Brethren bits for March 19, 2021

Correction: The start time is 7 p.m (Eastern time) for the webinar “Healing Racism Congregations and Communities #ConversationsTogether Meetup” on March 25. The event welcomes all who are interested in participating in Healing Racism Congregations and Communities. “Save the date and plan to join us,” said an invitation from Intercultural Ministries director LaDonna Nkosi. “If your community or congregation is involved or would like to be involved in the path to healing racism, join with us.” Register in advance at

Remembrance: Ronald Duane Spire (87) of Dandridge, Tenn., former district executive minister for the Church of the Brethren’s Southeastern District, died March 16. He was born to Glenn and Laura Struble Spire in Bryan, Ohio, on Nov. 30, 1933. He held degrees from Manchester College (now Manchester University in N. Manchester, Ind.), Bethany Theological Seminary, East Tennessee State College, and the University of Tennessee, where he earned a doctorate in education. Along with his wife, Shirley, he was a district executive for Southeastern District for 15 years. He was a member of French Broad Church of the Brethren, where he had served as pastor for several years. He also served churches in upper East Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina. He retired from Knox County Schools as a teacher in 1998, serving most of those years at Carter Elementary. He also taught in Johnson City, Tenn., and Silver Spring, Md. He married Shirley Imogene McCracken in 1957. He is preceded in death by his youngest son, Richie. Survivors include his wife, Shirley; children Rosanne Spire of Knoxville, Tenn.; Rob Spire (Darla) of Kennesaw, Ga.; Sam Spire (Gloria) of Woodstock, Va.; Steve Spire (Stephanie) of Bridgewater, Va.; grandchildren and great grandchild. Visitation for family and friends will be at French Broad Church of the Brethren from 2-4 p.m on Saturday, March 20, followed by the memorial service at 4 p.m., with burial after. Please wear a mask and abide by social distancing protocols. Find the full obituary at!/Obituary.

“Come, all of you who have been ostracized and marginalized.
Come, all of you who have been indifferent in the face of racial injustice.
Come, all of you who have prophetically challenged racism.
Come, all of you who have perpetrated acts of racial injustice.
Come all and receive rest for your weary souls.
Come to the fountain of life and receive grace upon grace.”

This invitation to worship opens a prayer service for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21. The full order of worship for this prayer service is being made available by the World Council of Churches (WCC). “This International Day is also the sad anniversary of the day police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid in 1960,” noted a release. The ecumenical prayer service was prepared by WCC colleagues from Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant traditions as an invitation to be in solidarity with one another, to be in prayer together, and to condemn all forms of racial injustice. Racism is the thematic focus of the 2021 WCC Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. Find the prayer service at

Atlantic Northeast District of the Church of the Brethren seeks a church video streaming specialist to fill a newly created district staff position. The pandemic has brought about many changes to congregational life, the most significant being the need for congregations to gather online, as well as a shift that includes worshipers attending from a distance as well as in person. The district has recognized it can offer critical support for current and future congregational vitality by aiding churches, regardless of size, with streaming technology and answering questions. Responsibilities include fostering churches’ growth in technology by assisting with designing streaming solutions that are affordable and manageable; making designs consistent, yet tailored to each congregation’s needs, resources, and worship style; collaboration of design enabling churches to share their worship services with their congregation members who are unable to attend in person, as well as with the wider community for evangelism and mission. The district has set aside resources for a full-time position, including benefits. Contact or 717-367-4730.

— As the search to fill a full-time position of church video streaming specialist in Atlantic Northeast District begins, the district has called Enten Eller of Palmyra, Pa., as an interim to fill the position half-time. Eller has been an integral part of the district’s technical team serving congregations since July 2020. He is an ordained minister who has pastored churches in a number of districts from Idaho to Pennsylvania, and formerly served as director of Distributed Education and Electronic Communication at Bethany Theological Seminary. He continues as pastor at Ambler (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and as pastor and tech deacon for Living Stream Church of the Brethren, the denomination’s only fully online congregation.

A short video is now available about the upcoming Leadership Summit on Wellbeing, which is offered by the Church of the Brethren denominational staff as an online event on April 19-22. The summit will open Monday evening, April 19, with a keynote presentation by clinical psychologist and professor Dr. Jessica Young-Brown of Virginia Union University’s Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology. Find the video and more information at “Early bird” registration for the event has been extended until April 10. Continuing education credit is available only for the live event; recordings will not be available following the live event. Registrants may earn .7 credits by viewing the pre-recorded sessions, attending the live Monday night keynote, and attending the five Q&A sessions.

Register for this youth and young adult online Bible study at

The deadline has been extended for young adults to apply for the Stewards Program at the World Council of Churches (WCC) 11th Assembly in 2022 in Karlsruhe, Germany. Joy Eva Bohol, WCC program executive for Youth Engagement, notes that the new deadline is made with the view to encourage a wider diversity participating in the program, bringing their faith, experiences and visions to an ecumenical experience of togetherness and friendship. The deadline extension also takes into consideration the delays imposed by the current COVID-19 situation, and requests received from aspiring young participants. The new deadline for applications is now June 30, 2021. Click here for guidelines and the application form:

The Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) is hosting a “Q&A with Bill/Digital Retirement Party” as a Facebook Live event on April 6 at 10 a.m. (Central time). This is “the proper sendoff that Bill [Kostlevy] deserves before he heads into his retirement,” said an announcement. “His wealth of knowledge on Church of the Brethren history has served the BHLA so well in his tenure as director and will be greatly missed. We will talk about his works and research he has done and the chat feature during the live event will be open for the questions you have for Bill.” Find out more at

Ecumenical Advocacy Days is a virtual event this year, on April 18-21. The theme is “Imagine! God’s Earth and People Restored.” Staff of the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy help to organize this annual event, usually held in Washington, D.C. “EAD 2021 is an opportunity to support this global movement centered on and led by the people and communities most vulnerable to climate impacts due to historic racial and colonial inequities,” said an announcement. “Together, we will passionately advocate and reimagine a world that lives out the values of justice, equity, and the beloved community.” Early bird registration is available until April 1 for only $25. Go to

On Earth Peace has developed and published a set of Easter prayer and worship resources that can be used for personal prayer, as well as during a congregational worship service. Find them at

Also from On Earth Peace, the agency is publicizing webinars or online meetings focused on conversations with authors about their books:

On March 20 and March 21, On Earth Peace’s Migrant Justice Learning Action Community is offering a two-part virtual event titled “Phyllis Yvonne Dodd Presents, Love Has No Borders: True Stories of Desperation as Seen by a Social Worker,” featuring the story of a woman seeking asylum. Session 1 takes place on March 20 at 6 p.m. (Eastern time). Session 2 is on March 21, also at 6 p.m. (Eastern time). “Dodd has devoted her life to providing assistance, healing, and opportunity for the most vulnerable among us,” said an announcement. The first session will focus on her recent book Love Has No Borders. In the second session, a woman seeking asylum will share her story “to provide hope and to help others who have also experienced sexual abuse and domestic violence,” said the announcement. “This event is designed to further understand why asylum seekers, immigrants, and refugees escape their countries to find safety in the United States as well as the traumas they face on their journeys. It will provide an opportunity to personally reflect and collectively explore how to apply this knowledge to our migrant justice work.” Participants must attend the first session to access the second session. Find out more and register at

On March 31 at 7 p.m. (Eastern time) a webinar with author Kazu Haga will discuss his book Healing Resistance. Find out more and register at

On April 2 at 3 p.m. (Eastern time) a Community Meetup on “Resurrection Peacemaking” takes its theme from a new book by Church of the Brethren peacemaker Cliff Kindy. It will focus on bringing the community together during these “all virtual” days, said an announcement. The event will “run in tandem” with the agency’s Easter resources as well as Kindy’s book Resurrection Peacemaking: Plowsharing the Tools of War–Thirty Years with Christian Peacemaker Teams. “You don’t need to have read the book prior to the event,” said the announcement. Find out more and register at

Iglesia Cristo Sion Church of the Brethren in Pacific Southwest District is moving to Glendora (Calif.) Church of the Brethren from its former location at Pomona (Calif.) Fellowship Church of the Brethren. The Cristo Sion congregation is pastored by David and Rita Flores, and has accepted an invitation from the Glendora congregation to share space with them. They will be relocating during the beginning of April. The two congregations will explore ways in which they might partner in ministry going forward, said an announcement from the district.

The 2021 Living Peace Award event in Shenandoah District will take place via Zoom on April 15 at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). Each year, Shenandoah District Pastors for Peace recognizes a person or group for embodying the vocation of Christian peacemaking here in the district. This year’s recipient is Robbie Miller, chaplain at Bridgewater (Va.) College. “You will learn about Robbie’s work as a peacemaker,” said an invitation, “and, in addition, Carol Scheppard is giving the event’s presentation on peacemaking.” Registration is free. Register by April 7 at

McPherson (Kan.) College will be featured in an upcoming digital program of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, to be held live on the museum’s Facebook page on March 24 at 9:30 a.m. (Eastern time). A link is on the museum’s website at “Young Americans, while growing up in a time of racial segregation and the Great Depression, looked beyond the struggles of their own nation to respond to the Nazi threat in Europe,” said a McPherson release. “In 1938, McPherson College students were moved to take action after learning about the events in November of that year, known as Kristallnacht–violent anti-Jewish protests throughout Germany and Austria. Students raised money to support Tom Doeppner, an 18-year-old German-born refugee. He was brought to the United States to attend at McPherson College.” Sarah Snow, Doeppner’s granddaughter, said, “This was an action out of compassion, but also sacrifice and amazing coordination on the part of the students…. This scholarship and acceptance to a school in the United States was literally a life-saving invitation.” Snow compiled research used in a recent exhibit at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, which included articles from the McPherson College student newspaper, and an original copy loaned by the college was included in the exhibit.

Tom Doeppner. Courtesy of Ron Doeppner and Sarah Doeppner Snow.

The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) has joined the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Orthodox Church of America to reiterate the importance of the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) peace process. The NCC is calling “for the United States to provide urgently needed humanitarian aid for the people of Artsakh who were forced to flee their homes during the unprovoked attack by Azerbaijan and Turkey that displaced more than 50,000 ethnic Armenians in the region. We plead for the United States to actively negotiate the safe return of Armenian soldiers and citizens who are being held in violation of the ceasefire agreement signed on Nov. 9, 2020. We also urge the broad recognition of the Armenian Genocide of the early 20th century by all political and faith leaders throughout the United States.” The release went on to applaud a letter signed by 101 members of Congress that was sent to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to stress the importance of addressing the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh). “We commend the strong bipartisan support of this letter toward insuring the well-being of the displaced Armenian people from Artsakh,” it said, in part. “We call for prayers to comfort those held prisoner, their anguished families, and those displaced from their homes, so that they may all know God’s true compassion and find strength to persevere during this time of persecution.”

For World Water Day on March 22, the World Council of Churches (WCC) is offering a webinar titled “Spiritual and Ethical Values of Water: A Faith Perspective.” The event will take place at 10 a.m. (Eastern time, or 15:00 Central European Time). It is organized by the WCC Ecumenical Water Network along with the office of the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Right to Water and Sanitation, Pedro Arrojo-Agudo. “Water means different things to different people,” said an announcement. “Unfortunately, in today’s market-driven trend, the economic value of water supersedes the spiritual and ethical values of water. As church and faith-based organizations, it is our moral imperative to ensure that water for life gets the priority over water for profit. Recently water was listed on Wall Street for the future water market as a tradable commodity, like oil and gold. Those who have the money can buy the water and control the access and tariff. This can jeopardize the human right to water for the poor, marginalized, and vulnerable communities, including the smallholding farmers.” Register at


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