Friday, August 27, 2010

Brethren Disaster Ministries marks fifth anniversary of Katrina.

Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Louisiana coast on Aug. 29, 2005. Five years later, the Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project in St. Bernard Parish, La., is still working on rebuilding homes destroyed by Katrina.

It is the sixth Brethren Disaster Ministries-run project to rebuild homes for families affected by the hurricane. Current project leaders are John and Mary Mueller and Brethren Volunteer Service worker Steve Schellenberg.

Over the five years since the devastation of New Orleans and surrounding Gulf coastline, volunteers working through Brethren Disaster Ministries have given thousands of hours to rebuild hundreds of homes. The church’s Children’s Disaster Services also has helped care for thousands of children affected by the disaster.

"We are accomplishing what is typical of most Brethren disaster sites: helping families get back into their homes," said Mary Mueller in a telephone interview this week. In St. Bernard Parish, Brethren Disaster Ministries is representing the church at its best by "serving the people who would have fallen through the cracks," she added.

The Muellers have worked for more than three years in St. Bernard Parish, an area of Lousiana just east of New Orleans. During that time they have helped host and lead thousands of volunteers--and they have seen the community turn around.

It was a "ghost town"--in Mary Mueller’s words--when they arrived in early 2007, a place where debris lined the side walks and strip malls were deserted. Now the area is becoming revitalized, businesses have reopened, schools are being rebuilt.

"It’s wonderful to see the is a community transformed," she said, remembering her emotional response one day when she saw someone planting flowers in a front yard. "My heart just leaped," she said, because it was a sign the community was moving beyond survival mode.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is partnering with the St. Bernard Project to rebuild homes in the parish. In total the project has put 290 families back in their homes. And the Brethren have helped with the majority of those houses, Mueller reported.

To commemorate the fifth anniversary of the hurricane, the St. Bernard Project is holding a 50-hour rebuild to show how much can be done on a house in that short period of time. The work for this week’s Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers--14 Brethren from Virlina District, and two hospice nurses who came along--has included preparing a house for an influx of volunteers taking part in the special project. The Virlina group also has worked on several other homes, installing flooring and exterior siding, putting up drywall and storm shutters, repairing a leaky chimney and a rotted out soffit--in fact, a "pretty typical week" according to Mueller.

Mueller encourages people to consider volunteering with Brethren Disaster Ministries. "Whether they volunteer at this site or any other site, it’s a very good thing, and it is so encouraging for survivors," she said.

And then she added a helpful reminder to new disaster volunteers, perhaps learned from years of serving Katrina survivors: "You never know when you’ll be on the receiving end of something like this."

Hurricane Katrina statistics as reported by Brethren Disaster Ministries:
  • Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers have rebuilt homes in six communities: Citronelle, Ala.; Lucedale, Miss.; McComb, Miss.,; Pearl River, La.; East New Orleans, La.; and Chalmette and Arabi in St. Bernard Parish, La. The program also contributed to a New Orleans Ecumenical Build in cooperation with Church World Service and a number of other Christian organizations.

  • The ministry has served 454 families affected by the hurricane.

  • A total of 4,929 volunteers have worked at Katrina rebuilding, giving 38,691 work days or 309,528 work hours representing a value of donated labor of $6,453,659 (at $20.85 per hour).
Hurricane Katrina statistics as reported by Children’s Disaster Services:
  • The program cared for children in the Gulf region directly affected by the storm, in places that received families displaced by the hurricane, and in New Orleans when displaced families began to return. The 12 communities where Katrina-related child support has been provided are Los Angeles and San Bernardino, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach, Fla.; Lafayette, La.; Norfolk and Blackstone, Va.; Kingwood, W.Va.; Mobile, Ala.; Gulf Port, Miss.; and the Welcome Home Center in New Orleans.

  • Children’s Disaster Services has made a total of 4,856 child contacts related to Hurricane Katrina.

  • A total of 173 volunteers with the program have served 2,055 days doing Katrina relief work, or 16,440 volunteer hours valued at $342,774 in donated labor.
A short video clip about the fifth anniversary of Katrina is featured at Worship resources for remembering Hurricane Katrina this Sunday are offered by the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice program at

Source: 8/27/2010 Newsline
Church of the Brethren membership experiences decline in 2009.

The Church of the Brethren denomination’s membership declined by almost 1,600 people in 2009, according to data from the "Church of the Brethren Yearbook," and continues a decades-long trend of declining membership since the 1960s. The denomination’s total membership stood at 122,810 in 2009, declining from the 124,408 members reported by congregations in 2008. The denomination reported a total average weekly worship attendance of 58,830 for the year, also a decline from the previous year’s 59,084.

Yearbook figures are based on data provided by congregations that turn in statistical reports. In 2009, 686 or 65.5 percent of Church of the Brethren congregations turned in a statistical report--a number consistent with most recent years providing a consistent means for comparing statistics. About 66 percent reported in 2008.

Atlantic Northeast continues as the largest district, with 14,336 members in 2009, and also is the leading district in terms of membership decline having lost 335 members. The second largest district is Shenandoah District with 14,189 members in 2009, representing a gain of 33 people over 2008. The third largest is Virlina District with 10,947 members, a decline of 69. Mid-Atlantic District gained the most members, 37, to arrive at a total membership of 9,694 for 2009.

The total number of congregations in the denomination, which includes the United States and Puerto Rico, also declined by five to 994 in 2009, down from 999 in 2008. There were 53 fellowships and projects in 2009, an increase of three from the previous year.

The number of baptisms reported by congregations, 1,394, posted a sharp decline from the previous year’s 1,714, but was higher than the 1,380 reported in 2007.

Giving to general ministries of the denomination--which totaled $3,519,737 in 2009--fell by more than $91,000 from 2008's total of $3,611,474. Giving to special purpose funds such as the Emergency Disaster Fund or other specially designated gifts to the work of the denomination, came to $1,401,454 in 2009, a drop of almost $354,000 from the previous year’s total of $1,755,359. Such giving, especially to the EDF, often is determined by the nature and scope of disasters or other events that occurred during that period.

Giving to the other two Annual Conference agencies that receive financial support from congregations also dropped in 2009, with Bethany Theological Seminary seeing a decline of more than $22,000, and On Earth Peace seeing a decline of more than $52,000. In 2009, Bethany reported actual giving of $414,988 and On Earth Peace reported $51,878.

The 2010 Yearbook will be available this fall in a new electronic format on CD, for the price of $21.50 and will be shipped automatically to customers on the standing order list with Brethren Press. Others should purchase the Yearbook at or call 800-441-3712.

Source: 8/27/2010 Newsline
Districts begin hearings on issues of sexuality.

Some Church of the Brethren districts have begun to hold hearings on issues of sexuality at their district conferences, and others are beginning to plan for such hearings this fall and winter, led by district delegates to the Standing Committee of the Church of the Brethren’s Annual Conference.

The hearings are a central part of the "Special Response" process leading up to a decision by the 2011 Conference on two items of business: "A Statement of Confession and Commitment" from the 2008 Standing Committee ( ), and "Query: Language on Same Sex Covenantal Relationships" from Northern Indiana District ( ). Hearings in each of the denomination’s 23 districts will provide feedback to Standing Committee as it meets prior to the Conference next July in Grand Rapids, Mich., to frame a recommendation on the two business items.

In Southern Pennsylvania District, the District Conference on Sept. 17-18 will include two insight sessions on the Special Response process led by Standing Committee members. Also, the district plans to offer "Zone Hearings" on the two items of business coming to the Conference.

At least one district is providing training for church leaders to hold Bible studies in congregations, which also is a recommended part of the Special Response process ( the Bible study resource may be downloaded from ).

Shenandoah District will offer opportunities for pastors and church leaders to receive training and resources for congregational Bible studies. On Aug. 28, Shenandoah pastors and church leaders are invited to Linville Creek Church of the Brethren in Broadway, Va., for an evening training. On Sept. 9, 30 and Oct. 14 Minister’s Bookshelf events will review resource documents and books that will assist with facilitating conversations.

Illinois and Wisconsin District has announced regional listening sessions in the northeast, northwest, south, and central parts of the state of Illinois. District churches also are encouraged to engage in the Bible study to provide a foundation for the listening sessions.

The Middle Pennsylvania District newsletter has announced three hearing sessions, with a memo reviewing the Special Response process and noting, "This attempt to discern the mind of Christ through the members of the Church now comes even closer to home." Middle Pennsylvania hearings will be Sept. 23 from 7-9 p.m. at Pine Glen Church of the Brethren in Lewistown, Pa.; Oct. 26 from 7-9 p.m. at Hollidaysburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; and Nov. 7 from 2:30-4:30 p.m. at Snake Spring Valley Church of the Brethren in Everett, Pa. The district also is encouraging members to prepare for hearings using the Special Response Bible study.

Northern Plains District hopes to have five hearings around the district some time during October and November, with members welcome to attend whichever hearing bests suits their schedules. "It is hoped that these hearings will provide a wide range of persons for the listening and input to Standing Committee," the district newsletter noted. "Most of all, these events will let us as Brethren grow with respect and grace through our tensions and differences."

For more about the Special Response process see The Newsline editor welcomes reports from districts about their plans related to the Special Response process, please send to

Source: 8/27/2010 Newsline
Bethany Seminary launches MA Connections program.

Since 2002, Bethany Theological Seminary has offered a master of divinity degree completion track titled "MDiv Connections" for students unable to relocate to the seminary’s campus in Richmond, Ind. On July 12, the seminary received approval from its accrediting body, the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), to launch an "MA Connections" track for students working on master of arts degrees in theological reflection and research.

The seminary will officially enroll students in the new track in the Spring 2011 semester. New and continuing students interested in MA Connections can take courses prior to Spring 2011 and transfer them into the track.

Distributed education tracks offer degrees through classes in a variety of formats: weekend or two-week intensives on campus, online courses, hybrid courses (a mix of online and residential), and off-site courses. ATS requires that students take half of the courses for the degree at the Richmond campus. The other half may be online courses or taken at the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center or at other ATS-accredited schools.

The MA thesis sequence courses, which are the core classes of the program, will be offered in a variety of formats: as weekend intensives, hybrid classes, or meeting weekly with some students physically present in the classroom and others connected via video. Students enrolled in MA Connections will have access to Bethany's library resources while they are attending classes on the Richmond campus, and to the many online resources available through the library including the American Theological Library Association's ATLA Religion Database and ATLAS full-text PDF section. Both the MA and MDiv Connections tracks assume a part-time course load. MA Connections students will have six years to complete their degrees.

"With a growing number of students interested in distributed education, Bethany will begin to offer other courses in alternative formats in the near future," said academic dean Steve Schweitzer. "These changes come at the same time as curriculum review is underway at the seminary, and the convergence of these factors should allow us room to think 'outside the box' in terms of what we are teaching and how we are teaching it."

Malinda Berry, instructor in theological studies and director of Bethany’s master of arts program, will serve as administrator of MA Connections. Those interested in MA Connections may contact or the Admissions Office at

-- Marcia Shetler is director of public relations for Bethany Seminary.

Source: 8/27/2010 Newsline
BBT CFO Jerry Rodeffer resigns from position.

Jerry Rodeffer resigned from his position as chief financial officer of Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) on Aug. 11 for medical reasons.

Rodeffer had served in this role for nearly two years, having begun on Nov. 19, 2008. He directed BBT's finance department and oversaw management of nine national investment managers and the company's investment system that secures the assets of Brethren Pension Plan members and Brethren Foundation clients.

Rodeffer had held the position previously, when from Nov. 1990-July 1994 he served as BBT's chief financial officer and treasurer.

Source: 8/27/2010 Newsline
Bethany president to keynote 2010 Progressive Brethren Gathering.

The third Progressive Brethren Gathering will be held on Nov. 12-14 at Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind. Sponsored by Womaen’s Caucus, Voices for an Open Spirit, and the Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Interests (BMC), the conference will explore the theme "Forward Together: Conversations Towards an Enlivened Community."

Ruthann Knechel Johansen, president of Bethany Theological Seminary, will be the keynote speaker. Her presentation is entitled, "Becoming Incarnational People." Johansen became president of the seminary in July 2007. For the previous 20 years she had been a professor at the University of Notre Dame where she taught in the Program of Liberal Studies, administered the interdisciplinary Core Course in the College of Arts and Letters, and was a Fellow of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

In addition to the keynote address, workshops will offer opportunities for conversation and reflection, and worship will be an important part of the event. Debbie Eisenbise, pastor of Skyridge Church of the Brethren in Kalamazoo, Mich., and Kreston Lipscomb, pastor of First Church of the Brethren in Springfield, Ill., are scheduled to preach, and Mutual Kumquat will perform.

Cost of the two-day event is $100, with limited scholarships available and special rates for students and children. On-line registration is available at For more information contact Carol Wise at 612-343-2060 or

Source: 8/27/2010 Newsline
Global Mission Offering supports worldwide Brethren ministries.

The theme for this year’s Global Mission Offering benefitting the global mission of the Church of the Brethren is "Turn the World Upside Down" (Acts 17:6b). Oct. 10 is the suggested date. Offering resources include interpretation and sermon notes and worship resources, and a map poster of the global ministries of the Church of the Brethren, in both English and Spanish. Both items were sent to each congregation in a recent Source packet. Churches on the standing order list also have received bulletin insert/offering envelope combos by mail. Those not on the standing order list may request the materials from Brethren Press at 800-441-3712.

Also available from the Stewardship and Donor Development office is a supplemental resource to the "More Than Enough" theme for fall stewardship emphases in congregations. The resource offers a time-line for using "More Than Enough" materials, sermon and worship resources, sample letters, Bible studies, and more. It is available for purchase in electronic form, normally priced at $20. The first 20 Brethren congregations to order will receive a $5 discount. Order from Kathy Craig at the Ecumenical Stewardship Center at 800-835-5671 and identify your Church of the Brethren congregation. Contact Church of the Brethren stewardship formation coordinator Carol Bowman at or 509-663-2833.

Source: 8/27/2010 Newsline
Webinars to address church strategies for serving, sharing, inviting.

The next webinars offered by the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries are held in cooperation with New Life Ministries. "Beyond the Church Door: Healthy Strategies for Serving, Sharing, and Inviting" will be offered on Sept. 14 at 12:30-1:30 p.m. Pacific time (3:30-4:30 p.m. eastern); and Sept. 16 at 5:30-6:30 p.m. Pacific (8:30-9:30 p.m. eastern).

The webinars will provide an introduction to the book and DVD of the same title by Steve Clapp and Fred Bernhard. Participants will learn how to engage congregations in new practices of servant evangelism, inviting, and faith-sharing. Bernhard has co-authored books on hospitality including "Widening the Welcome of Your Church" and "Deep and Wide: Hospitality and the Faithful Church." Clapp is the author of more than 40 books on congregational life and president of Christian Community, a nonprofit organization focused on congregational health.

Link to the webinars at For more information contact Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices, at 717-335-3226 or

Source: 8/27/2010 Newsline
Brethren hold 40th Annual Dunker Church Service at Antietam.

Frank Ramirez, pastor of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and author of many Brethren Press titles, will preach for the 40th Annual Dunker Church Service at the Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md., on Sept. 19. The service is to start at 3 p.m. It is sponsored by area Churches of the Brethren.

The worship service will be held in the restored Mumma Meeting House on the battlefield site, commonly referred to today as the Dunker Church. The meetinghouse was built in 1853 and was heavily damaged during the Sept. 17, 1862, Battle of Antietam. After extensive repairs were made, services resumed in the summer of 1864.

Ramirez also will preach at Sharpsburg (Md.) Church of the Brethren that Sunday morning, at 9:30 a.m. His many books include two popular volumes of stories about Brethren historical figures, "The Meanest Man in Patrick County" and "Brethren Brush with Greatness." He also is the author of the feature "Out of Context," which appears weekly in the Brethren Press curriculum for adults, "Guide for Biblical Studies."

For more information about the service contact Eddie Edmonds at 304-267-4135 or Tom Fralin at 301-432-2653.

Source: 8/27/2010 Newsline
Brethren bits: Personnel, job openings, WCC stewards program, Jr. High Conference, more.
  • Kirk Carpenter, customer service specialist for Brethren Press, has resigned effective Sept. 17. He began working for Brethren Press on May 12, 2008, just after completing a bachelor of arts degree in Biblical and Theological Studies from North Park University in Chicago. He has helped maintain an e-commerce site, monitored inventory, and assisted with the book store at National Youth Conference. He and his family are moving to Seattle, Wash.

  • Sue Snyder has begun a volunteer position at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., providing administrative support for several departments. Her previous work for the church has included coordinating the General Secretary’s office.

  • Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) seeks to fill the position of chief financial officer. This full-time salaried position is based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. BBT is an agency of the Church of the Brethren and is a not-for-profit organization that provides pension, insurance, foundation, and credit union services for 6,000 members and clients nationwide. The CFO’s chief responsibility is to safeguard BBT’s assets and assets under management, providing oversight of the Finance Department, the budgeting process, annual audit and audit functions, investment managers, and compliance issues. The CFO works with each program unit to develop the annual budget and then monitors all expenses against the budget; serves on the senior management team and is charged with planning strategically to help ensure that each BBT ministry meets the needs of members and clients and is self-sustaining; manages all aspects of the organization’s work and relationships with BBT’s custodian, investment managers, audit firm, and related consultants, and serves as the staff liaison to the BBT Board’s Investment and Budget and Audit Review Committees; coordinates all of BBT’s tax filings and insurance needs; ensures that BBT remains compliant with all applicable organizational and industry-related laws, policies, procedures, rules, and regulations. The CFO travels to the Annual Conference, BBT Board meetings, and other events as appropriate. BBT seeks candidates with undergraduate degrees in accounting, business, or related fields, along with advanced certifications or degrees, such as CPA or MBA. Candidates should have eight years of experience in finance, administration, and personnel supervision, preferably for not-for-profit organizations. Strong knowledge of investments and experience in business planning is desired. Current and active membership in the Church of the Brethren is preferred; current and active membership in a faith community is required. The salary is competitive with Church Benefits Association agencies of comparable size and scope of services. A full benefits package is included. Apply by sending a letter of interest, resume, three references (one supervisor and two colleagues), and salary-range expectation to Donna March at 1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120, or For questions or clarification about the position call 847-622-3371. For more information about BBT, visit The interviewing process will begin Sept. 14. The position will be filled as soon as possible.

  • Brethren Press seeks a customer service inventory specialist to work at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Responsibilities include providing professional customer service functions by handling telephone, fax, mail, and Internet orders; maintaining a thorough knowledge of products offered by Brethren Press; optimizing the e-commerce site with consistent product additions, updates, and promotions; specializing in providing resource information to congregations and individuals; maintaining inventory levels in an accurate and timely way through the use of purchase orders, invoices, credit memos, monthly reports, and journals; providing sales and marketing support services; assisting in coordinating and developing standardized procedures and maintaining written documentation. Qualifications include ability to become familiar with Church of the Brethren organization and beliefs and to operate out of the vision of the denomination; ability to relate with integrity and respect in and beyond the organization; strong interpersonal skills that contribute to effective interaction with customers and with colleagues; fundamental understanding of accounting theory and practice; good listening and telephone skills and competency in oral and written communication; proficient abilities in typing and data entry; ability to work well in a team environment, juggling several tasks simultaneously; knowledge of Christian education and the resourcing of congregations. Required education and experience include customer service functions; computer literacy; experience with sales, marketing, inventory management, and reporting; with Christian education experience desirable. A high school diploma is required, some college education preferred. Applications are accepted immediately and will be received until the position is filled. A position description and application form are available on request. Apply by completing the application form and submitting a resume and letter of application, and requesting three references to send letters of recommendation to the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694; 800-323-8039, ext. 258;

  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) is accepting applications for its Stewards Program 2011. Young adult Christians ages 18-30 from around the world are invited to apply for one of two hands-on learning experiences: the WCC Central Committee meeting on Feb. 8-24 in Switzerland; and the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation on May 12-26 in Jamaica. During the meetings stewards will work in the areas of worship, conference room, documentation, press office, sound, and other administrative and support tasks. Send in application forms by Sept. 30 for the Central Committee meeting, by Nov. 30 for the IEPC. More information is at

  • Fees for next year’s National Junior High Conference have been set by the Youth and Young Adult Ministry: $150 for registrations received between Jan. 10 and April 15, after which costs go up to $175. Travel scholarships of $175 are available for those who live west of the Mississippi. The event is June 17-19 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College ( ).

  • Two events are underway at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.: The annual joint orientation of Brethren Volunteer Service and Brethren Revival Fellowship, with 11 volunteers; and a Brethren Disaster Ministries Leadership Seminar for about 100 people.

  • Two resources on evangelism are recommended by Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries: The upcoming "Evangelism in the Community" meeting focused on smaller churches in cities, Nov. 3-7 in Detroit, Mich. "Through our denomination’s Evangelism Connections partnership, this United Church of Christ event is open to Church of the Brethren participants as well," he reported (go to The second resource, EvangeLectionary, is at and offers reflections on the lectionary text, a brief meditation, related quotation, illustration, and a worship resource. Shively is a regular contributor to the site and prepared the lectionary reflections for Aug. 8.

  • Sparked by World Food Day on Oct. 16, the Global Food Crisis Fund is encouraging congregations to observe a hunger or food emphasis this fall. "In an era when a billion people endure chronic hunger and 18,000 children die each day from hunger-related causes, the 2010 World Food Day theme, ‘Food for All: Working Together Works!’ holds special meaning for the Church of the Brethren," said an announcement. Congregations may join the emphasis either on Oct. 16 or another date such as a harvest celebration or Thanksgiving. "As donations to the Global Food Crisis Fund are running 50 percent behind those of a year ago, heightened support becomes crucial," the announcement said. Give to the fund through "My 2-Cents Worth" offerings, designations for a specific program or country, memorials, or tributes to loved ones. For more visit The latest grants from the fund are to the Church of the Brethren in Haiti for water conservation on the island of La Tortue and to Care of Creation Kenya for construction of a tree nursery in the Rift Valley. Each grant was $4,000.

  • The first of this fall’s denominational deacon trainings is Sept. 11 at Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. Register by Sept. 6 with the church at 717-626-2131 or Cost is $15, which includes lunch. Continuing education units are available for an additional $10. For other fall training sessions visit or contact Donna Kline, director of the Church of the Brethren’s Deacon Ministry, 800-323-8039 or

  • On Earth Peace is offering conference calls to prepare congregations for the International Day of Prayer for Peace on Sept. 21. The next two calls on Aug. 31 at 12:30 p.m. (eastern) and Sept. 2 at 5 p.m. (eastern) will cover basic information about getting the word out to media about IDPP events--or any other event a congregation may be planning. Resource people are On Earth Peace communications coordinator Gimbiya Kettering and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Call 712-338-8730 and use access code 173#.

  • Mount Bethel Church of the Brethren near Eagle Rock, Va., celebrates 125 years on Aug. 29.

  • Brethren Housing Association is holding a benefit "Concert of Hope" with Ken Medema--who performed at the National Youth Conference--at Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren on Sept. 9 from 6-9 p.m. The ministry provides housing to homeless families. A free will offering will be taken, and a dessert reception follows. Obtain tickets at

  • An annual Labor Day Coffee Break in Kansas begun in 1961 by pastor Russell Kiester and the Men’s Fellowship at the Church of the Brethren in Sabetha, continues this year coordinated by Trinity Church of the Brethren. The ministry offers refreshments to travelers at the "4-Mile Corner" rest stop at the junction of Highways 75 and 36. Cheryl Mishler, one of the organizers, reports that over the years an estimated 100,000-plus people have been served with over 4, 500 dozen cookies, 500 pounds of coffee, and 300 gallons of orange juice. More than 16,000 volunteers have taken part. Many businesses in Sabetha have provided supplies and a variety of churches have helped out. "What began as a ministry of service by the Sabetha Church of the Brethren men," Mishler reported, "has now become a service of the community of Sabetha."

  • Manchester College in Indiana is expecting record numbers for a third straight year. The college expects more than 1,270 students when classes begin Sept. 1--its largest enrollment since the Vietnam era and at least 5 percent more than last fall.

  • In September the Brethren Voices community cable show from Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren interviews Kay Guyer, Manchester College student and a member of the National Youth Cabinet of the Church of the Brethren. Guyer has received recognition for her creative videos such as "Brethren We Have Met to Jump," which won the video contest at the 300th Anniversary Annual Conference. Order a copy from producer Ed Groff at

  • The family of Art Gish, Brethren peacemaker who died in a farming accident in July, has established a memorial "Art Gish Peacemaking Fund" to help young people get started in peacemaking. New Covenant Fellowship in Athens, Ohio, is receiving contributions to the fund.
Source: 8/27/2010 Newsline

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Jordan Blevins, Kathleen Campanella, Jeri S. Kornegay, Karin L. Krog, LethaJoy Martin, Nancy Miner, Howard Royer, Brian Solem, Becky Ullom, Carol Wise, Ed Woolf , Jane Yount contributed to this report.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Church gains memo of understanding with Selective Service System.

A Memo of Understanding between the federal government’s Selective Service System and the Church of the Brethren has been signed by Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the denomination, and Lawrence G. Romo, director of Selective Service.

The memo represents an agreement that goes into effect in the event a military draft is reinstated in the United States. In that event, the Church of the Brethren working through Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) will be able to place conscientious objectors assigned to alternative service work.

"It’s good to be prepared," said BVS director Dan McFadden. "Do I think there will be a draft? No." Global Mission Partnerships executive director Jay Wittmeyer commented, "We need to be prepared and maintain our historical position just in case."

A similar agreement recently was made between Selective Service and Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS) and the Mennonite Mission Network. MVS is a program of the Mennonite Mission Network, which is the mission agency of Mennonite Church USA.

McFadden noted that both agreements are the fruit of a number of years of effort by the Church of the Brethren and the Mennonites to maintain a relationship with the Selective Service System and with each other’s provisions for conscientious objectors.

He said a key part of the agreement is that "in the event of a draft, the Church of the Brethren and BVS would be in a position to negotiate the details of being a site for conscientious objectors."

Among other stipulations in the memo, the church and BVS will meet a legal obligation to place alternative service workers "in work that benefits the nation’s health, safety, and interests"; a Selective Service officer will be assigned as a liaison to the church; Selective Service will provide transportation to and from their residences for alternative service workers placed with BVS; and the church and BVS will supervise the alternative service workers assigned to them. The agreement is considered provisional and will be reviewed every 36 months.

Source: 8/12/2010 Newsline
Conference considers ‘Peace Among the Peoples.’

Jamal, a Muslim refugee from Zanzibar, and Matthew, a Jew, got acquainted as their children played in a neighborhood parkette in Canada’s largest city, Toronto. Learning of Jamal’s computer skills, Matthew found him a job.

Later, as the events of Sept. 11, 2001, unfolded, Jamal came to Matthew’s house, shaken. "I’m so sorry, but I don’t know who to say sorry to." Matthew invited Jamal’s family to share dinner with them.

The relationship of these neighbors represents "a testimony to the possibility of peace among peoples," said Mary Jo Leddy, addressing the opening worship of an ecumenical peace conference, "Peace Among the Peoples," held July 28-31 in Elkhart, Ind.

At the same time, the US government’s response to 9/11 illustrates "the near impossibility of such peace in an age of empire violence," Leddy said. For almost 20 years this Catholic writer, speaker, theologian, and social activist has lived with and directed the Romero House Community for Refugees, people living in four small houses in Toronto.

"Our daily summons is to build peace among the people in our home, city, country, and universe," Leddy said. Christians are summoned "to preach with our lives the good news that we can, should, must love our enemies. If we simply hate our enemies, we become like them."

The Church of the Brethren was one sponsor of Peace Among the Peoples, along with a number of churches, national and state ecumenical groups, peace and justice organizations, and educational institutions. Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary hosted the event. Other sponsors were Bridgefolk, Catholic Peacebuilding Network, First Presbyterian Church of Elkhart, Historic Peace Churches-Fellowship of Reconciliation Consultative Committee, Indiana Partners for Christian Unity and Mission, Institute of Mennonite Studies, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Church Canada, Mennonite Church USA and its Peace and Justice Support Network, Mennonite Mission Network, National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, Orthodox Peace Fellowship, United Church of Christ, and the University of Notre Dame’s Institute of Church Life and Department of Africana Studies.

Just over 200 people attended, including 18 Brethren members and special guest of the Church of the Brethren, Jarrod McKenna from Australia, who a week before had been a speaker at National Youth Conference. Most registrants were from the US, but others came from Canada, Europe, South America, Africa and Australia, representing Peace Church, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Free Church traditions. Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, served on the Advisory Committee and Scott Holland, Bethany Seminary’s director of peace studies, served on the Steering Committee.

Peace Among the Peoples is part of the Decade to Overcome Violence, an initiative of the World Council of Churches (WCC) culminating on May 17–25, 2011, in an International Ecumenical Peace Convocation to be held in Jamaica.

In addition to Leddy, other keynote speakers included Rita Nakashima Brock, founding co-director of the Faith Voices for the Common Good. who addressed the opening plenary on "Alternative Approaches to Christians and War"; Linda Gehman Peachey, who directs the Mennonite Central Committee US Women’s Advocacy Program, addressed sexual violation, intimate partner abuse, and abuse of children; theologian and author Brian McLaren, who used the metaphor of story to show what peacemaking may look like in the future; and Stanley Hauerwas of Duke University and Gerard Powers of the University of Notre Dame, who dealt with "Just War and Pacifism in Dialogue"; among others.

One session reviewed the Decade to Overcome Violence and reported on plans for the peace convocation in Jamaica next year, which will revolve around four themes: Peace in the community, peace with the earth, peace in the marketplace, and peace among the peoples. In addition, the WCC is working toward an Ecumenical Declaration on Just Peace, said a staff member who explained the concept: a multifaceted, collective, and dynamic process of ensuring that human beings are free from fear and from want; are overcoming enmity, exclusion, and oppression; and are establishing conditions for right relationships that include the most vulnerable and respect the integrity of creation.

Conferees affirmed plans for a continuation committee of 12 people who will consider findings, recommendations, and next steps; work at ways to support the 2011 peace convocation; consider creation of a peace center; and review potential for a global peace network. For more about the conference see Photos are at

-- John Bender of Elkhart, Ind., contributed the bulk of this report.

Source: 8/12/2010 Newsline
Church of the Brethren joins complaint on CIA treatment of detainees.

The Church of the Brethren has joined as a complainant in support of a complaint to the Office of Human Research Protections regarding evidence of CIA violations of prisoners. The complaint is being led by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT).

The complaint has been sparked by a report released by Physicians for Human Rights that CIA doctors and other health professionals may have engaged in illegal and unethical medical experiments involving torture and detainees in US custody.

In his statement of support for the complaint, which was filed prior to the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in early July, general secretary Stan Noffsinger cited the Oct. 2009 "Resolution Against Torture" adopted by the Mission and Ministry Board of the church. In the resolution, the board said that its members "find both the occurrences of torture and the attempt to legitimize the acts of torture unconscionable," and stated, "we will be silent no more." The resolution since has been adopted by the full delegate body of the denomination.

As of late July, the Church of the Brethren was one of 20 national religious groups and 7 state and local religious groups had joined NRCAT and other human rights organizations and more than 3,000 individuals in filing the formal complaint with the Office of Human Research Protections.

The Office of Human Research Protections is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. The complaint asks the office to investigate the alleged illegal medical experiments as the federal agency tasked with investigating allegations of unethical medical experimentation involving human subjects.

However, NRCAT director Richard L. Killmer has reported that DHHS responded to the complaint in a letter to Physicians for Human Rights. "We are disappointed in the agency’s decision not to assert jurisdiction in this complaint and simply to forward the complaint to the CIA ‘for review,’" Killmer wrote in late July in an e-mail report to organizations taking part in the complaint. "Since the CIA has already publicly denied the allegations, this decision will effectively bury the complaint, even if that is not the explicit intent," he said.

Since the DHHS response, NRCAT and the complainants have called on President Obama to ensure an independent, thorough, and open investigation, and are calling on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to do the same. NRCAT has announced plans to continue the effort by requesting a meeting with White House staff to present the list of complainants, discuss the DHHS response and ask how the Administration will ensure that the allegations are appropriately investigated.

"The evidence is absolutely shocking and repulsive," said Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, in a release from the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, which also signed on to the complaint along with the NCC and a number of Christian denominations. "Torture is an affront to God and the denial of the bedrock convictions of all people of faith."

In related news, the Church of the Brethren through its Global Mission Partnerships program recently gave a $2,000 grant to the work of NRCAT. For more information about the complaint go to

Source: 8/12/2010 Newsline
BBT urges US President to help protect indigenous peoples.

In a letter dated Aug. 6, Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) has urged President Barack Obama to lead the US government in supporting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The letter, signed by BBT president Nevin Dulabaum and Steve Mason, BBT’s director of socially responsible investing activities, suggests that companies may be more encouraged to protect the rights of these small, native groups in their corporate policies if the US government shows more support for the measure. Additionally, the letter says, "We believe that the merits of endorsing the Declaration...would strengthen the United States’ position as an advocate for human rights worldwide."

The declaration, adopted by the UN General Assembly in Sept. 2007, affirms that "indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples, while recognizing the right of all peoples to be different, to consider themselves different, and to be represented as such." The US voted against the resolution.

BBT has identified the declaration as a guideline that echoes Brethren values, and has advocated for companies in which it owns shares to adopt corporate policies that reflect the declaration. In May, Mason represented shareholders of ConocoPhillips in talks with the oil company regarding its commitment to indigenous peoples’ rights around the world. BBT has been engaged with ConocoPhillips for more than five years on this issue and continues to meet with representatives of the company.

To read the full letter, go to Find the UN declaration at

-- Brian Solem is publications coordinator for Brethren Benefit Trust.

Source: 8/12/2010 Newsline
Brethren contribute $40,000 to flood relief in Pakistan.

The Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund has given $40,000 to the work of Church World Service (CWS) in Pakistan following monsoon-related floods. The grant is assisting CWS and the ACT Alliance in supplying flood survivors with emergency food, water, shelter, medical care, and some personal supplies.

Today’s situation report from CWS said that "the torrential rains and flooding that have affected Pakistan in recent weeks continue, with at an estimated 1,600 dead and 14 million affected. Some 1.5 million people are now homeless." According to CWS, the floods that began in the northern parts of Pakistan have now spread to four provinces covering about 82,000 square miles, out of the country’s total area of 340,132 square miles.

"As the rains continue, the waters are moving downstream like a rolling earthquake affecting Punjab and Sindh provinces further south," the report said. "The continued rains and flooding are creating difficulties in rescue and relief operations; bridges throughout the country have been washed away from flooding and landslides; poor weather has also grounded relief helicopters. Delays in relief supplies reaching distribution points means that the affected communities must wait longer for the shelter, food, and other items which are immediately required for their survival."

CWS is coordinating a response in a wide geographic area, working in Swat, Kohistan, D.I. Khan, Shangla and Mansehra districts of Khyber Pakhtoonkwa Province; Sibbi district of Balochistan Province; and Khairpur district of Sindh Province. As well as directly implementing aid, CWS is partnering with Participatory Village Development Program, Help in Need, VEER Development Foundation, and Nation’s Capacity Building Program. A total of 99,000 individuals or approximately 13,500 households are being served through the CWS response.

As of Aug. 6, CWS has distributed food items to thousands of households, and plans to dispatch 2,500 tents in the coming week. It is providing emergency health assistance through a mobile health unit, with two additional units to be mobilized. CWS health units under the Afghan Refugee Program have conducted educational activities and preventive measures against water-borne diseases, which have increased significantly in the aftermath of the flood. In the next few days CWS plans to distribute several hundred more tons of food with the assistance of the Royal Netherlands Embassy and the Canadian Food Grains Bank.

Contributions to the flood relief work in Pakistan may be made through a donation to the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund, go to

Source: 8/12/2010 Newsline
Northern Ohio District meets on theme of freedom.

The 2010 Northern Ohio District Conference took place July 30-Aug. 1 at Ashland (Ohio) University. Moderator Kris Hawk, pastor of visitation at Akron, Springfield Church of the Brethren, chose the theme "Free from Fear, Free to Love," from 1 John 4:16b-21.

Delegates heard the theme described in music and drama presented by Junior and Senior Performing Art Camps; in worship and preaching by Annual Conference moderator Robert Alley, interim pastor Tom Michaels of Hartville Church of the Brethren, and Hawk; and in business sessions led by Hawk and the conference officers. Conference guests included Alley, Brethren Benefit Trust representative Loyce Swartz Borgmann, and Bethany Theological Seminary representative Fred Bernhard.

Delegates passed a modestly-increased district budget for 2011, approved trustees for Manchester College, received and approved reports from district and denominational representatives, and elected new board members and district officers.

During her Sunday morning closing message, Hawk talked about the struggle to understand the depth of God’s love: "The problem is that we are not secure ourselves in the love of God. We should never base our love on something we can lose. When we love other people, we become more secure of who we are in Christ. Through us, God can powerfully love other people."

Following the closing service, Sherry Reese Vaught, ordained minister at the Maple Grove congregation, and Tom Zuercher, pastor of the Ashland Dickey congregation, were consecrated as moderator and moderator-elect of the 2011 district conference.

-- John Ballinger is district executive minister for Northern Ohio District.

Source: 8/12/2010 Newsline
Harold Smith is remembered for leadership of On Earth Peace.

Harold Smith (89), who served as executive director of On Earth Peace in the late 1980s, died on July 21 at Huffman Nursing Center in Bridgewater, Va. He was an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren and a committed church leader, who in other volunteer service to the church was a member of local church and district boards and was a member of the Standing Committee of Annual Conference.

Smith began his work to bring about peace in the world by serving as a conscientious objector in Civilian Public Service. He earned degrees from Bridgewater (Va.) College, the University of Maryland, American University in Washington, D.C., and attended Bethany Theological Seminary. On an international level, he served as an agricultural economist through the US Department of Agriculture in Thailand, El Salvador, and the Phillipines; as a consultant in Puerto Rico with Robert Nathan Associates; and as a member of the National Institutes of Health Nutrition Team in Panama.

In 1971 when M.R. Zigler began developing the On Earth Peace Assembly (OEPA) at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., he consulted closely with Smith who was then a professor of agricultural economics at the University of Maryland and associate director of the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service.

In 1983, at age 91, Zigler was no longer able to lead the work of On Earth Peace and Smith was asked to serve as executive director. He responded by retiring from his positions at the University of Maryland and the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service and accepting OEPA's call. During the next six years, he provided outstanding leadership to establish the position of OEPA within the structure of the Church of the Brethren--specifically, the relationship of OEPA to the former General Board, and to raise needed funds to support OEPA programs.

He established the M.R. Zigler Endowment which grew to over $220,000 during Smith's years of service. In addition, the work of the Brethren World Peace Academy, an OEPA program for young people started by Zigler, expanded during his years of leadership.

Smith was born March 12, 1921, in Churchville, Va., the son of Enoch David and Minnie Huffman Smith. He married Mary Hoover Smith, who preceded him in death on March 27, 1979. He then married Miriam Rohrer Odom Smith, who survives. Also surviving are daughters and stepsons Darlene Carol Smith Meyers and husband, Gary; Linda Beth Smith Lumsden and husband, Chris; James Odom; Clifford Odom and wife, Barbara; Curtis Odom; and a number of grandchildren, step-grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Online condolences may be sent to the family at

-- Dale Ulrich contributed to this remembrance.

Source: 8/12/2010 Newsline
On Earth Peace offers ‘You Can’t Stop the River’ training.

On Earth Peace and First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., invite teams from congregations and community groups to attend "You Can’t Stop the River: Nonviolent Community Change," Oct. 28-31. The four-day workshop focuses on developing skills and spiritual strength for nonviolent community mobilizing based on the approaches developed by Martin Luther King, Jr. to address the triplet of poverty, racism, and militarism/violence.

"The genius of King’s approach is that it catalyzes the community in a hopeful direction and brings together many sectors to solve a problem," shared On Earth Peace program director Matt Guynn, one of the leaders for the training. "This workshop is for anyone wanting to provide community leadership that is strategic, hope-filled, and addressed to change the root causes."

Participants can expect to share and reflect on their own experiences, and to go away inspired, equipped, and ready to take specific next steps in their communities. Teams from the same group or geographic area are encouraged to attend together, to enable them to apply principles and skills to their situations at home. Organizers hope the energy and information generated will have an ongoing ripple effect, yielding action for reducing violence and building peace.

The workshop runs from Thursday 6 p.m. to Sunday 6 p.m. and costs $150 per participant, which includes materials, tuition, and meals. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. For more information call Matt Guynn at 503-775-1636 or visit

-- Gimbiya Kettering is communications coordinator for On Earth Peace.

Source: 8/12/2010 Newsline
Mundey to lead webinar on ‘Leadership that Transforms.’

An upcoming webinar on "Leadership that Transforms!" will be led by Paul E. Mundey, senior pastor of Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren. "The heart of the webinar examines leadership that empowers a congregation to move forward," said a flier for the event.

The webinar will explore practical applications of transformational pastoral leadership with a focus on the pastor or leader as visionary and change agent; as facilitator of boards, committees, or ministry teams; and as advocate of stewardship and enlarged giving.

Mundey is senior pastor of the largest congregation in the Church of the Brethren, and is a community leader, sponsoring numerous outreach efforts including an innovative medical ministry to the working poor. He also has served as staff of the Parish Ministries Commission of the former Church of the Brethren General Board, during his tenure helping establish the Andrew Center as a multi-denominational resource center for congregational development and renewal, and also developing "Passing On the Promise," a church renewal process.

The webinar will be offered on Aug. 24 from 1-2 p.m. Pacific time (4-5 p.m. eastern time); and on Aug. 26 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Pacific (8:30-9:30 p.m. eastern). Go to Participants in the live session earn 0.1 continuing education credit.

The webinar is a collaborative resource offered by the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries, Bethany Theological Seminary, and the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. Contact Stan Dueck, the Church of the Brethren’s director of transforming practices, at 717-335-3226 or

Source: 8/12/2010 Newsline
Interim ministry team is announced by Southeastern District.

The Church of the Brethren’s Southeastern District has announced an interim ministry team that began work Aug. 1, while a search process for a district executive continues. The three-member team includes Wallace Cole, Loretta Sheets, and John Markwood.

Wallace Cole will take responsibility for pastoral support and consultation/conversation, and pastoral placement, and will be the district contact person for the denomination. Loretta Sheets will carry out administrative duties such as forms and mailings, Weekly News and Visions, prayer requests, and other tasks as needed. John Markwood is the district designee to assist treasurer Beverly Graeber with any financial matters.

Interim contact information for the district: for general e-mail; Wallace Cole, 3037 Middlebrook Dr., Clemmons, NC 27012, or 336-766-5743.

Source: 8/12/2010 Newsline
Barkley to direct the Brethren Historical Library and Archives.

Terrell (Terry) Barkley will begin Nov. 1 as director of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA), located at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Current director Ken Shaffer Jr. has announced his retirement effective Dec. 31 after serving for more than 20 years in the position. He and Barkley will work together until Shaffer’s retirement.

Barkley is currently archivist at Marion (Ala.) Military Institute. He formerly served as archivist/museum curator at Bridgewater (Va.) College from 1993-2005. He has chaired the Shenandoah District Historical Committee, contributed to the Brethren Encyclopedia, served on several Brethren- and Mennonite-related committees including the Elder John Kline Bicentennial Celebration and the Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., and published "One Who Served: Brethren Elder Charles Nesselrodt of Shenandoah County."

He holds a degree in history/political science from the University of North Alabama, a master of arts degree in theology from the Citadel, a master of library science degree from the University of Alabama specializing in archives and special collections, and has done doctoral study in history and historical preservation.

Source: 8/12/2010 Newsline
Brethren bits: Remembrance, personnel, NYC update, China delegation, more.
  • Shenandoah District invites prayer for the family of Carlton W. Ruff (89), who passed away July 30 at the Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community. Ruff, along with his wife, Hilda, was one of the founding leaders of the district’s annual Disaster Ministries Auction. He was a member of Summit Church of the Brethren in Bridgewater. Born in Augusta County, Va., on April 21, 1921, he was a son of the late Samuel and Hazel Cook (Kagey) Ruff. He retired from James Madison University, where he was a superintendent for buildings and grounds. He also had worked at Celanese Textile, where he helped organize the union and then presided as president for 19 consecutive years. After retirement he served with Brethren Disaster Ministries as a project coordinator at locations from Virginia to Texas, and in St. Croix and the Virgin Islands. He is survived by his wife, Hilda, and sons Jerry W. Ruff and wife, Bernice; and James E. Ruff and wife, Deborah; four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. A memorial service was held at Summit Church on Aug. 3. Memorial contributions are received to the Shenandoah District Disaster Program. An online guest book is available at

  • Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is grieving the death of a worker killed in Afghanistan. Glen D. Lapp (40) of Lancaster, Pa., was killed in a shooting in Afghanistan’s northeastern Badakhshan province on Aug. 6, an MCC release said. The incident has received wide international attention. Lapp was traveling with a medical team of four Afghans, six Americans, one Briton, and one German, all of whom worked with MCC partner organization International Assistance Mission, a charity providing eye care and medical help. IAM has worked in the country since 1966 and regularly dispatched "eye camp" medical teams. Lapp had been part of previous teams. Born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, he was the son of Marvin and Mary Lapp of Lancaster, and a member of Community Mennonite Church in Lancaster. In previous service with MCC he helped with response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita. He also worked as a nurse in Lancaster, New York City, and Supai, Ariz. He was a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Eastern Mennonite University. He was to complete his MCC term in October, and recently wrote about it in a report, "Where I was [Afghanistan], the main thing that expats can do is to be a presence in the country. Treating people with respect and with love and trying to be a little bit of Christ in this part of the world." In an bulletin announcement for Mennonite churches to use this Sunday, MCC called the church to prayer "for Glen’s loved ones, family and friends of the others who perished, staff of our partner organization in Afghanistan, the people of Afghanistan, and the people who carried out this tragic act." A memorial service will be held Sunday, Aug. 15, at 2:30 p.m. at Bright Side Baptist Church in Lancaster.

  • Mark Flory Steury will fill a temporary, part-time position as consultant in the Office of the General Secretary of the Church of the Brethren. He will assist as the Mission and Ministry Board of the denomination carries out strategic planning, and with a review and evaluation of the Stewardship and Donor Development department. He will be involved in ecumenical initiatives, assist in making arrangements for the 2011 InterAgency Forum, and work with the Council of District Executives. Steury most recently served as district executive for Southern Ohio District.

  • Lina Dagnew began as editorial assistant for Gather ’Round on Aug. 2. Gather ’Round is a Christian education curriculum jointly published by Brethren Press and Mennonite Publishing Network. Dagnew, originally from Ethiopia, graduated in January from Manchester College in Indiana, majoring in political science and economics. During her years at Manchester, she worked in the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Office of the President, and was a writing consultant and peer tutor. She also has served advocacy internships in Chicago and Montana.

  • A "Reach Deep" challenge from the Church of the Brethren’s Stewardship and Donor Development asks for help to raise $100,000 in support of the denomination’s Core Ministries Fund. "A concerned Brethren family has given $50,000 to cut in half the shortfall in our Core Ministries budget," said an online invitation. "They hope to motivate other individuals to 'reach deep' to help eliminate the remainder of the shortfall by Sept. 15," To contribute, go to

  • In an update on National Youth Conference 2010, youth donated $6,250 to the NYC Scholarship Fund out of their key deposits returned on the last day of the conference. For more about NYC 2010 go to

  • A Church of the Brethren delegation to China will help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Ping Ting mission hospital on Aug. 26. The group will include Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships; Mary Jo Flory-Steury, executive director of Ministry, whose father was born in Ping Ting 90 years ago this past April; and Ruoxia Li, who grew up in a former Brethren mission area in Shouyang, China. Li wrote a "Messenger" article on her research into the Brethren influence in her hometown, published in the Jan./Feb. 2010 issue.

  • Global Mission Partnership staff request prayer for Michael Wagner, who left for Sudan last week as a peace worker seconded by the Church of the Brethren to the Africa Inland Church-Sudan. He begins work in southern Sudan as the country prepares for a national referendum on the possible secession of the south, to be held on Jan. 9, 2011. The referendum was mandated by a Comprehensive Peace Agreement made in 2005 between the north and south of the country.

  • Congregational Life Ministries executive director Jonathan Shively has contributed an article to an issue of "The Clergy Journal" that is focused on evangelism and outreach. The July/Aug. 2010 issue includes Shively's article, "Evangelism: Moving About in the World." The Clergy Journal is published by Logos Productions Inc. as a resource for personal and professional development for pastors and ministerial leaders. For more go to

  • Brethren Disaster Ministries’ flood rebuilding project in Indiana was featured last week by WLFI Channel 18 in Lafayette, Ind. "Kids and adults from across the country are spending the summer rebuilding homes along the Tippecanoe River," the report began. Find it at

  • An upcoming presentation, "Afghanistan and Beyond: Andrew Bacevich on America's Path to Permanent War," is recommended to Brethren in the Chicago area by Sam Smith, who is serving as a peace witness consultant to the Church of the Brethren. Bacevich, a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, will speak at the Chicago Temple on Aug. 19, 7-8 p.m. He is the author of "The Limits of Power and the New American Militarism," and his writing has appeared in "The Atlantic Monthly," "The Nation," "The New York Times," "The Washington Post," and "The Wall Street Journal." Contact

  • A rare Brethren book has been donated to Bridgewater (Va.) College, one of only a few known copies of the first Brethren hymnbook published in 1720 in Berleberg, Germany, according to a release from the college. The book was donated to the Alexander Mack Memorial Library at Bridgewater by Joyce DeBolt Miller, who graduated from the college in 1954, and her husband, Richard. The couple acquired the 464-page, leather-bound volume at an Ephrata, Pa., auction 10 years ago. They noted that the hymnbook was not known to exist until it was first discovered in Germany in 1958 by Brethren historians Donald and Hedda Durnbaugh. Of the handful of copies known worldwide, two are now owned by Bridgewater College. Contact Andrew Pearson, director of the library, at 540-828-5410 or

  • The August edition of "Brethren Voices" community television show is titled "Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki--Lest We Forget" on the 65th anniversary of the first atomic bombings. For over 20 of those years Brethren Volunteer Service has provided directors for the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima. Michiko Yamane, a center board member, provides a tour of the Hiroshima Peace Park. The program is hosted by Brent Carlson, who also interviewed Mito Kosei, a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing. In addition, Jacob Crouse is featured with his National Youth Conference winning song, "There's More than Meets the Eye." The September edition will feature the band Mutual Kumquat. Copies of Brethren Voices are available from Portland Peace Church of the Brethren for a donation of $8. Contact
Source: 8/12/2010 Newsline

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Jordan Blevins, Alan Bolds, Joan Daggett, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Ed Groff, Mary K. Heatwole, Jeri S. Kornegay, Karin L. Krog, Emily LaPrade, Stan Noffsinger, Jonathan Shively, Sam Smith, Jane Yount contributed to this report.