Brethren bits for Dec. 19, 2022

— Remembrance: Alan George Kieffaber, 83, a former mission worker in Nigeria who also filled other denominational roles, died at his home in North Manchester, Ind., on Nov. 2. He was born May 24, 1939, in Akron, Ohio, the oldest of five children of Leland Emmert and Thelma Evangeline (Long) Kieffaber. He graduated from Manchester College (now Manchester University) in 1961 majoring in peace studies and religion. He graduated from Bethany Theological Seminary with a master of divinity in 1964. He pastored Church of the Brethren congregations in Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, and Maryland over the span of his career. He and his wife, Nancy, and their two small children spent three years in Nigeria, 1970-1973, serving as a Church of the Brethren mission worker in a Mennonite program teaching religion at Waka Schools. In preparation, he spent a year earning a master’s degree at UCLA, studying Nigerian language and culture. Kieffaber also was the church relations representative for Bethany Seminary in Oak Brook, Ill., 1977-1979, and was campus pastor at McPherson (Kan.) College, 1979-1982. He met his wife, Marilyn, at Camp Colorado in 1980 and they were married there a year later. They retired to North Manchester in 2007 where he was part-time chaplain at Timbercrest retirement community for two years, 2009-2011. He also was active in Church of the Brethren camps, where he loved to play his guitar and sing funny songs. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Nancy, and daughter Bonnie Genovese. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn, and children Laurie Kieffaber Cornett (Laketon, Ind.), Alan Nelson (Lincoln, Neb.), and Elizabeth Nelson (Brooklyn, N.Y.), and grandchildren. A service celebrating his life will be held Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, at Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind., beginning at 2 p.m. (Eastern time). Memorial gifts are received to Heifer International or Habitat for Humanity. A full obituary is online at www.mckeemortuary.com/obituary/Alan-Kieffaber.

— Sharing these prayer concerns from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria):

Pray for EYN leadership as it conducts the annual staff transfer, which is considered the most tasking work.

Pray for the acting director of finance, Ayuba U. Balami, and the agriculture director of education, Daniel I Yumuna.

Pray for EYN’s centenary preparation.

Pray for evangelist Inuwa Hikama, who was abducted on Dec. 3 from his station at Kwaple in Chibok Local Government Area, Borno State.

Pray for the EYN Comprehensive Secondary School, which as a matter of emergency closed the school after the sad deaths of three students within two weeks. One of the parents is pastor Jonathan Milila, who lost two sons in one day.

Pray for the nation of Nigeria’s 2023 general elections for the positions of president and the federal and state houses of assembly.

Pray for some Nigerian communities that are impacted by the insurgency, flood, disaster, and inflation. Thank God for his grace and relative peace experienced in other parts of the country.

— “God Has Exalted the Lowly” by Duane Grady, a Bible study on Mary’s Magnificat, is published by Messenger, the Church of the Brethren magazine. Read it at www.brethren.org/messenger/bible-study/god-has-exalted-the-lowly. Or hear Grady present it in a special Christmas episode of the Messenger Radio podcast, with Kara Miller and Nancy Miner on the piano, on the Messenger Radio page at www.brethren.org/messenger/uncategorized/messenger-radio.

— The December 2022 episode of Brethren Voices features stories from Children’s Disaster Services, under the title, “Reaching Out to the Youngest.” Since 1980, when disaster strikes, Children’s Disaster Services has responded to meet the needs of children by setting up childcare centers in shelter and disaster assistance centers across the nation. Specially trained volunteers respond to the needs of traumatized children by providing calm, safe places in the midst of the chaos. Brethren Voices meets with John Kinsel in a two-episode series to share his stories and the history and focuse of Children Disaster Services. A member of the Beavercreek Church of the Brethren in Southern Ohio and Kentucky District, Kinsel has traveled coast-to-coast as a volunteer for CDS, serving for 40 years as a volunteer and a trainer of volunteers. The December episode, the first in this mini series, includes his experiences as a CDS volunteer serving following 9/11 in New York City. Find this and other episodes of Brethren Voices on YouTube.

On Earth Peace has endorsed the call for a Christmas Truce in Ukraine and seeks church members to join and help amplify it. “We are hoping to see our constituency sign it directly and/or amplify the call through preaching, social media, and letters to the editor,” said an announcement. “A diverse and quickly growing coalition of nearly 1,000 faith leaders in the United States–representing a massive number of believers from every major tradition–have signed onto a Christmas Truce statement demanding a temporary ceasefire in the War in Ukraine.” Ways to participate include adding your name to the call for a Christmas Truce in Ukraine at https://forusa.org/ukraine . Find a media resources page at https://forusa.org/ukrainemedia. On Earth Peace requests that you let them know of your actions in support of the Christmas Truce, email OEP@OnEarthPeace.org.

Online registration opens in early January for several Church of the Brethren events coming up in 2023:

Jan. 3 registration opens for the next round of Children’s Disaster Services volunteer training workshops planned for Feb. 25-26 at La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, April 14-15 at Ebenezer United Methodist Church in Newark, Del., and April 28-29 at the Fruit and Flower Child Care Center in Portland, Ore.; go to www.brethren.org/cds/training/dates

Jan. 6 registration opens for the New and Renew Conference, taking place May 17-19, 2023, onsite at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., and livestreamed virtually as a hybrid event; go to www.brethren.org/discipleshipmin/newandrenew

Jan. 9 registration opens for the Christian Citizenship Seminar, taking place April 22-27, 2023, in Washington, D.C., on the theme “Hot and Hungry” (1 Kings 17:7-16) addressing the overlapping crises of climate change and food insecurity; go to www.brethren.org/yya/ccs

Jan. 11 registration opens for the National Junior High Conference, taking place in the summer of 2023; go to www.brethren.org/yya/njhc

Jan. 13 registration opens for the Young Adult Conference, taking place May 5-7, 2023, at Camp Mack in Milford, Ind.; go to www.brethren.org/yya/yac

Also, Annual Conference nominations are open until Jan. 4; go to www.brethren.org/ac/nominations

A reminder of the 2023 Clergy Tax Seminar. “Join us for this informational and instructive seminar!” said an announcement from the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. The event takes place on Jan. 28, 2023, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern time). Sponsors are the Brethren Academy, the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry, and Bethany Theological Seminary. Students, clergy, and anyone who deals with clergy finances are invited to participate in this online Zoom seminar. Find out more at www.brethren.org/news/2022/clergy-tax-seminar-2023.

— The latest short film release in the series “Humans Out of Solitary,” from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), is “a thought-provoking interview with Ms. Nafeesah Goldsmith. Ms. Goldsmith is the Senior Criminal Legal Fellow at Salvation and Social Justice, co-chair of New Jersey Prison Justice Watch (NJPJW), and a member of the NRCAT U.S. Prisons Advisory Council,” said an announcement. “As Ms. Goldsmith states in her interview, for change to happen, ‘You have to have the people to tell the story.’ Indeed, the stories and testimony in legislative proceedings of solitary survivors in New Jersey led the Garden State to make history in 2019 as the first state to enact legislation to end prolonged solitary confinement. Since then, New York (2021) and Connecticut (2022) have also ended prolonged solitary in their states legislatively. The brave testimony of solitary survivors like Ms. Goldsmith is ending prolonged solitary confinement in prisons, jails and detention centers across the U.S.” Find this series of short videos at http://nrcat.org/torture-in-us-prisons/humans-out-of-solitary.

— Expansion of the Child Tax Credit is being advocated by the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) and other faith-based organizations. The NCC co-sponsored a national press conference this week in support of the return and expansion of the Child Tax Credit and its inclusion in congressional legislation before the end of the year. “If it is included, millions of families and their children will benefit,” said the NCC newsletter. The event was organized by Network, a faith focused advocacy organization. Find the Religion News Service story on the event, titled “Faith leaders urge lawmakers to pass expanded child tax credit,” at https://religionnews.com/2022/12/15/faith-leaders-urge-lawmakers-to-pass-expanded-child-tax-credit. A Child Tax Credit action alert webpage is at https://actionnetwork.org/letters/help-children-living-in-poverty-extend-the-child-tax-credit-ctc.

— Online applications are open for an interreligious summer course at Bossey, an institute related to the World Council of Churches (WCC), located in Geneva, Switzerland. “Jews, Christians and Muslims up to the age of 35 years are invited to apply for the 2023 Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Interreligious Studies course,” said the announcement. The theme of the 2023 interreligious summer course is “Health and Wholeness of Life in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.” Students will also engage with secular perspectives on the theme with workshops offered by people from various international organizations in Geneva. Said the announcement: “As a human being is commonly believed to consist of body, soul and mind, health can mean the physical, mental and/or spiritual well-being. In other words, health can be understood narrowly from the absence of disease broadly to the holistic care of prevention, restoration and maintenance in the multiple dimensions of physical, economic, social, political, environmental, emotional, mental, and spiritual life. In the Abrahamic faith traditions, health is to be contemplated as the wholeness of life in terms of both the personal life and the communal life.” Young people ages 20-35 who are interested and engaged in interreligious dialogue are invited to apply. Applicants may be students, laypersons, or professionals with a suitable level of religious literacy and/or experience in the field of interreligious dialogue and engagement, especially among the three Abrahamic religions. The course encompasses a study period of six weeks, including three weeks of distance learning from July 3-23, 2023, followed by the residential phase from July 24-Aug. 11. The residential period includes lectures, workshops, and study visits to places of interreligious interest. The CAS Interreligious Studies is accredited by the University of Geneva under the Swiss Higher Education Programme for Continuing Education. The prerequisite is a bachelor’s degree. A limited number of scholarships are available. Final submission date for applications is Feb. 28, 2023. Go to https://wcccoe.hire.trakstar.com/jobs/fk02hi7.

— Pastor Phil Corr, a commissioned Church of the Brethren minister at Church of the Living Savior in McFarland, Calif., also is head of the town’s Friends of the Library, reports Pacific Southwest District executive minister Russ Matteson. He notes that Corr’s service to the community is notable given a controversy swirling around the library. The story was reported in the New York Times in an article titled, “What’s More Important for This Town: A Library or a Police Station?” Said the introduction to the article: “In a community known for cross-country glory, the library is a vital resource for families who eke out a living in the fields. But city leaders want their crowded police force to move in.” Find the New York Times article at www.nytimes.com/2022/12/11/us/mcfarland-calif-library-police-station.html.

— Pastor Mandy North of Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren was one of the Virginia faith leaders calling for funding of mental health crisis centers in an article in the Washington Post. The article said, in part, “One speaker at the rally, Pastor Mandy North of Manassas Church of the Brethren, said that ‘236 people every single month in Virginia’ are taken into custody on mental health grounds and boarded in emergency rooms for more than eight hours. They could be getting better treatment at crisis receiving centers, which would also free up police and hospital beds, speakers said.” Find the full article at www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2022/12/05/virginia-mental-health-crisis-centers.


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