— Daniel Radcliff has been hired by Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) as client manager for the Brethren Foundation, as of Oct. 26. He graduated in 2016 from Judson University in Elgin, Ill., with a bachelor of arts degree in Business Management and Leadership. He brings over a dozen years of experience in the world of finance, most recently working as a financial advisor for Edward Jones. Previously, he worked for almost a decade at JP Morgan Chase. He and his family are active members at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin.
— Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey is hosting Zoom sessions in districts, focusing on the “state of the church.” Both laity and clergy are urged to participate. “These online sessions utilize a Q&A format, with an emphasis on listening to the hearts of our constituency,” said an announcement. “Any and all questions are invited.” Joining Mundey will be the other Annual Conference officers: David Sollenberger as moderator-elect and Jim Beckwith as Conference secretary. Normally, the Annual Conference moderator visits districts in the course of her/his tenure, engaging in face-to-face conversation related to the life of the church. Given the continuing pandemic, these Zoom sessions provide an alternative platform for conversation with the moderator. At this time, one or more sessions are scheduled for the following districts: Mid-Atlantic, Illinois and Wisconsin, Northern Indiana, Northern Ohio, Southern Ohio and Kentucky, Southern Pennsylvania, and Virlina. All districts are invited to participate.
— Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) has announced the start of open enrollment for Brethren Insurance Services. Nov. 1-30 is open enrollment time for people who work for a Church of the Brethren employer. That means employees of churches, districts, camps, retirement communities, and other church agencies that receive their insurance through Brethren Insurance Services. During open enrollment, you can sign up for new insurance products, add coverage for products you already use, increase limits, and make other changes, and do all this without medical underwriting. To see the array of insurance products Brethren Insurance Services makes available to people who are employed by the many different organizations of the church go to https://cobbt.org/open-enrollment.
— Here are prayer concerns that have been shared by denominational staff, districts, and ecumenical partners this week:
“The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective” (James 5:16b).
Please be in prayer for Sugar Run Church of the Brethren in Middle Pennsylvania District. Pastor Jim Hullihen and his wife, Ivy, are battling COVID-19 and 25 others in the congregation have tested positive with various symptoms.
Please be in prayer for those who were in the path of Hurricane / Tropical Storm Zeta, including Church of the Brethren congregations and members in Alabama and Louisiana. Word has been received of some serious damage to buildings of at least two Brethren families in the Citronelle and Fruitdale areas of Alabama.
The World Council of Churches (WCC) has shared a prayer request following a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck in the Aegean Sea off the coasts of Turkey and Greece. Interim general secretary Ioan Sauca called for prayer, and expressed solidarity with churches and responders who continue to help hundreds of injured and traumatized people. At least 14 people have died across Turkey and Greece, and hundreds more have been injured. The city of Izmir in Turkey has been particularly badly hit, as has the Greek island of Samos. Some Turkish coastal towns have been flooded as well. “As a global community, we offer our prayers and stand in solidarity with those who are coping with the aftermath of this disaster in Turkey and Greece,” said Sauca. “We pray for the responders who are helping on the scene, we pray for medical workers, we pray for families who are mourning–may God comfort you in this time of trauma.”
Please pray for Nigeria and the members of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). There has been considerable unrest in Nigeria for some weeks related to the movement using the hashtag #EndSARS, which is seeking to abolish a federal police unit called the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). On Oct. 20, police shot civilians at an #EndSARS protest near Lagos. “Amnesty International said it has recorded 82 cases of SARS abuses over the past three years, including beatings, hangings, mock executions, sexual assault, and waterboarding,” reports the Washington Post ( www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/endsars-nigeria-police-brutality-sars-lekki-protest/2020/10/22/27e31e0c-143d-11eb-a258-614acf2b906d_story.html ). This sparked more protests and looting around the country, and 24-hour curfews have been in place in some 20 states across Nigeria including Adamawa State, where the headquarters of EYN is located, and Plateau State, where Bethany Seminary student Sharon Flaten resides. Reports from Yuguda Mdurvwa, director of EYN Disaster Relief Ministry, said warehouses across the country that contained COVID-19 relief supplies that had not been distributed to the people were broken into, items taken, and buildings destroyed. While the rural areas in the northeast have not experienced this looting and destruction, they remain targets of Boko Haram attacks and many people are afraid to sleep in the villages at night.
— In related news, an Action Alert for Nigeria from the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy calls on Brethren to contact their representatives in Congress “to condemn the Buhari administration’s violent crackdown on peaceful #EndSARS protests.” The alert supports calls from Nigerians and others for disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad or SARS, one branch of the Nigerian Police Force. Although SARS has existed for years and initially helped lower crime rates, it has over time garnered a reputation for blatant abuse of power, corruption, beatings, torture, extrajudicial killings, and multiple documented human rights violations. Nigerians in the diaspora (US, Europe, Canada, and other locations) and civil society organizations have joined the #EndSARS protests to help amplify the protestors demand on a global scale. “Our Nigerian sisters and brothers who are already suffering at the hands of Boko Haram and the pandemic, should not also suffer at the hands of those that are supposed to protect them,” said the alert. It lists the demands put forward by the Nigerian Youth, which include the immediate release of all arrested EndSARS protestors and the establishment of an independent body to oversee the investigation and prosecution of all reports of police misconduct within 10 days. Find the full Action Alert at https://mailchi.mp/brethren.org/endsars-protests.
— Episodes 9 and 10 of the Messenger Radio podcast series on “Speaking Truth to Power” are now available at www.brethren.org/messengerradio. In Episode 10, “Barbara Daté ministers to us,” said an announcement. “For such a time as this, amid uncertainty, violence, illness, grief, Barbara’s words heal.” Learn more about Barbara’s work and upcoming trainings and contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Episode 9 features SueZann Bosler’s story of personal trauma and how it led to her work against the death penalty. Her story “is hard to listen to, and healing to hear,” said the announcement. “Learn more through her organization Journey of Hope: From Violence to Healing and a Messenger article and a 48 Hours episode. If you’re ready to write to someone on death row (or at least learn more about it) visit www.brethren.org/drsp or contact Rachel Gross at email@example.com.” The music for Episode 9 is provided by Carolyn Strong, who plays “Joyful, Joyful” on piano. Speaking Truth to Power is a podcast series inspired by the 2020 Womaen’s Caucus Annual Conference Panel.
— Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in Kettering, Ohio, is one of the Church of the Brethren congregations that are offering an Election Day Communion service. The Prince of Peace service is to be held via Zoom, find out more at www.popcob.org.
— Springfield (Ill.) First Church of the Brethren received a threatening phone call, and the caller has been arrested, reported WAND Channel 17. The caller, a 31-year-old man, is accused of calling the pastor with a threat to blow up a “Black Lives Matter” sign at the church. “While the investigation did not indicate that the conduct was motivated by the actual or perceived race of the victim as necessary to charge as a hate crime, intimidation and harassment motivated by the exercise of every citizen’s right to free speech cannot be tolerated in our community,” said Sangamon County State’s Attorney Dan Wright. See www.wandtv.com/news/prosecutors-man-threatened-to-blow-up-church-blm-sign/article_92e2e744-1a1b-11eb-8b8e-ab358b00ddc5.html.
— Atlantic Northeast District has reported outcomes of its district conference. “District Conference 2020 marked a historical moment for ANE,” said the district newsletter. “Over 140 gathered online on October 2 for our worship service that was livestreamed from the District Office through Microsoft Teams. This platform enabled our brothers and sisters to get real-time closed captioning in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Korean.” Karen Hackett served as moderator, with Scott Moyer as moderator-elect. The business session on Oct. 3 also was held online and livestreamed with more than 150 people in attendance, including delegates and non-delegates. In a major item of business, a report was received from the district’s Way Forward Team and chair Sue Eikenberry led a prayer, blessing, and release of congregations that have withdrawn from the district and the Church of the Brethren: the former Midway Church of the Brethren and the former Cocalico Church of the Brethren. In other business, John Hostetter of Lampeter Church of the Brethren was named as the next moderator-elect, along with a slate of others named to various positions in district leadership. The business session “was filled with live and pre-recorded reports as well as special moments to reflect and worship,” said the newsletter. There was a question and answer session, and for delegates a first-ever option of real-time online voting. The conference raised $1,261 for bcmPEACE, a nonprofit organization that serves the South Allison Hill Community of Harrisburg, Pa., and was founded by Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren. During a time of ministry recognition, George Snavely of the Elizabethtown (Pa.) congregation was honored for his 50 years in ministry.
— In more news from Atlantic Northeast, the district is sharing turkeys and blankets for distribution to people in need in urban communities. “In recent years, several of our ANE District urban churches have received donations of turkeys and blankets that they can distribute to those in need in their urban communities,” said the district’s e-newsletter. “These donations of turkeys and blankets are a valuable part of the ministry of these churches in their local communities. AND these donations are an important way that our other ANE congregations can share in and support the mission and ministry efforts of our urban churches.” The three congregations distributing the donations are Alpha and Omega Church of the Brethren in Lancaster, Pa.; Brooklyn (N.Y.) First Church of the Brethren; Germantown Church of the Brethren in Philadelphia, Pa.; and Light of the Gospel Church of the Brethren in Staten Island, N.Y.
— The Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College gave the Dale W. Brown Book Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Anabaptist and Pietist Studies to Andrew Kloes for his book, The German Awakening: Protestant Renewal after the Enlightenment 1815-1848, according to the student newspaper the E-Townian. On Oct. 22 the center hosted a Zoom lecture by Kloes on 19th century German theology. Kloes is from Pittsburgh, Pa.; completed his doctoral work in Europe after attending Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts; is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh; and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. See www.etownian.com/features/germans-waking-up-at-the-young-center.
— “Life can’t be separated into spiritual, physical, emotional, intellectual, business, and social areas.” In this episode of the Dunker Punks Podcast, Josiah Ludwick explores the ideas of faith in action and community by showcasing one of Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren’s ministries, bcmPEACE. Listen to his interviews with Alyssa Parker and Briel Slocum to hear how their programs and peacebuilding are sharing agape love in their community. Go to bit.ly/DPP_Episode105 and check out the bcmPEACE website at http://bcm-pa.org.
— The National Council of Churches is publicizing the Walter Wink and June Keener Wink Fellowship Nomination. “The Walter Wink and June Keener Wink Fellowship is intended to inspire new generations to carry on the true spirit of their work,” said the announcement. “The one-year fellowship will provide s $25,000 award; opportunities to leverage local, regional, and national Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) networks to elevate their work and ideas; a platform to present their work to international audiences; and, opportunities to engage and learn from sister movements; and support through FOR to undertake new aspects of their work or deepen work already underway.” Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information by Nov. 15: The nominator’s name, title, complete contact information; the nominee’s name and complete contact information (an application will be sent to the nominee for them to complete); a brief justification (no more that 250 words) for why the nominee should be considered for the fellowship. Include the word NOMINATION along with the candidate’s name in the subject line.
— The World Council of Churches (WCC) has announced an essay competition for youth who want to reflect on the theme, “The Future of Interreligious Dialogue.” The contest marks the 50th anniversary of the WCC’s Office of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation. Said a release: “The contest aims to encourage people under the age of 30 with interests in the field of interreligious relations and engagement to develop and share their ideas on different subjects such as: Christian theologies of interreligious engagement; some aspect of another religious tradition which is relevant to its relationship to Christianity; religious pluralism more widely; or the theory or practice of interreligious dialogue. Essays may also reflect on interreligious cooperation for the sake of the common good; or the World Council of Churches and interreligious relations.” The five best essays, chosen by a panel of judges from WCC program executives and faculty from the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, will be published in the 2021 issue of Current Dialogue, the WCC journal for interreligious encounter. The prizewinning authors will have the opportunity to present their work in a conference on “The Future of Interreligious Dialogue” (either physically or virtually) that is being planned for 2021. Entries should be 3,500-5,000 words in length (including notes), and be written in English, following the WCC style guide which is available upon request from Media@wcc-coe.org. Contributions must be the original work of the participants and should not have been published elsewhere. The deadline is Jan. 15, 2021. Rules for the competition and more information are at www.oikoumene.org/resources/documents/wcc-essay-competition-for-youth-interreligious-dialogue-and-cooperation-0.
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