Brethren bits for Nov. 19, 2021

Executive director Doug Phillips is retiring on Dec. 31 after 39 years at the helm of Brethren Woods, reported Brenda Sanford Diehl, director of communications for Shenandoah District. “A lot has happened during his 39-year tenure and Doug has a wagonload of great memories from his time in ministry,” the report said. “God has worked through Doug and a multitude of donors, volunteers and staff members to renew and revitalize the facility and programs at Brethren Woods. From just two buildings, a full-time director and a part-time staff member, it has now grown to 30 structures and six full-time staff members. Since 1983, the facility has hosted 146,000 people. Doug is grateful God has used him ‘in spite of all his flaws’ and he gives God the credit for all the successes. He still enjoys watching what God is doing at Brethren Woods and looks forward to what God will do next. Doug is originally from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and came to the Shenandoah Valley to attend Eastern Mennonite College (now EMU) after a four-year stint in the workforce and an initial year in college after high school. He began his college experience in the social work curriculum but noticed how much fun his friends were having taking classes in rappelling, kayaking and other outdoor adventure sports. After these experiences, he became drawn to the camping and youth ministries program, as well, and completed both courses of study. As Doug and Cindy began to explore job opportunities after college, they wanted to move back to Pennsylvania, but nothing available there seemed right. He had always sensed a calling to work with people but had nothing specific in mind. Both he and Cindy felt inclined to pursue a different kind of ministry but were not sure what that was until the fall of October 1982 when they heard about Brethren Woods. They were interviewed and he was hired as director and Cindy came on board in a part-time programming capacity. Their journey with Brethren Woods officially began in January 1983, and over the years, his role has changed as growth in facilities, staff and programs required increasing administrative oversight…. Yet, he never wanted to lose connection with people. Recently, he assigned himself as the pourer of the milk at breakfast each day so that he could stay in touch with campers…. The District Leadership Team has appointed assistant director Linetta Ballew as the acting director at Brethren Woods until the formal search process gets underway next year. It is with a mountain of gratitude for a life of service to Brethren Woods that the Shenandoah District wished ‘Pappo’ great success in his new full-time role.” A citation written by Larry Glick, drawn from the reflections of past campers, staff, and friends, is at https://files.constantcontact.com/071f413a201/68620bb1-f63a-42b1-95c5-bdcb275c1a72.pdf.

Camp Swatara in Bethel, Pa., seeks a food service manager to fill a 12-month, salaried position based on experience. The position averages 50 hours per week, with peak hours during the late spring and summer season, 40 hours through the fall and winter, and increased time off availability in the winter into early spring. From May through the end of July, Camp Swatara serves school groups as well as operating a residential summer camp program that serves regular meals through an approximately six-week period to campers, volunteers, and staff. The camp also operate a Family Campground from April through October with the opportunity to build a specialty menu and food service options on Friday nights and Saturdays. Benefits include a salary based on experience, family health and individual life and disability insurance, and a pension plan. The camp is looking to staff the position by Jan. 3, 2022. Go to www.campswatara.org/full-time-employment-opportunities.

The Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy has signed a joint letter to senators supporting passage of the Gaza Reporting Amendment. The letter supported an amendment to the FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requiring a report on the humanitarian impact of severe restrictions on movement, access, and goods in and out of Gaza, an area of Israel and Palestine. The Nov. 15 letter said, in part: “This important provision would require the Comptroller General of the United States, in consultation with the President, the Secretary of State, the United Nations, and other key stakeholders, to submit a report to Congress assessing the restrictions on Gaza…. After roughly 14 years, the severe restrictions on Gaza have left nearly 2 million people with severely limited access to clean water, electricity, and food; prevents critical supplies from reaching Gaza which is necessary for maintaining and rebuilding water treatment and sanitation infrastructure; roughly 97 percent of Gaza’s tap water is contaminated, depriving civilians of regular access to drinkable water. The restrictions have also left Gaza’s electrical grid in ruins, forcing many Palestinians to live without electricity for nearly half the day. More than 80 percent of Gaza’s population relies on humanitarian aid. New solutions are needed to end Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, decrease tensions and help end the endless cycles of violence that have endangered the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians caught in the crossfire.” Find the full letter and a list of signers at www.hrw.org/news/2021/11/17/joint-letter-senators-supporting-passage-gaza-reporting-amendment.

Global Mission is sharing an invitation to help fund Church of the Brethren mission work while doing Christmas shopping and supporting fair trade items through Equal Exchange. Enter the code BRETHREN21 during check out. Go to https://shop.equalexchange.coop/?_kx=JnRZHJyWzOuGAODZNQcUngd99xazMYbfgDFwllLPbHfrWWtu58v7aUb4_wT_JhnL.SyLvAX.
“In the tiny central African country of Rwanda, there are four Church of the Brethren congregations,” reports Chris Elliott, a volunteer for the Church of the Brethren Global Mission. “The Gisenyi church has been holding two services on Sunday morning and is in need of a larger worship space. Among their other needs are offices for the emerging denomination, as well as classroom space for Sunday school and a proposed preschool. Trusting God for the necessary funds, they have begun construction. During a recent fundraising service, the equivalent of over $6,000 was raised! Much more will be needed for completion, but this will go a long way toward getting it under roof.” The Global Mission office is receiving donations for the construction project. These may be made online at www.brethren.org/givenow or by mail to Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. Donors should write Gisenyi on the check or in the comments box online.

The Global Women’s Project offers its annual Advent Calendar “to nurture gratitude rather than greed within the midst of Advent,” said an announcement. “Too easily, we slip into the busyness of the season full of shopping lists, baking cookies, hosting parties, and feeling that sense of more. Jesus calls us to do the opposite, to slow down, simplify, and reflect.” The calendar includes scripture, prayer prompts, activities, and suggested contributions, along with a color-by-day Christmas image. Contact cobgwp@gmail.com.

The Lombard (Ill.) Mennonite Peace Center has announced that three sessions of the Mediation Skills Training Institute will be in person in 2022. Registration is open for all five sessions scheduled for next year: March 14-18 (online), May 9-13 (online), June 13-17 (in person in Fort Mill, S.C.), Aug. 1-5 (in person in the Chicago area), and Nov. 14-18 (in person, location TBD). “Once we have finalized arrangements with the host churches, we will post the sites at www.LMPeaceCenter.org,” said the announcement.

The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) has retweeted the following from their COO, Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland Tune: “The #KyleRittenhouseVerdict is an example of America’s idolatry of white supremacy& gun violence. No one should be able to murder people for exercising their rights.Our work to end these evils cannot waver.We have to fight to end hatred& systemic racism even as we pray for mercy.”

Giving Tuesday is Nov. 30, and the Church of the Brethren Mission Advancement is giving thanks for all who support the church in so many ways. Find out more about the denominational ministries and how to give at www.brethren.org/missionadvancement/greatthings.
Dec. 1 is the deadline for nominations for positions on the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference ballot in 2022. “You can help shape the future of the church! Each member of the Church of the Brethren is invited to recommend possible nominees,” said announcements on Facebook for the various open positions on the ballot. For more information and to make a nomination go to www.brethren.org/ac/nominations.
The Program and Arrangements Committee of Annual Conference has held meetings this week at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., preparing for the denomination’s 2022 annual meeting. From left, with and without masks: moderator David Sollenberger, moderator-elect Tim McElwee, Beth Jarrett, Carol Elmore, Conference secretary James Beckwith, Nathan Hollenberg, and Conference director Rhonda Pittman Gingrich.
National Youth Conference 2022 sample registration forms are now available at www.brethren.org/nyc/registration.
Brethren Disaster Ministries is seeking volunteers for the last week’s shift of the year at the current rebuilding project site in North Carolina. Contact bdm@brethren.org or bdmcoastalnc@gmail.com
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