Brethren bits for May 26, 2023

Registration is now open online for National Older Adult Conference (NOAC), taking place Sept. 4-8 at Lake Junaluska, N.C. Participants may register to attend the in-person event at Lake Junaluska or to attend the virtual conference from home, viewing events on their own computers. Go to www.brethren.org/noac to register and for more information about the conference. Information also is available on the NOAC Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cobnoac.

— The Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources program seeks a sorter/packer for medical supplies, to work at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. This fulltime position includes sorting pallets of supplies, checking for expiration dates and sterilization, correct placement of items, pulling and packing of supplies, labeling of boxes, assisting with trailer loading and unloading, and other warehouse duties. Required skills and knowledge include ability to handle a variety of tasks accurately and efficiently, comprehension of product codes and other detailed information, ability to work compatibly and cooperatively with co-workers and volunteers, ability to lift 50 pounds, and ability to work with minimal supervision. The preferred candidate will have a high school diploma or equivalent experience. Full COVID-19 vaccination is a condition of employment. Resumes are being received now and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Apply by sending a resume to COBApply@brethren.org; Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694; 800-323-8039 ext. 367. The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

— Camp Brethren Heights has an opening for camp director. Responsibilities of this position include oversight of facilities management, marketing, and programing. The position allows flexible hours during much of the year and is supported by an active board and part-time maintenance manager. The ideal starting date for the position is no later than Aug. 1, in order to overlap with the current director who will be leaving in mid-August. The compensation for this position includes housing with paid utilities, a health savings account, professional growth funds, and reimbursement for travel expenses. For more information about the camp go to www.campbrethrenheightsmi.org. If you are interested in the position, contact camp board chair Jack Durnbaugh at durnbaugh.family@yahoo.com.

— A vigil for Haiti has been announced by the Haiti Response Coalition and the information is being shared by the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. “As the situation in Haiti grows more dire, we realize that the insecurity we are seeing today is taking many forms,” said an announcement. “From violence and massacres carried out with impunity, to rampant kidnapping, arson attacks, and whole communities being displaced, to never before seen levels of hunger and food insecurity, as well as often insurmountable obstacles for access to health care.” The vigil titled Vigil4Haiti/VeypouAyiti will be held online during this Haitian History Month, culminating in a day of action on Haitian Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 28. Find out more about the campaign on the Haiti Response Coalition website in English and Kreyòl: www.haitiresponse.org/vigil4haiti and www.haitiresponse.org/veypouayiti.

Tanpri patisipe kanpay #VeypouAyiti pou bay lonè ki merite a sila yo ki tonbe anba ensekirite nan peyidAyiti. Nou pa ka ret an silans. Le nou pale nou chanje diskou ki fè vyolans pase pou bel mevey. Nou ka onore non moun ki viktim yo epi pale aklè sou jan peyi a ap mal dirije ak kriz sekirite a ak jan sa gen enpak manch long sou chak grenn ayisyen. #Vigil4Haiti #pèdiwout #Haiti www.haitiresponse.org/veypouayiti

The New & Renew conference brought some 50 participants to the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., last week, with some 50 people joining online. Here are just a few glimpses of the event (photos by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford):

— On Earth Peace is calling for church members and friends to #WearOrange in recognition of the National Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 2. “In solidarity with Everytown for Gun Safety, join this national effort to put a spotlight on the issue of gun violence across the country,” said an announcement. “Join us as we lament, grieve, express hope, and demand change to gun laws and a culture of violence that has caused so much loss and pain on our streets. Join us as many buildings, churches and skylines across America turn orange in solidarity during the first weekend of June.” On Earth Peace invites participants to take a picture, either a selfie or a group photo, wearing orange and post it on your social media outlets on the weekend of June 2-4 with the tags #WearOrange, #OnEarthPeace, and #OEP.

On Earth Peace also is announcing a gun violence vigil during the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 6. “Walk with us to Cincinnati City Hall as part of a public witness and vigil for gun violence,” said an announcement.

— Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa., will host a musical program for Black Music Appreciation Month on Sunday, June 11, at 2 p.m. The program is coordinated by Anthony Bullett of Payne Church and will include organ and piano instrumentals as well as music from soloists, duos, trios, and choirs from Huntingdon, Mt. Union, and Pittsburgh. The assortment of music from different genres will all be composed and/or arranged by Black people. Bullett told the Huntingdon Daily News, “This is a program I started planning three years ago. It is so gratifying to see everything coming together. I am especially grateful to the Stone Church for agreeing to host this event.” The event titled “Sounds of Blackness–Celebrating Black Music Appreciation Month” is free and open to the public. Find the full newspaper article at www.huntingdondailynews.com/daily_herald/news/locals-celebrate-black-music-appreciation-month/article_4b10425a-bb73-5896-aab7-752164aa73ea.html.

— The University of La Verne, Calif., is holding its 2023 Commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 26, and Saturday, May 27, at Ortmayer Stadium on the university’s main campus. “This is the first year that the university will celebrate the newest graduates from our fifth and newest college, the College of Health and Community Well-Being,” said a release. “This year’s keynote speakers also serve as important figures across the country and care deeply about the values and mission of the university.” The keynote speakers will celebrate the approximately 1,700 graduates from the school’s five colleges: Department of Education under secretary James Kvaal; California state senator Susan Rubio; president of the American Council on Education Ted Mitchell; San Bernardino County superior court judge Lisa Rogan; and president-elect of the Society of Neurological Surgeons and University of La Verne board of trustees member Kim Burchiel. Honorary Doctorates in Humane Letters will be bestowed to Kvaal, Rubio, Mitchell, and Burchiel. Find out more at www.laverne.edu/commencement.

— In the latest Dunker Punks Podcast episode, at https://bit.ly/DPP_Episode147, Anna Lisa Gross interviews a member of the Womaen’s Caucus who has been active in leadership over the past 10 years, sharing hopes and dreams for the future of the Church of the Brethren.

— Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is offering a virtual screening of the film “Two Kids a Day, which describes the use of arrests of children “to control and repress Palestinian society.” The announcement noted that “on average, two Palestinian kids are arrested every night by the Israeli army. They are interrogated, tried, and sent to prison.” The speakers are David Wachsmann, who was born in northern Israel not far from the border with Lebanon, currently lives and works in Tel Aviv, and studied at the Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem; Adv. Moria Shlomot, CEO of Parents Against Child Detention and a member of the Tel Aviv city council, who previously practiced human rights law and served as director of several peace and humanitarian organizations; and Mohamed Babai, a film producer and an activist who lives in Jaffa, Israel. The Church of the Brethren is a member denomination of CMEP. If you are interested in hosting a satellite screening of this event at your congregation, contact jennifer@cmep.org. Watch the trailer and learn more about the film at https://cmep.org/event/film-screening-talk-back-two-kids-a-day.

— The World Council of Churches (WCC) has been taking action on concerns about violence in Sudan and the Ukraine.

In a pastoral letter to churches and ecumenical partners in Sudan, WCC general secretary Jerry Pillay extended prayers for peace for the suffering of the people. “We have received with sadness and alarm recent reports of the escalating impacts of the current conflict and insecurity on the churches and religious communities of the country,” he wrote in a release that lamented the attack on worshipers in the Mar Girgis (St George) Coptic church in Omdurman during the service on May 14 May, and the expulsion of the priests and nuns of the community. He also shared grief at the shelling, damage, occupation, and vandalizing of many churches and houses of worship including the Anglican and Roman Catholic cathedrals in Khartoum, as well as churches and mosques in El Obeid, Geneina, El Fashr, Nyalla, and many other places. “Further, the violent destruction of the nation of Sudan continues, despite efforts and appeals for a lasting ceasefire,” he said. “The people of Sudan are the victims of this conflict between the military leaders, turning the country’s humanitarian crisis into a catastrophe.”

Various WCC delegations and groups have carried out visits related to the war in Ukraine:

A high-level delegation of WCC leaders went to Ukraine on May 10-12 to renew relations with churches and religious organizations and to explore possibilities of joint efforts to achieve a just peace there. The delegation also undertook an intensive series of consultations in Kyiv on May 11, meeting with church leaders, Ukrainian government officials, and others, including senior leaders of both the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, two churches whose longstanding dispute has intensified since the Russian invasion.

A separate trip to Moscow was made by WCC general secretary Jerry Pillay, accompanied by others from the WCC staff, for meetings with H.H. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia, and other representatives from the largest WCC member church, the Russian Orthodox Church. After the Moscow trip, Pillay said, in a release: “Consolidation and unity in Ukrainian society, including especially among the majority Christian Orthodox believers, is an obvious necessity in the current circumstances faced by the nation and people of Ukraine…. We visited Moscow to discuss engagement also by the Russian Orthodox Church in dialogue on the war and its consequences, including with regard to the deep divisions in the Orthodox family in this context…and I am grateful for HH Patriarch Kirill’s commitment to exploring this possibility.”

Pillay identified four important reasons for the WCC visits: 1) the need to bring an end to the current war, 2) to work for the unity of the Orthodox family which is so seriously divided in this context, 3) to discuss the role of the churches in peacebuilding both internally among Christians and externally to address the issues of war and violence, and 4) to propose an initial roundtable dialogue meeting to address these issues, with the participation of all parties concerned.

On another matter, the WCC has joined other organizations in an interfaith statement supporting the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. The statement was delivered to the United Nations. “A large majority of states at the UN’s Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons meetings are in favor of negotiating some form of regulatory instrument on autonomous weapons,” said a release. “The statement was formed out of efforts that have continued since February 2023–and before that–when members of the Stop Killer Robots coalition met in Costa Rica to consider the impact of digital dehumanization–a process in which humans are reduced to data points, on which decisions are made which can negatively impact us.” The statement said, in part: “The potential of such automated harm includes injury or death from the use of autonomous weapon systems…. Our different faith traditions teach a profound respect for life…. Accordingly, strengthening the moral threshold against delegating decisions about the life or death of people to machines operated by digital code is a core issue for us all.”

— The “Anabaptism at 500” project is seeking photos and stories. “Anabaptism at 500 is inviting photographers of all levels to submit story ideas that capture Anabaptist Christians living out their faith in inspiring and creative ways,” said an invitation for submissions. “We will write brief stories that will be featured in a full-color book that features vivid photos paired with short vignettes. We hope that the book will showcase creative expressions of contemporary Anabaptist witness in the world that give viewers a glimpse of God at work among us.” Brethren Press is one of the partner organizations for the Anabaptism at 500 project. Find out more and submit photos and story ideas at https://anabaptismat500.com/submit-a-photo-and-story.


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