Friday, October 01, 2021


—Beth Sollenberger has announced her retirement as South/Central Indiana District Executive Minister after nearly 11 years of service. She began in the position on February 1, 2011, and she will conclude her ministry on December 31, 2021. During her years as a member of the Council of District Executives she served on the Ministry Advisory Council, Ministry Issues Committee, and as Council Representative to the On Earth Peace, Brethren Benefit Trust, and Bethany Theological Seminary boards. She was instrumental in organizing a Biblical Authority Conference for midwestern Districts in 2018.

Beth has served as Interim District Executive Minister for the Michigan district in 2018 and then as the District Executive Minister Representative on Michigan’s District Executive Interim Team since January of 2020. Prior to her service as District Executive Minister, Beth was employed by the Mission and Ministry Board (formerly General Board) as Director of Stewardship Education and then as the Congregational Life Team Coordinator for Area 2. She has served pastorates in Atlantic Southeast, Southern Ohio/Kentucky, Mid-Atlantic and Northern Indiana Districts.

—Scott Douglas has announced his retirement as of Jan. 31, 2022, as Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) director of Relationships and Growth (formally Client Relations). His last working day will be Jan. 27, 2022. He began his tenure with the Church of the Brethren when first employed by the former General Board in September 1997. In November 1998, he began serving as director for resources for the former Association of Brethren Caregivers, a position he held until May 2005. He returned Jan. 5, 2009, as director of the Brethren Pension Plan and Employee Financial Services for BBT. For the last 13 years, he has provided leadership for a multitude of projects.

—Nov. 7 is National Junior High Sunday in the Church of the Brethren. This year’s theme is “Build Wisely,” based on Matt. 7:24. Find resources at

—The Church of the Brethren National Older Adult Conference took place in early September. Here are some figures from this year’s event:
  • More than 430 people registered for NOAC 2021. However, this number may not include all of those who gathered for NOAC “watch parties” at Brethren retirement centers and other places. “I don’t think we can get an ‘actual’ number of participants,” commented coordinator Christy Waltersdorff.
  • More than $9,200 given in NOAC offerings. This includes $4,395 for the NOAC offering, $2,825 for the walk for COVID support, and $2,020 for the book drive for the Junaluska Elementary School library.
  • 3 “best sellers” in the NOAC Bookstore offered by Brethren Press online: The Very Good Gospel by Lisa Sharon Harper, The God Who Sees by Karen Gonzalez, and the unique NOAC News mug
  • 9 people in the NOAC Planning Team including coordinator Christy Waltersdorff, Glenn Bollinger, Karen Dillon, Jim Martinez, Rex Miller, Pat Roberts, Paula Ziegler Ulrich, and staff Josh Brockway and Stan Dueck.
—Brethren Disaster Ministries staff have directed a grant of $7,500 from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to fund a two-week response in King’s Lake, Neb., following spring flooding in 2019. COVID-19 rates in the King’s Lake area prevented a planned response from taking place in August 2020. A rescheduled response began Oct. 3, continuing through Oct. 16. There are 10-12 volunteers and leaders scheduled to serve each week, with most coming from the Midwest districts of the Church of the Brethren. A tool trailer is provided by Northern Plains District.

—There is still time to sign up for volunteer training with Children’s Disaster Services this fall. CDS has two volunteer trainings coming up, on Oct. 22-23 in Byron Center, Mich., and on Nov. 5-6 in Roaring Spring, Pa. “Have you signed up? Shared the information with a friend?” said an invitation. “We look forward to meeting you! If you have a heart for children, interest in serving, and want to learn more about the CDS mission, sign up today!” Go to

—Three nursing students are recipients of Church of the Brethren Nursing Scholarships for 2021. This scholarship, made possible by the Health Education and Research Endowment, is available to members of the Church of the Brethren enrolled in LPN, RN, or nursing graduate programs. This year’s recipients were Kasie Campbell of Meyersdale (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, Emma Frederick of Roaring Spring (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren, and Makenzie Goering of McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren. Scholarships of up to $2,000 for RN and graduate nurse candidates and up to $1,000 for LPN candidates are awarded to a limited number of applicants each year.

—The latest issue of the Global Food Initiative (GFI) newsletter is available to download in full-color pdf format. Included in the two-page, front-and-back newsletter are short articles about Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren’s community garden, aid to Capstone 118’s urban farm in New Orleans following Hurricane Ida, GFI manager Jeff Boshart’s trip to the Dominican Republic at the invitation of leaders of Iglesia de los Hermanos (the Church of the Brethren in the DR), and more. Click the “ENews Fall 2021” link to download a copy of the newsletter to read and share with your church family or friends, go to

— Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., will name its Academic Center in honor of Manchester’s first African-American students, Martha and Joseph Cunningham. “I can think of no better way for Manchester to honor the Cunninghams than to name a hall of learning for them,” said Manchester president Dave McFadden. Siblings who grew up near Kokomo, Ind., the Cunninghams graduated in 1903. Martha “Mattie” Cunningham Dolby spent the early part of her career working to improve the lives of impoverished Black families in the segregated South. Having spent much of her childhood in the Church of the Brethren, she worked to establish several congregations in the South and Midwest. In 1911, she became the first woman to be installed as a Brethren minister. Her brother moved to Chicago after graduating from Manchester and became a physician.

— The Brethren Heritage Center in Brookville, Ohio, is seeking help to locate video recordings of the late Anna Mow, who was a well known and beloved leader in the Church of the Brethren. Wrote Neal Fitze, volunteer staff at the center: “I received an email from Becky Copenhaver of the Living Peace Church of the Brethren in Plymouth, Mich. Becky has taken on an interesting project. She wishes to develop a tribute performance of Anna Mow, in looks, sound, and gestures. She had been directed to our organization, the Brethren Heritage Center, thinking we might be able to locate sound and video recordings. She was told that the videos of Anna Mow had been destroyed in a fire. After an exhaustive search I found sound files but no video. If anyone might have a home movie of her from Annual Conference or any other of her speaking events please contact the Brethren Heritage Center by calling 937-833-5222 or by email at” Find out more about the Brethren Heritage Center at

— New resources from Brethren Press include the 2021 Advent devotional booklet, this year titled Do Not Be Afraid and written by Angela Finet. Also new from the Church of the Brethren publishing house is Hoosier Prophet: Selected Writings of Dan West, a collection of the writings of the founder of Heifer Project, now Heifer International. Now available to pre-order is a new children’s book about the ministry of Children’s Disaster Services, titled Maria’s Kit of Comfort. Visit

—A documentary about the York Center Co-op in Lombard, Ill., debuted on YouTube this month, as a film from Tim Frakes Productions and the Lombard Historical Society. The nearly hour-long film is titled Common Good: The Story of the York Center Co-operative. View the film at A DVD copy is available from the Lombard Historical Society, which is receiving donations toward the project. For more information see

—Franklin Grove (Ill.) Church of the Brethren honored the International Day of Peace through a special Sunday service and by giving away grant-funded, custommade peace bookmarks and Dove-brand mini ice cream bars. Peace Day this year was Tuesday, Sept. 21, and on that day members of the church were stationed at Casey’s General Store in Franklin Grove, on the Lincoln Highway, to give away ice cream and bookmarks featuring scriptures of peace and church contact information. Dixon (Ill.) Church of the Brethren collaborated with Franklin Grove. Their giveaway was the same day at Oliver’s Corner Market in Dixon.

Thrivent provided grant funds for the events’ expenses. This year, the day had special meaning; church member and Dixon businessman Ken Novak, who died in July, had asked as one of his last wishes to the church that they do more to promote peace this year than ever before. In addition, the Franklin Grove congregation held a special Peace Service on Sept. 19, which featured music and messages about nonviolence and the larger church’s overall work toward peace worldwide.

— Bobbi Dykema, pastor of Springfield (Ill.) Church of the Brethren, has written an article on “Visual Arts: Protestant” for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion. A summary is online at Access to the full article is available for a fee.

— Updated submission information for Messenger, the Church of the Brethren magazine, has been posted at The information may help those who would like to submit articles for consideration by the magazine’s editorial team. Subscribe to the magazine by contacting your congregation’s Messenger representative or go to