Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Brethren bits: Remembrance, personnel, job openings, much more.
  • Guillermo Encarnacion Bethancourt, 71, died on Oct. 11 at Lancaster (Pa.) General Hospital. He was an ordained minister and a leader in establishing Iglesia des los Hermanos (the Church of the Brethren) in the Dominican Republic, and in retirement served as interim coordinator of theological education there on behalf of the Church of the Brethren. Throughout his career he also served as executive secretary of the Mennonite Church in the DR, and as field coordinator for the American Bible Society in Puerto Rico, before devoting the rest of his career to ministering Church of the Brethren congregations in Castaner, P.R., in Falfurrias, Texas, and in Lancaster, Pa. Encarnacion was born in San Jose de Ocoa, Dominican Republic. He also is remembered for his political activism, for which he was imprisoned at Beata Island Prison in the DR from 1957-1959 for leading student protests against the Trujillo dictatorship, and for his volunteer service and advocacy on behalf of prisoners, political exiles, and immigrants in the United States. In addition to his wife, Gladys Montero de Encarnacion, he is survived by his four sons and three daughters, 13 grandchildren, one great grandchild, and brothers and sisters in the DR and the US. A memorial service was held on Oct. 13 at Lancaster Church of the Brethren. Memorial contributions are made to Lancaster Church of the Brethren or to Maranatha Multicultural Fellowship in Lancaster, to be used for the continuing support of the Church of the Brethren mission in the Dominican Republic. Brethren leaders in the DR are planning a memorial service in February 2009. Members of the Encarnacion family and others will travel to present the memorial funds to the Dominican leaders.

  • Mary Eller has been appointed interim administrative secretary for the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, a joint venture of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Theological Seminary with offices at the seminary campus in Richmond, Ind. Eller began working for the academy on Oct. 13, and will continue in the role until the end of the calendar year. She previously has been program coordinator and registrar at the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center in Elizabethtown, Pa.

  • Several Brethren Revival Fellowship volunteers have completed Brethren Volunteer Service, according to an announcement in the BRF newsletter: Keri Copenhaver, Sheila Shirk, and Kurt Hershey, all from White Oak Church of the Brethren in Manheim, Pa., have completed a year of service in Lewiston, Maine. Roy and Verda Martin also have served as houseparents, and plan to continue in volunteer service for another year at the Good Shepherd Food Bank. Rachel Roop of Heidelberg Church of the Brethren in Myerstown, Pa., will be serving in 2008-09 with the Root Cellar Ministry in Lewiston.

  • McPherson College invites nominations and applications for a president of the college, to succeed Ronald D. Hovis who will retire in June 2009. McPherson is a small college with 500 fulltime students, focusing on career-oriented liberal arts, located in McPherson, Kan. The college was founded in 1887 by the Church of the Brethren and remains committed to the values of the church: peace and justice, ethical behavior, and putting faith into action. McPherson's mission is to develop whole persons through scholarship, participation, and service. The next McPherson College president should be someone who is prepared to serve as both a chief executive and an academic leader; believes in the college's mission as a church-related baccalaureate college; models the values of the Church of the Brethren; can demonstrate a record of achievement in leading and managing organizations and in dealing with complex financial challenges; can help frame a compelling vision of McPherson's potential that will energize the campus, community, and other stakeholders to lend their support; and possesses an advanced degree and an understanding of the distinctive culture of higher education. Nominations, inquiries, and expressions of interest, which will be held in the strictest confidence, should be submitted as a Microsoft Word attachment to Richard Doll, Chair of the Search Committee for the President, at A more detailed leadership statement is available on the college website at Review of candidates will begin Nov. 1.

  • Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) seeks a manager of publications to fill a fulltime salaried position based in Elgin, Ill. BBT is an agency of the Church of the Brethren and a not-for-profit organization that has 6,000 members and clients nationwide. The manager of publications provides oversight of BBT's publications--newsletters, press releases, website, and other special projects--and serves as a senior writer and copy editor. The manager will report on news and information related to BBT's ministry areas of pension, insurance, the Brethren Foundation, and the Church of the Brethren Credit Union. BBT's mission includes a wellness component, and some writing will cover how individuals can make good personal financial decisions while others will explore wellness aspects of heart/soul/mind. Stories will also report on how BBT promotes Brethren values with socially responsible investing initiatives through its management of $379 million in pension and Foundation monies. The position will manage schedule and coordinate content for publications, determine writing and photo assignments, work with a production coordinator and contracted designers, contribute to marketing and promotional efforts, oversee redesign and maintenance of the BBT website, and travel to the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, BBT Board meetings, and other events. Required knowledge and experience include an undergraduate degree in communications, English, business, or a related field, with experience and expertise in writing, copyediting, and/or project management. Knowledge in personal investments and website design is helpful. Active membership in the Church of the Brethren is preferred; active membership in a faith community is required. Salary is competitive with Church Benefits Association agencies of comparable size and scope. A full benefits package is included. Send a letter of interest, resume, three references (one supervisor, one colleague, one friend) and salary-range expectation to Donna March, 1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin IL 60120; or For questions about the position, call 847-622-3371. Visit for more information about BBT. Interviews will begin as soon as possible.

  • Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger has signed on to an open letter to the two presidential candidates from leaders of the National Council of Churches (NCC) and member communions. During a worldwide economic crisis affecting most households, the letter was written to remind Senators John McCain and Barack Obama that those living in poverty in the US and around the world are hurt the most by the economic downturn. "As we consider bailouts and recovery plans, we now need to hear your voices demanding that the plight of America's poorest citizens, and the needs of people living in poverty around the world, will be addressed," the religious leaders said. The letter dated Oct. 13 was signed by NCC president Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, general secretary Michael Kinnamon, and 14 heads of NCC member communions.

  • Bethany Theological Seminary will observe a "Sabbatical Day" on Nov. 3. The seminary's offices in Richmond, Ind., will be closed. Occasional sabbatical days have been approved by the Bethany Board of Trustees. "My abiding hope is that, with God's grace, our spiritual, psychological, intellectual, and physical health will be deepened and strengthened by these periodic symbolic days of reflection and assessment," said Bethany Seminary president Ruthann Knechel Johansen.

  • The Church of the Brethren 2008 Advent Offering materials ask, "What are we waiting for?" The materials support an annual offering for the Church of the Brethren ministries during the Advent season. "The question calls us to both reflect on our anticipation of Jesus' arrival among us, as well as to take action in response to the urgency of continuing Jesus' work for peace and justice on earth," said Carol Bowman, coordinator of stewardship development for the Church of the Brethren. Printed materials have been mailed to all congregations, or go to to find the materials online. The materials are offered in English and Spanish, and include worship resources, sermon helps, a downloadable logo, and an order form for offering envelopes and bulletin inserts. The suggested date for the Advent Offering is Dec. 7.

  • Bethany Theological Seminary professor Dan Ulrich has been recognized on the Sojourners website, in the "God's Politics" blog by Jim Wallis. After Wallis invited posts on the topic "A Pastoral Strategy for an Economic Crisis," Ulrich submitted a sermon he had shared at Bethany's weekly chapel service titled "Faith, Fear and Finances," based on Luke 16:1-13. The sermon posting has elicited positive comments, including one from Wallis who described it as "filled with insight and care that exemplified a Christian response." Find the sermon at or go to for the blog.

  • A Children's Disaster Services Level 1 Workshop is scheduled in Denver, Colo., on Nov. 7-8. Cost is $45 for early registration, $55 after Oct. 31. The workshop will be held at the American Red Cross Mile High Chapter. Children's Disaster Services is a Church of the Brethren program in which volunteers provide a calm, safe, and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos that follows disaster by setting up and operating special child care centers in disaster locations. The workshop is required for Children's Disaster Services volunteers, and information learned at the workshop can be beneficial to anyone working with children. Participants will experience a simulated shelter, sleeping on cots and eating simple meals. Once training is completed, participants have the opportunity to become a certified Children's Disaster Services volunteers by providing two personal references and a criminal and sexual offender background check. Contact coordinator Amy Pike at 720-250-1193 or the Children's Disaster Services office at or 800-451-4407 ext. 5.

  • "Leaving Church: Journeying with People of Faith In and Beyond Congregations" is the title of a one-day seminar with Alan Jamieson, to be held at Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren on Nov. 1. Jamieson is a sociologist and senior pastor at Central Baptist Church in Wellington, New Zealand. His book, "A Churchless Faith," summarizes research on why people leave churches and what happens to their faith after leaving, and outlines supportive structures and one-on-one help that churches can implement to become "leaver sensitive." Another book, "Called Again," raises concern for those who still come to church but long ago stopped being present mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and asks how their faith can be revitalized. The seminar is for clergy and lay leaders in congregations, and is supported by a Leadership Training and Development Grant from the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry. Participants may receive .6 continuing education units through the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. Register by Oct. 27. Contact Palmyra Church of the Brethren, 45 N. Chestnut St., Palmyra, PA 17078; 717-838-6369.

  • There is still time to apply for the "Faith Expedition: Globalization, Justice, and Coffee" sponsored by the Brethren Witness/Washington Office to Chiapas, Mexico, on Jan. 24-Feb. 3, 2009. The deadline for registrations is Nov. 1. The Faith Expedition is planned in partnership with Equal Exchange and Witness for Peace. The group will stay in the homes of coffee farmers in Chiapas, and will learn about the economic, political, and historical context. The trip also will include a visit to an indigenous women's artisan cooperative, and the opportunity to learn about the role that faith and Liberation Theology has played in rural Chiapas. The trip fee is $950 plus airfare. Past delegates have successfully raised money in their congregations, schools, and communities for these experiences. "Don't let the cost stop you from participating!" said an announcement from the Brethren Witness/Washington Office. Visit or contact the Brethren Witness/Washington Office at 800-785-3246 for more information.

  • Sheldon (Iowa) Church of the Brethren is holding its 120th Anniversary Celebration on Nov. 2.

  • Decatur (Ill.) Church of the Brethren has marked its centennial with a 100th Anniversary Celebration on Oct. 18-19.

  • The Wenatchee (Wash.) Brethren-Baptist Church United and the Sunnyslope Church of the Brethren together hosted several events as a way of celebrating the 300th Anniversary of the Brethren, and the 100 years of Brethren presence in the Wenatchee valley, according to a report from John Braun, a member of the planning committee for the "Reunion of Brethren in the Valley." The reunion took place Oct. 11-12 and included Sunday morning worship, a Saturday evening program, a handbell choir, a choral ensemble, a hymn sing, a luncheon for those who attended a Brethren college or seminary, potluck meals, an offering given in thirds to local, district, and global ministries to celebrate the Church of the Brethren's three centuries, and an afternoon tea for those who have taken part in church mission efforts including volunteer service and disaster response. A "2008 Hunger Walk for Church World Service" rounded out the weekend.

  • Members at York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren have been helping the denomination's Material Resources staff assemble Emergency Clean-up Bucket Kits, according to the church newsletter. On Oct. 3, six First Church members helped assemble 1,142 Emergency Clean-up Bucket Kits, working at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Also, hundreds of additional previously started kits were completed, making upwards of 1,500 kits ready for shipment. On that afternoon, a truck was loaded with 1,236 kits and traveled to Keene, Texas, for distribution to families affected by Hurricane Ike.

  • Champaign (Ill.) Church of the Brethren has begun a "Brethren Grandmothers" program to provide a ministry of cookies and caring to university students. "What's better than cookies, milk and Grandmother?" said an announcement in the Illinois and Wisconsin District newsletter. "We're not faster than speeding trains. We don't leap over tall buildings in a single bound. Instead of 'Spidy' sense we have mama sense." Champaign claims both the University of Illinois and Parkland College. The ministry aims to connect with Brethren students at the two schools, and hopes to receive contact information for students from other congregations and students' families. The ministry will offer students visits, cookies, a monthly potluck, and prayer support. Contact Brethren Grandmothers, Champaign Church of the Brethren, 1210 N. Neil St, Champaign, IL 61820.

  • Brethren in the Minneapolis area were invited to join in a special dedication service on the International Day of Prayer for Peace, Sept. 21. Nelda Rhodes Clarke invited sister congregations to join her for the dedication of a Peace Pole at Emma Norton Services in Maplewood, which offers housing from homeless women and families, according to the Northern Plains District newsletter. Clarke worked at the organization for 17 years. Speakers included US Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Ramsey County Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt, and the mayor of Maplewood Diana Longrie. Marie Rhoades represented On Earth Peace.

  • Camp Mack's "On the Way...Continuing in Faith Capital Campaign" has set a goal of raising more than $1 million to fund a new lodge along Lake Waubee, as well as repairs to Quinter-Miller Auditorium and other structures. Camp Mack is a Church of the Brethren camp in Milford, Ind. Go to for further details.

  • Thomas R. Kepple Jr., president of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., has been named to the Higher Education Cabinet by the editors of the "Chronicle of Higher Education" and the "New York Times." According to a release from the college, Kepple is one of 76 college or university presidents, trustees, and leaders to join the cabinet, and will travel to New York once a year for meetings with journalists and editors from both newspapers. The inaugural meeting of the group was Sept. 15.

  • A coalition of Manchester College, Wabash and Miami County conservation agencies, and at least 17 other groups have embarked on a $1 million initiative to improve the water quality of a 30-mile stretch of the Eel River in Indiana. The Middle Eel River Watershed Initiative has received nearly $600,000 in funds designated by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, according to a release from the college. An additional $400,000 will come from agencies, schools, organizations, businesses, and individuals. The Eel was once one of the outstanding fishing streams in the Midwest, the release said, but today it is on the Environmental Protection Agency's "impaired" list for excessive levels of e-coli, PCBs, mercury, and other pollution.

  • The steering committee of the Womaen's Caucus of the Church of the Brethren will meet in Huntingdon, Pa., this weekend. "While we're there, we'd love the chance to meet and worship with any of you in the area," the Caucus said in an announcement. The group invites all who are interested to come to a meal and share visions for where the Womaen's Caucus needs to be leading the church, from 6-8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25 at Stone Church of the Brethren. The main dish and drinks will be provided, participants are invited to bring a side dish, salad, or dessert to share. On Oct. 26, the steering committee will worship with the Stone Church congregation. For more information or to RSVP for the meal, contact Peg Yoder at 814-599-9910. The Womaen's Caucus Steering Committee includes Jan Eller, Audrey deCoursey, Anna Lisa Gross, Sharon Nearhoof May, Peg Yoder, and Jill Kline.

  • The November edition of Brethren Voices, a community television program produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren, features Brethren musician Mike Stern under the title, "A Voice for Justice, Peace, Hope, and Healing." Stern's roots are in the apple orchards of Washington State, however he has traveled the world singing and working for peace and justice. December's edition of "Brethren Voices" will feature alternative Christmas giving, including a number of opportunities such as Brethren Disaster Ministries, Heifer International, Church World Service, and the New Community Project's Amazon Rainforest purchase. For more information about Brethren Voices contact producer Ed Groff at Copies of the program cost $8, with donations forwarded to Portland Peace Church of the Brethren, 12727 SE Market St., Portland, OR 97233. Brethren Voices also has completed production of a special program, "The Story of the Brethren Service Cups," narrated by Bill Puffenberger, emeritus professor of Religious Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. Puffenberger completed three years of studies concerning the Brethren Service Cups "which are inseparably tied to the peace position of the Church of the Brethren" and are the predominant symbol of Brethren service. Copies of this special program are available from Portland Peace Church for a donation of $10.

  • Liz McCartney of the St. Bernard Project has been nominated for the CNN Hero of the Year award. The St. Bernard Project is the grassroots disaster recovery organization with whom Brethren Disaster Ministries is collaborating for Hurricane Katrina recovery in St. Bernard Parish, La. "Because of this partnership, we can highly recommend Liz for this award. The grand prize is $100,000, which Liz has promised to donate to the St. Bernard Project," reported Jane Yount, coordinator for Brethren Disaster Ministries. Voting for the CNN Hero of the Year closes Nov. 20.
Source: 10/22/2008 Newsline

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