— In the wake of the grand jury decision in the Breonna Taylor case, an invitation to an anti-racism experience called “30 Days of Anti-Racism” has been issued by the Church of the Brethren Intercultural Ministry. Although the experience was designed for the month of September, the Intercultural Ministry is inviting Brethren to begin this together on Sept. 30. “Start with Day 1 and go from there. Take some moments to journal as you go,” said the invitation. The experience is organized by R-Squared for people who want to do inner, spiritual work to end racism. “Each day we will engage in an activity that helps us to become more anti-racist in the ways we think and act,” said a description from R-Squared. Participants share their progress online with a picture or a reflection using the hashtag #30DaysAntiRacism. “Encourage your friends, members of your congregation, Sunday school class, pastors, and community partners to join this 30 day experience.” Download the resource from www.r2hub.org/library/30-days-of-anti-racism .
— In a “Statement on Grand Jury Findings in Killing of Breonna Taylor” the National Council of Churches (NCC) cited Deuteronomy 16:19, “You must not distort justice,” to condemn the outcome of the investigation into the police shooting of Breonna Taylor.
“More than six months later, it appears that justice delayed was also justice denied,” the statement said, in part. The NCC “finds the outcome of the investigation into Ms. Taylor’s death, which holds no one directly accountable, unconscionable and unjust. We grieve for her family and loved ones who have borne the burden of fighting for justice for her. We call on all people of faith and conscience to continue the fight for justice and to end systemic racism so that this kind of tragedy never happens again….
“It is not lost on us that Sept. 23, 2020, was 65 years to the date when the white men who killed Emmett Till were found not guilty by an all white jury…. The handling of this case has been a gross miscarriage of justice from the execution of the warrant to the police actions on the scene, and the prosecutorial review and processing of the violation of Ms. Taylor’s civil rights and the circumstances of her death. We call for a full independent investigation of the facts. We demand a pattern and practice investigation of the Louisville Metro Police Department. We call on the US Department of Justice to immediately intensify its investigation and include a review to determine the extent to which Ms. Taylor’s civil rights were violated. Furthermore, we are dismayed that Det. Hankison, charged with actions that could have resulted in the death of a person, was granted bond of only $15,000 while protestors, exercising their First Amendment rights, have been arrested in Louisville and elsewhere are given bonds of up to $1,000,000….” Find the full statement at https://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/statement-on-grand-jury-findings-in-killing-of-breonna-taylor .
— A recording of the Moderator’s Town Hall with Andrew Young, veteran Civil Rights leader and former UN ambassador, is now available at https://vimeo.com/462037655 . “We are excited to share this resource with you, praying it will continue to bear much fruit for Christ and the Church,” said an announcement from Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey. “The Andrew J. Young Foundation has granted us permission to distribute this recording as needed, so feel free to share it with others.” For questions or more information contact email@example.com .
— Volunteer openings have been announced by the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry:
High school juniors and seniors are sought to serve on the National Youth Cabinet, with nominations due by Oct. 19. Nominations are made via a Google form and/or a PDF form at www.brethren.org/yya .
Coordinators are sought for National Youth Conference (NYC) 2022. NYC coordinators are typically young adults who serve as fulltime volunteers through Brethren Volunteer Service, working at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Room, board, health insurance, and a small stipend are among the benefits offered. Coordinator applications are accepted through Oct. 31. Application forms are online at https://forms.gle/i4uvEzmyjRzJUT8v9 .
— Shoulder to Shoulder has celebrated a decade as an organized interfaith coalition dedicated to addressing anti-Muslim discrimination and violence in the United States. The Church of the Brethren is a member organization of Shoulder to Shoulder, and Nathan Hosler sits on the steering committee as director of the denomination’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. General secretary David Steele has signed a statement of reaffirmation and recommitment to the work of Shoulder to Shoulder. More information is at www.ShoulderToShoulderCampaign.org .
— A new nonviolence training course offered by Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) as an online three-hour webinar is recommended by the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy.
“Take to the Streets: Protests and Police Intervention in the US and Canadian Context” is part of CPT’s series of trainings on “Basics of Nonviolent Tactics for Social Change and De-escalation.” Church of the Brethren members who are interested in joining a training group may send their names and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org . CPT got its start as an initiative of the historic peace churches including the Church of the Brethren, which continues to have representation on the CPT board.
“This training is highly interactive for the participant,” said an announcement. “We will share our knowledge, tips, and tactics and then lead the group through exercises to create strategies to be carried into the streets as we work together towards justice.” Topics will include de-escalation skills and helps for discerning if it is appropriate to attempt to de-escalate different situations; tips on preparing for various protest scenarios that may arise and common organizing structures; tips for interacting with police, military, and counter-protesters, as well as preparing for arrests; and how to take care of oneself during and after events. For more information about arranging for a group training, contact Julie Brown, CPT Outreach Coordinator, at email@example.com or go to https://cpt.org/participate/trainings .
— “How to Become a Climate-Resilient Church” is the topic of an online webinar on Sept. 29 at 6-7 p.m. (Eastern time) offered by Creation Justice Ministries and recommended by the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. “You’ll learn practical steps for how your church can become a certified climate resilience hub, provide much-needed support for the ‘new normal’ in your community, and hear from existing climate resilience hubs,” said an announcement. Speakers include Staccato Powell, a bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Western District; Vernon Walker of Communities Responding to Extreme Weather; Liz Steinhauser of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Resilience Hub in Boston; and Avery Davis Lamb of Duke Divinity and the Nicholas School of the Environment. Register at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEkfuyqpzovGNCaDaCTPRZ6WLBxrV_D8ZCT . This event is part of Communities Responding to Extreme Weather’s 3rd Annual Climate Prep Week, a series of events hosted by various organizations dedicated to learning, service, and actions that better prepare communities for extreme weather events. For more events see www.climatecrew.org/prep_week .
— A series of unique podcasts focusing “On Speaking Truth to Power” have been produced as episodes of “Messenger Radio” at www.brethren.org/messenger/uncategorized/messenger-radio . Each includes a reading of the upcoming Sunday’s lectionary scriptures.
“Many thanks to Anna Lisa Gross and all of those who are contributing,” said a recent Facebook post on behalf of the denominational magazine Messenger. The most recent episode features interviews with Audri Svay and Dana Cassell, who share personal insights into the division that is occurring in parts of the Church of the Brethren and continue an ongoing conversation about what it means to be a person of power or a powerless person in the church community and whether we are ever just one or the other.
Also new from “Messenger Radio” is publisher Wendy McFadden reading her column from the August issue, “In the Name of Jesus.”
— On Earth Peace is engaging youth groups by offering up to $500 in grant funding toward a youth-initiated project for peace and justice, said an announcement. “If granted the funding, we will provide youth with support throughout their project and training in the form of three webinars geared to your specific justice area.” The application provides more description and some examples of projects at https://forms.gle/WMkMRMr3tUfmvY2B8 . For questions contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
— “Two of our ‘mother’ congregations will celebrate 175 years during 2020,” announced Virlina District. Peters Creek Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., celebrates the anniversary on Sept. 27, and Topeco Church of the Brethren in Floyd County, Va., celebrates on Oct. 4.
— First Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg, Va., has been approved by the city council as a location for temporary shelter for the homeless in the city, reports WHSV. “The City of Harrisonburg is considering action to help the homeless. Open Doors has not had a facility to give temporary shelter to the homeless during the pandemic, but city council will consider allowing the low-barrier shelter to use the First Church of the Brethren through the end of the year as a temporary option for those without a home,” said the report. “We can get some people off the street overnight and give them a safe place to go with socially distancing in mind,” explained city spokesperson Michael Parks. See www.whsv.com/2020/09/22/harrisonburg-to-consider-using-local-church-as-homeless-shelter and www.whsv.com/2020/09/23/harrisonburg-approves-local-church-as-temporary-homeless-shelter .
— Eight congregations in Virlina District have responded to the challenge from the Northern Area Women’s Fellowship to assemble 300 Individual Kits of Comfort for Children’s Disaster Services. “These kits provide children affected by trauma and disaster with small tokens of normalcy for play in the midst of chaos,” reported the district newsletter. “We currently have a count of over 300 kits, plus cash contributions to help with shipping and to be used for additional supplies…. This is a needed project, especially during the pandemic when volunteers cannot travel to the disaster sites.”
— Shenandoah District volunteers loaded a total of 1,904 items of relief goods onto a truck for transport to the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., for the Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources program to process, warehouse, and ship on behalf of Church World Service (CWS) and other ministries. “Since the Shenandoah District has been designated an official depot for Church World Service, there has been an uptick in donations from churches across the state,” said an announcement in a district newsletter. District disaster ministry coordinator Jerry Ruff broke the donations down into the following categories: 50 clean up buckets, 54 boxes of quilts (donated by Lutheran and Presbyterian congregations), 200 health kits, and 1,300 school kits. The load also included the 300 disaster childcare kits donated by Virlina District to Children’s Disaster Ministries.
— “National college rankings are more than just aggregates of data. They serve as a tool to help college bound students select the best fit school to continue their educational journeys,” said a release from Bridgewater (Va.) College, which announced that the college received two distinctions in the U.S. News and World Report “2021 Best Colleges” list. The list analyzed data on 17 measures of academic quality for 1,452 bachelor’s degree-granting institutions.
Bridgewater was listed as a top National Liberal Arts College and as a Top Performer on Social Mobility for national liberal arts colleges. This year’s rankings are based on data from the 2019-2020 academic year, and they factored in information on graduation and retention rates, social mobility, graduation rate performance, undergraduate academics reputation, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources per student, average alumni giving rate and graduate indebtedness, the release said.
“As a Top Performer on Social Mobility among national liberal arts colleges, Bridgewater College was recognized for its commitment to admitting and graduating a significant number of students who have been awarded Pell grants to further their educations. Thirty seven percent of the college’s first year students in the 2019-2020 academic year were Pell eligible.”
— The new season of the Dunker Punks Podcast has begun. “As we kick off a new season of the podcast in episode #102, ‘The Ups and Downs of Being a Tour Guide,’ Christa Craighead tells us some stories from her world and the impact guides and teachers make in our lives,” said an announcement. Listen for her reflections, a new theme song, and more by going to bit.ly/DPP_Episode102 . In episode 103, ‘Defining ‘Apocalypse,’ Alex McBride explores the true meaning of “apocalypse” and the possibilities it might bring. Go to bit.ly/DPP_Episode103 or subscribe at bit.ly/DPP_iTunes .
— The September episode of Brethren Voices, a community access television show that is a project of Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren, features Mark Charles on the topic “We the People.” Charles, who has spoken at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, is an independent candidate for president and a member of the Dine or Navajo nation. He was first interviewed by Brethren Voices in July 2018 at the Conference held in Cincinnati, Ohio. This episode was filmed prior to the major onset of the pandemic, when Brethren Voices host Brent Carlson met up with Charles at one of his campaign appearances, said an announcement from producer Ed Groff. “During the past 25 years, his [Charles’s] concerns about the disturbing history of this nation has led him on a journey as an activist, public speaker, consultant, and co-author of the book Unsettling Truths…. In this program, Mark Charles takes us down the path to new understanding, that we never learned in school.” Charles stated, “Do you want to live in a nation where ‘We the People’ means all of the people? We are a diverse people where change can happen.” Find this and other episodes of Brethren Voices on www.youtube.com , search for the Brethren Voices channel.
— The National Council of Churches has announced its 2020 Christian Unity Gathering on the topic “Breathing New Life Into Our Nation: Repentance, Re-Formation, Reparation.” Registration is now open for the online event to be offered Oct. 12-13. The theme scripture is from Ezekiel 37:3-6, “Yahweh said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’ Then God said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord….”
Said the announcement: “As racial injustices plague the country, the novel coronavirus pandemic rages nearly unchecked, and an economic crisis plunges millions into poverty, we find ourselves at a point from which we can fall into an abyss of further division, destitution, and despair, or from which we can move back from the brink, by faith, to a place of justice, restored hope and healing. In the midst of these simultaneous crises, and as we celebrate NCC’s 70 years of public witness in the fight for justice, we invite you to join us as we explore what churches must do to turn back the tide of chaos and embrace Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of the Beloved Community.”
Speakers include Chanequa Walker-Barnes, professor of Practical Theology at Mercer University and author of I Bring the Voices of My People: A Womanist Vision for Racial Reconciliation; Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, director of the School for Conversion, associate minister at St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, N.C., and author of Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion; and Otis Moss, III, senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Ill.; among others. Go to https://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/cug .
— The Center on Conscience and War (CCW) is celebrating its 80th anniversary on Oct. 3. The center is a longterm partner organization of the Church of the Brethren, with offices in Washington, D.C. Formerly known as NISBCO, the center got its start as a collaboration of the historic peace churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers). The celebration will be a virtual, online event starting at 5 p.m. (Eastern time), “lifting the voices of COs [conscientious objectors] past and present, as well as taking a look back at CCW’s influence over the last 80 years,” said an announcement. “Our board member, Chris Lombardi, will also be launching her new book, I Ain’t Marching Anymore, which chronicles war resistance in the US throughout our country’s history.” Details on how to join via Zoom video conference or telephone will be announced soon. Go to www.centeronconscience.org .
— Dr. J. Elizabeth Struble, a medical doctor and a Church of the Brethren member from North Manchester, Ind., has been elected to the position of president-elect of the Indiana State Medical Association. Find out more about the association, Indiana’s largest physician organization, at www.ismanet.org . Struble’s leadership in the Church of the Brethren has included service as a National Youth Conference (NYC) coordinator when she worked with the Youth and Young Adult ministry through Brethren Volunteer Service.
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