Brethren bits for June 18, 2021

Daily coverage of the 2021 Annual Conference

“Onsite” coverage of the 2021 virtual Conference will be available from Wednesday, June 30, to Sunday, July 4, at Newsline also will be alerting readers to the coverage of the Conference and pre-Conference events including the Mission and Ministry Board meeting on the weekend of June 25-27, the Standing Committee of district delegates on June 27-30, and the Ministers’ Association annual meeting and continuing education event on June 29-30. For detailed information about the Conference go to

A prayer for the 600,000 deaths to COVID-19 in the United States, from the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA:
“Lord, the toll of each loss is heavy on our hearts right now and weighs us down in sorrow. Bring comfort and peace to the family and friends of all who have died. Let the memory of those who have died be a blessing. Remind us that we are undefeated in death. As we console each other, give us the wisdom and willpower to end this pandemic. Amen.”

A memorial service for Lois Neher, who passed away on March 28 at age 92, has been announced by her family. The service will take place on Saturday, July 3, at 10 a.m. at First Church of the Brethren in McPherson, Kan. Neher and her husband, Gerald Neher, served in Nigeria as Church of the Brethren mission workers. While serving as teachers in Chibok, they worked at the Church of the Brethren mission school that was the predecessor of the school from which the Chibok schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram in 2014. The Nehers helped expand the size of the school building, making it possible for the first girls to attend. They also made a thorough study of those among whom they lived, including numerous interviews, and documented their learnings in the book Life Among the Chibok of Nigeria, published in 2011. A follow-up book in 2014, Glimpses of Life in Northeast Nigeria 1954-1968, featured photographs of the people of northeast Nigeria. The family returned to the US in 1968.

There is a spot open on the Young Adult Steering Committee for the Church of the Brethren. An announcement of the opening, from Youth and Young Adult Ministries director Becky Ullom Naugle, asks young adults to consider, “Are you the person for that position?” Apply by June 30 at

A letter on ending the practice of solitary confinement has been sent to US President Biden and Vice President Harris by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT). The campaign is celebrating June as Torture Awareness Month. The letter titled “Ending the Practice of Solitary Confinement: Recommendations for Federal Reform” was signed by the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, among more than 150 faith and secular organizations. It urges the administration to take action to end solitary confinement in all federal settings including the Bureau of Prisons, US Marshals Service, and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

NRCAT also has joined with the Unlock the Box Campaign, Vera Institute of Justice, ACLU, Center for Constitutional Rights, and #HALTsolitary Campaign to form a Federal Anti-Solitary Task Force (FAST). The organization released a new “Blueprint to End Solitary Confinement for the Federal Government” that can guide both Congress and the administration on steps needed to end solitary in all federal prisons and detention centers. Find out more about the Blueprint at Find a June 7 NBC exclusive about the Blueprint at

Updated submission information for Messenger, the Church of the Brethren magazine, has been posted at The information may help those who would like to submit articles for consideration by the magazine’s editorial team. Subscribe to the magazine by contacting your congregation’s Messenger representative or go to

Shown above: Glade Valley Church of the Brethren has installed a Little Free Library at Heritage Farm Park in Walkersville, Md., with help from an On Earth Peace grant. “The grant was for projects that would help educate the community about social justice issues,” wrote Lauren Anderson in the Mid-Atlantic District newsletter, who also took this photo. “It was challenging to find a project that would help people connect while social distancing to stay safe from COVID-19. The Little Free Library seemed to be the perfect project…. I am hoping the new library will promote building a strong community by providing books that focus on race, gender inequality, LGBTQ issues, people with disabilities, and other social justice issues to encourage tolerance and peace.” The church donated books and the youth at the church helped install and promote the library.

Shown above: Jan and Dave Flora assemble personal care bags. Photo by Jeanne Dussault.

Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren has used money from a grant of $3,500 provided by Brethren Disaster Ministries to purchase food and personal care items for Shepherd’s Staff, a local agency that serves homeless and low-income people. Wrote Jeanne Dussault in the Mid-Atlantic District newsletter: “ A team of eight collected over 500 plastic bags. A different team of five purchased the needed items both locally and online. Three other crews of two or three people assembled bags of items at the church, and another group delivered boxes of the bags to Shepherd’s Staff to hand out to their patrons. Items to go out in the bags were set out along three walls of the church’s Fellowship Hall. Small groups in the church family made 65 food orders comprised of three bags each and 40 personal-care item bags. All those bags ended up in 14 large boxes of food bags and 6 boxes of personal care items.” Cindy Potee of Shepherd’s Staff expressed gratitude to have this help in filling the agency’s shelves.

Meyersdale (Pa.) Church of the Brethren has given two scholarships to graduates in the Meyersdale Area High School class of 2021, according to the Daily American newspaper. Gabriel Kretchman, who will attend Kent State University in the fall, received the $500 Kid’s Klub Memorial Scholarship in memory of Lee Gnagey and Austin Johnson. Brennan Campbell, will attend Waynesburg University in the fall, received the $1,000 Kid’s Klub Educational Scholarship in memory of Marie Lee.

Garden Terrace Senior Living, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in Wenatchee, Wash., is celebrating its 50 anniversary. Executive director Ken Neher marked the occasion with a reflection published in the Wenatchee World newspaper, titled “Senior Moments: Up-looking Will Become Popular Again as We Get Past the Pandemic.” Neher, who previously served on the Church of the Brethren denominational staff for stewardship and donor development for some 20 years, wrote about his intentional shift from being a “down-looker” as he has sat at his desk through the pandemic, to being an “up-looker” “I look people in the eye more and connect better with them,” he wrote. “I notice the flowering trees and I am grateful not to have allergies. I know how many jet trails cross our valley every day. I don’t hurt when I look up. And, I feel better.” Read Neher’s reflection at

“We are proud to announce the creation of the Rev. Dr. W. Clemens Rosenberger ’54 Endowed Scholarship,” said an announcement from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. The endowed scholarship is to memorialize the life of W. Clemens “Clem” Rosenberger and the impact he made on the college. He “was a caring and compassionate man who selflessly gave to others, always working to lift up those around him, through his actions and kind words,” said the announcement. “The purpose of this scholarship is to provide financial assistance to students pursuing a degree at Juniata, with preference going to students who perform in the musical arts. Both Clem and his wife Margaret were directly involved in music and it was a passion in both of their lives. It is our intention that this scholarship be a lasting legacy of our dear friend and colleague to inspire future generations of Juniatians to lead a life of love and gratitude. Clem gave his greatest support to his alma mater as a 24-year member of the Board of Trustees (1979- 2003), Chair of the J. Omar Good Fund, and Co-Chair of the Capital Gifts Campaign for the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts. At the 1982 Commencement, Juniata presented Clem with an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. Clem’s infectious personality and joy for life touched so many people here at the college and beyond.”

“Refreshed at 50!” is the title of a networking session during Annual Conference to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Womaen’s Caucus. Said an announcement: “In the historic first fully online Annual Conference, we look forward to seeing your faces up-close, unmasked, as we greet old friends, meet new friends, and learn about highlights from 50 years of Womaen’s Caucus! Just like any of us reaching 50 years, Womaen’s Caucus has grown up, acquired stretch marks, earned wrinkles, gotten tired at times, and gained wisdom. In the past year Womaen’s Caucus has chosen to refresh-at-50, and we are excited and energized! We’ve been updating our organizing documents and rejuvenating our vision. We invite you to engage this refreshed Caucus, as a thinker doer donor supporter and we’ll explain all of this in our networking session! Whether you’re brimming with memories of Caucus, or newly encountering Caucus, you are most welcome. (All genders welcome!)” The event takes place July 3 at 5:30 p.m. (Eastern time). Those who are registered for the Conference may attend via their Conference log in. Others may attend via Facebook at

In other news from Womaen’s Caucus, a panel presentation on “Speaking Truth to Power: Barriers to Leadership” will feature Tabitha Rudy, Rebekah Flores, Susan Boyer, and Kathryn LaPointe on July 15 at 8 p.m. (Eastern time), online at Find out more about the full summer and fall line-up of empowering events at

As a historic peace church and as New Testament-focused Christians, Brethren seriously and frequently consider the question, “What is the meaning of peace and peacemaking?” Dunker Punks podcast offers the last episode of its current season with Samuel Sarpiya, a former moderator of the Church of the Brethren, offering guidance to exploring the answers to this question and their practical application in life. His new book is titled The Highest of All Mountains: A Guide for Christians Seeking Peace and Becoming Peacemakers. Listen at or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

“We are so excited to be returning to an in-person format for our Mediation Skills Training Institute on Aug. 2-6, here in the western suburbs of Chicago!” said an announcement from the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center. The event will be hybrid, partly in-person and partly online providing the opportunity to attend via Zoom. It is designed for clergy and other church leaders who want to learn how to deal more effectively with interpersonal, congregational, or other forms of group conflict. For more information call 630-627-0507 or visit


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