Thursday, October 22, 2009

Brethren Bits: Correction, remembrance, personnel, jobs, and more.
  • Correction: The recent Pastoral Letter on the Economy was identified incorrectly in Newsline. It was from executives of the Annual Conference-related agencies, not the Inter-Agency Forum.

  • Remembrance: Joseph M. Long, 80, of Harrisburg, Pa., passed away on Oct. 14. He served as the Church of the Brethren’s denominational director for Youth Work from September 1959 through August 1964. He also was the first executive secretary of a tri-district Pennsylvania area of the Church of the Brethren encompassing the districts of Eastern Pennsylvania, North Atlantic, and Southern Pennsylvania, beginning in September 1964. He then served as the first executive secretary of Atlantic Northeast District at its formation by the former Eastern Pennsylvania and North Atlantic Districts in the fall of 1970. He continued in that office through his retirement. In other church work, he was one of Heifer Project’s "seagoing cowboys" in 1946, delivering animals to Poland, served two pastorates, and was a trustee and assistant manager at Camp Swatara and a trustee and director of development for Camp Eder. Born on Oct. 29, 1928, in Lebanon, Pa., he was the son of the late Henry F. and Frances (Horst) Long. He attended Hershey (Pa.) Junior College and earned degrees from Elizabethtown (Pa.) College and Bethany Theological Seminary. In Harrisburg, he was executive assistant to the Chairman of the Board of Probation and Parole for 20 years and volunteered for Contact Harrisburg for 35 years. Surviving are his wife, Shirley; son Timothy J. Long and wife Lorrie; daughter Patti Schylaski and husband Kurt; stepdaughters Leslie Hess and husband Brian, and Kelly Ross and husband Michael; 10 grandchildren and step grandchildren; and one great grandchild. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Oct. 30 at Ridgeway Community Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., preceded by visitation from 1 p.m. Interment will be at the convenience of the family in Spring Creek Cemetery in Hershey. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are being received to Hospice of Central Pennsylvania, 1320 Linglestown Road, Harrisburg, PA 17110. Condolences may be shared at

  • Kendra Flory has been called to serve as half-time administrative assistant for the Western Plains District office beginning Nov. 30. She is a member of McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren, a graduate of Bridgewater (Va.) College, and a 2009 graduate of Bethany Theological Seminary. The Western Plains District office is located on the campus of McPherson College.

  • Brethren Disaster Ministries is welcoming new Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker Steve Schellenberg. He is a recent graduate of Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., and has volunteered with Brethren Disaster Ministries in the past. He will join the leadership team at the Hurricane Katrina recovery project in Chalmette, La.

  • On Earth Peace has welcomed new BVS worker John-Michael Pickens. He is working with staff member Marie Rhoades to lead youth and young adult retreats in the Peace Education program. In 2008, he was a member of the denomination’s Youth Peace Travel Team. Contact him for more information about youth retreats at or 717-233-3786.

  • West Marva District seeks a district executive minister to fill a part-time position, available immediately. The theologically diverse district includes 62 congregations and two fellowships in Maryland and West Virginia, in the Appalachian Mountains. Its congregations are mostly rural, with several in urban areas. The preferred candidate will be someone who understands the history, values, and workings of the Church of the Brethren and will lead the district in focusing on its mission of nurturing the faith of its members and extending the witness of the Gospel to the people, problems, and needs of the world. The district office is located in Oakland, Md. Responsibilities include serving as executive officer of the District Board, giving general oversight to the planning and implementation of ministries, providing linkages with denominational agencies and ministries, assisting congregations and pastors with placement, building and strengthening relationships with congregations and pastors, articulating and promoting the vision and mission of the district, serving as an advocate for policies and directives of Annual Conference in conversation with the district, facilitating the calling and training of people to set-apart ministry and lay leadership, promoting unity in the district. Qualifications include clear commitment to Jesus Christ demonstrated by a deep faith and vibrant spiritual life; commitment to the New Testament and its values; commitment to Church of the Brethren faith and heritage; a minimum of 10 years of pastoral experience; communication, mediation, and conflict resolution skills; administrative, management, and budget skills; respect for theological diversity; flexibility in working with staff, volunteer, pastoral, and lay leadership; with a master of divinity or equivalent theological degree preferred. Apply by sending a letter of interest and a resume via e-mail to Applicants are requested to contact three or four people to provide a letter of reference. A candidate profile must be completed as well. Application deadline is Dec. 2.

  • The Special Response Resource Committee created by the 2009 Annual Conference met for the first time on Oct. 12-13. This committee was asked to develop a study guide and resource list for congregations, districts, and the denomination to discuss two documents that came to the 2009 Conference: "Statement of Confession and Commitment" and the query on "Language on Same-Sex Covenantal Relationships." In an announcement from the Annual Conference Office, the committee has begun its work, which the Conference requested be available no later than April 1, 2010. Members are John Wenger, chair; Karen Garrett, recorder; James Myer; Marie Rhoades; Carol Wise; and Standing Committee liaison Jeff Carter. The committee will post occasional updates at

  • Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger has signed on to a letter from interfaith leaders to President Obama urging that poverty, climate, and coast restoration projects become priorities in the recovery of the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina. More than 50 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders signed the letter, which was organized by Louisiana-based interfaith groups related to the Gulf Coast Civic Works Campaign. The letter read in part, "Four years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck and the levees were breached, the slow pace of recovery, persistent poverty, climate change, and coastal land loss have created a moral crisis across the region that demands a powerful response from people of faith and our elected officials." For the full text go to

  • Recent shipments of disaster relief materials by the Material Resources program at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., included ten 40-foot containers of Lutheran World Relief kits, quilts, and soap. "This was quite intense as all ten containers needed to be delivered back to the Baltimore pier in less than eight days," reported director Loretta Wolf. Other recent shipments have been made on behalf of Church World Service (CWS) and World Missions Outreach to send blankets, school and hygiene kits, and other materials to Nicaragua; more than 32,000 pounds of baby kits, school kits, and hygiene kits to the Dominican Republic; one 40-foot high cube container to the Congo for IMA World Health; and domestic shipments for CWS were made to Mississippi, New York, Colorado, Minnesota, and Georgia.

  • Selma (Va.) Church of the Brethren observed its 95th anniversary on Oct. 18.

  • West Charleston Church of the Brethren broke ground on Oct. 18 for a new facility in Tipp City, Ohio.

  • Shenandoah District is requesting prayer following the death of District Youth Council member Angela Kania, daughter of Phillip Kania and Cathy (Cupp) VanLear, from injuries received in a car accident. She was a member of Lebanon Church of the Brethren in Mount Sidney, Va., and a student at Fort Defiance High School. Condolences may be sent to the family through the guest book at

  • Rebecca Miller Zeek, pastor of 28th Street Church of the Brethren in Altoona, Pa., has been named to the Juniata College Board of Trustees as a church trustee.

  • Flora Williams, an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren from Lafayette, Ind., has written a manual titled "The Shepherd’s Guide Through the Valley of Debt and Financial Change" that combines financial management, counseling, and spiritual guidance for those doing pastoral counseling and family care. The book "is based on my teaching and research at Purdue University for 32 years, directing a financial clinic for 25 years, study at Bethany Theological Seminary, my ministering to families, and results of a survey funded by Eli Lilly for ministry excellence," she reported. "You can use this book to share the good news that God cares about our personal finances." Williams directed the financial advising clinic at Purdue, which was awarded "Outstanding Financial Counseling Center" in the US in 2001, and has written materials for the National Foundation for Consumer Credit to certify counselors. She also is past president and distinguished fellow of the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education. Contact 765-474-4232 or for more information.

  • A plea agreement has been reached in criminal charges brought against a young woman for an incident that took place while she was in the Fall 2008 orientation unit of Brethren Volunteer Service. Charges of first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death had been brought against Melanie Blevins, who during the orientation checked into a hospital and was discovered to have given birth. After she told police the baby was stillborn, they found the body of the child in a trash bin outside the building where the orientation unit was staying in Baltimore, Md. On Oct. 13, Blevins pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was given a 10-year suspended sentence, ordered to perform 900 hours of community service over the next three years, and to continue in psychiatric care.
Source: 10/22/2009 Newsline

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