Thursday, February 01, 2024


The 2024 Song and Story Fest family camp co-sponsored by On Earth Peace will be hosted at Camp Brethren Heights in the Michigan District, July 7-13, immediately after Annual Conference in Grand Rapids. This is the 28th Song and Story Fest. The theme for this year’s Muddy Waters Song and Story Fest is “Exploring the Heights and Depths of Community.” The event is billed as an intergenerational camp for all ages, individuals, and families. Storytellers ,musicians, and workshop leaders include Rhonda & Greg Baker, Susan Boyer, Louise Brodie, Hannah Button-Harrison, Debbie Eisenbise, Jenny & Jeffrey Faus Family, Erin & Cody Flory Robertson, Chris Good, Anna Lisa Gross, Kathy Guisewite, Jonathan Hunter, Tim & Byron Joseph & Marlene Wood, Brian Kruschwitz, Jim Lehman, Peg Lehman, and Mike Stern. The schedule includes morning intergenerational gatherings and worship followed by workshops for adults, children, and youth; in the afternoons, family time, recreation, story swaps, and music-making; and in the evenings, campfires, snacks, and concerts or a folkdance. Registration includes all meals, on-site facilities, and leadership, and is based upon age—adults $370, teens $240, children age 5 to 12 $160, children 4and under free—with a maximum fee per family of $1,000. Daily fees are available. Registrations after June 1 add 10 percent as a late fee. Register online at .

The Church of the Brethren Leadership Team recently issued a statement that said, in part: “With deep sadness, the Church of the Brethren Leadership Team acknowledges news received of the withdrawal of all six congregations in the Puerto Rico District from the Church of the Brethren, as of Oct. 26, 2023. The Puerto Rican congregations’ decisions, which were affirmed by the Puerto Rico District board, came following contacts and visits by leaders of the Covenant Brethren Church—and each of the six congregations have since joined the Covenant Brethren Church. … The withdrawal of the six Puerto Rican congregations—as well as other churches across the denomination—brings heartache to many in the Church of the Brethren. ‘We mourn the loss of any of our members and congregations,’ said general secretary David Steele. ‘There is very real grief and pain when saying good-bye to those we’ve had relationships with and who have walked alongside us on our shared faith journeys.’”

The Council of District Executives (CODE) held its annual winter meetings Jan.20-24 near Melbourne, Fla., with some members also attending the Church of theBrethren Inter-Agency Forum (IAF) meeting that followed. Twenty-two of thedenomination’s 24 districts were represented, along with Office of Ministry directorNancy Sollenberger Heishman. Significant conversation was given to the changingrealities of the church and creative possibilities for moving forward. In addition to continuing education sessions, other business included worship and devotionaltimes focused on Colossians 3:12-17, receiving reports, approving appointmentsto committees, calling members for a new Matthew 18 Team to provide conflictresolution when needed, a review of the upcoming ministerial ethics trainingprocess, conversations with agency staff and Annual Conference leadership, ameal and worship with IAF members, and sharing news from the various districts.

Church of the Brethren membership in the United States in 2022 was 81,345,according to the statistical report in the 2023 Church of the Brethren Yearbook ,published by Brethren Press. The 2023 edition—published late last year—includes the 2022 statistical report and the 2023 directory for the denomination. The Yearbook reported 857 local worshiping communities (823 congregations, 22 fellowships, and 12 new church projects) in 2022. This represents a net loss of 5,836 members over 2021. Average weekly worship attendance for the denomination was reported as 20,733. To compare denominational membership over 15 years, for 2008 the Yearbook reported a total membership of 124,408–the first time since the 1920s that Church of the Brethren membership fell below 125,000.

Harold S. Martin (93), a leader in and one of the founders of the Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF), died on Jan. 5 at the Lincoln Christian Home in Ephrata, Pa. He served on the BRF Committee, was the first editor of the BRF Witness newsletter and served in that capacity for 50 years, preached at the BRF General Meeting as well as at revival services and numerous other venues, taught courses at the BRF’s Brethren Bible Institute, and was one of the leading free ministers serving in BRF-related congregations.

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) has announced the dates for the next two volunteer orientations that will take place in 2024. The summer unit (Unit 335)will have orientation July 28-Aug. 5 at Camp Colorado, located near Sedalia, Colo., southwest of Denver. The fall unit (Unit 336) will take place Sept. 17-25 at Camp Brethren Heights in Rodney, Mich., north of Grand Rapids. Online pre-orientation meetings also take place before each group gathers together in person. To apply or to learn more, visit .

The 2024 Earth Day resource from Creation Justice Ministries is titled “Plastic Jesus: Real Faith in a Synthetic World,” and is available to download at . Said an announcement: “Every year at Creation Justice Ministries, we create a resource to help churches prepare for Earth Day. It’s always our hope that these resources won’t just inform the congregation’s actions for a day, but will inform their actions on behalf of God’s creation throughout the year.”

The Church of the Brethren Nursing Scholarship is available for 2024,providing up to $2,000 for RN and graduate nurse candidates and up to $1,000 for LPN candidates. Scholarships are awarded to a limited number of applicants each year. 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. More information and an application form are at . Applications and supporting documentation are due by April 1 of each year.