This June marks Torture Awareness Month and the National Religious Coalition Against Torture (NRCAT) is inviting people of faith and conscience to join together nationwide to “stand in solidarity with survivors of torture and issue a moral call for human rights for all.” The Church of the Brethren is a part of the coalition. An announcement of anti-torture events planned for June invited congregations “to incorporate the color orange into worship services or other community gatherings throughout the month, as a symbol of solidarity with all who endure torture: those in orange jumpsuits in Guantanamo, to those held in conditions of torture in US prisons, jails, and detention centers in our own communities.” Suggestions include using an orange altar cloth or center piece, wearing orange ribbons, having a leader lead a service or vigil while wearing an orange jumpsuit. A bulletin insert prepared by NRCAT is available, along with poster images to make visible the stories of people enduring torture in our communities. Find resources at www.nrcat.org/TAM2016 . Congregations that take part are invited to send pictures of their events to email@example.com. “We will use the pictures to show our elected officials and the American people that people of faith are committed to a torture-free world, without exception,” said the announcement.
— Correction: The Brethren bits of April 15 that noted the granting of an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Melanie A. Duguid-May by Manchester University at upcoming ceremonies, included some inaccurate information about her academic history. She holds a master of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School, but her master of arts degree and doctorate in Christian theology are from Harvard University.
— The World Council of Churches (WCC) seeks candidates for the position of program executive for Health and Healing, and coordinator of the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN). WCC offices are located in Geneva, Switzerland.
The program executive for Health and Healing is responsible for providing support so as to enhance the contributions of the WCC to the ecumenical movement. The position reports to the coordinator of Human Dignity and to the associate general secretary for Public Witness and Diakonia. The deadline for applications is April 24.
The coordinator of the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network will strengthen the ecumenical network of people with disabilities through reference from the regions, to raise awareness within the ecumenical movement and the churches, and to advocate for a truly inclusive church as a theological and ethical imperative. The appointment will be for a first period of four years, with the possibility of extension. The position reports to the director of Mission and Evangelism. The deadline for applications is May 31.
All applicants are requested to apply online within the planned time frame. Detailed information is at www.oikoumene.org/en/get-involved/job-openings/job-openings .
— The Global Mission weekly prayer list includes the 49 participants of the Christian Citizenship Seminar, which begins late this week in New York City on the theme “Proclaiming Freedom: The Racial Injustice of Mass Incarceration.” The group of high school youth and advisors from various Church of the Brethren congregations will spend time in New York and in Washington, D.C., learning more about the problem of mass incarceration and then lobbying their respective government officials. The seminar is co-organized by the Youth and Young Adult Ministry and the Office of Public Witness. “Pray for safe travels and that the youth be imparted with the Spirit’s wisdom as they speak truth to power,” said the prayer request. “Pray for the families whose lives are torn apart by the injustices of the incarceration system, and for the lawmakers who have the power to change legislation.”
— The Office of Public Witness has called attention to a new National Refugees Welcome Campaign. A telephone conference call yesterday, April 21, gathered several speakers to launch the campaign. The invitation for Brethren to join in the campaign cited Romans 15:7: “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” The invitation noted that, “As we approach World Refugee Day upcoming on June 20, faith communities from multiple backgrounds (including the Church of the Brethren), refugee resettlement organizations, refugee and human rights leaders, and organizations that work with refugees are all working in partnership to provide a vibrant welcome to refugees among us, and to encourage our country to continue to respond to the world’s crisis by offering hospitality to vulnerable refugees in need.” The campaign will offer resources for faith and community groups to develop their own Refugees Welcome events during the months leading up to World Refugee Day and beyond. The goal of the campaign is to show the US government that “we are ready to welcome refugees in our communities across the country,” the alert said. For more information contact the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness, 337 North Carolina Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003; firstname.lastname@example.org ; 717-333-1649.
— The latest entry on the Nigeria blog is about the Emir of Kano and the Boko Haram, posted by Nigeria Crisis Response co-directors Carl and Roxane Hill. “This week the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi, is reported to have warned Nigeria and the world that starvation in northeast Nigeria could be a reality due to the destruction caused by Boko Haram. In an article from Nigeria’s NAIJ.com, the Emir is quoted as saying, ‘More children from Borno State may die as a result of famine.’ He believes that Borno State, maybe the hardest hit by Boko Haram…is so devastated that food will soon be the biggest issue there. ‘If things continue as they are,” the Emir continued, “then we may soon start seeing the children of Borno like the pictures of those children we used to see in Ethiopia who were dropping dead on the streets, dying of hunger.’ This is a shocking disclosure, coming from one of the major leaders of the Muslim faith in Nigeria. The Emir of Kano, former head of the country’s Central Bank, spoke from Lagos at a meeting of the University of Lagos’ Alumni lecture over the weekend…. This public statement against the Islamic insurgent movement has placed him in direct opposition to many political forces in Nigeria that are suspected of secretly backing the radical Islamists in the northeast.” Read the full blogpost at http://blog.brethren.org/category/nigeria .
— It is disaster auction season! Two of the large annual auctions that support disaster relief and the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries are coming up in May, with a third scheduled later this fall:
The 36th Annual Disaster Response Auction of Mid-Atlantic District is coming up in just a few weeks on Saturday, May 7, at Carroll County Agricultural Center in Westminster, Md. The event opens at 9 a.m., and features auctions of quilts and sales of many other goods including but not limited to plants and flowers, baked goods, and all kinds of food. Every year the auction raises around $65,000 for disaster relief. “Invite a friend or neighbor to visit with you,” said an invitation. “Look forward to seeing you there.” See www.madcob.com/event/2016-disaster-response-auction .
The Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Auction will be May 20-21 at the Rockingham County (Va.) Fairgrounds. This will be the 24th annual auction in Shenandoah District, and the event “will take over the Rockingham County Fairgrounds with food, plants, quilts, livestock, art, theme baskets, great Brethren fellowship–and much, much more!” said the district newsletter. In addition to auctions, related events include a golf tournament at Heritage Oaks, an oyster and country ham dinner, children’s activities, and more. The total net proceeds from the district’s 23 auctions over the years now tops $4.1 million. Last year’s event raised more than $211,000, plus an additional $4,300 for the Nigerian Crisis Fund. Go to www.shencob.org for more information.
Volunteers will pack 15,000 Gift of the Heart Health Kits on April 29-30 for this fall’s Brethren Disaster Relief Auction. Florin Church of the Brethren is hosting the kit packing. Set up starts at noon on April 29. Assembly starts at 8 a.m. on April 30. This year will be the 40th anniversary Brethren Disaster Relief Auction, taking place at Lebanon (Pa.) Expo and Fairgrounds on Sept. 23-24. For more information go to www.brethrendisasterreliefauction.org .
— Walnut Grove Church of the Brethren in Johnstown, Pa., will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the dedication of its current church building with a weekend of events: communion service at 6:30 p.m. Friday; ham dinner from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday; anniversary service at 10 a.m. Sunday, with a covered dish dinner to follow; concert by Mountain Anthems at 6:30 p.m. Sunday. All the activities will be held at the church and are open to the public. “Walnut Grove Church of the Brethren can trace its roots to the formation of the Johnstown Congregation of the Church of the Brethren in 1879,” reports the Tribune Democrat newspaper. “After a split in 1882 over the principle of simplicity, the conservative wing of the church built a house of worship on Walnut Grove that was dedicated in 1884.” Read the full article at www.tribdem.com/news/walnut-grove-church-of-the-brethren-to-mark-th-anniversary/article_a82cbc9c-076a-11e6-bf13-bff719f60ff1.html .
— Jackson Park Church of the Brethren is one of the congregations taking part in the Jonesborough (Tenn.) Area Ministerial Association’s first community-based service on Sunday, May 1. The event starts at 11 a.m. at the David Crockett High School, and all are welcome to attend. Along with the Jackson Park Church, other churches involved in putting on the service include Bethel Christian Church, First Baptist Church, Central Christian Church, Jonesborough Presbyterian Church, Jonesborough United Methodist Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, and Telford United Methodist Church. An article from the Herald and Tribune is at www.heraldandtribune.com/lifestyles/community-worship-service-hopes-bring-members-together .
— Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a performance by the Bridgewater (Va.) College Chorale, under the direction of John McCarty. The concert is planned for Friday, May 6, at 7:30 p.m. An offering will be received to assist the chorale with an upcoming trip to Montreal, Canada.
— A recording of a concert by the Fairfield Four at Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa., has been posted online by the Folk Show Road Show. The recording includes conversation with Jerry Zolten, plus Red Tail Ring in concert. The Grammy award-winning a capella group Fairfield Four played at Stone Church in November 2015, as part of an event involved Juniata College. “During this broadcast, we hear from music historian Jerry Zolten talking about the history of the group, the concert itself, and a portion of the post-concert question and answer session with members of the group,” said an announcement from Radio WPSU. Find the recording at http://radio.wpsu.org/post/folk-show-road-show-fairfield-four-stone-church-brethren-plus-red-tail-ring .
— Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren recently hosted a meeting of leaders from more than a dozen churches in the area, for a discussion focused on how they have made their houses of worship safer for children. The discussion also extended to “how parents within their congregations have become more aware of sexual grooming practices by predators, how they have involved teens in those conversations, and how adult survivors of sexual abuse have become church leaders,” said a report about the event. The event, called a convening, gathered leaders of churches that have participated in Samaritan Counseling’s SafeChurch program, which is part of the national Just Beginnings Collaborative working to end child sexual abuse. “SafeChurch recently received a three-year grant of $225,000 from Just Beginnings because of its work with faith-based communities to end child sexual abuse,” said the report. SafeChurch is a nine-month program in which church teams from five to eight churches at a time undergo 21 hours of training. Safechurch also provides a training session for church staff and volunteers to recognize and respond to child sexual abuse and a half-day retreat for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Read the story posted by Lancaster Online at http://lancasteronline.com/features/faith_values/samaritan-counseling-s-safechurch-program-has-made-churches-a-safer/article_edb481ee-fcf9-11e5-8202-ff8f30f950c5.html .
— A 25th Annual Auction Benefiting the Lehman Center will be held Tuesday, April 26, at the York County (Pa.) 4-H Center. Doors will open at 12 noon for an auction preview, silent auction, and food. The live auction begins at 5 p.m. The Lehman Center is a facility of the Children’s Aid Society of Southern Pennsylvania District.
— Southern Pennsylvania District’s Carlisle Truck Stop Ministry is holding a Spring Dinner Concert on May 14, featuring Mercy’s Vessel. The event begins at 5:30 p.m., hosted by First United Presbyterian Church in Newville, Pa. Cost is $12.
— Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va., is offering Youth Mental Health First Aid Training on May 18. The day of training is free, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. It teaches participants to recognize and respond to warning signs of mental health issues and crises in adolescents ages 12-18, and teaches a five-step action plan for crisis and non-crisis situations. It is an interactive training with hands-on activities, role plays, and simulations. Bring your own lunch or purchase lunch for $9. RSVP to Jenna Stacy by May 1 at 540-992-2940 or CampBethelOffice@gmail.com . Learn more at www.campbethelvirginia.org/may-18-youth-mental-health-first-aid.html .
— On May 1 the Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community will celebrate Founders’ Day with the dedication of the new Huffman Health Center from 2:30-4:30 p.m. The ceremony will be held under the tent at the corner of East Rainbow Drive and Cherry Lane, with handicapped parking available in the Cherry lot. RSVP to 828-2162 or email@example.com by April 25.
— The Brethren Woods Spring Festival is April 30 from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Brethren Woods is a camp and retreat center in Shenandoah District. The activities will help raise money to support the district’s outdoor ministry program. Featured are a fishing contest, pancake breakfast, craft demonstrations, paddle boat rides, hike-a-thon, children’s games, petting zoo, Dunk-the-Dunkard, zip line rides, a live auction, food and entertainment. “There’s something for everyone, so bring lots of friends!” said an invitation. Go to www.brethrenwoods.org for more details.
— Jeffery W. Carr, senior pastor at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren, will deliver the message at Bridgewater College’s baccalaureate service on Friday, May 13, at 6 p.m., on the campus mall. The title of his message is “There Will Be Days Like This.” Carr is a 2002 alumnus of Bridgewater College and holds a Master of Divinity degree from Eastern Mennonite Seminary and a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) residency credit from the University of Virginia. He previously served as director of pastoral care at Bridgewater Retirement Community. Delivering the college’s commencement address on Saturday, May 14, at 10 a.m. will be United States Court of Appeals Judge G. Steven Agee, also a Bridgewater College alumnus. More than 400 seniors are expected to receive degrees at the commencement exercises, which will take place on the campus mall.
— Manchester University will welcome Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou on Tuesday, April 26, for a Peace Week presentation, “Faith in the Age of Ferguson: #BlackLivesMatter, Nonviolence, and the Future of American Democracy.” The event at 3:30 p.m. in Cordier Auditorium at the North Manchester, Ind., campus is free and open to the public. The discussion will be based on the minister’s book “Gods, Gays, and Guns,” examining gay marriage, economic justice, and social movements in today’s society. Sekou has been a central figure in the mobilizations in Ferguson, Mo., over the past year. He is an activist, author, documentary filmmaker, and theologian who has helped train thousands in nonviolent civil disobedience, and is currently the inaugural Bayard Rustin Fellow for the Fellowship of Reconciliation. This presentation is sponsored by the Paul A. and Rachel Hartsough Phillips Endowment Fund. In a follow-up event, his band, Rev. Sekou & the Holy Ghost, is performing at 8 p.m. that evening in Wampler Auditorium.
— Ken Yohn, a professor of history at McPherson (Kan.) College, will be returning to France this summer for his 20th year as a visiting professor to deliver a course on “Cyberspace, Globalization, and Culture.” The college magazine reports that he was appointed scholar in residence at the School of Telecommunications Engineering at the University of Science and Technology in Lille, France, where last year he spent three months working with intercultural communication specialists in the department of international relations. This past January, the French school’s director of international relations, Dean Hipple, was at McPherson to team-teach a course with Yohn.
— In a letter to Park Geun-hye, president of South Korea, the World Council of Churches (WCC) expressed disappointment over sanctions and fines imposed on members of the National Council of Churches in (South) Korea (NCCK) after they participated in a dialogue encounter with representatives of the (North) Korean Christians Federation (KCF). “Penalties were imposed on Dr Noh Jungsun, Rev. Jeon Yongho, Rev. Cho Hungjung, Rev. Han Giyang and Rev. Shin Seungmin, all representatives of the NCCK Peace and Reunification Committee, who participated in a meeting with the KCF leadership in Shenyang, China, on 28-29 February this year,” said a WCC release. In the letter, WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit recalled that the WCC has been actively engaged in promoting peace, reconciliation, and reunification on the Korean peninsula for more than 30 years. “Through such national, regional and international ecumenical commitment and cooperation, the ecumenical movement seeks to witness to the peace of Jesus Christ and to make visible the unity of the Church in a divided and conflicted world,” he wrote, in part. “We do not believe that penalizing encounter and dialogue between South Korean and North Korean Christians is a necessary or effective measure for reducing tensions and advancing the cause of peace; on the contrary. Moreover, such a measure impedes and undermines the longstanding inter-church relationship on the Korean peninsula that the WCC has sought to encourage over more than three decades.” Tveit called on the South Korean government to revoke the penalties.
— A Public Broadcasting System (PBS) “Arts in Focus” video interview with Claire Lynn Ewart, illustrator of the new Brethren Press children’s book, “The Seagoing Cowboy,” is available to view online at https://vimeo.com/161989686#t=785s . The new book written by Peggy Reiff Miller is getting media attention elsewhere as well, including a report in the Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, Ind. The newspaper interviewed Miller and local Church of the Brethren minister and former seagoing cowboy Ken Frantz. He shared letters that he had written to his then-fiancee Miriam Horning in the summer of 1945, and told how the two Manchester College graduates shared the burden of his potentially dangerous decision to volunteer to help take cattle to a war-devastated Europe as a seagoing cowboy. “Peggy Reiff Miller, an author in Goshen, was introduced to the term in 2002 when photographs she received from her father revealed that her grandfather was a ‘seagoing cowboy” in 1946.” Miller told the newspaper, “We’re not taught much about what happens after the war…. I think it’s an important piece because countries have to be repaired. If they’re not repaired, it leads to another war.” See www.journalgazette.net/features/Cowboys-of-the-sea-12525947 .
— Crystal Marrufo who attends Goshen City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren has been interviewed about the “leap of faith” that brought her to the congregation. She recently talked with the Goshen News about how she and her two children struggled prior to her move to Goshen in 2011, and gave her testimony to the blessings she has received from God since then, and how she has worked to give back to the community. “I was so miserable. I opened my Bible one day to where it talked about moving to the land of Goshen and God providing the needs of the Israelites,” she said in the interview. “I prayed about it and decided to move to Goshen. Within in a week, I had three job offers. God has provided so much more…. I never had a church before and now I have a church family that is so supportive.” She has been accepted into the Habitat for Humanity program and has been working toward completing the required 250 sweat equity hours by helping to build other partner family homes. She also has been raising money for a Heifer Gift Ark through Heifer International. Read the article at www.goshennews.com/news/local_news/crystal-murrufo/article_ce3e7295-2506-54a8-8dd2-8d25b9907a6d.html .