“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
1) Retreat gathers clergywomen from across denomination
2) Puerto Rico District, Brethren Disaster Ministries identifying needs following earthquakes
3) Two Church of the Brethren funds announce year’s first grants
4) United Nations representative reports from human rights events in 2019
8) Brethren bits: Remembering the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, personnel and jobs, register for workcamps, CDS trainings, SVMC continuing education, 65th assembly of TEKAN in Nigeria, MLK Day at Bridgewater, Ecumenical Advocacy Days, new Bible app for Week of Prayer, more
Quote of the week:
“Empathy is God’s will, as we identify even with our fiercest foe as neighbor (Luke 10:25-37). A neighbor focus is critical, for trauma and conflict often stir among God’s people. Just look at Paul’s letters to the early churches–the majority were written to address conflict, even division. But Paul encouraged early believers to reach beyond division, to each other and to Jesus…. And so, a challenge. Think of a person in your church life you’re at odds with–a person from whom you are divided and distant, perhaps in a different ‘camp’ or ‘tribe.’ Then, for the next 90 days, add that person to your prayer list and pray for them by name, in Jesus’ name.”— Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey in the Winter 2020 issue of “Trail Thoughts,” his quarterly pastoral letter to the church. Find the letter at www.brethren.org/ac/2020/moderator .
1) Retreat gathers clergywomen from across denomination
Church of the Brethren clergywomen gathered in retreat at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Ariz., in the Phoenix area, on Jan. 6-9. The 57 women from across the denomination were led by presenter Mandy Smith on the theme, “Treasure in Clay Pots” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
Originally from Australia, Smith is lead pastor of University Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a regular contributor to “Christianity Today” and Missio Alliance. She referred to her book, “The Vulnerable Pastor: How Human Limitations Empower Our Ministry,” as she led the group in examining how imperfect human beings may be vehicles for God’s work in the world.
Smith told about powerful experiences of God working through her own weakness and frailties, and related those experiences to the personal dynamics of a church leader’s life. Citing the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10–“He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me”–she encouraged the clergywomen to “lean into” and accept their own vulnerabilities and weaknesses in order to allow God to work through them.
Speaking in particular about dynamics experienced by women church leaders, Smith encouraged the group to let go of feelings of shame about their own imperfections and vulnerabilities, and to move toward acceptance. She has learned to emulate Paul in boasting openly about her own imperfections, she said, witnessing to how human weakness strengthens the ability to minister and share God’s love with others. New things may become possible when one intentionally chooses to be vulnerable, she said, encouraging attention to times when one feels “empty” and in deep need of healing because that is when God may work.
“The best ministry grows from reliance on God,” Smith said, “and our weakness teaches us reliance on God, so weakness is a ministry resource.”
Her sessions included “table talk” in small groups. The women were invited to share stories from their own lives and ministry experiences. Topics for sharing included, among others, stories about how something became possible because someone chose vulnerability, unhealthy ways people avoid or try to fix weakness and–on the other hand–healthy responses that rely on God, and practical ideas for “Sabbath rest” and play. Smith also led a session using art and creativity to discern God’s work in the world.
In addition to the sessions with Smith, the retreat included daily worship services, workshops, many different recreation options, relationship building and fellowship. Childcare was provided, encouraging the participation of younger clergywomen.
Led by Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, director of the Office of Ministry, with assistance from office manager Mishael Nouveau, the planning team included Connie Burkholder, Kathy Gingrich, Sara Haldeman-Scarr, Rebecca House, and LaDonna Sanders Nkosi. The worship committee included Rebecca House as convenor, Barbara Dickason, Leah Hileman, Cesia Morrison, and Deb Peterson. A volunteer prayer team undergirded the event with prayer.
Financial support for women’s travel and scholarships was provided through the generosity of the Womaen’s Caucus and the Mary Blocher Smeltzer Fund. Financial support for childcare came from the Ministers’ Association. Financial support for transportation came from Pacific Southwest District and San Diego Church of the Brethren.
Find a photo album at www.bluemelon.com/churchofthebrethren/2020clergywomensretreat .
2) Puerto Rico District, Brethren Disaster Ministries identifying needs following earthquakes
By Jenn Dorsch Messler
The Church of the Brethren Puerto Rico District continues to ask for prayer for those affected by earthquake aftershocks and tremors continuing daily. More than 1,200 small earthquakes have occurred in Puerto Rico since Dec. 28, 2019. Several quakes over magnitude 5.0 have caused great damage, especially in the south, with the largest being 6.4 magnitude on Tuesday, Jan. 7.
The district and Brethren Disaster Ministries have been in close communication as critical needs are being identified. Pastors and district leaders will be meeting on Jan. 25 to discuss future district response plans based on identified needs and to determine if additional funds will be required for that work.
A $5,000 grant from the Emergency Disaster Fund has been approved to enable the district to start addressing emergency essentials. Some of this will include support to Río Prieto Church of the Brethren, which is supporting a tent city where 23 adults, 2 babies, and 6 children are currently residing. District executive minister José Calleja Otero will be visiting the Río Prieto camp site with district disaster coordinator José Acevedo to offer emotional support and guidance this coming Tuesday, and will be working on a list of supplies that is needed at that camp site.
To contribute financially to the Puerto Rico relief effort donate online at www.brethren.org/edf (put “Puerto Rico earthquake” in the note box) or send checks to the Emergency Disaster Fund, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120 (write “Puerto Rico earthquake” in the notation line).
The priority is providing shelter
The earthquakes have brought great stress and an emotional toll on residents, even those who have not had damage to their homes. Power has returned in most places, although in some areas it has been intermittent over the last few days, but the experience has bought up memories of the past trauma of losing power and water after Hurricane Maria. The continued tremors, no matter how small, bring fear back daily.
The priorities for officials and relief groups are to provide shelter and counseling support as well as damage and structural assessments. With the ongoing aftershocks, it is expected that these needs will extend for weeks or longer with many families remaining out of their homes.
A Major Disaster Declaration has been signed for Puerto Rico, but it will cover only specific municipalities in the hardest hit south and not the areas around the three Church of the Brethren congregations located in the central mountains.
As of Jan. 16, FEMA reports there are 41 official shelters open on the island with around 8,000 occupants. They are working to establish 5 survivor base camps or tent cities in different areas of the hardest-hit municipalities.
Unofficial tent cities in areas farther north also are being discovered, as people affected by the earthquakes are moving into the mountains for safety during the continued daily tremors. Some of the tent cities are close to the Brethren churches in the mountains, including the one supported by Rio Prieto congregation and one supported by the town of Castañer in the square where the Heifer International anniversary celebration took place just a few months ago.
The reasons that so many people are seeking shelter in these camps vary and are complex. Some people’s homes are completely destroyed while others were damaged, and residents are unsure if they are safe. Other people are simply afraid to sleep inside at all because of the continued tremors.
At Castañer Church of the Brethren, where the Brethren Disaster Ministries hurricane rebuilding project is based, power has been restored and most of the buildings did not sustain damage. Disaster response leaders have been working this week to prepare for the first volunteer group of 2020, scheduled to arrive this weekend to continue Hurricane Maria rebuilding efforts.
— Jenn Dorsch Messler is director of Brethren Disaster Ministries. For more information go to www.brethren.org/bdm . To contribute financially to the Puerto Rico relief effort donate online at www.brethren.org/edf (put “Puerto Rico earthquake” in the note box) or send checks to Emergency Disaster Fund, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120 (write “Puerto Rico earthquake” in the notation line).
3) Two Church of the Brethren funds announce year’s first grants
The Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) and the Global Food Initiative Fund (GFI) have announced first grants for the year 2020.
Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed EDF grants to a rebuilding project in Florida following Hurricane Irma; new work of the Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI) under the direction of Church World Service (CWS); and flood relief in Kenya (for more about the Emergency Disaster Fund and Brethren Disaster Ministries go to www.brethren.org/edf and www.brethren.org/bdm ).
The GFI grants support a corn- and bean-growing initiative of the Brethren in Venezuela and evaluation of an agriculture project in Haiti being supported through a grant from Growing Hope Globally (for more information go to www.brethren.org/gfi ).
Hurricane Irma response in Tampa, Fla.
An EDF allocation of $39,000 establishes a Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding site in Tampa, Fla., for long-term recovery from damage caused by Hurricane Irma in 2017. The Tampa Bay region had roughly 200 cases needing funding support from Long Term Recovery Groups and a grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief to the Methodist Conference in Florida. Around 60 cases remain that must be completed before the grant deadline of April 2020. The new rebuilding project site will help complete these remaining cases. It is expected to be active from Jan. 12 through April 4. Volunteers will be housed at the Hyde Park Presbyterian Church in downtown Tampa, which has hosted individual volunteer groups regularly during the last two years and was the location of a recent Children’s Disaster Service training workshop. Brethren Disaster Ministries will help with repairs to the church and will make a monthly contribution to cover utilities and cleaning and paper supplies. The grant will finance the expenses of the entire rebuilding project throughout its expected duration, including tools, equipment, volunteer support (housing and meals), and leadership.
Disaster Recovery Support Initiative with CWS
An EDF allocation of $30,000 supports the work of DRSI as a new program of the Domestic Disaster Program of Church World Service. DRSI addresses the growing gap between when a disaster hits and when volunteers are deployed to support community-based long-term recovery. DRSI’s projected outcome is to develop capacity within the local community to lead a holistic recovery after a disaster, which will reduce the time between the event and the organization of a functioning, local Long-Term Recovery Group. Over the past two years the disaster ministries of the Church of the Brethren, the United Church of Christ (UCC), and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) joined forces to pioneer the DRSI in nine states and US territories. In 2018, an external evaluation of DRSI in the US Virgin Islands concluded that the model was effective and worth replicating elsewhere. The grant, combined with funding from other DRSI partners, will support the CWS staff, programming, and operations. Additional outside funding and partnerships are actively being pursued by CWS to cover ongoing expenses and program expansion. Brethren Disaster Ministries staff will continue to work with the other partner denominations in an advisory role with CWS.
Kenya flood relief
An EDF allocation of $25,000 supports CWS in its early recovery response following heavy rains in Kenya in November 2019. The rains resulted in flash flooding and river flooding throughout much of Kenya, with 31 of 47 counties affected. The flooding and mudslides caused extensive damage and destruction to homes, displacing at least 160,000 people, and destroyed livestock, farms, and other types of livelihood, and caused health crises for displaced families and livestock. The CWS response supports 2,000 households. The early response provided families with household supplies, food distributions, and tablets to make water safe for drinking. In the recovery phase CWS plans to provide material for home repairs, assist farmers and fishermen with tools and supplies, and implement a cash-for-work program to repair infrastructure and water sources while providing these households an income.
Venezuela corn and bean project
A GFI allocation of $10,310 supports a corn- and bean-growing initiative by Asociación Iglesia de Los Hermanos Venezuela (ASIGLEHV, the Church of the Brethren in Venezuela). A professionally trained agronomist, who is a church member, is serving as a consultant to this project. The total bean harvest will be distributed to families attending 30 churches. Half of the corn will be donated to the two churches closest to the farm for their distribution to members and neighbors, and the other half sold to support the overall ministry of the church in Venezuela. The grant will purchase seed, fertilizer, and pesticides, and will cover land and tractor rental and labor and transportation costs. Previous allocations to this project include a September 2017 grant of $6,650.
Haiti Growing Hope Globally evaluation
A GFI allocation of $3,960 covers the costs of an evaluation of an agriculture project being supported through a grant from Growing Hope Globally (GHG). The Soil Conservation and Income Generation Project being run by Eglise des Freres d’Haiti (Church of the Brethren in Haiti) was begun on April 1, 2018. The evaluation will be for the 2019-20 project year. Klebert Exceus, formerly the coordinator of the hurricane and earthquake responses in Haiti for Brethren Disaster Ministries, has carried out evaluations for the GFI in the past. The evaluation requires visiting more than 14 communities and sharing results with the National Committee of Eglise des Freres. Agronomists working on the project will be asked to travel with the evaluator.
4) United Nations representative reports from human rights events in 2019
Doris Theresa Abdullah, the United Nations representative for the Church of the Brethren, has attended several human rights events on behalf of the denomination in 2019. Commenting on the need for peace and light in the world, she noted that the events highlighted many concerns including “the darkness of hate, religious intolerance, greed, racism, discrimination, bigotry, and ignorance.”
Abdullah said that she focused primarily on human rights events “because I want to bring more awareness to the horrors of discrimination where a change of one individual heart can make a difference. We each have control over how we treat the human standing beside us and we are all responsible for how we treat children,” she reported, citing Isaiah 26:2-3.
Following are excerpts from her reports:
Albinism awareness commemoration of people with disabilities titled “Standing Strong,” held June 13 at the United Nations headquarters: Albinism is caused by a lack of melanin or pigmentation in the skin, hair, and eyes. One in 1,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa are affected, while only one in 17,000 to 20,000 are affected in Europe. Impaired vision and vulnerability to the sun’s ultra-violet rays are the most noted of albinism disabilities and they are 1,000 times more likely to develop skin cancer. Children with albinism stay away from school in some African countries because they are attacked due to the belief in witchcraft associated with their skin coloring. These children are therefore deprived of an education. The UN independent expert Ikponwosa Ero reported that in extreme cases “people with albinism, from cradle to grave, are hunted and their body parts are wanted–everything from their heads to their toes, their hair, their nails and even their feces are collected.” The selling of albino children is not uncommon among the traders in trafficking and human slavery.
Discussions on contemporary forms of slavery, held Oct. 11 at the UN headquarters and Oct. 25 at Scandinavia House: Urmila Bhoola, a UN expert on contemporary forms of slavery, reported 10,000 people per day will have to be freed to end slavery by the target date of 2030. Some 98 percent of enslaved women and girls endure sexual violence. According to the International Labor Organization, 40 million people are enslaved, one quarter of them children, with 64 percent of the enslaved working in the private sector. Children are sold for child prostitution, child pornography, transfer of organs, and criminal activities. Economically developing countries are seeing large increases of enslaved people as they expand their work forces.
An event on violence against older women on June 6, and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Nov. 25: Women and girls are still considered inferior to men and of lesser value 30 years after the adoption of the convention on the Rights of the Child, 25 years after the Beijing World Conference on Women, and 40 years after the convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women. In addition, women may be neglected because of their age or disabilities, subject to harmful stereotypes, forced into marriage at an early age to older men, deprived of educational and other opportunities, forced into slavery due to indebtedness of family or kidnapping, abuse, and trafficking, and subject to violence in the home, family, and school. Rape victims of wars and conflicts are further traumatized as they are shunned and ostracized within their own communities and families.
5) LaDonna Sanders Nkosi begins as director of Intercultural Ministries
LaDonna Sanders Nkosi has been hired by the Church of the Brethren as director of Intercultural Ministries, a staff position in Discipleship Ministries. Her first day on the job is Jan. 16. She will work remotely and from the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.
Nkosi is the planting pastor of the Gathering Chicago, a church plant in Illinois and Wisconsin District and a community of prayer and global/local service based in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. She is a former pastor of Chicago First Church of the Brethren and is ordained in the Church of the Brethren.
She has served in diversity and multicultural program administration for DePaul University, Loyola University Chicago, and Syracuse University and has additional management experience with other nonprofits and volunteer organizations in Chicago. She has studied journalism and public relations at the University of Missouri, has attended graduate school at DePaul University, and is a graduate of McCormick Theological Seminary specializing in cross-cultural community development and international relations. She is completing a doctor of ministry thesis as a Wright Scholar at McCormick Theological Seminary.
6) Brethren Academy updates course listing for 2020 into 2021
The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership has updated its course listing for 2020 into 2021. Courses are offered for continuing education credit (2 units per course), for personal enrichment, and for TRIM/EFSM credit. To register and pay for courses go to www.bethanyseminary.edu/brethren-academy or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 765-983-1824.
The updated course listing is as follows:
“Science and Faith,” a weekend intensive, is offered April 29-May 3, 2020, at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., taught by Bethany professor Russell Haitch. The registration deadline is March 26.
“The Reward of Risk: Church Planting and Revitalization Emerging in Today’s Current Dynamics,” a directed independent study concurrent with the church planting conference, will be held May 13-15, 2020, at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., with instructor Stan Dueck, co-coordinator of Discipleship Ministries for the Church of the Brethren. The registration deadline is April 8.
“The Church in 1 Corinthians: Challenges for Today,” a directed independent study concurrent with the Minister’s Association annual meeting in advance of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, is held June 30-July 1, 2020, in Grand Rapids, Mich., with Bethany professor Dan Ulrich. The registration deadline is May 26. Cost is $100 plus the registration fee for the Minister’s Association event.
“Spiritual Practices for Ministry,” an online course, is offered Sept. 8-Nov. 2, 2020, with instructor Reba Herder. The registration deadline is Aug. 4.
“Introduction to Hebrew Scriptures,” an online course, is offered Oct. 14-Dec. 9, 2020, with instructor Matt Boersma. The registration deadline is Sept. 9.
“Introduction to Theopoetics,” an intensive at Bethany Seminary on Nov. 20-22, 2020, is taught by Bethany professor Scott Holland. The registration deadline is Oct. 15.
“Introduction to Preaching,” an intensive at Bethany Seminary on Jan. 13-15, 2021, is taught by Bethany professor Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm. The registration deadline is Dec. 9.
For more information go to www.bethanyseminary.edu/brethren-academy .
7) Moderator’s forum is April 18 at Elizabethtown College’s Young Center
Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey has announced that he will host a Moderator’s Forum this spring at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. The date is April 18, from 1-9 p.m. The focus is “Historical Themes Impacting Today’s Church.”
The forum will feature leading Brethren historians who will address a variety of historical themes affectting present-day congregations, districts, and national structures. Particular attention will be given to Brethren history and themes relevant to the current reality of Brethren communions, with special emphasis on the Church of the Brethren. Themes to be addressed include accountability, compelling vision, division, forbearance, and nationalism.
Historians who will be participating include Jeff Bach, director of the Young Center and associate professor of the Department of Religious Studies at Elizabethtown College; William Kostlevy, director of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives; Stephen Longenecker, Edwin L. Turner Distinguished Professor of History at Bridgewater (Va.) College; Carol Scheppard, professor of Philosophy and Religion at Bridgewater College; and Dale Stoffer, emeritus professor of Historical Theology at Ashland (Ohio) Theological Seminary. The forum will conclude with an evening worship service and a message from Dennis Webb, pastor of Naperville (Ill.) Church of the Brethren.
The forum is open to both clergy and laity. Registration cost, which includes dinner, is $30. This event also will be available via live stream for a registration fee of $15. Those attending the entire event may earn 0.6 continuing education units for an additional cost of $10. The evening worship, beginning with hymn singing at 7 p.m., is open to the public without cost or registration and will be held in the Gibble Auditorium at Elizabethtown College.
To register or for a brochure go to tinyurl.com/modforum2020 . The registration deadline is April 9. Please register early since the space for the main sessions (other than worship) is limited to 150 participants.
8) Brethren bits
—Jan. 12 marked 10 years since the 2010 earthquake devastated Haiti. The Church of the Brethren shared a Facebook post remembering and grieving those who were lost in the disaster, with a commitment to continue to walk beside the Haitian Brethren. Out of the rubble of that disaster has emerged a growing Haitian Brethren denomination with new congregations in many parts of the island and vital ministries that had their origin, in part, in the 2010 disaster, such as the Haiti Medical Project and an emphasis on providing leadership with robust theological training.
– Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) has contracted with Sara Cook to coordinate BVS Europe as of Jan. 1, 2020. The work will include accompanying BVS volunteers in Ireland and Northern Ireland and sustaining partnerships with all current and future project sites there. Originally from Corona, Calif., Cook was a BVS volunteer in Northern Ireland from 2001-2003 and has been living there since that time. For the last decade she has been in Belfast, where she attends a Presbyterian congregation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in social work and history from Anderson University and a master’s degree in social work and nonprofit leadership from Boston University. For the past two years she has been doing consultancy work in the area of conflict response, including teaching, training, facilitation, and mediation in Northern Ireland and internationally. In previous work, she was involved in peacebuilding in Northern Ireland in the period following the Good Friday agreement, directing an organization that brought together people who were affected by the conflict for storytelling and dialogue encounters. For more about Brethren Volunteer Service go to www.brethren.org/bvs .
— John L. McCullough has announced that he will not seek re-election to another term as president and CEO of Church World Service (CWS). McCullough started his leadership of CWS on July 1, 2000, and his resignation will be effective June 30, 2021. “The faith and values that undergird this organization are not only powerful but transformative. Working together we have changed the world for good and I have every confidence that this legacy will prevail in the years ahead,” McCullough said in an announcement from CWS. “We are grateful to Rev. John McCullough for his many years of leadership and vision for Church World Service. We look forward to many moments of celebration and thanksgiving in the time before us. We will keep you posted as our transition plan develops,” said CWS board chair Patricia deJong.
— The Church of the Brethren’s Michigan District seeks a district executive minister. The district includes 20 congregations in the lower peninsula of Michigan, north of the southern tier of counties. Camp Brethren Heights is associated with the district and the district office location is negotiable. The district is theologically diverse and seeks creative and biblically centered leadership with a broad, unifying perspective to find common foundation to continue to build God’s Kingdom together. This half-time position of approximately 25 hours per week is available on March 30. Travel is required both within and outside of the district. Responsibilities are in three main focus areas: 1. Direction, coordination, management, and leadership of the district program, as authorized by District Conference and implemented by the District Leadership Team; 2. Work with congregations in calling and credentialing ministers and in the placement/call and evaluation of pastoral staff, providing support and counsel for ministers and other church leaders and sharing and interpreting program resources for congregations; 3. Providing a crucial link between the congregations and the district and the wider church by working collaboratively with the Council of District Executives, Annual Conference and its agencies and their staff. Qualifications include ordination through an accredited program, with a master of divinity degree preferred; skills in organization, administration, and communication; commitment to the Church of the Brethren locally and denominationally, along with ecumenical skills; demonstrated leadership skills; pastoral experience preferred; biblical leadership. To apply, send a letter of interest and resume to Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Director, Office of Ministry, via email at email@example.com . Applicants are requested to contact three or four people willing to provide a letter of reference. Upon receipt of a resume, a candidate profile will be sent that must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.
— The Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) seeks an archival intern to work at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The purpose of the Archival Internship Program is to develop interest in vocations related to archives and libraries and/or Brethren history. The program will provide the intern with work assignments in the BHLA and with opportunities to develop professional contacts. Work will include processing archival materials, writing descriptive inventories, preparing books for cataloging, responding to reference requests, and assisting researchers. Professional contacts may include attending archival and library conferences and workshops, visits to libraries and archives in the Chicago area, and participation in a Brethren Historical Committee meeting. BHLA is the official repository for Church of the Brethren publications and records with a collection of more than 10,000 volumes, 3,500 linear feet of manuscripts and records, 40,000 photographs, plus videos, films, DVDs, and recordings. The intern’s term of service is one year beginning June 2020 (preferred). Compensation includes housing, a stipend of $550 every two weeks, and health insurance. A graduate student is preferred, or an undergraduate with at least two years of college. Requirements include an interest in history and/or library and archival work, willingness to work with detail, accurate word processing skills, and ability to lift 30-pound boxes. Submit a resume to COBApply@brethren.org ; Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367. All submissions must be completed by April 1.
— Registration opened Thursday, Jan. 16, for this summer’s Church of the Brethren workcamps. “Jump in to serve this summer!” said an invitation from the Workcamp Ministry. Find out about this summer’s workcamp opportunities and register at www.brethren.org/workcamps .
— Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) training workshops begin in February at several locations around the country. The workshops train prospective volunteers to serve with CDS to care for children and families affected by disasters. Find an interactive map of the next round of CDS workshops at https://maps.esp.tl/maps/_CDS-Training-Workshops-2020/pages/map.jsp .
— The Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC) is publicizing three upcoming continuing education opportunities:
“Binocular Vision: Seeing Through Eyes of Faith and Science” on March 19, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., in the Sill Board Room in the Von Liebig Center for Science, is taught by Russell Haitch, professor of Theology and Human Science at Bethany Theological Seminary. Registration is due by March 5.
“Pastoral Care and Crisis Intervention, Part III: Congregational Care” on March 28, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., at Newville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, is taught by Dale Leverknight, pastor of Montgomery Church of the Brethren in Western Pennsylvania District. Registration is due by March 13.
“Neurocognitive Disorders: Supporting Parishioners Through the Journey” on May 11, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., at Cross Keys Village in New Oxford, Pa., is taught by Jennifer Holcomb, director of Memory Support at Cross Keys Village, and Kimberly Korge, Memory Care Coach. Registration is due by April 27.
Cost of $60 per course includes a light breakfast, lunch, and 0.5 continuing education credits. For more information contact 717-361-1450 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
— A report from the 65th general assembly of TEKAN, the Fellowship of Churches of Christ in Nigeria, has been shared by the communications office of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). EYN president Joel E. Billi was elected vice president of TEKAN at the event held Jan. 7-13 in Kaduna, Nigeria. TEKAN includes 15 Nigerian denominations representing about 30 million church members, the communique said. A statement of condolence was made to member churches affected by violent acts of Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram, and commendation given to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) “for championing the cause of the persecuted Church in Nigeria.” The gathering also expressed concern for the security and human rights situation in Nigeria, condemning the recent beheading of 11 Christians in Borno State, the kidnapping of EYN pastor and CAN state chairman Lawan Andimi and the kidnapping of four students at the Catholic Seminary in Kaduna, among other recent attacks and killings. It called on the Nigerian government to facilitate the immediate release of Leah Sharibu, a young woman who has been in Boko Haram captivity for two years. Another section of the communique noted “with grave concern the degradation and destruction of our environment and reemphasized her call to re-clothe the earth through deliberate revegetation of the land badly exposed to agents of weathering, creation of water ways to fight flooding, management of plastic/wastes, control of bush burning amongst others.” The national economy, a new taxation measure, and the security of elections were also of concern. “The Assembly calls on her member-churches to continue to be committed to the worship of God and propagation of the gospel,” said a section on prayer, “be peace-loving in spite of the level of persecution and provocations in the environment they reside in; calls on Christians and all well-meaning Nigerians to be more committed to prayers for Justice, Peace and Unity of the nation; and do whatever is legal within their capacity towards building peace and to support every government initiative that would promote peace and justice.”
— Church of the Living Savior, a Church of the Brethren congregation in McFarland, Calif., is celebrating a new roof this Sunday. “After joining the Church of the Living Savior five years ago, Pastor Phil Corr set out to restore one of the McFarland most iconic buildings,” reports Channel 17 KGET. “A landmark in the city, the church’s roof was slowly decaying due to leaks and asbestos concerns…. Then the church received a makeover courtesy of roof inspector Vernon Lawson.” Lawson found wind damage that was covered by insurance. “As a result of getting the roof replaced it now has a second lease on life and can go another 70-80 years,” said Lawson. Find the report at www.kget.com/news/local-news/mcfarland-church-receives-a-new-roof .
— Bridgewater (Va.) College and the town of Bridgewater are hosting a Martin Luther King Day Celebration on the theme “Celebrating the Dream, Continuing the Journey,” beginning at 11 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 20, at Oakdale Park in Bridgewater. “Members of the community are invited to celebrate the life and legacy of the renowned civil rights leader with the Bridgewater College community,” said an announcement from the college. “The event kicks off with guest speakers giving remarks at Oakdale, followed by a march of event attendees from Oakdale Park to Bridgewater College’s campus, where guests are invited to enjoy a reception in the Kline Campus Center lobby. Following the reception, Bridgewater College students will participate in Day of Service activities, both on- and off-campus. That evening, Jelani Cobb, winner of the 2015 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism for his New Yorker columns, will present an endowed lecture at 7:30 p.m. in Cole Hall.” Cobb will speak on “The Half-Life of Freedom: Race and Justice in America Today.” Also part of the celebration is the screening of the feature documentary “It Is Well” at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 22, in Cole Hall, followed by a panel discussion with director and writer Bennie R. Mitchell III. All of the events are free and open to the public.
— In more news from Bridgewater, the college will host Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey presenting his “Reflections of the Moderator” at the college’s Forum for Brethren Studies. The presentation will take place at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 22, in Bowman Hall, Room 109. A time for questions and answers will follow. The seminar is free and open to the public. The mission of the Forum for Brethren Studies is to encourage scholarship on the Bridgewater campus and within the Church of the Brethren, especially on Brethren heritage, said a release from the college. For more information, contact Steve Longenecker at email@example.com .
— “Imagine! God’s Earth and People Restored” is the theme for the 2020 Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, DC, from April 24-27. “With special attention to the intersection between climate justice and economic justice, EAD 2020 will be spent galvanizing advocacy around policies and programs, working toward chipping away at the systems of oppression that perpetuate poverty and further push our planet to the brink of destruction,” said an announcement from the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. “Please join this movement of the ecumenical Christian communities, along with recognized partners and allies, to address inequalities and strengthen the movement of climate justice.” Go to https://advocacydays.org for more information and to register.
— Church World Service (CWS) is offering a free online course titled “Changing Systems, Changing Ourselves: Anti-racist Practice for Sanctuary, Accompaniment, and Resistance.” The five sessions will explore anti-racist practice for accompanying those most affected by injustice; the US immigration system’s history of racial exclusion and how it plays out today; criminalization, immigration, and the prison industrial complex; anti-Blackness and working for immigrant justice; the theology and practice of accompaniment; real-life examples through case studies; practical skills to accompany immigrants in ICE check-ins, detention visitation, and other contexts. Participants are encouraged to participate in small groups working together locally. There will be homework between sessions, and attendees are expected to participate in the full course. The course begins Jan. 28 and continues every fourth Tuesday evening through May. It is a collaboration between CWS, the American Friends Service Committee, and other partner organizations. Find out more at www.afsc.org/action/join-us-changing-systems-changing-ourselves .
— A new Bible app is making this year’s “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” accessible to on-the-go people across the globe, according to a release from the World Council of Churches (WCC). The special week of prayer starts Jan. 18. The app is available for phones, computers, and tablets using the YouVersion Bible-reading app. Users can explore the theme for the week, “They Showed Us Unusual Kindness” (Acts 28:2) in a digital format. “The app, which has already been installed on more than 400 million devices by users in all countries of the world, allows users to read the Bible, share verses via social media, and bookmark favorite passages,” said the release. Find out more at www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/bible-app-brings-week-of-prayer-to-on-the-go-people-across-the-globe . Access the app at www.bible.com/en-GB/reading-plans/17933 .