Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Brethren bits: Personnel, job opening, Year for People of African Descent, more.
  • The positions of dishwasher and Conference Center secretary at the New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center have been eliminated as of March 22, and the services of David Zaruba and Connie Bohn ended on the same date. The elimination of these positions occurred due to the significant budget shortfalls at the Conference Center over the past several years and the budget reduction measures put in place to remedy the situation. Both Zaruba and Bohn will receive a three-month severance package for regular salary and benefits as well as outplacement services. Zaruba was hired as dishwasher in Dining Services on May 8, 2003, and Bohn has served in the Conference Center secretary position since June 2, 1999.

  • Bethany Theological Seminary seeks a full-time director of communications. Bethany is the graduate school and academy of the Church of the Brethren, located in Richmond, Ind., offering MDiv and MA programs with local and distance tracks. The director will have education and experience in communications to strengthen, expand, and manage the image and awareness of the seminary; develop and execute communications plans, strategies, and tactics; serve diverse stakeholder groups, both internal and external; work collaboratively with director of electronic communications; share the vision of an inquiring thoughtful Christian faith. Candidates should have strong organizational abilities, interpersonal skills, excellent writing and oral communication, knowledge of electronic technology and software for design and production of communication pieces, and an eye and imagination tuned to newsworthy developments in the Bethany community to be sent as timely printed and electronic news releases. Bachelor’s degree with experience and knowledge of the Church of the Brethren preferred. Letters of application, resumes, samples of work or portfolio should be sent to: Director of Communications Search, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374; or Application deadline is May 1 or until the position is filled.

  • Doris Abdullah, Church of the Brethren representative to the United Nations, will bring opening remarks at the International Day for the Elimination of Racism program at the UN tomorrow, March 24. She is co-chair of the Subcommittee for the Elimination of Racism of the NGO Committee on Human Rights. The focus will be the International Year for People of African Descent in 2011, which "aims to advance the integration of people of African descent into all political, economic, social, and cultural aspects of society and to promote a greater knowledge of and respect for their diverse heritage and culture." The program will consist of panel presentations, a poetry performance, and audience interaction. Speakers include Howard Dodson of the New York Public Library Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, along with representatives of the missions to the UN from Colombia, Ghana, and Jamaica, and James Jackson of the University of Michigan. Performing will be Anis Mojgani, two-time National Poetry Slam Champion and Winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam. The event is 3-6 p.m. on the 10th floor of the Church Center in New York.

  • A new Spanish language certificate-level ministry training program, Seminario Biblico Anabautista Hispano-de la Iglesia de los Hermanos (SeBAH-CoB), is available through the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. This program is a partnership between the Brethren Academy and the Mennonite Education Agency (MEA)-Hispanic Pastoral and Leadership Education office. Twenty students from Atlantic Northeast District attended an orientation weekend Jan. 20-23 at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Seven students from Pacific Southwest District will participate after attending orientation March 6-12. Rafael Barahona, associate director of MEA and director of SeBAH, was the orientation instructor. Both districts are providing significant spiritual, academic, and financial support for their students in this ministry training program. For information contact the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership at or 800-287-8822 ext. 1824.

  • Photographs of Brethren "extending the table" are sought for a presentation during the closing worship service of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference. The service is Wednesday, July 6, in Grand Rapids, Mich., on the theme, "Jesus Extends the Table to Us." Photographs will be displayed on large screens during an act of commissioning for the congregation. The worship planning team asks for help from Brethren photographers in acquiring photos of ways in which congregations extend hospitality and welcome to others, because Jesus welcomed us. Images may be from celebrations of Love Feast, but also may show ways congregations greet people as they arrive for worship, reach out into the community, and engage in service ministries. Photographers are requested to contribute only their own original works, and to have the permission of people pictured in any photos that are submitted. Send photographs as jpg attachments to an e-mail to Rhonda Pittman Gingrich at, along with credit information and written permission for their use by the Annual Conference.

  • Bethany Theological Seminary is offering "Sabbath space" on its campus in Richmond, Ind., on March 27-28. An announcement said: "At this moment in our national and denominational life, and taking Jesus seriously, Bethany Seminary is opening a Sabbath space for all people beginning on Sunday, March 27, at 5 p.m. with a simple fellowship meal and closing on Monday, March 28, by 3 p.m. The purpose of our gathering is to remember together that God is our creator, that we belong to God, and that we find our freedom and our joy in reconciliation with God and one another." The event will include worship, opportunities for prayer in small groups, and space for individual meditation. There is no charge, but those who plan to attend are requested to register. A registration form is at

  • Churches interested in becoming sites to provide food to hungry children through the federal Summer Food Service program are invited to the USDA’s "Summer Food Service Program Webinar for Faith-Based Organizations" on March 29 from 3-4 p.m. (eastern time). Each summer, 22.3 million students are at risk of going hungry when the school year ends. For many children, school meals are the only complete and nutritious meals they eat, and in the summer they go without. The Summer Food Service Program helps fill the gap for low-income children. It is federally funded and administered by states that reimburse organizations for meals served to children during the summer. Participants in the webinar will need access to a phone line and a computer with Internet access. To participate, complete the registration form at More information is at

  • Lakeland Song and Story Fest takes place June 26-July 2 at Camp Brethren Heights near Rodney, Mich. This is the 15th summer in a row for the annual intergenerational family camp co-sponsored by On Earth Peace. Ken Kline Smeltzer serves as director. This year’s theme is "Between the Waters." The camp features Brethren storytellers, musicians, and workshop leaders. Registration is $250 for adults, $200 for teenagers, $120 for children ages 4-12, children 3 and under welcome at no charge. Maximum fee per family is $750. Daily fees also are available. Registrations after June will be charged a late fee. Register online at For more information go to or contact

  • Washington City Church of the Brethren in Washington, D.C., is part of a new rainbarrel project to prevent pollution in the Anacostia River from stormwater runoff from buildings in Washington, D.C. A 650 gallon rainwater cistern will collect rain water from the church roof, thanks to a grant from the District Department of the Environment. The project is a community partnership bringing together Capitol Hill houses of worship and neighborhood groups for stormwater education, cistern installation, and garden care. Partner organizations are Anacostia Riverkeeper and Groundwork Anacostia, which employs local youth to help install the cisterns.

  • "Is Pacifism a Core Christian Value?" is the theme for a March 26 event of Mid-Atlantic District Peace and Justice Committee, at University Park Church of the Brethren in Hyattsville, Md. Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, is keynote speaker. Panel members include Jordan Blevins, ecumenical peace advocate for the Church of the Brethren and National Council of Churches; Marie Benner-Rhodes, coordinator for peace education, On Earth Peace; and Jeff Scott, JD, of Westminster Church of the Brethren. The event is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Attendees are to prepare by reading "Christian Understanding of War in an Age of Terror(ism)," available at (scroll down to "Visioning Conversations" and click "Full Text of the Five Vision Papers", then select the above paper). Register by contacting Terri Meushaw at or 410-635-8790.

  • The Shenandoah District Office in Weyers Cave, Va., is serving as a kit depot for Church World Service (CWS) through April 21. Health kits, school kits, baby layette kits, and clean-up buckets are being accepted. Drop off completed kits at the lower level of the office from 9 a.m. to noon, Mondays through Thursdays. All kits must be boxed in order to be loaded onto the truck for delivery to the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Boxes and tape are provided. Plastic buckets are available for a $2 donation. Kits will be loaded onto the truck on April 25.

  • Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village has received high scores in Maryland’s survey of residents’ families, according to a release from the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro. For 2010, the survey contacted 16,765 persons representing residents at 224 homes. "This is the fourth year of the survey, and the Boonsboro facility has received some of the state’s highest ratings every time," the release said. For example, of Fahrney-Keedy’s responding parties in 2010, 98 percent said they would recommend the nursing home to others, compared with a 90 percent average statewide. For overall care received, Fahrney-Keedy respondents rated the home at 9.3 on a 10-point scale. Statewide in this category, homes received an average rating of 8.4.

  • The Ann and Steve Morgan Auditorium Dedication Week at the University of La Verne, Calif., will feature journalist Mark Pinsky speaking on "Faith, Media and Pop Culture," March 31 at 7:30 p.m. A release from the university noted that Pinsky has authored books on faith and entertainment including "The Gospel According to Disney," "The Gospel According to the Simpsons," and "A Jew Among the Evangelicals: A Guide for the Perplexed." The event is free, seating is limited. Visit or call 909-593-3511 ext. 4589.

  • The Young Center at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College holds its Durnbaugh Lectures on April 7-8 with Dale Stoffer, academic dean of Ashland Theological Seminary. The lectures commemorate the scholarship of Donald and Hedda Durnbaugh. Stoffer will present "The Pilgrim and the Printer: The First Two Bibles in Colonial America" at 7:30 p.m. on April 7 in the Susquehanna Room of Myer Hall. The lecture follows the annual Young Center banquet. A reception begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by the dinner at 6 p.m. Stoffer also will present a seminar, "From Berleburg to Germantown: Radical Pietist Readings from the Bible," at 10 a.m. April 8 at the Young Center. A lunch is available after the seminar. Lecture and seminar are free. Cost for the banquet is $18. Cost for the luncheon is $10. Reservations required by March 24, call 717-361-1470.

  • A new book from Elizabethtown (Pa.) College professor Michael G. Long marks the first publication of early letters of Thurgood Marshall. "Marshalling Justice: The Early Civil Rights Letters of Thurgood Marshall" was published by Amistad/HarperCollins in February. Long is associate professor of religious studies and peace and conflict studies. "I undertook this study partly to supplement our image of Thurgood Marshall as the first African American justice on the Supreme Court," Long said in a press release. From 1967-1991, Marshall was the most important and influential civil rights leader in the US before the emergence of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1955. Almost 20 years prior to the Montgomery bus boycott, Marshall began work as an attorney for the NAACP and played a critical role in the growth of the civil rights movement.

  • The Global Women’s Project Steering Committee met on March 3-5 in Richmond, Ind. Founded in 1978, the project is a Brethren-related group with the purpose to "educate about wealth, power and oppression, encouraging one another to live more simply and be mindful of our luxuries and join in empowerment with women around the world, sharing resources with women’s initiatives." The committee reaffirmed and released funds to partner projects in Rwanda, Wabash, Ind., Uganda, and Sudan, and planned for education and outreach in the coming year. They had the opportunity to speak at a Peace Forum at Bethany Theological Seminary and Earlham School of Religion, and provided leadership for a chapel service. Sister Stella Sabina, from a partner project in Uganda, spoke about the oppressive tribal traditions in her homeland and her efforts to educate and support women and girls there. The group also met with Roland Kreager, general secretary of Right Sharing of World Resources, a Quaker organization. On the committee are Kim Hill Smith of Minneapolis, Minn.; Anna Lisa Gross of Richmond, Ind.; Carrie Eikler of Morgantown, W.Va.; and Nan Erbaugh of W. Alexandria, Ohio.

  • Ruby Sheldon, a pilot and active member of Papago Buttes Church of the Brethren in Scottsdale, Ariz., was celebrated in a newsletter from Pacific Southwest District. "At age 92, Ruby is only 70 years older than the younger pilots in last June's 34th annual Air Race Classic," the newsletter said. She and about 100 other female pilots flew 2,000 miles in four days. She has often been among the top 10 finishers of the race, taking first place in 1995.

  • The unusual blog "Who are the churches in your neighborhood" comments on a recent visit to an unidentified Church of the Brethren congregation, during week 12 of a year-long project to worship with the 50 closest churches to the author’s home. The post titled "Who’s in Charge Here Anyway?" celebrates the way each person "acted as if this church was their home." Find it at

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