Brethren bits for March 12, 2021

Creation Justice Ministries seeks applicants for the position of executive director. The Church of the Brethren relates to this organization, which is a former ministry of the National Council of Churches. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the executive director will have overall strategic and operational responsibility for Creation Justice Ministries’ programs and execution of its mission. The overarching responsibility will be to continue and enhance the program ministries and to encourage and enable member communions to address eco-justice issues through their own programs. The executive director is responsible for day-to-day operations, ensuring financial stability, focusing on mission-related programs and activities, overseeing and directing staff, and maintaining accurate and complete financial and organizational records. The executive director is the chief fundraiser, administrator, and ambassador for the organization. For more information see www.creationjustice.org/join-our-team–we-are-hiring-an-executive-director.html.

From Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey:

The next Moderator’s Town Hall on the topic “Peacebuilding When We’re So Divided” is set for March 18 at 7 p.m. (Eastern time) with William H. Willimon, professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at Duke Divinity School. Register at tinyurl.com/ModTownHallMar2021. Questions or issues related to registering can be emailed to cobmoderatorstownhall@gmail.com.

A recording of the Moderator’s Town Hall held in February on “The Global Church: Current Happenings, Future Possibilities” with interim Global Mission directors Norman and Carol Spicher Waggy is available at https://vimeo.com/515557537. Study guides are being produced for each of the Moderator’s Town Hall for individual use or for group study. Find the study guide for the February webinar at www.brethren.org/ac2021/wp-content/uploads/sites/20/2021/03/Study-Guide-Global-Church.pdf. Send feedback on the study guides to cobmoderatorstownhall@gmail.com. A continuing education credit of .1 unit is available to ministers who view or participate in a Moderator’s Town Hall. Find out how to obtain continuing education credit at www.brethren.org/webcasts/archive.

Eric Miller (at left) displays books he and his wife, Ruoxia Li, are donating to the Harsh-Neher Library at Yangquan You’ai Hospital in Pingding, China. Li and Miller are the new co-executive directors of Global Mission for the Church of the Brethren. The 18 books they are donating to the library include older books that “are about the Brethren mission in China that began in 1908 and centered in Pingding,” said Miller. “A few are about the global mission. The newer books are more general books on Brethren history and theology, such as Willoughby’s Count the Cost. One book, In Memoriam: Minneva J. Neher, Alva C. Harsh, Mary Hykes Harsh, remembers the three Brethren missionaries who disappeared and were murdered on Dec 2, 1937, in Ruoxia’s hometown, Shouyang, also in Shanxi Province. The library is named for them.” Miller reported that the Brethren Historical Library and Archives generously has offered to donate replacement copies to the family, once they return to the US.

Prayers of thanksgiving are requested for three Haiti Medical Project staff who walked away from a bad car accident last week. Romy Telfort, who has been a leader in Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Church of the Brethren in Haiti), reported that the three staff members had been traveling to a water project installation near Savanette when the brakes failed on their car. “All are fine and were able to miraculously walk away without a scratch,” said the email report.

Bethany Theological Seminary has announced its 2021 Peace Essay Contest, made possible by the Jennie Calhoun Baker Endowment and sponsored by Bethany’s Peace Studies program. This year’s topic is “Civil Resistance and Nonviolent Social Change in an Increasingly Virtual World.” Said an announcement: “More than five decades after civil resistance movements worldwide, communities local and global continue to be threatened by state-sanctioned violence. From movements in opposition to police brutality in Nigeria led by #ENDSARS and in the United States organized by #BlackLivesMatter, to the farmer protests in India and the pro-Navalny movement in Russia, people are joining in solidarity to rise up and demand a better world. How can we create and participate in nonviolent social change in an increasingly violent–and virtual–world?” Prizes of $2,000, $1,000, and $500 will be awarded for the top three essays. The contest is open to full- and part-time students in high school, college, seminary, and graduate school who are en-route to a degree. International, ecumenical, and interfaith students are encouraged to participate. Essay submissions must be received by May 15. Find the contest rules and submission guidelines at https://bethanyseminary.edu/events-resources/2017-peace-essay-contest. For more information, contact Susu Lassa at lassasu@bethanyseminary.edu.

A Nigerian news article has reported on impending legislation to establish a National Dermatology Hospital to treat leprosy, among other skin diseases, at the site of the former Church of the Brethren Mission leprosarium in Garkida, in northeast Nigeria. The article quoted extensively from a history of the original mission hospital by the bill’s co-sponsor the senator representing Adamawa Central, Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed. The senator “recalled that as far back as 1929, an International Hospital was established for Garkida Agricultural Leper Colony by the Church of the Brethren Mission (USA). According to her, ‘it was an ambitious effort located on 2,500 acres of land designed for the treatment of leprosy and other illnesses, isolation centre and training of lepers in craft and improved agricultural methods. It was a reputable hospital with 12,507 leprosy patients admitted between 1929 and 2002…. Dr Roy Pfaltzgraff, the Medical Superintendent (1954-1982), transformed the hospital into an internationally well-known centre for developmental work in surgical rehabilitation, physiotherapy, protective footwear, prostheses and training.” The hospital was eventually handed over to the Ministry of Health of the former Gongola State. The lawmaker is contending that the Dermatology Hospital, Garkida, now in Adamawa State, naturally fits all the requirements for a National Dermatology Hospital, the article said. Find the article at https://tribuneonlineng.com/bill-for-establishment-of-hospital-to-treat-leprosy-skin-cancer-diseases-passes-second-reading-in-senate.

Ambler (Pa.) Church of the Brethren has joined others in the Wissahickon Faith Community Association in pushing for equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a report from Jewish Exponent. The association is an interfaith group of churches, mosques, and synagogues that has met together for more than 30 years. Ambler pastor Enten Eller was quoted as saying a Feb. 24 Zoom meeting of the association “just sort of exploded” as they shared stories about the difficulties congregants faced in finding the COVID-19 vaccine. “It wasn’t just that the elderly, infirm or otherwise eligible congregants weren’t able to navigate the warren of web-based schedulers; there was the concurrent feeling that so many of their seemingly ineligible congregants had secured appointments instead,” the report said. “We’re seeing a lot of line-jumping,” said rabbi Gregory Marx of Congregation Beth Or, who compared the vaccine inequities to food deserts. “People of privilege, using their position, their power, their influence, to get the shots above people that are not of privilege.” Read the article at www.jewishexponent.com/2021/03/12/interfaith-group-pushes-for-vaccine-access.

Parkview Church of the Brethren in Lewistown, Pa., is donating its parsonage to benefit the homeless, according to an article in the Lewistown Sentinel. “For Parkview Church of the Brethren, the phrase ‘second chance’ has more than one meaning. It recently breathed new life into its parsonage by donating it rent free to Shelter Services Inc.,” said the report. The building is now a thrift store named “Second Chances,” that raises funds to help the homeless get back on their feet. Parkview pastor Teresa Fink also serves on the board of directors for the shelter. Read the article at www.lewistownsentinel.com/news/religion/2021/03/church-donates-parsonage-to-benefit-the-homeless.

— “Welcome to a new season of the Dunker Punks Podcast!” says an invitation to the first episode in the new season, which teams up with Michaela Mast and Harrison Horst from the Shifting Climates Podcast to talk about the human right and need to access nature. “Listen as they follow instances of environmental racism and address the need for climate justice activism in the church today.” Find the Shifting Climates Podcast at www.shiftingclimates.com to learn more. Listen to the new season of the Dunker Punks Podcast at bit.ly/DPP_Episode110 or on iTunes and Stitcher.

The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center is offering a new one-day refresher course for those who have participated the Mediation Skills Training Institute. Sessions are available on May 11 and June 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Central time). The fee is $99. The full five-day version of the course is available at various dates. Find out more at www.lmpeaceCenter.org. For questions and more information contact 630-627-0507 or admin@lmpeacecenter.org.

Juniata College’s Office for the Prevention of Interpersonal Violence is offering this virtual series of short conversations about women as subjects and women as makers for #WomensHistoryMonth. Events take place March 10, 17, and 24 at 6:30 p.m. (Eastern time) Register at https://juniata.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwldu-tqD0vE9DBcTrgFnihdH4PcmB0JglA.

The Geneva Interfaith Forum on Climate Change, Environment, and Human Rights has developed a statement for the 46th session of the Human Rights Council, declaring that 2021 is the year to act on climate change and human rights. A release from the World Council of Churches (WCC), which is part of the forum, shared sections of the statement. “The climate crisis constitutes one of humanity’s greatest challenges, contributing both directly and indirectly to human rights violations around the world,” the statement reads, in part. “A key role of the United Nations and the Human Rights Council in the 21st century must be to stand with the vulnerable segments of society.” The statement calls for the Human Rights Council to establish a new Special Procedures mandate on Human Rights and Climate Change. “In particular, a new Special Procedures mandate would ensure a long-term focus on climate change issues at the Human Rights Council and bring a human rights dimension into climate change policies,” the statement reads. “It would contribute to enhancing complementarity between the climate change legal framework and the international human rights regime…. A healthy environment is essential for human health, and for human societies to flourish.” The Geneva Interfaith Forum has been calling for the establishment of a mandate for a new Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change since 2010. Find the release at www.oikoumene.org/news/geneva-interfaith-forum-a-healthy-environment-is-essential-for-human-health.

Rick Polhamus of Pleasant Hill (Ohio) Church of the Brethren will give a presentation titled “Loving Choices–How to Provoke” about his 18 years of work with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). He will be featured March 18 from 6-7:15 p.m. (Eastern time) as the first presenter in Wilmington College’s Office of Campus Ministry Quaker Lecture Series for the spring semester. His story “is a testament to how one can effect change in war-torn regions of the world through nonviolent means,” said an article in the Wilmington News Journal. “So many situations and events in today’s world provoke us and others in ways that divide us and that challenges our faith. Hebrews 10:24 tells us we should ‘consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,’” said Polhamus. His work with CPT included extended stays in Israel/Palestine, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, and Iraq; service on CPT’s steering committee; a term as its representative to the World Council of Churches; and coordination of CPT’s “Adopt-a-Detainee” program in Iraq, which dealt with abuses of Iraqi detainees, especially at Abu Ghraib prison. Find the full new article at www.wnewsj.com/news/161313/quaker-lecture-to-feature-christian-peacemaker-teams-rick-polhamus. View Polhamus’ presentation on the college’s Campus Ministry Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WilmingtonCampusMinistry.

Russell Haitch, professor of theology and human science at Bethany Theological Seminary, has published a new book titled Eyes of the Heart: Seeing God in an Age of Science (Fortress, 2021). “The book offers a model for unifying Christian convictions and mainstream science,” said a Bethany release. Haitch wrote the book to appeal to a broad audience, he said in the release, “particularly those who are trying to address the intellectual doubts of young people. We hear slogans these days, like ‘Trust the Science’ and ‘Believe the Bible.’ People, especially young people, feel pulled in two directions. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Science actually started in the church, and the church today needs good scientists. Science and faith complement each other.” Find the release at https://bethanyseminary.edu/11709-2.

— Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm, Brightbill Professor of Preaching and Worship at Bethany Theological Seminary, is editor of the newly published Preaching the Fear of God in a Fear-Filled World: Proceedings from the Conference of Societas Homiletic, Durham 2018. The collection of conference presentations highlights rhetorical, biblical, political, and spiritual dimensions of fear. Learn more about the book at https://books.google.com/books/about/Preaching_the_Fear_of_God_in_a_Fear_Fill.html.

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