Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Brethren Bits: Correction, remembrance, personnel, and much more.
  • Correction: The report "Outdoor Ministries Association holds annual meeting" in the Newsline of Jan. 29 gave an incorrect location for Camp Myrtlewood. The camp is in Myrtle Point, Ore.

  • Millard Fuller, 74, who founded Habitat for Humanity International along with his wife, Linda, died on Feb. 3 after a brief illness. At the time of his death he headed the Fuller Center for Housing in Americus, Ga. "A giant among men has left us.... At last, Millard can rest, although that was about the last thing he ever wished to do," said a remembrance in the Americus "Times-Recorder." The Habitat ministry of building houses for those in need, using volunteer labor and community-based affiliates, was founded in 1976. More than 300,000 homes were built during Fuller’s 29 years with the organization. He left Habitat in 2005 in a dispute with its board over allegations of inappropriate behavior. He and his wife went on to found the Fuller Center for Housing to continue the work of eliminating poverty housing. An obituary on the Habitat website at credits Fuller as "the visionary whose ideas and tireless work created Habitat for Humanity." The idea for Habitat for Humanity was born at Koinonia Farm, a Christian community founded in 1942 in rural southwest Georgia. Fuller came to the farm as a young entrepreneur and attorney who by age 29 had earned his first million dollars, but who decided to begin anew after experiencing health and marriage difficulties. The Fullers "sold all that they owned, gave the money to the poor and in their searching, landed at Koinonia where they began soaking up the teachings of farmer, theologian, and community founder Clarence Jordan," the obituary said. "In time, Jordan and Fuller launched a program of ‘partnership housing,’ building simple houses in partnership with rural neighbors who were too poor to qualify for conventional home loans. The first house was dedicated in 1969." Fuller received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award, among numerous honors. Church of the Brethren connections with Fuller’s work have been numerous over the decades, including congregational involvements with Habitat affiliates in various communities, building Habitat homes at National Youth Conference, cooperative work between Brethren Disaster Ministries and Habitat, and placement of Brethren Volunteer Service workers with Habitat projects. Fuller was buried at Koinonia Farm on Feb. 4. A celebration of his life and work will be held at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on March 14, beginning at 2 p.m. Also, a Legacy Blitz Build will be held in August in Fuller’s hometown of Lanett, Ala., and at other Fuller Center covenant partners in the US and overseas.

  • Paul Derstine has announced his retirement as president and CEO of IMA World Health (formerly Interchurch Medical Assistance), a nonprofit organization headquartered at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Derstine is a member of Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren. He has led in transforming IMA "from a church supply agency, to a world class and respected medical partner in service so that many more might enjoy good health," said Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger as he expressed gratitude for Derstine’s work. Derstine served with IMA for 17 years. During his tenure, he shaped IMA World Health from a service organization with a staff of four focused mainly on distributing donations, to a membership organization with a staff of 75 working in five countries to strengthen health systems and eliminate tropical disease. He led the staff in developing new programs and services, including initiatives such as the IMA Medicine Box Program. IMA also has become a lead partner in health systems in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan, managing grants awarded in excess of $80 million. In 2008, a "Forbes Magazine" report on "America’s 200 Largest Charities" identified IMA as one of the 20 most skilled and well managed among that group. During a year of transition, Derstine will continue to serve as president. The IMA board has appointed a Transition Committee to work with a consulting firm to name a successor in late 2009. Donald Parker, IMA board chair, is leading the Transition Committee. Interested candidates should contact TransitionGuides at or 301-439-6635.

  • On Jan. 16, Steve Terrill began an internship in Human Resources Management at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The internship is part of his bachelor’s degree program at Judson University. He comes from a background as distribution coach/inventory analyst at ITW Brands in Hanover Park, Ill.

  • The New Windsor Conference Center is expressing gratitude for the work of new and returning volunteer hosts: Larry and Alice Petry of Lakemore, Ohio, serving as first-time hosts in Zigler Hall for the months of January and February; and Dick and Erma Foust of New Lebanon, Ohio, returning as volunteer hosts in the Old Main building through March.

  • Abdiel Cruz has been named the Church of the Brethren’s representative to the Puerto Rico Council of Churches, in an announcement from Atlantic Southeast District. For the past few years, Hector Perez Borges has been the Brethren delegate and has served as the secretary for the PR Council of Churches. "Our appreciation to Hector for his valuable contributions, and we wish Abdiel great success," said the district announcement.

  • Camp Pine Lake, an outdoor ministry center in Northern Plains District, has named the late Gary Nicholson of Iowa River Church of the Brethren as Volunteer of the Year for 2008, in an announcement in the district newsletter. Nicholson passed away from a lingering illness in Feb. 2008. "Over the past 30 years Gary served numerous six-year terms on the board," said the announcement. "He was an individual of few words with great practical ideas.... He had a real love and compassion for children. They were his top priority. Gary lived his faith."

  • The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership based in Richmond, Ind., seeks a fulltime administrative secretary, working 30 hours per week, to begin on or before April 1. The position provides secretarial and administrative support to the salaried staff of the Brethren Academy and the programs and projects of the academy and its students, and works collegially with the staff and faculty of Bethany Theological Seminary. Qualifications include a wide range of computer skills, verbal and written skills, basic accounting, ability to set priorities and follow through on tasks with minimal supervision, ability to multi-task, organizational skills, office skills, and experience with office equipment. Applications and a more complete job description are available from the Executive Assistant to the President of Bethany Seminary at or 765-983-1803. Applications will be accepted until Feb. 27, or until the position is filled.

  • A suggested change in worship language has come from the Church of the Brethren’s Disabilities Ministry Group. The group has expressed concern about the use of the phrase, "Stand if you are able," in worship services, recognizing that some elderly and disabled people are not able to stand. In consultation with other denominations, the group recommends a new phrase: "Rise in body or in spirit" or a version of this phrase. This new language helps congregations focus on the lifting up of spirits as the primary task of worship, and the ability to stand as secondary, said an announcement.

  • "Church World Service Kits are in great demand!" says Loretta Wolf, director of the Material Resources program at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The program warehouses, processes, and distributes relief supplies on behalf of a number of ecumenical partners. Low inventory levels of Church World Service (CWS) Kits has prompted an appeal for Hygiene Kits, Baby Kits, School Kits, and Emergency Clean-up Buckets. "By assembling and donating CWS Kits, you are saying ‘We Care!’ to people in need around the world," Wolf said. Go to for instructions to assemble, pack, and ship kits, or call 800-297-1516. Kits may be sent to Church World Service, Brethren Service Center Annex, 601 Main St., P.O. Box 188, New Windsor, MD 21776.

  • In an update on the work of Material Resources, staff have been loading containers destined for Central America, Asia, and Africa, among them two shipments for Kenya and two trailer loads of equipment for Zambia on behalf of John Hopkins PIEGO, and Lutheran World Relief School Kits and Health Kits for a children’s training in Guatemala. Church World Service shipments responded to disaster and community needs in Deming, N.M.; Marion, Iowa; and Biloxi, Miss. CWS also responded to a request from Aniak, Alaska, for School Kits for a school that experienced a total loss due to fire.

  • Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren was commended as "a fine example of what a church is doing right," in a recent article in the "Business Gazette" of Gaithersburg, Md. The report titled "Non-traditional churches flourish in Frederick County," reviewed the history of growth in Frederick Church of the Brethren, which is the largest Brethren congregation in the US, as well as several other growing congregations from other traditions.

  • First Church of the Brethren in Miami, Fla., held its third annual Brethren Press booth at the Miami International Book Fair, on Nov. 14-16, 2008.

  • For the past two years, churches in Northern Plains District have been praying for one another on a weekly basis using a prayer calendar provided through the district office. The calendar indicates the church to pray for each week. Notes of support from one church to another also are encouraged. In addition, the district is making available a mileage chart of the distances between each congregation, prepared by Diane Mason of Fairview Church of the Brethren. For more information contact Nancy Davis at or 515-964-4851.

  • Atlantic Southeast District has identified a district theme for the year 2009: "Holiness," with an emphasis on "calling God’s people to be holy--in ethics, in lifestyle, in worldview, and more," according to the district newsletter. The district has asked pastors to preach on the theme during January and February, using texts from the Sermon on the Mount and other New Testament sources. The district also has identified themes for upcoming years: "Health" focusing on healthy churches and healthy Christians and expanding youth ministry and worship in 2010; and "Aliveness" focusing on church growth and mission in 2011.

  • Great Harvest Church Planting, a program of Illinois and Wisconsin District, has requested prayer for two families doing church planting: the Sarpiya family that arrived in Rockford, Ill., on Jan. 31, and Herman and Betty Ware working at a Chicago Westside Plant. "We invite you to continue to keep the Sarpiyas in your prayers as they begin their life and ministry in Rockford," the announcement said. For the Wares, "Pray for focus and direction as they seek to meet the needs of individuals in the Douglas Park community."

  • A building important in the history of Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Boonsboro, Md., has been moved to a new site. The small building in which Dr. Peter Fahrney had his office during the late 1800s is now part of the new Washington County Rural Heritage Museum. Two trucks carried the building and its roof to their new home one night in mid-December, according to a release from Fahrney-Keedy. Dr. Fahrney donated the site of his summer home, called San Mar, to the Church of the Brethren in 1905 in honor of his grandfather for use as a "Home for the Aged." The office building had been a museum since then, sitting in front of Fahrney-Keedy’s main building.

  • Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., will put on a unique theater production on Feb. 19-21 and 23-26. "Return," the story of a man returning home to claim an inheritance of the family farm, will premiere at the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts at Juniata. "Return" is a new piece conceived by the Gravity Project, Juniata's professional theater ensemble, in collaboration with the college theater department. The piece will be staged using a multimedia approach with a mix of video imagery, shadow puppets, and a soundscape of recorded music and ambient sound. Andrew Belser, associate professor of theater, wrote the play and co-directs the production with Stephanie Skura. Tickets are $3 for students and $7 for adults. Call 814-641-3771.

  • New Lenten Calendars have been announced by the Global Women’s Project, a Brethren-related program that supports self-help projects that are led by, empower, and benefit women and their communities. The Lenten Calendars were developed by Steering Committee members Carrie Eikler and Anna Lisa Gross to help church members reflect on abundant resources and what may be given up for the sake of others during Lent. The calendars include scripture, information about women around the world, and Global Women’s Project partner projects (contact to obtain a calendar or bulk copies for families and congregations, the calendars also may be received electronically). Global Women’s Project also will offer online resources for International Women’s Month in March, including worship and event materials for congregations or women’s groups (go to

  • The Decade to Overcome Violence of the World Council of Churches, has launched its 2009 focus on the Caribbean region. The theme is "One Love: Building a Peaceful Caribbean." The program will strengthen and support churches and movements working for peace in the Caribbean, and deepen understanding of the violence involved in issues such as migration, human trafficking, food security, HIV/AIDS, and drug abuse.

  • The Elgin (Ill.) City Prayer Breakfast gave its Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award to Bettina Perillo, a member of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren. Perillo was honored for her commitment to peacemaking, which has included civil disobedience protesting the Iraq War, and leadership in an alternative recruitment program in the Elgin high schools that helps students make informed decisions about the military and promotes alternatives. Perillo also is a member of Fox Valley Citizens for Peace and Justice.

  • Miller Davis has been honored with the 2008 Dan West Fellow Award by the Heifer Foundation. He is chair of Heifer Foundation’s Board of Trustees and a member of Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren. "Davis, whose board term ends this year, leaves behind a legacy of unparalleled service to the boards of both Heifer Foundation and Heifer International, including chairing both boards during times of tremendous growth," said an announcement from the foundation. Foundation president Janet Ginn praised Davis for his servant leadership: "Miller is one of those individuals that exemplify the tireless commitment to the mission of ending hunger and poverty." The award is named after Heifer International founder Dan West. Each year, the foundation’s trustees emeriti choose one outstanding leader to be recognized as a Dan West Fellow. Davis, who knew Dan West personally, said he was "speechless" when he was informed he was this year’s recipient. Davis had the opportunity to work with West while in Brethren Volunteer Service from 1965-67. "To know and experience Dan and then serve on the boards of organizations he founded has been a wonderful experience," he said.

  • Kaplan Publishing has issued a call for stories from disaster healthcare workers. The company publishes educational and consumer books by and for healthcare workers. It is accepting stories for a new anthology, "To The Rescue: Stories from Healthcare Workers at the Scene of Disaster." The book will collect stories by healthcare workers from a variety of specialties who have gone to the scenes of disasters, whether in their hometowns or across the world. All stories must be true and previously unpublished. Submit in Microsoft Word, 12-point Times New Roman, double-spaced with a title and word count of 1,000-2,500, include author's name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. Payment for stories is $100 if published, along with two complimentary copies of the book. The deadline is Feb. 21. Send submissions to (cite the story title in the subject line) or Kaplan’s To The Rescue, P.O. Box 51, Wever, IA 52658 (include a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope).
Source: 02/11/2009 Newsline

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