Brethren bits

Remembrance: Joan Pelletier, 90, a former longterm employee of the Church of the Brethren denomination, died Nov. 24 at the Sheridan at Tyler Creek in Elgin, Ill. She was born Sept. 10, 1933, in Peoria, Ill., the daughter of Azariah Martin and Mathilda “Tillie” Clara (nee Loeffelbein) Christy. While attending Bradley University, she met Orv Pelletier, to whom she was married for nearly 67 years. They moved to Elgin in 1957, where she worked at the Elgin District Office of the United Methodist Church. She began her work at the Church of the Brethren General Offices as a secretary in the former Parish Ministries Commission in April 1984. In April 1987 she accepted the position of administrative assistant in Parish Ministries. In July 1997 she became secretary for the former Congregational Life Ministries, a position she held until her retirement in May 2003. She was a dedicated community volunteer throughout her adult life. She served as a Girl Scout leader, worked on many school committees, and held numerous board and leadership positions with the Sherman Hospital Auxiliary, Junior Service Board, Meals on Wheels, Elgin Crop Walk, YWCA, Elgin Symphony League, P.E.O., and Matheans. She actively advocated for the Equal Rights Amendment and was instrumental in founding the All People’s Interfaith Food Pantry in Elgin. She was preceded in death by her husband, Orville Richard Pelletier, and is survived by son Richard M. (Jane) Pelletier, daughter Patricia J. (Gary) Petersen, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A Celebration of Life service was held Dec. 2 at Cornerstone United Methodist Church (formerly Faith UMC) of Elgin, where she was an active member. Memorials are received to Cornerstone United Methodist Church, the YWCA of Elgin, and the Alzheimer’s Association. A full obituary is at

The Church of the Brethren’s Western Plains District is seeking a half-time district executive minister to serve its 36 congregations in four states–New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska. The district is a geographically dispersed and theologically diverse group of Brethren disciples seeking to serve together as the body of Christ. This is a position of approximately 25 hours per week. The office location is negotiable. Travel is required both in and out of the district. Responsibilities include directing, coordinating, managing, and leading the district ministries; providing a strong emphasis on missional church and Jesus in the Neighborhood, Compelling Vision-focused leadership; working with congregations in calling and credentialing ministers and in placing, calling, and evaluating pastors; overseeing the well-being of congregations and ministers; providing an important link between congregations, the district, and the denomination by working collaboratively with the Council of District Executives, Annual Conference and its agencies, and their staff. Required qualifications and experience include ordination through an accredited program, with a master of divinity preferred; skills in organization, administration, and communication; commitment to the Church of the Brethren locally and denominationally; willingness to work ecumenically; demonstrated leadership skills; five to ten years of pastoral experience preferred. Apply by sending a letter of interest and resume to Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Director of Ministry, by email to Applicants are requested to contact three people to provide a letter of reference. Upon receipt of a resume, a candidate profile will be sent that must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. The full position description is at

A number of church-related organizations and groups are providing Advent resources:

From Brethren Press: All Things New by Kevin Kessler is the seasonal devotional for Advent 2023. This paperback, pocket-sized book is suitable for individual use and for churches to give to their members. “Advent is a season of the church year in which we are reminded that God listens,” said an announcement. “Pleas and prayers were answered when God arrived among us in Jesus, the name which means God is my help. The daily scripture readings in this devotional offer a glimpse of humanity’s desire for change, for a new identity. As you hear the yearning of people in these readings…you may be reminded of your desire for renewal, restoration, redemption, revival.” Purchase at

From On Earth Peace: An online Advent calendar is part of the kick-off of the On Earth Peace 50th Anniversary celebration. The calendar invites “us to consider the call to peacemaking as we anticipate the celebration of Christmas,” said an announcement. The calendar features poetry by On Earth Peace fellow Anesu Makufa, photos from On Earth Peace’s 50 years, invitations to join On Earth Peace’s current work, and worship resources including children’s stories, music, and reflections. Find a link at

From Community Peacemaker Teams (CPT): “As many Christian communities anticipate Advent, join us daily to discover profiles of Palestinians who embody resistance through impactful art, music, and poetry,” said an invitation from CPT, which has placed teams of peacemakers in the West Bank for decades. Each day of this online Advent calendar reveals diverse contributions from CPT’s volunteer teams. The calendar is offered in English and in Spanish. Go to

From Churches for Middle East Peace: “In Everlasting Light, Justice Shines” is the title for an Advent devotional series. “In this time of tragedy in Palestine and Israel, join Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) in lamenting for the region this Advent season through this Advent devotional series,” said an announcement. The series is available as devotional booklet for purchase by individuals and church groups. Find out more on the CMEP blog at

From the Global Women’s Project: “Advent is now upon us and beginning on December 1, we invite you to take time for reflection as you spend time with our Advent Calendar, a new design of the Wise Women by Jessie Long,” said an announcement. “While meditating on the day’s theme, color in the shapes labeled with the day’s number and the color listed in the reflection, or you can choose your own colors.” The group invites year-end donations sent “with gratitude for the luxuries in your life.” Request the Advent coloring calendar by sending an email to

Howard Royer (photo by Phil Grout)

A series of short videos of conversations with Howard Royer, produced by David Sollenberger, have been published online by Messenger, the Church of the Brethren magazine. Royer is a former editor of Messenger who served on the denominational staff of the Church of the Brethren filling a wide variety of jobs for 50 consecutive years from 1953-2003, followed by eight years as part-time manager for the Global Food Crisis Fund (now Global Food Initiative). He started his career in the church as a 1-W conscientious objector and volunteer in stewardship, then filled successive roles as youth editor, news director, Messenger editor, coordinator of a salvation and justice program, and director of interpretation. Find the videos at

“Send some Christmas cheer!” invites Brethren Volunteer Service. “Each year, we invite congregations and individuals to send Christmas greetings to our BVSers serving across the US and around the world.” If you would like to mail a card or package to any of the BVSers who are serving this year, you can request a list of volunteers and addresses from the BVS staff at

The BVS e-newsletter also is lifting up recent and upcoming celebrations of the organization’s 75th anniversary:

“Empire Church of the Brethren, located near Modesto, Calif., hosted the latest BVS 75th anniversary celebration, with a gathering Nov. 18 in conjunction with the congregation’s annual Thanksgiving meal. Former BVSer Jay Irizarry (Unit 275) organized the event. In addition to a meal featuring ham and scalloped potatoes, the get-together included storytelling, photos, and reflecting on what it meant to serve in BVS. Empire member Pam Warner Franklin (Unit 120) said it was ‘a delightful day’ celebrating the anniversary. ‘It was so great to share our stories together,’ she said. ‘One non-BVSer noted how amazing the variety of projects both in the US and abroad the BVSers present had been on. We shared lots of laughs and a few sighs of solidarity–a good time all around.’

Camp Mardela, located on the Eastern Shore in Denton, Md., will be holding a BVS anniversary celebration on Feb. 11 [2024] from 3 to 6 p.m., including a potluck meal. Camp administrator Jennifer Summy is organizing the event. Storytelling and sharing will be part of the gathering, and photos for a slide show can be sent in advance to For more information, visit”

If you are interested in hosting an event, contact BVS at for materials and other resources to help make your event a success.

The Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) is holding an online game day via Facebook Live for “anyone on or off Facebook,” said an announcement. “We’re back with Archives Lives with a leisurely game day and a celebration of Brethren Volunteer Service! Join me (Allison Snyder) and BVS director, Chelsea Goss Skillen, as we play the above pictured, homemade game and celebrate the interesting 75 years of BVS history.” The event is Tuesday, Dec. 5, at 2 p.m. (central time). Go to

Upcoming regional youth conferences have been announced for February 2024:

Roundtable 2024 will be held Feb. 23-25, 2024, at Bridgewater (Va.) College. Roundtable is a regional youth conference for the Church of the Brethren, held every year at Bridgewater. The speakers for the event will be Chelsea Goss Skillen and Tyler Goss. Said an invitation: “Come to Roundtable for a weekend of fun and fellowship with youth and advisors from up and down the east coast. There will be workshops, small groups, worship, recreation, and so much more!” Registration will open in early January.

The Midwest region’s Powerhouse Regional Youth Conference, sponsored by Northern Indiana District’s youth cabinet with assistance from some Manchester University students, will take place Feb. 16-18, 2024, at Camp Mack in Milford, Ind. David Radcliff, director of New Community Project, will be the keynote speaker on the theme “Caring for Others and Caring for God’s Creation.” Workshops will include leadership from Brethren Volunteer Service and FaithX, with other workshop options, worship, and recreation through the weekend. Cost is $99 for youth, $79 for advisors. Registration deadline is Feb. 2.

“Weaponizing Women in War” is a presentation offered by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation as a hybrid event on Dec. 8. Speakers include Madeleine Rees, secretary general of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; Oleksandra Matviichuk, head of the Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine), laureate of Nobel Peace Prize 2022 and the Right Livelihood Award 2022; Thomas Tongun Leone, medical doctor, coordinator of Catholic Health Commission of South Sudan; Carla Khijoyan, WCC program executive for the Middle East; Joy Eva Bohol, regional migration specialist-Europe, United Methodist Committee on Relief; and Sikhonzile Ndlovu, advocacy officer for Gender Justice, Lutheran World Federation. The webinar will discuss the direct impact of war on women and children including topics such as the old concept of “comfort women” forced to entertain soldiers against their will; incidents where rape is used as a sign of victory over defeated communities; using women for reconnaissance activities; using women and children as human shields or for leverage for food. “Case studies, while sharing the grim realities of weaponizing women, will also show examples of effective interventions, as well as ways of building resilience,” said the announcement. The event is offered as part of the campaign “16 Days Against Gender-Based Violence,” which ends on Human Rights Day, Dec.10. For more information and registration go to

Two Church of the Brethren members–Drew G. I. Hart and Gimbiya Kettering–are among the editors of a significant new academic volume on the topic of reparations, titled Reparations and the Theological Disciplines: Prophetic Voices for Remembrance, Reckoning, and Repair edited by Michael Barram, Drew G. I. Hart, Gimbiya Kettering, and Michael J. Rhodes (Lexington Books, 2023).

Hart is associate professor of theology at Messiah University and program director of Thriving Together Congregations for Racial Justice. Kettering is a writer and workshop leader whose work focuses on the intersections of race, religion, and political policy.

Contributors include the editors along with Stacy Davis, Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Malcolm Foley, Michael J. Gorman, Renee K. Harrison, Jim Bear Jacobs, Duke L. Kwon, Mark Labberton, Christina McRorie, Mako A. Nagasawa, Pamela R. Ngunjiri, Angela N. Parker, Rodney S. Sadler Jr., Matthew Schlimm, Joseph Downing Thompson Jr., and Ekemini Uwan.

“What makes reparations for entrenched inequity so urgent in our society is that it is the place where the hard question of economics and the hard questions of race converge,” wrote Walter Brueggemann, a renowned Old Testament scholar, in his review of the book. “It is abundantly clear that nothing less than reparations are required for our society to move toward peaceable, generative wellbeing. For this reason, this book is both welcome and urgent. It is welcome because it mobilizes in a most compelling way the inescapable evidence in our deepest theological tradition on behalf of reparations. It is urgent because the church, for the sake of the body politic, must be awakened to the requirements and possibilities latent in our tradition. The book makes it possible that the issue of reparations can be seriously and honestly taken up in local communities that are willing to engage the resources of our shared faith.”

The book is available in hardback and ebook formats. Go to For more information and a discount code go to Kettering’s website,


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