Thursday, September 23, 2010

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

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