Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Brethren bits: Remembrances, personnel, job openings, much more.
  • Lena M. Wirth, R.N., died at age 89 on Feb. 24 in Modesto, Calif. She was a career Church of the Brethren mission nurse and midwife in Nigeria, where she worked for 30 years from 1944-74. She served at the mission hospital in Garkida, where she also worked at the Garkida Leprosy settlement and in the nursery for well babies at the leprosarium. She also later worked in the communities of Lassa, Biu, and Marama. The emphases of her work in Nigeria included care for children and child welfare. She was born on April 2, 1919, in Empire, Calif., to her parents John and Nina Heisel Wirth. She received her education at Modesto Junior College, the Children's Hospital of Nursing, and La Verne (Calif.) College--now the University of La Verne. She was a member of Modesto Church of the Brethren and most recently lived at Casa de Modesto, a Church of the Brethren retirement community. Wirth is survived by her sister, Esther Wickert. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 8, at 2 p.m., at Modesto Church of the Brethren. Cards of remembrance may be sent to Esther Wickert, 2814 Lewis Dr., La Verne, CA 91750.

  • Helen J. Goodwin, 95, died on Feb. 8. She was one of the earlier African-American women to earn the doctor of philosophy degree from Johns Hopkins University. She had been a member of First Church of the Brethren in Baltimore since 1978. Born Helen Elizabeth Jefferson in Norfolk, Va., she married Stephen C. Goodwin in 1935. He predeceased her in 1994 after 59 years of marriage. They were originally members in the Church of God in Christ and the First Church of Christ Holiness. After the birth of her four children, she earned degrees from what is now Hampton University, New York University, and Johns Hopkins University. She served as a faculty member of New York University, Morgan State University, and Coppin State University. She also excelled in architectural drafting, as a poet, and in business. She was a co-founder and officer of Amron Management Consultants, Inc., and Health Watch Information and Promotion Service, Inc. Courageous in fighting for civil rights, she worked as a poll captain in elections that involved her daughter, Maryland State Senator Delores G. Kelley, and her granddaughter, Baltimore City Councilwoman Helen L. Holton. Her daughter, Barbara Cuffie, has served on the Church of the Brethren General Board. Goodwin became a devoted member of the Church of the Brethren, attending all but one Annual Conference from 1978-96, and serving as an early board member of the Association of Brethren Caregivers. Survivors include her four children, two sons-in-law, a foster daughter, seven grandchildren, and two nieces. Services were held Feb. 16 at Payne Memorial African American Episcopal Church in Baltimore.

  • Linda Fry of Mansfield, Ohio, is serving as interim secretary for Northern Ohio District, as of Feb. 18. She is a member of First Church of the Brethren in Mansfield, and also serves as district peace and conciliation worker. Her new e-mail address at the Northern Ohio District Office is She is serving in the absence of district secretary May Patalano, who is on leave. Patalano's district e-mail address,, remains active.

  • Pacific Southwest District seeks a district executive minister. The position is fulltime and available immediately. Pacific Southwest District is geographically, ethnically, and theologically diverse. The district has 28 congregations in California and Arizona as well as five church starts, three of which are Spanish speaking, and one fellowship. The district office is located in La Verne, Calif., 30 miles east of Los Angeles. The district staff includes a missions director, church revitalization director, Center for Brethren Studies director, administrative assistant, secretary, and a financial and property manager. Responsibilities include serving as executive of the district, strengthening a diverse, collaborative team environment; collaborating with the district board in shaping the vision for the district; articulating and promoting the vision; strengthening relationships with pastors and congregations; facilitating pastoral placement; and administering, clarifying, and validating the work of the district board. Qualifications include passion about the potential of the Church of the Brethren and openness to the leading of the Holy Spirit; pastoral and prophetic gifts; deep faith and prayer life; spiritual maturity and Christian integrity; being a student of the scriptures with a grasp of theology and Brethren history; staff and team management skills; flexibility in working with staff, volunteer, pastoral, and lay leadership; experience with the dynamics of growth and change; communication skills; ability to listen and build relationships across cultural, theological, and geographical diversity. Masters degree preferred, English/Spanish bilingual ability advantageous. Send a letter of interest and resume by e-mail to Applicants are requested to contact three or four people to provide a letter of reference. Upon receipt of resume, a Candidate Profile must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. The application deadline is March 18.

  • The Church of the Brethren General Board seeks a coordinator of online gift invitation, to fill a fulltime position at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Responsibilities include to promote and secure online gifts that will support ministries of the General Board; work with multiple areas to develop and follow a comprehensive plan for e-community building and online giving; work with outside contractors for e-mail communication systems, site design, and/or online giving; work with the coordinator of stewardship formation and education on printed and electronic media messages; develop and maintain the General Board Stewardship and Donor Development website and related pages, blogs, and other web-based donor communication and gift invitation activities. Qualifications include public relations or customer service experience; computer skills; familiarity with computer-based communications; commitment to denomination and ecumenical objectives; positive, affirming collaborative style of leadership; with membership in a Church of the Brethren congregation preferred. Education and experience required include a bachelor's degree or equivalent work experience. Start date is May 1 or as negotiated. A position description and application form are available on request. Contact the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren General Board, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694; 800-323-8039 ext. 258;

  • New volunteer opportunities have been announced by On Earth Peace, in a program titled "Peace Partners." These volunteer opportunities include leadership, hospitality and logistical support, communication support, designated giving options, volunteer coordinators, and specified expertise. To learn more, contact Lauree Hersch Meyer, Peace Partner Coordinator, at Other volunteer opportunities include a communications volunteer, a district conference assistant, a peace education volunteer, a Peace Basket coordinator, a peace witness volunteer, a counter-recruitment resource volunteer, Peace Witness Action List editor(s), a counter-recruitment call mobilizer, and a Welcome Home Project assistant. For more information visit

  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) has appointed a search committee for a new general secretary. It is expected that the election of a new general secretary will come at the next WCC Central Committee meeting in Sept. 2009. The search committee will seek candidates to succeed the current general secretary, Samuel Kobia, who has said he will not seek a second term in office. His current term ends on Dec. 31. "We want to express the deep gratitude of the World Council of Churches for the dedicated services he has given to the council since becoming general secretary in Jan. 2004.," said Central Committee moderator Walter Altmann. Kobia is the first African elected to the general secretary position and was the former general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Kenya. He had previously served as executive director of the WCC's "Justice, Peace, and Creation" unit. More information is at

  • A bulletin insert from the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund features Phil and Louise Baldwin Rieman, pastors of Northview Church of the Brethren in Indianapolis. The campaign advocates for passage of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill. The insert tells the story of how, for 39 years, the Riemans "have redirected the military-related half of their taxes to life-enhancing programs and organizations." An action alert from the Brethren Witness/Washington Office encourages congregations to use the insert on a Sunday prior to the campaign's spring lobby days in Washington, D.C., on March 29-31. Download the insert from

  • Children's Disaster Services, a ministry of the Church of the Brethren, is offering two Level 1 Training Workshops in April. The trainings, which are required for volunteers in the program, are scheduled for April 4-5 at Black Rock Church of the Brethren in Glenville, Pa., and April 12-13 at La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren. Register by two weeks prior to the workshop date. The fee is $45 for early registration (three weeks prior to the date), $55 for late registration, or $25 for retraining for those already certified with the program. For more information contact Children's Disaster Services at 800-451-4407 (#5) or

  • Upcoming events from On Earth Peace include March 6-7 "Welcome Home Project Workshops on Ministries with Returning Soldiers" in Washington, D.C., and two Counter-Recruitment Networking Calls on March 12-13. Two Welcome Home Project workshops will be part of the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq, with one taking place on March 6 at 6:30 p.m., and the other on March 7 at 8:30 a.m. (more details at Networking calls for those working against military recruitment are scheduled for March 12 at 4 p.m. Pacific time (7 p.m. eastern) and March 13 at 1 p.m. Pacific (4 p.m. eastern). Each call will last 90 minutes. Register for a networking call by sending an e-mail to

  • The annual One Great Hour of Sharing offering March 9 is on the theme, "Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have" (Hebrews 13:16a). The offering benefits the ministries of the Church of the Brethren General Board. Resources include bulletin inserts, activity maps, offering boxes, bookmarks, posters, a DVD, worship resources, sermon helps, and offering envelopes. A resource packet has been sent to Brethren congregations, and resources in English and Spanish are available at

  • Codorus Church of the Brethren in Loganville, Pa., is marking its 250th anniversary in 2008 with a variety of events planned over a year-long celebration.

  • The Ephrata Cloister Choir will give a concert at Bermudian Church of the Brethren in East Berlin, Pa., on March 1 at 4 p.m. The event celebrates the 300th Anniversary of the Brethren movement. In a recent talk on the church's history, the congregation learned that nearly all the families that came from Ephrata to plant the Bermudian congregation in 1758 were from one town in Germany--Gimbsheim, according to the church newsletter. The church's preaching series titled "Stumps and Saplings" is examining "key scriptures, influential Brethren, great quotes, and amazing stories from 300 years of Brethren history and 250 years of Bermudian history."

  • Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., is hosting a concert by Andy and Terry Murray as the kick off for its celebration of the 300th Anniversary. The concert titled, "A River Runs Through Us," takes place this Sunday, March 2, at 3 p.m., and will include participation by the children of the congregation. Andy Murray will preach for morning worship at 9:30 a.m.

  • A Western Regional Youth Camp is planned for June 29-July 4 at Camp Peaceful Pines in Dardanelle, Calif. "Since there were no plans to hold a Western Regional Youth Conference this summer the Program Committee of Camp Peaceful Pines decided to invite the youth of the Idaho and Oregon/Washington Districts, and the youth of Southern California and Arizona to come," said an announcement from Pacific Southwest District. Leadership will be provided by Walt Wiltschek, "Messenger" editor; David Radcliff, director of the New Community Project; and Cindy LaPrade, Princeton Theological Seminary student and a coordinator of the 2006 National Youth Conference. Cost is $120, or $140 after June 1. The event is for those who have completed grades 9-13 (the first year of college). Churches sending four or more youth need to have an adult advisor attend as well, to serve as cabin counselors and chaperones. More information is at or contact Russ Matteson, pastor of Modesto (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, at or 209-523-1438. In other news, the annual Eastern Regional Youth Conference has been cancelled this year.

  • A "Coaching 4 Clergy Workshop" is scheduled for May 1, from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. at Camp Mack in Milford, Ind. The workshop is sponsored by the Northern Indiana District Pastoral Support Task Team. Participants will see coaching demonstrated, and have a chance to practice it in small groups. The purpose is to train pastors, church leaders, and spiritual directors in coaching so that they can coach small groups of three-to-five people while receiving support themselves. The registration fee of $30 includes the workshop, a workbook that will be e-mailed to participants ahead of time, lunch, snacks, and a conference call 30-90 days after the event with speaker Val Hastings. The deadline to register is April 1, to ensure receiving the workbook prior to the event. Pastors are encouraged to invite other clergy, church leaders, and spiritual directors, and the event is open to other denominations. Participants receive 1 continuing education unit. To register, mail the fee of $30 per person and each participant's name, telephone number, e-mail address, address, and congregation to the Northern Indiana District Office, 162 E. Market St., Nappanee, IN 46550. For an informational flier, contact the district office at 574-773-3149 or

  • John and Irene Dale have donated $1 million to Juniata College as part of a capital campaign to restore and expand Founders Hall, according to a Juniata press release. Irene Dale is a 1958 graduate of Juniata; John Dale is a 1954 graduate. The hall is Juniata's original campus building and currently its main administrative facility. The project with an approximately $8 million budget will create new classrooms and new office space for two departments in the humanities faculty: history and English. A distinctive bell tower and circular staircase will be restored. The renovated building designed by Street Dixon Rick Architecture of Nashville, Tenn., will be built to environmental standards to qualify as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building by the Natural Resources Defense Council. It will be the second LEED building for Juniata, after Shuster Hall at the Raystown Field Station. John Dale is a retired executive vice president of the telecommunications software consulting firm Dale, Gesek, McWilliams, and Sheridan, a computer software, services, and consulting business specializing in telecommunications and networking technology. He has been a member of Juniata's Board of Trustees since 1997.

  • The Manchester College Symphonic Band toured Puerto Rico on Jan. 24-29, visiting and performing at Brethren congregations. The group was hosted by Segunda Iglesia Cristo Misionera Fellowship in Caimito and Iglesia de los Hermanos in Castaner. Concerts were held at an elementary school, outdoors on a community basketball court, and in the central plaza in Castaner. Small groups played at worship services at the Castaner, Rio Prieto, and Yahuecas churches. The band is directed by Suzanne Ginden. Assistance for the trip was provided by Duane Grady, staff member of the Congregational Life Team of the General Board.

  • Brethren Colleges Abroad (BCA) has added a new study-abroad location in India, at the College of Fisheries of the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal, and Fisheries Sciences University in Mangalore. The agreement was announced in an article in "The Hindu." Students may apply for a variety of courses including certification of diving experience and competence, introductory-level courses in marine biology, oceanography, and geology, the paper said. Brethren Colleges Abroad is affiliated with the six Church of the Brethren-related colleges and universities, with its central office at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. It offers study-abroad opportunities in some 15 or more countries, and also offers international seminars for faculty, peace and justice programs, and international student exchanges. BCA holds its 5th annual international student conference on relations between the US and Europe titled, "European-US Relations After Bush," in Strasbourg, France, on March 7-11. BCA students studying in Europe, other American students, and European students are eligible to attend. For more go to

  • Michael Leiter, director of marketing and development at Fahrney- Keedy Home and Village in Boonsboro, Md., was appointed recently to the Board of Directors of the Western Maryland Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Fahrney-Keedy is a Church of the Brethren retirement community.

  • Helen Myers of Pleasant View Church of the Brethren in Red Lion, Pa., was a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show on Feb. 14. She received a red Volkswagen Beetle convertible, after her granddaughter wrote to the show responding to an invitation for people to send ideas for Valentine's Day surprises. Myers had driven a Beetle for years when her children were young and always wanted a new one, her granddaughter wrote. Myers is the mother of two Church of the Brethren ministers and missionaries supported by the Brethren Mission Fund, said Brethren Revival Fellowship leader Craig Alan Myers: Linc Myers is serving in Hungary, and Patrick Myers is in New Zealand.

  • Martha Grace Reese, author of the Real Life Evangelism series, is to direct a new research study in effective congregational transformation. "We are looking for pastors and leaders who yearn to be part of something new, something real, something powerful for God," Reese said, inviting congregations interested in being a part of the study to contact her via Reese gave a workshop based on her "Unbinding the Gospel" book for the spring meeting of the Church of the Brethren General Board last year. The series includes "Unbinding the Gospel"; "Unbinding Your Church," a pastor's guide; and the all-church study "Unbinding Your Heart: 40 Days of Prayer and Faith Sharing." The Lilly Endowment has now awarded a grant to support a second research phase to provide coaching to 1,000 or more congregations to use the Real Life Evangelism Series, and to encourage pastors and lay leaders in 1,000 congregations to work as field researchers to help discover the dynamics of church transformation.
Source: 2/27/2008 Newsline

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