— The World Council of Churches (WCC) has announced the election of a new general secretary, and the hiring of three new staff leaders.
Jerry Pillay was elected as the eighth general secretary in the WCC’s history since the fellowship of churches was founded in 1948. The Church of the Brethren is one of the WCC’s founding member denominations. Pillay, who hails from South Africa, is currently dean of the faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Pretoria and a member of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa. Pillay will replace outgoing acting general secretary Ioan Sauca, who began serving in that position in April 2020, when the previous general secretary, Olav Fykse Tveit, was appointed as presiding bishop of the Church of Norway. Pillay will take up his position on Jan. 1, 2023.
The three new staff leaders, who will begin their appointments in November and December, are:
Kuzipa Nalwamba, who will serve as program director for Unity and Mission. From Zambia, she is a professor of Ecumenical Social Ethics and is currently WCC program executive for Ecumenical Theological Education. She holds a doctorate in Systematic Theology from the University of Pretoria.
Kenneth Mtata, who has been appointed as program director for Public Witness and Diakonia. He is currently general secretary of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches and an ecumenical theologian with more than 20 years of experience in pastoral, academic research, and faith-based organizational leadership.
Peter Cruchley, who will direct the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism. A mission theologian from the UK, he is a minister in the United Reformed Church in the UK and is currently mission secretary for Mission Development with the Council for World Mission.
— On Earth Peace has announced featured speakers for its upcoming Day of Celebration, an online event planned for June 29. Said the announcement: “Chibuzo Petty will open our Day of Celebration with a time of worship at 11:30 am ET. Rev. Chibuzo Nimmo “Zoë” Petty (they/them) is a writer and organizational developer. Zoë works as the editor and manager of the Brethren Journal Association’s scholarly blog DEVOTION. They also contribute to the print journal Brethren Life and Thought, having previously served on its board from 2014 to 2017. … Dr. Sherrilynn Bevel will join Matt Guynn, OEP Director of Church & Community Group Organizing, for a Kingian Nonviolence Training at 4:00 pm ET. Dr. Sherrilynn Bevel has directed civic participation and democratization projects for over 30 years for NGOs in the U.S. and abroad. She has managed strategic, programmatic, and media-based projects, as well as offering training and technical support. She was a founding member of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition (MDERC) in 2002. More recently, she co-founded and is Associate Director of the Addie Wyatt Center for Nonviolence Training. From 2018 through 2020, Sherri was Director of Training and Special Projects for the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence (RI). … Abdallah Maraka, from Community Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in Palestine, will present our keynote at 6:00 pm ET. Abdallah Maraka joined CPT’s Palestine Team in 2020. Since 2015, Abdallah has served as full time tour guide in Al-Kahlil (Hebron). He is a graduate of Hebron University with a degree in accounting & business administration. Abdallah will share about the work of the CPT Palestine Team in accompanying their community through the Israeli occupation and their anti-militarism efforts.” Find the complete schedule for the day and a link to join in by Zoom at www.onearthpeace.org/dev_oep_day_of_celebration_2022.
— The University of La Verne, Calif., has received a $2.3 million gift to launch its new nursing program, according to an article in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. ULV “hopes to bridge gaps in the deepening shortage of workers and inequities in the healthcare system,” said the article. The gift was made in the name of alumna Frances Ware and her late husband, John A. “Andy” Ware. “The new nursing program will be named in appreciation of John Ware, while his name will also be affixed to a space in the future building that will house the nursing program,” said the article. “This month, the university announced the gift would be used to launch the College of Health and Community Well-Being, where degree programs will explore innovative practices and social determinants of health. It will also provide a pipeline of graduates in the in-demand health field across the Inland region.” The new program is to open this summer and initially offer a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing for registered nurses in a 15-month online program. The college is accepting applications for the fall. A four-year pre-nursing program is scheduled to launch next year. Go to www.sgvtribune.com/2022/05/27/university-of-la-verne-receives-2-3-million-gift-to-launch-nursing-program.
— A partnership between Womaen’s Caucus and Dunker Punks Podcast has made available audio interviews for nominees on the Annual Conference ballot this year, said a Dunker Punks announcement. Interviews may be heard on YouTube, iTunes, and more. The YouTube playlist for all 10 episodes is at https://bit.ly/2022NomineeInterviews or scan the accompanying QR code. The interviews are also available in Podcast format at iTunes, Stitcher, and www.arlingtoncob.org/dpp. “Every nominee was contacted and given the chance to be interviewed, with gratitude to their willingness to serve the church by being on the 2022 ballot!” said the announcement.
— The Brethren and Mennonite Heritage Center has announced the return of “Worship in the Woods,” a series of Sunday-evening outdoor vespers services held each week at 7 p.m. from June 26 through Aug. 14. The announcement, shared by Shenandoah District, noted that each week, a speaker or storyteller and special music are planned. “The first event on June 26, dubbed “Worship by the Water,” will be held at Silver Lake in Dayton [Va.] and features Dr. Myron Augsburger as the speaker, with Paul Roth as the worship leader and Sam Funkhouser leading the singing of historic Brethren hymns. This summer’s remaining events will be held at the Heritage Center (1921 Heritage Center Way, Harrisonburg [Va.]). Sunrise’s Jan Orndorff is on the program for July 3.” You are encouraged to bring a lawn chair for seating. Offerings will support the ongoing mission of the Heritage Center. For more information go to https://brethrenmennoniteheritage.org/events-calendar.
— Community Peacemaker Teams (CPT, formerly Christian Peacemaker Teams) has shared an announcement of the “Mass Poor People’s & Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington” on Saturday, June 18. The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA also is among the organizations supporting the event. Said the CPT announcement: “In face of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation and the denial of health care, a war economy and the false narrative of Christian nationalism, we are called to assemble and march in DC, alongside the 140 million poor and low-wealth people in this country who are on the frontlines of these crises…. Together, we must challenge the lies of scarcity and the notion that this is the best we can do.” Find out more at www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/june18.
— Church World Service (CWS) is honoring refugees on World Refugee Day, June 20. “It is important that we honor those forced from their homes to seek safety due to violence and persecution,” said an announcement. “This day recognizes their resilience, strength, and determination–and our moral and legal imperative to fully restore refugee and asylum protections in the United States. Now is the time to make your voices heard to tell your national, state, and local leaders to stand in solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers and to hold the administration accountable to re-establish bold US leadership to invest in our capacity to welcome people fleeing violence and persecution. On World Refugee Day–and every day–we affirm the spirit of welcome that our communities show when we embrace our new neighbors as friends, colleagues, and peers.” The announcement highlighted a number of events taking place around the country and virtually, including a rebroadcast of a World Refugee Day concert from the Kennedy Center’s digital archives. Find out more at https://cwsglobal.org/action-alerts/action-alert-tell-congress-to-protect-refugees-and-commemorate-world-refugee-day-on-june-20th.
— Friday, June 17, is the 7th anniversary of the racially motivated shootings at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. A commemorative Bible study livestreamed that day at 7 p.m. (Eastern time) kicks off a yearlong study on the theme “What Kind of Soil Are We?” The scripture text is Mark 4:1-20, which the Emanuel Nine–Clementa C. Pinckney, Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel L. Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson–were studying on the night they were shot and murdered. “Christian leaders across the nation will use the commemorative event to study the parable and lead discussions critical to this time as race, history, and politics intersect,” said an announcement. Find out more at https://motheremanuel.com/emanuel-nine-2022-commemoration.
— There is continued need in Buffalo, N.Y., following a racially motivated shooting at a grocery store, announced the National Council of Churches (NCC). “The Buffalo community continues in shock after losing ten of their neighbors to White supremacist violence last month. In addition to continued prayer, financial support to meet basic necessities and respond to the crisis is also critical.” The NCC newsletter this week gave a link to a page of information for those wanting to help: https://linktr.ee/voicebuffalo.
— The NCC also requested prayer for an Episcopal Church in Alabama, where there was a shooting on Thursday night. The Episcopal Church denomination also requested prayer, reporting in a release that a gunman shot three people at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Ala., “at their Boomers Potluck dinner. One victim who was hospitalized has since died. We mourn the three lives lost.” The release shared that “in his pastoral response to his congregation, Rev. John Burruss, Rector of St. Stephen’s, wrote, ‘I know many of you have been asking what we can do. We can pray and we can gather. People have gathered as followers of Christ for 2000 years because of the belief that God’s outstretched arms can reach all of humanity through pain and the most unfathomable loss. We gather because we know that love is the most powerful force in this world, and tonight, and in the days, months, and years that come, will hold onto that truth to know that Christ’s love will always shine.”
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