Wednesday, December 01, 2021


- The Program and Arrangements Committee of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference is shifting away from a long-standing practice of offering “insight sessions” at the denomination’s annual meeting, focusing instead on “equipping sessions.” Conference planners first began this shift some years ago, gradually working in specific days for equipping sessions at the denomination’s annual meetings. “Now we are asking everyone to make this shift for all of their sessions,” said Annual Conference director Rhonda Pittman Gingrich.

She described the difference between an insight session and an equipping session in terms of the difference between an infomercial in which attendees are given information about a program, versus a workshop in which attendees experience and are given hands-on tools and resources to use in ministry.

Presenters are encouraged, in particular, to plan equipping sessions related to discipleship formation, neighborhood engagement and missional outreach, leadership development, and stewardship enhancement.

For more about Annual Conference and the planning for the 2022 event, which will take place July 10-14 in Omaha, Neb., go to

- Religious workers and clergy are now eligible for Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). The program offers methods to help all borrowers (including religious workers and clergy) reduce or better manage student loans. View the webinar linked below to learn how to apply for PSLF, with leadership from attorney Ashley Harrington, a senior official of the Federal Student Aid Office of the US Department of Education. This webinar was offered by the United Church of Christ in partnership with the National Council of Churches. Go to

- The deadline for nominations for the Annual Conference ballot has been extended until Jan. 1. The Church of the Brethren denomination and its agencies depend on leaders elected at Annual Conference from nominees proposed by the wider church. Look at the open offices at and consider the gifted people you know in the church. Then fill out the simple online form to nominate someone.

- The 2021 Advent devotional from Brethren Press, Do Not Be Afraid by Angela Finet, has broken previous sales records for the devotional booklets. More than 7,000 copies of the devotional have gone out so far this Advent season, including copies in regular and large print, and as digital downloads. The regular print size has sold out but the large print version and digital download are still available at

- The Part-time Pastor; Full-time Church program of the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry is offering a book study on Flourishing in Ministry: How to Cultivate Clergy Wellbeing by Matt Bloom. The online event is planned once a week from Jan. 4 to March 3, 2022, on Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). Continuing education units are available. 

If the idea of thriving in ministry seems like a distant hope, John Fillmore, a “Circuit Rider” for the Part-Time Pastor/Full-Time Church program, is inviting pastors to join in this book discussion centered on Bloom’s research contained in his book. Bloom is the principal researcher for the Flourishing in Ministry project and the Faith and Flourishing at Work project. Fillmore will lead weekly conversations for reflection, discussion, and mutual support to explore the principles Bloom outlines in his book. In cooperation with the Brethren Academy for Ministerial leadership, continuing education credit will be offered. Register at

- Several folks from the York Center congregation (Lombard, Ill.) attended the online National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) in September. They were quite interested in Karen González’s keynote presentation and panel discussion, so they decided to study her book, The God Who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible, and the Journey to Belong. The book study sessions were facilitated by pastor Christy Waltersdorff and Marty Creager. They discussed the biblical stories of people who were displaced, those who were welcomed to their new homes, and those who were not welcomed. The conversation led the group to talk about the plight of refugees and immigrants in our world today. The participants want to have further conversations about what our congregation can to do assist people in need, possibly by supporting an immigrant family.

- It’s not too late to apply for the next BVS orientation, which will be held Jan. 18 to Feb. 4 at Camp Bethel in Fincastle, Va. For more information on the application process, as well as available projects, go to