Song and Story Fest 2020

Song and Story Fest has been moved online this year! Though we won't have our usual campfires and sing-a-longs in person, webinars and ZOOM gatherings will span between July 3rd and 10th to give everyone the sense of community they have been missing. To kick off everything we’ll gather, do a little visiting, tell some jokes, explore and embody a scripture for the evening, and then let some of our leaders offer songs and stories in an intergenerational worship program. The whole evening will last about 90 minutes on July 3rd, from 8:00 PM Eastern time until about 9:30.

The following days will have workshops/sharing/discussion offerings! On Sunday, rewriting the history of the Church of the Brethren, and on Monday, white people for racial justice.  In addition, on Thursday we will have sharing circles for women and men (separate ZOOM links).


Contact Ken Kline Smeltzer at to identify yourself and obtain the ZOOM links for these events.

Scheduled Events for 2020 Song & Story Fest

Friday, July 3, 8:00 PM Eastern time: “Song & Story Fest – Built for Such a Time as This” 

  • Discussions of Scripture: Amos 5:22-24 and Esther 4:12-14
  • Leaders: Mike Stern, Jim Lehman, Bill Jolliff

Sunday, July 5, Workshop, 8:00 PM  Eastern time: "A People's History of the Church of the Brethren: an exercise in collective memory and narrative construction.”

  • Together we will "re-member" the social/cultural history of our church to "dis-cover" how we became complicit in our own acculturation and demise.”
  • Debbie Eisenbise

Monday, July 6, Workshop, 8:00 PM  Eastern time: “If black lives matter to white people, what should white people be doing?”

  • Jonathan Hunter and Bonnie Kline Smeltzer will convene this sharing and discussion time, focusing on racial inequality, justice, and what we can do about it. 

Tuesday, July 7, 8:00PM Eastern Time: “Christmas in July – Another Way of Living?” 

  • Discussions of Scripture: Mark 5:38-48
  • Leaders: Jonathan Hunter, Rhonda and Greg Baker, Others?

Thursday, July 9, 8:00 PM Eastern Time: “Men’s Sharing Circle”, “Women’s Sharing Circle” – separate ZOOM links 

  • Conveners: Jim Lehman, Ken Kline Smeltzer for Men; Carrie and Kathy Fry-Miller for Women

Friday, July 10, 8:00 PM Eastern Time: “Envisioning and Acting for Social Change” 

  • Discussions of Scripture: Joel 2:28-29, and Jeremiah 29:11-14
  • Leaders: Jim Lehman, Peg Lehman, Louise Brodie, Debbie Eisenbise, more…
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Standing With George Floyd

Written by our Racial Justice Organizing Interns, Tamera Shaw and Grace Cook-Huffman


On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. Since then, parts of the United States and other places in the world have erupted in protests. While police brutality, systemic racism and inequity are constantly being challenged, there seems to be a new wave of positive, forward-moving change.  More people in the United States are finally starting to listen and take action. The public is pushing governments to pass laws directly addressing police reform and the defunding of police departments. Subsequently, police officers are being held accountable and responsible for their abusive and bigoted actions. Leading with God’s love and empathy, our collective voices must sing together in a call for action. Now is the time to continue urgently demanding reform, justice, and equity in ourselves, our families, our communities, our churches and spiritual practices, our schools and our institutions. It is pertinent that we use our Beloved Communities to learn, grow, and act together. 


Movements for uplifting and bringing equity to our society are not uniquely a Black challenge. It is a challenge that every person must rise to in order to effectively create structural change. As we recognize and demand justice for Black lives that have been brutally taken, we must also recognize the countless number of people that are being killed with no media coverage.  This includes Latinx lives, Indigenous lives, and all other people of color that have fallen victim to this system. 


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Read Aloud Project: June Books

The Read Aloud Project was created by Priscilla Weddle and Marie Benner-Rhoades to provide homeschooling resources in peace and justice during the pandemic. June was Pride Month, so the project highlighted books about the LGBTQ community. The project has been extended through July. July’s theme is own voices. If you are interested in recording a video for the project, please email Priscilla at Here are the books that were read for the project in June:

This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman

Summary: In a wildly whimsical, validating, and exuberant reflection of the LGBT community, This Day in June welcomes readers to experience a pride celebration and share in a day when we are all united.
Reflective Question: What does Pride Month mean to you?

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Lee & Low Books

I am always looking for books to read and recommend for the Read Aloud Project. During this search, I came across an EmbraceRace webinar titled “Finding and Reading Great Stories for and With Children.” The guest speaker was Katie Potter of Lee & Low Books. I had never heard of Lee & Low Books before and was excited to learn about their efforts to promote diversity in children’s books. Potter provided a surprising statistic on how Black, Latino, and Native authors combined wrote only 7 percent of new children’s books published in 2017.

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Representation Matters

Representation Matters

Written By Brittany Johnson

I am a Latina raising mixed children. My daughters, Haven and Harlow, are African American, Hispanic, and White. They have thick dark curls and brown skin. When you think of Little Red Riding Hood or Cinderella, you do not picture my daughters. You imagine fair skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair. Society has reinforced this image in our heads. When our children are young, they rely on picture books and movies to guide their imaginations. When you think of a princess or a fairy, what do you see?

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