Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Brethren bits: Personnel, job openings, and more.
  • Helen Stonesifer has announced her retirement as coordinator of Children's Disaster Services (formerly Disaster Child Care) for the Church of the Brethren General Board, effective July 1. Serving for more than 30 years with the General Board, Stonesifer has held various positions at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., since her employment began in 1976. She began in food services, then moved to SERRV, where she worked in various areas. In 1989, she became secretary in the Administrative Offices, and in 1990 was hired as secretary for Cooperative Disaster Child Care. In 1998, she became the office manager and administrative secretary for Emergency Response/Service Ministries, while also providing support to Disaster Child Care. Then, in 2003, her position changed to coordinator for Disaster Child Care. Her responsibilities have included coordinating child care disaster responses; managing, training, and scheduling Critical Response Childcare Teams; recruiting, screening, and certification of volunteers; and planning and developing the annual calendar of trainings for the program.

  • Rita Taylor is a new employee with the dining services of the New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center at the Brethren Service Center, beginning June 12. Taylor is an experienced cook who most recently worked at Indian Springs Country Club in Silver Spring, Md. She and her family live in Columbia, Md. She is a devout Christian, originally born in Lagos, Nigeria, and is in the process of becoming an American citizen. She will be serving as team leader for the afternoon and weekend shifts, working with managing chef Walt Trail.

  • Johanna Olson has begun work as temporary staff for the Brethren Disaster Ministries of the Church of the Brethren General Board. She will help bridge transitions in staffing following the retirement of Helen Stonesifer as coordinator of Children’s Disaster Services (formerly Disaster Child Care) and the hiring of a new associate director. Olson is a returning Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker who served as a volunteer for Emergency Response in 1994-95. She graduated last winter from the University of Minnesota with a master’s degree in nonprofit management and public policy. She also has worked with refugee programs in St. Paul, Minn., and for the disaster response program of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She will work both at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., and from her home in Illinois.

  • The Church of the Brethren General Board seeks a managing editor for Brethren Press, to fill a fulltime position in Elgin, Ill. Responsibilities including managing the publishing schedule for a wide range of curriculum, books, bulletins, pamphlets, and other publications; managing the editorial office including contracts, copyright permissions, and payments; copy-editing and proofreading most publications; providing content editing on selected publications; supervising projects through typesetting and design; working collaboratively with contract writers, editors, designers, typesetters, and photographers; and assisting with acquisitions of new titles. Qualifications include excellent editing and proofreading skills and experience with broader areas of production and publishing; ability to supervise and organize many details and meet deadlines; excellent computer skills; understanding of Church of the Brethren heritage, theology, and polity or willingness to learn; strong communication and interpersonal skills; demonstrated skill in establishing and operating in a collegial framework. Required education and experience include a bachelor’s degree in a related field, with a master’s degree preferred, and prior successful experience with editing and production. Preference will be given to individuals active in the Church of the Brethren. A position description and application form are available on request. Application deadline is Aug. 15. To apply, complete the General Board application form, submit a resume and letter of application, and request three references to send letters of recommendation to the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren General Board, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694; 800-323-8039 ext. 258;

  • The Brethren Witness/Washington Office and On Earth Peace seek an International Day of Prayer for Peace grassroots organizer, to fill a short-term part-time contract position without benefits, paid at $13.50 per hour. Work will be done from home, some travel may be necessary. This position is jointly sponsored by the two organizations to catalyze and organize Church of the Brethren congregations around the International Day of Prayer for Peace on Sept. 21. Responsibilities include developing and carrying out a marketing, outreach, and organizing plan; promoting resources and an organizing packet for vigils; serving as liaison between local organizers, On Earth Peace, and the Brethren Witness/Washington Office; and building relationships that will keep the two organizations in touch with congregations for ongoing work. Qualifications include grassroots organizing skills, communication skills, ability to reach out to diverse constituencies and cultures, and availability at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, June 30-July 4. Basic familiarity with the Church of the Brethren is helpful, and multilingual abilities are preferred. Information about the International Day of Prayer for Peace is at On Earth Peace, the contracting agency, does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, culture, national origin, orientation, age, or disability, and encourages all interested persons to apply. The application process begins immediately, as the two organizations hope to have an organizer in place June 30 through September. To apply, send a letter of interest including relevant experience to Matt Guynn, Coordinator of Peace Witness, On Earth Peace,, 765-966-2546 (fax). Applications will be considered beginning the morning of June 24, until the position is filled.

  • “Brethren Life and Thought” is in search of writers. The Church of the Brethren academic journal selects the most thoughtful and careful writings about church life, theology, biblical studies, and history, “but it doesn’t always demand footnotes,” said editor Julie Garber in a request for submissions. As a product of Bethany Theological Seminary and the Brethren Journal Association, “Brethren Life and Thought” was conceived as an academic journal to publish the research of seminary faculty, pastors, graduate students, and scholars. “Fifty-one years later, many people practice sound and creative thinking that deserves an airing in the church, so the journal invites writers of all types, including professional scholars, to contribute to the dialogue,” Garber said. Quality essays, sermons, reviews, research, critique, poetry, and worship resources are welcome. An editorial board reviews submissions, choosing the most well reasoned materials for publication. Submit writings to Include contact information. Consult submission guidelines at

  • The Brethren Witness/Washington Office is inviting congregations to join a project called "Spotlight on Torture," in which the National Religious Campaign Against Torture has arranged for DVD copies of the film "Ghosts of Abu Ghraib" to be available to 1,000 congregations on a first come, first served basis. Fifty copies were given out during the week of June 10-17, and 950 more will be given out during the week of Oct. 21-28. "Ghosts of Abu Ghraib" is an 80-minute HBO film on the torture at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, suitable for mature audiences only. Filmmaker Rory Kennedy investigates the psychological and political context in which the torture occurred. Each participating church receives a free copy of the DVD, a facilitator’s guide for leading discussion, a copy of “Torture is a Moral Issue”--a statement that could be endorsed by those attending the screening and by others in the congregation, suggestions of action steps to end torture, and resources for further information. Go to for details. Congregations are requested to call the Brethren Witness/Washington Office at 800-785-3246 if they are chosen to host a screening, so that the information may be shared with other congregations in the area.

  • Congregations that recently celebrated the century mark include Juniata Church of the Brethren in Altoona, Pa., with a celebration on April 28-29, and Annville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, with a weekend of festivities on April 28-29.

  • "Mission Alive" was the theme for the spring rally of the West Marva District Women, at Shady Grove (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren on May 9. Seventy-five people represented 23 congregations. Janis Pyle, coordinator for mission connections for the Global Mission Partnerships of the General Board, gave an overview of denominational missions, information about mission efforts in Sudan, and church planting in Brazil. Offerings of $1,220 were earmarked for the Sudan Initiative. At the event, 143 health kits, 168 school kits, and 69 baby kits were collected for Church World Service, and donations of $274 for blankets and $612 for postage for the kits were made.

  • The Brethren Retirement Center in Greenville, Ohio, will host the Midwest Peacemakers 2007 Conference on the theme, "The Nonviolence of Jesus,” from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Aug. 18. The three keynote speakers are Rod Kennedy, minister of First Baptist Church in Dayton, Ohio, seminary professor, and a leader in the Baptist Peace Fellowship; Thomas Miess-McDonald, theology professor, missionary, and pastor of the Church of the Great Peace; and Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, Byzantine priest, educator, co-founder of Pax Christi-USA, and an author and speaker for the Center for Christian Nonviolence. The event includes worship, singing, and a carry-in lunch. The Midwest Peacemakers was established in 2002 by Church of the Brethren alumni of Civilian Public Service and Brethren Volunteer Service. Contact chairman Charles F. Cooley, 4922 Honeysuckle Blvd., Columbus, OH 43230; 614-794-2745.

  • Eight Brethren were among participants in a May 18-29 Ecuadorian Amazon Learning Tour sponsored by the New Community Project. The delegation explored the rainforest ecosystem, met with Siona and Cofan native leaders, and learned about impacts of oil drilling, cocoa and coffee production, deforestation, poverty, and climate change on tropical forests and human communities. The visit was hosted by Selva: Vida sin Frontiers, an Ecuadorian environmental and human rights organization that has benefited in the past from a grant from the Church of the Brethren's Global Food Crisis Fund. Other upcoming trips include Honduras (July 10-20), Denali/Kenai Fjords (Aug. 10-19), and Arctic Village, Alaska (Aug. 20-29).

  • David Eller, former chairman of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College's Religious Studies Department and former director of the Young Center for the Study of Anabaptist and Pietist Groups, has been sentenced to two-and-a-half to10 years in state prison, followed by five years of probation, according to a report in the “Lancaster New Era” newspaper on June 2. The court’s decision was announced June 1. Last summer Eller was arrested after having contacted four undercover agents posing as children on the Internet, and after having made an appointment to meet one of the agents posing as a young girl. The agents were members of the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Child Predator Unit. In February Eller pled guilty to charges of criminal use of a computer and unlawful contact with a minor. Some 60 people were in the court to support Eller, the newspaper said, many from his congregation at Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.
Source: 6/20/2007 Newsline

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