As of the end of July, 25 congregations across 9 districts have received grants totaling $104,662. Programs have included food distributions, hot or takeaway meals, children’s summer meals, childcare, rental and utility assistance, hygiene and safety supplies, and shelter for vulnerable homeless populations. Brethren Disaster Ministries is beginning to receive reports about some of the first grants given, and it is clear that the assistance came at just the right time and has been received with gratitude.
Aug. 6 and 9, 2020, mark the 75th anniversaries of the nuclear bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. The Church of the Brethren has been involved in peace witness in Hiroshima through the placement of Brethren Volunteer Service workers at the World Friendship Center. Currently, Roger and Kathy Edmark of Lynnwood, Wash., are serving as directors of the center through BVS (see www.wfchiroshima.com/english ).
The youth Giveaway Garden was planted the first week of June next to the church playground. The team of 11 working that day transformed the new bed from grass to garden in under four hours. At that point we had no idea if our labor would be fruitful, or if anyone from the neighborhood would stop by to pick up some free produce. The answer to those questions has been yes and yes!
The Southeastern District Conference on July 25 at Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren in Jonesborough, Tenn., approved the withdrawal of 19 congregations from the district and from the Church of the Brethren denomination. The withdrawing churches represent close to half of the 42 congregations that have been part of the district that covers Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, and the western parts of North Carolina and Virginia.
The Church of the Brethren’s Illinois and Wisconsin District has issued a statement of response to racial injustice, signed by district executive minister Kevin Kessler on behalf of the District Leadership Team.
Two members of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) were among the five humanitarian aid workers who have been killed execution-style by a faction linked to Boko Haram.
In June, Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) made the decision to transition the summer orientation for Unit 325 from in-person to virtual. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in communities around the country, the staff have made the decision to also offer a virtual orientation for the fall orientation for Unit 327. BVS staff are excited to be able to continue sending volunteers to project sites while prioritizing the health and safety of incoming volunteers and the communities where they will be serving.
Brethren bits for July 25, 2020
1) Creating community at virtual National Young Adult Conference
2) Brethren Mutual Aid Share Fund responds to COVID-19 crisis, Mutual Aid Agency announces new name
3) Brooklyn First voices speak in the midst of COVID-19 and racism pandemics
4) EYN members are among aid workers executed by insurgents in Nigeria
5) Jon Kobel’s service with the Annual Conference Office ends
6) Brethren Volunteer Service fall orientation is going virtual
7) New Brethren Press resources include a Bible study on the Psalms and a new book for children’s worship
8) Brethren bits: Remembering Gene Hipskind and Timothy Sites, celebrating the class of 2020, personnel, jobs, free webinars and online courses, Global Mission prayers, news from districts, World Council of Churches executive committee, music by women at Ephrata Cloister, a children’s book by Gimbiya Kettering, and more
Due to Annual Conference budget shortfalls, Jon Kobel will conclude his work with the Church of the Brethren as conference assistant on July 31. He has worked for the Church of the Brethren denomination for 21 years, serving at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill.