Gathering in community

A sermon starter written by Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, director of the Office of Ministry, for the 2022 Pentecost Offering

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.” ~Acts 2:1

When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples, numbering 120, were all together in one place. All together? In one place? What might that have meant for them? What could it mean for us? From the gospel stories we know that being “all together” for the disciples in that place signified a community with no small number of differences. Within the original 12 disciples and those who had accompanied them in following Jesus, there were significant differences including culture, political leanings, conflicting personalities, economic and social status, proven loyalty, cowardice, and even betrayal regarding Jesus, and on and on. What must “all together” have meant to them? How comfortable was being “in one place” for disciples struggling with the trauma of Jesus’ public execution followed by his astounding resurrection?

How about for us in our congregations and communities as we are “all together in one place”? Are we relieved to finally be all together in one physical space even while still amid a seemingly unending pandemic? Does “in one place” include only physical space in church buildings or are we embracing our gathering place of worship as including virtual space? Are we increasingly finding ourselves out in new neighborhood spaces as we meet the challenge to embody Jesus’ presence in the neighborhood? What has changed in the last few years in our being “all together in one place”? What still needs to change in and among us as we gather so that we are more faithful to Jesus’ call?

Certainly, no effort is needed today to find differences in society and even the church that prompt alienation, segregation, and hostility, even a silent contempt of the other. Negative reactions to differences are often motivated by fear and can result in anger. Leaders can stoke those fears and fuel anger, but Pentecost Christians are called to reshape the current narrative based on an enthusiastic embrace of the story of the Holy Spirit’s powerful anointing.

The Pentecost story was certainly one of proximity, which is so essential to a faithful following of Jesus. At the recent graduation at Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, Va.), Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of the book, Just Mercy, began the commencement address with a call to graduates to live out their Christian faith through a very intentional proximity with the “least of these” who are in most need of Christ’s compassion and justice. Choose to be “all together in one place” with those you might not normally encounter, he suggested.

In a society where our lives are increasingly segregated in neighborhoods of homogeneity, the choice of intentional proximity to those in need of care puts us in the center of the Pentecost story where the Holy Spirit’s power transforms lives, creating God’s shalom. It does so as we learn to know our neighbors, sharing their joys and pains, hearing their dreams and longings, responding with the good news of Jesus.

Stevenson’s address was a fitting call to young leaders to embrace Pentecost’s power to prophetically do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. It will require living in deliberate proximity with those whose differences may challenge an easy togetherness. Proclaiming a narrative of Christ’s embracing welcome can counter tropes of fearful anger. Persistently holding on to a divinely inspired mission, Pentecost-powered hope keeps the foundation of one’s shared place spiritually resilient. Saying a bold “yes” to Jesus’ inconvenient and often uncomfortable call to costly discipleship keeps Pentecost power alive and vibrant. All this speaks to what can happen when disciples of Jesus are deliberately and delightfully and surprisingly “all together … in one place.”

Find this sermon starter, offering announcements, and other worship resources for the Pentecost Offering of the Church of the Brethren (suggested date June 5) or give an offering today at www.brethren.org/give-offering.

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)

I am because we are

www.brethren.org/yac

I am because we are
National Young Adult Conference focuses on the life-giving quality of community

By Becky Ullom Naugle, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries

“So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.” ~Romans 12:5, NRSV

After so much pandemic living and the isolation it’s caused, the centrality of community in this scripture compelled the Young Adult Steering Committee (YASC) to choose Romans 12:5 as the theme for National Young Adult Conference (NYAC) 2022. Christians spend significant time focusing on the verses before and after this one–reminding ourselves that there are “many gifts but the same Spirit.” While the reality of variety in giftedness certainly deserves attention and study, it is occasionally challenging to recognize and identify God’s presence in another. However, as the world has learned so painfully over the last two years in our isolation, God built us to need each other.

Even if we chafe at standards and boundaries placed to enable peaceful and healthy living, humans have a deep and strong desire to be with others. We are undeniably affected by the relationships we create. Simply put, we are affected by our community. Often the implications of this reality are seen as a liability. However, NYAC participants will focus on the ways this reality is an asset. How are we as individuals enriched by being part of a community? How is life better when we are together, rather than apart? If we felt empathy for others due to such a deep connection through our baptism into the family of Jesus and the call to live as one of his disciples, what would our lives look like?

It is precisely such deep connection to a group that allows an aspen tree to live. From above ground, where we spend most of our time, we see distinct trees. If we are paying enough attention, however, we might note that aspen trees tend to grow in groups. But did you know that the “distinct” aspen trees are actually part of the same organism? They share a root system and resources (like water and nutrients).’ Aspens are a living expression of Romans 12:5: the “individual” thrives due to its deep connection to the larger body. After so much time away from the larger body, the Young Adult Steering Committee is eager for young adults to remember and strengthen connections with each other.

This article was originally featured in the spring issue of Bridge produced by Youth and Young Adult Ministries. Learn more or register for National Young Adult Conference at www.brethren.org/yac or support Youth and Young Adult Ministries today at www.brethren.org/giveyya.

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)

100 love feasts

Love feast, Church of the Brethren in Rwanda
Photo by Chris Elliott

By Chris Elliott serving with the Church of the Brethren in Rwanda on behalf of the Office of Global Mission

Because the Church of the Brethren in central Africa is still young, the ordinances we are so familiar with in the US are new here. The Brethren in the Africa Great Lakes have neither a foundation of tradition nor any baggage of hang-ups, bringing advantages and disadvantages. For me personally, having participated and/or officiated in more than 100 love feasts, I can pretty much go through it on autopilot. If I’m not intentional, I can easily lose sight of the beauty and significance of the ceremony. Introducing our African sisters and brothers to it has been a great joy and has restored my own passion for it.

Marla Abe, Gary Benesh, Galen Hackman, and I have led groups through several teaching sessions since 2016. It is a relatively small number of us that have had both the privilege and the responsibility of this, which is a sort of scary thought. Fewer people than the fingers on one hand are laying the foundation for a lot of new Brethren. If nothing else I want to thank you all for your prayers and support–and for trusting us with such an important task.

My favorite story from those early teaching sessions comes from Congo in 2016. Gary, Marla, and I had a good teaching time of explaining the parts of the love feast service, along with the biblical basis for it all, including the holy kiss. Regarding the holy kiss, I shared that the old tradition was for a kiss on the lips, but depending on the cultural context, it could be a hug and/or a kiss on the cheek, at the very least a handshake. To finish out the session we wanted to have a brief demonstration. We put four chairs in the front and enlisted 3 volunteers. I washed the feet of the first, then he washed the feet of the next, and so on, while I went to sit in the fourth seat and take off my shoes. Pastor Aluta washed my feet and when we stood for the embrace, he smothered me with “holy kisses!” Definitely an event I will never forget!

Expert Bukene, lead pastor/bishop of the Church of the Brethren in Burundi, began instituting the feet washing and communion as he read about it in “A Dunker’s Guide to Brethren History.” For whatever reason, he didn’t pick up on the meal part of the service. When I met him for the first time last fall and explained the three-part love feast, he went back home determined to “do it right.” Five months later, Pastor Etienne and I went to Burundi to visit. The other pastors excitedly told us that they were looking forward to the upcoming love feast on Maundy Thursday. Their bishop had promised to buy a lamb!

The Brethren in Rwanda have had several love feasts since 2016, so the one we observed on Easter Sunday afternoon was not their first. The morning worship service was a resurrection celebration of nearly 5 hours. It was followed with the love feast meal of lamb, beans, potatoes, ugali, and rice.  One of the pastors had butchered the lamb on Saturday.

As we moved toward the feet washing portion, I sensed that they were a little uncertain about procedure. Since this was the first time they had done it with a “muzungu” (a Swahili term for a Caucasian person) present, they watched me very closely as I demonstrated by washing and drying pastor Patrick’s feet, then hugged him and kissed him on the cheek. They seemed much more confident going forward from there. It truly was a beautiful time of fellowship and sharing.

The deacons prepared the bread and cup by first cutting white bread into half-size pieces and pouring Vital-O (a locally produced fruit flavored soft drink) into small communion cups. The elements were then passed to everyone. My preference at this point is for one of the local pastors to lead in the comments and prayer, as it can be awkward for me to share something solemn through a translator.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve had a part in more than 100 love feasts–but this was my first one in Africa.

Learn more about the Church of the Brethren in Rwanda at www.brethren.org/global or support their ministry today at www.brethren.org/give-rwanda.

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)

Are we still at the tomb?

Photo by TC Perch

By Traci Rabenstein, director of Mission Advancement

Do you remember where you were on Aug. 23, 2011?

I do.

I was working for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in downtown Harrisburg. At first the day was no different than any other day, but around 2 p.m. things just didn’t seem right. I can’t fully explain the panic that came across me as I thought I was feeling the building move. At first I thought it was my imagination.

Suddenly I knew I didn’t want to be in the building, and I wasn’t alone. We headed for the stairwell and rushed out-side. By the time we congregated, we heard the news:  There had been a 5.8-magnitude earthquake around Mineral, Va., just over 200 miles to the south.

Matthew 28 begins with a violent earthquake as the women were gathering at the tomb of Jesus to care for his body. What went through their minds? Where is he? Did someone take him? Maybe they felt sick to their stomachs, or light-headed. Maybe they were confused and afraid.

But the angel said, “Now hurry, go and tell his disciples, ‘He’s been raised from the dead. He’s going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there’” (Matthew 28:7, CEB).

Matthew says that they ran—with “great fear and excitement”—to deliver the message to the eleven. He wasn’t there! There was an earthquake did you feel it? And this angel who rolled the stone away from the tomb told us to look for ourselves to see that Jesus wasn’t there.

Then Jesus himself “met them and greeted them. They came and grabbed his feet and worshipped him” (v. 9).

He said to tell the others he will meet them in Galilee. Off they went, full of joy as they exclaim to the disciples:  He did it! He isn’t dead. And we saw him! Touched him! Held onto him for dear life. He told us to tell you he’ll meet you in Galilee. You can’t stay here hidden, you must go and meet him. He’ll be there!

Some of the disciples went to the tomb to see for them-selves, according to other Gospel accounts. They just couldn’t comprehend what the women were telling them. Why didn’t they believe them? Why didn’t they have faith?

Why don’t we? Do we continue to stare into an empty tomb?

What Jesus did in those three days was revolutionary! He conquered death. The fear of death is gone; the hope for eternal life is now what we wait for. “Do not be afraid!” the angel said. “Do not be afraid!” Christ said. Our relationship with a risen Savior gives us assurance that we no longer need to fear death. The mystery is still there; we have no way of truly understanding physical death until we go through it, but we do not need to fear it.

He took on our sins so that we would have a way to reconcile ourselves back to God without sacrifice. Without burnt offerings. Without priestly intercession. We have been given the Holy Spirit—God not only with us but in us.

That is worth running with excitement to share with others!

When I felt the tremors 10 years ago, I couldn’t get out of that building fast enough. When the women learned that Jesus was alive, they couldn’t get to the disciples fast enough.

Are we ready to stop being afraid? Afraid of congregations leaving? Of the dwindling size of the denomination here in the United States? Are we ready to run from emptiness and move forward in faith knowing that “he who is in me is greater than he who is in the world”?

Let us run with joy to tell our neighbors the good news of Jesus!

This reflection was originally featured in the April issue of Messenger magazine. Learn about the faith-building mission and ministries of the Church of the Brethren at www.brethren.org/greatthings or give an Easter offering to support them today at www.brethren.org/give.

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)

Concerning love and trains

Photo by John Wood

By Nancy McCrickard

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” ~Corinthians 13:13, NIV

Would you join me in a cheer (Saying what is in the parentheses below aloud or writing them down)?
Give me an “L.” (“L”)
Give me an “O” (“O”)
Give me a “V” (“V”)
Give me an “E” (“E”)
What does that spell? (Love.)
Say it again! (Love!)

In my role as a Mission Advancement advocate for the Church of the Brethren, I essentially serve as a cheerleader for our ministries and all who support our shared work through their time, talent, and resources. You might call this a ministry of encouragement. Our team celebrates the generosity of supporters like you who share the love of God with others–near and far–through giving to our mission and ministries.

Do you like to ride on trains? In the B.C. era (before COVID, that is), I would ride the train quite often–especially to travel from my home in Maryland to the General Offices in Elgin, Ill. to attend Mission and Ministry Board meetings each Fall and Spring. Traci Rabenstein, our director of Mission Advancement, would even board the train along the way in Pennsylvania, and we would travel together.

During the time on the train, I’ve noticed many things along the way–particularly that riding the train gives ample time, not only to watch beautiful scenery pass by, but to think and reflect on whatever comes to mind. After all, there are no driving responsibilities, and while on the train there’s no rushing to get from one place to the next. Trust me, my mind has pursued many “trains of thought” during these trips. (I even keep a running list of them.)

What does love have to do with a train? To keep a train moving forward, someone must care enough to give it fuel and keep the engine and its parts running smoothly. It involves the faithful service of a team to ensure safe passage from one location to the next. To continue this train of thought:  those of us who serve as staff of the Church of the Brethren know full well that your gifts of love fuel our ministries. Your prayers, provisions, and acts of service provide continued momentum for our missions locally and globally. The ways that you care for those in your congregation and in your community help us continue the work of Jesus. With your faithful support, we can move forward together and enjoy the beautiful view that God reveals along the way. (If we kept a running list of the ways we’ve seen God working in the life of the church, I wonder how long it would be?)

Thank you for being a member of our team. We are grateful for how you support and participate in the work of the Church of the Brethren. It’s a blessing to partner with you and to experience the journey together.

Learn more about our faith-building and life-changing ministries at www.brethren.org/greatthings or support them today at www.brethren.org/give.

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)

Lessons on the road

By Chris Elliott

By Chris Elliott, a farmer and pastor from Pennsylvania who is serving with his daughter, Grace, in Rwanda on behalf of the Office of Global Mission

The other morning, Papa Timo and I delivered several sacks of feed to the pig farm (Global Food Initiative supported). Anytime we go somewhere together, Papa Timo will typically ask me to drive. I’m not certain of the psychology behind that, but I really don’t mind. Driving in Africa is quite a bit different that it is in the US. Though there are fewer cars and trucks on the road, the number of bicycles, motorcycles, farm animals and pedestrians can be overwhelming. At first I was extremely nervous, and while that has diminished significantly, I’m still very cautious.

There are a few paved roads, but most are very rough and rocky country roads. Drivers are constantly looking for the path of least resistance, weaving back and forth attempting to dodge the rocks, ruts, mud and washouts. Papa Timo’s main vehicle is a 1990’s Toyota Land Cruiser. It is essentially a pickup truck chassis with a station wagon body, making it ideal for carrying people and cargo over the bumps.

On this particular day, as we approached a spot where the road dips down sharply through a steep ravine, a queue of bicycles loaded with potatoes was waiting to traverse one at a time. With a couple hundred kilos of produce on their bikes, it was necessary to help each other hold back on the downside and push on the upside. A few 5-to-7-year-old boys jumped in to help. After a brief delay, we passed through and were on our way.

In the center of the village, we encountered a score of young men standing around with their hoes and shovels hoping to be hired for the day. All farm work is done with hand tools; there are no tractors or farm machinery. Unlike Americans, Rwandans don’t do things alone and will hire day laborers for the job. The locals have a word for plowing, cultivating, and harvesting that translates to “digging.”

Biblical allusions come quickly to mind. In the parable of the unjust steward, the steward said, “I cannot dig” (Luke 16:3). And, of course, there is the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) where the workers are waiting in the village square to be hired for the day. Coming from a farm background, I have always felt that “us farmers” have an edge on most others when it comes to understanding Jesus’ parables. Now I realize how much closer these folks are to the Bible’s truth because they live in it so much more fully every day.

Even Jesus’ words in The Lord’s Prayer come to life in a richer way:  “Give us this day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3). I have often made the remark that the average unemployed person in the US is better off than the average employed person most anywhere else in the world. This isn’t meant to trivialize the pain that any one individual might be experiencing, but for us to recognize that a very large number of people worldwide live on a dollar or two a day. They are literally trusting God for something to eat today, one day at a time. I’m gaining a new perspective on hunger and malnutrition.

When I’m out on the road I’ll be alert to the hazards. And I’ll keep my eyes open for the Bible lessons, too.

Find more updates about the ministry of Chris and Grace with the Church of the Brethren in Rwanda at www.brethren.org/global or support their work today at www.brethren.org/give-rwanda.

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)

Community recovery

Photos by Helen Wolf

By Jenn Dorsch‐Messler, director of Brethren Disaster Ministries

As we come to the end of Brethren Disaster Ministries’ Memorial Day 2019 tornado recovery project in the Dayton, Ohio, area it is wonderful to think of some of the highlights that have made it unlike most BDM rebuilding projects. These include the local district answering the call to serve wherever needed, a recovery community that continued to assist even during a pandemic, and a new program which was formed to serve a group of survivors not often helped after a disaster.

The Southern Ohio/Kentucky District stepped up in ways not usually seen on other BDM national projects where the closest Brethren church is typically hundreds of miles away. For months, beginning within days of the tornados, there were district volunteers helping to clear trees, tarp roofs, and canvas neighborhoods looking for those in need of help. District disaster coordinators Burt and Helen Wolf began coordinating with volunteers in the Dayton area even though they were away serving on the Coastal North Carolina rebuilding site when the tornados hit. Later they and other BDM representatives collaborated with others in the community in the formation of the Miami Valley Long-term Recovery Operations Group, which planned the next steps in the recovery of the whole community.

Following the initial work by district volunteers and leaders, a national BDM program rebuilding site was scheduled to open in April 2020. Everything about life and plans changed around that time, however, altering the timeline and halting all rebuilding work.

The global pandemic brought a lot of challenges and unknown factors, including travel recommendations that restricted travel for volunteers from outside the Dayton area. By July 2020, however, local volunteers from BDM and other organizations were able to join together to begin serving survivors. The long-term BDM disaster project leadership, typically provided by those who travel to serve on a site, was led by Christi “Sammy” Deacon, Phil Deacon, and Rex Miller, who served for many months within an hour of their homes.

The reduction in volunteerism and funding for most volunteer groups made it clear that if organizations did not work together in the safest way possible, families would be left out of their homes for even longer. And so, after a necessary delay to develop COVID-19 protocols and put them in place, non-profits in the area began new partnerships to work for homeowners with new ways to physically be in each other’s presence.

By August 2020, the project volunteer housing was opened and BDM volunteers from other states who agreed to observe the strict COVID-19 protocol began serving in Dayton. The project remained open through November 2020 and then again from April-October 2021. During this time, the number of volunteers able or willing to serve across all organizations was lower than usual, which made the local community even more thankful for those who came to serve.

The last rebuild that BDM worked on belonged to Ms. Lillie, who had part of the roof blown off two rooms in her home by the tornado. BDM’s volunteers helped her by saving thousands of dollars in contractor fees. Few days went by without Ms. Lillie coming by to say thank you or her neighbors in the tightknit community stopping to share their appreciation. A neighbor even purchased lunch for all the volunteers one day as a thank you for helping Ms. Lillie finally get back into her home after over two and a half years.

A focus other than repairing storm-damaged houses developed when a new set of public and private partners created the Tornado Survivor Pathways to Homeownership program (referred to as Pathways). This program supports renters, who had lost their housing due to the tornados, to return to their home neighborhoods and to purchase new or rehabilitated properties. Thanks to technology, the planning for this program took place virtually. The groundbreaking on the first home was on March 29, 2021. BDM volunteers have served on five of these Pathways houses. The first former renter/new homeowner moved in at the end of the BDM project.

Although scheduled to end in September 2021, the Dayton site was extended and the last group of national BDM volunteers left on Oct. 30. Incredibly, and in God’s timing, as local district volunteers closed out the remaining work in Dayton, another group of Southern Ohio/Kentucky District volunteers arrived in North Carolina on Oct. 31 as the first group to return to the Coastal NC project.

Thank you to all who volunteered, donated, and prayed for community recovery in Dayton!

This reflection was originally featured in Bridges,the newsletter of Brethren Disaster Ministries. Learn more about the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries at www.brethren.org/bdm or support its work today at www.brethren.org/give-bdm.

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)

Love remains

www.brethren.org/oghs

A theme interpretation for the 2022 One Great Hour of Sharing by Rev. Barbara Essex

“And now these three remain:  faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” ~1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV

The Apostle Paul helped newly converted Christians at Corinth embrace the virtue of love. Love is an active decision—to think of others before one’s self; to work on behalf of others; to care for others with acts of kindness and advocacy. Christian community is less about “me” and more about “us.” Paul defines “us” broadly—it is not limited to one’s household or home church or immediate neighborhood. The church crosses boundaries, creating realities where differences in ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, culture, and social location can be acknowledged and celebrated.

Paul taught that Jesus formed a group of diverse persons into a new kind of community—a community whose very fabric of communal life is woven with threads of love and service. For Paul, persons are called to think, live, and behave differently. The challenges at the Corinthian church are testimonies to the truth that living and loving in community can be difficult and messy at times. Living in love and living by love does not mean there are no tensions, disagreements, or conflicts—in human relationships, these are natural and expected. Paul reminds the Corinthians that love holds them together, no matter what. They are no longer mere individuals; rather, they are part of the body of Christ. They are connected in ways that defy individualism and selfishness. In the Judeo-Christian traditions, connection and unity are esteemed. A commitment to community does not erase differences—they are valued and embraced. It’s all about love.

What does love look like in community? International partners of the Global Food Initiative participating in educational opportunities and working together to establish food security. Brethren Volunteer Service volunteers serving with a new community for a year. Brethren pastors, leaders, and members sharing in meaningful conversations and reflection. Individuals joining in the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries to encourage people and rebuild homes affected by disaster.

The love that the Apostle Paul taught the Corinthians recognizes the connection between and among people, across geography, nationality, and ethnicity. Through your support, the Church of the Brethren cares for communities near and far away, embodying acts of service from a place of love that spans generations. Your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing resurrect dreams and (re)construct spaces for new dreams to happen. When you give, you show that love is more than just a word; your generosity is the embodiment of our connection to sisters and brothers that extends across space and time.

Love is generous and compassionate. Love is action. Love goes the extra mile. Love responds to need. Love makes a difference. Love joins hands. Love works together. Love hikes up and down hills. Love is resilient. Love is big and small. And above all else, love remains.

Find this and other worship resources for the Church of the Brethren’s One Great Hour of Sharing (suggested date: March 20) at www.brethren.org/oghs or give an offering today at www.brethren.org/giveoffering.

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)

Filling our jars

Read a reflection from John chapter 2 in this week's issue of eBrethren.

By Matt DeBall, Coordinator of Mission Advancement Communications
 
“Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’; so they filled them to the brim.” ~ John 2:7


Some celebrations are remembered for years to come. Perhaps you fondly remember a birthday party, an anniversary celebration, or a wedding that had a great atmosphere and was a wonderful time with friends and family.

The wedding at Cana in Galilee must have been amazing—because we’re still talking about it after two millennia. Though there was a hiccup when the wine ran out, Jesus, with the encouragement of this attentive mother, helped avoid a crisis. In the Gospel of John, the event marks the first miracle of Jesus, a sign of God’s reign through his ministry, and, surely, a blessed celebration for all those who attended.

In addition to the miracle of turning water into wine, what is interesting is who Jesus invited to be the heroes and heroines of the day:  those who were serving at the wedding. Throughout his ministry, Jesus regularly elevated the lowly, and his first miracle was no exception. By faith, the waitstaff in Cana filled six large washing jars with water (no less than 120 gallons or 1,000 pounds of water, if we do the math) and waited with expectation of what Jesus would do.

Even today, Jesus continues to call people of humble positions to take action by faith and see how God will work. As the body of Christ, we are invited to imagine and reimagine the jars Jesus is calling us to attend to—old forms to fill with new faith for a fruitful future. We likely won’t see water turned into wine, but surely the Lord will bless us and others when we take action for his purposes.

In these first couple months of the year, the staff and volunteers of the Church of the Brethren are revisiting the jars of ministry in their care and trusting that the Lord will make great things happen. Volunteers are being trained to serve like Jesus in a new (to them) neighborhood. Event coordinators and conversation hosts are preparing for meaningful occasions of education, fellowship, refreshment, and worship. We are also grateful for you, as a supporter of and partner in these and many other endeavors, and the ways you are planning to pray, give, and serve as we move forward in faith together.

As the work of Jesus continues among us in 2022, may it be a blessed time of celebration that we remember for many years to come.

Learn more about the ministries of the Church of the Brethren at www.brethren.org/greatthings or support its work today at www.brethren.org/give.

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)