— Remembrance: Ernest (Ernie) Bolz, 77, of Wenatchee, Wash., a retired pastor who served on the former General Board of the Church of the Brethren, died on May 4 in a hiking accident in Oregon. He pastored three congregations, most recently Ellisforde Church of the Brethren in Tonasket, Wash. His term of service on the General Board ended in 1999. The accident happened when Bolz “was hiking the Rogue River Trail in southern Oregon with his good friend Dean Hiser,” said an email from Debbie Roberts, a leader in the Church of the Brethren’s Pacific Northwest District. “They were three days into a six-day hike when Ernie stepped on a weak area of the trail and it gave way…. Ernie was a pastor, friend, and so much more to many of us, and we will be in grief and shock for some time. Our prayers go out to Sharon, and their two children, Justina, and Chris, as well as his extended family, church families, district contacts, and all who loved him.” A memorial service will likely take place in late June in Tonasket. The Ellisforde congregation will remember him in worship this coming Sunday, May 16. Social distancing and the wearing of face masks will be required.
— Continued prayer for India and Venezuela:
Prayer is requested for the Church of the Brethren in Venezuela, where the health system has been overrun by COVID-19. Many church members have had or currently have COVID, including Robert Anzoategui, president of the denomination.
The Venezuelan Brethren are paying tribute to Obed Rincón, principal clarinetist, saxophonist, and flutist for the Brethren Band. Rincón passed away from COVID-19. Anzoategui sent the following tribute to Church of the Brethren Global Mission staff:
Nuestro Dios ha llamado a nuestro Hermano Obed Rincón a las filas de la gran orquesta celestial dónde su Saxo, flauta y clarinete sonarán eternamente. agradecemos el haber contado entre nosotros a este exelente músico, gran amigo, compañero y cristiano ejemplar. Apocalipsis 14:13: “Y oí una voz del cielo que decía: Escribe: ‘Bienaventurados los muertos que de aquí en adelante mueren en el Señor.’ Sí–dice el Espíritu–para que descansen de sus trabajos, porque sus obras van con ellos.”
Our God has called our brother Obed Rincón to the lines of the great celestial orchestra where his sax, flute, and clarinet will sound eternally. We are grateful for having counted among ourselves this excellent musician, great friend, companion, and exemplar Christian. Revelation 14:13: “I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord.’ Yes, says the Spirit, they will rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.”
A prayer request for church members in India and their relatives living here in the United States has been shared by the Illinois and Wisconsin District office. “We have certainly heard on the news of the increasingly difficult situation in India due to the fast spread of the virus there, so we know what a concern this is,” said the prayer request. “Let us pray for the whole situation.” The specific prayer request from the district is for the family of Vivek Solanky, licensed minister at Naperville (Ill.) Church of the Brethren, whose sister and brother-in-law in Gujarat, India, have contracted COVID-19 and have been hospitalized in two different hospitals.
— Bermudian Church of the Brethren’s history is told in a blogpost titled “A tour in pictures of remote and beautiful western York County.” The post published by the York Daily Record includes stories and photos from a tour of the area with 99-year-old Glenn Julius, focused on the relationship of York County’s Seventh Day Baptists, a settlement emerging from the Ephrata Cloister, and a congregation known today as Bermudian Church of the Brethren. “The story of the farmworker shows how two groups coming to America in the 1700s to, in part, escape religious persecution could work things out, while living near each other in a remote part of York County. They formed a community, a membership, that exists to this day…. The two groups eventually intermarried and the Seventh Day Baptist group became part of Bermudian Church of the Brethren by about 1820.” Read the story and see the photos at https://yorkblog.com/yorktownsquare/a-tour-in-pictures-of-remote-and-beautiful-western-york-county.
— Southern Ohio and Kentucky District’s Camping and Retreat Ministries have opened registration for the summer camp season, which will be virtual and online. “Everyone can come to camp from the safety of their homes,” said an announcement. “No masks are required on the Zoom connections. It will be great to see friends and have an exciting time together learning about God’s creation and ways we can build up our communities.”
A special camp being offered this summer is the College and Careers Camp for those who are out of high school and in college or newly in the workforce. This virtual camp will meet at 7 p.m. (Eastern time) on Tuesday evenings to “give campers a place to discuss God’s leading in their lives. Together we will explore how choices we are making impact creation. By gathering together, campers can reflect on daily ups and downs or changes being faced. Self-expression will be encouraged with water colors, clay, crafts, and creative writing. This new and very special camp will have fun finding the fascinating ways creation is speaking to us.” Find more information on the district website at www.sobcob.org.
— On Earth Peace is holding a 90-minute webinar offering an introduction to Kingian Nonviolence on Saturday, May 15, at 12 noon (Eastern time). Participants are invited to “meet others interested in Kingian Nonviolence, build Beloved Community, and connect with On Earth Peace’s Kingian Nonviolence Learning Action Community,” said an announcement. The webinar will cover the four pillars of Kingian Nonviolence, initial introduction to the six principles and six steps–the “Will” and the “Skill” of Kingian Nonviolence–and the social dynamics of Kingian Nonviolence. Register at www.onearthpeace.org/90min_knv_5_15.
— On Earth Peace also is jointly sponsoring a webinar with the Good Shepherd Collective and the Hebron Defense Committee on Saturday, May 15, at 3 p.m. (Eastern time) or 11 p.m. “Palestinian time.” The webinar titled “Hebron: In Between Restriction and Resistance” will hear from Hisham Sharbati of the Hebron Defense Committee, reporting on “the situation in Hebron, the restrictions in area H2, and the activists’ work on the ground,” said an announcement. “Together we will discuss how the situation in Hebron is linked politically and economically to the US and how people across the world can get engaged in solidarity work.” Go to www.facebook.com/events/815835012643833.
— Greg Davidson Laszakovitz, an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren, has had a sermon selected for inclusion in a collection on immigration. The collection, called “El Camino,” or “the way” in English, has been published by Sojourners. The collection is described as “sermons on the way to a robust engagement with immigrant justice.” Laszakovitz’s sermon titled “Philoxenia vs. Xenophobia,” was preached at Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren last year. “There are dozens and dozens of scriptures in our Bible that talk about the love of the stranger and how we are to treat people, even people who are different from us. It’s at the beginning of the Bible, it’s at the end of the Bible, and it runs throughout the Bible…. We know that these compassionate scriptures are rooted in the experience of God’s people because God’s people were often the foreigners and the outsiders themselves,” said an excerpt. Go to https://sojo.net/sermon/series/immigration-sermons.