— A prayer request has been received from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) for the Majalisa or annual conference of the denomination. “Greetings from Kwarhi. Pray for the forthcoming full Majalisa scheduled to be held on 29th to 30th April, the highest decision-making body of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria,” said an email from Zakariya Musa, head of EYN Media. “The director of EYN Disaster Relief Ministry, Rev. Yuguda Z. Ndurvwa, will be the preacher under the theme “Everyone Born of God Overcomes the World,” 1 John 5:4. The Men’s Fellowship held their Annual Conference from 14th to 17th April.”
— This week’s Global Mission Prayer Guide also shared additional prayer requests for Brethren around the world:
The churches of the Africa Great Lakes region request prayers for economic stability to allow jobs and business opportunities so people can support their families; for the faithfulness of the leaders and members to hold to biblical and denominational standards; may the churches be good stewards of their resources and gifts; and may those who have made decisions for Christ become part of the church and grow in their faith as they go forward in God’s redeeming power.
In Haiti, prayers are requested for the Delmas church, the mother congregation, to find and purchase a good property for their church.
In Venezuela, prayers are requested for Robert, the head of the Brethren in Venezuela, to recover from illness and that his family remains healthy.
In Honduras, prayers are needed for the health and safety of the people as COVID-19 cases have been peaking in recent weeks, and as the president of the country has been charged with drug trafficking and other crimes in the US and his brother was sentenced to life imprisonment in the US. Prayers of praise are requested for the work of Project Global Village (PAG) assisting with rebuilding following the 2020 hurricane.
Today, April 24, is the 106th anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 1915, and today President Biden became the first US president to use the term “genocide” to refer to the event in which more than 1,500,000 Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923.
This year also marks 104 years of Church of the Brethren compassionate response to those affected by disasters and war. The denomination’s first large-scale disaster response effort began in 1917 when Brethren began aiding Armenian survivors and refugees.
The World Council of Churches was one of the organizations urging Biden to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Find the WCC’s letter at www.oikoumene.org/resources/documents/wcc-acting-general-secretary-letter-to-us-president-on-the-recognition-of-the-armenian-genocide.
In South Sudan, prayers are requested for the people facing food insecurity, violent conflict, corruption, and flooding. Prayers are requested for the Church of the Brethren Peace Center, that it may continue on the current property.
In India, prayers are requested for the churches as they face a new surge of COVID-19.
For the Global Mission office, prayers are requested for discernment as US staff and volunteers consider traveling to visit global partners. The office also expressed gratitude for all of those who volunteer and donate to support Brethren around the world.
To subscribe to the Global Mission Prayer Guide emails, sign up at www.brethren.org/intouch.
— A recording of the Moderator’s Town Hall held in March with William Willimon on the topic “Peacebuilding When We’re So Divided” is now available at www.brethren.org/webcasts/archive, where a link to a study guide also is provided. “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 Office of Peacebuilding and Policy has signed on as an organizational endorser of the “Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act” also known as the “Palestinian Children and Families Act” (HR 2590). This legislation is “rooted in accountability to Palestinian demands for freedom, and insists on the rights to safety, dignity, and freedom for the Palestinian people: the freedom to thrive, free from child detention, home demolitions, continual Israeli annexation, and land theft,” said an announcement from the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. The announcement said that the bill is backed by more than 70 organizations. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat from Minnesota.
Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), of which the Church of the Brethren is a member organization, also endorsed this legislation. A release from CMEP said, in part: “HR 2590 would ensure no U.S. funds to Israel are used to detain or mistreat Palestinian children; seize and demolish Palestinian homes and structures in the West Bank; or facilitate the unilateral annexation of Palestinian land in the West Bank by the Israeli government. The legislation would also require the Secretary of State to certify on an annual basis to Congress that U.S. military assistance to Israel would not be used for these purposes.”
— Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren “would like to express our gratitude for the community speakers, organizations, and citizens that contributed and shared in our ‘Month of Tuesdays’ in March Webinar Series entitled ‘Peace and Racial Justice,’” wrote Gary Honeman on behalf of the congregation’s Peace and Justice Committee. The series of Tuesday night online forums garnered an audience from an average of 100 locations, ranging from Carroll County, Md., to Pennsylvania, California, Virginia, New York, and others states, he wrote. The congregation received a mini-grant to help fund the series from the Healing Racism Congregations and Communities Grant Program sponsored by the Intercultural Ministries of the Church of the Brethren. “With momentum generated from the series, the Westminster Church is moving forward with a congregational survey and needs assessment for continuing education and action-oriented activities to promote racial justice in the congregation, local community, and denomination,” Honeman wrote. “There is also a need to formulate a mission statement for the church related to these ideals and goals. Longer term goals of a congregational retreat and participation in local racial justice initiatives are also underway.”
— Mohrsville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren has announced its Annual Pricetown Homecoming scheduled for Sunday, June 6, at 2:30 p.m. “Visitors are welcome to worship in the oldest unaltered Church of the Brethren in America,” said the announcement in the Atlantic Northeast District newsletter. “It was built in the year 1777 by Brother Martin Gaube. Martin Gaube was born in 1742 and died in 1812. He was ordained to the Eldership by Christopher Sauer, Jr. on August 12, 1780, two years after Brother Sauer was released from prison for operating a printing press and refusing to serve in the Revolutionary War. The main building is 30 X 25 feet. An addition used for preparation of Love Feasts measures 16 X 16 feet. The walls of rough stone are about two feet thick.” For more information and directions call 610-926-5167.
— COVID-19 resulted in the cancellation of two annual fundraiser banquets for the Alpha and Omega Community Center in Lancaster, Pa. Affiliated with Alpha and Omega Church of the Brethren, the center provides education and social services to empower the Latino community, led by executive director Joel Peña. Service to the community include a food bank, computers for use by refugees, Spanish language counseling, and English instruction (see https://alphayomega.us).
Now the center’s board is going “whole hog” to make up for lost income, according to a release from Don Fitzkee at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. The Lancaster Church is hosting a drive-through pork BBQ fundraiser meal, sponsored by the center, on Saturday, May 22, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Catered by Peters’ Barbecue, the meal will include a pulled pork sandwich with barbecue sauce on a homemade roll, baked potato, and applesauce (drink not included). Cost is $10 per meal. Extra donations are welcome. Pre-orders are strongly encouraged, but a limited number of meals will be available for purchase the day of the event. To pre-order, contact board member Carolyn Fitzkee no later than May 12 at email@example.com or 717-682-1762. Those unable to participate in the meal may send donations to AOCC, 708 Wabank St., Lancaster, PA 17603.
— Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren has announced its second annual Walk to Nigeria Team Challenge, taking place May 1-31. “Last year, our Walk to Nigeria was such a success that we are doing it again,” said an announcement in the Atlantic Northeast District newsletter. “Our goal is to Run, Walk, Hike, or Ride 5,563 Miles in 31 days. Join Our Challenge!” The event raises funds for the Centre for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives in Nigeria (CCEPI), founded by Rebecca Dali. Those who wish to participate sign up and log miles using the Challenge Hound website at www.challengehound.com/join/7eedd740-826b-11eb-8fb2-21aa45fbd0a8.
— Pomona (Calif.) Fellowship Church of the Brethren’s decision to sell its property to a housing developer is getting local media attention. An article by David Allen in the Daily Bulletin reviews the church’s reasons for the move and how congregation members are feeling about it. “’They moved here to attract young families,’ recalled Linda Hart, who’s been attending services since 1948, when her parents returned to the area. ‘Orange Grove looked so different. A lot of walnut groves, a lot of orange groves.’ Into the 1960s and 1970s, the sanctuary was jammed for Sunday services that filled the 400-person nave and fit another 30 in the choir loft. But as with many other denominations, attendance has declined steeply as members moved away or died and potential recruits opted for megachurches. Services have dwindled to 35 or fewer worshipers in a space built for more than 10 times that number. Upkeep became a problem. And so the congregation decided to sell the property.” Read the article at www.dailybulletin.com/2021/04/18/shrinking-pomona-church-sells-its-property-for-housing.
— The Race Education Team of Virlina District is holding a district-wide live Zoom meeting titled “Let’s Have a Conversation” on June 6. Said an announcement in the district newsletter: “There will be a guest emcee, opening with a fun trivia game, a chance to win a new book, and a virtual place to bring your favorite ice cream as we play games and get to know each other. Afterwards participants will move into the conversation about why we need this team at this point in our life together as a church and with those in our neighborhoods…. Our hope is to have at least one person from every congregation in attendance! We look forward to working together to share God’s love, justice, and peace.”
— The Global Women’s Project continues its Mother’s Day Gratitude Project this year with an opportunity to honor or donate in memory of a woman that you love or admire. “Rather than buying material gifts for a loved one, you can express gratitude with a gift that helps other women around the world,” said an announcement. “Your donation allows us to fund projects focused on women’s health, education, and employment. In return your chosen recipient will receive a lovely, hand-written card indicating that a gift has been made in her honor. If your gift is in memoriam, we will share her name on our website and in our yearly newsletter. If you would like to include a brief description of her, we would share that as well.” To participate, send a donation with your name and recipient’s name and address to Global Women’s Project, c/o Karlene Tyler, 333 South Lakeside Dr., Unit 1, McPherson, KS 67460. For more information see www.globalwomensproject.org.
— Camp Mardela in Denton, Md., held a drive-through, carry-out Spring Camp Supper on April 11, selling more than 550 ham and turkey meals and raising $5,200 for the camp’s ministries. Another 75 meals were donated to a homeless shelter, some homebound residents, and to feed camp volunteers. Chef Amy Hutchison and crew from Fairview Church of the Brethren in Cordova, Md., organized the event. “The camp has typically done a fall camp supper, which was also done as a drive-through event in September, but Hutchison proposed doing an additional event this year to create more revenue for the camp during the challenges of the pandemic,” wrote Walt Wiltschek in a release. Hutchison said, “We tried something new, and we were successful. When I offered to organize it, even I thought I’d lost my mind. But with the help of many, the first-ever spring carryout camp supper happened beautifully.” The annual fall camp supper is still planned for September, with details depending on the COVID-19 metrics at the time. Camp Mardela is planning to offer some summer programs this year under pandemic protocols, and an outdoor “Grand Re-Opening” celebration is planned for May 15. Learn more at www.campmardela.org.
— Timbercrest is celebrating 10 Church of the Brethren residents who are turning 100 or who already are centenarians. Timbercrest is a church-related retirement community in North Manchester, Ind. Chaplain Laura Stone shared with Newsline that three residents already have reached the century mark, including Anne Garber (100), Leo Metzger (100), and Pauline Pobst, who turns 106 in May. Program director Brian Daniels reported that Pobst has lived at Timbercrest for 32 years, longer than she has lived anywhere else in her life. Seven more Brethren residents are on the cusp of centenarian status and have 100th birthdays this year including Frank Bever (April), Mary Katherine Uhrig (May), Evelyn Barr (May), Ruth Egolf (May), Phil Orpurt (August), Helen Eshleman (October), and Bruce Young (December). Including the centenarians, 94 people on campus are 90 years or older–representing 38 percent of residents–and six more residents will turn 90 this year. Timbercrest’s oldest resident turns 108 in June.
— New alumni have joined the Manchester University Board of Trustees, according to a release from the school based in North Manchester, Ind. Dr. Joshua Kline ’98 and Laurie Kenealy ’88 are the newest members of the board. Kline serves on the board of Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren, and is a family physician and chief medical officer for Parkview Physicians Group in Fort Wayne, Ind. In addition, J. Bentley Peters ’62 and Dave Haist ’73 have rejoined the board after many years of service as at-large and honorary trustees. Peters is a Church of the Brethren minister who has served in a number of capacities including director of ministry and senior human resources officer for the former General Board of the Church of the Brethren. He also has been president of J.B. Peters Consulting Corp., senior vice president of Mutual Aid Exchange, and organizational development consultant for Advocate Health Systems. Board chair for 2021 is John Gilmore ’74, who is retired as senior vice president and chief operating officer of Princeton Theological Seminary.
— “When did you first know you were a leader in the church?” asks the Dunker Punks Podcast. In a sequel to Episode #107, “Linking Arms in Leadership,” Anna Lisa Gross shares interviews with other church leaders about this question. “Explore the kinds of leadership that our church needs and calls for as you listen!” said an announcement. Find the new episode at bit.ly/DPP_Episode113 or by subscribing to the Dunker Punks Podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast app.
— Bread for the World, a partner organization of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Initiative (GFI) is announcing its annual Offering of Letters to Congress. The advocacy effort supports those suffering from hunger and poverty. “Since its beginning over 45 years ago, Bread for the World’s Offering of Letters to Congress is a powerful tool to end hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world through personal testimony and advocacy,” said the announcement. This year’s effort urges Congress to expand anti-hunger programs in response to the pandemic and increase funding for domestic and global nutrition programs. Find out more at https://ol.bread.org.
— The Governing Board of the National Council of Churches (NCC) met on April 20. “Since the meeting was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, recorded the largest attendance of members in years,” said a release from the NCC. Actions taken at the meeting included:
Adoption of a policy statement on “The Dangers of Christian Nationalism in the United States” (https://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/common-witness-ncc/the-dangers-of-christian-nationalism-in-the-united-states-a-policy-statement-of-the-national-council-of-churches)
Approval of a resolution standing with all who live in fear due to the discrimination unleashed on the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, titled a “Resolution Against Asian American Pacific Islander Hate” (https://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/common-witness-ncc/resolution-against-asian-american-and-pacific-islander-hate). Through the work of its A.C.T. (Awaken, Confront, Transform) NOW to End Racism! Campaign, the board charged the Racial Justice Task Force to expand its work and focus on racism.
Announcement of a revision and updating of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, to be called the New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition (NRSVue). The NCC has commissioned the Society of Biblical Literature to carry out the revision. A presentation by John Kutsko noted that the NRSVue “can claim a well-known line from the 1611 preface to the King James Version: ‘We never thought from the beginning that we should need to make a new translation…but to make a good one better.’” The NRSVue will be released in November 2021. To stay informed, sign up at https://friendshippress.org/nrsv-updated-edition.
— Zakaria Bulus was selected by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) as a respondent for the first in its series of “Country Insights.” Bulus is a member of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and a former Ministry Summer Service intern at the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. His work with EYN has included service as National Youth Chairman, as well as youth coordinator for the African Continental Assembly through Mission 21. In the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, he worked as technical officer for monitoring and evaluation for Family Health International and as program manager for EYN Project Maiduguri strengthening delivery of HIV/AIDS services, among other humanitarian and volunteer work. He is currently working toward a master’s degree in Development Economics and International Development at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. He is a 2020 graduate of Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., earning a bachelor of science degree in Peace Studies and Political Science, with a minor in Philosophy and International Studies. Notes Nathan Hosler, director of the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, CSIS is a large and well-regarded think tank. “Think tanks play a significant role in informing and shaping the views policymakers and government officials in Washington. They produce research and policy recommendations that are regularly referenced and influence policy formation and implementation.” Find the “Country Insights” article on localization and Bulus’ responses at www.csis.org/analysis/country-insights-series-localization.
— Dwayne Hoskins of Hollywood Church of the Brethren in Fredericksburg, Va., has been featured in an article titled “I Felt Like I Had a Purpose Again: Stafford Man Has a Heart for Feeding Others” by Cathy Dyson in the Free Lance-Star. “Dwayne Hoskins’ heart may only function at one-third its capacity, but he pours every bit of it into his volunteer work at a local food pantry,” the article started out. “Hoskins runs the food ministry at Hollywood Church of the Brethren, off Ferry Road in Stafford County. He got involved with the mission in 2014, more than a year after he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and an enlarged heart.” Hoskins now leads the pantry where 40 to 50 families get 65 to 70 pounds of food per week, the article said. Read it at https://starexponent.com/news/stafford-man-has-a-heart-for-feeding-others/article_47513dab-06f9-5e69-9e75-2d5df892f4e9.html.
— “Pastors’ Yard Littered with Footwear as Fox Family Steals Neighborhood Shoes” is the title of an article from WTOP.com featuring Audrey and Tim Hollenberg-Duffey, pastors of Oakton Church of the Brethren in Vienna, Va. A mischievous family of foxes living under the couples’ shed recently were discovered to be the culprits who made away with some 27 shoes from around the neighborhood. Go to https://wtop.com/fairfax-county/2021/04/pastors-yard-littered-with-footwear-as-fox-family-steals-neighborhood-shoes.
Find more Church of the Brethren news:
- BFIA grants support Gun Buy Back Program, Blessing Box, and more projects at eight Church of the Brethren congregations
- EDF grants offer aid and relief in Haiti, the United States, Ukraine and Poland, the DRC, and Rwanda
- GFI grants support BVSer in Ecuador, agricultural training in the DRC and Mexico, community garden in Alaska, water project in Burundi
- Visit to Nigeria boosts agriculture program of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria
- Brethren bits for Sept. 29, 2023