Thursday, August 13, 2009

Brethren bits:
  • Remembrance: Ernest W. Lefever, 89, died on July 29 at a Church of the Brethren retirement center in New Oxford, Pa. Known for the controversy in 1981 over his nomination for assistant secretary of human rights under President Ronald Reagan, he was an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren from 1941 or 1942 through 1979. He grew up in a Brethren family in York, Pa., attended Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, was ordained in York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren, and attended Bethany Theological Seminary for one year before going on to earn a degree from Yale Divinity School in 1945. As a young man, he volunteered with the anti-war and civil rights activist A.J. Muste, who was a leader in the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Lefever worked with Brethren Service following World War II, helping direct the YMCA War Prisoners' Aid program in England and Germany from about 1945-48. During that time he also was a regular correspondent for the Religious News Service, which reported in an interview in 1988 that "exposure to the results of Nazism and the rise of Communist tyranny in places like Hungary and East Germany shattered his pacifist outlook and turned him into what he now describes as a 'morally concerned realist'...." During the varied and complicated career that followed, Lefever was an international affairs specialist with the National Council of Churches, a staff consultant on foreign affairs to Sen. Hubert Humphrey, a senior researcher at the Brookings Institute, and founded the Ethics and Public Policy Center in 1976, described as a conservative think tank in his obituary in "The Washington Post" (go to ). He became a critic of the ecumenical movement and the civil rights movement, and critiqued the social activism of liberal mainline denominations. However, in a 1996 letter to "Messenger" magazine, Lefever described himself as "a grateful beneficiary of my Brethren heritage," and remembered his five summers as a youth participating in Brethren workcamps ranging from Pennsylvania to Yakima County, Wash. An article he wrote that year for "The American Enterprise" titled "Charity During the Great Depression" looked back at his childhood and his experiences of Brethren parents who share their limited resources with the needy. He quoted his mother's teaching, "We are put on earth to help others."

  • Personnel notes:

    • Jonathan L. Reed has been appointed interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of LaVerne, Calif. He has been professor of religion at the university since 1993, and is an authority on Mediterranean and early Christian archaeology.

    • Emily Cleer has resigned as administrative assistant for Illinois and Wisconsin District, as of Aug. 7. She began her work with the district in April 2008, having brought a rich background of administrative and clerical skills to the position. She and her family live in rural Canton, Ill.

    • On Aug. 14, Jay Irrizarry is completing a two-year Brethren Volunteer Service assignment working for the Church of the Brethren's Information Services department at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. He begins a new BVS assignment in Wichita, Kan., in mid-September.

    • Sam Cupp has begun work as Youth Ministry assistant in Shenandoah District. He is a freshman at Bridgewater (Va.) College and has been an active member of the District Youth Council and served on the district's Youth Heritage Team in 2007-08.

  • Job opening:

    • The Church of the Brethren seeks candidates for the position of director of Identity and Relations. The director of Identity and Relations communicates the mission and ministry of the Church of the Brethren to those affiliated with the church and to those outside who seek information about the church. A major responsibility is oversight of the denominational website at This person is also responsible for annual reports, connections with district conferences, and meeting other communication needs. Candidates should have proven experience in communications and website development; have a deep understanding of the Church of the Brethren and be an active member of the church; bring experience with the denominational scope of the church's life and work; have superior skills in writing, editing, and public speaking; and have the technical and relational skills to manage a complex website and collaborate with others. This position, located at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., is part of the Brethren Press communication team and reports to the publisher of Brethren Press. Applications will be received immediately and will be considered until the position is filled. Request a position description and an application from Karin Krog, Office of Human Resources, at or 800-323-8039 ext. 258.

  • Nine people participated in the Training in Ministry (TRIM) and Education for Shared Ministry (EFSM) Orientation on July 13-16 at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind: Kim Beares from Mid-Atlantic District, Bill Fisher and Shawn Tanner from Virlina District, David McDaniel from Shenandoah District, Thomas Prager and Randy Short from Michigan District, Susan Price from Pacific Southwest District, Mary Beth Tuttle from Western Plains District, and David Young from South-Central Indiana District.

  • Brethren Revival Fellowship and Brethren Volunteer Service are sponsoring their annual joint volunteer orientation at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., on Aug. 16-26. The group is expected to include 15 volunteers.

  • A Heifer International and Church of the Brethren study tour of Armenia and Georgia has been canceled because not enough participants have registered to take part. The study tour had been planned for this fall.

  • Resources to aid people of faith during the national debate on health care reform are being made available by the National Council of Churches (NCC). "As children of God, created in the image of God, adequate health care is a matter of preserving what our gracious God made," said a release from the NCC. "From the middle class to those most in need, we are feeling the health care crunch. Insurance premiums have doubled in the past 10 years. And our uninsured neighbors have it even worse as they struggle to get by without the care they need." The NCC is offering a conference call and webcast on healthcare reform with President Obama, hosted by leaders in the faith community, on Aug. 19 at 5 p.m. (Eastern time) (dial 347-996-5501, no passcode, long-distance charges may apply; or log on to The NCC also has posted online resources including a pastoral letter and call to action for health care reform at

  • Spruce Run Church of the Brethren near Lindside, W.Va., celebrated its 180th anniversary at a Homecoming Service on Sunday, July 19. The two-hour worship service featured special music and a historical presentation, and was followed by a meal and an afternoon musical program.

  • Crab Orchard (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren is dedicating additions to its sanctuary on Sunday, Aug. 23, at 11 a.m. The congregation recently had its baptismal backdrop refurbished. The backdrop was painted by noted Brethren artist Medford Neher during World War II, illustrating Jesus' baptism and the descending dove. According to a note in the Virlina District newsletter, "Although Neher did work for over 100 congregations, he is best known for a mural on 12 panels displayed in the Quinter-Miller Auditorium at Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Ind.... His painting at Crab Orchard was created during a series of revival meetings which he held for the congregation and as an object lesson to the youth and children of the church."

  • Rockford (Ill.) Church of the Brethren is selling its property and seeking a new location and mission to continue its fellowship as a Church of the Brethren, according to a notice in the Illinois and Wisconsin District newsletter.

  • A re-chartering service will be held on Sunday, Aug. 16, at 4 p.m., for Masons Cove Church of the Brethren in Salem, Va. In February last year the Virlina District Board took action to disorganize the congregation, and then with a small body of individuals reorganized the Masons Cove Church with a commitment to being the Church of the Brethren, according to an announcement in the district newsletter. "They have worked to heal, grow, and be Christ's Church," the newsletter said.

  • Western Plains District has announced a new location for its district office. The district office has moved to the Miller Library on the campus of McPherson (Kan.) College. Following is contact information for the Western Plains District: P.O. Box 394, 1600 E. Euclid, McPherson, KS 67460; or 620-241-4240.

  • The Western Plains District Conference held in McPherson, Kan., on July 31-Aug. 2 recognized several "Milestones in Ministry." Recognized for 65 years in ministry (since 1944) were Dean L. Farringer, Merlin L. Frantz, and Charles J. Whitacre. Others recognized for significant years of service included Lyall R. Sherred for 50 years; John J. Carlson for 40 years; Francis Hendricks and Jean M Hendricks for 30 years; C. Edwina Pote for 20 years; Stephen L. Klinedinst for 15 years; and Sonja P. Griffith, Lisa L. Hazen, and Thomas H. Smith for 10 years.

  • The Bridgewater College Alumni Choir will present a concert at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 16, at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren. The Alumni Choir was co-founded by Jesse Hopkins, Edwin L. Turner Distinguished Professor of Music at Bridgewater College, and Jonathan Emmons, a 2005 graduate. In addition to his duties at the college, Hopkins served as music director at the Bridgewater Church for many years. Emmons earned a master of music degree in choral conducting from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and is director of choirs and college organist at Wesley College in Dover, Del. Both musicians have helped lead music for the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference. The concert is open to the public at no charge.

  • Camp Pine Lake in Northern Plains District, near Eldora, Iowa, suffered some damage in an Aug. 9 wind and hail storm. Camp Board chair Kirby Leland reported in the district newsletter that "the Pine Lake area, including the town of Eldora, was hit hard with hail as large as baseball size and winds strong enough to do severe damage to mature trees.... The good news is that there were no injuries sustained from the wind and hail. We can be thankful there was not a camp going on with children on site." Several trees were destroyed on the camp property, two vehicles and the camp pick-up trick suffered some damage, some windows and doors were broken or damaged, and the camp lost power for a time. A number of volunteers from the district and camp counselors from the Reformed Church helped do clean up.

  • The August edition of "Brethren Voices," a community television program produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren, features Tom Benevento of the New Community Project. Benevento works out of Harrisonburg, Va., where he gives a video tour of a Sustainable Living Homestead. Viewers are treated to the workings of a greenhouse that can be built for $100, and an explanation of how Benevento is turning the homestead into a demonstration of sustainable living with landscaping that is truly edible and food producing. The New Community Project is a nonprofit related to the Church of the Brethren. In September, "Brethren Voices" will feature 87-year-old Paul Libby, a Seagoing Cowboy who tells his story of delivering heifers to Poland following World War II. For more information about Brethren Voices, contact Ed Groff, producer, at

  • A quartet from Peoria (Ill.) Church of the Brethren sang the National Anthem for a recent Peoria Chief's baseball game. The quartet included Penelope Garrison, Vicki Matheny, Dan Boulton, and Russel Boulton.

  • Gay Mercer of Mack Memorial Church of the Brethren in Dayton, Ohio, has been an architect for a home makeover in Beavercreek, Ohio, as part of the television show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
Source: 8/13/2009 Newsline

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