PLEASE NOTE: This is a preview of only a few of the many special events planned for Annual Conference 2005 in Peoria, Ill., July 2-6. More information about Conference events, schedule, theme, scriptures, and logo is available at www.brethren.org/ac/. Reports and photographs from each day of the Conference will be posted on the Annual Conference web pages at www.brethren.org, beginning with pre-Conference events on Friday, July 1. The next regularly scheduled issue of Newsline on July 6 will include an overview report from the Conference.
Resolution on the Brethren Medical Plan may come to delegates.
The Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) is bringing a resolution on the Brethren Medical Plan to the Standing Committee this year, and the resolution may come to the Conference's delegate body as well. The plan is for Church of the Brethren pastors and church employees, district employees, and employees of Annual Conference agencies, and affiliated agencies and institutions, and their families.
The resolution gives biblical and historical background, lists the current status of medical insurance in the denomination, and asks the Conference to appoint a study committee to "evaluate the Brethren Medical Plan, and assess the continuing need for and feasibility of a denominational medical insurance plan for employees of congregations, districts, and church-related agencies." In addition the resolution calls on every eligible congregation, district, and church-related agency to participate in the plan from 2006 through at least the conclusion of the study.
Events related to the Brethren Medical Plan include presentation of the resolution to Standing Committee at 3 p.m. on Friday, July 1; a listening session open to all Conference-goers at 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 2; an insight session for pastors only at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 3; and an insight session open to all Conference-goers at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 5, titled "Should My Congregation Participate in the Brethren Medical Plan?"
For informational resources on the Brethren Medical Plan including a video addressing questions about the plan, a power point presentation on the history of the plan, information about Health Savings Accounts, and information about all of the Brethren Insurance Plans, contact BBT at 800-746-1505. For the most recent reporting on the plan see "Brethren Benefit Trust Board Approves Health Savings Accounts" from the Newsline of May 11 and "New Resources Created in Effort to Save Brethren Medical Plan" from the Newsline of March 30.
Source: 6/28/2005 Newsline
Dominican Brethren leader to preach for Tuesday's worship.
Anastacia Bueno Beltre, a pastor and past moderator of the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic, will give the message for the worship service beginning at 7:10 p.m. on Tuesday, July 5.
Beltre will give the message in Spanish with English translation. She travels from the Dominican Republic to attend the Conference--last year she was unable to come to Annual Conference because she was denied a visa to enter the country.
Jim Hardenbrook, Annual Conference moderator, will speak for the opening service of the Conference at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday, July 2. His theme will be "I Love to Tell the Story" and he will use the theme scripture, Hebrews 12:1-4.
Also preaching for worship are Galen Hackman, senior pastor of Ephrata (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, speaking on "By Faith...Experiencing the Smile of God" for Sunday morning worship beginning at 10:20 a.m. July 3; Sandy Bosserman, executive minister of Missouri and Arkansas District, speaking on "Duties, Devils, and Distractions," at 7:20 p.m. on Monday, July 4; and Chris Douglas, director of the General Board's Youth and Young Adult Ministries, speaking for the service beginning at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, July 6, on the theme "Abundant Life, Discipleship, Don't Lose Heart."
Source: 6/28/2005 Newsline
Brethren organizations celebrate milestones.
Bethany Theological Seminary celebrates its centennial at the Conference this year, the Mutual Aid Association celebrates 120 years, and the Brethren Journal Association celebrates 50 years.
The 100th anniversary of the seminary will be celebrated with the debut of a centennial hymn sung by a choir of Bethany alumni, a large historical display at the Bethany exhibit, a centennial presentation during a business session, two new books related to the seminary and a display of books authored by Bethany faculty and alumni at the Brethren Press bookstore (see story below), a Bethany quilt, and a luncheon on the theme "Bethany as It Really Was: A Playful Behind-the-Scenes Look at Seminary Life" on Tuesday, July 5. The alumni choir is scheduled to perform the centennial hymn and anthem "Pilgrimage of Faith" by Steve Engle and Frank Ramirez at an Early Evening Concert at 5:30 p.m. and in worship at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday, July 2.
Conference-goers also are invited to a Centennial Open House at the seminary's main campus in Richmond, Ind., on their way to and from Annual Conference. Stop in between 9 a.m.-5 p.m. eastern standard time on Friday, July 1, or on Thursday, July 7. The open houses will offer tours of the Bethany Center and refreshments. For more information call 800-287-8822.
The 50th anniversary of the scholarly journal "Brethren Life and Thought" will be celebrated at the annual luncheon of the Brethren Journal Association on July 4. A musical revue by Steve Engle and Frank Ramirez, "Brethren, Lively and Thoughtful," will be presented by the "Not Ready for the Tercentennial Players." An insight session at 9 p.m. on July 4 will feature a panel discussion on "Brethren Living and Thinking." Later in 2005 a special issue of the journal will include articles selected from issues of the past 50 years. Edward K. Ziegler served as the journal's first editor, and Warren S. Kissenger, Christina Bucher, and David Eller also have served as editors of "Brethren Life and Thought." For more information contact the Brethren Journal Association, Managing Editor Carol Gardner, c/o Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Rd. W., Richmond IN 47374; 765-983-1815; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bethanyseminary.edu/?page=blt.
The Mutual Aid Association (MAA) invites Conference-goers to a "members meeting/birthday party" to celebrate its anniversary at 4:30-5:30 p.m. on Monday, July 4. "Come and enjoy refreshments and special gifts as our thank you for 120 years!" reads the invitation that went out to those registered for the Conference. Both MAA members and interested Brethren are welcome. For more information see www.maabrethren.com.
Source: 6/28/2005 Newsline
Church of the Brethren Credit Union holds first annual meeting.
The Church of the Brethren Credit Union, which became available to all members of the denomination in 2004, is holding its first annual members' meeting and dinner on Saturday, July 2. The event is open to credit union members as well as Conference-goers who are not members.
The speaker for the event is Eric Kabler, a financial consultant for Kabler/Thomas Financial Group and a member of the Brethren Benefit Trust board. He also is a member of Westmont Church of the Brethren in Johnstown, Pa. Kabler will speak on "10 Personal Finance Tips for Brethren," giving tips for being good personal stewards of God's blessings and personal financial stewardship from a biblical perspective.
The annual meeting will hear annual reports from the credit union board and staff and will elect board members. For more information call the credit union at 888-832-8313.
Source: 6/28/2005 Newsline
Nominations for the 2005 Ecumenical Citations are announced.
Nominees for the 2005 Ecumenical Citations have been announced by the Committee on Interchurch Relations. The citations will be awarded at the Ecumenical Luncheon on Tuesday, July 5. Four youth and young adults are nominated for peacemaking efforts. "Each in their own way have demonstrated a dedication to work at overcoming violence, and can serve as a model for others in creative challenges to the many forms of violence in our world," the committee said.
Matt Boyer of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, is nominated for his passion for social justice issues and Fair Trade. He refused to participate in a school fundraiser of chocolate that had been produced unjustly, did extensive research and advocacy of the Fair Trade movement, and led his church youth group in becoming a retailer of Fair Trade chocolates and coffee.
Colleen Hamilton of Hope Church of the Brethren in Freeport, Mich., is nominated for multiple efforts for the environment and global concerns, including helping to begin a recycling program at her high school, bringing focus to the use and waste of styrofoam in the school cafeteria, working and worshiping ecumenically with another congregation in the area, and participating in a high school arts troupe "HEARTS: Helping Educate Abstinence, Responsible Teens." She also was nominated for a citation from the Isaac Walton League for her efforts.
Marisa de Oliveira of Campo Limpo Preaching Point in Campo Limpo, Brazil, is nominated for her deep sense of justice and her call to share God's love with others through her work for hunger and women's and children's issues. She volunteers at a local soup kitchen, has begun a children's church and after-school tutoring program, and has developed and runs children's and women's programs in a poor and dangerous neighborhood of her city. The committee reported that de Oliveira moved to the neighborhood in order to establish rapport with the inhabitants. She teaches jewelry and craft-making to help generate income and self-esteem for neighborhood women, and plans a micro-finance project to help women buy materials and market their goods.
Anna Christine Simons of Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in South Bend, Ind., is nominated for community involvements including working at a school for disadvantaged children, volunteering with the Youth Services Bureau of South Bend, participating yearly in her community's youth conference on diversity, taking part in anti-racism efforts through community programs, and volunteering at a local food bank, soup kitchen, and rescue mission. She received the 2004 Peacemaker Award from the Clay City High School.
For more information contact the Committee on Interchurch Relations, c/o the Office of the General Secretary, Church of the Brethren General Board, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039.
Source: 6/28/2005 Newsline
Brethren Press bookstore will feature new Brethren books.
The Brethren Press bookstore at Annual Conference will sell four new publications from the press, and publications related to Bethany Theological Seminary's centennial, among many other books, music, CDs and videos, children's resources, Annual Conference theme items, and other resources. Several authors will sign their books.
"Another Way of Believing: A Brethren Theology" by Dale W. Brown ($18.95) heads the offerings of new Brethren books. Brown is a professor emeritus of Bethany Theological Seminary and a noted Anabaptist church historian and theologian. The book provides a thought-provoking study of the ways Brethren "do theology" by their everyday living. Brown will sign his new book and his classic "Biblical Pacifism" at 12:45-1:45 p.m. on Monday, July 4. He will be the main speaker at the Brethren Press Breakfast the same day.
"Kum Ba Yah: The Story of Brethren Camping" by Linda Logan ($9.95) tells the vision, the history, and the ministries of Brethren camping since outdoor ministries began some 80 years ago. The Outdoor Ministries Association collaborated in providing this history.
Two new Covenant Bible Studies will be available: "Romans: Church at the Crossroads" by Virginia Wiles ($6.59) and "Side by Side: Interpreting Dual Stories in the Bible" by Frank Ramirez ($6.95). (A third new edition in the Covenant series is scheduled to come out this fall: "Voices in the Book of Job" by Robert W. Neff.) Ramirez will sign the Covenant study and his 2004 book "The Meanest Man in Patrick County" at 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 3.
The four publications related to Bethany Seminary are "The Bethany Seminary Centennial History" ($19.95), "Hope Deferred: Heart-Healing Reflections on Reproductive Loss" by Bethany professor Dena Pence Frantz ($18), "The Something Else Lady" by Earle Fike Jr. about the life of Anna Mow ($12.95), and "Bethany Daze" anecdotes of life at the seminary by Fred Swartz ($7.95). Frantz, Fike, and Swartz will sign their books at 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 5.
Other book signings will be held by:
Tom Mullen, religion professor emeritus at Earlham School of Religion and the speaker at the Association of Brethren Caregivers dinner on Saturday, July 2, will sign his books including "Laughing Out Loud and Other Religious Experiences" ($10) and "Where Two or Three Are Gathered Someone Spills the Milk" ($10) at 12:45-1:45 p.m. on Sunday, July 3.
Brian McClaren, speaker at the Congregational Life Ministries dinner and other events (see story below), will sign his books including "A New Kind of Christian" ($21.95) and "Generous Orthodoxy" ($19.99) at 1:30-2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 5.
The new Brethren Press books may be ordered by calling 800-441-3712 at any time. Other publishers' books to be sold at the Conference bookstore will be available for order from Brethren Press until the end of July, or while supplies last. A shipping and handling fee will be added to each order.
Source: 6/28/2005 Newsline
Conference events offer continuing education credit.
Pastors and others have several opportunities to earn continuing education units (CEUs) in Peoria.
The Ministers' Association is offering .8 CEUs for its pre-Conference event "Sustaining the Life and Ministry of God's Servants" with leadership by Wendy Miller, director of the Summer Institute for Spiritual Formation and assistant professor of Spiritual Formation at Eastern Mennonite University. The ministers will meet Friday afternoon and evening, July 1, and Saturday morning, July 2. Childcare is available. Cost is $75 at the door, plus extra fees for childcare.
The General Board's Congregational Life Ministries is offering a series of seven sessions under the theme "Calling Disciples in a Changing World." The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership will give .1 CEU for each session, cost is $10. Three of the events on Tuesday, July 5, feature Brian McLaren, senior pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church in Spencerville, Md., and author of books on understanding and reaching out to postmodern people: an insight session on "Evangelism Through Community Building" at 12:30 p.m., the Congregational Life Ministries dinner on "Cultural Changes that Inform Our Evangelism Efforts" at 5 p.m., and an insight session on "Missional Christianity for the 21st Century" at 9 p.m.
The four other events in the series are an insight session on "Engaging Our Community with Jesus" with speaker Jeff Glass of the Congregational Life Teams staff at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, July 3; "Evangelism in a Muslim Context: The Nigerian Experience" with Toma Ragnjiya, former president of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), and Merv Keeney, the General Board’s executive director of Global Mission Partnerships, at 9 p.m. on July 3; "Your Connection with Evangelism Connections" with Kathryn Arrington-Love, associate director for Evangelism of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Douglas Wilson, associate for Presbyterian Evangelism for the Presbyterian Church USA, at 9 p.m. Monday, July 4; and an insight session on "Another Way of Living: Financial Stewardship as Ministry" with Dick Towner of the "Good $ense" ministry, at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 5. For more information contact Stan Dueck at 717-335-3226 or email@example.com; or Steve Gregory at 509-662-3211 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: 6/28/2005 Newsline
Agencies sponsor joint events and exhibit space.
For the first time, the Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC) and On Earth Peace are sharing a large exhibit area at Annual Conference. The two agencies and Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) also are joining in sponsoring several insight sessions.
The exhibit is planned to provide the latest information on the Church of the Brethren's caring ministries and peace activism. One feature offered at the exhibit are massages--stop by early to sign up for one of the limited number of these brief, seated massage sessions.
ABC and BBT are jointly sponsoring an insight session on "Caring for One's Self" at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, July 4. ABC and On Earth Peace are sponsoring insight sessions on "Listening Skills for Deacons" at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 3; and "Helping Soldiers Heal from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder" at 9 p.m. on Sunday, July 3, for congregations and others experiencing the return of soldiers who have been in active military conflict. "As a living peace church seeking to accompany all people traumatized by war, congregations can help these individuals re-integrate and begin to heal," said a flier from ABC.
ABC, BBT, and On Earth Peace each are offering several other insight sessions and holding meal events. ABC is sponsoring a variety of mutual help groups as well. BBT is sponsoring its annual Fitness Challenge 5K walk and run. For more information see the links to these organizations at www.brethren.org.
Source: 6/28/2005 Newsline
Brethren Witness/Washington Office offers coffee, recycling.
The General Board's Brethren Witness/Washington Office booth will be an interactive environmental experience where Conference-goers will be able to sample fair-trade coffee and drop off recycling.
Stop by the booth to drop off a variety of small electrical appliances for recycling, such as cell phones, batteries, electrical adaptors, battery chargers, or other electrical items that are disposable or no longer usable. Or sample Equal Exchange Coffee, a fair-trade product that is part of the office's Church of the Brethren Coffee Project. The coffee will be served at an insight session at 7:30 a.m. Monday, July 4, where participants will discuss how the church is helping to shape public policy over cups of Equal Exchange Coffee.
Other special events sponsored by the Brethren Witness/Washington Office include a prayer vigil for peace calling attention to places of violence including Sudan, Iraq, and the Middle East, at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 5, outside the Fulton Street exit of the civic center; and the Un-Luncheon at 12 noon on July 5, with Bill Galvin of the Center on Conscience and War (CCW). The Un-Luncheon is sponsored with Brethren Volunteer Service; participants are invited to give the amount they would have spent on lunch to the CCW.
For more information contact the Brethren Witness/Washington Office at 800-785-3246 or e-mail email@example.com.
Source: 6/28/2005 Newsline
Conference bits: Walks, bike rides, and other opportunities.
- A youth workcamp plans to accompany Don Vermilyea to Annual Conference on foot, arriving in Peoria on Saturday, July 2. Vermilyea is a Brethren Volunteer Service worker on a "Walk Across America," with the goal of walking to each Church of the Brethren congregation. The workcamp is sponsored by the General Board's Youth and Young Adult Ministries. A group of 12 youth and four adult advisors are walking with Vermilyea for a week, from June 26-July 2. The trip will take them to Camp Emmanuel in Astoria, Ill., and Canton (Ill.) Church of the Brethren along the way. Plans are for the group to be hosted as well by First Christian Church in Beardstown, First United Methodist Church in Havana, and Glasford United Methodist Church. The youth are raising money for the General Board's Global Food Crisis Fund and Emergency Disaster Fund. For more information about the Walk Across America see www.brethren.org/genbd/witness/Walk.html.
- Another member of the church who is planning a walk in Peoria is Richard Propes, a child rights activist and a member of Northview Church of the Brethren in Indianapolis. Propes, who was born with spina bifida, has traveled over 3,000 miles by wheelchair raising education, awareness, and funds on behalf of children and children's organizations, according to a release he sent to news outlets about the event. His "Tenderness Tour" also raises awareness of child abuse. Propes is planning a one-mile walk starting at 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 2, at Peoria's City Hall, and invites all who are interested to join him. As is his custom in each city that he visits, he will "wheel" the mile in honor of children who have died as a result of violence in the area. For more information see www.tendernesstour.com. Propes' story will be part of the "Alive '05" multimedia report on the ministries of the church on Sunday afternoon July 3.
- David Radcliff, of the New Community Project, plans to bicycle from Elgin, Ill., to Annual Conference on July 2 to call attention to environmental issues, alternatives to car travel, congressional debate on an energy bill, and proposals to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The ride is estimated at 150 miles. Radcliff has asked supporters to "sponsor" his ride, not with monetary gifts but by committing to take action related to energy conservation. For more information see www.newcommunityproject.org. In an unrelated event, a small group of staff of Annual Conference agencies plans to bicyle to Peoria from the Elgin area on June 29-30.
- The Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) is holding its annual "Prayer and Fasting Session" at Conference, on Sunday July 3 at 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. Other BRF events include a luncheon and a 9 p.m. insight session on Monday, July 4, and a dinner on Tuesday, July 5.
- Voices for an Open Spirit (VOS) is sponsoring a Hospitality Center at the Prairie Building across the street from the Peoria Civic Center, where visitors will find fresh bread and apple butter and a play center for children. A birthday party for VOS' third anniversary will be held on Tuesday, July 5, at 10 p.m. This year VOS will have a booth in the exhibit hall for the first time.
- The Brethren World Mission Breakfast at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, July 5, will focus on church planting in Brazil with speakers Greg and Karin Davidson Laszakovits, national representatives for the General Board in Brazil.
Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board, on every other Wednesday with other editions as needed. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Carol Gardner, Phil Jones, Jon Kobel, and Jewel McNary contributed to this report.