Brethren bits for Oct. 22, 2021

Prayer is requested for the group from Christian Aid Ministries that was kidnapped in Haiti last weekend, and for all of those affected by kidnappings and gang violence in Haiti. Continued prayer is requested for L’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti) as church members contend with the security concerns in their country, endemic poverty, and the aftermath of natural disasters including the recent earthquake affecting the southwest area of the island nation.

Christian Aid Ministries is connected with the Amish, conservative Mennonites, and conservative or “old order” Brethren denominations. The organization has partnered with the Church of the Brethren and Brethren Disaster Ministries most recently in Haiti, and in the Nigeria Crisis Response, giving at least $140,000 to the effort. The meat canning project of the Church of the Brethren’s Southern Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic Districts has used the chicken canning facilities at the Christian Aid Ministries warehouse in Pennsylvania.

The Global Mission office of the Church of the Brethren is giving thanks for the approval of a malaria vaccine. “Malaria kills nearly half a million people per year, mostly in Africa,” said the prayer request. “It impacts many of the countries with Church of the Brethren denominations, including Haiti, India, Venezuela, parts of the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and countries in Africa. The disease takes a great financial toll not only in costs for treatment, but also is a drag on local economies. We praise God that hope is in sight and pray that relief may come to God’s children around the world.”

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) continues to support the Afghan evacuee response at Fort Bliss, Texas, reports associate director Lisa Crouch. “Operation Allies Welcome,” the US government program to welcome Afghans as they resettle, continues in a process that is expected to take months. “CDS has been deploying teams for 14 days at a time, with more than 25 volunteers serving to date since early September,” Crouch reports. “The CDS teams are averaging between 200 and 300 child contacts a day and report the workdays are long, hot, and dusty, but in return, are so rewarding to have an impact on the children temporarily housed in the Dona Ana tent village. Save the Children has asked CDS to continue support of this site through mid-December.” Shown here is CDS Team 3 at Fort Bliss. Photo by Patty Henry

Brethren Disaster Ministries is welcoming Lynn Evans into a new long-term volunteer role as office manager on rebuilding sites. She starts her service with Brethren Disaster Ministries’ return to the coastal North Carolina site, where she is scheduled to serve at least through the length of the project in April 2022. She will lead the office management side of the project tracking finances, communicating with incoming groups, and supporting connections and logistics with local partners. She is from Pottstown, Pa., and has spent most of her career serving in various Christian ministries in multiple states. Her experience with Brethren Disaster Ministries includes several rebuilding trips as a weekly volunteer in South Carolina and, most recently, in Dayton, Ohio.

On Earth Peace has announced upcoming webinars:

“Bullying Prevention” is the topic of the first webinar in a new series being launched on “Children as Peacemakers: Equipping Resilient Leaders.” The event on bullying prevention takes place Saturday, Oct. 23, at 12 noon (Eastern time). Register at The seminars in this series “will invite parents and educators from all around the US to address common, and sensitive topics that their kids are exposed to now more than ever surrounding justice and inclusion,” said the announcement. “This month we will be addressing bullying prevention as part of On Earth’s Peace Bullying Prevention Month activities, equipping caregivers and educators with tools such as storytelling using On Earth Peace’s Read Aloud Program.” The series plans to address other related topics such as social justice, military recruiting, racial justice, LGBTQ+ justice, migrant justice, and more. The seminars will host speakers including psychologists who specialize in child development.

“Tools for Organizing and Community Leadership: A Four-Part Series on Kingian Nonviolence”
starts Oct. 28 and will continue through November. The series will “explore tools for organizing and community leadership through the values and practices of Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation,” said the announcement. “If you are an organizer working for social change, a leader working to reduce violence in your community, or just someone who wants to learn more, join us! You are welcome to bring your own organizing project or context to the table–and you’re welcome if you’re just curious, but don’t have a specific issue in mind. We will apply Kingian tools and perspectives to the context of each organizer/participant and to specific cases. On Earth Peace’s organizing interns will bring examples from their areas of focus–which include racial justice, LGBTQ+ justice, women’s justice, environmental justice, migrant justice, and more.” No previous involvement with On Earth Peace or Kingian Nonviolence is required and participation at all sessions is not required. Go to

A new mailing address for Atlantic Southeast District has been announced, as the interim district executive minister continues to serve remotely. Send mail to the interim district office at 9112 Tansel Court, Indianapolis, IN 46234-1371. The district telephone number and email address have not changed.

Pacific Southwest District has announced that all of the events planned for its district conference week on Nov. 7-14 will be online-only. “We have moved the Friday and Saturday portions of the conference to online, to accommodate a request from Hillcrest to protect the community and staff at the retirement home (and us as well) as the pandemic continues to disrupt things,” said an announcement. “We appreciate your understanding.” The theme for the district conference is “Together” (Acts 2). The week will include a virtual social gathering and fellowship time, a variety of insight sessions, a ministers’ event, a business session on Saturday, Nov. 13, and three worship services, among others. Find the schedule and more information at

Shenandoah District reports that its recent “Rally 4 Christ @ the Farm” event was a “big success.” The event held at 4 farms located around the district on Oct. 10 was attended by more than 300 people representing 31 congregations. “Folks from other denominations joined in, too,” said the report, shared in an email from the district. “According to Larry Aikens, the District Discipleship Team planned this new initiative ‘to call the faithful to greater faithfulness’ and ‘to strengthen the district.’” Meetings took place at the Bolton Farm in Rockingham with the Greenmount Praise Team, worship leader Scott Harris, and speaker Jon Prater; at the Turner Farm with bluegrass gospel and sermons by Doug Gochenour, Audrey King, and Archie Webster, and performances by Leah Hileman & Putter or the “LP Duo” and Brother Archie’s church choir; at Pleasant View Events with games, music, testimonies, and a time of directed sharing and brainstorming about where God may be calling the district; and at the Decker Farm with bluegrass gospel music, a time of praise, and a message from pastor Larry Hickey of Compassion Ministries. A tentative date of Oct. 9, 2022, has been set for another rally next year.

Also in Shenandoah District, Bernie Fuska led a 4-hour workshop for deacon training via Zoom. Up to 30 pastors and deacons from 9 congregations took part. “The participants learned about the basics of conducting the deacon ministry and were able to find a great deal of value in the training,” said the district e-newsletter.

Daniel Naff is the new food services coordinator at Camp Bethel, an outdoor ministries center in Virlina District. He is a 2020 graduate of Bridgewater (Va.) College, a member of Cloverdale Church of the Brethren, and has served on the camp’s summer staff from 2016-2020. In September, he completed a year of service in AmeriCorps at Breaks Interstate Park, and is an Eagle Scout and amateur birder/naturalist.

Jenna Stacy Mehalso is leaving her role as program coordinator at Camp Bethel on Dec. 31. She has given eight years of leadership to the camp. The camp director and Outdoor Ministries Committee of the district are working to fill the program coordinator position.

A reception will be held on Jan. 7, 2022, to welcome Naff and to say goodbye to Mehalso, reported the district e-newsletter.

Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., has named Mary M. White, a 1973 graduate of the college, as its first female chair of the Board of Trustees. She is vice president of resource management at HCA/HealthOne in Denver, Colo., and has served on the board since 1999. She succeeds Tim Statton (’72), who completed his term as chair on Sept. 1. Read the full Juniata release at

In more news from Juniata, two professors have grown a “ginormous pumpkin”–Vince Buonaccorsi, professor of biology, and Neil Pelkey, professor of environmental science and studies. They grew the 300-plus pound pumpkin in a garden beside the Brumbaugh Academic Center, according to a college release.

Photo courtesy of Juniata College
Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) held an annual choir conference at the EYN Headquarters in Kwarhi, Nigeria, on Oct. 14-17. Head of media Zakariya Musa reported that about 4,000 participants came from within Nigeria and from Minawao, Cameroun. Photo by Zakariya Musa

The Global Women’s Project Steering Committee held its fall meeting in September. The agenda included the 2021 Advent calendar, a new Lenten calendar coming in 2022, and additional grants made this year, according to a report by Steering Committee member Katie Heishman. Also on the Steering Committee are Sarah Neher, Barb Sayler, and Karlene Tyler. “We said thank you and good-bye for now to Kim Hill Smith for her years of service to GWP, especially as our treasurer,” said the report. Additional end-of-year grants were given to a current project’s new initiative and a new one time grant recipient: $1,000 to partner project in South Sudan, the Narus Sewing Cooperative, where the women are planning to start teaching about and growing gardens; and $1,000 to JWW “Jitokeze Wamama Wafrika,” a project in Kenya that empowers women to be economic entities within their families by raising chickens, improving agriculture, and learning tailoring as a trade.

“Think with Caucus,” said an announcement of the first-ever “Thinkers” event by the Womaen’s Caucus, to be held on Zoom on Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. (Eastern time). “Think with us as we consider new ways of nominating and electing Church of the Brethren denominational leaders and imagine effective support systems for persons elected and those who are not elected,” said the announcement. “Using both small group discussion and whole group interaction, our intent is to develop recommendations to update our leadership processes to reflect today’s family, work, and church needs. Recently, Caucus and the Annual Conference leadership team have been looking at obstacles to serving in denominational leadership positions elected at the Annual Conference. And there are a lot of obstacles! Now it is time to consider new ways of developing future leaders, electing them, and supporting them in their work on behalf of the whole church.” Go to

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) has announced that it has been granted special consultative status as a non-governmental organization (NGO) with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. The Church of the Brethren is a member of CMEP. The special consultative status for CMEP allows an NGO to engage with ECOSOC, the Human Rights Council, and, at times, the General Assembly and the UN Secretariat, said the announcement. “As an NGO with special consultative status, CMEP will have the privilege of designating official representatives to the UN Headquarters in New York and UN Offices at Geneva and Vienna, as well as offering expert information, advice, and statements to the Council on topics related to faith, justice, and peace in the Middle East. CMEP is grateful for the opportunity to continue its engagement in the important work of ECOSOC and offer critical resources to advance security, human rights, and a just peace in Israel, Palestine, and the broader Middle East.”

“You’re invited to our 75th celebration!” announced Church World Service (CWS), which this year is celebrating 75 years. The Church of the Brethren is a founding denomination of CWS. The virtual celebration next Wednesday, Oct. 27, will be a benefit featuring keynote speaker Rick Steves, a popular public television host, best-selling guidebook author, and outspoken humanitarian activist. “Come journey with us as we reflect on the last 75 years and, together, begin our next 75!” said the invitation. Register at

Christian Churches Together (CCT) has announced the selection of Monica Schaap Pierce as its interim executive director. The Church of the Brethren is a member denomination of the CCT. Pierce’s appointment follows the resignation of executive director Carlos Malave earlier this year. She holds a doctorate in systemic theology from Fordham University and master’s degrees from Trinity Lutheran Seminary and brings experience in managing the ecumenical portfolio of the Reformed Church in America and teaching and speaking in churches and universities. The permanent executive director is expected to be selected by mid-2022.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) on Nov. 10 is to release a new publication, Call to Discipleship: Mission in the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, compiling findings from the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism. Said a release: “Since the WCC Conference on World Mission and Evangelism held in Arusha, Tanzania, in 2018, all three of the commission’s working groups have worked on and finalized a study document, and these papers, together with a slightly earlier document from the WCC Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network, have been edited into a single volume by WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism director Rev. Dr. Risto Jukko. Each study document, preceded by a short introduction, then gives the reader an up-to-date overview and state of the missiological thinking and practice of the ecumenical mission movement at the end of the 2010s and beginning of the 2020s, and a vision of the potential beyond the 11th WCC Assembly in Karlsruhe in 2022.” Find out more at

Recent books by Brethren:

The Art of Biblical Interpretation: Visual Portrayals of Scriptural Narratives, for which Bobbi Dykema, pastor of First Church of the Brethren Springfield, Ill., served as one of the three editors, is published by the Society of Biblical Literature. This collection of essays highlights the interdisciplinary work of biblical scholars and art historians. Her co-editors are Heidi J. Hornik, professor of Art History and chair of the Department of Art & Art History at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and Ian Boxall, associate professor of New Testament at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. The book’s description from the publisher notes that “for centuries Christians have engaged their sacred texts as much through the visual as through the written word. Yet until recent decades, the academic disciplines of biblical studies and art history largely worked independently. This volume bridges that gap with the interdisciplinary work of biblical scholars and art historians. Focusing on the visualization of biblical characters from both the Old and New Testaments, essays illustrate the potential of such collaboration for a deeper understanding of the Bible and its visual reception.” Go to

Pets: Getting Them, Caring for Them, and Loving Them (American Girl) by Mel Hammond received a gold award in the category of “Animals/Pets Non-Fiction” from the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards for 2021. The book is illustrated by Maike Plenzke. “Creating books that inspire our children to read, to learn, and to dream is an extremely important task, and these awards were conceived to reward those efforts,” said the Moonbeam website. “Each year’s entries are judged by expert panels of youth educators, students, librarians, booksellers, and book reviewers of all ages. Award recipients receive gold, silver and bronze medals and stickers depicting a mother and child reading and silhouetted by a full moon.” Go to Hammond also has written Banana Pancakes and Love the Earth: Understanding Climate Change, Speaking Up for Solutions, and Living an Earth-Friendly Life (American Girl) (

The Bible, the Bomb, the Burden by John E. Eash (self-published through Christian Faith Publishing Inc.) is a short paperback that takes a look at “the full truth of God and how modern science came to overshadow the church; a suggested way to approach widening generation gaps.”

Esther Griffith of Floyd, Va., at age 102 recently joined in the annual apple butter making event at White Rock Church of the Brethren. The church “has made apple butter in an open copper kettle for several years, and Griffith, who is 102, has helped for the past three or four,” reported SWVA Today. The church sells apple butter for its outreach programs, and all of the proceeds benefit community members in need. Find the article and a photo of Griffith in action at


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