Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Brethren bits: Correction, end-of-the-year giving, job opening, more.
  • Correction: In the Newsline of Dec. 17, Bernie Sanders was incorrectly identified. He is a senator from Vermont.

  • In an end-of-the-year reminder, giving to Church of the Brethren ministries continues to be encouraged following the joining together of the former General Board, Association of Brethren Caregivers, and some Annual Conference administration into the new organization named "Church of the Brethren." The action has not eliminated or ended any Brethren ministries. The preferred method of support from congregations is still the check, now to be made out to Church of the Brethren and mailed to 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120, or by electronic deposit. Individuals also may give by check, credit card, or online at A note in the memo line of a check will direct the donation to Core Ministries, which supports the work of the Caring Ministries (formerly ABC) and ministries of the former General Board including many basic church ministries such as Congregational Life, Youth and Young Adult Ministries, Global Mission Partnerships, the Ministry Office, the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, Brethren Volunteer Service, Communications, and the Brethren Historical Library and Archives, among others. Donations also are received to the other three major relief and church-planting funds of the Church of the Brethren: the Emergency Disaster Fund, the Global Food Crisis Fund, and the Emerging Global Mission Fund. For more information call 800-323-8039 ext. 271.

  • The Church of the Brethren's Mid-Atlantic District seeks a fulltime district executive minister. The position is available immediately. The district includes 62 congregations in the states of Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. The district's congregations are urban, suburban, and rural, and its membership is theologically diverse. The district office is located in New Windsor, Md., at the Brethren Service Center some 40 miles northwest of Baltimore. District staff include the district executive and a fulltime administrative assistant. The preferred candidate is someone who understands the history, values, and workings of the Church of the Brethren. Responsibilities include serving as executive officer of the Leadership Team of the district; giving general oversight to the planning and implementation of ministries as directed by District Conference and the Leadership Team; providing linkages to congregations, the Mission and Ministry Board, and other denominational agencies; assisting congregations and pastors with placement; building and strengthening relationships with congregations and pastors; using mediation skills to work with congregations in conflict; articulating and promoting the vision of the district; facilitating and encouraging the calling of people to set-apart ministry and lay leadership in the church; promoting unity in the district. Qualifications include a clear commitment to Jesus Christ demonstrated by a vibrant spiritual life; commitment to New Testament values; commitment to Church of the Brethren faith and heritage; a Master of Divinity or equivalent theological degree preferred; a minimum of seven years of pastoral experience; communication, mediation, and conflict resolution skills; administrative, management, and budget skills; respect for theological diversity; flexibility in working with staff, volunteer, pastoral, and lay leadership. Apply by sending a letter of interest and resume via e-mail to Applicants are requested to contact three or four people to provide a letter of reference. A candidate profile must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. The application deadline is Feb. 20. Visit for more information about the district.

  • The Brethren Witness/Washington Office has issued an invitation for anyone who is interested to attend the upcoming Historic Peace Churches meeting, "Heeding God's Call: a Gathering on Peace," in Philadelphia, Pa., on Jan. 13-17. "We have a number of unclaimed seats that we had reserved for Brethren delegates," said the announcement. "We would like to...invite you and members of your faith communities to join hundreds of others who have already registered for this amazing Gathering in Philadelphia." E-mail for more information.

  • Professors at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., have written chapters in newly released books. Tara Hornbacker, associate professor of ministry formation, recently completed a chapter titled "Working with Technology and Distance Education in Theological Field Education" in the book "Preparing for Ministry: A Practical Guide to Theological Field Education" by George M. Hillman, Jr., published by Kregel Academic and Professional. "Anabaptist Theology," an article by Thomas Finger, scholar in residence at Bethany during 2008-09, appears in the new "Global Dictionary of Theology" published by Intervarsity Press. Finger's article is one of approximately 250 articles written by over 100 contributors.

  • In other news from Bethany, Hornbacker has received a grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion to examine and revise the seminary's Master of Divinity Review course. Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm, associate professor of preaching and worship, and Russell Haitch, associate professor of Christian education, also will work on the project. "Receiving the grant is the culmination of much of my work with the Wabash Center over the past two years in integration, curricular design, and assessment in theological education," Hornbacker said. "The review also will facilitate the work of the entire faculty as we consider new curricular objectives." The Master of Divinity Review course is the concluding course in the overall ministry formation process for the master of divinity degree. Seniors participate in a review by a faculty committee to assess their fulfillment of the objectives of the degree program.

  • The Church of the Brethren's Global Women's Project has made a year-end appeal for donations to its work with women seeking justice through grassroots projects in Rwanda, Nepal, Sudan, Palestine, and Uganda. Gifts may be made in honor of a loved one. Visit to download cards for those being honored.

  • The SERRV store at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., will be holding sales of holiday merchandise through the end of January (the store will be closed for inventory from Jan. 4-8). All holiday items will be 50 percent off. Also now through Feb. 15 customers may bring a nonperishable food item and receive 20 percent off their total purchase.

  • Dates have been announced for next year's Ecumenical Advocacy Days on March 13-16, 2009, in Washington, D.C. The Brethren Witness/Washington Office is inviting Brethren to take part in this gathering on the theme, "Enough for All Creation" (John 10:10). Go to for more information or contact the Brethren Witness/Washington Office at or 800-785-3246.

  • The Death Row Support Project (DRSP) celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. A project of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, DRSP invites people to respond to Jesus' call to visit those in prison by writing letters to individuals who have been sentenced to death across the US. Like many other Brethren projects, DRSP has become an ecumenical effort: about 300 Brethren have been involved and over 4,000 people from around the world have participated in reaching out to more than 3,000 on death row. Visit for more information or e-mail coordinator Rachel Gross at

  • Parker Ford Church of the Brethren in Pottstown, Pa., recently recognized their pastor and his wife for longterm contributions to the congregation. Robert and Rose Ella Latshaw were honored for four decades of dedicated service. They have served the congregation since 1968, according to an article in the "Spring Ford Reporter" newspaper.

  • Among churches featured on the Botetourt County (Va.) Historical Society's 2009 historical calendars are two Brethren congregations: Troutville (Va.) Church of the Brethren and Cloverdale (Va.) Church of the Brethren. The calendar is titled "Historical Churches of Botetourt."

  • Two of three marshalls for the Floyd (Va.) Christmas Parade were leaders in the Church of the Brethren, according to a report in "Southwest Virginia Today." Dale Bowman and Vernon Baker were among the marshalls. Bowman is retired as pastor of Copper Hill Church of the Brethren, and continues in free ministry at Parkway Church of the Brethren. Baker is a deacon at Topeco Church of the Brethren and is moderator for the Church of the Brethren's Virlina District.

  • Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., has announced a new "Triple Guarantee": financial aid, graduate within four years, and a job or graduate school within six months of graduation. The guarantee is Manchester's response to making college accessible and affordable in difficult times, according to a release from the school. President Jo Young Switzer announced the guarantee in a press conference on Dec. 16: Financial aid for all fulltime students, and full tuition for academically strong low-income students who live in Indiana; graduation within four years for all fulltime students or receive free tuition for credits needed to graduate in five years; and a job or post-graduate school within six months of graduation, or return for a full year tuition-free. "These are not 'stretch' goals" for Manchester," the release said. "More than 85 percent of Manchester graduates already finish within four years...a rate far exceeding Indiana state universities.... More than 97 percent have jobs or are in graduate school within six months of receiving their diplomas." The guarantees require students to maintain good academic and disciplinary standing and to meet financial aid filing and payment deadlines. To qualify for full tuition, students also must qualify for Indiana and federal Pell grant funds. Go to for more information.

  • Juniata Voices, a yearly anthology of lectures, articles, and presentations given by Juniata College faculty and visiting speakers, has released its 2008 edition featuring contributions from Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Galway Kinnell, "New York Times" journalist Cornelia Dean, and Andrew Murray, professor emeritus of peace and conflict studies. Go to

  • The January issue of "Brethren Voices" features an interview with Peggy Reiff Miller of Milford, Ind., about seagoing cowboys who between 1945-47 accompanied livestock to war-torn countries following World War II. Brethren Voices is a community television program produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren. More than 7,000 seagoing cowboys served under the partnership of the Brethren Service Committee and the UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. Dan West was the "idea man" for this project, inspiring the Heifer Project that soon became an ecumenical program involving many denominations. Miller shares photographs and stories she obtained from many of the seagoing cowboys during seven years of research. Brethren Voices programs are available for $8. E-mail to contact producer Ed Groff.

  • Two ecumenical groups that include the Church of the Brethren as a member have joined religious leaders around the world in calling for a cease fire between Israel and Gaza. Churches for Middle East Peace is urging Christians to call on the United States to exercise leadership to immediately end the violence, restore the cease fire, and lift the blockade of Gaza. As the death toll in Gaza exceeded 350 in the fourth day of violence yesterday, NCC general secretary Michael Kinnamon issued a prayer and a plea to God to "make war cease." Also yesterday, patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem issued a statement expressing "deep concern, regret, and shock." Following are portions of Kinnamon's prayer: "God of all creation, you who are so bound to humankind that you feel the joys that complete us and the sorrows that rend us; God of Abraham, you who have made covenant with our ancestors and called us to be special instruments of your peace; we come to you in pain. You have commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves; yet throughout our world we see horrifying examples of our failure to love as you command.... Forgive us for how we turn away from the suffering of others. Help us to face their agony so that you might use us as instruments of your peace."

  • Church World Service (CWS) is promoting its annual alternative gifts catalogue. Go to to find the "Best Gifts" catalogue online, where gifts may be browsed by type or price. Sample gifts include a blanket for $10, a goat for $112, and an Emergency Food Package for $72.

  • Religions for Peace is celebrating the Cluster Munitions Treaty signed by 100 governments on Dec. 3, calling it "the most significant disarmament and humanitarian treaty of the decade." In a release, the organization said, "The treaty bans the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of cluster munitions, committing each government to provide victim assistance and to clear contaminated land." The organization continues to urge each government to ratify the treaty so that it becomes legally binding, and called on governments that have not yet signed to do so. The Church of the Brethren is a member of Religions for Peace.

  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has announced a delegation to Iraq on April 18-May 2. The delegation will be based in Suleimaniya, in the Kurdish north of Iraq, and will meet with representatives of nongovernmental organizations, human rights groups, displaced people, government officials, and others to gain perspective on the challenges facing people in northern Iraq and the impact of violence in other areas of Iraq and along the border. CPT has had a presence in Iraq since Oct. 2002. The fundraising expectation is $3,500, which includes roundtrip airfare from a US or Canadian city. Apply at or contact CPT at or 773-277-0253. Applications are due March 2.

  • "Lectern Resource," published by Logos Productions, features Frank Ramirez as the writer for 2009. Ramirez is pastor of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and the author of several books published by Brethren Press, most recently "Brethren Brush with Greatness." Ramirez provides a children's story and an offering message for each Sunday, along with several other worship resources including a Call to Worship, Prayer of Confession, Responsorial Psalm, and Benediction. The resources are built around the Year B Revised Common Lectionary scriptures, and are keyed to sermons written by William H. Willimon, available through another Logos publication. Go to or call 800-328-0200.

  • "Springs of Living Water-Christ-Centered Church Renewal" by David S. Young has been published by Herald Press. Young is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren and author of "Servant Leadership for Church Renewal." The book is a manual to help a church cultivate its spiritual life and focus efforts in ministries that express its identity and call, through a renewal team trained to get the congregation involved and to build on the church's strengths. Young has used the model in Brethren, American Baptist, and Mennonite congregations.

  • Three new books feature the journals of the Bucher brothers--Christian, Jacob, and George--who lived in the Lebanon, Pa., area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and were influential among Brethren there. The books by Gladys Sowers are published by Mast-hof Press: "Christian Bucher, Elder, Church of the Brethren: His Journals, Pastoral, and Genealogical Records, Jan. 1851 to June 1907," "Jacob Bucher: His Journals and Agricultural Transactions, Jan. 1858 to July 1877," and "George Bucher, Elder, Church of the Brethren: His Journals and Pastoral Records, Feb. 1862 to Sept. 1908."
Source: 12/31/2008 Newsline

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