Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Brethren bits: Remembrance, personnel, Brethren books, and more.
  • Connie S. Andes, 66, a former executive staff member for the Church of the Brethren, died on March 2 at the Kansas City (Mo.) Hospice House. She served the Church of the Brethren General Board from July 1984 through August 1988 as an associate general secretary and executive of the General Services Commission, with responsibility for a number of key church programs including Brethren Press and communications, stewardship education and enlistment, data processing, and the Brethren Historical Library and Archives. During her tenure with the denomination, she was a member of the National Council of Churches (NCC) Governing Board, served on the Church Leaders Panel charged with integrating Church World Service into the NCC structure, and was a member-at-large of the NCC Executive Committee. Before joining the General Board staff, she was director of admissions, alumni director, and associate director of development at McPherson (Kan.) College, beginning in 1979. Her volunteer work for the church included service on the Annual Conference Worship Committee, the Womaen’s Caucus Steering Committee, the Western Plains Women’s Task Force, and the planning and program committee of Illinois and Wisconsin District, as well as involvement with the Global Women’s Project and writing for "Messenger" and the "Brethren Encyclopedia." She also worked in higher education, and taught high school English for two years. She was born on Nov. 1, 1942, on a farm near Mound City, Mo., to Leroy and Doris (Mann) Andes. She held a bachelor’s degree from McPherson College, a master’s degree in history from Wichita State University, and a doctoral degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She was married to Leroy C. Weddle from 1963-1982. She is survived by her daughter Dana Andes and son Tedd Weddle and wife Melanie Larsen. The family held a private gathering at the family farm for the scattering of the ashes. Condolences may be shared with the family care of Dana Andes, 1631 Emerson #323, Denver, CO 80218.

  • Matt and Betsy Kuecker begin April 1 as managers of Camp Pine Lake in Eldora, Iowa, an outdoor ministry center of Northern Plains District. The Kueckers are graduates of Central College in Pella, Iowa. Betsy Kuecker holds a degree in communication studies and has worked as a Special Events director in Colorado Springs, as coordinator of Admissions at Central College, and as marketing project coordinator for a company in Omaha, Neb. Matt Kuecker holds a degree in economics and has been employed as property claims field adjuster with American Family Insurance. He also has experience in house construction. They are members of Prairie City (Iowa) Church of the Brethren.

  • Shelly Wagner is returning to the position of director of the New Windsor Conference Center, located at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. She also will serve as director of Marketing. She returns to the position on March 19, after spending six months providing leadership development for regional sales staff. She brings 12 years of experience in domestic and international marketing in the for-profit arena, having worked previously for a commercial tires and accessory parts company called I.M.I. She is a member of the Church of the Brethren and will be commuting from Waynesboro, Pa.

  • Wolfgang Spreen, program assistant for Buildings and Grounds at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., has completed his service with the Church of the Brethren as of March 9. The position has been eliminated as part of a re-evaluation of the needs of the center. Spreen began employment at the Brethren Service Center on July 14, 2003, as program assistant for the executive director, and providing assistance to the general secretary. Later he became the program assistant for the Buildings and Grounds department. His many and varied tasks have included mail sorting and delivery, providing tours for guests, telephone reception, and supporting information services on the center campus. Any services or functions previously handled by Spreen should be channeled through Ed Palsgrove, director of Buildings and Grounds for the Brethren Service Center.

  • Joan McGrath, human resources coordinator at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., completes her service with the Church of the Brethren on March 26. She has served in the position for two years, since March 6, 2007. Previously she was the owner of Footsteps to Health in Westminster, Md., and also has worked as human resources administrator for ROI Technologies in Baltimore and as manager of Corporate Services for an organization in Bethesda. She is a University of Maryland graduate with a bachelor of science degree in Technology and Management. Any services or functions previously handled by McGrath should be channeled through Karin Krog, director of Human Resources for the Church of the Brethren.

  • Amy Adkins, program assistant at the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, will complete her service with the Church of the Brethren when her current service agreement ends. Her last day in the office will be March 14. She has served in the temporary, part-time position since Sept. 15, 2008. Previously, she worked in the Brethren Witness/Washington Office for three separate periods of time: as program assistant from July-Dec. 2005, and May-Nov. 2006; and as a Brethren Volunteer Service worker and legislative associate from Aug. 2003-Feb. 2005. She is from Middlebury, Ind., and is a graduate of Manchester College.

  • Carol Wise, executive director of the Brethren Mennonite Council for GLBT Interests (BMC) has announced a 10-week sabbatical beginning March 15. She has served as executive for BMC for over five years. Her sabbatical plans include study and reading on the development and growth of social movements, work on worship resources for welcoming communities, and relaxing. During her sabbatical Ralph McFadden, vice-president of the BMC board, will fill in for her and spend time at the BMC office in Minneapolis, Minn., for several days every other week from March 16-May 31. He also will be available for consultation, speaking engagements, or conversation. Contact Ralph McFadden at or at the BMC office at 612-343-2060 or at home at 847-622-1677.

  • Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden has announced that the annual Church of the Brethren Lenten devotional book has sold out this year. The last copy went 10 days before Ash Wednesday, after the press sold 1,452 more than last year for a total of 5,579 copies. The strong sales are attributable to a significant gift for marketing the series, given by an individual donor who was impressed with the devotional series and wanted to expand its usage. "As part of this new push, we have begun a program to take standing orders for future seasons," McFadden said. Already, Brethren Press has received more than 2,400 orders for next Advent devotional. To be placed on the standing order list to receive the annual Advent and Lenten devotionals, call Brethren Press at 800-441-3712.

  • A hardbound book of the minutes of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, for the years 2005-08, is now available through Brethren Press. The book includes minutes from the Conferences held in Peoria, Ill., in 2005; Des Moines, Iowa, in 2006; Cleveland, Ohio, in 2007; and Richmond, Va., in 2008. Recent previous hardbound editions have contained five years of minutes. This new volume, containing only four years, is approximately the same size as the 2000-04 volume. Go to or call 800-441-3712. Brethren Press also has hardbound volumes--individually and as a set--of Annual Conference minutes dating all the way back to 1945, with the exception of 1965-69.

  • Children’s Disaster Services is offering a Level I Workshop at Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., on April 3-4. The ministry also seeks sponsors for more training workshops for volunteers, especially in disaster-prone regions along the Gulf and West Coast. Children’s Disaster Services is a ministry of the Church of the Brethren. Volunteers are trained to provide a calm, safe, and reassuring present in the midst of the chaos that follows disasters by setting up and operating child care centers in disaster locations. The workshop trains participants to understand and respond to children who have experienced a disaster, helping them recognize and understand fear and other emotions children experience and how child-led play and various art mediums can start the healing process. Participants will sleep on cots and eat simple meals to experience similar living conditions to those typically provided for survivors of disasters. A $45 registration fee is required. Once training is completed, participants may become certified Children’s Disaster Services volunteers by providing two personal references and a criminal and sexual offender background check. To attend the workshop in Fort Wayne, contact local coordinator Donna Belknap at 260-483-7244. To host a Level I Workshop, contact Children’s Disaster Services at 800-451-4407, ext. 5.

  • Sixteen prospective students attended a recent Campus Visit Day at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. Driving and flying from Pennsylvania, Florida, Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana, they attended classes and worship, ate with faculty and students, toured the campus, and enjoyed live music by Bethany student Seth Hendricks. According to a release from the seminary, more than 20 students are beginning classes this spring, a larger group than last year's spring start. For more information contact Elizabeth Keller, director of Admissions, at

  • A Junior High Workcamp at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., will be held on July 13-17. The center houses Brethren Disaster Ministries, SERVV, and other programs that have a world-wide impact, assisting and empowering those in need. "Come serve at New Windsor and make a difference," said an invitation from the Church of the Brethren’s Workcamp Ministry. "Have fun with other Brethren junior high youth, and find your place in the larger fabric of God’s creation." Go to to register online, or call 800-323-8039 for more information.

  • Northern Plains District and Illinois and Wisconsin District have combined efforts to provide a "Matthew 18 Training for Trainers Workshop" at First Church of the Brethren in Peoria, Ill., on March 20-21. Rick Polhamus of the Ministry of Reconciliation (MoR) of On Earth Peace will lead the workshop. MoR is providing the training free of charge. Contact Kevin Kessler, Illinois and Wisconsin district executive minister, at or 309-649-6008.

  • The Middle Pennsylvania District Shalom Team and the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Team are sponsoring a "Creating Healthy Congregations" workshop on March 20-21 at Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa. Leadership is provided by Carl Bowman, Church of the Brethren sociologist, who will report the findings of the largest ever survey of Church of the Brethren members. Stan Dueck, Congregational Life Team staff, will speak on "Who We Are and How We Do Things." Five different workshop also will be available to attendees. To download a brochure visit or call 814-643-0601.

  • Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., has announced a record-setting $11.67 million in four-year academic scholarships, fueled by a record number of academically strong applicants. The scholarships range from $64,000 to $50,000, awarded to 202 high school students, according to a release. In addition, last fall the college enrolled its largest class in more than 25 years. Visit for more about Manchester College.

  • The Bridgewater (Va.) College Concert Choir will present three concerts in Virlina District this spring: March 20 at 7 p.m. at Williamson Road Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va.; March 22 at 10:30 a.m. at Cloverdale (Va.) Church of the Brethren; and April 19 at 11 a.m. at West Richmond (Va.) Church of the Brethren. The Concert Choir includes 46 singers from all classes and specializes in masterworks for chorus. A free-will offering will be received at each concert to support the choir.

  • Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village again has received high scores in the annual Maryland Nursing Facility Family Survey, according to a release from the retirement community near Boonsboro, Md. The survey contained 25 questions about five areas of a resident’s life and care: staff and administration, care provided to residents, food and meals, autonomy and resident rights, and physical aspects of the nursing home. Eighty-six surveys were issued to families or primary caregivers of Fahrney-Keedy residents. By the end of January 2009, respondents familiar with Fahrney-Keedy had returned 68 surveys for a response rate of 80 percent. Fahrney-Keedy’s scores were equal to or higher than the highest average score among all groupings in the survey. Two questions were included regarding the total experience and level of care provided by each nursing home. On a 1-to-10 scale, with 10 the best possible rating, respondents gave Fahrney-Keedy a 9.4 compared to an 8.2 rating statewide. "We are extremely pleased with the results," said Bob Lytle, administrator at Fahrney-Keedy.

  • Peter Becker Community in Harleysville, Pa., is holding its 26th Annual Flower Show on the theme, "Oceans of Blooms," on March 12-14. Residents, volunteers, and staff of the retirement community share their talents, work, and enthusiasm at the annual show. Supporting the event are local businesses as display partners, donors, and sponsors. This year offers a collection of seaside scenes including a tall ship emerging from the fog, an animated lighthouse, an eco-friendly coral reef, a secret beach getaway, a sandcastle competition, and a Victorian cottage. This year's winners will be chosen by a People's Choice Competition. Also offered are a spring plant sale, thrift shop, bake sale, and other events. The show is open on March 12 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. for Senior Appreciation Day; on March 13 from 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; and on March 14 from 9 a.m.-4 p..m. The suggested donation is $5 per person, free for children. Visit for more information or call 215-256-9501.

  • Camp Ithiel Venture Fun(d) Day is March 14. Proceeds from the event at the camp in Gotha, Fla., go to the Church Development Council of Atlantic Southeast District. The day will feature a Silent Auction of items offered by congregations, a Pie Auction, a food booth, games and contests including a "Pastors Crawl," and a fishing tournament for children. A praise band from the churches in Puerto Rico will play, as well as the praise team from Clay County Church of the Brethren. This year, the event is being opened to surrounding community as "an opportunity to demonstrate our faith and love to what we hope will be many more people," said an announcement in the district newsletter.

  • Citing the economic recession, the Juniata College board of trustees has reduced its scheduled increase for tuition, room and board, and fees to just 3.9 percent, the lowest increase in nine years. The Brethren-related college is located in Huntingdon, Pa. Juniata also has initiated four new programs designed to lessen the economic impact of the recession for students: increased work-study opportunities by creating 30 new campus employment positions and more funds for higher wages in the Juniata Associates program; set-aside funding to adjust financial aid awards if a family's primary wage earner loses a job or the family experiences a catastrophic financial change; an increase of about 8 percent in the financial aid budget; and trustee approval for the use of up to $2 million of endowment principal for short-term, low-interest loans to families of students whose current loans are no longer available due to changes in real estate values or related issues. The college also started new food plans designed to lower costs to students.

  • Emmert Bittinger gave a lecture Feb. 26 at the Young Center at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College titled "Crisis of Conscience: The Shenandoah Anabaptists During the Civil War," linking the Civil War to the experiences of Anabaptists during that time in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Bittinger also donated his collection of rare books to the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies. He is a retired professor of sociology at Bridgewater (Va.) College and an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. His recent publications include "Unionists and the Civil War Experience in the Shenandoah Valley," published by the Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center and the Valley Research Associates.

  • McPherson (Kan.) College hosted a 3rd annual Math Competition Day on Feb. 18 for 400 visiting students from 16 Kansas high schools. Participating 9th through 12th graders competed in an individual test and team competition. Each school also created a unique mathematical team name. All participants received a t-shirt designed with the slogan "keeping it real…no imaginary numbers." Visit for more.

  • The Association of Anabaptist Risk Management (AARM) is changing its name to "Resource Partners-Risk Management Solutions." The organization offers risk management products and services that promote human and financial stewardship with peace church organizations. The Peace Church Risk Retention Group serving longterm care providers associated with the Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, and Quaker denominations is one of six programs of Resource Partners. Other programs include a Peace Church Property and Auto Program for health and human service organizations; Administration for the Mutual Aid Sharing Plan, a self-insured health benefits program for mission and service agencies; corporate headquarters services for the Friends Mutual Health Group; and a Resource Partners Insurance Broker for nonprofit Anabaptist and Quaker organizations.

  • The Springs of Living Water initiative led by Church of the Brethren minister David Young, is one of the sponsors of the 2009 Renovare International Conference on the theme, "The Jesus Way: Recovering the Lost Content of Discipleship," June 21-24 in San Antonio, Texas. Main presenters include Eugene Peterson, Max Lucado, Emilie Griffin, Richard J. Foster, and a number of other well-known speakers. The early registration deadline and fee of $129 has been extended to April 1. Visit or contact

  • Sylvia Utz celebrated her 110th birthday on March 9 at the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville, Ohio, according to a report in the "Dayton Daily News." She told the newspaper that her earliest memory is of her church, Pitsburg Church of the Brethren in Arcanum, Ohio, picnicking on the grounds of the Brethren Retirement Community when she was only 6 or 7 years old. The newspaper report said that only 1 in 5 million people lives to age 110. Go to for the full article.
Source: 3/11/2009 Newsline

No comments: