Thursday, August 25, 2011

Brethren Bits: Remembrance, Resources and More
  • Dorris Murdock, missionary and author, died on June 20, 2011, after a long bout with cancer. Murdock was born August 3, 1927, in North Carolina to John and Blanche Murdock. She graduated from McPherson College in 1948. That same year, she married Marvin Blough and went to Nigeria, West Africa, as a Church of the Brethren missionary. Murdock wrote eight books. Journey into the Light chronicled her own crisis of divorce, and Storm of the Soul the story of her experience in Nigeria. Her last years were spent in Idaho City, Id.

  • The Church of the Brethren Global Mission Partnerships hosted a luncheon at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on Thursday, August 25, sharing the story of the launch of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) in North Korea last fall.

    Presenters were Robert and Linda Shank, volunteers who after completing two terms of teaching at PUST will return to the campus on August 29, and Joshua Song, who is president of a foundation related to PUST. Dr. Shank is dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences for PUST. Linda Shank is a teacher of English. The Shanks will reflect on their firsthand experiences and explain how American educators and institutions can participate in this new venture.

  • Work Camp Volunteers -With gratitude for their service, the Church of the Brethren workcamp office bids farewell to volunteers Carol Fike and Clara Nelson, 2011 youth and young adult workcamp coordinators. Nelson is entering a school of veterinary medicine. Fike will continue to serve in the Youth and Young Adult Office as she coordinates National Young Adult Conference 2012.

    The 2012 youth and young adult workcamp coordinators are Catherine Gong and Rachel Witkovsky, both from the Middle Pennsylvania District. Gong is a recent graduate of Pennsylvania State University. Witkovsky is a graduate of Elizabethtown College, and comes to us after a year of working in the theatre in New Hampshire.

  • The resources section from Basin & Towel is now online. Subscribers to Basin & Resources section from Towel, the magazine of Congregational Life Ministries, know that the 'Resources' section in each issue can be one of the most helpful, listing books, websites, and other materials relevant to the theme of that issue. Starting with the August issue ("The Technology Issue"), those resources are also available online for easy 'linking'. All future issues also will offer this feature; and plans are underway to provide resources for all past issues online as well.

  • "Fear is Not the Answer: 9/11 Revisited" will be held on Sunday, September 11, 2011, beginning at 4:30 p.m. in Binns Park, 100 block of N. Queen Street in Lancaster, Pa. Celeste Zappala, mother of the first Pennsylvania National Guard soldier killed in Iraq, and Michael Berg, father of a contractor also killed there, will headline this solemn remembrance of the links between 9/11 and war. This public event will affirm the traditional American values of accountability, the rule of law, the protection of civil liberties and the pursuit of peace. Musicians David Armstrong, Frances Miller, Jessica Smucker and Daryl Snider will perform. Bring lawn chairs for seating. Sponsored by Every Church a Peace Church, 1040 for Peace, and the Lancaster Coalition for Peace and Justice.

  • A religion communicators group is calling for responsible discussion of faith groups in news coverage of 9/11's 10th anniversary. The Religion Communicators Council urged journalists and bloggers to "pursue accuracy, respect and understanding of people of all faiths and faith communities." The statement is in a resolution adopted Aug. 7, 2011 in Philadelphia by the board of governors for the 400-member interfaith council.

    The 17-member board called "for responsible discussion of religion and of all faith groups, seeking the understanding and acceptance of religious communities." The anniversary of the 2001 attacks could "bring about painful recollections of terrorism and its effects," the resolution said. Rhetoric about the attacks "could become heated and distorted as it intermingles the religious identity of participants in those heinous acts," the measure continued.

    The council encourages communicators for faith groups to adhere to the highest ethical guidelines in presenting religious faith and values in public discourse.

  • The Yahoo! group for Brethren Peace Fellowship has been reactivated. This moderated forum is at

  • Ann Behrens to serve as Chair of the Global Crises Intervention Commission. This unique response unit of the Word Federation of Music Therapy organization supports the needs of music therapists affected by or responding to crises-natural and human-made-across the world that result in trauma stress. The Global Crises Intervention Commission facilitates communication, coordinates services and training among music therapists, and maintains a collection of materials and resources to use during current or ongoing disasters and traumatic situations. Behrens teaches and supervises music therapy students while directing the music therapy program in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts of Elizabethtown College where she has taught since 1998.

  • Kansas Campus Compact has named two McPherson College professors as its first "Engaged Faculty Fellows," granting them each $7,500 in support of service learning in their teaching and research. Dr. Allan Ayella, assistant professor of biology, and Dr. Becki Bowman, assistant professor of communication, were two of the three fellows named under the new program. In exchange for the grant, Dr. Ayella and Dr. Bowman will develop and introduce a course with a practical service learning component, collaborate with the other fellows in a research project, and act as advocates for service-learning and civic engagement in the community.

    Dr. Bowman said she will be using the funds to modify a fall class at McPherson College on conflict communications. The class now will include a student service project developing a curriculum to teach elementary school students about conflict resolution.

    Kansas Campus Compact is a coalition devoted to funding and facilitating service learning and civic engagement in its 12-member colleges and universities throughout Kansas, from community colleges to Regents institutions.

  • Bridgewater College hires vice president of institutional advancement. Bruce D. Smith Jr., of West Chester, Pa., assumed his duties as vice president of institutional advancement at Bridgewater on August. 23. In leading the advancement team, Smith will build and strengthen the organization, develop strategies and contribute to the work of the President's Council. Smith is a native of Swarthmore, Pa., who earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. In 1965 he joined the faculty at The Westtown School, a co-educational college-prep boarding school near Philadelphia. In 1982, Smith left Westtown to design and implement hardware and software solutions using microprocessor technology. He also worked at The West Company, helping to design control and monitoring systems for the company's machinery products division. Smith formed Genesis Machinery Products in 1996, where he served as president and director of technology.

  • President Ruthann K. Johansen of Bethany Seminary has announced the hiring of Shaye M. Isaacs as the executive assistant to the president. She began her duties on August 23, 2011. A resident of Richmond, Indiana, Isaacs has worked with Wernle Youth & Family Treatment Center in Richmond since 2006, most recently as director of development. Her roles and responsibilities at Wernle included management, fund-raising, donor relations, public relations, agency referral and placement, and administrative support.

  • Roy Unruh and Mildred Martens-Unruh have written a book Two Feet Apart at the Altar: Four Love Stories and Five People, which tells the story of how they have found guidance through tragedies with God's love. Their inspiration to complete the book came at the National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) in 2009 where there was a focus on sharing wisdom and leaving a legacy. Unruh served on the Church of the Brethren General Board from 1999 to 2004.

  • Four district conferences take place on Oct. 7-8: Atlantic Northeast District Conference at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College; Atlantic Southeast District Conference at Winter Park (Fla.) Church of the Brethren; Idaho District Conference at Community Church of the Brethren in Twin Falls, Idaho; and Mid-Atlantic District Conference at Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren.

  • Three district conferences are planned for the weekend of Oct. 14-15: Southern Ohio District Conference is at Eaton (Ohio) Church of the Brethren on Oct. 14-15; Middle Pennsylvania District Conference is at Carson Valley Church in Duncansville, Pa., on Oct. 14-15; and Western Pennsylvania District Conference is at Camp Harmony in Hooversville, Pa., on Oct. 15. This will be the 150th Middle Pennsylvania District Conference.

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