Newsline for May 30, 2020

“My soul melts away for sorrow” (Psalm 119:28a).

NEWS

1) National Day of Mourning and Lament on Monday, June 1, is a joint effort of faith leaders and mayors
2) Workcamp Ministry will offer seven weeks of virtual workcamps
3) Global Food Initiative grants support community gardens, agriculture in Haiti and Ecuador
4) Financial support is encouraged for Outdoor Ministries Association camps

5) Brethren bits: Ecumenical statements on the killing of George Floyd and a statement from Central Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va.; Annual Conference Moderator’s Town Hall on “Faith, Science, and COVID-19″; first-ever virtual graduation at McPherson College; and more


Quote of the week:

“Our hearts are broken. This week we received the news and saw the live video of yet another unarmed Black person murdered, Mr. George Floyd in Minneapolis…. How long O, Lord.

“Let us commit ourselves to be a witness for healing and peace in these times. Together and where we are let us 1) acknowledge that these killings are happening and that they need to stop, 2) seek ways to undo the culture of murder and violence, and 3) commit ourselves to undoing racism internally and externally.”

— LaDonna Nkosi, director of Intercultural Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, in a Facebook post on the Intercultural Ministries page. Find the page at www.facebook.com/interculturalcob .
Nkosi suggests the following resources for further learning and reflection:
     “Black People Are Tired,” a video created “in memory of those who have been stolen from us, may they rest in peace.” Go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVOYv-bd8OA&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR2_g4jLu5FMcW77GoYTwWHxXobPNEP3haausLOTA-u7xdUT0PUAgezxdV0 .
     “Hope Out of Breath: On the Lynching of George Floyd,” a reflection from Red Letter Christians at www.redletterchristians.org/hope-out-of-breath-on-the-lynching-of-george-floyd .
     “The Cross and the Lynching Tree: A Requiem for Ahmaud Arbery,” a sermon in film by Otis Moss III, pastor of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ. Find a Religion News Service article about the film, and a link to view the film, at https://religionnews.com/2020/05/18/chicago-preacher-otis-moss-iii-uses-film-to-honor-ahmaud-arbery-address-racism .

Find our landing page of Church of the Brethren COVID-19 related resources and information at www.brethren.org/covid19 .

Find Church of the Brethren congregations offering online worship at www.brethren.org/news/2020/church-of-the-brethren-congregations-worship-online .

A listing to recognize Brethren who are active in health care is at www.brethren.org/news/2020/brethren-active-in-health-care . To add a person to this listing, send an email with first name, county, and state to cobnews@brethren.org .


Monday morning is the last opportunity to submit names and photos of seniors for a special recognition in “Messenger” magazine. “We want to recognize your seniors! Tell us who they are and send a picture!” said an invitation from “Messenger” and the Youth and Young Adult Ministry. This is an effort to give special recognition to the Church of the Brethren high school and college/university seniors of 2020, who because of the pandemic are missing out on so much including in-person graduation ceremonies. “Messenger” plans to publish a spread of names and photos in the July/August issue. Submit names and photos at www.brethren.org/2020seniors .


1) National Day of Mourning and Lament on Monday, June 1, is a joint effort of faith leaders and mayors

Faith leaders from around the country are working with the US Conference of Mayors to make Monday, June 1, a National Day of Mourning and Lament as the nation surpassed the grim milestone of 100,000 people lost to COVID-19.

Approximately 100 faith leaders signed on to the call for the commemoration, including representatives of Christian denominations such as the Reformed Church of America, the United Methodist Church, leaders of ecumenical organizations such as Christian Churches Together and the National Association of Evangelicals, and leaders of faith-based nonprofits such as Bread for the World and the Friends Committee on National Legislation, among many others. The effort has received commitments from mayors in more than three dozen cities in more than 15 states. The Sojourners community based in Washington, D.C., is serving as host.

The call is for all people from all faith backgrounds “to take the time to mourn and lament the loss of our brothers and sisters,” said an announcement. “As people of faith, we refuse to let these deaths go unnoticed.

“During this time, we are not only lamenting the loss of our neighbors, but also lamenting the inequities and brokenness that COVID-19 has revealed,” the announcement continued. “We lament the overwhelming impact of the virus on our elders. We lament the disproportionate rate of infection and death among the black community, which has been compounded by the trauma of George Floyd’s recent tragic killing due to police brutality and racism. We lament the loss of our Native brothers and sisters who have been hit particularly hard. We lament the racism directed at the Asian American community. As people of faith, we are called to mourn and lament the loss of these 100,000 people, each beloved and made in God’s image. We must take the time to grieve so we can help to heal as we move forward in facing these challenges together.”

Find the statement calling for a National Day of Mourning and Lament and the full list of the faith leaders who have signed it at https://sojo.net/sites/default/files/lament_mourning.pdf .

Congregations and pastors may join in the special commemoration in a variety of ways including:

— Making time for mourning and lament during worship this Sunday. Worship resources are available at https://sojo.net/day-of-lament .

— Sharing a video call for a National Day of Mourning and Lament on social media and with the faith community. Find the video at the above link .

— Reaching out to elected officials–especially mayors–and to local communities to call for a time of public lament on June 1 at noon, in your respective time zone. Actions may include the lowering of flags, ringing of bells, prayer vigils, posts to social media such as images that symbolize what this means to you using the hashtags #DayofMourning and #Lament100k, and the creation of altars from empty chairs representing those who have been lost.

— Participating in a live-streamed time of public lament on June 1 at noon, held via Facebook Live. Find the event page at www.facebook.com/events/1602851966534816 . Prayers will be offered by interfaith leaders including Barbara Williams-Skinner, Jim Wallis, Rabbi David Saperstein, Mohamed Elsanousi, Bishop Michael Curry, and more.

— Personally making space for lament in the coming week. “Take time to recognize the loss we have faced individually and collectively as a nation,” said the announcement.

For more information and resources go to https://sojo.net/day-of-lament .

2) Workcamp Ministry will offer seven weeks of virtual workcamps

By Hannah Shultz

The Workcamp office is excited to announce that we will be holding seven weeks of virtual workcamps this summer! Virtual workcamps will be held from 4-5 p.m. (Eastern time) every Monday from June 22 to Aug. 3. Each week will focus on one of the daily themes from our workcamp devotional book. Participants will hear a short reflection from one of our awesome workcamp directors, engage in small and large group discussions, and play some fun games with us!

Here is the schedule of our weekly themes and leaders:

June 22: Deanna Beckner on the theme “Voices for Peace”

June 29: Marie Benner-Rhoades and Jenna Walmer on the theme “Identifying Injustice”

July 6: Ben Bear on the theme “Receiving the Call”

July 13: Marissa Witkovsky-Eldred on the theme “Bringing Your Voice”

July 20: Walt Wiltschek on the theme “Building the Body”

July 27: Eric Landram on the theme “Singing in Harmony”

Aug. 3: Lori Walmer on the theme “Going Out with Joy”

Each week, participants who registered for 2020 workcamps will receive a Zoom link via email to join these gatherings.

If someone who was not registered for workcamps would like to join the Zoom calls, they can be in touch with the workcamp office at cobworkcamps@brethren.org for the link and to receive an electronic version of the devotional book that will be followed in the sessions.

We will record the director’s reflection and post it on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/CoBWorkcamps ) so that participants who can’t join the call can watch later.

Participants also have been sent a link to an electronic copy of our workcamp participant devotional book. This book includes daily themes and scriptures, reflection questions, and some fun activities. Participants are encouraged to use this resource and follow along as they join our Zoom sessions and learn how to be a voice for peace in their communities!

— Hannah Shultz is coordinator of short-term service for Brethren Volunteer Service and heads up the Workcamp Ministry.

3) Global Food Initiative grants support community gardens, agriculture in Haiti and Ecuador

A group of youth work at gardening at FBU in Ecuador. Photo courtesy of Jeff Boshart

The Global Food Initiative (GFI) of the Church of the Brethren has given several grants in recent weeks, supporting community garden projects, agriculture in Haiti, a consultant for assessment of the programs of Fundacion Brethren y Unida in Ecuador,

An allocation of $4,998.82 will help Osage Church of the Brethren in McCune, Kan., and the Garden Group, in partnership with Project Alternative school and the Lion’s Club, to provide fresh produce to the communities of McCune, Weir, Girard, Cherokee, and Osage Township. The project also assists the school in teaching and mentoring its students. Goals for the grant include building raised bed gardens inside of an existing high tunnel, using funds to cover the purchase of materials, mulch, and topsoil. Church members will provide volunteer labor to build the beds and help care for the plants, especially during the summer break when students are not present.

A grant of $2,000 is going to the agriculture program of Eglise des Freres d’Haiti (Church of the Brethren in Haiti), where farmers have great difficulty finding quality seed. Commercial varieties of seeds from the US are available for non-profit organizations at greatly reduced prices through Seed Programs International (SPI). Agriculture staff of Eglise des Freres will purchase the seed and sell it at cost to 100 farmers who have access to irrigation and prior experience growing vegetables. Agriculture staff also will purchase seed for trial on their own farms, with proceeds to be returned to the agriculture program. Seeds will be provided at no cost for the mothers’ clubs run by the Haiti Medical Project, for use in home gardens. This project will be a one-year trial.

A grant of $2,000 will hire a consultant to work with Fundacion Brethren y Unida (FBU) in Ecuador. FBU was started by the Church of the Brethren as part of its work in Ecuador from the 1940s to the 1970s. FBU executive director Alfredo Moreno is planning an evaluation of programs with the assistance of an outside consultant, who would report to the annual board meeting in September. The consultant would review current practices and organizational structure to better position FBU to serve the needs of those it serves, with a careful look at financial sustainability. Total cost is $2500, with FBU contributing $500.

A grant of $2,000 goes to the community garden project of GraceWay Church of the Brethren in Dundalk, Md. The congregation is expanding its garden in partnership with an Ecuadorian congregation that has begun meeting in its building. Goals include assisting those facing hunger, specifically the African immigrant refugees settled in the Dundalk community; improving diet and health practices among low-income families; and promoting awareness or hunger-related issues among Ecuadorian low-income families in the GraceWay congregation. Funds will be used to purchase vegetable transplants, hoses, lumber for raised beds, fencing, soil amendments, and other garden supplies. Two previous grants have been given to this project, totaling $2,569.30.

An allocation of $1,837 is given to the community garden project of Brook Park (Ohio) Community Church of the Brethren that is working with local businesses and civic organizations to support food distribution to neighbors in need. The congregation hosts a food pantry and hopes to increase the amount of fresh produce that it can make available, as demand has increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The garden has been in existence for 10 years. Funds will be used to purchase lumber for raised beds, fencing materials, topsoil, and other garden supplies. It is hoped that raised beds, or planters, will make gardening easier for older volunteers.

For more about the Global Food Initiative go to www.brethren.org/gfi .

4) Financial support is encouraged for Outdoor Ministries Association camps

By Linetta Ballew

“Love is something if you give it away, give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away, you end up having more.
It’s just like a magic penny, hold it tight, and you won’t have any.
Lend it, spend it, and you’ll have so many, they’ll roll all over the floor…”
–The Magic Penny Song

Church of the Brethren camps across the country are beloved by so many! For years, they have given away love to campers, staff, volunteers, guest rental groups, churches, and communities in so many ways. Individuals, families, small groups, and churches have shared their love for camps by helping out at workdays, volunteering with camp programs and events, and providing financial support for ongoing operations, capital campaigns, and special projects.

In these extraordinary times, camps are faced with significant challenges. Many have already lost months of rental/retreat group income which helps to off-set summer camp and other program costs. More cancellations are anticipated moving forward. Difficult decisions are being made about whether or not to proceed with summer camps as the health and safety of campers and staff/volunteers is weighed. While some have been able to apply for and receive loans or grants through government support programs, the possibility of staff reductions and salary reductions is real for many.

Despite these obstacles, camps are continuing to find ways to reach out to their campers, churches, and communities. They are creatively fulfilling their mission and goals in new ways when traditional summer camp programs need to be suspended. And they are developing innovative fundraising opportunities to continue to get the resources they need to maintain their facilities and grounds, offer alternative programs, and support staff.

While finances may be limited and giving may be challenging for many right now, as you, your family, and your congregation are able, the Outdoor Ministries Association (OMA) strongly encourages the continued and increased financial support for Church of the Brethren camps. Let’s give away some love and see how the Lord makes it grow!
 
— Linetta Ballew is assistant director at Brethren Woods Camp and Retreat Center in Keezletown, Va. This article was originally published in the Outdoor Ministries Association (OMA) E-News for May. Find out more about the OMA and the Church of the Brethren camps at www.brethren.org/camps .

Here are a few of the statements from Church of the Brethren camps announcing suspension of in-person summer camp programs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ballew reported to Newsline that, at this point, Camp Harmony may be the only OMA camp planning to go ahead with in-person camps for children and youth, with a modified schedule starting later in the summer.

Brethren Woods Camp and Retreat Center, Keezletown, Va.:
     “On May 8, 2020, Governor Northam announced that summer camps in Virginia must remain closed when the state moves into Phase 1 of reopening and recovery. It is uncertain how long phase 1 will last or what the final regulations for summer camps will be in phase 2.
     “Some guidelines for camp operations in light of COVID-19 have started to become available from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), our state and local Health Departments, and the American Camp Association. Social distancing requirements–even while playing games and in the pool, group size limits, required face masks for large portions of the day, daily temperature checks, using disposable products, not being able to do family-style meals, and many other regulations we would need to implement would require us to change significant aspects of camp’s program and culture that are essential pieces of how camp lives out our mission and meets the goals of our camp experience.
     “Our responsibility for the health and safety of our campers, their families, staff, volunteers, and the wider community is first and foremost in our minds. Bringing together children and youth from various households for a week-long day or overnight experience together and then sending them home and welcoming a new group of campers, creates a situation where it would be easy for COVID-19 to be spread not only among campers and staff members, who may be relatively unaffected by the virus, but also transmitted to their families, churches, and communities which could include vulnerable populations that may suffer more severe symptoms.
     “Therefore, Brethren Woods has decided to suspend our traditional summer camp programs for children and youth for the 2020 summer camp season. While this has been a difficult decision to make, it has been made with the full support of camp and district staff, the Outdoor Ministry Team and the Shenandoah District Crisis Management Team and Leadership Team who all met between May 11-14, 2020. As hard as it may be, we firmly believe that this is the right decision for the health and safety of everyone who is part of the Brethren Woods community, as well as for the future of Brethren Woods.
     “This year, living out the value of Christian community that we teach so well at camp, means staying apart…. For the first time since 1960, a traditional summer camp program for children and youth will not be held at Brethren Woods. Instead, we will live into the truth of Isaiah 43:19 (NIV) which promises that God is ‘doing a new thing’ and ‘will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.’ We will be offering two completely new, alternative program options to fulfill our mission and meet camp’s goals this summer.
     “The first is a Family Camp option for families who are ready to get out and are feeling comfortable heading to camp.  We anticipate being able to welcome families once we move into phase 2. More information about this program will be made available over the coming weeks.  Registration opens on June 1st…. We know that not everyone will be able to join us on-site at camp this summer, so we also want to provide a second alternative camp program that campers and their families can access no matter where they are. Watz’ in the Woods is a completely FREE online camp connection we’ll be offering for seven weeks in June and July! While we believe that “virtual camp” isn’t really possible–this online portal will help current, past, and future campers to stay connected–or get connected–with camp this summer.”

Camp Bethel, Fincastle, Va.:
     “After two months of extensive study, consultations, meetings and prayer, we, like most other camps in Virginia, have decided to suspend our current schedule of overnight camps and day camps for the 2020 summer season….
     “Since March, we have navigated a flood of information, forums, local and national Zoom calls, webinars, and workshops specifically about the impact of COVID-19 on Summer Camps. We have attempted, like all camps, to discern what might or might not be possible all while deciphering the vague CDC guidelines (www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/Camps-Decision-Tree.pdf ), the new “Forward Virginia” guidelines and Phases (www.governor.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/governor-of-virginia/pdf/Virginia-Forward-Phase-One-Business-Sector-Guidelines.pdf ), and the ACA/YMCA “Field Guide for Camps on Implementation of CDC Guidance” (www.acacamps.org/resource-library/coronavirus/camp-business/camp-operations-guide-summer-2020 ).
     “Even if Virginia moves quickly into Phase 3 by early July, the extraordinary new protocols, procedures, and logistics necessary to provide food services SAFELY and to operate programs SAFELY are beyond our scope and infrastructure…. The science and medicine (testing, tracing, and treatment) just hasn’t caught up enough to ensure SAFE camp experiences. Under these conditions, having camp would be irresponsible. Suspending camp is the right decision.
     “We have worked in solidarity with multiple other camps in Virginia (faith-based camps and secular camps, resident camps and day camps), and with all camps in the Outdoor Ministries Association of the Church of the Brethren. As of today, 39 of 44 regional camps (Virginia and surrounding states) we follow closely have announced suspension of summer programs….
     “I encourage you to read this excellent article which wisely summarizes everything we’ve read and thought: ‘Unless we can ensure that each of us is safe at camp, we all have to stay home’ (www.thesummercampsociety.com/blog/2020/5/12/unless-we-can-ensure-that-each-of-us-is-safe-at-camp-we-all-have-to-stay-home )….
     “We’re planning several free creative self-guided program options for individuals and families. We will regularly update our social media and “Camp At Home” videos (www.campbethelvirginia.org/campathome.html )….
     “We covet your prayers, especially for our volunteers and our summer staff who had committed so much already to serve in our ministry this summer. When this storm passes, Camp Bethel will be ready. We continue our mission to foster and build relationships with God, with each other, and with creation.”
     — Barry LeNoir, director of Camp Bethel

Camp Mardela, Denton, Md.:
     “The Camp Mardela board this week made a decision it hoped never to have to make. Following a recommendation from camp administrator Gieta Gresh–who has been diligently following the guidance from the state, the Centers for Disease Control, the American Camping Association, and the Church of the Brethren Outdoor Ministries Association–all summer programs at the camp this year have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
     “While this programming is at the heart of Camp Mardela’s ministry, the health and safety of our campers and staff are always of foremost importance, and especially now. If we are going to err, we want to err on the side of caution. Additionally, the state guidelines would have placed significant limitations on the activities and structure of camp, to the point that camp would bear little resemblance to what we usually offer. Creating sacred community is a key part of camp, and we would not have been able to do that under these conditions.
     “We look forward to a time when we can resume programming, and we hope that you or children and youth you know will be part of that in the future. Events in August and later remain on at this point, but that is subject to change….
     “During this unexpected quiet season at the camp we will still have volunteers come individually or in small groups to work–with appropriate distancing–on projects that will enhance the camp for the future. Individuals and families who obtain prior permission from the camp administrator may also be permitted to use the hiking trails and some other features at camp….
     “Please continue to be in prayer for the camp and its staff and for our larger community as we find our way through this. Even in difficult times, we remain mindful of all the ways God continues to work among us.”

Southern Ohio/Kentucky District:
     “As we have known…camp changes lives. We now are experiencing how life sometimes changes camp…..
     “Even though the Covid 19 virus has taken over our lives, Southern Ohio/Kentucky
District Church of the Brethren will still be having summer camp with the theme ‘This Is My Prayer.’ Our 2020 summer camp won’t be an overnight, away from home camp. Instead it will be a virtual camp using zoom meetings for the gatherings. Each age group will have a certain day and time to meet. Family camp, open to anyone, will be on Friday evenings at 7:00. We will begin the week of June 8, and continue through July 27, an eight week timeframe. Campers will need internet access with an email they can connect to camp…. The cost is only $10 per camper…. To help this experiment of virtual camping, we wll be delivering or sending all the needed materials, craft supplies, and worksheets in bags to the registered campers.
     “Please help spread the word about our adventure in a new type of camping. Your encouragement will really boost the success of our summer camp. Thanks for your support and prayers as we work to change lives through camp.”

5) Brethren Bits

The killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis is condemned in statements by two ecumenical organizations of which the Church of the Brethren is a founding member:
     The killing “is an outrage,” said a statement from the National Council of Churches (NCC). Citing Psalm 9, “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble,” the statement said, in part, that “this incident adds to a string of occurrences in the last few weeks and too many incidents to count in the US over hundreds of years, where racism and bias coupled with policing are a lethal combination for Black people…. Racism has infected this country since its beginnings and this virus has seeped into every aspect of American life.” The NCC called on member churches “to be beacons of light in their own communities by addressing racism where they are, acknowledging the trauma experienced by those in the Black community and working tirelessly to end racism and white supremacy once and for all.” Find the full statement at http://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/floyd-murder .
     The World Council of Churches (WCC) condemned violence, racism, and police brutality in the US in a statement that said, in part: “As part of our Christian understanding and our witness in the world, we reject the brutality of both violence and racial injustice…. How many more must die before there is a collective affirmation that black lives do matter, and fundamental root-and-branch reforms in the culture and practices of law enforcement agencies are implemented? This must stop. There must be a conversion (metanoia), reflection, repentance and rejection of all forms of racism and racial discrimination, and a true and genuine acknowledgement of the equal God-given dignity and worth of every human being, regardless of colour or ethnicity. Superficial measures will no longer suffice.” Read the full statement at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/statement-wcc-condemns-violence-racism-in-us-29-may-2020/view .

Central Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., has issued a statement from its Race Education Team, which was shared with Newsline by Intercultural Ministries director LaDonna Nkosi. “Racism must end! Racism must not be tolerated by anyone! Rise up! Stand up! Just say no!” the statement began. It continued, in part: “In recent days and weeks this nation has seen something more horrible than a virus that takes the breath away. We have seen a trifecta of racism caught on video that takes away the breath of conscience and decency. We must examine our souls and our actions to stop this racist virus and learn to stand in solidarity with the victims of those who have been killed and oppressed. As members of an historic peace church, we believe that Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:38), and to do unto others as we would have them do unto us (Matthew 7:12). If there is no sign of love and justice in our hearts, then there is reason to at least question whether Christ is in our hearts and whether we are people of God.” The statement specifically shared about the killings of Ahmaud Aubrey and George Floyd, and an incident affecting Christian Cooper in New York. “As witnesses to these deplorable incidents, we must acknowledge a heritage of toxic white privilege and our own racism and work to dismantle it,” the statement said. “We must learn that all life is precious regardless of the color of the skin.” Among others, it included the specific confession that “white privilege blinds us to racism and its effects,” and a call for others to join in such confession: “If you need to re-examine your thoughts and actions concerning racism and justice, NOW is the time to do so.” The statement invited others to join with Central Church in anti-racism study and activities. Contact CentralRaceEducationTeam@gmail.com .

— “Faith, Science, and COVID-19″ is the topic of the Annual Conference Moderator’s Town Hall, a virtual event scheduled for Thursday, June 4, at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). The online town hall will feature Dr. Kathryn Jacobsen, professor in the Department of Global and Community Health at George Mason University, Fairfax, Va., and a member of Oakton Church of the Brethren in Vienna, Va. She is a specialist in infectious disease epidemiology and global health who has consulted with a number of organizations during the COVID-19 crisis. Commenting on this event, moderator Paul Mundey noted: “As we continue to move through the COVID-19 crisis, the relationship between faith and science is rising in importance, especially as church leaders gauge when to reopen church campuses. I anticipate our town hall will provide a lively dialogue about the tension between ‘moving out in faith,’ and the wisdom of heeding medical, scientific realities.” To register for the town hall go to https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_eXsB1T1SQZqfK8czm9ac3Q . For more information contact cobmoderatorstownhall@gmail.com .

— Western Pennsylvania District has announced that its 154th District Conference will go ahead as planned on Oct. 17, with more information and updates to appear in the district newsletter in coming months. However, the Financial Resource Team of the district “has decided after a lot of prayer to cancel the 15th Annual District Auction on November 7,” said the announcement. “They are hoping to have the Auction again in 2021.”

— McPherson (Kan.) College is celebrating the class of 2020 with its first-ever virtual graduation ceremony. Said a release: “Although the McPherson College 132nd Commencement Ceremony took place on campus in an empty Brown Auditorium, it will likely be one of the most memorable commencements in the history of the college. McPherson College conferred degrees on 139 students…. The ceremony was streamed live on the college’s website. In his address to the graduates, President Michael Schneider reminded students of the simple advice he learned from his grandmother and has passed along to students each year as freshmen. ‘Every year I share a couple of secrets to success at McPherson College, and here they are again. Number one is show up, and number two is ask for help. It seems easy but when you do it over and over again, guess what? You end up right where you are sitting as McPherson College graduates.’ Commencement celebrations kicked off earlier in the day with a President’s Zoom Brunch for seniors and their families. The virtual event featured special faculty guests, class memories, a cap-decorating contest, and the senior address given by Diamond Marshall, 2019-20 SGA president. In her address to the class, Marshall said, ‘Celebrate your perseverance and each other. Each of you should be proud because when the world came to a close; our community strengthen and continued on.’ Prior to the ceremony, Lillian Oeding and Kento Aizawa, both members of the graduating class, performed an instrumental duet of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’” Find a recording of the entire ceremony and a list of graduates on the college website at mcpherson.edu/experiences/graduation .

— Bridgewater (Va.) College has continued to announce awards and honors for its students. Following is a selection of the awards made in honor of former faculty or alumni:
     Benjamin B. McCrickard of Westminster, Md., received the M. R. Zigler Service Award named for a leading Church of the Brethren peace advocate, ecumenist, and humanitarian who graduated from Bridgewater in the class of 1916.
     The Dale V. Ulrich Physics Scholarship, which honors the former professor of physics and dean and provost of the college, has been awarded to Stephen C. Pincus Jr. of Yorktown, Va.
     The Zane D. Showker Institute for Responsible Leadership awarded its 2020 prize to the student team NetZero Plastics, which sought to tackle plastic waste on campus. Winning team members were Rashad Alfarra, Sophie S. Hargrave, Joan Lee, Anh H. Nguyen, and Eli W. Quay. Due to the unique circumstances of the competition this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the judges distributed the $5,000 cash prize across all four teams who competed.
     Calen E. Sparks received the Rugby H. St. John Endowed Scholarship in Family and Consumer Sciences.
     Kallie M. Moyer of Harrington, Del., received the Robert L. Hueston Endowed Scholarship honoring the contributions Hueston made to the study of accounting while a member of the faculty from 1953-86.
     Dylan M. Craig of Stuarts Draft, Va., received the David E. Will Endowed Scholarship in honor of Will, a 1983 graduate and a partner and certified public accountant with Mitchell Wiggins and Company LLP in Richmond, Va, before his death in September 2018.
     The David G. and Margie Messick Smith Endowed Scholarship was presented to Mary S. Monaco of Alexandria, Va. The scholarship was established by two Bridgewater graduates in memory of their grandparents, David G. and Margie Messick Smith.
     Luke C. Morgan of Churchville, Va., Anh H. Nguyen from Hanoi, Vietnam, and Jacob K. Talley of Mineral, Va., received the Daniel W. Bly-Lamar B. Neal History and Political Science awards named for Bly, assistant professor of history, emeritus, and Neal, associate professor of political science and history, emeritus.
     Erin M. Fitzpatrick of Wyoming, Mich., McKenzie N. Melvin of Dover, Del., and Hannah C. Weisenburger of Windsor, Va., received the Dr. David K. McQuilkin Endowed Scholarship.
     Decklan R. Wilkerson of Swoope, Va., received the John W. Wayland Scholarship in Public History.
     The Ruth and Steve Watson Philosophy Scholarship Award went to Rachel E. Petterson of Lovettsville, Va.
     The John Martin Award for Organic Chemistry in memory of Martin, class of 1947, who served on the faculty for 24 years preparing students for careers in medicine and pharmaceutical work, went to Benjamin C. Hanks of Henrico, Va.
     The Dr. Stuart R. Suter Endowed Scholarship was awarded to Youmna K. Moawad from Rockingham, Va., and Lane Phillips of Timberville, Va.
     The Garland L. Reed Chemistry Award named in memory of Reed, a 1948 graduate in chemistry who had a distinguished career in the Food and Drug Administration, was given to Jyailah Friendly of Manassas, Va.
     The Joseph M. and Jane A. Crockett Award went to Era Shehu of Rockingham, Va., and Mary Ruth Shifflett of Grottoes, Va. Dr. Joseph Crockett retired at the end of the 2020-21 academic year holding the position of A. LeRoy and Wanda H. Baker Chair of Science, after serving as professor of chemistry for 35 years.

— The launching of a new organization named Corus International has been announced by IMA World Health, a partner organization of the Church of the Brethren, and Lutheran World Relief. Corus International is described in a release as “a model of the international NGO of the future and the new parent of a family of faith-based nonprofits and for-profits.” Daniel Speckhard has been named Corus president and CEO, and also continues as president and CEO of IMA World Health. In addition to IMA World Health and Lutheran World Relief, the Corus “family” includes UK-based technology company Charlie Goldsmith Associates; impact investing firm Ground Up Investing; and direct-trade coffee producer LWR Farmers Market Coffee. Explained the release: “Longtime collaborators, IMA World Health and Lutheran World Relief have for more than a year blended IMA’s expertise in public health with LWR’s work in rural economies and humanitarian assistance, together expanding efforts to end Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo, for example. Now, alongside Corus, they are mounting a worldwide initiative to prevent and treat COVID-19 while fighting poverty stemming from related economic setbacks. Corus also leads for-profits Charlie Goldsmith Associates, acquired in 2019, and Ground Up Investing. CGA develops and applies context-suitable technology to meet the needs of people in the world’s hardest to reach and most complex environments. Along with other farmer-forward investments, Ground Up owns a coffee wholesaler in Uganda that works to increase farmer incomes by improving quality, yields and prices. This summer, IMA World Health and Lutheran World Relief are transitioning their logos to reflect the new mark of the Corus family. With a staff of 800 throughout Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, Corus maintains headquarters in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.”

— “Rebuilding Roots” is the theme for a World Refugee Day celebration on June 21 hosted by Church World Service (CWS). The evening of music, poetry, and storytelling will take place online from 6-9 p.m. (Eastern time) “to celebrate our refugee and immigrant neighbors,” said an announcement. “Performers will share stories and music that touches on the concept of Rebuilding Roots and how it relates to those who seek refuge and safety in new lands. The event is free to attend, and donations will go towards supporting the work of CWS Jersey City.” Poets, writers, and those who have a personal story to share are invited to submit their works for the event, go to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfS1Lj4XynKtioBGPNaPkdnPUz88FLF57LurGeONURy4E6zRg/viewform . The link to attend the celebration is forthcoming.

— Bread for the World’s 2020 Virtual Advocacy Summit will be held on the topic “Our Faith, Our Future” on June 8 and 9. The event is intended to “build on last year’s legislative success when Bread members persuaded 28 senators from both sides of the aisle to co-sponsor legislation to help end maternal and child malnutrition,” said an announcement. “This year’s Virtual Advocacy Summit will consist of both pre-recorded and livestreamed sessions, as well as select opportunities to chat online in real-time with workshop moderators and engage in virtual online advocacy actions. In addition to the annual Pan African Consultation and Latino Leaders Convening, other highlights include legislative briefing and Q&A, documentary screening of “Hunger and Hope: Lessons from Ethiopia and Guatemala” followed by a Q&A with producer and host Rick Steves, ‘Advocating Alone Together’ and ‘Healing the Divide’ workshops. Go to
www.bread.org/advocacy-summit .
 
— A new guide for eco-theological worship resources and activities for the 2020 Season of Creation is now available from ecumenical partners including the World Council of Churches. A WCC release reported that the theme is “Jubilee for the Earth,” and the guide provides creative ways for churches to participate in this liturgical season between Sept. 1 and Oct. 4. Resources include a prayer service, liturgical resources, meditations, and ideas for action and advocacy to help “explore the reality that, this year, the global reach of the novel coronavirus revealed our shared human nature and the inter-connectivity of our economies, political structures, health care systems, food production chains, and energy and transportation systems in devastating ways,” said the release. The beginning and the end date of the Season of Creation are linked with the concern for creation in the Eastern and the Western traditions of Christianity. Sept. 1 was proclaimed as a day of prayer for the environment by the late Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I in 1989, and in 2015 was designated by Pope Francis as a World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation. The Orthodox church year starts that day with a commemoration of how God created the world. On Oct. 4, Roman Catholics and other churches from the Western traditions commemorate Francis of Assisi, the author of the Canticle of the Creatures. The commemoration is a joint effort of the WCC, Global Catholic Climate Movement, ACT Alliance, World Communion of Reformed Churches, Anglican Communion Environmental Network, A Rocha, Lutheran World Federation, Christian Aid, Lausanne/WEA Creation Care Network, and European Christian Environmental Network. Download the guide at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/2020-season-of-creation-celebration-guide .


Contributors to this Newsline include Linetta Ballew, Jeff Boshart, Tina Goodwin, Mary K. Heatwole, Nancy Miner, LaDonna Nkosi, Hannah Shultz, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Please send news tips and submissions to cobnews@brethren.org . Find the Newsline archive at www.brethren.org/news . Sign up for Newsline and other Church of the Brethren email newsletters or make subscription changes at www.brethren.org/intouch . Newsline is the Church of the Brethren e-mail news service. All submissions are subject to editing. Inclusion in Newsline does not necessarily convey endorsement by the Church of the Brethren.