— Remembrance: Harold S. Martin (93), a leader in and one of the founders of the Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF), died on Jan. 5 at the Lincoln Christian Home in Ephrata, Pa. He served on the BRF Committee, was the first editor of the BRF Witness newsletter and served in that capacity for 50 years, preached at the BRF General Meeting as well as at revival services and numerous other venues, taught courses at the BRF’s Brethren Bible Institute, and was one of the leading free ministers serving in BRF-related congregations. He was born in Ephrata on Aug. 7, 1930, to Noah and Helen (Sheaffer) Martin. He was called to be a minister of the gospel, serving in the plural non-salaried ministry at Pleasant Hill Church of the Brethren for 62 years. He married Priscilla Miller in 1950 and they had been married for nearly 70 years when she passed away in June 2020. In his work outside of church settings, he taught mathematics at the junior high school level for 26 years, then took early retirement to devote more time to preaching and writing Bible commentaries. Among other books and articles, he wrote and edited the 18-volume Brethren New Testament Commentary published by the BRF, as well as commentaries on a book in each of the Old Testament genres, wrote Sunday school lessons for Brethren Press, and did radio commentary for the International Sunday School lessons. He was one of the last surviving members of the prayer meeting where the BRF was started, at the 1959 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Ocean Grove. His leadership in the Church of the Brethren denomination included terms on the Standing Committee of Annual Conference and on the former General Board. He is survived by son Stephen, husband of Martha (Minnich) Martin, of Lititz, Pa.; son Stanley, husband of Fannie Sue (Kegerreis) Martin, of Lebanon, Pa.; son Sherwood, husband of Sandra (Nell) Martin, of Hanover, Pa.; daughter Christine, wife of Dale Newcomer, of Bowdoin, Maine; daughter Delphine, wife of Wesley Ramer, of Gleason, Wis.; grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Preceding him in death, in addition to his wife, were his youngest daughter Berdene Walmer, and three grandchildren. A funeral service was held at the White Oak Church in Manheim, Pa., on Jan. 13. Memorial gifts are received to Bible Helps in Hanover, Pa. Find a full obituary at https://lancasteronline.com/obituaries/harold-s-martin/article_af5d842b-00c3-5aaa-bf79-08519e32c389.html.
— Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) has announced the dates for the next two volunteer orientations that will take place in 2024. The summer unit (Unit 335) will have orientation July 28-Aug. 5 at Camp Colorado, located near Sedalia, Colo., southwest of Denver. The fall unit (Unit 336) will take place Sept. 17-25 at Camp Brethren Heights in Rodney, Mich., north of Grand Rapids. Online pre-orientation meetings also take place before each group gathers together in person. To apply or to learn more about BVS, visit www.brethrenvolunteerservice.org.
— In more news from BVS, San Diego (Calif.) First Church of the Brethren is sponsoring a “BVS Bash!” fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 6 p.m. (Pacific time). San Diego First is part of the San Diego Peace Campus, a BVS project that is currently hosting volunteer Kendall Brown. The event will feature master storyteller Jonathan Hunter, who has been part of numerous Song & Story Fest gatherings, and “Los Maniacos,” a local Latin Jazz group that is a project of Bill Caballero. For more information, contact Judy Stout (who was a BVSer in Nigeria 2018-2020) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One day later, and about 2,700 miles away, Camp Mardela on the Eastern Shore in Denton, Md., will hold a BVS anniversary celebration on Feb. 11 from 3 to 6 p.m. (Eastern time). The event, organized by camp administrator Jennifer Summy and BVSer Jonas Baron, will include a potluck meal. Storytelling and sharing also will be part of the gathering, and photos for a slide show can be sent in advance to email@example.com.
If you are interested in hosting a local or regional/district event, contact BVS at firstname.lastname@example.org. BVS can send materials and other resources to help make it a success.
— Igreja da Irmandade (Church of the Brotherhood in Brazil), after more than a year of searches and negotiations, has purchased a property in the city of Campinas, in news shared by the Global Mission office of the Church of the Brethren. The plan for adapting the building to complement how the Brethren in Brazil function includes a large hall; three rooms for children, teenagers, and young people; and a space with a kitchen where, after services, the church will have communion. Work should begin and end in February. The entire cost of purchase, legalization of documentation, and renovation is covered by tithes and offerings as well as money received from the sale of unused property in Rio Verde.
— For Venezuela, prayers are requested for the next Annual Assembly 2024 of ASIGLEH, Iglesia de los Hermanos Venezuela (the Church of the Brethren in Venezuela). The assembly will be held soon in Cúcuta, Colombia. Specifically, prayer is requested for financial resources, the visit of guests from the Global Mission office and Brethren World Mission, the safety and health of all including the travels of Venezuelan delegate pastors and others, and the health and safety of and inspiration brought by the international guest speakers. “This event is very important for the consolidation of ASIGLEH, because our pastors will be ordained during the gathering, confirming their Brethren identity,” wrote pastor Roger Padilla, president of ASIGLEH.
— In news from Nigeria, Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) is requesting prayer for these concerns: An end to the attacks and killings by Boko Haram and Fulani bandits in Nigeria, particularly in Chibok, Madagali, and Gombi areas, in Plateau State and Zamfara State. Comfort and strength for the families affected by the attacks and killings. The release of Hamman Kisi Bwala, who was abducted by Boko Haram in December 2023. Divine guidance and favor for the preparations for the EYN Majalisa to be held in April at the EYN Headquarters, Kwarhi. The upcoming EYN leadership election. The unity of the church. God’s guidance, safety, and success for the EYN Ministers Council Conference scheduled for Feb. 13-16.
— “Vintage Recipes: Take 2” is the next online Facebook Live event from the Brethren Historical Library and Archives. Scheduled for Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, at 3 p.m. (Central time), the event will explore the 1901 edition of the Inglenook Cookbook, and archives interim manager Allison Snyder will make one of the recipes from the vintage cookbook as chosen by a Facebook poll. Go to www.facebook.com/events/733859905349760.
— Bethany Theological Seminary has welcomed Philip Asura Nggada of Jos, Nigeria, as an International Scholar-in-Residence for the Spring Semester 2024. During the semester, he will pursue two writing projects–“Educational Institutions as a Forum for Peacebuilding and Peacemaking in Nigeria” and “Textual Criticism: A Practical Approach to 16th Century Torah Scroll”–and will give a public lecture on his scholarship as well as speak about the current situation in Nigeria in various venues connected to the Church of the Brethren. Nggada holds a doctorate from the University of Jos, where he has been a lecturer. This past fall, he was the Snowden Fellow at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. The Bethany release reported that he has published books and articles on a variety of scholarly topics including the biblical foundation for human rights and social justice, the shepherd motif in the Old Testament, and the role of religion in addressing social and political concerns in Nigeria.
— On Earth Peace is offering an overview of Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation at 2 p.m. (Eastern time) on Feb. 23 as an online event. “Kingian Nonviolence is an approach to conflict and community leadership that offers values and methods useful for anyone who wants to use conflict constructively in your personal life, in group settings, or in community issues and building a reconciled world,” said an announcement. The two-hour webinar will be co-facilitated by Sheila Burton and Cristobal Van Breen. Burton is a former legal aid lawyer and the founder and former Executive Director of Join Hands ESL in East St. Louis, Ill., and the Ubuntu Center for Peace. Van Breen is a co-founder of the international grassroots animal activist network DxE (Direct Action Everywhere), leaving in 2019 to pursue other projects and currently leading nonviolence workshops around the country. To register, go to www.onearthpeace.org/2024_02_23_2hr_intro_kingian_nonviolence_20240223.
— The Brethren Heritage Center in Brookvile, Ohio, has volunteer opportunities. “In order to achieve the best possible team building success, volunteers need to be engaged with what brings them enjoyment and fits their unique skills,” said an announcement. “A volunteer interview worksheet has previously been developed by the BHC Board for use in helping potential volunteers get acquainted with the needs of the center and their own interests. Currently, there are opportunities for: scanning photos & documents; tech help (trouble shooting tech issues/helping with website); periodical assistance for our library; sorter/organizer of documents; bookstore assistant; receptionist.” Contact 937-833-5222 or email@example.com.
— Brethren Voices has released its latest episodes featuring Michael Stern, a Brethren Folksinger, song writer, composer and “Certified Laughter Leader.” He has written three songbooks of original music, with his latest being, “Songs for Kids.” He has recorded 13 albums and several singles and is regularly featured as an artist at the annual Song & Story Fest. During the war in Vietnam, he was a draft resistor and was ordered to perform alternative service, and as a Brethren Volunteer Service worker served in Dayton, Ohio, with an inner-city Head Start school for children. Brethren Voices host Brent Carlson interviews Stern about his song writing, which blends meaningful content and humor, for the January episode. Stern sings recently released songs, “Kangaroos and Koalas Came Calling” and “Only Love Will Remain” in the February episode. Find Brethren Voices episodes on YouTube.
— The 2024 Earth day resource from Creation Justice Ministries is titled “Plastic Jesus: Real Faith in a Synthetic World,” and is available to download at www.creationjustice.org/plasticjesus.html. Said an announcement: “Every year at Creation Justice Ministries, we create a resource to help churches prepare for Earth Day. It’s always our hope that these resources won’t just inform the congregation’s actions for a day, but will inform their actions on behalf of God’s creation throughout the year.” From an excerpt from the resource: “Everywhere we look in our culture you will find plastic. It surrounds our food, it makes up our technology, and is a standard element in our household items. Unfortunately, it is also overflowing from our landfills, floating in our waters, and polluting our soil…. We’ve designed this resource to help you think through all of the ways that plastic appears in our culture and to consider questions of how we can best love God, creation, and neighbor in a world overrun with waste and pollution.” The resource contains theological framing, sermon starters, advocacy ideas, resources for children, and three original songs commissioned to fit this year’s theme, available as recordings as well as sheet music.
— Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) executive leaders recently made extensive visits with Christian leaders and church members, political leaders and heads of state, peace activists and human rights leaders in Israel and Palestine, Jordan, and Lebanon. The Church of the Brethren is a member denomination of CMEP and is represented on the CMEP board by Nathan Hosler, director of the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. “Leaders advocated for an end to all violence and called for a comprehensive ceasefire, highlighting the massive number of deaths and demanding an end to the bombing and ground invasion and its effects on civilians in Gaza,” said a CMEP release about the trip. “CMEP also advocated for the immediate release of all hostages held by Hamas and other militant groups and the release of Palestinian prisoners. In addition, CMEP demanded immediate and adequate humanitarian access be granted to Gaza so that basic needs like water, food, electricity, and health care be provided and not utilized as leverage for political aims.” Trip participants included Mae Elise Cannon, executive director of CMEP; H.E Vicki Downey, Lieutenant of Honor of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem; Hassan El-Tayyab, Legislative Director for Middle East Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL); Susan Gunn, director of Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns; Bishop Steven Kellogg, Community of Christ; Sue Koenig, Moravian Church in America; Bridget Moix, general secretary of FCNL; Laura Osborne, Reformed Church in America; Russell Testa, Franciscan Friars and chair of the CMEP Board. Find the full release at https://cmep.salsalabs.org/pr-jan242024.
— The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) is joining several other faith-based and nonprofit groups in a “Pilgrimage for Peace to Demand a Ceasefire in Gaza.” From Feb. 14-21, faith leaders, activists, and artists will journey on a pilgrimage from Independence Hall in Philadelphia to the White House to urge President Biden to call for an end to the war in Palestine. Said an announcement: “Moved by our conscience, we stand united to address the ongoing tragedy in Gaza, where the death toll has reached over 24,000, the deadliest conflict in the 21st century. As we continue to mourn the loss of innocent Israeli lives on October 7, we firmly believe that responding to violence with more violence is not the solution. We urge President Biden and Congress to halt weapons funding to Israel and, instead, channel efforts toward increasing humanitarian aid to Palestine. It is our collective responsibility to advocate for a peaceful resolution and uphold the principles of justice and compassion.” The route is as follows: Feb. 14 – Philadelphia, Pa., to Chester, Pa.; Feb. 15 – Chester to Wilmington, Del.; Feb. 16 – Wilmington to Newark, Del.; Feb. 17 – Newark to Perryville, Md.; Feb. 18 – Havre de Grace, Md., to Joppa, Md.; Feb. 19 – Joppa to Baltimore, Md.; Feb. 20 – Baltimore to Laurel, Md.; Feb. 21 – Laurel to Washington, D.C. Register at https://actionnetwork.org/events/pilgrimage-for-peace.
Find more Church of the Brethren news:
- Remembering Belita Mitchell
- Fitzkee and Hollenberg head the ballot for the 2024 Annual Conference
- Mission Advancement shares matching gift opportunity
- Introducing ‘Shine Everywhere’
- Church of the Brethren general secretary one of more than 20 Christian leaders urging ceasefire in Israel and Palestine