Brethren bits for Dec. 11, 2021

Please be in prayer for those who have lost loved ones, homes, and businesses, the injured, and the first responders in the tornado outbreak that hit at least six states last night including Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee. At least 70 people were killed with many areas still searching wreckage for survivors. Kentucky governor Andy Beshear has described the town of Mayfield, Ky., as “ground zero” for destruction wrought by a tornado that traveled more than 200-miles, reports the Guardian. Find that newspaper’s updated page with latest information about the tornado outbreak at

Correction: The Dec. 4 Newsline incorrectly identified the author of the study and discussion guide for Tod Bolsinger’s plenary session on “Doing Church in Uncharted Territory” from the 2021 Annual Conference. The guide was written by Renee Wilson, who helped out with the Moderator Town Hall events and is a member of the staff of Ministry Architects.

Religious workers and clergy are now eligible for Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). The program offers methods to help all borrowers (including religious workers and clergy) reduce or better manage student loans. View the webinar linked below to learn how to apply for PSLF, with leadership from attorney Ashley Harrington, a senior official of the Federal Student Aid Office of the US Department of Education. This webinar was offered by the United Church of Christ in partnership with the National Council of Churches. Go to

A webinar hosted by On Earth Peace and the Good Shepherd Collective is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 15, at 1-3 p.m. (Eastern time). “Join the Good Shepherd Collective and On Earth Peace for a critical conversation on the Palestinian-led campaign to Defund Racism, a grassroots movement to stop the exploitation of US charities and the financing of violent political movements,” said an announcement. “Bana Abu Zuluf, a legal researcher and advocate for the Good Shepherd Collective, and Manal Shqair, a Palestinian climate activist and the international advocacy officer of Stop the Wall Campaign, will discuss how the Israeli settler movement exploits US charitable law to fund the dispossession of indigenous Palestinian communitie–and more importantly–what you can do to dismantle the structures that underwrite violence and oppression.” Go to

A group of Church of the Brethren young adults are leading an Advent Worship Service this Sunday evening, Dec. 12, at 6 p.m. (Eastern time) via Zoom. To attend, contact
On Earth Peace is offering an online seminar titled “Children as Peacebuilders: Equipping Resilient Leaders” at 12 noon (Eastern time) on Saturday, Dec. 18. The seminar “will be sharing Christmas traditions from all around the globe, equipping caregivers and educators to use the holidays as a time to teach children about inclusiveness and diversity,” said an announcement. “Caregivers will be provided with tools such as storytelling using OEP’s Read Aloud Program.” Go to

The Church of the Brethren’s Southern Ohio and Kentucky District is celebrating the ministry of retiring district executive Dave Shetler on Jan. 23, 2022, from 2-5 p.m. (Eastern time) at Salem Church of the Brethren in Englewood, Ohio. “Please join us as we honor Dave’s 11 years of ministry to our district as District Executive,” said an invitation. Donations in Shetler’s honor are received to the district disaster ministries, the district’s camping and retreat ministries, and to the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville, Ohio.

Mid-Atlantic District has begun a new program of Jesus in the Neighborhood Mini-Grants, through its CORE Ministry Team tasked with “Church Outreach, Renewal, and Evangelism.” Following on the denomination’s adoption of the compelling vision, “CORE is offering Jesus in the Neighborhood Mini-Grants to congregations who wish to begin projects related to congregational renewal, revitalization, and community outreach but may need additional support to do so,” said the district newsletter. “Congregations are encouraged to think outside the box!” The mini-grants are restricted to Church of the Brethren congregations within the district, who apply for help to fund efforts that will use church funds wisely and judiciously, and that adhere to Church of the Brethren polity and values. The mini-grants of up to $500 will be awarded to congregations that have committed their own funds and resources to the project in addition to the mini-grant and that submit a simple budget of projected costs for their project.

Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren has appeared in several news reports recently, following the appearance of some chalk graffiti on the church property. The media stories have been overblown, said pastor Eric Landram. The graffiti was done with sidewalk chalk, and there was no lasting damage. It took only 20 minutes for church members to wash it off. Landram explained to a few media outlets, “Since this has not occurred on the property before, we are not concerned.” To Newsline, he wrote, “We aren’t letting the antics stop us from focusing on what matters the most during this season of Advent. We are busy living into the Church of the Brethren’s new compelling vision statement by following Jesus in relationship-based neighborhood engagement. We are encouraging our members and community to support families less fortunate during the holidays and we are diligent in continuing the important work of resettling refugees in Lancaster County. A little sidewalk chalk isn’t going to get us down. Christmas is coming and with it a great light of peace and hope!”

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is publishing a series of Bible studies leading up to its assembly taking place next year in Germany. The series is based on the assembly theme and linked to significant days in the Christian calendar. The first Bible study was published at the beginning of Advent and the next will be published in preparation for Epiphany. Read the first Bible study of the series, “Advent and Christmas” by Susan Durber, at

— Harvey Nininger’s role as “the father of meteoritics” is told by writer Max McCoy in a Nov. 28 article in the Kansas Reflector titled “In 1923, a Kansan saw a fireball overhead. He helped popularize a new science.” Nininger was a Church of the Brethren member and biology professor at McPherson (Kan.) College who in November 1923 began tracking and collecting meteorites. “During the next 60 years he located thousands,” writes McCoy. “By the 1940s, he was believed to have located half of all the meteorites that had so far been identified anywhere on the surface of the earth…. ‘Verily,’ he wrote in 1933, ‘Kansas has been the target of the universe.’ …From 1923 on, Nininger crisscrossed the state, educating local populations about meteorites and offering $1 a pound for the space rocks.” He even led McPherson students on trips to search for meteorites “as far away as South America, cataloguing historic finds and gathering new data from the strewn fields.” Although McCoy calls the Church of the Brethren a “sect,” he acknowledges Nininger’s deep faith along with his conflicts with McPherson College leadership: “For all of his adult life, Nininger would challenge the cornerstones of faith he had learned as a child; not only would he denounce belief in a 6,000-year-old earth, but he would come to chide the president of the Brethren college at McPherson for not teaching evolution. But Nininger never rejected faith.” Find the article at

Ron Beachley is the subject of an article in the Tribune-Democrat highlighting his more than 35 years as a referee for high school sports. The 81-year-old is a former pastor in the Church of the Brethren, served for years as a district executive, and was Annual Conference moderator. He also “has been a sports enthusiast his whole life,” the article noted. “And it’s led to the Davidsville resident refereeing high school sports for more than 35 years as a PIAA official.” Throughout years serving the church, wherever he served he also connected with opportunities to serve local schools by officiating at sports events. In retirement, that passion continues. “Beachley said he attends rules meetings annually for each sport and a number of chapter meetings to keep his credentials current. ‘Being an official allows me keep up with rule changes and seeing good athletes participate in the games,’ he said…. Beachley, who also drives a school bus for the Ferndale Area School District, said what keeps him working as an official is his love of competition and the camaraderie with other officials. ‘I question if I should retire, but I want to be involved,’ he said.” Find the article at

Pastor Dwayne Yost of Flat Creek and Mud Lick Churches of the Brethren in Big Creek, Ky., is one of the church leaders that welcomed a large delivery of gifts and personal care items to help Kentuckians in need, sent to the Red Bird Mission supporting families in Bell, Clay, and Leslie County by churches in upstate New York. An article titled “NY to KY: Huge donation arrives at Eastern Kentucky’s Red Bird Mission” by Jonathon Gregg and published by Spectrum News 1 noted that “poverty rates in this area of Kentucky are some of the highest in the country” and that the area is seeing a “ripple effect” after the collapse of the coal industry, with many families staying in the area despite the loss of employment. Yost had worked for Red Bird more than 50 years ago, the piece reported, quoting him as saying, “If I live another 3 weeks I’ll be 87.” Yost also told the reporter: “It’s wonderful to be a part of God’s work wherever it is. Whether it’s at Red Bird or if it’s in New York where they put these boxes together…. You know, it’s wonderful we can all work together.” Find the article at


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