Brethren bits

Remembrance: Kenneth O. Holderread, 85, a former denominational staff member and district executive in the Church of the Brethren, passed away peacefully on Nov. 28 surrounded by family at the Cedars retirement community in McPherson, Kan. He was born in Cushing, Okla., on March 3, 1938. He was married to Elsie M. Lucore Holderread and the couple had three children. He earned degrees at McPherson College and Bethany Theological Seminary, where he received a master of divinity and a doctorate of ministry. He was employed from 1984-1990 by the former Church of the Brethren General Board, first as a mission worker in Sudan, working alongside his wife as seconded staff with the Presbyterian Church in Sudan; and then working from the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., as representative for Africa and the Middle East. Following his service with the General Board, he served as district executive for Illinois and Wisconsin District. Later the couple were co-executive ministers of Western Plains District. Their significant work in Sudan took place during the period of time when warfare was occurring in the Darfur region, and included training pastors, evangelists, and church leaders. The couple also developed a Theological Education by Extension (TEE) program in English, Arabic, and Nuer, working out of the capital city Khartoum. The program was expanded to include a ministry seminar to help pastors deal with war and famine. As Africa and Middle East representative for the Church of the Brethren, Holderread continued his work related to African concerns as well as collaborative relationships with ecumenical and humanitarian organizations particularly in Sudan and the area that is now the country of South Sudan. A notable event during that time was his opportunity to worship with Nelson Mandela at a meeting of US church leaders in June 1990, in advance of an address by Mandela to Congress. Mandela was touring US cities to rally support in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. At the time, Holderread’s office was sponsoring an anti-apartheid activist to spend six months in the US to discuss the South African situation with church members. Holderread was quoted in an interview in Messenger magazine about his focus for mission: “We are called to a new understanding and a new faith, a new way of approaching faith even for our own lives if we are sensitive to the whole world.” He was an ordained minister and his additional service to the church over the course of a lengthy career included serving as Western Region youth director in the late 1950s, supervision of a clinical pastoral education program, and pastoring congregations in California and Pennsylvania. His teaching career included serving as a public school teacher in the early 1960s, as well as filling a teaching post in Ghana. Service information and a full obituary will be posted when it becomes available at

The search committee for the Church of the Brethren’s Mid-Atlantic District, which is seeking applicants for the position of district executive minister, is informing interested candidates that applications will be accepted through Dec. 31. After that date, no more applications will be considered. Contact Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, director of the Office of Ministry, for more information or see the job opening information at

A tweet from Juniata College celebrates the win! Read the full story on the college website at

The Church of the Brethren is seeking an individual to fill a part-time (40 hours biweekly) salaried position as manager of the Global Food Initiative (GFI). This position is responsible for providing oversight and administration of the Global Food Initiative program and fund and coordinates hunger-based programing with the Global Mission department, particularly with sister denominations in international settings. This position is based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., or remote, with some travel required. Full COVID-19 vaccination is a condition of employment. Required skills and knowledge include education or experience in agriculture or community development, keeping before the denomination the needs of the poor and hungry and the biblical injunction to meet those needs, promoting the Sustainable Development Goals, ability to take initiative without regular supervision, organizational and communications skills (verbal and written), initiating news and articles covering the promoting the GFI and related work, informing and enlisting church members in related advocacy efforts, ability to articulate and operate out of the mission and vision of the Church of the Brethren, grounding in Church of the Brethren heritage and theology and polity preferred, ability to collaborate with other programs of the church and the hunger ministries of other Christian denominations and humanitarian organizations and ability to keep informed of the work of those organizations, understanding of budget management with experience of managing a budget preferred, willingness to travel domestically and internationally. Skills in French, Spanish, or Haitian Kreyol languages preferred. A bachelor’s degree is expected, a master’s degree or equivalent work experience is helpful but not required. Applications are being received and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Apply by sending a resume to Contact the Church of the Brethren’s Human Resources manager at Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039. The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Church of the Brethren members in Lansing, Mich, got media coverage back in October for their public witness against gun violence. The group from Spirit of Peace Church of the Brethren had begun working on such public witnesses after a mass shooting in February at nearby Michigan State University. The church members “made it a mission to remember the names of children who have died from the hands of a gun,” said an article published by WILX Channel 10. “One by one, names were read, and honored. Each chime of the bell represented a child who lost their life to gun violence.” Said Brun Del Re in the article, “Just the sheer number of names is mind boggling.” Beverly Leaf was quoted as well: “It’s just heartbreaking. It’s unconscionable. I have a new great-granddaughter and as I hold her in my arms I could not even imagine her body experiencing the violence that these young children have felt.” Find the article online at

A webinar to discuss the role of media in reporting on migration is planned for International Migrants Day, Dec. 18, at 2 p.m. (Eastern time). It will present findings from the inaugural North American Migrant Media Monitoring Project. The study was conducted by the North American chapter of the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC-NA) in cooperation with WACC Global and others. “The report presents easy-to-use data on bias, language use, voice and subject representation, along with other demographic information useful for reporting on and engaging in issues of migration. Media sources from both the United States and Canada were monitored, providing a broader view of migration in North America. Following the time-tested methodology of the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP), which reports globally on the role of women in media, the North American effort follows similar studies conducted by the European, African, Caribbean, and South American chapters of WACC. Balanced and ethical reporting matters in the coverage of the stories of the migrants from their country of origin to the host country. The voice and agency of the migrants themselves matter.” Find out more at

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) is asking for help to advocate for the End Solitary Confinement Act, new legislation that was introduced in the Senate earlier this week on the 10th anniversary of former South African president Nelson Mandela’s death. “This groundbreaking bill, which is a companion to the bill introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year, would end solitary confinement in federal prisons, immigration detention centers, and other federal and federally contracted facilities with very limited exceptions,” said a release. “More than 170 organizations have endorsed the bill, including more than 30 faith organizations.” Find out more at

Mike Stern, a Church of the Brethren musician and songwriter who has performed for many church-related events including the Annual Conference, recently completed a new songbook titled Songs for Kids by Michael Stern and Friends.

Songs for Kids includes 25 songs–some original compositions by Stern, some traditional tunes, and others by the “and Friends” of the title. The book includes six new releases plus selections from two previous children’s albums that he has recorded. “All are perfect for singing with kids of all ages everywhere!” said a description.

“The printed music is simple and singable, designed to help you learn by singing and playing along with the recordings that are integrated into the digital songbook (and are also available as a companion CD),” said the description. “Most of the guitar chords are very simple even for beginning guitarists, however, fretboard diagrams are included for a few less familiar and slightly more challenging chords. A few of the songs require a capo to play guitar in the same key as the recording–but don’t fret about it!”

The songbook is intended for those working with young children, in church and school settings, as well as at home. Songs are designed for the teaching of music, dance, and games suitable for young children. Among songs that are just for fun (“My Brother Thinks He Is a Chicken”) there are meaningful songs touching on faith-based themes and topics. An index helps guide teachers, parents, and caregivers to easily find songs of most interest. For example, topics are titled with words such as “Critters,” “Environment/Nature,” “Making a Difference,” “Family,” “Love and Peace,” “Rounds,” “Lullabies,” and more.

The book is available from Beatin’ Path Publications in print and digital editions, accompanied by full-quality audio tracks in WAV and MP3 formats. Go to or contact Stern via email at


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