Brethren bits

— Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) is seeking candidates for a marketing director and a Retirement Plans director. These are fulltime, exempt positions working for a not-for-profit, faith-based organization that aligns with peace church traditions and provides retirement, insurance, and organizational investing to more than 5,000 individual and client organizations nationwide. The majority of work is done remotely from home. Candidates must work well independently. A fair 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, and 22 days of vacation a year, accrued at the start of the year. Work hours are flexible within a basic work day structure. BBT offers products and services that enable security, wellness, and stability in a constantly changing world. Within that context, the organization is looking for people who will lead strategic initiatives but also pitch in with seemingly small tasks that show care for those served. BBT is currently in the process of rebranding away from its denominational title. Employees practice their faith in a diverse array of worldviews and denominations. Learn more at To apply for either of these open positions, email a cover letter, resume, and three references to Tammy Chudy at

This Sunday, May 1, is the suggested date for National Youth Sunday observances offering an opportunity for congregations to feature youth leaders in worship. The theme is the same as for NYC 2022, “Foundational,” with the theme scripture from Colossian 2:5-7: “For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, and I rejoice to see your morale and the firmness of your faith in Christ. As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Worship resources offered by the Youth Cabinet range from calls to worship to benedictions, a children’s story, hymn suggestions, scripture jam, theme interpretation, and more–including a commissioning for those planning to attend NYC this July. “Upload photos of your National Youth Sunday service,” said an invitation. Find instructions to upload photos and find links to the worship resources at

The marketing director will lead the organization’s marketing efforts. Requirements include at least an undergraduate degree, 4 to 8 years of experience, effective oral and written communication skills, experience in building and executing promotional plans. This position requires a person who enjoys working in a team environment, promotes products and services with an entrepreneurial mindset, is both data- and detail-oriented, and is proficient in systems related to promotion (e.g., social media platforms). This position requires attendance at an Annual Conference each year in July. In addition, the organization meets as a whole a couple of times a year. Other conference opportunities include the Church Plan Workshop in April and the Church Benefits Association in early December. The marketing director also may be invited to participate in client or strategic partner meetings. Other networking or educational opportunities also might be available.

The Retirement Plans director will lead the retirement plan product line. Requirements include at least an undergraduate degree, 4 to 8 years of experience, effective oral and written communication skills, and experience in benefit or retirement plans. This position requires a person who enjoys working in a team environment, views the retirement product line with an entrepreneurial mindset, is both data- and detailed-oriented, and is proficient in computer systems, particularly Excel and PowerPoint. The individual will use this background to develop and manage the programs related to retirement plan products and services. The position requires attendance at an annual Church Plan Workshop in April, a Church Benefits Association conference in December, and organizational in-person meetings a couple of times a year. Other networking or educational travel also might be available.

— National Young Adult Conference is coming soon, planned for May 27-30 on the theme “I Am Because We Are” based on Romans 12:5. The conference will take place at the Montreat (N.C.) Conference Center for people ages 18-35. Participants will enjoy fellowship, worship, recreation, Bible study, service projects, and more. For more information and registration go to

— The Yearbook Office and Brethren Press invite you to complete a brief survey related to how you use the Church of the Brethren Yearbook, which is published annually. “We are evaluating the usefulness of this resource and would like to know what you find helpful (or don’t) in your work and ministry,” said the announcement. The survey results will inform decisions as changes are made to what is published in the Yearbook. Find the survey at Find out more about the Yearbook at

— Messenger’s website is sharing music playlists to accompany the themes of current issues of the Church of the Brethren magazine. May’s playlist was selected by Jeff Lennard, director of Marketing and Sales for Brethren Press. Find it at Invites the editorial team: “What music would you add? Send an email to to make comments or suggestions. Would you like to curate a playlist for a future issue of Messenger? Let us know at”

“Why Pastors Are Joining the Great Resignation” with Melissa Florer-Bixler. Register at

— Worship resources for the Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) 2022 event on the theme “Fierce Urgency: Advancing Civil and Human Rights” are available for local congregations, small groups, and worshipping communities “to prepare hearts and minds to address civil and human rights,” said an announcement. The staff of the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy are among those who work on the EAD event each year in Washington, D.C. All worship resources, including the full recording of the EAD Worship Service, the sermon by Otis Moss III, and the worship bulletin are now available at

Galen Fitzkee (at right), a Brethren Volunteer Service worker at the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy in Washington, D.C., is pictured in this National Council of Churches photo from a Cuba Working Group dinner. NCC COO Leslie Copeland-Tune was present along with faith partners from the Cuba Working Group of the Washington Interfaith Staff Community (WISC) last week at the dinner with Cuban ambassador Lianys Torres Rivera and vice-minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos Fernandez de Cosio Dominguez. Conversation centered around the role of the faith community in the ongoing work and support for US-Cuba relations. Photo courtesy of the NCC.

— Also from the NCC: a new resource titled “A Christian Approach to Suicide Prevention.” Said an announcement: “According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, on average there are 130 suicides per day in the United States. Churches can offer support and care for community members impacted by suicide. The NCC’s new resource sheet provides several trainings and resources that have been specifically created for people of faith. These resources can help clergy and lay leaders provide care, assistance, and hope for those who may be considering suicide. Trainings can help ministers recognize signs of suicide risk, comfort those who experience suicide loss, and integrate strategies for suicide prevention into the life and ministry of local congregations and faith communities.” Get the fact sheet as a download from

— The Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Initiative is sharing information about Bread for the World’s annual Offering of Letters to Congress. “Each year, Bread members gather in churches, homes, and on college campuses, as well as virtually, to write letters and present them as an offering to God before sending them to Congress,” said the announcement from Bread for the World. Participants get involved in order to advocate for increased funding and improved governmental policies and programs that affect people facing hunger and poverty, both in the US and around the world. Learn more about this year’s Offering of Letters at

— On Earth Peace is sharing a follow-up to its online cooking class last December. “It is strawberry season in Gaza, Palestine!” said the announcement. “We thought we’d share a favorite strawberry dessert in Gaza…. Mabrousha or Mabshoura is a jam filled tray dessert with a shredded topping. Mabrousha/mabshoura is translated ‘shredded.’” Added the announcement: “As we prepare this snack, it is also important to understand how the Israeli occupation affects farmers. We include a video sharing that story.” The announcement shared links to an instructional video that includes the recipe for making the dessert, at, and a video about the situation of farmers in Palestine, at

— From Mid-Atlantic District, a reminder that “our 41st Annual Mid-Atlantic District Disaster Response Auction is coming up next week on Saturday, May 7, 2022, at the Carroll County Agricultural Center Shipley Arena in Westminster, Maryland.” Wrote Jeff McKee, chair of the district’s Disaster Response Auction Committee, “We hope to see you and your friends there!”

— Two Church of the Brethren districts recently held a Joint District Women’s Online Retreat. Women from Western Plains and Missouri Arkansas Districts met online on April 1-2 for a retreat on “Coping and Hoping.” Participants were provided with tools to help cope such as making a coping box, journaling, and stress relief exercises including a session on how music can relieve stress, reported the Missouri Arkansas District newsletter.

— Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., has received a donation of more than $5 million “for furthering the development of its environmental science departments off-campus facilities,” reports the Huntingdon Daily News. “The $5 million donation was made anonymously, and was designated for use at sites like Juniata’s Raystown Field Station. Juniata College President James Troha said the gift will be put towards investing in equipment and infrastructure related to the Raystown Field Station as well as other external properties.” He told the paper: “Receiving gifts of this depth are unusual. I can count on one hand in my time in education that we received a gift of this amount. (The donor) really wanted to make a difference in the lives of our students in how it relates to environmental education.” The college’s Raystown Field Station at Raystown Lake, developed in collaboration with the US Army Corps of Engineers in the mid-1970s, hosts the college’s study away program for students studying environmental science and biology, and operates a bird banding center and water quality analysis lab, and partners with local elementary and high schools on developing curricula around lake ecology, wetlands ecology, and forest ecology, the article reported. Executive director Charles Yohn is a member of Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon. “Our unique approach to residential semesters at the station has been highly successful and is now considered a national model for field stations,” he said in the article. “I am deeply grateful to the donor.” Read the full article at

Brethren Woods, a camp and outdoor ministry center near Keezletown, Va., is holding its first in-person Spring Festival since 2019. “Come out this Saturday (April 30th),” said an invitation. “The day will be filled with fun, fellowship, and lots of ways to support the camp’s ministry.” Events include Spring Festival “classics” such as the trout fishing contest, yard sale, and pancake breakfast–among many others, as well as new activities including a climbing tower, photo booth, inflatable bounce houses, and obstacle courses. The Outdoor Ministry Team will recognize and celebrate Doug Phillips, who is retiring as camp director. The celebration is planned for after the auction, at around 2 p.m. Find out more at

— McPherson (Kan.) College announced the first-ever seven-figure gift made to Bulldog Athletics, in a release. “The commitment made by Craig and Karen Holman of McPherson, which totals more than $1 million, will support the Sport Center expansion project included in the Building Community comprehensive fundraising campaign.” The Sport Center project will include the addition of 5,000 square feet to expand the weight room and training room capacity as well as additional locker rooms and team spaces, and also includes a remodeling project. Construction will begin this summer. Said McPherson president Michael Schneider, “I am proud to share that we will add the Holman name to the Sport Center at an event this fall during Homecoming.” Craig Holman and both of the couple’s children are McPherson graduates. He is a member of the college Board of Trustees and a volunteer assistant coach for the Bulldog tennis teams. The family have been loyal supporters of McPherson-area tennis, and funded the Holman Family Tennis Center on campus.

— In more news from McPherson, the college awarded three alumni as this year’s Citation of Merit recipients at a dinner on April 22:

Annette Van Blaricum (’68), of Wichita, Kan., as a student participated in activities like theater and choir and met her husband, Ken (’67). She taught kindergarten and Title 1 for more than 30 years, retiring in 2006. She has been an active volunteer in her United Methodist Church community and was state president of the American Association of University Women, among other involvements.

Roger Trimmell (’73) was head coach for the college men’s basketball team for 27 seasons from 1982 to 2008 and was an assistant professor in the health and physical education program. “His impact on the lives of hundreds of students and colleagues is immeasurable,” said the release. During his time as head coach for the Bulldogs, 61 players were named to All-Conference teams, including three who were named KCAC Player of the Year, and three who received NAIA All-American honors. Additionally, the graduation rate for all his senior players was 100 percent. He is affectionately known to McPherson College as the Father of Dogball. His teams qualified for the NAIA District 10 playoffs six times and his overall conference record, 221-211, gives him the most victories in KCAC men’s basketball history. He was named KCAC Coach of the Year twice, and was inducted into the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame twice–once as a coach and once as a member of the 1968 Wamego, Kan., undefeated state basketball championship team. He is a member of Countryside Covenant Church.

Jeff Bach (’79) graduated from McPherson with a double major in elementary education and German language. His professional career included teaching German at area high schools before being called to the ministry, earning a master of divinity degree at Bethany Theological Seminary, completing a doctoral program in the department of religion at Duke University, publishing a dissertation about the religious views of the Ephrata (Pa.) Community, pastoring churches in Iowa, teaching history and Brethren studies and serving as director of Peace Studies at Bethany, serving as director of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College and serving as associate professor of religious studies. As director of the Young Center, he oversaw fundraising efforts that resulted in the addition of an archive and special collection to the library, an addition to the center facility, and $1 million endowed program support. He supervised acquisitions of several rare materials and books and developed content for the Bowers Interpretive Gallery, a museum-quality multi-media exhibit of artifacts, graphics, and text to interpret the Anabaptist and Pietist movements. He retired in 2020 and was recently named director emeritus. Currently he is convener of the planning committee for the Brethren World Assembly in 2023 and is the liaison between the Brethren Encyclopedia Board and the Alexander Mack Museum in Schwarzenau, Germany. He and his wife, Ann (’79), also are part-time ministers at Stevens Hill Church of the Brethren in Elizabethtown.


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