Thursday, February 24, 2011

Global Food Crisis Fund hosts gathering for Foods Resource Bank.

Growing project leaders gathered at a meeting of the Foods Resource Bank hosted by the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) on Feb. 15. The meeting brought together some 35 farmers and representatives of churches involved in growing projects in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

Foods Resource Bank growing projects in US communities supply funds for food security and agricultural development and education programs carried out around the world. Brethren congregations participate in the Foods Resource Bank through the sponsorship of the GFCF.

The Feb. 15 gathering at the Church of the Brethren General Offices was one of seven simultaneous winter gatherings conducted by Foods Resource Bank board members across the country. Other regional meetings were held in Akron, Pa.; Archbold, Ohio; St. Louis, Mo.; Decatur, Ill.; Kansas City, Kan.; and San Antonio, Texas.

Foods Resource Bank members Gary Cook of Bread for the World and Brian Backe of Catholic Relief Services joined GFCF manager Howard Royer in planning and hosting the Elgin observance. The keynote presentation was by Roger Thurow, co-author of "Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty" and a former journalist at the "Wall Street Journal."

Thurow’s interest in food and agriculture began when he was on a trip to Kenya with a group of farmers from Ohio, and first saw African farmers through the eyes of American farmers, he told the gathering. The experience led to his current writing project, a book on the smallholder African farmer. Thurow is spending time with a group of subsistence farmers in Kenya, finding out what their day-to-day life is like as they try to raise crops to feed and support their families.

"What is it like not to be able to grow enough food to feed your family?" he asked. Most of the farmers he is following for the book are women, because women make up the majority of smallholder farmers in Africa. Thurow’s next trip to Kenya is this planting season, when he will wait with the farmers for the rains to come.

The challenges these farmers face are many: small plots of land, averaging less than an acre to one or two acres each; little use of hybrid seed; little education about how to plant and care for a crop; lack of good storage facilities; lack of access to markets; difficulties with transportation and infrastructure; and vulnerability to weather and drought.

"Outrage and inspire" was the "mantra" for his first book "Enough," written with co-author Scott Kilman: "Outrage that we have brought hunger with us into the 21st century. Hunger is one of the great problems of the world that can be conquered.... It can be the singular achievement of our age," he insisted. "So, enough is enough!"

"Captivate and motivate" is the mantra for his book on the African farmer. This is because the problems of Africa may potentially affect the food situation in the whole world, Thurow said. Experts have said that by the year 2050 the world must double its food production in order to prevent mass hunger. "Where will this quantum leap come from?" Thurow asked. "Africa is the place where this kind of improvement can still happen."

International support for agricultural development in Africa is crucial, to move the continent from subsistence to sustainability, he said. He added a plea for the US government to maintain its budget for development work in Africa through US AID and development aid. "We have the technology, so what we need is this political will."

Quoting from Kenyan farmers who have chosen a name meaning "We have decided" for their group, Thurow congratulated the Foods Resource Bank for being among those who have decided to fight hunger. "What I have decided is I have to go and man the front ramparts of the hunger fight with all of you," he said in closing. "In the 21st century, nobody, particularly the small farmers of Africa, should be dying of hunger."

Following his presentation, Thurow fielded questions about other issues, ranging from what the price of food should be in our world economic system, to crop diversification. Many people stayed on after the meeting ended to talk further with Thurow and to buy copies of "Enough," which is available through Brethren Press (call 800-441-3712).

For more about the Global Food Crisis Fund go to For more about the Foods Resource Bank go to

Advocacy office urges federal budget to care for those in poverty.

This week’s Action Alert from the Church of the Brethren’s office for advocacy and peace witness ministries called on the federal government to adopt a budget that reflects care for those in poverty and in need.

"These past few weeks in Washington, D.C., and around the country, the conversation has been about numbers and not about people," the alert said, in part. "...But there is something vital missing from the conversation--and it is a voice with which the Church of the Brethren has always spoken. In a word--mutuality.... The concept that we are to live in such a way that we are partners with one another and with the entirety of Creation is a concept which Brethren have embraced for, well, more than 300 years."

The alert invited Brethren to take action on the federal budget. "Tell Congress and President Obama that as a person of faith, you will not stand by while they seek to control spending on the backs of those living in poverty in the United States and around the world," the alert said.

Criticizing the budget proposals from both President Obama and Congress, the alert said: "The spending cuts currently being debated are the ones we can afford the least--they are the ones that provide those living in poverty with an opportunity to have some place to live, something to eat, educational opportunities, and the chance to turn their lives around. They are the foreign aid programs that build wells, schools, and infrastructure, building relationships with countries through diplomacy rather than bombs. They are the programs that we, as people of faith, want in a budget that claims to speak for our values."

A link provided by the office goes to a webpage at where visitors may send a letter calling for a "budget of mutuality," citing Genesis 4:9 in which Cain asks God, "Am I my brother’s keeper?"

Also cited in the alert were church policy statements: the 2000 Annual Conference statement "Caring for the Poor" ( ), the 2006 Conference statement "A Call to Reduce Global Poverty and Hunger" ( ), and the 1970 Conference "Statement on War" ( ).

Find the Action Alert at Sign up to receive alerts at For more information about the church’s witness ministries go to or contact Jordan Blevins, advocacy officer, at or 202-481-6943.

Religious and humanitarian groups speak out on the federal budget.

The Church of the Brethren is an "endorsing communion" for a campaign organized by the Sojourners community in Washington, D.C., called "What Would Jesus Cut?"--a play on words on the Christian slogan WWJD (What Would Jesus Do). The campaign is placing an advertisement in Monday’s issue of "Politico."

Following is the full text of the advertisement:

"What Would Jesus Cut? Our faith tells us that that the moral test of a society is how it treats the poor. As a country, we face difficult choices, but whether or not we defend vulnerable people should not be one of them. Please defend: International aid that directly and literally save lives from pandemic diseases; critical child health and family nutrition programs--at home and abroad; proven work and income supports that lift families out of poverty; support for education, especially in low income communities. Vaccines, bed nets and food aid save the lives of thousands of children across the world every day. School lunches and early childhood education, tax credits that reward work and stabilize families--are sound investments that a just nation must protect, not abandon. The deficit is indeed a moral issue, and we must not bankrupt our nation nor leave a world of debt for our children. But how we reduce the deficit is also a moral issue. Our budget should not be balanced on the backs of poor and vulnerable people. Budgets are moral documents. We ask our legislators to consider ‘What Would Jesus Cut?’"

In an e-mail to endorsing communions, Sojourners leader Jim Wallis wrote: "If just one of the proposed cuts is passed--$450 million in contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis--approximately 10.4 million bed nets that help prevent malaria will not reach people who need them; 6 million treatments for malaria will not be given; 3.7 million people will not be tested for HIV; and 372,000 tests and treatments for tuberculosis will not be administered. In addition, the proposed budget cuts $544 million in international food aid grants. Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), a program that helps provide food to hungry mothers and their children, faces a $758 million cut.... Simultaneously our military and defense budget, which sends our young adults off to kill and be killed, would receive an $8 billion increase." For more go to

In related news, Church World Service (CWS) and partner groups also are taking action on the proposed federal budget. CWS is among a large group of humanitarian organizations urging lawmakers to spare humanitarian spending from budget cuts.

A release from CWS said the organization is attempting to halt "US budget cuts that could be devastating to disaster victims, displaced people and refugees throughout the world."

In a Feb. 22 letter to House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority leader Eric Cantor, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, CWS and leaders of the nation's foremost faith-based and humanitarian agencies made the case that cuts outlined in the House of Representatives bill H.R. 1 would severely hinder the capacity of the United States to mount effective humanitarian response efforts around the world.

The coalition’s letter posed the scenario that, "in the next major global humanitarian crisis--the next Haiti, tsunami, or Darfur--the United States might simply fail to show up," the release said. The letter states, "The bill cuts global disaster aid by 67 percent, global refugee assistance by 45 percent and global food relief by 41 percent relative to FY10 enacted levels." The letter's signers urged House leaders to fully fund the programs at 2010 levels.

Signers included heads of ADRA International, American Jewish World Service, American Refugee Committee, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, CHF International, ChildFund International, Food for the Hungry, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, International Medical Corps, International Relief and Development, International Relief Teams, International Rescue Committee, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, Life for Relief & Development, Lutheran World Relief, Mercy Corps, Oxfam America, Refugees International, Relief International, Resolve, Save the Children, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Women’s Refugee Commission, World Food Program - USA, World Hope International, and World Vision. (The letter is at

Brethren Disaster Ministries reports on completed and new projects.

"The cycle of disaster recovery continues as projects are completed and new ones open," said this week’s report from Brethren Disaster Ministries. The report from coordinator Jane Yount announced that a rebuilding project in Winamac, Ind., has now been completed, and gave a first report from a new project site in Tennessee.

The final home rebuild at the Winamac project was completed by the end of January, except for a powered lift for a member of the homeowner’s family. The project repaired and rebuilt homes affected by flooding.

The local recovery group, DANI, has almost raised the $10,000 needed for the cost of the lift, Yount reported. "We were particularly amazed and heartened to learn that Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren adult Sunday school classes raised $650 toward the lift," she added. "Thank you to any of you who donated and/or raised funds for this need."

The new project site that was started in Ashland, Tenn., on Jan. 30 this year is in response to flood damage. Three days of heavy rain in May 2010 dropped as much as 20 inches of water on Tennessee, causing severe flooding from Nashville to Memphis and completely submerging many homes. In this area, 578 households are in need of assistance, including 41 homes destroyed and 76 in need of major repair.

"Project leader Jerry Moore reports that the work (in Tennessee) is going really well," Yount wrote. Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers in Tennessee are doing repair work and some new construction. Major repair work includes insulation, drywall, laminate flooring, painting, trim work, siding, and decks.

A third Brethren Disaster Ministries project site continues in Chalmette, La., following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. This project carried out in cooperation with the local organization St. Bernard Project, is expected to close in June this year.

For information about Brethren Disaster Ministries and how to volunteer with the program, go to or contact a district disaster coordinator.

Florida peace churches prioritize six areas of service.

About 60 participants from the three Historic Peace Churches in Florida (Mennonite, Friends/Quakers, Church of the Brethren), including 15 peace people from other groups, gathered on Jan. 29 at Ashton Christian Fellowship (Mennonite) in Sarasota. This was a second such meeting in 13 months.

Bob Gross, executive director of On Earth Peace, facilitated the first consultation in January 2010, guiding the group in prioritizing six areas of concern and mission. By this year, six subgroup chairs had been selected by a coordinating committee, allowing attendees to choose areas of service to join as active participants (listed here in order of priority): 1. Witnessing to lawmakers, 2. Peace education in schools, 3. Kids as peacemakers, 4. Praying for peace, 5. Building relationships with Muslims, and 6. Community outreach for peace.

Each subgroup chair gave a short presentation describing the particular area of concern and mission. By mid-afternoon, participants had an opportunity to attend the subgroup of their choice for further planning. This was followed by each group highlighting for everyone present some of the key projects they will be attempting in the months ahead. An e-mail network has been developed to keep attendees informed of progress and encourage their involvement.

The day began with a keynote presentation "From Conflict to Community" by Cecilia Yocum, a Quaker and a licensed psychologist. She shared from her 28 years of experience working in Rwanda, Burundi, and Colombia with Friends Peace Teams, as well as facilitating the Alternatives to Violence Project in prisons in Florida. She involved several from the audience in demonstrating applications of each topic.

Four literature tables filled with materials from several peace groups added to the day’s value. Included was information about miniature desk-top Peace Poles (eight inches high, including a square base for greater stability), which are available from the Church of the Brethren Action for Peace Team in Florida, for a $10 donation. Contact for information.

-- Phil Lersch facilitates the Coordinating Committee of the Historic Peace Churches in Florida.

Detrick to retire from leadership of Southern Pennsylvania District.

Joe A. Detrick has announced his retirement as district executive minister of Southern Pennsylvania District, effective Sept. 30. He began in the position on Oct. 1, 1998.

He was ordained in 1977 at Oakland Mills Uniting Church (now Columbia, United Christian in Mid-Atlantic District), and holds degrees from Manchester College and Bethany Theological Seminary. His ministry experience has included pastorates at congregations in Shenandoah, South Central Indiana, and Southern Pennsylvania Districts. He also served two years in Brethren Volunteer Service in 1966-68, and then from 1984-88 was orientation coordinator for BVS.

In retirement Detrick will continue to live in Seven Valleys, Pa., where he plans to relax and cultivate relationships with family and friends, pursue much-neglected hobbies, and consider where God is leading for the next chapter of life.

Shetler resigns from Bethany, named to lead stewardship center.

Marcia Shetler has resigned as director of communications and public relations at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., as of Feb. 25 She has been named executive director of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center effective March 15.

With origins in the 1920s as the United Stewardship Council of the Christian Church in the United States and Canada, as an independent nonprofit organization the Ecumenical Stewardship Center is affiliated with over 20 sponsoring organizations and denominations including the Church of the Brethren. The center’s mission is to connect, inspire, and equip Christian steward leaders to transform church communities, and accomplishes this mission through creating educational and inspirational resources, providing networking opportunities, and sponsoring events such as the North American Conference on Christian Philanthropy.

Shetler has served Bethany since 1996 and has focused on the areas of development, marketing, events, communication, and public relations.

Catanescu to begin as accounting manager for BBT.

Ovidiu Catanescu has accepted the position of accounting manager for Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT), beginning Feb. 28.

Catanescu brings over 20 years of general accounting and finance experience to the position. Most recently he has worked as an accountant for Jordan and Associates, Ltd. Inc., in Arlington Heights, Ill., as well as a mortgage sales consultant for JP Morgan Chase in Downers Grove, Ill. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting from the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest, Romania.

He and his family migrated to the United States in the mid 1980s. They reside in Hoffman Estates, Ill., and belong to St. Hubert Catholic Church in Schaumburg, Ill.

Brethren bits: Remembrances, jobs, Disabilities Awareness Month, more.
  • Remembrance: Frederick "Fred" W. Benedict, 81, longtime head of the Brethren Encyclopedia Project and a member of the Old German Baptist Brethren Church, died on Feb. 20 at the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville, Ohio. He was a prominent "Old Order" historian, printer, and writer who headed the encylopedia project until the current president, Robert Lehigh, succeeded him. He also published "Old Order Notes," one of the best sources for data on Old Order groups, on an irregular basis from 1978-2003. He was born Jan. 16, 1930, in Waynesboro, Pa., to Louis and Martha (Stoner) Benedict. He is survived by his wife Reva Benedict; sons and daughters-in-law Solomon and Linda Benedict, Daniel and Angela Benedict; daughters and son-in-law Martha Montgomery, and Sara and Wade Miller; grandchildren and great grandchildren. A funeral service was held this morning at the Old German Baptist Brethren Church in Covington, Ohio. Memorial contributions are received to Brethren Heritage Center in Brookville, Ohio, or State of the Heart Hospice.

  • Remembrance: Max Douglas Gumm, 76, a former associate district executive in the Church of the Brethren, passed away on Feb. 20 in West Des Moines, Iowa. Born in Jefferson, Iowa, on June 7, 1934, to Earnest "Ray" and Wilma (Jones) Gumm, he started a family with his first wife Norita Carson (now Elwood) on a farm near Yale. Called to ministry by Panora (Iowa) Church of the Brethren, he earned degrees from McPherson (Kan.) College and Bethany Theological Seminary and held a number of pastorates. He served as associate district executive of the former Iowa-Minnesota District, and also was regional director of Church World Service (CWS)/CROP in Des Moines, and director of Development and Alumni Relations at McPherson College. He received chaplaincy training at the University of Omaha, where he met and married JoAnne Davis Howry and finished his career as a chaplain at the Omaha Correctional Center. In 2001, he was moderator of Northern Plains District Conference. He and his late wife JoAnne retired to Arkansas, where they lived until her death from cancer in 2008. He is survived by children Doug (Diane) Gumm and Tim (Carol) Gumm of Ankeny, Iowa; Jeff (Sharon) Gumm of Clive, Iowa; Alan (Gayle) Gumm of Mt. Pleasant, Mich.; Mary (Habib) Issah of Iowa City, Iowa; Jim (Sabrina) Howry of Atlanta, Ga.; Cindy Howry Laster of Blue Springs, Mo.; and Sue Howry of Omaha, Neb.; grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His funeral will be Feb. 25 at 10:30 a.m. at Prairie City (Iowa) Church of the Brethren. Condolences may be sent to the Gumm Family c/o Doug and Diane Gumm, 801 NE Lakeview Dr., Ankeny, IA 50021. Memorial donations are received to Heifer Project or the Northern Plains District.

  • Remembrance: John Bather, 92, who worked for Brethren Press for more than 28 years as a proofreader and copy editor, died on Feb. 21 at Pinecrest Retirement Community in Mount Morris, Ill. He worked for Brethren Press at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., from May 1953 until his retirement in Dec. 1981. He was born July 4, 1918, in Clinton, Iowa. He studied civil engineering at Iowa State College, and also spent a year studying at Bethany Theological Seminary. As a young man he was a conscientious objector to World War II. "The then-24-year-old Iowa Baptist decided not to fight," according to an interview published in "Messenger" magazine in 1984. After being drafted in 1943, the Fellowship of Reconciliation put him in contact with the Society of Friends (Quakers) for whom he ended up serving more than two years in Civilian Public Service (CPS). He also worked in China with a Quaker ambulance unit, helping to run a mission hospital and also overseeing construction of homes and a hospital addition. For a year from 1946-47 he worked with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration supervising the building of a dike on the Yellow River in China. Prior to his employment with the Church of the Brethren, he taught at Chicago Technical College. In retirement he spent time volunteering at the Brethren Historical Library and Archives, sorting the large collection of pictures of CPS. As a member of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren, he also was a deacon, volunteered with Meals on Wheels and visited patients at the Elgin Mental Health Center. He is survived by his son and daughter, Bruce and Linda.

  • Remembrance: Pauline Louise Shively Daggett, 88, a former assistant to the secretary of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, died on Feb. 14 at Timbercrest Healthcare Center in North Manchester, Ind. She was born in Wabash County, Ind., to Frank O. and Freda (Anderson) Ulery. On Sept. 19, 1942, she married Noah L. Shively. He died on July 11, 1988. She married J.W. (Bill) Daggett on Feb. 15, 1997. He died on June 10, 2000. She graduated from the International Business School in Fort Wayne, Ind. She worked at the Heckman Bindery for 10 years and then became administrative secretary for Manchester Church of the Brethren, where she was a member. In addition to seven years assisting the Conference secretary, her volunteer work for the church included service on Standing Committee; service as youth advisor for South Central Indiana District for 10 years, working along with her husband; and service on the board of Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Ind. Surviving are sons James (Amy) Shively of Roann, Ind., and Robert (Paula) Shively of New Paris, Ind.; daughter, Linda (George) Blair of Tulsa, Okla.; step-sons John (Denise) Daggett and Dan (Theresa) Daggett; grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held Feb. 26 at 11 a.m. at Manchester Church of the Brethren. Memorial contributions are received to Camp Mack.

  • Alan Patterson is the new executive director of Camp Eder in Fairfield, Pa. The camp newsletter in January reported a number of staff changes, and called for prayers of blessings for former executive director Michele Smith; announced that Judy Caudill has left as hospitality assistant; welcomed Keri Gladhill as new office manager; and expressed thanks for the work of interim executive directors Tim Frisby and Tom Brant before the hiring of Patterson in Nov. 2010.

  • Carol Smith has begun as a math teacher at the EYN Comprehensive Secondary School in Mubi, Nigeria, as of Feb. 3. The school is a Christian school founded for the children of members of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), as well as other Christian denominations. Her appointment as a program volunteer is supported by the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission Partnerships. Her prior experience abroad includes nine years of teaching math in Nigerian secondary schools, colleges, and universities. She also has taught a variety of math levels in the United States for over 30 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and Spanish from Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind.; a master of science degree in computer science from the University of Illinois at Chicago; and a master of arts in mathematics from Illinois State University. Her home congregation is Crest Manor Church of the Brethren in South Bend, Ind.

  • Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) seeks a programmer analyst and technology support specialist for a full-time salaried position at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The primary responsibility is to develop and maintain a working knowledge of all IT systems; handle technology support requests from staff; write, analyze, review, and rewrite programs as well as maintain current computer programs; conduct trial runs; write documentation of programmed applications; provide back up for the Director of Operations for Information Technology, and complete other duties assigned. 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 an undergraduate degree in computer science or related fields/work experience. Requirements include strong verbal and written communications skills, ability to work independently and to conceptualize and understand data with minimal direction, and proficiency in: Microsoft Visual Studio (2008/10) – .net Framework, MS SQL, XML, or C#, Windows Forms Application and In addition, preferred skills include Javascript, HTML, Sharepoint, SSRS, AJAX, and Crystal Reports. 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. Apply by sending a letter of interest, résumé, 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 information about Brethren Benefit Trust visit

  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) is seeking a staff writer to promote the work and concerns of the WCC and the ecumenical movement by writing stories about WCC work and activities for public release and posting on the WCC website. Starting date is as soon as possible. Among other specific responsibilities are work with the WCC communication team to develop new and innovative ways of reporting WCC work, such as audio and video podcasting and social networking, etc. and then work as a team to implement them; participating with the communication team to train and improve the news writing skills of program staff; assisting the director of communication in strengthening collaborative relationships with communication offices in WCC member churches, ecumenical partners, and writers for Ecumenical News International; and work with the WCC photographer to maintain the gathering of WCC photos for stories and photo essays, among other tasks. Qualifications and special requirements include a university degree in related field desired; professional qualifications and experience in the field of communication work, experience in international work desired; excellent command of written and spoken English, knowledge of other WCC working languages (French, German, Spanish, Russian) an asset; proficiency with information technology: Word, Excel, Powerpoint. Willingness to learn other technology. Deadline for applications is March 15. An application form may be obtained from and returned to: Human Resources Office, World Council of Churches, 150, route de Ferney, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland; fax: +41-22.791.66.34; e-mail: The application should be filled and returned with a separate and detailed curriculum vitae only if the applicant meets the requirements specified. Applicants are expected to send professional and non-professional reference letters. Only those short-listed for interview will be contacted.

  • March is Disabilities Awareness Month for the Church of the Brethren. "We Are Able! ... Through Worship, Service, Participation, and Fellowship" is the theme selected by the Disabilities Ministry to encourage congregations to see the disabled in new ways, as fellow pilgrims on a spiritual journey. "This is a call for congregations to not only welcome and provide the means for those of different abilities into worship, service, and participation, but to offer an opportunity for those individuals to share themselves as equal brothers and sisters in Christ." said an explanation of the theme on the ministry’s web page. The scripture theme comes from 1 Corinthians 12:7 (Living Bible, paraphrased): "The Holy Spirit displays God's power through each of us as a means of helping the entire church." Visit for activity ideas, worship resources, and congregational self-evaluations.

  • "Illuminating Paradise: The Ephrata Cloister" is the title of an educational event with Jeffrey Bach, director of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College and author of "Voices of the Turtledoves: The Sacred World of Ephrata." The event is a fundraiser for the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center. It takes place March 26, with registration beginning at 1:30 p.m. and a tour of the cloister beginning at 2:15. Dinner and a lecture begin at 5:30 p.m. at Ephrata (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. Cost for the tour is $15. A free-will offering to benefit the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center will be taken at the dinner. The registration deadline is March 11. Contact 717-361-1450 or

  • Children’s Disaster Services is offering a volunteer workshop at Snellville (Ga.) United Methodist Church on March 18-19. Meals and overnight accommodations are provided by the host organization. This workshop is part of the Faith In Action Mission Conference. To register, go to For more information contact the Children’s Disaster Services office at 800-451-4407, option 5, or For more about the program see

  • Global Mission Partnerships is requesting renewed prayer for the city of Jos, in central Nigeria. A leader of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) this week sent an update on the violence that continues there. "Every day we have a new dimension of the crisis," he wrote, in part. "The city is now experiencing a total division of the two faith (Christian and Muslim) demarcating ward (areas) without crossing borders." The most recent killings took place outside Jos, he reported, when 18 people died in a pre-dawn attack on Bere, a border community in Barkin Ladi and Mangu local government areas. "People are fleeing away trying to relocate their business and homes," the EYN leader wrote. Prayer "is highly needed."

  • A "National Evangelism Workshop, NEW2011" on July 8-9 in Nashville, Tenn., sponsored by the National Evangelistic Association is recommended by Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices for the Church of the Brethren. Keynote speakers are Bill Easum and Ed Stetzer, nationally recognized leaders for evangelism and church transformation. The theme will follow a three-track format using Joshua 1:1-8: 101: "Be Bold," a basic track for churches engaging evangelistic processes; 201: "Be Strong," an advanced track for churches engaging transformation; 301: "Be Courageous," a track for churches on the cutting edge and ready to (or engaging in) multi-site and church planting. Early bird registration is $99 by April 30, going up to $140 on May 1. The meal package must be purchased in advance and is an additional $30. Registration is at Or contact Dueck at 717-335-3226 or

  • Mountain View Fellowship in McGaheysville, Va., celebrates its 10th anniversary on March 6.

  • Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is hosting events sponsored by the Militarism/Taxes for Peace interest group of the Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness. A meeting on Feb. 26 from 8:30-10 a.m. will explore consequences of the US military budget and learn about alternatives to paying taxes that support war making, followed by a free public "Workshop on Militarism and War Tax Redirection" from 10:30 a.m.-noon the same day. For more information contact H.A. Penner at or 717-859-3529.

  • Manchester College students are seeking a world record in Four Square, in a benefit for Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Ind. Generations of Manchester students have learned how to play Four Square each fall during Camp Mack Day, according to a release. On Feb. 25-26, students will take the game to the highest level, in pursuit of a Guinness World Record for continuous play. The event in the middle of the Haist Commons dining hall in the College Union begins at noon on Feb. 25. When successful, the 25 sleep-weary student players will head for their beds at 8 p.m. on Feb. 26. They’re taking no chances: They will play at least one hour beyond the current 29-hour Guinness World Record, vows first-year student Todd Eastis of Warsaw, Ind. Eastis is a member of Simply Brethren, a campus club that has assumed leadership of the event.

  • Bridgewater (Va.) College will host a Young Brethren Scholars Panel on Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Boitnott Room. The event is sponsored by the college’s Forum for Brethren Studies, according to a release. Denise Kettering-Lane, assistant professor of Brethren studies at Bethany Theological Seminary, will discuss "Anointing for Healing: Critical Analysis of a Brethren Practice." Aaron Jerviss, a Ph.D. candidate from the University of Tennessee and a member of the Brethren Church, will present "‘Living and Moving Amongst Us Again’: The Life After Death of Elder John Kline." In addition to Stephen L. Longenecker, professor of history at Bridgewater, members of the Forum for Brethren Studies are William Abshire, the Anna B. Mow Endowed Professor of Philosophy and Religion; Ellen Layman, former director of church relations; Robert Miller, chaplain; and Carol Scheppard, vice president and dean for academic affairs and professor of philosophy and religion.

  • The 50-member Juniata College Concert Choir has announced its spring tour, directed by Russ Shelley. The following concerts will be hosted by Church of the Brethren congregations: March 5, 7 p.m., Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; March 6, 7 p.m., Codorus Church of the Brethren in Dallastown, Pa.; March 7, 7 p.m., Maple Spring Church of the Brethren in Hollsopple, Pa.; March 9, 7:30 p.m., Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren; March 12, 7 p.m., First Church of the Brethren in Roaring Spring, Pa. The Tour Homecoming Concert takes place on the college campus in Huntingdon, Pa., on March 26 at 7:30 p.m.

  • Women of Chile will lead the prayers on World Day of Prayer on March 4. This ecumenical event has been conducted by Christian women around the world for more than a century. The 2011 theme is "How Many Loaves Have You" (Mark 6:30-44). Resources are at

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Lesley Crosson, Anna Emrick, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Nancy Davis, Phillip E. Jenks, Jeri S. Kornegay, Michael Leiter, Donna March, Amy K. Milligan, Craig Alan Myers, Harold A. Penner, and Howard Royer contributed to this report.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Annual Conference ballot for 2011 is released.

The ballot has been announced for the 2011 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, to take place in Grand Rapids, Mich., on July 2-6. The Nominating Committee of the Standing Committee of district delegates developed a slate of candidates, and Standing Committee then voted to create the ballot that will be presented. Nominees are listed by position:

Annual Conference Moderator-Elect: Mary Cline Detrick of Harrisonburg, Va.; Carol Spicher Waggy of Goshen, Ind.

Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee: Thomas Dowdy of Long Beach, Calif.; Cindy Laprade Lattimer of Dansville, N.Y.

Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee: Herb High of Lancaster, Pa.; John R. Lahman of Peoria, Ariz.

Committee on Interchurch Relations: Torin Eikler of Morgantown, W.Va.; Wendy Matheny of Arlington, Va.

Mission and Ministry Board: Area 3 -- Karen Cassell of Roanoke, Va.; Becky Rhodes of Roanoke, Va. Area 4 -- Genelle Wine Bunte of Minneapolis, Minn.; Jerry Crouse of Warrensburg, Mo. Area 5 -- W. Keith Goering of Wilson, Idaho; Dylan Haro of Richmond, Ind.

Bethany Theological Seminary Trustee: Representing the laity -- D. Miller Davis of Westminster, Md.; Rex Miller of Milford, Ind. Representing the colleges -- Christina Bucher of Elizabethtown, Pa.; Jonathan Frye of McPherson, Kan.

Brethren Benefit Trust Board: Robert Jacobs of Spring Grove, Pa.; John Waggoner of Herndon, Va.

On Earth Peace Board: Melisa Grandison of McPherson, Kan.; Patricia Ronk of Roanoke, Va.

From the Moderator: An outline of the Special Response process.

The following column from Annual Conference moderator Robert Alley provides an outline of the Church of the Brethren’s Special Response process. This process was entered into when two business items related to human sexuality came to the 2009 Conference: "A Statement of Confession and Commitment" and "Query: Language on Same Sex Covenantal Relationships." The two business items have put into motion a denominational process used specifically for addressing strongly controversial issues.

A Special Response Process 2009-2011:

Individuals and congregations have asked various questions regarding our current Special Response process. The officers of Annual Conference, in consultation with the Council of District Executives, have prepared the following outline to respond to those questions. Everyone should be attentive that while some parts of the process have been completed, some are still in process, and some will not be completed until the Standing Committee (of district representatives) and Annual Conference meet in Grand Rapids, Mich., June 29-July 6.

What will be completed before March 1, 2011?
  • In 2009, the delegates of Annual Conference adopted "A Structural Framework for Dealing with Strongly Controversial Issues" (see 2009 Annual Conference Minutes, pp. 231-240).

  • In 2009, the delegates of Annual Conference referred two items of business to this framework: "Query: Language on Same Sex Covenantal Relationships" (see 2009 minutes p. 241) and "A Statement of Confession and Commitment" (see 2009 minutes pp. 244-5).

  • A Resource Committee, called by the 2009 Standing Committee, prepared eight Bible Studies and a list of recommended resources for congregations and individuals to study related to the two business items.

  • The 2010 Annual Conference provided two hearings and one Insight Session related to the two business items.

  • The 2010 Standing Committee engaged in a day-long training to lead hearings on the business items in the districts of the denomination.

  • Standing Committee has held approximately 115 hearings in the districts since the 2010 Annual Conference, to receive input from individuals regarding the two items of business.

  • A Forms Reception Committee, composed of three Standing Committee members, is receiving "Facilitator Report Forms" from each of the district hearings.

  • Individuals unable to attend a district hearing may provide input to the Forms Reception Committee through a special e-mail option on the Annual Conference website.
What will happen after March 1 and before Annual Conference?
  • The Forms Reception Committee will read and study the Facilitator Report Forms submitted by Standing Committee members from the district hearings, and the e-mail responses submitted by those unable to attend a hearing. Please note that since the purpose of the Special Response Process is to facilitate conversation, the Facilitator Report Forms from district hearings are weighted more heavily than individual correspondence received via postal mail, e-mail, or the Annual Conference sponsored e-mail link. Also, all input to the Forms Reception Committee is confidential information and will not be shared publicly.

  • After reading and studying all the input from district hearings, letters, and individual e-mail responses, the Forms Reception Committee will prepare for Standing Committee a quantitative and qualitative report summarizing the input and noting common themes. They (the Forms Reception Committee) will not provide specific recommendations to Standing Committee.

  • The officers of Annual Conference will provide copies of the report from the Forms Reception Committee to Standing Committee along with other information in preparation for their meeting in Grand Rapids prior to Annual Conference.
What will happen at Annual Conference?
  • In Grand Rapids, Standing Committee will discuss the report from Forms Reception Committee and then prepare recommendations to answer the two business items "Query: Language on Same Sex Covenantal Relationships" and "A Statement of Confession and Commitment." Please note that these are the two business items directly addressed by the Special Response process (see 2009 minutes, pp. 241 and 244-5).

  • The 2011 Annual Conference delegates will receive the recommendations from Standing Committee and process them according to the outline in the 2009 Annual Conference Minutes: "A Structural Framework for Dealing with Strongly Controversial Issues" (see 2009 minutes, pp. 234-6 for details of the outline).
Robert E. Alley is moderator of the 2011 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren. For more information about the denomination’s Special Response process, and for background documents, go to and follow the link to "Special Response."

Districts close out hearings providing input to Special Response process.

This month the Church of the Brethren’s 23 districts are closing out a series of hearings that have invited church members to provide input to the denomination’s Special Response process. This process for strongly controversial issues was entered into when two business items related to human sexuality came to the 2009 Annual Conference (see story above for an outline of the process).

A total of 115 hearings were scheduled across the denomination, according to a listing held by the Conference Office. In a recent telephone interview, Annual Conference moderator Robert Alley expressed gratitude for all those who helped to make the hearings possible.

Alley characterized the hearing format as including a significant question, What would you like to say to the Standing Committee about the two items of business? "Of primary importance to keep people centered is that we are dealing with the query and Statement of Confession and Commitment," he said, "not the whole gamut of human sexuality."

Hearings have been organized and/or led by members of Standing Committee, the committee of district representatives to the Conference. In many districts a number of additional facilitators and note takers were recruited to help lead hearings.

Although each hearing was to conform to a recommended format, the number of hearings and the scheduling of hearings have varied widely in different districts. Districts began holding the hearings last August, with most now having concluded their hearing schedule. In just a few districts, however, hearings are continuing through February. Atlantic Southeast District concludes its hearings this week, and Western Plains and Missouri/Arkansas are scheduled to hold their final hearings on Feb. 27.

Some hearings have gathered large numbers of people, while others have been held for small groups. Western Plains reported in a recent district newsletter, for example, that a hearing in Haxtun, Colo., "involved just 14 people with an age range of 13 to 88." According to the listing in the Conference Office, Idaho and Western Montana District held only one hearing at a district board meeting on Nov. 1. Another much larger district, Shenandoah, reported in December--at a time when all but one of its five hearings had been completed--that "a total of 638 persons representing 43 congregations have participated thus far."

The groupings of people in the hearings also have varied. A number of districts held regional hearings.In Northern Ohio District, a total of 13 hearings were held, with six identified specifically for pastors. In Western Plains District, an open invitation in the district newsletter encouraged each interested congregation or group to schedule its own hearing or to coordinate one with another group.

The report forms from each hearing are being collected by the Forms Reception Committee of Standing Committee, which will collate the information into a report to the full Standing Committee. The Forms Reception Committee is made up of three members of Standing Committee: convenor Jeff Carter, Shirley Wampler, and Ken Frantz.

Moderator Alley noted that the members of the Forms Reception Committee have been asked not to talk about their work. In addition, the original materials coming out of the hearings will not be made public, he said.

The Forms Reception Committee has until the end of May to complete its report to the full Standing Committee. The decision about whether or when to make that report public will be made by Standing Committee when it meets prior to Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., on June 28-July 2, Alley said.

"We want to be careful that we don’t create expectations we can’t fulfill," the moderator said. "But also it’s not intended to be a secretive process," he added. "The scheduling is meant to be helpful to the process, not to keep people out."

For more information about the denomination’s Special Response process, and for background documents, go to and follow the link to "Special Response."

New Annual Conference event from Congregational Life Ministries.

Participants in this year’s Annual Conference are invited to a new event offered by the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries: a first-ever "Ministry Fair" on Monday, July 4, from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

"It’s not a traditional meal event, although there will be ample food," said staff from Congregational Life Ministries. "It’s not an insight session, although there will be facilitators and plenty of discussion. It is an opportunity for you to connect with people in other congregations with the same passions you have for ministry in your home church: working with children and youth, deacon ministry, evangelism, intercultural ministries, stewardship, using the arts in worship name just a few."

Each of 15 ministry-based tables at the fair will have a facilitator well-versed in that ministry, and lots of room and tools for creative discussion and sharing of ideas. Since many people are involved in more than one ministry in their home churches, three separate 20-minute sessions will allow participants to visit multiple tables during the two-hour fair.

After Annual Conference, the staff of Congregational Life Ministries will provide a way for participants to easily share contact information and new ideas with others who attended the fair.

The fair is listed as a meal event in the Annual Conference registration process, cost is $15. A flier with more details and a full listing of topics can be found at For questions contact Donna Kline, director of Deacon Ministry, at or 800-323-8039 ext. 304.

A full listing of events during the 2011 Annual Conference is at Go to to find out about events sponsored by other departments of the Church of the Brethren, and other Brethren agencies and organizations.


Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Chris Douglas and Donna Kline contributed to this issue.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Small Business Health Care Tax Credit may benefit churches.

Last year the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. Some changes took effect immediately, and some became effective Jan. 1, 2011. One of those changes that took effect Jan. 1 is the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.

In Dec. 2010, the IRS clarified that the Tax Credit applies to churches and other small employers that obtain coverage through self-funded church health plans. If your church or employing organization provides coverage for one or more of your full-time or part-time employees through the Brethren Medical Plan or another health insurance plan, it may qualify for the Tax Credit. The IRS guidance also explained how clergy are to be counted under the Tax Credit and rules that apply when an employer offers more than one type of plan.

Small employers with 25 or fewer "full-time equivalent employees" and average wages of less than $50,000 may be eligible for a credit of up to 25 percent of the amount paid, if they contribute a uniform percentage of at least 50 percent toward the premiums or dues paid for their employees’ healthcare coverage. The tax credit of up to 25 percent is available for tax years 2010 through 2013.

The rules for determining full-time equivalent employees, average wages and uniform contributions, and other eligibility standards for the Tax Credit are complicated. For additional information about the Tax Credit, visit the IRS website at,,id=231928,00.html. A detailed discussion of how to calculate the Tax Credit is included in the instructions to Form 8941, which can be found at

Understanding that health care laws are rapidly changing, Brethren Insurance Services has made available a place to submit questions. If we do not have the answer to questions, we will direct you to a place where you can get the answer. Please submit any questions to As we receive further information, we will make it available at Learn more about health care reform in general at

-- This report was provided by Nevin Dulabaum, president of Brethren Benefit Trust, and Willie Hisey Pierson, director of Insurance Services for BBT. It also will be sent to churches and other organizations in the denomination in the form of a letter from BBT leaders. Brethren Benefit Trust does not provide tax advice to individuals or employers. The information in this notice is provided as part of Brethren Insurance Services’ educational efforts.

All Africa Conference of Churches issues statement on Sudan.

The All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) has issued a statement on the referendum held in southern Sudan in early January. CNN reported that final results show close to 99 percent majority vote to split from the north of Sudan. This would create southern Sudan as the world's newest country. The independence celebration is set for July 9. Sudan state television has reported that President Omar al-Bashir has stated his commitment to the results and said he will accept them.

Following is the AACC statement:

"We welcome and salute the results of the self-determination referendum which was conducted from Jan. 9-16, 2011. The results are a clear expression of the will and aspirations of the people of southern Sudan. The interim official results that have been released by the south Sudan Referendum Commission show a 99.57 percent vote for independence.

"Many actors contributed to the resounding success of the referendum. In particular, the AACC wishes to express sincere appreciation to the leadership of Sudan, President Gen. Omar al-Bashir and 1st Vice-President, and President of south Sudan, Gen. Salva Kiir, and the entire government, and in particular the south Sudan Referendum Commission for diligently organizing the south Sudan Referendum despite daunting challenges.

"We are impressed by the dignified manner in which the people of south Sudan conducted themselves throughout the week-long referendum. We were encouraged by their character to demonstrate their sense of civic duty and the general atmosphere of peace, which prevailed. This happened despite the fact that the referendum comes so soon after the presidential and general elections, which were a challenge in themselves after many years without similar elections, and following a protracted civil war.

"The AACC, teaming up with the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) and other ecumenical organizations, accompanied the people of Sudan once again as we have always done throughout the period of the search for peace. The AACC played a significant role in assisting the churches with voter education programs and voter election monitoring.

"For the church in the entire continent, the referendum is a turning point after the huge loss of life and the prolonged pain by the Sudanese people.

"The impressive campaigns by supporters of either side of the referendum is an indication that the people of Sudan would want to see democracy work for them. The challenge that this presents for the leadership is to ensure that the expectations of the people are matched with a realization of a new era of peace and progress.

"We once again pray and hope that, even with interim results indicating a 99 percent vote in favor of independence by south Sudanese, when finally the official outcome of the referendum is announced on February 7, 2011, we call on:
  • The leadership of both north and south will not assume that they are indebted only to those who voted for their convictions but will provide leadership and service to all the people regardless of their vote, faith, or any other consideration as per the mandate of their offices.

  • The Sudanese in the north not to see themselves as losers and react in a manner that would plunge the country back to the abyss of death and darkness. Rather they would appreciate and respect the will of the people of the south through the referendum for self-determination which offered a chance for the southerners to define both the self and their belonging.

  • The leadership in both the north and the south to value their shared history and therefore consciously engage to offer each other opportunities that would continue to strengthen the history of a shared identity through the many years of hurting.
"In this regard we urge the two leaderships to ensure: The guarantee of basic rights and protection of the southerners in the north as well as northerners in the south, including the protection of opportunities and property. That post-referendum arrangements on transition, constitution making, sharing of wealth, and other issues including the demarcation of the north-south border are addressed as required with sobriety and the sensitivity they deserve....

"...The success of the referendum is not an end of the struggles of the people of the south Sudan but opens the door for a new future that must be characterized with strong relations with the north. Accordingly, we call upon the international community and African countries to rise up in solidarity and in support of the people of Sudan (north and south) to reconstruct their country and rebuild their nationhood.

"It is further our hope that religious leaders will use this time and space to build viable moral foundations for the Sudan society regardless of the political division that may place some in the north and others in the south location.

"The Church in Africa looks forward to a future when the people of Sudan and specifically in the south will benefit from their God-given natural wealth, which ironically has been the main source of their untold suffering."

-- The All Africa Conference of Churches is a fellowship of 173 member churches and Christian councils in 40 African countries. Its statement on Sudan also included specific recommendations about additional referendums and consultations in particular areas of the country, which were omitted above. For more go to

Sollenberger is named executive of South Central Indiana District.

Beth Sollenberger has been named district executive minister for South Central Indiana District, in a three-quarter time position beginning Feb. 21. She brings more than 29 years of experience in congregational, district, and denominational ministry to the post.

Sollenberger has served as pastor or associate pastor at a number of congregations in four different districts. She directed the Parish Resource Center in Dayton, Ohio, from 1990-92. From 1995-2004 she was on the staff of the Church of the Brethren General Board, serving as director of Stewardship Education, and then from 1997-2004 as coordinator of the Congregational Life Team, Area 3. More recently she has been pastoral consultant for New Church Development in Northern Indiana District. She was ordained in 1981 at Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and holds degrees from Bethany Theological Seminary and Juniata College.

Boeger to coordinate recruitment for BVS, Global Mission office.

Katherine Boeger will serve as coordinator of Recruitment and as service advocate for Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) and the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission Partnerships, effective Feb. 14.

She is a graduate of San Diego (Calif.) State University with a degree in business administration, emphasis in human resource management, and minor in psychology. She brings over 15 years of experience in a variety of fields including marketing and sales, human resources, and farming. Her church involvements have included travel to Nigeria for a workcamp and to Colombia with Christian Peacemaker Teams. She is a member of Live Oak (Calif.) Church of the Brethren.

Out of a small green box: A rediscovered manuscript on John Kline.

Shortly after assuming the directorship of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) on Nov. 1, 2010, I examined a small green box in my office labeled, "Original Penciled Manuscript of book LIFE OF JOHN KLINE by Funk." I quickly realized that I was looking at Benjamin Funk’s original hand-written manuscript (partial) for his book, "Life and Labors of Elder John Kline."

Elder John Kline (1797-1864) was a Civil War-era Brethren leader and martyr--a preacher, healer, and moderator of the Brethren Annual Meeting from 1861 until his murder in 1864. He was ambushed and killed on June 15, 1864, near his home in Rockingham County, Va., after falling under suspicion for making frequent trips across the lines between north and south, as he served the Brethren on both sides during the war.

As the story goes, Benjamin Funk reportedly destroyed John Kline’s original diary shortly after publishing his book in 1900. Why Funk felt that he needed to do this has always been open to speculation and controversy. What was in Elder Kline’s diaries that Funk didn’t want others to see? Thus, this "discovery" of Funk’s partial penciled manuscript and additional data is cause for celebration and scholarly examination.

Notations in the box indicate that the manuscript is incomplete, covering only the diary entries that Elder Kline wrote from March 1844 to August 1858. There is also some additional material in the manuscript, which apparently was not included in Funk’s book. This additional material includes sermons (at least one by Peter Nead) that are incomplete in beginnings and endings.

Jeffrey Bach, director of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, is presently working with the Funk/Kline material. Dr. Bach will give a presentation for the John Kline Homestead on April 9 regarding the history of the Brethren and slavery. In his presentation he plans to touch on the Funk/Kline manuscript. Bach also is the speaker for an insight session sponsored by the Brethren Historical Committee at the 2011 Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., on July 4.

-- Terry Barkley is director of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

Salaam alaikum: Seeking peace in Israel and Palestine.

Salaam alaikum. In a land where this Arabic greeting means "Peace be with you," and the Hebrew greeting "Shalom" also means peace, there seem to be a lot of people seeking and few finding this peace.

On Jan. 4 and 5, assembled under the direction of Christian Peacemaker Teams, a diverse delegation gathered in Israel/Palestine. This mix of individuals varied in age between 24 and 70, and ranged from college professors to a plumber, and from one who thought the Bible was a myth and to one who was a biblical literalist. However, we were united by a desire to make a difference.

You likely have read about the demolition of Palestinian homes. And like me you possibly have come to the conclusion that these homes were torn down because the people living in them were terrorists. In reality, a lot of homes have been torn down because they were built without permits. Very few permits are given to Palestinians, even in their own territory, and their population continues to grow. While permits are restricted for Palestinians homes, Jewish settlement homes continue to be built on Palestinian land, with many sitting empty.

A friend I made while there, Atta Jaber, has had two homes removed and the one he is living in has a demolition order on it. His family has lived on the land for over 800 years and they have papers showing ownership from the time when French and British authorities were in control of the area.

As his second home was being destroyed, Atta Jaber was charged with "assault with a child." He had handed his four-month-old child to the soldier in charge, asking the officer to take his child because he had no home for his son and no way to feed him. As the child was wiggling in the officer’s arms, he hit the officer’s face. Although the charge did not stick, it is still on his son’s record.

A former soldier and a founder of the group "Breaking the Silence" spoke to our delegation, describing the conflict of emotions in an Israeli soldier’s life. He had served in Hebron and told about several situations he had encountered. One was a suspicious package placed next to a wall as his team did their nightly rounds. He said he had three options; one, to shoot into the package to see if it exploded; two, to call for a bomb team to come in, which could take hours; and three, to have a Palestinian go over and pick up the package. The thought that a person’s life was worth no more than a round from an M16 rifle, or the time it would take to have a skilled team come and check out the package, was challenging to me.

A few days later I was talking to a 19-year-old Israeli soldier who was detaining us at a check point. I thought back to the time when I was 19 years old and serving at Fort Jackson. At that age I would not have questioned those in authority, I had the confidence that they would never ask me to do anything wrong or that was not necessary.

As we grow in faith we begin to understand the value God has for human life. His Son suffered and died that we may have life. We also know that when someone’s life is ended here on earth, they will stand in judgment.

I don’t think I’ve ever been anyplace where hospitality is so widespread. At every home we were served tea shortly after arriving, and coffee before we left. Children greeted us on the streets with "Hellooooooo. Welcome." A young couple riding the bus with us from Bethlehem to Jerusalem invited all 13 of us into their home, after talking with us for just a short time.

Jesus said, "I was a stranger and you took Me in." I have never invited a group of strangers to my house after meeting them on public transportation. I have a better understanding of what hospitality is after this trip.

As I walked down the Mount of Olives, looking at the Old City of Jerusalem, I thought back to a time when my Savior wept as He made this journey. I let my eyes wander into the valley to my left, and looked at a wall built through it. I was told the wall was built to protect the Israelis from the Palestinians. At places the wall divides families, and in other places it divides individual farms. Whether you are looking at the 1948 or the 1967 agreements on Israel and Palestine, this wall is constructed well to the East of the line. How can something separating Palestinians from Palestinians protect the Israelis?

If we think back over the past 62 years we can recall a lot of terrible thing that have been done by both sides in this conflict, and I wonder how I would feel growing up in that environment. Would I hate other human beings? Would I be so fearful of others that I would throw rocks to keep them away from me? Would I shoot rockets into neighborhoods, or possibly attach an explosive device to my body, killing myself and others? I wonder even now if I will build a wall to protect me from seeing the pain of people Jesus died for.

I wonder, is Jesus weeping over His people today?

-- Wallace Cole is a member of the Church of the Brethren’s Mission and Ministry Board. He and his wife, Marty, are managers of Camp Carmel in Linville, N.C., in Southeastern District.

Reading with the Moderator.

("From the Moderator," will appear on occasion through the 2011 Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., July 2-6. Most books listed are available from Brethren Press, 800-441-3712.)

In recent years, as a pastor and now as moderator, the following books have helped to inform my theology, Christology, ethics, and perceptions of the church. They also have expanded my world through the historical, biblical, and current issues they address. I invite you to choose at least one and "read with the moderator" for our common enlightenment and spiritual growth.

"Counting the Cost: The Life of Alexander Mack" by William G. Willoughby. This volume highlights some of the formation experiences of the Brethren movement in the 18th century. In particular, it shows how early Brethren dealt with controversial issues and invites readers to ask how those experiences may enlighten our own.

"The Complete Writings of Alexander Mack" ed. William R. Eberly. This small volume, published through Brethren Encyclopedia, Inc., offers some of the essentials of the faith for early Brethren as shared by our founding minister Alexander Mack.

"The Christopher Sauers" by Stephen L. Longenecker. Like "Counting the Cost," this volume offers insights into how Brethren in colonial America struggled with following Jesus, sometimes in a hostile political environment.

"The Forgotten Faithful: A Window into the Life and Witness of Christians in the Holy Land" ed. Naim Ateek, Cedar Duaybis, and Maurine Tobin. These essays published through the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem provide insight into the struggles of Christians in an environment dominated by tensions over land and religion with Jews and Muslims.

"The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why" by Phyllis Tickle. One of the best and simplest explanations for what is happening in current Christian church circles. Tickle spoke at a dinner at the 2009 Annual Conference.

"Deep and Wide: Hospitality and the Faithful Church" by Steve Clapp, Fred Bernhard, and Ed Bontrager. This LifeQuest publication offers important guidance for congregations to carry out their evangelistic missions in their own communities.

"The Mission and Death of Jesus in Islam and Christianity" by A. H. Mathias Zahniser. For persons interested in the connections of Christianity and Islam, this volume explores some of the convictions that keep these two world religions apart, and that may help bridge the gaps between them.

"Stumbling Toward a Genuine Conversation on Homosexuality" ed. Michael A. King. The essays in this collection highlight the spectrum of views held by Christians, mostly Mennonites, on the matter of homosexuality.

Three volumes by N. T. Wright: "The New Testament and the People of God," "Jesus and the Victory of God," and "Surprised by HOPE: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church." This New Testament scholar offers helpful understandings of Jesus and His role as God’s presence in humankind. For the biblical scholar, these volumes are valuable. The last, "Surprised by HOPE," is highly recommended as pre-Easter reading.

"The Last Week (A Day-by-Day Account of Jesus’ Final Week in Jerusalem)" by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan. This book provides a great daily reading from Palm Sunday to Easter.

"A Failure of Nerve (Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix)" by Edwin H. Friedman. Very important insights into the role and dynamics of leadership, especially for church leaders.

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

Brethren bits: Correction, job openings, upcoming events, more.
  • Correction: The new online page from the Brethren Historical Library and Archives is titled "Hidden Gems," not "Hidden Treasures" as incorrectly reported in the Newsline of Jan. 26.

  • The 2011 Youth Peace Travel Team has been announced: Mark Dowdy of Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa.; Tyler Goss of West Richmond (Va.) Church of the Brethren; Kay Guyer of Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind.; and Sarah Neher of McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren. As they spend time with junior and senior high youth at camps across the denomination this summer, the team will teach about peace, justice, and reconciliation. Follow the team’s ministry at The team is sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry, Brethren Volunteer Service, On Earth Peace, and the Outdoor Ministry Association.

  • Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) seeks a chief operating and compliance officer for a full-time salaried position based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The chief operating and compliance officer will provide daily administrative oversight for BBT’s ministries and compliance leadership for all of BBT’s operations. As COO, this person will supervise directors of the Church of the Brethren Pension Plan, Brethren Foundation, Brethren Insurance Services, and Church of the Brethren Credit Union, as well as directors of the Communications and Information Technology departments. The COO will take the lead, in collaboration with the CEO and CFO, in working with department directors to develop annual budgets and business plans that reflect the organization’s strategic goals. As compliance officer, this person will direct internal and external risk assessments and will lead the organization in implementation of compliance-related procedures and practices. This person also will lead the development and implementation of the organization’s business continuity plan. BBT seeks candidates with undergraduate degrees in accounting, business, or related fields. Candidates should have eight years of experience in administration and personnel supervision, and five years of experience working with compliance or compliance-related issues. This person must be proficient with technology and systems. Experience in business planning and project leadership is desired. Current and active membership in the Church of the Brethren is preferred; current and active membership in a faith community is required. The COO and compliance officer will travel on occasion to fulfill the responsibilities of the position, including events related to denominational activities, the Church Benefits Association, and professional growth. Salary and benefits are competitive with Church Benefits Association agencies of comparable size and scope of services. A full benefits package is included. Apply by Feb. 25 by sending a letter of interest, resume, three references (two supervisors and one colleague), and salary-range expectation to Donna March, 1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120, or For questions or clarification about the position, call 847-622-3371.

  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks applications for a full-time co-director to work with Carol Rose, current co-director. The position begins in July. The job description is flexible depending on the intersection of applicant’s skills with current co-director. Applications from members of racially marginalized groups and from outside North America are warmly welcomed. Compensation is a stipend based on need. The initial appointment is for a period of three years. Qualifications include spiritual grounding in Christianity; strong skills in organizational processes and administration; experience leading or working in an international organization committed to violence reduction, nonviolent resistance campaigns, and movement building; strong English with at least minimal Spanish; background and skill in undoing oppressions; ability to mobilize economic and human resources; knowledge of CPT and how the organization works. Needed traits include the ability to articulate and promote the CPT mission and vision; make collaborative decisions; listen well; be flexible; articulate and promote an organizational vision; lead in organizational change; and network between religious, political, geographical, and social groups. See for more information. Must participate in a CPT delegation and month-long training and discernment process prior to final appointment. Contact Susan Mark Landis at with expressions of interest by March 1. She will respond with a more complete job description and application materials.

  • Bread for the World seeks an associate for Denominational Women’s Organization Relations, a motivated professional to engage denominational women’s organizations in partnerships and promote their involvement in the 1000 Days Campaign on maternal and child nutrition. Must have a bachelor’s degree and three-to-five years of related work experience; excellent relational skills; experience in planning and coordinating small group events, including travel; excellent written and verbal communication skills; and knowledge of Christian scripture, theology, and church organization. Familiarity with denominational women’s organizations preferred. This is a full-time grant-funded position until Oct. 2012. Apply by Feb. 18. Bread is an EOE. Contact Rev. Diane Ford Jones, Senior National Church Relations Associate, Bread for the World, 425 3rd St. SW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20024; 202-639-9400;

  • Camp Brethren Heights in Rodney, Mich., has announced the hiring of camp director Randall Westfall. He began his duties on Jan. 15.

  • Young adults from all denominations are encouraged to participate in the Eco-Stewards Program, in a note from Greg Davidson Laszakovits, Brethren representative to the National Council of Churches’ Eco-Justice Working Group. The program is for young adults ages 20-30 who are interested in exploring connections between faith and environmental stewardship. The 2011 program will take place June 2-9 with the theme "Living with and from the Land on the Crow Reservation in Montana: Sustainability and Reconciliation Through Agriculture, Health, and Green Building." The program will be held at Greenwood Farm, an organic farm on the Crow Reservation just outside Hardin, Mont. Apply by March 1, find the application form and more information at

  • Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger has signed on to a letter to President Obama supporting a pending United Nations Security Council resolution on the Middle East. The letter was signed by leaders of 13 denominations and church related organizations that are members of Church for Middle East Peace (CMEP). It said, in part. "We believe that the United States must now respond positively to the resolution on Israeli settlement construction activity and related issues." In a separate release, CMEP said it is "deeply concerned" that the resolution pass the Security Council. The CMEP described the resolution as "calling on Israel to stop illegal construction of settlements in the territories over which it gained control in 1967, including East Jerusalem.... CMEP calls on the Obama Administration not to stand in the way of this resolution in a Security Council vote." For more go to

  • Church of the Brethren leaders also have written and signed letters in support of the National Council of Churches’ call for an end to gun violence, responding to the tragic shooting in Tucson. A letter has been written to President Obama and signed by the Inter-Agency Forum, including the officers of Annual Conference, representatives of the districts, and top executives and board chairs of the church agencies. A similar letter was sent to governor Pat Quinn of Illinois, the state in which the Church of the Brethren is incorporated. Both letters encouraged the initiation of "legislation that will limit access to hand guns and assault weapons."

  • Bethany Seminary president Ruthann Knechel Johansen will give the address to commemorate the purchase and preservation of the John Kline Homestead. "A Service of Celebration: Honoring the Legacy" is Feb. 27, at 3 p.m. at Linville Creek Church of the Brethren in Broadway, Va. Her address, "The Legacy of Radical Middleness," follows a child’s reading of the Brethren Press book "The Middle Man." Visitors will be able to tour the Linville Creek Church Historical and Kline Rooms and the John Kline house after the service. Also, seats are still available for Candlelight Dinners in the John Kline house, where re-enactors share concerns for the approaching War Between the States and its impact on home, farm, and faith. Seats are available Feb. 19, March 18, April 15 and 16. $40/plate, limit of 32 per evening. Contact 540-896-5001 or for reservations. Groups welcome.

  • Bethany Theological Seminary is offering "Sabbath space" on its campus in Richmond, Ind., on March 27-28. An announcement said: "At this moment in our national and denominational life, and taking Jesus seriously, Bethany Seminary is opening a Sabbath space for all people beginning on Sunday, March 27, at 5 p.m. with a simple fellowship meal and closing on Monday, March 28, by 3 p.m. The purpose of our gathering is to remember together that God is our creator, that we belong to God, and that we find our freedom and our joy in reconciliation with God and one another." The event will include worship, opportunities for prayer in small groups, and space for individual meditation. There is no charge, but those who plan to attend are requested to register. A registration form is at

  • Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices, is recommending several books on the evangelism resources page at The books can be purchased through Brethren Press for a discount. "Two books may be of particular interest due to the conversation in many congregations pertaining to ministry with youth and young adults," he writes: "Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church," by Kenda Creasy Dean, and "Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults" by Christian Smith and Patricia Snell.

  • Brethren Disaster Ministries is offering a Haiti Workcamp on March 14-20, working with Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti). Register with deposit by Feb. 14. The workcamp will help rebuild homes in the Port-au-Prince area and outlying villages that have received earthquake victims. Cost is $900, with a $300 deposit due with registration. Participants purchase their own round-trip transportation to Port-au-Prince. Requirements include good health, stamina for hard work in a hot climate, age 18 or older, a passport, vaccinations and medications, sensitivity and flexibility with regard to cultural differences. Go to

  • Nursing scholarships are available from the Church of the Brethren’s Caring Ministries. The program awards a limited number of scholarships each year to individuals enrolled in an LPN, RN, or nursing graduate program who are members of the Church of the Brethren. Scholarships of up to $2,000 for RN and graduate nurse candidates and up to $1,000 for LPN candidates will be awarded. A preference is given to new applications, and to individuals who are in their second year of an associate’s degree or third year of a baccalaureate program. Scholarship recipients are eligible for only one scholarship per degree. Applications and supporting documentation must be submitted by April 1. Candidates who are awarded scholarships will be notified in July and funds will be sent directly to the appropriate school for the Fall term. To apply, print or download the instructions and application from

  • The Mid-Atlantic District Peace and Justice Committee on March 26 is sponsoring a Peace Symposium titled, "Is Pacifism a Core Christian Value?" The symposium will be held at University Park Church of the Brethren in Hyattsville, Md., from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Keynote speaker will be Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren. A panel discussion also will be offered with local and denominational representatives. Attendees are invited to read "Christian Understanding of War in an Age of Terror(ism)," a paper under discussion by the National Council of Churches, in preparation for the symposium. Find the document at, scroll down to "Visioning Conversations" and click "Full Text of the Five Vision Papers." Contact Illana Naylor at

  • The January and February episodes of "Brethren Voices" cable television program from Peace Church of the Brethren in Portland, Ore., feature Melanie Snyder, author of the Brethren Press book "Grace Goes to Prison" and a member of Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. The March edition will feature Randy Miller, interim editor of "Messenger." For copies contact

  • The first World Interfaith Harmony Week was held the first week in February 2011, following a resolution adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations last October. To mark the event, Church of the Brethren UN representative Doris Abdullah attended an Interfaith Breakfast of the Committee of Religious NGOs, in New York on Feb. 3.

  • The National Council of Churches (NCC) joined with the Coptic Orthodox Church to observe a three-day period of prayer and fasting for events in Egypt. NCC general secretary Michael Kinnamon said he prayed that "the people of Egypt will experience a just and hopeful resolution of the current crisis." The World Council of Churches also issued a statement of concern for Egypt: "Our hopes and prayers are for the safety of citizens, for wisdom and compassion on the part of the authorities and for a non-violent and just resolution of conflicts and grievances."

  • The National Religious Campaign Against Torture has released a statement hoping that this time of change in Egypt ensures the end of the use of torture there. The statement from NRCAT executive director Richard Killmer said, "There is strong evidence that in the past the US rendered suspected terrorists to Egypt with the knowledge that they would be tortured. It is our hope that this time of change in Egypt ensures that no government of Egypt will allow the use of torture. Further, we call upon the US government to create a Commission of Inquiry to investigate all aspects of its past use of torture." 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. Chris Douglas, Ed Groff, Philip E. Jenks, Karin Krog, Nancy Miner, Paul Roth, Becky Ullom, and Larry Ulrich contributed to this report.