Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Church of the Brethren redesigns Congregational Life Ministries, closes Washington Office.

The Church of the Brethren is redesigning its Congregational Life Ministries and has eliminated the Congregational Life Team, effective April 6. The denomination also closed its Washington Office, as of March 19. The actions are part of a plan created by executive staff to respond to financial challenges facing the denomination and the decision of the Mission and Ministry Board to reduce the operating budget for core ministries by $505,000 this year.

The decisions eliminate positions of Congregational Life Team members, effective April 6, and the position of director of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, effective March 19 (see personnel announcements below).

"As I informed staff before the Spring board meeting, the level of financial losses that we are looking at necessitate a cut in staff," said general secretary Stan Noffsinger. "It is a heavy burden to reduce staff at this time. It has been our desire all along to not end any positions, but the scope of this is greater than our ability to merely reduce operational expenses. There is not one ministry area in the church that is going unscathed in this process. It is a situation affecting the whole church"

At the Spring meeting, the expectation for income to support the core ministries of the church this year was revised downward by almost $1 million. The board was informed of a loss of about $7 million in net assets in 2008, caused by the market downturn, as well as a 10 percent decrease in total giving to the denomination compared to 2007.

"The board took its responsibility seriously, and at each decision moment were cognizant of the impact for employees as well as members of the church who have passion for ministry areas that will be affected," Noffsinger said.

All employees were part of a staff meeting and conference call prior to the Spring board meeting, at which the general secretary announced that staff reductions would be made following the decision of the board, if the budget reduction was approved. After the board meeting, at another all-employee meeting and conference call, he reviewed the board’s decisions and announced that staff reductions would come over the next two weeks.

"We are doing what we can to help out employees who lose their positions," Noffsinger said, "including a three-month severance package and an outplacement service that walks with people until they get new employment."

Congregational Life Ministries:

The plan for Congregational Life Ministries outlines a new staff configuration with four director-level positions to be based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The four positions are Intercultural Ministries, Transforming Practices, Spiritual Life and Discipleship, and Youth and Young Adult Ministries.

Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries, acknowledged how difficult the decision has been to eliminate the Congregational Life Team, a program of the church in place since the beginning of 1998. "This is tough for the church, and we know it," he said.

The redesign is intended to maintain vital ministries while still making staff reductions necessary to meet the reduction in budget, Shively said. "Our relationship and service to congregations is not going to go away," he said. "It’s going to look different, and feel different, but we still have a commitment to congregations."

The Congregational Life Team has worked for more than a decade to provide a bridge between the denomination and congregations across the US and Puerto Rico. The team has supported local church pastors and leaders as well as district staff and leaders; has helped congregations through coaching, consulting, and strategic visioning; and has resourced the church in a variety of areas including evangelism, church organization, Christian education, and intercultural ministry. Team members also have represented the Church of the Brethren through a variety of ecumenical assignments.

The original vision was for a Congregational Life Team of between 15 and 17 staff members, working in five geographic areas across the country. The current redesign of the program has become necessary "not because the CLT model was not working, but with the necessity to do ministry with less staff," Shively said.

The two new director-level positions will emphasize building capacity for leadership in local congregations and districts. Staff will shift from point-of-service ministries in geographic areas to ministries that build up congregational leadership and develop networks to exchange services and resources throughout the denomination.

"The denomination’s role shifts from trying to address the wide range of specific, individualized needs to building intentional resource networks and increasing the capacity of disciples at all layers of the church’s life to lead one another effectively and faithfully," Shively said.

The new director-level position for Transforming Practices will focus on helping leaders influence change, expand mission, cultivate evangelism, and assist the church through the process of transformation. A director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship will promote discipleship, resource spiritual formation, and facilitate understanding of congregational ethics guidelines.

In addition, former Congregational Life Team member Ruben Deoleo will continue on staff as director of Intercultural Ministries responsible for equipping the denomination toward its intercultural vision and commitments. Chris Douglas continues as director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, which provides leadership in understanding youth and young adult culture, trains the church for ministry with young people, and provides programmatic opportunities for youth and young adults.

For more information about the redesign of Congregational Life Ministries, contact executive director Jonathan Shively at or 800-323-8039.

Washington Office:

Following the closing of the Washington Office, Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships, will be structuring a listening process to gather broad denominational feedback for reshaping the way the church carries out the work of witness, peacebuilding, and justice.

As the listening process takes shape, executive staff emphasized that the Church of the Brethren will continue its longstanding relationships with partners in peacemaking, continues to have representatives on the boards of ecumenical institutions to speak out and support the denomination’s witness for peace and justice, will continue giving grants to peace partners such as Churches for Middle East Peace, continues the practice of the general secretary signing on to advocacy statements from the National Council of Churches and other ecumenical bodies, continues advocacy for healthcare reform through the Caring Ministries and the Fellowship of Brethren Homes, and will continue providing opportunities and events such as the Christian Citizenship Seminar.

Some of the work responsibilities of the Washington Office will be centered at the General Offices, including resources to be made available through the Global Missions Partnerships office, online resources to support efforts for peace witness, continuing Faith Expeditions, opportunities for political advocacy, and the work of the church to support conscientious objection.

The conscientious objection work is extremely important to the Church of the Brethren, Wittmeyer said, and will be done through the office of Global Mission Partnerships at the church’s General Offices. At that location, individual conscientious objector files may be kept safe in the vault in the Brethren Historical Library and Archives.

Services or functions previously handled by the Washington Office should be channeled through the Global Mission Partnerships office; call 800-323-8039. The upcoming Christian Citizenship Seminar that has been co-sponsored by the Brethren Witness/Washington Office and the Youth and Young Adult Ministry will be led by Chris Douglas, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

Source: 3/25/2009 Newsline
Mission and Ministry Board announces results of its reorganization.

The Church of the Brethren’s Mission and Ministry Board has announced the results of its action to immediately reorganize to comply with the number of members approved by Annual Conference when the Association of Brethren Caregivers and General Board merged. The action was taken at the board’s Spring meeting.

Before the economic downturn, the board planned to gradually reduce its number of members by attrition, with each member of the prior two boards invited to fill out their full terms. The immediacy of the decision was intended to help reduce expenses following a decision to reduce the operating budget for the church’s core ministries this year by $505,000.

The decision immediately reduces the number of board members from 29 to 19. Chair Eddie Edmonds has announced that the board will stand at 19 members for 2009, and will be at the approved level of 17 members following this year’s Annual Conference.

"This action represents a significant savings to the core ministries budget," said Edmonds, who also serves as pastor of Moler Avenue Church of the Brethren in Martinsburg, W.Va. "My deep appreciation and thanks to those who have now completed their service to the Mission and Ministry Board. Proper and appropriate recognition of the service of those who completed their terms of service as a result of this action will occur by the best means available."

Following are those who continue on the Mission and Ministry Board for 2009 (dates are the last year of their terms on the board): Eddie Edmonds, chair (2009), Dale Minnich, chair-elect (2011), Vernne Greiner (2010), Ken Wenger (2009), Terry Lewis (2012), Frances Townsend (2012), Dan McRoberts (2010), Willie Hisey Pierson (2013), Andy Hamilton (2013), Tammy Kiser (2011), Ben Barlow (2013), David Bollinger (2011), Hector Perez-Borges (2011), Wallace Cole (2013), Barbra Davis (2011), Chris Whitacre (2010), Colleen Michael (2011), Bruce Holderreed (2010), and John Katonah (2010).

Source: 3/25/2009 Newsline
Brethren bits: Corrections, remembrance, personnel, more.
  • Corrections: The Newsline story on leadership at the 2009 Annual Conference included several errors. Erin Matteson's first name was not spelled correctly. Scott Duffey’s hometown is Staunton, Va. Noel Naff is pastor of Mount Hermon Church of the Brethren in Bassett, Va.

  • A. Blair Helman, 88, president of Manchester College for 30 years from 1956-86, and moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in 1975-76, died on March 22 at Timbercrest Retirement Community in North Manchester, Ind. "President Helman’s leadership reflected his keen intellect, deep faith, and enduring love for Manchester College," said Manchester College president Jo Young Switzer. "The entire Manchester College community continues to walk in his footsteps: his commitments to faith, learning, and service; a broad world view; financial integrity; and educational strength." Helman was acknowledged as a national and state leader in higher education and in the Church of the Brethren, which he served as an ordained minister since 1942. In addition to his service as Annual Conference moderator, he also served the church as chair of the Committee on Higher Education, as chair of the McPherson (Kan.) College Board of Trustees, as chair of district boards and as a district moderator, three terms on Standing Committee, as chair of the Executive Committee of the former Western Region, and as a member of the Annual Conference Review and Evaluation Committee in the 1980s. He also served on the Policy Board of the Department of Higher Education of the National Council of Churches, from 1960-71, and on the board of the Indiana Council of Churches. His leadership in state and national education included service on the Commission on Arms Control Education for the UN, leadership in the establishment of the Associated Colleges of Indiana and the Independent Colleges of Indiana, a term as chair of the Council of Protestant Colleges and Universities, and as president of the Indiana Conference of Higher Education. He attended Bethany Bible Training School and McPherson College, where he met his wife, Patricia Kennedy Helman. He earned a master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Kansas. He was born Dec. 25, 1920, to Henry and Luie (Pritt) Helman. He grew up in and was ordained by Rummel (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. After high school, he worked in a coal mine to help support his family and his college plans. He pastored three Church of the Brethren congregations in Kansas, and also taught at Ottawa University, Friends University, and the University of Kansas, before going to Manchester. Patricia Kennedy Helman died in October 2005, after 58 years of marriage. He is survived by his daughters Bunny Hill of Wichita, Kan., and Patty Magaro of Columbus, Ind.; and five grandchildren. Memorials may be made to the Manchester College Presidential Leadership Awards/A. Blair and Patricia K. Helman Honor Scholarships and to the A. Blair and Patricia Kennedy Helman Charitable Endowment in care of the Community Foundation of Wabash County. A memorial service will be held at Manchester College’s Cordier Auditorium at 1:30 p.m. on March 27, with a reception following.

  • The Church of the Brethren has announced the elimination of the position of volunteer service ministries secretary, as of March 24. Kim Bickler’s service in the position ended the same day. The elimination of this position is happening because of the economic recession and the budget reduction put in place by the Mission and Ministry Board at its Spring meeting. Each person whose position is eliminated because of the budget reduction is receiving a three-month severance package of regular salary and benefits and outplacement services. Bickler was hired as secretary for Brethren Volunteer Service recruitment and orientation in May 1991. In 1992, her title changed to secretary of BVS recruitment, and more recently to volunteer service ministries secretary. During her tenure with BVS she served "at the hub" of the organization, and enjoyed getting to know as many as possible of the hundreds of volunteers who have served through BVS in the past 17 years. She is married to Steven Bickler, who works for Brethren Press, and is a member of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill.

  • Middle Pennsylvania District has called Karen Duhai as part-time Youth Ministry Coordinator. She is a member of Bedford (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. She recently completed a year of Brethren Volunteer Service in N. Ireland, where she worked in a community relations program and with youth and young adults in the pursuit of a better and more peaceful future for the city of Derry/Londonderry. Most recently she has been a substitute teacher. She graduated from Elizabethtown (Pa.) College in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in English and Religion. While in college she served as the chaplain’s assistant. She also served one summer with the Youth Peace Travel Team, and another summer with Ministry Summer Service at Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren.

  • Zach Erbaugh, director of seminary computing for Bethany Theological Seminary and Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Ind., has submitted his resignation effective April 17. He has accepted a position with a national software services company providing medical records tracking to hospitals and pharmacies. He began his service with Bethany and ESR in Oct. 2000.

  • Bethany Theological Seminary and Earlham School of Religion seek applicants for the joint position of director of Seminary Computing at their campus in Richmond, Ind. Bethany Seminary is the graduate school of theology of the Church of the Brethren. Earlham School of Religion is a graduate theological school in the Quaker tradition. The director of Seminary Computing serves on the administrative faculty of both seminaries, and reports to the Academic Dean at Bethany. The director provisions, manages, and secures technology resources for the two seminaries; advises the seminaries on the use and development of information technology; and coordinates resources between the seminaries. In carrying out these responsibilities, the director consults and collaborates with various faculty and staff colleagues; prepares and manages shared and separate institutional budgets; supervises a technical staff consisting of a fulltime employee and multiple student workers; and convenes the Seminary Computing Roundtable. Qualifications include at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science and/or information technology, a minimum of two years of experience related to the responsibilities of the position, understanding of an educational environment preferably including familiarity with the nature of seminary education, a commitment to the vision and mission of the two seminaries in partnership and individually, a combination of superior technological skills and skills in interpersonal communication, ability to quickly evaluate problems and work toward solutions to maximize institutional efficiency, ability to work with deadlines and under pressure. The position begins on July 1, or earlier depending on the availability of the candidate. Review of applications will begin April 1 and will continue until the position is filled. To apply, submit a letter of application, accompanied by a resume and references, to, or via mail to Office of the Academic Dean, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374.

  • Kathy Reid, executive director of the Church of the Brethren’s Caring Ministries, participated in a conference call briefing on the "Serve America Act" with US President Obama's Domestic Policy Council. Others on the conference call included representatives of many denominational health and human service providers, such as Catholic Charities and Lutheran Services of America. "As you know, national service is a priority of President Obama," Reid reported. "The ‘Serve America Act’ has strong bipartisan support with a goal of tripling the number of current volunteers with the hope of having more than 250,000 core members." Reid said that the legislation is expected to increase the leveraging of private sector dollars within current programs (Senior Corp, VISTA-AmeriCorp, and NCCC) with an increase in federal dollars for these programs and expanded possibilities for service. Key elements of the legislation are major outreach to the faith-based community, a streamlined application process, new fixed-price grants, strong emphasis on volunteer generation, and focus on capacity building within faith-based health and human service organizations. The bill is expected to be passed by Congress this week.

  • The Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources currently is loading two 40-foot containers of quilts and school kits destined for two locations in Ukraine. The program based at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., processes, warehouses, and ships relief materials on behalf of a number of ecumenical partner agencies. The second container will be loaded Thursday while International Relief and Development representatives from Armenia, Ukraine, and the Republic of Georgia are visiting the Brethren Service Center. This coordinated visit was arranged so that representatives could see the preparation process and container loading in the US, and the unloading in the Ukraine, reported Material Resources director Loretta Wolf. In addition, working on behalf of Church World Service, the Material Resources staff have shipped 200 clean-up kits, blankets, school, and hygiene kits to Monmouth, Ill., in response to spring storms, and 50 blankets were sent to Victoria, Texas, for the homeless and economically disadvantaged.
Source: 3/25/2009 Newsline
Bethany Theological Seminary names new academic dean.

Steven Schweitzer has been named associate professor and academic dean at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., beginning July 1. He has been assistant professor of Old Testament at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind.

Schweitzer is a member of Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in South Bend, Ind. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Christian studies summa cum laude from North Central University in Minneapolis, Minn.; a master of arts in theology with a concentration in Hebrew Bible and a minor in patristics from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn.; and a doctoral degree in theology from the University of Notre Dame.

His publishing record includes in 2007, the book "Reading Utopia in Chronicles" published by T & T Clark International, and "Utopian Visions in the Ancient and Biblical Worlds" under contract with Fortress Press. He also has published journal articles, invited essays, and book reviews. He previously taught at North Central University and the University of Notre Dame.

Source: 3/25/2009 Newsline
Seven staff end their work on the Congregational Life Team.

The Congregational Life Team is being eliminated from the program of the Church of the Brethren, and the following staff are ending their service on the team, effective April 6. Elimination of the positions of Congregational Life Team members is happening because of the economic recession and the budget reduction put in place by the Mission and Ministry Board. Each person whose position is eliminated because of the budget reduction is receiving a three-month severance package of regular salary and benefits and outplacement services.

Stanley Dueck has been serving as a member of the team since June 14, 1999, when he was hired as Congregational Life Team staff for Area 1. He is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. During his tenure with the team, Dueck has worked tirelessly as a strategic consultant for congregations, assisting them with vision and mission, reorganization, leadership development, and cultivating a healthy congregational environment. A strength of his work has been the ability to help congregations understand what is happening in the North American context through an evangelical Anabaptist perspective, and then to utilize that knowledge to connect to and express their faith history, journey, and mission. He also has served as a consultant for districts, camps, and not-for-profit entities related to the Church of the Brethren.

Jeff Glass began serving in a half-time position as Congregational Life Team coordinator for Area 5 on Jan. 1, 1998. He has been a part of the dispersed Congregational Life Team staff since its inception more than 10 years ago. He is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. Glass’s work on the team has included an emphasis on the complex cultural shifts of today, and efforts to find ways to embody the good news of Jesus Christ in culturally relevant ways. He has helped to encourage and support the emergent church movement among the Brethren, with media ministry and digital communication as special interests. He has helped develop videos and digital presentations, has helped congregations build an Internet presence, and encouraged the church to make better use of technology. During his time on the team, he has worked to develop expertise in the Gallup Strengths rubric, and to further develop his skills for identifying and nurturing gifts through a doctor of ministry program.

Duane Grady has been a part of the dispersed Congregational Life Team staff since its inception. He began as half-time Congregational Life Team coordinator for Area 2 on Jan. 1, 1998, and later also took on the position of coordinator for Area 4. For some years, he concurrently served part-time in pastoral ministry in Indiana with his wife, Bev. He is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. During his tenure with the team, Grady helped lead and shape the church’s cross cultural ministries emphasis, and coordinated the annual Cross Cultural Consultation and Celebration for several years, as well as several cross-cultural music tours by Brethren groups. He has incorporated into his work a commitment to expand the diversity of the church and has modeled in his personal and professional relationships a vision of the multicultural reality of God’s world. He also has filled an informal role as "team provocateur," asking tough questions and not settling for simple answers. He has applied a servant’s heart, missional passion, and immersion in scripture to the work of helping churches explore new ways of being in Christ, and has worked tirelessly to nurture healthy relationships between church leaders and congregations.

Steven W. Gregory began work part-time as Congregational Life Team staff for Area 5 on Jan. 1, 2000, at the same time serving part-time as district executive for Oregon and Washington District. He is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. During his tenure, Gregory has worked at building relationships and developing leadership in Area 5. His personable nature, spiritual rootedness, and thoughtful engagement have defined his ministry. He has worked collaboratively with districts and staff colleagues to plan and promote learning events such as a recent racism awareness tour by the musical group "Best Friends." He has displayed skill in relating to people and congregations across the theological spectrum. Also, he has a strong interest in church planting, and has spent his sabbatical visiting new church plants in the Church of the Brethren, gathering their stories, and drawing wisdom from their experiences.

Janice Glass King has been a part of the dispersed Congregational Life Team staff since its inception. She began as part-time Congregational Life Team coordinator for Area 1 on Dec. 1, 1997. On Jan. 1, 1998, the position was increased to fulltime. She is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. During her tenure, King worked to support congregations and districts in the areas of Christian nurture, Christian education, women’s ministry, youth ministry, congregational consulting and resourcing, and leadership development. She served as liaison to the Association of the Arts in the Church of the Brethren, coordinated and oversaw completion of the Growing Faithful Disciples project, and served on the Advisory Board for "Giving Magazine" through the Ecumenical Stewardship Center. For a period of time, she also was part-time chaplain at the Village at Morrison’s Cove in Martinsburg, Pa., providing an opportunity to use her studies in gerontology. During her time with the team, she completed a Spiritual Formation program through Oasis Ministries and incorporated her learnings into her work. She has worked out of a deep spiritual center, applying artistic and organizational skills to all aspects of her ministry.

Carol E.O. Mason began as Congregational Life Team coordinator for Area 3 on Dec. 5, 2005. Prior to her service with the team, she also had served the Church of the Brethren as a mission worker in Nigeria. She is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. During her tenure with the team, Mason has applied her creativity, adaptability, and passion for the church and its mission to help congregations improve their Christian education programs, strengthen their evangelism and outreach, practice creative worship, and build healthy systems through Natural Church Development. She has served on a group working with the Gather ’Round curriculum and on the editorial group for "Seed Packet," the Church of the Brethren’s Christian education newsletter. She has been a frequent presenter at Annual Conference and other conferences. Her recognition of the relational culture of the Brethren has served her well in forming working relationships with congregations, districts, and her Church of the Brethren colleagues.

Carol L. Yeazell has been a part of the dispersed Congregational Life Team staff since its inception. Her service with the team started on Jan. 15, 1998, when she began a dual position as part-time Congregational Life Team staff for Area 3 and part-time district executive for Atlantic Southeast District. For seven months in 2005 she served as coordinator for Area 3, and from Jan. 2007-July 2008 was interim director of the Congregational Life Team. She is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. Yeazell’s commitment to prayer and healing, coupled with her organizational and leadership skills, have contributed to working with congregations in transition. During her tenure, she has cultivated the cross-cultural ministry of the denomination, using her bilingual skills in Spanish and English. She has served as liaison to the Hispanic communities in the US and Puerto Rico, where she also has worked with theological education, and has a passion for ministry in the Haitian community. Her passion for church planting has included a successful effort to help plant an intercultural church in Hendersonville, N.C., supporting this initiative along with her husband, Gene. The couple also operate a retreat/Sabbath house for those who need refreshment in body, mind, and spirit.

Ruben Deoleo’s half-time service as a Congregational Life Team member ends April 6, but he continues on the Church of the Brethren staff in a newly expanded fulltime position as director of Intercultural Ministry in the Congregational Life Ministries area. He began serving as Congregational Life Team staff for Area 2 and for Intercultural Ministries on Nov. 12, 2007.

Source: 3/25/2009 Newsline
Jones ends service as director of Brethren Witness/Washington Office.

The position of director of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office has been eliminated and the Washington Office has been closed as of March 19. The elimination of this position is happening because of the economic recession and the budget reduction put in place by the Mission and Ministry Board. Each person whose position is eliminated because of the budget reduction is receiving a three-month severance package of regular salary and benefits and outplacement services.

Phil Jones’ service as director of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office ended March 19. He has been director of the office since July 21, 2003. His work at the Brethren Witness/Washington Office built on his involvement in grassroots efforts for peace and justice, including work against the death penalty and opposition to the war in Iraq. During his tenure, the office has done advocacy work based on statements of Annual Conference, and helped organize many different events such as the Christian Citizenship Seminar and annual gatherings of Brethren at the School of the Americas Watch vigils. By working through national organizations, congregations, districts, and Annual Conference, Jones has worked to raise the awareness of many people. He also offered leadership at National Youth Conference, Young Adult Conferences, and other youth gatherings as he has met with and challenged young people to examine their faith and live out the teachings of the church.

Source: 3/25/2009 Newsline
Garrison to end her work with Wellness Ministry in May.

The position of director of the Wellness Ministry of the Church of the Brethren is being eliminated as of May 30. The elimination of this position is happening because of the economic recession and the budget reduction put in place by the Mission and Ministry Board at its Spring meeting. Each person whose position is eliminated because of the budget reduction is receiving a three-month severance package of regular salary and benefits and outplacement services.

Mary Lou Garrison’s service as director of the Wellness Ministry ends May 30. She has worked part-time as director of the ministry since Aug. 1, 2006. The position was started as a collaboration between the former Association of Brethren Caregivers and General Board, and Brethren Benefit Trust. Prior to her appointment to the Wellness Ministry, Garrison had worked as director of Human Resources for the General Board. During her tenure with the Wellness Ministry, she worked to promote wellness for church members and the goals of the ministry in congregations, districts, and agencies throughout the denomination, with special attention to those enrolled in the Brethren Medical Plan. She developed, coordinated, and managed a resource bureau of people from across the church with expertise in health education. In addition, she coordinated and helped write a weekly list serve publication offering ideas for healthy living and healthy eating, led women’s wellness retreats, and led wellness events at Annual Conference.

Source: 3/25/2009 Newsline
April is Child Abuse Awareness Month.

"Child abuse prevention is good for the church as well as the children," states the Church of the Brethren’s "Child Abuse Prevention Handbook," published in 1991. During the month of April and throughout the year, the Family Life Ministry of the Church of the Brethren encourages all individuals and congregations to play a role in making communities a better place for children and families.

Congregations can help reduce the risk of child abuse by adopting child protection policies and ensuring that parents and caregivers have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, according to an announcement from Kim Ebersole, director of Family Life. Materials to raise awareness about child abuse and child protection issues, as well as links to other resources, are available at or by calling the Caring Ministries office at 800-323-8039.

"We also encourage you to attend ‘Keeping Our Children Safe--Child Abuse Prevention,’ an insight session at Annual Conference, on June 29, at 9 p.m.," Ebersole said. The Annual Conference takes place in San Diego on June 26-30.

Source: 3/25/2009 Newsline Extra
Bethany Seminary offers webcast, ‘A Jewish Tentmaker Preaches Peace.’

Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., is offering an Internet webcast on March 28 of a presentation by New Testament professor Dan Ulrich titled "A Jewish Tentmaker Preaches Peace"

The event is being held in recognition of Ulrich’s recent promotion to professor of New Testament Studies at the seminary. In his presentation, Ulrich will explore key passages from the book of Romans. Enten Eller, the seminary’s director of Electronic Communication, said he hopes to invite "everyone from Sunday school classes to leaders in the Church of the Brethren to consider participating."

The presentation will be given on Saturday, March 28, at 7:30 p.m. (eastern time) at Bethany’s Nicarry Chapel. The public is invited to attend the event, or to participate by viewing the live Internet webcast.

Go to to log in to the webcast. At the log-in page, select "Enter as a guest" and enter name and location, including city and state. Then click "Enter room" and the webcast should display in the computer’s browser window. Participants may log in anytime before the presentation starts. For technical assistance, contact Eller at or 765-983-1831.

Source: 3/25/2009 Newsline Extra
Dedication of Christopher Saur I historical marker planned for April.

On Sunday, April 19, at 3 p.m. an official Pennsylvania Historical Marker will be dedicated in Philadelphia at the site of the shop of colonial printer Christopher Saur I. The marker has been made possible by the combined efforts of the Historical Committee of the Church of the Brethren's Atlantic Northeast District, and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

The main ceremony will be held directly across the street from the site of the print shop, in Trinity Lutheran Church at 5300 Germantown Ave., site of the home of Christopher Saur II.

Although the program has not been finalized, the following commitments have been made: Stephen L Longenecker, chair of the history department at Bridgewater (Va.) College and author of "The Christopher Sauers," will deliver the main address. On display will be a copy of an early Saur Bible. Other presentations will be made by a representative of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; John D. Hostetter, pastor of Lampeter (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and moderator of Atlantic Northeast District; Craig H. Smith, district executive of Atlantic Northeast District; Ron Lutz, moderator of Germantown Church of the Brethren; and David E. Fuchs, chair of the district's Historical Committee.

This is the second such marker to be made possible by the joint efforts of the district's Historical Committee and the state commission, the first having been placed at Germantown Church of the Brethren on Sept. 21, 2008.

Source: 3/25/2009 Newsline Extra
More events: Good Friday Witness, Kline Homestead benefit, more.
  • A Good Friday Witness on April 10 is continuing the faith-based initiative against gun violence that was launched at the Heeding God’s Call gathering in Philadelphia in January. The gathering was sponsored by the Church of the Brethren, the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, and Mennonite Church USA. A letter from four Christian leaders in the Philadelphia area announced the Good Friday Witness: Bishop Kermit Newkirk of Harold O Davis Memorial Baptist Church in Logan, Rev. Mary Laney of St Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Gladwyne, Rev. David Tatgenhorst of St. Luke United Methodist Church in Bryn Mawr, and Rev. Isaac Miller of the Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia. "This event bears witness not only to the horror of 2,000 years ago, but to the continuing outrage of violence that took 400 lives in Philadelphia in 2007, and, though there were fewer killings by gunfire last year, the number remains appalling," the letter said. The witness will be held at Colosimo’s Gun Center, which the invitation said has been identified by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence "as among the top 10 sellers of weapons involved in crimes in the country," The witness begins at 4 p.m. on April 10, at 9th and Spring Garden in Philadelphia.

  • Copper Hill (Va.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a performance on April 4 to raise funds for preservation of the John Kline Homestead. The performance by Phyllis Stump will tell about the life of southwest Virginia midwife Orlene Puckett, a local legend of the Blue Ridge Parkway. For more information contact or 540-772-7736.

  • The Brethren Retirement Community Auxiliary in Greenville, Ohio, is holding a 50th Anniversary Open House on April 2, from 1-3 p.m. The event includes a time of reminiscing at 3 p.m. Contact Janet Ashworth at or 937-547-7682.

  • Bridgewater (Va.) College will celebrate the 129th anniversary of its founding on April 7, presenting several awards during the 11 a.m. convocation in the Carter Center for Worship and Music. Two faculty members will be recognized for excellence in teaching: Verne E. Leininger, associate professor of mathematics and a member of Linville Creek Church of the Brethren in Broadway, Va., will receive the Ben and Janice Wade Outstanding Teaching Award; and Philip T. Spickler, associate professor of physics and a member of Harrisonburg (Va.) First Church of the Brethren, will receive the Martha B. Thornton Faculty Recognition Award. Two seniors, Nicole M. Engel of Manassas, Va., and Rea T. Williams III of Bumpass, Va., will receive Outstanding Leadership Awards.

  • Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., is hosting the Pennsylvania National Association for Multicultural Education conference on April 3-4. "This is a unique opportunity to have some of the most prominent experts in multicultural education right here in our own backyard," said Rosalie Rodriguez, special assistant to the president for diversity and inclusion, in a press release. The theme is "Sustaining Justice," with the goal of creating a learning environment of acceptance, understanding, and community building. The conference will feature lectures, workshops, and discussion panels led by diversity experts from across the US. Teachers can earn Act 48 credits for attending. For more information, go to or contact Rodriguez at 814-641-3125.

  • The University of La Verne (Calif.) Coalition for Diversity and the African American Student Alliance are sponsoring a weekly colloquium series on Thursdays from 12-1:30 p.m., with four sessions focusing on different topics and themes. Upcoming sessions are held on March 26, on "White Privilege," facilitated by Matt Witt, associate professor of Public Administration; April 2, on "Redefining Diversity," facilitated by Cleveland Hayes, assistant professor of Education; and May 7, on "Cultural Identity Development: Melting Pot vs. Salad Bowl," facilitated by Chris Liang, assistant professor of Psychology, and Leticia Arellano, associate professor of Psychology.

  • A panel presentation on the "Global Movement Against Racism" is co-sponsored by the Sub-Committee for the Elimination of Racism of the NGO Committee on Human Rights. Doris Abdullah represents the Church of the Brethren on the subcommittee. The event takes place March 26 at 2-5 p.m. at the ECOSOC Chamber at United Nations Headquarters in New York. Panelists are Ambassador Morten Wetland of Norway; Jessica Neuwirth, director of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in New York; Ejim Dike of the Human Rights Project, Urban Justice Center; Angela C. Wu, International Law Director at the Becket Fund; Roberto Mucaro Borrero of the Museum of Natural History and the NGO Committee on the UN International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The event is in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racism.

  • Joseph Kip Kosek, assistant professor at George Washington University and a member of Oakton Church of the Brethren, will present a lecture on the impact of radical Christian pacifists on American democratic theory and practice at the Library of Congress on March 25 at 4 p.m. He is the author of "Acts of Conscience: Christian Nonviolence and Modern American Democracy" and a former fellow of the Library’s John W. Kluge Center. Go to for more information.

  • Ray Warner's 100th birthday celebration will be held on April 5 at First Church of the Brethren in Eden, N.C., from 2-4 p.m. He served for many years as deacon chair at the church.
Source: 3/25/2009 Newsline Extra

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Chris Bowman, Kim Ebersole, Enten Eller, Mary K. Heatwole, Jeri S. Kornegay, Karin Krog, Glenn Riegel, Jobie E Riley, Marcia Shetler, Kristine Shunk, John Wall, Julia Wheeler, and Loretta Wolf contributed to this report.