Virus forces changes and/or cancellations of events at all levels of the denomination

Events at all levels of the Church of the Brethren denomination have been changed, canceled, and/or postponed because of the spread of coronavirus COVID-19, from the Mission and Ministry Board to Bethany Seminary and the Brethren Academy to districts, congregations, and other groups.

Here are some of those announcements:

— The Mission and Ministry Board meeting location was moved from the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville, Ohio, to Oakland Church of the Brethren, hosted by Southern Ohio and Kentucky District. The denominational board began meeting this morning and planned to continue through Monday morning. Board chair Patrick Starkey noted the “rapidly changing protocols for nursing homes” in his announcement of the change of venue.

— Bethany Seminary and the Brethren Academy are moving remaining spring 2020 class sessions to Zoom or online formats beginning March 16 until at least April 6. “All students who would have attended classes in person will join remotely using Zoom synchronous technology,” said an announcement today. “Faculty will be able to teach via Zoom from the classroom, their offices, or their homes. Online courses will proceed as scheduled. In addition, all on-campus activities and gatherings will be suspended for the same period. After this period, President Jeff Carter and Dean Steve Schweitzer will evaluate on a weekly basis whether classes and activities should resume.”
     The announcement included information that employees will continue to work on campus and, at this time, the board of trustees meeting will go forward on campus as scheduled. Commencement also will be held as expected. “Any decisions to further restrict campus activity or to resume regularly scheduled classes and activities will be communicated immediately and widely,” the announcement said.
     The Brethren Academy directed independent study units scheduled in conjunction with the Church Planting Conference in May and the Minister’s Association Pre-Annual Conference Event will be held contingent upon whether those events proceed as planned.
     For questions regarding Bethany Seminary course and activity scheduling contact the dean’s office at or 765-983-1815. For questions regarding Brethren Academy courses contact Janet Ober Lambert at or 765-983-1820.

— A performance by Ken Medema and Ted Swartz has been canceled by South Central Indiana District. The event was scheduled for this Saturday, March 14, at Manchester Church of the Brethren. “We hope to reschedule it for later this year,” said the announcement.

— The District Women’s Retreat in Middle Pennsylvania District has been canceled. The retreat was to be led by Sarah Steele on the topic, “Psssstttt…. Are You Listening?” and was scheduled for April 3-4.

— A “Seeking First the Kingdom” training event led by Ronald Sider and Shane Claiborne has been canceled by Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. The event was scheduled for March 21-22. “Efforts will be made to reschedule the event for March 2021,” said an announcement. “While we do not want to panic,” said lead pastor Misty Wintsch, “we do want to be prudent.” She and pastor Don Fitzkee will preach for the March 22 services instead of Shane Claiborne.

 A Ted Swartz and Ken Medema production of “Can We Talk? Conversations for Change” has been canceled in Southern Ohio and Kentucky District. The event had been scheduled for March 15 at Northmont High School Auditorium. The district also has canceled the Camping and Retreat Ministries Simple Living Weekend that was scheduled for March 27-28.

— Bridgewater (Va.) College is among the colleges and universities that have made the decision to cancel all classes and school-sponsored events and travel. Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., is among those that have extended spring breaks and made decisions to move classes online, while caring for students who may still need on-campus housing.

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