Brethren bits for Nov. 5, 2021

Sidney Haren has signed on as program director at Camp Pine Lake in Northern Plains District. After serving as a counselor, two-time summer staff, and assistant director, Haren has served as a major part of the 2020 Virtual Camp and the effort to bring back face-to-face camp in 2021, said the announcement. An Ivester Church of the Brethren member, Haren is a graduate of Iowa State University and a current graduate student at the University of Northern Iowa.

The Shine curriculum jointly produced by Brethren Press and MennoMedia is inviting responses to a survey about its children’s story Bible. “As we look to the future, we want to create faith formation resources that meet the needs of families,” said the invitation. “We are particularly interested in the input of families as we contemplate the creation of a new story Bible. We would love it if you would fill out a brief survey (link below) and share the survey link with families in your church and community.” The survey will be open until Nov. 15. Go to www.surveymonkey.com/r/52VHWBL.

On Earth Peace is holding an online cooking class as a fundraiser. “Join members of the On Earth Peace board for a time of cooking and community,” said an invitation. “Be led by Marcelle Zoughbi in making Mujadara-Rice with lentils and onion and Palestinian salad. This is a great dish for vegetarians and everyone! Full of protein, filling, and good for the environment!” Visit www.onearthpeace.org/cooking_class for tickets.

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership has extended the deadline to register for a travel seminar to Atlanta, Ga., this January with a focus on urban ministry. The deadline is extended to Nov. 15. The course titled “A Place of Refuge: Urban Ministry” is taught by Josh Brockway, co-coordinator of Discipleship Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, on Jan. 3-13, 2022. The academy is partnering with Bethany Seminary to offer the course for TRIM/EFSM credit for academy students, continuing education credit for ministers, or personal enrichment. Find more information at https://bethanyseminary.edu/brethren-academy/brethren-academy-course-listings.

Missouri and Arkansas District has published a report on its “District Conference by the Numbers”: A total of 38 people attended the 2021 district conference online, by phone, and in person, with 40 people attending the business session including 20 delegates representing 8 of the 12 congregations in the district. The number of attendees went up to 67 for the Sunday morning worship service, with 14 devices connecting online. Offerings and donations received for the district totaled $1,860.

Northern Ohio District also reported statistics from its 2021 district conference: 116 people registered, with 93 attending the business session, and 100-plus joining in worship. Total offerings received came to $1,250 including $496 for Brethren Disaster Ministries. A Virtual Peace Auction raised $1,028. Among other business, the conference approved a 2022 budget of $200,412.39, an increase of $2,722 over the 2021 budget due primarily to increased audit costs. The district newsletter reported that “Dave Bassett from the Stewardship and Finance Commission expressed appreciation for the sustained giving by the churches with special thanks to those that have responded to the call to increase their self-allocations by 3 percent.”

Shenandoah District holds its district conference this Saturday. Moderator Daniel House requested prayer for the delegates in a district email this week: “Please join me in prayer for a gathering that is full of Christ’s Spirit and love. May we be able to mourn what needs to be mourned, celebrate every gift we have received, disagree honestly, and work together well. May our life together give evidence that we are Christ’s church!” District executive minister John Jantzi reported that 162 delegates were registered “under less-than-optimal conditions. That speaks volumes to the resiliency and persistence of Shenandoah District peoples and congregations.” The conference takes place in the display barn at the Rockingham County (Va.) Fairgrounds. The conference was shortened to one day due to concerns about the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the surrounding counties. Business items include the slate of officers and the budget. The offering will be divided equally between district ministries and the Haiti Medical Project for building latrines to mitigate the cholera outbreak in Haiti.

Shenandoah District Conference logo

Middle Pennsylvania District’s Heritage Fair 2021 “is behind us now, but we were blessed with a great day!” said the district newsletter. “With the support of those who were able to come to Camp Blue Diamond and those congregations and individuals that supported Heritage Fair from a distance, we are grateful! To date we have raised over $27,000.”

This year’s Powerhouse Youth Conference is planned for Nov. 13-14. This regional youth conference is hosted at Camp Alexander Mack near Milford, Ind., with sponsorship from Manchester University. The theme is “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” (Psalm 139). “We will enjoy a weekend of worship, games, music, recreation, and more for senior high youth in the Midwest and their advisors,” said an announcement. “We hope you can join us…. We want every youth to have the opportunity to attend, so if you need help with fundraising, chaperones, or a group to travel with, please let us know!” Contact Jenny Imhoff at 330-234-8991 or find more information at www.manchester.edu/student-life/religious-life/powerhouse-youth-conference.

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has issued a statement on the designation of six Palestinian organizations as “terrorist groups” by Israel. The statement said, in part: “CPT condemns Israel’s designation of six prominent Palestinian Human Rights Organizations as ‘Terrorist Groups’ with the intention to criminalize those exposing human rights violations stemming from the Israeli occupation of Palestine.” The statement named the six organizations as “involved in direct support, community development, and exposing human rights abuses…. This move to criminalize organizational reporting and public denouncement of human rights abuses by labelling the organizations ‘terrorists’ is an affront to human rights work worldwide. The scope of this action and the precedent it sets without receiving diplomatic pushback causes deep concern throughout the global human rights community.” CPT called on world governments “to immediately remove the umbrella of impunity under which the Israeli occupation has flourished.” Find the full statement at https://cpt.org/cptnet/2021/11/02/cpt-international-statement-designation-six-palestinian-organizations-terrorist.

Proyecto Aldea Global’s Deborah Program has received the 2021 National Prize for Human Rights in Honduras. PAG is a humanitarian nonprofit organization founded and led by Church of the Brethren member Chet Thomas. “Since 1983, Proyecto Aldea Global has been promoting sustainability in all of its development programs in central and western Honduras,” said an announcement of the award. “We especially focus on the formation of human infrastructure whereby the capacities of families, local governments, and civil society organizations are strengthened in order to build just, peaceful, and productive communities. Established in 1999, PAG’s Deborah Program carries out actions to prevent and reduce the incidence of domestic violence by offering free counseling services and legal guidance to victims and survivors in order to ensure that equal justice is applied and that their human rights are protected. Other services provided include couples therapy and arrangements for alimony support. This initiative led to the opening of local municipal offices for women. In 2016, we expanded our scope of work to include activities to promote and defend the human rights of individuals and groups in vulnerable situations, mainly women, children, adolescents, the elderly, persons with disabilities, and those with HIV. These groups face discrimination, exclusion, and inequalities due to social, cultural, economic, and environmental factors. By implementing a capacity-building approach, we equip the local governments, state institutions, and civil society organizations in legal and psychosocial topics to help them exercise their functions and respond to human rights violation cases. Additionally, frequent activities are carried out to raise awareness and to educate the local population on aspects related to human rights…. PAG’s Deborah staff includes 3 law professionals and a professional in pyschology.” Find out more at www.paghonduras.org.

The Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs at Christian Theological Seminary provide funds to congregations to support renewal leaves for their pastors. Congregations may apply for grants of to $50,000 to underwrite a renewal program for their pastor and for the pastor’s family, with up to $15,000 of those funds available to the congregation to help cover costs for ministerial supply while the pastor is away. There is no cost to the congregations or the pastors to apply; the grants represent the endowment’s continued investment in renewing the health and vitality of American Christian congregations. Applications are due by April 27, 2022, and recipients will be notified in late August 2022. A renewal leave funded by a grant in the clergy renewal program may begin no sooner than Jan. 1, 2023, and no later than Dec. 31, 2023. Find out more at www.brethren.org/ministryoffice/sustaining.

No Feeling Is Final, a new film starring Ted Swartz, is based on his book written with Valerie Serrels titled Portraits from the Human Faces Tour. Swartz is a Mennonite actor and dramatist and a popular performer at Church of the Brethren events including Annual Conference, National Youth Conference, and National Older Adult Conference. “No Feeling Is Final is a celebration of resilience and how telling our stories about mental health–both painful and hopeful–can connect and carry us through hard times together,” said a description of the film, which was made on location at The Goshen Theater in Goshen, Ind. It premieres there on Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. The evening will include a live panel discussion with the creators of both the film and the book, which will be available for purchase and signing. Find out more at https://goshentheater.com/events.

At 101 years old, George Etzweiler of University Baptist and Brethren Church in State College, Pa.–a joint Church of the Brethren and American Baptist congregation–is the oldest runner to take part in the annual Tussey Mountainback 50-mile relay and ultramarathon. “But it’s certainly not his first rodeo,” commented an Oct. 28 Facebook post from Tussey Mountain. “Sunday will mark his 15th time leading his relay team, christened ‘The Old Men of the Mountains.’ But while Etzweiler has been running longer than some of the relay participants have been alive, the State College man is quick to point out that running wasn’t always his hobby of choice. It started when he was 49 years old, and he said he was overweight and couldn’t stay awake in the afternoon.’” Read more at www.centredaily.com/news/local/community/state-college/article255324096.html.

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