Brethren bits

— Remembrance: Phoebe Sue Hayes (74) of Sycamore, Ill., a former employee at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., passed away on Jan. 1, 2024. She was born on July 7, 1949, in Bluffton, Ind., the daughter of Roy and Wilda Olwin. She worked for several years in the 1980s and 1990s as secretary for Interpretation among other positions at the denomination’s General Offices. She later worked for some years at the Illinois Youth Center-St. Charles, a facility of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. She is survived by son Eric (Erica) Humbracht and daughter Rani Horton; grandchildren; sisters Gwendolyn Moeller, Nancy Winn, and Laura Heinberg; and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband Jonathan Hayes and her sister Carolyn Jensen. A memorial service will be held on Monday, Jan. 8, at 12 noon at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, preceded by visitation at the church starting at 11 a.m. After the memorial service, burial will take place at Windridge Memorial Park, Cary, Ill. Memorial gifts are received in her name to Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren.

— Happy 75th birthday! SERRV got its start as a Church of the Brethren program in 1949. Originally called “Sales Exchange for Refugee Rehabilitation and Vocation,” the church established SERRV to generate income for refugees in Europe after World War II. Since 1999 it has been an independent nonprofit fair-trade organization, and is a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization and the Fair Trade Federation. Said an announcement of the anniversary: “We’ve built long-term partnerships with skilled artisans and farmers around the world, bringing their handcrafts and foods to the United States while helping them support their families through fair and honest trade. We’re planning some special events to celebrate our 75th anniversary, and you’re invited! Exclusive promotions, one-of-a-kind products, climate change initiatives, and more are on the way.” Go to

Germantown Church of the Brethren in Philadelphia, Pa., received great media coverage of its 300th anniversary, which was Christmas Day, Dec. 25. Germantown is the Church of the Brethren’s oldest congregation and its “mother church.” The anniversary made the front page of the Philadelphia Sunday Sun (see above scan, provided by Michael Kleiner) and was the subject of a major story in the Philadelphia Inquirer at The congregation got its start with Christmas Day baptisms on Dec. 25, 1723.

Congratulations to the Germantown congregation, its pastors, and each member and attender on this historic milestone!

— Camp Bethel in Fincastle, Va., is accepting online applications for a full-time, year-round, salaried Food Services coordinator. Food service ability or experience is required, and staff management experience is preferred. This position is available immediately. Starting benefits package includes a salary of $36,000 without optional family/personal medical insurance plan (or $32,000 with optional family/personal medical insurance plan), an employer-paid pension plan, paid vacation leave, professional growth funds, and optional onsite housing and utilities. Camp Bethel is a facility free from tobacco, vaping, alcohol, and drugs. Find the application instructions, full position description, and more at or e-mail questions to camp director Hannah Jarrett at

— On Earth Peace is holding an online “Palestine Power Hour” on Jan. 19 at 2 p.m. (Eastern time). “We will go over the current needs of Palestinians and discuss the best ways for us to support them,” said an announcement. “There will be a mini workshop on how to contact your congressional and local representatives on Palestine. After that, we will take time together to contact our representatives. This will be a space to ask questions and support each other as we come together for Palestine.” For questions or concerns contact

— Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), of which the Church of the Brethren is a member denomination, is holding another prayer vigil for a ceasefire in Israel and Palestine. Said an announcement: “Join Christian leaders in prayer for a ceasefire and demilitarization in Israel/Palestine at a vigil in Lafayette Square on January 13th from 4-5:30p ET.” The event will be held both in-person and live streamed on CMEP’s Youtube page at

— Jennifer Hosler, who is one of the pastors at Washington (D.C.) City Church of the Brethren, was one of the religious leaders arrested on Dec. 21 while taking part in a nonviolent action calling for a ceasefire in Israel and Palestine. She shared online a statement about her involvement in the action, which began: “This week, I was arrested alongside 60 national movement and organizational leaders, while protesting in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda for a permanent ceasefire in Palestine. As a Christian pastor at Washington City Church of the Brethren, my faith compels me to protect life, to denounce violence, and to work for peace. There is no military solution to this problem….” Read the rest of her statement at

– Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm, Brightbill professor of preaching and worship at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., has been elected to serve on the executive committee of the Academy of Homiletics and in 2026 will serve as president. Reports the seminary in a release: “The professional guild of more than 200 scholars represents a wide array of denominations. Founded in 1965, the Academy of Homiletics is open to teachers and doctoral graduate students of homiletics across the world. Ottoni-Wilhelm will serve as 2nd Vice President in 2024, 1st Vice President in 2025, and President in 2026.” Read more at


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