Brethren bits for June 25, 2021

Atlantic Northeast District of the Church of the Brethren seeks applicants for the fulltime salaried position of church video streaming specialist, assisting congregations and church leaders with implementing online and hybrid church services. Primary responsibilities include helping local leaders evaluate strategies for streaming, suggesting specific hardware and configurations solutions, assisting with installations, configuring setups, training church members to use the equipment, being available for questions and requests, and coordinating volunteers to assist with all the above. Secondary responsibilities include presenting monthly workshops on tech topics and best practices, assisting with streaming district events, responding to tech requests, and more. These consultation and technical services are provided to all congregations in the district—large and small—along with limited availability for congregations and events outside of ANE, as the hope is that these services (and staffing) will expand to other districts and the denomination. As such, this position is breaking new ground, giving the opportunity and responsibility to help shape this ministry and how it is grown. Qualifications include experience with live video production and live streaming; knowledge of and familiarity with video, audio, and computer systems, especially streaming video methods, protocols, and best practices; experience with worship and various worship styles; ability to teach technology to non-techies (lay people); ability to work independently; communication skills, including the ability to listen; help desk tech support and troubleshooting skills; ability to envision, create, shape, and implement new programs and initiatives; ability to work with, encourage, and organize volunteers and other staff; ability to understand and embrace the unique dynamics and needs of worship while utilizing technology; familiarity with the Church of the Brethren. To apply, submit a résumé and a letter of interest describing what attracts you to this position, your qualifications, and your salary requirements to Atlantic Northeast District at office@ane-cob.org. Applications will be received until the position is filled.

Brethren Press is offering a virtual bookstore for the virtual Annual Conference. Usually, the bookstore is a highlight of the exhibit hall at in-person Conferences, but this year the bookstore is going online. Among the new offerings: advance sales of Hoosier Prophet, a collection of essays, letters, and speeches from Dan West, founder of Heifer Project (now Heifer International). Edited by Bill Kostlevy and Jay Wittmeyer, it is a joint project of Brethren Press, the Brethren Historical Library and Archives, and the denomination’s Office of Global Mission. Also new is this year’s Annual Conference mug, reimagined as a travel mug. A jigsaw puzzle of a photo of beautiful Lake Junaluska (taken by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford), arrives in time for participants in this year’s virtual National Older Adult Conference to remember meeting around the lake at previous NOACs. Go to www.brethrenpress.com.

Brethren Volunteer Service staff have shared the news that a volunteer who was part of orientation this past winter has had her visa denied and will unfortunately not be able to continue with the program. Ronah Kavumba of Kampala, Uganda, had been waiting for her pending project placement since her participation in training with BVS Unit 328.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is Facebooking photos of people donating blood as part of the Annual Conference Virtual Blood Drive, starting with the oldest donor so far, 96-year-old Ivan Patterson. “Ivan first donated in 1945 and with his June donation reached 553 pints with a goal of 600 (or more!),” said the post, encouraging potential donors to “Be like Ivan!” Join the Virtual Blood Drive by making a pledge at www.brethren.org/virtualblooddrive2021 or contact BDM@brethren.org and then donate at a blood drive near you. The goal for the virtual drive this year is 150 pints. The blood drive ends at the end of July.

The Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy is one of 45 organizations that have sent a letter urging Congress, via the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, to oppose the Department of Defense’s proposal to alter the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) through the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022. “The Pentagon’s proposed language would undermine FOIA by creating an unnecessary and overbroad secrecy provision at odds with the law’s goal of transparency and accountability to the public,” the letter said, in part. “The department’s proposal to exempt from disclosure unclassified information on ‘military tactic, technique, or procedure,’ and on military ‘rule of engagement or rule for the use of force’ would create an unnecessary and broad carve-out to public disclosure laws. Accountability and transparency are particularly important for the Pentagon, the largest executive branch agency with the largest discretionary budget. Because of the potential long-lasting effects on the public’s access to information, we urge you to reject this proposal.” The letter noted that this is the seventh time the Pentagon has attempted to include this exemption, in various forms, since 2011, and each time the faith-based and humanitarian community “has sounded the alarm and pointed out that the department’s justification for the exemption does not include any indication that the language is necessary or that existing limits on disclosure have not sufficiently protected the effectiveness of military operations.” The letter also noted that “FOIA already exempts ‘properly classified’ national defense information from disclosure, which addresses concerns from the Department of Defense that it would be required to disclose information that would give potential adversaries advance knowledge of certain military tactics, techniques, and procedures. When pressed by congressional staffers and members of the open government community in years past, Pentagon representatives admitted that the department has never had to release information pursuant to a FOIA request that it would be able to withhold under this proposed exemption.” Read the full letter at www.pogo.org/letter/2021/06/organizations-urge-congress-reject-the-pentagons-request-for-foia-secrecy-again.

A blogpost from Office of Peacebuilding and Policy intern Angelo Olayvar highlights “The Saudi Arabia-Iran cold war and the looming nuclear arms race in the Middle East.” The post cited the Church of the Brethren 1975 “Resolution: Concern for Peace in the Middle East,” and warned that “the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran is stirring up events that could lead to a nuclear arms race between the two countries. Furthermore, US involvement in the Middle East via military engagement, weapons sales, defense transfers, and security assistance is fueling the instability of the already volatile region. The rivalry…has plunged the region into a cold-war style conflict that is complex, fueled not only by political differences but religious ones. It elicited events that cast the region into a state of geopolitical instability defined by despair, countless deaths, endless wars, worsening humanitarian crises, and a looming nuclear arms race. Read the blogpost at https://us4.campaign-archive.com/?e=df09813496&u=fe053219fdb661c00183423ef&id=bf8e15f391.

Following the EF3 tornado that touched down in Naperville, Ill., and other towns in the west and southwest of the metro Chicago region last Sunday night, Newsline received word that no Brethren churches or families were affected. The two congregations in that general area are Naperville Church of the Brethren, pastored by Dennis Webb, and Neighborhood Church of the Brethren, pastored by Purvi Satvedi.

Chicago (Ill.) First Church of the Brethren partnered in a unique Juneteenth Celebration with Front Door, a West Side organization, and the Old Town School of Folk Music, which gave a drumming class in the garden next to the church. Go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5nkHSTQ1Jw for a short video from the drumming class.

Ephrata (Pa.) Church of the Brethren was part of a food giveaway celebration for Dairy Month. “Last year’s food giveaway in New Holland, Pa., was in response to milk being dumped during the early stage of the pandemic,” said a report by Art Petrosemolo in Lancaster Farming. “This year’s return of the event–revamped as a community lunch to celebrate Dairy Month–was a response to last year’s community spirit.” Brothers Karl and Mike Sensenig, third-generation operators of Sensenig’s Feed Mill, initiated with event in 2020 and decided to organize it again on June 9 this year, teaming up with a number of local businesses and organizations. “The milkshake trailer from the Ephrata Church of the Brethren was a big hit.” Sensenig said. “Who doesn’t like a cold vanilla milkshake on a summer day?” Find the article at www.lancasterfarming.com/news/main_edition/dairy-month-giveaway-draws-new-holland-community/article_d858ad55-b543-55c2-b3dc-61901ccec3ea.html.

Shenandoah District released an update on outcomes of its Disaster Ministries Auction. Chair Catherine Lantz thanked “those who gave very generously of their time, talents, donations, etc. Through your dedicated time and work, many individuals are touched in some of their roughest times.” Director of finance Gary Higgs reported a rough figure of $160,000 for the possible proceeds from this year’s auction, with monetary donations still arriving at the district office. Some $144,000 came in during the auction.

Shenandoah District also reported on the donations it has received of Church World Service disaster relief goods. Disaster Ministries coordinator Jerry Ruff reported picking up 272 clean-up buckets; 47 boxes of health and school kits each weighing between 49-82 pounds, representing approximately 1,000 school kits and 400 health kits; 10 boxes of comfort care kits for children donated from the Virlina District; and 63 buckets from other churches including Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian. About 10 volunteers helped load the truck to deliver the donations to the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The District Disaster Ministries team is still working towards its goal of 400 clean-up buckets.

“Visit us and like us,” said an announcement from Missouri and Arkansas District, which has a newly revamped webpage at www.missouriarkansasbrethren.org. The district also is publicizing its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MoArkDistrict.

Also from Missouri and Arkansas District, the Discipleship Task Force has decided to cancel church camp again this year “due to a lack of volunteers and the rise in positive COVID-19 cases in Missouri,” said the district newsletter. “As the coronavirus pandemic continues and is still a threat to children who would be attending camp, the lack of a camp nurse was a major factor in this decision. It is the hope of the DTF that congregations will be creative in finding alternative ways to provide some sort of special experience for their youth this summer.” The district newsletter also named Renee Staab as the new district camp manager.

“Embodiments of Peacebuilding” is the title of a networking session from Elizabethtown (Pa.) College’s dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, Kevin Shorner-Johnson, who also is an associate professor of music education, during the virtual Annual Conference. Those who register for the full Conference will have access to participate in this networking session on July 3 at 12:30 p.m. (Eastern time). Said an announcement: “The richness of our Anabaptist heritage has been in putting our feet into paths of peace and love. The very essence that makes an Anabaptist heritage so beautiful is that it is a fully embodied faith, one where we place our lives and our actions into the model of Christ.” The session will explore scholarship and the new Master of Music Education degree at the college, “the first of its kind in the nation, is focused on the study of peacebuilding, social-emotional learning, and world music drumming. Through this program, graduate students understand that the essence of peacebuilding comes through bringing a lived presence of humble love, and committing to practices of intentional community, empowered voice, and prophetic imagination.” Shorner-Johnson’s work focuses on the intersection of peacebuilding and music education. His work has been published in the Philosophy of Music Education Reiew, Music Educators Journal, International Journal of Music
Education, and Advances in Music Education Research, and his most recent scholarship in the international book, Humane Education for the Common Good, approaches and critiques the United Nations’ temporal constructions in education policy.

The Death Row Support Project has announced that seven students from Northwestern University completed a capacity-building project with DRSP earlier this month. “Thanks to these students, many of you received information in the last few months about abolition groups working in your state; the connections made by the students have given DRSP stronger ties with many of those groups,” said a recent newsletter. “You’ve seen glimpses of the students’ work in DRSP’s social media. In addition to a few changes already made, they created an extensive social media guide with several recommendations.” For Instagram, the students designed a template to display information about the death penalty in individual states, go to www.instagram.com/deathrowsupportproject. For Twitter, the project will be shifting its focus to following state abolition groups, highlighting their events and efforts, go to www.twitter.com/COB_DRSP.

“We are living in a Nehemiah moment,” said an announcement of new resources from Creation Justice Ministries. Citing Nehemiah’s response to his critics on returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and temple, “Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble–burned as they are?” (4:2), the announcement said: “Now is the time for us to work shoulder to shoulder. Now is the time for us to work with all our heart. It is clear that the climate crisis has arrived. We are standing in the rubble of climate breakdown. All around us, our communities are being affected by climate disasters on a physical, spiritual, and social level. Like Nehemiah, it is time for our faith communities to respond not only with words, but with actions.”

The new resources are designed to help congregations find “faithful resilience” during the climate crisis. The Faithful Resilience Guide for congregations is a six-part guide providing theological reflections, educational materials, and practical steps for building climate resilience in your faith community. Also, Faithful Resilience workshops are available to view online, along with a Climate-Church Crisis Map. Go to www.creationjustice.org/resilience.html.

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