Thursday, January 28, 2010

Brethren earthquake response shapes up, feeding program begins.

Roy Winter, executive director of Brethren Disaster Response, has announced a comprehensive response to the Haiti earthquake, including a feeding program to be based with Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Haitian Church of the Brethren) in Port-au-Prince. The feeding of children already has begun through the Haitian Brethren.

Winter returned to the US on Jan. 26, after he witnessed the first weeks of recovery following the earthquake in Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12. He was part in a delegation of four representing the US Church of the Brethren, who experienced first-hand the devastation in and around Port-au-Prince.

The basic needs are great, Winter reported. To be efficient and effective, a comprehensive response for the Brethren community in Haiti is being developed. This is being done in consultation with the National Committee of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Haitian Church of the Brethren) by Winter and Brethren Disaster Ministries, the church’s Global Mission Partnerships program and executive director Jay Wittmeyer, and Jeff Boshart, coordinator of the Church of the Brethren home rebuilding program in Haiti. The rebuilding program has been working in Haiti for more than a year, responding to the four hurricanes and tropical storms that hit the island in 2008.

Winter said, "We are working on a five-stage feeding program. The first step is a school feeding program, which started on Jan. 25. The school is in Port-au-Prince and is named Paul Lochard No. 2 school. Approximately 500 children, some of which are ‘restevec’ children (children given as slaves by families too poor to feed them) are provided one hot meal a day."

Seventeen teachers have been put back to work to help with the program. Several of the teachers are Haitian Brethren pastors, including Jean Bily Telfort, general secretary of Eglise des Freres Haitiens. The school is not officially open for teaching, but is providing food and care for the children, many of whom are now homeless.

In the coming week, food rations will be provided to communities around the three Haitian Brethren congregations in the greater Port-au-Prince area: the Delmas 3 Church, Marin Church, and Croix-de-Bouquets Church.

The Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources ministry at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., continues to respond to the earthquake with shipments of relief materials made on behalf of Church World Service (CWS), Lutheran World Relief (LWR), and IMA World Health. The ministry is led by director Loretta Wolf.

As of this morning, the Brethren Service Center’s entire stock of hygiene kits has been shipped, and there is a great need for more.

An air-freight shipment from the Brethren Service Center arrived in the Dominican Republic on Jan. 22 containing 500 lightweight blankets, 1,125 baby care kits--some CWS baby care kits and some from partner LWR; 10,595 hygiene kits--most from CWS and 325 from LWR; 720 tubes of toothpaste from LWR; and 25 flashlights with batteries.

Shipments also are going out by ocean freight to the DR with additional blankets and kits. Sixty IMA World Health medicine boxes have been shipped by air freight, each containing enough essential medicines and medical supplies to treat the routine illnesses of about 1,000 adults and children.

Church of the Brethren staff also are working to develop a new household kit for Haiti. The kit will include kitchen essentials and a simple water purification system. Information on this new kit program will be available soon.

Go to for more about the Brethren relief effort for Haiti, including links to video of the work at the Brethren Service Center (provided by Brethren videographer David Sollenberger); video of Winter reporting on the situation in Haiti; a Haiti blog including reports from the Brethren delegation; and more.

Also at are a variety of ways to help out, including instructions for donating desperately needed hygiene kits; an offering of prayers for Haiti; online donations to the church’s Emergency Disaster Fund (or send checks by mail to Emergency Disaster Fund, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120); and a bulletin insert suitable for Sunday morning worship, to help inform congregations of the Church of the Brethren response.

-- Kathleen Campanella is director of public relations for the Brethren Service Center.

Source: 1/28/2010 Newsline
Delegation member sends update from Haiti.

Jeff Boshart, a member of the Church of the Brethren delegation currently in Haiti representing the US church, has sent updated information. Boshart coordinates the Brethren Disaster Ministries hurricane rebuilding program in Haiti, and has been visiting the country with a group that also includes Ludovic St. Fleur, coordinator of the Church of the Brethren mission in Haiti, and Klebert Exceus, Haiti consultant to Brethren Disaster Ministries.

The group is accompanied by Haitian Brethren pastor Jean Bily Telfort, who serves as general secretary of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Haitian Church of the Brethren). Brethren Disaster Ministries executive Roy Winter returned to the US on Monday (his last journal entries from Haiti appeared in the Newsline Update of Tuesday, Jan. 26--read it online at

Earlier this week the delegation group left the Port-au-Prince area to visit Haitian Brethren in other parts of the country, and to inspect the homes that have been built by Brethren Disaster Ministries following the four hurricanes and tropical storms that hit Haiti in 2008.

"I'm now in the Central Plateau after visiting displaced Brethren in the northwest," Boshart reported yesterday. "We arrived here in Bohoc, near Pignon, in the central plateau to a place where Peggy (Boshart) and I met and later worked with a school doing gardening projects with children in the community. There is now a Church of the Brethren church plant in this community which was started last year by a seminary student, Georges, who was one of those kids who planted trees and vegetables with us. The worship leader is a young woman, Fabnise, who was also worked with us on many of our projects.

"The worship was tremendous. We were first treated to a fabulous meal which was served to the nearly 100 people in attendance. The occasion for this feast? Our presence among them and their excitement at being part of the Church of the Brethren."

The worship service was held under sheets and tarpaulins stretched between a cluster of trees, with a generator providing power for musicians and lights. "Choir after choir came forward to sing. We sang and danced and praised God. It was a worship of praise and healing," Boshart wrote.

"Each one in our delegation was asked to share a few words. I shared a brief meditation on Mark 4 and the parable of the sower. Peggy and I had no idea that nearly 10 years ago when we were sowing seeds with children in the school gardens, that we were sowing the seeds of a church. What a priviledge to see these young people now. Not all of the children we invested in are still with us. Some have left to search for a better life in the DR and one even in the US. One died while still a teenager of an undiagnosed illness. One died in the earthquake. We worshiped and we mourned, and we rejoiced in what is good."

Earlier in the day, Boshart and pastor Telfort visited with several families in the community who had lost relatives in the earthquake. "The stories were heartwrenching," Boshart wrote. "Many of the best and brightest had moved to Port-au-Prince. Four university students from this small village were living in a house in Port-au-Prince which collapsed, killing all of them. One of them was the same age as Pastor Georges and one of his very best friends. This same student was the older brother of Fabnise, our worship leader."

The delegation group has visited with recipients of homes built by Brethren Disaster Ministries in the city of Gonaïves and elsewhere. "They are so so thankful for their homes," Boshart said.

The Brethren-built homes are in good shape, according to reports. One home built in Port-au-Prince for the widow of a Haitian Brethren pastor has survived the earthquake well, while buildings around it collapsed. Another of the brand-new homes built by Brethren Disaster Ministries--so new it is described by Boshart as "not yet painted"--is already sheltering two Port-au-Prince families from the Delmas 3 congregation of Eglise des Freres Haitiens, who are living there with the new homeowners.

This week the delegation also visited programs in northwest Haiti that receive sponsorship from the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund, and they are "going pretty well," he reported earlier this week.

The hurricane rebuilding work continues, Boshart wrote. During their visit, the delegation met with a representative of an organization that will work alongside the community of new home recipients to dig a well. The organization will also "set up a committee to collect monthly fees, so that when new parts are needed there will be a fund already in place," Boshart wrote.

In addition, the delegation this week received word from Haitian Brethren leaders in Port-au-Prince that a Brethren-sponsored feeding program with children "is off to a good start."

"We'll return there tomorrow to see how things have or have not changed in the few days we've been out of the city," Boshart concluded in yesterday’s report. "Thanks for your thoughts and prayers."

For more reports from the delegation, go to to find links to a Haiti blog and video of Brethren Disaster Ministries executive Roy Winter reporting on the situation in Haiti.

Source: 1/28/2010 Newsline
Emergency Disaster Fund receives more than $100,000 for Haiti.

The Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) has received donations totaling $102,154.54 for the church’s relief work following the Haiti earthquake. The number represents the total of both online and by-mail donations received as of yesterday morning.

Of the total, the online donations to Haiti earthquake relief have come to $66,167.07. So far, the church’s finance staff have processed $29,527.42 of mailed-in donations, with more awaiting processing.

EDF grants already given toward relief efforts following the Haiti earthquake total $55,000: a grant of $25,000 to support the Brethren response in Haiti, $25,000 for the work of Church World Service in Haiti, and $5,000 to Haitian First Church of New York--a Church of the Brethren congregation--and the New York Disaster Interfaith Services to establish a family assistance center for Haitians relocating to the US following the earthquake.

Source: 1/28/2010 Newsline
DR Brethren begin aid effort, share concern for relatives in Haiti.

Many Haitian Dominican Brethren have been seeking ways to get words of encouragement and support to family affected by the earthquake in Port-au-Prince. Iglesia des los Hermanos (Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic) includes several congregations of members who are of Haitian background. The Dominican Brethren also have begun working to support hospitals in their communities that have been treating Haitians wounded in the earthquake.

With limited resources, many Haitian Dominican Brethren are joining together to send people to go to Port-au-Prince on their behalf. Those chosen to go as representatives of the group are given a list of names of relatives to contact and donations of food and clothing to share with them.

It has been reported in newspapers that over 15,000 wounded from Port-au-Prince are receiving surgery and medical treatment in overwhelmed hospitals in the DR. Brethren have begun offering assistance to these patients and overwhelmed hospital staff, with the support of a grant from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF).

In San Juan de la Maguana, for example, Brethren are distributing hygiene kits consisting of a towel, undergarments, and toothbrushes to Haitian patients in their hospital. In Santo Domingo, Brethren are providing 50 meals a day to patients.

Assistance was also given to a woman who had come from Haiti with her husband for medical treatment. Her husband did not survive. Grief-stricken, she didn't have the means to return to Haiti to be with her children, a dilemma many are facing. She was very grateful for the bus ticket the Brethren purchased for her.

Brethren mission staff have been offering airport pick up and overnight hospitality for several individuals and work teams headed to Haiti for rescue and medical work. The need for this will diminish once the Port-au-Prince airport is opened for commercial traffic, allowing teams to fly directly to Haiti. Until that is possible, mission staff have been glad to be able to help facilitate land transportation through the DR to Haiti for a number of volunteers.

-- Irvin Heishman is a co-coordinator of the Church of the Brethren mission in the DR.

Source: 1/28/2010 Newsline
Two EYN ministers have died in Nigeria violence, crisis fades for now.

Two ministers of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) died in the violence that broke out in the central Nigerian town of Jos on Sunday, Jan. 17, and continued on Jan. 19. However, the curfew in Jos has been relaxed now that the violent outbreak appears to have faded.

Ecumenical News International (ENI, related to the World Council of Churches) reported on Jan. 25 that the curfew has ended, but that the violence claimed the lives of about 500 people. ENI reported that the fighting may have been sparked by the building of a mosque in a Christian-majority area, and then spread to nearby towns and villages. "Followers of both Christianity and Islam in Jos, which has a population of about half a million people, each blamed gangs from the other's community for sparking the violence," ENI reported.

An update was received by the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission Partnerships staff on Jan. 25 from pastor Anthony Ndamsai, who serves an EYN congregation in Jos. The report included information that two ministers in EYN have died in the violence: Shadrach Dzarma (formerly reported in Newsline on Jan. 20 as Shedrak Garba), a student at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria; and Obidah Hildi, an evangelist working in Bukuru, a town close to Jos.

"Though the number of lives and property cannot be ascertained now...the damage is overwhelming," Ndamsai reported. "While Shadrach met his death from a street bullet on his way from the town, Obidah was slaughtered and burnt with his house. This was discovered two days later...."

Ndamsai wrote that the EYN Church in Bukuru, a town near Jos, was started in Hildi’s house and worship continued there for five or six years until a sanctuary was completed in 2001. "Obidah has been a peacemaker during the previous crises in that ward before he fell prey to wicked people during the crisis. That house was burnt to ashes and Obidah's wife was left behind a widow and homeless. I and my wife went and consoled her yesterday." The home of another EYN member, also a widow, was burnt to ashes but she was able to escape.

Ndamsai and his family have been among the EYN leaders working for peace between Muslims and Christians, and helped give refuge to Muslims during a previous outbreak of violence in 2008. "A Muslim man that we hosted in 2008 crisis ran to us for refuge because his life was threatened," Ndamsai wrote. "Even at the time I was writing this mail, he is still with us. We share the little food we have with him and other boys too in the neighborhood. Though hard it is to do such things and regardless of what people may say to us, we have to love everyone as Christ told us to do."

"I write you this mail to thank you for your prayers," Ndamsai said. "I believe you have been praying for us and God in his infinite mercy has spared us. We believe that God knows why those who died as result of this incident, because no sparrow falls to the ground without the knowledge of the creator. Please continue to pray for us in Nigeria especially the EYN Church. It is a great challenge for a peace church in Nigeria."

Church of the Brethren mission workers Nathan and Jennifer Hosler were not in Jos at the time that violence erupted, although they were visiting just before the crisis (see report below). They work at EYN’s Kulp Bible College, located at the church’s headquarters in eastern Nigeria near the town of Mubi.

"Please pray for the city of Jos and Plateau State," the Hoslers requested. "This is not a religious conflict per se, but has ethnicity, resources, and politics involved. There has been much destruction of lives and property, with damage to an extent that appears worse than the 2008 crisis.

"Please pray for safety and for the lives of both Muslims and Christians. Pray for those on both sides who are mourning. Pray for healing and reconciliation. Pray for truth, that rumors would not ignite more violence. Pray for mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians in Jos and Nigeria as a whole."

The Hoslers added a request for safe travel, as they plan to drive through Jos later this week.

Source: 1/28/2010 Newsline
Brethren group visits Muslim school destroyed by Christians.

Imagine a Muslim school destroyed by people bearing the name of Christ--the students and faculty should reasonably be wary and distrustful of Christians. Yet, a recent visit proved the contrary and showed that people can overcome the fear caused by conflict and violence.

During the Nov. 2008 violent conflict in Jos (or "crisis") following elections, rioting Christians destroyed Al-Bayan Islamic Secondary School (high school), killing six students in the process.

Under the leadership of Markus Gamache we were able to visit Al-Bayan Islamic Secondary School in order to extend words and gestures of peace to the school. Gamache is a staff member of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and liaison between the Church of the Brethren and EYN. We were joined by Roger and Mim Eberly, Church of the Brethren members from Milford, Ind., who are in Nigeria for three weeks on a learning tour with EYN.

This visit to Al-Bayan was under the context of regaining the trust of those who were harmed by Christians, as trust-building is an integral part of peacebuilding.

For years, when American guests from the Church of the Brethren would visit Nigeria, they would be taken to a Christian school and presented gifts of books and school supplies. On Jan. 12, for the first time, Church of the Brethren guests visited a solely Islamic school to bring gifts to extend friendship, goodwill, and peace. The Eberlys brought with them books, pencils, and other school items and these were presented in the name of interfaith peace advancement.

Our group met with administration and faculty of the school. We also greeted a senior secondary school class, where greetings were given from students in both Arabic and English.

The visit occurred in the name of an interfaith project in development, not under the umbrella of the EYN church. In order to create the atmosphere for peace, Markus Gamache has envisioned an interfaith microfinance project, where Muslims and Christians would work together and create groups for microloans and economic development at the grassroots level. While he is an EYN member and staff, and while EYN may be involved, this project will not be launched under the umbrella of EYN in order to assure people that the project is not evangelism in disguise.

While evangelism is important for Christians in Nigeria, there are some contexts where it cannot occur due to the nature of the conflict, past violence, and the intense mistrust and abuse that has occurred between groups. Christians who engage and build relationships with Muslims in interfaith situations (like the interfaith microfinance project) help repair the damage done to the name of Jesus and his followers. Only after such relationships are repaired can any message of the love of Jesus be shared.

-- Nathan and Jennifer Hosler are Church of the Brethren mission workers serving with EYN.

Source: 1/28/2010 Newsline
Carroll begins as manager of pension operations at BBT.

John Carroll began on Jan. 25 as manager of Pension Operations for Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT). He has served most recently as manager of Benefit Communications and Compliance for the Publicis Groupe, an advertising and communications company based in Chicago.

In prior pension-related work, he served as a benefits consultant providing actuarial services for clients, and as senior analyst for retirement plans with the Tribune Company in Chicago, where he was responsible in the daily operations of four different pension plans and profit-sharing plans for 30,000 union and non-union participants. Earlier in his career, he taught math to high school students.

Carroll holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and statistics from Loyola University of Chicago, and a certificate as a professionals in human resources. He and his family reside in Arlington Heights, Ill., where they belong to Our Lady of the Wayside Church.

Source: 1/28/2010 Newsline
Rodeffer joins staff of Church of the Brethren Credit Union.

Lynnae Rodeffer began on Jan. 25 as interim director of Special Projects for the Church of the Brethren Credit Union, in Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT). The position is scheduled to continue through Dec. 31.

She is a seasoned manager with more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry. Most recently she spent 17 years at Washington Mutual in Seattle, Wash., where she held the position of first vice president and senior group product manager. During her tenure at Washington Mutual she also held a variety of national roles including first vice president of Account Management, National Sales Support manager, Mortgage Training manager, and Regional Loan Operations Center manager, among others.

In previous work she was Premier Mortgage Access Program manager for PaineWebber Mortgage, Midwest Area Loan Operations administrator for First Nationwide Bank (owned by Ford Motor Credit), and Contract Mortgage underwriter for RMIC Mortgage Insurance Co.

She will work out of the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., and from her home in Snohomish, Wash.

Source: 1/28/2010 Newsline
Internship, Haiti relief, Lenten devotional, NYC prayer day, more.
  • Dr. Julian Choe and Mark Zimmerman of Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren have received donations of more than $3,000 from members of their congregation to support a trip to Haiti to provide medical care. Accompanied by "Frederick News-Post" reporter Ron Cassie, the two flew to the DR on Jan. 22, where they were met by Dominican Brethren pastor Onelis Rivas who is now traveling with them in Haiti. Cassie has been posting regular reports and photos from the trip at His report from Port-au-Prince on Jan. 26, "Searching in vain: Bodies remain on Port-au-Prince streets; food and water not reaching those in need," can be found at

  • The Brethren Historical Library and Archives in Elgin, Ill., has an opening for an archival intern beginning in July. The archive is the official repository for Church of the Brethren publications and records. The one-year internship seeks to develop interest in vocations related to archives, libraries, and Brethren history. Work will include processing archival materials, writing descriptive inventories, preparing books for cataloging, responding to reference requests, and assisting researchers. For more information contact the Brethren Historical Library and Archives at or 800-323-8039 ext. 294. To request an application packet, contact Karin Krog in the Office of Human Resources at

  • "Thirsting for God" by Amy S. Gall Ritchie is the annual Lenten devotional from Brethren Press. This paperback booklet offers a daily scripture and meditation for each day of Lent, and is suitable for individual use or for a congregation to provide to its members. Cost is $2.50 per copy, plus shipping and handling. Or seasonal subscribers may receive both the Lent and Advent devotional booklets for only $4 per year, plus shipping and handling. Call 800-441-3712.

  • Registration for the Church of the Brethren’s 2010 workcamps opened online on Jan. 25. Go to for registration and information about the workcamp experiences offered this summer.

  • A church-wide "NYC Prayer Day" has been scheduled for June 20--the Sunday one month before National Youth Conference. "We are going to have some commissioning materials and prayers for congregations to use to ‘send’ the participants to NYC," reported coordinators Audrey Hollenberg and Emily LaPrade. Materials will be made available at, where participants also may register for NYC online.

  • The Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., has welcomed back IMA World Health staff Rick Santos, Sarla Chand, and Ann Varghese. The three received a warm welcome at the IMA offices on the center campus after a time of rest and recovery following their two days trapped in the rubble of Port-au-Prince’s Hotel Montana. For news coverage of their ordeal and return to work, read "Freed from rubble, back on the job" in the "Baltimore Sun" at,0,1864004.story; and "Aid workers recall ordeal in Port-Au-Prince rubble" in the "Frederick News-Post" at

  • Bethany Theological Seminary's spring courses will include offerings especially for those interested in Brethren history or church planting. Jeff Bach, director of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies and associate professor of religious studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, will teach "History of the Church of the Brethren" at the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center in Elizabethtown. The course will meet two weekends in March and two weekends in April. Applications are due Feb. 12. Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, will teach "Foundations of Church Growth" on May 17-28 at Bethany's campus in Richmond, Ind. Students also will attend the denomination’s Church Planting Conference as part of their course work. Applications are due April 17. For more visit or contact Elizabeth Keller, director of admissions, at or 800-287-8822 ext. 1832.

  • The New Windsor Conference Center on the campus of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., is incorporating a line of environmentally responsible products for carry out from its food service and diningroom. "After research into a variety of options and consideration of both cost and performance, we have chosen to work with a company called EarthSmart products," said a note from the Dining Services staff. The "to go" containers will be made from "bagasse," a by-product of sugarcane. Disposable cutlery will be made from plant starches including potato and corn starch. The products are compostable and biodegradable, as well as safe for use in the refrigerator, freezer, microwave, or convection ovens.

  • The Church of the Brethren’s Regional Youth Conference for the plains area will be held at McPherson (Kan.) College on April 9-11 with leadership by Paul Grout, new church planter and a former Annual Conference moderator. The theme is based on John 10:10, "Fully Alive: Taking Hold of the Life that Is Really Life in Body, Mind and Spirit." Activities will include sessions studying the theme, a campus tour of McPherson College, an evening coffeehouse with table games and a jazz pianist, and Sunday morning worship with McPherson Church of the Brethren.

  • The Senior High Roundtable, one of the Church of the Brethren’s regional youth conferences, will be held March 19-21 at Bridgewater (Va.) College. Senior high youth from the entire east coast region are expected to attend. The weekend will include worship, workshops, and fellowship. The theme, "Come to the Mountain," will be led by Joel and Linetta Ballew, pastor of Lebanon (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and program director at Camp Brethren Woods, respectively.

  • The Polo (Ill.) Growing Project this past growing season raised $26,240 in support of agricultural programs in the developing world. Proceeds are divided between a Foods Resource Bank program in Honduras and the Church of the Brethren member account that invests in sustainable community development in a score of countries. The project is in its fifth season and is jointly supported by Polo Church of the Brethren, Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., and Faith United Presbyterian Church in Tinley Park, Ill. Jim and Karen Schmidt head the project, with farm acreage owned by Bill and Betty Hare, all members of the Polo Church.

  • Western Plains District is holding a series of installation services for its new district executive minister Sonja Griffith. Her first installation service took place Jan. 3 at her home congregation, First Central Church of the Brethren in Kansas City, Kan. Additional celebrations are to be held on Feb. 20 at 3:30 p.m. at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community Church of the Brethren; and March 6 at 2 p.m. at Bethel Church of the Brethren in Arriba, Colo.

  • The Juniata College Campus Ministry is trying a new outreach activity--a concert featuring Lucio Rubino at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13, in Ellis Hall. "Lucio Rubino, one of Christian radio's top artist/writer/producers, is the main act of the show titled ‘Rockin' in a Winter Wonderland,’" reports a release from the college in Huntingdon, Pa. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Students who attend a Church of the Brethren student open house that afternoon and stay for the concert will be given a discounted rate. Tickets can be purchased by calling 814-641-3361. "This concert is something that will offer a great experience for Juniata students as well as area churches and their youth groups," said campus chaplain David Witkovsky.

  • The Global Women’s Project is offering a 2010 Lenten Calendar "as a way to have a daily time of spiritual centering throughout Lent. This is also an important way for us to share our wealth with our sisters and brothers around the world who are working for empowerment and sustainability." The group is related to the Church of the Brethren. Order a calendar by e-mailing by Feb. 3. Those who are interested also may receive calendar entries daily by e-mail. Go to to download the daily donation log that accompanies each day's meditation.

  • The National Council of Churches (NCC) is supporting a "Nationwide Faith Call-in Week for Health Care." The effort started on Jan. 25. "After decades of work, and a historic grassroots effort this year, advocates for national health care reform have come further than ever before toward enduring and meaningful change. Congress, which had reached the final stages of passing health care reform legislation, is now at a standstill," an NCC release said. "In this partisan climate people of faith and others of goodwill join together to remind Congress of the moral imperative of insuring that none of our brothers or sisters are left sick or dying due to insufficient access to quality, affordable to health care."

  • In response to the Haiti earthquake, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has called on the international community to cancel Haiti's foreign debt. An "immediate and full cancellation" of Haiti's foreign debt would be "only an initial step," as Haiti needs a broader "plan to support recovery, poverty eradication, and sustainable development," said the WCC general secretary in a statement on Jan. 25. Such a plan "must be developed with the full ownership of the people of Haiti and with the support of the international community under the coordination of the United Nations.... Any financial assistance should come in the shape of grants, not loans that would burden the country with more debt," the statement said. For the full text go to

  • Church World Service (CWS) on Jan. 27 called for Wall Street's financial industry leaders to tithe their bonuses for the reconstruction of Haiti. "This month's catastrophic earthquake is not only an unforgettable tragedy but a wake-up call to rich nations of the world," said executive director John L. McCullough. CWS is also urging complete forgiveness of Haiti's remaining debts. Referring to the telethon for Haiti that was held on several US television channels last weekend, McCullough noted that, "Despite a continuing tough economy, persistently high jobless rate, and the alarming increase of homeless families in the US, the American people managed to contribute to the $61 million raised." The "Bonus4Haiti" tithing call to Wall Street is available on the CWS Causes page on Facebook.

  • Springs of Living Water, the congregational renewal initiative led by David and Joan Young, has been invited to conduct a seminar at the Parish Resource Center in Lancaster, Pa. The seminar will be held on March 13, from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. It will offer sessions on "Rediscovering Spiritual Disciplines," "Grounding in Servant Leadership," and "Using Spiritual Discernment to Discover Direction." Early registration (before March 5) costs $45 for subscribers to the center, or $55 for non-subscribers. Lunch is included. Contact

  • "Brethren Voices," a community television program produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren, will share the short documentary "12 Stones" by filmmaker Sandy Smolan as its February edition. This evocative film documents the work of Heifer International with women of Nepal, and their journey out of poverty to self reliance. With cinematography by Jacek Laskus and narration by Diane Lane, "12 Stones" captures the transformation the women undergo and Heifer’s mission to work with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the earth. "12 Stones" has won awards for best short documentary at the Newport Beach Film Festival and the Tallahassee Film Festival. Heifer International began as the Church of the Brethren’s Heifer Project, since then becoming an ecumenical venture receiving widespread support from many different denominations. In March, "Brethren Voices" will take viewers to Hiroshima, Japan, and a visit to the World Friendship Center where BVS volunteers have served as hosts for more than 20 years. For more about "Brethren Voices" contact producer Ed Groff at Copies of the program cost $8, with donations forwarded to Portland Peace Church of the Brethren, 12727 SE Market St., Portland, OR 97233.

  • Brethren Disaster Ministries is sharing the information that eligible Haitians living in the United States on or before Jan. 12 may begin applying for Temporary Protected Status. The announcement of the special status came from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services on Jan. 21. Details and procedures for applying are provided in the US government’s online "Federal Register" publication. The special status designation for Haitians came as a result of the earthquake, and will remain in effect through July 22, 2011. It means that eligible Haitian nationals will not be deported and will be eligible to apply to work in the US. A registration period to apply ends on July 20.
Source: 1/28/2010 Newsline
Annual Conference online registration opens Feb. 22.

Online registration for the 2010 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren opens Feb. 22 at . The site will offer early registration for non-delegate participants and hotel reservations for the Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa., on July 3-7. Conference rates will be offered at six hotels in downtown Pittsburgh.

The early registration fees are $95 for adults, $30 for ages 12-20, free for children under 12, and $25 for those currently in Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS). Weekend and daily rates will be available. Through the online registration process, participants also will be able to purchase conference booklets and meal tickets, register for age-group activities, and volunteer to help out at the Conference.

Early registration will close June 7. After that date, registration will be offered only on site in Pittsburgh. On-site fees will increase to $120 for adults, $50 for ages 12-20, and $30 for BVS volunteers. Children under 12 will continue to be offered free registration.

The Information Packet for the 2010 Annual Conference is to be mailed to all congregations as a CD during the last week of January. The Information Packet also will be available to view, download, or print from the Annual Conference website: A printed copy of the packet can be requested from the Annual Conference Office for a fee of $20.

The Annual Conference Office has issued a reminder to congregations and districts that early registration for their 2010 delegates ends on Feb. 19. Completed delegate registration cards and payments should be received by that date. Early registration for delegates costs $275, with the fee going up to $300 after Feb. 19.

Questions can be directed to the Annual Conference Office at 800-323-8039 ext. 229 or

Source: 1/28/2010 Newsline Extra
Intercultural Consultation and Celebration offers online registration.

Online registration has opened for the Church of the Brethren’s annual Intercultural Consultation and Celebration, to be held on April 22-25 at Camp Harmony in Hooversville, Pa. Registration is available in both English and Spanish at The deadline to register is March 6.

This will be the 12th Intercultural Consultation and Celebration for the denomination, meeting this year on the theme, "Celebrating Diversity in Harmony" (Romans 12:15-17). The event will feature worship services with preaching by pastors Samuel Sarpiya and Ray Hileman; plenary sessions facilitated by Barbara Daté; an intercultural ministries coaching and mentoring session; times for music and story-telling; and a selection of mission activities such as a prison visit and work at the camp. Also, a "Revelation 7:9 Diversity Award" will be presented.

The registration of $100 per person includes lodging at Camp Harmony, meals, and transportation to and from Pittsburgh (Pa.) International Airport. All meals are furnished by Camp Harmony. A special German dinner will be served on Friday evening. Vegetarian meals are available on request. A free shuttle to and from the Pittsburg International Airport will be available (see the website for shuttle times).

Churches and individuals are expected to make their own travel arrangements and cover their own expenses. However, limited travel assistance is available for a maximum of two people from a congregation with limited resources. For more information, contact Two continuing education credits will be offered to participants attending the event. A CEU certificate will be distributed upon the conclusion of the celebration.

Source: 1/28/2010 Newsline Extra
Bethany Seminary's third Presidential Forum takes place in April.

Bethany Theological Seminary's third Presidential Forum will take place on April 9-10. Titled "When Strangers Are Angels: The Spiritual and Social Movements of Brethren, Friends, and Mennonites in a New Century)," this forum will bring persons from all three Historic Peace Church traditions together to explore this historical inheritance for the 21st century church and the world.

The event will explore a number of questions, including, "What have been and are each movement’s understandings of the relationship between Christ and culture?" and "How do our understandings of scripture and our spiritual practices address social concerns of today and extend hospitality in a blessed and broken world?"

Martin Marty, distinguished service professor emeritus at the University of Chicago and columnist for the "Christian Century," will be the keynote speaker. Other leadership will include representatives from each of the Historic Peace Churches. The forum also will feature a play titled "Man from Magdalena," written by Earlham School of Religion student Patty Willis and including musical compositions by Mary Lou Prince, music director and composer in residence at the Unitarian Universalist congregation of Green Valley, Ariz.

Scott Holland, Bethany Seminary professor of theology and culture and director of Peace Studies and Cross-Cultural Studies, will give a presentation titled "Intertextual Interpretation: When Jesus Is a Stranger." In addition, the forum will include worship and small group discussions.

Bethany alumni/ae and friends are invited to a Pre-Forum Gathering beginning with dinner on April 8, to explore the forum theme especially as it relates to the Church of the Brethren. Five Bethany faculty members will lead plenary sessions: academic dean Steven Schweitzer will focus on the Old Testament; professor of New Testament studies Dan Ulrich will compare the Matthew 25 and 28 passages; associate professor of preaching and worship Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm will lead a session on "Preaching Our Legacy from the Pulpit"; Tara Hornbacker, associate professor of ministry formation Tara Hornbacker and Russell Haitch, associate professor of Christian education Russell Haitch will lead a session exploring the topic, "How Is the Church Today Living out Church of the Brethren values?"

Continuing education units will be available: .5 for either the pre-forum gathering or the forum, or 1 unit for attending both events. Registration for the forum costs $75, or $25 for students; registration for the pre-forum gathering is $25. Meals are available for an additional charge. Questions may be directed to or 765-983-1823. Register for the forum at

Source: 1/28/2010 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. Ed Groff, Jon Kobel, Donna March, Ken Neher, Marcia Shetler, Molly Sollenberger, Shelly Wagner, LeAnn K. Wine, Zach Wolgemuth contributed to this report.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Newsline Update: Brethren Disaster Ministries executive returns from Haiti

Brethren Disaster Ministries executive director Roy Winter has returned to the United States from Haiti, after being part of a US Church of the Brethren delegation to the earthquake zone.

Other members of the delegation remain in Haiti for the time being, including mission coordinator Ludovic St. Fleur, Haiti disaster rebuilding coordinator Jeff Boshart, and Haitian consultant Klebert Exceus.

Winter’s two final journal entries from Port-au-Prince are being posted in full at the Brethren blog on Haiti (go to Following are excerpts:

"Sunday, January 24: Ludovic is preaching at the Delmas 3 church location. Roy had planned to go along, but was advised to stay to help with the generator and because of safety concerns. This is an area where a large sheet city has grown up and there is much unrest. My presence could cause problems for the church members.

"Jeff, Ludovic, Jean Bily (a Haitian pastor), and others are heading to northern Haiti to meet with church members who fled Port-au-Prince. They will also work on a few details of our Gonaives projects while in the area (2008 hurricane response).

"I met with Julian Choe and Mark Zimmerman of Frederick Church of the Brethren, who were traveling with a group from the Dominican Church of the Brethren, including pastor Onelis Rivas. We shared ideas and experiences in Haiti. Dr. Choe is volunteering in a variety of clinics in Haiti and the DR....

"Having a little time to write also let me reflect on the situation in Haiti. I have chosen to not dwell on the more gory details, but that is exactly what’s on my heart right now. The masses of homeless, the fear of buildings, hunger, and now signs that people are starving to death are heavy today. It seems food distributions are just now scaling up, as people literally are dying for lack of food. Likely many have seen all this on TV, but the overwhelming scope of the situation weighs so heavy.

"Even with all our combined resources (international response community), how do we help these people move from victims to self-sustaining people? For some, living in temporary shelters and receiving handouts of food is an easier life than before the quake, but certainly not a life that helps build dignity and a belief they can care for themselves.

"We certainly cannot solve the problems in Haiti, but we can try not to add to them. The primary issues to address are easy to identify: things like food, safe drinking water, reasonable shelter, finding employment for more Haitians, and so on. Our challenge is to address these issues in a way that builds independence and capacity rather than dependence. As we develop a comprehensive response we will be working very closely with the National Committee (of Eglise des Freres Haitiens--the Haitian Church of the Brethren) and find ways to employ or work with Haitians to help with the response....

"I plan to fly back to Florida tomorrow, and make it to Maryland on Tuesday morning. From here, my focus will be finishing a draft of our response plan, developing a household kit I hope Church of the Brethren congregation will help create, and, and.... The list is long....

"May God’s grace embrace us all."

Planning begins for longterm Brethren response

In his journal entry for Saturday, Jan. 23, Winter outlined some of the planning being done with the National Committee of the Haitian Church of the Brethren to begin a longterm response to the earthquake. Plans will likely change, he noted, but may include developing a feeding program in four locations, and supporting the Haitian Brethren church leadership who have lost homes themselves while at the same time needing to be part of the church’s earthquake response.

"We hope to feed around 1,200 people for six months, provide some household items, and water filtration systems," Winter wrote. "I believe there will be a place for work teams, but not immediately. Right now logistics are so difficult it is difficult to imagine how we support a team, when so many simply need food."

Before he left Haiti, Winter and the delegation were able to visit with ecumenical partners working in Port-au-Prince including Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), SKDE, and a partner of SERRV. They were unable to locate Church World Service staff, however. "These visits are always very helpful and build response partnerships," Winter noted. "MCC was particularly interested in our home construction work from last year and we were interested in the canned meat they are receiving--multiple containers."

The group also received a report from the New American School, which is supported by Brethren in Florida. The school lost one of its two buildings. "The director Donald Pierre-Louis was trapped in the school for eight hours while his staff worked to dig and cut him out. One of his teachers had to crawl through a two-foot opening they cut through rebar and slide on his stomach to free Donald from the debris. Thankfully Donald was not injured and no children were present."

For more about the Church of the Brethren’s Haiti earthquake response, including a bulletin insert, online opportunities to give to support the work in Haiti and share prayers for Haiti, the Haiti blog, and video clips from the work of disaster ministries staff, go to

Source: 1/26/2010 Newsline Update

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Brethren delegation in Haiti begins reporting from earthquake zone

A delegation from the Church of the Brethren has begun work with Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Haitian Church of the Brethren) in response to the earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince area last week.

The delegation now in Haiti includes Ludovic St. Fleur, coordinator of the Brethren mission in Haiti and pastor of Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami, Fla.; Roy Winter, executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries; Jeff Boshart, coordinator of the church program that has been rebuilding homes in Haiti destroyed when four hurricanes and tropical storms hit the island in 2008; and Klebert Exceus, consultant for the hurricane rebuilding program.

Following are excerpts from a first report phoned in yesterday by the group. Winter made the phone call on Jan. 20 from Exceus’ home in Port-au-Prince, where the delegation was meeting with members of the National Committee or leadership team of the Haitian Brethren:

"Klebert started the saying that God is with us. He allowed Satan even to affect Job, but He didn’t allow Satan to destroy Job, and Job remained faithful. He said we have much to be thankful for. Even at this time, we’re called to be thankful and give glory to God in all things.

"It was very noticeable among the leadership team, most of whom I’ve met before, how different some of them were and how their demeanor was very subdued and how tired and stressed and frustrated people were. It was absolutely heart-wrenching to hear them talk about it. As we discussed the next steps for us and evaluating the situation, they didn’t want to talk about rebuilding--they wanted to talk about food and water and how desperate people were, including them.

"To hear the leadership of the church--these are mostly young men, it’s a young leadership--to be stuck in a time without food and water and to be so desperate for it, and to hear the anguish in their voices, it’s so heart-wrenching. And they set that aside, and they try to think about what’s right for the church.

"They’re all spending the night at Klebert’s. Klebert is extending all of his hospitality and all of his resources, making them available to the Church of the Brethren right now so we can help these people recover.

"It is abundantly clear, just after our short meeting, that we have a real need to be here and minister to our church members. They have some desperate need right now, and we’ve got to find ways to support them and meet their needs.

"We, the Church of the Brethren, are going to have a broader response. We’re going to work in Port-au-Prince, we’re going to be part of the Church World Service response. It’s very important that we support that CWS response. This is something the Church of the Brethren is partnership and collaboration with Church World Service.

"Delmas 3 was the ‘mother church,’ the first Church of the Brethren in Haiti, as far as we know. The church building was heavily damaged and partially collapsed. Of that membership, at least 30 homes are destroyed, many people are missing, and at least one life was lost. It’s amazing that it was only one at this point.

"Throughout the area, there’s always the question about the people missing. Even up north in Gonaïves, families from the church there talk about their family or friends who were visiting or had gone to Port-au-Prince for a holiday, and they have not heard and they just don’t know. The stress and the pain of not knowing--how that weighs on people.

"The second church that was built here is Croix-de-Bouquets, and Jean Bily is the pastor. He and his wife and one-year-old son escaped unharmed, but their house was destroyed. They went up to the Gonaïves area to find someplace where they can get access to food and to live with family there. That’s what many of the Church of the Brethren members have done if they could.

"Pastor Ives Jean is the moderator (living in) one of the hardest hit areas. We hadn’t heard whether he was alive until today. He apparently is alive but was injured. We’re going to try to see him tomorrow. Many homes destroyed and loss of life in that area. We expect the preaching point there to be pretty heavily impacted--the real concern is for food and water."

In a follow-up call about the activities of the delegation today, Thursday, Jan. 21, Winter said:

"The delegation is handing out the tents and water purifiers that they had brought to Church of the Brethren members. (The Haitian Brethren leaders) had held back 20 cases of canned chicken (that was donated by the US Brethren last year) for special events or emergencies. They’re feeling blessed that they had the foresight to do that. The chicken was distributed, and it was a real blessing to the neighborhood."

Brethren Disaster Ministries staff reported today that the delegation "has yet to speak to anyone who has received direct aid. Perhaps that’s because the Brethren in this area are staying put, and they aren’t in the worst hit part of the city."

Today the delegation hopes to get closer to the center of the Port-au-Prince area most affected by the earthquake, and to visit Pastor Ives Jean.

Daily updates from the delegation’s activities in Haiti are to be posted at a new blog on the Church of the Brethren relief effort and related comments from readers. Find the blog at

Source: 1/21/2010 Newsline Update
Relief supplies go to Haiti from the Brethren Service Center

Relief materials are being sent to Haiti by the Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources program at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The Material Resources staff led by director Loretta Wolf, are working to coordinate shipments to Haiti being made on behalf of Church World Service (CWS), IMA World Health, and Lutheran World Relief, among others.

A $25,000 grant from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund is supporting the initial CWS response to the earthquake, and helping to pay for the immediate distribution of relief supplies to earthquake survivors including hygiene kits, baby care kits, and blankets.

Twenty IMA World Health medicine boxes have been prepared to be picked up today for a Mennonite shipment to Haiti, Wolf reported. Another 60 medicine boxes will be shipped to Haiti on Friday on behalf of Church World Service.

Earlier this week, CWS had arranged for one air shipment and one ocean shipment. The air shipment of 14,743 pounds of blankets, baby kits, hygiene kits, flashlights, and toothpaste left New Windsor on Tuesday, bound for Haiti. The ocean shipment of a 40-foot container of blankets, baby kits, and hygiene kits was scheduled to leave New Windsor yesterday. "Initial plans are for the container to enter through the Dominican Republic," Wolf said.

A group of 13 Church of the Brethren volunteers from Wyomissing, Pa., are volunteering in Material Resources today packing CWS hygiene kits, baby kits, and school kits, which will be shipped to Haiti or used to replenish those shipped.

"We have received many calls from persons wanting to volunteer and are scheduling them as we have materials to work with," Wolf said.

A video report on the work of Material Resources appeared yesterday on Channel 11 television WBAL TV in Baltimore, Md. View it at

Source: 1/21/2010 Newsline Update

The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Contact to receive Newsline by e-mail or to submit news to the editor.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Newsline Update
Haitian pastor is alive.

Haitian Brethren pastor Ives Jean is alive, but injured, reports Roy Winter, executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries. Winter arrived in Haiti yesterday with a Church of the Brethren delegation from the US.

Earlier today the Church of the Brethren released a prayer request for pastor Ives Jean, who had been reported missing since last Tuesday’s earthquake. He is moderator of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Church of the Brethren in Haiti) and serves as the only ordained minister among the fledgling church’s small group of licensed pastors.

More information about the Church of the Brethren disaster response in Haiti is available at , where updates are being provided from the delegation that arrived in Haiti yesterday as well as information from Church World Service and other ecumenical partners.

A video message on Haiti from Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger also is now online, find the link at

A blog has been set up to share detailed reports from the delegation’s experience in Haiti, reports from others involved with the relief effort in Haiti, along with an opportunity for reader response and the expression of concerns for Haiti; go to

Source: 1/20/2010 Newsline Update
Request for prayer for Nigeria:

A request for prayer has been received from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) in the city of Jos, where an outbreak of violence began Sunday and was continuing as of yesterday. The Associated Press has reported that at least 200 people have died in the violence.

Prayers are requested for the family of Shedrak Garba, an EYN student at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN) who was killed by security forces after having gone out after a curfew that has been in force in the area. TCNN is located in the wider Jos area.

Prayers are requested for those whose homes have been burned in the rioting as well. Markus Gamache, an EYN leader in Jos, has sent news that at least two homes of Brethren families have been burned. His report also expresses concern for those who are fleeing the violence, those who have become separated from family members or who are looking for missing children, and the people who are experiencing more difficulty getting food and water.

Church of the Brethren mission workers Nathan and Jennifer Hosler also have sent a quick report by e-mail today. "We just finished up a Inter-Religious Forum on Peaceful Coexistence today here at KBC, sponsored by the Peace Program," the Hoslers wrote. "It is quite striking holding that and talking about peace amongst Muslims and Christians while a conflict is occurring in Jos."

The couple are working at EYN’s Kulp Bible College, which is in in eastern Nigeria, many hours drive from the violence occurring in central Nigeria.

Source: 1/20/2010 Newsline Update

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Brethren delegation from US arrives in Haiti today; Haitian Brethren church leader is reported missing.

A Church of the Brethren delegation of mission and disaster relief leaders from the US is to arrive in Haiti today to do assessment and begin the church’s response to the massive earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince area last Tuesday.

The delegation includes Ludovic St. Fleur, coordinator of the Church of the Brethren mission in Haiti and pastor of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Haitian Church of the Brethren) in Miami, Fla.; Roy Winter, executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries; Jeff Boshart, coordinator of the church’s current hurricane rebuilding project in Haiti; and Klebert Exceus, Haiti consultant for the hurricane rebuilding project.

Also today, a key Haitian Brethren church leader has been reported missing: Pastor Ives who leads one of the three Brethren congregations in Port-au-Prince and is moderator of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Church of the Brethren in Haiti).

News also has been received that some members of Pastor Ives’ congregation have lost their lives, and that the church building of at least one Brethren congregation in Port-au-Prince has collapsed.

News from Haitian Brethren:

The news from the Haitian Brethren in Port-au-Prince was received from Pastor Sauyeux, pastor of a Brethren congregation in Descubierta, the Dominican Republic. He passed the news along to Irvin Heishman, DR mission coordinator for the Church of the Brethren, and Tom Crago, a Church of the Brethren member currently in the DR.

Pastor Sauyeux "went into Haiti to check on the Church of the Brethren churches there," wrote Heishman and Crago in an e-mail. "His report is that Pastor Ives is missing. The church in Del Matre collapsed and some church members have died. The other two pastors (in the Port-au-Prince area) are known to be okay. Members are living in the street and it rained today. There is disorder, with looting."

Pastor Ives was described today as the "spiritual leader" of the Haitian Brethren by Jay Wittmeyer, executive of Global Mission Partnerships for the Church of the Brethren. He expressed deep concern for Ives’ wellbeing and that of his congregation.

Many of the Church of the Brethren members from the Port-au-Prince area have been able to relocate in northern Haiti with family, added a report from Roy Winter at Brethren Disaster Ministries.

Other news has been received from Haitian Brethren through family members in the United States who are living in the Miami and Orlando areas of Florida, and in New York. From some informal reports, it appears that numerous members of Haitian Brethren congregations in the US may have lost family members in the earthquake, and that many have not yet heard from family living in Haiti.

US Brethren delegation arrives in Haiti today:

An e-mail received yesterday from Roy Winter, executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries, reports that the Brethren delegation successfully obtained a flight to Port-au-Prince with Missionary Flights International (MFI). The flight was to leave for Haiti today.

"The fact we got through to MFI is rather amazing," Winter wrote. "Normally they only fly missionaries or workgroups directly connected to MFI’s mission partners. Maybe because of some special intervention, they responded to a call and e-mail from Jeff, while ignoring hundreds of others."

When the group arrived at the Orlando (Fla.) airport to have their supplies weighed for the flight, Winter wrote, "It was still chaos. The passenger list is hand written on a legal pad, but we saw ‘Boshart - 4' confirming our seats. We also saw some of the old DC-3, a vintage 1940s plane, that will be our ride to Port-au-Prince tomorrow.

"The chaos came from the multiple efforts going on at MFI," Winter explained. "They are collecting donations for Haiti, have gone from two flights a week to two flights a day. All while supporting their other mission points and other parts of Haiti."

Dick Snook, president of MFI, personally put the Brethren group’s bags on a pallet to be ready for the flight the next day, "so we left feeling like we are as ready as possible," Winter commented.

One of the group’s first plans on arrival in Port-au-Prince is to try to organize a meeting with Haitian Brethren church leaders.

Brethren Service Center begins shipping relief supplies to Haiti:

The Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., is beginning shipments of relief materials to Haiti. The Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources staff at the center, led by director Loretta Wolf, are working to coordinate shipments being made ready for Haiti on behalf of IMA World Health, Church World Service (CWS), and Lutheran World Relief.

"Church World Service has arranged for one air shipment and one ocean shipment," Wolf reported in an e-mail today. "The air shipment contains 14,743 pounds of blankets, baby kits, hygiene kits, flashlights, and toothpaste. It will be picked up today. The ocean shipment is one 40-foot container with blankets, baby kits, and hygiene kits. The container will leave New Windsor tomorrow. Initial plans are for the container to enter through the Dominican Republic. We are currently receiving medicines and packing medicine boxes for IMA."

Emergency Disaster Fund gives grant for Haiti refugee effort in New York:

Brethren Disaster Ministries has requested a grant from the Emergency Disaster Fund of $5,000 for the Haitian First Church of New York, which is a Church of the Brethren congregation, and the New York Disaster Interfaith Services. The grant will fund the establishment of a family assistance center to assist Haitians relocating to the US following the earthquake.

The center will offer refugees a variety of services including help from the American Red Cross, chaplains, mental health services, resettlement support in the form of housing vouchers, casework services, and an Internet café to assist with communication.

United Methodist leaders die in Haiti:

Disaster News Network has reported that United Methodists are mourning the deaths of Sam W. Dixon Jr., the head of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), and Clint Rabb, head of the organization's office of mission volunteers, who died last week in Haiti as a result of injuries received when the hotel in they were meeting collapsed.

Dixon and several other mission and relief specialists had been dropped off at the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince just minutes before the earthquake hit. It was the same hotel from which three staff of IMA World Health were rescued safely last Friday.

"Sam Dixon was a tireless servant of the church of Jesus Christ on behalf of all of us," said Bishop Joel N. Martinez, interim top executive of The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. "His death is an incalculable loss to Global Ministries, UMCOR, and our worldwide ministry of relief to God’s most vulnerable children."

Source: 1/19/2010 Newsline Special
Dominican Brethren respond to the earthquake in Haiti.

The Mendoza church in the Dominican Republic gathered together on this first Sunday following the earthquake in Haiti to grieve and comfort one another in the face of the terrible losses. Thge church is part of the Church of the Brethren in the DR.

Many wept as the congregation sang in Haitian Creole, "When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll." One woman fell to the floor in a convulsion of wailing and sorrow. The gathering felt like a mass funeral service given that most of the 400-plus members were grieving personal losses and also the collective story of so many deaths of loved ones in Port-au-Prince.

Many have still not heard news of their loved ones and are terribly worried. Others know of injuries and destruction of family property.

"We will not fear, though the earth give way…and the mountains quake" (Psalm 46:2-3). This was Pastor Ernst Merisier’s text as he comforted his grieving congregation. "God is our stability (refuge and strength) in an unstable world," he said. In this world, everything is unstable and unworthy of trust. "Nevertheless," he said, "we can put our faith in the salvation offered through Jesus Christ because He is 'rock-solid.'" A special offering to help victims of the earthquake was collected by the members of the congregation.

Other Brethren churches in the Dominican Republic are responding as well with offerings and collections of food. National Dominican leaders have begun setting goals for a coordinated relief effort using funds granted by Brethren Disaster Services.

-- Irvin Heishman is co-coordinator of the Church of the Brethren’s mission in the Dominican Republic.

Source: 1/19/2010 Newsline Special
Violence breaks out again in Nigeria; Brethren reportedly not affected.

Violence again has broken out in the city of Jos, Nigeria, where there are churches and members of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), and where Hillcrest School is located, an ecumenical mission school that was originally founded by the Church of the Brethren.

However, according to a report from EYN leader Markus Gamache, no Brethren have been involved in the violence which began on Sunday morning, Jan. 17, and has been continuing through this morning.

The violence is reported to be based on political grievances of indigenous groups in the area, but is breaking out in the form of interreligious violence between Muslims and Christians. It follows similar outbreaks that occurred in this central Nigerian city in the past, including the most recent outbreak in late 2008 in which hundreds of people died.

The following has been received from Gamache, who lives and works in Jos:

"This time around in Jos northern area again," began his first report dated Jan. 17. He said that the violence broke out initially in a neighborhood of northern Jos called Dutse Uku, about 10 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Since Sunday morning, people have been leaving the city in fear, he said. "As of the time I am reporting this report there is no trace of EYN members being involved in any way."

The church first affected was St. Michael Catholic Church, Gamache said, explaining that EYN received word that the incident began with a dispute over use of a playground by Muslim youth during the church’s worship service. "St. Michael has a good playground for both Christian/Muslim youths. We learnt from the church members that the Muslim youth came to the playground to play while the worship service was going on, and the church leaders advised them not to play until when the worship service is over," he wrote.

"The destruction and casualty started right there at the church and in return of this, other close-by communities like Congo Rusa and Nasarawa Gwom started to protect their areas, and in this protection there is destruction of lives and property."

Gamache explained that the current dispute seems to have less to do with local politics than the violence of 2008. "The reason at this time seems different. Jos north is made up of different wards or communities in the city. Dutse Uku is a community originally occupied by the indigenes of Jos called Jarawa (Fizare) but as the city developed the place swelled up with different tribes from Hausa, Yoruba, and other people from the north east of the country. (The) 2008 crisis lost people, separated from their brothers and sisters; this means Christian and Muslims no longer stay in same community or share work as it use to be in the past."

Gamache is one of the Brethren church leaders who have been working on conflict resolution efforts with Muslim counterparts. His report added, "I have spoken to my Moslem friend Sheikh Isma’ila who is on the committee of the recent NGO that we are about to register called Integrated Service for Women/Youth Development with the aim of bringing friendship and the lost trust among the two faiths on the Plateau, and it is the aim of this organization to organize interfaith free-interest micro finance to create marketing friendship between the two faiths. Sheikh is a principal in one of the Islamic secondary schools that we just visited with group of missionaries from the United States Church of the Brethren," he reported.

"As from yesterday many house belonging to both Christians and Muslims including cars and shops were burnt to ashes. Nobody is allowed to visit the affected area at the moment...and as such I can not give a true level of destruction on ground. Based on the local news and telephone calls I made, there are about 35 people (who) lost their lives, dozens of people injured, and many were arrested."

In his second report, which was received today, Jan. 19, Gamache added: "This morning turns out to be something different as we wake up with 24 hours curfew from the government as a protection for the fight not to get worse or to go into different places.... Nothing is moving in Jos at all, the whole street is empty as it as been declared no movement in the city of Jos. People are complaining of water and food since they cannot come out to buy. Let us continue to pray for Jos and other places in the world."

The Associated Press reported that violence broke out between Christians and Muslims again this morning in Jos, and that the rioting that started on Sunday has burned homes and killed at least 27 people. The report added that security forces had brought the fighting to a halt later in the day today, and that the Plateau State government had called for additional military units.

The AP report describes the city as "situated in Nigeria's ‘middle belt,’ where dozens of ethnic groups mingle in a band of fertile and hotly contested land separating the Muslim north from the predominantly Christian south."

Source: 1/19/2010 Newsline Special

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Walt Wiltschek and Jay Wittmeyer contributed to this report.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Newsline Special

For those concerned to locate family and friends affected by the earthquake in Haiti, two helps are being recommended by the Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), in which Brethren Disaster Ministries participates: The International Committee of the Red Cross has opened a family/friends unification website allowing both those in Haiti and those outside Haiti to list their contact information in hopes of being reunited with friends or family affected by the earthquake. Go to In addition, the US State Department has help line for family reunification, call the State Department Operations Center Helpline at 888-407-4747.
Brethren disaster and mission leaders to go to Haiti, first contacts are received from Haitian Brethren.

A group representing the Church of the Brethren has scheduled a flight to Haiti with Mission Flights International. The group will include Ludovic St. Fleur, coordinator of the Church of the Brethren mission in Haiti and pastor of Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami, Fla.; Roy Winter, executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries; Jeff Boshart, coordinator of the church’s disaster rebuilding project in Haiti; and Klebert Exceus, consultant for the Haiti rebuilding program.

The group will travel to Haiti on Monday, Jan. 18, barring unforeseen circumstances.

"We will further assess the situation of the Brethren members and likely set up a base camp at the new church built in the mountains about 40 miles north of Port-au-Prince," reported Winter. He added that Brethren Disaster Ministries and the church’s Material Resources program also may work with Mission Flights International to get supplies to Haiti in the short-term, until containers can be transported.

A report has been received from one of the three Port-au-Prince congregations of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Church of the Brethren in Haiti). "Good news from Sister Marie in Croix des Bouquets," reports Boshart. "Her house is fine and so is the immediate neighborhood and the church members are well also."

The denominational staff is still waiting for confirmation of the wellbeing of the congregation’s pastor, Jean Bily, who also serves as general secretary of the Haitian Church of the Brethren.

In other news from Brethren in the Dominican Republic, the amount of $5,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund grants for Haiti relief efforts (see story below) has been delivered to Servicios Sociales de Las Iglesias Dominicanas (SSID) to assist in local relief efforts coming from the Dominican Republic. SSID also is a partner organization of Church World Service.

The money was delivered by Irvin Heishman, a Church of the Brethren mission coordinator in the Dominican Republic along with his wife, Nancy.

"Lorenzo Mota King, SSID executive director, expressed profound gratitude," reported Heishman, "and said the funds will help support the following goals for the first two weeks of response: continued support for a team of rescue workers in Port-au-Prince; mobilizing a network of Haitian partners and churches for distribution of humanitarian aid; establishing medical and food services in the border towns of Jimini and Ford Parisien, where many of the wounded are congregating--this includes putting in place a mobile kitchen for preparation of food and opening a temporary medical clinic in a school; finalizing arrangements with the Dominican customs department for the efficient movement of containers of relief supplies through the Dominican Republic to Haiti."

The Heishmans are working on other response activities with the Dominican Brethren, reporting that Brethren there want to do what they can to help out. An additional amount of $2,000 has been sent to the Dominican Church of the Brethren to support the effort. Heishman reported that the board of the DR church is meeting today and tomorrow.

Source: 1/15/2010 Newsline Special
IMA World Health team and United Methodist staff are rescued.

IMA World Health reports that three of its staff--including president Rick Santos--who were missing in Haiti are safe and not seriously hurt after having been rescued from the rubble of the Montana Hotel. The hotel collapsed in the earthquake.

Also rescued from the same hotel were a United Methodist group including Sam Dixon, head of UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief); Clinton Rabb, head of the United Methodist denomination’s Mission Volunteers; and James Gulley, an UMCOR consultant .

IMA World Health had requested prayer when it was unable to contact the three staff who had been visiting Haiti from its headquarters at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The three included Rick Santos, president of IMA World Health, along with Sarla Chand and Ann Varghese. IMA also had requested prayer for its five national staff in Haiti: Abdel Direny, Giannie Jean Baptiste, Execkiel Milar, Ambroise Sylvain, and Franck Monestime.

"I am happy to pass on the good news...that Rick, Sarla, Ann, and Sam Dixon (executive director of UMCOR--the United Methodist Committee on Relief--who also was missing since the earthquake) are safe and not seriously hurt," said an e-mail note this morning from Don Parker, chair of the board of IMA World Health.

"We have much to give God grateful thanksgiving for," his note continued. "Yet we still need to keep all our Haitian staff and many thousands of Haitian people, who continue to grieve and suffer, in our prayers."

A follow-up announcement from Gary Lavan, vice president of Human Resources for IMA, added, "This great news is tempered by our still needing to find out the status of our Port-au-Prince staff members. We have had some encouraging news but not on all staff as of yet, please keep all in your prayers."

IMA received word late yesterday evening that its country director for Haiti, Dr. Abdel Direny, is with staff from the University of Notre Dame who were in earlier meetings at the Montana Hotel on that Tuesday afternoon but had left the hotel before its collapse. However the organization is still trying to locate the following IMA staff: Dr. Franck Monestime and Mr. Execkiel Milar.

News about the rescue of the three IMA headquarters staff has appeared on Good Morning America, go to, see the video "Alive Under Haiti’s Rubble"; on MSNBC at; and in the "Baltimore Sun," go to,0,644214.story.

The three are to be evacuated to the Dominican Republic today.

Source: 1/15/2010 Newsline Special
Emergency Disaster Fund grants go to Haiti relief effort.

Two grants have been given from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) for the Haiti earthquake relief effort. The grants total $50,000, and had been bolstered by the more than $16,500 that already has been given through the Haiti donations page at the denominational website as of yesterday evening.

An EDF grant of $25,000 has been given for Brethren Disaster Ministries and Church of the Brethren work in Haiti following the earthquake. The grant will provide for travel and support of assessment teams from the US working in Haiti; support for the Haitian Church of the Brethren members impacted in Port-au-Prince; initial response activities developed by the response team; and a grant to partner with SSID through the Dominican Church of the Brethren.

An EDF grant of $25,000 has been given to the Church World Service earthquake appeal. The money will support cooperative efforts with CWS, and will help in the provision of immediate relief assistance that may include material resources, temporary shelter, food assistance, and health services.

Church World Service released a situation report on the earthquake yesterday, saying that "the global humanitarian effort...faces enormous challenges, given difficult logistics, collapsed infrastructure, and rising tensions." The situation report cited statements from authorities that looting has been reported in parts of Port-au-Prince, and as of yesterday power remained out, food supplies were dwindling, telecommunications were rarely functioning, and most medical facilities in the city had been severely damaged. The report cited a tentative casualty estimate from the Haitian Red Cross of about 45,000 to 50,000.

Today a report from the ACT Alliance global network of churches and related agencies said Haiti's capital "looks like a war zone," and that one million people are without shelter. The ACT statement appeared in Ecumenical News International, the news service of the World Council of Churches. "Thousands of people in Port-au-Prince--injured, hungry, and desperate--have spent days outdoors...without food or shelter," ACT said. "Desperate Haitians have blocked streets with corpses in anger. Food is stocking up at the airport, but has not yet been distributed."

CWS has issued an appeal for $200,000 for its relief effort; the Church of the Brethren has given $25,000 toward that total from its Emergency Disaster Fund. CWS is sending funds to local partners in Haiti as it continues to assess the situation. CWS-supported efforts will include the construction of temporary water systems, providing water purification materials, tents, and food packages. Additional efforts will be announced once assessments are completed.

SSID, which also partners with CWS in the Dominican Republic, is sending pre-positioned CWS Kits and Blankets from its warehouse in Santo Domingo, the capital city of the DR.

Don Tatlock, CWS Latin America and Caribbean program manager, is coordinating the CWS efforts in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Tatlock also has a relationship with the Church of the Brethren, having been at the center of food assistance projects that the church’s Global Food Crisis Fund has sponsored in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and the DR.

CWS is pressing the US government to grant "Temporary Protected Status" to Haitians, allowing them to remain in the United States for at least 18 months as part of a comprehensive response to the current humanitarian crisis. CWS noted that Haiti’s current circumstances fall well within the criteria for granting the status, since it may be granted when requested by a foreign state that temporarily cannot handle the return of nationals due to an environmental disaster. The special status has been granted in similar situations to nationals of Honduras and Nicaragua after Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and to Salvadorans after an earthquake in 2001.

Source: 1/15/2010 Newsline Special
Member of Lititz Church of the Brethren is still in Haiti with mission group.

A group of youth adults in Haiti on a mission trip with the Feed My Sheep Ministry includes Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren member Mark Risser. He is with a group of three other young men from the Lititz area, including Trevor Sell, Ty Getz, and Ben Wingard.

Betsy and Bill Longenecker, also of Lititz Church of the Brethren, and their son Billy helped coordinate the mission trip. The Longeneckers for 13 years have been taking annual mission trips to Haiti through Feed My Sheep. The family was in Haiti just last week as part of a Feed My Sheep mission group that also included several others from the Lititz congregation. Their group returned to the US on Saturday, Jan. 9, before the earthquake struck.

The group of young adults currently in Haiti are scheduled to return to the US next Wednesday, Jan. 20, through Port-au-Prince on Delta Airlines. Yesterday, while the Longeneckers were meeting with the parents of the group, Billy Longenecker "was finally able to directly connect with the Delta airlines to reschedule reserved seats for his friends," Betsy Longenecker said in a report today.

The group hopes that waiting until Wednesday will give time for humanitarian aid distribution to begin and for "the current airport chaos to settle down, and security forces to be better strategically placed throughout this devastated city. In addition, it was agreed that the displaced, who lived in Port-au-Prince, should be evacuated first," she said.

The group is safe and staying at the Feed My Sheep Ministry Base in Montrouis, a town of about 40,000 people in a "very poor" area 70 miles up the northern coastline of Haiti. "These young men are choosing to continue the tree planting/drip irrigation project that they had originally planned to do in addition to helping with local clean-up efforts," Longenecker’s report said. Other Americans at the Feed My Sheep Ministry Base include directors Bev and Richard Felmey and a young adult longterm volunteer Leah Bomberger.

Since Montrouis was spared major damage from the earthquake, life there is going forward somewhat normally, Longenecker said. "However...there is incredible sadness as people learn more about the extensive damage and loss of life just 70 miles away. In the midst of this sadness, many churches in Montrouis are having 24-hour prayer services."

She also expressed concern that the crisis in Port-au-Prince will make getting essential supplies for Montrouis an even larger task and more expensive. "We were also just informed that many people are coming up the coast from Port-au-Prince to be with their families or to just get away from the situation. The needs in Montrouis for basic supplies will be an issue as the week goes forward."

She asked for prayers "for Haitians and missions throughout the country. Thank you for praying for the safe return of Trevor, Mark, Ty, and Ben. Continue to pray too for Haiti, a country filled with wonderful people who are again experiencing tragedy."

Source: 1/15/2010 Newsline Special

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Jeff Boshart, Irvin Heishman, Carol A. Hulver, Howard Royer, Roy Winter contributed to this report.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

General secretary calls Brethren to a time of prayer for Haiti; Brethren Disaster Ministries prepares for relief efforts.

"In the darkest times, we can turn toward the Creator God and admit our frailty as part of this creation," said Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger in a call for the entire denomination to enter into a time of prayer for Haiti.

"It is an interim step until the way is clear for us to individually take action. The call of the whole church to prayer is traditional Church of the Brethren, where together we discern what it is that God would have us do," he said.

Noffsinger emphasized that prayer for Haiti in the current disaster situation "has a new element for us.... We have members of our church family we have not heard from and we don’t know their wellbeing and safety. And so a part of us is at risk."

He called church members who are eager to personally take part in a relief effort to be patient and wait "until the right pathway to be involved emerges," emphasizing that the Church of the Brethren is committed to a longterm relief effort in Haiti. "We’ll be in Haiti for the long haul." Brethren Disaster Ministries executive director Roy Winter also stated that at this time volunteers are not yet needed.

Brethren Disaster Ministries plans relief effort
Brethren Disaster Ministries staff are continuing to monitor the situation in Haiti and consulting with ecumenical colleagues and groups including Church World Service (CWS).

In the initial phase of response, "we can be much more efficient working with CWS and other partners," Winter said. Brethren Disaster Ministries is to participate in the relief work of ecumenical organizations such as CWS and local partners such as SSID (Servicio Social de Iglesias Dominicanas), a church organization in the Dominican Republic.

"It may be quite awhile before rebuilding begins to respond to the earthquake," Winter reported in a conference call with several denominational staff yesterday morning. At this time volunteers are not yet needed. "We will wait until we have plans in place and until understandings about travel are much clearer. At some time (in the future) we expect to need volunteer groups working. That will come."

Plans for a longterm Church of the Brethren response to the earthquake in Haiti include support for Haitian Brethren and the most vulnerable in the Port-au-Prince area, Winter said. It also may include the involvement of Children’s Disaster Services in helping children affected by the earthquake learn resiliency and become comfortable with the new situation in Port-au-Prince, he added.

Brethren Disaster Ministries will continue its ongoing project in Haiti to finish rebuilding homes damaged by the hurricanes that hit the island in 2008, Winter announced. Jeff Boshart, who is coordinating the project, concurred, saying, "There are still people living in terrible conditions in Gonaives." That city suffered severe flooding in the storms of 2008.

An additional allocation of $60,000 from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund for the current rebuilding project in Haiti was given today. The grant is expected to be the final allocation for the project, to support "phase three" of construction of homes in Gonaives. Previous grants to this project have totaled $445,000.

Updates from the situation in Haiti
Church of the Brethren staff and Brethren Disaster Ministries have received a number of updates from Brethren and others related to the church who have been affected by the situation in Haiti since an earthquake hit near the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

However, as of yesterday evening staff have been unable to contact leaders of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Church of the Brethren in Haiti), and have received reports that many Haitian members of Brethren congregations in New York and Florida have been unable to contact family in Haiti.

Brethren congregations in New York who have a number of members of Haitian background--including Haitian First Church of New York and Brooklyn First Church of the Brethren--have been in prayer for family members living in Haiti. "They’re kind of sitting on pins and needles right now," said Brooklyn First pastor Jonathan Bream, who called to check in with denominational staff this morning. "They just don’t know because of the lack of communication."

Verel Montauban in Brooklyn has yet to hear from family members in Haiti, he told Jeff Boshart, coordinator of the Brethren Disaster Ministries’ current rebuilding project in Haiti. But one of his church members, a deacon, has lost two family members as a house collapsed on them.

At least one licensed minister in Atlantic Southeast District has received word of the death of a close family member in the earthquake.

Brethren Disaster Ministries reports that the US State Department Operations Center has set up the following number for Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti: 888-407-4747.

Mission groups in Haiti
There have been at least three mission groups from US Church of the Brethren congregations either in Haiti currently, or there earlier this week or planning to travel later this week. A group of young adults from Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren are in Haiti currently on a mission trip. The group has reported that they are okay.

In Shenandoah District, one church group returned from Haiti Tuesday morning before the earthquake happened, and one was planning to arrive in Haiti later this week, according to a prayer request from district executive Jim Miller and associate executive Joan Daggett.

Their e-mail reported that Doug Southers of Rileyville (Va.) Church of the Brethren is in Haiti but has called home by cell phone and is safe. He had traveled to Haiti last weekend to make preparations for a group from the Rileyville church that was to travel to Haiti later this week.

"We are glad for the safe return of Henry and Janet Elsea and volunteers from the Mount Pleasant Church (in Harrisonburg, Va.) who arrived home early Tuesday morning," the Shenandoah District leaders wrote.

They also wrote that at least one Brethren-related church building has been destroyed; this has yet to be confirmed by denominational staff.

Prayer requests from ecumenical partners
IMA World Health has requested prayer for three staff who work out of the organization’s headquarters at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.--Rick Santos, Sarla Chand, Ann Varghese--and IMA’s five local national staff in Haiti--Abdel Direny, Giannie Jean Baptiste, Execkiel Milar, Ambroise Sylvain, and Franck Monestime. As of yesterday evening all were unaccounted for in Port-au-Prince.

"Our staff were involved in partner meetings connected with our Neglected Tropical Disease Program and working from our offices in Port-au-Prince," said the prayer request from Carol Hulver, assistant to the president of IMA World Health. "IMA has been actively reaching out for additional information on our staff’s well-being and safety through various channels but have received no confirmation as yet. We would appreciate the prayers of our Church of the Brethren community for the safety of our staff members and for comfort, healing, and restoration for the city of Port-au-Prince and the entire nation of Haiti."

SERRV president and CEO Bob Chase has passed along word from Gisele Fleurant, a former member of the SERRV Board whose CAH artisan enterprise in Port-au-Prince has been a long-time producer for SERRV. SERRV is a nonprofit alternative trade and development organization originally begun by the Church of the Brethren with warehouses and a store at the Brethren Service Center.

Fleurant spoke last September at the 60th anniversary celebration of SERRV at the Brethren Service Center. A work group of Brethren visited her operation in Port-au-Prince in November.

She wrote from Haiti: "It is total chaos! CAH has only fence walls that are down! My house same thing with a lot of crackling which makes it impossible to live in unless major repairs! ...So far most of cell phones are working but with a lot of difficulties. I know only of two CAH employees that lost their houses completely and are with their families in public places.... In my neighborhood we had a lot of deaths, mostly children trapped when the houses were falling. Please pass the news to all as I do not know how long that Internet will work. I will try to keep in touch! Thanks for caring and keeping us in your prayers!"

UMCOR (the United Methodist Committee on Relief) is expressing concern for Sam Dixon, its top executive, who has been in Haiti along with Clinton Rabb, head of the United Methodist denomination’s Mission Volunteers; and James Gulley, an UMCOR consultant."No one has been able to reach the three men since the earthquake occurred and communications with Haiti have been difficult," said the United Methodist release today.

In news from other denominations, the Roman Catholic Church has reported to CNN that Joseph Serge Miot, the archbishop of Port-au-Prince, died in the earthquake.

How to contribute to the relief effort in Haiti
The Emergency Disaster Fund is now receiving donations toward earthquake relief work in Haiti. Find the online donation page at

A special web page "Prayers for Haiti" has been created for church members, congregations, and others concerned about the people of Haiti to express their prayers following the earthquake, go to

An online updates page offers updates on the Haiti earthquake relief effort, find it at

Donations of relief supplies also are needed. Brethren Disaster Ministries is requesting donations of Gift of the Heart Hygiene Kits and School Kits, which will be in large demand in the area affected by the earthquake. The kits should be sent to the Brethren Service Center, P.O. Box 188, New Windsor, MD 21776. For instructions to make the kits, go to

Source: 1/14/2010 Newsline