Brethren bits

— Remembrance: Nelda Rhoades Clark, a former ecumenical representative for the Church of the Brethren, died on June 27 in Tucson, Ariz., following a brief illness. She was born in 1951. She served as Church of the Brethren representative to the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) from 2004 to 2007. She served the Church of the Brethren’s Northern Plains District in multiple roles including as a Standing Committee delegate. Recently she served for some years as board chair of Pacific Southwest District. In addition, she spent 17 years as executive director of Emma Norton Services in St. Paul, Minn., providing shelter and services for women and families on a journey of recovery. She was a graduate of Manchester College (now university) in N. Manchester, Ind., and held a master of divinity from Bethany Theological Seminary. She was ordained in 1978 at York Center Church of the Brethren in Illinois. She graduated from Chicago Lutheran School of Theology with a master’s degree in 1981. She is survived by her husband, John; children Kathryn and son‐in‐law Alan; and grandchildren. The family anticipates a memorial service will be planned for mid- to late July.

— Remembrance: Howard Ogburn, 90, a former mission worker in Nigeria for the Church of the Brethren, passed away on May 2. He most recently lived in Celebration, Fla. He was born Feb. 23, 1933. He and his wife, Carolee, served in Nigeria for 23 years, ending in 1984. They worked in various locations including Chibok, and for various institutions including the Theological College of North Nigeria. During their service in Nigeria, they transitioned from working for the Church of the Brethren Mission to working for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Their final assignments were serving as advisor/consultant for the leadership of EYN at the headquarters in Kwarhi, and teaching at Kulp Bible School (now Kulp Theological Seminary). Their four children grew up in Nigeria and attended Hillcrest School in Jos. The couple also served in pastoral leadership in the United States. Howard Ogburn also lectured at Bethany Theological Seminary. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Manchester College (now Manchester University) in North Manchester, Ind., and attended Bethany Theological Seminary. His professional career included construction work with members of his family in Gettysburg, Pa.

— Remembrance: Berwyn Lee Oltman, a former district executive in the Church of the Brethren, has passed away. He was born on April 26, 1932, in Enders, Neb. He married Kathryn Ann Forsyth in 1953. They both attended McPherson (Kan.) College and as newlyweds were dorm parents at the college. He attended Bethany Theological Seminary and was an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren, serving several churches in Iowa before moving to Florida in 1980 to serve several churches there. He also served as district executive minister for the Church of the Brethren’s Atlantic Southeast District. He was a member of New Covenant Church of the Brethren at Camp Ithiel in Gotha, Fla., where he had pastored for a time. He and his wife had three children: Stephen (Christine) Oltman of Port Richey, Fla.; Carolyn Oltman of Winter Garden, Fla.; and Christopher (Taylor) Oltman of Apopka, Fla.; and a grandson. He was preceded in death by his son Stephen. His wife, Kathryn, passed away less than 24 hours after his death. They had just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Only a graveside service is planned at this time. A celebration of life service will be planned at a later date.

— Remembrance: Richard (Dick) Burger, 102, a former mission worker in Nigeria, died on June 5 at a longterm care facility in Centerville, Iowa, surrounded by family. He lived in Moravia, Iowa, and was born on July 26, 1920. He married Ann Witmore in 1943, at McPherson (Kan.) College. He also attended Bethany Theological Seminary and served as a pastor in the Church of the Brethren in the United States. He and his wife, Ann, began their service in Nigeria in 1945 and spent years there. Their work took place in Chibok, Shafa, Garkida, and other locations in northeast Nigeria. He participated in the building of mission stations and other buildings in various communities, and as a farmer also helped out with agriculture and animal care. In later years, after returning from Nigeria and serving in the pastorate, he farmed and raised sheep. His participation in Northern Plains District included youth and camp ministries. According to a remembrance from the district, he was preceded in death by his wife, Ann, and two sons, and is survived by children Richard Burger (Gail), Annette Graves (Andrew), and Nonie Downing (Chip/Forrest). Visitation is planned for July 31 at 11 a.m. at Fairview Church of the Brethren near Unionville, Iowa, followed by a celebration of life service starting at 12 noon.

— The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership seeks candidates for the position of coordinator of Spanish-Language Ministry Training Programs. The academy is a joint program of the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Ministry and Bethany Theological Seminary, with offices located at the seminary in Richmond, Ind. The position will coordinate current and future Spanish-language ministry training and development programs for the Church of the Brethren through the Brethren Academy. It is a quarter-time position. Duties and tasks include but are not limited to work in the following areas: Seminario Bíblico Anabautista Hispano-de la Iglesia de los Hermanos (SeBAH-COB)–communicate with students, district coordinators, instructors, and educational partners; coordinate the various aspects of SeBAH-COB, including coursework, supervised ministry, and experiences within the life of the Church of the Brethren. Educación para un Ministerio Compartido (EPMC)–interpret EPMC to district leadership and potential congregations, develop and/or review resources for participating congregations, provide orientation and ongoing administration of participating congregations. Program development–work with church leaders, SeBAH and EPMC graduates, and other Spanish-speaking Brethren to explore new avenues of ministry training and professional development; communicate with Global Mission and Service Ministries staff of the Church of the Brethren and with global partners regarding participation in current or new programing. Translation–identify educational materials for translation, translate materials (English to Spanish, Spanish to English) for emails, letters, etc. Leadership development–while working with the SeBAH-COB and EPMC programs, discern developing leadership for the future of the ministry training programs and recommend them for additional education; attend events related to intercultural leadership development; involve students in regular evaluation of the programs in which they participate. Necessary skills include ability to maintain professionalism, ability to relate well to varieties of people and personalities, ability to set priorities and follow through on tasks with minimal supervision, ability to be flexible in working with additional district or regional groups as needs arise, ability to organize records, ability to use computers and appropriate programs, ability to work effectively with other academy staff, ability to perform other duties as may reasonably be assigned. Qualifications and requirements include fluency in Spanish and English, both in oral and written communication; experience in the Anabaptist Spanish-speaking church, either in the United States or abroad; completion of a ministry or theological training program in the Anabaptist tradition; practical experience in pastoral ministry; ability to travel to meet with students and supervisors as needed; ability to travel to the Bethany campus and to the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., as needed. Preferred qualifications include Spanish as a first language, licensing or ordination in the Church of the Brethren or another Anabaptist tradition, a bachelor’s or master’s degree in an appropriate field for the position. Applications will be reviewed upon receipt and will be accepted until the position is filled. Interested candidates should send their resumes, a letter of interest, and contact information for three references by e-mail to Janet L. Ober Lambert, Director, Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374; Bethany Theological Seminary’s policy prohibits discrimination in employment opportunities or practices with regard to race, gender, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, or religion.

— The Church of the Brethren’s Mid-Atlantic District seeks applicants for the position of district executive minister. The district includes 59 congregations in five states: Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. The district is very spread out, creating a challenge for district leadership to attend to all parts of the district. After receiving feedback from around the district and being mindful of the challenge it can be for a single district staff person to provide in-person executive support for such a widespread area, the district is committed to developing a small team, supervised by the district executive minister, to mitigate some of the geographical challenges. The office is located in Westminster, Md. Travel is required both within and outside of the district. Responsibilities include direction, coordination, management, and leadership of the district ministries, as authorized by the District Conference and implemented by the District Leadership Team; work with the congregations in calling and credentialing ministers, and in the placement/call and evaluation of pastoral staff; provide support and counsel for ministers and other church leaders; share and interpret program resources for congregations; equip congregations for growth and renewal and encourage new church planting, evangelism, and missions in the district; provide an important link between the congregations and the district and denomination by working collaboratively with the Council of District Executives, the Annual Conference, the Conference agencies, and their staff. Qualifications and experience include ordination in the Church of the Brethren; a master of divinity preferred but candidates ordained through other approved ministry training programs will be considered; skills in organization, administration, and communication; commitment to the Church of the Brethren locally and denominationally and willingness to work ecumenically; demonstrated leadership skills; pastoral experience preferred. Apply by sending a letter of interest and resume to Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, director of Ministry, via email at Applicants are requested to contact three people to provide letters of reference. Upon receipt of the resume, the individual will be sent a candidate profile that must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

— Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) has announced three new project sites as partners: Lydia’s House, located in this year’s Annual Conference host city of Cincinnati, Ohio; Greenhill YMCA in Newcastle, Northern Ireland; and the San Diego Peace Campus in southern California. The announcement said that “Lydia’s House offers safe and supportive housing for women and children in crisis, part of the Catholic Worker house network. The program began in 2013, expanded in 2017, and opened new buildings in 2019 and 2022.” About the Greenhill YMCA, located on 17 acres near the coast of Northern Ireland, serving as an outdoor learning and conference center, the announcement noted that it has returned as a project site after taking a hiatus. The San Diego Peace Campus is “part of the ministry of San Diego First Church of the Brethren, with seven other religious and community organizations participating to collaborate around issues of social justice and provide mutual support.”

— The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA has released a statement opposing the
Supreme Court Ruling on affirmative action in college admissions.
Citing Isaiah 61:8, “For I, the Lord, love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them” (NRSVue), the statement said, in part: “The decision reverses decades of legal precedent and progress in providing equitable access to higher education for Black Americans and other racial groups who have endured the shackles of structural and systemic discrimination for centuries. Affirmative action is a reparative attempt to undo the lasting effects of slavery, segregation, and systemic discrimination against Black people in education and other aspects of American society. Since the 1960s, colleges and universities have developed programs to improve access to higher education for racial minority groups to reflect the full strength and diversity of the United States. Affirmative action considers an applicant’s racial background, including financial and other hardships due to systemic racism, as one of several factors in the college admissions process when evaluating a qualified pool of applicants. It is short-sighted, shameful, and downright immoral for American institutions to deny the history and impact of racism and discrimination. Opposition to affirmative action programs in higher education is evidence of how deeply entrenched white supremacy is in our society and how much more work is needed to undo and end racial injustice.” Read the full statement at

— On Earth Peace is sponsoring a gun violence vigil during the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, next week. Find details in the flier below, for those who may want to attend the event on Thursday, July 6, following the afternoon business session.

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