Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Brethren bits: Correction, remembrance, Annual Conference, more.
  • Correction: The location given for Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in the Newsline Extra of Feb. 11 was incorrect. AMBS is located in Elkhart, Ind.

  • Kenneth E. McDowell, 93, of Hanover, Pa., died on Feb. 13. He was a former executive of the World Ministries Commission of the Church of the Brethren General Board, a former mission worker in India, and also had been an interim general secretary for the Church of the Brethren, among other denominational appointments. McDowell retired in 1980 after having given 27 years of service to the church. He began working for the General Board in 1953 when he served four years as secretary, treasurer, and field secretary of the India mission. On his return from India he worked for nine years as assistant treasurer in the Finance Commission of the General Board. In 1966 he was appointed director of material aid services in the Brethren Service Commission, with responsibility for a network of Church World Service (CWS) collection and processing centers operated by the Church of the Brethren on behalf of CWS, as well as oversight of SERRV and processing and shipping of supplies for Interchurch Medical Assistance. After a reorganization of the board’s programs in 1968, community development consultant and director of disaster response were added to his job responsibilities. From Oct. 1977 through Dec. 1979 he headed the General Board’s World Ministries Commission, then worked as a consultant on special projects. In retirement, he served as interim executive for World Ministries from the end of 1984 through the first months of 1985, and as interim general secretary for some months in 1986. During his tenure with the General Board, he highlighted ecumenical work with organizations such as CWS and the National Council of Churches, and is credited with continuing development of the Brethren Service Center. He also helped develop the Lafiya rural health program in Nigeria and the Church of the Brethren Disaster Network. Born on June 21, 1915, in Johnstown, Pa., he was the son of Harry R. Sr. and Mary Jane Howard McDowell. He was married to Edythe Elizabeth Bowman McDowell, his wife of 67 years, on Aug. 14, 1941. He held degrees from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., and Bethany Theological Seminary. He was an ordained minister and early in his career pastored Blue Ridge (Va.) Church of the Brethren. While attending seminary, he served as business manager of CROP, Chicago. Previous employment included accounting for Rice and Rice, CPAs, in Altoona, Pa., and a term as office manager for Insurance Premium Finance Co. in Huntingdon, Pa. He is survived by his wife, Edythe, daughter Susan E. Leader, sons and daughters-in-law Robert Neil and Ruth McDowell, David Bowman and Linda McDowell, Kenneth Michael and Suzanne Matchett McDowell, six grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Memorial gifts are received to Church World Service and Heifer International. Online condolences may be made to the family at

  • Delegates to the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in San Diego on June 26-30 are requested to download the Information Packet giving details about the event from the Annual Conference website. "In an effort to save time and money this year, we are offering the Information Packet online at," said an announcement from the Annual Conference Office. The same Information Packet on CD was sent to each Church of the Brethren congregation in mid-February and should be available to delegates as well. "In the event that you do not have Internet access, or have trouble accessing the links, please contact our office and we will send you the packet," said the announcement. Contact Dana Weaver at or 800-688-5186.

  • Lerry Fogle, conference executive director for the Church of the Brethren, has been nominated to serve on the Religious Conference Management Association (RCMA) board of Directors for a two-year term. He has been a member of the organization for seven years. RCMA, a multifaith, nonprofit, international association composed exclusively of religious meeting professionals, was established in 1972 and represents over 1,000 diverse religious organizations. The Church of the Brethren was one of the early members. Fogle is based at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., and is a member of Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren.

  • Some guidelines for participation in the 2010 National Youth Conference (NYC) have been released by the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry. The guidelines are intended to help churches and youth groups prepare for the conference that will take place on July 17-22, 2010, at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. The guidelines are: all youth who have completed ninth grade through one year of college (at the time of NYC) are eligible to attend, and participants and churches that wish to request an exception to these age guidelines are asked to consult with the NYC staff; all youth must be accompanied by an adult advisor; congregations must send at least one advisor for every seven youth; churches that are sending female youth are requested to send a female advisor, churches that are sending male youth are requested to send a male advisor; all adult advisors must be a minimum of 22 years of age; children of participants, advisors, and staff are not permitted at NYC. Contact for more information or questions about NYC 2010.

  • The Critical Response Childcare team has completed its response to the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 in which 50 people were killed near Buffalo, N.Y. The Critical Response Childcare Team is a part of the Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) ministry of the Church of the Brethren. The team closed out its work on Feb. 21. It included eight trained CDS volunteers. Seven of the eight live locally in the Buffalo area, including team leaders Barb and Don Weaver. "All gave up personal commitments to work with children" of families affected by the disaster, reported CDS director Judy Bezon. The work of the Weavers included developing a relationship with the local Red Cross, which facilitated communication, Bezon added. The childcare was provided in a hotel suite close to where the families of crash victims gathered. "Some days there were children throughout the day, others days there were up to 16 children all at once for over three hours," Bezon said. The Critical Response Childcare Team also stayed on to care for children during memorial services and calling hours, as requested by the parents.

  • Recent work of the Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources program has included a shipment of relief supplies to Iraqi refugees, and supplies bound for Zimbabwe. The program processes, warehouses, and ships relief supplies on behalf of a number of ecumenical partners, working out of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The shipment of relief supplies for Iraqi refugees living in Syria was made on behalf of Church World Service and International Orthodox Christian Charities, and included one 40-foot container of hygiene kits and toothpaste. Ten pallets of health and medical supplies, blankets, and children's items were shipped to Zimbabwe on behalf of Global Assistance.

  • Registration is now open for Regional Deacon Trainings sponsored by the Caring Ministries of the Church of the Brethren. Two events are offered this spring for deacons and other congregational caregivers. The first will be held at Pinecrest Community in Mt. Morris, Ill., on May 2, followed by a similar session at the Lebanon Valley Brethren Home in Palmyra, Pa., on May 16. The trainings will include workshops and other presentations on topics of deacon spirituality, the art of listening, offering support in times of grief and loss, and what it means to be called as a deacon. Go to for online registration or download a paper registration form from the website. For more information contact Donna Hillcoat, Director of Deacon Ministry, at or 800-323-8039.

  • Youth Roundtable, one of the Church of the Brethren’s regional youth conferences, will be held at Bridgewater (Va.) College on March 20-22. Cost is $40. Cindy Laprade Lattimer will be the guest speaker, with entertainment by Mutual Kumquat. The theme will be "You Are a Knight in the Kingdom of God!" from Ephesians 6:10-11. E-mail for details.

  • The New Windsor Conference Center has entered into a partnership with The Arc of Carroll County, Md., for a work force training program providing education, training, and work experience to individuals with developmental disabilities. The conference center is located at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The goal of the new program is to provide participants with skills and training enabling them to obtain paid employment. The program began on Feb. 2, with classroom training conducted in the Blue Ridge Building by Arc staff, and hands-on training provided by the housekeeping staff at the New Windsor Conference Center.

  • Nokesville (Va.) Church of the Brethren has hosted its 51st Community Sewing Day, according to a report on "For the past 51 years, Community Sewing Day at the Nokesville Church of the Brethren has been a place to meet new friends and spend time together while doing a project to help others," the northern Virginia news site reported. This year’s Community Sewing Day brought together about 30 women from various churches and civic groups to make lap robes for wheelchair patients.

  • Walnut Church of the Brethren has been sponsoring the Argos (Ind.) Swap Shop for two years, in a unique venture that helps clothe the needy, according to a report by WNDU-TV of South Bend. "People can bring in their donations and swap them for other items in the store," the report said. "The store also believes that if you can't donate, don't worry. They want to help out those in need during tough times."

  • A "Letters From Dad" program at Donnels Creek Church of the Brethren in Springfield, Ohio, hopes to help men express their love, and make it more likely for wives and children to know what is on the minds and hearts of husbands and fathers, according to an article in the Springfield "News-Sun." The program is part of the church’s 200th anniversary celebration.

  • Pastor Robert Dunlap of Winter Park (Fla.) Church of the Brethren will be part of a crusade March 3-6 at Angola Prison, the largest prison farm in the country, located in Louisiana. The crusade will help train 157 inmate preachers to be pastors and ministers to over 5,000 inmates, according to the Atlantic Southeast District newsletter. "Please keep this ministry in your prayers," the district asked.

  • The Puerto Rico Region of Atlantic Southeast District held a pastor’s and leader’s retreat on Nov. 21, 2008, with 30 people present. Ana Mildred Diaz spoke on "Pastors and the Burnout Syndrome" and Luis Filipa spoke on the theme, "Abundant Life." The Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries donated $1,700 to the event, and the district’s Middlekauf Bequest Funds gave $750, according to the district newsletter.

  • The Palms Estates of Highlands County in Lorida, Fla., and the Palms of Sebring, Fla.--two Church of the Brethren retirement communities in Atlantic Southeast District--are celebrating their 50th anniversary. The effort was started as the Lorida Retirement Homes in 1958, created by the congregations of Lorida, Sunnyland, and Sebring. The district (then the District of Florida, Georgia, and Puerto Rico) in 1959 took action to support the effort. The Sebring property was purchased in 1961. Lester Kesselring, Palms historian, is providing articles about the history of the communities in the district newsletter.

  • McPherson (Kan.) College has been honored by the Corporation for National and Community Service with a place on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. "McPherson College is pleased to be recognized for the service rendered by students, with the support of many faculty and staff, during the past year," said president Ron Hovis. "Service opportunities are integrated into our curriculum and co-curricular activities. We believe that service is an important part of developing whole persons." During the 2007-08 academic year, McPherson students gave 7,490 hours of service in the local community, according to a release from the college. Launched in 2006, the Community Service Honor Roll is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement.

  • The National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program has begun offering weekly e-mail messages for the season of Lent, according to an announcement from assistant director Jordan Blevins, who is a member of the Church of the Brethren. "This year, we invite you to include as part of your Lenten practices to consider your impact upon God's Creation--and what steps you can take in your own life to bring yourself back into relationship with it," Blevins said. Each Sunday, the program will send an e-mail message to subscribers including the lectionary text, a reflection, study questions, and suggestions for daily actions. Go to or contact for more information.
Source: 2/25/2009 Newsline

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