— “Time is running out!” said an announcement from Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT). “Open enrollment for Brethren Insurance Services ends Nov. 30, so now is the time to sign up for new insurance products, add coverage for products you already use, increase limits, and make other changes. And you can do all this without medical underwriting.” Go to https://cobbt.org/open-enrollment to see the array of insurance products available to people who are employed by the many different organizations of the church.
— In more news from BBT, the agency has extended its COVID-19 emergency grant program. In response to the coronavirus pandemic last spring, BBT created a streamlined COVID-19 emergency grant program. The initial program ran through July, but due to continuing need, a second block of grant money was made available through November. Now, as the pandemic continues to cause financial hardship, a third block of COVID-19 grant money is available for applications received between Dec. 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. Inquiries should be directed to Debbie Butcher at 847-622-3391 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Find an application form on the BBT website at www.cobbt.org.
— Prayer is requested by Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) for the death of seven people in an auto accident on their way back to Maiduguri from the International Christian Centre, Uhogua, Benin, Edo State. Officials at the Christian Association of Nigeria Centre in Maiduguri said the group included three pregnant mothers who had left the camp to bring back their children who were schooling in Benin, where about 4,000 displaced children are hosted. The accident took place near the city of Jos. Camp officials provided the list of the deceased: Andrawus Ayuba, Rose John, Ladi Philimon, Lydia Andrawus, Baby Rose John, Hanatu Philimon, and Zarah Ali. The EYN Disaster Relief Ministry team was on its way to Maiduguri for regular response activities in the IDP camps and hoped to meet the families of the deceased.
— McPherson (Kan.) College is among the 51 inaugural member institutions of the Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance recently announced by the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center. “The USC Race and Equity Center works with professionals in educational institutions and corporations to strategically develop and achieve equity goals, better understand and correct climate problems, avoid and recover from racial crises, and cultivate sustainable cultures of inclusion and respect,” said a release. McPherson has participated in the USC Race and Equity Center’s Campus Climate Survey since 2019. As a member of the new alliance, the college can participate in 12 eConvenings, professional development sessions that focus on particular aspects of racial equity, conducted by nationally respected leaders in race relations, and will have access to an online repository of resources and tools that include equity-related rubrics, readings, case studies, videos, and other resources. Every employee across all levels at each of the alliance institutions will have full access to the virtual resource portal, the release said. Additionally, alliance members will participate in two new workplace climate surveys in addition to a student survey. Presidents of each member college will meet quarterly to share strategies, seek advice, and identify ways to leverage the alliance for collective impact on racial equity in higher education.
— “When did you first know you were a leader in the church?” asks the announcement for the latest Dunker Punks Podcast. “Being a part of a denomination that focuses on the life of the community has given many of us the opportunity to lead in some capacity but has also limited the opportunities of others who have a desire to lead. Anna Lisa Gross invited a number of folks from within the church to tell us of their experiences, hardships, and successes with becoming involved in church leadership in this first episode of her interviews from the Womaen’s Caucus.” Listen at bit.ly/DPP_Episode107 or subscribe to the Dunker Punks Podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.
— The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center asks, “Does your congregation experience conflict? Does it harm your Christian fellowship and distract from your church’s mission? Learn to transform conflict from a negative force into an opportunity for reconciliation and growth.” The center is offering six sessions of its Mediation Skills Training Institute for Church Leaders in 2021: March 1-5, May 3-7, June 21-25, Aug. 2-6, Oct. 11-15, or Nov. 15-19. The “early bird” registration rate is $695. Currently plans are to conduct the events online via Zoom. To register or to learn more, contact 630-627-0507 or Admin@LMPeaceCenter.org.
— Last Wednesday, the National Council of Churches (NCC) started a series of online events titled “Faith and Fire Conversations” on the topic “Chaos or Community: Courageous Conversations During Chaos.” The events are being provided free of charge in order “to have contextual and spiritual/theological conversations among prominent clergy, academics, and activists/organizers relevant to the ‘twin pandemics’ of racism and COVID-19, and our country’s tumultuous political landscape,” said an announcement. The conversation topics for the series have been derived from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” book chapters. The first panel took place this past Wednesday on the topic “Where Are We? Spiritually Diagnosing America’s Illnesses” and included panelists E. Michelle Ledder, director of Equity and Anti-Racism for the General Commission on Religion and Race of the United Methodist Church; Angela Ravin-Anderson, Social Justice Ministry co-lead of Wheeler Ave. Baptist Church in Houston, Texas; Reuben Eckels, interfaith advocacy minister for Immigrants and Refugees, Church World Service; Leslie Copeland Tune, NCC chief operating officer; and Christian S. Watkins, NCC Justice Advocacy and Outreach manager. Find a recording of this past Wednesday’s conversation at www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FrQpC7CrE4&feature=youtu.be. Register for next Wednesday’s conversation on Nov. 25 at 1 p.m. (Eastern time) on the topic “Racism and the White Backlash: Role of the Church Against White Supremacy” at https://nationalcouncilofchurches.z2systems.com/np/clients/nationalcouncilofchurches/eventRegistration.jsp.
— In more news from the NCC, the council is partnering with the United Church of Christ to offer online faith-based organizing training to the wider church and beyond. “During this Advent season of viral pandemics, racial injustice, economic uncertainty, physical isolation, and socio-political strife, how does one prepare for what is to come? Advent is the season Christians are called to prepare for the coming of Jesus in the world and, with Jesus, the in-breaking of justice,” said an announcement. The trainings are built on a foundation of Christian discipleship and will explore questions such as “What will the world look like when justice comes?” and “How do we prepare for its arrival?” Four organizers and trainers will each be paired with a theological reflector to lead four sessions to gain tools for basic organizing and embodiment; direct action and risk assessment; communication and accompaniment; trauma care and healing space. Each session will include time for interaction, questions, and downloadable resources. Registration cost is $25 per person or $90 for all four sessions. Find out more at https://frontline-faith.teachable.com/p/faith-based-organizing.
— Celebrating International Children’s Day, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has released a research paper on “Cooler Earth-Higher Benefits: Actions by Those Who Care about Children, Climate, and Finance.” According to a release, the publication gives suggestions of how churches and other organizations around the world can respond to the climate emergency through investment decisions that are crucial to protect children from global warming. “God protects, loves, and cares for the most vulnerable among God’s creatures,” said WCC deputy general secretary Isabel Apawo Phiri in the release. “Examples presented in this research show how churches and other organizations can provide concrete answers to the challenges of the climate crisis, that directly impacts the lives of children and youth.” The research paper was developed as a result of the Churches’ Commitments to Children initiative winning the Keeling Curve Prize in 2019. The WCC’s Child Rights program commissioned the work in response to requests by children and youth urging adults to find solutions in response to the climate crisis. Download the publication at www.oikoumene.org/resources/publications/cooler-earth-higher-benefits.
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