Thursday, July 30, 2009

Brethren send two shipments of food for children in Haiti.

Two containers of food and supplies have been shipped to help children in Haiti this summer, through the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Material Resources program at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

The container shipments are part of an ongoing disaster relief and rebuilding project of Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Church of the Brethren mission in Haiti. The shipments support the work of several organizations serving children in Haiti, including the Church of the Brethren mission; SELEEG, an organization of pastors in the city of Gonaives; the Eben-Ezer Mission in Gonaives; and the organization Feed My Starving Children, which supplied the food for the first shipment.

The first shipment arrived in Haiti in April and cleared customs in May. It included nutritionally balanced food packets to use in schools and church programs for children, reported Roy Winter, executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries. "Feed My Starving Children donated the food, we provided shipping from Illinois to Gonaives. This was a direct request from the pastors group in Gonaives--SELEEG.... This food is designed to be served as hot meals for the children while at school. That way we know they are getting the food."

A second shipment in June included medical supplies for the hospital and clinic in Gonaives and canned chicken provided by the Meat Canning Committee of the Church of the Brethren’s Southern Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic Districts. The canned meat from the districts was shipped by Brethren Disaster Ministries, and is intended for distribution by the Church of the Brethren mission in Haiti. The distribution will be coordinated by mission coordinator Ludovic St. Fleur.

Michel Morisset, pastor of the Eben-Ezer Mission, responded to the shipment of food with a thank you letter by e-mail. "In the name of SELEEG and Eben-Ezer Mission, we wish to thank you for the food donation," he wrote. He reported that SELEEG's board held a meeting to plan for the distribution of the food among its members (churches, church organizations, orphans, schools, etc.), and that the distribution began on June 23.

"Many people are happy," his e-mail concluded.

The Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) recently gave a major grant of $65,000 to continue support for the work in Haiti. Previous grants to this project total $305,000.

In another recent grant, the EDF issued $20,000 to help Brethren Disaster Ministries open a new rebuilding project in northwest Indiana. The project continues Brethren work in the state following heavy rains and flooding last September. The grant will support volunteer housing at the new project site, as well as food, tools, equipment, and other on-site expenses. Go to and click on the link for "Serve" and then "Brethren Disaster Ministries" for more information about disaster relief.

Source: 7/30/2009 Newsline
Brethren Digital Archives project adopts a mission statement.

At a meeting on June 3, the Brethren Digital Archives (BDA) project adopted the following mission statement: "To digitize with maximum searchability Brethren periodicals produced from the beginning of publication to the year 2000."

The word "Brethren" in the statement refers to bodies that trace their origin to the baptism near Schwarzenau, Germany, in 1708. The group heading up the project plans to produce a digital archives according to nationally recognized standards that can be made available to researchers through the various participating Brethren bodies.

Brethren periodicals provide a great deal of historical data and theological information about the Brethren. Some Brethren periodicals have been transferred to microfilm for preservation, but microfilm is not searchable on a computer. Included in their pages are Bible study articles, theological debate, accounts of missionaries, reports on annual meetings, family history information, and some photographs.

The ultimate goal of the Brethren Digital Archives project is to digitize Brethren periodicals starting with "The Monthly Gospel-Visiter" begun by Henry Kurtz in 1851, and concluding with all Brethren periodicals being published at the end of the 20th century. The first phase of the project would include periodicals published before the divisions that took place between Brethren groups in the early 1880s.

The June 3 meeting was hosted by the Brethren Historical Library and Archives in Elgin, Ill. Three earlier meetings were hosted by the Brethren Heritage Center in Brookville, Ohio. The next meeting is scheduled at the Young Center at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. The meetings are historic in that for the first time they include archivists, librarians, and historians from many Brethren bodies.

-- Jeanine Wine and Ken Shaffer contributed this report.

Source: 7/30/2009 Newsline
McPherson College receives generous gift for Christian service.

McPherson College has received a generous $2.7 million gift from the estate of Donna Rose McChesney Allen of DuBois, Pa. The gift establishes the Elsie Whitmer McChesney of Zenda, Kansas, Endowment Fund to educate students in Christian service and to prepare them for a life of Christian ministry and service. McPherson College is a Church of the Brethren school located in McPherson, Kan.

In preparation for this gift, which is named for Allen’s mother, the Philosophy and Religion Department has recently conducted a program review. In addition, McPherson College has gathered a team including faculty, church leadership, the campus pastor, the college president, and other staff to create a strategy for the best utilization of this gift.

"It is very exciting and almost unreal that in light of the current US economic crisis, we are now presented with such an extraordinary gift," said department chair of Philosophy and Religion, Herb Smith.

Smith added, "Donna Allen took almost all of the courses offered by McPherson College in philosophy and religion in her retirement years. As her professor, I found her to be incredibly pleasant, upbeat and appreciative. It was a treat to have her in class, and the students really respected her. The college will greatly benefit from her generosity."

"Donna was very focused on the Church of the Brethren and her family was tied to Kansas. She also thought highly of Herb and his wife, Jeanne Smith, and their work at the college," said Mary Workman, a close friend and 1945 McPherson graduate. Workman remembers Allen as a kind, giving person, with an interest in her family, her ancestry, and service to her church. She also was very proud of her husband, James B. Allen, who was a pilot and often flew President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Roselyn, during his presidency.

The Church of the Brethren philosophy "Peacefully, Simply, Together," was a value Allen practiced in her daily life. "Donna had the simplest way of living you could imagine. You’d never know she had a dime," said Workman.

Education also was very important to Allen, who received a degree from St. Francis Hospital School of Medical Technology in Wichita, Kan., in 1943. She later earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas and worked as a clinical laboratory technologist for several hospitals in Pennsylvania. Later in life, she took religion courses at McPherson College. Eventually, she moved back to Pennsylvania where she completed the Training in Ministry (TRIM) program through the Church of the Brethren and was actively pursuing a master of divinity degree at the time of her death.

Service is a strong component of the Church of the Brethren faith--members of the church seek to serve their neighbors in many different capacities. Through its affiliation with the church, McPherson College students, staff, and faculty also have a long history of service. In this past year, the college has logged more than 7,000 hours of service through mission projects, community service, freshman and sophomore seminar courses, class projects, and individual efforts in McPherson, throughout the state, and overseas.

"With this gift, Donna Allen has underscored the commitment to lifelong learning and service that she demonstrated throughout her life," said Michael Schneider, president of the college. "Now, thanks to Donna’s foresight and generosity, McPherson College will have an opportunity to expand our commitment to those same principles in ways we could not have previously imagined."

-- This report is from a McPherson College press release.

Source: 7/30/2009 Newsline
Dana Weaver resigns as Conference assistant.

Dana Weaver is resigning as conference assistant for the Church of the Brethren, as of July 31. She began work with the Annual Conference Office on June 5, 2006, working at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

During her three years with the Annual Conference Office, Weaver aided executive director Lerry Fogle in preparation and organization of logistics for the annual meeting of the Church of the Brethren. She brought to the position a background in office management, administration, and information technology in her 20 years with Maryland Public Television and Cranberry Graphics. She and her family live in Westminster, Md.

Fogle also retires from the Conference Office this year. He will work with incoming director Chris Douglas for several months to help provide orientation, through his retirement in December.

The Conference Office is being relocated to the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. As of Sept. 28, Conference Office staff may be contacted at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 847-742-5100 or 800-323-8039.

Source: 7/30/2009 Newsline
Steve Crain resigns as campus pastor at Manchester College.

Campus pastor Steve Crain has decided to leave Manchester College to develop programs and educational opportunities for young married couples and singles at Trinity Episcopal Church in Fort Wayne, Ind., according to an announcement from the college. Manchester College is a Church of the Brethren school located in North Manchester, Ind.

"Steve joined the college in July 2007, bringing an interfaith focus to our campus that is diverse with students from at least 30 religious affiliations," said Manchester president Jo Young Switzer. "He made sure that campus ministry supported our mission to value the infinite worth of each person." Crain will continue to teach as an adjunct at the college, with a section in Christian Traditions this fall.

The college begins a search for a new campus pastor in the fall, coordinated by Beth Sweitzer-Riley, vice president for student development. Planning for interim leadership of campus ministries is under way.

Source: 7/30/2009 Newsline
John Moyers to serve as interim executive for West Marva District.

John R. Moyers has been called to serve as interim district executive for West Marva District, in a part-time position that begins immediately. He is an ordained minister serving as part-time pastor of two congregations: Harman (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren and Red Creek, Bethel Church of the Brethren in Dryfork, W.Va.

Moyers has served as pastor of several other congregations in the West Marva District including Maple Grove, Locust Grove, Old Furnace, and Jordan Run. He also is a physical education teacher and has recently served on the Church of the Brethren’s Mission and Ministry Board.

Contact information for the district office will continue to be: West Marva District, 384 Dennett Rd., Oakland, MD 21550; 301-334-9270; The district has issued the following additional contact information for Moyers: or 304-749-7307.

Source: 7/30/2009 Newsline
Registration opens for Religion Communication Congress.

RCCongress 2010, a Religion Communication Congress held once every 10 years, is scheduled for April 7-10 next year in Chicago, Ill. "Embracing change, communicating faith in today’s world" is the theme for the congress. The Church of the Brethren is one of the participating denominations in this inter-faith event, which is expected to bring together more than 1,200 religious communication professionals.

The congress will include plenary speakers, numerous workshops, roundtable discussions in interest groups, an exhibit hall, and other resources to help communicators explore topics such as "Social change invites us to new ministries," "Religious change invites us to new dialogue," and "Technological change entices us to new modes of reaching out."

Featured presenters include speakers Otis Moss III and Martin Marty, musicians Ken Medema and Earl Talbot, a "multi-faith comedy team" of Rabbi Bob Alper, Baptist minister Susan Sparks, and Chicago-born Muslim comedian Azhar Usman, and many others.

Former Church of the Brethren denominational staff Stewart M. Hoover has been announced as one of the presenters. He is professor of Media Studies in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the journal "Media and Religion" as well as founding co-chair of the Religion, Culture, and Communication Program Unit at the American Academy of Religion. He will co-lead a seminar on "Global Media, Global Religion: Research on Popular Media and the Remaking of Religions."

Early bird registration is open through Jan. 15, 2010, for $25 off the individual registration fee of $400 ($225 for full-time students and retirees). Participants make their own arrangements for accommodations. Exhibitors are requested to register by Sept. 1. Go to for more information and online registration. Registration booklets are available, contact registrar Melissa Dixon, Religion Communication Congress 2010, 475 Riverside Dr., Suite 800, New York, NY 10115; 212-870-2574.

Source: 7/30/2009 Newsline
Brethren Advocacy Days on climate justice to be held in September.

Brethren Advocacy Days is being planned for Sept. 20-21 in Washington, D.C., for Church of the Brethren members and others interested in learning more about advocacy efforts. The theme for the workshop is "Called to Action: Climate Justice."

Organizers of the event are Church of the Brethren members Jordan Blevins and Wendy Matheny. Blevins works for the National Council of Churches as assistant director of Eco-Justice. The event is being held in conjunction with the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission Parnterships.

The workshop will start at the NCC’s Washington office at 110 Maryland Ave. NE, at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 20. It will continue through 9 p.m. on Sept. 20 and resume on Monday, Sept. 21, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

The registration fee will be $25. Online registration will be available beginning next week at There will be a variety of options for housing, but participants will make their own arrangements for accommodations.

Go to for more information, or contact

Source: 7/30/2009 Newsline
Brethren bits
  • Correction: The Northern Ohio District Conference was left out of a list in the Newsline of July 16 of upcoming district conferences. Northern Ohio gathered on July 24-26 in Ashland, Ohio, with Wes Richard as moderator. The conference theme was "Partners in a Heavenly Calling" (Hebrews 3:1).

  • Remembrance: Philip N. Zinn, 89, passed away on July 25 at the Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community. He had served as director of the Church World Service/Brethren Service Center in Houston, Texas, for seven years, according to a remembrance from Shenandoah District. In other work for the church, he served as an ordained minister in for 61 years, at churches in California, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida; and was chaplain for John Knox Retirement Village in Tampa, Fla., for 12 years. He was married to Margaret Ruth Seller, who preceded him in death in August 2007. He is survived by five of their six children: Rebecca and husband Wayne Liskey, of Harrisonburg, Va.; Marty and husband Pete Hill, of Athens, Ohio; Dan and wife Anneliese, of Colrain, Mass.; John and wife Sandy, of Fountain Hills, Ariz.; and Tim and wife Sara, of Houston, Texas.; 11 grandchildren; and 9 great-grandchildren. A memorial service is tentatively planned for Sept. 19 at the Bridgewater Retirement Village. Memorial donations are received Bridgewater Healthcare Foundation. Condolences may be sent at

  • Personnel notes:

    • Stephen Breck Reid has been appointed by the Church of the Brethren’s Mission and Ministry Board to the denomination’s Committee on Interchurch Relations. Reid is a former academic dean at Bethany Theological Seminary, and currently is professor of Hebrew Bible at George W. Truett Theological Seminary in Waco, Texas.

    • Gabriel Welsch, assistant vice president of marketing at Juniata College since 2007, has been promoted to vice president for advancement and marketing. Juniata College is a Church of the Brethren school in Huntingdon, Pa. Welsch will continue to oversee Juniata's marketing efforts, supervise the alumni relations office and development department, and the office of corporate and foundation support. He came to Juniata from Penn State's College of Liberal Arts, where he had worked in several positions including assistant to the dean for advancement, manager of publications and public relations, associate director of the Master of Fine Arts Program in the Department of English, and assistant director of communications. He also is a poet and novelist, and has received Kent State University's Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Award.

  • Job openings:

    • Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) seeks a manager of Publications to fill a full-time salaried position based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The manager of Publications provides oversight of BBT’s publications--newsletters, press releases, website, and other special projects--and serves as a senior writer and copy editor; will report on news and information related to BBT’s ministry areas of pension, insurance, Foundation, and Credit Union, with some writing serving the wellness component of BBT’s mission, both financially and in body/spirit; report on how BBT promotes Brethren values with socially responsible investing initiatives through its management of $331 million in Pension and Foundation monies; manage schedule and coordinate content for various publications, determine writing and photo assignments; work with production coordinator and contracted designers; provide oversight for the redesign and maintenance of the BBT website; and travel to the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, BBT Board meetings, and other denominational events as assigned. BBT is seeking a candidate with an undergraduate degree in communications, English, business, or a related field, with experience and expertise in writing, copyediting, and/or project management. Knowledge in the areas of personal investments and website design is helpful. Active membership in the Church of the Brethren is preferred; active membership in a faith community is required. Salary is competitive with Church Benefits Association agencies of comparable size and scope of services. A full benefits package is included. To apply send a letter of interest, a resume, three references (one supervisor, one colleague, one friend), and salary-range expectations to Donna March, Brethren Benefit Trust, 1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin IL 60120; . For questions or clarification about the position, call 847-622-3371. For more information about Brethren Benefit Trust, visit . Interviews will begin as soon as possible.

    • The Church of the Brethren seeks a program coordinator in its Global Mission Partnerships department. The position supports and extends the ministry of Global Mission Partnerships by providing administrative and communicative functions for the international mission operations of the denomination. Responsibilities include unit-wide organizational support for the offices of the executive director for Global Mission Partnerships, Brethren Volunteer Service, and the Global Food Crisis Fund, such as facilitation of financial processes, coordination of travel requirements for individuals and groups, and facilitation of personnel processes. Responsibilities also require generating text and multi-media for website publishing. Required skills and knowledge include excellent communication skills in English, both verbal and written, (bi-lingualism preferred); knowledge of international mission programs and/or community development programs; and skills in computer applications, particularly Excel and Outlook with the capability and willingness to learn new software applications; ability to communicate the program's activities and needs through oral communication, written text, and multi-media; ability to problem solve and function independently; good judgment in prioritizing tasks; knowledge of basic financial processes; organizational skills and ability to work with details and simultaneous tasks; and three-to-five years of administrative or community development experience, with some college education preferred. The application deadline is Aug. 10. Request a copy of the position description and application form from the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 258;

    • The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) seeks a director of Donor Relations. The NCC is the leading ecumenical organization among Christians in the United States. It encompasses 35 member communions including Protestant, Anglican, and Orthodox communions; African-American denominations; and historic peace churches. The director of Donor Relations identifies, cultivates, and solicits major and planned gift prospects; manages a portfolio of major gift prospects and donors around the country; and consults and advises council officers and staff on major gift programs and resource development issues. Travel is required. This position is non-exempt and non-bargaining unit. Qualifications include a college degree and demonstrated human relations and effective communications skills. Fundraising experience that demonstrates the ability to successfully establish long-term relationships with contributors also is required. Knowledge of the ecumenical movement, the council, and its member communions is preferred. It is preferred that a candidate be a member in good standing of one of the NCC member communions. Location is the NCC’s New York office. The NCC does not reimburse relocation expenses. Salary is commensurate with experience. Application deadline is the close of business on Aug. 7. Send a cover letter, a resume, and a writing sample to: Director of Donor Relations Search, Attn: Joan Gardner, National Council of Churches, 475 Riverside Dr., Suite 800, New York, NY 10115; . Electronic applications are preferred. No calls please. The NCC is an equal opportunity employer. Go to for more information.

  • Jabani Adzibiya, a pastor from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) who is currently enrolled at Bethany Theological Seminary, is available to speak in congregations over the summer, and over the Christmas break this winter. He arrived at Bethany in January this year, having served as pastor of three churches in Nigeria and most recently as a district church council secretary for EYN, overseeing 14 congregations and nearly 9,000 members. The seminary and the Church of the Brethren are working together to make Adzibiya's study possible, including substantial financial support from both agencies. Contact Amy Ritchie, Bethany’s director of Student Development, at or 765-983-1806.

  • Bethany Theological Seminary's "Educational Opportunities Brochure" has a new look for the 2009-10 academic year. Instead of a paper brochure as in previous years, the information is now available online at . The listing includes the types of classes and courses offered by the seminary, including courses that meet the ministry credentialing requirements of several districts. For more information contact Elizabeth Keller, director of Admissions at or 765-983-1832; or Amy Gall Ritchie, director of Student Development, at or 765-983-1806.

  • Donations of Church World Service (CWS) Hygiene Kits and School Kits are sought by the Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources program at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The program warehouses, processes, and ships disaster relief materials on behalf of ecumenical partners including CWS. Go to
    for information about how to assemble a kit. This fall there will be pick-up points for kits in Pennsylvania and Missouri: St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Zelienople, Pa., will accept kits Mondays from Sept. 21-Oct. 5; Zion Lutheran Church in Indiana, Pa., will accept kits Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during the same time period; and the Festival of Sharing at the State Fairgrounds in Sedalia, Mo., will collect kits on Oct. 16-17.

  • A letter expressing concern for Christians in Iraq has been sent to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton by Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP). The Church of the Brethren is a member denomination of CMEP, and Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of the church’s Global Mission Partnership, serves on the CMEP board. The letter dated July 22 expressed distress at the resurgence of violence against the Christian community in Iraq, deplored acts of violence especially against vulnerable minorities, and urged policies to protect faith communities there. The letter was signed by CMEP executive director Warren Clark and board chair James Fine. "According to reports seven churches in Baghdad and Mosul were attacked over the weekend of July 12, resulting in the loss of several innocent lives and many injuries, mostly women and children," the letter said in part. "We hope you will work closely with the Iraqi government to ensure that all possible security measures are taken to combat these violent attacks."

  • The SERRV Store at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., holds an overstock sale on Aug. 5-12, "with many new markdowns and great deals on old favorites!" said an announcement. For a limited time, Cafe Justo Morning Roast Decaf will be on sale for $6.50.

  • A new website has been announced by East Chippewa Church of the Brethren in Orrville, Ohio. "Our new website address is ," said the church in an invitation for people to visit and view the new site.

  • The annual community ice cream social in Abilene, Kan., was hosted by Buckeye Church of the Brethren on July 12. Freewill donations were accepted for the Buckeye Disaster Relief Fund.

  • A "Vegetable Basket Program" in the North Penn and Indian Valley areas of Pennsylvania includes Hatfield (Pa.) Church of the Brethren as a partner. The program donates excess fresh produce to food banks, according to a local newspaper article. Go to

  • A $1.8 million addition to White Hill Church of the Brethren in Stuarts Draft, Va., is one of $70 million worth of projects recently procured in Virginia by Harrisonburg-based Nielsen Builders Inc., according to the "Daily News Record."

  • An information session for the Springs of Living Water church renewal initiative will be offered at Linville Creek Church of the Brethren in Broadway, Va., on Sept. 29, from 7-8:30 p.m., sponsored by Shenandoah District. Go to for a registration form.

  • The Northwest Brethren Arts Gathering takes place Aug. 7-9 at Camp Koinonia near Cle Elum, Wash. On the agenda are arts, crafts, stories, and songs. The planning committee includes Mike Titus, Nancy-Louise Wilkinson, Pat Liley, and Rocci Hildum.

  • The dining service at Peter Becker Community has begun doing on-site composting, with the compost to be used for the residents’ vegetable gardens. Peter Becker is a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Franconia, Pa. The new program was reviewed in an article in the "Reporter News" of North Penn, Pa. The community is "reaping tasty new rewards for recycling" through the program with its dining service, Cura Hospitality. "So far it's been very successful," Bill Richman, the Cura general manager, told the paper. Go to
    for the full article.

  • Church of the Brethren minister Jeannine Leonard presided over a wedding that has become a YouTube sensation, according to "The Lutheran" magazine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. A couple who was married at Christ Lutheran Church in St. Paul, Minn., have become celebrities thanks to a video of their dance down the aisle, which they posted on YouTube to share with family and friends. The wedding of Jill Peterson and Kevin Heinz took place on June 20, and by July 24 there were more than 1.5 million views of the five-minute aisle dance. "The Lutheran" reported that the wedding party was scheduled to do an encore dance for the Today Show.
Source: 7/30/2009 Newsline
SPECIAL REPORT: Maiduguri churches burned in violence in northern Nigeria.

At least two churches of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) have been destroyed in Maiduguri, and several Brethren members killed in violence that has swept across northeastern Nigeria since the beginning of this week. The churches named in a report from EYN leaders include EYN Maiduguri/Wulari (or Maiduguri No. 1 church), which was burned down, and EYN Jajeri.

The report was received from EYN General Secretary Jinatu Wamdeo and a leading EYN pastor from Maiduguri who also is a former chairperson of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Borno State Branch. (His name is being withheld to help ensure his safety.)

"EYN Wulari--the biggest EYN church--is bombed," the report said. "Three EYN members of Local Church Council Jajeri were killed, the assistant pastor injured. The security and the driver of EYN Maiduguri (were) injured."

Violence also has been threatened in Mubi, the closest town to the headquarters of EYN.

The Maiduguri churches were destroyed early in the morning on Monday, July 27, during a wave of terrorist-type violence that began Sunday and included bombings of police stations and barracks, and attacks on police across the area, according to news reports. The violence reportedly has been perpetrated by members of an obscure fundamentalist Islamic sect that is opposed to Western-style education.

This is the third time violence has affected EYN churches in recent years: EYN members were injured in the town of Jos in central Nigeria during rioting in December 2008, and at least five EYN churches in Maiduguri were destroyed or damaged in February 2006, in violence sparked by the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

At least 13 churches have been destroyed and more than 50 Christians have been killed in Maiduguri, the EYN leaders reported. The churches that were destroyed included the COCIN (Church of Christ in Nigeria) Railway church, whose pastor was among those killed. "The brutal murder of Pastor Sabo of COCIN Railway was a sad one," the EYN leaders wrote.

Government officials may have had warning of imminent attacks by the Islamic sect, the report indicates. Prior to the outbreak of violence, leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria had expressed concern to the police commissioner and other officials. "On Friday the State Governor in a state-wide radio and television broadcast assured all that adequate security measures were put in place and no cause to fear, but alas," the report said.

The report ended with a plea for prayer: "Please pray for all Christians in northern Nigeria, more especially in Bauchi, Yobe, and Borno States. Pray for peace in Nigeria and these places."

Source: 7/29/2009 Newsline Special Report
World Council of Churches sends letter to Nigerian President.

Two ecumenical bodies--the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Christian Association of Nigeria--have issued statements on the recent violence in northeastern Nigeria. Also, updates have been received from Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria); see story below.

The WCC has called on the Nigerian government to ensure the safety of all its citizens, according to a release from the organization. WCC general secretary Samuel Kobia in a letter to Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua sent on Aug. 4, has urged the government to "ensure the safety of all citizens" as well as to see that "all perpetrators (of) acts of violence and human rights violations are brought to justice."

The letter responds to the recent outbreak of violence in the city of Maiduguri and other areas of northeastern Nigeria following clashes between a militant Islamist group and security forces. Some 800 people were killed, including "more than 50 Christians," while "at least 13 churches (...) have been destroyed," according to the WCC release. Two EYN congregations were among those affected by violence in Maiduguri, and several Brethren members in Maiduguri were injured or killed (see the Newsline Special Report of July 29).

Kobia also wrote to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). "We condemn and deplore such wanton acts of violence," his letter to CAN said. The WCC release noted that Nigeria is almost evenly divided between Christians and Muslims, with the northern population being mainly followers of Islam and Christians being more numerous in the south.

Regretting that "inter-communal violence has already claimed the lives of more than 12,000 Nigerians during the past decade," Kobia stated in his letter to the Nigerian president that "the reasons for this violence are rooted in politics rather than religion." Among the factors that "push the country towards violence and insecurity," he listed: "Widespread poverty, corruption, poor governance, and political instability," as well as "abuses by the security forces, including extra-judicial killings and torture."

Commending some "promising" governmental initiatives regarding police reform and the investigation of a 2008 incident of inter-communal violence, Kobia pointed out: "These initiatives have yet to make a tangible impact on the lives of ordinary Nigerians who are constantly facing blatant violations of their human and fundamental rights."

Go to for the full text of Kobia's letter to the Nigerian president. Go to for his letter to the
Christian Association of Nigeria.

Source: 8/6/2009 Newsline Extra
Christian Association of Nigeria makes statement on violence.

According to Ecumenical News International (ENI, which is related to the WCC) in a report issued on Aug. 4, "Christian and Muslim leaders in Nigeria have appealed against any act that can further inflame tensions in the north of Africa's most populous nation."

A follow up release on Aug. 5 said that, "The Christian Association of Nigeria has criticized the killing of an Islamic leader whose followers set off riots in northern Nigeria that claimed hundreds of lives and caused extensive property damage."

The releases reported that the violence in northeastern Nigeria in late July included violent protests by Boko Haram, an Islamist sect that says it represents Islam and is seeking the total incorporation of Muslim religious laws; the launch of a full-scale military onslaught by the Nigerian armed forces on July 30 against followers of Boko Haram; and the arrest of the group's leader Yusuf Mohamed, who later died while in custody.

The Nigerian president has ordered an inquiry into the circumstances of the death of Yusuf Mohamed, according to ENI. "Police say he was killed in a gunfight, but a senior army officer said the Boko Haram leader had been alive when he was captured and turned over to authorities."

Source: 8/6/2009 Newsline Extra
Updates provided by EYN members in Maiduguri.

Updates from EYN members in Maiduguri report that the EYN Maiduguri (No. 1) Church resumed worship on Sunday, Aug. 2, with a service held outdoors after its sanctuary was bombed. (See photo album at showing before and after pictures from the EYN Maiduguri Church.)

The reports also added more tragic news, that the total number of deaths may have risen to 1,000 or more, including "the military personnel, the police, Christians, and the sect members." Also, the number of Christian pastors killed in Maiduguri has risen to three. None of the pastors who have died were Brethren, although the assistant pastor of the EYN Jajeri Church was injured.

The two pastors killed in addition to COCIN (Church of Christ in Nigeria) Pastor Sabo, whose death was reported in the Newsline of July 29, were the pastor of a National Evangelical Mission who was reported to be severely injured in the violence and died after having been taken to a medical clinic; and Pastor George Orji of Goodnews Church Maiduguri, who was reported to have been killed after having been abducted along with other Christians.

An EYN church leader who is a former chairperson of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Borno State Branch, sent information about peacemaking efforts by church leaders in recent years. He has been among those calling on the government to help establish a forum where Muslim and Christian clerics could meet, and to sanction those whose preaching incites violence. These kinds of efforts to foster peaceful interreligious relationships have taken place in areas especially "where EYN has played a significant role," he wrote.

His e-mail also questioned the government's promptness in responding to problems confronting the country, and its willingness to act "in an unbiased manner."

Go to for a photo album of the destruction to EYN Maiduguri Church.

Go to for more information about the Church of the Brethren work with EYN in

Go to for ways to help support and encourage Nigerian Brethren.

Source: 8/6/2009 Newsline Extra

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren. Contact or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Jeri S. Kornegay, Karin L. Krog, Nancy Miner, Wes Richard, Carmen Rubio, Marcia Shetler, John Wall, and Jay Wittmeyer contributed to this report.