Wednesday, March 10, 2010

MAA and Brotherhood Mutual give Safe Ministry Reward to church.

A "Safe Ministry Reward" for the year 2009 has been received by the Church of the Brethren denomination from Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company. The Mutual Aid Agency (formerly the Mutual Aid Association of the Church of the Brethren--MAA) is the sponsoring agency for the program.

The reward check of $156,031 to the denomination was received in person by Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger, in a ceremony in Kansas City, Mo., last week.

Executives of the agencies that relate to the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, along with the Conference officers and the general secretary, together considered the distribution of the funds, Noffsinger reported, and agreed by unanimous consent.

Ten percent or $15,603.10 will be given to the Brethren Mutual Aid Share Fund, with 15 percent or $23,404.65 going to Brethren Disaster Ministries designated for use by the Brethren in Haiti as they respond to the earthquake. The bulk of the distribution--75 percent or $117,023.25--will be used to reduce net losses of last year's Annual Conference, and will help offset the negative effects of the recession on the denomination's annual meeting, Noffsinger said.

He thanked MAA and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance for sharing resources that in many insurance companies "would simply be used as profit." In his letter of thanks to the two organizations, Noffsinger wrote that the gift "is a remarkable statement of your foundational ethics."

MAA provides property and other insurance to Church of the Brethren congregations, members, and church-related organizations. For more go to

Source: 3/10/2010 Newsline
Renewed violence in Nigeria prompts call for prayer.

Church of the Brethren leaders are calling for prayer for peace in Nigeria following renewed violence near the city of Jos. This past Sunday, as many as 500 people in three villages south of the city were killed by armed mobs.

"We express profound sadness for the loss of human life," said Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, who asked the church to join in prayer for Nigeria and for Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

So far, no word has been received that EYN churches or members have been affected by the violence that occurred over the weekend.

"We hold the families that have suffered this loss in our thoughts and prayers," Noffsinger said. "At the same time our prayers extend to those involved in the violence, that we discover a way to overcome our human differences that restores relationships rather than enacts retribution. We wish there was a way that peace could prevail."

Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships, also called for prayer. He said that his office is staying in regular contact with EYN staff and the Church of the Brethren mission workers who are placed with EYN. The EYN headquarters and the Church of the Brethren mission workers are located near the city of Mubi, some distance away from Jos toward the eastern border of the country.

The Jos area has suffered several episodes of sectarian violence and rioting, the most recent just two months ago in mid-January (see the Newsline Special of Jan. 19 at and previous to that in late 2008. In 2001, some 1,000 people were killed in rioting in Jos.

According to media reports, some experts say this weekend's attacks had to do with ethnic conflicts, while others blamed political and economic tensions in the country, and others characterized it as inter-religious violence between Christians and Muslims.

Source: 3/10/2010 Newsline
Credit Union offers donations to Haiti for loans.

The Church of the Brethren Credit Union is announcing a new program to donate $50 to Brethren Disaster Ministries for every loan of $5,000 or more processed between March 1 and April 30. The credit union will donate these funds to help Brethren Disaster Ministries provide food and shelter to the Haitian people.

The new credit union program is founded on the spirit of mutuality, "Brethren helping Brethren," and giving back by aiding our brothers and sisters of Haiti as one way to live up to that value.

"Brethren support is coming from all parts of the US in this time of crisis--and the credit union is a great example of our ministries and members working together to accomplish a common goal," said Roy Winter, director of Brethren Disaster Ministries.

Through Brethren Disaster Ministries' relief efforts, $50 can buy six weeks of hot lunches for a child, a water filtration system that can serve up to four families, or almost half of a month's salary for a teacher in Haiti.

"We hope to provide our members with an opportunity to make a great impact on a child or family in Haiti," said Lynnae Rodeffer, credit union director of special projects. "We are eager to serve the needs of our members while serving the needs of the global community."

The Church of the Brethren Credit Union hopes to make its members aware of the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries while providing them this opportunity to contribute to the cause. Despite Brethren across the country donating more than $530,000 to help Haitians through the ministry, this is only the beginning of a long road to rehabilitation in Haiti.

"We need much more to accomplish what we are called to do," observed Winter. "Rebuilding and recovery in Haiti is an enormous task, and it's going to take all of us. I'm excited that the credit union is joining us in our efforts."

Contact the Church of the Brethren Credit Union at 888-832-1383 or, visit, or join the credit union's Facebook Fan Page at

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

Source: 3/10/2010 Newsline
Brethren Disaster Ministries calls for more volunteers this spring.

"We have an urgent need for volunteers for multiple weeks this spring!" announced Brethren Disaster Ministries coordinator Jane Yount in an update on disaster rebuilding projects across the US.

The program currently has three active project sites in Chalmette, La.; Winamac, Ind.; and Hammond, Ind. Also, Brethren Disaster Ministries is cooperating in an ecumenical build in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in April.

Since Jan. 2007, Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers have repaired more than 150 homes in St. Bernard Parish, the project site in Chalmette, La. The project is continuing the process of rebuilding following Hurricane Katrina. "After four and a half long years, thousands of Katrina survivors are still waiting," the update said. "Ever so gradually, Brethren Disaster Ministries is helping to restore Chalmette and other communities in St. Bernard Parish." The project site is in an area where Hurricane Katrina caused levee failures that inundated homes with 6-20 feet of water. Over 200 parish residents lost their lives, and every house was officially declared uninhabitable.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is returning to the Winamac area in Pulaski County, Ind., after a mid-winter hiatus to build another new home and repair three more homes damaged in a flood in 2008. The project will restart the week of March 14 and run at least through the end of May.

The Hammond area of northwest Indiana was hit with a devastating storm and flooding caused by remnants of Hurricane Ike in Sept. 2008. In the wake of the storm it was estimated that about 17,000 residences were affected. With hundreds of homes in this lower income area still in need of assistance, Brethren Disaster Ministries has been called upon by the local recovery agency to assist with repair and reconstruction needs.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is participating with other Church World Service (CWS) member denominations on an ecumenical "blitz build" in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for six weeks from April 11-May 22. Volunteers will repair homes damaged by severe floods that devastated eastern Iowa nearly two years ago. The Brethren are recruiting 10 volunteers per week for the effort. While most volunteers will come from Northern Plains District, volunteers from other areas are welcome.

For more information about volunteering this spring with Brethren Disaster Ministries, contact Jane Yount at 410-635-8730 or

Brethren Disaster Ministries also continues its work in Haiti, responding to the earthquake alongside Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Haitian Church of the Brethren). "We're heartened by the tremendous response of the Brethren to the Haiti earthquake relief effort," Yount reported.

"The first Family Household Kits (for Haitian families affected by the earthquake) arrived at the Brethren Service Center here in New Windsor," Yount wrote. "Many, many Hygiene Kits and Baby Care Kits have also been pouring in. Generous giving to the Emergency Disaster Fund has enabled Brethren Disaster Ministries' response, including children's feeding programs, dry food distribution, temporary shelters, water purification buckets, and a medical team set to travel this month, and more.

"Thank you, and may God bless you for your compassionate response," Yount added.

In other disaster relief news, a grant for emergency food assistance has been given to the eastern Zinder region of Niger. The Church of the Brethren's Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) and Emergency Disaster Fund each have provided $5,000. The emergency food assistance appeal was received from Nagarta, a non-governmental organization in Niger to which GFCF recently gave a grant of $10,000 for the construction of wells. The appeal was prompted by continuing drought and degradation of the ecosystem. Nagarta reports that even as modest gains are made in agricultural production, weak performance of subsistence agriculture requires extensive imports of food from international sources.

Source: 3/10/2010 Newsline
Brethren help lead retreat on environmental stewardship.

Pastors, science teachers, and environmental advocates convened for a weekend retreat at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center in Mt. Pleasant, Pa., in mid-February. "Creation Care: Stewards of the Earth" was sponsored by the Church of the Brethren, Mennonite Mutual Aid (MMA), and Laurelville.

The weekend aimed to encourage participants to persevere in the face of a culture that, in spite of warnings from the science community and pleas from the world's marginalized peoples, has been slow to change its habits of consumption.

"This is a new model of resourcing for us," said Carol Bowman, coordinator of Stewardship Formation for the Church of the Brethren. "By collaborating with other Anabaptists, we had a broad pool of leadership from which to draw, and content was strengthened."

She noted that registration fees appeared to be higher than for past events because more of the costs were passed on to participants through fees. Despite winter snowstorms and lower than anticipated attendance, she felt the event was challenging, motivational, and inspirational.

Keynote speakers included David Radcliff, who heads the New Community Project (NCP), a Church of the Brethren-related nonprofit; and Luke Gascho, director of the Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College and a founding member of the Mennonite Creation Care Network.

Radcliff offered first-hand testimony of his work with NCP, an eco-justice collaborative that sponsors learning tours to threatened habitats and cultures. He highlighted indigenous people residing in the Alaskan Arctic, as well as groups living in the equatorial rain forests, sharing images and stories of environmental degradation and its impact on these cultures. "Thank God for communities who persevere," Radcliff said. "They are in some ways canaries, helping us sense that perhaps danger is ahead."

Gascho likewise communicated the imperative for the church to respond to God's call for environmental stewardship. "Resurrection brings life to all things," he told the gathering, citing the Mennonite Confession of Faith. "The peace God intends for humanity and Creation was revealed most fully in Christ Jesus." At Merry Lea, Gascho and other Goshen College staff have established an educational resource for the community, offering nature programs, study courses, and hands-on learning opportunities.

Break-out sessions looked at engaging those who are skeptical about climate change, making environmentally conscious consumer and investment decisions, and passing creation care onto a new generation.

In one session Wendy Chappell-Dick of Bluffton, Ohio, shared some of the environmental stewardship struggles she faces as a mother to teenage daughters in a consumer culture. "We have to think about what we're buying," she said. "Every time we go shopping, we're buying our own trash." She has become creative in efforts to reduce her children's consumption habits, coupling a restricted clothing budget at retail stores with a virtually blank check at thrift shops. "I hope the ecological message gets through," she commented.

Bowman affirmed this sort of response. "We have the opportunity to instill values in children long before they enter school," she said. She presented a toolkit of resources including children's books and hands-on learning ideas during an afternoon workshop entitled, "Will Our Children Care?"

That question loomed throughout the weekend--not just for future generations but also for those represented at the conference--as participants grappled with environmental threats and the implications they have for creation. Perhaps no one voiced a more hopeful response than did Radcliff in his closing benediction:

"May we be so moved by Jesus' words, inspired by his example, hope-filled by his presence, that we choose another way, breaking into glad song as we move along toward that day."

-- This report was jointly provided by Carol Bowman, coordinator of Stewardship Formation for the Church of the Brethren, and Brian Pfaff of the marketing staff at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center.

Source: 3/10/2010 Newsline
Historic Peace Churches in Florida hold consultation.

On Jan. 30, 54 peacemakers in Florida--five Mennonites, nine Friends (Quakers), 34 Church of the Brethren members, and six people from other groups--met for a day at Camp Ithiel. Sponsored by the Action for Peace Team of the Church of the Brethren's Atlantic Southeast District, this event was designed as a "Consultation" of those three denominations with long-standing histories of an emphasis on nonviolence.

The event was held to get acquainted with each other as peace people, to learn what the other denominations are doing, and to explore what projects could be accomplished together. There was also time for worship, singing, and conversations over lunch. It was a day of purposeful activities and fellowship, with several expressions of commendation and appreciation by attendees. Most of the participants were already active peace workers.

Bob Gross, executive director of On Earth Peace, was the skilled facilitator, guiding the participants in a variety of activities that resulted in identifying peace-related concerns and laying groundwork for action in the future.

The six concerns receiving the greatest interest for future cooperative efforts were: witnessing to lawmakers, peace education in schools and for children, the Kids as Peacemakers Project, praying for peace, building relationships with Muslims, and peace influence to the media. There were 14 other areas of interest listed for possible future consideration.

On Feb. 13 the Action for Peace Team met to begin the follow-up implementation. A Steering Committee is being formed with representation from all three Historic Peace Church traditions; six printed pages of discussion results are ready for distribution to those who attended; and several leads of other possibilities for involvement will be pursued.

-- Phil Lersch is chair of Atlantic Southeast District's Action for Peace Team.

Source: 3/10/2010 Newsline
Kahler resigns as executive of South-Central Indiana District.

Allen R. Kahler has resigned as district executive minister of South Central Indiana District, effective May 31. He has served the district as its executive for almost six years, having begun in the position on Sept. 1, 2004.

Previously Kahler served pastorates at South Whitley, Muncie, and Marion, Ind. He is a graduate of Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., with a degree in Religion, and holds a master of divinity degree from Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.

He plans to move to Northern Ohio District to join his wife, Shannon, who is serving as director at Camp Inspiration Hills, and to return to pastoral ministry.

Source: 3/10/2010 Newsline
Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village announces change in leadership.

Jay Shell resigned on Jan. 15 as president/CEO of Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren continuing care retirement community near Boonsboro, Md. He had served in the position for the past five years.

Keith Bryan, a board member and former fund-raising counsel for Fahrney-Keedy, has begun as interim president/CEO. He is president and fund-raising counsel of Sundance Consulting Services. Prior to starting his own business in 2003, he worked with non-profit groups for 13 years in leadership roles in fund development, marketing, administrative, and volunteer positions.

Bryan is a graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor's degree in law enforcement and sociology. He continued his studies at St. Joseph's College in Windham, Maine, as well as Pennsylvania State University, Morgan State University, and the University of Pennsylvania. He is a retired law enforcement officer and has served as chair of the Finance Committee of the Fahrney-Keedy Board.

Source: 3/10/2010 Newsline
The story of Sarah's quilt.

Little Swatara Church of the Brethren member Sarah Wise had never really sewn before when she chose her senior project for graduation from high school: to make a quilt and donate it to the Atlantic Northeast and Southern Pennsylvania District Disaster Relief Auction.

Sarah's goal was to choose something that would make an impact helping others. Already an accomplished musician, she plays the piano, saxophone, clarinet, and hand bells, sings in the church choir, and is a member of the Tulpenhocken Junior/Senior High School Show Choir.

She now can add seamstress and quilter to her list of accomplishments.

Encouraged to attend a work camp by the enthusiasm of the Little Swatara Youth, Sarah has participated in three workcamps and has seen first-hand the difference disaster relief efforts make in people's lives. Her hard work paid off when her quilt sold not once, but twice, netting a total of $4,200 for disaster relief.

The winning bid was $2,200, but the buyer immediately put Sarah's quilt back up for sale to boost the charitable donation. Her parents, John and Jamie Wise, then paid $2,000 to take their daughter's first quilt home to Bethel Township.

The pinwheel quilt of varying shades and patterns of green consists of more than 1,200 pieces of fabric. Sarah started the project in June last year, and worked about 25 hours a week through September, giving up time with her closely knit family.

She thought the quilt would go for about $500. Sarah said she was excited and ready to cry at the end result. "I didn't expect it to go that well at all," she said. She plans to attend Lebanon Valley College in the fall to study for a doctor of physical therapy degree. With her Christian love and desire to serve others, Sarah is and will be a blessing to many.

-- Jean Myers of Little Swatara Church of the Brethren provided this story.

Source: 3/10/2010 Newsline
Revisiting Rutba, Iraq: 'You are all our brothers and sisters.'

"Christians, Muslims, Jews, Iraqis, or are all our brothers and sisters, and we will take care of you," the Iraqi doctor who cared for my injured colleagues told us when he refused our offer to pay him.

It was March 29, 2003, the tenth day of the US invasion of Iraq. The driver and all four passengers--Cliff Kindy, Weldon Nisly, Shane Claiborne, and Bae Sang Hyun--had been injured after their car, the last in a three-car convoy, wrecked on our frightening journey from Baghdad to Amman. The four had been part of the Iraq Peace Team in Baghdad, two as part of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) including Church of the Brethren member Cliff Kindy.

Even though US fighter jets were bombing in the area that day, an Iraqi man risked his life by stopping and taking the men to the nearby town of Rutba, in the western desert of Iraq. US forces had bombed the hospital there three days earlier.

Almost seven years later, this Jan. 15, the loving care we had received drew four of us who had been on that earlier trip back to Rutba to thank the medical workers. A journalist, filmmaker, and Iraqi colleague arranged the trip and came with us.

In the three-day visit, we saw the rebuilt hospital in operation, met with city officials, visited a school, and listened to residents share their pain and anger about violence spawned by our country's invasion. Cliff told the story of the past, but also about the work of CPT in Iraq since the invasion.

Most moving to us were the times we spent thanking and sharing with three men: a medical assistant and an emergency room nurse who treated our injured, and an ambulance driver who carried Weldon from the car into the makeshift clinic.

The men insisted that their ability to see us as brothers and sisters and not as their enemies, even while our country was bombing them, was "not an exception. It is the usual nature of the Iraqi people. What we did, came from what we were taught and believe. It is what Islam is really about. At that time there was no social order. Thank God we could do the job!"

"I could hardly believe you came this long distance to thank us," another added. "This moment makes me very happy. It is my reward for all of my 30 years of medical service."

"We have not forgotten and we will never forget," Weldon responded.

"This story," added Shane, "has been transformative to many in the US who have heard it."

"We are also committed to share it," our Iraqi friends responded.

Once more we left Rutba, deeply grateful and humbled. Again we had experienced the power of God's love and human kindness to bring us together, defying barriers of nationality, religion, and the label, "enemy."

-- Peggy Gish is a Church of the Brethren member who has been working in Iraq on a regular basis with Christian Peacemaker Teams. CPT began asa Historic Peace Churchesinitiative. Recently, the CPT Iraq team released a 54-page report "Where There Is a Promise, There Is Tragedy: Cross-border Bombings and Shellings of Villages in the Kurdish Region of Iraq by the Nations of Turkey and Iran," detailing the destruction of northern Iraqi village life over the past two years. CPT notes that "regional and world powers, rebel groups, and Kurdish Regional Government have dismissed the villagers--mostly shepherds and farmers--their lives, their futures, their lands, their children, as irrelevant to the 'larger' agendas of the parties involved." Find the report at

Source: 3/10/2010 Newsline
Brethren bits: Correction, remembrance, personnel, ‘Grace,’ and more.
  • Correction: A previous issue of Newsline gave an incorrect link to the report from the Annual Conference committee on Secret Oath-Bound Societies. The correct link to the report and a bibliography of recommended study resources is

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two webinars are scheduled for March, continuing an "e-learning series" with leadership from Celia Cook-Huffman and Charles Arn. The webinars are offered as a collaborative resource by the Church of the Brethren's Congregational Life Ministries, Bethany Theological Seminary, and the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership.

Webinar 2 of three-part series titled "Developing Conflict Healthy Congregations," led by Celia Cook-Huffman, will be offered live on March 11. Webinar 3 of a three-part series titled "Effective Evangelism," led by Charles Arn, will be webcast on March 23 and 25.

"We continue to have a good response and participation" in the webinar series reports Stan Dueck, the Church of the Brethren's director of Transforming Practices.

There is no pre-registration required to participate in the webinar, and no fee is charged.

Participants should note that the webinar start time is listed by time zone, and are asked to connect 10 minutes before the start of a webcast. Link to a webinar by going to

Cook-Huffman, professor of peace and conflict studies at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., will lead a webinar on the topic, "Concrete Strategies for Responding to Congregational Conflict," today, March 11, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. (Pacific time) or 8:30-9:30 p.m. (Eastern time). Participants may receive a continuing education credit of 0.1. For more information link to

Arn, president of the Church Growth Institute, leads a webinar on the topic, "Where Did They Go? How to Keep New Members Through the First Year," on March 23, 5-6 p.m. (Pacific) or 8-9 p.m. (Eastern); and on March 25 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. (Pacific) or 3:30-4:30 p.m. (Eastern).

For more information contact Stan Dueck, director for Transforming Practices, at 717-335-3226 or

Source: 3/11/2010 Newsline Extra
Older Adult Month is celebrated in May.

Each May, the Church of the Brethren's Older Adult Ministry provides a variety of resources for individuals, groups, and congregations to observe older adult month. This year, resources focus on the theme, "Walking in the Newness of Life: The Adventure Continues..." (Isaiah 43:19).

God's image of aging is bountiful and beautiful--a time of doing new things, bearing new fruit, and striving toward what lies ahead. As in biblical times, when God called older adults to unexpected roles and unanticipated missions, God continues doing a "new thing" in the lives of people today.

Older adult month materials celebrate this newness in life through stories from Brethren who are experiencing newness of life as they follow God's call, meditations that challenge us to see God at work in the world around us, and resources to use in worshiping our God who walks with us throughout our lives.

Download resources at; click on the link to 2010 Older Adult Month. The resources also can be obtained by contacting Kim Ebersole, director of Family Life and Older Adult Ministry, at 800-323-8039 ext. 302 or Congregations are encouraged to use these resources during the month of May, and to let their members know they are available for their personal use.

-- Kim Ebersole is director of Family Life and Older Adult Ministry for the Church of the Brethren.

Source: 3/11/2010 Newsline Extra
'Every War Has Two Losers' to be shown at Bethany Seminary.

"Every War Has Two Losers," a film by Haydn Reiss based on the journals of poet William Stafford, will be shown at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., on March 27 at 7 p.m. The film features commentary on Stafford's poetry and peace witness by nine contemporary poets.

Stafford was a Church of the Brethren member and the author of more than 60 volumes of poetry and prose. He was a conscientious objector during World War II, and did a term of Civilian Public Service. He then taught at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon. He won the National Book Award in 1963, became Poetry Consultant of the Library of Congress (a position equivalent to poet laureate today) in 1970, and became Poet Laureate of Oregon in 1975. He also received a Shelley Memorial Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Western States Lifetime Achievement Award in Poetry. Brethren Press published one of his books of poetry, "A Scripture of Leaves" (order for $12.95 plus shipping and handling, call 800-441-3712). He died in 1993.

In addition to the 30-minute film, the evening will feature a presentation by Jeff Gundy, professor of English at Bluffton University. Gundy also is a poet, author of "Walker in the Fog: On Mennonite Writing," and 2008 Recipient of the Dale W. Brown Book Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, given in honor of the former Bethany professor and a leading peace theologian in the Church of the Brethren.

Gundy's presentation will focus on the subtlety and wisdom of Stafford's pacifist poetry and his many "intricate moves" toward peace and justice in both his writing and his life. Local Stafford scholars and enthusiasts also will share commentary, and there will be opportunity for dialogue with the audience following the film.

This event is free and open to the public, with sponsorship by the Baker Peace Fund of Bethany's Peace Studies Program. View a trailer of the film at

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

Source: 3/11/2010 Newsline Extra
'Standing Up With Jesus!' is theme for annual family camp.

This year's Susquehanna Song and Story Fest, an annual family camp co-sponsored by On Earth Peace, is held on the theme "Standing Up With Jesus!" The intergenerational camp takes place on June 27-July 3 at Camp Swatara in Bethel Pa.

"It's time for us to turn again to Jesus, to stand up with him for the poor, oppressed, and excluded and against the religious, political, and economic authorities who would kill the spirit along with the body and the planet," said an invitation. "So come and join us in this Fest to strengthen your resolve, clarify your faith, and practice 'standing up with Jesus!'"

A number of Brethren storytellers, musicians, and workshop leaders will be helping to lead the event. The schedule includes worship, intergenerational gatherings, and workshops for adults, children, and youth, along with recreation, story swaps, music-making, evening campfires, concerts, and a folk dance.

On Earth Peace will again co-sponsor the Fest, providing leadership and administrative support.

Registration includes all meals, on-site facilities, and leadership, and is based upon age. Children 2 and under are welcome at no charge. Adults register for $230, teens ages 13-19 for $200, and children ages 3-12 for $120. The maximum fee per family is $750. Daily fees also are available. Registrations post-marked after June 1 should add 10 percent as a late fee.

Contact Ken Kline Smeltzer at 814-466-6491 or For online registration information go to Contact Bob Gross, On Earth Peace executive director, at 260-982-7751 or to inquire about scholarships or financial help to attend the camp.

Source: 3/11/2010 Newsline Extra
Brethren bits: One Great Hour, Annual Conference blog, and more on upcoming events.
  • March 14 is the date for the One Great Hour of Sharing offering emphasis. Gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing empower the Church of the Brethren to share the good news of Jesus Christ that strengthens people and improves lives and communities. The theme of this year's offering is "Do You Love Me? Feed My Sheep" (John 21). Related resources are available at including worship resources in English and Spanish, children's and youth activities, a dramatic interpretation of the scripture, and more. For more information contact Carol Bowman, coordinator of Stewardship Formation and Education, at 509-663-2833.

  • Shawn Flory Replogle, moderator of the 2010 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, has been blogging about preparations for the Conference and his visits to congregations and events around the country. Find the moderator's blog at More about the schedule and online registration for the Annual Conference on July 3-7 in Pittsburgh, Pa., is at

  • On Earth Peace is offering a Agape-Satyagraha Retreat on the theme, "Peace in the City" (Jeremiah 29) to be held May 14-16 at Camp Eder in Fairfield, Pa. Youth, mentors, and site coordinators from all Agape-Satyagraha sites are coming together for a weekend of connecting with others involved in the program and deepening skill development. Registration deadline is May 5. Cost is $83 per person, with scholarships and financial aid available. Contact On Earth Peace, P.O. Box 188, 500 Main St., New Windsor, MD 21776.

  • A leadership training event in April on the topic, "Unlocking Effectiveness: Leading with Focus and Passion," is being advertised jointly by the Church of the Brethren's Area 1, the Brethren in Christ, the Evangelical Covenant Church, and the Evangelical Free Church, in collaboration with the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center that is related to Bethany Seminary. Among the leaders is Atlantic Northeast District executive minister Craig Smith. The event will be held on April 10 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Hanoverdale Church of the Brethren in Hummelstown, Pa. Cost is $39 per person, or group rates are available. Continuing education credit of 0.6 is offered for a fee. Register at or call 717-314-5809.

  • Vinton (Va.) Church of the Brethren is planning a 60th Anniversary celebration on Sunday, April 18. For more information contact the church office at 540-344-8002.

  • Church of the Brethren members of a growing project are giving impetus to a regional gathering of the Foods Resource Bank at Hempfield Church of the Brethren in Manheim, Pa., on March 22 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Brethren take part in the Foods Resource Bank through the denomination's Global Food Crisis Fund, and several congregations are involved in helping sponsor growing projects. The regional gathering will provide an opportunity to meet Foods Resource Bank president Marv Baldwin, hear stories of the organization's work, and network with other participants. Some 16 farmers from seven congregations are receiving specific invitations to the event, according to Howard Royer, manager of the Global Food Crisis Fund.

  • Camp Bethel in Fincastle, Va., holds its annual Sounds of the Mountains Story and Music Festival on April 16-17, featuring the talents of two-time Grammy winner Bill Harley, Beth Horner, Kevin Kling, and Acoustic Endeavors. Tickets, schedule, and more are at

  • Camp Pine Lake near Eldora, Iowa, is offering a "Man vs. Nature River Trip" led by pastor Tim Peter of Prairie City Church of the Brethren. Men young and old are invited for this weekend trip down the Iowa River, from May 14-16. Those under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. The fees is $35. Register online at or contact or 641-939-5334.

  • The annual Religious Heritage Lecture at McPherson (Kan.) College will be given by Robert Johansen on the topic, "Can Preparations for Peace Enhance Our Security in an Age of Violence?" The lecture takes place at 4 p.m. on March 14 at McPherson Church of the Brethren. Johansen is a Church of the Brethren member and senior fellow and director of Doctoral Studies, and professor of Political Science, at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Ind. He specializes in issues of international ethics and global governance, the United Nations and the maintenance of peace and security, and peace and world order studies. He is founding editor-in-chief of "World Policy Journal."

  • Phillip C. Stone, who will retire as president of Bridgewater (Va.) College this June after 16 years of leading the institution, is to receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Juniata College when he lectures there on March 15. He is to be on the campus of Juniata in Huntingdon, Pa., to give a lecture on Abraham Lincoln--his specialty as a historian. The lecture is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on March 15, with the conferring of the honorary degree immediately prior in the Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science.

  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) has issued a call for peace workshop proposals for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation to take place in Jamaica in May 2011. Proposals must be submitted by March 31. The convocation marks the conclusion of the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV). "It will be both the harvest festival of the DOV and a planting season for fresh initiatives," said an announcement from the WCC. "Reasoning" is the name given to the series of workshops that will offer an opportunity to share concrete examples of peacemaking, learn from the experience of others, and deepen reflections on the four convocation themes: Peace in the Community, Peace with the Earth, Peace in the Marketplace, and Peace among the Peoples. The workshops are intended to be a place to meet people from different regions and traditions in order to discern together how to be agents of God's transforming presence in the world. Further background information as well as a proposal form can be downloaded from

  • "Fight climate change with the flick of a switch!" says an invitation for US Christians to join in the "Earth Hour" event to take place worldwide on March 27. The invitation comes from the EcoJustice program of the National Council of Churches. "On March 27 at 8:30 p.m. local time, millions of people around the world will call for action on climate change by doing something simple--turning off their lights for one hour." Earth Hour is led by the World Wildlife Fund, with more information and resources available at
3/11/2010 Newsline Extra

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260.Matt Guynn, Cindy Dell Kinnamon, Jeri S. Kornegay, Karin Krog, Ferol Labash, David Radcliff, Glenn Riegel, Glen Sargent, Craig H. Smith, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, John Wall, Jay A. Wittmeyer, and David Young contributed to this report.