1) Selective Service Repeal Act receives endorsement
2) National Council of Churches issues statement following conviction in George Floyd murder case
3) Churches are asked to help with COVID-19 vaccination effort
4) Bethany Seminary to hold commencement ceremony online
5) New and Renew workshop presenters include Coté Soerens and Darryl Williamson
6) US militarism and climate change
7) Brethren bits: Remembering the Armenian Genocide, prayer requests from Brethren around the world, ways to support youth attending the virtual CCS, endorsement of “Palestinian Children and Families Act,” Timbercrest celebrates Brethren residents turning 100, and more
Quote of the week:
A summary of Nathan Hosler’s remarks at a gathering in Washington, D.C., following the three guilty verdicts in the trial over George Floyd’s murder: “We recently celebrated Holy Week. A week of Jesus passing through suffering and rising victorious over death. As Christians we are invited to join with Jesus and continue his work, empowered by the Spirit. For those of us not targeted, this means walking with and learning from those who suffer. The Church of the Brethren is an Historic Peace Church. This call to peacemaking necessarily involves justice and solidarity with those who suffer violence. It is not passive but actively resists violence.”
— Hosler is director of the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. The gathering was hosted by George C. Gilbert and the Center for Racial Equity and Justice at East Washington Heights Baptist Church.
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1) Selective Service Repeal Act receives endorsement
The Church of the Brethren has endorsed the Selective Service Repeal Act on the recommendation of longterm partner organization the Center on Conscience and War (CCW). The bill offers an alternative during a time when others are urging Congress to expand draft registration to women as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022.
The CCW is one of a number of peace and justice organizations that are endorsing this bipartisan legislation that aims to repeal the Military Selective Service Act. Other faith-based endorsing organizations include the Friends Committee on National Legislation, American Friends Service Committee, Pax Christi USA, and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, among others.
The bill (H.R. 2509 and S. 1139) was introduced in Congress on April 14 with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. Sponsors are Rep. Peter DeFazio, Democrat from Oregon; Sen. Ron Wyden, Democrat from Oregon; Sen. Rand Paul, Republican from Kentucky; and Rep. Rodney Davis, Republican from Illinois.
Said a review of the legislation from the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy: “This bill seeks to terminate the existence of the military draft registration system–which is viewed by the bill’s sponsors as an unnecessary, wasteful bureaucracy that unconstitutionally violates Americans’ civil liberties, and unfairly subjects individuals who fail to register for the draft to unnecessarily suffer lifelong penalties.”
Said an email from CCW: “Even though no one has been drafted in almost 50 years, the Selective Service System continues to do harm, as millions of men have been denied access to federal jobs, money for higher education, and in some states, driver’s licenses and admission to state universities. This bill includes language that overturns the penalties for failure to register, including bars to citizenship, while it also protects conscientious objectors.
“As the Supreme Court and congress debate the merits of the draft in the coming months, they essentially will be faced with two choices: extend the draft–and the harm–to women or abolish it altogether. This bi-partisan legislation can help shift the conversation toward the latter option: ending the draft once and for all!”
The legislation includes provisions to protect conscientious objectors and to provide for those employed by the Selective Service System by assisting them to transfer to other positions in the executive branch.
The Office of Peacebuilding and Policy recommended endorsement based on several Annual Conference statements: 1979 Resolution: Conscription (www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1979-conscription), 1982 Resolution: Reaffirmation of Opposition to War and Conscription for Military Training (www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1982-opposition-to-war-and-conscription), 1970 Statement on War (www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1970-war), 1969 Statement: Obedience to God and Civil Disobedience (www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1969-obedience-to-god-and-civil-disobedience), 1970 Resolution: A Hope for Peace (www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1970-resolution-a-hope-for-peace).
2) National Council of Churches issues statement following conviction in George Floyd murder case
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC), of which the Church of the Brethren is a founding member, issued the following statement on April 20. Here is the full text:
NCC Expresses Relief at Guilty Verdict But Our Work to Reform Policing Must Continue
“He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?”
Micah 6:8 NRSV
April 20, 2021, Washington, DC – After expressing outrage at the murder of George Floyd in 2020, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) is relieved that there has been a conviction in the case of George Floyd’s murderer, former police officer Derek Chauvin, in Minneapolis, MN.
This verdict, while welcomed, does not mean that our nation has turned a corner on the problem of police brutality. This decision was made based on multiple witnesses, recorded videos, and nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds of violent and inhumane treatment of Mr. Floyd even after all life was drained from his body.
It is clear that the problem of excessive police violence has not been solved. We continue to commend and support law enforcement agencies that model good community policing, and in the tradition of advocating for justice and peace and inspired by the prophet Isaiah to serve as “repairers of the breach,” we persist in our call for an overhaul of the justice system that brings about reconciliation and restoration.
“I was able to see with my own eyes that Derek Chauvin was guilty of killing George Floyd and so, too, did the members of the jury. I pray this verdict will help advance the cause of racial justice in our nation, but I know we still have a long way to go,” stated Jim Winkler, NCC President and General Secretary.
“I applaud the jury for a right decision in this case and I rejoice with Mr. Floyd’s family,” said Rev. Aundreia Alexander, Esq., NCC Associate General Secretary, Action and Advocacy for Justice and Peace. “This case highlighted the systemic racism within the policing system throughout the nation. It is my hope and prayer that the nation will now be willing to take a serios look at reimagining a model of public safety that will focus on wholistic care for people and communities rather than policing the everyday activities of living while black in America.”
Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Founder and President, Grace and Race Ministries, Inc. and Chair of the NCC Racial Justice Advisory Committee shared, “Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Those words not only apply to Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd, they also present a challenge to our justice system. This case is a mandate for truly seeing the racial inequities in the criminal justice system and the necessity of addressing police reform. Black people are still dying at the hands of those who took an oath to protect and serve. Let’s stay in the fight to improve police training, policies and practices, and provide hope that the killing will end. God will find that we are all guilty if we celebrate today and stop pressing for the needed systemic change.”
“I rejoice in a verdict that affirms that Black Lives Matter, but I temper my rejoicing with an awareness that George Floyd is still dead and his family will never have him back,” commented Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ and Chair of the NCC Governing Board. “I pray that George Floyd will be remembered as one whose death caused a reckoning long overdue, initiated a justice long denied, and spurred on a movement for racial equity that too many died waiting for.”
The NCC remains committed to end racism in all its forms in our nation.
— Find this statement from the National Council of Churches online at https://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/ncc-expresses-relief-at-guilty-verdict-but-our-work-to-reform-policing-must-continue
3) Churches are asked to help with COVID-19 vaccination effort
Churches are being asked to help support COVID-19 vaccination efforts across the United States. A COVID-19 Community Corps has been launched, inviting churches among other community groups to help build vaccine confidence in their communities. Also, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is collecting a list of churches and other community organizations that can help support the national vaccination effort.
In addition, federal assistance is now available to help pay costs of funerals for certain COVID-19 related deaths in the US. For more information about the guidelines for this assistance, go to www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance. To request this assistance, call the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line at 844-684-6333 (TTY: 800-462-7585). Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Central Time).
COVID-19 Community Corps
A release about the COVID-19 Community Corps from the National Council of Churches said that churches as well as other nonprofits, medical providers, and individual such as educators are invited to participate and get resources to help build vaccine confidence in their communities. The effort is aimed at ending the COVID-19 pandemic in the US by encouraging the American population to choose to get fully vaccinated, “and encouraging the people in your life to do the same,” said the release.
Those who join the COVID-19 Community Corps will have access to a number of resources including:
— fact sheets on vaccine safety, tips on how to talk with friends and family about the importance of vaccination, and hints for planning and attending community events;
— social media content to share with followers; and
— regular email updates with the latest vaccine news and resources to share.
For more about the COVID-19 Community Corps and to find related resources go to https://wecandothis.hhs.gov/covidcommunitycorps.
FEMA invitation to churches
In addition, FEMA is seeking churches willing to help with the vaccination effort. Churches may be asked to help provide facilities to host vaccination clinics, identify health professionals to volunteer with vaccinations, provide meals for volunteers and other workers at vaccination clinics, provide transportation and other support to help get people to vaccination appointments, and increase vaccination messaging within congregations and their communities.
Send your response to Partnerships@fema.dhs.gov to be added to the list as a possible resource for vaccine distribution.
4) Bethany Seminary to hold commencement ceremony online
A release from Bethany Theological Seminary
Alumni and friends are cordially invited to watch Bethany’s Academic Commencement Ceremony live online as we honor graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021. This year’s ceremony will include the first students to earn certificates while studying in Nigeria.
Fifteen graduates and their families will join us in Nicarry Chapel, while others will be honored from a distance. The featured speaker is Amy Gall Ritchie, M.Div. ’93, a former director of student development at Bethany who is founding director of Persimmon Studio and a member of the pastoral staff at Manchester Church of the Brethren. The service will include theopoetic reflections by students and music provided by Carolyn Ripp.
Join us for a Zoom webinar format livestream on Saturday, May 8, at 11 a.m. (Eastern time). Here’s the link: https://bethanyseminary.zoom.us/j/97849369581.
5) New and Renew workshop presenters include Coté Soerens and Darryl Williamson
By Erika Clary
Join us for the New and Renew Virtual Conference, May 13-15. We will be exploring the theme “The Reward of Risk,” guided by many terrific workshop presenters and keynote speakers. Two workshop presenters for the event are Maria-José “Coté” Soerens and Darryl Williamson.
Soerens is a church planter in Seattle, Wash., where she is nurturing a faith community rooted in the South Park neighborhood where she lives. Born in Chile, she came to the US at the age of 25 and has since started a number of initiatives in the private and nonprofit sector. Her favorite is Resistencia Coffee, a neighborhood-owned and -operated coffee shop at the heart of South Park.
She also is a co-founder of Cultivate South Park, a neighbor-led asset-based community development group dedicated to identifying, connecting, and celebrating the gifts of South Park residents to co-create a more equitable community. There, she serves as part of the Urban Fresh Food Collective and the South Park Arts and Culture Collective. She also serves on the city of Seattle’s Equitable Development Initiative advisory board and the Cultural Space Agency Council, both focused on increasing access to community-controlled spaces for communities of color in Seattle.
Soerens’ workshop is titled “Trusting God, Trusting Neighbors: Mobilizing Power and Assets in the Neighborhood.” She writes: “Despite our best intentions for missional engagement, congregations can sometimes have an awkward relationship with the communities where we worship and serve.” Her workshop will explore practical ways to engage communities in liberating, collaborative, and generative ways that build belonging and common mission.
Williamson has been lead pastor of the Living Faith Bible Fellowship in Tampa, Fla., since January 2010. He helped transition the church from a primarily middle-aged African American membership to a multicultural, multiethnic, multigenerational congregation. He is active with three organizations whose ministries focus on seeing the gospel advance in marginalized communities in the US and abroad. He leads Arise City and is on the board of the Crete Collective and the Underground Network.
He also serves on the Leadership Council of the Gospel Coalition. He has a gospel-centered concern for spiritual formation, racial reconciliation, restorative justice, faith-work economics, ethics and theology, and church history. He has contributed to two books: 12 Faithful Men: Portraits of Faithful Endurance in Pastoral Ministry, and All Are Welcome: Toward a Multi-Everything Church.
Williamson will be presenting a workshop titled “The Promise of Church in Hard Places,” which will address why establishing churches in neglected communities will not only bring spiritual and holistic restoration to those neighborhoods, but also will usher in a mission movement in cities across the national landscape. In his workshop, the vision of the Crete Collective will be presented.
Worried that you will be unable to attend live sessions? Those who register will have access to recordings of all sessions and workshops until Dec. 15. Ministers who want continuing education units (CEUs) will receive a form to mark either attendance at live sessions or recordings to earn up to 2.0 units.
Registration costs $79, plus $10 for continuing education credit, and includes access to recordings of worship, sermons, and workshops. Register and find out more at www.brethren.org/discipleshipmin/newandrenew.
— Erika Clary is working temporarily for the Church of the Brethren Discipleship Ministries until starting a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) position as coordinator for National Youth Conference 2022.
6) US militarism and climate change
By Angelo Olayvar
Earth Day is an annual one-day event on April 22 that seeks to show support for the protection of the environment. According to the official website, the 2021 Earth Day theme is “Restore Our Earth,” which focuses on natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems. Events like Earth Day give hope for the future of our home planet.
Weeks after President Joe Biden signed an executive order that made the United States a part of the Paris Climate Accord again, he indicated that he is looking at the possibilities of increasing US military spending by 1.7 percent. The United States of America had already spent approximately $721.5 billion on its military in the fiscal year 2020. This colossal spending is made possible through the political will of American policymakers who intend to protect American national and security interests.
But what does this mean in terms of protecting our environment and averting the catastrophic consequences of climate change? Obviously, increasing military spending means allowing the continuation of military activities and operations that are environmental stressors. The activities and operations of the US military are evidently unsustainable because of the tremendous amounts of carbon emissions these release to the atmosphere. Thus, it is without doubt that scientists and climate activists recognize the far-reaching impacts of the US military and its activities on the environment.
If the United States is really serious about addressing climate change, it needs to recognize the fact that its own military is considered to be the top climate polluter in history and a bigger polluter than the next 140 countries combined.
A report published by the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs concludes that the far-reaching consequences of climate change, such as drought and rising sea level, have the potential to foster conditions that can result in violence, instability, climate displacement, and forced migrations. Moreover, recent historical events demonstrate that large-scale human migrations increase the chance for conflict and turmoil as new populations attempt to intermingle and compete for resources against established populations. These kinds of scenarios, produced by changing and extreme weather patterns, greatly affect regional and global peace and security. Thus, if the world fails to fundamentally address climate change soon, armed conflicts, humanitarian crises, and instability, brought by climate change, could be on the horizon. If the United States wants to protect its reputation as a reliable global leader, it needs to spearhead the creation of solutions that will address the root cause of these impending disastrous and catastrophic scenarios events–climate change.
As mentioned earlier, the US military is the world’s biggest polluter. The wide array of activities that the United States conducts during peacetime and wartime has substantial effects on the environment–from the amount of hazardous wastes it produces to the number of its nuclear tests to the wartime activities and operations it conducts. The activities and operations of the US military have contaminated large swaths of lands of Indian reservations, resulted in the desertification of 90 percent of Iraqi territory, contributed to the continued high levels of radiation in many islands in the Pacific Ocean, and so much more. It is no surprise that the continued and increasing militarism of the United States can be linked to the changing and extreme weather patterns. Furthermore, the past environmental record of the US military shows that its current policies are unsustainable. However, this did not discourage many American policymakers and top Pentagon officials from blatantly planning future contamination of the environment through increased military activities.
Proponents of US militarism argue that a strong and well-funded military is necessary for protecting American national interests and preserving global peace and stability. For decades, the US military has been called to play an active role in humanitarian aid and disaster relief around the globe to preserve peace and stability. However, is a militarized response or the utilization of the US military really effective in maintaining regional peace and stability? Many would argue that the humanitarian interventions authorized by the United States are counterproductive and oftentimes resulted in disastrous results. For example, the response of the United States to the conflicts and crises in the countries in the Middle East, Central and South America, and Africa resulted in a disaster and worsened the situation. Given the fact that the US military and its activities contribute greatly to climate change that produce situations and conditions that will necessarily require a more robust US military activities, is it logical to support the idea of relying on the US military in addressing humanitarian crises and conflicts instead of diplomacy? Moreover, does it make sense to continue on sustaining and expanding military activities and operations that fuels climate change and its consequences?
This piece briefly explored the implications of the activities and operations of the US military on the environment. It is right to ethically and morally question various human activities that fuel inequality and perpetuate a cycle that unnecessarily causes people to suffer. As indicated, the US military budget is a whopping $721.5 billion, and many American policymakers are wanting to add more. This large sum of money will allow the US military to continue and expand its unsustainable practices that can put more stressors on the environment. It is time that American lawmakers and top officials recognize that the United States needs funding for education, health, and renewable energies, not funding for more nuclear bombs and chemical weapons. The world needs peace which can be fully achieved if we pursue environmental justice.
— Angelo Olayvar is an intern at the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, serving through Brethren Volunteer Service.
7) Brethren bits
— A prayer request has been received from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) for the Majalisa or annual conference of the denomination. “Greetings from Kwarhi. Pray for the forthcoming full Majalisa scheduled to be held on 29th to 30th April, the highest decision-making body of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria,” said an email from Zakariya Musa, head of EYN Media. “The director of EYN Disaster Relief Ministry, Rev. Yuguda Z. Ndurvwa, will be the preacher under the theme “Everyone Born of God Overcomes the World,” 1 John 5:4. The Men’s Fellowship held their Annual Conference from 14th to 17th April.”
— This week’s Global Mission Prayer Guide also shared additional prayer requests for Brethren around the world:
The churches of the Africa Great Lakes region request prayers for economic stability to allow jobs and business opportunities so people can support their families; for the faithfulness of the leaders and members to hold to biblical and denominational standards; may the churches be good stewards of their resources and gifts; and may those who have made decisions for Christ become part of the church and grow in their faith as they go forward in God’s redeeming power.
In Haiti, prayers are requested for the Delmas church, the mother congregation, to find and purchase a good property for their church.
In Venezuela, prayers are requested for Robert, the head of the Brethren in Venezuela, to recover from illness and that his family remains healthy.
In Honduras, prayers are needed for the health and safety of the people as COVID-19 cases have been peaking in recent weeks, and as the president of the country has been charged with drug trafficking and other crimes in the US and his brother was sentenced to life imprisonment in the US. Prayers of praise are requested for the work of Project Global Village (PAG) assisting with rebuilding following the 2020 hurricane.
Today, April 24, is the 106th anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 1915, and today President Biden became the first US president to use the term “genocide” to refer to the event in which more than 1,500,000 Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923.
This year also marks 104 years of Church of the Brethren compassionate response to those affected by disasters and war. The denomination’s first large-scale disaster response effort began in 1917 when Brethren began aiding Armenian survivors and refugees.
The World Council of Churches was one of the organizations urging Biden to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Find the WCC’s letter at www.oikoumene.org/resources/documents/wcc-acting-general-secretary-letter-to-us-president-on-the-recognition-of-the-armenian-genocide.
In South Sudan, prayers are requested for the people facing food insecurity, violent conflict, corruption, and flooding. Prayers are requested for the Church of the Brethren Peace Center, that it may continue on the current property.
In India, prayers are requested for the churches as they face a new surge of COVID-19.
For the Global Mission office, prayers are requested for discernment as US staff and volunteers consider traveling to visit global partners. The office also expressed gratitude for all of those who volunteer and donate to support Brethren around the world.
To subscribe to the Global Mission Prayer Guide emails, sign up at www.brethren.org/intouch.
— The Office of Peacebuilding and Policy has signed on as an organizational endorser of the “Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act” also known as the “Palestinian Children and Families Act” (HR 2590). This legislation is “rooted in accountability to Palestinian demands for freedom, and insists on the rights to safety, dignity, and freedom for the Palestinian people: the freedom to thrive, free from child detention, home demolitions, continual Israeli annexation, and land theft,” said an announcement from the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. The announcement said that the bill is backed by more than 70 organizations. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat from Minnesota.
Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), of which the Church of the Brethren is a member organization, also endorsed this legislation. A release from CMEP said, in part: “HR 2590 would ensure no U.S. funds to Israel are used to detain or mistreat Palestinian children; seize and demolish Palestinian homes and structures in the West Bank; or facilitate the unilateral annexation of Palestinian land in the West Bank by the Israeli government. The legislation would also require the Secretary of State to certify on an annual basis to Congress that U.S. military assistance to Israel would not be used for these purposes.”
— A recording of the Moderator’s Town Hall held in March with William Willimon on the topic “Peacebuilding When We’re So Divided” is now available at www.brethren.org/webcasts/archive, where a link to a study guide also is provided. “We are excited to share this resource with you, praying it will continue to bear much fruit for Christ and the Church,” said an announcement from Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey.
— Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren “would like to express our gratitude for the community speakers, organizations, and citizens that contributed and shared in our ‘Month of Tuesdays’ in March Webinar Series entitled ‘Peace and Racial Justice,’” wrote Gary Honeman on behalf of the congregation’s Peace and Justice Committee. The series of Tuesday night online forums garnered an audience from an average of 100 locations, ranging from Carroll County, Md., to Pennsylvania, California, Virginia, New York, and others states, he wrote. The congregation received a mini-grant to help fund the series from the Healing Racism Congregations and Communities Grant Program sponsored by the Intercultural Ministries of the Church of the Brethren. “With momentum generated from the series, the Westminster Church is moving forward with a congregational survey and needs assessment for continuing education and action-oriented activities to promote racial justice in the congregation, local community, and denomination,” Honeman wrote. “There is also a need to formulate a mission statement for the church related to these ideals and goals. Longer term goals of a congregational retreat and participation in local racial justice initiatives are also underway.”
— Mohrsville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren has announced its Annual Pricetown Homecoming scheduled for Sunday, June 6, at 2:30 p.m. “Visitors are welcome to worship in the oldest unaltered Church of the Brethren in America,” said the announcement in the Atlantic Northeast District newsletter. “It was built in the year 1777 by Brother Martin Gaube. Martin Gaube was born in 1742 and died in 1812. He was ordained to the Eldership by Christopher Sauer, Jr. on August 12, 1780, two years after Brother Sauer was released from prison for operating a printing press and refusing to serve in the Revolutionary War. The main building is 30 X 25 feet. An addition used for preparation of Love Feasts measures 16 X 16 feet. The walls of rough stone are about two feet thick.” For more information and directions call 610-926-5167.
— COVID-19 resulted in the cancellation of two annual fundraiser banquets for the Alpha and Omega Community Center in Lancaster, Pa. Affiliated with Alpha and Omega Church of the Brethren, the center provides education and social services to empower the Latino community, led by executive director Joel Peña. Service to the community include a food bank, computers for use by refugees, Spanish language counseling, and English instruction (see https://alphayomega.us).
Now the center’s board is going “whole hog” to make up for lost income, according to a release from Don Fitzkee at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. The Lancaster Church is hosting a drive-through pork BBQ fundraiser meal, sponsored by the center, on Saturday, May 22, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Catered by Peters’ Barbecue, the meal will include a pulled pork sandwich with barbecue sauce on a homemade roll, baked potato, and applesauce (drink not included). Cost is $10 per meal. Extra donations are welcome. Pre-orders are strongly encouraged, but a limited number of meals will be available for purchase the day of the event. To pre-order, contact board member Carolyn Fitzkee no later than May 12 at email@example.com or 717-682-1762. Those unable to participate in the meal may send donations to AOCC, 708 Wabank St., Lancaster, PA 17603.
— Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren has announced its second annual Walk to Nigeria Team Challenge, taking place May 1-31. “Last year, our Walk to Nigeria was such a success that we are doing it again,” said an announcement in the Atlantic Northeast District newsletter. “Our goal is to Run, Walk, Hike, or Ride 5,563 Miles in 31 days. Join Our Challenge!” The event raises funds for the Centre for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives in Nigeria (CCEPI), founded by Rebecca Dali. Those who wish to participate sign up and log miles using the Challenge Hound website at www.challengehound.com/join/7eedd740-826b-11eb-8fb2-21aa45fbd0a8.
— Pomona (Calif.) Fellowship Church of the Brethren’s decision to sell its property to a housing developer is getting local media attention. An article by David Allen in the Daily Bulletin reviews the church’s reasons for the move and how congregation members are feeling about it. “’They moved here to attract young families,’ recalled Linda Hart, who’s been attending services since 1948, when her parents returned to the area. ‘Orange Grove looked so different. A lot of walnut groves, a lot of orange groves.’ Into the 1960s and 1970s, the sanctuary was jammed for Sunday services that filled the 400-person nave and fit another 30 in the choir loft. But as with many other denominations, attendance has declined steeply as members moved away or died and potential recruits opted for megachurches. Services have dwindled to 35 or fewer worshipers in a space built for more than 10 times that number. Upkeep became a problem. And so the congregation decided to sell the property.” Read the article at www.dailybulletin.com/2021/04/18/shrinking-pomona-church-sells-its-property-for-housing.
— The Race Education Team of Virlina District is holding a district-wide live Zoom meeting titled “Let’s Have a Conversation” on June 6. Said an announcement in the district newsletter: “There will be a guest emcee, opening with a fun trivia game, a chance to win a new book, and a virtual place to bring your favorite ice cream as we play games and get to know each other. Afterwards participants will move into the conversation about why we need this team at this point in our life together as a church and with those in our neighborhoods…. Our hope is to have at least one person from every congregation in attendance! We look forward to working together to share God’s love, justice, and peace.”
— The Global Women’s Project continues its Mother’s Day Gratitude Project this year with an opportunity to honor or donate in memory of a woman that you love or admire. “Rather than buying material gifts for a loved one, you can express gratitude with a gift that helps other women around the world,” said an announcement. “Your donation allows us to fund projects focused on women’s health, education, and employment. In return your chosen recipient will receive a lovely, hand-written card indicating that a gift has been made in her honor. If your gift is in memoriam, we will share her name on our website and in our yearly newsletter. If you would like to include a brief description of her, we would share that as well.” To participate, send a donation with your name and recipient’s name and address to Global Women’s Project, c/o Karlene Tyler, 333 South Lakeside Dr., Unit 1, McPherson, KS 67460. For more information see www.globalwomensproject.org.
— Camp Mardela in Denton, Md., held a drive-through, carry-out Spring Camp Supper on April 11, selling more than 550 ham and turkey meals and raising $5,200 for the camp’s ministries. Another 75 meals were donated to a homeless shelter, some homebound residents, and to feed camp volunteers. Chef Amy Hutchison and crew from Fairview Church of the Brethren in Cordova, Md., organized the event. “The camp has typically done a fall camp supper, which was also done as a drive-through event in September, but Hutchison proposed doing an additional event this year to create more revenue for the camp during the challenges of the pandemic,” wrote Walt Wiltschek in a release. Hutchison said, “We tried something new, and we were successful. When I offered to organize it, even I thought I’d lost my mind. But with the help of many, the first-ever spring carryout camp supper happened beautifully.” The annual fall camp supper is still planned for September, with details depending on the COVID-19 metrics at the time. Camp Mardela is planning to offer some summer programs this year under pandemic protocols, and an outdoor “Grand Re-Opening” celebration is planned for May 15. Learn more at www.campmardela.org.
— Timbercrest is celebrating 10 Church of the Brethren residents who are turning 100 or who already are centenarians. Timbercrest is a church-related retirement community in North Manchester, Ind. Chaplain Laura Stone shared with Newsline that three residents already have reached the century mark, including Anne Garber (100), Leo Metzger (100), and Pauline Pobst, who turns 106 in May. Program director Brian Daniels reported that Pobst has lived at Timbercrest for 32 years, longer than she has lived anywhere else in her life. Seven more Brethren residents are on the cusp of centenarian status and have 100th birthdays this year including Frank Bever (April), Mary Katherine Uhrig (May), Evelyn Barr (May), Ruth Egolf (May), Phil Orpurt (August), Helen Eshleman (October), and Bruce Young (December). Including the centenarians, 94 people on campus are 90 years or older–representing 38 percent of residents–and six more residents will turn 90 this year. Timbercrest’s oldest resident turns 108 in June.
— New alumni have joined the Manchester University Board of Trustees, according to a release from the school based in North Manchester, Ind. Dr. Joshua Kline ’98 and Laurie Kenealy ’88 are the newest members of the board. Kline serves on the board of Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren, and is a family physician and chief medical officer for Parkview Physicians Group in Fort Wayne, Ind. In addition, J. Bentley Peters ’62 and Dave Haist ’73 have rejoined the board after many years of service as at-large and honorary trustees. Peters is a Church of the Brethren minister who has served in a number of capacities including director of ministry and senior human resources officer for the former General Board of the Church of the Brethren. He also has been president of J.B. Peters Consulting Corp., senior vice president of Mutual Aid Exchange, and organizational development consultant for Advocate Health Systems. Board chair for 2021 is John Gilmore ’74, who is retired as senior vice president and chief operating officer of Princeton Theological Seminary.
— “When did you first know you were a leader in the church?” asks the Dunker Punks Podcast. In a sequel to Episode #107, “Linking Arms in Leadership,” Anna Lisa Gross shares interviews with other church leaders about this question. “Explore the kinds of leadership that our church needs and calls for as you listen!” said an announcement. Find the new episode at bit.ly/DPP_Episode113 or by subscribing to the Dunker Punks Podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast app.
— Bread for the World, a partner organization of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Initiative (GFI) is announcing its annual Offering of Letters to Congress. The advocacy effort supports those suffering from hunger and poverty. “Since its beginning over 45 years ago, Bread for the World’s Offering of Letters to Congress is a powerful tool to end hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world through personal testimony and advocacy,” said the announcement. This year’s effort urges Congress to expand anti-hunger programs in response to the pandemic and increase funding for domestic and global nutrition programs. Find out more at https://ol.bread.org.
— The Governing Board of the National Council of Churches (NCC) met on April 20. “Since the meeting was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, recorded the largest attendance of members in years,” said a release from the NCC. Actions taken at the meeting included:
Adoption of a policy statement on “The Dangers of Christian Nationalism in the United States” (https://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/common-witness-ncc/the-dangers-of-christian-nationalism-in-the-united-states-a-policy-statement-of-the-national-council-of-churches)
Approval of a resolution standing with all who live in fear due to the discrimination unleashed on the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, titled a “Resolution Against Asian American Pacific Islander Hate” (https://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/common-witness-ncc/resolution-against-asian-american-and-pacific-islander-hate). Through the work of its A.C.T. (Awaken, Confront, Transform) NOW to End Racism! Campaign, the board charged the Racial Justice Task Force to expand its work and focus on racism.
Announcement of a revision and updating of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, to be called the New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition (NRSVue). The NCC has commissioned the Society of Biblical Literature to carry out the revision. A presentation by John Kutsko noted that the NRSVue “can claim a well-known line from the 1611 preface to the King James Version: ‘We never thought from the beginning that we should need to make a new translation…but to make a good one better.’” The NRSVue will be released in November 2021. To stay informed, sign up at https://friendshippress.org/nrsv-updated-edition.
— Zakaria Bulus was selected by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) as a respondent for the first in its series of “Country Insights.” Bulus is a member of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and a former Ministry Summer Service intern at the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. His work with EYN has included service as National Youth Chairman, as well as youth coordinator for the African Continental Assembly through Mission 21. In the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, he worked as technical officer for monitoring and evaluation for Family Health International and as program manager for EYN Project Maiduguri strengthening delivery of HIV/AIDS services, among other humanitarian and volunteer work. He is currently working toward a master’s degree in Development Economics and International Development at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. He is a 2020 graduate of Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., earning a bachelor of science degree in Peace Studies and Political Science, with a minor in Philosophy and International Studies. Notes Nathan Hosler, director of the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, CSIS is a large and well-regarded think tank. “Think tanks play a significant role in informing and shaping the views policymakers and government officials in Washington. They produce research and policy recommendations that are regularly referenced and influence policy formation and implementation.” Find the “Country Insights” article on localization and Bulus’ responses at www.csis.org/analysis/country-insights-series-localization.
— Dwayne Hoskins of Hollywood Church of the Brethren in Fredericksburg, Va., has been featured in an article titled “I Felt Like I Had a Purpose Again: Stafford Man Has a Heart for Feeding Others” by Cathy Dyson in the Free Lance-Star. “Dwayne Hoskins’ heart may only function at one-third its capacity, but he pours every bit of it into his volunteer work at a local food pantry,” the article started out. “Hoskins runs the food ministry at Hollywood Church of the Brethren, off Ferry Road in Stafford County. He got involved with the mission in 2014, more than a year after he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and an enlarged heart.” Hoskins now leads the pantry where 40 to 50 families get 65 to 70 pounds of food per week, the article said. Read it at https://starexponent.com/news/stafford-man-has-a-heart-for-feeding-others/article_47513dab-06f9-5e69-9e75-2d5df892f4e9.html.
— “Pastors’ Yard Littered with Footwear as Fox Family Steals Neighborhood Shoes” is the title of an article from WTOP.com featuring Audrey and Tim Hollenberg-Duffey, pastors of Oakton Church of the Brethren in Vienna, Va. A mischievous family of foxes living under the couples’ shed recently were discovered to be the culprits who made away with some 27 shoes from around the neighborhood. Go to https://wtop.com/fairfax-county/2021/04/pastors-yard-littered-with-footwear-as-fox-family-steals-neighborhood-shoes.
Newsline is the email news service of the Church of the Brethren. Inclusion in Newsline does not necessarily convey endorsement by the Church of the Brethren. All submissions are subject to editing. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Contributors to this issue include Kelly Bernstein, Erika Clary, Jacob Crouse, Brian Daniels, Jenn Dorsch-Messler, Don Fitzkee, Jonathan Graham, Edward Hasbrouck, Katie Heishman, Nathan Hosler, Angelo Olayvar, Laura Stone, Walt Wiltschek, Roy Winter, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Please send news tips and submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org . Find the Newsline archive at www.brethren.org/news . Sign up for Newsline and other Church of the Brethren email newsletters, make subscription changes, or unsubscribe at www.brethren.org/intouch .
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