Friday, June 04, 2010

Brethren bits: Remembrance, personnel, Annual Conference, more.
  • Remembrance: Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) staff are remembering the life and work of David Stevens, who died in late May. Stevens was the leader of the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland ( He had a long history with BVS in Northern Ireland, where BVS volunteers have been placed since 1972. Through his work at the Irish Council of Churches, where he eventually became general secretary, Stevens started a support committee for BVS in 1975. "That's 35 years of accompaniment of Northern Irish BVS volunteers, in one form or another!" wrote Kristin Flory, who coordinates BVS placements in Europe. "At the beginning and during the height of the Troubles this was vital; he would make suggestions for project placements and advise about volunteer selection, as well as visiting the volunteers on site." Along with Harold Good, a Methodist pastor who invited BVS to send a volunteer to the Shankill Road in 1972, Stevens spoke at the BVS 30th anniversary event at the Forthspring project in Belfast in 2002. "He talked about the courage and imagination required for peacemaking," Flory wrote, and that "peace requires you to work with people you might not like to associate with." In his comments, Stevens commended the long-term perspective and quiet and powerful witness of BVS. "In response to Harold Good's remark that ‘when the full story of all these years in Northern Ireland is written, sadly BVS probably won't be mentioned,’ David said that we would be ‘recorded in a greater book,’" Flory wrote. "I know that David himself is in that greater book." For more about David Stevens’ life and work go to

  • James Ward begins June 7 as a summer intern at the Church of the Brethren Credit Union. He is a senior at Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., on track to receive a degree in Accounting and Finance with a minor in Economics this December. He spent the previous two summers working in Chase’s student loan division in Indianapolis, and recently led a student team that developed a business plan for a new aquatic and fitness center under consideration by the North Manchester Parks and Recreation department.

  • A change of date has been announced for the annual Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) 5K Fitness Challenge at Annual Conference. To accommodate 4th of July activities in Pittsburgh, the race will now take place at 7 a.m. on Monday, July 5. Since this is a recent change, the date published in the Conference booklet is not correct. Because of this change, the BBT Congregational Contact breakfast has been moved to Sunday, July 4, at 7 a.m. in Room 317 of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The early bird deadline to register for the Fitness Challenge has been extended to Monday, June 7. That special rate is $18 per person and $55 per family. After June 7, the registration fee increases to $20 per person. Find a pre-registration form at and mail the bottom portion to, along with payment, to Brethren Benefit Trust, Attn: Mandy Garcia, 1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. Contact with any questions or to request a copy of the pre-registration form by mail. Participants also may register onsite in Pittsburgh at the BBT booth at Annual Conference through Sunday, July 4.

  • Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger has signed on to a letter to members of Congress supporting legislation requiring all federal agencies to notify the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) of all US-held detainees and to allow the ICRC access to them. The letter dated May 25 noted that "this requirement was included in President Obama's executive order on interrogations; however, legislation is required to codify this requirement so that it remains permanent US policy." An independent neutral observer, the ICRC has a mandate to visit detention facilities around the world to ensure that prisoners of war and other detainees are treated humanely as required by international law.... By passing legislation permanently providing the ICRC with access to US-held detainees we can prevent secret detentions, strengthen America’s ability to advocate for the appropriate treatment of Americans detained overseas, and restore US credibility on the issue of torture." The letter was signed by leaders of Christian denominations and organizations along with leaders from other religious traditions and was sponsored by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

  • A grant of $10,000 has been given by the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) in response to a Church World Service (CWS) appeal for assistance following flooding and multiple tornado outbreaks across the southern US, including record-breaking flooding in Nashville, Tenn. The grant will support material aid shipments as well as resources and training in the development of long-term recovery groups in affected communities.

  • Mission workers in Nigeria have begun a Peace Club for students at Kulp Bible College. Nathan and Jennifer Hosler reported the development in May. They are teaching peace classes and working in a Peace Program at the school, which serves as a training college for pastors of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). "While the Church of the Brethren is a Historic Peace Church, peace has not been a large part of EYN’s theological teaching (though that is changing)," the Hoslers reported. "As can be expected, the students have had many questions.... Students routinely struggle with how it is possible to work for peace in their context. Students have expressed fear that if they work for peace they will become marginalized in society and politics. They try to understand how they can move toward peace while protecting their churches, families, and property. There is no easy or straightforward answer to this dilemma. In an effort to assist concerned students in understanding and acting for peace we have started a KBC Peace Club." The club provides a venue for students to engage in discussion of peace topics beyond the classroom and assists students in working for peace while they are studying. As of mid-May the group met weekly and included nine students and three faculty. "Ideally, the Peace Club will provide an opportunity for students to put the class material into practice," the Hoslers wrote.

  • The Annual Members’ Meeting of the Church of the Brethren Credit Union is scheduled for 2 p.m. on July 3 in Pittsburgh, Pa., prior to the opening of Annual Conference. The meeting will be held in Room 317 of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The meeting is open to all Credit Union members and all attendees of Annual Conference. Board members and staff will be present for questions and dialogue. For more information contact 888-832-1383 or go to

  • Overseas mission workers from Asia were hosted at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., last week. The group included Steve Cutting, ecumenical relations officer for the Asian Rural Institute in Japan, and Church of the Brethren mission workers Robert and Linda Shank, who have served the past three months at Yanji University of Science and Technology in northern China. The Shanks plan to teach at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in North Korea when it opens this fall.

  • East Chippewa Church of the Brethren has reported on its 5th Annual Fishing Derby for children, held in late May and sponsored by the church’s youth group. The event was "a success," according to a release from the church, located north of Orrville, Ohio. "The public was welcomed and nearly 100 showed up to cast their lines."

  • The Church of the Brethren’s Atlantic Southeast District is inviting visitors to its new website:

  • Students at McPherson (Kan.) College this spring collected 1,005 pairs of used shoes for the organization SOLES4SOULS, an international agency based in the United States that gives away millions of pairs of used shoes each year, reports Tom Hurst of the college’s Campus Ministries. Students also coordinated efforts with several McPherson County churches and schools to raise money and purchase items to donate 903 Hygiene Kits for Haiti, and money was raised for International Action’s HaitiWater project, which provided a chlorinator for one of the country’s water distribution centers. In addition, 16 faculty, students and staff members worked with Brethren Disaster Ministries in the Hammond, Ind., area over spring break to help clean up, repair, and paint houses flooded in Sept. 2008.

  • Church World Service (CWS) executive director John L. McCullough has pressed President Obama to convene a bipartisan summit with the goal of enacting comprehensive immigration reform this year. "Federal immigration reform has become all the more urgent," said a CWS press release, "as Arizona and at least 12 other states move to introduce their own ‘fixes,’ which threaten to create an unworkable and contradictory patchwork of local immigration laws that don't serve national security, economic recovery, or human rights." McCullough’s letter to President Obama noted that, "This is a worrisome trend that may not be easy to reverse if we don't act now. The worst thing the federal government can do right now is stand by and do nothing as other states follow Arizona's example." He also wrote all members of Congress urging them to support and participate in a bipartisan summit on immigration, saying, "This is a critical, historic time for the President and Congress to put politics aside, act decisively, and exhibit the moral courage necessary to do what's best for America and enact immigration reform."

  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) has issued a call for Christians to pray and act for a just peace in Palestine and Israel following the killing of peace activists after Israeli commandos stormed a convoy of ships carrying aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip. The WCC release noted that the event fell at the beginning of the annual World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel. Speaking at the Ecumenical Center in Geneva to mark the start of the week’s observances on May 31, WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit, said, "This year again we need even more than before to point to how settlements and occupation are real obstacles to a just peace. All parties must stop violence and find the way forward." Pointing to the message of the Kairos document written by Christians in the Middle East and launched last December, Tveit reiterated its call to churches and Christians throughout the world to respond to the conflict "with prayer, witness, and hard work.... It is remarkable that in this situation people are prepared to talk about love. We are not against anybody; we are for peace for all peoples." Find the website of the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel at
Source: 6/4/2010 Newsline

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