Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Brethren bits: Job openings, NYAC, disaster podcast, and more.
  • The Global Mission Partnerships of the Church of the Brethren General Board seeks one couple or family to serve as part of the lead team to begin the new Sudan mission initiative. The initiative seeks to rebuild and heal communities in southern Sudan after decades of war, and will include the formation of churches. A complementary team that includes people bringing one or more of the following skill sets is preferable: peace and conflict transformation, healthcare, church planting and Christian education, community development preferably with experience in emerging nations, dealing with trauma, and literacy and adult education. Candidates should bring relevant education and experience in their areas of specialty, previous experience in international cross-cultural settings, grounding in Church of the Brethren identity and practice, and a team orientation. Secondary skills in repair or maintenance of computers, construction, or vehicle mechanics is useful. Team members will participate in raising their own support under General Board oversight. The application deadline has been extended, with a proposed timetable for interviews and decisions to be made and placement occurring during 2008. Request application forms from Karin Krog, Office of Human Resources, at 800-323-8039 ext. 258 or

  • There are only 15 days left for young adults to receive the reduced registration fee for National Young Adult Conference. After Feb. 14, the registration fee will rise from $300 per participant to $325. Young adults are encouraged to register and send in the full registration fee now to take advantage of this opportunity. Register online at

  • January's podcast from Disaster News Network Radio focuses on the needs of children after a disaster and programs that make a difference in hundreds of young lives every year. Guests are Judy Bezon, associate director for Children's Disaster Services, a program of the Church of the Brethren, and Mike Nevergall of Lutheran Disaster Response. Find the podcast at

  • American participants in the annual workcamp to Nigeria sponsored by the Global Mission Partnerships of the Church of the Brethren General Board have been unable to travel this year because of lack of visas. The workcamp usually takes place from mid-January to mid-February, with participants from the US working alongside participants from Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN-the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and others from Europe to advance a building project of EYN. Nigeria mission coordinator David Whitten is leading the workcamp for the Nigerian and European participants.

  • Peter Nead's high hat, a particularly muddy baptism, a witness to the Johnstown (Pa.) flood, and the rescheduling of the end of the world are all part of the second set of Tercentennial Minutes available from Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. The weekly one-minute meditations on Brethren history are suitable for reading in worship or sharing in Sunday school or in newsletters or bulletins. This second set covers the weeks of March 2-May 25, although they may be used at any time. The meditations were commissioned by the Everett Church Tercentennial Committee and are researched and written by pastor Frank Ramirez. They are provided free to any interested church. In addition, the Everett Church is making available another new resource: the late Vernard Eller's original drama about the founding of the Church of the Brethren, "A Time So Urgent," which has been adapted by Ramirez. The drama was commissioned for the 250th Anniversary but not performed until 1974, when La Verne (Calif.) College students toured Brethren congregations performing the drama. Ramirez was a member of the original cast. The adaptation shortens the drama from two hours to half an hour. It can be presented in costume and memorized, or performed as reader's theater. Phyllis Eller has approved the adaptation for production and performance. Request these resources from

  • The 2008 Youth Roundtable at Bridgewater (Va.) College on April 4-6 will meet on the theme, "PST...Celebrate! Peacefully, Simply, Together." The theme was chosen to celebrate the Brethren heritage and look forward to and ponder the church's future. Keynote speakers are Amy and Brian Messler, entertainment will be by comedian and musician Tony Wolf, and music by the Bridgewater College praise band "Outspoken." The event will include singing led by the praise band, small group sessions, and a variety of workshops, as well as a Variety Show, recreation, and Bible study. Estimated cost is $43. For more go to

  • McPherson (Kan.) College is presenting a Religious Heritage Lecture on the topic, "300 Years of History and Heritage: What Will the Next 100 Years Look Like?" on Feb. 10 at 4 p.m. in Mingenback Theater. A panel of Church of the Brethren leaders will present answers to this focus question, including Paul Hoffman, president emeritus of McPherson College; Ruthann Knechel Johansen, president of Bethany Theological Seminary; Lowell Flory, executive director of institutional advancement for Bethany; Jonathan Shively, director of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership; Rhonda Pittman Gingrich of the 300th Anniversary Committee; and Herb Smith, professor of religion and philosophy at McPherson, who will be the moderator.

  • Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., held a commemorative service for the original college chapel, now the registrar's office in Founders Hall, on Jan. 24, according to a release from the college. This year, renovation of the hall will remove the north wing of the building including the former chapel. Founders Hall was built three years after the college was established, and included a chapel that would serve as home to the Huntingdon Brethren congregation for 31 years from 1879-1910. When Founders Hall was dedicated on April 17, 1879, in the chapel, President James Quinter gave a sermon and Jacob Zuck, Juniata's first faculty member, was quoted saying, "The day of success is dawning." The chapel, a vast open space capable of seating 500 people, was constructed without benefit of supporting pillars so that no one would have an interrupted sightline. This unique architecture required the builders to use a construction system that hung each floor of the building from massive trusses atop the building. Over time, vibration and stress from everyday use has caused the walls of the north wing to bow outward, resulting in cracks in the upper two floors, which were sealed off in 1979. The commemoration was led by college chaplain David Witkovsky and Dale and Christy Dowdy, co-pastors of Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, with Robert Neff, president of Juniata from 1987-98, speaking on the importance of the ties between Juniata and the Church of the Brethren.

  • Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., is commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech there on the topic "The Future of Integration" exactly 40 years ago on Feb. 1. The college will hold a convocation in Cordier Auditorium to commemorate the event with reflections, video and still photography, student recitals from King's writing, and reflections by professor emeritus Kenneth L. Brown, recipient of the Fellowship of Reconciliation's Martin Luther King Jr. Award. Music will be preformed by the college's A Cappella Choir. The public is invited.

  • The annual COBYS Family Services informational/fundraising banquet on March 13 is looking to the presidential election for inspiration, with the theme, "Banquet for Better America." "In this election year, COBYS Family Services is campaigning for your vote," said a release. COBYS Family Services is a Church of the Brethren related agency that "educates, supports, and empowers children and adults to reach their full potential." The banquet will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Middle Creek Church of the Brethren in Lititz, Pa. The program will feature a mock debate between representatives of COBYS and two imaginary organizations who are vying for support. Each will make their pitch for why attendees should support them with hard-earned dollars. The presentation will include stories of how COBYS is serving children and families in Christ's name. Banquet attenders will cast their votes by dropping donations into the ballot box for the organization of their choice. The evening also will include music from the Keister Sisters of Buffalo Valley Church of the Brethren in Mifflinburg, Pa. There is no cost to attend, but reservations are required. For more information go to or contact Don Fitzkee at or 717-656-6580. Those unable to attend can cast an absentee ballot by sending a banquet donation to COBYS Family Services, 1417 Oregon Rd., Leola, PA 17540.

  • The February edition of "Brethren Voices," a program offering Brethren community television, features Brethren Disaster Ministries and disaster preparedness. Brethren Disaster Ministries continues to serve survivors more than two years after Hurricane Katrina. The program addresses the question, why has the Church of the Brethren historically taken such an active role in serving others following disasters? Brethren disaster volunteers provide some of the answers in video produced by David Sollenberger titled, "To Live Out Our Faith." A district disaster coordinator, Brent Carlson, also shares information for disaster preparedness. In March, Brethren Voices will feature David Radcliff of the New Community Project, a Brethren related organization that provides environmental education to a wide range of groups including schools, camps, youth retreats, churches, and youth groups. For more information or to subscribe contact Ed Groff, producer of Brethren Voices, at or 360-256-8550.

  • Churches working for peace amid a wave of post-electoral violence in Kenya will receive a pastoral visit by a delegation from the World Council of Churches (WCC). The group plans to be in Kenya from Jan. 30-Feb. 3, with its schedule subject to change according to conditions in the country. A wave of violence along ethnic lines has killed more than 700 people and obliged some 250,000 others to flee their homes, a release said. The visit is hosted by the National Council of Churches in Kenya. WCC general secretary Samuel Kobia is himself a Kenyan. The visit of the group, which is called "Living Letters," is part of the WCC's Decade to Overcome Violence (2001-10). About 40 such teams are expected to visit different countries until 2011.

  • Former Church of the Brethren missionary Ellen Edmister Cunningham celebrated her 101st birthday on Jan. 22. She and her late husband, E. Lloyd Cunningham, responded to a call for missionaries to go to China in 1938. After unrest developed in China they were in the Philippines for language study when Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941 and along with more than 400 other civilians they and their young son, Larry, were in a Japanese internment camp from 1941-45. The story of the internment experience was published in a recent issue of "Brethren Life and Thought." Coming home after liberation in 1945, the Cunninghams returned to China in 1947 only to be forced out by the communists in 1949. While in Hong Kong, awaiting passage home, they received word that the mission field in India needed a doctor so the family, with two children by then, went on to India. "Ellen Edmister Cunningham has lived at San Joaquin Gardens in Fresno, California, for 27 years, in independent living until this past summer when she moved to assisted living. Although her eyesight is limited, making reading difficult, she ‘listens’ to three books a week from the Library of Congress talking book program," reported Brethren Historical Committee member Marlin Heckman.
Source: 1/30/2008 Newsline

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