Monday, June 02, 2008

300th Anniversary update: A year of anniversaries in 2008.

The year 2008 marks the 300th Anniversary of the Brethren movement, but also is a significant anniversary for several denominational programs and institutions.

70 years: Church of the Brethren Credit Union. The Church of the Brethren Credit Union celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. The credit union originally received its Illinois charter on March 17, 1938. It held a reception to celebrate the anniversary and to launch its new program offering checking accounts with debit cards on March 17, at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

60 years: Brethren Volunteer Service. BVS is celebrating its 60th anniversary, since its formal beginning in Sept. 1948 with the arrival of the first volunteers for orientation at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Actions initiating BVS, however, began as early as the 1930s when youth and congregations brought queries to Annual Conference regarding a volunteer service. M.R. Zigler challenged the church’s youth to begin volunteering as early as 1942, but it was not until after a combined work camp and peace institute was held in Salina, Kan., during the summer of 1947 that a true dedication to creating a volunteer service evolved. During the 1948 Annual Conference, Ted Chambers, with the support of Alma Moyers (Long) and General Brotherhood Board staff member Dan West, presented a "Special Statement from Brethren Youth" containing a call for immediate action regarding the instigation of a volunteer service. His proposal was followed by a unanimous vote by the Annual Conference delegates to adopt the resolution. Now, 60 years later, BVS supports 67 volunteers across the US, and 26 placed internationally in locations such as Northern Ireland, Japan, Nigeria, and Central America. To commemorate the anniversary, events have been arranged including the BVS Luncheon at the 2008 Annual Conference, an insight session at Annual Conference with representatives from the six decades of volunteering, a booth at Annual Conference, and a gathering for BVS alumni at the Brethren Service Center on Sept. 26-28. The theme will be, "Faith in Action: BVS Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow." Online registration at will be available soon.

50 years: Ordination of women. This year marks the 50th anniversary of "full and unrestricted rights" for the ordination of women in the Church of the Brethren. Women have been involved in leadership among the Brethren since the first baptisms in 1708, when three of the eight founding members of the movement were women, but it was not until the 1958 Annual Conference that all restrictions were removed from female ministers. Several different celebrations are planned including an Insight Session and a Clergywomen's Breakfast at the 2008 Annual Conference. The Insight Session will focus on the actual decision-making process at previous Annual Conferences regarding the ordination of women, while the breakfast will focus on women’s involvement in the church prior to 1958. In addition, the Clergywomen's Retreat planned for 2009 will feature a special worship service on women in the ministry. The National Older Adult Conference this fall is planning a celebration to take place on the first day, including drama, singing, and choral readings.

50 years: Celebration of National Youth Conference (NYC) at National Older Adult Conference (NOAC). During the summer of 1958, 2,800 Brethren youth gathered at the shore of Lake Junaluska, N.C., for National Youth Conference. Fifty years later, many of those same "youth" will once again gather by the same lake shore for the 2008 National Older Adult Conference. In honor of those who are returning after 50 years, a celebration has been planned during NOAC, on Sept. 3. The event is open to all, regardless of participation in the 1958 NYC. Go to to see photos from the NYC at Lake Junaluska 50 years ago, and more information about this year’s NOAC, to be held on Sept. 1-5 on the theme "Come to the Water" from Isaiah 41:18.

25 years: Global Food Crisis Fund. The fund is a ministry of the Global Mission Partnerships of the General Board, established in 1983 and currently celebrating its 25th anniversary. The Global Food Crisis Fund is the Church of the Brethren's main program created to assist hungry people by developing food security programs around the world. Grants have been provided in many countries including Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nigeria, and North Korea. These grants are used to fund livestock, seed, tools, and other necessary elements to help fight hunger. The fund also is involved in efforts to support small economic ventures, improve dietary practices, encourage resources for studying advocacy and hunger issues, and oil conservation measures. Celebrations of the anniversary include the Kids Regnuh Poster Contest for children ages 6-14 to take interest in helping to stop world hunger. The children’s artwork will be displayed at Annual Conference and on the Global Food Crisis Fund website. Another initiative of the anniversary year is an effort to increase the number of Brethren-led growing projects from 17 in 2007 to 25 in 2008. Growing projects are a joint program with the Foods Resource Bank, with start-up grants provided by the Global Food Crisis Fund, supported by neighboring or community churches, businesses, and community groups.

10 years: Congregational Life Ministry. Created 10 years ago during the redesign of the General Board, the denomination's Congregational Life Ministry is composed of the Youth and Young Adult Ministry and five Congregational Life Teams, each related to a specific geographical area of the country. The ministry was created to help existing churches answer questions about aspects of church and community life. It also offers resources and leadership training to help strengthen individual and congregational responses to God’s call. In addition to a booth at Annual Conference, the anniversary will be recognized by an article in "Messenger" magazine.

--Jamie Denlinger contributed this report while working as an intern with Brethren Press. The editor invites submissions of milestone anniversaries in 2008 of other institutions related to the Church of the Brethren; e-mail to including any plans for celebration events.

Source: 6/2/2008 Newsline Extra

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