Brethren bits for March 11, 2022

Remembrance: Jorge Rivera, a retired pastor and a leader in the Church of the Brethren in Puerto Rico for more than 30 years, passed away on March 5. He served Atlantic Southeast District as associate district executive minister in Castañer, P.R., from 1999 to 2011. Prior to that he was a member of the former Church of the Brethren General Board (predecessor body to the current Mission and Ministry Board), serving from 1982 to 1987. Services were held in Puerto Rico on March 8 at Yahuecas Church of the Brethren and Funeraria González in Arecibo, and on March 9 with the burial at the National Veterans Cemetery in Morovis.

A memorial service for Elaine Sollenberger will be held tomorrow, Saturday, March 12, at 10 a.m. (Eastern time) at Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. Sollenberger was the first woman to be elected moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference–find her remembrance in the Feb. 18 issue of Newsline at

Faith Forward is hosting a special web event with Brian McLaren on March 17 at 1 p.m. (Eastern time) called “The Advantages of Disadvantages: How Current Struggles in Children’s, Youth, and Family Ministry Can Become Long-Term Opportunities.” Said an invitation: “Join us for an insightful presentation and engaging discussion with forward-thinking ministry leaders. Hosted by Traci Smith.” The webinar is recommended by Jeanne Davies, executive director of the Anabaptist Disabilities Network and a former denominational staff member for the Church of the Brethren, who serves on the board of Faith Forward. Register at

Correction: There was a typo in the email address to send “BVS love stories” to Brethren Volunteer Service staff, as shared in last week’s Newsline. To submit stories for publication on BVS social media, contact

Religion News Service (RNS) is offering a free webinar on the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on religion and geopolitics on March 17 at 2 p.m. (Eastern time). Said a description of the online event: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought to a head divisions among Orthodox Christians that have intensified since the Maidan Revolution of 2014 and Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Now Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow’s support for President Vladimir Putin in pressing his claims in Ukraine promise to further fracture the Russian church and to fragment global Orthodox Christianity.” The panel of speakers includes Elizabeth Prodromou of Tufts University’s Fletcher School, where she directs the Initiative on Religion, Law, and Diplomacy; John Burgess of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of Holy Rus’: The Rebirth of Orthodoxy in the New Russia; Mark Silk, an RNS columnist, director of the Leonard Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, and professor of religion in public life at Trinity University; and moderator Roxanne Stone, managing editor of RNS. Register at

A Council on Foreign Relations briefing on US-Russia relations helps clarify the issues that led up to and will influence the longterm outcome of the invasion of Ukraine. The 90-minute presentation is online at The council is a non-partisan think tank that holds periodic meetings intended to provide more in-depth analysis of matters of domestic and global importance.

World Council of Churches (WCC) acting general secretary Ioan Sauca has appealed for an immediate end to indiscriminate attacks with an escalating impact on civilians in Ukraine. “The World Council of Churches is appalled by the escalating impact of the conflict in Ukraine on civilians–the women, men and children of Ukraine–and by what appears to be increasingly indiscriminate attacks,” Sauca said in a release today, March 11. “The airstrike on the Mariupol Hospital No.3 on 9 March, attacks affecting other hospitals, schools, kindergartens and residential areas, and the rising toll of civilian deaths and injuries all indicate that international humanitarian law is being disregarded.” Sauca cited deeply disturbing reports of the use of cluster munitions, including in populated areas, and of area bombardment of towns and villages. “The WCC denounces all such violations of international humanitarian law, particularly concerning the protection of civilians, which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,” he said. “Both as a matter of international law and of fundamental moral principles, we appeal for an immediate end to such indiscriminate attacks, for respect for international humanitarian principles and the God-given human dignity and rights of every human being, and for a ceasefire and negotiations to end this tragic conflict.”


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