Brethren bits for May 10, 2022

— Remembrance: Philip E. Norris, 92, of Lititz, Pa.–who was one of the “Seagoing Cowboys” working with Heifer Project in Europe following World War II, and a former trustee for Bethany Theological Seminary–died on May 2 at Brethren Village. Born in Sweden, he was the son of Glen E. and Lois Detweiler Norris, who were serving as missionaries for the Church of the Brethren. Growing up in Pennsylvania, between his junior and senior years in high school he accompanied a boatload of horses from Newport News, Va., to Poland as a seagoing cowboy with Heifer. He was only age 16 at the time. He went on to attend Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., and Bethany Theological Seminary in Chicago, and became a pastor in the Church of the Brethren. He served congregations in Maryland, the Washington, D.C., area, Colorado, and Washington State. His professional career also included involvement in real estate, and owning his own company, Norris Enterprises, Inc. Wherever he served, he was deeply involved with ecumenical organizations as well as denominational work, both district and national, including being a trustee for Bethany Seminary. He retired in 1996. Following the death of his first wife, Thelma (Mowry) Norris, he married Carilyn (Krehbiel) Norris, who passed away in 2002. In 2003, he married Joan Fyock Norris and moved to Pennsylvania and joined Lititz Church of the Brethren. He is survived by his wife, Joan; children Helen Marie (Charles) Cowen, of Wellington, Colo., and Byron Norris of Denver, Colo.; grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Preceding him in death, in addition to his first two wives, is son Nathan Glen Norris. A memorial service is planned for July 9 at 11 a.m. (Eastern time) at Lititz Church of the Brethren, with visitation preceding the service. Memorial gifts are received to COBYS Family Services. To send the family online condolences, go to Find a full obituary at

Prayer is requested for the Church of the Brethren in Uganda, where Bwambale Sedrack, head of the church, was involved in a motorcycle accident together with one of the denomination’s board members, Kule Elisha. “Sadly, Elisha passed away on spot,” Sedrack wrote in a Facebook request for prayer. “He is the one that was riding as we were from Bigando Church to meet the church leaders so we can find a solution together for the church building that was destroyed by the storm. Prayers needed!” Global Mission co-executive Eric Miller reported that Kule Elisha was a member of Calvary Life Church of the Brethren in Hima, Kasese, in western Uganda, and served as Sedrack’s interpreter during travels across the country. He was age 40 and leaves behind his wife and four children. Sedrack added an additional prayer request “for our Brothers and Sisters of Bigando Church of the Brethren here in Uganda. Their church building has been destroyed by heavy rainstorm…. No shelter for them to meet for worship service.”

Prayer is requested for Haiti and especially brothers and sisters in Christ in l’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti (Church of the Brethren in Haiti). At the end of last week, a group of about 30 armed young men from one of the Haitian gangs invaded the houses of a pastor and another leader in one of the Haitian congregations. The church leader was badly beaten in front of his family, who were held at gunpoint. “The three year old is so traumatized by every type of noise he hears, he tells his father to go and hide because they are coming to kill him,” said the prayer request. “Please continue to pray for the family and everyone in Haiti.” An opportunity to plan coordinated prayer services for Haiti is coming up on May 18, when the Miami (Fla.) Haitian congregation of the Church of the Brethren will join l’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti in fasting prayer for Haiti.

— Join Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church for a webinar with Peter Chin on Tuesday, May 18, at 8 p.m. (Eastern time). The event is open to all but registration is required at Read Chin’s article featured in Christianity Today, “I’ve Reached My Breaking Point as a Pastor,” online at Contact program manager Jen Jensen, at, with any questions.

— Pacific Southwest District has announced Jesus in the Neighborhood Grants available for its congregations. “PSWD is making $500 Jesus in the Neighborhood grants available during 2022 and into 2023 to assist and encourage congregations to try something that will share Jesus in your community with relationship-based neighborhood engagement,” said the announcement. Congregations can apply for up to two grants per year.

— Mid-Atlantic District has announced its annual Worship and Anointing Service for Saturday, June 4, at 10 a.m. to 12 noon (Eastern time) hosted by Oakton Church of the Brethren in Vienna, Va. The theme is “Strengthening Our Faith Through Forgiveness, Healing, and Wholeness.” Speakers are Richard Wherle, Mike Staubs, and Sandi Evans Rogers. Scripture presentations will be by district youth. The offering will benefit the District Church Extension Fund, Shepherd’s Spring Outdoor Ministry Center, and Camp Mardela. Light refreshments to follow worship.

— “Thanks to your generosity, the 2022 Great Community Give was a huge success for Brethren Woods!” said an announcement from the camp and outdoor ministry center in Virginia. “Not only did we reach our goal of $8,000, we exceeded it greatly! When all was said and done, we had raised $20,330 for camp. What an amazing day! We had 128 unique donors…. With the money we raised that day, we can fix existing program equipment, as well as expand our program.”

— McPherson (Kan.) College reports on a “surprise ceremony” in which “Dr. Richard Lundquist, one of California’s most prominent real estate developers and philanthropists, handed over the keys to his 1972 Ferrari, valued at over $600,000, to McPherson College’s Auto Restoration Program.” The college’s release quoted Lundquist’s comment, “It gave me a broad smile to see the students engaging with the car up close in a way that could never happen if it was cordoned off in a museum.” The classic 1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona, a two-seat grand tourer, is the first Ferrari the college has ever received. “I’m pleased to hand over the keys to one of my most prized possessions to the wonderful students and faculty at McPherson College,” said Lundquist. “It’s my hope that the car provides enhanced learning opportunities and can be restored by the students and eventually compete in prestigious events.” For 46 years, McPherson College has been the only college in the US with a historic auto restoration program. Find the full release at

– “You are invited to attend Mediation Skills Training Institute for Church Leaders on August 1-5, 2022 hosted by St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn, IL (western suburbs of Chicago),” said an announcement from the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center. The event is in-person, designed for church leaders who want to learn how to deal more effectively with interpersonal, congregational, and other forms of group conflict. The cost is $750 for five full days of instruction and a hard copy of the MSTI manual. To learn more or to register, call 630-627-0507 or visit

— Today, the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) welcomed Vashti Murphy McKenzie as interim president and general secretary. McKenzie, who is a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, started on April 1 in an initial period of exploration. Previously, she served as the 117th elected and consecrated bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first female elected to episcopal office in the more than two-century-old AME Church and the first female to serve as president of the Council of Bishops and president of the General Board. She also has served as a presiding bishop in southern Africa. She has been a delegate, preacher, and/or presenter to ecumenical bodies including the World Methodist Council and the World Council of Churches, and was appointed in 2009 by President Barack Obama to be on the inaugural White House Commission of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnership. She is the author of six books including her most recent, titled The Big Deal of Taking Small Steps to Move Closer to God.

— Creation Justice Ministries is partnering with other organizations to offer the Faithful Climate Action Fellowship this summer. “Are you or do you know a young person who is Christian, Jewish, or Muslim concerned about the climate crisis? Join us in exploring how our faith traditions can support and guide our climate activism. Young Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (18-26) in the United States (including U.S. territories) are invited to apply,” said the announcement. Application deadline is May 23. Fellows will engage in seven weeks of evening training to hone climate action skills, with weekly interactive webinars from July 7 through Aug. 18. Fellows are responsible for doing a project ranging from writing opinion pieces to artistic expressions to delivering a message to their own house of worship/faith community to development of resources. This time commitment of only 2-3 hours per week plus time needed to complete a project is designed to fit with full-time employment or school work. A $500 stipend will be provided upon successful completion of the fellowship. Go to

— Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is seeking applicants for a Middle East Fellow. This unique fellowship experience is focused on advocacy based in the US and the Middle East. The fellowship lasts between 6-12 months and includes a few months (remote) work from the United States and three months on the ground in the Jerusalem/Bethlehem area of Israel/Palestine. Applicants will have the opportunity to live and work in Israel/Palestine, acquire deeper exposure to the realities on the ground, develop relationships with local religious leaders and organizations working towards a just peace to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and make meaningful contributions to CMEP’s advocacy efforts. CMEP also seeks applicants for the position of Ambassador Warren Clark Fellow, and summer interns. Find out more at

— A landmark joint appeal titled “Climate-Responsible Finance: A Moral Imperative and Responsibility to All Children and the Living World,” has been made by the World Council of Churches (WCC), the United Nations Environment Program, the Muslim Council of Elders, and the New York Board of Rabbis. “Let us come together and influence how money is invested in response to the existential threat of climate change,” said WCC acting general secretary Ioan Sauca in launching the appeal. “Family money, church money, a company’s money, a nation’s money. We need everyone to take this step for a sustainable future for our children.” Explained a release: “The findings of the latest IPCC report released on 4 April dramatize the critical urgency of this challenge. Therefore the joint appeal calls upon financial service providers to take urgent and effective action to transition out of fossil fuel financing and to invest in renewable energies and research for climate solutions.” UN secretary-general António Guterres welcomed the initiative. “For too long, the financial services sector has enabled the world’s fossil fuel addiction,” he said. “The scientific and moral imperative is clear: there must be no new investment in fossil fuel expansion, including production, infrastructure, and exploration.”

A webinar will be held on May 20 to provide capacity building around the actions proposed in the statement. Register at

Read the full statement at

Organizations, faith communities, and individuals are invited to endorse the statement by writing to

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