Brethren bits for Jan. 15, 2021

A reminder of the upcoming Moderator’s Town Hall on “Faith, Science, and COVID-19 Part Three,” taking place online on Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey is hosting a third conversation with Dr. Kathryn Jacobsen, professor in the Department of Global and Community Health at George Mason University, Fairfax, Va., a specialist in infectious disease epidemiology and a member of Oakton Church of the Brethren. Register at

An online memorial service has been announced for John Gingrich, for whom a remembrance appeared in Newsline on Dec. 21, 2020. The family shares an invitation to the service taking place on Saturday, Jan. 23, at 10 a.m. (Pacific time) hosted by La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren at
/LaVerneChurchoftheBrethren/videos. This link will work on Jan. 23 and for a period of time afterwards.

Camp Blue Diamond in Petersburg, Pa., seeks a gifted and visionary individual with a passion for outdoor ministry to serve as its next executive director. The camp is a 238-acre retreat facility, summer camp, and family campground within Rothrock State Forest, affiliated with the Middle Pennsylvania District of the Church of the Brethren. Its mission is to encourage discipleship of Jesus Christ and to facilitate growth and healing in each person’s relationship with God, others, themselves, and the created world. The duties of the executive director include but are not limited to the overall development and operation of the camp and family campground; financial management; promotion and fundraising; coordination of summer camp, retreats, rentals, and other events; hosting of Shaver’s Creek Outdoor School; and supervision of staff and volunteers. Qualifications include strong skills in administration, organization, communication, hospitality, and leadership, along with a basic knowledge of marketing, program development, computer skills, and finance. A bachelor’s degree is required, along with camp leadership experience. The applicant should be a Christian and a member of the Church of the Brethren or have an appreciation and understanding of Brethren beliefs and values. This full-time, salaried position includes health benefits, a generous PTO/holiday package, and onsite housing and utilities. Review of applicants will begin on March 1. It is expected that an appointment will be made in June with an anticipated start date in October. For a full description, and information on how to apply, visit Contact David Meadows, Search Committee Chair, at or 814-599-6017.

Prayers of thanksgiving are requested as Church of the Brethren retirement communities and nursing homes across the country begin to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

Prayer requests from India are shared in a CAT report by Ernest N. Thakore and Darryl Sankey. The CAT teams serve as volunteers through the Church of the Brethren Global Mission office. After a difficult year in 2020 the report said, in part, “Most of the Brethren churches have reopened and all were able to hold regular Christmas and New Year church services. During this time the First District Church of the Brethren in India resumed the publication of its magazine Brethren News which had been discontinued for the past few years…. Our Sunday School Committee took advantage of the lockdown and worked on developing Sunday school courses for children and have successfully published our own Sunday school books. There are plans to publish books for senior students as well in the near future, please pray for this project. Most of the Brethren churches plan to hold their annual meetings in the month of January where representatives will be elected for the upcoming 2021 Annual conference (Jilla Sabha) … in the month of February in Ankleshwar, please pray for the meetings, as we work to set the agenda for the coming year.” Additional prayer requests include for Elder Rev. K. S. Tandel, church president, who has been ill; for the Ankleshwar Church of the Brethren that will host the 2021 annual meeting; for the church facing continued lawsuits and legal challenges; and that the Covishield Oxford University vaccine that has been approved by regulators in India will be available soon and reach the Brethren communities.

An anonymous gift has been received by Haiti Medical Project to support the new latrine project established in 2020. The donor offers $25,000 in dollar-for-dollar matching gifts from other donors. “Latrines take about $600 to build,” said an announcement. “The project, when funded, should result in at least 80 latrines constructed this year. Nine rural communities have been the site of a successful pilot program resulting in 60 latrines built in 2020.” Send matching gifts to Haiti Medical Project, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. For more information contact volunteer staff Dale Minnich at or Dr. Paul and Sandy Brubaker at

Chicago (Ill.) First Church of the Brethren is celebrating member Christopher Crater, who has been named one of this year’s “40 Game Changers of Chicago.” In announcement in the Illinois and Wisconsin District newsletter, Joyce Cassel and Mary Scott Boria as co-chairs of the congregation’s leadership board report that Crater is “a life-long member of First Church and newly elected board member.” In the announcement, Crater writes: “As I reflect on my one-year anniversary of joining the Obama Foundation. I am beyond elated to announce that I was selected by WVON 1690AM-The Talk of Chicago and Ariel Investments as one of this year’s 40 Game Changers of Chicago! I can’t even begin to express how humbling it is to be recognized alongside so many incredible leaders including one of my mentors Cory L. Thames.” The ceremony honoring Crater and others named as the city’s game changers took place the evening of Jan. 15.

The board of Southern Ohio and Kentucky District has sent out an email urging congregations to continue to refrain from in-person meetings to prevent COVID-19 transmission. The letter continued: “Over 376,000 Americans have died in these last 11 months of COVID-19. In our district, a growing number of our congregations have been directly affected by this virus. We are sad to report that in at least two of our congregations, members of leadership have died due to the virus. At least two pastors and members of two other pastoral families have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and we have heard numerous reports of church members fighting the disease. Scripture gives us examples of times when quarantines were necessary for the sake of the community. Leprosy, for example, required quarantine and priestly inspection before rejoining society. As followers of Christ, these examples from the scriptures can guide us as we navigate this new disease. No one wants to be the reason why members of the congregation contract the disease or even die. Medical science tells us that we can spread the COVID-19 virus without showing symptoms. Long-anticipated vaccines are here, and we look forward to the time when they are widely available and administered to all within the communities of our congregations. We all miss in person worship and the fellowship that comes from a community of believers and look forward to the time when we can all safely gather in person.”

Virlina District has announced that in lieu of its usual FaithQuest event for senior high youth, this year it is offering “Quest for Faith: A Self-Led Exploration of Faith for Youth” on March 11-12. “Due to the continuing pandemic, we believe that FaithQuest cannot be held in the normal manner in order to keep people safe,” said the announcement. “As we pondered what to do we realized that the continuing true purpose of FaithQuest is to help youth connect with God and with one another. God can connect with us wherever we are. Therefore, we developed ‘FaithQuest in a Box.’ This ‘Quest for Faith’ in 2021 will come packed with devotionals, fun activities, as well as spiritually reflective information for youth to complete on their own or with their small youth groups.” For more information, contact Joy Murray, coordinator of Children, Youth, and Young Adult Ministries at or by private message on the Virlina Young Facebook page.

Bridgewater (Va.) College will celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of virtual events, “BC Honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” on Monday, Jan. 18.

The Department of Student Life will be hosting a virtual Facebook event at 11 a.m. (Eastern time).

From noon to 3 p.m., faculty members will host virtual teach-ins that explore different aspects of the civil rights movement and its era.

At noon, associate professor of Music and department chair Christine Carrillo will lead “The Soundtrack of the Civil Rights Movement–A Jazz Listening Session.”

At 1 p.m., Dr. Steve Longenecker, Professor of History and Political Science, will host “History of the Civil Rights Movement.”

At 2 p.m., Alice Trupe, professor of English, will lead “Young Adult Literature on the Civil Rights Movement.”

The teach-ins are free and open to the public. Visit for links to the virtual events.

At 7 p.m., Blair L. M. Kelley, winner of the prestigious Letitia Woods Brown Best Book Award from the Association of Black Women Historians for her book Right to Ride: Streetcar Boycotts and African American Citizenship in the Era of Plessy v. Ferguson, will present a virtual endowed lecture. Kelley has produced and hosted her own podcast and has been a guest on MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris Perry Show,” NPR’s “Here and Now,” and WUNC’s “The State of Things.” She has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post,,,, Ebony and Jet magazines. This endowed lecture, sponsored by the W. Harold Row Symposium, is free and open to the public; register at

“In Search of Joy” is the theme for Camp Mack’s Winter Spiritual Retreat. “These days, joy can feel elusive and hidden behind pain and isolation. Somewhere amid God’s blessing and our daily reality, I hope there is joy. Let us search for joy together,” said district executive minister Beth Sollenberger who is in leadership of the retreat scheduled for the weekend of Feb 5-7. The weekend will include Bible study, outdoor activities, camp programing, reflection, active sharing, worship, and prayer, all in a safe space. Participants will stay in Ulrich House with private rooms for singles or couples. Bathrooms in Ulrich House are shared. Cost is $125 per person or $225 per couple. Linens can be provided for an additional $10 per person. There are limited spaces available to provide appropriate physical distancing. Register at or call Camp Mack at 574-658-4831.

The Anabaptist Disabilities Network is welcoming Hannah Thompson as program director with responsibilities for the organization’s newsletter, assisting with communications, resource development, creating community, and strengthening the network. She holds a master’s degree in social justice and an undergraduate degree in communication from Elmhurst University. “She is a motivational speaker as well as an advocate for individuals who have disabilities. Her highest achievements include being on the Federal Communications Commission Disability Advisory Committee (2014-16), being involved in her sorority, advocating for dystonia research, and simply being involved in her community,” said the announcement. The Church of the Brethren is a member denomination of ADN.

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is announcing a series of celebrations for its 35th anniversary in 2021. The organization was started by the historic peace churches, including the Church of the Brethren, with a focus on accompanying people living in places of violence around the world. “In honor of 35 years of accompaniment, we are inviting you to take part in our year of action for peace,” said an announcement. “Every month we will focus on a different aspect of our peacemaking work, and we would love if you could join us.” The focus for January is a campaign inviting supporters to take the Water Is Life pledge. “In every place that CPT works–Colombia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Palestine, Turtle Island, Lesvos, the U.S.-Mexico borderlands and elsewhere–water is a prime issue. For water is life, and those who wish to control life will seek to monopolize and abuse water.” Find the pledge at

The Lombard (Ill.) Mennonite Peace Center is offering opportunities for education in conflict resolution for church leaders. “Destructive conflict and chronic anxiety are pervasive in society today; unfortunately, the church is not immune,” said an invitation. “Follow through now on that “New Year’s Resolution” to learn how to deal more effectively with conflict that threatens to damage relationships and derail the mission of your church! Upcoming sessions of our most popular training events are Conflict Transformation Skills for Churches on Feb. 13; Healthy Congregations on Feb. 18; Leadership and Anxiety in the Church on March 10; and our signature 5-day event, Mediation Skills Training Institute on March 1-5. Additional sessions are available for all four events, as well as significant group discounts for the one-day events.” Register at

Today, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC), in partnership with the Washington Interfaith Staff Community, held an “Interfaith Prayer Service of Reflection, Lament, and Hope” for members of Congress, their staffs, and all who work at and protect the US Capitol building in Washington, D.C. “The Prayer Service was organized to bear witness to the trauma and destruction caused by the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and, through compassionate interfaith sharing and mutual support, to bring comfort and hope to all who work at the Capitol complex,” said the NCC e-newsletter. “Those attending commented that it was comforting to be together and, when hearing the words spoken, they realized how much they needed to pray and connect during this troubling time for our nation.” The public portion of the prayer service was streamed on NCC’s Facebook and YouTube channels this morning at 11:30 a.m. (Eastern time). A recording is available at

Also from the NCC is information and a link to the King Center’s 2021 “Beloved Community Commemorative Service” to be held virtually on Monday, Jan. 18, at 10:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. (Eastern time). The keynote speaker is Bishop T. D. Jakes, bishop of the Potter’s House. Remarks also will be offered by Kirk Franklin, Grammy Award-winning gospel music artist and author, and Amina Mohammed, deputy secretary general of the United Nations. This is the culminating program for the center’s weeklong celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy. Go to

A prayer vigil titled “Pray for Our Nation-Oremos por Nuestra Nación” has been announced for Tuesday, Jan. 19, at 8 p.m. (Eastern time) by Christian Churches Together (CCT), an ecumenical organization of which the Church of the Brethren is a member communion. The event will be broadcast and the public is invited to join in via the CCT Facebook page. The prayers will be primarily in Spanish. Said the announcement: “We are experiencing one of the most dangerous times in our country’s history. The forces of division are trying to tear apart our nation. As followers of the Prince of Peace, we are called to witness the reconciling love of Christ. We must pray for peace and healing. We must also reach out to our neighbors in a spirit of unity.” Evangelical, Pentecostal, and Historic Protestant Latino leaders will be in leadership of the event that will join the CCT Latino Network, ANCLA, and others.

“Christians worldwide prepare to gather in prayer for unity–even if distanced,” said the World Council of Churches (WCC) in a release about the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. “Even as nations continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, final preparations are under way for one of the world’s largest annual prayer observances, traditionally celebrated Jan. 18-25. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity involves Christian communities from many traditions and all parts of the globe. At a time when public health concerns put a limit on physical gatherings, it provides an opportunity for churches to come together by means of a typically Christian practice that long predates modern transport: prayer.” The annual event is jointly organized by the WCC and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity of the Roman Catholic Church, since 1968. Tasked with preparing the 2021 edition, the Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland chose the theme “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit” (John 15:5-9). “This allowed the community’s 50 sisters from diverse confessions and countries to share the wisdom of their contemplative life abiding in the love of God,” said the release. Worship and background material for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2021 are online at

— In more from the WCC, the worldwide ecumenical organization has shared a warning that returning locusts in East Africa threaten food security, in a report by Kenya-based freelance journalist Fredrick Nzwili. “A return of desert locusts in East Africa is a major threat to food security in the region, church leaders warned, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause severe disruptions,” said a release this week. “In 2020, huge swarms of biblical proportions struck the region, destroying food crops and animal pastures, and pushed hunger and economic hardship to new levels. And as though that is not enough, the United Nations warned in January 2021 that a new invasion has started spreading in East Africa…. Scientists have linked East Africa’s locust infestation to the unusual weather and climate conditions in East Africa–including widespread and heavy rains since October 2019.” In Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Somalia, the locust invasion has resulted in food insecurity for 35 million people, a number that could rise to 38 million according to the United Nations.

Find more Church of the Brethren news:

[gt-link lang="en" label="English" widget_look="flags_name"]