sept. 1 was proclaimed as a day of prayer for the environment by the late Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I in 1989, and in 2015 was designated by Pope Francis as a World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation. The Orthodox church year starts that day with a commemoration of how God created the world. On Oct. 4, Roman Catholics and other churches from the Western traditions commemorate Francis of Assisi, the author of the Canticle of the Creatures. The commemoration is a joint effort of the WCC, Global Catholic Climate Movement, ACT Alliance, World Communion of Reformed Churches, Anglican Communion Environmental Network, A Rocha, Lutheran World Federation, Christian Aid, Lausanne/WEA Creation Care Network, and European Christian Environmental Network. Download the guide at .

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