Brethren bits for Oct. 1, 2021

— Material Resources director Loretta Wolf has reported on recent donations of relief materials that have arrived at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., for processing, warehousing, and distribution. A first boxcar of Lutheran World Relief (LWR) donations arrived on Tuesday, Sept. 26, from Madison, Wis. “It was filled with about 50,000 pounds of quilts, school kits, personal care kits, and fabric kits,” wrote Wolf. In addition, “donations from the Midwest area have filled the trailer located at the General Offices in Elgin Ill.” Wolf thanked Material Resources drivers Ed Palsgrove and Miller Davis for doing the pick up this Sunday, Oct. 3, leaving an empty trailer at the offices to receive new donations, and thanked Buildings and Grounds director Salvador Campero for receiving the donations and loading the trailer “full to the top.” In addition, Material Resources has made a shipment of a trailer load of 1,080 Church World Service (CWS) cleanup buckets to New Orleans, La., to be used for clean up efforts following Hurricane Ida. The shipment will arrive in New Orleans on Monday, Oct. 4.

— The Women’s Ministry of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has been assisting widows, reported communications staff Zakariya Musa. EYN vice president Anthony A. Ndamsai on Sept. 22 presented grinding machines to one of five widows selected from three communities based on their need. The selections were made by district secretaries. The acting director of the Women’s Ministry, Hassana Habu, shared that the five beneficiaries were selected from the church districts of Giima, Gashala, and Kwarhi, in a continued humanitarian response to the dire need of women and girls. The distribution of grinding machines was sponsored by EYN partners through the church’s Disaster Relief Management. Ndamsai “encouraged the widows that this is not the end of their life and that we are all living under the grace of God through Jesus Christ,” said the report.

Shown at right: EYN vice president Anthony A. Ndamsai and acting director of the Women’s Ministry, Hassana Habu, present grinding machines to widows. Photo by Zakariya Musa

“Are you interested in serving with Brethren Volunteer Service, but still want to know a bit more? Then register for one of the upcoming BVS Coffee Hours!” said a recent announcement. Staff from the BVS Office will be available to answer questions and chat about serving with BVS. Register at tinyurl.com/BVSCoffeeHour.
An online book club discussion has been announced by On Earth Peace, to read and discuss the book Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and Foundations of a Movement by Angela Davis. The event will be held in two parts, on Oct. 19 and 26 at 5:30 p.m. (Eastern time). “Davis discusses the connection between justice areas, including the Ferguson Uprising; the globalized nature of security and surveillance tactics being used by governments; the prison industrial complex; and transnational solidarity among peoples’ movements,” said the announcement. “This book is about forming a wide coalition of movements to challenge systemic racism and build equity and inclusion.” Facilitators are Annabelle Knapp, Palestine Justice Organizer; Marilyne Njuraita, Prison Justice Organizer; and Tamera Shaw, LAC Organizing Fellow. For more information contact racialjustice@onearthpeace.org.

— Missouri and Arkansas District celebrated its 30th district conference on Sept. 24-26. The event was hybrid, both online and at Cabool Church of the Brethren. Guest speakers included Chris Douglas, who is retiring as director of Annual Conference; Wendy McFadden, publisher of Brethren Press and communications for the Church of the Brethren; and Bill Scheurer, executive director of On Earth Peace, attending online. Other guests attending in person were Scott Douglas, director of Relationships and Growth for Brethren Benefit Trust; Gaby Chacon, admissions counselor for Bethany Theological Seminary; and Monica Rice, director of Alumni and Constituent Relations for McPherson (Kan.) College. The district newsletter reported that moderator Gary Gahm preached on Saturday morning on the theme “Serving Near and Far,” sharing the history of Brethren service and service organizations. “The agenda included a time for remembering 30 years as the Missouri Arkansas District led by moderator-elect Lisa Irle,” said the report. “Ma and Pa visited and shared a skit for the celebration. At the Cabool Church, an anniversary cake was enjoyed after lunch.”

— Atlantic Southeast District has announced a decision to go virtual with its district conference this fall. Said the announcement, in part: “After wrestling back and forth for several months about this issue, the Program and Arrangements Committee has unanimously agreed to hold this year’s District Conference in a virtual format. The meeting will be held on Zoom on Saturday, Nov. 6, at 9 a.m. Among other things, this means: No travel is involved, and you can ‘attend’ from the comfort of your own home or church. No hotel costs will need to be incurred because of distance. The conference will naturally take less time this year than it normally would. We anticipate the time frame to be from 9 a.m. to around 1 p.m.” The theme is “The Multi-Colored Wisdom of God” (Ephesians 3:10). Ray Hileman is district moderator.

— Shenandoah District is holding “Rally 4 Christ” events on Sunday, Oct. 10, at a variety of locations. “I can scarcely imagine a better way of spending a Sunday afternoon than to engage in fellowship in a beautiful outdoor setting, listening to inspired music and preaching,” said a note from district executive minister John Jantzi, in a district email. The rallies are sponsored by the Discipleship Ministries Team of the district.

— Camp Pine Lake shared about its recent “All Ages Camp” in the Northern Plains District newsletter. Held Sept. 3-6, the camp welcomed David Radcliff of the New Community Project, who provided the program. At the highest number 30 people were on site. Two meals, prepared and hosted by Aaron Beck Brunk and Nick Paxton, raised more than $2,000 for the camp’s scholarship fund.

— In a “save the date” note from Camp Pine Lake, it will be hosting the next Song and Story Fest, an annual Church of the Brethren family camp, on July 3-9, 2022.

— The latest episode of Brethren Voices showcases the work of Doris Abdullah of Brooklyn (N.Y.) First Church of the Brethren. “The headquarters of the United Nations is located about nine miles away from the Brooklyn First Church of the Brethren,” said a description of the episode from producer Ed Groff. “It’s a trip that Doris Abdullah has made many times, serving as the Church of the Brethren Representative to the UN. The Church of the Brethren’s involvement in the United Nations began over 75 years ago, shortly after the establishment of the UN, in 1945. At that time the Brethren coordinated with the United Nations by implementing a program know as Heifer Project, to rebuild the farm animal stocks of war torn Europe, following World War II. Three years ago, we met with Doris Abdullah and produced the October 2018 Brethren Voices program. Doris discusses her representation and work in the United Nations, in the area of human rights. She has also been involved in the Palestine Committee Meeting expressing concerns about the two million Palestinians who live in the densely populated area of the Gaza Strip. Under a 13 year-blockade, the people are dependent on international humanitarian aid to survive from one day to the next, as 90 percent of the water is undrinkable. In this Brethren Voices program, the UN representative also expresses much concern about the world’s refugee problem.” The program concludes with Bill Jolliff’s “Immigration Song.” Find Brethren Voices on YouTube.

Timbercrest Senior Living Community in North Manchester, Ind., held a Peace Campfire and a Peace Pole Rededication Program for Peace Week last week. “Due to being in ‘outbreak mode’ because of COVID-19, we couldn’t meet inside,” reported Marie Willoughby. “So our readers/leaders stood at the chapel door and were videotaped to YouTube for showing on our internal TV channel…. The campfire was on the International Day of Prayer for Peace, Sept. 21, and included songs, stories, and S’mores. The peace pole program was on Sept. 24 and included readings, prayers, and a recording of music. This was followed by triad discussion groups led by our program director, Brian Daniels. Larry Fourman gave the dedication prayer and benediction.”

— Hannah Bentley has been named to the Womaen’s Caucus leadership group. She is Women’s Justice Organizer for On Earth Peace, where she works to build community around women’s and feminist justice-based activism, according to the announcement. She is a third-year student at Grinnell College in Iowa, where she studies English.

— Christian Peacemaker Teams is offering a special webinar for Church of the Brethren members on the topic “Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples,” to take place Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). Said an announcement: “Join Christian Peacemaker Teams member Cliff Kindy to learn more about what solidarity with Indigenous groups looks like in action, with stories from accompaniment work with Indigenous community members from South Dakota to Chiapas, Mexico, as well as more recent work with water protectors in Minnesota at Line 3.” Register at https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_LmZYr0YKTBCSAE9Gg5PkQg.

— The National Council of Churches of Christ in the US (NCC) holds its annual Christian Unity Gathering as a virtual, online event on Oct. 11-12. The theme is “In New Wineskins: From Pandemics to Possibilities to Promises” (Luke 5:37-39). Said an announcement: “This year’s CUG will explore how church life has changed and what our hope is for the church as the global community struggles to emerge from its pandemics and economic crises while at the same time continuing to grapple with the racial reckoning that is happening in our nation and the world…. Will you join us to go beyond how we ‘always do it’ and get to a place of possibilities?” Main sessions include (all times given in Eastern time): Oct. 11, 3-4:15 p.m. “Nice Racism: How Progressive White People Perpetuate Racial Harm”; Oct. 11, 7-9 p.m. “Faith Summit–Racial Reckoning in America: A Christian Response” with a panel and Q&A; Oct. 12, 2-3:30 p.m. “Panel on Christian Nationalism”; Oct. 12, 3:45-5:15 p.m. “International Briefing on the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Find out more at https://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/cug.

– A documentary about the York Center Co-op in Lombard, Ill., is debuting on YouTube this weekend, as a film from Tim Frakes Productions and the Lombard Historical Society. The nearly hour-long film is titled Common Good: The Story of the York Center Co-operative. The housing cooperative was founded by a group of Church of the Brethren people and families and, when the seminary was located nearby, included faculty and staff of Bethany Theological Seminary. Said a description of the film: “This pioneering, faith-based effort provided fair housing, community, and opportunity in an era of white flight, redlining, and restrictive covenants that effectively prevented non-white Americans from fully participating in the American dream. It’s a dream that influenced the course of American history during the Civil Rights era when a young attorney for the NAACP, who would later go on to become a Justice of the US Supreme Court, wrote a legal brief to President Harry S. Truman, advocating on behalf of the co-op, just as Truman and Congress were grappling with the crisis of an epic housing shortage after World War II. Despite acts of overt racism that included a cross burning, bullet holes through windows, internal conflict, and systemic economic racism, the York Center Co-op and the white, Black, Asian, and Jewish families who lived there, demonstrated to themselves, their neighbors, and America, what results when determined people put aside racial, religious, and class differences, and work together for the common good.” Interviewees include Bill Kostlevy, who recently retired as director of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives. View the film at www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSD8FUKvS5s. A DVD copy is available from the Lombard Historical Society, which is receiving donations toward the project. For more information see www.frakesproductions.com.

— Dr. Elizabeth Struble, a Church of the Brethren member from North Manchester, Ind., has been elected president for 2021-22 by the Indiana State Medical Association (ISMA). The election took place at the association’s 172nd Annual Convention on Sept. 10-12, held virtually for the second year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, said the report from the Times Union newspaper. Struble is a family practice physician employed by the Lutheran Health Network and medical director for the Kosciusko Medical Group in Warsaw, Ind. In addition to her medical degree, she holds a master of divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York and is an ordained minister. Find the news report at https://timesuniononline.com/Content/Local-News/Local-News/Article/ISMA-Elects-Dr-Elizabeth-Struble-As-President-For-2021-22/2/453/135611.

— Walt Wiltschek is taking on a new role as part-time chaplain at Illinois Wesleyan University, alongside his new position as district executive minister for the Church of the Brethren’s Illinois and Wisconsin District. “At Wesleyan, Wiltschek will be working with student multifaith ambassadors, who provide guidance and information about various faith traditions present on campus,” reported the Pantagraph newspaper of Bloomington, Ill. “At its best, the Church of the Brethren should be a denomination that embraces ecumenical and interfaith work, Wiltschek said. Wesleyan seems to be a place where he can do that and meet students where they are in their own faith journeys, no matter which path they are on.” Find the report and a video interview with Wiltschek at https://pantagraph.com/news/local/education/watch-now-new-illinois-wesleyan-chaplain-wants-students-to-guide-office/article_d09caf19-ccd1-5dd4-811d-310ab608ae90.html.

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