Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Brethren bits: Correction, remembrance, personnel, ‘Grace,’ and more.
  • Correction: A previous issue of Newsline gave an incorrect link to the report from the Annual Conference committee on Secret Oath-Bound Societies. The correct link to the report and a bibliography of recommended study resources is

  • Remembrance: Roy E. Pfaltzgraff Sr., 92, died on March 1 at his residence at Brethren Village in Lancaster, Pa. He was a medical doctor, ordained minister, and longterm leader of medical treatment for leprosy (Hansen's Disease) in Nigeria. He is widely recognized for his work on leprosy over the course of a long career, developing a highly effective program for leprosy patients, shifting leprosarium focus from custodial care to the use of out-patient clinics and rehabilitation, carrying out drug trials, developing prostheses, training medical workers in the management of leprosy, co-authoring a textbook on leprosy treatment, and writing other training materials and research articles. He worked in Nigeria from 1944-82, first as a mission worker with the Church of the Brethren in the Lassa area, where he was a pastor and physician while directing the construction of Lassa Hospital. Beginning in 1954 he was assigned to Adamawa Provincial Leprosarium at Garkida. He also was administrator for the entire medical program of the church in Nigeria. After the church gave control of the leprosarium to the government in 1976, Pfaltzgraff continued to work there until 1982. He also was chief consultant leprologist to the Nigerian government in Gongola State. In 1964 he spent a furlough in the US as chief of rehabilitation at the National Hansen's Disease Center in Carville, La. After returning from Nigeria, he became a program and training consultant for American Leprosy Missions through 1991, when he retired. Over the years he submitted biopsy specimens to the Leprosy Registry at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, which the Damien-Dutton Society noted "have added greatly to the usefulness of the teaching files of the AFIP." In 1997 he received the Damien-Dutton Award given to a person who has made significant contributions to the conquest of leprosy. He held degrees from Elizabethtown (Pa.) College and Temple University School of Medicine, received an honorary doctorate from Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria, and was awarded a Citation for Dermatologic Research and Training by the Republic of the Philippines. Born in York, Pa., he was the son of the late G. Nevin and Mary Martha Roth Pfaltzgraff. Early in his career, he carried out an internship at Lancaster (Pa.) General Hospital and was chief surgical resident at Protestant Episcopal Hospital in Philadelphia 1944-45. He was married to Violet Hackman Pfaltzgraff in 1942--they would have been married for 68 years on April 10. He was ordained to the ministry in 1945, and was a member of Middle Creek Church of the Brethren in Lititz, Pa. He was also a member of the American Medical Association, the International Leprosy Association, and the Brethren Peace Fellowship. Surviving in addition to his wife are children Roy (Kathy) Pfaltzgraff Jr. of Haxtun, Colo.; George (Buffy) Pfaltzgraff of Hampton, Iowa; David (Ruth) Pfaltzgraff of Keymar, Md.; Nevin (Judy) Pfaltzgraff of Coulee Dam, Wash.; and Kathryn Pfaltzgraff of Abbottstown, Pa.; 16 grandchildren; and 18 great grandchildren. A Life Celebration Service was held at the Chapel at Brethren Village on March 7. Memorial gifts are being received for American Leprosy Missions.

  • Remembrance: Gene Stoltzfus, 70, passed away on March 10. He was the director of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) from its founding in 1988 until 2004. CPT was begun as an initiative of the Historic Peace Churches including the Church of the Brethren. An obituary on the CPT website notes that Stoltzfus traveled to Iraq immediately before the first Gulf War in 1991 and spent time with the Iraq CPT Team in 2003 to facilitate consultation with Muslim and Christian clerics, Iraqi human rights leaders, families of Iraqi detainees and talking with American administrators and soldiers. The team's work contributed to the disclosures around Abu Ghraib. Stoltzfus' commitment to peacemaking was rooted in his Christian faith and experience in Vietnam as a conscientious objector with International Voluntary Services. In the early 1970s he directed a Mennonite Voluntary Service program. In the late 1970s he and his wife co-directed the Mennonite Central Committee program in the Philippines during President Marcos' martial law era. They then went on to help establish Synapses, a grassroots international peace and justice organization in Chicago to connect the US and people in the developing world. Stoltzfus grew up in Aurora, Ohio, where his parents gave leadership in a Mennonite Church and his father was the pastor. He held degrees from Goshen College in Indiana, American University in Washington D.C., and Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries in Elkhart, Ind. He was married to Dorothy Friesen of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. They lived in Chicago for 25 years until his retirement to Fort Frances, Ontario, Canada. After retiring from CPT, he traveled widely to speaking engagements, blogged regularly at, and made twig furniture and jewelry as a contribution to the greening world.

  • Samuel Kefas Sarpiya has been hired to a six-month contract as part-time nonviolence organizer for On Earth Peace. His responsibilities include community organizing in Rockford, Ill., and nonviolence leadership coaching for congregations and community groups around the country. This new position will expand On Earth Peace capacity to work more intensively with local violence reduction and peacebuilding projects. Sarpiya is a church planter in Illinois and Wisconsin District, and in April 2009 planted Rockford Community Church, a multicultural peace-centered congregation. He also is coordinating organizer for Rockford Partners for Excellence, a group formed in Nov. 2009 to address issues of poverty and racism through creative community leadership in the aftermath of a police shooting in the city. Sarpiya previously served as a missionary with Youth With a Mission, and with Urban Frontiers Mission, where he was evangelism and missions director and helped pioneer urban ministries in West Africa. He is a Nigerian-born South African national, living with his family in Rockford.

  • Linda Banaszak has been called to serve as full-time chaplain and director of Spiritual Care at the Village at Morrisons Cove, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Martinsburg, Pa. She began in the position on Jan. 1.

  • Brethren Disaster Ministries is announcing the placement of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker Jeremy McAvoy at the Hammond, Ind., flood recovery project. He will assist with project coordination.

  • Alan and Denise Oneal of Panther Creek Church of the Brethren in Adel, Iowa, will serve with Brethren Disaster Ministries as site coordinators for the Cedar Rapids Ecumenical Rebuild effort this April and May, according to the Northern Plains District newsletter. The building effort follows flooding in the area last year, and is in cooperation with several other denominations. The District Board will hold its next meeting at Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Brethren/Baptist Church and will devote one day to volunteering with the flood rebuilding project.

  • A letter highlighting the slow pace of recovery on the Gulf coast four-and-a-half years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita has been sent to Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu with signatures from a large number of local disaster recovery groups and national religious groups. On behalf of the Church of the Brethren, the letter has been signed by Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships. The letter states, in part, that "the slow pace of recovery, persistent poverty, coastal land loss, and climate change have created a crisis across America's Gulf Coast that demands a powerful response from our elected officials. Our federal response has yet to properly protect the well-being of America's most vulnerable people and places through recovery policies which rebuild lives, restore the environment, mitigate future hazards, and respect human rights." Accompanying the letter was a detailed recommendation from the Gulf Coast Civic Works Campaign to reallocate funding and budget authority to build stronger and more equitable communities.

  • The Brethren Press book "Grace Goes to Prison" has sold over 1,000 copies in less than five months, according to an announcement from the Church of the Brethren publishing house. This inspiring true story of Brethren homemaker Marie Hamilton and how she began a life-changing prison ministry in Pennsylvania, is written by Melanie G. Snyder. The author's spring book tour is now underway. For more about the book tour visit Order "Grace Goes to Prison" from Brethren Press at 800-441-3712.

  • Pinecrest Community, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Mount Morris, Ill., recently received a five-star overall quality rating by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, according to a release from the community. CMS is a federal agency in the Department of Health and Human Services that administers the Medicare program and works with state governments to administer Medicaid. It assigns ratings from a low of one star to a high of five stars based on health inspection surveys, staffing information, and quality of care measures. The ratings are available on the agency's Nursing Home Compare website According to the release, a five-star designation is awarded to only the top 10 percent of nursing homes nationwide.

  • McPherson (Kan.) College has been named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, for the second consecutive year. It is the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement. Also named to the honor roll is another Church of the Brethren school, Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. According to a release from Juniata, honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors including scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.

  • Manchester College alumni find jobs or gain admission to graduate school at the rate of almost 93 percent, according to a release from the school in North Manchester, Ind.--"despite these difficult times when more than 14.8 million US residents are jobless," the release noted. Manchester is offering the guarantee of a job or graduate school within six months of graduation or return for a full year tuition-free. For more information visit

  • The New Community Project staff in Harrisonburg, Va., have led a March 3-8 visit by a seven-person delegation to "bicycle mecca" Davis, Calif. "We wanted delegates to learn first-hand about one of the USA's top bicycling towns, with the hope that they will incorporate their experiences there to make Harrisonburg a bike-friendly city," said coordinator Tom Benevento. Included in the entourage was the mayor, members from the planning commission and public works, bicycle advocates, and a documentary film maker, according to a note from New Community Project director David Radcliff. He reports that the project has organized a community bicycle shop in Harrisonburg to repair and make available bicycles for transportation, has been instrumental in eliminating dangerous parallel drainage grates in the city, and increasing bike racks in the downtown, and is working to get bike lanes installed. The "One Mile Challenge" program encouraging residents to walk or bike to all destinations under one mile also has begun developing a series of events for bicycle month this coming May. For more visit

  • A "Springs Preaching Tour for Church Renewal" has been announced by the Springs of Living Water Initiative led by David S. and Joan Young. David Young is available to deliver messages on the theme of God's invitation to renewal that builds on the strengths and gifts of a church, and Joan Young will tell stories of renewal in Church of the Brethren congregations. The Springs Initiative is in place in several districts of the Church of the Brethren, aiding congregations to experience personal and corporate spiritual renewal and use servant leadership to create vibrant faith communities with an urgent Christ-centered mission. David Young is the author of "Springs of Living Water, Christ-Centered Church Renewal" with a foreword by Richard J. Foster, and holds a doctor of ministry degree in Church Renewal from Bethany Theological Seminary. For more information contact or 717-615-4515.

  • Lilly Endowment is in the 11th year of its National Clergy Renewal Program. Christian congregations are invited to apply for grants of up to $50,000 to support an extended period of intentional reflection and renewal for pastors. Further, up to $15,000 of the grant can be used for the congregation to pay for worship and pastoral care support while the pastor is away, as well as for renewal activities within the congregation. Deadline for submission of proposals is June 21. For more information and application materials go to
Source: 3/10/2010 Newsline

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