Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day of prayer for peace brings hope for a future beyond violence.

More than 90 congregations and community organizations in 20 states and three countries took part in the International Day of Prayer for Peace as partners with On Earth Peace. These communities joined tens of thousands of people on five continents who have been participating in events in the week surrounding Tuesday, Sept. 21--the sixth observance of the World Council of Churches’ International Day of Prayer for Peace, which joins the United Nations' 25-year commitment to an International Day of Peace.

On Earth Peace's more than 90 partner groups planned public vigils, interfaith worship services, prayer drop-in times, childrens' mural making, installation of peace poles, and many other events.

As part of the activities, Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) launched an effort in Jos, Nigeria, to build bridges among Christians and Muslims as they shared their mutual concerns for peace following sectarian violence. This week's prayer services in Jos included both Muslims and Christians praying for peace in the wake of church burnings, looting, and killings.

In Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Breakthru Church International sent 30 people door-to-door wearing bright orange t-shirts to ask about obstacles to peace and to point to signs of hope in preparation for a prayer service and a later public meeting to build hope and investment in their community.

Several prayer services in the United States brought people of different faiths together to pray, an action that seems prophetic in the face of rising anti-Muslim sentiment in this country.

"Observing the International Day of Prayer for Peace is more than a day. It is a process," said Matt Guynn of On Earth Peace. "Wherever there is hard-heartedness, violence, or poverty, there is a crooked path that God can make smooth. That doesn't happen overnight or in a year, but over time, in each heart, in each village, town, and city, in each society, as we work to build a culture of positive peace and active nonviolence.

"In local group after local group, we see that each year, there is a growing sense of possibility for God’s peace. The prayers offered up each Sept. 21 are an opportunity for community members to ask God for help, for inspiration, for guidance for overcoming evil with good."

-- On Earth Peace provided this release. For more information contact Matt Guynn, Program Director and Coordinator of Peace Witness, at or 503-775-1636.

Source: 9/23/2010 Newsline
‘Reach Deep’ fundraising challenge meets its goal.

A letter headed "Urgent Need--A Landmark Challenge" was mailed out to Church of the Brethren prospective donors on Aug. 6 as the start of a "Reach Deep" fundraising challenge to meet a mid-year budget shortfall of $100,000 in the denomination’s Core Ministries Fund.

The generosity of one Brethren family who anonymously gave $50,000 in response to the need sparked the special funding drive. This family’s gift was offered as a challenge to others to "Reach Deep" to make up the remaining $50,000 by Sept. 15.

That challenge has now met its goal, having received a total of $74,869.18 in online giving and donations in response to the direct mail request, in addition to the original gift of $50,000.

The Stewardship department announced that the $100,000 goal was met on Sept. 1, and exceeded in the following days. "I am certainly grateful for the inspirational response of our donors when invited to ‘reach deep’ this past month," said director Ken Neher.

The Core Ministries budget funds church programs ranging from Congregational Life Ministries and Caring Ministries, to Global Mission Partnerships and Brethren Volunteer Service, among others--as well as operating ministries including human resources, the finance department, communications, and more.

And there are still financial goals to meet before the end of the 2010. "I am looking forward to the continuing response of our donors to God's generosity as the year winds down," added Neher. "I am confident that all our goals for the year can be met if everyone continues to reach deep!"

-- Mandy Garcia is coordinator of Donor Invitation for the Church of the Brethren.

Source: 9/23/2010 Newsline
Bethany Seminary’s Peace Forum is now being webcast.

The weekly Peace Forum lunch and speaker series held by Bethany Theological Seminary and Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Ind., can now be viewed live online or in archived form. Webcasts are coordinated by Enten Eller, the seminary’s director of Electronic Communications and Distributed Education. Online participants can even pose questions and comments to the presenter.

Attendance for the event is growing, according to the report from Anna Lisa Gross, Bethany’s student coordinator for Peace Studies. "Not only are participants sitting on the floor because the room's 90 chairs are full, the crowd is gathering online. Accessibility is essential as we build cultures of peace. We are delighted to have people joining us online for Peace Forum."

Gross added, "The Bethany Seminary, Earlham School of Religion, Earlham College, and Richmond communities join together each week over a free, delicious lunch and rich conversation. This is the only weekly place that these communities come together to share food, friendship, and matters of faith and intellectual pursuit."

She reported that making the Peace Forum accessible to students from a distance also opens doors for the seminary’s "MDiv Connections" students to pursue a Peace Studies Emphasis. Connect to Peace Forum webcasts and a list of the fall’s speakers and topics at

Source: 9/23/2010 Newsline
Hisey Pierson to direct insurance services for BBT.

Willie Hisey Pierson has accepted the position of director of Insurance Services for Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT), filling a position to be vacated by Randy Yoder on Dec. 31. Hisey Pierson began his duties on Sept. 21, and will work with Yoder during the transition period.

Hisey Pierson has been a business owner in the home health field and has more than 16 years of experience in the insurance industry, including underwriting--essential knowledge to undergird the Brethren Medical Plan’s self-insured arrangement currently administered by BBT. Additionally, while working for American Family Insurance, he was credited for developing and executing marketing strategies that incorporated multicultural awareness.

He holds a bachelor of science degree from National-Louis University in Wheaton, Ill., and an Illinois Insurance Producer License in Property, Casualty, Health, Accident, and Life. He has sat on the Church of the Brethren’s Mission and Ministry Board and currently is on the Board of Directors for Athletes Against Drugs (Chicago). He and his family reside in Plainfield, Ill., and belong to Neighborhood Church of the Brethren.

At the end of December, Yoder retires as director of Insurance Services and begins a part-time position as client development representative for BBT.

Source: 9/23/2010 Newsline
National teleconference on gun violence is held today by NCC.

The National Council of Churches (NCC) invites participation today in a "common witness on eliminating gun violence" through a Sept. 23 National Teleconference for Prayer and Action. The call-in event this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. (eastern) is planned for clergy and lay leaders in the member denominations of the NCC.

The teleconference is to "discuss some of the work we can do together on this crucial issue," said a letter to denominational leaders from general secretary Michael Kinnamon and NaKeisha S. Blount, Washington policy advocacy officer for Racial Justice and Human Rights.

The teleconference follows on a resolution on gun violence adopted by the NCC Governing Board this summer ( ). In July, the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board endorsed the NCC resolution and encouraged church members to engage in action on the issue.

Citing John 14:27 and Matthew 22:39, invitations to the teleconference state, in part, "As Christians striving to emulate the model of the Prince of Peace, we cannot avoid the painful truth that we live in an increasingly violent world. Every day in our nation, guns are being used to destroy lives. Gun violence affects all of us; but, African-Americans and Latinos are disproportionately impacted. To remain silent as so many of our neighbors suffer the effects of gun violence would abdicate our commitment to the gospel."

The NCC also has a letter to local congregations describing actions they can join in immediately. Suggestions include taking direct action against irresponsible gun sellers in partnership with organizations like Heeding God’s Call ( ), and helping to close the gun show loophole. "While federal law requires licensed gun sellers to perform criminal background checks on everyone they sell a gun to," the letter explains, "a gap in federal law currently permits private sellers, who often congregate at gun shows, to sell guns without background checks or recordkeeping of any kind."

To participate in the teleconference go to

Source: 9/23/2010 Newsline
Districts continue Special Response hearings.

In an update on the district hearings that are part of the denomination’s Special Response process on issues of sexuality, several districts have announced upcoming dates:

Virlina District has announced its first five hearings for Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. at Antioch Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va.; Oct. 9 at 10 a.m. at Topeco Church of the Brethren in Floyd, Va.; Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. at Cloverdale (Va.) Church of the Brethren; Oct. 23 at 2:30 p.m. at West Richmond Church of the Brethren in Henrico, Va.; and Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. at Bassett (Va.) Church of the Brethren.

Northern Indiana District will hold hearings on Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. at Creekside Church of the Brethren in Elkhart, Ind.; Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. at Agape Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind.; Oct. 17 at 3 p.m. at Bremen (Ind.) Church of the Brethren; Oct. 24 at 3 p.m. at Osceola (Ind.) Church of the Brethren; and Oct. 31 at 3 p.m. at Bethany Church of the Brethren in New Paris, Ind.

South Central Indiana District holds hearings on Oct. 21 at 6:30 p.m. at Peru (Ind.) Church of the Brethren; Oct. 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Buck Creek Church of the Brethren in Mooreland, Ind.; Oct. 30 at 9:30 a.m. at Grandview Church of the Brethren in Pendleton, Ind. (tentative); and Oct. 31 at 2:30 p.m. at Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind.

Northern Plains District holds hearings on Oct. 24 at Ottumwa (Iowa) Church of the Brethren; Nov. 6 at Panther Creek Church of the Brethren in Adel, Iowa; Nov. 7 at Worthington Church of the Brethren in Reading, Minn.; and Nov. 20 at South Waterloo (Iowa) Church of the Brethren (all scheduled for 2 p.m.).

Shenandoah District holds hearings on Nov. 2 at Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock, Va.; Nov. 16 at Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren; Nov. 30 at Mt. Pleasant Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg, Va.; and Dec. 2 at Mathias (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren (all scheduled for 7 p.m.). The date and location of a fifth hearing in the eastern section of the district will be announced.

Pacific Southwest District holds hearings on Jan. 16, 2011, at Modesto (Calif.) Church of the Brethren; Jan. 22 at Pomona (Calif.) Fellowship Church of the Brethren; Jan. 30 at Papago Buttes Church of the Brethren in Scottsdale, Ariz. (all scheduled for 3 p.m.).

Shenandoah District also has thanked the 136 people from a variety of congregations who already attended a "Conversations on Homosexuality Training Session" at Linville Creek Church of the Brethren in Broadway, Va. District representatives to the Standing Committee were on hand to facilitate a demonstration of one of the Bible study sessions and answer questions about the study resources and Special Response process, according to a report in the district newsletter.

For more about the Special Response process see

Source: 9/23/2010 Newsline
Large-print Advent devotional, more new resources from Brethren Press.

Brethren Press is offering a large-print version of its annual Advent devotional as a brand-new partner to the regular-print devotional. The 2010 Advent devotional is written by Edward L. Poling. Congregations and individuals who order by Oct. 1 will receive pre-publication prices.

The devotional is available in two sizes: regular print in a pocket-size paperback booklet; and the new large-print 7- by 11-inch booklet. The text of the large-print version will be 14 point. The price is $2.50, or $5.95 for large print. Orders received by Oct. 1 will get a special discount price of $2, or $5 for large print. Shipping charges will be added to the invoice.

Brethren Press also offers these discounted prices to regular seasonal subscribers who sign up to receive both annual devotionals--Advent and Lent--as a series. Subscriptions to the devotional series are automatically renewed each year and can be cancelled or changed at any time. Churches can customize their subscriptions to the devotional series based on need, for example by ordering 25 regular and 10 large print.

More new Brethren Press resources:
  • "The Witness of the Hebrew Bible for a New Testament Church," a book edited by Christina Bucher, David A. Leiter, and Frank Ramirez, is a collection of 13 essays by Brethren scholars published in honor of Robert W. Neff in the academic tradition of the "festschrift." Neff has served as general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, president of Juniata College, and has taught at Bethany Theological Seminary. Each chapter includes study questions and recommended resources. Essays range from "Christians Reading the Old Testament" by Robert C. Bowman to "Is There Peace in the Old Testament?" by David A. Leiter to "Suffering in the Book of Job and Psalms" by Neff himself. Order for $27.95 plus shipping and handling.

  • The Fall quarter of Brethren Press Bible study curriculum for adults--is written by David W. Miller on the theme, "The Inescapable God." The study addresses the nature and character of God, and God’s relationship with human beings. Order for $4 per copy, or $6.95 for large print, plus shipping and handling.

  • The Gather ’Round Sunday school curriculum this fall focuses on "God and the First Families: Stories from Genesis." Gather ’Round is a Brethren and Mennonite curriculum for Preschool, Primary, Middler, Junior Youth, Youth, Multiage, and the Talkabout resource for families.

  • "Got Spirit?: Finding God in the Everyday" is the outdoor ministry resource for summer 2011. This Christian camping resource is supplied by New Earth. Brethren Press is one of a consortium of denominational publishers that publish in cooperation with the Committee on Outdoor Ministry of the National Council of Churches. Campers will hear daily "Got Spirit?" stories such as the 10 lepers from Luke 17. Six "Daily Discovery" sections are provided for each of five age groups: younger children, older children, younger youth, older youth, and intergenerational/family. An extra section of "Spiritual Practices" is new this year. 200 pages with CD-ROM. Order for $325 plus shipping and handling.
Order any of these resources from Brethren Press at 800-441-3712.

Source: 9/23/2010 Newsline
Florida campers learn what it means to be a hero like Jesus.

Camp Ithiel in Gotha, Fla., is one of the Church of the Brethren camps that used the Outdoor Ministry Resource curriculum "Be a Hero: Living Like Jesus" for camping programs this past summer. The curriculum is from New Earth, offered through eight different denominations including the Church of the Brethren’s publishing house, Brethren Press. An issue of "Camp Ithiel News" reported some of the things children in different age groups learned from the curriculum. Here are some excerpts:

What did you learn about being a hero?
  • "You need more than super powers to be a hero. You need faith." (Junior Camp)
  • "It starts by doing the smallest things." (Junior Camp)
  • "Sacrificing." (Junior Camp)
  • "You can save people’s lives by telling them about Jesus." (Junior Camp)
  • "I learned that sometimes you have to take risks." (Jr. High Camp)
  • "That you don’t have to have a superpower to be a hero." (Jr. High Camp)
  • "I learned that being a hero is that you get your power from God." (Jr. High Camp)
  • "There are lots of them in the Bible and they’re just ordinary people." (Youth Camp)
  • "We are all called to step up." (Youth Camp)
  • "How God’s love stays the same no matter what you do." (Youth Camp)
What did you learn about yourself?
  • "I am loved." (Junior Camp)
  • "I like fishing." (Junior Camp)
  • "We may be all different, but we’re a family." (Junior Camp)
  • "I am stronger than I thought I was." (Jr. High Camp)
  • "I can let my burdens go." (Jr. High Camp)
  • "I need to go to church more to get closer to God." (Jr. High Camp)
  • "I love to pray." (Youth Camp)
  • "That I need to open up more." (Youth Camp)
  • "I’m changing into a more respectful and responsible person." (Youth Camp)
What did you learn about God?
  • "God told people to write the Bible." (Junior Camp)
  • "God never gives up on us so we shouldn’t give up on Him." (Junior Camp)
  • "He gave his Son." (Junior Camp)
  • "God is the Almighty." (Jr. High Camp)
  • "He is always with me." (Jr. High Camp)
  • "He does many things for us that some people don’t even know about." (Jr. High Camp)
  • "That He is the hero for the whole world." (Youth Camp)
  • "He gets angry, too." (Youth Camp)
  • "He even hears your silent prayers." (Youth Camp)
  • "He created/inspired Proverbs to help youth learn." (Youth staff)
  • "God saves." (Youth Camp)
Source: 9/23/2010 Newsline
Brethren bits: Personnel, N. Korea, Haiti, India violence, anniversaries, and more.
  • J.E. McNeil has resigned as executive director of the Center on Conscience and War, following over a decade of service to the faith-based organization that advocates for the rights of conscience, opposes military conscription, and serves conscientious objectors. The center’s offices are located in Washington, D.C. Formerly the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors (NISBCO), it was formed in 1940 by an association of religious bodies including the Church of the Brethren. McNeil has served as executive director since Sept. 1999, and plans a departure date of no later than Aug. 31, 2011. The center’s board of directors, which is chaired by Church of the Brethren member Phil Jones, in a release stated that "J.E. has been the spirit, voice, and face of this important work for over a decade. Her leadership has shaped this organization into a nationally, and internationally known body, that supports men and women of conscience in their opposition to war and its violence." A search committee has been formed and applications to fill the position will be accepted beginning Oct. 1. The executive director position is full-time and salaried, with benefits including health insurance and a retirement plan. Candidates are encouraged to submit a cover letter, resume, writing exhibit (some form of writing/publication associated with previous work or vocation), three letters of reference (at least one being unrelated to professional work), salary expectations, and a one-page summary of why the candidate is attracted to this position. The full job description is available on request and at The new director will be expected to begin no later than July 1, 2011.

  • Prayer is requested for the people of North Korea and for Robert and Linda Shank, a Church of the Brethren couple preparing to teach at a university there. Global Mission Partnerships executive director Jay Wittmeyer is requesting prayer following news of a Sept. 28 convention of the Korea Workers’ Party to appoint a new leader for the country. According to CNN, it is the first gathering of party delegates in several decades and may be a crucial event for the people of North Korea. The Shanks have been teaching in China at a university close to the border with North Korea, preparing to be among the first group of teachers at the new Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. Robert Shank holds a doctorate in wheat breeding and has conducted rice research. Linda Shank holds a master’s in counseling and learning disabilities, and will be teaching English.

  • The Church of the Brethren has signed on to two public letters on Haiti, through the General Secretary’s office and Witness and Advocacy staff. A letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, sponsored by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, recommends measures for the US government to help ensure that upcoming elections are "free, fair, and inclusive." Parliamentary and presidential elections are scheduled for Nov. 28. The letter expresses concern that more than a dozen political parties have been barred from presenting candidates in the elections without serious justification, and notes that "no serious measures appear to have been taken to guarantee that the over one million Haitians that have been displaced by the earthquake will be able to vote." The second letter went to members of Congress requesting support and co-sponsorship of the Haiti Empowerment, Assistance, and Rebuilding (HEAR) Act of 2010.

  • Doris Abdullah, United Nations representative for the Church of the Brethren, attended the opening of the UN General Assembly’s 65th session in New York on Sept. 14. She also attended a panel discussion on "The Role of the Rule of Law in the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals." This is the 10th year since the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were adopted in 2000, and Abdullah noted that they still "represent a big challenge." The goals set a date of 2015 to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases, ensure environmental stability, and develop a global partnership. The 2006 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference adopted a resolution in support of the goals, go to

  • The Conference Office has sent space requests to Brethren agencies and other groups for the 2011 Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich. These include forms for Insight Sessions, catered meals, exhibit booths, and meeting space. All forms are due by Nov. 1. If you have not received these forms and need one, please contact the Conference Office at 800-323-8039.

  • "Where the Designer and design artfully awakens..." is the theme for Bethany Theological Seminary’s Campus Visit Day on Nov. 5. "Perhaps you feel clearly called to set-apart ministry," said an invitation, "perhaps you are a lay leader thirsting for deeper study; perhaps you are uncertain about your vocation, but definitely seeking theological questions. If so, then come!" Participants will engage current students and faculty through theological discussion and worshipful work, tour the campus, share a meal, and learn more about the call to leadership and scholarship in the church and the world. Visit or contact Elizabeth Keller, director of Admissions, at

  • The annual Global Mission Offering in support of Church of the Brethren mission efforts worldwide, as well as other ministries of the denomination, is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 10. This year’s theme is "Turn the World Upside Down" (Acts 17). For resources in English and Spanish go to

  • IMA World Health welcomed Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and three members of his staff to its headquarters at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., on Sept. 8. IMA expressed its deep gratitude to Cardin, whose office made calls and joined the effort to locate three IMA staff members who were trapped in the rubble of the Hotel Montana after the January earthquake in Haiti. IMA president Rick Santos, one of the three survivors, presented the senator with a framed letter and plaque in appreciation. In other events during the day, Loretta Wolf, director of the Church of the Brethren’s Material Resources program, led a tour of the Distribution Center where a large shipment of medical supplies had been packed and sent to Haiti just a few days previously. A lunch reception was prepared by the New Windsor Conference Center.

  • On Earth Peace has announced a Middle East Delegation co-sponsored with Christian Peacemaker Teams, scheduled for Jan. 4-17, 2011. "Join passionate, committed peacemakers on a journey to and through Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron," said an invitation. "This is a unique opportunity to meet with Israeli and Palestinian peace and human rights workers; additionally, delegates will visit Palestinian familes whose homes and livelihoods are threatened by expanding Israeli settlements." Contact Rick Polhamus, delegation leader, at 937-313-4458 or

  • McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren is marking its 125th anniversary with a series of events starting with an anniversary worship service Sept. 26 led by Ruthann Knechel Johansen, president of Bethany Theological Seminary, and the McPherson College Concert Choir.

  • Newton (Kan.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a presentation by Dr. Paul Ullom-Minnich, who will speak on Sept. 26 about his experiences with a Church of the Brethren medical mission to earthquake-stricken Haiti. In March the medical team held clinics in five different locations in five days, and saw close to 1,300 patients. The event begins at 6 p.m. with an ice cream social, followed by Ullom-Minnich’s presentation at 7 p.m.

  • East Chippewa Church of the Brethren in Orrville, Ohio, honored Beulah Maurer on her 90th birthday, along with other members of a "90-plus club": Florence Martin, 91; Norman Hostetler, 91; Elizabeth Leatherman, 90; and Carl Hochstetler, 91.

  • The nursery school at Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind., is celebrating its 50th anniversary on Oct. 3.

  • A workshop on the changing landscape of the church, "Job’s Lament, Job’s Friends, and Us: Re-Imagining the Kingdom of God," on Sept. 25 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., is hosted by First Central Church of the Brethren in Kansas City, Kan. Led by Bethany Seminary president Ruthann Knechel Johansen, the workshop and lunch is provided at no cost to participants. For pastors, 0.5 continuing education credit is available for a $10 fee. Contact

  • A benefit concert by Mutual Kumquat at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren netted $1,176.16 for the "Back to School: Burma" campaign of New Community Project. A generous matching fund grant was given by Rodney Smith of Midland (Va.) Church of the Brethren, who participated in a 2008 learning tour to Burma.

  • The Brethren Disaster Relief Auction at Lebanon (Pa.) Valley Expo Center is this weekend, Sept. 24-25.

  • The Indiana Camp Board has announced a decision to construct a new dining facility and welcome center at Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Ind., following a fire that destroyed the camp's Becker Lodge. "It was decided to construct the Welcome Center (which will be the administrative offices) and the Dining Center/Kitchen as two buildings joined by a ‘Commons’ area or ‘Gathering Area,’" said a status report distributed by South Central Indiana District in early September. The "foot print" of the new building will be marked out at the Camp Mack Festival on Oct. 2. Planning for a retreat center to replace lost lodging facilities is still underway.

  • Bridgewater (Va.) College will inaugurate George E. Cornelius as its eighth president on Oct. 7 with a ceremony at 10:30 a.m. (eastern) on the campus mall. Cornelius, who took office July 1, selected the inaugural theme, "Making a Difference," to affirm Bridgewater's commitment to honoring the past, living the present, and shaping the future. A week of activities complement the ceremony, which itself kicks off Homecoming. On Oct. 3, students can participate in a 15- to 20-mile bicycle ride with Cornelius, who is an avid bicyclist. On Oct. 4-8 the college will hold a food drive for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. On Oct. 4, Cornelius will participate in dorm receptions. On the day of inauguration, the college hosts a reception, an inaugural festival for students, and a concert by the Symphonic Band. On Oct. 8, there will be an inaugural seminar. Activities conclude Oct. 9 with a joint worship service with Bridgewater Church of the Brethren.

  • Enrollment at the University of La Verne (Calif.), a Church of the Brethren-related school, has set records this fall, according to a release. "Coming into this, its 119th academic year, La Verne’s enrollment had never exceeded 1,700 traditional undergraduate students," the release said. "Although final figures will not be available for several weeks, university officials have determined this year’s enrollment has surpassed 1,875 students." The figure represents a 23 percent increase from last year. In addition, the initial count for this year’s entering class shows more than 770 new undergraduate freshmen, transfer, and international students present during the first week of classes, "a 70 percent increase from the 453 of a year ago."

  • McPherson (Kan.) College is celebrating a new Motorcycle Major with a "Bikes on the Lawn" motorcycle rally on Sept. 25, said a release that named McPherson as "the nation’s premier automotive restoration college." A complimentary barbecue lunch will be served. At 12:45 p.m., Automotive Restoration students are scheduled to turn a pile of parts into a fully assembled and running Ford Model T in less than 20 minutes.

  • "Seeking God’s Grace for the Gulf" has been announced by the National Council of Churches as a day of worship, reflection, and healing for the destruction caused by the oil spill. On Sunday, Oct. 3, congregations across the country are invited to use the worship resources offered at

  • The Church of North India (CNI) has called on the Indian government to protect Christians after schools and churches were attacked in "Quran anger violence," according to an Anglican news report. A mob burned down the Tungmarg Tyndale Biscoe branch school after hearing reports of a man desecrating the Quran in America. The school provided education to 550 children from 150 villages. The release noted that when the school library was burned, among other books copies of the Quran were destroyed. None of the staff were injured and all managed to escape. Other Christian institutions that came under attack included the Roman Catholic Good Shepherd High School at Pulwama, the CNI hospital at Anantnag, a CNI church in Malerkotla, Chandigarh Diocese, and a Roman Catholic Church in Poonch, Jammu. "It is a time to pray and act together," said a report in the CNI newsletter. CNI leaders had condemned the plans by a Florida pastor to burn a Quran, the report said, and are now urging the Christian community to stay calm and maintain peace.
Source: 9/23/2010 Newsline

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Charles Bentley, Kathleen Campanella, Charles Culbertson, Chris Douglas, Emily Esworthy, Phil Jones, Adam Pracht, Marcia Shetler, Brian Solem, Christopher W. Zepp contributed to this report.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Annual Conference theme and speakers are announced for 2011.

The theme and main speakers have been announced for the Church of the Brethren's Annual Conference next year, July 2-6, 2011, in Grand Rapids, Mich. Moderator Robert E. Alley announced the theme "Gifted with Promise: Extending Jesus' Table," based on the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000.

"This story is one of few to appear in all four Gospels (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; and John 6:1-14)," Alley noted in his announcement. "In every age including our own, Jesus continues to challenge disciples to respond to people with the sustaining benefit of the Gospel whether in compassionate service, forgiving grace, or abiding hope.

"In 'Gifted with Promise: Extending Jesus' Table,' Brethren encounter a challenging assignment: (1) to discover afresh their giftedness with Gospel and (2) to envision their role in loving the world enough to share the physical and spiritual benefit of the Gospel," the moderator's statement continued. "This theme connects our common interests in spirituality and service, practice and prayer. We extend the table with promised resources of grace and love. The theme calls us to mission and evangelism where we not only share and invite but we cultivate discipleship as we offer tangible resources of food, clothing, medical care, and more. At the table, we share, we receive, and we learn."

Alley also announced a theme song, "Praise, I Will Praise You Lord," and the preachers and worship leaders for the daily worship services:

Saturday evening, July 2: Moderator Robert Alley will preach for the opening worship service, on the scripture Mark 6:30-44, with moderator-elect Tim Harvey as worship leader.

Sunday morning, July 3: Craig H. Smith, executive minister for Atlantic Northeast District, will preach, with worship leaders Joel and Linetta Ballew of Lebanon Church of the Brethren in Mount Sidney, Va. The daily focus will be "Jesus extends the table in the midst of domestic life," based on the day's scriptures of John 2:1-12 and Matthew 14:13-21.

Monday evening, July 4: Preacher Samuel Sarpiya, pastor of Rockford (Ill.) Community Church, a new church plant, will be assisted by worship leader Nathan D. Polzin, executive minister for Michigan District and pastor of the Church in Drive in Saginaw, Mich. The daily focus will be "Jesus extends the table by accepting the hospitality of others" with the day's scriptures taken from Luke 7:36-8:3 and Mark 8:1-10.

Tuesday evening, July 5: The message will be brought by preacher Dava C. Hensley, pastor of First Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., with worship leader Peter J. Kontra, pastor of Oakland Church of the Brethren in Bradford, Ohio. The daily focus will be "Jesus extends the table beyond our own kind and our own community," with daily scriptures Luke 14:12-14 and Luke 9:10-17.

Wednesday morning, July 6: The closing service will hear from the Church of the Brethren's general secretary Stan Noffsinger, with worship leader Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, an ordained minister from Minneapolis, Minn. The daily focus will be "Jesus extends the table to us." The day's scripture focuses will be John 21:9-14 and John 6:1-14.

Additional leadership at the 2011 Conference will be provided by music coordinator Bev Anspaugh of Rocky Mount, Va.; Conference Choir director Alan Gumm of Mount Pleasant, Mich.; organist Josh Tindall of Elizabethtown, Pa.; pianist Jenny Williams of Richmond, Ind.; and Children's Choir director Rachel Bucher Swank.

The full text of the moderator's theme statement for 2011 will be available soon at

In related news, the Conference Office has announced a deadline for submitting nominations for church leadership positions to be filled through elections at the 2011 Conference. The deadline to submit nominations is Dec. 1. A packet of election information has been mailed to each Church of the Brethren congregation, listing the leadership positions that are open. That information and nomination forms also are available at (In a correction to the Annual Conference election mailing, on the grid of the last page of the Call to Accountability document the columns of numbers marked "Men/Women" should be reversed to read "Women/Men.")

Source: 9/9/2010 Newsline
Committee on Interchurch Relations to reconsider its mission.

The Committee on Interchurch Relations (CIR) met at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on Aug. 26-28. The three-day Fall Meeting is the annual launch to the CIR's realm of responsibilities. The CIR also participates in three telephone conferences throughout the year, and has responsibilities at Annual Conference including written and oral presentations to the delegate body.

New CIR member Christina Singh was welcomed to the committee. Paul Roth was appointed chair.

In light of economic challenges and of the changing face of ecumenism, the group reviewed the continuing viability and purpose of CIR by looking at its history and recent endeavors. The committee celebrated many accomplishments of the past few decades, but felt it is time to recast the vision for ecumenical life in the Church of the Brethren. A request will be sent to the Standing Committee of district representatives and to the Church of the Brethren's Mission and Ministry Board to review CIR's mission for the 21st century.

The group received positive reviews of CIR's activities at the 2010 Annual Conference, where many noted Archbishop Vicken Aykazian's luncheon presentation and address to the delegate body as highlights. Plans for the 2011 Annual Conference include hosting Richard Hamm, executive director of Christian Churches Together USA (CCT), as speaker for the Ecumenical Luncheon and the insight session sponsored by CIR. General Secretary Stan Noffsinger also reported on his ecumenical work during the past year.

Members of CIR are Melissa Bennett of Northern Indiana District, Christina Singh of Northern Plains District, Jim Hardenbrook of Shenandoah District, Steve Reid of Southern Plains District, Paul Roth of Shenandoah District, and Melissa Troyer of Northern Indiana District. Noffsinger serves as an ex-officio member.

-- Melissa Troyer is a member of the Committee on Interchurch Relations.

Source: 9/9/2010 Newsline
New BVS volunteers complete summer orientation.

The summer orientation training unit for Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) was held in Harrisonburg, Va., from July 18-Aug. 6. Following are the new volunteers, their hometowns or congregations, and their project placements:

Simon Brendel of Berlin, Germany, to Project PLASE in Baltimore, Md.; Leon Buschina of Vaihingen, Germany, also going to Project PLASE; John Clucas of Glen Ellyn, Ill., to Abode in Fremont, Calif.; Jill and Randy Emmelhainz, and their children Jacob and Anna, of Ostrander, Ohio, to Lybrook (N.M.) Community Ministries; Daniel Hoellinger of Waldkraiburg, Germany, to Abode in Fremont, Calif.; Martin Kutter of St. Katharinen, Germany, to Innisfree Village in Crozet, Va.; Rebecca Marek of Crestline, Ohio, to Holywell Consultancy and the Junction in Derry, Northern Ireland; Cori Miner and Adam Stokes of North Manchester, Ind., to Su Casa Catholic Worker House in Chicago, Ill., and Greenhill YMCA in Newcastle, Northern Ireland; Katherine Philipson of Portland, Ore., to Jubilee USA Network in Washington, D.C.; Rachel Reeder of Arlington, Va., to Emmaus Community in Rouen, France; Susan and Patrick Starkey of Ninth St. Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., to Casa de Esperanza de los NiƱos in Houston, Texas; Ellen Zemlin of Carmel, Ind., to EIRENE in Neuwied, Germany.

Source: 9/9/2010 Newsline
Haitian Brethren hold gathering for theological training, love feast.

An annual gathering of L'Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti) was held in mid-August in the town of Cap-Haitien in the north of the Caribbean island. Some 92 members of the Haitian church and leadership from the US church took part in the event, which included sessions for theological training, a Love Feast service, and baptisms. The theme for the week was "Unity."

Attending from the US Church of the Brethren were Ludovic St. Fleur, coordinator of the Haiti mission and pastor of Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami, Fla.; his daughter Roselanne Cadet, who provided translation services; Marie Ridore, also of Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami; Ilexene Alphonse of Miami First Church of the Brethren; Thomas Dowdy Jr., pastor of Imperial Heights Church of the Brethren in Los Angeles, Calif.; Verel Montauban, pastor of Haitian First Church of the Brethren of New York; and James Myer, an ordained minister from Lititz, Pa., and a leader in the Brethren Revival Fellowship.

The Brethren in the Dominican Republic sent Leton Fleury as a representative to the meeting, attending from the Boca Chica congregation near Santo Domingo.

The Love Feast included footwashing, a fellowship meal, and communion, and was attended by more than 90 people. For communion, a batch of bread was served made from a recipe that Myer had brought with him.

At the close of the gathering, seven people received believer's baptism by trine immersion in a Brethren style that proved to be new for many Haitians who were present, according to reports from the event. On the weekend after the gathering, 12 more people planned to be baptized in their home congregations.

Source: 9/9/2010 Newsline
Global Women's Project steering committee holds summer meeting.

The Global Women's Project steering committee met in Minneapolis, Minn., from Aug. 26-29. Members are Judi Brown of N. Manchester, Ind.; Carrie Eikler of Morgantown, W.Va.; Nan Erbaugh of W. Alexandria, Ohio; Anna Lisa Gross of Richmond, Ind.; and Kim Hill Smith of Minneapolis.

The Global Women's Project is a Church of the Brethren-related organization partnering with women around the world, striving to educate about wealth and privilege, and encouraging those with extra to share with those who do not have enough.

The steering committee was able to worship with both the Common Spirit Church of the Brethren and the Open Circle Church of the Brethren in the Minneapolis area. The project is in partnership with six projects around the world which are led by women and benefit women and their communities: an agricultural project in Rwanda, a program for women coming out of jail in Wabash, Ind.; a sewing cooperative in Narus, southern Sudan; a girls' education program in Uganda; a job skills cooperative in Nepal; and a women's radio show in Bethlehem, Palestine.

The volunteer steering committee members gather two times a year. In March 2011, they will meet in Richmond, Ind., worshiping and sharing with Bethany Theological Seminary and Earlham School of Religion. Those who are in the area are invited to join the steering committee at Bethany's Peace Forum on March 3 from 12-1 p.m. As always, a free lunch is open to all who come to the Peace Forum, and Global Women's Project will share about its work.

Supporters are invited to join the movement by using the Global Women's Project Lenten devotional calendar and participating in a Mother's Day Project. Learn more at

--Anna Lisa Gross is a member of the Global Women's Project steering committee.

Source: 9/9/2010 Newsline
Children's Sabbath is an opportunity to support well-being of children.

"Blessed to Be a Blessing: Lifting Up the Next Generation" is the theme for the Children's Defense Fund's 2010 Children's Sabbaths weekend on Oct. 15-17. The observance aims to unite religious congregations of all faiths across the nation in shared concern for children and common commitment to improving their lives.

Kim Ebersole, director of the Church of the Brethren's Family Life Ministry, encourages congregations to observe Children's Sabbaths weekend through worship, prayer, and education programs for all ages.

"The Church of the Brethren has long been concerned with the well-being of children," she said. "This special observance is an opportunity to reflect on the teachings of our faith, learn more about the needs of children, and explore ways to make our communities better places for kids and families." Go to for a link to download the Children's Sabbaths resource manual.

Source: 9/9/2010 Newsline
Training opportunities for deacons, stewardship, intercultural ministry, Children's Disaster Services, youth ministry.

A number of upcoming workshops and training events are offered by or recommended by Church of the Brethren staff in the areas of deacon ministry, stewardship, intercultural ministry, serving children following disasters, and youth ministry:

Three training sessions for deacons will be hosted by Pacific Southwest District this fall. The first will be at Tucson (Ariz.) Church of the Brethren on Sept. 25, followed by identical sessions at the Empire and Glendora Churches in California on Oct. 2 and 9, respectively. Each session will include opening and closing worship, the workshops "What Are Deacons Supposed to Do, Anyway?" and "The Art of Listening," as well as a light lunch. To register, complete the form found at or contact the district office at 909-392-4054 or For information about other fall training sessions for deacons visit or contact Donna Kline, director of the Church of the Brethren's Deacon Ministry, at 800-323-8039 or

"Intercultural Competency/Competencia Intercultural: Being an Effective Leader in a Diverse Changing World" is the theme for a workshop on Nov. 11, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., at First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., led by Eric H.F. Law. The event is offered in both English and Spanish, jointly sponsored by the Church of the Brethren's Intercultural Ministry, On Earth Peace, and Mennonite Central Committee. It is designed for pastors, church members, and district leaders. Law is adjunct faculty for the Doctor of Ministry program at McCormick Theological Seminary, ACTS Doctor of Ministry program in Preaching, and the Mexican American Cultural Center in San Antonio, Texas. He will speak on viewing intercultural communities of faith through the lens of theology and explore the questions: What is culture? Why are there intercultural conflicts? How do racism, power, and privilege affect the way we can be effective leaders in a diverse community? The $25 registration fee includes lunch with a vegetarian option. A continuing education credit of 0.5 is available for $10. Online registration is at

Children's Disaster Services (CDS) is offering a volunteer workshop Nov. 12-13 at Salem Church of the Brethren in Englewood, Ohio. CDS volunteers provide a calm, safe, and reassuring presence following disasters 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. The information learned at this workshop can be beneficial to anyone working with children. Cost is $45 for early registration, $55 after Oct. 22. The local contact is Carrie Smith at 937-836-6145, or contact the CDS office at 800-451-4407 ext. 5 or

"Teaching and Preaching Christian Stewardship," the 2010 Leadership Seminar offered by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center, will take place on Nov. 29-Dec. 2 at the Sirata Beach Resort in St. Pete's Beach, Fla. Denominational leaders from across North America will share their insights, research, and inspiration in teaching and preaching stewardship in an event that blends workshop sessions, worship, and fellowship for pastors and stewardship leaders. To learn more about content and leadership, visit To receive an early bird registration discount and a Church of the Brethren scholarship ($100 for the first five registrants; $50 for the second five), contact Carol Bowman, stewardship development coordinator, at 509-663-2833 (Pacific time) or before Oct. 18.

The Youth Worker Summit, a once-every-four-years ecumenical youth ministry training event, takes place Dec. 1-4 in Orlando, Fla. The summit is a chance for youth pastors and youth workers to strengthen ministry skills, network, and re-energize. Rodger Nishioka is this year's keynote speaker, Phyllis Tickle will speak at the opening worship service, and Celia Whitler will lead the music. The schedule includes worship, workshops, plenary sessions, and time to spend with youth ministry colleagues. Visit for details. "Because this event includes high quality leadership, it is an expensive conference," said an invitation from Becky Ullom, the Church of the Brethren's director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. "In order to make it more affordable for you to attend, I have set aside some budget money for scholarships." The Youth and Young Adult Ministry office will be able to pay the entire registration fee ($275) for the first 20 Church of the Brethren youth pastors who indicate they would like a scholarship. Individuals or churches will pay for lodging and travel to the Orlando area, although some money for travel may be available. As soon as possible (or by Oct. 8), e-mail if you plan to participate.

Source: 9/9/2010 Newsline
Remembrances: Charles (Chuck) Boyer, Mary Eikenberry, Esther Mohler Ho, Susanne Windisch.

Charles (Chuck) Boyer, 73, a past moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference and a former director of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) and peace consultant for the denomination, passed away Sept. 2 in La Verne, Calif. He was an ordained minister and a strong peace and justice activist and advocate. He served as BVS director from 1969-76 and as peace consultant from 1976-88. During his own term as a BVS volunteer in 1959-61, he worked in a refugee camp in Berlin, Germany, and planned workcamps and peace seminars for the Brethren Service Commission. As peace consultant he helped develop the People of the Covenant program, and from 1980-85 chaired the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors during a time when compulsory draft registration was reinstated. In 1986 and 1988 he testified before House and Appropriations Subcommittees for fair treatment of conscientious objectors. He was arrested several times in actions for peace, once after helping lead a Brethren footwashing service in the Capitol rotunda as part of a Lenten witness against the Contra War and US policies in Central America. Then, from 1988 until his retirement in 2002 he served La Verne Church of the Brethren as senior pastor. In 1993 he was moderator of Annual Conference--the first from the West Coast in 30 years, noted a "Messenger" magazine interview published in February that year. Interviewer George Keeler reported Boyer's "tough convictions" on a number of issues including his inclusive stance on sexuality. The interview raised a "furor" in the denomination, as Boyer describes in his most recent contribution to "Messenger"--an essay that appears posthumously this month titled "What's Ahead for the Church of the Brethren?" Reflecting on the denomination's current Special Response process, Boyer writes about the furor over his stance on sexual inclusivity in 1993, the calls for his resignation as moderator, and the hate mail he received at the time. Boyer was born July 20, 1937, in Wabash, Ind., the only child of Ralph and Edith (Frantz) Boyer. In 1962 he married Shirley Campbell, who survives him. He held degrees from Manchester College and Bethany Theological Seminary. At Purdue University he served as campus pastor in the Ecumenical Ministry to International Students from 1964-69. He was an accomplished pianist and loved sports, volunteering as a baseball umpire and officiating at basketball games at different times in his life. Honors and recognitions early in his career included listings in Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities and Outstanding Young Men of America, and more recently the 2008 Friend of Caucus Award given by Womaen's Caucus. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Shirley, son David (Gwen) Boyer, daughter Valerie (Jaime) Beltran, son Mark, and seven grandchildren. Memorial donations are received to La Verne Church of the Brethren and Manchester College. The memorial service will be held at La Verne Church of the Brethren on Sept. 16, at 10:00 a.m.

Mary Elizabeth (Flora) Eikenberry, 95, a former mission worker in Nigeria, died Sept. 1 at Timbercrest Senior Living Community in N. Manchester, Ind. With her husband, the late Ivan Eikenberry, she lived and worked in Nigeria for 35 years. Beginning in 1945 she taught elementary school at Garkida Mission School and at Waka Teachers Training College; from 1959-77 was administrative assistant for the Northern Education Advisory Council in Kaduna, where she also hosted international mission visitors, served as chair of the service committee, and as president of the International Women's Club; and from 1979 until retirement in 1981 taught at Kulp Bible School near Mubi. At a "send off" in honor of the Eikenberrys retirement given by the Waka Old Students Association, Rev. Nvwa Balami commented, "Your contribution in education has changed the history and destiny of ethnic groups in this country within a period of one generation...." After retirement the couple moved to Trotwood, Ohio, and participated in mission interpretation and the "Micah Mission" from 1981-86, in the summer of 1983 accompanying a tour of the women's choir of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Other volunteer service for the church included terms on the Southern Ohio District Board and as district moderator. In 1993 her husband, Ivan, died, and in 2006 she moved to Timbercrest Senior Living Community. She was born June 13, 1915, in New Windsor, Md., to Joel Cephas and Elizabeth (Garver) Flora. She earned a degree from Manchester College, was active in church youth camps, and served on the youth cabinet in Southern Ohio District. From 1936-39 she taught junior high and high school in Ohio. In 1939 she married Ivan Eikenberry. She was preceded in death by her husband and sons Brian and Terril. She is survived by three remaining children and their spouses: Melody and Lawrence Rupley, Joel and Beverly (Sayers) Eikenberry, and Lynn and Beth (Johnson) Eikenberry; nine grandchildren; and seven great grandchildren. A celebration of her life was held Sept. 4 at Trotwood Church of the Brethren. Memorial donations are received to the Ivan Eikenberry Family Scholarship Fund at Manchester College, Trotwood Church of the Brethren, and Timbercrest Charitable Assistance Endowment Fund.

Esther Mohler Ho, 79, former staff in the denomination's peace office, died on Aug. 20 in Hayward, Calif. From 1957-61 she worked with the director of Peace Education and Action for the Church of the Brethren. Previously she served in Brethren Volunteer Service in Kassel, Germany, as a representative for International Christian Youth Exchange. She continued her work for peace in later years by joining the Hayward Peace and Justice Fellowship, the Ecumenical Peace Institute of the Bay Area in Berkeley, Interfaith Witness for Peace in the Middle East, and the American Muslim Voice Foundation. With Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) she worked in the West Bank city of Hebron and in Chiapas, Mexico. A brief memoir of her life appears in "Love, Grandma," published by Grandmothers Against the War. She was born July 2, 1931, the daughter of John and Lota Mohler. She held degrees from McPherson (Kan.) College and Northwestern University in Illinois, and worked as a speech and language specialist. She was a member of Modesto (Calif.) Church of the Brethren and Fremont (Calif.) Congregational Church. According to an obituary in the "Morning Sun" newspaper, she was recognized earlier this year by the Alameda County (Calif.) Board of Supervisors for her many decades of public service and faith-based activism in support of peace and social justice, and by the American Muslim Voice Foundation as a "Hero of Peace, Love, and Friendship." Her husband of 49 years, Winston C. Ho, a native of Shanghai, China, survives along with daughters Cheri and Lisa Ho, and grandchildren. A memorial service was held at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley on Sept. 5. Memorial donations are received to Christian Peacemaker Teams, On Earth Peace, and Heifer International.

Susanne Windisch, 93, who worked in Kassel, Germany, with Brethren Service following World War II, died on Aug. 30. She was a secretary, administrative assistant, translator, interpreter, and a "guide and diplomat" for the Brethren Service program, and a personal friend to many Brethren volunteers who served in or traveled through Kassel. A remembrance by Wilbur Mullen, who directed the Brethren work in Germany beginning in 1954, describes her as "one of the great and devoted friends of the Church of the Brethren. She became a helping friend to the many seagoing cowboys, those who brought the gifts of livestock to Europe. Brethren Service and Brethren Volunteer Service quickly became the family she never had. She is one who lived through World War II, before, during, and after the heavy bombing of Kassel when it was 85 percent destroyed. After the death of her parents she lived a frugal life. She spoke about walking to and from work, an hour daily each way, to save the 15 or 20 cents for food.... Susanne came to love the Church of the Brethren and the many members she met. Years later in one of her letters she wrote, 'Now I begin to understand how Christ is central, a part of all the Brethren do.'"

Source: 9/9/2010 Newsline
Brethren bits: Personnel, Hurricane Earl, BVS, International Day of Prayer for Peace, more.
  • The New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center is thanking Dave Holl for his work as a first-time volunteer host in Zigler Hall in July and August. The conference center also welcomes volunteer hosts Roy and Verda Martin of Waynesboro, Pa., who have spent the past three years in Brethren Volunteer Service, working as houseparents at a project in Lewiston, Maine.

  • Children's Disaster Services prepared to respond to Hurricane Earl last week, as the storm moved toward the east coast of the United States. The program had 70 volunteers on call, reported CDS associate director Judy Bezon, but the storm weakened and a response by CDS was not needed. The work done to line up such a large group of volunteers is not lost, however, Bezon said. "We have information about the availability of volunteers through mid October--for other hurricanes that may develop."

  • Officers of the Church of the Brethren Ministers' Association met Aug. 18-19 for their annual face-to-face planning meeting. In addition to administrative matters, the officers reviewed evaluations from the 2010 Pre-Conference Continuing Education Event and worked on plans for the upcoming event to precede the 2011 Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., on July 1-2. The theme will be "Breaking Down Walls: Pursuing the Vision of Becoming Multi-Cultural Congregations" and will feature the leadership of Darla Kay Deardorff and Bob Hunter. "Be watching for more details and registration information in the coming months," said a notice from vice chair Chris Zepp of Bridgewater, Va. The 2010-11 association officers also include chair Sue Richard of Lima, Ohio; second vice chair Dave Kerkove of Adel, Iowa; secretary Joel Kline of Elgin, Ill.; and treasurer Rebecca House of Union Bridge, Md.

  • A prayer circle on Sept. 3 at the church's General Offices offered a blessing for the 15 Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) workers attending a retreat, and for Robert and Linda Shank (shown at left above), church staff preparing to travel to North Korea to teach in a new university there. Global Mission Partnerships executive director Jay Wittmeyer led the time of prayer.

  • The BVS Europe retreat took place Aug. 8-14 in Berlin, Germany. BVS volunteers who are working in projects across Europe took part. Kristin Flory is coordinator for Brethren Service Europe.

  • BVS holds its fall orientation on Sept. 26-Oct. 15 in Oregon at Camp Myrtlewood in Myrtle Point and in Portland. This will be the 291st BVS unit and will consist of 33 volunteers. The last time BVS trained such a large orientation group was in the fall of 2007. The unit will spend three weeks exploring project possibilities and topics of community building, peace and social justice, faith sharing, diversity training, and more. They will have the opportunity for several work days, in both rural and urban communities. Friends, BVS alumni, and supporters are welcomed to a potluck with the unit at 6 p.m. on Oct. 11 at Portland Peace Church of the Brethren. For more information contact the BVS office at 800-323-8039.

  • On Earth Peace is offering a new resource for the International Day of Prayer for Peace. The family liturgy titled "Passing of the Pieces" is written by Chris Riley, a fifth-grade teacher from Luray (Va.) Church of the Brethren. For a copy contact Michael Colvin, coordinator of the International Day of Prayer for Peace Campaign, at or 626-802-5900.

  • A Ministry of Reconciliation Matthew 18 Workshop is hosted by Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in Littleton, Colo., on Sept 17-18. Registration is $25 for individuals or $100 for groups of five or more from the same congregation. Lunch and childcare are included. Pre-register by Sept. 12 by calling 303-797-1536 or Scholarships and housing are available.

  • Buena Vista (Va.) Stone Church of the Brethren celebrates its "102nd Birthday" with a Revive Us Again Homecoming on Sept. 19.

  • An open house for Homer Kerr's 100th birthday was planned for Sept. 5 at English River Church of the Brethren in South English, Iowa.

  • First Church of the Brethren in Brooklyn, N.Y., hosted three workcamps this summer including one of the denomination's junior high workcamps. "So far 91 youth and their advisors have experienced the urban environment and being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ," reported pastor Jonathan Bream.

  • The Handbell Choir and congregation at Montezuma Church of the Brethren in Dayton, Va., are hosting a third annual "Ring and Sing for Peace" on Sept. 19, at 6:30 p.m. The event brings together Brethren, Friends, and Mennonite congregations.

  • Mutual Kumquat will give a benefit concert at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren on Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m. A free-will offering will be taken for the "Back to School--Burma" campaign of New Community Project..

  • Upcoming district conferences: Southern Pennsylvania District meets on Sept. 17-18 at Black Rock Church of the Brethren in Glenville, Pa., on the theme, "The Command... Love God, Love Others, Love Well!" (1 John 4:7-8 and Mark 12:29-31); Eli Mast serves as moderator. Oregon and Washington District Conference is Sept. 17-19 at Camp Myrtlewood in Oregon, on the theme "Sacred Space," with David Radcliff as guest speaker. The Northern Indiana District Conference is Sept. 17-18 at Camp Alexander Mark in Milford, Ind.

  • Virlina District's Peace Affairs Committee is sponsoring an International Day of Prayer for Peace Service on Sept. 19 at 3 p.m. at Roanoke (Va.) Oak Grove Church of the Brethren. Walter F. Sullivan, Bishop Emeritus of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, will be the guest speaker.

  • A picnic and fundraiser will be held at the John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va., on Sept. 12, beginning at 4 p.m. The event is part of an effort to preserve the historic home of Elder John Kline, a leader of the Brethren during the Civil War. Interpretive tours will be offered, along with music by the Bridgewater Round Hill Recorders and a hymn sing. Bring your own lawn chair or blanket. There is a minimum donation of $10 for adults and $5 for children 10 and under. Reservations are requested, contact Linville Creek Church of the Brethren at 540-896-5001. An e-mail from pastor Paul Roth reports that, "As of yesterday's accounting, we have raised over $358,500 toward our goal of $425,000 to purchase the John Kline Homestead. This means we need less than $66,500 to go!"

  • Bridgewater (Va.) College is experiencing record enrollment, according to a release from the school. "This year 552 new students enrolled at Bridgewater, making it the largest incoming freshman class in the college's 130-year history. Total enrollment now stands at 1,690 students, up 6 percent from 2009," the release said. To accommodate the growth, two new village-style residences were added to housing. Stone Village, an environmentally friendly concept constructed as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver project, houses 32 students. The college plans to add up to three more residences in Stone Village by next year.

  • Plans for the 2010 "Powerhouse" regional youth conference at Manchester College in N. Manchester, Ind., are in high gear. The conference on Nov. 13-14 will have the theme "Hidden Treasure" (Prov. 2:1-5). Keynote leaders are Angie Lahman Yoder and Dave Sollenberger, with a concert by Mutual Kumquat. Cost for the weekend, including three meals, is just $40. Details and downloadable registration forms can be found at Print copies were sent to district offices and youth leaders in early September.

  • Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., is holding a Brethren Senior Overnight and Open House on Oct. 10-11. Activities will include meeting current Brethren students, a campus tour, a session with faculty, and information about admissions and Brethren life on campus. Register at or call 814-641-3422 or 814-641-3361.

  • The University of La Verne's Abraham Campus Center is the first building in the city of La Verne, Calif., to earn LEED Certification from the US Green Building Council at the silver level.

  • A film version of "Amish Grace"--based on the book "Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy" by Church of the Brethren author Donald B. Kraybill along with Steven M. Nolt, and David L. Weaver-Zercher--will be available on DVD on Sept. 14, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The highest rated movie ever to premiere on Lifetime, according to a release, it chronicles the community of Nickel Mines, Pa., where a gunman senselessly took the lives of five girls in a schoolhouse shooting before taking his own life in Oct. 2006. The movie is directed by Gregg Champion.

  • The Heeding God's Call movement against gun violence is to receive a human rights award from the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, the city agency that enforces civil rights laws and deals with inter-group conflict and neighborhood disputes. The award will be presented Sept. 16. Heeding God's Call movement began in early 2009 at a Historic Peace Churches conference held in Philadelphia.
Source: 9/9/2010 Newsline
Church leaders call for civility in Christian-Muslim relations.

As the ninth anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11 approaches, Church of the Brethren staff have expressed concern for interfaith relationships and have called for Brethren to reach out as peacemakers.

"The Church of the Brethren call is for all followers of Jesus to be peacemakers as we approach the anniversary of the Sept. 11 events, and the rising rhetoric and threat of violence against people of differing belief," said general secretary Stan Noffsinger.

Noffsinger joined his voice with that of other Christian leaders around the world, responding to a worldwide controversy that was unleashed by the plans of one small church in Florida--the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville--to burn copies of the Quran on 9/11. Also, plans to build a Muslim community center near Ground Zero in Manhattan has increased tensions. Statements in response came from a wide range of Christian organizations and ecumenical groups including the World Council of Churches, National Council of Churches, Mennonite Central Committee, Church World Service, and many others (see statements below).

Today the Florida pastor announced to news organizations that he has given up his plan to burn a Quran. There also are unconfirmed reports that the developer of the Muslim center near Ground Zero may be talking about moving the site.

Global Mission Partnerships executive director Jay Wittmeyer had written a letter to the Dove Center at the request of the youth chairman of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The youth leader attends an EYN church in Maiduguri that was destroyed by bombing during religious violence a year ago. The letter expressed concern from Nigeria about suffering retaliatory violence if a Quran was burned by Christians in the US.

"What we say and do on the anniversary of Sept. 11 matters," said Josh Brockway, the Church of the Brethren’s director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship. "It gets to the heart of Christian discipleship. Scripture, from cover to cover, is clear that welcome of the stranger, love for our neighbor, and prayers for our enemies are central practices of the Christian way of life. Followers of the Prince of Peace cannot raise one hand in lament and hold a match in another."

Noffsinger said he supports public comments by NCC general secretary Michael Kinnamon at an interfaith press conference held Sept. 7 at the National Press Club. Kinnamon and other religious leaders addressed what they called an atmosphere of fear and intolerance toward Muslims and condemned the plans to burn the Quran.

"The Church of the Brethren agreement on civility extends to our interfaith relationships with our neighbors," Noffsinger said, referring to the "Resolution Urging Forbearance" adopted by the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in 2008 ( ). He also cited a paper from the Committee on Interchurch Relations adopted by the 1982 Conference, calling Brethren to "study ways that interfaith dialog may lead to a visible expression of God’s plan of unity for all of humanity."

This week the denomination’s Peace and Witness Ministry also issued an Action Alert offering ideas for congregations and individuals to "seek to make manifest the reign of God in this world" as the 9/11 anniversary approaches. Go to for the alert, including links to the International Day of Prayer for Peace website of On Earth Peace, an online petition to cut military spending, and helpful background from Annual Conference statements.

A blog site has been set up by the Peace and Witness Ministry with an invitation for Church of the Brethren congregations to share their plans for marking the anniversary of Sept. 11 this year. Go to to share "Another Way of Living on 9/11."

Other Christian responses:

World Council of Churches general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit this week offered a message of peace to Muslim leaders as they end the celebration of Ramadan, a month of fasting and prayer. Tveit said the WCC and its member churches around the world reject and firmly condemn acts that might cause violence between Muslim and Christian communities. "Religious leaders have a unique role and the moral responsibility to work towards reconciliation and healing within their own communities and between communities," the letter said ( ).

The National Council of Churches release from the interfaith press conference quoted Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of America, as saying that "Muslims in America report the highest degree of anxiety they have felt since Sept. 11, 2001." Also speaking at the press conference was Rabbi David Saperstein, executive director of the Union for Reform Judaism, who said religious leaders had no choice but to gather together in response to anti-Muslim rhetoric. On Sept. 2 the NCC and its Interfaith Relations Commission reiterated a call for Christians and people of other faiths to express respect for Muslims and Islam, condemning the plans by the Florida church as "misguided or confused about the love of neighbor by which Christ calls us to live.... Such open acts of hatred are not a witness to Christian faith, but a grave trespass against the ninth commandment, a bearing of false witness against our neighbor. They contradict the ministry of Christ and the witness of the church in the world." Find the NCC statements at

Mennonite Central Committee executive director J. Ron Byler wrote a pastoral letter to Anabaptist churches, urging congregations to redouble their efforts to reach out to Muslims in their communities. Citing Jesus’ statements in Matthew 22:34-40 and passages from Genesis 1:27, 1 John 4:7-21, Hebrews 13:1-2, and 1 Peter 4:8-10, the letter said in part, "MCC US calls on the Florida church that has stated its intent to burn copies of the Quran on the anniversary of the attacks to abandon the plan and instead embrace Christ’s love for all."

Open Doors, a group serving persecuted Christians worldwide, warned that the burning of a Quran could result in increase of persecution against Christians in Muslim-dominated countries. The group reported that already over the past weekend, angry crowds in Afghanistan and Indonesia protested and threatened retaliation. Open Doors USA president/CEO Carl Moeller said: "The planned burning of the Quran is a disaster on two fronts: It violates the command of Jesus to love our neighbor and it would likely cause Christians worldwide to be more vilified and persecuted."

MassBible (the Massachusetts Bible Society) issued a release calling the burning of the Quran "an act of hatred against Muslims and the Islamic faith.... As people of the Book, we are joined to Islam and Judaism in a special way and as an organization that has sought to put that Book into people's hands for 201 years, we cannot stand idly by while the sacred text of a sister religion is burned as our beloved Bibles once were." The organization announced that "lest Muslim culture believe that Rev. Jones' position represents that of all Christians," it was prepared to give away two Qurans for every one that was burned, and would donate them to Muslims who were without access to their sacred text.

Church World Service, a worldwide Christian service organization of which the Church of the Brethren is a member, also sent out a release today. John L. McCullough, executive director, issued a statement that said, in part, "We are deeply disappointed and offended by the intent of any Christian pastor or congregation that chooses to burn the Koran, whether in commemoration of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks or for any other reason.... Desecrating the writings others deem sacred accomplishes nothing. It is malicious and undercuts core Christian values and our shared humanity. We caution against anyone choosing to disparage Christianity because of the actions of a few, just as we reject those who condemn Islam because of actions by a few nine years ago. Let us turn back all efforts to incite hatred and fear and embrace the challenge of loving our neighbor as

Source: 9/9/2010 Newsline Special
Brethren worship resources for the anniversary of Sept. 11.

The following worship resources are offered for use this weekend by congregations marking the anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The resources are written by Josh Brockway, the Church of the Brethren’s director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship.

Litany of Mourning and Commitment
Leader: Lord of Hope, as we gather we remember.
People: We remember the fear descending from the blue sky.
Leader: We remember,
People: The selfless acts of all who needlessly perished that September day.
Leader: We mourn.
People: We mourn those who died then, and those who continue to face violence every day.
Leader: We mourn,
People: The loss of innocence and grace in this fallen world.
Leader: We confess,
People: That we, as your followers, have too often reacted in fear rather than hope.
Leader: We confess,
People: That we have too often been silent in the face of violence throughout the world.
Leader: We commit,
People: To living as people of your peace, providing a witness to this world.
Leader: We commit,
People: To speaking truth in love, trusting in the nonviolent witness of the Cross.
God of Abraham, you have created all peoples from dust, even still we seek to violently return your creation to that same dust in your name. Forgive us, we pray, for the violence we commit in both word and deed and embolden us as your people secure in the hope of your Kingdom of Peace, that we may seek and witness to ways which make for peace and life. In the name of the One who witnessed to your way, even to death, Jesus the Risen Christ, AMEN.
Source: 9/9/2010 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. Carol Bowman, Charles Culbertson, Chris Douglas, Kim Ebersole, Anna Emrick, Ron Keener, Donna Kline, Jon Kobel, LethaJoy Martin, Wendy McFadden, Nancy Miner, Callie Surber, Becky Ullom, Christopher W. Zepp contributed to this report.