- Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren General Board, will be on sabbatical from Jan. 2-March 3. The sabbatical was approved and announced by the General Board’s Executive Committee at the board’s Fall meeting in Oct. 2007. Noffsinger’s sabbatical time will be spent reading, studying German, and spending several weeks in the high Sonoran Desert of Arizona considering wellness and wisdom through the desert prophets. Executive director of the Ministry Office, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, will be acting general secretary. She will work with Tim Harvey, General Board chair, and Jon Kobel of the general secretary’s office, to prepare for the Spring meeting of the General Board in March. To contact Flory-Steury call Jon Kobel at the general secretary’s office at 800-323-8039 ext. 201, or Margie Paris at the Ministry Office at 800-323-8039 ext. 207.
- Tim Stauffer has accepted the position of computer technical support specialist in the Information Services department of the Church of the Brethren General Board, effective Jan. 7. Stauffer will work at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., where he has been a Brethren Volunteer Service worker since Aug. 2006. He is from Polo, Ill.
- Nancy Buffenmyer, of Lombard, Ill., began work as the Gather 'Round editorial and marketing assistant on Jan. 14. Gather 'Round is a Sunday school curriculum published jointly by Brethren Press and the Mennonite Publishing Network. Buffenmyer has extensive experience in the publication production process, having worked for Tyndale House Publishers for more than a dozen years and more recently for Douglas Shaw and Associates in West Chicago. She currently serves on the worship committee of York Center Church of the Brethren. She will work fulltime at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.
- John and Mary Mueller, directors of a Katrina rebuilding project for Brethren Disaster Ministries, are part of the largest volunteer response in US history, according to an article published yesterday in "USA Today." The Muellers and their story provide the lead for a Jan. 15 article, "Katrina Volunteers Come to Stay," focused on those who are rebuilding the New Orleans area as fulltime volunteers. To find the article online, go to www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-01-14-katrina-volunteers-main_N.htm.
- The Emergency Disaster Fund has sent a grant of $2,300 to aid those displaced by political unrest and violence in Kenya. The grant supports a Church World Service appeal for displaced people affected by post-election rioting and violence, and supports the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church in providing emergency food to 15,000 displaced Kenyans.
- The 2008 Lent devotional from Brethren Press, "He Set His Face: Devotions for Ash Wednesday Through Easter," is written by James L. Benedict, pastor of Union Bridge (Md.) Church of the Brethren. The booklet of daily devotions offers a scripture, meditation, and prayer for each day of Lent through Easter Sunday. "The purpose of this devotional guide is to encourage reflection and prayer, two of the four pillars of Lenten observance," Benedict writes in the introduction. "Through reflection and prayer, we will be encouraged to renew our understanding of discipleship and deepen our commitment to being followers of Jesus." Order from Brethren Press for $2.25 each plus shipping and handling; call 800-441-3712 or go to www.brethrenpress.com.
- Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) announces the start of its 2008 Winter Orientation Unit, to be held Jan. 27-Feb. 15 at Camp Ithiel in Gotha, Fla. This will be the 278th unit for BVS with eight volunteers from the US and Germany, including several Church of the Brethren members. A highlight of the three-week orientation will be a weekend immersion experience in Miami, as well as volunteer work experiences in the Orlando area. The group will have the opportunity to work at food banks, nature preserves, nonprofit organizations, and Habitat for Humanity, and will work at Camp Ithiel for a day. A BVS potluck is open to all those who are interested on Feb. 4, at 5:30 p.m., at Camp Ithiel. "Please feel free to come and welcome the new BVS volunteers and to share your own experiences," said an invitation from Beth Merrill of the BVS staff. "As always your thoughts and prayers are welcome and needed. Please remember this new unit and the people they will touch during their year of service through BVS," Merrill said. For more information contact the BVS office at 800-323-8039 ext. 423.
- On Earth Peace has announced the theme for its work in 2008, "Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other" (Psalm 85:10). Each year, On Earth Peace selects a theme to inform its work, inspire its community, and ground its peacemaking efforts in scripture, according to an announcement in "The Peacebuilder" newsletter.
- On Earth Peace is offering follow-up support for those who took part in events on the International Day of Prayer for Peace last September. Congregations that planned events are receiving phone calls to support and encourage next steps for building peace in local communities. To receive a support phone call contact the Peace Witness program at 503-775-1636. In addition, on Jan. 30 at 4 p.m. Pacific time (7 p.m. Eastern) a networking conference call is offered for organizers to share what has been happening since then, and to offer and receive inspiration and support for next steps. To register for the networking call, contact Darlene Johnson at 410-635-8706 or email@example.com.
- Emmanuel Church of the Brethren in Mount Solon, Va., has moved to a new building. The old building that dates from 1896 is scheduled to be torn down, according to a report in the "Daily News Record" of Harrisonburg, Va. The new $1.5 million building was dedicated with worship on Dec. 30. Pastor Eugene Shaver said the church hopes the new building will become a resource for the community, and plans to open a day care center in the fall.
- Stonewall Church of the Brethren in Floyd, Va., plans to honor former pastor Elbert Lee Naff Sr. for 33 years of service on Sunday, Jan. 20. Naff retired on Dec. 31.
- Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren held its ninth annual "First Day Feast" on New Year's Day, with 1,365 people in attendance according to the "Lititz Record Express." The feast included pork, potatoes, and sauerkraut. "For anyone wondering why the streets of Lititz were so barren on New Year's Day, it's because everyone in town, or so it seemed, was at Lititz Church of the Brethren for dinner," the article said, going on to report that the event took place with the help of 135 volunteers working over two days, and that the church served 800 pounds of pork, 540 pounds of potatoes, and 85 gallons of sauerkraut. The annual dinner raises thousands of dollars for a Youth Foundation Fund.
- The annual midwestern Regional Youth Conference usually hosted by Manchester College will not take place this year, according to an announcement posted on the website of Illinois and Wisconsin District. Dave McFadden, Manchester’s executive vice president, said in the announcement that declining attendance has led organizers to ask how youth and congregations in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan may be better served. During a meeting with youth pastors from Northern and South/Central Indiana Districts, McFadden and campus pastor Steve Crain learned that the traditional late April date conflicts with end-of-year school activities for many youth. Also, the "mini-National Youth Conference" approach spreads leadership and participants too thinly, the announcement said. "We know there will be disappointments with our decision but we hope this disappointment is a good sign that there is ongoing interest in a six-district event," McFadden said. "As the interests and schedules of youth change, we want to adapt creatively to those changes."
- Upcoming "Grow with CBS (Center for Brethren Studies)" courses in Pacific Southwest District are planned on the theme "Serving in Your Strengths" on Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at Empire Church of the Brethren in Modesto, Calif., and on Feb. 7-8 at La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, with instructor Jeff Glass of the General Board's Congregational Life Teams. A course on "The Vital Community of Jesus" is offered on Feb. 21-24 at the La Verne Church with former Annual Conference moderator Paul Grout as instructor. The Center for Brethren Studies is sponsored by the district and directed by Doris H. Dunham. For more information go to www.pswdcob.org/cbs or contact the Center for Brethren Studies, P.O. Box 219, La Verne, CA 91750-0219; firstname.lastname@example.org.
- A state survey of 224 nursing homes by the Maryland Health Care Commission found that families have "an excellent opinion" of Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village. Fahrney-Keedy is a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Boonsboro, Md., and reported these findings in a recent release. "From September to November the commission surveyed family members and other primary responsible parties with regard to services and care available for residents in the nursing homes," the release said. For Fahrney-Keedy, 87 families received surveys, and on a 1-to-10 scale of overall satisfaction rated Fahrney-Keedy at 9.3. Statewide, the average rate was 8.1. "The results of this survey validate that the residents at Fahrney-Keedy receive quality care and that we have a dedicated group of staff that are committed to serving our residents well. We always strive to maintain this excellent level of care," said Bob Lytle, administrator.
- Pleasant Hill Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Girard, Ill., held its annual Dinner and Auction on Oct. 20. Almost 200 people were in attendance, and proceeds netted $9,244, from an auction and other games. The gross revenue from the event is estimated at $15,300. "Thank you to all who assisted with this event and made donations. Several new donations were received from Brethren churches," said Pleasant Hill Village in a note in the Illinois and Wisconsin District newsletter.
- Pinecrest Community, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Mount Morris, Ill., is holding an open house for new homes on Jan. 25-27. The new designs by Willett Hofman and Associates feature one and two bedroom homes with a one-car garage. For more information contact Chrystal Bostian at 815-734-2103.
- For its annual Martin Luther King Day observance, Manchester College is bringing activist and historian Reiland Rabaka to campus on Jan.17-18. Manchester is a Church of the Brethren-related college in North Manchester, Ind. Rabaka is associate professor of Africana studies at the University of Colorado, and an affiliate professor of women and gender studies, and is author of "W.E.B. Du Bois and the Problems of the Twenty-First Century." The public is invited to "A Drum Major for Justice: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Message and Its Special Meaning" at 7 p.m. on Jan. 18 in the College Union. A service of remembrance and celebration for Martin Luther King Jr. will follow, with the Union Baptist Church Mass Choir of Fort Wayne. While on campus, Rabaka also will lecture on "African-American Radical Politics and Social Movements" at 9 a.m. on Jan. 18, in the Lahman Room of the College Union; and at 7 p.m. on Jan. 17 will present "Hip-Hop vs. Hip-Pop" during a student poetry reading in Oakwood Hall. In February Manchester will commemorate the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to the college, when he delivered his final college address before his death. The commemoration will take place at 10 a.m. on Feb. 1, in Cordier Auditorium, with a 50-minute program including video clips, student readings from the speech, remembrances, and music.
- A spring gathering of the Brethren Peace Fellowship will be held April 12 in Union Bridge, Md., on the topic, "Neglected Voices: Peace in the Old Testatment." Leadership will be provided by David Leiter, pastor of Green Tree Church of the Brethren in Oaks, Pa., and author of a new book of the same title (available from Brethren Press, call 800-441-3712). The gathering also will include times of worship and singing, a potluck lunch, and the opportunity for walks around the Aukerman homestead. Participants are invited to bring food to share. The event will be held at Ruth Aukerman's home, or if the group grows too large at Union Bridge Church of the Brethren. Limited sleeping space is available for those who may need it. To attend, contact Aukerman at 410-775-2254 or email@example.com (note "BPF" in the e-mail title).
- The Church of the Brethren’s Global Women's Project has partnered with the New Community Project to help support a women's empowerment initiative of the Christian Commission in Honduras. The two groups have sent a $5,000 grant--$2,500 from the New Community Project and $2,500 from the Global Women's Project--for a series of community meetings and workshops designed to give women more voice in civic affairs and more equal standing in their communities.
- Peggy Gish, a Church of the Brethren member with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in Iraq, has reported that Turkish bombings in the Kurdish area of northern Iraq have killed, injured, and displaced civilians. The CPT team met with people who experienced the bombings, some of whom lost family members or had family members injured in the attacks. Gish reported that on the night of Dec. 16, Turkish planes bombed 34 villages in central-eastern Iraqi Kurdistan, close to the Iranian border. "This attack also displaced 350-400 families, destroyed a school, and damaged several mosques. Turkish planes flew as far as 50 miles south of the Turkish border across Iraqi airspace to bomb these villages," she wrote. For the full report, go to www.cpt.org.
- A Jan. 11 article in the "Arizona Republic" newspaper reminded Super Bowl fans that Glendale, Ariz.--the site of this year’s big game--was founded in 1892 by the New England Land Company for the Church of the Brethren in Illinois. "The city of Glendale began as a religious and temperance community," the article said. "Farmers by trade, church members were attracted by cheap land, a miracle in the desert made possible by the arrival of water after the completion of the Arizona Canal in 1885." There are no longer any Church of the Brethren congregations in Glendale, but the city's tourism manager told the newspaper, "We still value our history.... We're very proud to share the old and the new Glendale with visitors." For the full article, go to www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0111glendale-main.html.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Brethren bits: Personnel, ‘USA Today’ on disaster work, Kenya grant, more.
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