Brethren bits

— Remembrance: Emma Jean Franklin Woodard, 73, a former longterm associate district executive in the Church of the Brethren’s Virlina District, died on Jan. 10, 2024. She was born on Feb. 12, 1950, to Mary Effie Hall and Curtis Daniel Franklin. She was married to Edward C. Woodard, who survives her. She was an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren and served pastorates and interim pastorates at a number of churches in Virginia. At the time of her death, she was serving as pastor of Bethany Church of the Brethren in Boones Mills, Va. She was associate district executive minister for Virlina District for 17 years, from Jan. 1, 2000, to April 21, 2017. She also served as interim district executive in January 2023. She is survived by her husband, Ed Woodard; daughter Hope Elizabeth Woodard Staton; son Nathan Cornelius Woodard; and a grandson. A memorial service will be held on Jan. 21 at 3 p.m. (Eastern time) at Oak Grove Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va. For those who are unable to attend the service in person, the Oak Grove church will broadcast the service live from their Facebook page. The link for the service will be available in advance as of Friday, Jan. 19. Memorial gifts are received to the West End Center for Youth in Roanoke, Va. Find a full obituary at

— Remembrance update: Service arrangements have been announced for Ken Holderread, who passed away on Nov. 28, 2023, at the Cedars in McPherson, Kan. A graveside service will be held Feb. 2, at 1 p.m., at the Big Creek Church of the Brethren cemetery in Cushing, Okla. A service of remembrance will be held on Feb. 3, at 10:30 a.m. (central time), at McPherson Church of the Brethren. To view a live stream broadcast of the service, go to A full obituary is now posted at

“The new CWS Kit Video has some great footage of Material Resources staff,” reports Roy Winter, executive director of Service Ministries for the Church of the Brethren. The video made by Church World Service (CWS) highlights Material Resources’ work to collect, warehouse, and distribute disaster relief kits. Loretta Wolf, director of Material Resources, is interviewed and shown in the video along with several of her staff. The views of a warehouse were filmed at the Material Resources location in New Windsor, Md. Find the video on the homepage of the CWS kits program at

A prayer concern from Brethren Volunteer Service: “As Ecuador experiences a time of violence, Brethren Volunteer Service asks that you keep Marianne, our current BVS volunteer in Ecuador, and the affected communities in your prayers. Marianne, who has been serving in Ecuador since August, is safe and is not located near these recent events. BVS will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

A related announcement: The FaithX adult service trip to Ecuador to volunteer with Fundación Brethren y Unida is still planned for June 2024. As the situation in Ecuador develops over the coming weeks, FaithX registrants for this trip will be kept up to date and informed of any trip changes or cancellation. If the situation necessitates a cancellation, all who have registered for the trip to Ecuador will receive a full refund.

— Richard B. Gardner, a former dean and professor emeritus of New Testament Studies at Bethany Theological Seminary, has written Passion of Jesus, the latest Bible study for small groups from Brethren Press. Each of the 10 chapters is suitable for one group study session. Order one copy of the book for each group participant. Passion of Jesus focuses on passages from Mark and 1 Corinthians, in particular the stories from Holy Week. The study is published in time for use during this Lent and Easter seasons. Order online at

— Camp La Verne in southern California, a camp of the Church of the Brethren’s Pacific Southwest District, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. This announcement shared via Facebook lists upcoming celebration events throughout 2024.

— Camp Emmaus, a camp of the Church of the Brethren’s Illinois and Wisconsin District, has installed a Camp Council Ring in a meadow on its property in Mount Morris, Ill. “It consists of 42 1,800-pound limestone boulders arranged in two concentric circles,” said a report on the installation, written by Howard Royer. The installation was created in November, out of “locally based materials, limestone from Freeport, mulch from Dixon, and landscaping from Polo. The construction is the latest of a series of physical improvements donated over the years to the camp by Ralph Miner. ‘Each of the limestone blocks is unique,’ Ralph points out. ‘Some slope this way and some another. Some align tight with each other while it seems others do not get along. All have rough edges, yet when they come together they work a common purpose. A modern-day camp allegory.’ Inspired by Danish landscape architect Jens Jensen (1860-1951), the council ring is a symbolic representation of both ancient Danish village gatherings and newer ideals of American democracy. ‘The circular design invites people to come together in an egalitarian way,’ Ralph notes. ‘Just as a circle has no beginning or end, there is no hierarchy within a group seated around a council ring.’ He adds that Jensen placed council rings in the Chicago-area parks he designed to encourage neighbors to come together as equals to share ideas, experiences, and stories and to enjoy the beauty of nature.” Miner is a member of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill.

— Brethren Housing Association, which is connected with Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren, will receive the Harrisburg Young Professionals’ (HYP) Project of the Year Award for its transitional housing units. This award is given to an organization with a project that directly contributes to the city, making it a better place to live, work, and play, said an announcement shared by Theresa Eshbach, who quoted the notification: “You are an organization rooted in supporting our community and our members and leadership recognize the important work of this project.” The award will be presented at HYP’s Annual Meeting on Jan. 31 at Strawberry Square in Harrisburg.

— “Two folks connected with our congregation were on WGN TV!” wrote pastor Christy Waltersdorff of York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill. The two people who were featured on the well-known Chicago television station WGN were Darwin Walton, a 97-year-old who is encouraging other seniors to pen their life story after having authored nine children’s books earlier in her life, featured at, and Laura (Zayas) Magrini, featured in a WGN news piece called “Around Town – Closest Closet” in which she is interviewed about her work to make rugs out of damaged goods donated to a used clothing story, at


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