Friday, April 01, 2022


Brethren Disaster Ministries is monitoring the needs of response partners and mapping out the Church of the Brethren response to the war in Ukraine. European churches and relief agencies already are addressing immediate needs of refugees traveling to surrounding countries. Churches in Poland and Hungary are receiving, feeding, and housing refugees from Ukraine. The Church of the Brethren response will support partners such as Church World Service (CWS), the ACT Alliance, European Baptist Churches, or Mennonite groups. The response will focus on people and locations that are underserved and have the greatest need for aid.

Prayers are also requested for a congregation with Church of the Brethren connections in Chernigov, in north-central Ukraine. And Church of the Brethren general secretary Dave Steele issued a denominational call to prayer for Ukraine.

To support the Ukraine Crisis Response, make an online donation at or mail a check to the Emergency Disaster Fund, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120 and earmark for “Ukraine Crisis.”

E. Stanley Smith, 88, passed away on March 12 at Timbercrest Senior Living Community, North Manchester, Ind. Born on the mission field in Shouyang, China, he was a member of the Church of the Brethren General Board from 1984 to 1989 and served a combined 35 years in pastorates in Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana. A Celebration of Life will be held later this spring. A full obituary is posted at

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) is holding two volunteer trainings this spring. Registrations are currently open on the CDS website at for the following trainings: May 13-14 at Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and June 3-4 at Bear Creek United Methodist Church in Woodinville, Wash., near Seattle.

Song and Story Fest 2022 on the theme “Into the HEARTland: Healing What Divides Us” is scheduled for July 3-9 at Camp Pine Lake in Eldora, Iowa. Song and Story Fest is a unique family camp featuring Church of the Brethren musicians and storytellers, with co-sponsorship from On Earth Peace, organized by Ken Kline Smeltzer. The annual event is usually held before or after the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, at a location relatively close to the Conference. This year’s is the 26th annual Song and Story Fest.

Registration includes all meals, on-site facilities, and leadership, and is based on age. Children age 4 and under are welcome at no charge. Registration fees for other ages: adults $360, teens $240, children ages 5 to 12 $150, maximum total per family $1,000. Registrations after June 10 add 10 percent as a late fee. Daily fees also are available. For details, go to For questions, or if you need financial help to attend, contact Ken Kline Smeltzer at

The business items for the Church of the Brethren’s Annual Conference on July 10-14 in Omaha, Neb., are now posted online. The Conference is returning to a full business agenda complete with queries and other new business after several years in which the compelling vision took precedence. The Conference will address one item of unfinished business, “Update to Polity Regarding Annual Conference Agencies,” and seven items of new business.

New business includes queries on “Standing with People of Color” and “Breaking Down Barriers–Increasing Access to Denominational Events”; three items related to pay and benefits for pastors: a new Integrated Annual Ministry Agreement and Revised Guidelines for Pastors’ Salaries and Benefits, a Revised Minimum Cash Salary Table for Pastors, and the annual cost-of-living adjustment to the Minimum Cash Salary Table for Pastors (the latter recommendation to come in June); amendments to the appeal section of the Ethics in Ministry Relations polity document; and revisions to the denomination’s bylaws. Learn more at

To watch the business online you must register as a virtual nondelegate. Business sessions will no longer be live-streamed free of charge. Go to

The Annual Conference office has announced the ballot to be presented at this summer’s Conference on July 10-14 in Omaha, Neb. Topping the ballot are two candidates for Annual Conference moderator-elect—Marla Bieber Abe and Madalyn Metzger—and two candidates for Annual Conference secretary—Connie R. Burkholder and David K. Shumate. A variety of other committee and board positions are also on the ballot. Complete biographical information is available at

The Church of the Brethren Intercultural Ministries has started an online Global Check-in and Prayer Series, which will welcome special guests to speak on various international topics. To view the first episode in this series, go to Upcoming episodes will be announced on the Intercultural Ministries Facebook page at

Jorge Rivera, a retired pastor and a leader in the Church of the Brethren in Puerto Rico for more than 30 years, passed away on March 5. He served Atlantic Southeast District as associate district executive minister in Castañer, P.R., from 1999 to 2011. Prior to that he was a member of the former Church of the Brethren General Board (predecessor body to the current Mission and Ministry Board), serving from 1982 to 1987. Services were held in Puerto Rico on March 8 at Yahuecas Church of the Brethren and Funeraria González in Arecibo, and on March 9 with the burial at the National Veterans Cemetery in Morovis. 

Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) 2022 will be held virtually on April 25-27 on the theme “Fierce Urgency: Advancing Civil and Human Rights.” The event will call participants “into solidarity to restore, protect, and expand voting rights in the United States and to realize human rights around the world,” said an announcement. “As people of faith, we know each person to be created in God’s image, imbued with dignity and having a voice that demands to be heard, heeded, and treated justly. We arise in unity, holding up a mirror to leaders of nations, putting injustice on display and tearing down the veil of oppression that obscures the beautiful, God-born light shining from within us all.” Leadership includes Otis Moss III from Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, who will be preaching, and Liz Theoharis from the Poor People’s Campaign, who will be one of the plenary speakers. Find out more at

Mel Hammond of Madison, Wis., who received a gold award from the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards for 2021 in the category of “Animals/Pets Non-Fiction” for her book Pets: Getting Them, Caring for Them, and Loving Them (American Girl), has had a book published in the American Girl’s “Smart Girls Guide” series. Her new book is titled Body Image: How to Love Yourself, Live Life to the Fullest, and Celebrate All Kinds of Bodies. Go to Hammond also has written Banana Pancakes and Love the Earth: Understanding Climate Change, Speaking Up for Solutions, and Living an Earth-Friendly Life (American Girl) (