Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Brethren Disaster Ministries responds to Indonesia, flooding in Georgia.

The Brethren Disaster Ministries program is responding to recent disaster situations with a grant for relief work following an earthquake in Indonesia, and the sending of a Children’s Disaster Services team following flooding around Atlanta, Ga.

Brethren Disaster Ministries has been monitoring the situation since two earthquakes hit Indonesia last month, and a massive tsunami swept over the South Pacific island of Samoa and surrounding islands in late September.

Disaster staff have been monitoring both situations through Church World Service, a longtime ecumenical and international partner. CWS Indonesia staff have reported that the level of damage in the earthquake that hit Sumatra at the end of September was "far worse" than the Sept. 2 earthquake that rattled West Java. CWS is responding to both earthquakes in Indonesia, providing non-food relief items such as family tents, blankets, and relief kits.

An allocation of $15,000 has been given from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund to CWS for work in Indonesia following the Sept. 2 earthquake, a 7.2-magnitude quake that struck West Java Province.

The grant will help provide supplies and shelter to 900 households, or about 4,500 people, in four remote communities that are among the worst-affected. In the four villages, most of the houses were destroyed by the quake and only a limited amount of aid has been able to reach the area in part because of limited road conditions. CWS has been assisting with food, blankets, tarpaulins, tents, hygiene kits, baby kits, and mosquito nets, and now plans to help the villagers with new shelters made from bamboo sheet walls, beams, and tarpaulin roofing.

In the Atlanta, Ga., metro area severe flooding has affected thousands of families. Judy Bezon, Children's Disaster Services (CDS) associate director, returned on Sunday from a week-long CDS response in Marietta, which she coordinated with a team of six volunteer caregivers. The team provided care for more than 100 children affected by the floods.

Brethren Disaster Ministries also is continuing three rebuilding project sites in the United States: a new project site in the Winamac, Ind., area in response to severe flooding last year; an ongoing project in Hammond, Ind.; and an ongoing site in Chalmette, La., where homes are being rebuilt following Hurricane Katrina.

Source: 10/7/2009 Newsline
Brethren staff take part in national conversations on disaster guidelines.

Leading staff of Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services have been part of two efforts to draft guidelines for disaster response:

Judy Bezon of Children’s Disaster Services has contributed to an interim report from the National Commission on Children and Disasters about the needs of children in disasters.

Roy Winter of Brethren Disaster Ministries has contributed to a document from the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) defining how to minister emotionally and spiritually to people in times of disaster.

Winter has been part of the NVOAD Emotional and Spiritual Care Committee since it began shortly after the 9-11 attacks of 2001, and currently is NVOAD board liaison to the committee.

"I think it is an amazing piece of work in that a very broad group--interfaith actually--could develop a consensus," Winter said about the new document titled "Disaster Spiritual Care Points of Consensus." He explained how the document will serve the church’s ministries, saying, "This is intended to give guidance on how we interact with disaster survivors, no matter our role--even if rebuilding homes or caring for children."

Some 49 organizations are part of NVOAD, according to a release from Church World Service. The NVOAD organizations "are the driving force behind disaster recovery in the United States," CWS said. "National VOAD facilitates cooperation among every major nonprofit and faith-based disaster response organization in the US. National VOAD agencies focus on all stages of disaster--preparedness, relief, response, recovery, and mitigation. In 2008, these organizations provided more than $200 million dollars in direct financial assistance and more than 7 million hours in volunteer labor."

This is the first time that minimum standards of care have been set for how to minister emotionally and spiritually in times of disaster, CWS said in the release that focused on the respectful nature of the cooperative effort among faith-based organizations ranging from Catholic to Scientologist, Protestant to Buddhist and Jewish.

The set of standards outlines protections for disaster survivors at a time of physical, spiritual, emotional, and psychological challenge. The 10 points of consensus include: basic concepts of disaster spiritual care; types of disaster spiritual care; local community resources; disaster emotional care and its relationship to disaster spiritual care; disaster spiritual care in response and recovery; disaster emotional and spiritual care for the care giver; planning, preparedness, training, and mitigation as spiritual care components; disaster spiritual care in diversity; disaster, trauma, and vulnerability; and ethics and standards of care.

To learn more about NVOAD and to review the Points of Consensus in its entirety go to

Children’s Disaster Services was part of a subcommittee that contributed to a section on shelter needs for children in the interim report from the National Commission on Children and Disasters. CDS is a Church of the Brethren ministry and the oldest organization of its kind in the US, having started caring for children in disaster situations in 1980.

A release quoted Bezon on how children may be neglected in disasters. "Child neglect is generally not intentional," she said. "Parents are left thinking about food, clothing, and shelter and whether they still have a job to provide clothing, food, and shelter." The work of Children’s Disaster Services has been to help care for children while parents are focused on other priorities. "At the same time we’re supporting the children, we’re supporting the parents and the family because if they are living in a shelter they get a break and know that their children are safe with us," Bezon said.

The National Commission’s interim report identifies areas for improvement in disaster assistance for children, references recent disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in which children’s needs were not met, and makes recommendations to improve care. Recommendations include assuring academic continuity following disasters, giving priority for housing assistance to families with school-aged children and especially those whose children have special needs, providing appropriate play and recreation options following disasters, and providing children access to crisis, bereavement, and mental health services.

Source: 10/7/2009 Newsline
128 faith communities participate in On Earth Peace campaign.

On Earth Peace organized 128 Church of the Brethren congregations and other groups in the US, Puerto Rico, and Nigeria to participate in the International Day of Prayer for Peace (IDOPP) on or around Sept. 21. On Earth Peace is a peace education, action, and witness agency of the Church of the Brethren.

Many churches prayed about local economic conditions, immigration issues, or religious tolerance, while others prayed for relief from local violence involving gangs or guns. Still others prayed for peace in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some held prayer walks, asking God to help them see their neighborhoods in new ways. Others planted peace poles, which expressed blessings of peace in several languages. Still others held concerts and theater presentations. Everywhere people prayed for God's presence in their lives and in their communities.

Vigils in at least two cities where local violence was the prayer concern have contributed to positive community change. In Rockford, Ill., pastor Samuel Sarpiya of Rockford Community Church (Church of the Brethren) and fellow clergy had been engaged in a listening project since April with many communities within Rockford. They were planning a Sept. 21 vigil around the theme of better education for youth. All of that changed on Aug. 24, when two police officers shot and killed an unarmed black man at a church childcare center. The clergy found themselves in a tense situation with potential for further violence. The focus of their vigil suddenly needed to also address the more immediate issue and its aftermath. The clergy provided prayer leadership for Rockford’s observance of the International Day of Peace, a four-hour community gathering about both educational issues and how to move forward in the immediate crisis.

Through Sarpiya’s leadership, a group of civic, business, and religious leaders in Rockford have asked On Earth Peace to come alongside the situation. In the coming weeks, On Earth Peace will provide both organizing support and training in nonviolent community leadership for religious, business, and civic leaders who are addressing the unrest in the city.

In Philadelphia, a vigil for the International Day of Prayer for Peace sponsored by a multi-faith action group "Heeding God's Call" capped nine months of weekly rallies in front of Colosimo’s Gun Center (see feature below).

The International Day of Prayer for Peace was first proposed in 2004 during a meeting between World Council of Churches general secretary Samuel Kobia and then-United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan as one of the initiatives of the WCC's Decade to Overcome Violence. It is celebrated annually on Sept. 21, the UN International Day of Peace.

-- Mimi Copp was a co-coordinator for the International Day of Prayer for Peace Campaign of On Earth Peace along with co-coordinator Michael Colvin. Contact her at 215-474-1195.

Source: 10/7/2009 Newsline
Community development program in DR gains new ecumenical partners.

The community development program of the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic is set to become a broader ecumenical venture involving partnership with Church World Service, the Foods Resource Bank, and Servicios Sociales de Iglesias Dominicanas (SSID, the Dominican partner of Church World Service).

The new partnership has received support and encouragement from the church’s Global Mission Partnerships, DR mission coordinators Irvin and Nancy Heishman, Felix Arias Mateo of the Church of the Brethren in the DR, and Howard Royer of the church’s Global Food Crisis Fund, as well as staff of the Foods Resource Bank and CWS.

This ecumenical program will include five Brethren communities at the outset. "The (total) project will engage 610 families in 32 ‘bateye’ or ethnically Haitian communities in organizing to overcome hunger and poverty," Royer reported.

In other news from the DR mission, students in the Theological Program are in the process of teaching "Introduction to the History of the Church of the Brethren," written by Galen Hackman originally for the Theological Education by Extension (TEE) program in Nigeria and re-published this spring in Spanish and Haitian Creole. "There are currently over 30 students in the program (both pastors and laity)," the Heishmans reported. "The reception in the churches to the book has been enthusiastic as they celebrate their history and story." Copies have been shared with the Brethren mission in Haiti and Brethren churches in Puerto Rico. The book can be ordered through Brethren Press for $10 plus shipping and handling, call 800-441-3712.

This summer, 32 volunteers from two Church of the Brethren congregations in the US as well as a denominational workcamp helped six Dominican Brethren churches hold Vacation Bible School, reaching approximately 1,100 children. "Many more of the 20 Dominican Brethren churches held VBS as well," the Heishmans said. "Thanks to assistant mission coordinator Jerry O’Donnell and the work team members for a job well done!"

In related news, the DR will be the site for the first-ever "international CROP Walk" held by CWS. The Brethren mission workers have been invited to participate as well as partner organization SSID. Novelist Julia Alvarez is involved in arrangements for the event, which will be connected with a CROP Walk in Middlebury, Vt. For more about the CROP Walk in the DR go to

Source: 10/7/2009 Newsline
Anna Emrick to be program coordinator for Global Mission Partnerships.

Anna Emrick has accepted the position of program coordinator for the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission Partnerships, working at the church’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill. She will begin on Oct. 12.

She brings previous experience working for the Church of the Brethren and other nonprofit organizations, having served as a Brethren Press intern in the summer of 2007, having worked for the Brethren Volunteer Service office in recruitment from August 2004-August 2005, and having served an initial BVS assignment with the Human Resource Development Council in Havre, Mont. She also has studied overseas in Greece.

Emrick is a Church of the Brethren member and a graduate of Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., where she earned a bachelor of science degree in nonprofit management. She lives in Mason, Mich., and will be relocating to the Elgin area.

Source: 10/7/2009 Newsline
Brethren Press offers early order special for Advent devotional.

The annual Advent devotional from Brethren Press this year is written by Yvonne R. Riege, titled "Discovering the Holy in the Ordinary." An early order special is making the booklet available for a discounted price of $2 per copy for orders received by Oct. 30. After that date, the price goes up to $2.50 each. A shipping and handling charge will be added.

In another special offer, Brethren Press is now inviting regular readers of the Advent and Easter devotionals to become "seasonal subscribers" for only $4 per year. Seasonal subscribers will automatically receive both devotional booklets at the discounted rate, plus shipping and handling.

The Advent devotional is designed for congregations to offer for members’ use during Advent, and for individuals who desire a daily meditation to prepare for Christmas. The booklet includes a scripture reading, a short meditation on the scripture, and a prayer for each day of the Advent season. Order from Brethren Press at 800-441-3712.

Source: 10/7/2009 Newsline
An ‘Amen’ to a Historic Peace Church effort on gun violence.

As soon as we had said "Amen" to close our morning prayer time, my community member gave me the news: late the night before she learned that Colosimo’s Gun Center had been charged by the federal government for illegally selling guns to straw purchasers.

Two days earlier, on Sept. 21, more than 60 people of faith from across Philadelphia had gathered in front of the gun shop to hold a prayer vigil as part of On Earth Peace’s International Day of Prayer for Peace Campaign.

By Sept. 30, the business owner of Colosimo’s Gun Center had pleaded guilty in court, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) had permanently revoked the store’s license to sell firearms, and the store had been closed down.

These are the dramatic, recent developments in a string of actions, vigils, and protests by many faith communities in Philadelphia to do something about the gun violence choking our city. In the last two and a half weeks, over 50 people have been shot. Over the last five years, on average 304 people have been shot down and killed each year in the city. The "Philadelphia Inquirer" has tracked gun homicide details for the past 10 years (for more go to

More people die in Philadelphia alone by gun violence each year than the total number of people killed through gun violence in any of the countries in Western Europe, Japan, Canada, or Australia ( The great majority of the guns used in these shootings are illegal guns.

This past January, I went with four other people, including former Brethren Witness/Washington Office director Phil Jones, into Colosimo’s Gun Center. The five of us had come together for Heading God’s Call: A Gathering on Peace, which was organized by the Historic Peace Churches. The organizers of Heeding God’s Call knew they must put words into action and address the violence in the host city of Philadelphia. Colosimo’s Gun Center had long been known by both law enforcement and criminals as a prime source of illegal guns.

The latest ATF data revealed that one-fifth of all crime guns used in Philadelphia were traced back to this store, in a statistic prior to 2003. (Since then, ATF data has been suppressed by the National Rifle Association through the Tiahrt Amendment that is attached to the ATF appropriation bill each year so the public can no longer find out the latest statistics on crime guns and where they come from.)

We went to the store to ask the owner to sign a code of conduct created by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition and Wal-Mart, that is intended to help stem the flow of handguns to the illegal market by reducing the "straw buying" that feeds it. Straw buyers stand in for gun traffickers at gun shops to make bulk purchases that end up on the street, and Colosimo’s was involved in these kinds of sales.

This was not the first time the store owner had heard of the code of conduct or had been asked to sign it. Before the five of us came into his store, he met multiple times with a Heeding God’s Call delegation of religious leaders to learn about the code and listen to a plea to sign it. He said he would not sign it.

He also told the five of us who came into his store that he would not sign it. While we waited for him to sign it, we were arrested and then spent the night in jail. Two days later, another seven people connected to the peace gathering attempted to ask him to sign the code. They also were arrested. The 12 of us stood trial in May on charges of criminal conspiracy, defiant trespassing, disorderly conduct, and obstructing a public highway. As we stood trial, so too did the violence that chokes our city. After a one-day trial, the 12 of us were found not guilty.

Before and after the trial, and since January, we have held weekly Monday and Saturday protests in front of gun store, calling on the owner to sign the code of conduct. Over 250 Christians came to the store on Good Friday for a vigil, remembering the violence that took the life of Jesus, the gun violence that takes the lives of so many in Philadelphia, and this gun shop’s role in it. And most recently, we were there for the International Day of Prayer for Peace.

Later that same week, articles in the Philadelphia papers were reading "The Strength of a Prayer" and "Faith Triumphs over Firepower."

We are sending a message to our neighbors that we are paying attention, that we will not accept the violence on our streets, that we will persist and persevere in our insistence that all share the responsibility of ending gun violence. Through organizing and faithfulness we contributed to the actions taken by the Federal government to charge the gun shop for its participation in straw purchase sales. And we stand, and will continue to stand, with the people who have been fighting against gun violence for years upon years in this city.

-- Mimi Copp is a Church of the Brethren member of Shalom House, an intentional Christian Community in Philadelphia dedicated to pro-active peacemaking (

Source: 10/7/2009 Newsline
A reflection on arriving in Nigeria.

Jennifer and Nathan Hosler arrived in Nigeria in mid-August as Church of the Brethren mission staff serving with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). They are teaching at Kulp Bible College and working with EYN’s Peace Program. The following reflects on their first month in Nigeria:

"September 29, 2009: On Monday, we learned that a funeral was to be held at EYN headquarters. A staff person at the dispensary was returning from a nearby village on motorcycle the night before and was fatally injured in an accident.

"Life is fragile everywhere, all of the time. However, the environment of Nigeria often places people into precarious circumstances. It seems as though the heightened awareness of life’s fragility affects the speech of Christians in Nigeria. When speaking of plans, people do not assume that those plans will be met and verbally admit so. A common phrase added to plans is, ‘By His grace.’ For example, ‘We will leave for Jos on Tuesday, by His grace.’

"This heightened awareness of life’s fragility also produces an increased level of thankfulness to God for all types of circumstances such as rain for crops to grow or safety during travels. Even a cool breeze (welcome relief in a hot environment) elicits a ‘Mugode Allah’ or ‘We thank God.’

"This perspective on life brings to mind the words of James: ‘Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.’

"Privileged people in North America (which is most of us) typically assume that everything will work out. Only during extreme tragedy (a car accident, a terminal illness, the death of a child, etc.) do our thoughts ponder life’s fragility.

"The attitude of our Nigerian brothers and sisters provides a needed reflection for North Americans on the delicate balance of our lives and how easily that balance can be broken--in North America but especially so around the world. We should be challenged--as James wrote--not to assume anything about our lives, our health, our wealth, and act accordingly, and especially to exhibit thankfulness for both large and small things.

"When I feel the cool breeze tomorrow as I wake in Nigeria (by His grace), I will say, ‘Mugode Allah.’"

Source: 10/7/2009 Newsline
Brethren bits: Personnel, jobs, economy letter, flu resource, and more.
  • Camp Swatara has announced a program coordinator staff change. Natasha Stern has ended her service as program coordinator as of Sept. 30. She has served in this position for the last two years. On Oct. 12, Aaron Ross will begin as the new program coordinator at Camp Swatara. Ross has spent the last three summers on the program staff at the camp and has been a student at Millersville University.

  • The New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center is welcoming Maxine and Wade Gibbons of Denver, Colo., as volunteer hosts for the Old Main building in October and November.

  • Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., seeks applicants for a faculty position in Brethren Studies. The seminary invites applications for a three-year renewable part-time faculty position beginning Fall 2010. A candidate holding a PhD degree is preferred; ABD will be considered. The appointee will be expected to teach two graduate-level courses per year (at least one as an online offering), and offer one academy-level course biennially. Other duties will include student advising and the supervision of MA theses in the area of Brethren Studies as needed. The area of expertise and research may come from a variety of fields, such as historical studies, theological studies, Brethren heritage, or sociology and religion. Commitment to the values and theological emphases within the Church of the Brethren is essential. The seminary encourages applications from women, minorities, and persons with disabilities. The application deadline is Dec. 1. More information is available online at To appply, send a letter of application, curriculum vitae, and names and contact information for three references to Brethren Studies Search, Attn: Dean’s Office, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Rd. West, Richmond, IN 47374; .

  • Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) seeks a director of Financial Operations to fill a fulltime salaried position based in Elgin, Ill. BBT is a nonprofit agency of the Church of the Brethren that provides pension, insurance, foundation, and credit union services for 6,000 members and clients nationwide. The primary responsibility of the position is to direct the accounting operations of BBT, insuring an accurate reflection of its financial position through reporting and interpretation of financial information. In addition, the director is responsible to design, implement, and maintain systems as they affect financial reporting in order to provide management with timely and accurate information; direct all activities related to the supervision of Finance staff; assist staff in planning, operating, and controlling financial operations; direct reporting for the accounting of all entities under BBT; direct planning and budget activities; direct, prepare, and file all required tax returns and communication with the Internal Revenue Service; travel to board meetings and other events as appropriate. Knowledge and experience required includes a graduate degree in accounting, business, or related field, along with advanced certifications or degrees such as CPA or MBA; eight years of experience in finance, administration, and personnel supervision, preferably for not-for-profit organizations; with strong knowledge of accounting systems and business planning desired; current and active membership in the Church of the Brethren preferred; current and active membership in a faith community required. Salary is competitive with Church Benefits Association agencies of comparable size and scope of services. Full benefits package is included. Apply as soon as possible by sending a letter of interest, resume, three references (one supervisor, one colleague, one friend), and salary-range expectation to Donna March, 1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; For questions call 847-622-3371. For more about BBT see

  • The Church of the Brethren seeks a coordinator of online gift invitation to fill a fulltime position in the Stewardship and Donor Development department, working at the church’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Starting date is Dec. 1 or as negotiated. A position description and application form are available on request. Responsibilities include promotiong and securing of online gifts to support ministries of the Church of the Brethren; working with multiple areas to develop and follow a comprehensive plan for e-community building and online giving; working with outside contractors if necessary for e-mail communications and to streamline online giving systems; working collegially with Brethren Press and communications staff on electronic media messages; developing and maintaining the Stewardship and Donor Development website pages and other web-based donor communication and gift invitation activities. Qualifications include public relations or customer service experience; familiarity with web-based communications (Convio database preferred); commitment to Church of the Brethren goals and objectives; positive, affirming, collaborative style of team participation; membership in the Church of the Brethren preferred. Required education and experience include a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience. Contact the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694; or 800-323-8039 ext. 258.

  • The Church of the Brethren’s Inter-Agency Forum, made up of executives of the four Annual Conference agencies, has released a pastoral letter on the economy. The letter signed jointly by Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger, Bethany Theological Seminary president Ruthann Knechel Johansen, Brethren Benefit Trust president Nevin Dulabaum, and On Earth Peace executive director Bob Gross, was distributed by e-mail to Brethren congregations, pastors, districts, and denominational staff. "The economic crisis we are experiencing this year continues to demand attention from all levels of the church," the letter says in part. "We have been led during this particular crisis to review the bigger issues and to refocus our life and work together to move beyond fear to a renewed emphasis on our spiritual gifts and strengths.... We have been heartened to remember particular gifts that we believe God has given to the Brethren--gifts that may help us move forward with energy, vitality, and vision for our faith and the work of Christ in the world." The letter invites the church to join in considering a list of eight Brethren gifts, such as "courage, and a radical commitment to Jesus Christ," and "the study of scripture in community." The full text of the letter is available at linked to an index page of a number of related resources offered by the agencies.

  • An upgrade has been completed for "Find a Church" at The tool allows visitors to search for a Church of the Brethren congregation. New features include options to search by proximity by entering the first three numbers of a zip code; to search by district by choosing one of the 23 Church of the Brethren districts from a drop-down box; and to use a "new search" button that clears all previously entered information. Go to and click on the link to "Find a Church" at the top of the page.

  • Caring Ministries staff are recommending a government website that offers helpful advice for churches concerned about the flu. Heddie Sumner, a member of the Older Adult and Disability Ministry cabinets, has provided the recommendation. The site offers a document on the H1N1 flu with sections on what organizations can do to help people stay healthy, suggestions for reducing the spread of flu at religious meetings and gatherings, child and youth programs, vaccine distribution, vulnerable populations, and more. Also at is a Church of the Brethren document with suggestions for congregations in the event of a serious pandemic.

  • Brethren in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia have created a tax-exempt enterprise called the John Kline Homestead to preserve the house and other historic buildings on the original farm of Elder John Kline, a Brethren leader and peace martyr during the Civil War era. The homestead is in Broadway, Va. "If we do not purchase the property by Dec. 31, 2009, we will lose the opportunity to preserve the homestead as a Brethren heritage center to share the legacy of Elder John Kline’s life and ministry," reports a bulletin insert that is being made available about the effort. The group has set up a "Rescue Fund" that has received about $150,000 in gifts and pledges toward the needed $425,000 to purchase the house and one acre of property. The nearby Linville Creek Church of the Brethren has given $60,000, and pastor Paul Roth is a leading member of the preservation effort. In a related event, Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a benefit performance of the play "The Final Journey of John Kline," on Saturday, Oct. 10, at 7:30 p.m. The play was written by Lee Krahenbuhl for the 1997 John Kline Bicentennial, and is performed by the New Millennium Players of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. An online photo album of the John Kline Homestead is available at . For more information contact the John Kline Homestead Rescue Fund, P.O. Box 274, Broadway, VA 22815; or go to .

  • Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Boonsboro, Md., has unveiled a newly designed website. The website designed by InfoPathways Inc. in Westminster, Md., features an extensive list of services, multiple event calendars, rotating photographs, an online employment application, and more. Go to

  • Enrollment has reached a record high at McPherson (Kan.) College this fall. A release from the college announced that the enrollment of 542 fulltime students represents a number that has not been surpassed at the college since the late ’60s. "The college has been on a steady increase since 2003 when full-time enrollment was at 386," the release said. "The swift increase in enrollment can be attributed to two key factors--recruitment and retention.... Spring to fall retention was 88 percent, the highest McPherson College has seen in over 15 years."

  • The New Community Project is lead organizer for the One Mile Challenge, an initiative to encourage non-car forms of transportation for shorter daily trips. "In the United States, 25 percent of all travel is under two miles in length, and these short trips are the most environmentally harmful as emissions are at their worst in the first few minutes of vehicle operation," said a release from director David Radcliff. The challenge was launched on Oct. 3 in Harrisonburg, Va., with the hope that other communities will follow the city's example in promoting alternative transportation. Go to for more information.
Source: 10/7/2009 Newsline
Congregational Life, seminary, and districts cooperate on webcasts.

Webcasts of presentations at three upcoming district meetings are being planned with the help of the Transforming Practices office of the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries and Bethany Seminary’s Electronic Communications.

"Don't miss these webcast events!" said an announcement from Stan Dueck, director for Transforming Practices.

The webcasts are offered from a Christian coaching training event in Western Plains District on Oct. 12-13, the "Gathering V" in Western Plains District on Oct. 23-25, and the Pacific Southwest District Conference on Nov. 6-8. They are a collaborative effort between Congregational Life Ministries, Bethany, and the districts. For a detailed schedule and how to participate go to
  • A "Life/Christian Coaching Training" on Oct. 12-13 in Western Plains District will be led by Jane Creswell. This 12-hour course provides the basics to begin to practice coaching for creative pastoral ministry. Creswell is managing director of the Organizational Leadership Development Lab at Purdue University and co-founder of two organizations, Coach Approach Ministries and Internal Impact LLC. In previous work in the district she provided foundational training for the coaching effort among the congregations in Western Plains. A 67-page workbook can be purchased for use during the webinar from Western Plains District for a $15 charge. This fee is part of Jane Creswell's expenses. To order the workbook contact Western Plains District Office at and it will be sent via e-mail.

  • Plenary sessions led by Annual Conference moderator Shawn Flory Replogle and Congregational Life Ministries executive director Jonathan Shively, worship services, and several workshops will be webcast from the Gathering V in Western Plains at various times on Oct. 23-25. For the schedule go to

  • Presentations by Diana Butler Bass and Charles "Chip" Arn will highlight webcasts from the Pacific Southwest District Conference on Nov. 6-8. Bass is an independent scholar specializing in American religion and culture and author of several books including "Christianity for the Rest of Us" and "The Practicing Congregation." Her two presentations will be offered on Nov. 6 at 2:15-4 p.m. and on Nov. 7 at 1-3 p.m. (Pacific time). Arn is president of the Church Growth Institute. He will provide two sessions on the topic "Side Doors: Effective Church Outreach in the 21st Century" on Nov. 7 at 10:30-11:30 a.m. and 2:15-3 p.m. (Pacific time). Also to be webcast are workshops on a variety of topics as well as Sunday morning worship.
For more information go to or contact Stan Dueck at

Source: 10/9/2009 Newsline Extra
Bethany Seminary offers January study trip to Kenya.

Bethany Theological Seminary is seeking additional participants for a travel seminar to Kenya, to take place on Jan. 2-20, 2010. The focus of the study trip will be Christian theology and ministry, particularly as informed by the missional context in Kenya and with the Masai tribe.

In student responses to previous offerings of this course, one student wrote: "Kenya was beautiful. It stole my heart. It also left me confused and preoccupied, as any romance will." The seminary is offering the course as a cross-cultural experience of the "two-thirds world" to stretch minds and give focus to Christian ministry.

Participants will spend time living with people of the Masai tribe and "will witness what happens when the Gospel takes root in one of Africa’s most traditional cultures," according to a description of the course. Also offered will be opportunities to converse and study with professors and students at an African seminary, and opportunities to do ministry with small children in orphanages, with older women and men who are suffering from illness, and with Kenyan pastors who will partner in prayer and worship. The trip will include an overnight stay at a game park and time in the capital city, Nairobi.

Information about the travel seminar is available at Contact instructor Russell Haitch at or 800-287-8822 ext. 1827. The deadline for applications is Oct. 16.

Source: 10/9/2009 Newsline Extra
National Junior High Sunday is scheduled for Nov. 1.

Sunday, Nov. 1, has been scheduled as National Junior High Sunday in the Church of the Brethren. The junior high theme for the upcoming year is "Overflowing with Thankfulness" (Colossians 2:6-7).

"I hope many congregations will invite junior highs to lead worship on that Sunday," said an announcement from Becky Ullom, director of the church’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

A number of resources for National Junior High Sunday are available online: a Bible study by Dennis Lohr of Palmyra, Pa.; worship resources including a call to worship, invocation, invitation to giving, offertory prayer, readers theater, and benediction; a skit and prayer litany by Lorele Yager of Churubusco, Ind., (the skit is adapted from a demonstration by Charles Tayler of Goshen City, Ind.); a sample bulletin cover, and some creative ideas for worship including a "thankfulness display" and worship center.

Go to for links to the junior high resources.

Source: 10/9/2009 Newsline Extra
Advent Offering will be held on Dec. 6.

"What are we waiting for?" is the question asked in the Church of the Brethren Advent offering materials. The second Sunday of Advent, Dec. 6, is the date suggested for this special offering to support the denominational ministry of the Church of the Brethren.

Based on Zechariah's proclamation of Jesus giving light to those who sit in darkness and guidance to walk in the way of peace, the Advent Offering resources ask church members to reflect on the significance of "Emmanuel," or "God with us."

"In our time and culture, we are asked to move away from a cultural response to Christmas celebration and to recognize Jesus' coming as a call to work for God's reign of justice and shalom," said Carol Bowman, coordinator of Stewardship Education and Formation.

Resource materials for the special offering including a poster and an Advent activity calendar titled "Changing the Look of Christmas." The resources will soon be posted online at The poster also will appear on the back cover of the denomination’s "Messenger" magazine. Additionally, a resource guide with an order form and a sample bulletin insert will be enclosed in the October "Source" packet that is mailed to each Church of the Brethren congregation. Congregations on standing order will automatically receive the materials around Oct. 19. Those not on standing order can order bulletin inserts online or by calling Brethren Press at 800-441-3712. Congregations are asked to provide their own offering envelopes.

"Please join congregations across the country by prayerfully participating in the Advent offering," Bowman said. "The gifts you share will renew spirits and bring light, peace, and justice to God's children everywhere."

Source: 10/9/2009 Newsline Extra
RCCongress involves Church of the Brethren in sponsorship, leadership.

RCCongress 2010, a Religion Communication Congress held once every 10 years and scheduled for April 7-10 next year in Chicago, Ill., is involving the Church of the Brethren in sponsorship and leadership.

"Embracing change, communicating faith in today’s world" is the theme for the Congress, which will include plenary speakers, workshops, roundtable discussions, interest groups, and a "Resource Plaza" or exhibit hall.

The Church of the Brethren is one of the cooperating organizations for this interfaith event, which is expected to bring together more than 1,200 religious communication professionals.

Brethren staff member Becky Ullom is serving on the planning committee for the Congress, with responsibility for organizing the Resource Plaza. She recently has been named as the church’s director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

Former Church of the Brethren denominational staff Stewart M. Hoover also is 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, a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the journal "Media and Religion," and 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" and will give a workshop on "Religion, Media, and Masculinity."

Brethren who are interested in attending are requested to contact Becky Ullom at or 800-323-8039 ext. 297 in order to help make possible a Church of the Brethren group registration. Early bird registration is open through Jan. 15 for $25 off the individual registration fee of $400 ($225 for fulltime students and retirees). Participants make their own arrangements for accommodations. Go to for more information.

Source: 10/9/2009 Newsline Extra
Brethren bits: Mission and Ministry Board, Bethany visit day, more upcoming events.
  • The Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board will hold its fall meeting on Oct. 15-19 at the church’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The agenda includes a performance appraisal for the general secretary; work on new mission, vision, and core values statements following up on the coming together of the former General Board with the former Association of Brethren Caregivers; a budget for 2010; financial resourcing for denominational ministries; a resolution on torture; trustee appointments to India trusts; and a number of reports including an Intercultural Survey and the Brethren Witness Listening Process.

  • Bethany Theological Seminary invites prospective students to a Campus Visit Day on Friday, Nov. 6. "Come savour the mystery and meaning at Bethany Theological Seminary!" said an invitation. "Engage with students and faculty, participate in theological discussions, come to the table to eat, pray, and learn." For more details and to register go to or contact Elizabeth Keller at or 800-287-8822 ext. 1832.

  • A program titled "Money: Friend or Foe?" will be presented by Carol Bowman, coordinator for Stewardship Formation for the Church of the Brethren, on Oct. 24 at the Red Barn in North Franklin County, Va., hosted by Antioch Church of the Brethren and other area congregations. The program will help younger adults focus on stewardship as a way of life but all ages are encouraged to attend. Sessions start at 4:30 p.m. A corn maze and hay ride will be offered for children, along with a session for children kindergarten through fifth grade at 6:45 p.m. At 7:45 p.m. an intergenerational session "Every Day in Every Way" will be offered. A hot dog supper and campfire will close the evening.

  • Selma (Va.) Church of the Brethren observes its 95th anniversary with a special Homecoming on Oct. 18.

  • Bedford (Pa.) Church of the Brethren celebrates its 50th anniversary on Oct. 10.

  • Brethren in Sioux City, Iowa, are sponsoring a workshop on Oct. 16-17 titled, "Peace Is Possible!" The workshop led by On Earth Peace is intended to teach ways of making peace between people, at school, at work, and in communities. The co-facilitators are John Pickens and Rick Polhamus. For more information contact Lucinda Douglas at or 712-204-8950.

  • First Church of the Brethren in Chicago, Ill., is holding a benefit "Raising the Roof for Youth." The target is to raise $1,500 for an unexpected roof repair. "First Church of the Brethren in East Garfield Park is a small church with a big impact on the youth of Chicago, particularly ones who face a lack of resources and violence as a way of life," said an invitation to the fundraiser. "Ceasefire, an organization that has made a big difference for youth by reducing gun violence, has its headquarters in the church, as does the youth-oriented DOOR program. In addition the church has its own youth programs including an after-school tutoring program. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke here in the ’60s, speaking about what is possible for the neighborhood and the nation." The Raising the Roof for Youth concert will be held on Oct. 10 from 7-10 p.m. at the Hidden Cove in Chicago featuring musicians John Greenfield, Seth Hitsky and Hashim Uqdah, and The Match Factory.

  • Several district conferences will be held on Oct. 9-10, including the Atlantic Northeast District Conference at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College on the theme "Receive, Refresh, Released to Bless"; the Idaho District Conference at Nampa (Idaho) Church of the Brethren on the theme "Choose to Serve"; and the Atlantic Southeast District Conference at Arcadia (Fla.) Church of the Brethren on the theme "Be Holy Because God Is Holy." This will be the 40th district conference for Atlantic Northeast, and the 125th conference for Atlantic Southeast. On Oct. 16-17, Middle Pennsylvania District holds its conference at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., on the theme, "God Lives in Us."

  • Pleasant Hill Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Girard, Ill., is holding its 13th annual dinner and auction on the theme, "Western Hoedown," on Oct. 17. The event will be held in Virden, Ill., at the Knights of Columbus Hall beginning at 5 p.m. The cost is $25 per person. Ccontact Paulette Miller at 217-627-2181 or

  • A seminar on Long-Term Care Insurance will occur Oct. 27-28 at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village in Boonsboro, Md. The session Oct. 27 will be at 6 p.m. in the Auditorium; on Oct. 28 information will be presented at 10 a.m. in the Board Room. Randy Yoder, Insurance Services director for Brethren Benefit Trust, will lead the seminars. Reservations are recommended, contact Mike Leiter at 301-671-5015.

  • The newly organized Church Development and Evangelism Team of Shenandoah District is announcing a special event for all congregations in the district, as it works on a plan for renewal and revitalization for new church development and congregational life. The event will be held Oct. 17 from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at First Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg, Va. Jonathan Shively, executive director of the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries will give one of the presentations. Participants also will work together in dynamic group exercises to develop strategies for the district’s vision for church growth.

  • Founders Hall, the first building on the Juniata College campus in Huntingdon, Pa., built in 1879, has undergone a renovation and will be dedicated at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23. The Founders Hall renovation, completed for $8.5 million, will have a grand opening on Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 30-Nov.1. The refurbishment features environmentally conscious technology, yet many of the building's signature features remain, according to a release from the college. The restoration by Street Dixon Rick Architects of Nashville, Tenn., emphasized "green design" and was built as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building. Juniata will seek a LEED Silver designation certification from the US Green Building Council.

  • A Reorganization Meeting for Camp Mount Hermon in Western Plains District will be held on Oct. 10. Trustees (past and present), campers, parents, camp staff, and friends of the camp were invited to the meeting in an announcement in the district newsletter. The meeting will select the new members of the camp’s board of trustees. Over the past 18 months, the current trustees and district groups have worked together to create a new structure for the trustees group as well as an operations agreement, the newsletter reported.

  • Elizabethtown (Pa.) President Theodore E. Long will speak at a seminar on "Brethren Higher Education and Church Renewal" on Nov. 2 at 3:30 p.m. at Bridgewater (Va.) College. "If the colleges have grown while the denomination has lost membership, can the church learn something from Brethren campuses, especially about interpretation of the Brethren heritage?" said a release about the event. The seminar will be held in the Boitnott Room of the Kline Campus Center. Contact Steve Longenecker at

  • The National Council of Churches is offering a free national conference call for people of faith to kick off a "Fighting Poverty with Faith" week of action. The call will be offered on Oct. 14 at 2-3 p.m. eastern time, and will give an opportunity to hear from several national faith-based leaders, elected officials, and others working to reduce poverty. Presenters will include Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA; Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs; and Miquela Craytor, executive director of Sustainable South Bronx. For information about how to join the call go to
Source: 10/9/2009 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, Stan Dueck, Enten Eller, Marlin D. Houff, Cindy Kinnamon, Karin Krog, David Radcliff, Glen Sargent, Marcia Shetler, Brian Solem, John Wall, Zach Wolgemuth, and Jane Yount contributed to this report.