Thursday, July 16, 2009

Brethren bits
  • In remembrance:

    • Jeannette W. Patterson, 67, died on July 2. She was a key employee of the Church of the Brethren’s Virlina District and its predecessors for 38 years, from 1968-2006. She is survived by her husband, Wessley, her son, Keith, and grandson, Dusty. Funeral services were held on July 6 in Roanoke, Va.

    • Tom Mullen passed away June 19. He had taught at Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Ind., and his courses were attended by students at Bethany Theological Seminary following its move to Richmond. Mullen is known to Brethren as a popular humorist who has spoken at National Older Adult Conferences and Caring Ministries Assemblies. He was the author of a number of books including "Laughing Out Loud and Other Religious Experiences." He is survived by his wife, Nancy Faus-Mullen, who is a former professor at Bethany Seminary.

    • Sheri Layman Fecher, 53, passed away July 11 at her home in Elgin, Ill., after a long battle with cancer. She was employed by the Church of the Brethren General Board in 1996 and 1997 as Yearbook assistant. She is survived by her husband of 31 years, Donald Fecher, a former director of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes; daughter Cyndi Fecher, publications coordinator for Brethren Benefit Trust; and son Leland Fecher and fiancee Alison Mulert. She was a dedicated teacher who taught at Larkin and South Elgin High Schools for 12 years, and was active at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin. A memorial service will be held July 25, at 10 a.m., at Highland Avenue Church. A memorial scholarship fund has been created at South Elgin High School.

  • Personnel notes:

    • Stephen E. Abe concluded his service as district executive of West Marva District on June 30, rather than Sept. 30 as previously announced. The district's new e-mail address is

    • Justin Barrett has resigned as program assistant for the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission Partnerships, effective July 30. He began in the position on Sept. 24, 2007. Previously, he served as office coordinator for Student Services at North Park Theological Seminary in the Chicago area. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University and North Park Theological Seminary, with a master’s degree in Christian Ministry. He will be relocating to Massachusetts.

    • Cristian Villegas has begun as a baler in Material Resources at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. He graduated last year from Francis Scott High School, and last fall worked with the boxcar crew in Material Resources.

  • A health care statement from religous leaders has been signed by Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger. The statement declares that current economic conditions have made health care reform an urgent priority. The declaration was drafted with the assistance of the National Council of Churches Health Task Force. "No longer can we afford to squander the hopes and dreams of the American people through a much-too-costly system that contributes to economic despair," the statement said in part. "Families and individuals must be able to rely on affordable care in times of illness or accident and preventative care to safeguard health and well-being. Go to for the full statement.

  • Brethren Volunter Service (BVS) is moving forward with an initiative to develop community living opportunities for volunteers. Supported by BVS and local congregations, each volunteer community will house four-to-six volunteers serving in full-time BVS projects and committed to intentional practices of life together. The first BVS house, sponsored by Cincinnati (Ohio) Church of the Brethren, is expected to begin hosting volunteers as early as August. The new community emphasis is part of a partnership with Volunteers Exploring Vocation through the fund for Theological Education and a grant from the Lilly Foundation. Congregations and volunteers interested in the new community houses may contact Dana Cassell, volunteer staff for Vocation and Community Living, at

  • Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) is offering four more Level 1 Workshops before the end of the year. Workshops train volunteers to minister with children and families following disasters. Workshops will be offered on Aug. 10-11 at the Native American Ministry United Methodist Church in Milwaukee, Wis., with Lorna Jost as local coordinator (contact 605-692-3390); Sept. 25-26 at Virden (Ill.) Church of the Brethren with Charlot Cole as coordinator (217-370-5382); Oct. 9-10 at McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren with Elva Jean Naylor as coordinator (620-241-3123); and Nov. 6-7 at Wesley Freedom United Methodist Church in Sykesville, Md., with Mary K. Bunting as coordinator (410-552-1142). For more about registration and cost go to or call 800-451-4407, ext. 5.

  • Brethren mission coordinators for the Dominican Republic, Irvin and Nancy Heishman, have been visiting congregations on the West Coast since Annual Conference ended. They have given presentations at a number of congregations in Oregon and Washington District, and traveled to Nampa (Idaho) Church of the Brethren. Nancy Heishman was one of the preachers for worship at the Conference that ended in San Diego on June 30.

  • Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren in York, N.D., has decided to close. A celebration of the church and a final worship service is scheduled for Aug. 30, according to the Northern Plains District newsletter. The district is calling for letters of support to Pleasant Valley Church, care of pastor Steve Cameron,

  • A Bible study group at Brethren Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Lancaster, Pa., has now been in existence for more than 45 years, according to a note from Charles Bieber who serves as teacher. The group recently motored to Carlisle, Pa., to visit the Church of the Brethren there and encourage newly installed pastors Marla and James Abe.

  • Champaign (Ill.) Church of the Brethren has announced a priority of working with the local police department, following a reassessment of its ministry, in an announcement in the Illinois and Wisconsin District newsletter. "Late last summer the congregation started praying for the officers of the police department every Sunday," the report said. "The officers and the Chief were stunned that someone would pray for them, then they were thankful, then they each and all asked us to continue." The church regards prayer as a first step, with a next step to encourage police to interact with children in the neighborhood in a non-threatening manner, and ultimately to become more responsive to neighborhood needs. "The church is trying to position itself to be the center, or hub, of the neighborhood activities, in essence to be the agent of change."

  • A team of volunteer builders from Carpenters for Christ on June 2 kicked off construction to rebuild Erwin (Tenn.) Church of the Brethren, which was destroyed by fire last summer. A Tennessee news website has posted a video clip and photos, go to

  • A new district website is under construction in Northern Plains District, thanks to the efforts of Ida Van Weston and Kathy Mack, according to the district newsletter. Go to

  • The 2009 district conference season begins with two conferences on July 31-Aug. 2: Northern Plains District meets at Pine Lake Christian Camp in Eldora, Iowa, on the theme, "Faith, Hope, and Love: The Greatest of These Is Love" (1 Cor. 13:13) with Alice Draper as moderator; Western Plains meets at McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren on the theme, "Become New!" with Leslie Frye as moderator.

  • A program at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village may lead to a long-term partnership with Washington County Hospital Wound Center, according to a release from the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md. Debra Manahan, certified wound-care specialist, is a member of a team of healthcare professionals dedicated to wound care and wound healing who once a week meets at Fahrney-Keedy to make "wound rounds" among residents. "Our long-term goal is to become the facility of choice to facilitate optimal care for those who suffer with wounds or other skin issues," Manahan said. The team also includes three Washington County Hospital physicians, staff from Flagship Rehabilitation, and other Fahrney-Keedy staff.

  • Ellen K. Layman has received the 2009 Merlin and Dorothy Faw Garber Award for Christian Service from Bridgewater (Va.) College. Layman is a 1965 graduate who has worked at the college in many capacities: as part-time instructor in journalism from 1979-82, director of public information 1991-95, associate director of development 1995-2000, director of media and church relations 2000-01, director of alumni and church relations 2001-07, and director of special projects since 2007. Layman also has had a career in journalism and politics. She is a member of Dayton (Va.) Church of the Brethren.

  • Harmony Cafe opened June 1 as the second open-to-the-public restaurant at Cross Keys Village-The Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa. The cafe in the Harmony Ridge Community Center is part of a recent expansion that includes the 56-unit Harmony Ridge West Apartments and the Harvey S. Kline Wellness Center. The new facilities were dedicated in a ceremony on May 29 with Nevin Dulabaum, president of Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT), as guest speaker. Harvey S. Kline was an original trustee of BBT.

  • The Brethren Revival Fellowship has announced registration for this summer’s Brethren Bible Institute to begin July 19. The institute will be held July 20-24 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. This year, some classes will be designed with extra study and assignments suitable for licensed ministers. Contact Brethren Bible Institute, 155 Denver Rd., Denver, PA 17517.

  • The John Kline Homestead has a new brochure, and has started a newsletter. In addition, the Board of Directors has begun a formal capital fund campaign to raise at least $425,000 by the end of 2009, in an effort to preserve the homestead of John Kline, a Brethren elder and martyr during the Civil War era. The homestead project is contacting several congregations in Shenandoah District with encouragement to raise $10,000 each to support the preservation of the historic homestead in Broadway, Va., near Linville Creek Church of the Brethren. Contact Linville Creek pastor Paul Roth at

  • Nine Brethren departed July 14 for a New Community Project Learning Tour to El Salvador. The New Community Project is a Brethren-related nonprofit organization. In El Salvador, the group will be hosted by Emmanuel Baptist Church and will receive briefings on the current political, social, and economic situation in the country; will visit the site of Oscar Romero's martyrdom; and will live and work in a community assisting in housing construction. The delegation is led by New Community Project director David Radcliff and Jim Dodd of Midland, Va. In other news from the project, a grant of $6,000 has been given for a women's gardening project, tailoring training, and reforestation programs in Nimule, Sudan. This follows grants of $30,000 given earlier this year for these projects and for girls' education in Sudan. For more visit

  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is holding its tenth Christian Peacemaker Congress on Sept. 17-20 in Denver, Colo., on the theme, "Restoring Balance: Peace Through Right Relationships." The congress will be hosted by the Student Action Committee at Iliff School of Theology. Presenters include George Tinker, Baldridge Professor of American Indian Culture and Practice at Iliff; Elizabeth Garcia, a CPT worker and immigration activist; and Harley Eagle, coordinator of Indigenous Work for Mennonite Central Committee. Go to

  • A CPT reservist has been charged with littering for leaving water bottles for migrants near the US-Mexico border. On June 1, John Heid and two other people placed three-dozen gallons of water on a migrant trail in Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge near Tucson, Ariz., according to a release from CPT. The three were confronted by a US Border Patrol agent "armed with an M-16 assault rifle," and by a Fish and Wildlife officer, and escorted out of the area. "The date (June 1) marked the beginning of the most lethal month of the year in the Tucson Sector of the US-Mexico borderlands," CPT said. "One hundred degree days become the deadly norm. This year, migrants crossing this desert are dying at a record rate; 89 bodies have been recovered."

  • Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) has sent an update on a letter on Holy Land Peace sent by Christian leaders to President Obama on June 4. Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger was one of those who signed. Jeffrey Feltman, acting assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, has responded with a letter expressing appreciation for the Christian leaders' "work to advance our collective goal of realizing a comprehensive Middle East peace," and laying out the obligations that the US administration has placed on all parties including Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab states. CMEP continues to gather signatures for the Holy Land Peace letter, go to

  • An ElderQuest walking retreat for older men is led by Brethren minister Roger Golden on Sept. 20-25 in Abingdon, Va. "The Virginia Creeper Trail, a 34 mile rails-to-trails project, will provide four days of walking, reflection, and life planning," he reported. The group will walk 34 miles to Whitetop Mountain, Va., and return. Pre-retreat training is required. Deadline for registration is Aug. 1. Go to
Source: 7/16/2009 Newsline

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