Monday, September 07, 2009

Congregations plan for the International Day of Prayer for Peace.

Brethren congregations are invited to take part in the On Earth Peace campaign to observe the International Day of Prayer for Peace on Sept. 21--and so far more than 100 congregations and groups have registered to take part through On Earth Peace. The International Day of Prayer for Peace is an initiative of the World Council of Churches.

Following are just a few of the stories from congregations and groups that are planning events, provided by the On Earth Peace campaign organizers Michael Colvin and Mimi Copp.

Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren and Unity in Community:
The congregation is taking part in a vigil with Unity in Community, a local multi-faith organization in Manassas. Unity in the Community has been observing the International Day of Prayer for Peace since the beginning of the On Earth Peace campaign three years ago. Illana Naylor, one of the organizers, said that working on the event "has been a joy." The event carries the theme "Healing for Our Community," and will take place at the Reformed Jewish synagogue, Congregation Ner Shalom. Rabbi Jennifer Wiener attended the event last year at the Islamic center in Manassas, the Dar Al Noor Masjid, held in the middle of the Muslim holy days of Ramadan. The rabbi was warmly greeted by Muslims at the mosque, and spontaneously offered to hold this year's International Day of Prayer for Peace event at her congregation. This year, Sept. 20 marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and so it was agreed to hold the event on Sept. 13. Naylor is particularly excited about having the composer of the "Suite for Peace," Ahmad Nadimi, on hand to conduct a performance of his orchestral work for choir. She reports that accommodations to the customs and traditions of the participating groups has grown each year, resulting in greater tolerance between faith groups.
First Church of the Brethren in San Diego, Calif.:
The congregation is part of an exciting listening initiative. Linda Williams, one of the organizers, reports, "The San Diego church has wanted for years to get more closely connected with--and to better serve--our immediate neighborhood. We were recently blessed with the most perfect open door one could imagine!" Marigold Hernly, who has recently become a part of the church family, is closely connected with neighborhood groups and put the church in contact with a facilitator for the listening process connected with the California Endowment Grant. The endowment has chosen City Heights, the area of San Diego where the church is located, for a Healthy Cities Grant, part of the "Building Health Communities Initiative." "This grant will provide more than $10 million over the next 10 years to work on youth and health issues--including preventing Youth Violence!" Williams reports. "The California Endowment has given grants to 14 other locations in California, but the grant to City Heights is the only one where the decision about what project to pursue is being made at the grassroots level via a listening initiative." First Church of the Brethren San Diego is opening its building to host a listening process meeting for neighbors to give input about how grant money may be used. Williams anticipates that in the City Heights neighborhood, the focus may include gang violence, school attendance, and nutrition. The issues that arise from listening efforts in City Heights will form the substance of the prayers that will be raised by San Diego First Church of the Brethren and the other participating congregations during their International Day of Prayer for Peace vigil.
Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren, South Bend, Ind.:
The South Bend International Day of Prayer for Peace committee formed three years ago with On Earth Peace's first campaign, at the impetus of Lois Clark, a member of the congregation. This year the group is holding a vigil on Sept. 21 and then an extended listening initiative that will culminate on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Clark reports the group has "given the spirit full reign here" in their desire to have a season of listening particularly about youth violence, which they see as a public health crisis. Driving this effort is a diverse group of people and organizations including United Religious Community, Church Women United, CURE (a group that holds a prayer circle on each Thursday after a shooting or killing), TAP (Transforming Action into Power), Mennonite pastor Andre Stoner who has organized the Center for Peace and Nonviolence, Michiana Peace and Justice Coalition of union leaders and Notre Dame University professors and other community members, community outreach staff from a local hospital, the director of the Charles Martin Center (named after a young man who was killed in South Bend), and a person who works in the criminal justice system.
Green Tree Church of the Brethren, Oaks, Pa.:
Two years ago, pastor David Leiter got a call from pastor Nathan at Bethel Baptist Church, a neighboring African-American congregation, who had read Leiter’s book "Neglected Voices: Peace in the New Testament" and wanted to talk more about it. That phone call started a friendship between the pastors, and has brought the two to organize a joint worship service for their congregations on the International Day of Prayer for Peace. The service will be held Sept. 20 at Bethel Baptist, followed by a meal. The two congregations are inviting the community to attend and asking other local clergy to participate in leadership. Pastor Nathan will preach on "Peace and Violence: Broadening our Definitions." After the sermon, Leiter will offer a challenge about where the community may go from here.
Mack Memorial Church of the Brethren, Dayton, Ohio:
The congregation has a whole weekend of activities planned for the International day of Prayer for Peace. On Saturday, Sept. 19, the church will participate in a peace festival at the Dayton Peace Museum. On Sunday, Sept. 20, they will worship with five other churches at Island Park, where two rivers converge. The theme will be, "Peace Like a River." On Monday, Sept. 21, the congregation will hold a vigil in front of the church, and has invited other churches in the area to join in the vigil. The theme will be, "Peace in the Community." The Dayton area, since the economic crisis, has experienced an increase in petty theft, juveniles breaking into houses, more gang activity, and violent crime, according to a report from the church. Mack Memorial is interested in finding ways to gather people together and listen to their needs. Even though the congregation is smaller than in the past, it has adopted a vision calling for the church to be the hands and feet of the community.
Middlebury (Ind.) Church of the Brethren:
According to the website of this small town (population 3,191), "Middlebury is everyone’s idea of a small town: the neighborhood butcher, the Main Street hardware store, the proud shop owner; all busy serving residents and visitors alike in a thriving Main Street historic district. Amish and ‘English’ come to Middlebury to do business and trade." Yet Middlebury, in the heart of Elkhart County, has been hit hard by the economic downturn. Melissa Troyer, the congregation’s coordinator for the International Day of Prayer for Peace, reports that in previous years, participating churches have been the four or five Mennonite and Brethren congregations in the area. This year, to focus on the economic situation, the community is going to hold an International Day of Prayer for Peace celebration "with all the groups around town who have worked towards the struggles of our 18 percent unemployment.... It won't be a quiet vigil, rather we're having probably eight churches and five different music groups involved. The theme will be taken from Matthew 5:23-24." The celebration will have three focus areas: a story of reconciliation between two Mennonite congregations that split 80 years ago over issues that are no longer relevant, and are now beginning to merge in light of their economic circumstances; activities of the Middlebury Ministerium including the Community Food Pantry that used to feed 12 families a week and is now feeding 200; and recognition of the new Middlebury Area Recovery Committee--an effort to coordinate church and civic programs that are helping people.
Mechanic Grove Church of the Brethren, Quarryville, Pa.:
The congregation’s peace committee has made an intentional and concerted effort to involve the children of the church in learning and talking about peacemaking, according to a report from pastor Jim Rhen. The church participated this year in a "Kids as Peacemakers" mural project as part of a larger initiative through the Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness. The church used curriculum and resources provided by Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness for a six-week teaching time with the 20-30 children in their congregation, culminating in the children painting two mural boards. The murals incorporated what the children experienced in learning and talking about peacemaking. The murals will be displayed in an Art Walk, along with others from the county, on Sept. 19 at the Lancaster Clipper baseball stadium. The Barnstormers team will donate $4 from the price of admission to that day's game to the Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness.
Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren:
The congregation is hosting a premier showing of "I’d Like to Buy an Enemy" by Ted & Company Theater Works on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. Other congregations are invited to attend. The show by Mennonite comedian Ted Swartz and company will be "an evening of drama...poignant and hilarious," according to an announcement in the Shenandoah District newsletter. The Russian Baptist youth choir also is scheduled to sing. A donation of $5 is suggested to cover costs. "In the meantime, we trust you will be praying for peace in your community and in the world. There are so many situations people are facing where prayer can make a difference," the announcement said. For more information contact Roma Jo Thompson at or 540-515-3581.
Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren:
On Sunday, Sept. 20, the congregation plans a whole day of peace-related activities, including a morning worship service led by Brethren folksinger Mike Stern, an afternoon prayer vigil with the Metanoia Peace Community, an afternon children's folk music concert by Stern, and an evening program with a delegation from the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima, Japan.
Church of the Brethren General Offices, Elgin, Ill.:
General secretary Stan Noffsinger will lead a special chapel service for employees, volunteers, and guests to observe the International Day of Prayer for Peace. Because chapel services at the General Offices are held every Wednesday at 9:15 a.m., this special service will be on Wednesday, Sept. 16.
Source: 9/7/2009 Newsline Extra
Brethren to be represented at G-20 Faith Leaders' Summit.

The Church of the Brethren will be represented at a "G-20 Faith Leaders’ Summit" in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Sept. 22-23, on the eve of a meeting of world leaders called the Group of 20. Vernne Greiner, a physician and member of the Church of the Brethren’s Mission and Ministry Board, will attend to represent the denomination.

The summit is sponsored by Bread for the World along with the Alliance to End Hunger and partner organizations. The Church of the Brethren was one of the denominations invited to take part.

"Leaders of the world's richest countries recently pledged $20 billion to reduce hunger," said Bread for the World in a statement on its website at At a meeting in Italy in July, the G-8 group of nations pledged $20 billion, primarily invested in agriculture, to combat hunger in developing countries.

"The September Group of 20 Summit in Pittsburgh presents a unique opportunity for US religious leaders to raise our concern for the plight of the world’s poor," Bread for the World said. The G-20 brings together major industrialized and developing countries to discuss key issues in the global economy. The countries represented account for approximately 90 percent of global gross national product, 80 percent of world trade, and two-thirds of the world’s population, according to the organization. The faith leaders’ meeting will help represent "the needs of the world’s 1.02 billion hungry people" as the G-20 meetings begin.

Online resources related to the G-20 Faith Leaders’ Summit offered by Bread for the World. Include a small-group study guide titled "The G-20 Pittsburgh Summit: Reflections for People of Faith," and "Bread Notes: Hunger Reaches Record Levels" on the recent increase in hunger around the world. Go to

Source: 9/7/2009 Newsline Extra
On Earth Peace sponsors Middle East Delegation.

On Earth Peace is sponsoring a Middle East Delegation to Israel/Palestine on Jan. 6-18, 2010. The delegation leader will be On Earth Peace executive director Bob Gross. The delegation is co-sponsored with CPT, a violence-reduction project of Brethren and Mennonite congregations and Friends meetings. CPT has maintained a team of trained peacemakers in the West Bank since June 1996.

The delegation will meet with Israeli and Palestinian peace and human rights workers, will join the CPT team in Palestine for some accompaniment and documentation work, and will join in a public witness to nonviolently confront injustice and violence in the area.

Participants should be prepared to spend 12 days in Israel/Palestine, prepare for the trip by becoming familiar with the current conditions there, communicate their experiences to local congregations and media upon return, and raise $2,750 to cover cost of the trip from a designated point in North America. The cost includes international airfare, all in-country travel, simple accommodations, two meals per day, honoraria, and delegation fees. On Earth Peace will assist Church of the Brethren members in raising funds for the trip by offering ideas, networking, and limited scholarships.

For more information contact Bob Gross at or 260-982-7751.

Source: 9/7/2009 Newsline Extra
National Youth Conference registration to begin Jan. 5.

Online registration for National Youth Conference (NYC) 2010 is scheduled to begin on Jan. 5, 2010, at 8 p.m. central time. NYC is an event for Church of the Brethren senior high youth that is offered every four years by the denomination’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

The 2010 NYC will take place July 17-22 on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, with the theme "More than Meets the Eye" (2 Corinthians 4:6-10 and 16-18).

NYC coordinators Audrey Hollenberg and Emily LaPrade, who are Brethren Volunteer Service workers, will assist Youth and Young Adult Ministry director Becky Ullom and the National Youth Cabinet in organizing the conference.

Cost of early registration for NYC is $425, increasing to $450 after Feb. 15. The registration fee includes lodging and meals. Registration will close on April 5, 2010. A deposit of $200 is due at time of registration, with the balance due by April 5. The money is nonrefundable. NYC t-shirts costing $15 each can be ordered at the time of registration.

Church of the Brethren musician and songwriter Shawn Kirchner has been commissioned to write the NYC Theme Song. A Speech Contest and a Music Contest are open to youth who will be attending NYC.

In the speech contest, youth are invited to submit speeches based on the NYC theme. Two youth will be chosen to speak in front of the conference during a worship service. "We need enthusiastic youth that will be able to inspire others with their words," said an invitation from the Youth and Young Adult Ministry. Entries must include a written and audio copy of the speech, which should be 500-700 words (about 10 minutes spoken).

During the same worship service, the winning song in the music contest will be played or the writer will participate in the performance of the song. Youth are invited to submit a song based on the NYC theme and written for use in worship. The winning song will be included in the conference book. Songs should be three-to-five minutes in length, and entries should include an audio recording on CD as well as a copy of the lyrics.

Submissions of speeches and songs are due by Jan. 1, 2010. Send entries to the NYC Office, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. For more information go to

The Youth and Young Adult Ministry also has issued a call for volunteer youth workers to assist with the conference. "Youth workers are an essential part of the NYC staff, helping to carry out the programs and plans of the National Youth Cabinet as well as making sure that no details are missed," said the announcement. "We need committed, focused, and enthusiastic people to make NYC run smoothly."

Youth workers must be willing and ready to work long hours and commit to be present for the entire week of NYC. Families of youth workers are not permitted to accompany volunteers. Youth workers are expected to arrive in the early afternoon of July 16, the day before the conference begins, and to be available to work through the evening of July 22. The registration fee will be waived for youth workers, and travel expenses will be paid (provided the Youth and Young Adult Ministry books the airline tickets).

To apply for a youth worker position, complete an application form and mail it postmarked by Nov. 1. For an application form contact the NYC Office at 800-323-8039.

In related news, McPherson (Kan.) College is offering free overnight lodging and breakfast to NYC attendees either on the way to or on the way home from the conference. In exchange for this hospitality, the college is asking guests to take a one-hour tour. Contact Tom Hurst, director of Campus Ministries, at or 620-242-0503.

Source: 9/7/2009 Newsline Extra
October is Disabilities Awareness Month.

During the month of October, Brethren congregations are encouraged to observe Disabilities Awareness Month. Resources and information for those observing the month have been made available online at by the Church of the Brethren’s Caring Ministries.

The theme scripture for Disabilities Awareness Month is: "For my house shall be a house for all people" (Isaiah 56:7). An introduction to the observance by Pat Challenger notes, "It is necessary for special needs folks both young and old to experience belonging and inclusion within God's houses.... We as churches need to recognize the talents that people with special needs can bring to our congregations."

Resources and information at the web page include a number of ideas for awareness-raising activities submitted by Cindy Barnum-Steggerda, such as a "field trip" through the church building in a wheel chair; a short guideline for doing a congregational self-evaluation, that begins by noting that "becoming an accessible congregation is an ongoing process"; and ideas for how churches may acquire funding to improve accessibility. Go to to find the online resources and information.

Source: 9/7/2009 Newsline Extra
More upcoming events
  • A deacon ministry workshop, "The Challenges of Change: Growing the Role of Deacons" will be held in Idaho District on Sept. 26 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Nampa (Idaho) Church of the Brethren. The event will be led by Donna Kline, director of the Church of the Brethren’s Deacon Ministry and Disability Ministry, and editor of "Caregiving" magazine. Topics include "What are deacons supposed to do, anyways?" "The art of listening," "Offering support in times of grief and loss," and "Deacon spirituality." Cost is $10. Participants are invited to bring a dish to share for lunch. To register contact Howard Garwick at or 208-466-2896.

  • The Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund is encouraging attention to the 35th anniversary of Bread for the World and a tour by its founder Art Simon. The Global Food Crisis ministry "has come to consider Bread for the World a full-fledged partner," said manager Howard Royer. The 18-city nationwide tour promotes a new book by Simon, "The Rising of Bread for the World: An Outcry of Citizens Against Hunger." The tour began Sept. 1 in Sunnyvale, Calif., and continues through the fall with stops in cities such as Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Long Island, Cincinnati, and Washington, D.C., among others. For details, go to

  • Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) has announced the start of its fall orientation, to be held Sept. 20-Oct. 9 at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. This will be the 286th unit of BVS and will include 23 volunteers--nine from Germany, one from Canada, and the remaining 13 (nine of whom are Brethren) from around the US. The unit will spend three weeks exploring project possibilities and topics of community building, peace, social justice, faith sharing, sustainable agriculture, and more. They will have the opportunity for several work days in the New Windsor area and in Harrisburg, Pa. Contact the BVS office at 800-323-8039.

  • Upcoming courses offered by the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership include "Passions of Youth, Practices of Christ" with instructor Russell Haitch, to be taught at Codorus (Pa.) Church of the Brethren on Sept. 24-27; "Judges," an online course with instructor Susan Jeffers, to be taught Sept. 28-Nov. 6 (register through the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center, go to; and "Brethren Polity and Practice" with instructor Warren Eshbach, to be taught at the Young Center on the campus of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College on Nov. 20-22 (contact the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center at or 717-361-1450). "Messages of Peace in the Old Testament" is a continuing education event led by David Leiter on Sept. 16 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College (contact or 717-361-1450). Registration brochures for these and other training opportunities are available through the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, contact or 800-287-8822 ext 1824.

  • The 39th Annual Dunker Church Service at the Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md., will be held Sunday, Sept 13, at 3 p.m. Jeff Bach, a Church of the Brethren historian and director of the Young Center at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, will preach for this worship service, held in the restored Mumma Meeting House commonly referred to as the Dunker Church. The church was built in 1853 and heavily damaged by the Sept. 17, 1862, Battle of Antietam. After extensive repairs were made, services resumed in the summer of 1864. The service is sponsored by area Churches of the Brethren. Bach also will preach at Sharpsburg Church of the Brethren that Sunday morning at 9:30 am. For more information contact Eddie Edmonds at 304-267-4135 or Tom Fralin at 301-432-2653.

  • Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren hosts a production of "The Final Journey of John Kline," about the Civil War-era Brethren elder and peace martyr, on Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m. The performance benefits an effort to preserve the John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va., which is threatened by proposed development. The John Kline Homestead Trust hopes to raise an initial $425,000 to purchase the property by the end of 2009. Kline was a legendary leader in Brethren history--a preacher and healer who practiced natural medicine and traveled more than 100,000 miles on horseback serving people on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line. During the Civil War, he helped keep the Brethren unified in an anti-slavery stance. In 1864, returning from one of his preaching missions, he was ambushed by Confederate irregulars and killed near his home. "The Final Journey of John Kline" by Lee Krähenbühl was commissioned as part of the 200th anniversary of Kline’s 1797 birth. The New Millennium Players of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, directed by pastor Frank Ramirez, will present the play. An offering will support the John Kline Homestead Preservation Trust. For more information contact Dale V. Ulrich at

  • Mutual Kumquat will give a concert at Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., on Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. Proceeds from this Annual Benefit Concert of the congregation will go to the Center for Nonviolence. Mutual Kumquat features Seth Hendricks, Chris Good, Drue Gray, Jacob Jolliff, and Ben Long--a Brethren group of singer/songwriters accompanied by a mandolin virtuoso and the rhythms of hand drums. A release describes the band as "Inspired by visions of radical, loving, creative communities living in mutual relationship and the sweet yet tart, tiny but powerpacked-with-flavor wonder fruit that is a kumquat."

  • Midland (Va.) Church of the Brethren is offering sessions on the theme, "All We Are Saying...Is Give Peace a Chance" on the weekend of Sept. 19-20. A workshop will be offered that Saturday from 1-4 p.m. On Sunday, David Radcliff of the New Community Project--a Brethren-related nonprofit working at earth care and human justice--will teach peace to the children during Sunday school at 10 a.m. and lead worship at 11 a.m.

  • Three districts will hold conferences on the weekend of Sept. 18-19: Northern Indiana District Conference in Milford, Ind.; West Marva District Conference in Moorefield, W.Va.; and Southern Pennsylvania District Conference at Bunkertown Church of the Brethren in McAlisterville, Pa.

  • The 33rd annual Brethren Disaster Relief Auction will be held on Sept. 24-25 at the Lebanon (Pa.) County Expo Center and Fairgrounds. The event is a joint effort of the Church of the Brethren’s Atlantic Northeast and Southern Pennsylvania Districts. For more information go to

  • The annual Good Samaritan Banquet of the Village at Morrisons Cove, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Martinsburg, Pa., is on Sept. 19. The banquet raises support for residents who have outlived their resources. The event begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m. at the Casino in Altoona, Pa. The program of sacred music features members of University Baptist and Brethren Church in State College, Pa., directed by Chris Kiver, director of Penn State Glee Club and Chamber Singers and winner of two Grammy Awards in 2006 for best Choral Music Performance and best Classical Album. The event also celebrates the opening of a new Village Center. The price of a ticket is $100. Call 814-793-2249.

  • "Steward Leaders in Changing Times" is offered by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center on Nov. 30-Dec. 3 at the Hilton Marco Island Resort in Florida. The Church of the Brethren is a member denomination of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center. The event is planned for congregational leaders to learn, network, share, and worship together. Featured speakers include Anthony B. Robinson, president of Congregational Leadership Northwest and author of "Transforming Congregational Culture"; Peter Steinke, author of "Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times" and founder of Healthy Congregations; and Mardi Tindal, executive director at Five Oaks Retreat Center, and participant in the Center for Courage and Renewal facilitator preparation program provided by Parker J. Palmer. To register and to receive group or first-time attendee discounts, contact Carol Bowman, coordinator of stewardship formation and education for the Church of the Brethren, at
Source: 9/7/2009 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. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with other special issues sent as needed. Michael Colvin and Mimi Copp contributed to this report.