Friday, March 01, 2024


The National Older Adult Conference planning committee, led by NOAC coordinator Christy Waltersdorff (York Center) and including Leonard Matheny (Peoria), has announced the theme for NOAC 2025: “ALIVE IN THE SPIRIT” (drawing on Romans 15:13). Each day will have a daily sub-theme: “Living with Hope” (Tuesday); “Living with Gratitude” (Wednesday); “Living with Power” (Thursday); “Living with Joy” (Friday). NOAC 2025 will take place Sept. 1-5, 2025, at Lake Junaluska, N.C.

A Church of the Brethren L.E.A.D. (Listen – Equip – Adapt – Disciple) Conference is planned for Nov. 15-17, 2024, sponsored by the denomination’s Discipleship and Leadership Formation department. The event will be hosted at Ephrata (Pa.) Church of the Brethren on the scripture theme 2 Timothy 2:2. This will be a leadership development conference for congregational leaders such as pastors and church board members. The focus will be on raising the leadership skills of congregational leaders to help them be more effective in their local ministries. The event will be a mix of plenary and break-out sessions. Attendance will be capped at 250 participants. More information and registration will be available closer to the date.

H. Fred Bernhard, long-time pastor and 1996 Annual Conference moderator, passed away March 12 following a recent cancer diagnosis. In addition to his time as moderator, Fred served the larger church as a member of the former General Board, a member of the former Brethren Benefit Trust board, and as advancement associate at Bethany Theological Seminary. Following his retirement as pastor of the Oakland Church of the Brethren in Ohio, he continued in leadership at both congregational and district levels, including interim pastorates in Ohio and Virginia. A celebration of life will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 23, at Oakland Church of the Brethren (8058 Horatio Harris Creek Rd, Bradford, Ohio). Visitation will take place at the church from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, March 22.

Bitrus K. Tizhe, who served as the first president of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) from 1995 to 1999, died on Feb. 16. He was laid to rest at his home in Michika, Adamawa State, on Feb. 21, said a release from EYN.

Congregations are invited to create 8 ½ x 8 ½” quilt blocks for the 2024 Annual Conference quilts. All blocks should be postmarked by May 15 and sent to Margaret Weybright, 1801 Greencroft Blvd., Apt. 125, Goshen, IN 46526 with a dollar (or more) donation to cover costs. The outside border should be no less than 8 ½” square after it is worked, and the inside design should be not more than 8” square, with nothing in the seam allowance. Blocks (pre-shrunk cotton or cotton blend) should be cut to size after they have been pieced, embroidered, or appliqued. They should also include the congregation’s name and state and/or district. For a full instructional flier, contact the district office.

The Standing with People of Color Committee continues to seek to involve congregations, districts, and families in learning and growing together in ways to enable the Church of the Brethren to welcome believers from every nation, tribe, people, and language (Revelation 7:9). If you are interested in leading a “7 Prompts” workshop and would like to learn more about the process, two more online facilitator training events are scheduled for April 2, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Central, and April 6, 12-2 p.m. Central. Find out more and register at For questions, please contact

Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., has announced via Facebook post that alumnus Dan Sunderland (’88) and his wife, Kerry, have pledged $1 million toward strengthening the college’s commitment to educating and preparing students for careers in the health professions. “Their philanthropy will support a feasibility study to determine the viability of a future nursing program at Juniata College,” said the announcement. “Across the nation, hospitals, health systems, and medical offices are experiencing a shortage of nurses, and the numbers in Pennsylvania are among the highest.”

The Shine Sunday school curriculum of Brethren Press and MennoMedia is introducing a new initiative called Shine Everywhere. Shine Everywhere will provide new avenues of communication between those who create Shine curriculum and the congregations and families who use it. The purpose of the new initiative is to listen attentively to congregations and families and then incorporate their input into new Shine resources. A grant of $1.25 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. supports the development of Shine Everywhere. MennoMedia received the grant in 2023 on behalf of Shine, a joint publication of MennoMedia and Brethren Press. The grant is part of Lilly Endowment’s Christian Parenting and Caregiving Initiative, which aims to help parents and caregivers share their faith and values with their children. Anyone interested in learning more or joining the initiative can sign up at

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 folk dance. 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 4 and 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

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.