Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Brethren bits: Remembrance, personnel, colleges, more.

  • Remembrance: Violet H. Pfaltzgraff, 92, formerly of Brethren Village, Lancaster, Pa., died Sept. 23 at Cross Keys Village-The Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa. She had been a mission worker for the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria alongside her late husband Dr. Roy E. Pfaltzgraff, who passed away in March 2010. Born in Millport, Pa., she was the daughter of Willis B. and Emma Geib Hackman. She attended Elizabethtown (Pa.) College from 1937-39 and graduated from Hahnemann Hospital School of Nursing in Philadelphia in 1942. She and her husband were missionaries in Nigeria for 38 years, where she worked as a nurse, supervisor, treasurer, and administrator at the Adamawa Provincial Leprosium in Virgwi. She is survived by her children Roy Jr., husband of Kathy Pfaltzgraff of Haxtun, Colo.; George, husband of Buffy Pfaltzgraff of Hampton, Iowa; David, husband of Ruth Pfaltzgraff of Keymar, Md.; Nevin Pfaltzgraff, husband of Judy Miller of Coulee Dam, Wash.; and Kathryn Pfaltzgraff of Abbotstown, Pa.; 16 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren. A memorial service was held at Middle Creek Church of the Brethren in Lititz, Pa., on Oct. 10. Memorials are received to the Good Samaritan Fund, c/o Brethren Home Foundation, New Oxford.
  • Jonathan Stauffer, a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) volunteer from Polo (Ill.) Church of the Brethren, began work with the Church of the Brethren Peace Witness Ministries in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 19. He will assist with advocacy work, particularly on issues dealing with creation care, poverty and hunger, and rural development.
  • Beth E. Sollenberger, executive minister of South/Central Indiana District, has been named editor of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center magazine "Giving: Growing Faithful Stewards in Your Congregation," as of Jan. 1, 2012. She is a former member of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center Board of Directors and of the design team that launched "Giving" magazine in 1998.
  • The Gather 'Round curriculum, produced by Brethren Press and MennoMedia, is accepting applications to write for Preschool, Primary, Middler, Multiage, Junior Youth, or Youth age groups for 2013-14. Writers produce well-written, age-appropriate, and engaging material for teacher's guides, student books, and resource packs. All writers will attend an orientation March 19-23, 2012, in Chicago, Ill. See Job Opportunities at Application deadline is Jan. 9, 2012.
  • Gather 'Round is one of the sponsors of "Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity," a conference on faith formation to be held in Washington, D.C., on May 7-10, 2012. Speakers include Almeda M. Wright, assistant professor of Religion and Youth Ministry at Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer, N.C., who also will join John Westerhoff, Brian McLaren, and Ivy Beckwith on a panel about educating youth and children in light of violence in the Bible and the world. Michael Novelli of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., along with Amy Dolan, editor of "What Matters Now in Children's Ministry: Early Childhood Edition," will be leading "On the Ground," a panel of innovators in children's and youth ministry. Canadian singer/songwriter Bryan Moyer Suderman will be leading music and Melvin Bray will be Master of Ceremonies. Registration costs $189. Go to for more information.
  • The Peace Witness and Advocacy Office noted the end of the Iraq war with an Oct. 25 Action Alert calling on church members to "rejoice that the men and women who have risked their lives and livelihoods to serve in this war will return home for the holidays." The alert also urged action to "call for an end to the war in Afghanistan, and on the President and our Congressional officials to walk with us in building a world that seeks peace instead of relying on violence." It responded to President Obama's statement that the US troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year, ending official presence of US troops in Iraq after nearly nine years of war. The full alert is at
  • "A Sacred Space" is the theme for the 2011 Outdoor Ministries Association Retreat on Nov. 13-17 at Inspiration Hills in Burbank, Ohio. The retreat is for camp leaders in a variety of roles to gather for fun, fellowship, worship, recreation, discussion, and education. Mary Jo Flory-Steury, associate general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, is the keynote speaker. Cost is $150 for adults, $$75 for children age 5-8, children under 5 free. Register by Nov. 5. Contact Shannon Kahler, Inspiration Hills director, at or 888-462-2267.
A family living in one of the new homes built in Canaan, Haiti
Photo courtesy of Jeff Boshart
In addition to a new church building in the community of Canaan in Haiti are some 14 new homes built there by Brethren Disaster Ministries working with Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti). Shown here is one of the families living in a new house in Canaan. Most of the new residents were displaced from Port-au-Prince by the 2010 earthquake. Find a photo album of new building in Haiti at
  • The Haitian Church of the Brethren celebrated the opening of a new church last Sunday: the New Church in Jerusalem, Canaan. "There were about 150 people attending. Two people accepted Christ as their personal Savior for the very first time," reported Ilexene Alphonse, manager of the church's guesthouse/headquarters building near Port-au-Prince. "Canaan is a new community, people from all over Port-au-Prince moved there after the 2010 earthquake. Brethren Disaster Ministries built 14 house there for 14 families." Find a photo album of new building in Haiti at
  • Dates of Jan. 29-Feb. 5, 2012, have been set for the next workcamp in Haiti sponsored by Brethren Disaster Ministries working with the Haitian Church of the Brethren (L'Èglise des Frères Haitiens). Participants will rebuild homes in Port-au-Prince and outlying villages that have received displaced survivors of the 2010 earthquake, will help complete the guesthouse at the new church offices, and will worship with Haitian brothers and sisters. Leaders are Ilexene  Alphonse and Klebert Exceus. Cost is $800, which includes all expenses while in Haiti such as meals, lodging, in-country transportation, travel insurance, and $50 toward building supplies. Participants purchase their own round-trip transportation from home to Port-au-Prince. The deadline for registration and a $300 deposit is Dec. 31. More information is at
  • The Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC) with Elizabethtown (Pa.) College Department of Religious Studies is hosting "The Witness of the Hebrew Bible for the NewTestament Church" in the Susquehanna Room from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Focus will be a 2010 Brethren Press publication of the same title, in which 13 Brethren scholars addressed the question "Of what relevance is the Old Testament for Christians today?" Robert Neff, Eugene Roop, and Jeff Bach will speak in the morning session. In the afternoon panel discussions focus on themes of holiness, peacemaking, education, and our concept of God. Panelists include John David Bowman, Christina Bucher, David Leiter, Mike Long, Frank Ramirez, Bill Wallen, and David Witkovsky. Cost is $50 plus $10 for continuing education credit. Contact SVMC at 717-361-1450 or to register.
  • Two congregations celebrate key anniversaries on Nov. 5-6: 100 years at Stevens Hill Community Church of the Brethren in Elizabethtown, Pa.; 50 years at Roanoke (Va.) Summerdean Church of the Brethren.
  • Pastors for Peace in Shenandoah District is hosting "Three Faiths...One God?" on Nov. 19 from 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren. "The relationship of Christianity to Judaism and Islam is crucially important at this time for churches," said an announcement. Bridgewater College professor William Abshire will present material on Judaism and Islam, and there will be interaction with leaders and families from the Muslim community. Lunch will be served. Cost is $25, $15 for students, or $35 for continuing education credit. Registration is required. Contact David R. Miller at
  • Four church districts hold conferences in the next two weeks: Shenandoah District meets Nov. 4-5 at Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Port Republic, Va.; Illinois and Wisconsin District meets in Carlinville, Ill., Nov. 4-6; Virlina District meets Nov. 11-12 in Roanoke, Va.; and Pacific Southwest District meets at Brethren Hillcrest Homes in La Verne, Calif., Nov. 11-13.
  • McPherson (Kan.) College has announced 2011 Young Alumni Awards: Church of the Brethren member Kathy Mack ('86), Randy Semadeni ('91), and Monica Embers ('95). Mack has worked for IBM for 22 years, with one of her first projects to improve the performance of the AS/400 software often known as the "green screen." She also is president of the board of Northern Plains District. Semadeni is vice president of finance and business development for Ventria Bioscience in Fort Collins, Colo. Embers is a researcher on Lyme disease and assistant professor at the Tulane National Primate Research Center.
  • Elizabethtown (Pa.) College has named recipients of its "Educate for Service" award: Carl Bowman ('79) and Roger Hoerl ('79). Bowman was recognized for contributions to education and global understanding of the Church of the Brethren. He is a sociologist and author of "Brethren Society: The Cultural Transformation of a Peculiar People" among other books. Hoerl was named for contributing to the global understanding of how to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa. He leads the Applied Statistics Laboratory at General Electric Global Research.
  • John Dernbach, the 2011 Elizabethtown College Peace Fellow, will lecture Nov. 9-10. The Alumni Peace Fellowship hosts his lecture on "Sustainability and Peace" at 11 a.m. Nov. 9 in Gibble Auditorium. On Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. he presents "Green Peace" ideas on environmental issues at the Bucher Meetinghouse. He is distinguished professor of law at Widener University Law School and has worked with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and coauthored expert testimony to the Supreme Court on behalf of 18 prominent scientists in the climate change case Massachusetts vs. Environmental Protection Agency. Events are free and open to the public. Contact Chris Bucher at 717-361-1182 or
  • The Fasnacht Lecture in Religion and Society at the University of La Verne (Calif.) presents Bart Ehrman on "Is the New Testament Forged? The Surprising Claims of Biblical Scholars." The event is Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Morgan Auditorium. Ehrman teaches religious studies at the University of North Carolina. Admission is free, seating is limited. For more information contact 909-593-3511 ext. 4188 or Also at ULV, an "Imagine Peace" art show by Yoko Ono is at the Harris Art Gallery from Nov. 7-Dec. 15. Contact or 909-593-3511 ext. 4273.
  • Pastors of the Supportive Communities Network--Mennonite and Church of the Brethren communities who are publicly affirming of gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual members--met for a retreat Oct. 17-20 in Michigan on the theme "A Circle Ever Wider, A People Ever Free." According to a release, the pastors worshiped and dialogued together, worked at strengthening relationships, considered unique opportunities and challenges welcoming congregations face, and explored strategies and plans for addressing specific denominational needs. The retreat included 10 pastors from each denomination, as well as leaders from BMC. Resource leaders were Keith Graber Miller, professor of Bible, Religion, and Philosophy at Goshen (Ind.) College, and John Linscheid of Germantown Mennonite Church.
  • The New Community Project has provided grants to partners in South Sudan, Ecuador, and Burma. Grants of $1,500 (Burma) and $6,000 (South Sudan) were made for  educational scholarships and hygienic materials for young women; $2,000 was sent for women's development projects in Nimule, South Sudan; $3,500 went to the Ecuadorian Amazon to continue planting trees on 10 deforested acres adjacent to the Cuyabeno Ecological Reserve. This brings NCP's total 2011 grants to its overseas partners to just under $60,000. Contact David Radcliff at for more information.
  • On Sept. 12 the Brethren World Assembly Planning Committee met at the Brethren Heritage Center in Brookville, Ohio, to continue planning for the next assembly scheduled for July 18-21, 2013. With the theme "Brethren Spirituality," the assembly will be held at the Brethren Heritage Center. In attendance were Gary Kocheiser of the Conservative Grace Brethren, Milton Cook of the Dunkard Brethren, Jeff Bach and Robert Alley of the Church of the Brethren, Tom Julien of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren, Mike Miller of the Old German Baptist Brethren-New Conference, and Brenda Colijn of the Brethren Church. The Brethren World Assembly, held every five years, is a function of the Brethren Encyclopedia Committee.
Source:11/2/2011 Newsline

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