Thursday, February 25, 2010

Christian denominations issue joint letter urging immigration reform.

Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger has joined in signing a letter urging immigration reform. The letter has been signed by a number of the leaders of Christian denominations that are part of the National Council of Churches (NCC) and Church World Service (CWS).

"The issue of immigration reform is of urgent concern and this letter calls for action by our churches," said Noffsinger.

"We have had broad support from the church leadership of the initiative of the National Council of Churches/Church World Service Taskforce on Immigration Reform," NCC general secretary Michael Kinnamon wrote in a cover letter to the denominations that are taking part.

Quoting from Deuteronomy 10:19--"You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt"--the letter written on the eve of Lent calls for comprehensive immigration reform and builds on a resolution that was adopted by the 2008 General Assembly of the NCC and CWS. It claims immigration reform as a "patriotic act in the spirit of our nation’s best values and traditions."

"Today, more than 12 million immigrants living in the United States find themselves without the hope of becoming citizens, reuniting with family members, or enjoying the legal protections that most of us take for granted," the letter said. "Yet many of these people have lived and worked in our communities for years, becoming our friends and family, and often performing the daily tasks that enhance our quality of life. Unless there are major policy changes enacted by the US Congress, many of these people will continue to languish in the shadows and be subjected to abuse, discrimination, and hardships that are contrary to the Gospel values of love, unity, and the affirmation of the dignity of all people."

Through this joint letter, the denominations that are a part of the NCC are taking a stand for immigration reform alongside the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the National Hispanic Leadership Conference.

The letter also included a list of actions or witnesses that local congregations are requested to consider making in their own communities. The list includes activities such as hosting a prayer vigil or community event to pray for immigrants and call for immigration reform, dedicating a sermon or Bible study series to Christ’s teachings to welcome the stranger, and organizing church members to attend the Ecumenical Advocacy Days on the subject of immigration, which will take place in Washington, D.C., on March 19-22.

Resources for hosting a prayer vigil and other events can be found at and Information about Ecumenical Advocacy Days is at

Source: 2/25/2010 Newsline
Brethren medical/crisis counseling group is to go to Haiti.

A Church of the Brethren medical/crisis counseling group is to go to Haiti next month to provide a short-term medical presence and to offer primary health care and emotional and spiritual care to Haitian Brethren congregations and surrounding communities affected by the earthquake. The trip is scheduled for March 21-27.

The group is traveling under the auspices of Brethren Disaster Ministries. Organizers plan to provide daily or half-day clinics at locations near the three congregations of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Haitian Church of the Brethren) in the Port-au-Prince area.

The group of three medical doctors, two nurses, and a therapist with training in crisis work, will be accompanied by Haitian-American Brethren leaders, the coordinator of the Brethren Disaster Ministries Haiti response, and Church of the Brethren communications staff. Once in Haiti it is expected that the group will be joined by some of the Haitian Brethren pastors and National Committee members. The leadership of the Haitian Church of the Brethren will organize and plan the clinics.

In another update on the Church of the Brethren earthquake response, as of yesterday Feb. 24 giving to the work in Haiti has topped $531,150. This includes a total of $84,678 received in online donations and $446,479 received through mail-in donations to the Emergency Disaster Fund designated for Haiti earthquake relief.

This generosity is paying for the Brethren response that includes feeding programs for children, food relief for communities around the three congregations of Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Port-au-Prince, temporary shelters for Haitian Brethren families who are homeless and preparations to build more permanent homes, and shipments of Family Household Kits, Water Filtration Buckets, Hygiene Kits, Baby Care Kits, and other relief materials. The donations also have made it possible for the Church of the Brethren to give thousands of dollars to support the wider ecumenical response by Church World Service (CWS) and ACT International in Haiti.

Go to for more about the church’s earthquake relief effort; go to to contribute.

Source: 2/25/2010 Newsline
Winners of NYC music and speech contests are announced.

The winners of the National Youth Conference (NYC) Music Contest and Speech Contest have been announced by the Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office.

Jacob Crouse from Warrensburg, Mo., is the winner of the Music Contest with his song, "More than Meets the Eye." Born in Virginia and raised in the Dominican Republic, Crouse is a full-time student at the University of Central Missouri. While pursuing a degree in music technology, he also commits himself to the local music scene and participates in various ensembles ranging from the university's Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band to performing in a few of his very own bands. He is very involved at Warrensburg (Mo.) Church of the Brethren where, in addition to providing music for church services, he participates as a youth, is a part of the leadership team, and finds several opportunities to provide community service on behalf of the church.

There are three winners of the Speech Contest. The duo Renee Neher and Arbie Karasek from Lombard, Ill., will give a speech together. Both are members of the youth group at York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard and attend Willowbrook High School. Neher is a 16 year old, and in the fall will be a junior at Willowbrook High. Karasek is 14 years old and also is active in the Youth Cabinet of Illinois and Wisconsin District.

The other speech will come from Kelsey Boardman of Modesto, Calif. She is a fourth generation member of the Church in the Brethren in Modesto, and during the 300th Anniversary of the Church of the Brethren was part of the Youth Heritage Travel Team for Pacific Southwest District. She plans to graduate from Fred C. Beyer High School this year, and will study biology at California State University, Stanislaus, in the fall.

"Winning this speech contest was very important to Kelsey because of the recent death of her great grandmother," reports Audrey Hollenberg, one of the two NYC coordinators. "Her great grandmother was a strong advocate for female preachers in the Church of the Brethren. Kelsey considers it a great tribute to her great grandmother to be a speaker at National Youth Conference."

Source: 2/25/2010 Newsline
Dominican Brethren hold 19th annual conference.

La Iglesia de Los Hermanos (the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic) celebrated its 19th Annual Conference on Feb. 19-21 at the Mennonite campground (Betel) near San Juan de la Manguana. The theme for the conference, chosen by moderator Felix Arias Mateo, was "More than Conquerors" based on Romans 8:37.

Three new churches were accepted into the denomination, for a total of 21. A budget for 2010 also was approved. Catalice Mardochee was chosen to be moderator-elect.

Speaking for the new Brethren congregations in Haiti, pastor Altenor Jean from Port-au-Prince shared moving words of faith in the midst of suffering following the devastating earthquake. He thanked Dominican Brethren for their visits and prayers.

Tension was evident during the meetings as leaders struggled with financial and administrative concerns. Shawn Flory Replogle, representing the US Brethren as the moderator of Annual Conference, led in a closing service of anointing.

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

Source: 2/25/2010 Newsline
Grant given for hunger relief in Sudan, mission executive visits.

A grant of $20,000 to help relieve hunger in the Easter Equatoria State of southern Sudan has been given by two Church of the Brethren ministry areas. A grant of $15,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund was requested by Brethren Disaster Ministries, and the church’s Global Mission Partnerships also gave $5,000.

The grant followed a trip to southern Sudan by Global Mission Partnerships executive Jay Wittmeyer, who visited the area in which hunger-related deaths are being reported. He also visited with the Africa Inland Church and its Community Organization for Rehabilitation and Development (AIC-CORED), which will administer the grant money.

AIC-CORED reports that during the month of December, hunger killed at least 14 people in LOPA County of the Eastern Equatoria State, and hunger-related cases have been reported in the city of Torit where the Church of the Brethren had been planning to base a mission effort. The Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in Torit has issued a hunger alert.

The grant request from AIC said, "Many children and elderly people are in the advanced stages of malnutrition; there is high need of life-saving assistance." The food shortage results from two years of failed rains or drought. A related issue are the people who are returning to southern Sudan after having been displaced from their own homes by the civil war, which took place over a period of 21 years.

"December is typically a good time for food, so if there is hunger in December, then hunger grows worse through the months of January through March and then into April," Wittmeyer said.

The AIC-CORED budget for the emergency food relief includes money to pay for food items such as sorghum and beans, non-food items like clothes, blankets, and cooking utensils, along with "rehabilitation tools" such as hoes and axes.

In another new grant from the Emergency Disaster Fund, $2,500 responds to a Church World Service appeal following severe winter storms across the United States. The money will help defray the cost of shipping hygiene kits and blankets to affected families, and will support the work of CWS as it aids recovery efforts in communities affected by the storms.

Source: 2/25/2010 Newsline
New issue of ‘Brethren Life and Thought’ sent to wide audience.

The current issue of "Brethren Life and Thought"--Vol. 54, No.1 and 2--is in the mail to a wide audience, said an announcement from the Brethren Journal Association. The journal is published jointly with Bethany Theological Seminary.

With Lilly Endowment Inc. funding, the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership partnered with the Brethren Journal Association to publish this double edition and make it available to pastors throughout the denomination. This issue features articles by eight pastors who participated in the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE) program.

The SPE program is designed to bring pastors together to worship, study, participate in theological reflection, and travel as a way to grow professionally. The articles in this issue share some of their findings and reflections. The issue also includes a report by Steve Clapp on the "Church of the Brethren 2008 Pastoral Study Project," a study designed to better understand the needs, concerns, and effectiveness of pastors.

Study questions and other resources for individuals and groups to use with these articles can be found at

In addition, this volume begins a series of 12 new "Texts in Transit" studies by Graydon Snyder and Kenneth Shaffer as a way to publish revisions to their books "Texts in Transit I" and "Texts in Transit II," originally published by Brethren Press.

The Brethren Journal Association notes that subscribers will notice the absence of color text inside the journal in the future. Eliminating color text is one decision the association has made to publish within budget limitations. Double issues also are more economical, so there will be an increase in the use of double issues with the possibility of several months between publication of the issues. At the same time, the association remains committed to finding a way to get publication of the journal onto a current schedule.

-- Karen Garrett is managing editor of "Brethren Life and Thought."

Source: 2/25/2010 Newsline
Christian Churches Together holds meeting on evangelism.

When Christian Churches Together (CCT) held its annual meeting, the group talked about evangelism and met in the Pacific Northwest. When research groups explore religious attitudes in the US, asking what religious group people are affiliated with, this region scores the highest anywhere answering "none"--about 63 percent. So it’s been dubbed "the None Zone." What better place to explore the contemporary challenges and understanding of evangelism.

It is the first time this young but growing organization has focused on evangelism. With Catholic, historic Protestant, Orthodox, evangelical/Pentecostal, and historic Black church participants--the five "families" that make up CCT00this dialogue on evangelism was the richest I’ve experienced in so broad a gathering. To put it bluntly, the main ecumenical institutions like the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches rarely put this topic on their agendas, and the evangelical and Pentecostal communities talk about evangelism mostly among themselves. So this was a fresh encounter.

Mel Robeck, a Pentecostal scholar from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., reminded us that the mandate to "make disciples" had never been withdrawn, and that common witness by divided church families requires the building of trust. That’s what has been happening within CCT.

We looked historically at evangelism with the help of Douglas Strong, professor of the History of Christianity at Seattle (Wash.) Pacific University School of Theology. In the time of the "Great Awakenings" in America in the 1800s, free and open commerce and a common language in the emerging continent provided a social infrastructure similar to conditions enabling the growth of the early church. Plus, revivals were related to movements of justice like the abolition of slavery, and many groups and camp meetings were bi-racial.

What does that mean for today when we say the "world is flat," and we are participating in a communications revolution certainly as radical as the advent of the printing press? And where, by 2030, there will be no racial or ethnic group constituting a "majority"--more than 51 percent--of the population? Meanwhile, participation in religious institutions across denominational lines is mostly in decline.

So the recovery of the church’s missional mandate is essential. Doug Strong argued that we need to be "reinvigorated by the idea that God’s mission of the church is to be a sent community to restore the world...." And such a call means immigrants and people of color are essential partners in building a faithful and fruitful future. Hearing this affirmed in a setting like CCT was deeply encouraging.

CCT will continue its exploration of evangelism. Difficult areas have to be addressed, like proselytism, the challenge of interfaith relations, our theological understandings of salvation, and what evangelism looks like in a post-modern context. But we have discovered a place where leadership from the diversity of the Christian community can have an honest and engaging encounter about the meaning and practice of evangelism in contemporary culture.

-- Wes Granberg-Michaelson is general secretary of the Reformed Church in America and president of the "Historic Protestant Family" of denominations in CCT.

Source: 2/25/2010 Newsline
Pete and Martha Roudebush retire from Southeastern District.

Pete and Martha Roudebush have announced plans to retire as executive ministers of Southeastern District, effective Aug. 1. They plan to begin retirement by camping their way to Alaska in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary.

The Roudebushes began their ministry as co-district executives on April 1, 2001. During their tenure, Southeastern District established its first Hispanic church and is working on its second, began an ACTS (Academy Certified Training System) ministry training program called School of Spiritual Leadership, called ministers to serve as directors of Outdoor Ministries at each of the district’s camps, and made advances in the utilization of technology.

Pete Roudebush was called to the ministry in 1998 by Eaton (Ohio) Church of the Brethren, where the couple both served as deacons for 20 years. Martha Roudebush served on the staff of the Eaton Church as director of Lay Ministry for 10 years. They moved to Southeastern District in 2000.

Source: 2/25/2010 Newsline
Brethren Volunteer Service Unit 287 begins service.

Members of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) Unit 287 have begun their terms of service at a number of projects in the United States and Europe. Following are the 15 volunteers, their home congregations or hometowns, and project sites:

Alex Bahn of Codorus Church of the Brethren in Dallastown, Pa., is going to serve at Camp Mack in Milford, Ind. Michael Camps, First Church of the Brethren in Miami, Fla., to Camp Courageous in Monticello, Iowa. Pam Dirting, Wakeman's Grove Church of the Brethren in Edinburg, Va., to Quaker Cottage in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Erin Duffy, Hempfield Church of the Brethren in Manheim, Pa., to Brethren Woods in Keezletown, Va. Ashley Eckert of Folsom, Calif., to Bridgeway in Lakewood, Colo. Kendra Johnson of Waterloo, Iowa, to Peace Brigades International in Hamburg, Germany. Michael Kramarczyk of Bad Driburg, Germany, to Brethren Nutrition Program in Washington D.C. Andy Loos of Salzgitter, Germany, to Boys Hope Girls Hope in Kansas City, Mo. Lucy and Micah Loucks of Goshen, Ind., to L'Arche in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Jeremy McAvoy of Live Oak (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, to Brethren Disaster Ministries in New Windsor, Md. Lacey Perfors of Elgin, Ill., and David Reger of Herrenzimmern, Germany, to Abode Service in Fremont, Calif. Dane Sollenberger of Rochester, N.Y., and Ian Sollenberger of Los Angeles, Calif., to CooperRiis in Mill Spring, N.C.

Source: 2/25/2010 Newsline
On Earth Peace offers community change training for churches.

A training event titled "You Can't Stop the River: Community Change for Congregations," is offered by On Earth Peace on April 15-18 at First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa. Leadership will be given by Matt Guynn, program director for On Earth Peace.

"Many congregations are ready to take a next step in community outreach and leadership for justice and peace, but aren’t sure what’s next," said an announcement from On Earth Peace. "What does proactive, hopeful action look like? Efforts to improve the community, reduce violence, build peace all too often dry up or get stopped along the way. If you believe God yearns for more peace and less violence--and you want your congregation to have a powerful ministry for justice and peace, focused on real change in the communityjoin us for ‘You Can't Stop the River.’"

Goals for the training are to build skills and confidence for community leadership, worship together and study scripture as a source of strength for community change, explore the history and philosophy of nonviolent community organizing and mobilization, reflect on the experience that congregations bring and exchange stories and wisdom with others, with God’s help prepare plans for what happens next in a church’s community. Teams of two-to-four people from each participating congregation are recommended.

Cost is $100, plus a participant offering to be taken during the event. Participants are responsible for their own travel costs. Some travel assistance and scholarships are available. Simple home stays will be provided in private homes. Meals will be provided, including a vegetarian option. "No one will be turned away because of funds," On Earth Peace said. "We are committed to making this training available and building grassroots capacity."

To apply, write a one-page letter including your congregation’s story and how this training would support your ministries, a description of your team, and the reasons why you want to attend the training. A letter of blessing and support should be provided from the congregation’s leadership team. Both letters should be sent to Matt Guynn at The application deadline is March 15.

Source: 2/25/2010 Newsline
Nigerian Brethren hold Interfaith Conference on Peaceful Coexistence.

Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) recently held an Interfaith Conference on Peaceful Coexistence at its headquarters in Kwarhi. The conference happened to fall immediately after violence broke out in the city of Jos, where at least two EYN ministers were killed. Following is a report from Nathan and Jennifer Hosler, Church of the Brethren mission workers serving with EYN:

"Monday, Jan. 11: visited an Islamic Secondary school in Jos. Thursday, Jan. 14: traveled from Jos to Kwarhi. Sunday, Jan. 17: fighting broke out in Jos. Wednesday, Jan. 20: participated in an interfaith conference on peaceful coexistence.

"In the span of just over a week, we participated in two peace initiatives and narrowly missed the Jos crisis and corresponding 24-hour curfew. This highlights two things: peace is tenuous and peace work is of necessity.

"Finding out what happened after a crisis is a difficult task. Causes of such conflicts are complicated to determine and often distorted as they are conveyed through communities. Imagine a game of ‘Telephone’ in which participants may not like or agree with what they are hearing and repeating. When people are convinced that all Christians are like this or that all Muslims are like that, they are more likely to distort or conveniently overlook certain factual details. One such detail is that at the end of the crisis, both Christians and Muslims were hurt.

"As violence escalated, calmed, and re-escalated, we began our peace conference. Someone asked, ‘How can we have a peace conference while Jos is burning?’ The EYN Peace Coordinator replied, ‘A doctor doesn’t stop treating someone when they get sick.... We continue to treat them and pray that God will heal them.’ With this hope and goal we proceeded with the conference.

"The conference was held at the convention center adjacent to EYN headquarters and was attended by approximately 50 participants. The participants were from EYN, Christians from the government and Christian organizations, Muslims from the government and Muslim organizations, a Muslim professor of Islamic studies and Arabic from the University of Maiduguri, two Muslim school teachers, two Church of the Brethren workcampers Roger and Mim Eberly, and fraternal workers from the Church of the Brethren and Mission 21.

"Two presenters (one Christian and one Muslim) from Jos were unable to attend because of the crisis. While leaving Jos, their car was attacked. Although they were not injured, their car was damaged and they were unable to attend.

"Presenters gave talks on various elements of peaceful coexistence. The conference was envisioned as a way to build trust between communities, as a forum to discuss issues surrounding inter-religious coexistence, and as a platform on which to build future initiatives. It was not merely a time to discuss nice ideas but a beginning point for creative peace work between Muslim and Christian communities. In this vein, Jennifer presented a paper on trauma healing for which she received very positive feedback. Many participants expressed their eagerness to implement the ideas and tools of trauma healing into their work.

"While the conference was deemed a success, it is only a starting point for future relationships and initiatives. One such relationship was between us and two Muslim school teachers. One of the first things they said after meeting us was, ‘You must come to visit us at our school.’ We hope to take up the invitation soon."

Source: 2/25/2010 Newsline
Hearts forever bonded: A reflection on visiting EYN in Nigeria.

Mim and I expected a faith venture/learning tour to Nigeria to be a stretching experience. We went to cultivate our sister relationship with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). We were not disappointed. A part of our hearts have been planted in Nigeria, and we will never be the same.

Our time there was not all glory. There were also bumpy roads--literally--and the challenge of trying to take in so much. We learned something of the deep challenges and struggles in Nigeria.

The question of how to be peacemakers in the midst of conflict was very real, with the outbreak of violence in the city of Jos only three days after we had been there.

When we were in Jos, we visited the Al-Bayan Islamic Secondary School. Would we have been able to visit the school, had Jos been scheduled later on our tour?

Although some EYN members will be involved in this peacemaking endeavor as it progresses--it is envisioned to include things like an interfaith microfinance project--it is not under the umbrella of EYN, so as not to be seen as evangelism in disguise. As important as evangelism is for Christians in Nigeria, there are times to humbly work at repairing the damage that has been done in the name of Jesus before the message of the love of Jesus can be heard.

Some members and leaders of EYN shared with us how hard it is for them to trust Muslims, while others talked about their courageous work as peacemakers and how they are cultivating relationships and programs with Muslims. These dynamics are wrestled with in two books: "Turn the Other Cheek" by pastor Ephraim Kadala and "Are There Limits to Pacifism: The Nigerian Dilemma" by professor Musa A. Mambula. We returned from Nigeria with books personally signed by these two authors, and hope they are widely read both in Nigeria and the US.

A trip to Maiduguri, where the largest EYN church was bombed on July 26, 2009, by Muslim fundamentalists was sobering, but the church has grand plans for rebuilding. It is the mother church of some 20 congregations in the area. I felt a tragic sadness as we walked on the ground where the Nigerian military forces had later crushed and destroyed the whole complex where the headquarters of the fundamentalist Muslim sect had been.

Our last two nights in Nigeria we again stayed in Jos, where there was still a curfew from 6 p.m.-6 a.m. and many military and police check points around the city. Sitting under a tree on that last evening with James, a pastor, and EYN district secretary Daniel, I asked what we in the Church of the Brethren could do that would be helpful to them.

The answer: have more conversations like the one we were having. Yes, all those conversations with Markus, Nate and Jenn, Filibus and Jinatu, Toma, Anthony, John, and others--our hearts will be forever bonded.

-- Roger and Mim Eberly recently returned from a visit to Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria.

Source: 2/25/2010 Newsline
Brethren bits: Corrections, personnel, job opening, Annual Conference, more.
  • Correction: The Conference Office is making a correction to the listed price of tickets for the McPherson College Alumni Luncheon at Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa., this July. The correct price for the McPherson luncheon is $8 per ticket. The price has been corrected for those purchasing tickets online.

  • Brethren Disaster Ministries has welcomed Jeremy McAvoy of Live Oak (Calif.) Church of the Brethren as a new Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker. He will be staying on campus at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., for the next few weeks learning more about Brethren Disaster Ministries and preparing for his work on disaster projects.

  • The New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center is thanking volunteer hosts Dick and Erma Foust, who return home to New Lebanon, Ohio, on Feb. 28. They served as hosts of the Old Main building for the months of January and February.

  • Shenandoah District has called Janet Elsea as a volunteer Mission Servant to help the district coordinate and share support and information between members and congregations that are joining in the denominational response to the earthquake in Haiti, and those that have long-established relationships with other mission and service efforts in Haiti. Elsea will work with a Mission Servant Advisory Team in an initial six-month process. For more information contact Janet Elsea at or 540-271-3000.

  • Tony Keck is the new food service director at Camp Alexander Mack near Milford, Ind. He is a member of Maple Grove Church of the Brethren in New Paris, Ind., and brings years of experience in the Food Service Industry. Also, Camp Mack recently welcomed Alex Bahn as a Brethren Volunteer Service worker. Bahn comes from York, Pa.

  • The Church of the Brethren’s Southeastern District seeks a district executive minister to fill a half-time position. The position can be filled by an individual or a team. The position is available Aug. 1. Southeastern District includes 41 congregations in Alabama, South Carolina, and Tennessee, and portions of North Carolina and Virginia. The churches are in rural settings, with many small congregations. The district also has two camps, one in Linville, N.C., and the other in Blountville, Tenn. The preferred candidate is someone who upholds the teachings of the New Testament and recognizes that the Bible is the inspired word of God. Responsibilities include serving as executive officer of the District Board, giving general oversight to the planning and implementation of the ministries as directed by District Conference and the District Board, providing linkages to congregations and other denominational agencies and ministries, assisting congregations and ministers with pastoral placement, encouraging pastors and congregations to have open communication and good working relationships, articulating and promoting the vision and mission of the district, facilitating and encouraging the calling and training of people to set-apart ministry and lay leadership. Qualifications include a strong personal faith expressed through membership in and commitment to the Church of the Brethren, ordination, a minimum of five years of pastoral experience, commitment to the New Testament and its values, experience in leadership development and church growth, and skills in communication, mediation, and conflict resolution. Apply by sending a letter of interest and a resume to Applicants are requested to contact three or four people who are willing to provide a letter of reference. A candidate profile must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. The application deadline is April 12.

  • "Brethren are coming to Pittsburgh!" reports the Conference Office. As of this morning, 65 percent of hotel rooms have been reserved for the Annual Conference to be held in Pittsburgh, Pa., on July 3-7. Sold out locations include the Westin, Courtyard, and Renaissance hotels. Rooms are still available at the Omni, Marriott, and Hilton. Register at

  • The ‘early bird’ registration fee of $425 for National Youth Conference (NYC) has been extended to March 1. The fee will increase to $450 after that date. This Church of the Brethren conference for senior high youth and adult advisors will be held in Fort Collins, Colo., on July 17-22. Register by logging in to and then going to Questions should be directed to the Youth and Young Adult Office at or 800-323-8039 ext. 246.

  • The spring issue of "A Guide for Biblical Studies" is now available from Brethren Press. This quarterly Bible study for adults is one of the longest-running curricula from the Church of the Brethren publishing house. The March-May book on "Teachings on Community" is written by Eugene Roop, president emeritus of Bethany Theological Seminary. Frank Ramirez writes the "Out of Context" column. Order from Brethren Press for $4 each, or $6.95 for large print, plus shipping and handling; call 800-441-3712.

  • Nursing scholarships are available from the Church of the Brethren’s Caring Ministries. The program awards a limited number of scholarships each year to individuals enrolled in an LPN, RN, or nursing graduate program who are members of the Church of the Brethren. Scholarships of up to $2,000 for RN and graduate nurse candidates and up to $1,000 for LPN candidates will be awarded. A preference is given to new applications, and to individuals who are in their second year of an associate’s degree or third year of a baccalaureate program. Scholarship recipients are eligible for only one scholarship per degree. Applications and supporting documentation must be submitted by April 1. Candidates who are awarded scholarships will be notified in July and funds will be sent directly to the appropriate school for the Fall term. To apply, print or download the instructions and application from

  • Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., is holding a Campus Visit Day for prospective students on March 5. Register at

  • Two volunteer workshops are offered by Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) in April/May, and June. A workshop on April 30-May 1 will be held at Los Altos (Calif.) United Methodist Church (local contacts are Janice Maggiora and Patricia Parfett at 650-383-9322). Another workshop on June 11-12 will be held at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church in East Aurora, N.Y. (local contact is Rick Koch at 716-652-0500). Early registration cost is $45. Children’s Disaster Services volunteers provide a calm, safe, and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos that follows disasters by setting up and operating special child care centers in disaster locations. Workshop participants will experience a simulated shelter, sleeping on cots and eating simple meals. Once the training is completed, participants have the opportunity to become certified CDS volunteers by providing two personal references and a criminal and sexual offender background check. Workshops are open to anyone over 18 years of age. Children’s Disaster Services has been meeting the needs of children since 1980, and is a Church of the Brethren ministry. For more information contact the CDS office at 800-451-4407 ext. 5 or, or go to www.childrensdisaster

  • The Ministry of Reconciliation (MoR) is celebrating 20 years with On Earth Peace. "When limited staff and budget resources for the Church of the Brethren General Board World Ministry Commission's Peace Consultant became stretched beyond capacity, something had to give. So it was decided that the young Ministry of Reconciliation program would be handed over to the On Earth Peace Assembly. The year was 1990," explained an announcement from MoR coordinator Leslie Frye. She is requesting interested people to contact her with a "favorite MoR story or to suggest how MoR could be even better in the next 20 years." Contact

  • New from On Earth Peace and Kids as Peacemakers Inc. is a program suitable for a one-week summer camp, summer Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, or a Fall kick-off to the next year’s Christian education program. The program culminates in a Kids as Peacemakers Mural Project that invites children to envision peace and create a mural to share with their community. A faith-based curriculum accompanies the mural project, to help children connect what Jesus says about peacemaking to their own lives. The program offers five two-hour sessions that can be adapted to 10 one-hour sessions. For more information contact Marie Rhoades, On Earth Peace program coordinator for peace education, at 717-917-9392 or

  • COBYS Family Services is holding its 30th Anniversary Banquet on March 11 at 6:30 p.m. at Middle Creek Church of the Brethren in Lititz, Pa. "Jimmy Carter was president, hostages were languishing in Iran, Mount Saint Helens was spewing ash, the government was bailing out Chrysler (hmm), CBS News icon Walter Cronkite called it quits, KFC’s Colonel Sanders ate his last drumstick...and the US Olympic hockey team defeated the heavily favored Soviets in the ‘Miracle on Ice.’ With so much happening, who could have guessed that the founding of COBYS Family Services would end up being the most significant event of 1980?" said an announcement from director of development Don Fitzkee. COBYS is a family service agency with an annual budget of $3.3 million, affiliated with the Church of the Brethren’s Atlantic Northeast District. It offers adoption and foster care services, including a specialized permanency unit in Lancaster, Pa., as well as counseling, family life education, and a home for teen mothers and their children. The banquet also will commission recently named executive director Mark Cunningham. Banquet invitations with directions to Middle Creek Church are available at While there is no cost to attend, reservations are required and an opportunity to support COBYS ministries will be given. To reserve a place contact Fitzkee as soon as possible at 800-452-6517 or The registration deadline is March 4.

  • Church World Service (CWS) is seeking congregations to help assist Haitians who have been brought to the US to receive medical treatment for injuries suffered in the earthquake. Receiving communities should be prepared to make at least a three-month commitment to assist with rides (or funds for transportation) to the hospital and appointments, funds for housing and food for the accompaniers and for the medical evacuees upon release from the hospital, clothing and footwear, translation services, and emotional support. "Severely injured Haitians airlifted to US hospitals need not only urgent medical care, but also material, logistical, and social support. Church World Service has stepped forward to organize that support," said a release. CWS's affiliate Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta, Ga., has received 45 medical evacuees including their accompaniers; the CWS Durham (N.C.) Office has received five; and the CWS Miami (Fla.) Office has received 62. To ensure proper coordination, CWS asks that offers of assistance be communicated directly to its New York Office at 212-870-3300 or

  • The "Brethren Voices" program for March features the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima, Japan. BVS has provided volunteer co-directors for the World Friendship Center for 22 years. In 1964, Barbara Reynolds founded the center to serve survivors (Hibakusha) of the atom-bomb attacks. WFC also has been a witness for a peaceful world without nuclear weapons. Today, the center also provides hospitality to visitors from all over the world who come to Hiroshima and its Peace Park. "Brethren Voices" features an interview with the current BVSers serving at WFC, Ron and Barbara Siney of West Charleston Church of the Brethren in Tipp City, Ohio. Copies of this community TV program are available from Portland Peace Church of the Brethren for an $8 donation. Contact Ed Groff at

  • An upcoming event held by the Center for Parish Development is recommended by Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices for the Church of the Brethren. A Missional Church Convocation on July 22-24 in the Chicago area is designed to help congregations make connections between church and world. The theme is, "Contrast and Companionship: The Way of the Church with the World." Featured speaker is George Hunsberger, coordinator of the "Gospel and Our Culture Network" in North America and a past president of the American Society of Missiology. More information is at
Source: 2/25/2010 Newsline

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Jordan Blevins, Chris Douglas, Don Fitzkee, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Ed Groff, Cori Hahn, Audrey Hollenberg, Gimbiya Kettering, Jon Kobel, Phyllis Leininger, LethaJoy Martin, Callie Surber contributed to this report.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Haitian-American Brethren experience losses, grief following earthquake.

Haitian-American Church of the Brethren congregations in the United States have been experiencing a period of grief and loss since the earthquake that hit Haiti on Jan. 12. Many Haitian-American Brethren have lost family members in the disaster, and some have still not heard from their family in Haiti.

"We have people who have lost loved ones" said pastor Ludovic St. Fleur of Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami, Fla. "Many...about close to 50 people who have lost loved ones. Brothers, sisters, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, close relatives...." All of the Haitian-Brethren congregations in Florida have lost loved ones, he added.

Atlantic Southeast District currently includes five congregations in Florida whose members are primarily of Haitian background: Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami; Orlando Haitian Fellowship, led by pastor Renel Exceus; Naples Haitian Church, led by pastor Fredette Pharisian; West Palm Beach Haitian Fellowship, led by pastor Lucien Eliezer, and Unify Church of the Brethren in North Miami Beach, led by pastor Banon Louis.

First Church of the Brethren in Miami, led by pastor Ray Hileman, also includes a number of members of Haitian background.

On the Friday after the earthquake hit, the Miami area congregations joined together for a time of prayer held at Eglise des Freres Haitiens. About two hours were spent in singing and prayer.

"For myself only, I lost about 14 people of my close family members," said Renel Exceus, pastor of Orlando Haitian Fellowship, in a report to Atlantic Southeast District. He highlighted the overwhelming experience of loss for Haitian-Americans. "No one knows yet how many of parents or close family have died in this catastrophe. We do know thousands of Haitian people have trauma problems, and all the survival needs. (They need) immediate assistance in their basic needs. We are all affected. Please keep us in your prayers, that's all we can ask."

Some people from St. Fleur's congregation have been able to travel to Haiti to see their family following the earthquake. He himself took part in the Church of the Brethren delegation to Haiti that arrived soon after the disaster, in his role as coordinator of the Brethren mission in Haiti.

"Yes, we do need support" in Miami, St. Fleur said. He and his congregation are working to organize support for the local Haitian community. "We just need to reach them personally, to give them help," he said. He also sees a need, now that some weeks have passed since the disaster, to keep the community focused on the long-term. "We're organizing to keep them focused on Haiti."

In Atlantic Northeast District, three members of Haitian First Church of New York died in the earthquake, and many more members have lost close family, reported pastor Verel Montauban. He talked about the situation of the congregation in a phone call with denominational staff late last week.

"There are almost 75 people in this community who have had people, loved ones die in Haiti," Montauban said. "So it is a crisis.... We have had a big problem."

Some members of Haitian First Church are dealing with the knowledge that their family members in Haiti survived the earthquake but lost their homes, and are now homeless. There are still church members who have been unable to get in contact with their relatives in Haiti. And, Montauban added, "There are a lot of people who survived the earthquake, but now they have died. It is very difficult."

Haitian First also is now hosting a family assistance center for Haitians in the New York area, in cooperation with the American Red Cross and the New York Disaster Interfaith Services. The program is funded by a $5,000 grant from the Church of the Brethren's Emergency Disaster Fund. "Every day we see more than 60 to 65 people here, coming for help," Montauban said. "Some of them lost their loved ones in Haiti, they are coming for counseling."

Montauban himself has been trying to get a flight into Haiti to assess earthquake damage to a school that he helped start there, and to find out how the teachers are coping. "The people in the school don't have anywhere to sleep," he said, "they are in the street."

A neighboring congregation to Haitian First Church is Brooklyn's First Church of the Brethren, which also includes some families of Haitian background. Three families related to the church lost close relatives in the earthquake, one who died of injuries after the earthquake because she did not receive the medical care she needed. "Yes, we've been in prayer, we've been in anguish," said pastor Jonathan Bream.

The Brooklyn First congregation has been walking alongside members of Haitian descent, as well as others who are "on the fringe" of the congregation, Bream said. One affiliated member still had not heard anything from family in Haiti, as of last week.

Brooklyn First member Doris Abdullah visited Haitian First Church to have prayer with the congregation following the earthquake. "I went over to have prayer with their congregation...and it was I that came away cheered up by their prayers and good will," she said. "In the midst of so much horror within their birth land, they remain steadfast in their love of a just and merciful God."

Miami First Church, where four or five members are of Haitian background, and several more are of Haitian-Dominican background, held a time of prayer and sharing in place of the sermon during a recent Sunday morning worship service. The sharing time was "where people could talk," said pastor Ray Hileman. One member there lost up to 18 people from his extended family in the earthquake. "Beyond that the news has been fairly good" for other members of the church, Hileman said.

Miami First has been focusing on the home rebuilding effort, he added, and is raising funds with a goal of paying for two of the new homes being built in Haiti by Brethren Disaster Ministries. Members of the congregation are involved in supporting two schools in Haiti, one of which was out of the quake zone and undamaged, but the other had a building collapse.

Members of his church "dearly want to get down get there to help," Hileman said. "Our big concern, I keep hearing it time and time again, is let's stay on this--because pretty soon people are going to start to forget. Not people in the church, but others. We need to keep it before us."

Source: 2/11/2010 Newsline
Church of the Brethren reports pre-audit financial results for 2009.

The Church of the Brethren is releasing pre-audit financial results for 2009. Even though the church's Core Ministries budget ended the year with a loss of $233,110, this loss was less than half of the anticipated amount. The Core Ministries budget funds programs that are considered "core" to the denomination's overall ministry.

Net assets were available to cover this deficit, and congregations significantly exceeded budgeted expectations as well. Giving from individuals to the church's Core Ministries was higher than in 2008, even in a faltering economy, but did not quite meet hoped-for levels. In addition, expenses were held under budget.

However, the church is expected to continue to experience financial challenges in upcoming years, even as staff work to achieve a balanced budget.

When staff budgeted for 2009, with the anticipation of another difficult economic year, projections included the expectation that giving would be lower than in 2008. We are pleased and grateful that congregations exceeded budgeted expectations for Core Ministries in 2009. This helped offset shortfalls in investment income.

The self-funding ministries of the Church of the Brethren experienced varied financial results in 2009, and several continue to have economic challenges. The church's self-funding ministries include the Conference Office, Brethren Disaster Ministries, Brethren Press, Global Food Crisis, Material Resources, "Messenger" magazine, and the New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center.

Four of the self-funding ministries receive income through sales of goods and services. Good news came from Brethren Press with a positive year of $10,200 income over expense, which offsets some negative net assets in previous years. In addition, "Messenger" exceeded its budget with income of $5,220.

While economic conditions affected all ministries, Material Resources and the New Windsor Conference Center saw losses worse than anticipated. Material Resources ended the year with a loss of $68,860, but had sufficient net assets to undergird the year. However, the New Windsor Conference Center, which already had negative net assets in 2009, was seriously affected by reductions in income and ended the year with a loss of $155,900.

The Conference Office, a fifth self-funding ministry recently brought under the oversight of the Church of the Brethren's Mission and Ministry Board, ended the year with a deficit of $259,330 largely due to low attendance at the 2009 Annual Conference held in San Diego, Calif. This shortfall increases the prior year's negative net asset balance, resulting in the largest accumulated deficit ever experienced by the Annual Conference--a serious challenge for future years.

Gifts to the Emergency Disaster Fund in 2009 totaled $904,300, down from 2008. The Emerging Global Mission Fund received $58,422, and gifts to the Global Food Crisis Fund totaled $298,840, both up from the year before.

The figures above have been provided prior to completion of the 2009 audit. Complete financial information will be available in the Church of the Brethren's audit report, to be published in June.

-- Judy E. Keyser serves as treasurer for the Church of the Brethren.

Source: 2/11/2010 Newsline
Center ships 158,000 pounds of relief supplies to Haiti.

The Material Resources program at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., has sent a total of nine shipments of relief goods to Haiti since the earthquake, representing 157,962 pounds of food, tents, blankets, quilts, baby care kits, hygiene kits, toothpaste, and flashlights, along with 105 boxes of medicine and medical supplies provided by IMA World Health.

Material Resources is a Church of the Brethren program that warehouses, processes, and ships disaster relief materials on behalf of a number of ecumenical partner organizations including Church World Service, Lutheran World Relief, and IMA World Health, among others.

Four of the shipments were made on behalf of Church World Service, and CWS also joined with IMA World Health in sponsoring a shipment of the medicine boxes. Two other shipments of medicine boxes were made in partnership with Mennonite Central Committee and an Episcopal relief group. Lutheran World Relief and International Relief and Development (IRD) jointly sponsored a shipment of quilts, hygiene kits, and toothpaste by ocean freight. The organization Feeding the Nations shipped two loads of food and tents by ocean freight.

A total of 29,940 hygiene kits and 5,400 baby care kits have been sent to Haiti in the nine shipments. Also included in the shipments have been 10,500 quilts, 3,950 light-weight blankets, and 2,448 tubes of toothpaste.

An urgent plea for more hygiene kits was issued last week by Material Resources staff, after all available kits had been sent to Haiti, The plea is being heard by individuals and congregations from many denominations, reports Kathleen Campanella, communications staff for the center. "Deliveries of donated hygiene kits have increased," she said. The center's Buildings and Grounds staff have had to make two daily trips to the New Windsor Post Office to pick up kits, and UPS deliveries of kits have stepped up as well. "People within driving distance, in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, are delivering kits directly to the distribution center," Campanella said.

For instructions to make hygiene kits and baby care kits, go to For instructions to make and donate the new Family Household Kit for Haiti, go to

A worship meditation on the hygiene kit, accompanied by a PowerPoint slide show, is available for congregations, Sunday school groups, and others who are collecting kits for Haiti. Go to to download the script in pdf format; go to to download the slide show.

Also new is a revised bulletin insert giving up-to-date information on the Church of the Brethren earthquake response effort in Haiti. Download the bulletin insert at

Source: 2/11/2010 Newsline
Grant of $50,000 continues support for farm rehabilitation in N. Korea.

The Church of the Brethren's Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) has given $50,000 to continue the church's support for the Ryongyon Farm Rehabilitation program in North Korea. The program assists four large farm cooperatives in promoting food security for thousands of people who live and work on the farms.

Now in its seventh year of working with Agglobe International in North Korea, the Church of the Brethren has had a lead role in the Ryongyon program. The program provides a model for sustainable agricultural development.

"Our involvement in North Korea has stepped up in the past several months, due to the upcoming opening of the University of Science and Technology in Pyongyang," reported Howard Royer, who serves as manager of the fund. The Church of the Brethren also is helping provide faculty for the new university in North Korea (see story below).

"GFCF has also enlisted the help of nine other denominations and agencies through the Foods Resource Bank," Royer said. The grant will assist in cultivating these relationships in North Korea through the shipment of materials for the university and the farm cooperatives, and through the purchase of additional agricultural materials.

Source: 2/11/2010 Newsline
Brethren couple to join faculty of North Korean University.

A Church of the Brethren couple from Kansas, Robert and Linda Shank, are to teach at North Korea's new Pyongyang University of Science and Techology. The university is opening this spring.

The Shanks will be working North Korea under the auspices of the Church of the Brethren's Global Mission Partnerships program and the church's Global Food Crisis Fund.

Their road to North Korea has taken the Shanks through a succession of agricultural assignments in developing countries: Ethiopia, Liberia, Nepal, and Belize. Robert holds a doctorate in wheat breeding and has conducted rice research. Linda holds a master's degree in counseling and learning disabilities.

In North Korea, the Shanks will work with both graduate and undergraduate students at the new university, which is funded largely by Christians in South Korea and the United States. The university is currently in the process of assembling a volunteer faculty of professionals in science, agriculture, and technology from around the world.

For more about Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, read a report on a visit to the school made by Global Mission Partnerships executive Jay Wittmeyer last September, at A photo album from the university's dedication ceremony is at

Source: 2/11/2010 Newsline
US Brethren send $16,000 to rebuild Nigerian church, EYN appeals for funds.

Christmas collections by White Oak Church of the Brethren in Manheim, Pa., and the Brethren World Missions group chaired by Bob Kettering, pastor of Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, have donated more than $16,000 to help rebuild a church of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) in the northeastern city of Maiduguri.

EYN's LCC Maiduguri/Wulari Church (also known as Maiduguri No. 1 Church) is the largest congregation of EYN. It was bombed and burned down during an episode of civil violence and rioting in late July last year (see the Newsline report of July 29, at; a photo album is at

White Oak's Christmas offering received $11,185 toward the rebuilding of the Maiduguri church, and Brethren World Missions gave $5,000. Both donations have been directed to EYN through the Church of the Brethren's Global Mission Partnerships program.

Global Mission Partnerships is now receiving gifts toward the Maiduguri rebuilding fund, following receipt of a formal appeal letter from EYN president Filibus Gwama and general secretary Jinatu L. Wamdeo.

EYN has printed a four-color brochure outlining plans for the rebuilding effort; copies are available from Global Mission Partnerships at 800-323-8039. The Maiduguri Church website features an architect's picture of the planned new building; see

"It is with deep concern that we write you our friends and partners to solicit for your prayers and financial support in this trial period," the appeal letter said. "The EYN LCC Maiduguri which has been our pride and one of the main sources of support to the EYN Headquarters has swung into action to rebuild a more befitting church building." The letter gave an estimated cost of $1,098,198.07 for the project.

For more information or to contribute to rebuilding the Maiduguri Church, contact Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships, at or 800-323-8039 ext. 226.

Source: 2/11/2010 Newsline
Lytle resigns as administrator of Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village.

Administrator Robert Lytle's last day with Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren continuing care retirement community near Boonsboro, Md., was Feb. 5. He left to take a similar position with a retirement community in South Carolina. Michelle Mahn of Boyds, Md., has been named interim administrator.

Lytle came to work at Fahrney-Keedy in Sept. 2000. Before that he had worked at Allegheny County Nursing Home in Cumberland, Md., and had been an interim administrator for homes in Annapolis and Leonardtown, Md. A native of Chicago, he passed his national Nursing Home Administrator's exam in Illinois in 1981.

During Lytle's term of service at Fahrney-Keedy, he saw achievements including certification for Medicare, cooperation with Washington County Hospital on wound-care treatment, and renovation of the Bowman Center, an area for residents with Alzheimer's and dementia. The community also experienced a dramatic increase in the levels of acuity of care over the years, resulting from Fahrney-Keedy being Medicare-certified.

Source: 2/11/2010 Newsline
Conference celebrates theme, 'Plant Generously, Reap Bountifully.'

Online registration has opened for the Church of the Brethren's New Church Planting Conference on May 20-22 on the theme, "Plant Generously, Reap Bountifully" (1 Corinthians 3:6). The event is hosted by Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.

The conference features worship, prayer, keynote addresses, workshops, small group conversations, networking opportunities, and community outreach experiences. For the first time, a complete workshop track for Spanish-speaking church planters and leaders will be offered along with translation of keynote addresses and general sessions.

Goals for the event include to cultivate a network of support for church planting in the Church of the Brethren, and to develop new tools and skills through training, instruction, and Bible study, among others.

Keynote leaders are Jim Henderson, an author, speaker, musician, and leader of "Off the Map," an organization dedicated to doable evangelism; and Rose Madrid-Swetman, a church planter and missional pastor who co-pastors Vineyard Community Church in Shoreline, Wash., with her husband Rich. She also is executive director of "Turning Point," a missional group partnering with local agencies to serve greater Seattle area.

Preaching for the conference are Belita Mitchell, pastor of First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., and a former moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference; and Lidia Gonzalez, founding planter of at least five churches, most recently His Way Church of the Brethren in Hendersonville, N.C.

Two special educational opportunities will also incorporate the conference experience: A Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership course, and a Bethany Theological Seminary course titled "Foundations for Church Growth," taught by Jonathan Shively from May 17-28. For more information about these two courses, go to

The registration fee of $149 includes three nights of lodging (double occupancy), complimentary breakfast, lunches, snacks, and conference fees. Discounts for two or more individuals from the same mission point, project, or congregation are available with advance registrations made at the same time.

All registrations must be received by April 9 in order to guarantee lodging. To register online or for more details about the conference, go to

Source: 2/11/2010 Newsline
BVS older adult orientation unit needs volunteers.

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) is calling for more volunteers to take part in its annual older adult orientation unit on April 19-30. The deadline to apply is March 8.

"Calling all older adults interested in spending six months or more in Brethren Volunteer Service," said the announcement. "BVS has always been interested in providing opportunities for older adult volunteers. We ask you to bring your lifetime of experience and values of faith into volunteering."

While older adults are welcome in any of the orientation units offered throughout the year, BVS provides a special orientation unit for people age 50 and older. This unit is offered each spring at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

The older adult program is slightly different from the customary BVS experience in a few ways, lasting only 12 days compared to the usual three weeks. Older adults also are welcome to come to orientation and explore BVS and the various project opportunities without committing to taking an assignment. While older adults can take a six-month term of service, they have the option to volunteer for a full year. The date on which the term of service begins also is negotiable, depending on the needs of the volunteer and the project.

Call the BVS office for more information at 800-323-8039, or visit

Source: 2/11/2010 Newsline
More deacon training workshops are offered.

Several more Deacon Training Workshops will be offered this spring and summer by the denominational deacon ministry of the Church of the Brethren's Caring Ministries.

On March 6, New Fairview Church of the Brethren in York, Pa., will host an all-day Deacon Training Workshop. The workshop will address the following topics: "What Are Deacons Supposed to Do, Anyway? (The Four Functions of Deacons)," "Offering Support in Times of Grief and Loss," and "Deacons and Pastors: The Pastoral Care Team." To register, call the Southern Pennsylvania District Office at 717-624-8636. The deadline for registration is March 1.

On March 20, Naperville (Ill.) Church of the Brethren will host a day of training for deacons. The workshop topics will include "What Are Deacons Supposed to Do, Anyway? (The Four Functions of Deacons)," "Congregational Peacemaking," and "Deacons and Pastors: The Pastoral Care Team." Contact the Naperville Church at 630-355-7171 for registration information.

Also, the deacon ministry is offering two workshop sessions on Saturday, July 3, prior to the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa. The July 3 morning session will be on the topic, "What Are Deacons Supposed to Do, Anyway?" The afternoon session will be on the topic, "The Art of Listening." Participants can attend one or both sessions. Details and registration information can be found at

For general information on deacon training and other related events contact Donna Kline, director of deacon ministry, at or 800-323-8039.

Source: 2/11/2010 Newsline
Brethren bits: Corrections, personnel, jobs, Haiti kits, and more.
  • Correction: In reports on the Church of the Brethren feeding program for children at a school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Klebert Exceus was incorrectly identified as the founder of the school. The school was not founded by Exceus, but his Baptist Church runs the school and he has been given responsibility over it by his congregation. Jean Bily Telfort, general secretary of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Haitian Church of the Brethren), is the headmaster.

  • Correction: A previous report on the "Area III Middle Pennsylvania" collection of kits for Haiti incorrectly identified it as an effort in Western Pennsylvania District. In an update, five congregations have joined in the effort, and the tally of contributions so far stands at $10,550.

  • The Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., was closed for a second day today because of the massive snowfall in the mid-Atlantic area.

  • Randy Miller of La Verne, Calif., has been named interim editor of "Messenger," the Church of the Brethren denominational magazine. This is a long-distance, part-time assignment. Miller is currently teaching at the University of La Verne. Prior to that he worked for many years as editor of "World Vision" magazine. He was an editorial assistant for "Messenger" in 1974-75 and has carried several freelance assignments for the magazine over the years. During this interim period, former editor Walt Wiltschek will continue to edit some portions of the magazine.

  • The COBYS Family Services Board of Directors has announced the appointment of Mark A. Cunningham to the position of executive director. COBYS Family Services is a family service agency affiliated with the Atlantic Northeast District of the Church of the Brethren. Cunningham has been employed by COBYS since Nov. 1996, serving initially as development representative. Since Jan. 2002, he has been associate administrator with responsibilities in human resources, development, and program supervision. He has served as acting administrator for the past six months. He holds a bachelor's degree in Health and Physical Education from Messiah College and a master of divinity degree from Lancaster Theological Seminary. He previously served as associate pastor of Lampeter (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, where he is a member. He and his family currently attend a Mennonite church.

  • The members of the 2010 Youth Peace Travel Team have been announced: Marcus Harden of First Church of the Brethren in Miami, Fla.; Timothy Sollenberger Heishman, who grew up in Iglesia des los Hermanos (Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic); Cambria Teter of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren; and Hannah Wysong of Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind. As they spend time with junior and senior high youth this summer at camps across the Church of the Brethren, the team will teach about peace, justice, and reconciliation, all core values throughout the church's 300-year history. The Youth Peace Travel Team is sponsored by the Church of the Brethren's Outdoor Ministries Association, Youth and Young Adult Ministry, Brethren Volunteer Service, Global Mission Partnerships, and On Earth Peace.

  • Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community is accepting applications for the position of director of Pastoral Care. The director focuses on the spiritual needs of residents, families, staff, and volunteers, and is part of an interdisciplinary care team providing resident-centered care. Responsibilities include providing pastoral care, counseling, coordinating and conducting regularly scheduled worship services, providing meaningful spiritual growth opportunities, and regularly visiting residents. The position requires someone with compassion and skill in dealing with the spiritual dynamics of illness, loss, aging, and death, as well as a positive, encouraging demeanor. The ideal candidate will meet the following qualifications: a master of divinity or theologically-related degree; completion of Clinical Pastoral Education; ordination, licensing, or commission to function in a ministry of pastoral care and the endorsement of, and good standing with his or her faith community's appropriate judicatory body; knowledge of and appreciation for Church of the Brethren beliefs, practices, and traditions; an ecumenical perspective and ability to work well with people of all faiths; desire to minister to people with varying physical, mental, and cognitive abilities; demonstrated ability to conceptualize and implement a full range of spiritual care activities and programs; management, communication, and interpersonal skills. Resumes may be submitted to or to Cindy Bolan, Vice President-Human Resources, 302 N. Second St., Bridgewater, VA 22812. EOE.

  • Lybrook (N.M.) Community Ministries, related to Western Plains District, urgently needs volunteers for a resident director position. Volunteers provide the campus with administrative and leadership qualities as well as work directly with community people through community development and organization, organizational programing, the church, and campus maintenance. Requirements include flexibility and adaptability to cultural differences, self initiative, management skills, organizational skills, willingness to participate in worship leading, and a desire to work in a remote, small, rural, mixed-cultural setting. Ideally, volunteers will commit to 1-2 years of service, but shorter terms of service will be considered. The hope is to have two separate family units with overlapping terms. Lybrook Ministries is a not-for-profit organization with a mission "to develop and support Christ-centered community ministries in the Lybrook area that are life sustaining and encourage persons to encounter the redeeming love of God" on the campus of the former Lybrook Navajo Mission in New Mexico. The organization strives to strengthen the community through community organization, development, relations, and outreach, as well as providing Christian presence through Tokahookaadi Church of the Brethren. For more information go to Interested persons should contact Ken or Elsie Holderread at 620-241-6930 or

  • The Theological Program of the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic held its third graduation on Jan. 23 at Príncipe de Paz Church of the Brethren in San Luis, Santo Domingo. Twelve students graduated from the program after a period of four years of study. The graduating class includes five pastors and three members of the current Executive Committee of the national church. Two thirds of the graduates are Dominican church members of Haitian background; one-third are of Dominican heritage. Taking as her text Luke 9:9, program director Nancy Heishman challenged the 12 graduates to continue the apostolic ministry of preaching and healing in Jesus' name--to the extent that the world would ask of them as it did of Jesus, "Who is this about whom such things are said?" Students continuing in the program will begin a spring study of church administration with workshops on financial management and essential leadership skills.

  • A collection deadline of April 16 has been announced by Brethren Disaster Ministries in its new appeal for Family Household Kits and heavy duty 8-by-10 foot or 10-by-10 foot tarpaulins for Haiti. Collection points are being developed in each Church of the Brethren district. Pick-ups will be the first of March and again the first of April. Otherwise, send kits and tarpaulins to the Brethren Service Center, 601 Main St., New Windsor, MD 21776. The new kit contains supplies that will enable Haitian families to prepare their own food and take care of family needs with dignity. Go to
    for a list of kit contents.

  • Gifts to the Emergency Disaster Fund continue to be the most important way to support lifesaving emergency relief efforts following the earthquake in Haiti, reports Brethren Disaster Ministries. Brethren Disaster Ministries staff are emphasizing the importance of general donations to the Haiti relief effort, in order to continue funding for feeding programs and the building of temporary shelters in Port-au-Prince area. Basic costs of some of the relief that the church is helping to provide in Haiti have been published: $15 provides two weeks of hot lunches for a child; $50 provides a water filtration system shared by two-to-four families; $120 provides a month's salary for a teacher helping feed children; $200 provides assembly and shipping for a Family Household Kit; $2,000 will build a temporary shelter and sanitation for a family; $5,000 will builds a permanent three-room home. For more information contact Brethren Disaster Ministries, or 800-451-4407 ext. 3.

  • The total donated toward the Church of the Brethren earthquake relief effort in Haiti has grown to $290,256.55, as of yesterday, Feb. 10. This includes both online giving and donations received by check, toward the $300,000 in grants for Haiti made from the church's Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF). Donations continue to be received at, and by check made out to the Emergency Disaster Fund, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.

  • Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., has announced new deadlines for students to apply for admission and financial aid. Beginning with the 2010-11 academic year, the seminary will require all new students who are applying for admission and financial aid to meet the following deadlines: July 15 for the fall session; Dec. 1 for the spring session (including January intensives); March 15 for May intensives. All application materials must be submitted to Bethany's Admissions Office by the due dates. The changes are intended to streamline the registration and financial aid distribution processes. Questions may be directed to Elizabeth Keller, director of admissions, at or 800-287-8822 ext. 1832.

  • The "early bird" registration deadline has been extended to March 1 for the Religion Communication Congress--"RCCongress 2010"--to be held in Chicago on April 7-10. The RCCongress is a once-a-decade event for religious communicators and those interested in the relationship between communication, media, and faith. The Church of the Brethren is a sponsoring organization, and the church's director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, Becky Ullom, is one of the organizers. Registration costs $375 before March 1; or $250 for fulltime students, retirees, and senior citizens. Day rates are available. Registration does not cover lodging and some fees for banquet events. Participants may earn 3 continuing education units for an extra fee. Church of the Brethren members who are interested in attending are requested to contact Becky Ullom before registering online at

  • Danville (Va.) First Church of the Brethren has changed its name to
    Schoolfield Church of the Brethren.

  • Salem Church of the Brethren in Englewood, Ohio, is hosting "A Weekend with Donald Kraybill" on April 30-May 2. Kraybill is co-author of "Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy," the story of the Nickel Mines School tragedy and the Amish response. The weekend is sponsored by Salem Church and the Brethren Heritage Center in Brookville, Ohio. The weekend opens with a Friday evening session, "A Coat of Many Colors: The Anabaptist Churches in North America." It continues with a Saturday morning workshop for church leaders on the topic, "Understanding Apology and Forgiveness: Biblical and Soci-Psychological Perspectives" ($10 registration fee); a Saturday evening session, and Sunday morning worship at Salem Church of the Brethren. Continuing education units are available. For more information contact 937-836-6145 or or go to

  • Atlantic Southeast District, which includes at least six congregations with members of Haitian background, is holding a "round robin" of e-mails to share what congregations are doing to help following the earthquake. Among the congregations that have responded so far, First Church of the Brethren in Miami, Fla., is planning a Yard Sale on Feb. 27 to raise money for the rebuilding of two homes in Haiti through Brethren Disaster Ministries; First Church of the Brethren in St. Petersburg, Fla., has held three special Sunday morning offerings for the Brethren work in Haiti; and Winter Park (Fla.) Church of the Brethren, raised $1,300 through a beans-and-rice supper to aid a Haitian family related to a child who attends the church school.

  • Seven environmental science students from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., and two students from St. Francis University in Loretto, Pa., will come together to study for an entire semester at Juniata's Raystown Field Station through May. Students will "explore forests, navigate lakes, and dig deep into the biodiversity of what could be called the largest outdoor classroom in higher education--the Raystown Field Station," according to a Juniata release. Church of the Brethren member Chuck Yohn directs the field station. This is the second spring semester that St. Francis students have participated. "It was amazing; every day brought something different to learn about outside," said Ian Gardner, a junior who spent last spring at the station. "We even witnessed the white-winged crossbill migration through the pine forests around Lake Raystown and the spring warbler migration."

  • The John Kline Homestead fund-raising effort has reached 75 percent of its goal, according to organizer Paul Roth. The historic homestead of Civil War-era Brethren elder and peace martyr John Kline is located in Broadway, Va. By Jan. 31, contributions and pledges totaled over $305,000 toward the $425,000 goal. The Park View Federal Credit Union has granted a one-year extension to enable the John Kline Homestead Board of Directors raise the balance of funds to purchase the property by Dec. 31, 2010. In the meantime, the Harrisonburg Office of Tourism, Broadway Hometown Partnership, and the Shenandoah Battlefield Foundation have joined efforts to promote visits to the Homestead during the Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the Civil War, which begins in 2011. Contact John Kline Homestead. P.O. Box 274, Broadway, VA 22815. The organization is a 501(c)3 nonprofit agency.

  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) has announced Lenten study resources for congregations and individuals interested in ending violence against women. Featuring films and stories from places as diverse as Colombia, India, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and New Zealand, the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV) website will host the interactive resources from Feb. 17-April 4. Congregations, community groups, and individuals are invited to sign up to follow the Bible studies, use the liturgical resources, and become involved in online discussions. The resources will be available as a downloadable "toolkit." The campaign is in partnership with the World Student Christian Federation and the World Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA). A sample of the Lenten study resources, titled "Cries of Anguish, Stories of Hope," is available at

  • IMA World Health, an ecumenical organization with headquarters at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., has announced that its immediate past president Paul Derstine is traveling to Haiti to lead an assessment team on the medical situation there. Derstine is a member of the Church of the Brethren. He will work with IMA's Country Representative for Haiti, Dr. Abdel Direny, in developing comprehensive plans to address the Haitian health care crisis stemming from the earthquake.

  • Staff of ECHO in Haiti (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization) have contacted the Church of the Brethren's Global Mission Partnerships asking if Brethren would join in the three days of prayer announced by the country's president. The days of prayer begin this Friday, Feb. 12, and continue through the weekend. Friday has been declared a national day of mourning, marking the one-month anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince. In addition, the ECHO staff noted that for the first time in its history, Haiti's government is canceling the Carnival celebration of Mardi Gras. Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships, responded with a request for Brethren to join in prayer, "as we go into Lent."
Source: 2/11/2010 Newsline

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Douglas Bright, Don Fitzkee, Sharon Flaten, Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Elizabeth Keller, Donna Kline, Michael Leiter, Wendy McFadden, Nancy Miner, Frank Ramirez, Paul Roth, Becky Ullom, John Wall, Roy Winter, Jay Wittmeyer, and Loretta Wolf contributed to this report.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Next phase of Brethren response in Haiti begins.

A new phase of the Church of the Brethren disaster response in Haiti has begun, with the building of temporary shelters for earthquake survivors and church members who have lost homes in Port-au-Prince. Also underway are two Brethren feeding programs for children, and plans to continue building permanent homes in other areas of Haiti where people displaced by the earthquake are seeking refuge.

The church’s response effort is being carried out with leadership by Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Haitian Church of the Brethren) and Brethren Disaster Ministries, with funding from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF). The Church of the Brethren’s participation in the work of Church World Service (CWS) and ecumenical partners in Haiti also continues.

Two more EDF grants have been given for earthquake relief efforts, totaling $250,000 (see full story below).

Although communications with Haiti continue to be difficult, Brethren Disaster Ministries Haiti consultant Klebert Exceus has reported by telephone on a new Temporary Shelter Program expected to serve some 20 Brethren families and neighbors--or 120 people--of two of the hardest hit congregations of Eglise des Freres Haitiens. Building of the shelters will start Monday.

The Temporary Shelter Program is intended first for Brethren families in the Delmas 3 and Marin congregations who lost their homes, and for some neighbors in need in those areas. Two pieces of land have been rented where shelters will be placed. They will be made of canvas walls, with tin roofs, and placed on thinly poured cement floors. Construction teams will be hired locally, under Exceus’s direction along with leadership by the National Committee of Eglise des Freres Haitiens.

The feeding of daily meals to children at the Paul Lochard No. 2 School in Port-au-Prince began on Jan. 25 and is reported to be successful. Several hundred children are receiving one hot meal a day at the school, which was founded by Exceus and employs three of the Haitian Brethren pastors on its faculty. Some of the children served by this feeding program are "restevec"--children whose families have been forced by poverty to sell them as slaves or domestic servants in richer households.

Another group of children are to begin receiving daily meals next week, through a Kids Club at the Delmas 3 Church of Eglise des Freres Haitiens. Also in the planning stage is a biweekly food packet for families living in the communities around the three Brethren congregations in Port-au-Prince.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is purchasing the food in Haiti, in an effort to support the agriculture of the country and help provide income and jobs directly to Haitians who are in need.

"There was a good harvest in Haiti this year, and lots of food is available in the markets," said Roy Winter, executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries. "The challenge is that no one has money because they lost their income source in the quake. Further, as tons of donated food are imported, farmers will likely struggle to sell their goods, further compounding the financial crisis of this earthquake. Our plan is to buy from Haitian farmers as much as possible."

The program is hiring Haitian Brethren to purchase the food, and hiring local construction teams to put up the temporary shelters, in another effort to provide work for those who in addition to their homes, also lost all possibility of an income in the earthquake. "We’re employing people to do a particular task, and it gives them the dignity of an income," Winter said.

"The result is we can feed a child a hot meal for about $1," he said. The program also may work with the Dominican Church of the Brethren to help purchase food in the DR and transport it into Haiti.

When the current dire situation eases in coming weeks or months, Brethren Disaster Ministries plans to bring volunteer workcamp groups from the United States to assist the Haitian Brethren in the rebuilding phase of the recovery. More information about upcoming volunteer opportunities in Haiti will be shared as soon as planning is in place.

As of mid-week the situation in Port-au-Prince has improved, reported Jeff Boshart, coordinator of the Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding program in Haiti, after a phone call with Exceus. "Food and water are much more prevalent, although there are still complaints in some places of not getting enough."

Boshart said that currently the members of the Delmas 3 Church are receiving food and water. Members of the Haitian church’s National Committee also have all received emergency funds through the Church of the Brethren "and they are grateful," he reported. "Everyday life is coming back in Port-au-Prince.... Churches had regular services on Sunday as well."

"In closing (Exceus) said, the people we have helped are very very happy," Boshart said. "He said we can't even imagine how what we did has helped them and how grateful they are that we came in their moment of need.

"It sounds like the church folks are starting to look to the future, even if that future is only next week. After what they have all been through, that's saying something."

Source: 2/5/2010 Newsline Extra
EDF gives $250,000 for Brethren and CWS work in Haiti.

The Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) has given two more grants for earthquake relief: $125,000 to support the Church of the Brethren response, and $125,000 for the work of CWS and partner organizations in Haiti. The two grants are in addition to two previous grants of $25,000 each for the same purposes.

The $125,000 grant to the Brethren response will provide daily hot meals for children at the Paul Lochard No. 2 School in Port-au-Prince, and for children at the Kids Club at the Delmas 3 Church of Eglise des Freres Haitiens, and will support the hiring of teachers for the school program. In addition, the grant will fund a biweekly food packet that organizers plan to distribute to families in the communities around the three Brethren congregations in Port-au-Prince, and one-time or occasional food packets for congregations or families supporting displaced earthquake survivors in other areas of Haiti, as necessary.

The grant will support purchasing food locally in Haiti or in the Dominican Republic. Purchasing the food locally will help support Haitian and Dominican farmers and others involved in agriculture on the island. Church members will be hired to purchase food in Haiti. When necessary, the program will work with the Dominican Church of the Brethren to help purchase food and transport it into Haiti. Some donations from other organizations are also expected.

The new Temporary Shelter Program for 20 families in two locations of Port-au-Prince also will receive funding through this grant. The Temporary Shelter Program is intended to give aid first to Brethren families in the Delmas 3 and the Marin church congregations who have lost their homes in the earthquake, but also to neighbors in need in the areas where the congregations have been meeting. Two pieces of land have been rented where the temporary buildings will be placed, and work already has begun to dig latrines on one of the pieces of land. The building of temporary shelters is expected to begin Monday. Shelters will be made of canvas walls, with tin roofs, and placed on thinly poured cement floors. Construction teams will be hired locally, under the direction of Brethren Disaster Ministries Haiti consultant Klebert Exceus, along with leadership by the National Committee of Eglise des Freres Haitiens.

Additional initiatives that may be supported through this grant include the purchase of property for temporary housing and long-term church use, and eventual inclusion of US volunteers in response activities.

The sum of $2,500 from the grant has been given to the Dominican Church of the Brethren to assist 25 members of Haitian background to visit members of their families who are still in Haiti, according to Global Mission Partnerships executive Jay Wittmeyer. The group plans to travel by bus to Haiti on Monday morning, each carrying up to two suitcases of 50 pounds each of food items and other relief goods for their families.

The EDF allocation of $125,000 to Church World Service represents the Church of the Brethren contribution toward an appeal total of $1,720,672 for the work of CWS and partner organizations in Haiti. The grant will contribute to the large-scale response of the US Christian community and the worldwide Christian response through the ACT (Action by Christians Together) Alliance.

Specific response activities supported by this grant include food relief assistance, non-food relief assistance, the provision of water along with sanitation and hygiene measures, emergency shelter, psychosocial support, education support and school reconstruction, house rehabilitation, livelihood and agriculture rehabilitation, communal shelters, community assistance, and disaster preparedness and risk reduction.

Gifts to the Emergency Disaster Fund continue to be "the most important way to support lifesaving emergency relief efforts in Haiti," the Brethren Disaster Ministries announcement said. Donate online at or mail checks to the Emergency Disaster Fund, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.

Source: 2/5/2010 Newsline Extra