— Remembrance: Kent A. Shisler (64), who worked as comptroller for SERRV when it was a Church of the Brethren program, and also served as chief financial officer for Cross Keys Village-The Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa., passed away at his home on Oct. 16. He was married to Audrey Shisler for 35 years. Born in Lansdale, Pa., he graduated from Slippery Rock University and Elizabethtown (Pa.) College with a degree in accounting. While living in Hatfield, Pa., he passed the CPA boards and began his career working for Niessen, Dunlap, and Pritchard. He and his family then moved to New Windsor, Md. In 1991, he became the comptroller for SERRV, working at the Brethren Service Center as a member of the Church of the Brethren denominational staff. Now SERRV International, SERRV was founded by Brethren after World War II to help employ refugees, and today continues as a fair trade organization selling handcrafts from around the world. Subsequent to his work for SERRV, Shisler worked for the Brethren Home Community as CFO for 19 years. He was a faithful member of the Church of the Brethren, actively involved over the years as a deacon, committee member, auditor, and board chair. He is survived by his wife; daughters Sarah Schwarz and husband Alston, and Leah Stone and husband Jonathon; and a grandchild. A service to celebrate his life will be held Nov. 5 at Blackrock Church of the Brethren in Glenville, Pa., with visitation starting at 10 a.m. and the service starting at 11 a.m. A lunch will follow. Memorial gifts are received to Blackrock Church of the Brethren, the Alzheimer’s Association, the VNA of Hanover and Spring Grove, and Visiting Angels in Hanover, Pa. Memories and condolences may be shared at www.kenworthyfh.com. Find a full obituary online at www.kenworthyfh.com/obituary/Kent-Shisler.
— Eder Financial (formerly Brethren Benefit Trust) seeks an operations manager for organizational investing and deferred gifts. Candidates will be individuals who can appropriately solve for the spoken and unspoken needs of external and internal customers. While some tasks and meetings require an onsite presence at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., most of the work is done remotely. The compensation structure includes a strong benefits package that includes organizational contributions for retirement, medical, life, and long-term disability, as well as options to add dental, vision, and short-term disability coverage; 22 days of vacation, accrued at the start of the year; flexible work hours within a basic workday structure. Eder seeks candidates who will manage the work associated with the role but also pitch in with seemingly small tasks that show care for those served. This is a full-time, exempt position working for a not-for-profit, faith-based organization that aligns with peace church traditions. Eder employees practice their faith in a diverse array of worldviews and denominations. Requirements include at least an undergraduate degree, two to four years of experience, effective oral and written communication skills, and experience in managing operations for investing and gifting. This position requires working in a team environment and building collaborative, cross-functional relationships with staff in Finance, Client Services, and Communications to achieve organization and department goals. The ideal candidate has impeccable integrity displayed by trust and confidentiality, is customer-focused, an adaptable problem solver, detail-oriented, and a critical thinker. To learn more about Eder Financial visit https://ederfinancial.org. Apply by submitting a cover letter, resume, and three professional references to Tammy Chudy at email@example.com.
In more news from the Annual Conference office, the 2022 Standing Committee of district delegates met Tuesday evening, Oct. 25, via Zoom, to make plans for how to move forward with developing new covenants of agreement with the three Annual Conference agencies (Bethany Theological Seminary, Eder Financial, and On Earth Peace). The new polity regarding agencies, adopted at Annual Conference this summer, assigned this task to the Standing Committee. The committee will be meeting again in coming weeks to call a subcommittee to create a structure for the covenants of agreement to ensure consistency and to work with each of the agencies on developing the agreements.
The Annual Conference office is calling for nominations for the 2023 ballot. “You can help shape the future of the church!” said an announcement. “Each member of the Church of the Brethren is invited to recommend possible nominees.” Open positions include moderator-elect, Program and Arrangements Committee member, Mission and Ministry Board members from Area 2 and Area 3, Bethany Theological Seminary Trustees representing laity and clergy, Eder Financial Board member, On Earth Peace Board member, and Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee member. For more information and to make a nomination, go to www.brethren.org/ac/nominations. Submit all nominations by Dec. 1. “The earlier, the better!” said the announcement.
Please pray… For the Annual Conference officers and staff, the Standing Committee and its Nominating Committee, and all who are working toward the Church of the Brethren’s annual meeting in 2023.
— The Church of the Brethren’s Western Pennsylvania District seeks candidates for district executive minister. The district includes 51 congregations and, in the words of the search committee, is “more rural than urban, more conservative than liberal, more informal than formal, more blue collar than white collar. Our region of Appalachia was forged by hard-working people who made use of the fields, rivers, and coal seams to earn a living. We have a rich heritage and history, and we’d like to honor that without allowing it to hinder us. We place a high importance on the Word of God, and while we all read the Bible through slightly different lenses, we believe in biblical authority, divinely written, and necessary for living. As a district undergoing an identity crisis, we seek the support of a prayerful, intentional leader who will pursue Kingdom answers to our pressing questions. We need someone who is not afraid to step into an uncertain situation and cover it with wisdom and prayer. We are looking for a leader who will speak the truth in love, choose action over passivity; one who will seek the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. All other aspects of the job can be taught–but these qualities are foundational.” This is a half-time position that will be equal to 6.5 units per week, or approximately 25 hours. Office location is negotiable, the district executive minister may work remotely or on location at the district office in Jerome, Pa. Compensation will be negotiated in reference to the denominationally recommended salary and benefits. Travel is required both within and outside of the district. Responsibilities are outlined in the position description that is available upon request and include the primary areas of: pastoral/congregational transitions, pastoral support, leadership development with respect to calling and credentialing of ministers, consultations with congregations and throughout the district structure, and management of district staff and administrative oversight of district finances. The position is an important link between the congregations and the district and denomination, working collaboratively with the Council of District Executives, the Annual Conference, appropriate denominational entities, and their staff. Qualifications and experience include minimum training level of having completed Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center or Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership training and ordination in the Church of the Brethren; personal skills in organization, administration, and communication; commitment to the Church of the Brethren locally and denominationally and willingness to work ecumenically; demonstrated leadership skills; and pastoral experience. Apply by sending a letter of interest and resume to Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Director of Ministry for the Church of the Brethren, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants are requested to contact three people to provide letters of reference. Upon receipt of a resume, the individual will be sent a Candidate Profile that must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.
— Jeff Boshart of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Initiative (GFI) is one of those interviewed in a recent Los Angeles Times article about the difficult and dangerous situation in Haiti. Here is the section of the article focusing on the Haitian Brethren, with comments from Boshart: “One of Church World Service’s members is the Church of the Brethren, which has offered programs for more than 20 years in Haiti and has 30 congregations there. It had a main base in Croix-des-Bouquets, near Port-au-Prince, but the area has been an epicenter of gang activity, according to Jeffrey Boshart, manager of the church’s Global Food Initiative. Earlier this year one of the program’s drivers was kidnapped–though later released–and his vehicle stolen, Boshart said, prompting the church to suspend all its activities in the Port-au-Prince region. The remaining programs, involving agriculture, drinking water projects and home construction, are mostly in rural areas far from the capital and staffed entirely by Haitians, he added. Boshart said the church also has sharply curtailed a mobile medical clinic program because several of the Haitian doctors who participated have fled to the U.S.” Read the full article at www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2022-10-14/faith-groups-curb-haiti-work-due-to-chaos-2021-kidnapping. Boshart also recommends this National Public Radio (NPR) program to understand what’s happening in Haiti: https://the1a.org/segments/whats-happening-in-haiti.
— “Sing Me Home” is the title of a benefit concert and auction for On Earth Peace, planned for Dec. 3 at Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind. The concert starts at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). “Help support the work and ministry of On Earth Peace by bidding on a variety of auction items! Do some Christmas shopping, support businesses with shared values, and support OEP at the same time!” said the announcement. “Sing Me Home is a collaboration between the band, Friends with the Weather and the Manchester Church of the Brethren, with a mission to create ‘an intergenerational celebration emerging at the crossroads of music, social justice, and spirituality. Serving to restore and inspire the heart, mind, and soul.’ The concert features Jacob Jolliff, Seth Hendricks, and Hearth & Hymn. This is a family friendly event–kids are welcome!” In addition to On Earth Peace and the Manchester church, additional sponsors include York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill.; Sally and Paul Schrock; and Dave and Renee McFadden. Tickets are $25 for general admission or $10 suggested donation for streaming. More information is at www.onearthpeace.org/sing_me_home_benefit_concert_2022 and www.onearthpeace.org/auction_2022.
— An update from the Brethren in Chernihiv, Ukraine, has been relayed by Keith Funk, pastor of Quinter (Kan.) Church of the Brethren, who is their primary contact in the US church: “In recent days, after a Summer that saw something of a return to peace in the city of Chernihiv (Chernigov), bombings have resumed. Rocket and drone attacks are once again bringing destruction to the city. There is no power in Chernhiv, currently, as a result. [Pastor] Alex and his son Sasha have been cutting and splitting firewood to heat their home for the upcoming Winter. The forecast is for this to be a harsh Winter, both in terms of the cold, and in light of the conflict and accompanying carnage. Alex feels he is being called to stay and minister. Many have been coming and hearing the gospel. While some pastors of other congregations have left or are leaving, he wants to stay. He will do so as long as possible and doing so until it is no longer possible to keep his family safe. He asks for prayer, particularly in the face of the unknowns he and his fellow citizens face. We also, very much, pray for his continued service to God’s Kingdom in these uncertain and fearful times. May God protect Alex, his loved ones and the brothers and sisters of Chernihiv. May the truth of Christ be heard and seen in Alex’s life, and that of his family, as he continues to minister in Chernihiv.”
— “Conscience Over Country–Severing Ties with the Selective Service System” is the title of the latest Dunker Punks podcast. The Center on Conscience and War has partnered with Dunker Punks on this podcast featuring Tori Bateman of the American Friends Service Committee staff in Washington, D.C., who served formerly at the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy through Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS). The CCW is an organization supporting conscientious objectors, originally founded by the Historic Peace Churches including the Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Friends (Quakers). Listen at http://arlingtoncob.org/dpp.
— The Womaens Caucus Steering Committee has announced a “Training Opportunity in Compassionate Care” for ministers. “The purpose of this training is guidance in compassionate care on all pregnancy journeys and decisions,” said the announcement. The goals of the course include “to facilitate a process whereby people, who are making reproductive decisions or experiencing reproductive loss, access their own inner strengths, resources, values, and knowledge to make and implement decisions that are right for themselves and/or to heal” and “to develop a working knowledge of and proficiency in core communication skills need to support individuals making life decisions or experiencing significant loss,” among others. The announcement included a quote from Sister Joan Chittister, which the committee said has broadened their thinking and deepened their understanding: “I do not believe that just because you are opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, a child educated, a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.” The training will consist of 20-25 hours of self-guided study and three Zoom sessions with guest leadership on Nov. 17, Dec. 15, and Jan. 19. Credentialed ministers may receive 2.6 continuing education units. The Womaens Caucus is a volunteer organization with connections to the Church of the Brethren. For more information email email@example.com.
— “Black Farmers Dialogues: Truths in the Season of the 2022 Midterms and Beyond” is the title of a webinar sponsored by Bread for the World, Creation Justice Ministries, and the Rural Coalition on Friday, Oct. 28, at 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon (Eastern time). The event is planned as “an engaging dialogue about the challenges and opportunities facing Black farmers across the country, while also placing this conversation into the larger context about this congressional session and what is ahead,” said an announcement. Panelists include Angelique Walker-Smith and Abiola Afolayan of Bread for the World; Karyn Bigelow of Creation Justice Ministries; Yvette Blair, a Faith and Food Justice activist and scholar; Cynthia Capers of Hen-iscity Farm; US representative Troy Carter of Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District; and US representative David Scott of Georgia’s 13th Congressional District. Register at www.creationjustice.org/events.html.
— In more news from Creation Justice Ministries, an EcoPreacher Cohort program has been announced in a partnership with the BTS Center, a private foundation in Portland, Maine, building on the legacy of the former Bangor Theological Seminary. The EcoPreacher Cohort is a year-long program from November 2022 through November 2023, with online meetings held once a month starting Nov. 17, led by guest presenters. “As our climate-changed and changing world continues to demand courage, imagination, and resourcefulness, congregations and their leaders have a unique opportunity to offer voices of truth and possibility,” said an announcement. “With their skills and community connections, preachers are in a special position to offer spiritual guidance in the quest for understanding and resilience in a world in need of environmental healing and wholeness.” Intentions for this cohort include “opportunities for participants to take risks in exploring ecological and eco-justice themes in their preaching, in a safe, mutually-supportive, non-judgmental space” and “engagement with eco-preaching resources including the EcoPreacher 1-2-3 resources being offered through the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development,” among others. Facilitators are Nicole Diroff of the BTS Center and Avery Davis Lamb of Creation Justice Ministries, with collaborators Leah Schade and Rebecca Kneale Gould. Cost is $60 for clergy, $20 for students, or “contribute what you can,” said the announcement. Scholarships are available, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information and to register, go to https://thebtscenter.org/ecopreacher-cohort.
— The connection between climate change and hunger was the topic of convocations of Christian leaders from Africa, Europe, and North America in advance of COP27, according to a release from the World Council of Churches. The convocations were held Oct. 18-19 and 21 to pray and work for solutions to the global hunger crisis made worse by climate change. One of the gatherings released a statement titled “A Faithful Voice on Hunger and Climate Justice,” in which the convocation expressed “a fierce resolve to stand and work together,” said the release. The statement read, in part: “To address the hunger crisis made worse by climate change, we draw from the wellsprings of our Christian faith. We recognize Christ’s suffering presence in the communities hurt first and hardest by climate change: those without adequate means to flourish, the historically underserved, and those least likely to have a voice at the table where policy decisions are made–the very people who suffer disproportionately even as their contribution to global emissions is almost negligible.” Bread for the World was a primary partner in organizing the convocations. Find out more at www.bread.org/article/christian-leaders-from-africa-europe-and-the-u-s-unify-on-climate-change-and-hunger-ahead-of-cop-27.
— Works by Tim Reed have been accepted to several music conferences and festivals in and outside of the United States. Reed is a professor of music and theory and composition director in the Music Department at Manchester University, a Church of the Brethren-related school in North Manchester, Ind. According to a recent Manchester release, two of his electro-acoustic compositions were accepted for presentation during the ReVIEWING Black Mountain College International Conference at Black Mountain College’s Museum and Arts Center on Oct. 8. His electro-acoustic composition “…the irresistible will of heaven…” has been accepted for presentation at the 2022 SOUND/IMAGE Conference at the University of Greenwich in London on Nov. 18-20. His video composition “…the land that happened inside us…” has been accepted for presentation at both the Audio Rocket Festival 2022 at Osaka University of Arts in Japan from Nov. 18-20, and the Visual Culture 2023 conference at the CICA Museum in Seoul, South Korea, from March 15 to April 2, 2023. He also has been invited to compose an electro-acoustic composition for a compilation album titled “4’33” Nocturnal Emissions: Volume 3,” an album series by a small independent record label called Nocturnal Emissions in London featuring Musique Concrète compositions. Find the release online at www.manchester.edu/about-manchester/news/news-articles/2022-news-articles/tim-reed-works-accepted-to-national-international-conferences-festivals.
Find more Church of the Brethren news:
- Brethren Academy offers Clergy Tax Seminar 2023
- Brethren bits for Nov. 18, 2022
- Southern Ohio and Kentucky District Conference celebrates ‘firsts’
- Jesus Lounge Ministry partners to support at-risk youth
- Committee seeks to contact Church of the Brethren members and initiatives working for racial justice