Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Seminary charts course for a new direction with strategic plan.

At its March 2010 meeting, the Bethany Theological Seminary Board of Trustees approved a strategic plan to guide the work of the seminary through 2015. Bethany Seminary is the graduate school and academy for theological education for the Church of the Brethren, located in Richmond, Ind.

Passage of the plan marked completion of another step in Bethany’s ongoing process of developing, implementing, and assessing the seminary’s strategic direction.

Reframing Bethany’s mission and ministry to address the challenges of providing quality theological education in the 21st century was high on Ruthann Knechel Johansen’s priority list when she assumed the presidency in 2007. The recommendation of one of the seminary’s accrediting bodies to evaluate enrollment and develop a comprehensive assessment plan, and the approaching end of the strategic initiatives of the time, underscored the need to address the issue.

Johansen also considered external factors influencing the perception of theological education. "In the last several decades, great changes have occurred in all Christian communions: in the local congregations and districts of the Church of the Brethren, and in the United States and global cultures, leading to the observation that we are living in a post-Christian time," she observes. "Reconsideration of Bethany’s mission and vision invites clarification and possible enlargement of them in the face of significant challenges."

Johansen approached the process by inviting people from many constituency groups into dialogue. This included several joint meetings of the board, faculty, and staff, including an envisioning discussion informed by storytelling and personal sharing, and a weekend retreat funded by a grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion led by Faith Kirkham Hawkins.

Through these conversations it became clear that Bethany’s future direction would be served best by holding fast to and creatively incorporating the Church of the Brethren core testimonies that contribute to God’s transforming work in the church and the world.

In Oct. 2008 the board received and approved a strategic direction paper based on the discussions and drafted by Johansen. The paper presents challenges facing the seminary, goals to address the challenges, and strategies for achieving the goals. The board also approved the creation of a Strategic Planning Committee to prioritize the strategies and set a timeline and benchmarks for meeting the goals.

A year later the board approved a new mission and vision statement, which can be viewed at The new mission statement reads, "Bethany Theological Seminary equips spiritual and intellectual leaders with an Incarnational education for ministering, proclaiming, and living out God's ‘shalom’ and Christ's peace in the church and the world."

Johansen describes the mission statement this way: "An Incarnational education is based on the life and work of Jesus Christ, emphasizing both the historical context of his life, death, and resurrection and the timeless call to embody his example of caring for God’s creation, loving neighbor and enemy, and serving the weak and the poor through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. As we practice this distinctive manner of living, we experience God’s ‘shalom’ and Christ’s peace, reconciled with God and reaching out in reconciliation to others amidst our diversity."

With the mission and vision statements as a guide, the Strategic Planning Committee reviewed the 22 recommendations from the strategic direction paper and categorized them into seven priorities with accompanying subsets of goals and tasks. The goals focus on educational ethos and environment; curriculum focus, integration, and expansion of the educational program; and funding for new initiatives. Each task has a time frame for completion, measurable marks for accomplishment, and personnel assignments.

Implementation of an ongoing assessment plan will complete the circle of work related to the strategic direction process. Karen Garrett of Eaton, Ohio, has been hired as coordinator of assessment. She holds a master’s degree from Bethany and a master’s degree in education with specialization in curriculum and assessment. At a future meeting, the board will approve a comprehensive assessment plan in anticipation of a focus visit by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools in 2011.

When describing how Bethany’s new strategic direction will shape the work of the seminary, Johansen says, "Preparing students for religious vocations today involves more than giving them biblical and theological knowledge and skills for carrying out ministerial vocations. Bethany must provide the contexts and resources for understanding present realities in relation to the past and the future, such as ‘fore-grounding’ work that prepares leaders for pluralistic contexts, developing curriculum in conflict analysis, offering courses that bring Matthew 25 and Matthew 28 together in conversation, and interpreting the seminary’s importance as a valuable educational resource for analysis and interpretation of and witness to urgent questions facing church and society.

"Incarnational education transforms the teaching and learning experience because it invites us to embrace Christ’s way of love and to continue the work of Jesus--in service, in simplicity, and in the pursuit of peace and justice for human beings and the earth."

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

Source: 5/5/2010 Newsline
Intercultural consultation celebrates diversity in harmony.

"Live in harmony with one another" (Romans 12:16). Drawing inspiration from Romans 12:15-17, approximately 100 Church of the Brethren members gathered to worship and work together at Camp Harmony in Pennsylvania. From April 22-25, the camp hosted people from congregations across the US and Puerto Rico, representing many ethnic groups including African Americans, white Americans, and Spanish speakers from around the world.

Previously known as the Cross-Cultural Celebration and Consultation, this 12th Intercultural Consultation and Celebration was both a continuation of work from previous years and a movement in a new direction, guided by the denomination’s Intercultural Advisory Committee and Rubén Deoleo, director of Intercultural Ministry.

There were a variety of activity options for participants. A Bible study workshop on Brethren core values and diversity was led by pastor Tim Monn of Midland (Va.) Church of the Brethren. An intensive workshop on the Friendly Style Profile explored individual and cultural diversity, uplifting strengths and gifts while identifying skills to better understand and prevent dysfunctional conflict, taught by Barbara Daté of the Intercultural Advisory Committee and Oregon and Washington District. A session on mentoring was offered by Stan Dueck, the denomination’s director of Transforming Practices. As always, there was lively worship in a variety of styles and languages that was a restorative for many participants.

Pastor Samuel Sarpiya of Rockford (Ill.) Community Church of the Brethren and On Earth Peace delivered the opening sermon and set the tone for the event. He spoke eloquently about how the church’s peace heritage has influenced his work in the Rockford community following a police shooting in a black neighborhood. Sarpiya reminded the consultation that working toward peace is an important foundation for a multicultural congregation and an important message to share with our wider communities.

The Friday evening dinner was brought and shared by about 20 congregations from the host district of Western Pennsylvania, providing a treat in the form of favorite "traditional" Germanic/European recipes.

That night’s worship service featured Ray Hileman, pastor of Miami (Fla.) First Church of the Brethren. Before a mixed group of consultation participants and members of the host district, he challenged churches to begin intensive work to becoming intercultural. He spoke of being one race (human), one culture (Christian), and united by one color (red, representing Jesus’ blood spilled for us). The third annual "Revelation 7:9 Diversity Award" was presented to Carol Yeazell for her support of racial/ethnic and intercultural ministries.

Closing worship on Saturday was led by Don Mitchell of Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren. Without a formal sermon, the inspiring service allowed attendees to find harmony through such diverse music as a Latin jazz-influenced prelude, several Spanish choruses, a Haitian hymn, traditional African-American gospel songs, the hymn "Move In Our Midst," and well-known praise choruses. The service featured reflections by Belita Mitchell, pastor of Harrisburg First Church; Joel Peña, pastor of Iglesia Alfa y Omega in Lancaster, Pa.; and Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries.

English to Spanish interpretation for worship services and plenary gatherings was provided by Nadine Monn, Marisel Olivencia, Gilbert Romero, Jaime Diaz, and Ruby Deoleo. All three worship services, musical gathering times, the session by Stan Dueck, and the workshop by Tim Monn were webcast in partnership with Bethany Theological Seminary, with assistance from Enten Eller, the seminary’s director of Distributed Education and Electronic Communication. Recordings are available at

According to the Intercultural Advisory Committee’s mission statement, this annual event is intended to enrich and strengthen the Church of the Brethren by our unity as people of all colors, modeling for the larger church the blessings of being one as God’s people. Its attendees returned to their congregations re-energized and with fresh ideas about how to belong to an intercultural Christian community.

-- Gimbiya Kettering is communications coordinator for On Earth Peace, and Nadine Monn is a member of the Intercultural Advisory Committee. Committee member Barbara Daté also contributed.

Source: 5/5/2010 Newsline
BVS volunteer from Germany is detained for visa lapse.

A young German man, Florian Koch, who has been serving in the United States through Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) was detained for more than a week by immigration authorities in April. A request to extend his visa had been denied and BVS was in the process of filing a motion to reconsider the visa denial, when Koch was detained while vacationing in Florida by bus.

The volunteer was detained on April 19 when those on the bus he was traveling in were checked by immigration officials. He was held at a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) transitional detention center in Pompano Beach, in the greater Miami area.

On April 28 he was released under voluntary departure status, after the Church of the Brethren retained an immigration attorney and posted his bond. He now is legally authorized to stay in the country for 60 days in order to finish up his time in the United States.

During his time in detention with ICE, Koch was briefly threatened with transferral to another detention center in an undisclosed location. He was taken to the Miami airport along with a group of some 150 other detainees to be put on a flight--most probably to Louisiana, BVS learned. In the end, however, the ICE kept him in Florida until his release last Wednesday.

Koch has been volunteering at Samaritan House in Atlanta, Ga., an organization that serves homeless men and women through employment programs and a restaurant called Café 458. He came to BVS through EIRENE, a German volunteer organization that regularly places 12-15 volunteers each year through BVS and has a strong historical connection with the Church of the Brethren, which was one of its three founding organizations in 1957 along with the Mennonites and the International Fellowship of Reconciliation.

Staff of BVS, EIRENE, Samaritan House, and the Church of the Brethren; board members of the Community of Hospitality, the organization providing housing to Koch in Atlanta; and Koch’s parents all worked diligently for his release.

On learning of Koch’s detention, BVS director Dan McFadden flew to Miami arriving on April 23 to work personally to gain his release. He and Community of Hospitality board members worked to locate and retain an immigration attorney in the Miami area. Also advocates in Georgia were in touch with members of Congress about his case.

McFadden kept in touch with Koch through daily telephone calls, met with him when the detention center allowed visitors over the weekend, and was present to receive Koch on his release and accompanied him back to Atlanta.

In Germany, EIRENE director Ralf Ziegler and Koch’s parents advocated for his release with the US consulate in Frankfurt, and the German consulate in Miami. Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger alerted National Council of Churches leaders to the case and personally went to the ICE offices in Chicago to post the bond.

BVS and its international volunteers have not experienced such legal repercussions before on issues of immigration, according to McFadden. Although in recent months several other international volunteers with BVS have been denied visa extensions, they have continued to serve in the United States while appeals are in process.

BVS will be reviewing its procedures for visas for international volunteers, Noffsinger said.

"While Florian had a host of witnesses and advocates working on his behalf within the system, thousands remain in detention, often without advocates," Noffsinger noted. "What is our role as a church to befriend the stranger in our midst, to visit and accompany the imprisoned, and to seek fair and just actions? This incident puts the onus on us to be informed and involved out of our own concern for our sister and brother human beings."

Source: 5/5/2010 Newsline
Church representative attends ‘Beijing + 15' on status of women.

The following report from Doris Abdullah, Church of the Brethren representative to the United Nations, reports her experience at the 54th Commission on the Status of Women:

So exactly what was the 54th meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women from March 1-12 at the United Nations in New York all about anyway? Was it to assess the status of women 15 years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (held in 1995), or was it a celebration for the world’s women to embrace their sisterhood as one with the common goal of addressing discrimination and claiming our bodies as our own?

All the human rights violations against women--either expressed in outright violence, persistent harsh poverty, lack of education and training, poor health, lack of representation or participation in government or the economy--all are wrapped up in continual discrimination against women and the girl child, and a lack of control over our own bodies. I would say that the two weeks explored all the above and gave the world’s women a grand look at themselves and these sometimes explosive and misunderstood subjects with mutual respect and decorum.

A wealth of talents, ingenuity in the face of violence, and remarkably educated women who have achieved extraordinary things.... I headed for the panel discussions at the Salvation Army, universities, hotels, and the Church Center at the UN, so that I could be a little closer to the speakers and hear them in a smaller setting. These parallel events were packed with brainstorming ideas from women group founders, the global support network of women, and those sharing common interests. At these events, one could caucus with representatives from any place on the globe.

The five regional group speakers came from Argentina, on behalf of MERCOSUR and Associated States; Chile, on behalf of the Rio Group; Equatorial Guinea, on behalf of the African Group; Samoa, on the behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum; and Yemen, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

While I have not tried to picked a best speech from such a variety of great presentations, I do think that Louise Croot, president of the NGO International Federation of University Women, spoke six words that represent what the whole two weeks tried to convey: "Human rights are also women’s rights."

And I would add, these rights should be respected by all governments and their institutions within societies. A quotation from the Beijing Platform for Action: "Equality between women and men is a matter of human rights and a condition for social justice and is also a necessary and fundamental prerequisite for equality, development, and peace."

-- Doris Abdullah is co-chair of the NGO Human Rights Sub-Committee for the Elimination of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance. She notes that most panel discussions and speeches given during the "Beijing + 15" meeting are available at

Source: 5/5/2010 Newsline
Shaffer retires from Brethren Historical Library and Archives.

Ken Shaffer Jr., director of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA), has announced his retirement effective Dec. 31. He has served for more than 20 years in the position.

He began working for the Church of the Brethren in Aug. 1970 as consultant for curriculum development for the former General Board. From 1987-89 he was editor of "A Guide for Biblical Studies." From 1972-88 he worked at Bethany Theological Seminary in Oak Brook, Ill. His positions at Bethany included bookstore manager, acquisitions librarian, administrative assistant to the Doctor of Ministry program, and library director.

In Jan. 1989 he began as BHLA director. He has held responsibility for the extensive archival collection housed in the basement of the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. With documents dating back to a 1539 German New Testament, the archive preserves Brethren publications, records, and items of historical importance. Shaffer aids researchers, provides information for church programs and projects, serves as staff liaison for the Brethren Historical Committee, oversees the work of interns, and writes about Brethren history. Most recently he has contributed to a new project to digitize Brethren periodicals, in a cooperative endeavor with several other Brethren bodies.

Shaffer has written numerous articles for "Messenger" magazine, and was book review editor for "Brethren Life and Thought" from 1986-99. He has written two Brethren Press books on "Texts in Transit" with co-author Graydon Snyder and compiled the third supplement to the Brethren Bibliography.

Originally from Maryland, he is an ordained minister. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Bridgewater (Va.) College, a master of divinity from Bethany Theological Seminary, and a master of arts in Library Science from Northern Illinois University.

Source: 5/5/2010 Newsline
BVS volunteers in Europe reflect on their experiences.

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) currently has 12 volunteers serving in six European countries: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Netherlands, Hungary, Germany, Ireland, and Northern Ireland. Below are excerpts from three volunteer reports in the most recent BVS Europe newsletter:

Sarah Hurst, who completed her BVS service a few weeks ago, explains Quaker Cottage in N. Ireland, for others who may work there in the future: This year we were lucky enough to have had the worst winter Belfast has seen in the last 50 years, or so many people have told me. Since the volunteers live up on the mountain, right beside the cottage, they are the first ones who will know about any snow/ice lying on the roads.

When this happens, you then get to enjoy the lovely job of "gritting the road." Grit is a combination of sand and salt that you sprinkle on the road to melt the snow and ice so the buses can make it up and down the mountain. Once you learn how to do it effectively, it should take no more than 40 minutes to grit the road and walk back up. Believe me, by the time you leave Quakers you will become a professional at gritting.

You will get to experience a lovely Christmas here. Quakers gets donations from families and companies of food and toys. We dedicate the two rooms upstairs for these donations and it takes the entire staff to sort and categorize the food and toys. After everything is sorted, hampers are made to give out to current and past families.

The Tuesday younger afterschool group mails letters to Santa at the Christmas market and then gets a visit and a wee toy from him as well. The preteen and older afterschool group gets a visit from a "silly Santa"--usually one of the staff and the children know it. This is to protect any of those who may believe in Santa from being teased. All in all it’s a brilliant time for everyone to enjoy themselves.

Summer, on the other hand, is a bit different. The summer program is a very important time for the children, who in most families do not get to experience half the things we do in the summer. There are definitely challenges that they face and often times they will act out because they’re scared. It is such an important time for us to build up our relationships with these children and really gain their trust so we can boost their confidence.

The main thing at Quakers is to be flexible and patient. If you really embrace the work, the extra hours do not seem that bad and you will enjoy your time here so much more. Good luck and have fun; it’s truly an experience you will not forget!

Jill Piebiak writes from the European Office of the World Christian Student Federation (WCSF) in Budapest, Hungary: I don’t think that I can really say how happy I am to be working for this organization. Although the job is filled with many ups and downs and sometimes incredibly frustrating moments, I am so glad to be working somewhere that fits with my goal, career aspirations, and values.

I work with a regional committee of volunteers who are so enthusiastic and very committed to the organization. I am the staff representative on the preparatory committee working on our theological conference in Berlin, "Religion, Ethics, and Politics--God and the Use of Power." We are expecting approximately 60 youth from across Europe, a student from Africa, and one from the Asia Pacific regions of the WSCF.

I also am helping to promote the World Council of Churches’ Lenten Study, "Cries of Anguish, Stories of Hope." My role is to try to get WSCF members to participate online in discussions about the weekly Bible studies. This means that it has become part of my Lent. Each week my boss and I sit down for about an hour to study the Bible, watch the videos, and reflect on violence against women.

Our organization has responded in solidarity to three issues since I have been here. First, with a student in Belarus who had been thrown out of university for attending a European Union conference on civil society. The second was for the people of Haiti and in particular the local Student Christian Movement there. Finally, we have written the government of the Philippines condemning them for the illegal arrest and torture of Dr. Alexis Montes, uncle to the regional secretary of WSCF Asia Pacific, and 43 other medical professionals.

I feel that my work matters, not only individually in terms of the organization but also the organization’s work really matters and makes a difference in the world.

Katie Hampton reports about her adventures with Internet radio at the OKC Abrasevic Youth Cultural Center in Bosnia-Herzegovina: A dominant experience of my fall and winter has been "Abras Radio," an Internet radio station. I helped write a grant for this project. As the BVS volunteer in OKC, I decided to host a radio show about "sevdah" traditional Bosnian music, which I adore.

Someone wrote a description for my show: "Most of us grew up listening to ‘sevdah’ on the radio. Katie didn't. She grew up on a farm in Oregon. ‘Sevdah’ on Wednesdays with Katie."

My friend Dolores, who sings "sevdah," promised to help. I then had two weeks to create six radio shows. I was going to America for a month and needed to leave play lists and interviews that staff could put on in my absence. I had an amazing time interviewing different people from Mostar--young people, old people, musicians.

At the end of January, we had a final event and promotion of Abras Radio, and Abras Media in general. Young Mostar heavy metal bands played (some of the band members lead a metal show on Abras Radio), we featured a local hip-hopper who also leads a radio show, and there was a presentation of the Internet portal and radio site. Some of the young people decided they were interested in video too, and worked with me to film interviews and the concert, and later edited the footage. By this point, the number of young volunteers had grown to about 15 and there were about 10 different weekly radio shows.

This project was a coming together, not only of Croat and Bosniak young people, but also punk rockers and metalheads, which is even more amazing! In the end the project really did what it said that it would: create an alternative media space, truly open to members of the community, bringing together youth from both sides of a divided city, uniting them through radio, music, and activism.

The money for the project is basically all spent, so the future is uncertain. We are writing other grants, hoping they will be approved. We desperately need more equipment--the studio doesn't even have proper microphones and our video camera is practically not functioning. What will the future hold for Abras Media?

In terms of my own volunteering, I am beginning to train young people to continue with video work in Abras Media--hoping to leave something behind, to contribute something more lasting.

Source: 5/5/2010 Newsline
Brethren bits: Correction, remembrance, personnel, job opening, more
  • Correction: The Newsline of April 22 incorrectly listed Bob Gross, executive director of On Earth Peace, as helping plan the upcoming "Peace Among the Peoples" conference.

  • Remembrance: Henry Barton, who served Brethren Press as a bindery helper for close to 40 years, died on April 28. He worked for the denominational publishing house in Elgin, Ill., from Feb. 1948 to his retirement in Oct. 1984. Survivors include daughter Brenda Hayward, who is the receptionist at the Church of the Brethren General Offices. The funeral service was held at Wesley United Methodist Church in Elgin on May 2. Memorials are being received to Wesley United Methodist Church or American Legion Post 57.

  • Staffing changes at the New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center took effect May 3. The changes are intended "to reduce costs while also increasing efficiency," said an announcement. The housekeeping department will consist of Harry Torres, who will handle coordination with community service and volunteer agencies and programs such as the ARC of Carroll County, in addition to his current responsibilities; Christine Watson, who will take on additional responsibilities to inventory and order supplies and provide leadership when supervisors are absent; and Ella Patterson, who while continuing in her housekeeping position will be cross trained in dining services to provide assistance in each area as needed. Fay Reese has accepted a transfer to a fulltime position in dining services.

  • Randy and Jill Emmelhainz of Ostrander, Ohio, have been appointed resident directors of Lybrook (N.M.) Community Ministries, beginning June 1. They will replace David and Maria Huber, whose term of service will end the last of July. Lybrook Community Ministries is related to Western Plains District and Tokahookaadi Church of the Brethren, located in a Navajo community of New Mexico. Jill Emmelhainz is working on an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) degree and has done course work in intercultural studies. Her experience in community involvement has included organizing community events and participating in a variety of community arts activities, recruiting and supporting community volunteers, producing curriculum for homeschoolers, arranging workshops for a national conference, working as a ski patroller and Outdoor Emergency Care instructor, and writing and editing newsletters. Randy Emmelhainz is completing a master’s degree in intercultural studies at Columbia (S.C.) International University. He is certified in secondary education in mathematics, has taught math and adult education computer classes, has been part-time pastor for an African Methodist Episcopal church, and has formed a small consulting business. The couple will serve through Brethren Volunteer Service.

  • The Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., is extending appreciation to Brad and Bonnie Bohrer of Brook Park (Ohio) Community Church of the Brethren, who volunteered from April 20-May 5 to organize and prepare for shipment the family household kits for Haiti.

  • The Church of the Brethren seeks a fulltime coordinator of donor invitation to be part of the Stewardship and Donor Development team, working at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The position builds relationship and invites participation in Church of the Brethren mission and ministries through electronic and traditional communication strategies. The applicant should be a team player, working closely with the communications staff toward a consistent Brethren message. Also desired are above average Internet communication skills, experience with CONVIO, and excellent writing ability that is inspirational, motivational, and invitational. Responsibilities include promoting and securing online and direct mail gifts from individuals, corporations, and foundations; writing invitation and newsletter materials; working with staff to develop and follow a comprehensive plan for e-community building and giving invitation; work with outside contractors for e-mail campaigns, donation page site design, online giving, and/or direct mail; responding to inquiries regarding stewardship and donation concerns; serving as a website sub-administrator; developing and maintaining alumni and donor lists, contacts, and related records; representing and interpreting the stewardship concerns of the church. Desired skills and knowledge include a strong Christian faith and membership in good standing in a Church of the Brethren congregation; grounding in Brethren heritage, theology, and polity; ability to articulate and operate out of the vision, mission, and core values of the denomination; familiarity with youth and young adult culture; positive, affirming, collaborative working style; commitment to denominational and ecumenical objectives; basic knowledge of financial planning tools and estate and tax laws; communication, fundraising, public relations, or customer service experience; leadership experience at the congregational, district, or denominational level of the Church of the Brethren; experience with web-based communication and e-mail systems; a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience. The position is open until filled. Request the position description and application packet from the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694; 800-323-8039 ext. 258;

  • Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger has signed an ecumenical letter supporting Christians and minorities in Iraq. Leaders of the National Council of Churches from a number of Christian denominations have signed the letter of concern sent April 26 to Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, and Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State. Christians in Iraq have suffered more than a dozen violent deaths so far this year, the NCC reported, including a three-year old child in Mosul who died on March 27 after a bomb exploded next to his home. A release link to the full text of the letter is at

  • Registration for summer workcamps has topped 350. "We now have a total of 361 participants in 2010 workcamps, including leaders!" said an e-mail from coordinator Jeanne Davies. Youth and Young Adult Ministry director Becky Ullom notes that "this number is pretty remarkable in a year when there are almost no senior high workcamps due to National Youth Conference." For Young Adult Conference, registration stands at 73. Young adults are encouraged to register at

  • The 2011 National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) planning committee held its initial meeting May 3-5 at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Committee members include Peggy Redman (California), Elsie and Ken Holderread (Kansas), Deanna Brown (Indiana), Guy Wampler (Pennsylvania), and Kim Ebersole of the Congregational Life Ministries staff who serves as NOAC coordinator. "Passion and Purpose in a Changing World" was chosen as the conference theme, reflecting the desire older adults have to be aware of, involved in, and connected to the dynamic world in which they live. NOAC will be held next year on Sept. 5-9, at the Lake Junaluska (N.C.) Conference and Retreat Center.

  • "Take Charge. Solve the Conflict," is the title of a webinar led by Celia Cook-Huffman--the third of a three-part series on "Developing Conflict-Healthy Congregations." Cook-Huffman is professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., and associate director of the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. Her webinar will be repeated May 6 at 5:30-6:30 p.m. (Pacific time) or 8:30-9:30 p.m. (eastern). Connect to the webinar at

  • A preaching camp for youth and young adults ages 16-28 will be hosted by Bethany Theological Seminary and Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Ind., on June 13-18. Part of the Academy of Preachers, the event is one of three held across the country to help young preachers find a unique voice, better articulate beliefs and practices, connect with the living Word, and deepen confidence in God. Cost is $500, with $300 in scholarships provided, leaving the fee for each young preacher at $200. The camp has space for only 24. Preaching will be on texts related to the Ten Commandments. Sermons are video-recorded and used in a coaching process through the week, with each young preacher assigned a coach. For more information and a registration form go to

  • Harmony Church of the Brethren is celebrating its 140th year of ministry in the Middletown/Myersville area of Maryland. The successor of the Anna Maria Moser branch, logs from the Fisher Hollow Road site were brought to Harmony and the meetinghouse was finished in 1870. As a fundraiser, 140 afghans are being commissioned by a company and will be sold. An anniversary celebration is planned for Nov. 14.

  • East Chippewa Church of the Brethren near Orrville, Ohio, holds its 5th Annual Fishing Derby for children on May 15 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Activities are free of charge and the public is welcome, said a release from the church. It is sponsored by the senior high youth and held at a pond on the property of youth advisors Larry and Lysa Boothe (8435 Fox Lake Rd. north of Rte. 585). The youth provide bait and many of the fishing poles, and clean the trout that are caught. "The pond is also stocked with perch, small mouth bass, crappie, and blue gill, however, if someone catches one of these fish we ask that they are released back into the pond," said the announcement. Junior high help teach fishing techniques. The Recreation and Family Life committee provide hot dogs and chips, and a grill is ready for those who like to eat their catch right away. Guests are welcome to bring their own poles and lures. "The derby has opened a whole new way for our church to expand its doors," explained Lysa Boothe. "The fishing derby is our way of showing that God is everywhere and in everything and is not just for church." For more information call 330-669-3262 or visit

  • A five-star rating from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has been awarded to Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Boonsboro, Md. The rating is the best possible, according to a release from the home. "Each nursing home in the nation receives an overall rating of from 1 to 5 stars, with 5 indicating the home is considered ‘much above average’ in quality of its services," the release said. The ratings are updated numerous times each year, see The overall rating is based on a combination of three others for each home: health inspection findings, data on nurse-staffing hours, and clinical data relating to the care provided. Fahrney-Keedy also has received high scores in the latest state survey of residents’ families. Questions covered staff and administration, care provided, food and meals, autonomy and resident rights, and physical aspects of the home. Fahrney-Keedy was rated higher by its responsible parties than were other homes in the state average. "Our dedicated staff and a wonderful core of volunteers are the reasons for our growing success and high ratings," said Keith Bryan, interim president.

  • Bridgewater (Va.) College president Phillip C. Stone will deliver the 2010 commencement address in his last commencement as chief executive of the college, at 2 p.m. on May 16, on the campus mall. Some 300 seniors are expected to receive degrees. Stafford C. Frederick, pastor of Summerdean Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., will deliver the message at the 10 a.m. baccalaureate service in Nininger Hall. Stone took office on Aug. 1, 1994, as the seventh president of Bridgewater College. His retirement from Bridgewater will be effective June 30.

  • The commencement address at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., will be given by Harriet Richardson Michel, president of the National Minority Supplier Development Council and a 1965 graduate. Juniata's 132nd commencement ceremony takes place at 10 a.m. on May 15. Michel's work for civil rights and minority opportunity dates back to her college career at Juniata, according to a release from the college, when in her senior year she was one of a group of students to travel to Alabama as part of an effort to bring attention to civil rights abuses. During one event, police attacked the demonstrators including some of the Juniata students. Photographer Charles Moore took photos of Richardson tending to a bloodied Galway Kinnell, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who was serving as a Juniata artist-in-residence in 1965. The photo was featured in "Life" magazine. Michel has been honored by numerous awards, among them the 2006 "50 Most Powerful Women in Business" by "Black Enterprise" magazine, a 2005 induction into the Minority Business Hall of Fame, and the 2004 Hall of Fame Award from "Enterprising Woman Magazine." She has taught or lectured at Harvard Law School, Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School, and the University of Florida.

  • The May program from "Brethren Voices," the community television program of Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren, features storytellers from the annual Song and Story Fest, a family camp co-sponsored by On Earth Peace. Featured are Rocci Hildum and Mike Titus of Wenatchee, Wash.; Jim Lehman of Elgin, Ill.; and Jonathan Hunter of San Diego, Calif. The June issue of "Brethren Voices" will feature Chuck Boyer of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, who has served on the denominational staff and as moderator of Annual Conference in 1993. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Chuck as he continues to battle cancer while living at Hillcrest Homes in La Verne," said a release from producer Ed Groff. For more about "Brethren Voices" contact Copies are available for a donation of $8.

  • The new immigration law in Arizona is being critiqued by Christian leaders including the National Council of Churches (NCC) and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. The bishops denounced the law as "draconian" and called on Congress to stop political "gamesmanship" and pass immigration reform, according to Religion News Service. Michael Kinnamon, NCC general secretary, reiterated the view of member denominations and Arizona religious leaders that "this legislation will not contribute to the reform of our nation's immigration system." Church of the Brethren statements on immigration available online include a 1982 Annual Conference "Statement Addressing the Concern of Undocumented Persons and Refugees in the United States" at and a 2006 pastoral letter from the former General Board at

  • Nuclear weapons "are a crime against humanity" and must be removed from the face of the earth, NCC general secretary Michael Kinnamon told a rally held in New York on May 2, on the eve of a United Nations conference on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons treaty. A resolution against nuclear weapons was enacted by the General Assembly of the NCC and Church World Service last November. Kinnamon also cited a statement by the World Council of Churches made just three years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. "It is only eight words, but I wish these words could be chiseled above the door of every church: ‘War is contrary to the will of God.’" The rally in Times Square was attended by an estimated 40,000 people, hours after a failed attempt to explode a car bomb. Participants included Kimura Hisako, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, and mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  • The National Council of Churches has released a new education and worship resource on domestic poverty. "The crisis of poverty calls on the church as the body of Christ to be ‘hands and feet’ in our community, working to eradicate poverty and provide everyone an equal opportunity to prosper," said an announcement. Download the resource from

  • The "Akron Beacon Journal" has marked the 40th anniversary of the Kent State shootings on May 4 with an interview with Dean Kahler, one of the students hit in the shooting and paralyzed from the waist down. The interview notes that "As a member of the pacifist Church of the Brethren, he was against the war in Vietnam--and, in fact, any war," but simply wanted to see what went on at a student demonstration. Kahler remains upbeat, he told the paper. ''I had some things that really helped me through--a strong family, cadre of friends, belief in my faith." The interview is online at
Source: 5/5/2010 Newsline

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Jordan Blevins, Kathleen Campanella, Kim Ebersole, Mary K. Heatwole, Philip E. Jenks, Jeri S. Kornegay, Karin L. Krog, Michael Leiter, John Wall, Tracy Wiser contributed to this report.