Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Ecumenical Blitz Build takes off in New Orleans.

Volunteers from Maine to Washington, representing 10 denominations, have descended on New Orleans to assist in the reconstruction of 12 homes in the community of Littlewoods. During week two of the Church World Service (CWS) Blitz Build, volunteers continued to work in ecumenical fashion side-by-side, fellowshiping and eating with one another.

At a Tuesday evening gathering, volunteers participating in the build had the opportunity to gather for a meal, fellowship, games, and interaction with homeowners. Following brief introductions and a New Orleans-style meal of jambalaya, rice, and red beans, volunteers participated in a game in which they tried to pronounce words unique to the New Orleans area. Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteer and district coordinator "Frosty" Wilkinson won the game, earning him the sweet reward of a New Orleans king cake.

Homeowners were given the opportunity to address the group. Most took time to express their thanks for the work being done, nearly four years after Hurricane Katrina. Some broke into tears, unable to find the words to express their thanks, spurring others to tears as emotion filled the room.

Positive reports from numerous volunteers across denominational lines demonstrated the uniqueness and beneficial aspects of this ecumenical effort. Brethren Disaster Ministries continues to provide volunteers, leadership, and tools in support of the Blitz Build.

-- Zach Wolgemuth is associate director of Brethren Disaster Ministries.

Source: 5/06/2009 Newsline
Fuller Seminary to establish a chair in Anabaptist studies.

Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., is seeking to establish an endowed chair devoted to Radical Reformation thought, named in honor of John Howard Yoder and James William McClendon Jr. The chair will promote the scholarly investigation of Radical Reformation history, theology, and ethics, and will provide leadership for the growing community of Fuller students and faculty from the Anabaptist tradition.

Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder He is best known for his book, "Politics of Jesus," originally published in 1972, and translated into many languages. After completing doctoral studies in Basel, writing his dissertation in German on the disputes between Anabaptists and Reformers, he joined the faculty at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind., in 1965, as well as that of Notre Dame University in 1977, where he taught in the peace studies program and the Department of Theology. While he was clearly the most influential Mennonite theologian of the 20th century, he was committed to persistent and patient dialogue with the wider body of Christ.

James McClendon found his first church home among Southern Baptists. However, he was deeply affected by Yoder’s argument for the centrality of nonviolence in the way of Jesus, and for the role of the church as modeling an alternative form of social existence. He wrote a systematic theology appropriate to the broad Christian movement that he came to call "small-b baptist," a translation of the German term "taufer." He moved to southern California in 1990 to accompany his wife, Nancey Murphy, who began teaching at Fuller in 1989. McClendon taught doctoral seminars on radical-reformation theology at Fuller Seminary, where he was Distinguished Scholar in Residence, and at the Graduate Theological Union. In his teaching and scholarship he was significantly influenced by Church of the Brethren scholars such as Dale Brown and Donald Durnbaugh.

In Pasadena, McClendon and Murphy were delighted to find a church self-consciously in the radical reformation tradition. McClendon was a member of Pasadena Church of the Brethren until his death in 2000, and served for a year there as interim pastor.

Fuller Seminary was founded as a nondenominational institution, and has maintained an evangelical identity inclusive of all varieties of Christians, from Anglican to Pentecostal. There is now a significant Anabaptist presence on campus. Seven faculty members identify with the tradition. For the academic years 2006-07 and 2007-08, 56 students who self-identified as Mennonite, Brethren in Christ, and Church of the Brethren enrolled in various degree programs.

Equally significant is the fact that Fuller’s population is increasingly made up of students and faculty from McClendon’s more broadly baptist designation: Baptists who trace their roots as much to the radical reformation as to the mainline reformers; new free churches that developed in the American frontier; many Pentecostals, charismatics, and nondenominational Christians. Students from Africa, Asia, and Latin America discover the Anabaptist tradition to be relevant to contexts where Christians remain a minority. Anabaptism gives resources for thinking theologically and strategically about faith in a context where Christianity enjoys no privileged status.

--Nancey Murphy is professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary, and a member of Pasadena Church of the Brethren.

Source: 5/06/2009 Newsline
Brethren bits: Job opening, Spanish translators, legislation, more.
  • IMA World Health (founded and incorporated as Interchurch Medical Assistance, Inc.) based at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., is seeking a president/CEO. IMA World Health is an international faith-based member organization advancing health and healing to vulnerable and marginalized people in developing countries. It is a membership association of 12 US Protestant relief and development agencies including the Church of the Brethren, with field offices in Tanzania, Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and Kenya. Responsibilities of the position include among others: providing visionary and strategic leadership; overseeing day-to-day operations; maintaining understanding of financial position and outlook; ensuring fiscal responsibility and security; providing resource development leadership for expansion of the donor base and fostering relations with donors; providing management and direction to staff; communicating the mission of IMA to various audiences and developing and maintain sound relationships with those who share the vision. Ideal candidates will share passion and commitment to advancing health and healing to vulnerable and marginalized people and strengthening health systems in developing countries, and will bring a variety of experiences and attributes including significant senior leadership experience in the nonprofit sector, specifically in a large organization operating in several diverse geographic and cultural locations; a high degree of financial literacy; experience or working knowledge of international public health, including hands-on overseas experience; familiarity with large contract and government organizations; knowledge of and experience in member-based organizations, preferably faith-based; a successful record of fundraising; understanding of the servant leadership model; interpersonal and communications skills and ability as a speaker; a deep Christian faith commitment to Gospel values; integrity and a positive reputation; sensitivity to cultural differences; willingness to travel; and a master’s degree or equivalent. IMA offers a competitive salary and benefits package. IMA has retained TransitionGuides to assist in identifying and recruiting candidates. To apply, e-mail a cover letter, resume, and salary requirements to Send other inquiries to IMA Search c/o TransitionGuides, 1751 Elton Rd., Suite 204, Silver Spring, MD 20903; 301-439-6635. Contact: Ginna Goodenow. Resume reviews will begin in June. Interviews will take place July through September. The board will approve and welcome the new president/CEO in October. Go to for more information.

  • 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 Stanley J. Noffsinger has signed a national faith letter in support of the Employee Free Choice Act. A total of 39 faith-based organizations and denominations signed the letter coordinated by Interfaith Worker Justice and the Poverty Initiative of the National Council of Churches. "As leading religious organizations and denominations representing people of faith throughout the country, we are committed to promoting and uplifting the dignity of working people and particularly low-wage workers," the letter said in part. "We therefore urge you to support the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation that will help to ensure the right of all workers to form unions if they so choose, in order to negotiate decent wages, provide for their families, secure fair benefits and decent working conditions, and have a voice in the workplace." Noffsinger reported that he signed the letter on the basis of the Church of the Brethren General Board’s 1988 "Resolution for a Just Minimum Wage." Go to for the full text of the letter.

  • Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) has welcomed the news that President Obama has signed the "Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act" reauthorizing and expanding national volunteer service programs. "BVS is excited that President Obama has so strongly embraced volunteer service," said director Dan McFadden. "The Brethren have a long history of service being an active part of one’s faith life. The support the administration has for public service can only strengthen BVS." The legislation will increase the number of AmeriCorps volunteers from 75,000 to 250,000, increase education rewards to $5,350, provide incentives for middle and high school students to engage in service, recognize and support universities engaged in service, create new service corps to meet needs in low-income communities, expand service opportunities for older Americans and public-private partnerships, and build a nationwide service infrastructure through community-building investments and social entrepreneurship. "The increase in the education award will be a help to those BVS volunteers who qualify for AmeriCorp through direct service sites," McFadden said. "Many young people come out of college with significant debt and this will be an encouragment for service."

  • The New Windsor Conference Center at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., has begun a major kitchen renovation. The four-week construction project will replace equipment to meet fire and safety regulations, and also will expand the facility and allow for safer and more user friendly work stations, better customer flow, and upgrades to operating systems. During the renovation, a self-service area and a temporary kitchen will operate out of the rear dining room. Dining services will be continue to be open daily for lunch.

  • SERRV has received the inaugural award for "Outstanding Service to the Fair Trade Community" from the Fair Trade Federation (FTF). SERRV was begun as a Church of the Brethren program. Carmen Iezzi, executive director of FTF, applauded SERRV saying, "The Fair Trade Federation could think of no better organization to honor with its first Award for Service to the Fair Trade Community than SERRV. Their tireless commitment to artisans and farmers over the last 60 years, as well as their numerous contributions to the broader Fair Trade movement, are a great example to new and established Fair Trade Organizations alike."

  • An orientation for the Training in Ministry and Education for Shared Ministry programs of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership took place at Bethany Seminary in Richmond, Ind., on March 26-29. Participants included Amy Bell of Union Bridge, Md.; Sharon Heien of Centerville, Iowa; Becky Henry of Frederick, Md.; Marilyn Koehler of Udell, Iowa; Diane Mason of Moulton, Iowa; Janice Shull of Venice, Fla.; Diana Smith of Warsaw, Mo.; and Jeremy Westlake of Browning, Ill.

  • Prayer requests from RECONCILE, a partner organization in southern Sudan where the Church of the Brethren mission has placed staff, include prayer for a trauma healing program with 51 children who were affected by recent Lord’s Resistance Army attacks on the city of Yei. The Lord’s Resistance Army is a rebel group from Uganda. "Pray especially for the children who have had family members killed or abducted," RECONCILE staff asked. RECONCILE also received news of a serious raid in Akobo, a major center of the Presbyterian Church of Sudan, leaving 177 people dead. In addition, the staff requested people of faith to join in praising God "for how well the three-month courses here at RECONCILE Peace Institute are going and pray that the Lord would use the students as instruments of peace and healing."

  • Onekama (Mich.) Church of the Brethren is celebrating its 100th anniversary on June 13-14. Pastor Frances Townsend reports that a book about the history of the church and its founding pastor, J. Edson Ulery, is now online. "We in the congregation have always enjoyed the book, ‘A Heap of Living,’ by Cora Helman," Townsend wrote. "Recently her great nephew Jeff Clemans finally read the book he had heard of in family circles. He was so excited by it that he created a website and put the entire contents on it. The website also includes a picture biography of Cora Helman." Go to to find the book online.

  • Three Church of the Brethren congregations in the Harrisonburg and Dayton areas of Virginia--Fairview, Greenmount, and Mount Bethel--are among 10 churches, Ruritan clubs, and a Boy Scout troop who are sponsoring a new food pantry.

  • Olympia, Lacey (Wash.) Community Church of the Brethren has offered to host Camp Quixote during July and August. Camp Quixote is a camp for people who live "without traditional housing," according to a report by Howard Ullery in the church newsletter. Ullery wrote that "hosting this camp...has felt like a calling for our congregation for some time."

  • The Illinois and Wisconsin District Leadership Team has begun an effort to visit as many churches as possible in the district, in order to meet personally with pastors and members. The team held its most recent meeting at Woodland Church of the Brethren in Astoria, Ill., in April. The Leadership Team has met in 12 different congregations since District Conference in 2007.

  • The McPherson (Kan.) College Board of Trustees in March approved a "Plan for Sustainability" to address financial concerns related to a declining endowment, a need to balance the budget, and to create a plan for future growth. According to a release from the college, in December the board invited faculty to develop proposals and adopted a revised plan this spring. "In light of these significant economic issues, some more difficult financial decisions were necessary," the release said. Reductions in staffing include adjunct staffing in academic areas including business and behavioral science; elimination of a half-time position in physical education and two staff in the library and academic dean’s office. Tuition and fees will be increased by about 6 percent. Advancement, athletic, and administrative budgets will be decreased collectively by about $100,000. The Spanish major will become dormant, but the college will continue to offer up to 12 hours of Spanish language courses each year. Theater and music departments will combine to form a new performing arts major with three fulltime faculty. The instrumental music program will be discontinued. The history department will continue to offer a major with a more compact set of course offerings while providing an opportunity for teacher licensure with two fulltime faculty. "Due to the continuing declines in the financial markets since the original announcement of this plan, the college has regretfully decided to suspend the college’s contribution to its employee retirement plans," the release said. "The board will revisit this decision at its future meetings." The plan also features a combination of donor-designated endowed funds to allow the college to continue and enhance a variety of programing related to philosophy and religion, peace and Christian service, including the campus ministry position. Go to for the full plan.

  • Bridgewater (Va.) College has announced a Presidential Search Committee. The committee will conduct the search for a replacement for retiring president Phillip C. Stone. The committee will be chaired by G. Steven Agee, a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The committee also includes Judy Mills Reimer, former general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, along with William S. Earhart, Michael K. Kyles, Robert I. Stolzman, James H. Walsh, W. Steve Watson Jr., James L. Wilkerson, and Kathy G. Wright.

  • Colleen Hamilton, a Church of the Brethren student at Manchester College, is one of two students to win top honors at the school’s 11th annual Student Research Symposium. Hamilton, a senior from Rockford, Mich., was honored for her paper, "A Springtime for Our Language: The Protection and Promotion of Regional and Minority Languages in Europe." Also honored was Utsav Hanspal of New Delhi, India, for his paper, "Temperature Analysis of Galactic Bubbles."

  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) co-director Carol Rose has announced that programs are at risk because of financial concerns. "CPT has always lived with the tenuous balance of having the work to do, the people to do it, and finding enough money to fund it," Rose wrote in a release. "Now, for the first time, the balance has tipped to the degree that we may need to suspend and scale back compelling peacemaking work because funds are low." CPT has "made the difficult decision to freeze the stipended Peacemaker Corps at its current size," Rose reported. "On every team, CPTers are drastically reducing expenses. Some have offered to work fulltime without pay or with deep cuts to very modest subsistence stipends." The release also listed opportunities for continued and expanded CPT work including renewed work in Palestine in the old city of Al Khalil (Hebron) and communities around the village of at-Tuwani; training opportunities in Colombia and the UK; opportunities in the DR Congo; and to accompany Kurdish Iraqi villagers displaced by Turkish bombing. Go to for more about CPT.

  • Mark Kuntz of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., and a cello player in the Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO), has been honored by the Illinois Council of Orchestras for 50 years with the ESO.

  • Chuck Riedesel of Holmesville (Neb.) Church of the Brethren, who teaches computer science and engineering at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, has won the James A. Griesen 2009 Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Service to Students.

  • Mary Goetzke, a resident of Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, celebrated her 102nd birthday on April 7 at the Church of the Brethren retirement community in Boonsboro, Md. Asked how she feels to be 102, Goetzke said, "That’s what they say, but I don’t feel any different," according to a release from Fahrney-Keedy. As for advice on living as long as she has, she says people should, "Just live a good, common, clean life."
Source: 5/06/2009 Newsline
Stephen Abe to conclude his service as West Marva District executive.

Stephen E. Abe will conclude his service as district executive minister of the Church of the Brethren’s West Marva District effective Sept. 30. He has served in the position for nine years, since Jan. 1, 2000, working out of the district office in Oakland, Md.

Previously, Abe served as pastor of Elkins (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren from 1992-2000. He recently has been the Council of District Executives’ representative to the Church of the Brethren’s Mission and Ministry Board, as an ex-officio member. He is a graduate of Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio, an institution affiliated with the Brethren Church.

Source: 5/06/2009 Newsline
Joan Lowry retires as district executive for Southern Plains.

A. Joan Lowry has retired as district executive minister of Southern Plains District, effective March 31. She began her service to the district on Aug. 1, 2003, when she originally was called to serve as district administrative secretary in a one-year interim position.

She previously had served team pastorates in Thomas, Okla., and Waka, Texas. She and her husband, Jim, also have managed the district’s Spring Lake Retreat and Camp Center in Ripley, Okla. In volunteer service to the district, Lowry has been a district moderator and has served on the district board.

Until May 15, contact information for Southern Plains District is care of Arnold Cowen, District Board Chair, 1405 Par Rd., Perry, OK 73077; or 580-336-5645.

Source: 5/06/2009 Newsline
Sonja Griffith named as district executive for Western Plains.

Sonja Sherfy Griffith will serve as district executive of Western Plains District in a half-time position beginning Jan. 1, 2010. She also will continue as part-time pastor of First Central Church of the Brethren in Kansas City, Kan., where she has served for the past 12 years. Ken and Elsie Holderread retire as co-district executives on Dec. 31.

Griffith’s leadership in the district has included service as district moderator, as a member of the District Board, as chair of the Witness Commission, as a member of the Transformation Steering Team, and as an Area Minister. She has been active denominationally as a founding member and a continuing presence on the Cross Cultural Ministries Team.

She attended McPherson (Kan.) College and is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Nursing and holds a degree in Public Health Nursing from the University of Minnesota. During her nursing career, she served as a public health nurse and as a college nursing faculty member for more than 30 years. She has completed the Training in Ministry program of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership and has earned a master of theology degree from St. Paul School of Theology.

The Western Plains District Office will continue to be located in McPherson, Kan.

Source: 5/06/2009 Newsline
Gene Hagenberger to serve as executive for Mid-Atlantic District.

Gene Hagenberger begins as district executive minister of Mid-Atlantic District on Aug.1. He brings more than 27 years of pastoral experience to the position. Since June 1998 he has served as pastor of Easton (Md.) Church of the Brethren, and previously served churches in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland.

His district leadership has included service as chair and vice-chair of the Mid-Atlantic District Leadership Team, and on the Visioning Committee and Constitution and Bylaws Review and Revision Committee. He has represented the district on Standing Committee.

Hagenberger is a graduate of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, attended Drew Theological Seminary, and earned a degree from Western Maryland College with a concentration in Counseling. He holds a certificate in Clinical Pastoral Education from the Shore Health System in Easton, and has completed the Advanced Foundations of Church Leadership program of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership.

Source: 5/06/2009 Newsline
United against racism: Dignity and justice for all.

Doris Abdullah, the Church of the Brethren’s representative to the United Nations and a member of the NGO Sub-Committee for the Elimination of Racism, attended the UN Durban Review Conference in Switzerland on April 20-24. She has provided the following report:

I am using "successful" to describe the outcome of the conference because it accomplished its goal of having a world follow-up meeting to assess the 2001 Durban Declaration, which provided an important new framework for guiding governments, NGOs, and other individuals and institutions in their efforts to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and similar forms of intolerance.

The final outcome document was not what I would have wanted, but the fact remains that the document was reached by consensus of the world body, including the nine nations that either walked out or otherwise protested the conference on the opening day. The final document did not offend any nation and that in itself gives an opening to civil society organizations, such as ourselves, to continue our fight for human rights for the people racially discriminated against such as the following long list:

One of the largest racially discriminated groups are the Dalits, victims of racial discrimination based in the caste system. Dalit is a caste group born with the identity of "untouchable" and "lower caste." Dalits number between 250 million to 300 million persons found mostly in India, 5.4 million persons in Nepal, and millions in other parts of Southeast Asia and Africa.

Racial discrimination against indigenous peoples, who number 370 million in 70 countries. Indigenous peoples have in common a historical continuity with a given region prior to colonization, and a strong link to their lands. They maintain distinct social, economic, and political systems with distinct languages, cultures, beliefs, and knowledge systems. Two of the many racially discriminated issues raised by indigenous people are climate change and access to safe drinking water.

Persons belonging to national, ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities. The Roma people, found throughout Europe, are the persons most identified as racially discriminated against. Article 27 of the "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" states that "persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right in community with the other members of their group to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language."

Women face multiple forms of discrimination. The majority of the world's poorest people are women, who are further affected by discrimination if they belong to minority groups. Women who are discriminated against on the basis of both gender and race are frequently subject to violence. The UN "Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women" (CEDAW) has been ratified by 185 states.

Migrants experience racial discrimination. It is estimated that more than 200 million people live outside their countries of origin. Irrespective of immigration status, migrants are entitled to human rights including economic, social, and cultural rights. There are state-criminalized migration offences throughout the globe. International treaties explicitly recognize that factors such as race, color, and national origin contribute to discrimination, exclusion, and disadvantages for migrants.

People of African descent. The UN Commission on Human Rights has created the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, a Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, an Independent Expert on minority issues, and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which have consistently taken up Afro-descendant issues. For 400 years, people of African descent were marginalized as part of the legacy of slavery and colonialism. Racism and racial discrimination have caused people of African descent to suffer exclusion and poverty. African descendants are disadvantaged in access to education, health care, markets, loans, and technology.

Others mentioned at the conference as victims of racism include the Buraku people of Japan, and the Palestinian people.

In 2001 the Durban Conference was attended by 18,000 people with 2,500 delegates from 170 countries including 16 heads of state. Only one head of state attended this year’s Review Conference--the President of Iran--but all 192 heads of member states were invited.

Not one of the nations that walked out because of Iran's remarks called what was said incorrect, but instead poured out their rage on the President of Iran personally and the conference as a whole. I believe that they merely did not want to confront the racism in their own countries.

Canada does not want to engage its indigenous population in dialogue about disputed lands, Israel does not want to talk about the segregation wall on Palestinian lands, the US does not want conversation about reparations for slavery, and Europe does not want to speak about the millions of people of color who have come to European countries since globalization and are denied equal access and basic human rights.

-- Doris Abdullah is the Church of the Brethren’s representative to the United Nations and a member of the NGO Sub-Committee for the Elimination of Racism.

Source: 5/06/2009 Newsline
‘We thank you for the check....’

Following are just a few of the many responses from food banks to the Church of the Brethren matching grants for domestic hunger relief. The program helped congregations around the country raise money over the winter for local food needs, matched by grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund and Emergency Disaster Fund. The responses have been compiled by Howard Royer, manager of the Global Food Crisis Fund:

"Our kitchen serves three meals a day, every day of the year, to the homeless under our roof. On their behalf, God bless!" -- Chris Smith, Lebanon (Pa.) Rescue Mission, and minister at Midway Church of the Brethren

"I am thanking you on behalf of our church, the Big Sky Church (American Baptist/Church of the Brethren) of Froid, Mont., of which I am a member, and our Culbertson Food Bank for which I serve as coordinator under the auspices of the Ministerial Association. As in many areas, we are seeing more and more families turning to local food banks for assistance. So we really appreciate the financial help we received from you. May God richly bless each one of you as you serve in this ministry." -- Eva May Knudson, Culbertson Food Bank, Froid, Mon.

"We thank you for the check for $500 for our pantry. The money will help us out a great deal to buy groceries for our increasing number of clients. We were happy to see that the Polo Church of the Brethren was able to raise such a large amount also. Thank you for your kindness and generosity!" -- Avis Ehmen and Anne Vock, Polo (Ill.) Lifeline Food Pantry

"Without the loving kindness and support of people like the Mountville Church of the Brethren, our ministry plainly speaking would go ‘belly up.’ These disciples of Christ are awesome in our eyes." -- Columbia Food Bank, Mountville, Pa.

"Thank you for your donation of $500 given to our Second Harvest Food Bank campaign, ‘A Region Responds to Ending Hunger,’ matching the $500 gift of the Anderson Church of the Brethren. Your gift qualifies for the Kresge Challenge and will generate $250 more when our $4 million goal is met." -- Lois Rockhill, executive director, Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana, Muncie, Ind.

Source: 5/06/2009 Newsline
Brethren Disaster Ministries offers workcamps in Haiti.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is seeking volunteers to help build homes in Haiti, as part of a new disaster recovery project following hurricanes and storms that caused widespread destruction in Haiti last year. This longterm response project was initiated earlier this year by Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Church of the Brethren Haiti Mission. It has been funded by grants totaling $305,000 from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund.

Jeff Boshart is serving as the Haiti disaster response coordinator, working with Haitian consultant Klebert Exceus of Orlando, Fla., in cooperation with Haiti mission coordinator Ludovic St. Fleur and the Haitian Brethren congregations.

"This is an exciting chance to serve and worship alongside our Haitian Brethren," said the announcement. "So far, Brethren Disaster Ministries has helped build 40 homes in Haiti. While we are thankful for progress made, there is so much more to be accomplished. We will be building 60 more homes, and volunteers are needed to meet this goal."

Three Haiti Hurricane Response Workcamps are planned for 2009: on May 30-June 8 (registration is due by May 11), Aug. 7-16 (registration is due by July 6), and in October (dates to be announced). Volunteers will work, eat, and worship with Haitian Christians and help rebuild homes in the mountainous Mirebalais area and the coastal city of Gonaíves. Workcampers also will worship with the Haitian Brethren in the capital Port-au-Prince and other preaching points.

Cost will be from $1,000-$1,200, from Miami, Fla. The fee will cover meals, lodging, in-country transportation, and travel insurance, but does not include round-trip transportation from the volunteer’s home to Miami.

Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older. Other requirements include excellent health, stamina for hard work in a hot climate and two-mile treks up mountain paths, a passport, appropriate vaccinations and medications (malaria medications are recommended), and sensitivity and flexibility with regard to cultural differences.

In addition to home rebuilding, the broad-based project also includes a micro-loan program to fund the purchase of farm animals and support small businesses, shipment of meals for local schools, medical supplies for clinics, providing canned meat from the Mid-Atlantic and Southern Pennsylvania Districts canning project, and training and capacity building for Haitian leadership.

For more information or to register for a workcamp, go to or call 800-451-4407.

In other disaster relief news, the Emergency Disaster Fund has given recent grants in the amounts of $60,000 for the Brethren Disaster Ministries’ Hurricane Katrina rebuilding site 4 in Chalmette, La.; and $5,000 for a CWS appeal following extreme flooding and flood damage in several areas of the United States.

Source: 5/07/2009 Newsline Extra
50th Anniversary Open House to be held at General Offices.

On May 13, a 50th Anniversary Open House will be held at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. "What do these stones mean to you?" (Joshua 4:6) is the theme.

The Open House will begin at 1:15 p.m. on May 13 with building tours. At 2 p.m. "Worship in Word and Song" will be held in the unique stone-walled chapel, led by Wil Nolen and the choir of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren. The speaker will be Annual Conference secretary Fred Swartz. At 2:30 p.m. a program of "Stories of Living Stones" will be led by Howard Royer, manager of the denomination’s Global Food Crisis Fund and a church staff member in Elgin for more than 50 years. A reception will follow, and another opportunity for tours of the building.

On April 8, 1959, the building was opened on Dundee Avenue after the church moved its offices from a previous location on State Street in downtown Elgin. This year also marks the 110th anniversary of the church’s move to the city.

Currently the building houses Church of the Brethren denominational staff, the Brethren Benefit Trust, the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra, and Living Gospel Church of God in Christ. Around the building are expanses of lawn, and behind it lie a section of community garden plots.

Source: 5/07/2009 Newsline Extra
Bethany Theological Seminary observes its 104th commencement.

On May 9, Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., will celebrate its 104th commencement. Two observances will mark the occasion. A ceremony for conferring degrees will take place in Bethany's Nicarry Chapel at 10 a.m. Admittance to this ceremony is by ticket only. A worship service, open to the public, will be held at Richmond Church of the Brethren at 2:30 p.m.

Christina Bucher, dean of faculty and Carl W. Zeigler professor of religion at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, will give an address titled "The Allure of God and the Lure of Love," based on the biblical texts of Song of Songs 2:8-17 and 8:6-7 and 1 John 4:7-21, at the academic ceremony.

Russell Haitch, Bethany’s associate professor of Christian education and director of the Institute for Ministry With Youth and Young Adults, will speak at the afternoon worship service. His message, "Limping and Leaping," will be based on Genesis 32:22-32.

Five students will receive master of divinity degrees: Charles Myron Bell of New Castle, Ind.; Kendra Lynnette Flory of McPherson, Kan.; Holly Sue Hathaway of Connersville, Ind.; Dava Cruise Hensley of Roanoke, Va.; and Sandra K. Jenkins of Centerville, Ohio.

Three students will receive master of arts in theology degrees: Valerie Jean Knickrehm Friedell of Goshen, Ind.; Karen Ann Garrett of Eaton, Ohio; and Haley Marie Goodwin of Carlisle, Pa.

Receiving a certificate of achievement in theological studies is Mary Alice Eller of Richmond, Ind.

Graduates' future endeavors include careers in pastoral and congregational ministry, teaching, and additional graduate study.

-- Marcia Shetler is director of Public Relations at Bethany Theological Seminary.

Source: 5/07/2009 Newsline Extra
Study tour to Armenia is open for applications.

Space is still available in the joint Heifer International and Church of the Brethren Study Tour to Armenia and Georgia on Sept. 17-Oct. 1. The tour will include visits to Heifer Armenia projects focusing on peace, cultural sites, and sites connected with the Church of the Brethren’s relief work in Armenia that began in 1919.

The first five days of the tour will be spent in the country of Georgia, visiting Heifer dairy and rehabilitation projects.

Cost is $3,500 and includes accommodations, meals, in-country transportation, project visits, tour leaders and guides, workshops, and sightseeing. The tour leaders are Jan Schrock, senior advisor for Heifer International, and Kathleen Campanella, director of Partner and Public Relations at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

Contact Jan Schrock at to receive an itinerary and application form or go to for more information about the tour including a study tour overview, an application form, and the Armenia Annual Report from Heifer International.

Source: 5/07/2009 Newsline Extra
Cross Keys to dedicate new Wellness Center, apartments.

Cross Keys Village-The Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa., will dedicate the new Harvey S. Kline Wellness Center and Harmony Ridge West Apartments on May 29. An Open House for the facilities will be held the next day. The public is invited to both events.

The wellness center is named for the Church of the Brethren clergy member who served as administrator and president from 1971-89. Harvey and Ruth Kline now live at Cross Keys. The wellness center portion of the project is being funded by private donations, currently totaling more than $2.5 million.

The 127,000-square-foot project includes 56 apartments; a wellness center with pool, exercise room, cardio equipment room, changing rooms, and salon/spa; and a community center expansion with café restaurant and spaces for recreation, meetings, business, and activities of all kinds.

The dedication ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. Friday in the front Harmony Ridge West parking lot, and the open house will be from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. throughout the building. The guest speaker for the dedication will be Larry Minnix, president/CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, the national association representing nonprofit retirement communities, nursing homes, assisted living, and other senior service endeavors.

New villagers began moving into the apartments on April 13, with the other facilities beginning operations at various times in May.

-- Frank Buhrman is director of public relations for Cross Keys Village-Brethren Home Community.

Source: 5/07/2009 Newsline Extra
Shepherd’s Spring holds grand opening for Heifer Global Village.

The public is invited to the grand opening celebration of a new Heifer Global Village at Shepherd’s Spring in Sharpsburg, Md. The celebration takes place May 9 from 2-4 p.m. Admission is free.

Shepherd’s Spring is an outdoor ministry center of the Church of the Brethren’s Mid-Atlantic District, providing summer camp programs and retreat and conference facilities. The district has worked closely with Heifer International,--a nonprofit organization originally begun by the Church of the Brethren dedicated to ending world hunger and poverty--to bring the Heifer Global Village experience to Shepherd’s Spring.

Through programs designed by Heifer International, the Heifer Global Village raises awareness of hunger and poverty by giving participants a first-hand experience of the daily struggles that people in poverty face every day to simply feed their family a meager meal. By living the lessons of poverty first-hand, participants come to understand the complications surrounding hunger and poverty and see their connection in creating change that brings possibility and hope to millions around the world.

During the grand opening celebration, visitors will take a guided tour of the Heifer Global Village featuring homes representing Kenya, Guatemala, Mozambique, and the Appalachian region of the US. Volunteers will offer guests food samples, such as tortillas eaten in Guatemala, and cashews from Mozambique. Attendees will learn about the Global Village programs and about Heifer International’s work as they meet several of the animals that Heifer provides to struggling families around the world including goats, pigs, and other traditional farm animals.

Education has long been an important part of Heifer’s mission. Heifer lives its mission by sharing the knowledge that it has gained in 60 years of fighting global hunger and poverty. Since 1944, when it began as the Church of the Brethren program Heifer Project, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income.

Every gift of an animal provides benefits such as milk, eggs, wool, and fertilizer, increasing family incomes for better housing, nutrition, health care, and school fees for children. Recipients then "pass on the gift" of offspring of their cows, goats and other livestock to others.

For more information about the celebration visit or contact or 301-223-8193. For more information about Heifer International visit or call 800-696-1918.

-- Ann Cornell serves as administrator for Shepherd’s Spring.

Source: 5/07/2009 Newsline Extra
Brethren bits: More upcoming events!
  • The Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., will host a meeting of the National Council of Churches (NCC) Governing Board on May 18-19. The meeting is expected to gather about 60 people from a variety of Christian denominations to consider an agenda that may include action on a budget, panel presentations on a Peace Church Gathering and on the ecumenical document Joint Declaration of Justification, and a number of reports from committees and commissions of the NCC and related organizations including Church World Service. H.E. Archbishop Vicken Aykazian will preside. Church of the Brethren staff will lead the opening chapel service.

  • The SERRV Store at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., is holding a World Fair Trade Day on May 9. "Come and have a Fair Trade Coffee Break with us," said an invitation. "Sample some of our Amazing Coffees, Divine Chocolates, and delicious jams and jellies, all out for our customers to enjoy." Copies of the new Brethren Press history of the Brethren Service Center written by R. Jan and Roma Jo Thompson, "Beyond our Means: How the Brethren Service Center Dared to Embrace the World," are available in the SERRV Store.

  • The annual Ministers’ Association Continuing Education Event takes place prior to the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in San Diego, Calif., on June 25-26. The theme will be, "Paradoxes of Congregational Conflict: Pastoral Leadership in Interpersonal Peacemaking."

    Celia Cook Huffman, professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., will be the presenter. Go to to register online. Registrations are due by June 10. For more information contact Dave Miller, chair of the Ministers' Association, at or 717-637-6170.

  • A trial date of May 26 has been set for the 12 people arrested for civil disobedience at Colosimo’s Gun Center in Philadelphia, Pa., as part of the "Heeding God’s Call" gathering of the three Historic Peace Churches that took place in January. The trial will take place at Philadelphia’s Criminal Justice Center. Those arrested included Church of the Brethren members Phil Jones and Mimi Copp, along with community advocates from Camden, N.J., and Philadelphia, Christian clergy from three denominations, and a Jewish rabbi. The "Heeding God’s Call" gathering launched a faith-based initiative against gun violence in America’s cities, requesting gun dealers to sign a code of conduct for responsible gun sales. "Please join us in supporting these individuals during their trial and help continue Heeding God’s Call movement to end gun violence," said an e-mail notice from Therese Miller, one of the coordinators of the gathering. Miller also announced a second Gathering of Partner Faith Communities in the initiative against gun violence, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on May 16 at Cookman United Methodist Church in Philadelphia. Five new partner communities have joined the group, bringing the total number of congregations involved to 38 including among others Mennonite, Friends, Episcopal, Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Jewish, and Muslim congregations.

  • A Second Annual Southern Ohio District FIESTA celebration of Hispanic ministry takes place May 16 from 5-7 p.m. at Iglesia de los Hermanos Cristo Nuestra Paz (Christ Our Peace Church of the Brethren), hosted by New Carlisle Church of the Brethren. The menu will be prepared by chef Ramona Rivera and will include arroz con pollo, Puerto Rican chicken rice, along with habichuelas (beans), ensalada (salad), pan con ajos (garlic bread), and a postre or dessert of sweet rice with coconut. A love offering will support the ministry of Iglesia de Los Hermanos Cristo Nuestra Paz.

  • Fundraising events leading up to the 2009 World Hunger Auction in Virlina District have been scheduled. A Mini-Golf Tournament will be held at Hot Shots in Smith Mountain Lake on May 16 at 1 p.m. The Hunger Bike Ride starts at Antioch Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va., on May 30 at 8 a.m., with a choice of short courses or 25 or 50 mile routes. A Family Fun Day will be held at Monte Vista Acres on June 20 at 4 p.m. An organ concert by Jonathan Emmons, who has been an Annual Conference organist and currently is an instructor at Wesley College Department of Music, will be offered Aug. 2 at 3 p.m. at the Antioch Church. The 26th Annual World Hunger Auction will be on Aug. 8 at 9:30 a.m. at the Antioch Church. Go to for more information and pledge sheets for events.

  • Germantown Brick Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va., is sponsoring its third annual E.J. Smith Memorial canoe outing on the James River, on May 16. Contributions will be received for Relay for Life. Contact Ronnie Hale at 540-334-2077.

  • An "iCare NOLA Workcamp" on June 13-20 will take a group of youth and adults to do disaster relief work in New Orleans, sponsored by Camp Ithiel and NOLA East Brethren Home, and the Atlantic Southeast District Brethren Disaster Team. The group will help reconstruct homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Contact or 407-293-3481.

  • The Bridgewater (Va.) College 2009 commencement address will be given by Edward Ayers, American historian and president of the University of Richmond, speaking on "Graduating in Unusual Times." The ceremony takes place at 2 p.m., on Sunday, May 17. Nearly 300 seniors are expected to receive degrees. Jeffrey Carter, pastor of Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren, will deliver the message at the 10 a.m. baccalaureate service in Nininger Hall, speaking on the topic "Thinking and Doing What Is Right."

  • The Juniata College commencement address will be given by Peter Marzio, director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, and Juniata graduate. Juniata College is located in Huntingdon, Pa. Marzio also will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at Juniata's 131st Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. on May 16.

  • A Study Tour of Israel/Palestine and Jordan will be led by Bridgewater (Va.) College chaplain Robbie Miller in Jan. 2010. The 15-day tour will be part of the "Religion 315: Lands of the Bible" interterm course. The tour will be conducted by the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, and will visit sites of biblical and religious importance including Jericho, Petra, Qumran, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem, Capernaum, Masada, and more. Cost including airfare will be approximately $3,400. The Church of the Brethren’s Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center will grant 8 continuing education units for the tour. Contact Miller at or 540-828-5383.

  • "Beyond SECURITY: 2009" is a North American Stewardship Conference recommended by the Church of the Brethren’s stewardship staff. The event takes place on June 18-20 in Toronto. Featured presenters include Blair Clark, Associate General Secretary of Canadian Baptist Ministries; Eleanor Clitheroe, rector of St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Smithville, Ontario, and Executive Director of Prison Fellowship Canada; Nathan Dungan, founder and president of Share Save Spend; Bev Foster, director of music at Church of the Ascension in Port Perry, Ontario, and executive director of the Room 217 Foundation; Bill Phipps, co-founder and chair of Faith and the Common Good; Rick Tobias, CEO of Yonge Street Mission in Toronto; and Henry Wildeboer, who has served as Regional Director for the Christian Reformed Church in Ontario and Eastern Canada and as Associate Professor at Tyndale Seminary. A wide variety of workshops will be offered on topics such as "Multiplying the Gift: Tax-Effective Giving," and "Soul-Mapping: Discovering Abundance in Personal Time and Space" and "Food: Eating Ethically." Hotel reservations may be made for $94 (single) or $99 (double). Cost of registration is $325 by May 15, $350 thereafter. A one-day rates is available. Go to for more information.

  • Churches in many countries are preparing for a "World Week of Peace in Palestine and Israel," according to a release from the World Council of Churches (WCC). The week of June 4-10 is intended to generate joint church action for a just peace in Israel and Palestine. The WCC-led week of action is in its fourth year. Participants are invited to pray, educate, and advocate, with a 2009 focus on Israeli settlements in occupied territory. A prayer offered by the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem has been sent to more than 120 countries. Among ideas for activities during the week, a Palestinian community organization is offering a way for people to join in by sending peace prayers to Bethlehem. A church-related community organization there will share the prayers for worldwide use online and to be read aloud locally at the Separation Wall, near settlements, and in Palestinian parishes and schools including in Gaza. Go to for resources including a message, prayers, and liturgies.

  • "Israeli-Palestinian Peace: Hope for Things Unseen" (Hebrews 11:1) is the title of the conference of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) on June 7-9 in Washington, D.C., at Gallaudet University. "The conference is an occasion to reflect on the challenging and complex situation in the Holy Land," said an announcement. "The facts on the ground are discouraging and give few reasons for optimism. In fact many doubt the possibility of peace. But faith leads us to a hope that perceives a reality beyond optimism. Faith affirms our role as advocates for a just and lasting peace--two states living side by side with dignity and security for all the peoples of the region." Speakers include Amjad Attalah and Daniel Levy, co-directors of the Middle East Task Force at the New America Foundation; Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council and an expert on US-Iranian relations; and Danny Seidemann, founder and legal advisor for 'Ir Amim', a nonprofit association dedicated to an equitable, stable, and sustainable Jerusalem, and a practicing attorney in Jerusalem. Participants will have an opportunity to meet with elected officials. Go to for schedule and cost information and to register.

  • The National Council of Churches (NCC) Eco-Justice Program is offering resources and action ideas for Endangered Species Day on May 15. "The call to protect species lies not in human-centered benefits, but in a biblically centered directive to protect species for the sake of God," said an announcement. This year, the program is encouraging Christians to contact government representatives about the construction of a fence along the southern border of the US, with concerns for its impact on endangered species as well as public lands and water. More than 35 environmental laws may be waived in order to complete the fence, the release said. Go to to contact Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano about the waiver of environmental laws. Go to for education and worship resources on biodiversity and endangered species.
Source: 5/07/2009 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. Jordan Blevins, Mary Eller, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Mary K. Heatwole, Jon Kobel, Jeri S. Kornegay, Elizabeth Mullich, Carmen Rubio, Glen Sargent, John Wall, and Shelly Wagner contributed to this report.