Brethren bits for Oct. 19, 2023

Job opening: A marketing and communication officer position is open at the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. The NCC seeks a talented professional to drive the external and internal engagement of its ecumenical, advocacy, and activist agenda. This position offers an exciting opportunity to lead and implement strategic communications initiatives, from concept to reality, aimed at promoting NCC’s vision, mission, and values. The position will manage the organization’s overall communication and marketing strategy, including written and verbal communications, media relations, social media presence, and relationship building with key contacts in Washington, D.C. Job classification: Full-time exempt. Work is generally conducted Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is a hybrid position with at least one to two days in the office each week. Occasional evening and weekend availability may be required. Eligible for paid time off and retirement benefits. Salary range: $65,000 to $75,000. Apply at

— Video recordings of online events sponsored by the Part-time Pastor, Full-time Church program of the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Ministry are available online at The most recent is a webinar with Jon Ritner, author of the book Positively Irritating: Embracing a Post-Christian World to Form a More Faithful and Innovative Church, hosted by Ryan Braught, church planter and pastor of Veritas Community, a Church of the Brethren congregation. For more information contact Tabitha H. Rudy, administrative assistant for Part-time Pastor, Full-time Church, at

The fall 2023 newsletter from the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Initiative (GFI) is now available online at

The recent Christian Churches Together (CCT) annual meeting has produced two reporting resources. Wendy McFadden, publisher of Brethren Press and Church of the Brethren Communications, represented the Church of the Brethren at the event. Find a short video report at Find a photo album at

Elizabethtown (Pa.) College has begun preparing for its 125th anniversary in 2024. Reports the student newspaper the Etownian: “Next year, Elizabethtown College will have reached a golden anniversary of the start of its academic excellence. The 2024-25 academic year will mark 125 years since its founding.” The article gave the history of the college, which was founded by and continues to relate to the Church of the Brethren, and noted that “since its opening, Etown has maintained strong values of peace and social justice.” The plans for 2024 celebrations “far from being set in stone,” the article said, but reported that the 125th Anniversary Committee’s tentative plans will begin the festivities with Charter Week at the beginning of the academic year and will include an outdoor celebration for the whole community as well as the possibility of academic credit for those who attend special events centered on the college’s history. Read more at

Special group photos from this year’s National Older Adult Conference (NOAC), taken by Benjamin Hoffmann. Above: A. Mack joins the group of oldest participants, the people in their 90s. Below, the group photo of NOACers in their 80s.

Above: The participants at this year’s NOAC, held in Lake Junaluska, N.C., who also had been at the 1958 National Youth Conference in Lake Junaluska. Below: The three people who have attended all of the NOACs. Photos by Benjamin Hoffmann

Releases and statements on Israel and Palestine from ecumenical partner organizations:

— An opinion piece on the violence in Israel and Palestine titled “In the Mideast, Evangelical Leaders Need to Stand with People, Not States,” by Mae Elise Cannon, executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace–of which the Church of the Brethren is a member, has been published by Religion News Service. She writes, in part: “Christians should stand with people, not states. We should stand with Israelis–and Palestinians. Thousands of innocent people have experienced utter devastation in the past several days due to the brutal and horrific attacks of Hamas, the rockets from Gaza, the bombs from Israel and the armed conflict on the ground. Civilians always pay the highest cost for war…. Accusations of ‘bothesidesism’ or ‘false equivalence’ oversimplify what critics of Israeli policy vis-à-vis Palestinian occupation are saying. One can absolutely abhor Hamas’ actions and also advocate for justice for Palestinians. The grotesque reality of the massacres by Hamas militants in southern Israel should be unequivocally condemned. The stories of slaughter, rape and torture constitute crimes against humanity. No excuses, no justification. But now, the 2 million-plus people living in Gaza–more than half of them under the age of 18–are under a catastrophic siege by the state of Israel. As Biden said clearly this weekend, the vast majority of Palestinians do not support Hamas and are innocent civilians who deserve to be protected.” Read the full piece at

— Today, Churches for Middle East Peace sent out a call for a ceasefire in Israel and Palestine and a desperate plea that President Biden’s humanitarian relief is not getting to people in Gaza. The statement said that “most civilians in Gaza still do not have adequate water” despite an announcement by US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on CNN’s “State of the Union” this past Sunday that “Israel had restored water service to South Gaza.” The statement added that “as of October 18, reports indicate that UNRWA facilities have almost run out of water, with the average ration down to one liter of water per person per day; the minimum per international standards is 15 liters per person per day. Some UNRWA facilities have no water supplies available at all. Estimates indicate the average water consumption for all needs (drinking, cooking, and hygiene) to be three liters per person per day for all people in Gaza. Much of the water consumed is from unsafe sources, which increases the risk of waterborne illnesses, can cause infectious disease outbreaks, and even result in death. Sewage, chemicals, and seawater contaminate the only aquifer in Gaza. The White House announced following President Biden’s October 18th visit to Israel the promise of $100 million in humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza…. Earlier in the week, extensive negotiations, including Secretary Blinken, the Egyptians, and Israel, reported that an agreement had been reached and that the Rafah border would be opened for humanitarian access and distribution, although the timing was unclear. The current agreement for humanitarian access promised only includes 20 trucks initially…. Before the war, hundreds of trucks entered Gaza daily during the 16-year blockade to bring in necessary food and medical aid for UNRWA refugees to prevent malnutrition and promote basic levels of health and wellness. The 20 trucks won’t begin touching the catastrophic humanitarian need.” The statement also noted the continued bombings and that “there are no safe zones in Gaza…. Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) continues to call on the United States government not to ignore the growing catastrophic humanitarian crisis happening in Gaza. All efforts must be made for this war to be brought to an end.” Read the full statement at

— The World Council of Churches (WCC) issued two releases today regarding the violence in Israel and Palestine:

The WCC called for urgent humanitarian response in Gaza and a United Nations-led criminal investigation into the numerous war crimes committed against civilians. The call was made in consultation with heads of churches and representatives of Palestinian Christian organizations within the Jerusalem Liaison Office Advisory Group. The call for an international criminal investigation regard “grave violations [including] the recent shelling of Al Ahli Hospital that now seems to be in dispute as to who is responsible for such an incomprehensible attack on civilians, including many children,” said the release. “The WCC emphasizes the critical importance of confirming facts and ensuring accountability for all perpetrators responsible for the atrocities against civilians with the hope that they can be brought to book. The WCC further underscores the necessity of addressing the root causes of the current conflict, which are deeply intertwined with decades of occupation, prolonged sieges on Gaza, and the systematic violation of fundamental human rights.” Said the WCC general secretary Jerry Pillay, quoted in the release: “Our churches in the Holy Land are an integral part of the Palestinian community. All people in the Holy Land are suffering, regardless of their religion or ethnicity. As a worldwide fellowship, we stand in solidarity with our churches and share their prayers for healing and justice…. We call on all leaders to work for just peace in the Holy Land. Only justice will lead to peace, end of the occupation, safety, and security for all.” Find the full release at

Also, the Palestinian ambassador to Switzerland has met with WCC staff (whose headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland) to discuss urgent calls for peace and aid. Said a release: “Ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi, Mission of Palestine to Switzerland; and Doa Nofal, second secretary at the Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva, requested an urgent meeting with the World Council of Churches.” The meeting took place on Oct. 18. Among other comments, the release quoted WCC general secretary Jerry Pillay, in part: “We urgently ask both parties for de-escalation of the situation, so that thousands of people do not die unnecessarily.” For the meeting with the ambassador, Pillay was accompanied by Kenneth Mtata, WCC progam director for Public Witness and Diakonia; Carla Khijoyan, WCC program executive for the Middle East; and Marianne Ejdersten, WCC director for Communication. Read a full report on the meeting at

A prayer for Israel and Palestine from the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA:

“Lord, we come before you with heavy hearts, lifting all who suffer in the war between Israel and Hamas. We pray fervently for the innocent civilians and children who are experiencing the devastating impact of this conflict.

We ask for your divine protection over those who are caught in the crossfire, facing unimaginable horrors and uncertainty. Provide them comfort and strength in their darkest moments. Heal their wounds, both physical and emotional, and restore their shattered lives.

“We pray for the release of all hostages and a swift resolution that brings about lasting peace and an end to violence. May all parties involved find the resolve needed to create better pathways to coexist and help us see one another with compassion and understanding, remembering that each life is precious in your sight.

“In Christ’s holy and precious name, we pray. Amen.”


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