Brethren bits for Feb. 18, 2022

— Remembrance: Elaine Sollenberger, 91, the first woman elected as moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference and who also served as chair of the denomination’s General Board, died on Feb. 14. Her parents were Clair and Ruth (Bowser) Mock. She graduated from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., in 1951. She later taught English and Latin at Everett (Pa.) Area High School. On Sept. 25, 1954, she married Ray Sollenberger (deceased) and together they established and farmed the farm known as Ralaine Jerseys. Sollenberger served as moderator of the 1989 Annual Conference and was called to the position again in 1998 to fill an unexpired term. During her term as moderator she had the opportunity to travel to India to visit churches there. She also was the first woman to serve as moderator of Middle Pennsylvania District. She served on the General Board (predecessor body to the current Mission and Ministry Board) from 1981 to 1986, chairing the board from 1984 to 1986. She served two terms on the Everett School Board and as chair of the board for four years. She filled an unexpired term as a Bedford County Commissioner. She wrote a weekly column for the Everett Press and later The Shopper’s Guide. Those columns were under the pen name O Justa Housewife and later One Woman’s Thoughts. More recently she contributed to Mature Living. At Ralaine Jerseys, she took an active role in the farm work alongside her husband, and the couple were recognized with the Distinguished Service Award from the Pennsylvania Jersey Cattle Association (PJCA). She was instrumental in establishing the Pennsylvania Jersey Newsletter and served as its first editor. She represented the PJCA on the board of the Pennsylvania All American Dairy Show. She was instrumental in organizing trips to Louisville All American Jersey Show for Pennsylvania youth. She is survived by children Beth, married to Tim Morphew and living in Goshen, Ind.; Lori, married to Rex Knepp and living in Everett, Pa.; and Leon, married to Sharon (Atwood) and living in West Chazy, NY; and grandchildren. Memorial gifts are received to the following or to the donor’s choice: the Everett Church of the Brethren Memorial Fund or the Church of the Brethren denomination. A time to remember and celebrate her life will be planned for a later date at Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. A full obituary is posted at www.bedfordgazette.com/obituaries/elaine-sollenberger/article_a7eed141-fc8b-5153-bb47-ed8fe912bd8c.html.

More than 500 youth and advisors from 17 Church of the Brethren districts have joined the National Youth Conference (NYC) 2022 community “and there is room for more! Register as soon as possible (and definitely before April 1!) in order to avoid a $50 late fee,” reports NYC coordinator Erika Clary. She is shown here (at right) celebrating 500 registrants with Youth and Young Adult Ministry director Becky Ullom Naugle. Participants will gather in Colorado this July to explore the theme “Foundational,” based on Colossians 2:5-7. Please visit the NYC website to find more information at www.brethren.org/nyc. Contact Clary with questions at eclary@brethren.org or 847-429-4376.

In more NYC news, there are brand-new resources for Bible studies to prepare for NYC at www.brethren.org/nyc/bible-studies.

— Regular reports from Chris Elliott and his daughter Grace, who are working for the Church of the Brethren Global Mission in Rwanda, are now being posted online at www.brethren.org/global/africa-great-lakes/#updates. The two are serving in Rwanda from January to May this year. Chris Elliott is helping with farming and also visiting other churches and projects in Rwanda and nearby countries, with Grace teaching in the church’s nursery school.

— Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) 2022 will be held virtually on April 25-27 on the theme “Fierce Urgency: Advancing Civil and Human Rights.” The event will call participants “into solidarity to restore, protect, and expand voting rights in the United States and to realize human rights around the world,” said an announcement. “As people of faith, we know each person to be created in God’s image, imbued with dignity and having a voice that demands to be heard, heeded, and treated justly. We arise in unity, holding up a mirror to leaders of nations, putting injustice on display and tearing down the veil of oppression that obscures the beautiful, God-born light shining from within us all.” Leadership includes Otis Moss III from Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, who will be preaching, and Liz Theoharis from the Poor People’s Campaign, who will be one of the plenary speakers. Early bird tickets are $50 until April 1. Find out more at www.accelevents.com/e/eadvirtual2022.

— Church World Service (CWS) held a Black Immigrant Advocacy Day of Action on Feb. 17 to mark #BlackHistoryMonth and to celebrate “the leadership of Black immigrants in the work to expose and eradicate racism in the US immigration system,” said an announcement. “At this moment, thousands of immigrants, including people from Ethiopia, Cameroon, Haiti, Mauritania, and South Sudan face harm upon being deported to their home countries due to violent crime and political instability. The administration is placing lives at risk and abdicating from our moral and legal obligations to provide protection. The Biden administration must use Temporary Protected Status (TPS) broadly to protect Black immigrants and must fully restore access to asylum. The targeting and prioritization of Black immigrants for expulsion and deportation is immoral and wrong. It is vital that the Biden administration follows through on its promise to defend Black immigrants, designate TPS for African and Caribbean countries, restore access to asylum, and dismantle the anti-Black sentiments within the immigration system.” A virtual vigil to pray for justice and peace in Black immigrant lives is planned for Thursday, Feb. 24, at 12 noon (Eastern time). A Black History Month Toolkit is available at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1utsqPDSM7q2pznG4vSMwBQuCRelJSx7dqOh8YCCKSWM/edit.

– The National Council of Churches (NCC) is encouraging churches and faith communities to share information about the Child Tax Credit during this tax season in order to help end child poverty. “The monthly Child Tax Credits payments to families stopped in January and millions of families are still owed all of their 2021 Child Tax Credit,” said an announcement. “Because not everyone knows they are eligible, or that they must file a tax return in order to receive it, we ask NCC member congregations and faith partners to spread the word and make sure all low- and no-income families get the information, find tax prep help, and receive their full 2021 Child Tax Credit payment. Join the national effort to share the link to ChildTaxCredit.gov through your organization’s newsletter, social media accounts, or website from now through April 18.” Find a toolkit in both English and Spanish at www.childtaxcredit.gov/es/community-resources.

— A new Anabaptist Collaboration on Climate Change has been started by a group of primarily Mennonite organizations. A release reported that “leadership from 18 Anabaptist organizations in the United States and Canada convened at the Anabaptist Collaboration on Climate Change (ACCC) on Jan. 26 and 27 to address what many consider a moral emergency. Those gathered drafted a statement that was later signed by the majority of the participating organizations: ‘As organizations founded on Christian faith in the Anabaptist tradition, we recognize the significant threat to global communities, economic justice, and the next generations from climate change. We are committed to explore our work and mission in support of sustainable and just climate solutions.’ The 24-hour meeting at the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Welcoming Place in Akron, Pennsylvania, was the largest gathering of Anabaptist leaders on climate change in North America to date. It was organized by the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions.” Doug Graber Neufeld is director of the center and professor of biology at Eastern Mennonite University. The center plans to organize more gatherings on climate change in the future and include a broader range of participants. A link to the consensus statement and signatories is at https://sustainableclimatesolutions.org/anabaptist-climate-collaboration.

– The cemetery at Linville Creek Church of the Brethren in Broadway, Va., and the work of Charity Derrow to study a set of four gravestones and what they reveal about the African-American population in the area following the Civil War, are in the Daily News-Record. “Hallowed History: Post-Civil War African Americans in Broadway to Be Highlighted at Plains District Memorial Museum” was written by Kellen Stepler and published on Feb. 12. The article tells the story of Derrow’s research, starting as a student at James Madison University in 2010, studying the Allen and Madden families of Rockingham County. Her research will be presented at the Plains District Memorial Museum in Timberville on Feb. 20 at 2 p.m. as the museum recognizes Black history month. The article quoted Derrow: “Last-generation slaves transitioning to first-generation citizens set priorities by first seeking basic needs and then building a community in Broadway, Virginia; yet, just like the almost barren African American burial ground in the Linville Creek Church of the Brethren Cemetery, their descendants moved on, and their traces have practically vanished…. Far more unmarked African American burials exist in this cemetery than the four existing stones.” Derrow also accessed Bridgewater College’s special collections library, among other sources. Read the article at www.dnronline.com/news/post-civil-war-african-americans-in-broadway-to-be-highlighted-at-plains-district-memorial-museum/article_65d1eb55-a780-5e91-8700-998648cea559.html.


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