Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Listening process will help reshape Brethren Witness program.

A "listening process" has been announced to help reshape the Brethren Witness program, following the closing of the former Brethren Witness/Washington Office. The process will include an online survey, personal interviews with church leaders and related peace and justice organizations, and the welcoming of letters, e-mails, and other communications with opinions, feedback, and suggestions for future programming.

"In order to develop and shape an interactive Brethren Witness program for the denomination," said the announcement from Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships, "pastors, church members, Brethren-related organizations, and ecumenical partners are all invited into a listening process that will help establish priorities and direction for the program."

The announcement listed questions that will help guide the process, including "How can the unique voice of the Brethren be heard beyond our denomination?" and "How can we have a ‘big voice’ for peace and justice with our limited resources?"

The online survey will be available from June 20-Aug. 20 at on the Church of the Brethren website. Other communications may be addressed to Jay Wittmeyer, Executive Director of Global Mission Partnerships, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; or 800-323-8039 ext. 226.

In addition, Wittmeyer and other denominational staff will interview key church leaders and related peace and justice organizations including current and past Annual Conference leaders, district executives, and other denominational leaders. The interviews will be concluded by the beginning of September.

After receiving responses, Global Mission Partnerships in consultation with the Church of the Brethren’s executive leadership will propose a Brethren Witness initiative based on the responses and insight gained through the process. Findings are to be posted on in late September.

Source: 6/17/2009 Newsline
Caring Ministries programs to work from within Congregational Life.

Effective July 1, the programs of the Church of the Brethren's Caring Ministries--including older adult, family life (child protection), disabilities, and deacon ministries--will work from within the Congregational Life Ministries, according to an announcement from general secretary Stan Noffsinger.

"The former Association of Brethren Caregivers continues to refine its place in the new Church of the Brethren structure," the announcement said. "This change has been prompted by the announcement of Kathy Reid's resignation as executive director of Caring Ministries and associate general secretary of Ministry and Program of the Church of the Brethren, and a decision not to fill that position. This restructuring allows for new directions and cares for the leadership for both Caring Ministries and Congregational Life Ministries areas."

The move also is intended to align generational ministries from children through youth, young adults, families, and older adults in one ministry oversight area, and to integrate deacon and disabilities ministries with the other focuses of Congregational Life Ministries: transforming congregational practices, spiritual life and discipleship, intercultural ministries, church planting, and evangelism. "Together these ministries will strengthen the collaborative efforts of the Church of the Brethren focused on spiritual growth and congregational health," the announcement said.

Other responsibilities of Caring Ministries, including National Older Adult Conference and the publication "Caregiving," will continue. One major program of Caring Ministries, the Health Education and Research Fund, will be administered from the General Secretary's office. This fund provides nursing scholarships to individuals and grants for educating nursing staffs of Fellowship of Brethren Homes member communities.

"A key component of the vision of the Association of Brethren Caregivers--to seek and secure the well-being of all people--can be seen in the newly restructured ministry area which is organized for ministry and mission in this new century," Reid commented.

"Congregational Life and Caring Ministries staff are excited about this new configuration," said Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries. "We are envisioning ways that this closer working relationship will provide significant leadership toward greater spiritual health and vitality for the Church of the Brethren."

Source: 6/17/2009 Newsline
Emergency Disaster Fund issues four grants for international work.

The Church of the Brethren's Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) recently issued four grants for international relief efforts following disasters. The four grants total $88,000.

A grant of $40,000 responds to a Church World Service (CWS) appeal for assistance in Myanmar. This is the first grant from the EDF supporting the long-term recovery phase following Cyclone Nargis, which struck Myanmar in May 2008. The grant funds will assist with dry season agricultural programs, training for disaster preparedness, school construction, and a "season long" employment plan for landless families.

An allocation of $25,000 will go to a CWS appeal for a food crisis in Afghanistan following a decade of severe drought, which has worsened in the past three years. The money will help provide immediate assistance, including education for farmers, seeds, clean water, and emergency food packets.

A grant of $15,000 will go to a CWS appeal for aid to displaced people in Sri Lanka. Following the government's recently declared victory in a very long and violent civil conflict, thousands of displaced people including great numbers of children are in dire need of assistance, the grant request said. The grant from the Church of the Brethren will support work by CWS and Action by Churches Together, primarily focusing on emergency food aid, non-food items, and educational support for school-age children.

The sum of $8,000 will respond to a CWS appeal for Pakistan where more than 500,000 people have fled their homes because of military conflicts between Pakistani forces and the Taliban. The grant will support relief programs aimed at providing food packages and emergency shelter kits.

Source: 6/17/2009 Newsline
Brethren bits: Correction, remembrances, job openings, more.
  • Correction: A song by Shawn Kirchner was incorrectly named in Newsline on June 3, in a "Brethren bits" note about Brethren Voices. The correct title is, "When Love Leads."

  • Ellen Edmister Cunningham of Fresno, Calif., a former Church of the Brethren missionary in China and India, died on April 23 at age 102. She and her late husband, E. Lloyd Cunningham, responded to a call for missionaries to go to China in 1938. After unrest developed in China they were in the Philippines for language study when Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941. Along with more than 400 other civilians they and their young son, Larry, were in a Japanese internment camp from 1941-45. The story of the internment experience has been published in "Brethren Life and Thought." Coming home after liberation in 1945, the Cunninghams returned to China in 1947 only to be forced out by the communists in 1949. While in Hong Kong, awaiting passage home, they received word that the mission field in India needed a doctor so the family, with two children by then, went on to India to work for the church’s mission there. Cunningham was born on Jan. 22, 1907. For the past 27 years she lived at San Joaquin Gardens in Fresno, Calif.

  • James K. Garber, 83, a former member of the executive staff of the Church of the Brethren General Board, died June 9 at Timbercrest Healthcare in North Manchester, Ind. From 1983-86 he served as executive for the General Board’s Human Resources department. He also worked at Manchester College for 30 years, beginning as director of Alumni Affairs in 1962, then moving to the post of director of Public Relations and Development through 1984, and again serving as director of Development from 1987 to his retirement in 1994. After retirement, he directed community fundraising projects including the Manchester Community Pool, library, and Sports Complex. He also served on the Board of Directors of Timbercrest, the North Manchester Library--where he served two terms as president, and the Shepherd's Center. He was a past president of the North Manchester Chamber of Commerce, and was named Distinguished Citizen of the Year in 1997-98. In earlier years, he worked at Garbers Inc., the family business, and was assistant director of placement for Indiana University’s Bureau of Personnel Relations. He was born in Elkhart, Ind., on May 1, 1926, to Samuel H. and Florence (Kulp) Garber. He married Helen Anne Winger in 1947. He was a 1950 graduate of Manchester College, and in 1962 earned a master of business administration from Indiana University in Bloomington. He was interviewed about his conscientious objection and participation in Civilian Public Service during World War II in a 1990 "Messenger," where he recalled that his conviction against violence began when as a young boy he threw his toy guns in the waste can. "My mother told the pastor about that and he preached a sermon about me," Garber remembered. He is survived by his wife, Helen Anne Garber; four children, Gloria Jan Garber of Rockville, Md., Timothy James (Deborah Nelson) Garber of Elgin, Ill., Christopher Wayne (Kathy) Garber and Julie Lynne Garber, both of North Manchester; four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. A memorial service was held on June 13. Memorial gifts are received to the Manchester College Peace Studies program.

  • Jay M. Witman, 56, Pennsylvania auctioneer who helped begin two Church of the Brethren disaster relief auctions, died at his home in Manheim, Pa., on June 7. He co-founded the Atlantic Northeast District Disaster Relief Auction in 1977, and assisted in establishing a similar auction in Shenandoah District in 1994. He started his career as an auctioneer in 1971 with Wilbur H. Hosler; in 1973 cofounded Hat and Gavel Auction Co. in Lititz, Pa.; was a partner in J. Omar Landis Auction Service of Ephrata, Pa.; and was founder and owner of Witman Auctioneers, Inc. and Tents for You in Manheim. He also sold for several automobile auctions, participated in specialty auctions including the Dutchland Toy Auction, was the first to hold a Winross collectable auction, and conducted many public sales. His volunteer work also included service with the Mennonite Central Committee Disaster Relief Auction in Harrisburg, Pa., and at the Sarasota (Fla.) Christian School. Born in Lancaster, Pa., he was the son of the late Amos B. and Anna Mary Johns Witman, and following his father’s death, Earl and Marian Minnich were instrumental in raising him. In 1970, he graduated at the top of his class from Reppert School of Auctioneering in Indiana, and also studied real estate appraising at Stevens Trade School in Lancaster. He served as a Northeast Advisory Board Member for the former Lititz Springs Commonwealth National Bank, was a past member of the Lancaster and Manheim Chambers of Commerce, was a presiding president of the Manheim Historical Society, and a member of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. He was a member of White Oak Church of the Brethren in Manheim, and was instrumental in organizing the Manheim Area Prayer Breakfast. A funeral was held June 14. Memorials are received to Gideons International or Bible Helps.

  • On July 6, Denise Kettering will begin a one-year internship in the Brethren Historical Library and Archives at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. She has completed a doctorate in religious studies at the University of Iowa, with a focus on women in 17th-century Pietism. She grew up in Ashland, Ohio, and previously served a one-year internship in the archives in 2002-03.

  • The New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center has welcomed Ed and Betty Runion from Markle, Ind., as hosts for the Old Main building for the months of May and June. Brethren Volunteer Service workers Larry and Elaine Balliet have been first-time hosts in Windsor Hall for May, June, and July. The Balliets most recently worked at the Bahamas Methodist Habitat on Eleuthera, where they served as financial assistant and development coordinator.

  • The Gather ’Round curriculum, a project of Brethren Press and Mennonite Publishing Network, is accepting applications for a managing editor. This fulltime position carries responsibility to copy edit and proofread, manage the curriculum production process, and secure and maintain contracts and permissions. Qualifications include excellent editorial and computer technology skills, ability to organize projects and manage details, ability to operate well in a collaborative environment, grounding in Church of the Brethren or Mennonite beliefs and practices, with marketing experience a plus. A bachelor’s degree is required; a graduate degree in a related field is preferred. Location is open, with a preference for the General Offices location in Elgin, Ill. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. The start date is Aug. 17, or earlier. The full position description will be available soon at To apply, send a letter of application and resume to Anna Speicher, Project Director and Senior Editor, Gather ’Round Curriculum, at or 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.

  • The Gather ’Round curriculum, a project of Brethren Press and Mennonite Publishing Network, is accepting applications for a content editor. This contract position will work closely with curriculum writers, and edit manuscripts in accordance with editorial and production guidelines. Qualifications include excellent editorial and writing skills, understanding of faith formation and developmental stages, the ability to operate well in a collaborative environment, and grounding in Church of the Brethren or Mennonite beliefs and practices. A bachelor’s degree is required; a graduate degree in theology or education is preferred. Location is open. Employment will begin with attendance at a writers’ conference on Sept. 27-Oct. 2. The full position description will be available soon at To apply, send a letter of application and resume to Anna Speicher, Project Director and Senior Editor, Gather ’Round Curriculum, at or 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.

  • The Church of the Brethren has announced an opening for a shared position in Nigeria: teacher of peace and reconciliation at Kulp Bible College, and peace and reconciliation worker with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Location is Kulp Bible College (KBC) in Kwarhi, Adamawa State, in a rural area near the town of Mubi in northeast Nigeria close to the Cameroon border. KBC is operated by EYN with the primary function to train leaders for the rapidly-growing Nigerian church, and provides training for 180 students annually in multi-year certificate or degree programs. This fulltime salaried position is for a period of two years, with a possible opportunity for renewal. It can be divided between two individuals. Married couples are encouraged to apply. The application deadline is July 15, or until filled. Responsibilities are to teach peace and reconciliation classes including conflict resolution and self care for those in conflict situations; conduct training and workshops for faculty and staff as requested; work to develop and expand the existing EYN Peace and Reconciliation program through the denominational offices located near KBC, including to conduct workshops for church leadership, create and implement programs related to peace and reconciliation and conflict resolution, and related tasks. The position is accountable to the Principal of KBC and the Director of Peace and Reconciliation for EYN, and will be a shared position between both programs. Qualifications include a passion for helping others to realize their full potential through peace and reconciliation; commitment to Christian beliefs and lifestyle; ability to work under leadership in another cultural setting; ability to adapt and live with openness in another cultural setting without judgment or personal agenda; ability to learn the Hausa language; Church of the Brethren membership preferred. Required education and experience include a masters degree or higher in peace and reconciliation, conflict mediation, or a related field. Other degree disciplines will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Salary will reflect applicant’s education and experience. Housing, transportation costs, and a vehicle will be provided. Medical and other insurance will be provided for the applicant and his or her family members. Contact the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694; or 800-323-8039 ext. 258.

  • Spanish translators are needed for the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in San Diego, Calif., on June 26-30. "Looking for a unique volunteer opportunity at Annual Conference? Serve as a Spanish translator during the business sessions and worship services," said an invitation from Spanish translation coordinator Nadine Monn. Those who may be able to help provide this service for Hispanic church members from Puerto Rico and the US are invited to contact Monn at

  • Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger has signed on to a letter to President Obama urging the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate US-sponsored torture that occurred post-9/11. The letter has been written through the work of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT). The letter says, in part: "As senior religious leaders in the United States, we write to give voice to the compelling need for a comprehensive investigation into US-sponsored torture since 9/11. We believe the most credible way to conduct such an investigation is by establishing an independent, non-partisan Commission of Inquiry. Such a Commission is necessary to: (1) uncover the whole truth about US torture policies and practices; (2) mobilize a national consensus, and (3) build support for the requisite safeguards to ensure that US-sponsored torture never happens again.... Our nation can guarantee the abolition of torture only if and when we put in place safeguards to prevent once and for all the future twisting and abrogation of the existing laws that prohibit torture." The letter also acknowledged that "recent polls show that many people of faith have been persuaded that the use of torture can be justified in some situations.... We accept our responsibility to bear bold and compelling witness to the sanctity of the divine image in all people and to the fact that torture in every instance defiles and desecrates this divine image."

  • Children’s Disaster Services is offering workshops in late summer and fall: on Aug. 10-11 at Native American Ministry United Methodist Church in Milwaukee, Wis. (contact coordinator Lorna Jost at 605-692-3390); on Oct. 9-10 at McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren (contact coordinator Elva Jean Naylor at 620-241-3123); and on Nov. 6-7 at Wesley Freedom United Methodist Church in Sykesville, Md. (contact coordinator Mary K Bunting at 410-552-1142). The $45 registration fee includes meals, curriculum, and one overnight stay ($55 for late registration mailed less than three weeks before the workshop begins). Workshops are limited to 25 people. The workshops are intended for prospective volunteers with Children’s Disaster Services, to receive training to work with children and families following disaster situations in the US. For more information contact Children's Disaster Services, 800-451-4407 ext. 5.

  • A donor to Heifer International has offered $4,000 for scholarships to help four young people participate in the September tour to Armenia and Georgia co-sponsored by Heifer and the Church of the Brethren. Applications must be made by mid-August, according to Jan West Schrock who will be co-leading the event along with Kathleen Campanella from the Brethren Service Center staff. For more information contact Schrock at 207-878-6846.

  • A 10-day workshop in Chalmette, La., beginning on May 26, has trained 16 new Brethren Disaster Ministries project leaders. Zach Wolgemuth, associate director of Brethren Disaster Ministries, traveled to Louisiana to help lead the workshop.

  • A meeting of the "Brethren Digital Archives" group was held June 3 at the Brethren Historical Library and Archives in Elgin, Ill. This committee is working on a project to digitize Brethren periodicals such as "Messenger," "Gospel Messenger," "Gospel Visitor," and others.

  • Ministry Summer Service orientation took place at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., May 30-June 4. Eleven interns will participate in the program this summer, at a variety of settings including Harrisburg and Palmyra, Pa.; Pleasant Dale and Bremen, Ind.; Broadfording, Md.; York Center, Ill.; and San Diego, Calif. The Youth Peace Travel Team also participated in the orientation, which was organized by the Ministry Office.

  • Good Shepherd Church of the Brethren in Springfield, Mo., held its final worship service on Sunday, June 7, according to an announcement in the "News-Leader" newspaper. The church also held a "Celebration of the Life of Good Shepherd Church of the Brethren" on that Saturday.

  • McPherson (Kan.) College has announced recipients of its 2009 Citation of Merit Award recognizing lifetime achievements of outstanding alumni: Church of the Brethren pastor Sonja Sherfy Griffith, of First Central Church of the Brethren in Kansas City, who also has held various positions in nursing including staff development coordinator at the Minneapolis Health Department and OB/GYN instructor at St. Olaf College; G. Eddie Ball, owner and operator of Ball & Son funeral home until his retirement in 1995, and a member of the United Methodist Church; and Gene Elliott, employed at Farmer’s Alliance until 1966 and then president of Elliott Insurance Management Inc., until retirement in 2005, and a member of the Nazarene Church.

  • Alumni Award honorees at Manchester College include Church of the Brethren general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger (class of 1976), along with William N. Harper (’66) of Scottsdale, Ariz.; Peter M. Michael (’74) of Indianapolis, Ind.; and Nancy Walker (’76) of Wabash, Ind.

  • Manchester College faculty, former staff, and alumni have contributed to a new Peace, Justice, and Security Studies curriculum guide. The publication is described as "fully revised in its seventh edition to reflect the realities of post-September 11." The four co-editors include Julie Garber, a former editor at Brethren Press who has worked with the Plowshares cooperative of Manchester and two other peace church colleges in Indiana; and Tim McElwee, formerly of the Manchester peace studies department and a former director of the Church of the Brethren’s Washington Office. Contributors include Manchester faculty and alumni Katy Gray Brown (peace studies), Steve Naragon (philosophy), Ken Brown (retired peace studies), G. John Ikenberry, and Robert Johansen.

  • Thomas R. Kepple, president of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., has been named chair of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, effective July 1, for the 2009-10 academic year. He will oversee a board comprising 22 college and university presidents.

  • In an update from Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), co-director Carol Rose reports that "CPT's first quarter income this year from individuals and congregations is ahead of what we'd expected, but we're clearly not out of the woods yet." CPT has re-instituted work in Al Khalil/Hebron, in the Middle East, and postponed closure of its work in Iraq. "We are still unable to welcome new, stipended workers for teams in the field. But with the help of donors’ ongoing generosity, we hope to be able to end that freeze," she said. The CPT office in Chicago also is moving to a new location and is seeking donated labor to make repairs and clean up the property, donations of materials, and interest-free loans of $5,000 or more to "reduce or eliminate the need for a commercial loan."

  • Members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) in central Pennsylvania--the State College Friends Meeting--are inviting Brethren to join them in support of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund. The fund would receive the tax payments of conscientious objector tax payers, and would be disbursed only to non-military government programs--diverting tax dollars to "alternative service." A bill to establish the fund was recently reintroduced in Congress as HR 2085, by a group of 11 co-sponsors among the House representatives. An online link offers more information, go to at the Friends Committee on National Legislation website.
Source: 6/17/2009 Newsline
Amy Gingerich resigns as managing editor for Gather ’Round.

Amy Gingerich has resigned as managing editor of Gather 'Round, the curriculum published jointly by Brethren Press and the Mennonite Publishing Network, in order to accept a new position as editorial director of Herald Press.

Gingerich has served as managing editor of Gather 'Round for more than four years, since she began in the position in February 2005. She holds a master of divinity degree from Pacific School of Religion and has brought writing and editing experience with newspapers in Indiana and California to the curriculum project. Her last day of employment with Gather 'Round will be Aug. 7, and she will begin her new position on Aug. 17.

Source: 6/17/2009 Newsline
Joshua Brockway to be director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship.

Joshua Brockway has accepted the position of director for Spiritual Life and Discipleship in the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries, effective Jan. 4, 2010. He leaves a position as instructor in Brethren Studies at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. Brockway’s seminary employment concludes on Dec. 31. He will teach an online class "History of Christianity I" during Bethany’s fall semester.

In previous work, he has been an interim pastor at East Atlanta Christian Fellowship, provided campus ministry at Manchester College, collaboratively planned the Church of the Brethren’s Young Adult Forum on Ministerial Leadership, and directed Exploring Your Call at Bethany. He holds a degree from Manchester College, a master of arts in theology from Bethany Seminary, a master of divinity from Candler School of Theology, and is completing a doctor of philosophy at Catholic University of America.

Responsibilities of the newly created position will include developing spiritual growth and discipling resources for congregations, supporting pastors and other church leaders in nurturing the spiritual lives of congregations and individuals, working collaboratively with the Spiritual Directors network, advocating for healthy congregations through interpretation of the denomination’s congregational ethics guidelines, cultivating gender-focused ministries, and fostering the spiritual growth of individuals, congregations, and the church as a whole.

Source: 6/17/2009 Newsline
Brethren programs sponsor Bread for the World guide for short-term missions.

"Getting Ready to Come Back: Advocacy Guide for Mission Teams" is a new resource from Bread for the World, with sponsorship from more than a dozen Christian groups including the Church of the Brethren. The church’s Global Mission Partnerships along with Brethren Volunteer Service and the Global Food Crisis Fund are partners with Bread for the World in publishing the book.

"For anyone doing a short term mission trip or a workcamp, this can be a helpful way to understand the context," said Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships. "The intent is to help people answer the question, how do I grow from this experience, with an emphasis on the life-changing possibilities of the trip on the person’s return home."

The book is intended to help short-term mission teams traveling internationally to understand the root causes of hunger and poverty in the communities and countries they visit. The guide may be useful to church members who are participating in international workcamps, Christian Peacemaker Team delegations, or Vacation Bible School experiences in the Dominican Republic, for example.

The paperback spiral-bound book includes workbook sections to help participants research the host country and people; links to online resources for such research; scripturally based group study sessions to help groups process the experience; study guides for individual journals; worship resources including prayers, scriptures, a "stone by stone" activity, and a litany by Church of the Brethren pastor Jeff Carter; and ideas for participants who want to do advocacy for the places and people they have visited, after their return home.

Purchase "Getting Ready to Come Back" from Brethren Press for $10 each, or $25 for a pack of five copies. Shipping and handling charges will be added. Call 800-441-3712.

Source: 6/17/2009 Newsline
Notes on how the economic downturn has improved a college.

The following reflection is excerpted from the May "Notes from the President," a monthly e-mail release from president Jo Young Switzer of Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind.:

"Our academic year began with the arrival of the largest first-year class in 25 years. It ends during a global economic downturn that is affecting students’ families, our endowment, and our budget, as well as the job market for our new graduates.

"Like other colleges and universities, we are reducing spending in anticipation of an extended recovery. We do so strategically, however, because our goal is to emerge from this setback stronger and as mission-driven as we have always been.

"How has the downturn improved the college? Faculty and staff are collaborating more than ever as we explore new methods and ventures. We are collaborating with other colleges to reduce costs by sharing services. We are doing without non-essentials. We are entertaining fresh ideas with open minds

"These ‘opportunities’ do not come without pain. We have chilled hiring--limiting new hires to the most essential positions that support strategic priorities, such as admissions. We are trying to reduce all operational budgets (not salaries or benefits) by 10 percent for next year. We are restricting travel and professional development for the short term. We are delaying capital purchases.

"None of these are choices between good and bad options. All of our options are important and valuable. Moreover, these are not all reductions that we can sustain. They are, however, necessary now to build cash reserves for a slow recovery.

"Some of our strategic goals are on hold because we simply cannot afford them on the schedule we had planned. For example, we have a priority to improve salaries for full professors, the faculty rank where our average salary is significantly lower than comparable colleges. We also have a priority to increase faculty salaries overall. But our commitment to provide financial aid to students who need it competes with faculty salaries. As students’ families become even needier with unemployment continuing to rise, Manchester College’s dollars are stretched even further.

"Hearing the truth spoken respectfully is a real gift. During the many budget meetings this year, hearing the truth has been invaluable, even when the truth wasn’t pleasant.

"So why am I smiling when I come to work each morning? Manchester College has a clear sense of mission. We know our top commitment is to open doors of learning to students from a wide range of family backgrounds.... Good learning is happening each day.

"We will emerge from this current economic crisis with a strong mission, smart and student-centered faculty, and students whose lives are transformed by their time here."

Source: 6/17/2009 Newsline

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Cori Hahn, Marlin Heckman, Shawnda Hines, Karin Krog, Peg Lehman, Nancy Miner, Marcia Shetler, Jonathan Shively, Anna Speicher, John Wall, and Jay Wittmeyer contributed to this report.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Church of the Brethren Yearbook reports 2008 membership loss.

Church of the Brethren membership in the US and Puerto Rico dropped below 125,000 for the first time since the 1920s, according to 2008 data from the "Church of the Brethren Yearbook."

The denomination’s membership stood at 124,408 at the end of 2008, according to data reported by congregations. The total number of congregations in the church also hit a landmark, dipping by seven to 999. There are also 50 fellowships and projects, an increase of one from the previous year.

Sixteen districts reported net decreases in membership in 2008; seven reported increases. Hardest hit were districts in the Midwest and the Plains, where every district except Michigan reported a decline.

Districts with the largest percentage decreases were Southern Plains (17.1 percent), Oregon/Washington (7.8 percent), Southern Pennsylvania (5.6 percent), and Western Plains (5.3 percent). The largest numerical decreases were in Southern Pennsylvania (a net loss of 391 members) and Western Pennsylvania (down 182 members).

Interestingly, several of the denomination’s smallest districts were among those reporting gains. Missouri/Arkansas (up 1.6 percent, to 564 members), Idaho (up 1 percent, to 598 members), and Michigan (up 1.7 percent, to 1,347 members) all saw slight increases. Other districts with membership gains were Pacific Southwest (1.7 percent), Southeastern (1.3 percent), Atlantic Southeast (0.5 percent), and Middle Pennsylvania (0.2 percent). Pacific Southwest, with a net gain of 42 members, had the largest numerical growth.

The overall denominational decline of 1.24 percent is similar to that of the past few years and continues a trend dating to the early 1960s. Most "mainline" denominations in the United States have been experiencing similar trends over that period. Studies have attributed the decline to growing secularism, a growth in independent churches, and changes in ways membership is recorded, among other factors.

Total reported average weekly worship attendance fell by more than 2,000 from the year before, to 59,084, but the number of baptisms in 2008 jumped sharply to 1,714, up 334 from the previous year and the highest number since 2004. Giving to most agencies and programs declined.

Updated Yearbook figures are based on data provided by congregations that turn in statistical reports. In 2008, 66.2 percent of the congregations reported; this is similar to most recent years, providing a consistent means for comparing statistics. About 64 percent reported in 2007.

The Yearbook also lists contact information and statistics for congregations, districts, and agencies of the denomination, as well as related Brethren organizations. The 2009 edition is available from Brethren Press; to order call 800-441-3712.

-- Walt Wiltschek is editor of the Church of the Brethren’s "Messenger" magazine.

Source: 6/3/2009 Newsline
Christian Citizenship Seminar studies modern-day slavery.

This year's Church of the Brethren Christian Citizenship Seminar, held April 25-30 in New York and Washington, D.C., drew 94 senior high youth and advisors from 10 states to study the eye-opening realities of modern-day slavery. The issue came before the full church last summer, when delegates to the 2008 Annual Conference overwhelmingly approved a statement to "reaffirm our denomination’s historic opposition to slavery."

Anna Speicher, a Church of the Brethren member who has written a dissertation on the abolition movement, reviewed that history for the seminar participants--and said all that good work is only a beginning. "You’re already way ahead of the game right now. You know it’s not over," said Speicher, who is also director of the Gather ‘Round curriculum for Brethren Press and Mennonite Publishing Network.

Speicher noted that while slavery is illegal in every country worldwide, it is often underground and thus hard to see. It exists in many forms and under many different names, such as debt bondage, human trafficking, sex trafficking, and forced labor. It can be found in many places including the United States, where an estimated 14,500-plus slaves are trafficked in each year.

Other speakers addressing the seminar included Roni Hong, herself a victim of slavery in India as a child; Lariza Garzon, who works with undocumented farmworkers in Florida; staff from the World Council of Churches US Conference and the National Council of Churches, who organized a conference on modern-day slavery last year and adopted a resolution; and staff from advocacy organizations Free the Slaves and Global Centurion.

Youth carried their stories and experiences to Capitol Hill during the second half of the seminar. Some groups were able to meet their representatives or senators personally, while others raised the issues with aides--particularly urging full funding for the recently renewed Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Worship and debriefing times during the week offered additional outlets to process the heavy topic.

Participants were encouraged to take the issue back with them, brainstorming ideas for speaking up and taking action after they returned home. "We’re beginning to make progress, but there’s so much more to be done," said Laura Lederer, vice president of Global Centurion. "I’m more hopeful now that I’ve been before. There’s a new human rights movement springing up all around the world."

The Christian Citizenship Seminar is sponsored annually, except in National Youth Conference years, by the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry; go to the youth ministry page at for details. An article on the 2009 seminar will be in the June issue of "Messenger."

-- Walt Wiltschek is editor of the Church of the Brethren’s "Messenger" magazine.

Source: 6/3/2009 Newsline
New Orleans ecumenical blitz build wins award.

Paint is barely dry on the homes it helped rebuild in the New Orleans neighborhood of Little Woods, but already the "Neighborhood: New Orleans" project has garnered a national award for New York-based humanitarian agency Church World Service (CWS). The project recently carried out a four-week ecumenical "blitz build" to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, contributed to by Brethren Disaster Ministries staff and volunteers.

National Voluntary Agencies Active in Disaster chose to honor Neighborhood: New Orleans with its 2009 Innovative Program of the Year Award, presented at the National VOAD annual conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

National VOAD is a coalition of nonprofit organizations that respond to disasters as part of their overall mission. "We are deeply honored to be selected by our peers for this outstanding award," CWS Emergency Response director Donna Derr said. "To be honored for this project in its first-ever installment reaffirms our philosophy that working together we accomplish more."

Neighborhood: New Orleans was the first national ecumenical volunteer effort in New Orleans, using revolving teams from 10 different member agencies of CWS, working side by side. More than 500 people from 27 US states and Canada came to New Orleans as volunteers with

one of the project partners: Brethren Disaster Ministries, American Baptist Churches USA, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, Lutheran Disaster Response, Mennonite Disaster Service, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Reformed Church in America Global Mission, the United Church of Christ, and United Methodist Committee on Relief.

CWS worked with its local partner, the Crescent Alliance Recovery Effort (CARE) to identify a neighborhood in New Orleans where recovery from Hurricane Katrina has been sparse. "We wanted to work in an area where, by working together under one banner, we could return families home and accelerate a whole neighborhood’s recovery," Derr said.

A neighborhood of mixed incomes and races, Little Woods began as a fishing camp along the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. Hurricane Katrina forced water into the neighborhood, where it sat, as high as the roofline, for days. The water eventually drained, and families have recovered intermittently ever since. Some homeowners are waiting on assistance to come through Louisiana’s labyrinthine Road Home program. Others are in dispute with insurers or federal agencies. More than a few find themselves like Gloria Mouton, who was defrauded out of most of her recovery funds by unscrupulous contractors.

On May 13, Mouton, a grandmother and community volunteer, was led into her nearly-rebuilt home by a New Orleans brass band and a parade of dignitaries and volunteers celebrating the project.

"It’s a beautiful thing to know that these people in the world will give from their busy schedules to help someone like me," Mouton said. "It just sends a warm feeling in my body every time I walk into this house and see the progress they made."

-- This article is taken from Church World Service releases by Matt Hackworth, Lesley Crosson, and Jan Dragin.

Source: 6/3/2009 Newsline
Twelve arrested for civil disobedience at gun store are acquitted.

The 12 people who were arrested for civil disobedience at a notorious gun store in Philadelphia during the Heeding God’s Call peace church gathering in January have been acquitted. The trial took place in a Philadelphia court on May 26.

Among those arrested were two members of the Church of the Brethren, Phil Jones and Mimi Copp. The Church of the Brethren’s Mission and Ministry Board helped to support the legal defense for Jones, who at the time of the arrest was serving as director of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office.

Heeding God’s Call marked the beginning of a new faith-based initiative against gun violence and illegal weapons in America’s cities. Those arrested were part of a campaign to pressure Colosimo’s Gun Center to sign a Code of Conduct for Responsible Gun Dealers, and followed several weeks of discussion between the gun shop owner and local religious leaders. The defendants include community advocates from Camden, N.J., and Philadelphia, ordained Christian clergy from three denominations, and a Jewish rabbi.

"Tuesday (May 26) was a most amazingly wonderful day--for Heeding God's Call and for the gun violence prevention movement. Human and Divine justice came together in a miraculous and inspiring way," said Therese Miller of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), who served as gathering director for Heeding God's Call.

In an e-mail report, Miller said that the "Heeding God’s Call 12" were acquitted of all charges "to the joy of the 300 supporters who packed the courtroom, spilled out into the hallway for the morning prayer service, and participated in the midday rally." To mark the occasion of the trial, supporters strung 350 t-shirts around Dilworth Plaza in front of Philadelphia’s City Hall, each shirt pinned with a paper heart naming a local gunshot victim.

Miller added that the trial received much positive attention in the press, including the following available online: ,
, and;!-1640719862?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pg_wk_article&r21.pgpath=/NDC/Home&r21.content=/NDC/Home/

Heeding God’s Call witnesses continue on the sidewalk in front of Colosimo's at 9th and Spring Garden in Philadelphia on Saturdays from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., and on Mondays from 4-6 p.m.

Source: 6/3/2009 Newsline
Bethel Ministries aids men leaving incarceration in Idaho.

Bethel Ministries, a nonprofit organization and faith-based program located in Boise, Idaho, was established to help men leaving incarceration to change their lives to become law-abiding, productive members of society. The ministry is connected with Mountain View Church of the Brethren in Boise, and pastor David McKellip serves as director of ministry for the program.

Others involved in administering the program include a volunteer Board of Directors, and staff consisting of executive director Rob Lee, and assistant executive director Chris Roberts.

Bethel provides transitional homes where the men reside in a family-type setting. During their 6-to12-month stay, the men are matched with mentors, obtain employment, attend a structured program of life-skill classes, and participate in group and individual counseling.

Bethel Ministries was established in 2001. The program was founded to recognize the importance of developing an ongoing relationship with Christ Jesus in each person and to help men who, having great obstacles to overcome, desire the kind of help necessary to make a new life.

Those involved with Bethel believe that such new Christians need support from each other, the church, and the greater community if they are truly going to change their lives and stay out of prison. Bethel sees that the men need jobs, making of new friends, learning from educational programs, and following proper leadership in order to build a whole new way of living.

Staff spend considerable time interviewing and assessing potential Bethel candidates at prison facilities throughout Idaho. Staff also oversee the operations of the transitional homes, and meet regularly with Bethel residents to resolve problems. Staff are aided by a Leadership Council consisting of residents who are the housing coordinators and assistant coordinators, the director of ministry, and the executive director.

The first Bethel residence was a miracle of God in that while looking for a house to serve as a transitional home, a simple street sign, "Bethel," was an inspiration. The word Bethel means "House of God," and driving further down the street, a "for rent" sign was in plain view. The house owner was more than helpful in getting Bethel Ministries off the ground.

To this day, miracles from God have abounded. Over the years, three additional transition homes were added in order to accommodate more men into Bethel's program. With four homes, Bethel has capacity for 32 residents.

Bethel has received awards for it unique program. Today, more than 100 men have come through this ministry. Graduates are flourishing as they successfully continue in a new way of living with hope for their future. The ministry has well over a 90 percent success rate in graduates who have not returned to prison.

With the major economic problems faced in Idaho, however, finances continue to be a major challenge. Bethel is generally primarily funded by the men in the program. A lack of jobs locally makes it very difficult for parolees to obtain employment. In 2008, Bethel suffered from financial shortfalls much of the year, but the Lord provided just enough funds to keep solvent. Much of the year the executive director could only be paid part-time.

The board made a decision in April to close one home if the number of residents did not increase above 24 by its May 21 meeting. In May, the board voted to keep the fourth home open at least as long as the budget will support it and the number of men in the program justify it. The Lord has recently provided 26 men for the program, and three homes can only accommodate 24 men. To help with funding shortfalls, Bethel is planning fundraising projects this summer and fall.

Go to for more information. We call on all Christians to pray that Bethel’s needs will be fulfilled by the Lord.

-- Al Murrey serves as chair of the board of directors of Bethel Ministries.

Source: 6/3/2009 Newsline
Brethren bits: Personnel, job opening, congregational news, more.
  • Audrey Hollenberg has begun work as one of the three National Youth Conference (NYC) coordinators in the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office. She will coordinate NYC along with Emily LaPrade and Matt Witkovsky. Hollenberg has completed her third year at Bridgewater (Va.) College and is taking a year out for this Brethren Volunteer Service assignment. She is from Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren.

  • The Church of the Brethren seeks a director for Youth and Young Adult Ministries to fill a fulltime position at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., as part of a dynamic team of leaders in the office of Congregational Life Ministries. Responsibilities include leading the church in cultivating dynamic relationships with youth and young adults, developing creative responses to the challenges and opportunities of contemporary youth culture and its relationship to the Christian faith, planning and overseeing major denominational events for youth and young adults, working collaboratively as part of a denominational team to pursue a common vision, and serving as a mentor to volunteers and planning teams. The preferred candidate will demonstrate Christian character, commitment to the values and practices of the Church of the Brethren, a disciplined spiritual life, biblical rootedness, the flexibility to work collaboratively in a wide variety of contexts, experience in leading new initiatives, and the ability to follow an idea through from concept to implementation. The preferred candidate will have expertise in some combination of the following areas: junior high ministry, senior high ministry, young adult ministry, cultural trends, stages of faith development, faith and technology, service ministries, event planning, and congregational vitality. Communication skills and interpersonal competency are required. The selected candidate will work as part of a team, utilize a variety of computer and digital technologies, represent the Church of the Brethren, attend to self-care and continuing education, efficiently manage a complex workload, develop and manage a detailed budget, participate in regular processes of review and priority-setting, and understand this position as part of a larger vocational commitment. Applications will be received beginning June 3 and will be reviewed beginning June 17, with interviews commencing in late June and continuing until the position is filled. Qualified candidates are invited to request the application form and complete job description, submit a resume and letter of application, and to request three references to send letters of recommendation to the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694; or 800-323-8039 ext. 258.

  • Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger has signed on to an ecumenical letter to President Obama about peace in Israel and Palestine, at the invitation of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP). The letter encourages the President’s vigorous leadership for peace on the occasion of his speech in Egypt on June 4. CMEP has worked with Ron Sider, a leader in the Evangelical community, and William Shaw, a leader from the historic African-American church tradition, in circulating the letter to a broad list of Christian traditions, according to a report from Warren Clark, executive director. The letter says, in part, "Mr. President, you have assumed office at one of the most critical moments in the long history of this conflict. While the international community and majorities of the Israeli and Palestinian people are all committed to a two-state solution as the only option for achieving peace and security, the window of opportunity is rapidly closing. Continued settlement growth and expansion are rapidly diminishing any possibility for the creation of a viable Palestinian state. The targeting of Israeli civilians through ongoing rocket fire and the insistent rejection of Israel’s right to exist reinforce the destructive status quo.... Now is the time for immediate and bold American leadership."

  • The Church of the Brethren’s annual Stewardship Resource Packet has been distributed early this year in response to requests from congregations for resources be available before July. The packet was mailed to every congregation in late May. With a theme of "New Love, New Mercy," based on Lamentations 3:21-24, the packet contains the 2009 "Giving" magazine, materials based on the fall campaign theme, and a sample of one bulletin insert. To receive sample copies of the remaining three inserts, contact Carol Bowman at or call Brethren Press at 800-441-3712.

  • Upcoming courses from the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership and the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center include "Distinctive Marks of the Brethren" June 11-14 taught by Kate Eisenbise at McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren (contact or 765-983-1824); "Introduction to Biblical Languages" June 8-Aug. 14 taught by Susan Jeffers online (contact or 765-983-1824); "Micah and Isaiah" Sept. 11-12, Oct. 2-3, Oct. 23-24, and Nov. 6-7, with Robert Neff at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College (contact or 717-361-1450); "Messages of Peace in the Old Testament," on Sept. 16 with David Leiter at Elizabethtown College (contact or 717-361-1450); "Passions of Youth, Practices of Christ" on Sept. 24-27 with Russell Haitch at Codorus Church of the Brethren in Dallastown, Pa. (contact or 765-983-1824); "A Study of Judges" Sept. 28-Nov. 6 with Susan Jeffers online (contact or 765-983-1824).

  • The New Church Development Advisory Committee has published a Monthly Prayer Card through May 2010, to help Brethren join in prayer for new mission points and new church starts throughout the denomination. The card was enclosed in both English and Spanish in a recent "Source" mailing that went to all Church of the Brethren congregations.

  • On Earth Peace is calling on churches to join its campaign for the International Day of Prayer for Peace (IDOPP) on Sept. 21. A series of conference calls has been scheduled to share On Earth Peace's vision, describe ways to be involved, and answer questions. Calls will be held June 4, from 1-2 p.m.; and June 16, from 7-8 p.m. (Eastern time). Go to to register. Two more conference calls are planned for July or August to talk about the listening process that On Earth Peace is recommending for IDOPP participants, led by David Jehnsen, chair of the board of Every Church a Peace Church. This year, a special emphasis of the campaign is how the recession is affecting local communities. Churches have three ways to participate: through an observance, a vigil, or a listening initiative. Visit to learn more about ways to be involved, or go to to register as a participant. Direct specific questions about the campaign to So far, 23 groups have registered to participate, reported coordinator Michael Colvin. "We are well on our way to having 40 registered participants by the beginning of Annual Conference."

  • The New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center dining services will host a "Grand Re-Opening of the Kitchen" on June 10 with a special lunch menu showcasing the new capabilities of its renovated dining services. The kitchen will be open for walk-through tours for visitors to see the improvements to the facility.

  • The SERRV Store at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., is holding its Second Annual Sidewalk Sale on June 4-6. Specials include savings of 50 percent or more on a variety of items from vases to baskets, and sampling of Rooibos Iced Tea and Divine chocolate.

  • Tony Campolo has been a guest speaker for the 125th anniversary celebration at York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren. He is a well known American Baptist preacher and a past presenter at Annual Conference and National Youth Conferences of the Church of the Brethren.

  • Christ the Servant Church of the Brethren in Cape Coral, Fla., is experiencing a complete makeover, according to the Atlantic Southeast District newsletter. The congregation, now known as "A Life in Christ" Church of the Brethren, is moving to a new building in downtown Cape Coral. The church has developed new mission and vision statements, a new website at , a Facebook group, and a MySpace page. Leah J. Hileman is pastor.

  • As part of National Police Officers Week, a church service for active and retired law enforcement professionals was held at Stone Church of the Brethren in Buena Vista, Va., on May 3. The service remembered five officers from the community killed between 1921-1989.

  • Family Faith Fellowship Church of the Brethren in Enid, Okla., was showcased during Enid Historic Preservation Month in May. The limestone church with a three-sided staged steeple was built in 1947 by the First Church of Christ and purchased by Family Faith Fellowship in 1995.

  • The Annual Assembly of the Church of the Brethren in Puerto Rico takes place June 12-13.

  • Western Plains District is calling for prayer for Lybrook Community Ministries, which serves the Tokahookaadi congregation and Native American community around Lybrook, N.M. The district’s Lybrook Vision Committee requested prayer "for the persons and work groups that will be coming to do needed repairs and upgrades to the property to make it more inviting for guests who seek the sense of God that can be found in this beautiful land."

  • Pinecrest Community, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Mount Morris, Ill., has been selected 2009 Business of the Year by the Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce. Pinecrest was noted for supporting education and being part of the education of medical students and nurses, involvement of employees in the community, and support for an area food pantry.

  • Several faculty at Church of the Brethren colleges have received honors recently. Three Juniata College faculty members have received honors: Norm Siems, Woolford Professor of Physics, received the 20th annual Beachley Award for Distinguished Academic Service; James Roney, I.H. Brumbaugh Professor of Russian, was named 42nd recipient of the Beachley Award for Distinguished Teaching; and James Tuten, associate professor of History, received the Henry and Joan Gibbel Award for Distinguished Teaching. At McPherson (Kan.) College, assistant professor of education Shay Maclin was named Advisor of the Year at the KNEA-SP Spring Representative Assembly in Emporia, Kan., nominated by sophomore education major Jenni Birdsall, Teachers of Tomorrow president. In addition to Maclin’s award, the Teachers of Tomorrow chapter at McPherson received recognition as "Outstanding Chapter."

  • The June edition of "Brethren Voices" features an interview with Annual Conference moderator David K. Shumate in a third annual "Meet the Moderator" program. Shumate and Annual Conference secretary Fred Swartz present the site of this year’s Conference in San Diego, and discuss the items of new business. Closing minutes of the show include the song, "When Love Leaves," written by Brethren musician and composer Shawn Kirchner in honor of past moderator Chuck Boyer. The July edition of "Brethren Voices" will include an interview with Kirchner. "Brethren Voices" is a community television program offered by Peace Church of the Brethren in Portland, Ore., and produced by Ed Groff. Congregations may purchase copies for use in their own communities, contact or 360-256-8550.

  • This is the third summer that Emily Young of First Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg, Va., is serving as a Solidarity Worker in Sudan through the New Community Project, a Brethren-related nonprofit. Director David Radcliff reports that three solidarity workers have begun their summer service in Nimule, Sudan: Young as team leader; Christian Kochon of Marlton, N.J.; and Adella Barrett of Lynchburg, Va. The group is hosted by the Girl Child Development and Education Committee, through whom the project also gives grants for girls' education and women's development, and in cooperation with the Sudan Council of Churches. Radcliff also reported that the project recently transferred a donation of $10,000 to the Girl Child Committee for educational scholarships and women's tailoring and gardening projects, on top of $24,000 already sent to Sudan this year for these programs as well as a reforestation effort. A Learning Tour to Sudan is planned for Jan. 2011. Visit for more.

  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) marked the International Day of Conscientious Objection on May 15 by releasing results of a study showing a global trend to better recognize conscientious objection, but also showing that those who exercise it are often discriminated against or sent to prison. "Korea, Israel, and the United States are examples of countries where conscientious objection may put people through a tough time," said a release. "South Korea has the largest number of imprisoned conscientious objectors in the world--about 700 each year.... Most of them are Jehovah's Witnesses who do not get any support from most local churches." In Israel, the report said, "the army not only recruits young men, but also women at the age of 17. It takes much courage to refuse, and those who do often face a first prison term when they are still teenagers.... Many of those who refuse are not against the army in general, but against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. They also condemn the recent war in Gaza." War resisters from the US are finding sanctuary in Canada, the report said. "Most of these are soldiers who joined the army as volunteers, but now refuse to serve the armed forces as a consequence to their experiences in Iraq, which have made them feel that this war was morally wrong. Since selective objection to a certain war is not legally recognized in the United States, the war resisters flee to Canada with their families and ask for refugee status. They are nevertheless often faced with the threat of deportation and subsequent imprisonment in the US."

  • A new book about modern-day slavery is recommended by Church of the Brethren staff who are working on the issue. "The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today" by Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter is the result of a three-year project looking into slavery across America, and thinking about how the country can fulfill its promise of liberty and become slave free. Purchase this hardcover volume from Brethren Press for $24.95 plus shipping and handling, call 800-441-3712.
Source: 6/3/2009 Newsline
Elsie Koehn begins as district executive minister for Southern Plains.

Elsie Koehn on May 15 began work as district executive minister for the Church of the Brethren’s Southern Plains District. She has pastored Pleasant Plains Church of the Brethren in Aline, Okla., for some 16 years, since 1993. She served as moderator for Southern Plains District 2007-08, and has represented the district on the Standing Committee of Annual Conference.

New contact information for the district office has been issued: Southern Plains District, 9212 Stonegate, Midwest City, OK 73130; or 405-736-0980.

Source: 6/3/2009 Newsline

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Carol Bowman, Ed Groff, Cindy Kinnamon, Karin L. Krog, Margie Paris, David Radcliff, Carmen Rubio, and John Wall contributed to this report.