Brethren bits

— Remembrance: H. Fred Bernhard (83), who served as moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in 1996, died on March 12 at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, following a recent cancer diagnosis. He was born April 14, 1940, in Lancaster County, Pa., to the late Howard and Florence (Gibble) Bernhard. He held a bachelor’s degree from Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, a master of divnity from Earlham School of Religion, and a doctorate of ministry from Bethany Theological Seminary. He served pastorates in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio. In addition to his time as moderator, his service on the denominational level in the Church of the Brethren included terms on the former General Board and on the former Brethren Benefit Trust board, and employment on the staff of Bethany Seminary where he worked as advancement associate. He also chaired the board of trustees for the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville, Ohio. He co-authored six books on biblical hospitality, the latest titled Outrageous & Courageous. He was a longtime pastor at Oakland Church of the Brethren in Bradford, Ohio, and retired from that position. After retirement, he continued in leadership at both congregational and district levels, including more than a handful of interim pastorates. He was preceded in death by daughter-in-law Patty Bernhard in 2019, and granddaughter Melissa Renee Bernhard in 2004. He is survived by his wife, Joice (Burall) Bernhard, whom he married in 1964; children Barbara (Wayne) Huffer, Howard Bernhard, and Thomas (Melodie) Bernhard; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A Celebration of Life service will be held at 1 p.m. (Eastern time) on Saturday, March 23, at Oakland Church of the Brethren, preceded by visitation at the church from 4-7 p.m. on Friday, March 22. Memorial gifts are received to the Brethren Retirement Community Resident’s Aid and to Oakland Church of the Brethren.

There’s still time to double the impact of your contribution to the Church of the Brethren’s denominational ministries by giving to the Matching Gift Campaign for Core Ministries by March 31. Go to

The National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) planning committee, with coordinator Christy Waltersdorff, have announced the theme for the next NOAC in 2025: “ALIVE IN THE SPIRIT!” (Romans 15:13). Each day will have a theme: “Living with Hope” (Tuesday), “Living with Gratitude” (Wednesday), “Living with Power” (Thursday), “Living with Joy (Friday). The event is planned for Sept. 1-5, 2025 at Lake Junaluska, N.C.

— Bethany Theological Seminary recently welcomed Annual Conference moderator Madalyn Metzger as the speaker for a weekly chapel service. The moderator also joined the seminary for Common Meal and “answered questions about her experiences as moderator and her observations from traveling around the country to visit congregations and District Conferences to learn about current issues in the denomination,” said a Bethany email. “The title of her sermon was ‘Welcome and Worthy,’ which is also the theme for this year’s Annual Conference. We are grateful to Madalyn for spending time with us, for volunteer leadership in the Church of the Brethren, for her message, and for her dedication to helping the denomination plan for the future.”

— Bridgewater (Va.) College has announced the endowed lecture sponsored by the W. Harold Row Symposium on Reconciliation, to take place on Monday, March 25, at 7:30 p.m. in Cole Hall. “Two of America’s most experienced political analysts will discuss national politics, current events and the upcoming election season,” said a release from the college. The speakers are veteran NPR reporter Mara Liasson, who is national political correspondent for NPR and who reports on politics and policy for the newsmagazines Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and conservative pundit Jonah Goldberg, former senior editor of the National Review and currently founding editor-in-chief of the online magazine The Dispatch. They will take part in a panel discussion facilitated by Bobbi Gentry, associate professor of Political Science, joined by undergraduate student Jory Cardoza, a political science major. The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Read the full release at

— A trilogy of books by Evie Yoder Miller, under the title “Scruples on the Line,” are historical fiction that offer accounts of Anabaptist experiences during the Civil War years based on historical records including diaries. For example, one of the fictional narrators is a minister among the German Baptists and travels with Brethren elder John Kline. “My books present a clearer understanding of peace principles among Anabaptists, even when being severely tested, and they do so in an accessible way through the storytelling and ‘bringing to life’ of audiobooks,” writes Yoder Miller. “Caught between love of country and religious conviction during the American Civil War, the characters in the Scruples on the Line trilogy reveal a thought-provoking spectrum of experience. Are their actions heroic or traitorous, or somewhere in the middle? Throughout the volatile years from 1859 into 1865, the values of nation and faith become deeply intermeshed. Believing in the separation of church and state, the Anabaptists of this historical fiction trilogy struggle to find clarity of thought or consistency of practice. The five narrators come from Mennonite, Amish, and German Baptist church affiliations.” All three audiobooks are now available to download through the Hoopla platform used by many public libraries. The trilogy also may be purchased in paperback, hardcover, and ebook format suitable for Kindle. The three titles are “Shadows, Book I,” “Loyalties, Book II,” and “Passages, Book III.” Find out more at

— Frank Ramirez, pastor of Union Center Church of the Brethren in Nappanee, Ind., and a prolific author who frequently writes for Brethren Press, Messenger, and other publishers, is celebrating 20 years of writing a weekly column for a local newspaper. Currently, his column is called “County Road Seven,” which he describes as “a largely light-hearted look at life, art, books, bees, and dodging Amish buggies.” According to Ramirez, County Road Seven “is about the good things of life, that we take for granted, It’s about the normal ups and downs we all experience. And it’s been one way I reach out to the unchurched. (Shh. Don’t tell them. It’s one of my ways of showing that we church people are not scary, but pretty much normal.)” Ramirez is now moving the column from print to online–as he points out: “Most newspaper writing ends up lining bird cages.” He is making the column available free to everyone at Anyone can join for free or simply log on and read columns. In addition, there is also a paid (inexpensive) membership tier that will feature some of the author’s writing that has gone out of print. County Road Seven, however, will remain free of charge.

Below: The National Council of Churches in its latest newsletter celebrated Women’s History Month with this illustration sharing the history of “The Alliance of Temperance and Suffrage.”


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