Brethren bits

— Remembrance: Jan Lea West Schrock, 86, a former director of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) and daughter of Heifer International founder Dan West, passed away on March 8 in Camden, Maine. She was born in Newville, Pa., to Lucille (Sherck) West (Rupel) and Dan West on Aug. 30, 1936, and grew up with her four brothers on a farm in northern Indiana. She married Gladden Schrock in 1959, and they raised their two children in the tightknit fishing community of South Bristol, Maine. She held a bachelor’s degree from Manchester College (now Manchester University) in North Manchester, Ind. After her divorce, she earned a master’s in education at American University in Washington, D.C., which led to her founding the Night School for Learning Disabled Adults in the mid-1980s. She then spent a year teaching English in Beijing, China. From 1987 to 1995 she directed BVS, during her term having the opportunity to represent Anabaptist organizations at a meeting at the White House about the Clinton administration’s plans for a national service program. Starting in 1995 she worked as director of special projects for the National Council of Churches Ecumenical Program for Urban Service (EPRUS)/AmeriCorps in New York City. For the following decade, 1999-2009, she was a consultant to Heifer International, an independent nonprofit that her father started as the Heifer Project of the Church of the Brethren. As a Heifer International Senior Advisor, she lived in Little Rock, Ark., and led study tours to South America and Asia until she returned to Maine in 2003. For the last 20 years of her life, she remained dedicated to promoting Heifer’s work around the world, as well as at urban farms in the US. Her illustrated children’s book about a fifth grade class that got excited about Heifer’s ministry, titled Give a Goat (published by Tilbury House), was awarded the Honor Book Award by the Society of School Librarians International, and was nominated for more than a dozen additional awards. Earlier in her career, she had worked in education for some 28 years, serving as a classroom teacher and a special needs teacher as well as in administrative roles. Her work in education included involvement with English language education in China as part of the Church of the Brethren Chinese Agricultural Exchange program. Later in life, she also earned a master of divinity degree at New York Theological Seminary. Throughout her life, she was an advocate and activist for peace and justice concerns, and was personally involved in actions against war. She was arrested three times for civil disobedience in peaceful protests. In one such event, in the 1980s, she was arrested and fined for participating with 11 other church members in an act of civil disobedience in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C., witnessing against US government support for the war in Nicaragua. She wrote in a statement to colleagues on the denominational staff: “I believe that all war and killing is wrong. I see no hope for the continuation of the human species unless our warring ways are turned toward communication and negotiation. I believe that we must make a stand and act upon our beliefs when our voices and votes are not represented by the leaders we choose.” She is survived by children Nate Schrock of Windham, Maine, and Kate Schrock of Deer Isle, Maine, and grandchildren. A celebration of her life will be held on Saturday, April 22, at 1 p.m. at the Foreside Community Church in Falmouth, Maine. Memorial gifts are received to Heifer International. Find a full obituary online at

Brethren World Mission is holding a fundraising dinner on the theme “Celebration of the Global Church” on May 6 at 5-8 p.m., hosted by Hempfield Church of the Brethren in Manheim, Pa. The Bittersweet Gospel Band will perform. Said an announcement: “The purpose of Brethren World Mission is to help the Church of the Brethren fulfill the Annual Conference mandate to become a world church…. Chair Bob Kettering will give a whirlwind tour of the exciting ministries happening in some of the countries where there are Brethren churches, including new and emerging churches in East Africa.” The event will include a buffet-style meal provided by Country Home Catering (Dean and Carole Ziegler), an update on mission work supported by the group, and a concert by the Bittersweet Gospel Band. For those unable to attend in person, a link to an online event will be shared closer to the date. To attend in person, please RSVP by April 26 with the number of people attending and choice of entrée (hamloaf or baked ziti) to Dennis Garrison at or 717-451-3440. Tables of eight can be reserved. The suggested minimum donation is $50 per person. The Church of the Brethren Global Mission office has provided an online link to give directly to equip leaders of global Churches of the Brethren at

On April 29, Fairview Church of the Brethren in Cordova, Md., will celebrate its 130th anniversary “and the total renovation of their church,” said an announcement from Mid-Atlantic District. “Free family fun activities and food–you’re invited! 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.”

— Creation Justice Ministries is offering a 2023 Earth Day Sunday resource, titled “Sowing Seeds: Prophetic Action to Climate-Changed Lands,” online at

— An Ecumenical Earth Day Service is planned for Friday, April 21, at 12 noon (Eastern time), drawing on resources from Creation Justice Ministries’ Earth Day Sunday resource. “This service will lead participants into a time of worship, contemplation, and prayer while considering the prophetic actions we might take on behalf of God’s creation,” said an announcement. “Derrick Weston, Creation Justice Ministries’ Theological Education and Training coordinator, will preach, using the parable of the sower as an encouragement to sow the seeds of creation justice wherever we might go.” Register for this online event at

— Join Churches for Middle East Peace for its first in-person Advocacy Summit since 2019. Said an announcement: “On April 20, 2023, we will hear from keynote speakers and panelists from Israel/Palestine and the U.S. including Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac, and Rev. Dr. Jack Sara. Participants will have the opportunity to take the stories they have heard and advocate on behalf of human rights in Israel and Palestine with their Congressional offices on Friday, April 21. We hope you will consider joining us for fellowship, learning, and the chance to raise your voice on Capitol Hill.” The event is titled, “Seeking Comprehensive Peace: Advocating for Human Rights in Israel and Palestine.” Isaac is the academic dean of Bethlehem Bible College in Palestine, director of the Christ at the Checkpoint conference, and pastor of Christmas Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bethlehem. Raheb is the founder and president of Dar al-Kalima University in Bethlehem, co-founder of Bright Stars of Bethlehem, and “the most widely published Palestinian theologian to date…author and editor of 40 book.” Sara is the president of Bethlehem Bible College and an ordained minster in the Evangelical Alliance Church in the Holy Land. Learn more and register at


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