Friday, July 23, 2010

National Youth Conference brings some 3,000 Brethren to the mountaintop with the theme, ‘More than Meets the Eye.’

National Youth Conference (NYC) held July 17-22 in Fort Collins, Colo., brought together 2,884 Church of the Brethren youth and adults on the campus of Colorado State University. The conference is held every four years by the Church of the Brethren for high school-age youth and those who have completed the first year of college.

The highlight of the daily NYC schedule were two worship services--one held each morning, one each evening--featuring a wide array of preachers addressing the theme, "More than Meets the Eye" from 2 Corinthians 4.

Daily themes guided the experience, moving from "A Yearning to Belong," on the opening day to "Searching for Identity," "Facing Brokenness," "Accepting Grace," and "Extending Agape Love," ending with the last day’s theme, "Manifesting Joy."

Two guest speakers from outside the Church of the Brethren--Shane Claiborne, a founding partner of the Simple Way faith community in inner city Philadelphia; and Jarrod McKenna, a "neo-Anabaptist" peace, justice, and environmental activist from Australia--called the youth to a radical revolution based on the grace and love of Jesus Christ.

"The God I know is a God that loves the broken," Claiborne said in his sermon. "We have a God who’s all about loving people back to life." He ended his presentation with a call to confession--which he characterized as a kind of spiritual revolution. It is liberating "to beat our chests and confess our sins to each other," he said, adding that in the culture of the United States it is radically counter-cultural to say that we are wrong, and that we are sorry. "That’s the kind of revolution Jesus has." Closing with prayer, he prayed for the church to respond to the needs of a broken world: "Oh God of all grace, have mercy on us.... Forgive us, forgive us...."

Preaching on the theme, "Extending Agape Love," McKenna encouraged NYC to understand love in its proper biblical context, warning against preachers who hold up the Bible on Sunday mornings to preach a prosperity gospel that is untrue to its context. Rather than looking for that kind of certainty at the center of the gospel message, McKenna said, the Jewish tradition out of which the first Christians came places mystery at the center of the gospel--a mystery McKenna connected with the agape love shown by Jesus Christ.

Allow the mystery to happen, he urged the youth. "We often whittle the gospel into one little point of love," he said. But the gospel displayed in the New Testament invites us into the story, not into one point of certainty. "Instead of us understanding it (love)," he said, "we are to stand under and undergo love."

The NYC week also included an opportunity to receive anointing--which has been a regular event at National Youth Conferences over the decades--as well as other "mountaintop" experiences like afternoon hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. More than half of the NYC participants spent one afternoon working at a variety of service projects in and around the cities of Fort Collins and Loveland.

Numerous afternoon workshops were offered Monday through Wednesday of the NYC week, ranging in topics and activities from discussions of the church’s peace witness, to examination of the call to ministry, to reflections on current issues in the world, to crafts including the making of wooden spoons.

Recreation included an early morning 5K run, an ultimate frisbee championship, an informal table tennis competition, and more.

In a special recognition during the conference, Chris Douglas was honored for her years of service to the youth of the Church of the Brethren during the time she spent as director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. She is now serving as Conference director for the church. Current youth director Becky Ullom called Douglas to the podium on the NYC stage, where she received a standing ovation.

Leadership for NYC was provided by co-coordinators Audrey Hollenberg and Emily LaPrade, who served through Brethren Volunteer Service. Becky Ullom, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, was the key denominational staff person for the conference, working along with National Youth Cabinet members Kelsey Murray, Tyler Goss, Jamie Frye, Sam Cupp, Kay Guyer, Ryan Roebuck, and adult advisors to the cabinet Christy Waltersdorff and Walt Wiltschek.

The worship coordinators for the event were Jim Chinworth, Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, David Steele, and Tracy Stoddart. Music, a key part of the NYC worship experience, was led by coordinators David Meadows and Virginia Meadows, who also were vocalists for the NYC Band: guitarist Laban Wenger, bass player Jacob Crouse, drummer Andy Duffey, and keyboardist Jonathan Shively.

The NYC theme song, "More than Meets the Eye," was composed by Shawn Kirchner of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren. In an introduction explaining the song’s focus on Jesus, Kirchner wrote to the youth at NYC: "Who was the essential Jesus, the Jesus the first Christians knew, that the early Brethren hoped to rediscover? The guy who got all this going, so that 2,000 years later we're all here at the mountain asking this question? Let's spend our lives finding out...."

Go to for complete coverage of NYC 2010 including reviews of several of the sermons, reports from the week’s main events, daily photo albums, issues of the "NYC Tribune," and links to the NYC Facebook page and Twitter stream. Worship resources for the NYC services will be coming soon as an added online feature.

Source: 7/23/2010 Newsline
Becky Ullom leads her first NYC as denomination’s youth director.

Her first National Youth Conference as director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry was winding down on Tuesday when she was interviewed in Fort Collins, Colo.--and Becky Ullom felt things were going well.

"It’s so wonderful to see the faces of people who’ve been just a picture in the book, and to have a strong connection with so many," she said. "We’ve all come to help youth to build community with each other and the church."

As she learns the ropes, Ullom feels that many of the skills essential in her former position in the office of Brethren Identity has helped. "The importance of community, of fellowship, how we become the hands and feet of Christ in the world, these are what we share in NYC."

There is tremendous energy for the youth conference, but as people transition from youth to young adults, Ullom said, there are obvious distractions. Young adults, like youth, need a sense of belonging. That’s why she plans to work hard to help them stay connected to the church.

"We need the kind of feedback that comes from being together to help relationships grow deeper. Our programs keep us together to share pain and joy, things we can’t do on cyberspace."

-- Frank Ramirez, pastor of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, served as a volunteer writer on the NYC News Team.

Source: 7/23/2010 Newsline
NYC facts and figures:
  • NYC was made possible by: Co-coordinators Audrey Hollenberg and Emily LaPrade, youth and young adult director Becky Ullom, the National Youth Cabinet, a host of volunteer youth workers, guest speakers, adult advisors, district staff and volunteers, staff of denominational agencies--and the congregations and families who supported youth in attending NYC!

  • Total registration, including youth, adult advisors, volunteers, and staff: 2,884 people.

  • Food offering for the Larimer County Food Bank, based in Fort Collins, Colo.: 1,854 items of food, making up 40 boxes of canned and dry goods.

  • Offering to support Haitian schoolchildren and Brethren-related schools in Haiti: $16,502.00.

  • Cash offering for the NYC Scholarship Fund: $6,124.87.

  • Offering of School Kits for disaster relief: 737 kits collected.

  • Service projects: More than half of the participants at NYC spend an afternoon doing a service projects in and around the cities of Fort Collins and Loveland.

  • NYC 5K: Approximately 180 runners participated. Kelsi Beam of McPherson, Kan., finished first in the women’s category (21:32), followed by Brittany Fourman (23:04) and Megan Krok (23:17). Jordan Smeltzer of New Paris, Ind., finished first for the men (17:54) followed shortly by Tyler Riegel (18:27) and Adam Rudy (18:53).

  • "There s More than Meets the Eye," the NYC song contest winner by Jacob Crouse, can more than meet your ear if you go to Just click "See All Songs" and you can play, queue, favor-ite, download, or share it. You can also learn more about his six song EP "Moments" as well as upcoming per-formance dates and other interesting information.
  • A professionally produced DVD Wrap-Up full of memories of NYC 2010 is available from Brethren videographer David Sollenberger at Include your name and address information in your order. The DVD will cost $20, which includes shipping and handling.
Source: 7/23/2010 Newsline
Romary elected chair of the Brethren Benefit Trust Board at July meeting.

Deborah Romary was elected as chair of the Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) Board of Directors at the group’s July 7 meeting in Pittsburgh, Pa., following Annual Conference 2010.

This election comes three years after Romary joined the BBT Board, during which time she has served as the chair of the Investment Committee. She brings to the position insight she has gained while serving as chief executive officer of Romary Financial Services Inc., a financial planning firm in Fort Wayne, Ind. She attends Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne.

"The BBT Board and staff have appreciated Deb’s strong leadership and unique perspective that comes from being a financial planner, an economist, and a graduate of Bethany Theological Seminary," said BBT president Nevin Dulabaum. "I look forward to working with her in this new role."

Before the board meeting began, a luncheon was held to honor the service of departing chair Harry Rhodes, who completed his allotted eight-year term on the BBT Board this year. His tenure as chair began in July 2006.

The nine members present at the meeting also elected Karen Orpurt Crim as vice chair of the board, who has filled this role since July 2009. Dulabaum will continue to serve as the board’s secretary.

The board also voted on the officers of BBT’s corporation: Dulabaum will serve as president, Brethren Pension Plan director Scott Douglas will serve as vice president, director of office operations Donna March will serve as secretary, and financial officer Jerry Rodeffer will continue to serve as treasurer.

In other news from the meeting, the Annuity Benefit Reduction Assistance Program has been extended through Dec. 2011. The board voted to extend the program, a grant issued to qualifying Brethren Pension Plan annuitants to help offset the hardship some members have experienced due to last year’s annuity assumption rate reduction to 5 percent. The grant program will now continue through 2011 and then will be reassessed. New applications will be processed and payments will begin approximately 30 days following approval. Current recipients of the grant must reapply for assistance by Sept. 1 to avoid an interruption in payments.

"The members who have been most impacted by the reduction in benefits have appreciated receiving this grant," said Scott Douglas, director of Brethren Pension Plan. "We’re glad the board voted to continue to assist those members."

The board also approved creationg of a Treasury-Free Bond Fund for Pension Plan members, in order to provide members the option of restricting US Treasuries from their Brethren Pension Plan portfolios. This option is managed like the Bond Fund, but cannot invest in Treasuries.

Iridian has been retained as a large cap value investment manager for BBT. The Investment Committee commended investment management firm Iridian for its performance on BBT’s behalf in the large cap value sector. The firm’s three-year rate of return for Brethren Pension Plan exceeds its benchmark by almost 7 percent. More impressively, Iridian earned a 36.5 percent rate of return in 2009 compared with the S&P 500, which earned 26.5 percent. Iridian, based in Westport, Conn., has been serving BBT since 1993. At each board meeting, the Investment Committee performs a three-year review of one of its eight investment managers.

-- Brian Solem serves on the communications staff of Brethren Benefit Trust.

Source: 7/23/2010 Newsline
CDS helps train Catholic Charities volunteers to address oil spill needs.

Children’s Disaster Services, a Church of the Brethren program, is helping to train volunteers of Catholic Charities in the Gulf region to address oil spill needs related to children. A grant of $5,000 has been requested from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund to support the effort.

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico is impacting the fishing, seafood, and tourism industries, and the businesses that provide them support, noted the grant request. "As the oil spill continues into its third month more families find themselves caught in an economic and mental health crisis. There is no end in sight for the economic impact of this environmental disaster."

The Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans has opened five Oil Spill Relief Centers where those affected can access free counseling and apply for emergency assistance, CDS staff reported. As of mid-July the organization has assisted over 17,000 people and has distributed more than $593,000 worth of food vouchers, food and baby supplies, and direct assistance, with the anticipation that there will be an ongoing need for these centers.

Because school is out for the summer, children often accompany their parents to the Oil Spill Relief Centers, presenting the need for care for children as parents apply for aid or receive counseling. Catholic Charities is working with volunteers, deacons, and others who have started planning activities for children. Children’s Disaster Services is providing training for the National Community Civilian Corps (AmeriCorps) workers who will care for the children in three of the centers.

"It is anticipated that another group of NCCC volunteers will replace the first group in six weeks," said the CDS report. "They will need training as well."

Source: 7/23/2010 Newsline
Brethren bits: Corrections, personnel, job opening, district conferences, more.
  • Corrections to the Newsline of July 7: Elaine Gibbel’s name was misspelled. She was among those confirmed to agency boards by Annual Conference, as a trustee for Bethany Theological Seminary. Also, in news from the New Community Project, Sarah Parcell’s church membership was given incorrectly. She is from Indian Creek Church of the Brethren in Harleysville, Pa.

  • The Church of the Brethren Youth and Young Adult Ministry has announced assistant coordinators for workcamps in 2011: Carol Fike, a graduate of Manchester College from Illinois and Wisconsin District; and Clara Nelson, a graduate of Virginia Tech from Virlina District. Assistant coordinators serve through Brethren Volunteer Service at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. They work from September-May to plan for summer workcamps, and during the summer are on the road leading workcamps for junior highs through young adults.

  • Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers Leonard and Helen Stoner of First Church of the Brethren in York, Pa., will be traveling to American Samoa on July 25. Leonard Stoner will be serving as the Brethren building project manager, leading others from Brethren Disaster Ministries, United Church of Christ, and Christian Reformed World Relief Committee. The group will be continue to build a home for an elderly couple on the Pacific island of American Samoa following an earthquake and tsunami in 2009.

  • SERRV International is seeking an administrative coordinator for a New Haiti Design Center at the Fondation pour le Développement de l’Artisanat Haïtien (FDAH)/ Comite Artisanal Haitien in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Following the devastating earthquake in January, FDAH is launching a new design center to help grow sales of handmade products to increase artisan incomes. The coordinator will be responsible for all logistics of the center, including establishing and managing center space and equipment, finance and management systems, a database of artisans and skills, as well as coordinating local Haitian designers, international designers, and international funders in their work with the center. The position requires an 18-month commitment to working in Haiti, with the possibility of longer employment. Salaried at $1,200 US dollars a month plus housing. Air travel to Haiti and return airfare at the end of 18 months, along with a modest stipend to ship additional luggage to Haiti will be provided. Qualifications include sme university or college education, with a bachelor’s or master’s degree preferred, basic computer skills, strong communication skills, strong organizational skills with some management or supervisory experience, basic financial and accounting skills or the ability to learn such skills quickly, a sensitivity to appropriate product design and handmade product retailing strategies for the US and European markets, fluency in spoken and written French or Haitian Creole, experience living or traveling in a developing country. Comite Artisanal Haïtien (CAH) represents more than 170 individual Haitian artisans and groups, including the artisans from Cite Soleil and other poor areas in and around Port-au-Prince, who create beautiful works of art from recycled metal drums, baskets, painted wood products, stone carving and more which have become hallmarks of Haitian craftsmanship. Comite Artisanal Haitien and SERRV International have been partners for more than 20 years. Apply by sending or faxing a resume and letter of application to or 712-338-4379. Include in a cover letter reasons for interest in working in Haiti as well as personal perspective on living in one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere in the wake of a devastating earthquake, and French and/or Haitian Creole language abilities. Position is open until filled. Start date is not firm, but preference is for someone to begin as soon as possible. Questions (but not applications) can be addressed to Cheryl Musch, Director of International Development, SERRV International,

  • The Church of the Brethren is one of the faith groups and organizations signing an advertisement calling for reauthorization of a strong child nutrition bill in the US Congress. The church is one of 128 groups signing on to the advertisement, which is sponsored by Feeding America and includes other Christian denominations such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, as well as Church Women United, Catholic Charities, and others. The ad ran on Wednesday this week. A coordinated national call-in day also was to be held to further amplify the message to Congress to care for American children. "With 1 in 4 kids at risk of hunger and 1 in 3 obese or overweight, the time for strong action is now," the advertisement was to proclaim. "Congress must pass a robust, well-funded child nutrition bill this summer to help reach the national goals to end child hunger by 2015 and solve child obesity in a generation. The health and future of America’s children depend on it." View the advertisement at

  • Before Aug. 2, On Earth Peace is seeking 25 faith and community groups to sign up to organize public prayer vigils with other local churches and groups in their communities during the week of Sept. 21 for the International Day of Prayer for Peace. New registrants will receive additional training for themselves and other participating groups from their communities. For more information or to sign up to participate visit the On Earth Peace campaign website for the International Day of Prayer for Peace at

  • Zach Wolgemuth of Brethren Disaster Ministries has been in Nashville, Tenn., meeting with local leaders involved in flood recovery efforts. He also is a member of a subcommittee of the National VOAD (an organization of voluntary groups working on disaster recovery) that has been charged with rewriting a manual to help guide communities recovering from disasters. "This has been a long and process but is very important and necessary due to changes in disaster response and the way communities recover following disasters," Wolgemuth reported. The manual "is considered one of the most important and necessary resources for local long-term recovery group formation and overall recovery in communities impacted by disaster."

  • The Church World Service inventory of clean-up buckets and school kits for disaster relief work is extremely low, according to an alert from CWS. "The need is great as we are in the midst of tropical storm and hurricane season where clean-up buckets often are requested, and for the school kits we are getting in numerous requests as overseas partners prepare for the fall school year," said the alert. The buckets and kits are processed through the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. For more information about the contents of buckets and kits, and how to assemble and ship them, go to

  • Children’s Disaster Services is offering a volunteer workshop in Los Altos (Calif.) United Methodist Church on Oct. 29-30. Local contacts are Janice Maggiora or Patricia Parfett, call 650-383-9322. Cost is $45 for early registration, or $55 after Oct. 8. Children’s Disaster Services volunteers provide a calm, safe and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos that follows disaster by setting up and operating special child care centers in disaster locations. Parents are then able to apply for assistance and begin to put their lives back together, knowing their children are safe. This workshop is designed to train potential volunteers to understand and respond to children who have experienced a disaster, but the information learned at the workshop can be beneficial to anyone working with children. Once the training is completed, participants have the opportunity to become a certified Children’s Disaster Services volunteer by providing two personal references and a criminal and sexual offender background check. Children’s Disaster Services has been meeting the needs of children since 1980, and is a Church of the Brethren Disaster Ministry. For more about Children’s Disaster Services go to

  • Beaver Run Church of the Brethren near Burlington, W.Va., now has a web site. Go to

  • National Youth Conference keynote preacher Jarrod McKenna will speak at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., on Sunday, July 25, at 6 p.m. The event is co-sponsored by Fox Valley Citizens For Peace and Justice. McKenna is an Australian peace and environmental activist who is active in The Peace Tree Community, Together for Humanity, and the award-winning initiative Empowering Peacemakers in Your Community in western Australia. A time for discussion will follow the presentation. Call 847-742-6602 for more information.

  • South Central Indiana District is holding its District Conference on July 30-31 in Anderson, Ind.

  • Northern Plains District holds its District Conference on July 31-Aug. 2 at Camp Pine Lake in Eldora, Iowa. The conference will be led by moderator Marge Smalley on the theme, "LET GOD: Lighten up, Energize, Tell, Go Out Disciples."

  • Western Plains District Conference will meet in McPherson, Kan., from July 30-Aug. 1. Several of the district conference sessions will be webcast, with district member Andy Ullom as host. Connect to the webcasts at

  • Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind., is one of the congregations helping support Camp Mack following a fire that destroyed Becker Lodge. Last Sunday church members had an opportunity to write messages and sign a banner for the Camp Mack staff. During Sunday School, the children decorated the banner and wrote their own messages on it. The church distributed a letter from Barry Bucher of the camp board of directors on July 15, reporting that "Camp Mack is still moving forward with two groups in residence this week and more scheduled for the remainder of the summer." A portable kitchen under a tent is providing an outdoor eating space for campers, the camp office has been moved next door to the staff house, and copier and computers have been replaced. "A computer and the server were rescued by firemen from the fire so most of the camp records were saved. Most of the paper files were lost," Bucher wrote. Donations of clothing and gift cards have been received for staff who lost belongings in the fire. "Now begins the process of salvaging what is still useful and planning for the future," Bucher reported. The camp is calling for volunteers to help salvage and clean equipment, help with the demolition of the burned building, and perform other work in coming weeks. Contact the camp office at 574-658-4831.

  • Middle Pennsylvania District and Camp Blue Diamond hold their annual Brethren Open Golf Tournament on Aug. 10 at Iron Masters in Roaring Spring, Pa. Cost is $60 per golfer and includes dinner at Albright Church of the Brethren following the tournament. Contact 814-653-0601.

  • A Tubing Adventure Day on the Shenandoah River on Aug. 21 is sponsored by Brethren Woods, a Church of the Brethren outdoor ministry center. Participants in the afternoon of tubing will gather at 1 p.m. at Mountain View-McGaheysville Church of the Brethren. Brethren Woods staff, including a certified lifeguard, will provide a brief orientation to tubing and safety. The group will float down a stretch of river from Power Dam Road to Island Ford and return to the church at about 4 p.m. Cost is $15 per person and includes transportation, certified staff leadership, inner-tube, lifejacket, and some additional gear. Registrations are due Aug. 13. Contact 540-269-2741 or

  • Fundraising to purchase the historic John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va., continues as a deadline nears to raise the total by the end of this year. One of the organizers of the effort, Paul Roth, reports that the total of contributions and pledges now comes to nearly $241,000, "leaving just under $85,000 to be raised by the end of 2010." Contributions may be sent to John Kline Homestead, P.O. Box 274, Broadway, VA 22815. Contact Linville Creek Church of the Brethren at 540-896-5001 to schedule a tour of the homestead for your church or family group. The Board of Directors are planning several events at the homestead beginning in 2011 as part of the four-year Sesquecentennial Commemoration of the Civil War. Included in the plans are a lecture series and interpretive dinners.
Source: 7/23/2010 Newsline

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. The NYC News Team included photographers Glenn Riegel and Keith Hollenberg, writers Frank Ramirez and Frances Townsend, "NYC Tribune" guru Eddie Edmonds, Facebooker and Twitterer Wendy McFadden, website staff Amy Heckert. Judy Bezon, Jordan Blevins, Michael Colvin, Jeanne Davies, LethaJoy Martin, Jim Miner, Dennis Moyer, Paul Roth, Mary Shesgreen, Zach Wolgemuth, Jane Yount also contributed to this report.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Newsline Special
Fire at Camp Mack destroys Becker Lodge.

A fire yesterday at Camp Alexander Mack near Milford, Ind., has destroyed Becker Lodge, the camp's main building that also housed a number of summer staff. The camp is a ministry of the Church of the Brethren's districts of Northern Indiana and South Central Indiana.

The fire occurred early on Sunday morning, July 11. No one was injured, although one staff member had to be rescued from an upper story room by firefighters.

"I am saddened to report the early morning fire in Becker Lodge at Camp Mack," wrote Michael Dilling, chair of the Indiana Camp Board, in a message from the board and the staff of Camp Mack. "The building is considered a total loss. I am however pleased to report that there were no casualties or injuries as a result of this fire."

Despite the loss of its main building Camp Mack is continuing its summer camping program as scheduled, Dilling said. "It will be a challenge, but with hard work, understanding and God's Grace the tasks will be accomplished," he wrote in a report that credited camp executive director Rex Miller and the positive attitude and commitment of the summer staff.

Ten different fire departments responded, Dilling reported, adding that over one million gallons of water were used to extinguish the fire that started in a laundry area. Becker Lodge also housed the camp office, kitchen and dining halls, and program rooms, among other facilities.

Dilling said the camp board and staff are overwhelmed by the "outpouring of offers of assistance and support" from the community and local businesses. The Amish community has offered to bring in a complete mobile kitchen so that the camp can continue its summer season. "They are also providing a portable cooler to hold our refrigerated food," Dilling wrote. "Troyer Foods of Goshen is providing a 'reefer' trailer to store our frozen foods. Lances, a local supermarket, provided food for 75 people to feed lunch to the staff and incoming camp leadership." A local congregation has given a $500 gift card to the summer staff to allow them to replace clothing and personal items lost in the fire.

"The camp office is being moved to a nearby building on site and should be up and running on Monday morning," Dilling reported. "Telephone and Internet communications will need to be reconstructed so it may be a few days before normal communications are established."

The camp requests that people do not come to view the remains of the building, and that they wait to offer further assistance until the camp knows what kinds of help will be needed. "When we know, we will issue a call for volunteers," Dilling said. "The task of dealing with what is left of Becker Lodge is best left to professionals.

"Currently, those wishing to be of immediate assistance are asked to pray for the ministry of the camp, pray for strength for the staff, and pray that the campers attending...will get to know God in a new and rewarding way. Those wishing to make monetary gifts are encouraged to follow their hearts."

Go to for a report of the fire and a link to a video from WNDU Channel 16 in South Bend titled, "Campers, staff devastated to see fire destroy main camp building."

Go to,0,1145287.story for a report about the fire from the "Chicago Tribune" and Associated Press titled "Fire guts main building at N. Ind. church camp."

Go to for a report from titled "$1 Million In Fire Damage To Christian Camp In Milford."

Following is the full message from Michael Dilling, representing the Indiana Camp Board and the staff of Camp Mack:

"I am saddened to report the early morning fire in Becker Lodge at Camp Mack. The building is considered a total loss. I am however pleased to report that there were no casualties or injuries as a result of this fire. As part of the training of the summer staff, we require instruction on how to react in the event of a fire. Some of that presentation shows how flames and smoke form and spread so quickly. Unfortunately, they now have first hand knowledge of just how true the presentation is.

"Ten different fire departments responded to the fire. It was amazing to see how closely they all worked in harmony to bring the fire under control. Despite their best efforts, the building construction made this extremely difficult. The fire re-kindled many different times as "hot spots" would flare up and require additional attention. Over 1 million gallons of water was used to extinguish the fire.

"It is believed the fire started in a laundry area at the rear of the building, quickly engulfing that room, burning through adjoining walls and ceilings into the upper levels of the building. Once the flames reached the attic of the upper dining room the flames quickly engulfed the rest of the building. The offices are a total loss, however the computer servers and a couple desktop computers were removed before the fire reached the offices. Therefore the records of the Camp are safe. Additionally, all the archived "Waubee Waves" were in a separate building and are intact.

"The Camp office is being moved to a nearby building on site and should be up and running on Monday morning. Telephone and Internet communications will need to be reconstructed so it may be a few days before "normal communications are established. Those systems were housed in Becker Lodge and lost in the fire.

"An unusual occurrence is that most of what was in the lowest levels may be salvageable. The kitchen equipment while currently unusable may be salvaged. The tables and chairs in the lower dining hall and program rooms seem to be salvageable. However this will not be confirmed until the building is secured structurally and can be safely entered. Several of the major beams that support the second and third floors may have been severely weakened. Currently the remaining structure is deemed unsafe and no one is allowed inside.

"The outpouring of offers of assistance and support from the local businesses and community is overwhelming. The Amish Community has offered to bring in a complete mobile kitchen and set it up so we can serve meals to the campers attending camp programs this week and through the remainder of the summer camping season. They are also providing a portable "cooler" to hold our refrigerated food. Troyer Foods of Goshen is providing a "reefer" trailer to store our frozen foods. Lances, a local Supermarket provided food for 75 people to feed lunch to the staff and incoming camp leadership today.

"The Indiana Camp Board and the Staff are committed to continuing the Summer Camping program as scheduled. It will be a challenge, but with hard work, understanding and God's Grace the tasks will be accomplished. Rex Miller, Executive Director, is very impressed with the attitude and commitment of the Summer Staff. They are the ones whose lives were in peril and who lost everything, yet as the fire was brought under control and the fire fighters were recovering many personal items, a couple guitars and drums appeared. While covered with soot and smoke, the Staff rejoiced and lifted up a song of praise. It was emotional to hear this beautiful song among feelings of loss and despair. A local congregation provided a $500 gift card to the summer staff to allow them to replace some of the clothing and personal items lost in the fire.

"It is yet too early to discuss any plans for rebuilding. The Executive Director will meet with the insurance company and begin that process. Becker Lodge as we know it was an old structure. Replacing it will mean building to current codes which will require some changes. The Indiana Camp Board will be addressing this issue in the months ahead. The parts of the structure still standing will need to be removed for safety.

"There have been many people asking how they can help. While these offers are deeply appreciated, the current situation around Becker Lodge is dangerous. Also, the rest of the Camp Grounds are busy with summer programming activities. Until we know what kinds of help we need, we ask that people refrain from coming to the Camp to view the burned building but respond when we know what help we need. With the change in food service, we may need more hands to prepare the meals for our campers in the coming weeks. When we know, we will issue a call for volunteers.

"The task of dealing with what is left of Becker Lodge is best left to professionals. Currently, those wishing to be of immediate assistance are asked to pray for the ministry of the Camp, pray for strength for the Staff and pray that the campers attending that they will get to know God in a new and rewarding way. Those wishing to make monetary gifts are encouraged to follow their hearts.

"On behalf of the entire Indiana Camp Board, I gratefully acknowledge and appreciate your prayers, your encouragement and support of our entire staff and ministry."

-- Michael Dilling, chair, Indiana Camp Board

Source: 7/12/2010 Newsline Special
Prayer requested for Haiti on six month anniversary.

Today prayers also are requested for the people of Haiti on the six month anniversary of the Jan. 12 earthquake.

The Brethren response--and Brethren support of ecumenical work by groups like Church World Service--has been swift and effective in comparison with the wider international response, but is community based and works with several specific churches and schools and only certain populations.

On the broader scale in Haiti, the "New York Times" reports that "Six months after an earthquake, only 28,000 of 1.5 million displaced Haitians have new homes, and Port-au-Prince remains a tableau of life in the ruins."

The Brethren work in Haiti is carried out cooperatively by Brethren Disaster Ministries, Eglise des Freres Haitiens, and the church's Global Mission Partnerships. "The Church of the Brethren would appreciate prayer as we begin to plan with the Haitian Brethren for a long-term rebuilding effort," said Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships.

Prayer is requested for decisions being made about locations and types of permanent housing to be built, and the purchase of land. The Haitian Brethren are working hard toward registration as an official church in Haiti, and Wittmeyer added that the Haitian church also is preparing for its annual theological conference in August "and ask for prayer for that time."

Source: 7/12/2010 Newsline Special

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

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Resolution Against Torture is adopted by Annual Conference.

A Church of the Brethren Resolution Against Torture has been adopted by the Annual Conference, meeting in Pittsburgh, Pa., July 3-7, on the theme, "Taking Jesus Seriously." The Conference was led by moderator Shawn Flory Replogle.

In adopting the resolution, the Conference stated, "Torture is a blatant violation of the tenets of our faith."

Brought by the denomination’s Mission and Ministry Board and presented to the delegates by Standing Committee member Leah Hileman of Atlantic Southeast District, the paper offers a biblical and historical basis for Brethren opposition to torture, and concludes with a strong and emotional call to confession and action.

The section of confession reads:
"We...find both the occurrences of torture and the attempt to legitimize the acts of torture unconscionable.

"We confess allowing the rhetoric and images of torture to pass us by.
"We confess ignoring the cry for justice.
"We confess becoming desensitized and complacent.
"We confess feeling insignificant to make a difference.
"We confess not speaking in a timely manner.
"We confess our inaction.
"We confess our silence.

"We deeply mourn the harm that has been done to all who have been tortured and have tortured. Lord have mercy. We will be silent no more."
Presenting the resolution to the body, Hileman told the story of preaching on this issue recently in her congregation, and then experiencing a 20-minute debate in the open response time following the sermon. Earlier in the week she had told the Standing Committee of district delegates that the response of her congregation, which included "all sorts of arguments to justify it (torture)," is all the more reason to put such a statement into place for the church. "The question still is, ‘What would Jesus do?’" she told the delegates. "The answer is that Jesus wouldn’t be in a room pushing a prisoner to his limit."

She challenged Brethren to be aware of the ways torture is present in daily life, such as in our television viewing where she offered the example of the series "24" in which torture has been graphically depicted for viewers’ entertainment. "That’s not who we are," she said. "The Church of the Brethren can choose today to be in the forefront modeling an alternative to the action of torture."

Speeches from the floor uniformly applauded the intent of the resolution. "I stand in righteous affirmation," said Doris Abdullah, the Church of the Brethren’s representative to the United Nations. "It’s a very important statement for us to make as the body of Christ," said Eric Anspaugh, pastor of Florin Church of the Brethren in Mount Joy, Pa.

"This is an important step to take," said Duane Ediger of First Church of the Brethren in Chicago, Ill., and a participant in Christian Peacemaker Teams, referring to the abuses of Abu Ghraib in Iraq and the practice of extraordinary rendition of prisoners by the CIA and other government agencies.

There were some calls to include a definition of torture in the resolution, and concerns that it refer more specifically to mental and emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and domestic violence. Two amendments were defeated, including one that would have added a short statement reaffirming the Brethren opposition to all violence, after several responses from the microphones indicated delegates regarded the amendment as diluting the resolution’s focus.

Source: 7/7/2010 Newsline
Delegates approve church bylaws, act on two queries and a recommendation on appeals.

The Annual Conference adopted revised bylaws for the Church of the Brethren and acted on a query on the structure of Annual Conference, a query on guidelines for implementation of the Congregational Ethics Paper, and a recommendation from the denomination’s Leadership Team on appeals of Program and Arrangements Committee decisions.

Query: The Structure of Annual Conference:
Delegates gave overwhelming support to the Standing Committee recommendation to adopt the query on the structure of Annual Conference, and to refer its concerns to the Annual Conference Revitalization Task Force--a body recently put in place by the Conference officers.

The query asks, "What ways are there to structure Annual Conference that might more effectively fulfill the mission of Annual Conference to unite, strengthen, and equip the Church of the Brethren to follow Jesus?"

Standing Committee delegate Vicky Ullery, from Southern Ohio District, told how a group of pastors from Southern Ohio initiated this query. She said it was not designed to do away with the business function of Annual Conference but seeks to uncover ways of enhancing the Conference function of strengthening unity and equipping the church to be the church. Words such as passion, energy, joy, and enthusiasm describe the hope for what Annual Conference may become.

Many people spoke from the floor in favor of the motion, some making suggestions for the task force to consider. Several hoped for more of the flavor of National Youth Conference. Moderator Shawn Flory Replogle noted that two members of the task force have been NYC staffers.
Query: Guidelines for Implementation of the Congregational Ethics Paper:
The delegates also overwhelmingly approved adoption of this query and the Standing Committee recommendation "that it be referred to a committee consisting of the appropriate Congregational Life staff and three persons appointed by the Annual Conference officers and confirmed by Standing Committee."

Named to the committee were Joshua Brockway, Church of the Brethren’s director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship and a member of the staff of Congregational Life Ministries; Joan L. Daggett, associate district executive in Shenandoah District; Lisa L. Hazen, pastor of First Church of the Brethren in Wichita, Kan.; and Clyde C. Fry, a retired pastor from Mansfield, Ohio.

The query asks, "Would it not be helpful and contribute toward the unity of the Body if Annual Conference developed a uniform denominational process by which districts might deal with a congregation that engages in questionable ethical activity?"

Standing Committee’s recommendation was presented by delegate Roger Forry from Western Pennsylvania District, which brought the query. During discussion district executive minister Ron Beachley noted that since the Ministerial Ethics paper contains a specific process to follow in the event of allegations of ministerial conduct, there was a desire also to have a similar process applicable to congregations.

Some who spoke from the floor were concerned about the scope of the committee’s mandate. Moderator Shawn Flory Replogle conferred with the officers and said if the committee decides a process is needed, they will move forward to develop it, and bring it back to a future Annual Conference.

Another concern was that a single process applied across all districts may not be appropriate because of differences between districts. One person wondered if a congregation accused of ethical violations might simply decide to leave the denomination, rather than submit to such a process. The presenters pointed out that the intent of the congregational ethics paper is to keep both parties in relationship and to bring healing and transformation, not punishment.
Appeals of Program and Arrangements Committee Decisions:
The delegates adopted by more than the two-thirds majority required a recommendation on appeals of decisions made by the Conference’s Program and Arrangements Committee. The recommendation brought by the denomination’s Leadership Team--made up of the three Annual Conference officers and the general secretary--was that Standing Committee be the body to receive such appeals.

Added recommendations from Standing Committee also were approved, that this "be adopted as new polity with the understanding that Standing Committee will subsequently develop a policy of how to address appeals of Program and Arrangements decisions that is different from the process Standing Committee follows in making judicatory decisions."

The presenters explained why the Leadership Team thought a change was desirable. Before the recent reorganization, the Annual Conference Council held responsibility to receive such appeals, but several members of the Council also sat on the Program and Arrangements Committee. Since reorganization, the successor to the Council is the Leadership Team, but three of its four members also are on Program and Arrangements.

Several questions from the floor centered on how this new plan would work and how quickly appeals could be handled. The moderator noted that Standing Committee will need to work on developing a process to be used.
Church of the Brethren Bylaws Revision:
The delegate body adopted the revision to the bylaws of the Church of the Brethren by well over the two-thirds margin required. The bylaws under revision were initially adopted in 2008, when the former General Board and Association of Brethren Caregivers joined together in one organization creating the new structure under which the church is now operating.

In 2009, a shorter, clearer revision of the bylaws was brought for a first reading. Delegates were invited to send in suggestions and concerns. The process resulted in minor changes to the document, made for additional clarity or better wording.

In discussion before the vote, a few delegates raised concerns or offered comments. One expressed concern about the legal language, suggesting that the document not refer to the organization as a corporation, but as a church. General secretary Stan Noffsinger replied that the bylaws is a legal document, and that such language is necessary in accordance with the laws of Illinois where the church corporation legally resides.

Composition of the Mission and Ministry Board was another concern. Following these bylaws, the denomination is divided into five areas with two board members coming from each, with Brethren populations varying widely from area to area. Noffsinger replied that members of the denominational board have been either elected or ratified by Annual Conference and always have represented the entire denomination, not just their home districts. He also noted that the Mission and Ministry Board will continue to receive concerns.

The provision that one at-large member of the board can be a person with particular expertise who is not a member of the Church of the Brethren also prompted a question. Noffsinger replied that he could not envision a scenario in which this would be necessary, but that the committee who developed the document wanted to provide for the opportunity if needed.
Source: 7/7/2010 Newsline
Hearing gives first look at Special Response process in districts.

A hearing on the final evening of the 2010 Annual Conference offered a first look at hearings that will take place in each of the 23 districts in the Church of the Brethren this fall and winter.

The district hearings are part of a Special Response process set in motion at last year’s Conference, when delegates acted on two business items related to issues of human sexuality: "A Statement of Confession and Commitment" from the Standing Committee of district delegates, and "Query: Language on Same-Sex Covenantal Relationships" brought by Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Northern Indiana District.

The 2009 Conference voted to accept the two documents as "special response" items to be dealt with using a process for strongly controversial issues. The decision commits the denomination to an intentional church-wide conversation focused on human sexuality.

At the evening hearing, Standing Committee members modeled and explained a format that will be used for all of the district hearings, the "Framework for Conversation" from the Annual Conference paper "Structural Framework for Dealing with Strongly Controversial Issues."

Larry Dentler, a member of Standing Committee from Southern Pennsylvania District, introduced the hearing format as "the Acts 15 model" for how to make decisions. "I would be delighted if every member of the Church of the Brethren found his way into a hearing," he said. "It’s a wonderful process." He characterized church members who may choose not to participate in hearings--those who "fold your arms and grump away"--as losing an opportunity to have their voices heard.

The Framework for Conversation format is intended to be "transparent in its process and broad in its invitation, fostering a spirit of openness, promoting community rather than uniformity, and understanding rather than debate," as it is described in the Annual Conference paper.

Dentler explained that the format is designed as a two-hour meeting for a group of about 10 to 12 people. The meeting is led by a facilitator from Standing Committee, or another person invited to lead such hearings in a district, who helps guide the discussion but not as a participant.

In addition to the facilitator, a notetaker is to be part of each hearing. A standard response form will be provided for each hearing to send feedback to help Standing Committee formulate recommendations on the two items of business when they come back to Annual Conference next year.

Each hearing is to follow a scripted outline that opens with a welcome, an opportunity for people to introduce themselves, the reading of 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, and a prayer. The hearing then continues with a review of the Special Response process, ground rules for the discussion (such as listening and speaking with respect, and making sure every person has an opportunity to participate), the reading of each business item, and a short series of questions about each business item.

One of the questions will specifically ask what participants want Standing Committee to know as they make their recommendation to the 2011 Annual Conference, and what participants want Standing Committee to do about the two business items.

"By the end (of a hearing) every one of you has the opportunity to answer the question, what do you want to say to Standing Committee?" Dentler emphasized.

A follow up question will ask how participants think members of the church can hold each other together in light of differences among the body.

While the facilitator’s words were scripted on Tuesday evening, the responses of Standing Committee members in the "model" hearing were not. Dentler pointed out the remarkable level of honesty and trust that was exhibited, in front of an audience numbering something over 300 people--plus possibly a much wider audience via webcast. "These brothers and sisters were being vulnerable before you tonight," he said.

The "model" group--all Standing Committee members--displayed widely different points of view when asked what they want Standing Committee to know in this Special Response process. Several made statements in support of the denomination’s 1983 paper on human sexuality, while at least one said forthrightly that she cannot support it. One expressed the need to "stand upon the authority of God’s word," while another spoke of a daughter who is gay, saying "She is not a sinner, she is born the way God wanted her to be." Others talked about their concerns for unity and the church, that "through the midst we hold one another in Christ’s love."

The model hearing closed with a short question and answer time. One question asked if the district hearings will be for church members only, and if people should attend only one. Dentler answered that the hearings should be open to any active participant in the life of a Church of the Brethren congregation, and that yes, people should only attend one. "We don’t want to stuff the ballot box," he said.

Other questions focused on the process, for example in some larger districts how enough hearings can be offered if groups are limited to 10 to 12 people, and what the timing for hearings should be, specifically if one should participate in a Special Response Bible study before attending a hearing.

A more substantive question asked if Standing Committee members will be able to put aside their own feelings, as they take into consideration the responses received from across the denomination.

"We cannot do it on our own," responded one Standing Committee member. "We cannot do it without the Holy Spirit."

After the hearing ended, the room quickly broke up into small groups of people engaged in earnest conversation. Each Standing Committee member was quickly surrounded by those wanting to ask more questions or to express concerns.

It was the second Special Response hearing offered at the Conference. A hearing on the first evening modeled a session of the Bible study that congregations are encouraged to use to prepare members to take part in the district hearings. The Special Response Resource committee also offered an insight session.

For resources for the Special Response process go to, where there are links to the Bible study prepared by the Special Response Resource Committee, a detailed timeline of the Special Response process, and the Annual Conference paper that is guiding the process--the "Structural Framework for Dealing with Strongly Controversial Issues."

Source: 7/7/2010 Newsline
Harvey is chosen as moderator-elect, and more elections and appointments.

Tim Harvey, pastor of Roanoke (Va.) Central Church of the Brethren, was elected Annual Conference moderator-elect. The Nominating Committee of the Standing Committee of district delegates developed the slate of candidates, and Standing Committee voted to create the ballot that was presented to the 2010 delegate body.

As moderator-elect of Annual Conference, Harvey will serve for the next year in the second-highest elected position in the Church of the Brethren, assisting 2011 moderator Robert Alley to lead the Conference next year. In 2010 Harvey will serve in the highest elected position in the church as moderator of the 2012 Annual Conference.

Having grown up in Broadway, Va., his home congregation is Bethel Church of the Brethren in Broadway. He holds a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Virginia Tech and a master of divinity from Eastern Mennonite Seminary. He is an ordained minister and his pastoral career also has included service as youth minister/associate pastor at Dayton (Va.) Church of the Brethren, and as pastor at New Hope Church of the Brethren in Stuart, Va.

He was a member of the Church of the Brethren General Board 2003-08, and chair of the board from 2007-08. He currently is chair of Congregations in Action, an interfaith group of nine Roanoke congregations partnering in a local, public elementary school. He and his wife Lynette have three children, Emily, Zachary, and Rose.

Other election results:
Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee:
Eric Bishop of Pomona, Calif.
Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee:
Mark Doramus of Middleton, Idaho.
Committee on Interchurch Relations:
Christina Singh of Panora, Iowa.
Mission and Ministry Board:
Area 1 -- Pamela Reist of Mount Joy, Pa.; Area 4 -- Tim Peter of Prairie City, Iowa; Area 5 -- Gilbert Romero of Los Angeles, Calif.
Bethany Theological Seminary Trustee:
representing the clergy -- John David Bowman of Lititz, Pa.; representing the laity -- Lynn Myers of Rocky Mount, Va.
Brethren Benefit Trust Board:
Wayne T. Scott of Harrisburg, Pa.
On Earth Peace Board:
Gail Erisman Valeta of Denver, Colo.
Confirmations of agency ppointments and nominations:
Mission and Ministry Board:
Rebecca Ball-Miller of Goshen, Ind., and Brian Messler of Emmitsburg, Md.
On Earth Peace Board:
Carol Mason of Centralia, Wash., and Donna Shumate of Sparta, N.C.
Bethany Theological Seminary Board of Trustees:
Elaine Gibble of Lititz, Pa., and Paul Wampler of Manassas, Va.
Brethren Benefit Trust Board:
Eunice Culp of Goshen, Ind.; Karen Orpurt Crim of Dayton, Ohio; and Michael B. Leiter of Frederick, Md.
Elections and appointments made by Standing Committee:
World Council of Churches representative:
Michael L. Hostetter, pastor of Salem Church of the Brethren in Englewood, Ohio, with R. Jan Thompson of Bridgewater, Va., as alternate.
Nominating Committee of Standing Committee:
Leah Hileman from Atlantic Southeast District, Ed Garrison from Illinois and Wisconsin District, Cathy S. Huffman from Virlina District, and Steve Sauder from West Marva District.
Appeals Committee of Standing Committee:
Jeff Carter from Mid-Atlantic District, Eileen Wilson from Oregon and Washington District, Jim Hoffman from Southeastern District, with alternates Frank Polzin of Michigan District and Shirley Wampler of Virlina District.
Annual Conference Program Feasibility Study Committee:
David Crumrine of Middle Pennsylvania District.
Elections and appointments by the Mission and Ministry Board:
Executive Committee of the Mission and Ministry Board:
Andy Hamilton and Barbra Davis (Dale Minnich continues as chair, and Ben Barlow continues as chair-elect).
Program Feasibility Study Committee:
LeAnn Wine, executive director of Systems and Services.
Mission and Ministry Planning Council:
Terry Lewis.
Source: 7/7/2010 Newsline
Resolution on gun violence, 2011 budget adopted by denominational board.

A "Resolution on Ending Gun Violence" and a budget parameter for 2011 topped the agenda at the pre-Conference meeting of the Church of the Brethren’s Mission and Ministry Board. The group was led by chair Dale Minnich.

Other business included financial reports, and approval of financial policies that have been revised to bring church nomenclature up to date and allow for technological developments like donations via electronic transfer. The board also nominated trustees to a trust in India and approved a large grant to continue disaster response in Haiti.

Reports were received on the board’s strategic planning process, the work of the denominational Vision Committee, progress toward a major revision of the Ministerial Leadership Paper, and from general secretary Stan Noffsinger on his visit to the White House earlier in the week.

Resolution on Ending Gun Violence:
The board adopted a Resolution on Ending Gun Violence that endorses a similar resolution by the National Council of Churches (NCC). The board’s resolution echoes the NCC document in encouraging church members to engage in action on the issue.

A recent Supreme Court decision on gun rights "really should not discourage us from this resolution," said Noffsinger as he presented the document. "If we do anything we ought to approach this with more vigor and determination to add our voice against handgun violence."

Invited to speak was Mimi Copp, a Church of the Brethren member living in Philadelphia, who has been part of the Heeding God’s Call movement for responsible gun sales and against the "straw sales" that provide guns to criminals.

Reviewing shocking statistics on deaths by gun violence in the United States--such as that since the events of Sept. 11, 2001, 25 times the number of Americans have been killed by gun violence in the US than have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan--she outlined the urgency for church action. "I am inspired by your willingness to look at this very touchy issue and pray for you in your deliberations," she told the board.

After some questions from board members, Noffsinger clarified that the resolution is not addressing guns used for hunting, and that the NCC resolution (which is attached to the board resolution) makes a clear distinction about the type of gun that is the focus. He also noted that the Church of the Brethren does not yet have an Annual Conference statement solely addressing gun violence, and commented that he views this resolution as "an intermediate step" until such a document may be created.
Budget parameter for 2011:
The board approved a 2011 budget parameter of $5,426,000 for the Church of the Brethren’s core ministries. The decision includes permission for up to $437,000 to be drawn from a bequest quasi endowment to cover an expected shortfall in income from other sources.

The shortfall reflects the continuing effect of the recession on the church’s investment income, as well as an expected 20 percent increase in the bill for employee health insurance, and a decrease in giving from individuals to core ministries. Wages will be frozen for a second year in a row.

However, report forms from congregations show that the churches who expect to contribute to the work of the denomination are committed to increase their giving by 4.5 percent for next year. "We are indeed blessed," commented Ken Neher, director of Stewardship and Donor Development.

"Our goal is to get to the point where our income matches our expense," said treasurer Judy Keyser, who characterized the funds from the bequest quasi endowment as a "short-term plug" and emphasized that it is not a solution to longterm issues affecting the church’s finances.

Noffsinger explained that with the board having just started a strategic planning--or "appreciative inquiry"--process, executive staff did not want to make decisions such as reconfiguring staff or programs before the board has an opportunity to consider long term goals.

"Everything I hear is directed at systemic organizational change," vice chair Ben Barlow responded, adding that he hopes the denomination understands the seriousness of the situation.
EDF grant to Haiti disaster response:
An additional grant of $250,000 from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) was approved by the board following a video report on the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries and Global Mission Partnerships in Haiti. Prior EDF grants to the earthquake relief work in Haiti have totaled $300,000.

The direct relief phase of earthquake response, such as feeding programs and the building of temporary shelters, ends this summer, reported Brethren Disaster Ministries executive director Roy Winter. After that the focus of the work will turn to construction of permanent homes, trauma recovery, a medical effort, and agricultural development.
Nominations to the GBB Trust in India:
The board nominated four trustees to the General Brotherhood Board (GBB) Trust in India, which is located in the Second District of the India Brethren. The 95th annual assembly of the India Brethren had provided the names of Kantilal Somchand Tandel, Nityanand Manilal Thakore, Darryl Raphael Sankey, and Ramesh William Makwan, which were approved for nomination.

The board also instructed Noffsinger and Global Mission Partnerships executive director Jay Wittmeyer to seek out additional nominees to represent the Second district of the India Brethren and the Church of North India, after conversation revealed that all four nominees are from the First District.

Noffsinger explained that this is a second trust--along with the Church of the Brethren General Board (CBGB) Trust--to which the Church of the Brethren in the US has the responsibility to nominate trustees. Nominations will be given to the Charity Commissioner. The nominations need to be made to ensure that the trust does not revert the state, Noffsinger said, as the single remaining trustee is over 90 years old and will continue to serve out his lifetime.
General secretary’s report:
Noffsinger reported being one of 15 US church leaders who were invited to the White House last week to discuss Israel and Palestine with Denis McDonough, National Security Council Chief of Staff to President Obama. All three of the historic peace churches were represented, along with other Christian traditions who are members of Churches for Middle East Peace.

The reception the group received at the White House was excellent, Noffsinger said. "We were there to voice our concern over a sustainable peace," he told the board, adding that "it was a lively conversation."

The church leaders transmitted several messages to the US administration, including that the US has an important role to broker a peace for all peoples of the conflict. The group urged moving the peace negotiations into direct talks between the parties, the free flow of non-lethal goods between Gaza and Israel, and the immediate resumption of full humanitarian aid shipments.

The group also touched on the status of the city of Jerusalem. "Any peace that is brokered will need to allow free access to Jerusalem by peoples of all three faiths--Christian, Jewish, and Muslim," Noffsinger said.
In other business, the board also thanked retiring members for their service, including Vernne Greiner, Bruce Holderreed, John Katonah, Dan McRoberts, and Chris Whitacre.

Source: 7/7/2010 Newsline
Deacon training to be offered in Spanish.

In order to be a truly intercultural denomination, it is critical that we have continuity throughout the work we do, that we consider the whole of our life together as an intercultural community. One effort toward such continuity will come to fruition on Aug. 14 when deacon training will be offered with full Spanish translation at the Nuevo Amanecer Fellowship in Bethlehem, Pa.

To date, bilingual training has been provided by multiple individuals on multiple topics. We are grateful for and are building on that foundation, with a goal of developing core competencies among all denominational deacons, regardless of language or culture.

In his work with Nuevo Amanecer and pastor Fausto Carrasco, intercultural ministries director Ruben Deoleo learned that the congregation’s deacons were interested in the same types of training workshops now being offered in English around the country. How could they take advantage of these presentations and materials in the primary language of their own faith community, Spanish? Within a matter of weeks a day of training had been scheduled, and all printed workshop materials were quickly translated into Spanish.

Phase I of providing this training in Spanish is simultaneous translation; one of the members of the fellowship will translate as the presenter offers the training in English. This is not an ideal situation, however, so future plans will be to offer a "train the trainer" program so that Spanish-speaking trainers are fully equipped to offer all of the same workshops now available in English.

Congregational Life Ministries is very excited to be able to offer this deacon training session in August and, along with the Nuevo Amanecer Fellowship, encourage other congregations with deacons whose primary language is Spanish to take advantage of this day of worship, fellowship, and learning.

For more information and to register, visit For questions, or if you are interested in becoming a trainer, contact Donna Kline, director of deacon ministry, or 800-323-8039.

-- Donna Kline is director of the Church of the Brethren’s Deacon Ministry.

Source: 7/7/2010 Newsline
Brethren bits: Webcasts, Conference statistics, 5K winners, anniversaries, and more.
  • The Saturday evening worship service of the 2010 Annual Conference was the first worship of an annual meeting of the Brethren to be broadcast worldwide. Brethren videographer David Sollenberger and his team provided live video feeds and Bethany Seminary staff member Enten Eller conducted the webcast. Based on the story of the Transfiguration found in Matthew 17:1-9, Annual Conference moderator Shawn Flory Replogle preached on the moments "When Heaven and Earth Touch." With moderator-elect Robert Earl Alley as worship leader, the assembled called to mind biblical and Brethren luminaries as all prayed with the ancient mystic Teresa of Avila to become the mind, the eyes, the ears, and the heart of Christ. Each day’s worship throughout the rest of the Conference also was webcast, along with some other events. The Sunday morning service was estimated to have reached some 1,000 people via the Internet. View recordings of the Conference webcasts at

  • Conference statistics for 2010 included a total registration number of 3,381 including 793 delegates; 200 pints of blood collected, which exactly met the goal of the Blood Drive; $5,700.50 raised by the quilt auction of the Association for the Arts in the Church of the Brethren (AACB), which will go for hunger relief; and total offerings of $58,333.72.

  • Four new churches were welcomed by the 2010 Conference. Iglesia de los Hermanos Christo Nuestro Paz, in Yahuecas, PR, was welcomed as a congregation. Common Spirit Fellowship in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul) area of Minnesota; Cornerstone Church of the Brethren in Preble County, Ohio; and Way of Hope Ministry in Western Pennsylvania District were welcomed as new fellowships.

  • Winners of this year’s Brethren Benefit Trust 5K Fitness Challenge are: Nathan Hosler, first male runner with a time of 18:13; Christy Crouse, first female runner (25:44); Don Shankster, first male walker (31:23); and Bev Anspaugh, first female walker (34:45).

  • The 100 Year Celebration of Boones Chapel (Snow Creek) Church of the Brethren will be held Sunday, July 18, beginning at 10 a.m. with worship. Virlina District executive David Shumate will be the speaker, with former pastors and spouses sharing during worship and special music by Circle Creek Revival. A covered dish fellowship meal will be served.

  • Boones Mill (Va.) Church of the Brethren celebrates its 85th anniversary on Sunday, July 18, with a 10 a.m. concert by contemporary gospel singing group Rise and Shine! followed by worship at 11 a.m. with William Abshire, professor of Philosophy and Religion at Bridgewater (Va.) College.
Source: 7/7/2010 Newsline

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. The News Team for the 2010 Annual Conference included writers Karen Garrett, Frank Ramirez, Frances Townsend; photographers Kay Guyer, Justin Hollenberg, Keith Hollenberg, Glenn Riegel; and website staff Amy Heckert and Jan Fischer Bachman.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Brethren leader at White House meeting on Israel and Palestine.

Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger today attended a meeting at the White House with a group of church leaders who were invited to discuss Israel and Palestine with Denis McDonough, National Security Council Chief of Staff to President Obama.

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) helped organize the meeting and Noffsinger was specifically asked to take part as a head of communion by CMEP executive director Warren Clark.

"This meeting is most timely as Israeli officials are scheduled next week to meet with the President," Noffsinger commented by e-mail. The meeting was expected to allow the church leaders an opportunity to hear about progress the US administration is making in moving parties toward an agreement to end conflict in the area, including a freeze on new Israeli construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, Noffsinger said.

Noffsinger was to speak today at Standing Committee meetings of district representatives in Pittsburgh, Pa. However, after consulting with the Annual Conference officers and executive committee of the Mission and Ministry Board, it was decided the White House meeting "was an important opportunity for the voice of the Church of the Brethren to be heard," Noffsinger said. "As Brother Fred (Swartz, Annual Conference secretary) put it in his response to my inquiry, ‘The Brethren have a story to tell. We'd better take every prime opportunity to tell it! So... go tell it on the Mountain!’"

Source: 7/1/2010 Newsline
Church leaders meet with Secretary of Agriculture on childhood hunger.

For all its wealth, our country still has children going hungry. And we can do something about it.

That was the take-home message from a June 15 meeting with US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, held by 20 Christian leaders and hunger advocates including Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission Partnerships.

Meeting with the group around a table symbolically spread with five loaves of bread and two fish, secretary Vilsack said he sees the biblical story of the feeding of the multitude as a miracle of overcoming the fear of sharing.

The numbers on childhood hunger are alarming: nearly one in four children in the United States lives in a family that struggles to put food on the table. The quickest and most direct way to help them is through federal nutrition programs.

Right now, Congress is debating and renewing an important group of nutrition programs aimed specifically at children. The child nutrition reauthorization legislation to be passed this year includes school lunch and breakfast, summer food, and WIC (the Women, Infants, and Children program).

Bread for the World president David Beckmann said that secretary Vilsack "made a strong plea for churches to provide more leadership on policy issues that affect hungry people, notably supporting the president’s proposed $1 billion increase in annual funding for child nutrition programs."

The administration’s request would help more eligible children to gain access to these programs--and, of course, to the food they need. As secretary Vilsack emphasized, the most pressing need is for better access to meals in the summer; for every 100 children who eat free or reduced-price school lunches, only 11 receive lunch during the summer.

The church leaders concluded the meeting with a prayer for the secretary, the USDA child nutrition programs, Congress, and the hungry children who await their action.

"It was very powerful to have a Cabinet secretary encourage grassroots advocacy on hunger," said Max Finberg, director of USDA’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. "I think the church leaders who came to the meeting were encouraged, and also challenged to do more."

For more information on childhood hunger in the US and how you can support policies and programs to help hungry children, visit For more about the hunger relief work of the Church of the Brethren, go to

(Bread for the World provided this report.)

Source: 7/1/2010 Newsline
Blevins to lead ecumenical peace program for NCC and Church of the Brethren.

In a joint appointment announced today by the National Council of Churches (NCC) and the Church of the Brethren, Jordan Blevins starts July 1 as the church’s staff for witness in a position also seconded to the NCC to serve as an advocacy officer in Washington, D.C. Blevins will lead an ecumenical peacemaking program on behalf of the two organizations.

He is a member of Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren. Previously, he was associate director of the NCC’s Eco-Justice Program, and coordinator of Poverty Initiatives and Washington internships with the National Council of Churches since September 2007.

Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the NCC, praised the appointment. "It models a new form of support for the work of the NCC," he said. "The United Church of Christ already has a similar agreement with the Council that undergirds our ministry in racial justice and human rights, and we hope that other churches will follow suit. Second, this gives us staff coverage in the area of peacemaking, which has always been a crucial part of the Council’s agenda. And, third, I am absolutely delighted to welcome Jordan Blevins, who has been a fine colleague in the field of eco-justice, into this new position. He is the right person for this new portfolio."

Blevin’s responsibilities for the Church of the Brethren will include nurturing the denomination’s witness to society and government from a uniquely Anabaptist-Pietist Brethren perspective, with a pacifist emphasis on peace and justice. He will represent the NCC member churches in advocacy for peace and provide leadership in educational initiatives with the member churches and wider society.

Prior to joining the NCC, Blevins was a legislative intern at the Brethren Witness/Washington Office beginning in January 2007, where he participated in a Faith Expedition to Vietnam and did follow up reporting and helped create a Brethren Water and Sanitation project in that area through the Global Food Crisis Fund. Additionally, he was manager of Cokesbury Bookstore in Washington, as well as a grassroots fundraiser for Grassroots Campaigns, Inc.

He holds a bachelor of arts degree in Philosophy and Religion and a bachelor of science degree in Business Administration from Bridgewater (Va.) College and recently graduated from American University and Wesley Theological Seminary with a master of arts degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution, and a master of theological studies, respectively. He is pursuing a doctorate of ministry in Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue at Wesley Theological Seminary.

He serves on the Board of Directors of On Earth Peace, on the Church of the Brethren’s Young Adult Steering Committee, and on the New Fire Task Force, a young adult ecumenical movement.

Source: 7/1/2010 Newsline
Yoder resigns as BBT's director of Insurance Services.

Randy Yoder has resigned from his position as director of Insurance Services with Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) effective Dec. 31. He will continue to work with Insurance Services as Client Development Representative. This part-time arrangement will continue through at least June 30, 2011, but could be extended based on developmental needs.

Yoder took his current assignment for BBT on March 6, 2006, as director of Insurance Plans at a time when there was much unrest in the Brethren Medical Plan. Since that time, he has worked to stabilize the Brethren Medical Plan. Prior to this assignment, he and his wife, Peg Yoder, were hired in Jan. 2005 as independent contractors to work for BBT on special marketing projects. Then, on Nov. 1, 2005, Randy became a permanent, part-time employee serving as Field Representative.

"We would like to thank Randy for all of his leadership and service to BBT over the past several years," said an announcement from BBT.

Source: 7/1/2010 Newsline
Michael Wagner to begin as peace worker in Sudan.

Michael Wagner has accepted the call to serve as a peace worker with the Church of the Brethren in southern Sudan, effective July 1. This position is a seconded position with the Africa Inland Church-Sudan, a member of the Sudan Council of Churches.

Before joining the Church of the Brethren, Wagner served a two-year term with the Peace Corps in the West African country of Burkina Faso, in an enterprise development program. Prior to that, he worked as a life insurance auditor in Indianapolis, Ind.

Wagner’s responsibilities will include developing centralized management systems for planning, financial reporting, and project evaluation. He will serve as an organizational development advisor to build Africa Inland Church’s capacity to effectively implement post-war resettlement and poverty alleviation programs. These programs include health services, education, peacebuilding, theological training, agricultural development, women's self-help strategies, and relief efforts. He also will play a key role in stakeholder relations and communications.

He is a graduate of Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., and holds a master of arts degree in Finance and Accounting. His home congregation is Mountville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.

Source: 7/1/2010 Newsline
Daily webcasts are offered from Annual Conference.

The schedule of events to be webcast from the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa., on July 3-7 includes each day’s worship service, one afternoon business session, pre-Conference deacon training sessions, a hearing for the Special Response process, and more.

The webcasts are being provided at no cost through a collaboration of the Conference Office and Enten Eller, director of distributed education and electronic communication at Bethany Theological Seminary.

Below is a tentative schedule of what will be webcast. To see an event streaming live go to then click on the Annual Conference link. Many of these events will be recorded for future viewing.

The Annual Conference live broadcast schedule (Eastern time):

Saturday, July 3:
9 a.m.-noon -- Deacon Training Session I
1:30-4:30 p.m. -- Deacon Training Session II
5-6:30 p.m. -- Voices for an Open Spirit Dinner with Peggy Campolo as speaker
6:50-8:30 p.m. -- Worship Service with Annual Conference moderator Shawn Flory Replogle preaching
9-10:15 p.m. -- Hearing and Bible Study on the Special Response Process

Sunday, July 4:
10-11:30 a.m. -- Worship Service with Marlys Hershberger preaching
1:55-4:30 p.m. -- Business Session
5-5:45 p.m. -- Early Evening With the Arts Concert by Community of Song
7-7:30 p.m. -- Ryan and Friends Ventriloquist Act, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Emergency Disaster Fund (live only--no recording)

Monday, July 5:
5-6:30 p.m. -- Global Ministries Dinner with Roger Thurow speaking
7-8:30 p.m. -- Worship Service with Earle Fike Jr. preaching
9-10 p.m. -- Insight Session Original Brethren Songs by Dennis Webb

Tuesday, July 6:
5-6:30 p.m. -- Congregational Life Ministries Dinner with speaker John Creasy Roger
6:45-8:30 p.m. -- Worship Service with Nancy Fitzgerald preaching
9-10 p.m. -- Hearing on the Special Response Process featuring district conversations

Wednesday, July 7:
10-11:30 a.m. -- Worship Service with Jonathan Shively preaching

View webcasts at, click on the Annual Conference link.

Source: 7/1/2010 Newsline
Four Conference events feature Haiti disaster relief.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is sponsoring four events about Haiti relief efforts at the Annual Conference, including a report during a business session, two insight sessions, and a special drop in gathering for those interested in the work in Haiti.

The report to the delegate body will take place Sunday, July 4, beginning at 2:50 p.m. in the Convention Center Hall A. Jean Bily Telfort, general secretary of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Haitian Church of the Brethren) will be present in person. The report also will feature video from the earthquake zone and personal reports from other church staff involved in the relief effort.

The two insight sessions on Haiti will be held on Sunday, July 4, at 12:30 p.m. in Room 326 of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, with some time to talk about the ministry’s work in American Samoa and US rebuilding plans; and on Tuesday, July 6, at 12:30 p.m. in Room 329 with members of the medical delegation that provided clinics in the Port-au-Prince area in March.

The drop-in networking session is planned for Monday, July 5, at 8-10 a.m. in Room 338, as a time when people interested in Haiti can share about their work.

Source: 7/1/2010 Newsline
Brethren Press bookstore to host book signings.

A number of authors will be signing books at the Brethren Press bookstore at Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa.:

Nancy Ferguson, speaker for the Ministers' Association meeting, will sign copies of a number of her books on Saturday, July 3, from 3-4 p.m., including "The Retreat Leader’s Manual," "Training Staff to Be Spiritual Leaders," and "The Christian Educator’s Guide to Evaluating and Developing Curriculum."

Melanie G. Snyder and Marie Hamilton, in celebration of their successful Brethren Press release "Grace Goes to Prison: An Inspiring Story of Hope and Humanity," will be signing books on Sunday, July 4, from 2-3 p.m. The book is the story of Brethren homemaker Marie Hamilton and her simple vision to look for and affirm the good in prison inmates. Hamilton’s volunteer work challenged the conventional wisdom about how to deal with criminals and the prison programs she developed are still being used today.

R. Jan and Roma Jo Thompson will sign copies of "Beyond Our Means: How the Brethren Service Center Dared to Embrace the World," a behind-the-scenes historical journey of the Brethren Service Center published by Brethren Press, on Sunday, July 4, from 3-4 p.m. Readers will find out how this one time educational institution became a community of compassion known around the world.

Bob Neff, professor emeritus of Old Testament at Bethany Theological Seminary and associate for resource development at the Village at Morrison Grove, will sign books on Monday, July 5, at 12:30-1:30 p.m., including the brand new Brethren Press title, "The Witness of the Hebrew Bible for a New Testament Church."

Renowned "Wall Street Journal" reporter Roger Thurow will be signing copies of the book he has co-authored titled "Enough: Why the World's Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty," on Monday, July 5, at 4-4:30 p.m. The book is a powerful indictment on the economic, political, and social dynamics that perpetuate famine--and makes a passionate call for change. Thurow also will be featured at Global Food Crisis Fund events throughout the week.

Retired pastor and former denominational staff member Ralph McFadden will sign copies of his newly self-published book "For Life Is a Journey: Reflections on Living," on Tuesday, July 6, at 2-3 p.m. The book offers stories and poems from McFadden’s personal journey and explores concerns he has for the church as it addresses issues of sexuality.

Singer and songwriter Bryan Moyer Suderman will sign copies of his CD offerings including "My Money Talks" on Tuesday, July 6, at 4-4:30 p.m. Suderman has a gift for writing songs that are deeply scriptural, musically memorable, and readily singable. He will be performing a concert later that evening.

Source: 7/1/2010 Newsline
On Earth Peace announces last year of Living Peace Church reports.

This is the last year for Living Peace Church Reports at the Annual Conference, according to an announcement from On Earth Peace. The intent of the annual open microphone time slot during Conference business sessions has been to encourage the development of a living peace tradition in the Church of the Brethren.

Guided by the 2003 paper, "Call to Be a Living Peace Church," the Annual Conference officers provided a time of open sharing at the microphones for people to report on "efforts to seek and develop a living peace tradition, in order to strengthen and encourage one another." This year, 2010, is the last time for such reporting as mandated by the 2003 paper.

The Living Peace Church reports are scheduled for Monday, July 5, beginning at 3:25 p.m. during the business session in the Convention Center Hall A. Matt Guynn, On Earth Peace program director, will introduce the time of sharing.

Guynn "may bring one or two pre-planned reports to prime the pump, but the bulk of this time will be open sharing from the microphones," the announcement said. "If you or your congregation have a story to tell about seeking and building a living Christian peace tradition, we would love for you to be ready to share it with the delegate body....

"Share about the way God is moving in your congregation and the kinds of ministries that are developing. Maybe you will share one particular story that has moved you, or something else that expresses this living Christian peace tradition, which we are creating together with God in our generation."

Source: 7/1/2010 Newsline