Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Brethren teachers 'fall in love' with work in North Korea.

Brethren teachers Linda and Robert Shank return to North Korea in February for a second semester teaching at the new Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) on the outskirts of the capital city of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). The Shanks have been teaching and living at PUST since classes started Nov. 1, but are currently in the United States for the holiday break.

"The chance to meet these wonderful, bright, talented, respectful young people is a privilege beyond anything. I don't even believe it yet," commented Linda Shank during an interview at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, where Robert Shank also led a chapel service for denominational staff. They have "fallen in love" with their work at the university, he reported.

The Shanks are teaching in N. Korea under the auspices of the Church of the Brethren's Global Mission Partnerships and Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF). Since 1996, the fund has provided grants in N. Korea for hunger relief, agricultural development, and farm rehabilitation, and supports a cluster of farm cooperatives in order to help boost agricultural production and equip the country to avert periodic famine. Robert Shank holds a doctorate in wheat breeding and has conducted rice research. Linda Shank holds a master's degree in counseling and learning disabilities.

Part of a combined international and Korean faculty at PUST, the Shanks are two of seven teachers from Western countries including the US, Great Britain, and the Netherlands. The all-male student body includes 100 undergraduates, and 50 graduate students in three schools: Technology/IT, Business and Economics, and Agriculture/Life Sciences. The student body is expected to grow, as the university's 240-acre campus was built to accommodate more than 1,000.

International faculty is allowed off the walled campus only for escorted scheduled activities such as shopping at embassy stores and sightseeing. Lesson plans and lectures are approved in advance, and staying on the topic is required. However, the fear of encountering excessive rigidity quickly evaporated. "I was concerned that they would be really inhibited students," Linda said. Remembering her previous work with young people in nations affected by violence, she said, "sometimes you see guarded eyes or troubled eyes, however, these students are so normal, so undamaged."

In the first semester, all the students were required to focus on English. Linda taught reading/writing which included journaling, from which she learned much about everyday life in N. Korea and the students' families back home. For most of the undergraduates, this is their first time away from home and their first encounter with someone international. PUST attracted top-ranking students selected to attend the new institution from secondary schools and other universities. Having previously been top students, inability to be number one in class leads to fear of failure, which is a running theme of the journals. "I feed back to them all the time that while all 100 cannot be number one at PUST, they will be competent leaders when they take up their jobs in their country," Linda said.

"A challenge in class was understanding each other," Linda reported. "After two days I asked the class how much they were understanding of the verbal instruction. They said, ‘Less than 30 percent’; after six weeks they said, ‘58 percent.’ I also had difficulty understanding their spoken English, so we were all challenged in verbal interactions!"

However, they were not challenged in enjoyment of the interactions. As groups of vocabulary words accumulated, a mini-lesson would develop. One group of words was consensus, unity, and harmony. The Korean word for grandmother is "halmony." Linda joked that when children are disagreeing and "halmony" arrives, harmony arrives. Future journals included, "I apologize to 'halmony' for sleeping in class." "I apologize to 'halmony' for not having my homework done."

Linda views her work not as a call to change things in a traditionally closed society, but to educate the next generation of leadership for a nation. She is clear that the teacher's job at PUST is not to "fire up" students, but to nurture them to succeed within the society. Even though the Shanks are aware that simple exposure to international people shifts the boundaries for their students, Linda said, "We have to be very careful not to lead them down that path.... Their society needs them."

An original hope for Robert's work was to connect the university research with the farm cooperatives supported by the GFCF. Now it seems that may not be possible because of governmental divisions between departments that oversee education and agriculture. However, the Shanks are holding continued conversation with mission executive Jay Wittmeyer; GFCF manager Howard Royer; Pilju Kim Joo, president of Agglobe Services International, which is a key partner in the farm cooperatives enterprise in N. Korea; and Marv Baldwin and Bev Abma of the Foods Resource Bank, another key partner.

In place of connecting with the farms, Robert Shank now plans to put to use some of the university's extensive campus. He hopes to grow vegetables and fruit trees, develop nurseries, and create demonstration plots. Much of the campus lacks top soil and is thinly covered with weeds at the moment, he said, and university President Kim has asked him to "make it beautiful," he reported with a smile.

His idea is to do onsite teaching of bio-intensive agriculture and seed saving, "growing for calories and carbon (sequestration), building soil organic matter, and looking at a lot of grains and root crops." He is collecting seeds for 11 vegetables in different varieties, including Chinese and Korean variations. The Shanks' luggage when they return to N. Korea in late February also will include microscopes, textbooks, and other supplies for a graduate-level class on advanced genetics.

The Shanks are looking for teachers interested in volunteering at PUST for as little as one semester. The faculty is in need of more teachers for college-level English classes (BS degree required) and college and graduate-level science, business, and computer classes (advanced degree required). For more information see and an article about PUST at To register interest, contact Global Mission Partnerships executive director Jay Wittmeyer at

GFCF supports water project in Niger, school in Sudan, and more.

In its first grants of 2011, the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) has allocated funds to support a water project in Niger, a girls’ school in Sudan, an institute in Japan, and the Global Policy Forum at the United Nations.

The Nagarta Water for Life project in Niger has received a $10,000 grant. The money will support construction of 10 gardening wells in the village of Barho-Banima, benefiting its 4,600 inhabitants. The project will extend off-season gardening, diversify produce, reduce food losses through improved preservation and storage, spearhead reforestation, and promote the growing and consumption of tubers (cassava). This is the second GFCF grant issued to Water for Life. The first $10,000 issued in 2010 supported a project in Dan Kallou. In addition, in 2010 the Church of the Brethren sent $10,000 to an emergency food appeal of Nagarta to provide rice and maize and seed for the village of Maito, Garin Shéga.

The Ayok Anei Girls School in Sudan has received a $3,000 grant. The school educates over 200 girls ages 6 to 15, and includes a nursery school that enrolls 135 youngsters. Opened in April 2009, the school comprises eight classrooms, a meeting room, an office, and 12 huts for teachers. Funds will support the school’s effort to become more self-sufficient in its food operation. It seeks to add a kitchen for cooking and serving the noon meal to students and to install solar equipment to generate electricity. The goal is for the school not only to become more self reliant with food by starting a school farm, but to offer the students life skills.

A $3,000 grant has been given to the Asia Rural Institute in Japan, a community of learning that trains grassroots leaders primarily from Asia, the Pacific, and Africa to work with the poor, the hungry, and the marginalized in their home communities. The grant will support a residence program that emphasizes sustainable agriculture by integrating organic farming, community building, and leadership development. The Asia Rural Institute also is being considered by Brethren Volunteer Service as a possible project site in 2011.

An allocation of $1,000 has been given for the Global Policy Forum, which convenes the NGO Working Group on Food and Hunger at the United Nations. The forum coordinates strategic advocacy planning for partners in Rome, Geneva, Washington, and elsewhere, and initiates public and private meetings on policy directions. Previous grants to the Global Policy Forum were given in 2008 and 2009.

For more about the work of the Global Food Crisis Fund go to

Sudan faith leader supports call to forgiveness.

The head of the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) has backed a statement by the president of southern Sudan that southerners should forgive northerners for the deaths and atrocities of the 21-year civil war.

Ramadan Chan Liol, general secretary of the Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox church grouping, said the appeal by Salva Kiir Mayardit agreed with one the churches were sending to their followers.

"Our faith is built on forgiveness. If there is no forgiveness, there will be no peace," Chan told ENI News in a telephone interview from Khartoum on Jan. 21.

Chan, who also leads the Baptist Church in Sudan, urged Christians and followers of traditional religions to stop being bitter with those from the mainly Arab and Islamic north. He said forgiving the past will enable southerners to move ahead and develop their region.

"We must now focus on the many challenges that face us as a new nation. They are quite enormous," Chan said.

In mid-January, with secession by the south expected, Kiir urged southerners to forgive northerners for the deaths of more than two million people. Sudan has seen two civil wars--one from 1955-72 and the other from 1983-2005. The conflicts centered on resources and religion.

"For our deceased brothers and sisters, particularly those who have fallen during the time of the struggle, may God bless them with eternal peace and, like Jesus Christ on the cross, forgive those who have forcibly caused their death," Kiir was quoted in media reports as saying at St. Theresa Roman Catholic Cathedral in Juba.

On Jan. 23, preliminary results released by the South Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) confirmed that nearly 99 per cent of the voters chose separation. This means the process toward southern Sudan's independence would be started. It is expected that after the official announcement of the referendum results on Feb. 14, there will be an interim period of six months during which outstanding issues will be resolved.

The issues include the border demarcation between the south and north, the sharing of oil wealth and other resources, south Sudan's name, currency, and the status of Abeyi, a disputed oil region on the border between the two.

At the same time, Chan, whose SCC observed the polling process, has expressed satisfaction at the process and its outcome. "It was free, fair and transparent. We are happy it has been credible and peaceful. We are satisfied," he said.

-- Fredrick Nzwili wrote this report for Ecumenical News International.

Carl J. Strikwerda named president of Elizabethtown College.

The Board of Trustees of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College have announced the appointment of Carl J. Strikwerda as the college's 14th president, in a release from the school. After working collaboratively for a month alongside current president Theodore E. Long, Strikwerda will begin his tenure on Aug. 1.

Strikwerda is dean of the faculty of arts and sciences and professor of history at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. In this position, he oversees 378 faculty members, 21 departments, and 14 interdisciplinary programs that serve 5,600 students, including 500 graduate students in six doctoral and 11 master's degree programs. During his six years at William and Mary, he oversaw construction of science buildings, helped create a program in community engagement and scholarship, and initiated work to win grants. He also regularly has taught a course on global history and advised international relations majors.

In previous positions he was associate dean at the University of Kansas 1998-2004, where he helped create a European studies program and a peace and conflict studies minor, led study abroad programs to Europe, won a Kemper Fellowship for excellence in teaching, and helped develop an indigenous nations studies program and forged strong ties with Haskell Indian Nations University. He also has held teaching positions at Calvin College, Hope College, SUNY Purchase, and the University of California, Riverside.

He holds a bachelor's degree from Calvin College, a master's degree from the University of Chicago, and a doctorate from the University of Michigan--all in history. He has published three books and numerous articles on European and global history. He served as historical consultant for the National World War I Museum and currently is treasurer of the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences. (For more about Elizabethtown College go to

February webinar tackles topic of funding for new church starts.

"Funding for 21st Century New Church Starts" is the title for a webinar on Feb. 8 and 10, a collaborative event sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries and Bethany Theological Seminary. The webinar is for district executive ministers, new church development committees, church planters, and church planter support teams.

"Funding plays an important role in birthing new churches and developing a church planting movement," said an announcement. "The purpose of financial support is to assist in the creation of vital new churches that dynamically express and share God’s love. The challenge is to apply resources to the right places at the right time and understand funding as part of a larger system."

Presenting the webinar will be Mark L. Vincent, CEO of Design Group International and an expert on the intersections of faith and money, organizational leadership, and organizational development.

Dates and times are Feb. 8 at 3:30-5 p.m. eastern time (12:30-2 p.m. pacific), and on Feb. 10 at 8-9:30 p.m. eastern (5-6:30 p.m. pacific). The same content will be repeated in each session. Continuing education credit of .15 is offered for those attending the live session only, through the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership.

Link to the webinar at For more information contact Stan Dueck, director Transforming Practices for the Church of the Brethren, or 717-335-3226.

New Tennessee flood recovery project begins Jan. 30.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is scheduled to start up its flood recovery project in Ashland City, Tenn., on Jan. 30. The project site will rebuild homes damaged or destroyed by the flooding that occurred after three days of heavy rain fell starting on May 1 last year. The rain dropped as much as 20 inches of water on Tennessee, causing severe flooding in the western half of the state from Nashville to Memphis, and completely submerging many homes.

Brethren Disaster Ministries’ new rebuilding project is based in Ashland City, located outside Nashville in Cheatham County. In this area, 578 households are in need of assistance, including 41 homes destroyed and 76 in need of major repair.

Volunteers will be doing repair work and some possible new construction. Major repair work includes insulation, drywall, laminate flooring, painting, trim work, and siding. For information about how to volunteer go to

From the Moderator: Soul preparation for Annual Conference 2011.

With this issue of Newsline a special feature begins titled "From the Moderator." On occasion, from now through the 2011 Annual Conference to be held in Grand Rapids, Mich., on July 2-6, moderator Robert Alley will provide information and insights:

For over 250 years, Annual Conference has served a valuable role in the life of the Christian movement known as the Church of the Brethren. We have gathered to seek the mind of Christ on matters of common concern, mission, and service. Much of this history has been recorded in decisions that formed how Brethren lived out God’s presence in their families, congregations, districts, and the world. However, that history extends beyond the minutes of business to the more prayerful manner in which Brethren entered into the gathering of Conference. In 2011, how will we enter prayerfully into our gathering in Grand Rapids?

I offer to you as members, leaders, congregations, and districts of our denomination the following guide to plan for your soul preparation in these six months leading to Annual Conference. May these help us all to listen to the Holy One and to each other as we seek to discern the mind and spirit of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Reflect: Take time to reflect on the purpose and theme of Annual Conference and how Annual Conference contributes to your life, your congrgation, and your district. Use silence to invite your reflection and to offer opportunity to listen to what God is saying. Purpose of Annual Conference: "To unite, strengthen, and equip the Church of the Brethren to follow Jesus." Theme for 2011 Annual Conference: "Gifted with Promise: Extending Jesus’ Table."

Pray: Schedule opportunities for individual and corporate prayer. Join Annual Conference officers in their weekly prayer time at 8 a.m. on Wednesday mornings or schedule another time for your Annual Conference prayers. Include Annual Conference in the prayers in congregational worship. Highlights for prayer: Conference officers, Standing Committee, delegates, business items including the two Special Response items, Conference director and office personnel, many volunteers, Church of the Brethren national staff and district leadership.

Study: Bible passages of the Conference theme: Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:1-14, plus Mark 8:1-10 and Matthew 15:32-39. Bible passages for the worship services: John 2:1-12, Luke 7:36-8:3, Luke 14:12-14, John 21:9-14. Bible passages for the daily Bible study sessions: Jeremiah 30-33, especially 31:31-34; Hebrews 6, 11, and 9:15; Acts 2:33 and 39. Business items, including the studies provided in the Special Response Process. Acts 15--the chapter often read for the beginning of Annual Conference.

Serve: Assemble and bring a School Kit to Annual Conference to be presented as part of the offering in opening worship on Saturday evening and then given to Church World Service. You may bring these kits as individuals or families. Information on the contents of School Kits may be found at Volunteer for one task that allows Annual Conference to be held. Watch Annual Conference publicity or check the Annual Conference website ( for volunteer opportunities.

Witness: Share the story of Annual Conference with someone else as a way to "extend Jesus’ table," even inviting those persons into the fellowship of the Church of the Brethren in your congregation.

I challenge us all to be creative in how we incorporate the above opportunities into our personal and congregational life. You may want to plan special gatherings for study, reflection, and prayer. I would particularly challenge pastors and church leaders to plan a focus on Annual Conference for Pentecost Sunday June 12. Pentecost served as the pivotal Sunday of Annual Conference in much of our history. Use the Conference theme and scriptures, develop your own liturgy of prayers and hymns, include a personal witness to Annual Conference by someone in your congregation, and highlight the movement of the Holy Spirit as God’s people gather for fellowship, worship, and discernment.

-- Robert E. Alley is moderator of the 2011 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren.

Brethren bits: Corrections, job openings, BVS units, more.
  • Corrections: Newsline on Jan. 12 included incorrect information about online registration for delegates to the 2011 Annual Conference. Delegate registration at does not end on Feb. 22, however after that date the delegate registration fee goes up from $275 to $300. Housing reservations and nondelegate registration also open at the same web address on Feb. 22 at 12 noon (central time). In addition, the correct link for One Great Hour of Sharing offering materials is

  • The Church of the Brethren’s Southeastern District seeks a district executive minister. This is a half-time position that could be filled by an individual or a team. The position is available immediately. Southeastern District includes 41 congregations in the states of Alabama, South Carolina, and Tennessee, and a portion of North Carolina and Virginia. The churches are in rural settings, with many small congregations. The district is has two camps, one in Linville, N.C., and the other in Blountville, Tenn. The preferred candidate is someone who upholds the teachings of the New Testament and recognizes that the Bible is the inspired word of God. Responsibilities include serving as executive officer of the District Board, giving general oversight to the planning and implementation of the ministries as directed by District Conference and the board, providing linkages to congregations and other denominational agencies and ministries, assisting congregations and ministers with pastoral placement, encouraging pastors and congregations to have open communication and good working relationships, articulating and promoting the vision and mission of the district, facilitating and encouraging the calling and training of persons to set-apart ministry and lay leadership. Qualifications include a strong personal faith expressed through membership in and commitment to the Church of the Brethren, an ordained minister with a minimum of five years of pastoral experience, a commitment to the New Testament and its values, strong communication skills, experience in leadership development and church growth, following biblical precepts in problem solving, addressing the needs of all parties involved for a peaceful Godly solutions. Apply by sending a letter of interest and a resume via e-mail to Applicants are requested to contact three or four people to provide letters of reference. Upon receipt of the resume, the applicant will be sent a candidate profile that must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. The application deadline is April 30.

  • The Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) has an opening for an archival intern. The purpose of this Archival Internship Program is to develop interest in vocations related to archives and libraries and/or Brethren history. The program will provide the intern with work assignments in BHLA and with opportunities to develop professional contacts. Work assignments will include processing archival materials, writing descriptive inventories, preparing books for cataloging, responding to reference requests, and assisting researchers in the library. Professional contacts may include attending archival and library conferences and workshops, visits to libraries and archives in the Chicago area, and participation in a Brethren Historical Committee meeting. The BHLA is an official repository for Church of the Brethren publications and records. The collection consists of over 10,000 volumes, over 3,500 linear feet of manuscripts and records, over 40,000 photographs, plus videos, films, DVDs, and recordings. BHLA is located at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Term of service is one year, beginning July 2011 (preferred). Compensation includes housing, a stipend of $540 every two weeks, and health insurance. Requirements include graduate student preferred, or undergraduate with at least two years of college, interest in history and/or library and archival work, willingness to work with detail, accurate word processing skills, ability to lift 30 pound boxes. Request an application packet from the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; All submissions must be completed by March 1. For additional information about the position contact the Brethren Historical Library and Archives at 800-323-8039 ext. 294 or

  • Nancy and Irv Heishman, recently returned from more than seven years in the Dominican Republic as Church of the Brethren mission coordinators, are available for mission interpretation in congregations and districts during the coming months. They currently are based in Harrisonburg, Va., and can be contacted at 540-383-1274 or

  • Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) is holding its Winter orientation unit Jan. 30-Feb. 18 at Camp Ithiel in Gotha, Fla. This will be the 292nd BVS unit and will consist of 14 volunteers from across the US, Holland, and Germany, including several Church of the Brethren members. A highlight will be a weekend immersion in Miami. In Miami and Orlando areas the group will have the opportunity to work at area food banks, Habitat for Humanity, and other nonprofit organizations. They also will experience a Toxic Tour showing the devastation of agricultural chemicals for the land and water of Lake Apopka and for farmworkers in the area. A BVS potluck is open to all those who are interested on Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. at Camp Ithiel. Come and welcome the new BVS volunteers and share your own experiences."As always your thoughts and prayers are welcome and needed," said orientation coordinator Callie Surber in an announcement. "Please remember this new unit and the people they will touch during their year of service through BVS." For more information contact the BVS office at 800-323-8039 ext. 423.

  • BVS also is inviting older adults to its spring orientation unit on March 28-April 8 at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The unit is open to anyone age 50 or older. Older adult volunteers are asked to commit to a project for a minimum of six months, but may attend orientation without making a commitment to serve in BVS. One project in particular, the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima, Japan, is seeking two volunteers for a two-year commitment. The volunteers would begin at the center this spring, serving as co-directors to manage and operate international guest services that include scheduling, welcoming, correspondence, breakfast preparation, and a full spectrum of cleaning and maintenance duties. For more information about the orientation and BVS projects see

  • The Information Packet for the 2011 Annual Conference is now available on CD as well as online at This includes information about housing and hotels, conference schedule, special events and meal tickets, age group activities, and more. The CD has been sent to each Church of the Brethren congregation and each registered delegate.

  • Feb. 6 is the annual Service Sunday in the Church of the Brethren. The day celebrates those who serve, offers an opportunity to discover ways to serve through Church of the Brethren ministries and in local communities, and calls church members to be transformed by serving one another in the name of Christ. Worship resources are available at

  • The Material Resources program that warehouses and ships disaster relief supplies from the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., has made several shipments recently. A 40-foot container of 11,620 quilts has been sent to UNHCR in Azerbaijan on behalf of Lutheran World Relief. Another 40-foot container with blankets, Hygiene Kits, baby items, and medical supplies for Global Assistance has gone to Zambia. Church World Service has released shipments of woolen blankets and Hygiene Kits to be distributed to homeless and low-income families and shelters in New Mexico, New Jersey, California, Michigan, and Florida.

  • Congregational Life Ministries executive Jonathan Shively recommends an upcoming Congress on Urban Ministry on the theme "Peacemaking in a Culture of Violence" on March 1-4 in Chicago. Among keynote speakers are James Forbes, senior minister emeritus at Riverside Church in New York; Renita Weems, an AME elder considered one of the top preachers in the country; Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann; and Shane Claiborne, a leader in the new monastic movement, who spoke for the Church of the Brethren’s National Youth Conference last summer, among others. Church planter Samuel Sarpiya and On Earth Peace will be presenting a workshop related to peace-building in the Rockford, Ill., community, and Gerald Rhoades from Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren also will present a workshop on the Agape-Satyagraha youth mentoring program. Efforts are being made to have urban Brethren participate in this conference, and individuals who wish to be included in a group registration/discount process. A few scholarships may be available. Contact For registration and schedule information go to Early registration deadline is Jan. 31.

  • Over 700 people of faith are expected to attend the ninth annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C., on March 25-28. The theme will be "Development, Security, and Economic Justice: What's Gender Got to Do with It?" Among speakers and preachers confirmed so far are husband-wife team John Nunes, president and CEO of Lutheran World Relief, and Monique Nunes, administrator for the Baltimore Lutheran School; Peg Chemberlin, president of the National Council of Churches and executive director of the Minnesota Council of Churches; and Daisy Machado, academic dean and professor of Church History at Union Theological Seminary, New York. Plenary sessions and workshops will address a range of issues from ending violence against women to empowering and educating women. Participants will meet with members of Congress to discuss ways of addressing these concerns through legislation or budget priorities. Student scholarships are available. More information is at or contact Jordan Blevins, advocacy officer for the Church of the Brethren, at

  • Daniel Rudy, a senior at Bethany Theological Seminary, was featured in a press release on the National Festival of Young Preachers. The event brought together 130 young people for a preaching festival in Lousville, Ky. "The national festival has given me the opportunity to receive and provide support for my sisters and brothers as we explore what it means to be young people called by God to preaching ministry," Rudy said. Also attending from Bethany was Brandon Grady, who served as a preaching mentor and a session convener; and director of admissions Elizabeth J. Keller, who was Bethany’s representative at an evening "Preachapalooza." Bethany is among the 50 Founding Partners of the Academy of Preachers, which sponsors the festival.

  • "Where the Designer and Design Artfully Awakens" is the theme for Bethany Theological Seminary’s Campus Visit Day on March 4. Meet students and faculty, tour the campus, share a meal, and learn more about the call to leadership and scholarship in the church and the world. Register at or contact

  • Co-authors of "The Chronicler"--Bob Neff and Frank Ramirez--along with Bethany Seminary academic dean Steve Schweitzer are developing a series of podcast discussions to accompany chapters of the book. "The Chronicler" is part of the Covenant Bible study series from Brethren Press and offers insights on the Old Testament book of Chronicles. Earlier this Fall, Neff and Ramirez joined Schweitzer at the seminary in Richmond, Ind., for a webcast discussion available to view at The podcasts are available at the same site. Purchase "The Chronicler" from Brethren Press at 800-441-3712.

  • Northern Plains District staff have new e-mail addresses: Tim Button-Harrison, district executive,; Nancy Davis, secretary,

  • Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Port Republic, Va., is hosting the CrossRoads Heritage Center's Annual Dinner on Feb. 4 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. Call 540-438-1275 by Jan. 31 for reservations. During the meeting Paul Roth will portray Elder John Kline.

  • University of La Verne, Calif., observed Martin Luther King Day with a community service workday for students and faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences, according to a release. "At the heart of the University of La Verne’s mission is to contribute to and share the responsibility and rewards of serving the human and ecological community," said Zandra Wagoner, assistant dean and assistant professor of Religion. Service activities took place at a variety of locations including a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, the Woods Health Services at the Hillcrest Retirement Community, and the community garden at La Verne Church of the Brethren, among others.

  • McPherson (Kan.) College next month will sponsor presentations by Shane Claiborne, a leader of the Potter Street Community (formerly Simple Way) in Philadelphia, and who spoke at last year’s National Youth Conference. At McPherson he will be the featured speaker for the Religious Heritage Lecture Series. He will speak to area high school students on Feb. 9 on "The Irresistible Revolution" and to McPherson College students on Feb. 10 during the day, followed at 7:30 p.m. with a free public event in Brown Auditorium titled "Resurrecting Church."

  • Ludovic St. Fleur, pastor of Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami, Fla., and a leader of the Church of the Brethren mission in Haiti, has received the Robert and Myrna Gemmer Peacemaking Award from Atlantic Southeast District.

  • Audrey deCoursey of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., is one of the young clergy planning a conference on "Leading Progressive Christian Congregations in an Interfaith Age," with sponsorship by the Plymouth Center for Progressive Christianity through its Emerging Leaders Institute. The event for clergy in their first five years of parish ministry takes place in Minneapolis, Minn., on April 28-May 1 with keynote presenter is Diana Butler Bass. The institute is limited to around 30 participants, and the Plymouth Center will cover costs beyond travel. Apply by Feb. 10. Go to

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Charissa Acree, Jan Fischer Bachman, Charles Bentley, Dana Cassell, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Philip E. Jenks, Karin L. Krog, Adam Pracht, Loretta Wolf, and Jane Yount contributed to this report.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Commemorating Martin Luther King Day
Church leaders make response to ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail.’

Participants at the annual meeting of Christian Churches Together (CCT) have issued a response to Martin Luther King Jr.’s "Letter from Birmingham Jail."

The CCT church leaders, who were in Birmingham, Ala., on Jan. 11-14 to examine the issue of domestic poverty through the lens of racism, noted that apparently no one has ever issued a clergy response to Dr. King's famous letter.

King's letter was an answer to a message from a group of clergy in Birmingham in 1963. In their "Call for Unity," the clergy appealed for restraint and "common sense," and a withdrawal of support for the civil rights demonstrations.

In their one-page letter, church leaders at the CCT meeting remember with gratitude the sacrifices of the leaders of the civil rights movement, who demonstrated the power of Christian, nonviolent action. They also express repentance that "some of us have not progressed far enough beyond the initial message from the Birmingham clergy."

"Too often our follow-through has been far less than our spoken commitments. Too often we have chosen to be comfortable rather than prophetic. Too often we have chosen not to see the evidence of a racism that is less overt but still permeates our national life in corrosive ways."

In their experiences at the Civil Rights Institute and the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, the church leaders, who were of multiple races and represented a wide range of church backgrounds, found inspiration and renewed commitment. They describe two windows at the church--one where the face of Jesus had been blown out from the bombing in 1963 that killed four girls, and the other that depicts a Christ figure who with one hand rejects the injustice of the world and with the other extends forgiveness.

"In the spirit of this loving Jesus, and in the spirit of those who committed their very lives to that love, we renew our commitment to ending racism in all forms. We begin by taking time on Monday, January 17, to reread the ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’--along with the message from the Birmingham clergy that prompted King's letter--and to reflect on its meaning for us today. We urge all within our churches to do the same."

Formed in 2007, CCT is the broadest Christian fellowship in the country, with members from the Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Historic Black, and Evangelical/Pentecostal families. In addition to 36 national communions, its membership includes six national organizations--the American Bible Society, Bread for the World, Evangelicals for Social Action, Habitat for Humanity, Sojourners, and World Vision.

The full letter from the CCT annual meeting will be available soon at the General Secretary’s page at the Church of the Brethren website, Also on that page are links to peace and prayer resources offered in the wake of recent national tragedies. Find out more about CCT at

-- Wendy McFadden is publisher of Brethren Press and represented the Church of the Brethren at the Christian Churches Together annual meeting in Birmingham.

NCC general secretary calls for prayer vigils in response to gun violence.

A letter sent today from National Council of Churches (NCC) general secretary Michael Kinnamon to leaders of member denominations calls on congregations to hold Vigils Against Violence in response to last weekend’s shootings in Tucson, Ariz. He also asked Christian leaders to press for laws aimed at reducing gun violence in the nation.

A Church of the Brethren resolution in support of the NCC’s work on ending gun violence was adopted last July by the Mission and Ministry Board. The Brethren resolution endorses the council’s efforts and encourages church members to call upon legislators to enact reforms that limit access to assault weapons and handguns, among several other suggestions for church participation. Find the board’s resolution along with a resolution from the NCC at

Jordan Blevins, advocacy officer and ecumenical peace coordinator for the Church of the Brethren and the NCC, reported this morning that vigils "are already happening in communities across the country. The NCC, US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Islamic Society of North America, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs are coordinating efforts, and will hold a national vigil next week." He invites Brethren congregations that plan vigils to provide information to him and welcomes requests for help in organizing vigils; contact

Excerpts from Kinnamon’s letter follows:

"I am writing to you in the aftermath of the tragic shooting in Tucson, an event which I am sure we have all named in our personal times of prayer. Here at the NCC offices, we are also collaborating with the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, the Islamic Society of North America, and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in order to provide materials and encouragement for Vigils Against Violence in communities across the country. Our colleagues in various state and local councils have indicated strong interest in helping to coordinate such vigils; and I hope that many of you will look for opportunities to be involved and to encourage others in your communion to do the same.

"In addition to prayer and calls for civility, I believe this is also the moment to press our long-standing concern as a community of Christian communions for laws aimed at reducing gun violence in America. It is not exploiting tragedy for followers of the Prince of Peace to say, ‘Enough!’ Every serious study on the subject shows that easy access to guns is a menace to our nation's public health....

"When we send letters from the NCC office to Congress and/or the Administration, they are too often dismissed as the message of a single organization instead of the collective witness of a community of communions.

"With this in mind, I strongly urge you to write your own congressional delegates and state governor, letting them know that you, too, are the NCC--and that together we say an emphatic ‘No!’ to laws that allow assault weapons and handguns with oversize magazines to be readily present on our city streets. You may want to include a copy of the NCC resolution, along with similar statements produced by your own communion. And let me encourage you to share this material with friends in non-member churches as a way of inviting them to join us in this vital witness to the gospel of reconciling love.

"I send this letter not only in the aftermath of Tucson but on the eve of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. As I see it, the ecumenical movement is a movement for unity, but also a movement for peace--and the two go hand in hand. It is important to advocate for sane gun laws. But our most significant witness for peace in a culture of violence is our ability to live trustfully with differences because of our shared faith in Jesus Christ, the One whose life, death, and resurrection make possible a more excellent way.

"May God strengthen our shared witness for unity and peace in this season of mourning and prayer."

Brethren bits: Brethren-related colleges observe Martin Luther King Day.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. observances at Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., will feature ground-breaking Brethren pastor and former Annual Conference moderator Belita Mitchell of First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., along with stories of students and faculty who also have breached barriers. Mitchell, the first African-American woman to serve in the denomination’s highest elected office, will bring the keynote address for the MLK Service of Celebration and Rededication at 7 p.m. today in the College Union. Her speech is titled "Navigating the Storms of Life...Excess Baggage Not Allowed." The evening also will include a student choir and readings and reflections on King’s legacy. On Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. in Petersime Chapel, readers will share student and faculty stories about challenging the status quo, as well as poetry and images. Refreshments will follow. The public is welcome at both free events. For more information go to

  • The Mac Diversity Team is sponsoring a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day observance in McPherson, Kan., on Jan. 17, at 7:30 p.m. at McPherson High School Theater. McPherson College professor ShaRhonda Maclin will speak on the theme for the evening, "Light the World." Her presentation is titled, "You May See the Glory, but You Don't Know the Story." A release reported: "Born in Oklahoma City, Maclin says her parents, and particularly her mother, were her inspiration. When the local school system restructured, her family moved to an all-white community and became the first family to integrate their neighborhood. The experience broadened her capacity for working with people of other racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds." Other program participants include Mayor Tom Brown, the McPherson High School Jazz Band, Central College Quartet, and Aaron Robinson giving a rendition of the Black National Anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing," among others. There is no charge to attend.

  • The Bridgewater (Va.) College Black Student Association is sponsoring a service honoring King at 7 p.m. on Jan. 17, in the Boitnott Room. The service is free and open to the public. Duane Harrison, 1981 alumnus, will provide the keynote address, and the event will also feature musical performances by students. "As our nation and world face the economic, political, and social challenges ahead, it is more important than ever to recall the legacy of Dr. King, and to ensure that his dream of equality and justice for all lives on," said campus chaplain Robert R. Miller in a release.

  • For the past six years, Elizabethtown (Pa.) College has celebrated the life of Martin Luther King Jr. with a week of service and unique events. "Even though students return to campus on Jan. 17, their learning will not come from the classroom that day," reports a release. "Instead, students participate in meaningful community service work and attend special memorial events. The remainder of the week, Elizabethtown College students have the opportunity to hear influential speakers, listen to music, and watch films relating to Dr. King." All of the following events are free and open to the public: A candlelight march at 6:15 p.m. on Jan. 17; a gospel extravaganza that evening at 7 p.m. in Leffler Chapel and Performance Center; at 11 a.m. Jan. 19 Lynn Cothren, personal assistant to Martin Luther King Jr.'s late wife, will speak on "The Life and Legacy of Mrs. Coretta Scott King" in the Leffler Chapel and Performance Center. In addition, several films will be shown including "Citizen King," at 1 p.m. on Jan. 17; and "Ella Baker," a film and presentation by Susan Traverso, college provost, at 3 p.m. on Jan. 17. For more information go to

  • Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., plans to commemorate the King holiday with an Open Forum on Race and Ethnicity at 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 17 at the Sill Boardroom in the von Liebig Center for Science. Cast members of "N*GGER WETB*CK CH*NK"--a play which will be presented later that day at 7:30 p.m. in Rosenberger Auditorium--will lead discussion on subjects relating to the themes of the show including stereotyping, personal identity, the concept of "race," and more. "The performers...have gained many insights in their travels with the show across the nation and also from their unique personal experiences," said an announcement on the college website. Events are sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Prayer for Haiti on one-year anniversary of 2010 earthquake.

Brethren Disaster Ministries staff and volunteers are calling for prayers for Haiti as Brethren help rebuild there. Today, Jan. 12, is the one-year anniversary of the earthquake that struck Haiti’s capital city Port-au-Prince, killing hundreds of thousands of people and making millions homeless.

"As we approach the anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti let us all pause for prayer. Thousands of Haitians still live in tarp shelters, hungry and exposed to the weather," began the message from Brethren Disaster Ministries executive director Roy Winter, his staff, and volunteers.

"Pray for new Haitian leadership that will guide the country out of poverty. Pray for physical and spiritual fortitude for our Brethren sisters and brothers in Haiti. Pray for those who have been permanently disabled by their injuries. Pray for the children who have been left orphaned. Remember those who are toiling endlessly to rebuild homes and communities, to restore livelihoods, and to rekindle hope.

"The Brethren response to the earthquake has many facets from agriculture to home construction, from distribution of food to water filters, from health care to trauma recovery. Pray that our efforts nurture solidarity and support a sustainable recovery for those whom we serve. Let this whole day be one of prayer and remembrance."

In related news, an additional grant of $150,000 has been given from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) for relief work in Haiti. The grant provides Brethren Disaster Ministries with ongoing support for its longterm recovery effort following the earthquake. The grant will support construction of a multi-use structure to be a guesthouse for workcamp groups and for Haitians coming to Port-au-Prince for meetings or training; homes for earthquake survivors; water and sanitation projects; new agriculture projects that help communities be increasingly self-sufficient; and a new micro-loan program in Port-au-Prince, to be made available to Church of the Brethren members from the devastated Delma 3 congregation. Previous EDF grants for earthquake relief in Haiti total $550,000.

For more about the church's disaster work in Haiti, go to

Today IMA World Health held a Day of Prayer to mark the anniversary of the earthquake. Three of the organization’s staff who work out of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., were trapped in the rubble in Port-au-Prince and rescued some days after the disaster. A prayer service was held at Carroll Lutheran Village in Westminster, Md. IMA president Rick Santos presented the current situation in Haiti, and pastors led a time of prayer to ask for hope, comfort, and provision for the Haitian people. Participating ministers included Glenn McCrickard of Westminster Church of the Brethren.

Church leader joins in national call to civility following Arizona shooting.

Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger has added his signature to a letter to members of Congress following the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and a member of her staff, federal district judge John Roll, and 17 others this past Saturday in Tucson, Ariz. Six people were killed in the attack and 14 people were wounded.

The letter, pulled together by the organization "Faith in Public Life" and signed by national religious leaders, thanks elected representatives for their service and expresses support as they cope with the trauma. It also encourages reflection on the often heated political rhetoric in the nation, and continued commitment to robust dialogue and democracy. It is to be published tomorrow as a full-page advertisement in "Roll Call."

"As Americans and members of the human family," the letter opens, "we are grieved by the recent tragedy in Tucson, Arizona. As Christian, Muslim, and Jewish leaders, we pray together for all those wounded, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as she fights for her life. Our hearts break for those lives lost and for the loved ones left behind.

"We also stand with you, our elected officials, as you continue to serve our nation while coping with the trauma of this senseless attack," the letter continues, in part. "This tragedy has spurred a sorely needed time of soul searching and national public dialogue about violent and vitriolic political rhetoric. We strongly support this reflection, as we are deeply troubled that rancor, threats, and incivility have become commonplace in our public debates."

In a separate interview, Noffsinger shared his concern for all those affected by the shooting, including the perpetrator. "I pray for this young man’s soul, I pray for his family," he said, noting that the incident calls Christians to work harder to minister with those at the margins and be attentive to violent rhetoric. "How inappropriate it is for us to use rhetoric that places people within the sights of our discourse," Noffsinger said. "It is as bad as pulling the trigger."

Among numerous other statements from American religious leaders responding to the shooting, a release from the National Council of Churches (NCC) called for renewal of efforts for gun control and civil discourse. The NCC noted that it has been less than eight months since its governing board called for action to end gun violence--a statement that received support from the Church of the Brethren’s Mission and Ministry Board last July when it adopted a "Resolution on Ending Gun Violence" (see; the NCC resolution is at

In Sept. 2009, alarmed by the intensity of angry and sometimes violent language coming out of public meetings on healthcare and other issues, the NCC Governing Board called for "civility in public discourse." The Governing Board said in its 2009 statement, "This clash of views demeans the dialogue and ultimately risks subverting the democratic process itself. Individuals cannot express their best hopes and acknowledge their deepest fears within a climate of intimidation and character assassination, and all too often this climate is the product of racism and xenophobia."

See below for a prayerful reflection on the Arizona shooting by Brethren poet Kathy Fuller Guisewite. More resources for Brethren engaged in prayer and reflection are available at the General Secretary’s page, Worship resources from the NCC include two prayer hymns on gun violence by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, go to

Brethren take part in national youth ministry conference.

Eighteen Brethren were among more than 200 youth ministry professionals who gathered Dec. 1-4, 2010, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., for the National Council of Churches-sponsored Youth Worker Summit.

The event, designed to provide "a sacred space for youth workers," focused on the theme "Gathering in Hope, Rekindling the Light." It offered three worship services, plenary sessions, a choice of nine workshops, affinity groups for deeper discussion, resource displays, a presentation by the Disney Youth Education Series, and some unwinding time in the parks of the host Walt Disney World resort. One participant called it the place where "the Magic Kingdom intersects with the kingdom of God."

Rodger Nishioka, associate professor of Christian education at Columbia Theological Seminary near Atlanta, delivered two keynote addresses that focused on the theme concepts of hope and light. Highlighting the writings of Jürgen Moltmann and Kenda Creasy Dean, he said that hope isn’t a "flimsy or passive thing" or something only in the future. "When you live hope, you are ushering in part of the reign of God," he said. He urged youth workers to use John the Baptist as a model for ministry, pointing the way to Jesus Christ. "All I’m trying to do is point to the model for the universe," Nishioka said.

Another keynoter, prominent emerging church author and speaker Phyllis Tickle, spoke to the importance of youth workers in shaping the future during a pivotal time in religious culture. "You’re touching half a millennia of history, if history holds," Tickle said. She also cautioned against being "cracked cisterns" that can no longer hold any living water, as she asserted that long-time church institutions no longer hold the key to the way forward.

Music, conversations over meals and elsewhere, and networking opportunities dotted the rest of the schedule, along with an evening at EPCOT that included the annual "candlelight processional," a retelling of the Christmas story through a massed choir and a celebrity narrator who reads the scripture texts. That day’s narrator, Corbin Bersen, finished with a call to strengthen faith, family, and community at the center of life, especially in challenging times.

The Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry provided support for many of those attending the event, which was last held in 2006. Eleven denominations assisted in planning and promoting the conference.

-- Walt Wiltschek is campus minister at Manchester College.

BVS opens new Intentional Community House in Portland.

In a continued effort to foster intentional Christian community for volunteers, Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) opened its second Intentional Community House this fall. The new BVS house is a partnership with Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren, where the effort was spearheaded by Beth Merrill, a former BVS volunteer.

Four current and former BVS volunteers are living in the house in Portland, paying special attention to life together, spiritual formation, conflict resolution, and being a presence in the neighborhood. The group includes Ben Bear from Nokesville, Va.; Chelsea Goss from Mechanicsville, Va.; Heather Lantz from Harrisonburg, Va.; and Jon Zunkel from Elizabethtown, Pa. Projects connected with the Portland house include On Earth Peace and Snow Cap, a local food bank.

Volunteers who live in BVS Intentional Community Houses agree to be an active part of the life of the sponsoring congregation, in addition to carrying out their fulltime work at project sites. Sponsoring congregations offer spiritual support, fellowship, and Christian community to the volunteers.

The first BVS Intentional Community House opened in the fall of 2009 in partnership with Cincinnati (Ohio) Church of the Brethren, located in the Walnut Hills neighborhood. In addition, the longstanding BVS House in Elgin, Ill., which for decades has housed volunteers working at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, also has become more intentional in its community life in partnership with Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren.

Each of the BVS Intentional Community Houses maintain weekly blogs: Portland, Cincinnati, and Elgin

-- Dana Cassell is Brethren Volunteer Service staff for Vocation and Community Living.

Weak commitment to human rights factors into decision to divest from Cisco Systems.

Boston Common Asset Management, LLC, has divested of its holdings in Cisco Systems, Inc., stock due in part to the company’s weak human rights risk management and poor response to investor concerns. Cisco’s deceptive announcement of vote results on proxy items at the 2010 annual shareholder meeting has raised further alarm about the company’s commitment to transparency.

Boston Common is one of the investment managers for Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) and the Brethren Foundation. Since 2005 it has led a growing coalition of investors, representing over 20 million Cisco shares, in asking Cisco management to ensure its products and services do not stifle human rights. Cisco has testified before federal lawmakers twice since 2006 over questions on its human rights record, including its marketing of equipment to the Chinese Ministry of Public Security.

"Boston Common’s decision to divest comes after years of campaigning Cisco for greater transparency and accountability on key human rights and business development concerns," stated Dawn Wolfe, associate director of environmental, social, and governance research at Boston Common Asset Management. "Freedom of expression, privacy, and personal security are all critical elements in maximizing network traffic. Politically and socially repressive policies related to speech and privacy has a chilling effect on users and violates universally recognized human rights. When pressed for details on how Cisco addresses these risks, they come up short."

At the Nov. 18, 2010, annual meeting of shareholders, Cisco did not answer yet another request for engagement with shareholders. This followed a Sept. 30, 2010, letter to independent board member and Stanford president John Hennessy requesting his assistance in establishing a meaningful dialogue between Cisco and shareholders on human rights. Similar to previous attempts to engage the board as a whole, Hennessy did not respond to the request.

"As technology becomes more prevalent in the world, we expect human rights-related concerns will become more, not less prominent," said Nevin Dulabaum, president of BBT, a long-time shareholder of Cisco Systems and active participant in the investor-driven human rights campaign. "For all its talk about the ‘human network’ and adherence to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Cisco has not demonstrated in any concrete way that it fully recognizes its potential impact on human rights around the world."

Boston Common’s ESG Team recommended the removal of Cisco Systems from its portfolios because of strong reservations about its human rights performance and poor shareholder engagement on the issue.

"The voice of shareholders fall on deaf ears at Cisco," stated Wolfe. "About a third of Cisco Systems shareholders voting their proxies have supported our proposal over the years, voting in favor of greater disclosure on issues of censorship and privacy. Cisco’s deceptive tallying practices in 2010 do not change that. The investor coalition will march ahead, and perhaps one day Cisco will wake up and realize how dedicated these shareholders are to the company’s success. Until then, significant questions remain about its ability to manage risks it is reticent to recognize."

(BBT provided this release from Boston Common Asset Management.)

Deacon Ministry offers training events this spring.

The Church of the Brethren’s Deacon Ministry spring 2011 calendar is well underway, says an announcement from director Donna Kline. "Mark your calendar for one of the following training sessions," she invites. Details and registration information are at

Deacon training sessions will be offered on the following dates: Feb. 5 at Mexico Church of the Brethren in Peru, Ind.; Feb. 12 at First Church of the Brethren in Roaring Spring, Pa.; March 19 at Freeport (Ill.) Church of the Brethren; May 14 at Sugar Valley Church of the Brethren in Loganton, Pa.; and May 15 at County Line Church of the Brethren in Champion, Pa.

In addition to these sessions, two workshops will be offered as pre-Annual Conference sessions on Saturday, July 2, in Grand Rapids, Mich.

To sign up for monthly e-mail news from the Deacon Ministry go to For any questions or comments about the Deacon Ministry or to schedule a training session, contact Kline at 800-323-8039 or

Intercultural Consultation 2011 to unite under the cross of peace.

The Church of the Brethren’s annual Intercultural Consultation and Celebration meets this year under the theme "United by the Cross of Peace" (Ephesians 2:11-14). The event on April 28-30 in Mills River, N.C., will explore the issues related to diversity and peace, reported Intercultural Ministry director Rubén Deoleo. Hosts are His Way Church of the Brethren and Southeastern District.

On Earth Peace will help provide training sessions. Preachers will include David C. Jehnsen of the Institute for Human Rights and Responsibilities, Inc., and Bob Hunter of Earlham School of Religion in Richmond Ind. Other presenters are Carol Rose of Christian Peacemaker Teams; Jordan Blevins, advocacy officer for the Church of the Brethren and the National Council of Churches in Washington, D.C.; and Stan Dueck of the Congregational Life Ministries staff.

Participants will spend time looking at the roots of peace in the life of Christian faith and Brethren practice, including biblical roots and experiments in nonviolence, and will draw from the history of the US Civil Rights movements and other struggles for justice.

Concurrent Spanish interpretation will be provided during the event as needed. Cost of registration is $60, which includes all meals, transportation to and from Asheville International Airport, transportation to and from the church in the mornings and evenings, and training sessions and booklet. Two continuing education credits will be offered, at an additional cost of $10. Arrangements have been made with a hotel for lodging, at the rate of $52 double occupancy.

Churches and individuals are expected to make their own travel arrangements and cover their own travel expenses. However, limited travel assistance is available for one person from a congregation that has limited resources. For more information, contact Deoleo at Online registration is at

Stop. Listen. Wait. A Brethren poet reflects on the shootings in Arizona.

Church of the Brethren poet and licensed minister Kathy Fuller Guisewite wrote the following reflection in response to the Jan. 8 shootings in Tucson, Ariz.:
Still without a full-time job,
I am roaming the house today
feeling the need to do something valuable
or at least something that is
not wasteful.
Aren’t we supposed to be productive
at all times
at all costs?
Aren’t we supposed to be
producing something,
something tangible and
monetarily significant?

And yet,
there is a deeper pull today.
It pulls toward an awareness, a vague awareness
that beckons at the edges of productivity to slow down
and lean into intention.

Our world keeps crying out
for us to lay down the cravings that
satisfy only the shallow part of self
and quench the thirst of depth,
of calling beyond word or voice
to what yearns to be born.
Can you hear it?

What is it? What is struggling to find life?
What blocks that first breath
where all that was, and all that is, and all that can be
merge together in an interlocking shout of wholeness?

Why can we not put down the guns?
Why can we not put aside our divisions?
We choose these. We choose the freedoms that take life.
And the news is filled with sorrow
all the while we force ourselves to do
the daily routines,
counting down our days until
the something more or the something better arrives.

My little dog begs to
sit in my lap.
Her warmth enhances mine,
and I should like to think
that mine enhances hers.
As we sit together, I recognize
a still intuition that leads the
the little birds to feed, the snow clouds to fill the skies,
and the afternoon light to hang low.
Somewhere in South Africa my daughter mourns something
The weeping she cannot contain.
And I wonder, how is it that we aren’t
all on our knees
weeping for what we cannot name.

There’s no unlocking the peace of tomorrow
until we stand wide-eyed to the pain of today.
This is the work we must tend.
These are the wounds we must heal.
This is the price we must pay until we return
to the first breath,
the knowing
that waits.
-- Kathy Fuller Guisewite, Jan. 10, 2011. (For more of Guisewite’s poetry go to

Brethren bits: Correction, remembrances, job opening, Annual Conference, more.
  • Correction: The correct suggested date for the 2011 One Great Hour of Sharing is Sunday, March 6, not March 5 as given in the packet of printed materials sent out to congregations. This year’s theme is "Sharing Brings Joy: To Us. To Others. To God." For more about this special offering go to

  • David G. Metzler, 80, of Bridgewater, Va., died peacefully at his home Jan. 2 surrounded by family. A former mission worker, he taught at the University of Jos in Nigeria from 1981-83 where he also was head of the Department of Religious Studies. In other service to the church, he was an ordained minister, a professor at Bridgewater College from 1958-62 and 1966-95, served on the Committee on Interchurch Relations, and was a member of the Ecumenical Task Force on Christian-Muslim Relations for the National Council of Churches, and on the NCC's Interfaith Relations Commission. His pamphlet "Understanding Islam" has been a best seller in Brethren Press’s Perspectives series. In Jan. 2003, immediately prior to the second Gulf War, he spent a month in and around Baghdad, Iraq, with Christian Peacemaker Teams. He was born June 23, 1930, in Chicago, the son of the late Burton Metzler and Alma Stump Metzler of McPherson, Kan. He held degrees from McPherson College, Bethany Theological Seminary, Harvard Divinity School, and Boston University. He also pursued overseas studies at the Ecumenical Study Center in Geneva, Switzerland, and the Ecumenical Institute at Tantur, Jerusalem, Israel. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Doris (Kesler) Metzler, and children Daniel and Gwen (Slavik) Metzler, Steve and Karen (Glick) Metzler, D. Burton and Diane (Hess) Metzler, Laurel (Metzler) Byler, and Suzanne (Metzler) and David Peterson, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A memorial service was held Jan. 8 at Bridgewater Church of the Brethren.

  • M. Paul Dennison, 89, of DeKalb, Ill., passed away on Jan. 4. He served as missionary for the Church of the Brethren in India in the early 1950s. He had a varied career path after returning to the United States, including pastor, high school teacher, and counselor for the Illinois Bureau of Employment Security. He was a member of First Church of the Brethren in Chicago since 1965. Born March 27, 1921, in Marion, Ind., to Melvin and Belle (Richardson) Dennison, he married Dorothy Mae Brown June 26, 1952, in Curryville, Pa. He held degrees from Manchester College, Bethany Theological Seminary, and Roosevelt University, Chicago. He is survived by his sons, Thomas A. (Gloria) Dennison and Daniel P. Dennison, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Dorothy. A memorial service was held on Jan. 8 at First Church of the Brethren in Chicago.

  • George T. Dolnikowski died on Dec. 23, 2010. Emeritus professor at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., a Russian soldier during World War II and survivor of a German prisoner of war camp, he authored the Brethren Press book "This I Remember: From War to Peace." He also was featured in an article in the Dec. 1988 issue of "Messenger" titled "In Christ Now Meet Both East and West." Dolnikowski "had an amazing life story--resettled through the Church of the Brethren, employed at Juniata as a janitor, then rising through the ranks until he became a professor. I had him as a professor for Russian literature," remembers Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden. He also taught in the college’s Peace Studies program. Memorial services were held at Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa., on Jan. 2.

  • Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) seeks an accounting manager to fill a full-time salaried position at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Primary responsibility is to process, review, and report transactions related to the programs of BBT. Additional responsibilities include managing and processing payroll, reconciling bank and investment accounts, monitoring and managing cash flow, preparing account analyses, assisting with accounts payable and receivable, assisting with the month-end close, providing backup for other positions in the Finance Department. The ideal candidate will possess a high level of technical proficiency, intense attention to detail, impeccable integrity, a collegial and engaging demeanor, and a strong faith commitment. BBT seeks candidates with undergraduate degree in accounting, business, or related fields. A CPA is preferred. Requirements include strong communications skills, proficiency in Microsoft Office, and a working knowledge of automated accounting systems. Experience with ADP payroll processing is desired. Current and active membership in the Church of the Brethren is preferred; current and active membership in a faith community is required. Salary and benefits are competitive with Church Benefits Association agencies of comparable size and scope of services. A full benefits package is included. Send a letter of interest, resume, three professional references, and salary-range expectation to Donna March, 1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; For questions or clarification about the position, call 847-622-3371. For more about BBT visit

  • The information packet for the 2011 Annual Conference to be held in Grand Rapids, Mich., on July 2-6 will be available from within the next couple of days. This includes information about housing and hotels, conference schedule, special events and meal tickets, age group activities, and more. Early registration for delegates ends on Feb. 22, after which the delegate registration fee goes up from $275 to $300. Housing reservations and nondelegate registration also open Feb. 22 at 12 noon (central time) at

  • The Peace Program of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) celebrated the grand opening of its Peace Office and Peace Resource Library on Dec. 10. Mission workers Nathan and Jennifer Hosler reported on the event in their January newsletter. The library contains over 250 books and is a highlight of the couple’s work. With support from Toma Ragnjiya, Peace Program coordinator and principal of Kulp Bible College, Jennifer Hosler developed the project proposal for the library, and the couple raised funds from Brethren in the US to buy books and carry them back to Nigeria. "The goal of the Peace Resource Library is to provide a place where students, pastors, laypeople, and community members can further their study on subjects like conflict, forgiveness, peace theology, and reconciliation," the Hoslers wrote. They also asked for prayer for an end to violence in Nigeria and for calm during political primaries occurring this week and the campaign season that continues until April, as well as strength for EYN students, pastors, and churches in conflict areas. Over the holiday season, renewed episodes of violent conflict occurred in the cities of Maiduguri and Jos.

  • Two members of the Church of the Brethren--Wallace Cole of the denomination’s Mission and Ministry Board, and Rick Polhamus of Fletcher, Ohio--are among 13 people who arrived in Jerusalem last week as part of a delegation of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). During the trip Jan. 4-17, the group will speak with representatives of Israeli and Palestinian peace and human rights organizations and will travel to the West Bank city of Al Khalil (Hebron) and the South Hebron Hills where CPT's longterm Palestine team is based. They will visit Palestinian farmers and shepherds whose land and livelihoods have been threatened by expanding Israeli settlements. Find a blog by one of the delegates at

  • Four of the Church of the Brethren workcamps offered in 2011 have already filled since registration started last week. Registration is closed for the workcamps at Eastern Shore, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, and Chicago. However, numerous other workcamps still have openings. For the listing of workcamps and online registration, go to

  • Congregational Life Ministries staff are recommending two training events led by Eric Law, both at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va. "Fundamental Skills for Building Inclusive Community" is on Jan. 26-28 and "Models and Processes for Community Transformation" will be Jan. 29-Feb. 1. Register at For more information, contact or 800-366-1636 ext. 216.

  • Children’s Disaster Services is holding volunteer workshops at La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren on March 5-6, and at Goshen (Ind.) City Church of the Brethren on March 18-19. CDS volunteers provide a calm, safe, and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos that follows disaster by setting up and operating special child care centers. A $45 registration fee covers materials and trainer costs. Meals and overnight accommodations are provided. Late registration is $55. For the California workshop contact local coordinator Kathy Benson at 909-593-4868. For the Indiana workshop contact John Sternberg at 574-612-2130 or Betty Kurtz at 574-533-1884. Or contact Children’s Disaster Services at 800-451-4407 ext. 5 or More information is at

  • On Nov. 6, Buckeye Church of the Brethren in Abilene, Kan., celebrated its 130th anniversary. Oldest member Letha Correll, 104, was recognized during the service.

  • West Charleston Church of the Brethren celebrated its new building in Tipp City, Ohio, Jan. 8.

  • South Waterloo (Iowa) Church of the Brethren is hosting the Foods Resource Bank’s Winter Regional Meeting on Jan. 15. Keynote speakers include Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture; FRB president Marv Baldwin; and Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission Partnerships. RSVP to or 319-939-5045.

  • Martin Luther King Jr. observances at Manchester College will feature ground-breaking Brethren pastor and former Annual Conference moderator Belita Mitchell of First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., along with stories of students and faculty who also have breached barriers. Mitchell, the first African-American woman to serve in the denomination’s highest elected office, will bring the keynote address for the MLK Service of Celebration and Rededication at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 14 in the College Union. Her speech is titled "Navigating the Storms of Life...Excess Baggage Not Allowed." The evening also will include a student choir and readings and reflections on King’s legacy. On Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. in Petersime Chapel, readers will share student and faculty stories about challenging the status quo, as well as poetry and images. Refreshments will follow. The public is welcome at both free events. For more information go to

  • The John Kline Homestead Preservation Trust closed on the historic property in Broadway, Va., on Dec. 30. The effort succeeded in raising $425,000 needed to preserve the site. "We will announce a celebration event in the next few weeks," wrote Paul Roth, pastor of nearby Linville Creek Church of the Brethren. In related news, another series of Candlelight Dinners is planned at the homestead. An 1860s traditional meal will be served in the John Kline house, and actors will replicate conversations that might have surrounded dinner tables of area Brethren as the Civil War approached. Seats are $40 per plate. Dates are Jan. 21 and 22; Feb. 18 and 19; March 18; April 15 and 16. Contact 540-896-5001 or

  • Southern Pennsylvania District is offering "Rivers of Faith: A Historical Narrative," a 300th anniversary heritage DVD tracing the history of the district from the banks of Germany’s Eder River, where the first Brethren baptisms took place, to Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River and beyond. Order for $30 plus mailing fee of $2.50 from Southern Pennsylvania District, P.O. Box 218, New Oxford, PA 17350.

  • The United Nations has designated the first week in February as World Interfaith Harmony Week. The resolution adopted Oct. 22 "reaffirms that mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions in a culture of peace" and encourages nations to support the spread of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s places of worship. "This resolution specifically acknowledges the love of God (or the good in some nations) and the love of one’s neighbor, which is taught in very similar wording in all major faith traditions," commented Larry Ulrich, Brethren representative on the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches. "Hate and religion do not share the same space, regardless to what one attempts to say about ‘just war,’" commented Doris Abdullah, the church’s representative to the UN. For more go to

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Christy Dowdy, Claire Evans, Carol Fike, Matt Guynn, Philip E. Jenks, Jeri S. Kornegay, LethaJoy Martin, Brian Solem, Larry Ulrich, and Jane Yount contributed to this report.