Thursday, October 22, 2009

Annual Conference looks for stories about people taking Jesus seriously.

Stories related to the theme of the 2010 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, "Taking Jesus Seriously" (John 14:15), are sought for presentations during the conference next year on July 3-7 in Pittsburgh, Pa.

A letter from moderator Shawn Flory Replogle to district and congregational leaders in the Church of the Brethren has requested the submission of stories about people who have taken Jesus seriously, "as a way of challenging and inspiring us to consider the theme.

The Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee is looking for stories that may represent a moment of selfless action or a lifetime’s commitment to a cause of the Gospel, and that may be about one person, a congregation, a district, an agency, or an organization. "We are interested in stories that span the diversity of our denomination: theologically, geographically, generationally, and more," Replogle wrote. "The aim is to include those stories of faith and testimony throughout our time together in Pittsburgh, celebrating God’s good work among us."

At the moment, the Program and Arrangements Committee is interested in receiving a brief synopsis of stories and contact information for follow-up. Send submissions by Nov. 9 to the Annual Conference Office, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120 or

The moderator also issued a general invitation to attend the 224th recorded Annual Conference, and to hold the conference in prayer. "This is the only gathering within the Church of the Brethren where everyone is invited to the table, regardless of age, theology, and geography," he wrote. "This is the place that members of the Church of the Brethren come to be the body of Christ, to be a part of a community of faith that is more powerful than we could be on our own. That body will not be the same without you.

"Please hold the ‘big meeting’ in your prayers," he added. He requested prayer for the workers and staff of the convention center and hotels and restaurants in Pittsburgh, the delegates to the Conference, the Annual Conference officers, and the volunteers and other attendees. For more information visit

Source: 10/22/2009 Newsline
Grants go to Indonesia, American Samoa, Philippines, and Niger.

Church of the Brethren funds have given grants totaling $109,000 for disaster relief in Indonesia following the Sept. 30 earthquake, relief efforts following flooding in the Philippines, relief efforts and exploration of a Brethren rebuilding project following the massive tsunami in American Samoa, and a "Water for Life" program in Niger.

The Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) has given $69,000 to support work on the island of Sumatra following the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck Sept. 30. The grant supports efforts by the Church World Service (CWS) Emergency Response Program. Shortly after the quake, CWS began distributing tarpaulins and blankets to affected communities. In addition, water distribution is under way and work has begun on sanitation facilities.

The Brethren grant also supports the distribution of food aid to children under age five, tools for rehabilitation, reconstruction of houses, and psychosocial first-aid for affected populations--particularly women and children. As part of the long-term response, livelihood recovery assistance will be provided and training will help communities in disaster risk reduction.

An EDF allocation of $10,000 for American Samoa follows the massive tsunami wave that struck in late September. The funds will provide small grants to support local relief efforts and initial grants to start a long-term recovery process. The money also will support an assessment trip to explore creation of a Brethren Disaster Ministries reconstruction project on the island.

An EDF grant of $20,000 is helping CWS and Action by Churches Together (ACT) provide assistance in the Philippines following flooding from tropical storm Ketsana, which unleashed continuous heavy rains for almost eight hours on Sept. 26. The storm mainly hit the island of Luzon. Extensive flooding affected more than three million people and caused at least 293 deaths. The grant will assist in providing emergency food and household supplies for 98,000 of the most vulnerable flood survivors.

The Global Food Crisis Fund has allocated $10,000 for the "Water for Life" program in Niger. The money will be used by the NGO Nagarta to assist in the construction of 20 wells in the villages of Dan Kalm and Dan Chamoua. Two of the wells will be used to supply potable water for drinking, while the rest will be used for watering gardens and livestock. Villagers will be trained to manage and maintain the wells and existing water spots.

In related news, Brethren Disaster Ministries holds its second Haiti Hurricane Response Workcamp on Oct. 24-Nov. 1. Executive director Roy Winter will join 10 volunteers and field staff for the workcamp. The group will work and worship with Haitian Brethren and will rebuild homes in the coastal city of Gonaives. Disaster News Network recently featured a story about the Brethren project in Haiti, go to

For more information and to make online donations to the Emergency Disaster Fund go to For more information and to make online donations to the Global Food Crisis Fund go to

Source: 10/22/2009 Newsline
Cincinnati church starts first BVS volunteer community house.

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) and Cincinnati (Ohio) Church of the Brethren have partnered to open the first BVS House as part of an initiative to develop community living opportunities for volunteers.

The initiative, which was announced last year, envisions a number of volunteer community houses supported by BVS and local congregations, each housing four-to-six volunteers serving in full-time BVS projects and committed to intentional practices of life together.

The BVS House opened in early October in Cincinnati and has welcomed four fulltime BVS volunteers: Katie Baker of Taneytown, Md.; Ben Bear of Nokesville, Va.; Laura Dell of Holmesville, Neb.; and Anne Wessell of Hershey, Pa. All are Church of the Brethren members.

On Sunday, Oct. 11, the congregation held a dedication service for the volunteers. The Cincinnati church has rented a house for the volunteer community and provides spiritual support including weekly meetings of congregation members and volunteers. For their part, the volunteers have committed to worship with the congregation, take part in the program of the church in the local community, and provide 40 hours a week of work for a local project.

Ben Walters is one of the co-pastors of the Cincinnati congregation, along with co-pastor Roger Cruser, and has provided much of the impetus for the church’s involvement, according to BVS director Dan McFadden. Having served as a BVS volunteer at the Washington Office in the 1990s, Walters was one of the first to express interest in the BVS House initiative, and has worked with BVS staff since then to make it a reality. He even personally visited the most recent BVS orientation to recruit prospective volunteers and "talk up" the project.

The Cincinnati church is in the Walnut Hills neighborhood of the city, which borders upscale areas as well as rough neighborhoods, McFadden said. In a recent communication with BVS, Walters wrote that the congregation is "building a new model of church in Cincinnati, where most of our work is outside our walls."

Two of the four volunteers at the BVS House in Cincinnati will work with the congregation’s program for children and other programs in the community surrounding the church. The others will serve at Interfaith Hospitality Network, an ecumenical agency partnering with local congregations to provide housing for homeless families, and Talbert House, a large agency providing a community-wide network of social services.

The new community emphasis in BVS is part of a partnership with Volunteers Exploring Vocation through the Fund for Theological Education (FTE) and a grant from the Lilly Foundation. Dana Cassell is helping to guide the initiative as the BVS volunteer staff for Vocation and Community Living.

"I am excited that this is a reality, that a BVS House exists," she told the Church of the Brethren’s Mission and Ministry Board during a recent report. "This is a partnership of something new--which actually is really old, the concept of intentional Christian community--with something established." For more information contact

Source: 10/22/2009 Newsline
Manchester College to launch school for pharmacists in Fort Wayne.

Manchester College will begin the accreditation process for a School of Pharmacy in Fort Wayne, Ind., with unanimous approval given by its Board of Trustees. Manchester College is a Church of the Brethren-related school in North Manchester, Ind.

The college plans to enroll its first students in the four-year Doctor of Pharmacy program in the fall of 2012. This is the 121-year-old baccalaureate college’s first venture into a doctoral program and into a satellite campus. It will be the only Doctor of Pharmacy program in northern Indiana.

"Graduate education for pharmacists is a natural fit with Manchester College," said president Jo Young Switzer. Manchester has a strong reputation in the sciences, particularly for preparing students for medical and graduate school. The college also emphasizes service learning.

Fort Wayne is a natural fit for the new venture. In addition to numerous medical facilities and opportunities for pharmacy practicum experiences, Fort Wayne offers many amenities attractive to the school’s 250 students, 40 faculty and staff members, and their families.

"The decision by Manchester College to start a PharmD program in Fort Wayne is a wonderful investment of financial and intellectual capital in our city," said mayor Tom Henry. "As the health care sector continues to grow in Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana, Manchester College’s expansion of professional programs is going to be key in creating the highly skilled, highly educated workforce employers demand."

The average starting salary for pharmacists exceeds $100,000 and demand in the highly competitive profession is expected to grow more than 20 percent in the coming decade, said Switzer. The college’s research indicates many pharmacy graduates--who come from throughout the nation--remain in the communities where they study. Said Switzer, "During our exploration, many told us that this project aligns well with other initiatives undertaken in northeast Indiana to strengthen the economy here."

Admission to Manchester’s new school will require two years of pre-pharmacy coursework. The college will add that program to its undergraduate curriculum in North Manchester and its students will compete with pre-pharmacy students from other colleges and universities for seats in the School of Pharmacy.

The college has not finalized its plans for a Fort Wayne site for the new school, which will require at least 35,000 square feet for classrooms, offices, and laboratories. The pharmacy school will be a part of Manchester College and governed by the college’s Board of Trustees.

The search for a founding dean and building of a leadership team will begin immediately. That team will begin preparing the school’s application for accreditation.

-- Jeri S. Kornegay is director of Media and Public Relations for Manchester College.

Source: 10/22/2009 Newsline
Veritas new church plant is launched in Atlantic Northeast.

Veritas, a "church plant to reach a new generation" in the Lancaster, Pa., area, was launched in Atlantic Northeast District with a worship gathering on Sunday, Sept. 13. Veritas is led by church planters Ryan and Kim Braught, with a team of core leaders. Don Mitchell serves as district director of church development.

"This is a great day" said district executive Craig Smith to the group of 56 worshipers.

Veritas’ worship gathering is on Sundays at 10:45 a.m., using the facility of English Presbyterian Church in Marietta, Pa. Every six or eight weeks the worship gathering will include participation in a service event.

The name "Veritas" is Latin for "truth, real, authentic, or genuine." The Veritas new church plant is dedicated to being an authentic community, where people are committed to each other and can genuinely seek how God wants followers of Jesus to live in this modern life.

"Above all, we seek to pattern our daily living after the life of Jesus: a life of humble service and unconditional love," said a statement from Veritas. "As part of a larger body of believers--the church, the body of Christ--we go into the entire world today with a mission of witness, service, and reconciliation."

The vision includes people gathering in homes in the greater Lancaster area on a weekly basis to pray together, share together, be in relationship with each other, and value open and honest dialogue centered on the scriptures. The Braughts envision people developing deep friendships that draw them together throughout the entire week. "We see people hanging out with each other, and spending time together, and forming witness and service projects that bring blessing to the community," they said.

Veritas is guided by the following three core values: A Safe Spiritual Search: to be a community where people experience genuine love and care. A Missional Kingdom Life: to be a community where people are blessing others in practical ways. An Authentic Worship Expression: to be a community where people create relevant worship experiences. For more information see

-- Stan Dueck is director of Transforming Practices for the Church of the Brethren.

Source: 10/22/2009 Newsline
Mid-Atlantic District holds its 43rd District Conference.

"Behold! I am doing a new thing...I will make a way in the wilderness...and rivers in the desert" (Isaiah 43:19) was the theme of the 43rd Mid-Atlantic District Conference. The conference began with 34 ministers convening in the beautiful chapel of the newly renovated St. Mark’s United Methodist Church to explore the basics of "Transformational Leadership," with Paul Mundey and Doug Sider. All were challenged to become self-aware and be the leaders God has called each to be. The workshop leaders were honest and led the group through how to become transformed, effective leaders in churches.

As the conference transitioned from the workshop to opening worship on Friday evening, participants enjoyed a meal with one another at Easton Church of the Brethren, and connected with other pastors and spouses in the district. A meal also was held at St. Mark’s, where connections were made and relationships renewed.

Linda Lambert gave a passionate message Friday evening, and Paul Mundey shared an energizing sermon on Saturday morning. Jonathan Shively, executive director of the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries, brought greetings and a vision for new church development. Stan Dueck, the church’s director of Transforming Practices, led a conversation on "Being the Church." Many conference attendees and delegates took the opportunity to share their thoughts during the time allowed for the conversation.

Business was light, the budget was presented by the district’s Leadership Team with few questions asked, and the microphones were quieter than usual. The body voted to approve the budget and affirmed the slate of leadership. Newly-elected and re-elected officers include Leadership Team members Dale Posthumus, Dianne Nelson, Ted Hallock, Brenda Hall, Martina Lane, and Karen Winter; Program and Arrangements Committee member Rusty Curling; Standing Committee member Howard Miller; Camp Mardela board member Jody Gunn; and Leadership Calling Team member Joe Ikenberry.

Participants at the district conference brought bags of nonperishable food items as a service project that was developed to reach out to the host community. A local Easton outreach, the Neighborhood Service Center, was the recipient of more than 330 boxes, jars, and cans of food.

The conference finished on a positive note with laying on of hands for new district moderator Cinda Showalter of Westminster Church of the Brethren, and moderator-elect Jim Lohr of Easton Church of the Brethren.

-- This report is taken from an article by Jody Gunn in the Mid-Atlantic District newsletter.

Source: 10/22/2009 Newsline
April Vanlonden to direct Academic Services for Bethany Seminary.

April Vanlonden has been called as director of Academic Services in a joint position for Bethany Theological Seminary and Earlham School of Religion (ESR) in Richmond, Ind. The director functions as the registrar for both schools in liaison with Earlham College, and facilitates the cooperative academic operation of the two seminaries.

Vanlonden is a recorded Quaker minister in the Western Yearly Meeting and pastors Fountain City (Ind.) Friends Meeting. She also is a mental health consultant for the Indiana Bar Association’s Committee on Civil Rights of Children, Indiana Screening, Assessment, and Treatment Pilot Project. She holds degrees from Indiana University and ESR.

Source: 10/22/2009 Newsline
Youth Peace Travel Team: A dream of peace.

Applications are being accepted for next summer’s Youth Peace Travel Team, a group of young adults age 19 to 22 who share Jesus' message of peace with other young people at church camps and other venues. The team is sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry, Brethren Volunteer Service, On Earth Peace, and the Outdoor Ministries Association. They receive food, lodging, and travel expenses for the summer, and a college tuition grant. Applications are due Jan. 19, 2010. Go to or contact Becky Ullom at 800-323-8039 ext. 297.

The following is excerpted from a reflection by Jessica Flory-Steury, a member of the 2009 Youth Peace Travel Team along with Bethany Funkhouser, Chelsea Goss, and Marianne Houff:

"Before my experience on the Youth Peace Travel Team, I dreamed of peace on earth. I wondered what it would be like if all wars ended, world hunger was defeated, and love reigned over all. I always knew it was possible. I just didn’t know how....

"One of our junior high campers had a very interesting story. He had come to camp by invitation of a friend. He had not been to church more than a few times in his life. He didn’t know anything about the church, or much about Jesus Christ. He had come from a broken home and had witnessed things that no one should ever have to see in their lifetime.... He often teased other campers and in the past had been known to be involved in violence. In spite of that, he could be a kind and passionate individual. I was so glad he was there and I was glad to be there to witness his transformation.

"Throughout the beginning of the week, he got in trouble for goofing off. I discovered from conversation with him that he often had no idea what the leaders were talking about during Bible studies, leaving him frustrated and pushed even farther when he was reprimanded for not paying attention.

"From observing the campers that week, the team decided that these kids needed to hear more of the basics. They had more experiences of violence and hate in their lives than we could imagine. We told them that Jesus loved them--completely, uniquely, and intimately. We told them that we are called to love one another. In the session, we had them think of ways to break down walls of hate. At the end, we had them write their own ‘peace raps.’

"The passion and creativity that poured out of those kids was amazing. It was inspiring to observe that even though they had all experienced so much hate and violence in their schools and homes, they still had hope.

"The previously mentioned camper grew from an instigator to a leader...the one who was encouraging his teammates, presenting ideas, and motivating everyone to keep going. After we left that week, I wanted to go with that boy, to help him maintain his eagerness to learn and make peace and to remind him that he was loved. My hope is that we instilled something in him that doesn’t go away.... I pray that boy continues on his journey of peace with God....

" World peace will not be solved by one person in a day. We need each other and all the love that we possess to fulfill the message that Jesus had for us."

Source: 10/22/2009 Newsline
Brethren Bits: Correction, remembrance, personnel, jobs, and more.
  • Correction: The recent Pastoral Letter on the Economy was identified incorrectly in Newsline. It was from executives of the Annual Conference-related agencies, not the Inter-Agency Forum.

  • Remembrance: Joseph M. Long, 80, of Harrisburg, Pa., passed away on Oct. 14. He served as the Church of the Brethren’s denominational director for Youth Work from September 1959 through August 1964. He also was the first executive secretary of a tri-district Pennsylvania area of the Church of the Brethren encompassing the districts of Eastern Pennsylvania, North Atlantic, and Southern Pennsylvania, beginning in September 1964. He then served as the first executive secretary of Atlantic Northeast District at its formation by the former Eastern Pennsylvania and North Atlantic Districts in the fall of 1970. He continued in that office through his retirement. In other church work, he was one of Heifer Project’s "seagoing cowboys" in 1946, delivering animals to Poland, served two pastorates, and was a trustee and assistant manager at Camp Swatara and a trustee and director of development for Camp Eder. Born on Oct. 29, 1928, in Lebanon, Pa., he was the son of the late Henry F. and Frances (Horst) Long. He attended Hershey (Pa.) Junior College and earned degrees from Elizabethtown (Pa.) College and Bethany Theological Seminary. In Harrisburg, he was executive assistant to the Chairman of the Board of Probation and Parole for 20 years and volunteered for Contact Harrisburg for 35 years. Surviving are his wife, Shirley; son Timothy J. Long and wife Lorrie; daughter Patti Schylaski and husband Kurt; stepdaughters Leslie Hess and husband Brian, and Kelly Ross and husband Michael; 10 grandchildren and step grandchildren; and one great grandchild. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Oct. 30 at Ridgeway Community Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., preceded by visitation from 1 p.m. Interment will be at the convenience of the family in Spring Creek Cemetery in Hershey. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are being received to Hospice of Central Pennsylvania, 1320 Linglestown Road, Harrisburg, PA 17110. Condolences may be shared at

  • Kendra Flory has been called to serve as half-time administrative assistant for the Western Plains District office beginning Nov. 30. She is a member of McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren, a graduate of Bridgewater (Va.) College, and a 2009 graduate of Bethany Theological Seminary. The Western Plains District office is located on the campus of McPherson College.

  • Brethren Disaster Ministries is welcoming new Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker Steve Schellenberg. He is a recent graduate of Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., and has volunteered with Brethren Disaster Ministries in the past. He will join the leadership team at the Hurricane Katrina recovery project in Chalmette, La.

  • On Earth Peace has welcomed new BVS worker John-Michael Pickens. He is working with staff member Marie Rhoades to lead youth and young adult retreats in the Peace Education program. In 2008, he was a member of the denomination’s Youth Peace Travel Team. Contact him for more information about youth retreats at or 717-233-3786.

  • West Marva District seeks a district executive minister to fill a part-time position, available immediately. The theologically diverse district includes 62 congregations and two fellowships in Maryland and West Virginia, in the Appalachian Mountains. Its congregations are mostly rural, with several in urban areas. The preferred candidate will be someone who understands the history, values, and workings of the Church of the Brethren and will lead the district in focusing on its mission of nurturing the faith of its members and extending the witness of the Gospel to the people, problems, and needs of the world. The district office is located in Oakland, Md. Responsibilities include serving as executive officer of the District Board, giving general oversight to the planning and implementation of ministries, providing linkages with denominational agencies and ministries, assisting congregations and pastors with placement, building and strengthening relationships with congregations and pastors, articulating and promoting the vision and mission of the district, serving as an advocate for policies and directives of Annual Conference in conversation with the district, facilitating the calling and training of people to set-apart ministry and lay leadership, promoting unity in the district. Qualifications include clear commitment to Jesus Christ demonstrated by a deep faith and vibrant spiritual life; commitment to the New Testament and its values; commitment to Church of the Brethren faith and heritage; a minimum of 10 years of pastoral experience; communication, mediation, and conflict resolution skills; administrative, management, and budget skills; respect for theological diversity; flexibility in working with staff, volunteer, pastoral, and lay leadership; with a master of divinity or equivalent theological degree preferred. Apply by sending a letter of interest and a resume via e-mail to Applicants are requested to contact three or four people to provide a letter of reference. A candidate profile must be completed as well. Application deadline is Dec. 2.

  • The Special Response Resource Committee created by the 2009 Annual Conference met for the first time on Oct. 12-13. This committee was asked to develop a study guide and resource list for congregations, districts, and the denomination to discuss two documents that came to the 2009 Conference: "Statement of Confession and Commitment" and the query on "Language on Same-Sex Covenantal Relationships." In an announcement from the Annual Conference Office, the committee has begun its work, which the Conference requested be available no later than April 1, 2010. Members are John Wenger, chair; Karen Garrett, recorder; James Myer; Marie Rhoades; Carol Wise; and Standing Committee liaison Jeff Carter. The committee will post occasional updates at

  • Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger has signed on to a letter from interfaith leaders to President Obama urging that poverty, climate, and coast restoration projects become priorities in the recovery of the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina. More than 50 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders signed the letter, which was organized by Louisiana-based interfaith groups related to the Gulf Coast Civic Works Campaign. The letter read in part, "Four years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck and the levees were breached, the slow pace of recovery, persistent poverty, climate change, and coastal land loss have created a moral crisis across the region that demands a powerful response from people of faith and our elected officials." For the full text go to

  • Recent shipments of disaster relief materials by the Material Resources program at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., included ten 40-foot containers of Lutheran World Relief kits, quilts, and soap. "This was quite intense as all ten containers needed to be delivered back to the Baltimore pier in less than eight days," reported director Loretta Wolf. Other recent shipments have been made on behalf of Church World Service (CWS) and World Missions Outreach to send blankets, school and hygiene kits, and other materials to Nicaragua; more than 32,000 pounds of baby kits, school kits, and hygiene kits to the Dominican Republic; one 40-foot high cube container to the Congo for IMA World Health; and domestic shipments for CWS were made to Mississippi, New York, Colorado, Minnesota, and Georgia.

  • Selma (Va.) Church of the Brethren observed its 95th anniversary on Oct. 18.

  • West Charleston Church of the Brethren broke ground on Oct. 18 for a new facility in Tipp City, Ohio.

  • Shenandoah District is requesting prayer following the death of District Youth Council member Angela Kania, daughter of Phillip Kania and Cathy (Cupp) VanLear, from injuries received in a car accident. She was a member of Lebanon Church of the Brethren in Mount Sidney, Va., and a student at Fort Defiance High School. Condolences may be sent to the family through the guest book at

  • Rebecca Miller Zeek, pastor of 28th Street Church of the Brethren in Altoona, Pa., has been named to the Juniata College Board of Trustees as a church trustee.

  • Flora Williams, an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren from Lafayette, Ind., has written a manual titled "The Shepherd’s Guide Through the Valley of Debt and Financial Change" that combines financial management, counseling, and spiritual guidance for those doing pastoral counseling and family care. The book "is based on my teaching and research at Purdue University for 32 years, directing a financial clinic for 25 years, study at Bethany Theological Seminary, my ministering to families, and results of a survey funded by Eli Lilly for ministry excellence," she reported. "You can use this book to share the good news that God cares about our personal finances." Williams directed the financial advising clinic at Purdue, which was awarded "Outstanding Financial Counseling Center" in the US in 2001, and has written materials for the National Foundation for Consumer Credit to certify counselors. She also is past president and distinguished fellow of the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education. Contact 765-474-4232 or for more information.

  • A plea agreement has been reached in criminal charges brought against a young woman for an incident that took place while she was in the Fall 2008 orientation unit of Brethren Volunteer Service. Charges of first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death had been brought against Melanie Blevins, who during the orientation checked into a hospital and was discovered to have given birth. After she told police the baby was stillborn, they found the body of the child in a trash bin outside the building where the orientation unit was staying in Baltimore, Md. On Oct. 13, Blevins pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was given a 10-year suspended sentence, ordered to perform 900 hours of community service over the next three years, and to continue in psychiatric care.
Source: 10/22/2009 Newsline
Mission and Ministry Board adopts budget, begins strategic financial planning.

The Church of the Brethren’s Mission and Ministry Board met for its fall meeting on Oct. 15-19 at the church’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Chair Dale Minnich led the board in a consensus model of decision-making. "Hearers and Doers of the Word" provided the theme for the meeting, based on James 1:16-25.

The board adopted a budget for 2010 and called for development of a long-range strategic financial plan; adopted new vision, mission, and core values statements; adopted a revision of the corporate by-laws; and adopted a Resolution Against Torture. Other major work at the meeting included a job evaluation for general secretary Stan Noffsinger and the renewal of his five-year contract.


The budget approved by the board anticipates an income of $9,488,760 and an expense of $9,807,100 for all Church of the Brethren ministries in 2010, representing a net expense of $318,340. Adoption of this overall budget included a Core Ministries budget of $4,962,000 of projected income, $5,342,930 of projected expense, and a net expense of $380,930.

Along with the 2010 budget the board also approved a statement calling on the general secretary "to initiate development of a long-range strategic plan...that matches income and expense for the core budget beginning in 2011, using consulting help as needed" and that "this plan be based on a series of income enhancement and cost reduction studies to explore new options." The plan is to be presented to the October 2010 meeting of the board for approval.

The Executive Committee was "of a mind that we resist more cuts at this time," Minnich told the board as he reflected on approving a deficit budget. The decision may represent postponement of further cuts in staff, salaries, and benefits, but it also may give time for the exploration of options "to be in a better place a year from now," he said. "Something needs to happen...that will address income and expense so we don’t just keep sliding down the slope."

"Every budget is a leap of faith," treasurer Judy Keyser told the board. "We put the amount out there as a challenge to fulfill these budgets." She characterized the approval of a deficit budget as "taking time to regroup" from the large losses of the last two years.

The board also received year-to-date budget information for 2009 and projections of cumulative losses in net assets over the next several years if general economic trends and giving to the church do not improve. In a separate session, the board discussed a number of questions related to longterm financial resourcing of denominational ministries, related to capital improvement needs at properties owned and operated by the church and other stewardship issues.

In a decision that Minnich reported as part of the renewal of contract for the General Secretary, the church’s funding department is to be reorganized under the direction of the General Secretary’s office, as part of the effort to develop new models.

Vision, Mission, and Core Values Statements:

The board engaged in several sessions of "table talk" in small groups as it gave input for new vision, mission, and core values statements. The new statements were written with leadership from a small group of board members and staff, as a follow-up to the combining of the former General Board with the former Association of Brethren Caregivers. Each of the previous bodies had its own separate sets of statements.

Heading the new document is the Vision Statement, "The Mission and Ministry Board envisions the Church of the Brethren wholly engaged in the reconciliation of all people to God and to each other."

A three-paragraph Mission Statement focuses on the calling of the board to extend the church’s witness around the world, caring for the whole fabric of the community of the Church of the Brethren, and supporting congregations "in their task to create joyful communities of faith that proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, cultivate discipleship, respond to human need, and make peace."

Eight core values of the board are described with one short phrase each, including Christ-likeness, servant leadership, discernment, community, stewardship, simplicity, hospitality, and peacemaking. (Go to for the Vision, Mission, and Core Values document.)

Resolution Against Torture:

A "Church of the Brethren Resolution Against Torture" was adopted after lengthy discussion and numerous revisions to a document originally presented by a small group of board members and staff. The resolution will be passed on to the 2010 Annual Conference for its consideration.

One question that motivated the small group presenting the resolution was, "Why didn’t we act sooner?" said board member Andy Hamilton as he presented the paper. He noted that it has been close to 10 years since questions about the use of torture have begun to rise in the United States.

The resolution includes four sections: an introduction from the Church of the Brethren’s experience of persecution and violence at times in its 300-year history, a biblical basis represented as "foundational for our conviction regarding the sanctity of life," a section headed "Torture Is a Violation of Word and Life" stating the church’s awareness of growing occurrences of torture throughout the world and attempts to legitimize it, and a section calling the church to confession and action in response. An additional page of references accompanies the resolution. (Go to for the full resolution.)

Intercultural survey:

The Intercultural Advisory Committee met concurrently with the Mission and Ministry Board and presented a report from an intercultural survey of selected denominational leaders. A primary motivation for the study was the mandate of the 2007 Annual Conference statement "Separate No More" for intercultural ministry in the Church of the Brethren. Ruben Deoleo, director for Intercultural Ministries, led the advisory committee into the study and has provided the primary oversight for it.

This was the first time in several years that the committee had been able to meet with all members present. Current members of the committee are Founa Augustin, Barbara Daté, Thomas Dowdy, Robert Jackson, Marisel Olivencia, Gilbert Romero, Dennis Webb, with Deoleo as staff.

An overview of the survey results was given by Darin Short of In[ter]sights, which conducted the survey. In[ter]sights used an "Intercultural Development Inventory" to survey leadership competency for health intercultural engagement. The survey assumes that cultural differences always are present in an organization, and that there is gradual movement and growth toward an intercultural mindset among leadership, Short said. He showed a graph of the Brethren survey, on a continuum from denial of other cultures, through polarization or minimization of cultural differences, to acceptance, and finally to adaptation to other cultures.

The majority of Brethren individuals surveyed (64 percent) showed a primary orientation of minimization, with 24 percent displaying a "reverse polarization" toward cultural differences—indicating more regard for other cultures than one’s own, 6 percent at a level of acceptance of other cultures, and small numbers in other categories. The survey results will provide a framework for the church to move forward in its intercultural work, Deoleo said.

Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries, then presented several questions from the Intercultural Advisory Committee responding to the survey: how to invite the involvement and gifts of all people at Annual Conference, how to plant new congregations and strengthen existing congregations in ways that integrate diverse cultures, how to dedicate financial resources to facilitate growth in a culturally responsive manner, and how the board may help lead the church to carry out the intercultural vision.

Sustainable community development in North Korea:

A highlight of the reports received at the meeting was a presentation on work against hunger in North Korea, given by Pilju Kim Joo of Agglobe Services International, and Global Food Crisis Fund manager Howard Royer.

Through annual grants and other efforts, the church is supporting four farm cooperatives in North Korea, in partnership with Joo’s nonprofit agency. In addition, the church has been invited to help provide faculty to teach at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, which has just opened outside the North Korean capital city Pyongyang. The university is a unique venture made possible through cooperative work by faith-based groups with the countries of North and South Korea.

Joo emphasized her endebtedness to the Church of the Brethren, which has been working with Agglobe Services International since 1997. Her wide-ranging slide presentation encompassed a variety of efforts taking place at the four farm cooperatives where some 15,000 people live, from the testing of new varieties of crops to providing basic farm equipment to the feeding of orphans—all under the heading "sustainable community development." At the conclusion of her presentation, the board rose in a standing ovation in appreciation for her work. (Go to for a photo album of the project in North Korea.)

In other business:

The board approved a revision of the Church of the Brethren corporate by-laws to bring to Annual Conference for approval next year. The revision was made necessary by the creation of the Church of the Brethren Inc. as a new entity merging the former General Board, the former Association of Brethren Caregivers, and functions of the former Annual Conference Council.

An update was given on trustee appointments in India. The Church of the Brethren continues to hold responsibility to appoint trustees for church properties that formerly belonged to the Brethren mission in India. On July 29, in a conference call, the board had received an update on legal developments in India, recalled commitments to continue in relationship with both the Church of North India and the India Brethren, and approved a resolution appointing Darryl Raphael Sankey of Valsad, India, to the trust. Noffsinger reported the action to the board because a small number of members were not able to be part of the conference call.

A Bible study led by Dana Cassell, a former intern in the Ministry Office, studied biblical images for the role of the minister. The Bible study was intended to help board members give feedback to a revision of a denominational document on ministerial leadership.

A time of blessing closed the meeting. Board members, staff, and guests were invited to express silent blessings for eyes, ears, hearts, and hands to hear and do the Word.

Go to for an online photo album from the meeting.

Source: 10/22/2009 Newsline Special Report
Brethren Bits: Seminary courses, anniversaries, and other upcoming events.
  • The Outdoor Ministries Association of the Church of the Brethren will hold its National Conference on Nov. 13-15 at Woodland Altars in Peebles, Ohio. The theme for the event is "Christ as Cornerstone." Richard Dawson, executive director at Camp Highroad in Virginia, will bring the keynote address. He has led a camp visioning team for the Southeast Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church which produced "The Seven Foundation Documents of Christian Camping," and has established an EcoEternity Forest at Camp Highroad, becoming the first such forest in the US. The schedule also includes worship, a concert, an OMA Auction to benefit the work of the association, and "break out sessions" featuring a nature hike, challenge course, and arts and crafts projects. Cost is $100 or $75 for Saturday only, with a late fee of $25 applying after Oct. 25. For more information contact or 937-417-1184.

  • A new deadline of Nov. 10 has been given to register for the annual Nigeria workcamp sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission Partnerships. The workcamp is scheduled for Jan. 9-30, 2010. Workcampers will worship, learn, create relationships, and work with Christians from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and Mission 21. The group will work in Kwarhi, tour Kulp Bible College, Hillcrest, and other schools, and visit a game reserve in Yankari. Cost is $2,200 inclusive of a round-trip flight to Nigeria, meals, lodging, in-country transportation, and overseas travel insurance. Requirements include a passport (valid for at least six months after the workcamp) and appropriate vaccinations and medications. Participants must be 18 or older. Those 14-17 years of age may participate if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian who also is participating in the workcamp. Contact Global Mission Partnerships at 800-323-8039 or

  • Bethany Theological Seminary will offer two courses focusing on Brethren heritage in the Spring semester of 2010. Jeff Bach, director of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies and associate professor of religious studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, will teach "Church of the Brethren History" at the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center in Elizabethtown. Adjunct faculty member Denise Kettering will teach "Brethren Beliefs and Practices" as a weekend intensive at the seminary’s campus in Richmond, Ind. For more details see Application deadline is the beginning of December. Contact Elizabeth Keller, director of admissions, at or 800-287-8822 ext. 1832.

  • Celebrations of the 125th anniversary of First Church of the Brethren in York, Pa., continue on Oct. 25, "Heritage Sunday," with performance of an anthem specially written for the anniversary. The anthem, "Generations Now," is by Greg Bachman of Tallahassee, Fla., a former member of the church. On Sunday, Nov. 22, the church holds its 125th Anniversary Celebration Banquet at 12:15 p.m. with former pastor Curtis Dubble speaking.

  • Common Spirit Church of the Brethren is celebrating its new fellowship status on Nov. 1, from 3-6 p.m. The celebration will be held at Open Circle Church of the Brethren in Burnsville, Minn., and will include entertainment provided by musicians from within Northern Plains District, a meal, and worship. Contact 612-724-0264 or

  • Daleville (Va.) Church of the Brethren plans a "Marathon Bible Study" on Oct. 24 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. "The marathon will provide a quick study of the 66 books in the Bible in an instructive, but fun way," said the Virlina District newsletter. Contact 540-992-2042.

  • Western Plains District is holding its "Gathering V" on Oct. 23-25 at the Webster Conference Center in Salina, Kan., on the theme, "Transformed by Jesus to Make Disciples." Plenary sessions and some other sessions at the gathering will be webcast in a joint effort of the denomination’s Congregational Life Ministries, Bethany Seminary, and the district. Plenary sessions will be led by Annual Conference moderator Shawn Flory Replogle and Congregational Life Ministries executive director Jonathan Shively. Continuing education units (CEUs) are available for those who view the events live--no recordings will qualify. The CEU fee is currently being waived for webcast events in October and November. To obtain credit, submit an online CEU request following a webcast to the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership at For the detailed schedule of webcasts go to

  • The inauguration of Michael P. Schneider as the 14th president of McPherson (Kan.) College will be held on Nov. 7 at 2 p.m. Go to for more details.

  • An International Day of Climate Action is being organized with the help of a number of faith communities, focusing attention on new scientific data about the pace of climate change. The major day for activities is Oct. 24. In one example, the Episcopal Church will hold bell ringings and is sponsoring a postcard campaign to call for a fair climate treaty when world leaders gather in Copenhagen in December. More information about the effort is available at, named for the 350 parts per million considered to be the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in earth's atmosphere.

  • Church World Service and a coalition of other faith groups are supporting this week’s 2009 Media Violence Fast. The focus is the impact of anti-immigrant hate speech in the media. The initiative signs up thousands of people from across the nation to consciously abstain from violence on television and radio, at least for one week. Join at
Source: 10/22/2009 Newsline Special Report

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Nathan Buse, Chris Douglas, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Karin Krog, Nancy Miner, Marcia Shetler, Callie Surber, John Wall, and Loretta Wolf contributed to this report.