Thursday, October 21, 2010

Moderator joins Archbishop of Canterbury at 40th anniversary of CNI.

Robert Alley, moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, joined the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and other Christian leaders to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Church of North India.

CNI was formed on Nov. 29, 1970, by six Protestant denominations including the Church of the Brethren. The 1970 ceremony included Shantilal Bhagat, Loren Bowman, Joel Thompson, and Howard Royer, along with a number of mission workers representing the Church of the Brethren in the US, and Bishop Ishwarlal L. Christachari of the Indian Brethren was named as one of the original bishops of CNI serving in Gujarat Diocese.

The three-hour thanksgiving service for the 40th anniversary took place Oct. 14 in Nagpur, central India, and was attended by two dozen CNI bishops and over 5,000 church members. The service began with a long procession through the streets of Nagpur, lined with students from St. Ursula’s girl school, to the All Saints Church where a large tent was erected to host the celebration.

The moderator of CNI, Bishop Purely Lyngdoh, rededicated a hexagonal unity monument erected to commemorate the union, with the name of a founding member on each side. Alley and Williams then released balloons and pigeons in celebration.

The Annual Conference moderator was accorded a high level of respect, Alley said during his report on the event to the Church of the Brethren’s Mission and Ministry Board. Leaders of the six founding partners of CNI were seated at the head table at the 40th anniversary celebration, along with the Archbishop of Canterbury as head of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. Alley was invited to join in serving communion along with the Archbishop and other leaders. "It was an honor to the Church of the Brethren," Alley told the board.

The Archbishop delivered the main address for the anniversary celebration. "In St John's Gospel," Williams began, "Jesus gives us a very simple account of what unity means for his followers. There is one flock because the sheep all recognize one voice--the voice of the Good Shepherd. So if there is not one flock, we must assume that the sheep are not listening to the same voice--that they are in part listening, as Jesus says earlier in the same passage, to the voices of strangers. When the Church of God begins to come together, it is a sign that we have stopped listening to strangers."

Williams went on to observe that "as we stop listening to one another, we stop listening to Christ. And whether this happens in the name of nationality or tradition or pride of achievement or purity of teaching, the effect is the same tragedy."

"While we celebrate our common unity that is expressed in our common worship and in our common mission towards working among the marginalized and dispossessed, we also recognize that being a united and uniting church implies that we continue to name the sin of disunity among us even today," stated CNI General Secretary Alwan Masih, reading out a unity declaration.

The most memorable moment during the service was the lighting of candles by Alley, Williams, and Lyngdoh, symbolizing the rededication of CNI to its uniting mission. With lighted candles in their hands, bishops, clergy, laity, and delegates of the church repeated a pledge of rededication to unity.

CNI is the dominant Protestant denomination in northern India with about 1.3 million members and 3,500 congregations in 27 dioceses. Its headquarters are in New Delhi. The six founding members are the Council of Baptist Churches in Northern India, the Church of the Brethren, the Disciples of Christ, the Church of India (Anglican, formerly known as the Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon), the Methodist Church (British and Australasian Conferences), and the United Church of Northern India.

Leading up to the anniversary, Alley and Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships for the Church of the Brethren, participated in numerous events in CNI communities with a Brethren heritage. This included addressing faculty and students of the United School of Theology in Ahmedabad, speaking at a youth conference, breaking ground for a new school, and helping ordain pastors in Aywa. During their Oct. 6-16 trip, Alley and Wittmeyer also met with the India Brethren in Ankleshwar and the Rural Service Center.

Annual Conference has stressed the value of maintaining relationship with both CNI and the India Brethren, Alley reminded the board during his report. "The mission of Christ both informs us and far exceeds the boundaries of our distinctions," Alley said as he shared conclusions from the trip. One conclusion is that what is happening in both CNI and the India Brethren congregations is like the theme he has chosen for Annual Conference next year, he said: "Gifted and extending the table."

-- Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships, contributed to this report.

Heifer International president is co-winner of 2010 World Food Prize.

Jo Luck, president of Heifer International, was co-recipient of the World Food Prize on Oct. 14 for her work through Heifer to ensure availability and sustainability of food to people in need around the world. She shared the prestigious prize with David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World.

During Luck’s acceptance speech, she referenced the work of the Church of the Brethren and the beginnings of Heifer International. The organization was started as the Church of the Brethren’s Heifer Project, by then-denominational staff member Dan West.

The World Food Prize was presented at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, as part of the 2010 Borlaug Dialogue on the theme, "Take It to the Farmer: Reaching the World's Smallholders." The prize is presented to individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world.

"The awards mark the first time NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have been recipients of the $250,000 prize; more often the laureates have been scientists from the developing world," commented Howard Royer, manager of the Global Food Crisis Fund.

Attending on behalf of the Church of the Brethren was Kathleen Campanella, director of partner and public relations at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., who represents the Church of the Brethren on the Heifer International Board.

Also present at the ceremony were 13 guests of the Foods Resource Bank from a number of countries including Guatemala, the Gambia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Laos, and Zambia. The group included two representatives from Totonicapan, Guatemala, a food security program for which the Church of the Brethren is a lead sponsor: Hugo Garrido, who coordinates the Totonicapan program, and Olga Tumax, women’s leader. The group plans to visit several growing projects while they are visiting the US, among them Ivester Church of the Brethren in Iowa.

-- Kathleen Campanella is director of partner and public relations at the Brethren Service Center.

Sudan’s church leaders are concerned about upcoming referendum.

A delegation of Sudanese church leaders has traveled to the United States and United Kingdom to warn about threats to the Sudanese people as Jan. 9, 2011, approaches--the date Sudan is supposed to vote on a comprehensive peace agreement that ended its decades-long civil war between north and south.

"At the referendum the people of Southern Sudan will exercise their right to self-determination to decide their future," explained a release from the All Africa Council of Churches (AACC), which has declared 2010 a special year for Sudan. "They will choose whether to remain as part of a united Sudan or separate to become a new nation state."

The Church of the Brethren currently has a mission worker in southern Sudan, Michael Wagner, who is serving as a peace worker seconded to the Africa Inland Church-Sudan, a member of the Sudan Council of Churches.

Last week the Sudanese delegation met with officials of the National Council of Churches (NCC) and Church World Service (CWS) in New York to warn that the safety and human rights of millions of Sudanese continue to be in jeopardy despite hopes raised by the referendum. Previously, the delegation was in the UK to meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury and other church leaders and politicians.

According to the NCC, the Sudanese church leaders are skeptical that the referendum will be carried out as planned, or that it will solve problems brought on by years of bloodshed. And they warned US church leaders that "the safety and human rights (including the right to freedom of religion) of southerners living in northern Sudan are in jeopardy before, during, and after the referendum."

The Sudanese civil war began in 1983 and has claimed more than 2 million lives and displaced more than 4 million people, the NCC release noted. More recent violence in Sudan's Darfur region has killed upwards of 300,000 people and displaced 2.7 million. The NCC release added that the current concern for the peace process goes far beyond Darfur and extends to all of Sudan.

The US leaders supported their Sudanese colleagues as they called on the UN to "hold all parties and guarantors of the CPA (comprehensive peace agreement) accountable." The group called on the UN and the international community to "listen to and respect the voice of the voiceless, the voice of the suffering people of southern Sudan in the transitional areas, as expressed by the church."

In the UK, the Anglican Communion News Service reported, "The archbishops explained that the critical issues related to the referendum include delays in voter registration, tensions in the border regions, and the future for some 4 million refugees from the south who are currently living in the north."

The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke about the danger of Sudan "sleepwalking towards disaster...if action does not continue from the international community." The threat of open war "in and after the referendum period is the most serious thing of all," Williams said, "and that signals a return to what have been decades of slaughter and poverty and utter instability in a very large and very vulnerable country."

The AACC expressed concern "that the CPA implementation process is behind schedule. Specifically we note with concern that the work of the referendum commission has not started in earnest." The emphasis of the message from the Sudanese churches is, "The integrity of the CPA must be respected by all. The self-determination referendum must take place on 9th January 2011 as provided for in the CPA," the AACC said.

The Sudanese church leaders delegation included Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, Anglican Primate of Sudan; Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban; Bishop Daniel Adwok Kur, auxiliary bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Khartoum; Ramadan Chan, secretary general of the Sudan Council of Churches; Samuel Kobia, ecumenical special envoy to Sudan and former general secretary of the World Council of Churches; John Ashworth, Sudan advisor for Catholic Relief Services and the Sudan Ecumenical Forum; and Rocco Blume of Christian Aid.

(For more about the work of Church of the Brethren mission staff in Sudan, go to

David Shetler to serve as executive for Southern Ohio District.

David D. Shetler begins Jan. 1, 2011, as district executive minister for the Church of the Brethren’s Southern Ohio District in a half-time position. Most recently, since Sept. 2006, he has been on the staff of Mennonite Mutual Aid as an agency manager/counselor.

Shetler has more than 30 years of experience in ministry, having served several congregations as pastor, associate pastor, or interim minister. From Oct. 1996-June 2003, he was director of Admissions and Student Development at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. He holds a master of arts in Religion degree from Eastern Mennonite Seminary, with an emphasis in historical and theological studies, and a bachelor of arts in Philosophy and Religion and Business Administration from Bridgewater (Va.) College.

The Southern Ohio District Office continues to be located in the community center at Mill Ridge Village (Brethren Retirement Community) in Union, Ohio.

Annual Advent offering emphasis calls Brethren to ‘Prepare the Way.’

The 2010 Advent Offering Emphasis for the Church of the Brethren is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 5 on the theme, "Prepare the Way" (Isaiah 40:3-5). Resources are provided in English and Spanish.

"Today’s world is the one into which Jesus is still being born," said an invitation to the special offering supporting Church of the Brethren denominational ministries. "How do we prepare the way for Jesus to be born in 2010? How do we prepare the way for that birth to affect lives into 2011 and beyond? The Church of the Brethren prepares by gathering resources for our journey together. Ours is a journey that proclaims Christ’s perfect peace and God’s justice far and wide."

Worship materials and theme reflections are among the resources posted at Congregations may print as many copies as needed. "Prepare the Way," an inspiring worship video set to music, will be available to download from the website as of Nov. 1. Contact stewardship staff Carol Bowman at 509-663-2833 for a paper copy of the resource guide. Congregations on standing order will automatically receive pre-ordered quantities of combination bulletin insert/offering envelopes.

Workcamps are scheduled for summer 2011.

The 2011 schedule of summer workcamps has been announced by the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry. The 2011 workcamp theme is "We Are the Body" (Romans 12:4-5). The week-long service opportunities are for those from age 12 to 100-plus. Held in the months of June, July, and August, the workcamp ministry provides an opportunity for spiritual formation through service and simple living in Christian community.

"The 2011 workcamps offer the chance to step out of our singular day-to-day lives and enter into a spirit of unity with fellow workcampers, people of other cultures and communities, and God’s creation," said the announcement. "It is through this movement that we can evolve into the living Body of Jesus!"

In 2011, 29 workcamps will be offered in diverse locations. Four of the workcamps offer unique and special opportunities:

-- A Young Adult Workcamp in Taizé, France, and Geneva, Switzerland, for ages 18-35 will be held June 4-14. This first workcamp of the summer offers young adults the opportunity to travel and explore relationships as individuals and a denomination with the global Body of Christ. The Taizé community in France is especially designed as a place for Christian young adults from across the globe to come together for work, Bible study, worship, and fellowship. After a week in Taizé, the group will visit the World Council of Churches, World Health Organization, and other international organizations to learn about their ministries.
  • An Intergenerational Workcamp in Coconino National Forest, Ariz., for ages 12 to 100-plus will be held June 25-30. This workcamp promises to be a true nature adventure. Participants will meet in the mountains of northern Arizona, and then backpack a short distance onto National Forest property to set up base camp for the week. Lodging and food will be primitive as the group enjoys fellowshiping together in God’s glorious creation. Work will involve removing invasive crayfish from streams and improving habitat for native fish species. Bring the whole family for an intense week serving on some of God’s holy ground.

  • The "We Are Able" Workcamp at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., for ages 16-23 will be held July 11/12-15. With the recognition that all people have gifts to share, this workcamp enables youth and young adults with intellectual disabilities to serve side-by-side with a service partner youth or young adult. The group will work at SERRV and the Material Resources warehouse.

  • Haitian Church of the Brethren in Miami, Fla., is the setting for a senior high workcamp on June 20-26. This church with over 400 members is located in the heart of the Haitian community in Miami, and the workcamp is an opportunity learn more about Haitian-American brothers and sisters while serving together and celebrating in Christian fellowship. Worship on Sunday morning will be in both English and Haitian Kreyol. This is a wonderful opportunity to deepen faith while experiencing the vibrant, passionate witness of the Haitian church.
Workcamp registration begins online on Jan. 3, 2011, at 7 p.m. (central time). For more information, go to or contact Jeanne Davies, Carol Fike, or Clara Nelson in the Workcamp Office at 800-323-8039 or

(Find a photo album from the 2010 workcamps at

-- Jeanne Davies coordinates the Church of the Brethren’s Workcamp Ministry.

Minister’s Association announces 2011 pre-Conference event.

"Breaking Down Walls: Pursuing the Vision of Becoming Multi-Cultural Congregations" is the theme for the Ministers’ Pre-Conference Event to be held July 1-2, 2011, in Grand Rapids, Mich., prior to the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference.

Facilitators for the event are Darla Kay Deardorff and Robert Hunter. Deardorff is executive director of the Association of International Education Administrators at Duke University and member of the denominational study committee that wrote the "Separate No More" paper. She is a member of Peace Covenant Fellowship Church of the Brethren in Durham, N.C. Hunter is a Diversity and Justice specialist with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship and a member of the organization’s Black Campus Ministries Board, from Richmond, Ind.

The schedule features three plenary sessions--on Friday afternoon and evening, and Saturday morning--along with worship led by Belita Mitchell, pastor of Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren.

Continuing education units will be offered, and there will be a discounted price available for students and first-time attendees. More information will be available in the 2011 Annual Conference Packet and online. For questions contact association chair Sue Richard at

Brethren bits: Personnel, jobs, jr. high Sunday, Chronicles webcast, more.
  • Emily Osterhus has begun as advocacy assistant in the Washington (D.C.) office of the Church of the Brethren and the National Council of Churches, after finishing a year of Brethren Volunteer Service with the Capital Area Food Bank. Born and raised in coastal North Carolina, she joined BVS after receiving a degree in Political Science and English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she was president of the UNC Wesley Campus Ministry.

  • The New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center is thanking volunteer host couples who served this summer: Ed and Betty Runion of Markle, Ind., and Ric and Jan Martinez of Live Oak, Calif.

  • The Church of the Brethren seeks a coordinator for recruitment and service advocate for Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) and Global Mission Partnerships. The position will coordinate and lead recruitment efforts and activities for BVS along with attention to the open mission positions. This includes relating to Brethren congregations, districts, camps, colleges, and Annual Conference. The coordinator will connect with Brethren organizations in many ways, through communication vehicles as well as attendance and leadership at functions such as youth events. Primary recruitment efforts are within the denomination, however this position will also lead BVS efforts to recruit outside the denomination. The service advocate component will provide leadership at national, district, and congregational events focused on the peace and justice goals of BVS with knowledge of the conscientious objection witness of the denomination and BVS relationship to the Selective Service System. Requirements include a bachelor’s degree, with a master’s or equivalent work experience helpful; grounding in Church of the Brethren heritage, theology, and polity; ability to articulate and operate out of the vision of the Mission and Ministry Board of the Church of the Brethren; recruitment experience in a college or equivalent volunteer service setting helpful; interpersonal skills and ability to take initiative without regular supervision; organizational abilities and ability to work on the road and in an office setting; general financial understanding. Previous experience with a volunteer service organization helpful but not required. Location is the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Request an application, criminal background check authorization, and position description from Karin Krog, Director of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60123;; 847-742-5100 ext. 258. The position is open until filled.

  • Pinecrest Community, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Mt. Morris, Ill., seeks a CEO. Pinecrest, a faith-based CCRC, serves 200 residents in independent living, skilled nursing, intermediate care, and dementia care. The CEO will play a pivotal role in guiding Pinecrest through its current five-year strategic planning and the current capital campaign that benefits the skilled nursing facility. Expectations include expertise in planning, financial and operational management, fundraising, a team style of leadership, willingness to be significantly involved in the local communities, effective communication, and commitment to a faith-based philosophy. Deadline for applications is Dec. 31. The position is to begin July 15, 2011. Resume and indication of interest may be submitted to Search Consultant Ralph McFadden at Questions may be directed to home/office phone 847-622-1677 or home/office address 352 Shiloh Ct, Elgin, IL 60120.

  • Camp Brethren Heights near Rodney, Mich., is seeking two staff: a part-time camp director with responsibility for administration of the camp, and a part-time camp manager responsible for maintenance of the camp. Responsibilities of the camp director include, but are not limited to, marketing the camp to the Michigan District and outside groups, booking retreat groups, coordinating and supervising camp staff, making sure inspections and regulations for the camp are current, keeping financial records, and updating staff files. The camp director must be at least 21 years of age and have at least a high school diploma (or equivalent). The camp director must have excellent communication and organizational skills, with preference for applicants who have experience or training in marketing. Responsibilities of the camp manager include, but are not limited to, cleaning for groups using the camp, organizing work groups, mowing and trimming brush and trees, general repair jobs, snow plowing. The camp manager must have a high school diploma (or equivalent), should have basic maintenance knowledge, and must be able to work with a team. The camp manager will be expected to maintain the camp at a high level of cleanliness and safety. Individuals do not need to be part of a married couple to apply. The camp board is looking to fill the position in a non-traditional way. Send applications and resumes to Tara Wise, 7270 Brown Rd., Lake Odessa, MI 48849-9432. Applications can be found at under "forms," select the "staff" application. Questions may be directed to Wise at 269-367-4824 or Applications are due by Nov. 1.

  • The Ecumenical Stewardship Center, of which the Church of the Brethren is a member, seeks a CEO/executive director. Successful candidates will demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit, successful program development experience, strong business acumen, board experience, and a stewardship passion grounded in a strong personal faith. Relocation is not required. Additional information is available at Interested candidates should contact Kirk Stiffney, MHS Alliance, 234 S. Main St., Suite A, Goshen, IN 46526; 574-537-8736;

  • A call for writers from the Ecumenical One Great Hour of Sharing Committee seeks submissions of liturgy, sermon starters, and activities for all ages. The deadline for submissions is Nov. 15. "Share your unique voice as a writer of resources for the ecumenical community across the US, collecting the 2012 One Great Hour of Sharing Offering," said an invitation. For information and a compensation schedule visit and click the "Writer Call for Entries" button. Be sure to review the guidelines for submissions. For more information contact

  • Junior High Sunday on Nov. 7 will focus on the theme, "Piece by Piece: Finding Our Place Within God's Story" (Ephesians 2:19-22). Resources at include a bulletin cover, Bible study, lectionary commentary, worship resources such as invocations and litanies, a drama, and a scripture jam. For more contact the Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office at 800-323-8039.

  • "Join three Old Testament scholars as they share information, ideas, and insights on the book of Chronicles," said an invitation to a webcast sponsored by the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership on Oct. 26 at 8 p.m. (eastern). Presenters are Robert W. Neff, professor emeritus at Bethany Theological Seminary, former general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, president emeritus of Juniata College, and current associate for resource development at the Village at Morrison's Cove; Frank Ramirez, writer, president of the Brethren Journal Association, and pastor of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; and Steven Schweitzer, Bethany’s academic dean and associate professor of Old Testament Studies. The three also will record a series of 15-minute podcasts based on the chapters of "The Chronicler," a Brethren Press Bible study by Neff and Ramirez. Tune in at Those who attend the live broadcast may earn .15 continuing education units.

  • The Church of the Brethren is part of a new ecumenical partnership, "After the Spill: Religious Communities Restoring the Gulf," through its advocacy office in Washington, D.C. Find more information at The effort will focus on an ongoing response to the oil disaster and dedication to long-term Gulf restoration, as the nation approaches the six-month anniversary of the BP oil spill. The website offers a resource on "Gulf Coast Restoration: Five Ways to Get Involved" and "What’s Next for the Gulf?" highlighting ways to engage.

  • The Seminary Consortium on Urban Pastoral Education (SCUPE) in Chicago is holding a 2011 biennial conference on "Peacemaking in a Culture of Violence." Details of the March 1-4 event are at Announced speakers include Shane Claiborne, Renita Weems, and Walter Brueggemann. There are opportunities to submit a proposal to provide a workshop for the conference. "This event is a wonderful event for Brethren to learn and to share from our expertise, so consider sending a workshop suggestion and offering your leadership," said an announcement from Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries for the Church of the Brethren and a member of the planning committee for the event. Early registration of $220 is offered until Nov. 15, along with special rates for students.

  • The Arc of Carroll County, Md., is being honored as Nonprofit Organization of the Year at the fifth annual Carroll County Philanthropists of the Year Awards, given by the Community Foundation of Carroll County. The organization advocates for and supports people with developmental disabilities and their families, and partners with the Church of the Brethren’s New Windsor Conference Center in a Carroll County Training Academy. The program provides employment training for Arc participants who "shadow" Brethren Service Center workers and receive hands-on experience, conference center head Shelly Wagner told the "Carroll County Times." See

  • Douglas Park Church of the Brethren in Chicago, Ill., celebrated its centennial on Oct. 17.

  • Brooklyn (N.Y.) First Church of the Brethren is "having a birthday" on Sunday, Oct. 24, at noon. The church is rededicating its renovated church building, originally built in 1908. "Many congregations and individuals of the Atlantic Northeast and Southern Pennsylvania Districts made these necessary upgrades possible," said an announcement. "In appreciation to you and to our Lord Jesus Christ who is always faithful, we seek your presence during the rededication." Earl Ziegler, district organizer of the project, will be guest speaker. A luncheon will follow. RSVP with number attending to or 718-439-8122.

  • One of the Foods Resource Bank Growing Projects in which the Church of the Brethren participates--the Polo project in northern Illinois--has reported a bumper crop this year. Sponsored by Polo Church of the Brethren, Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, and Faith United Presbyterian Church in Tinley Park, the project has produced 40 acres of soybeans this year, averaging 65 bushels an acre, sold for $28,000 to benefit hunger relief.

  • "Freedom Lies Just North--The Underground Railroad in Adams County" is a bus tour on Oct. 30, sponsored by York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren. The intergenerational educational opportunity will help congregation members learn about the Underground Railroad.

  • Western Pennsylvania District Conference is this Saturday, Oct. 23, at Camp Harmony near Hooversville, Pa. Moderator Ruby F. Mader will lead the meeting.

  • Western Plains District is planning its sixth annual "Gathering" for Oct. 22-24 in Salina, Kan., on the theme "Melt Me, Mold Me, Fill Me, Use Me." In-depth Bible study about congregational and individual renewal will be led by Stephen Breck Reid, professor of Christian Scriptures at George Truett Theological Seminary and former academic dean at Bethany Theological Seminary. Mutual Kumquat will perform "Melting and Molding Hymn Classics."

  • The University of La Verne in southern California is hosting Preview Days on Oct. 23 and Nov. 20 in the university’s Campus Center. Participants will have an opportunity to speak with faculty and students and go on campus tours. Contact the Office of Admission, 1950 Third St., La Verne, CA 91750; 800-876-4858;

  • Bridgewater (Va.) College is hosting a "Fall Bash at BC" on Oct. 24 as a "harvest party/National Youth Conference reunion/youth worship," said an announcement. Participants should check in at the Boitnott Room at 3 p.m. (in the Kline Campus Center). The evening ends with worship led by NYC co-coordinator Audrey Hollenberg and the college’s band, Outspoken. Contact chaplain Robbie Miller at

  • The John Kline Homestead preservation project in Broadway, Va., has announced that $374,500 has been raised toward the purchase of the property. "We only need $50,500 to meet our $425,000 goal by the end of December," said a note from Paul Roth, one of the leaders of the project. Fundraising continues with six Candlelight Dinners offered in the John Kline house on Nov. 13, 14, 20, and 21, and Dec. 11 and 12. "Enjoy a traditional 1860s meal in a Valley Brethren home. Hear the family discuss rumors of war and its implications for their family and farm. The $40 per plate will also go to preserve the John Kline Homestead," said an invitation. Reservations may be made with Roth at 540-896-5001 or Contributions to the preservation effort may be sent to John Kline Homestead, P.O. Box 274, Broadway, VA 22815. Find a photo album of the homestead at

  • A number of Learning Tours are offered by New Community Project in 2011: Burma (Myanmar), Jan. 5-16, cost $1,050 ($950 student); Sudan, Feb. 2-16, cost $1,400; the Ecuadorian Amazon, June 11-21, cost $1,150/$1,075; El Salvador and sites related to Oscar Romero’s martyrdom, July 12-21, cost $675/$600; Denali/Kenai Fjords, Alaska, Aug. 2-11, cost $850/$750; Arctic Village, Alaska, and the Gwich’in community, Aug. 11-19, cost $875 (from Fairbanks). Tours are open to all ages. Cost does not include airfare from the United States. For tour details go to or contact 888-800-2985 or

  • Church communicators are urging the Federal Communications Commission to protect freedom of the Internet. At meetings in mid-October, the National Council of Churches Communications Commission issued a resolution stating that "faith communities have experienced uneven access to and coverage by mainstream media and wish to keep open the opportunity to create their own material describing their faith traditions.... As faith communicators, we see every day the vital connection between a free and fair communications system and the achievement of important social justice goals." The resolution warned, "If vital net neutrality protections are not assured by the FCC, large for-profit companies providing Internet services may have a commercial incentive to favor their own content over others and as a result could limit the activity and equal access of members of faith communities and other non-commercial organizations online." Full text is at

  • "The Amish Way: Patient Faith in a Perilous World" (October 2010, Jossey-Bass) is a new book by the authors of "Amish Grace": Donald Kraybill, a Church of the Brethren member and senior fellow at the Young Center at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College; Steve Nolt, professor of history at Goshen College; and David Weaver-Zercher, professor of American religious history at Messiah College. The book offers an "inside look" at how Amish Christian beliefs and practices inform every aspect of Amish daily life, according to a release. Order through Brethren Press for $18.95 plus shipping and handling, call 800-441-3712 or go to
Denominational Board Sets Framework for Stratigic Planning, Adopts 2011 Budget
A framework for strategic planning for the next decade of denominational ministry, and a 2011 budget, have been approved by the Church of the Brethren’s Mission and Ministry Board. The group met Oct. 15-18 at the church’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The board used a consensus style of decision making, led by chair Dale E. Minnich.

Worship each day of the board meetings centered on the theme, "Hearers and Doers of the Word." A group of students from Bethany Theological Seminary led the Sunday morning worship service.

Also on the agenda were a proposal for a private conversation for the board to seek a working relationship while dealing with controversial issues such as the current denominational conversation on sexuality. The group acted on a proposal regarding the Committee on Interchurch Relations, named a new chair-elect, and received a number of reports including recent Brethren delegations to China and India, among other business.

Framework for Strategic Planning:

The bulk of the board’s time was spent on a framework for strategic planning for the next decade of denominational ministry. The document that was adopted features a preamble prayer, six broad directional goals, and a plan for next steps such as development of strategic objectives and how the resulting strategic plan will be implemented.

Previously adopted vision, mission, and core values statements ( ) are considered foundational to the effort.

"As we envision the next decade for the Mission and Ministry Board of the Church of the Brethren, we pray that...Christ will be at the center of all we do," begins the preamble prayer, which continues with words of intent for Brethren ministry focused on discerning "God’s yearnings for our ministries," "gathering around the Word," "God’s vision for reconciliation and healing," embodying "Jesus’ example of servant leadership," and more.

Six directional goals are to give broad guidance for denominational ministries for the next 10 years. They identify five large program areas-- "Brethren Voice," church planting, congregational vitality, international mission, and service--and an organizational goal of sustainability. In addition to a title, each directional goal includes a short description and one or two scripture references. (Find the full text of the preamble prayer and directional goals below.)

"The possibilities before us are indeed exciting," said Minnich as he introduced the framework to the board. The preamble prayer reaffirms the vision, mission, and core values of the organization, he said, and the directional goals provide guidance and priorities for church work.

Using an "appreciative inquiry" process that focuses on identifying strengths of the organization, data for strategic planning has been gleaned from a five-year evaluation of the work of the General Secretary, and a survey of seven leadership groups in the denomination: the Mission and Ministry Board, Standing Committee of district delegates to Annual Conference, district executives, executive staff of the Church of the Brethren, the denominational Leadership Team (Annual Conference officers and General Secretary), Intercultural Ministry Team, and participants in a Young Adult Forum.

Consultant Rick Augsburger of the Konterra Group based in Washington, D.C., is providing assistance for the strategic planning. A Strategic Planning Working Group also has been named from board members and executive staff: board chair Dale Minnich; board members Andy Hamilton, Frances Townsend, and Colleen Michael; treasurer Judy Keyser; and general secretary Stan Noffsinger. This working group also was in conversation with the envisioning committee of Annual Conference as it created the framework for strategic planning.

A final strategic plan and any resulting changes in program or staffing are not expected for at least a year, Noffsinger explained during the meetings.

The "real meat" of the strategic planning process will come in the next round of work, as small groups of board members and staff develop strategic objectives to meet the new goals, Minnich said.

Budget for 2011:

The board approved a 2011 budget of $10,038,040 in expense and $10,143,620 in income for all eight Church of the Brethren ministry areas: Core Ministries, Brethren Press, "Messenger" magazine, Brethren Disaster Ministries, Material Resources, the New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center, the Global Food Crisis Fund, and the Conference Office.

The budget includes a Core Ministries budget of $5,369,770 expense, $5,426,000 income, and a decision to use up to $437,000 from a bequest quasi endowment to cover what would otherwise be an anticipated deficit budget in Core Ministries. The Core Ministries are the non-self-funded program areas of the denomination, ranging from Congregational Life Ministries to Global Mission Partnerships, from the Ministry Office to Brethren Volunteer Service, and more.

As part of its decision, the board said it will review the budget at its next meeting in March to see if there is any additional margin to apply to a cost of living increase for employees, and expressed concern about the financial situation of the New Windsor Conference Center.

According to assistant treasurer LeAnn Wine, who presented the budget to the board, underlying assumptions for 2011 include no cost of living increase in employee wages for the second year in a row, a 20-percent increase in cost of medical insurance premiums over 2010, continuation of the established pattern of a slight annual decline in giving from congregations and individuals, and "challenging scenarios" for some self-funding units including the New Windsor Conference Center and Brethren Press.

This budget also is designed to give the board a year to put in place its strategic plan, before any resulting changes are made to program or staffing.

Finance and stewardship staff also reviewed year-to-date income and expense, and reported on stewardship and fundraising results through the end of September. Staff noted that donations from congregations are strong this year, and most Church of the Brethren ministry areas are "in the black" year-to-date. The exception is the New Windsor Conference Center, which continues to experience financial difficulties following the economic recession and resulting loss of bookings from groups that use the facility for meetings and retreats.

Proposal for a Special Conversation:

The board agreed to schedule a half day of private conversation at its next meeting in March, approving a recommendation from the Executive Committee. The time of private conversation will be held in order "to share their views on issues of intense conflict and discord like the current issue of human sexuality and to listen attentively and respectfully to the thoughts of their colleagues," according to the Proposal for a Special Conversation.

"The primary objective of this session would be to encourage frank and trusting sharing," the proposal said, "to build understanding of and respect for our differing points of view, and to undergird a trusting and loving working relationship among board members centered in our common focus on Christ."

Executive Committee members explained that the recommendation is in part a motion of solidarity with a denomination undergoing the current Special Response process on issues related to sexuality. The rest of the board agreed to it with some reservations, after a conversation that focused on questions such as why the board does not engage in the same Special Response process as the rest of the denomination, and whether the conversation will prove to be helpful or harmful to the board.

In other business:
  • Two international delegations reported: a delegation to China in August for the centennial of the Ping Ding mission hospital started by the Brethren, and a delegation representing the denomination at the 40th anniversary of the Church of North India (see story to come with regularly schedules issue of Newsline). The China delegation included Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships; Mary Jo Flory-Steury, executive director of Ministry, whose grandparents were mission workers in Ping Ding and whose father was born there; and Ruoxia Li, who grew up in a former Brethren mission area in China. Two hospitals were part of the celebration, Flory-Steury told the board: the hospital started by the mission, which now practices traditional Chinese medicine; and a new Friendship Hospital that also offers Western medicine. A banner from the celebration displayed the two Chinese characters used to translate the word Brethren: "friendship and heart." Wittmeyer said the phrase represents "a deep sweetness" in the way the Ping Ding community remembers the Brethren. The community would like more Brethren fellowship, he added. His office has received an invitation for Brethren to engage in a medical collaboration there. He noted that the invitation for a church to work openly in China is rare.

  • A review and evaluation of the Committee on Interchurch Relations (CIR) was set in motion, at the request of CIR and the Executive Committee. CIR is jointly answerable to Annual Conference and the Mission and Ministry Board. CIR chair Paul Roth presented the request "that Standing Committee and the Mission and Ministry Board review the CIR’s mission and discern what is most appropriate for the ecumenical work of the Church of the Brethren in the 21st century." The denomination’s Leadership Team will facilitate the review.

  • The board affirmed a change in designation of the Church Loan Fund to become a board-designated fund.

  • Becky Ball-Miller was chosen as chair-elect beginning at the 2011 Annual Conference. She will assist the next chair, Ben Barlow, for a two-year term as chair-elect, and then will serve as chair for two years. The term of service of current board chair, Dale Minnich, ends in July.

  • Todd Eichelberger of Bedford, Pa., was named to the board to fill the unexpired term of Willie Hisey Pierson, who became ineligible for the position when hired by Brethren Benefit Trust. The appointment will come before Annual Conference delegates for confirmation.

  • Board member Wallace Cole was named as a Church of the Brethren representative to the On Earth Peace delegation to Israel and Palestine in January.
(Find a photo album from the Mission and Ministry Board meeting at
Framework for Strategic Planning: Preamble Prayer and Directional Goals
The Mission and Ministry Board of the Church of the Brethren has adopted a framework to guide strategic planning for the next decade of denominational ministry. The framework includes a preamble prayer and directional goals (see below). Also included in the full document are an outline of next steps in the process, which includes the setting of strategic objectives and how to implement a resulting strategic plan.

Preamble Prayer

As we envision the next decade for the Mission and Ministry Board of the Church of the Brethren, we pray that...

Christ will be at the center of all we do.

We will discern God’s yearnings for our ministries by prayerfully gathering around the Word.

We will creatively imagine and live out God’s vision for reconciliation and healing.

We will help the Brethren express faith through humble service, simple words, and courageous proclamation.

We will grow into a community that more fully reflects all God’s people.

We will embody Jesus’ example of servant leadership.

We will provide opportunities for Brethren to be involved in hands-on ministry so that God’s transforming energy is released through committed service and support.

Our Brethren dedication to peace, simplicity, and community will undergird all aspects of our life and work.

May the Holy Spirit empower us as we respond to God’s yearnings.

Directional Goals

Brethren Voice:
Equip the Brethren to speak Christ’s peace and love to each other, to neighbors, to ecumenical and interfaith communities, and to national powers. "...To give light to those who sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace" (Luke 1:79).

Church Planting:
Cultivate a growing movement of emerging mission points and church planting. "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth" (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Congregational Vitality:
Strengthen the Brethren as we live into our calling as joyful communities of radical, compassionate disciples. "And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds..." (Hebrews 10:24).

International Mission:
Grow the church of Jesus Christ around the world in partnership with sisters and brothers within the Church of the Brethren and beyond. "Therefore, as you go, disciple people in all nations" (Matthew 28:19, International Standard Version). "So that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine" (Romans 1:12).

Challenge and equip the Brethren to integrate faith and service, deepening our faith as we respond to human need. "...Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action" (1 John 3:18).

Assure that the vision for the Mission and Ministry Board is embodied in an organization that is sustainable, flexible, streamlined, and interdependent, and which calls forth committed support from congregations and individuals. "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:12).

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Doris Abdullah, Jordan Blevins, Carol Bowman, Kathleen Campanella, Rachel Cohen, James Deaton, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Cori Hahn, Phillip Jenks, Karin Krog, Cheryl A. Leanza, Nathan D. Polzin, David Radcliff, Paul Roth, Howard Royer, Marcia Shetler, and Jonathan Shively contributed to this report.