Thursday, September 29, 2011

Newsline September 29, 2011

Church of the Brethren announces layoffs from denominational staff

Nine positions on the Church of the Brethren denominational staff have been cut as part of balancing the 2012 budget. The layoffs follow a new management structure for staff (see www.brethren.org/orgchart) announced in August by general secretary Stan Noffsinger. For the latest Brethren news go to the main Newsline page

The need to reduce next year’s budget was anticipated for some time by staff and board doing financial planning. For two years the Mission and Ministry Board has chosen to use reserves to balance the Core Ministries budget, wanting time to complete a strategic plan before making changes in staffing structure.

In early July, the board approved a 2012 budget parameter that requires reductions of $638,000 to achieve a balanced budget in the Core Ministries Fund. Contributing factors to the budget gap include the continuing economic recession, declining contributions from congregations and individuals, and increasing costs for health insurance and other expenses.

Three voluntary retirements and two voluntary resignations announced earlier this month also are considered part of the staffing cuts that will help accomplish the budget reduction.

Departing employees are receiving a severance package of three months’ full salary and benefits and access to funds for job search and counseling services. The relatively generous severance package is provided because the former church employees are not eligible for unemployment benefits from the state.

Those laid off Sept. 28 include:
  • Judy Keyser, treasurer and associate general secretary of Operations, who also served as Chief Financial Officer and treasurer of the Church of the Brethren. She has worked for the denomination for 25 years, since 1986 when she was appointed director of Financial Operations in the Treasurer’s Office of the former General Board. For a time she also served as controller, starting in 1989. She became CFO in 1995. Over the years, she has worked closely with church leadership including the Annual Conference officers and the Mission and Ministry Board and former General Board in doing financial planning and setting budget priorities for the denomination, also holding major responsibility for the financial reporting of the denomination. As associate general secretary for Operations she provided oversight for a number of funds of the denomination, led staff in budgeting and setting spending priorities, oversaw the regular updating and revising of financial policies, helped guide investment strategies, and was responsible for banking practices for the organization.

  • Ken Neher, director of Stewardship and Donor Development, who has held the position for 13 of his 15 years of employment with the Church of the Brethren. Starting in 1994, he worked as a part-time officer for Planned Giving in the far west area, and then became director of Funding. He has overseen the staff of the Stewardship and Donor Development department. His work has included stewardship education, fundraising mailings and newsletters, visits with donors and congregations, ecumenical stewardship activities, and helping to launch online gift solicitation for the Church of the Brethren using new website and e-mail systems. During his employment he earned the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) credential. He worked out of a home office in Wenatchee, Wash.

  • Joy Willrett, program assistant for Congregational Life Ministries, who has been an employee for 13 years, since 1998. She started as a customer service and resourcing specialist for Brethren Press, then in 2004 took the program assistant position in Congregational Life. Her primary responsibility was to support the executive director of the department, but she also supported additional staff as new positions were filled. She handled day-to-day paperwork and financial transactions, fielded inquiries, and helped with registration for meetings.

  • Pierre Covington, mail room supervisor, who has worked for Buildings and Grounds at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., since 2000. Over the course of 11 years with the Church of the Brethren, he also assisted with property and equipment maintenance, running audio visual equipment, logistical details for large gatherings such as meetings of boards of denominational agencies, moving of offices and furniture at times of staff transition, and oversight of packing and loading of materials trucked to Annual Conference each year.

  • Brenda Hayward, receptionist for the General Offices, who has served in the position for six years since 2005. She provided a welcoming presence on the telephone switchboard and welcomed visitors, guests, and outside vendors. She also carried out a number of additional daily tasks for the Buildings and Grounds department.

  • Karin Krog, who began as director of Human Resources in 2006. Her position ends Dec. 31. She has overseen human resources functions at the General Offices and Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., and has been responsible for relationship with the Brethren Support Staff Association. During her tenure she designed a new vacation policy, moved payroll to a fully automated online system, and initiated a major revision of the employee handbook.

  • Tim Stauffer, technical support for the Information Services department at the General Offices, who started as a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker in 2006. He was promoted to fulltime employment in 2008. Over five years, he assisted with PC maintenance and problem solving, and with maintenance of the office’s network servers and related work.

  • Linda Newman, assistant to the director of Buildings and Grounds at the General Offices since 2008. In three years of work for the church she took on various projects and numerous tasks, from the simple to the complex, such as relationships with vendors, meeting logistics, purchasing of supplies, and covering the switchboard as needed.

  • Katherine Boeger-Knight, coordinator of recruitment and service advocate for Brethren Volunteer Service and Global Mission Partnerships, who began her work in February this year. In her short tenure, she visited all major conferences in the denomination and a number of smaller events, speaking about BVS and interpreting the latest information on conscientious objection.
As responsibilities are rearranged and in light of the strategic plan, a few new positions will be created in the next few weeks.

Source: 9/29/2011 Newsline

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Newsline: September 21, 2011

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR PEACE
UPCOMING EVENTS
RESOURCES
FEATURE
BRETHREN BITS

Day of prayer for peace brings communities together.

Today the International Day of Prayer for Peace (IDPP) observance takes place around the world, as an initiative of the World Council of Churches. On Earth Peace is holding its annual IDPP campaign this year with the goal of involving 200 congregations and groups on the theme, "Seek the Peace of the City."

On Earth Peace reported that as of Monday, 110 congregations and community groups had registered an event at www.onearthpeace.org . There were 21 US states and 10 countries represented on the list. Organizers were affiliated with at least 11 different denominations or religious traditions. The agency also reported that the National Council of Churches will mark the day during meetings this week in New York City.

"Please let us know if you are observing IDPP in your worship service by sending us a quick note at idpp@onearthpeace.org!" On Earth Peace invited.

On Earth Peace is encouraging congregations to consider how youth can lead observances, and how to support youth as leaders for peace in their communities. Suggestions have included presenting a children's message on peacemaking, focusing on specific acts of violence children may encounter and their role to stop violence, and working with small groups to name specific acts of violence in a community and around the world, following up with prayer for victims, perpetrators, and those working for peace in named situations.

The Church of the Brethren’s advocacy and peace witness office will share regular IDPP updates today at several places online: http://twitter.com/#!/cob_peace, www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=123295755551&ref=ts, and http://blog.brethren.org.

Here is a sampling of Brethren congregations and districts, and Brethren-related groups, taking part in today’s observance:
  • This morning the staff at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., met for a chapel service on peace.

  • Timbercrest Community in North Manchester, Ind., is holding a Peace Day observance in its chapel from 3-4 p.m.

  • Heeding God's Call, the Philadelphia-based initiative against gun violence, holds a vigil at 4 p.m. today at the site of one of almost 200 Philadelphia gun deaths this year--1600 Catharine St. A procession will then take participants to Dilworth Plaza, carrying t-shirts symbolizing each life lost to guns this year. At the plaza a public witness and prayer begins at 5:15. (For more information contact Heeding God's Call at 267-519-5302.)

  • The Heeding God's Call Harrisburg (Pa.) Chapter holds a Prayer Vigil in uptown Harrisburg beginning at 5:30 p.m., in an announcement shared by Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren pastor Belita Mitchell.

  • The Church of the Brethren’s Virlina District held its first IDPP event this past Sunday at Lighthouse Church of the Brethren in Boones Mill, Va. An additional district peace service will be this evening at 6 p.m., sponsored by West Richmond (Va.) Church of the Brethren.

  • An event at 7 p.m. at Cedar Lake Church of the Brethren in rural Auburn, Ind., will include prayers for peace interspersed with media clips that speak to several levels of peacemaking including inner peace, forgiveness, and courageous leadership.

  • York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren opens its chapel today for those wishing to pray for peace. "Prayers can be offered for non-violence in many areas," said an invitation from the Witness Commission. "Prayers for healing between individuals, in families, in cities, and between nations is being stressed."

  • A community worship service hosted by Lafayette (Ind.) Church of the Brethren will gather around the congregation’s Peace Pole.

  • A Peace Walk in Bridgewater, Va., is being publicized by Shenandoah District. It starts at Bridgewater United Methodist Church at 7:30 p.m. Each walker is to bring a candle. Donations will be accepted for "Invisible Child of Uganda," a program that rescues children who have been recruited or abducted into military service. Contact Roma Jo Thompson at 540-515-3581.

  • A public lecture by Jeffrey Helsing of the US Institute of Peace, sponsored by the Mahatma Gandhi Center, is being publicized with help from Shenandoah District. Preceding the 7 p.m. lecture at the Lucy F. Simms Center in Harrisonburg, Va., a dinner and peace pole dedication is planned. The event closes with a candlelight vigil. Contact LaDawn Knicely of the Gandhi Center board at 540-421-6941 or LaDawn@LaDawnSellsHome.com.

  • "10 Days of Prayer for Peace" in Richmond, Ind., has been sponsored by the interfaith group Children of Abraham, with participation from Brethren in the area. The observance began on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and concludes today. Amy Gall Ritchie reported on Facebook that Bethany Theological Seminary participated as vigil No. 8 in the series of 10 citywide vigils from Sept 12-21. "We prayed inside then went outside and stood along US 40 as it drizzled, holding our candles, praying for peace."
Source: 9/21/2011 Newsline

World Council of Churches posts Peace Prayer Wall.

"From Fiji to Rwanda, prayers and signs of commitment are being offered for the annual International Day of Prayer for Peace," reported the World Council of Churches in a release earlier this week. The WCC offered a Facebook link at www.oikoumene.org/index.php?RDCT=cc53e4ba96d621b45339, where prayers are being posted by people who attended the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC).

"Use me, Lord, to build bridges of hope," is Edelberto Vald├ęs Fleites’s prayer in Cuba.

"Make us artisans of peace in the example of Christ, women and men of courage and discernment. Rather than fleeing from conflict, make us willing to identify, to denounce, and to dare to become mediators for peace and justice," asks Father Bernard Ugeux, a missionary in Rwanda.

In the UK, Stefan Gillies’ peace day prayer is for a man in prison, naval medic Michael Lyons, who is a conscientious objector in detention for refusing to deploy to Afghanistan. Churches Together in Britain and Ireland are publicizing his case.

Noting the military drones that have begun appearing in local skies around the world, the WCC release highlighted a prayer from Wales that begins in Welsh: "Mewn byd lle mae mwy a mwy o sylw'n cael ei roi i ryfe." The prayer translates: "In a world where increased attention is being given to war, in a country where there is an increase in military activity…it’s essential that the people of Wales continue to work for peace and reconciliation."

The Peace Prayer Wall is at www.oikoumene.org/index.php?RDCT=964fd55e6b7d335b6f0d. More about the WCC’s International Day of Prayer for Peace emphasis is at www.overcomingviolence.org/IDPP.

Source: 9/21/2011 Newsline

Justice and peace are on the global agenda says WCC leader.

The theme of peace and justice is on the global church agenda with new energy at a time when more and more societies are experiencing conflict, intense poverty, drought, and injustice, says the World Council of Churches general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit.

In a release from the WCC, he cites recent world ecumenical events including the choice of the theme "God of Life, Lead Us to Justice and Peace" for the Tenth WCC Assembly in 2013 in Korea; and the nearly 1,000 church leaders and peace activists who gathered in May for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation.

His remarks were given to the WCC Executive Committee during meetings last week in Ethiopia. "Let me, as I report to you, share how I see that we are already on our way towards a deeper reflection and a stronger commitment to justice and peace," said Tveit. "We now have a new momentum given through the moment we had together in Jamaica."

Tveit spoke at length about an emerging discussion on the role and commitment of the churches in peace and justice. He also reported on the ongoing work of the WCC and his visits and interactions with member churches around the world over the past six months.

According to Tveit the WCC is moving in a definite direction with member churches around the world calling for Just Peace. "And that movement is more than a slogan," the release said. "It is a real move toward changing how the church interacts with the world and addresses issues of justice and peace."

Member churches’ voices come from the Pacific region, the Middle East, North and East Africa, South and East Asia, the Americas, and even Tveit’s home country, Norway, which experienced a deadly terrorist attack in July. "As churches, our focus should be not on legitimizing actions of war, but on how nonviolent actions can replace the use of military force, how we can build peace from below and from within, and how we can give political leaders moral support and standards to protect their own citizens without using violence," Tveit said.

"But we also need to work, to act, and to create Just Peace in all places as we go on with our reflections and discussion, and also give the reflections realistic and constructive inputs and direction."

Tveit acknowledged that the ecumenical movement has been debating the role of the church in peace and justice for decades. "It is an unfinished debate which will not lead to easy answers disconnected from the day-to-day realities in which many churches wrestle with their Christian calling to justice and peace." The full text of the report is at www.oikoumene.org/index.php?RDCT=2f0e69032179f2453ebb.

Source: 9/21/2011 Newsline

Brueggemann to preach for 2012 Annual Conference.

Preachers, worship leaders, and music leadership for the daily worship services at the 2012 Annual Conference have been announced by the Conference Office. The 2012 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren takes place in St. Louis, Mo., on July 7-11 next year.

Renowned Lutheran scholar, preacher, and writer Walter Brueggemann will speak for the opening worship service of the Conference on Saturday evening, July 7. Manchester College campus minister and former "Messenger" editor Walt Wiltschek will be worship leader for the service. Brueggemann is a leading interpreter of the Old Testament, currently William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary. Among his numerous books are "Journey to the Common Good," "The Prophetic Imagination," and "Disruptive Grace: Reflections on God, Scripture, and the Church."

Annual Conference moderator Timothy P. Harvey, pastor of Central Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., will preach on Sunday morning July 8, with moderator-elect Bob Krouse as worship leader.

Becky Ball-Miller, an ordained minister and businesswoman from Goshen, Ind., and a member of the denomination’s Mission and Ministry Board, preaches Monday evening July 9. David A. Steele, district executive minister of Middle Pennsylvania District, will lead worship that evening.

On Tuesday evening, July 10, Jennifer Leath of New Haven, Conn., will preach. Katie and Parker Shaw Thompson of Richmond, Ind., will lead worship. Leath is an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the USA and an ecumenical leader in the field of ethics. Earlier this year she was one of the speakers at a World Council of Churches Central Committee meeting where she shared a strong testimony on issues related to youth and the ecumenical movement.

The closing worship of the Conference on Wednesday morning July 11 will hear a message from Daniel D’Oleo, a leader in the Renacer movement that is planting Spanish-speaking congregations of Brethren in the Virginia area. Angie Lahman Yoder of Peoria, Ariz., will lead worship for the closing service.

Music leadership for the Conference will be provided by music coordinator Dean Sensenig of Ephrata, Pa., along with Conference Choir director Raechel Sittig-Esser of Waterloo, Iowa, and organist Loren Rhodes and pianist Donna Rhodes of Huntingdon, Pa. A children’s choir director is yet to be named.

In other Annual Conference news, the Program and Arrangements Committee has voted to increase by $10 the registration fee for delegates and non-delegates for the 2012 Conference. Districts are mailing the information to their congregations. For more about the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference go to www.brethren.org/ac.

Source: 9/21/2011 Newsline

Next Brethren webinar is on ‘Befriending a New Vision.’

"Befriending a New Vision" is the next in the Church of the Brethren’s webinar series. The online event is Sept. 27 from 3:30-5 p.m. eastern time (12:30-2 p.m. Pacific).

The webinar will feature "candid discussion about leading an established church through the process of renewing itself without dishonoring the past or the people who still find meaning in it," according to an announcement. Presenter is Roger Shenk, pastor of Bahia Vista Mennonite Church in Sarasota, Fla., a 60-year-old church that in 2009 began to take bold yet thoughtful steps in revitalizing its approach to ministry.

Ministers may receive 0.1 continuing education units for the live session, offered by the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. Connect at www.brethren.org/webcasts. For more information go to www.brethren.org/webcasts/befriending-a-new-vision.html or contact Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices, 717-335-3226 or sdueck@brethren.org.

Source: 9/21/2011 Newsline

Order Advent Devotional by Oct. 1 to receive discounted price.

The 2011 Advent Devotional from Brethren Press is now available at pre-production prices. The devotional on the theme "In the Beginning Was the Word," written by David W. Miller, offers a devotion, scripture reading, and prayer for each day of Advent.

The pocket sized paperback may be purchased before Oct. 1 for $2 each, or $5 for large print. On Oct. 1 the price goes up to $2.50 each, or $5.95 for large print. Shipping charges will be added to the invoice. Seasonal subscriptions to both the Advent and Lent devotionals from Brethren Press are also available at the discounted price.

The devotional is designed both for individual reading and for congregations to provide to their members as a spiritual resource for the season. Order by calling 800-441-3712.

Source: 9/21/2011 Newsline

Brethren representative attends UN conference in Bonn.

Church of the Brethren representative to the United Nations, Doris Abdullah, earlier this month attended a conference for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the topic "Sustainable Societies, Responsive Citizens: Commit-Encourage-Volunteer." She is chair of the UN NGOs’ Human Rights Sub-Committee for the Elimination of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, and is a board member of On Earth Peace. Following are her observations on the conference:

From Sept. 3-5 over 1,400 citizens from 70 different countries came together in Bonn, Germany, at the 64th United Nations DPI/NGO Conference. On Dec. 5, the UN General Assembly will consider a resolution declaring 2012 the Year of International Volunteers. The volunteer citizen will be at the heart of sustainable development from this day forward.

Brethren will not need a UN resolution to become volunteers, for volunteering remains a core value in Brethren commitments to love, peace, and justice. I felt a familiar comfort in the roundtable discussions on the "Role of Civil Societies in a Fast Changing World" and workshops such as the one on "Strengthening Social Cohesion through Voluntary Civil Engagement."

I gathered new information at workshops on "Sustainable Farming in El Salvador" and "Unknown Volunteers," which I deemed helpful to understanding gender, war, and poverty. Three shorts films produced by ATD Fourth World, set in Guatemala, France, and Rwanda, depicted the relationship of poverty and gender, and the correlation between war, peace, and development.

A big disappointment was that human rights were hardly mentioned, and there was a shortage of participation by the corporate world. A sustainable developed future will depend heavily on the responsive policies of industry acting in concert with governments, plus citizen volunteers.

This conference was the beginning of international discussion on building "Sustainable Societies, Responsive Citizens." The conversation will continue in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, where projections are for upwards of 50,000 people to attend.

I was struck by a moment during the opening ceremony in Bonn. A young girl of 13 put her hands over the mouth of the mayor and told him, "Stop talking. Start acting." Whether 1,400 or 50,000 people gather for a conference, it will not make a dime’s worth of difference if no actions are taken from these meetings to reduce poverty, empower women, stop racism and gender discrimination, find a solution to lessen dependency on carbon energy, stop the selling of weapons to the underdeveloped world, respect justice, and respect all life.

Some have said that volunteer is a term that means nothing to people in less developed countries. However, all societies value helping their neighbor, when the neighbor is in trouble and cannot do for themselves. For volunteering is an action taken by one person on the behalf of another, and is not just talk.

Source: 9/21/2011 Newsline

Brethren bits: Dunker service at Antietam, federal budget, NOAC, much more.

  • Stanley J. Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, spoke for Sunday’s packed worship service in the Dunker Church at Antietam National Battlefield. He is shown here speaking with attendees after the service (photo by Eddie Edmonds). The event was the 41st annual service in the old Brethren meetinghouse on the Civil War site. A report in the "Herald-Mail" newspaper reviewed Noffsinger’s remarks highlighting a new way of life through the peace found in Jesus Christ in a nation where large amounts of money are spent on war and weapons. Several ministers helped lead the service including Eddie Edmonds of Moler Avenue Church of the Brethren in Martinsburg, W.Va.; Tom Fralin of Sharpsburg (Md.) Church of the Brethren; Ed Poling of Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren; and Mid-Atlantic District executive Gene Hagenberger. Read the story at www.herald-mail.com/news/hm-dunker-church-service-reflects-on-past-present-20110918,0,4006749.story. Video is at www.herald-mail.com/videogallery/64850069/News/Dunker-Church-service.

  • "Few know that in the 2012 federal budget, development assistance has to compete with military spending," said Global Food Crisis Fund manager Howard Royer, highlighting an urgent request from partner organization Bread for the World. The organization is asking concerned citizens to contact their representatives in Congress to support fiscal year 2012 funding for poverty-focused development assistance. Bread president David Beckmann reported that "Congress passed a debt deal in August that enabled our country to avoid defaulting on its bills. Under the deal, development assistance that is focused on alleviating poverty--such as aid to small farmers so they can feed their families, and nutrition programs for mothers and children in poor countries--will now have to compete with military spending for federal dollars in the fiscal year 2012 budget. Poverty-focused development assistance could bear the brunt of the budget cuts under the new spending plan, set to start Oct. 1." More at www.bread.org/hunger/budget.

  • In an update on National Older Adult Conference, the total offering received for the denomination’s Core Ministries was $26,174.33. Full news coverage of NOAC is at www.brethren.org/news/conferences/NOAC-2011. To order videos of many of the NOAC sessions on DVD, along with the conference summary DVD that includes NOAC News segments, either call 800-323-8039 ext. 302 or e-mail NOAC2011@brethren.org to request an order form, or go to the link at www.brethren.org/news/conferences/NOAC-2011.

  • New on the "Hidden Gems" webpage of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives are photographs from Ernestine Emrick Hoff’s family album. Virginia Harness, archival intern, writes that "a few weeks ago, the BHLA received a rather unique donation: the personal family photo album of Ernestine Hoff Emrick, granddaughter of Emanuel B. Hoff.... E.B. Hoff, along with A.C. Wieand, founded the school that would become Bethany Theological Seminary in 1905. The photographs chronicle the family’s development over four generations." Go to www.brethren.org/bhla/hiddengems.html.

  • A new e-mail address has been announced for those interested in next year’s National Young Adult Conference, to take place at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville on June 18-22. The address is NYAC2012@brethren.org. More information is at www.brethren.org/yac.
  • Brethren Volunteer Service holds its Fall orientation Sept. 25-Oct. 14 at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. This will be the 295th unit of BVS and will consist of 30 volunteers--12 from Germany, 1 from Ireland, and the remaining 17 (8 of whom are Brethren) from around the US. The group will spend three weeks exploring project possibilities and topics of community building, peace, social justice, faith sharing, vocation, and more. They will have several work days in the community and in Washington, D.C. A potluck for friends and alumni of BVS is Oct. 3 at 6 p.m. at Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren. Please bring a dish to pass. Call 800-323-8039 ext. 425 for information.

  • Virlina District executive and former Annual Conference moderator David K. Shumate writes this quarter’s "Guide for Biblical Studies," the Brethren Press curriculum for adults. The guide offers a weekly study from Sept. 4 through Nov. 27. Texts on "Tradition and Wisdom" come from Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, and Matthew. Order for $4.25, or $7.35 for large print, plus shipping and handling. Call 800-441-3712 or go to www.brethrenpress.com.

  • The New Church Development Advisory Committee is accepting workshop proposals for the church planting conference next May in Richmond, Ind. Workshop selections will be made beginning Oct. 15. Go to https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B35HRveCPHmZN2Y4ZGE5MTMtMmRkZi00MDQ2LWIyMzgtNmNkYmI2OWYwZjgx&hl=en.

  • Wakeman’s Grove Church of the Brethren near Edinburg, Va., celebrates 110 years Sept. 25.

  • All 12 of the active churches in the Martinsburg (Pa.) Ministerium--including Brethren congregations--held a joint worship service to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Curryville Church of the Brethren pastor David Stiles is president of the ministerium and sent a link to a YouTube video promoting the service.


  • Upcoming district conferences include South/Central Indiana District Conference at Logansport (Ind.) Church of the Brethren on Sept. 24, and Oregon and Washington District Conference at Camp Koinonia in Cle Elum, Wash., on Sept. 23-25.

  • "US News & World Report" has ranked Manchester College fourth in the Midwest for Best Value, according to a release from the school. The college moved up from a ranking of eighth as a Best Value last year.

  • McPherson (Kan.) College is starting a mentoring program for freshman called "Serve 2 Succeed" which will help the community through service at the same time it gets freshmen active and involved, leading to better retention, said a release. A grant from Kansas Campus Compact, funded by AmeriCorps, is supporting the program. Serve 2 Succeed Corps will match students to a peer mentor to help them connect in academics, social life, and service learning.

  • Bruce Davis, recently retired executive director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, returns to Juniata College Oct. 3 for a week-long residency. The Juniata alum and former professor who taught at the college in 1968, will host showings of classic movies at the Clifton Theater in Huntingdon, Pa. Free tickets are at the Information Desk in Ellis Hall in the days prior to the movie. After each showing, Davis will preside over a question-and-answer session: "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m., Federico Fellini's "81/2" Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m.

  • The Global Women’s Project steering committee met in August, sharing stories and successes from project partners in Rwanda, Nepal, Sudan, Uganda, and Indiana. The committee joined in worship with York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill., and Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill. It welcomed newest member Emily Matteson, a sophomore at Scripps College in California, who joins Nan Erbaugh, Carrie Eikler, Kim Hill Smith, Emily Matteson, and Anna Lisa Gross on the steering committee.

  • The Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) held its annual meeting Sept. 10 at Shiloh Church of the Brethren near Kasson, W.Va., on the theme, "Identifying Our Loyalty in Turbulent Times." In other news from the BRF, the group’s Brethren Mission Fund along with the Brethren World Mission group is sponsoring a year of theological training for two church leaders in Spain. The two are leaders in a group that is requesting recognition from the Church of the Brethren. The $5,000 is being provided in cooperation with the denomination’s Global Mission Partnerships. The fund also is contributing $5,000 to a piece of land for the Cape Haitian Church of the Brethren, working with the Haitian National Committee of Brethren in Haiti.

  • Two short films have been released by the Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Interests: "On the Male Side of Middle" the story of Calvin Neufeld and his Canadian Mennonite family and his transition from Caitlin to Calvin, and "In-Between" the story of Carrie Fry-Miller, a Brethren woman whose license for ministry was rescinded when she came out as a lesbian to her district committee.




  • Three Church of the Brethren camps are holding festivals. On Sept. 24 Camp Blue Diamond holds its Heritage Fair-30th Anniversary, which also supports Middle Pennsylvania District. On Oct. 1, Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va., is having its 27th Brethren Heritage Day Festival, preceded by an "Apple Butter Overnight." The Camp Mack Festival at the camp in Milford, Ind., also is Oct. 1 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. with dedication of the John Kline Welcome Center at 3 p.m.

  • "Pressing on, No Turning Back" is the theme for the Progressive Brethren Gathering on Nov. 11-13 hosted by Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill. The gathering is sponsored by Womaen’s Caucus, Voices for an Open Spirit, and the Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Interests. Keynote speaker Sharon Welch is professor of Religion and Society at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, and author of five books including "Real Peace, Real Security: The Challenges of Global Citizenship" and "After Empire: The Art and Ethos of Enduring Peace." Registration is $100, with daily rates and reduced rates for students and children. Go to www.progessivebrethren.org.

  • Peggy Gish was the resource leader for the 5th Annual Family Peace Camp in Atlantic Southeast District. The event was at Camp Ithiel on Sept. 2-4, on the theme, "Dare to Act for Peace." Gish told stories from her experiences in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Israel with Christian Peacemaker Teams. The 53 participants--children, youth, and adults--represented four Church of the Brethren congregations plus Mennonites, Quakers, Roman Catholics, and a non-denominational group named "The New Way." The event is co-sponsored by the Action for Peace Team of the district and Camp Ithiel.

  • Christian Peacemaker Teams’ Peacemaker Congress XI is Oct. 13-16 in Chicago, Ill., celebrating the organization’s 25th anniversary. More information is at www.cpt.org.
Source: 9/21/2011 Newsline

Credits

Newsline is produced by the news services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at cobnews@brethren.org.Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Kim Ebersole, Carol Fike, Anna Lisa Gross, Jeri S. Kornegay, Phil Lersch, Berwyn Oltman, Adam Pracht, Jonathan Shively, Callie Surber, John Wall, Carol Wise, Ed Woolf, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Newsline Special: Update on church responses to disasters, hunger

NEWS UPDATES 

Brethren affected by flooding in Pennsylvania.

Brethren Disaster Ministries staff have been in communication with Brethren districts and churches in Pennsylvania, following the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee. The BDM office is urging individuals who are affected to apply for FEMA assistance in the Pennsylvania counties where they are eligible.

"We have been continuing to communicate and work with Southern Pennsylvania and Atlantic Northeast Districts," reported Zach Wolgemuth, associate director of Brethren Disaster Ministries. "A few churches are responding to local needs or are planning a response in the near future. In Atlantic Northeast, White Oak Church of the Brethren has already helped one of its members gut their home in Manheim, Pa., and in Pine Grove, Pa., the Schuylkill Church of the Brethren has assembled clean-up buckets for local use."

In Lebanon County, Annville Church of the Brethren put together a work day to help clean up flooding that happened in their church building (see following story). In York County, in Southern Pennsylvania District, the York Council of Churches put out a request for volunteers to help do clean-up work and York First Church of the Brethren is planning to respond to the request.

Congregations are requested to note that a number of counties in the area received a FEMA IA (Individual Assistance) Declaration, which means that individuals and families affected by flooding there may apply for assistance from FEMA.

Individuals in these counties who have sustained damage can apply for assistance through FEMA and should do so immediately, Brethren Disaster Ministries staff said. Volunteers helping with clean up can continue to do so, but before repairs are made to homes those persons living in the IA-declared counties should register with FEMA.

The FEMA IA (Individual Assistance) Declaration has been approved for the following counties: Adams, Bradford, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Luzerne, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Union, Wyoming, and York Counties.

Individuals applying for assistance should log on to www.fema.gov/assistance/index.shtm.

In related news:

Church World Service (CWS) is appealing for donations of 10,000 Emergency Clean-up Buckets for distribution to people affected by Hurricane Irene, from North Carolina to New England. In a recent press release, Bert Marshall, CWS regional director for New England, points out that many of the people in communities that now are receiving CWS relief supplies have been among the most generous donors of Emergency Clean-up Buckets and other supplies in the past. "Some of these buckets, people might even recognize coming back," said Marshall. CWS has been distributing supplies to people made homeless by flooding in places like Brattleboro, Vt., the release noted. Those wishing to help by donating Emergency Clean-up Buckets can find instructions and a list of bucket contents at www.churchworldservice.org/buckets.

The Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) has made a grant of $20,000 in response to a CWS appeal following the devastation caused by Hurricane Irene. The money will support the work of CWS in providing cleanup buckets, hygiene kits, baby kits, school kits, and blankets in communities affected by the disaster, and will support the work of CWS to assist communities in long-term recovery development.

An EDF grant of $5,000 supports the work of Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) volunteers serving in upstate New York following flooding caused by Hurricane Irene. Seven volunteers have been working in the Binghamton Shelter on the State University of New York campus, reports associate director Judy Bezon. "Word is that the shelter population will decline more slowly than usual, as one major low-cost housing area in an inner city neighborhood is almost destroyed, and a number of the residents are in the shelter," she said.

Staff of the church’s Material Resource program, which warehouses and ships disaster relief materials out of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., have been busy with shipments in response to Hurricane Irene. Cleanup buckets, hygiene kits, school kits, and baby kits went to Waterbury, Vt., Manchester, N.H., Ludlow, Vt., Brattleboro, Vt., Greenville, N.C.,

Hillside, N.J., and Baltimore, Md. A total of 3,150 cleanup buckets were included in these shipments. The available supply in New Windsor is less than 50 at this point, reported director Loretta Wolf in a staff newsletter today.

For more about the Church of the Brethren’s disaster relief programs go to www.brethren.org.

Source: 9/14/2011 Newsline Special

Church helps neighbors hit by flood.

By Kathy Hackleman of "The Lebanon (Pa.) Daily News"

Instead of holding a regular Sunday service, about 85 members of Annville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren gathered for a short worship service early Sunday, and then fanned out with mops, shop vacs, and sheer muscle to assist with flood cleanup.

Michael Shearer, who led the worship service in the absence of pastor Jim Beckwith, who has been out of town, noted that while Sunday, Sept. 11, was a day to remember the tragedy of 10 years ago, it was also a day to "pick up our buckets and get to work as many of our next-door neighbors have been affected by this latest tragedy."

On Saturday, church members took the pulse of the congregation and community to find out the areas where the need was the greatest. That's where the volunteers went.

"God is here, working through all who choose to put their faith into action," Shearer added, as he sent the volunteers out into the community.

The church itself suffered significant damage with about 12 inches of water in the basement, and volunteers had been working there since Thursday morning. As some of the volunteers stayed behind to finish cleaning up there, others went to the homes of church members who had flood damage. Still others went to areas where they knew the damage was significant and simply knocked on doors, asking, "Do you need help?"

Several members went to the home of church member Sara Longenecker, where three feet of water inundated her basement. Longenecker has lived in the large, two-story home for 48 years, but last week, the water damage was more severe than any previous storm, including Hurricane Agnes in 1972. Thanks to Longenecker's recommendation, her next-door neighbor, Ruth Boyer, also received assistance through the church.

Boyer, whose basement had never had water in it in the 24 years she has lived there, said water came up through the cement floor until it measured 30 inches deep. Although she found a contractor who pumped the water out and she has had some assistance from family, she had no one to carry her water-soaked furniture up and out until the men from the church arrived.

"I didn't know what I would do until they came," she said. "Their help has been wonderful."

Jen and Tony Betz also are members of the church. Their finished basement had four feet of water in it, destroying nearly everything in their family room, utility room, and two storage rooms. Most of the items were already out of the basement by the time church crews arrived, so they began dismantling soaked interior walls, and disinfecting toys.

Across town, church crews assisted Irene Gingrich, who once babysat for several church members or their children. Water filled Gingrich's finished basement, destroying furniture and appliances, and threatening a lifetime of memories.

Now 86 years old, Gingrich wanted to save as many things as possible, so the crews there boxed up her treasures. After cleaning out her garage, which also had flooded, they sat up tables where they carefully placed items they planned to clean in an effort to save them.

"You don't know how thankful I am," Gingrich exclaimed. "I never expected this many people, and I never thought they would try to save as many things as they are trying to do."

Although many of the recipients of the Annville Church of the Brethren work crews' assistance were members or somehow connected to members, Michael Schroeder simply was in the right place at the right time. On Sunday morning, he was working to clear out his finished basement, which had been filled with water during the height of the storm.

"They just showed up at my door and said 'Can we help' and I said, 'Yes, you may,'" Schroeder said. "The way the entire community has come together is just amazing. We have had neighborhood kids come by and ask how they can help, and some college kids came by on Friday."

Schroeder, who has lived in his house for only a year, called the level of community support "simply stunning."

As for the volunteers, many of whom had already spent three days dealing with their own flooding issues or assisting other friends and family members, why did they spend their "day of rest" assisting others?

Volunteer Terry Alwine succinctly summed it up, "That's what we do."

(Article reprinted with permission. It appeared in "The Lebanon Daily News" on Sept. 12. Find it and photos online at www.ldnews.com/lebanonnews/ci_18878165.)

Source: 9/14/2011 Newsline Special

Congregations encouraged to engage in anti-hunger action this fall.

The general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, Stan Noffsinger, has sent a letter to each congregation in the denomination encouraging each to engage in some new and specific hunger action during this harvest season. The new effort is sponsored by the church’s Global Food Crisis Fund and the advocacy and peace witness office in Washington, D.C.

"For people of faith, harvest season has been a foremost and festive occasion for celebrating the providence of God," said the letter, dated Sept. 8. "Through its mission and service ministries, the Church of the Brethren has long been a creative force in feeding the hungry.

"From now ’til Thanksgiving, the themes of harvest and hunger will resound on many fronts. During this season I encourage each Church of the Brethren congregation to engage in at least one new action that addresses the mounting hunger in our nation and world," the letter continued, in part.

The letter listed a number of options for action against hunger that a congregation may consider, such as a special offering on World Food Day on Sunday, Oct. 16, to the Global Food Crisis Fund designated for drought victims in the Horn of Africa; or speaking publicly on federal, state, and local budgets that impact the hungry, forming a "circle of protection" around the most vulnerable; or taking the Food Stamp Challenge of eating on just $4.50 a day, and applying the savings to causes that strengthen food security.

Find out more about the effort and link to resources at www.brethren.org/hunger.

Source: 9/14/2011 Newsline Special

Americans living in poverty reach record levels.

Data released yesterday by the US Census Bureau reveals that nearly 46.2 million Americans now live in poverty, an increase of 2.6 million people since 2009 and the highest figures on record. The poverty rate for children under 18 increased to 22 percent (over 16.4 million children) in 2010. Among children under 5, the poverty rate increased to 25.9 percent (over 5.4 million children).

"Low-income working families did not create the economic situation that our nation is in, but they tend to be the first hurt and the last to recover during a recession," said David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. "These new poverty figures indicate that many Americans are still suffering."

The census figures come on the heels of the Department of Agriculture’s annual food insecurity data released last week, which indicated that 14.5 percent of American households suffered from food insecurity in 2010. Several key factors contributed to the high figures. Long-term unemployment worsened between 2009 and 2010, with the number of people who did not work at all as the number one factor contributing to higher poverty numbers. In addition, real median household income declined in 2010, and state and local governments are tightening their belts as they work to recover from the recession, thereby slowing economic growth.

Accounting for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) would show 5.4 million fewer people--including 3 million children--living in poverty. The figures would have been much higher without federally funded safety net programs that helped keep more Americans from falling below the poverty line last year. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction--or "Super Committee"--met today to determine how to balance the federal budget and reduce the deficit. The congressional committee must identify $1.5 trillion in federal deficit reductions, and funding is at risk for many of these programs.

"Matthew 25 teaches that what we do unto the ‘least of these’ we do to God. We pray that the needs of hungry and poor people remain front and center as the Super Committee begins work on reducing our nation’s deficit," added Beckmann. "We must create a circle of protection around programs that support our neighbors in need--not cut those programs. We urge lawmakers to put every possibility on the table as they work toward balancing the budget."

Census Bureau data found that the poverty rate increased for non-Hispanic whites (9.9 percent in 2010, up from 9.4 percent in 2009), Hispanics (26.6 percent in 2010, up from 25.3 percent in 2009), and African-Americans (27.4 percent in 2010, up from 25.8 percent in 2009).

(This release was provided by Bread for the World, a collective Christian voice urging an end to hunger at home and abroad. The Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund partners with Bread for the World on hunger concerns.)

Source: 9/14/2011 Newsline Special

Disaster response bits and pieces.

  • The 35th Annual Brethren Disaster Relief Auction will be held at the Lebanon Valley Expo, 80 Rocherty Rd., Lebanon, Pa., on Sept. 23-24. It is a joint effort by the Church of the Brethren’s Southern Pennsylvania and Atlantic Northeast Districts to raise funds to respond to disasters both locally and overseas.
     
  • Virlina District hold its 2011 Disaster Response Volunteer Appreciation Dinner on Oct. 23 at Germantown Brick Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va. "From Sept. 2010-Aug. 2011, over 130 individuals have volunteered on disaster response work projects or child care services," the district newsletter said. The gathering begins at 5 p.m. with dinner, volunteer recognition, and a program given by Glenn Kinsel, a long time advocate of disaster response work. For a reservation call the District Resource Center at 540-362-1816 or 800-847-5462.
     
  • A meeting of the World Council of Churches in Ethiopia is exposing the executive committee of the worldwide ecumenical organization to the famine in the Horn of Africa, according to a release. The WCC Executive Committee opened its bi-annual meetings Monday in Addis Ababa with welcomes from local church leaders and detailed presentations on the crisis. A particular concern was the famine in Somalia, which is impacting the entire region including Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti. Reports were brought by Robert Hedley of Bread for the World, Yilikal Shiferaw of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Development and Inter-Church Aid Commission, and executive committee member Agnes Abuom from Kenya. The crisis has been caused by a combination of ongoing conflicts, drought, poor access to food, poverty, and climate change. Shiferaw said some 4.5 million people require assistance with emergency food and non-food needs of approximately $400 million necessary just for July through December. Another $3.2 million is required to cover other needs such as health, sanitation, water, education, and agriculture, he said. Abuom reported, "This is the worst famine in 60 years according to the UN." 
Source: 9/14/2011 Newsline Special

Credits

Newsline is produced by the news services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at cobnews@brethren.org. Contributors include Judy Bezon, Lesley Crosson, Nancy Miner, Howard Royer, Zach Wolgemuth, Jane Yount, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Newsline: September 9, 2011

NEWS

PERSONNEL

FEATURES

BRETHREN BITS

Church of the Brethren Ministries responds to Hurricane Irene

Children's Disaster Services responds to Hurricane Irene: Remnants of Lee force evacuations
Hurricane Irene pummeled the East Coast on Aug. 27 and 28 with high winds and up to 14 inches of rain, causing flash floods in mountain areas and major flooding along rivers and streams. Parts of New England and the eastern part of New York State were hit especially hard.

Children's Disaster Services (CDS) volunteers arrived on Tuesday, Sept. 6, to care for children affected by the hurricane at the request of the New York State Office of Emergency Management. The team of four CDS volunteers was working in a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) northwest of Albany, NY until remnants of Tropical Storm Lee caused additional flooding in already saturated areas.

On Wednesday afternoon, in compliance with an evacuation order the Children's Disaster Services team, along with residents and other relief workers, evacuated to higher ground. As of Thursday, Sept. 8, thousands of residents along the Susquehanna River in New York and Pennsylvania were being evacuated. The CDS team has redeployed to Binghamton, NY to serve in a Red Cross shelter that is housing 1,000 residents.

The flooding from the remnants of Lee is being compared to Hurricane Agnes, which inundated the Susquehanna region in 1972. CDS staff are putting more teams together to fulfill anticipated needs due to the storms.

Grants from Emergency Disaster Fund support Hurricane Irene relief

As it hugged the coastline, Hurricane Irene generated record rainfall in numerous locations already saturated from above normal rainfall this year. The result was devastating, as 16 states from Georgia to Maine experienced severe flooding. Irene left a path of destruction that is expected to rank as one of the top ten costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.

Two grants totaling $25,000 from the Church of the Brethren's Emergency Disaster Fund are supporting Hurricane Irene relief efforts. The first grant, in the amount of $5,000, makes possible the Children's Disaster Services response in New York, including replacement supplies for therapeutic play and volunteer travel, lodging and meals.

The second grant, for $20,000, was requested by Brethren Disaster Ministries staff in response to a Church World Service appeal following storm-related devastation along the U.S. Atlantic Coast. This Emergency Disaster Fund grant will assist the efforts of Church World Service in providing emergency clean-up buckets, hygiene kits, baby kits, school kits, and blankets in affected communities. The grant also will support CWS as they assist communities in long-term recovery development through seed grants and training.

Cleanup is only now beginning, and the true cost to communities, families and livelihoods has yet to be determined. Plans are underway for a sustained response to the long-term rebuilding needs in affected areas. As the needs become known, Brethren Disaster Ministries will consider how to assist the long-term recovery of storm survivors. Additional grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund will be requested as the response to this disaster expands.

Donations to Hurricane Irene Recovery can be mailed to Emergency Disaster Fund, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. Online donations can be made at www.brethren.org/EDF

Material Resources sends shipments to disaster sites
Material Resources staff at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. have been busy with shipments in response to Hurricane Irene on behalf of Church World Service. Cleanup buckets, hygiene kits, school kits and baby kits went to Waterbury, Vermont; Manchester, New Hampshire; Ludlow, Vermont; Brattleboro, Vermont; Greenville, North Carolina; Hillside, New Jersey, and Baltimore, Maryland. A total of 3,150 cleanup buckets were included in these shipments.

Emergency Clean-up Buckets needed
Church World Service reports that the response to Hurricane Irene will rapidly deplete CWS Kit supplies, especially the Emergency Clean-up Buckets. The available supply in the Distribution Center in New Windsor is less than 50 at this point. All efforts to replenish supplies for future emergencies are, as always, greatly appreciated. Information on how to assemble Emergency Clean-up Buckets is available at www.churchworldservice.org/kits_emergency

Source: 9/9/2011 Newsline

Youth and Young Adult steering committee announced

The Youth and Young Adult Office is proud to announce the 2011-2012 Young Adult Steering Committee. Members of the Young Adult Steering Committee help to plan each year's conference (YAC or NYAC depending on the year), as well as representing building up other parts of young adult programming. This group of 8 young adults will be working together to plan National Young Adult Conference 2012.
  • Mark Dowdy, Stone Church of the Brethren (Huntingdon, PA) 
  • Jennifer Quijano, First Church of the Brethren (Brooklyn, NY) 
  • Kelsey Murray, Lancaster Church of the Brethren (Lancaster, PA) 
  • Jonathan Bay, LaVerne Church of the Brethren (LaVerne, CA) 
  • Joshua Bashore-Steury, Little Swatara Church of the Brethren (Bethel, PA) 
  • Ashley Kern, Hempfield Church of the Brethren (Manheim, PA) 
  • Carol Fike, NYAC Coordinator, Freeport Church of the Brethren (Freeport, IL) 
  • Becky Ullom, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren (Elgin, IL)

National Young Adult Conference will be held June 18-22, 2012, at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Our theme for this conference is "Humble, yet Bold: Being the Church." Young adults age 18-35 please join us as we enjoy our time together being the church. Registration opens online, January 6th at www.brethren.org/yac. Mark your calendars now and plan to attend! Have questions? Please contact us at NYAC2012@brethren.org and check out our website at www.brethren.org/yac.

Source: 9/9/2011 Newsline

International Day of Prayer

As registration for International Day of Prayer for Peace reaches 100 congregations and community groups, On Earth Peace still is welcoming and supporting others to hold a public prayer event in their community on or around September 21, focusing on community or global violence. As of September 5, 2011, there is representation from 9 countries and 20 states in the 100 congregations and community groups registered with the campaign. If you are planning an event in your community, or would like more information about how to organize an IDPP public vigil, please register for free at www.onearthpeace.org/idpp.

Linda Williams of San Diego shares the following about the IDPP event, "Interrupting Violence with Prayers," which she is helping organize in her community: "We are working to get Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, and Church of the Brethren and other Christian leaders together for IDPP. It has taken on particular significance right now because a City Heights police officer was murdered recently, and the community is coming together in many efforts to support our police officers. This is the fifth police death in three years, and the third in three weeks. We are planning a walking prayer vigil to the site of the shooting as the second part of our IDPP event that evening."

Source: 9/9/2011 Newsline

Bridgewater College Summit to explore future of economy and education in U.S.

Troubling economic times and what they mean to Americans is the focus of a summit and public forum Sept. 20 in Cole Hall at Bridgewater College.

"An Uncertain Economy: What it Means for the Country, Colleges and You" begins at 7 p.m. and features noted educators and economists presenting their views on employment, inflation, taxes, the national debt, the future of higher education and more. The forum encourages audience participation in the form of questions.

"Living in a tough economy is making itself felt in every facet of Americans' lives," said George Cornelius, president of Bridgewater College. "If we are to thrive under these new economic conditions, it is essential we explore where we're headed and how best to meet the new challenges we face and seize the new opportunities presented."

Cornelius said the summit and public forum will delve into the country's economic future and, in particular, will address the impact of the economy on families and colleges and universities. Issues to be examined include the impact on family income and wealth; projected inflation rates; the impact of national, state and local governmental debt and unfunded future obligations; the impact of high household debt and lower home equity values; and access and affordability concerns surrounding higher education.

Cornelius said the summit also seeks to provide higher-education strategic planners with a reliable framework for moving forward in a time of economic uncertainty. The summit's panelists are David W. Breneman, the Newton and Rita Meyers Professor in Economics of Education at the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education; J. Alfred Broaddus Jr., a former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and current member of the Economic Advisory Panel of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Christine Chmura, president and chief economist for Chmura Economics & Analytics; and Dennis Gephardt, vice president of higher ed/not-for-profit ratings at Moody's Investors Service.

Source: 9/9/2011 Newsline

Retirements and resignations announced by Church of the Brethren

The Church of the Brethren is announcing retirements and resignations from employees who are accepting an offer of severance. These departures, effective Sept. 29, come in anticipation of expected layoffs at the end of September that are necessary because of a gap of $638,000 in the 2012 budget.

Mariana Barriga is retiring from her position as administrative assistant in the Youth and Young Adult Ministry office. She began her work with the Church of the Brethren in October 1990 as bilingual secretary in the Latin America/Caribbean office of the World Ministries Commission. Her tenure in that position included two years as program coordinator. Following the closure of that office, Barriga joined the Youth and Young Adult Ministry office. Her work among the Brethren has been characterized by a heart for young people, an ability to navigate cross-culturally, detailed organizational skills, a caring spirit, and an understanding of and commitment to the mission of the Church of the Brethren. She is looking forward to spending more time with her family and continuing her volunteer interests.

Ray Glick, coordinator of Donor Visitation and Planned Gifts, is retiring from 19 years of service to the Church of the Brethren. In September 1992, after a 30-year career as a public school teacher, he began as half-time Planned Giving officer and truck driver. Subsequently he has served as full-time Financial Resource counselor, Deferred Gift counselor, and coordinator of e-Community Development. Glick has traveled widely across the denomination to assist donors, supervise volunteer visitors, lead seminars, provide counsel in matters of financial stewardship, and secure deferred gifts from individuals, corporations, and foundations. The relationships he has nurtured have enabled many to continue the work of Jesus through the ministries of the Church of the Brethren.

Kathleen Campanella is retiring from her position as director of Partner and Public Relations at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. She began in 1993 as public information coordinator, responsible for media relations, event planning, and community outreach for ministries and organizations based at the Center. In 2005, her duties also included leadership for the New Windsor Conference Center management team during a time of staff turnover and change. In 2008 her work expanded to include developing new partnerships and program initiatives at the Brethren Service Center. Campanella has traveled to health care facilities in Haiti and Tanzania for IMA World Health, a partner organization on campus. She also represented the Church of the Brethren on the Heifer International board of directors for the past 10 years, serving on the executive committee and a CEO search committee.

Ruben Deoleo has resigned his position as director of Intercultural Ministries. He began in November 2007 as a member of the Congregational Life Team and director for Cross Cultural Ministries, and in 2009 shifted to full-time with Intercultural Ministries. Deoleo has supported the growth of new churches, worked with the Intercultural Advisory Committee to hold the denomination accountable to the 2007 Annual Conference statement "Becoming a Multi-Ethnic Church," planned the annual Intercultural Consultation and Celebration, provided training in cross-cultural competencies, served as a vital link among a growing number of multi-ethnic congregations, and worked with other staff to develop practices consistent with an intercultural community of faith. Deoleo will pursue completion of a master of divinity degree at Bethany Theological Seminary, as well as private employment and additional ministry opportunities.

Jeanne Davies has resigned her position as coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Workcamp Ministry. Since beginning in January 2008, she has overseen the planning and programming of up to 36 workcamps each summer involving hundreds of junior and senior high students, young adults, and intergenerational participants. Focusing on the intersection of spiritual formation and service, Davies ensured that these workcamps shaped young disciples of Jesus. Davies called, mentored, and managed a wide network of volunteers, including Brethren Volunteer Service workers based at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Her plans include completion of a master of divinity degree from Bethany Theological Seminary and a return to pastoral ministry.

Source: 9/9/2011 Newsline

Monica Rice to Join Bethany Advancement Department

Lowell Flory, executive director of institutional advancement and gift planning, has announced that Monica Rice will be joining the Advancement Department at Bethany Seminary. She will begin her duties as advancement administrative assistant and coordinator of congregational relations on September 1, 2011.

Rice is a 2011 graduate of Bethany Seminary, having earned a Master of Arts degree in Brethren studies. Prior to her time at Bethany, she served the Church of the Brethren Brethren Volunteer Service Office in recruitment and workcamp coordination. While a Bethany student, she filled the roles of teaching assistant for two Bethany classes and assistant in electronic communications.

Source: 9/9/2011 Newsline

BBT welcomes new Information Technology staff member

German Gongora has accepted the position of programmer analyst and technology support specialist for Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust. German will begin his duties on Sept. 19 and will report to Eric Thompson, director of operations for Information Technology. German brings over 20 years of technology experience to this new role at BBT. Most recently, he has worked as a consultant in Naperville, Ill. Additionally, German teaches Spanish at Berlitz in Chicago, and he has taught computer courses in Miami and Colombia. He speaks fluent English and Spanish and has knowledge in a number of computer technologies, including SQL, C#, C++, PHP, and ASP.NET. German holds a Master of Business Administration from Universidad del Rosario, Bogota, Colombia, and a Bachelor of Computer Science from Universidad Catolica de Colombia, Bogota. German and his family currently reside in Naperville, Ill.

Source: 9/9/2011 Newsline

ConocoPhillips commits to indigenous peoples' rights with support from BBT

August 31, 2011, Elgin, Ill. - Energy company ConocoPhillips recently announced that it revised its Human Rights Position to specifically address and honor the rights of indigenous peoples in areas where the company conducts its business. Stakeholders, led by Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust and Boston Common Asset Management, have worked closely with the company on this issue and applaud the company for this important public statement in support of the rights of indigenous peoples. ConocoPhillips' Human Rights Position now states that the company's approach to indigenous communities in locations where they are an important stakeholder group for the company's operations "is consistent with the principles of the International Labour Organization Convention 169, concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples."The multi-billion dollar oil company is one of the first energy companies to adopt such a commitment. "ConocoPhillips positions itself as a leader among its peers by publicly affirming the human rights of indigenous peoples," said Steve Mason, director of BBT's socially responsible investing initiatives.

"We, the stakeholders, have appreciated the opportunity to work with the company and to offer our perspective for the company's consideration. We also affirm the company's willingness to engage the stakeholders and to consider our perspective."

Dialog and meetings, not shareholder resolutions, prove to be beneficial to the outcome As a ConocoPhillips shareholder, BBT and the manager of those shares, Boston Common, have been working on this issue since 2003, when BBT was a shareholder of a company that ConocoPhillips later purchased in 2006. In 2007 and 2008, BBT was the lead filer of a shareholder resolution with ConocoPhillips for a group of more than a dozen shareholders that urged the company to include the rights of indigenous peoples in its human rights policy. BBT initially pursued another shareholder resolution in 2009, but that resolution was later withdrawn because of the company's willingness to engage in meaningful dialog with stakeholders, including BBT and other shareholders, Boston Common, and advocacy groups, such as Amazon Watch.

Since 2008, ConocoPhillips representatives have met many times with stakeholders, both in Houston and in New York as well as by conference call. Stakeholders have attended each of the company's annual shareholder meetings in Houston, keeping the issue in front of senior management and the board by offering comments and asking questions at each meeting. Steve Mason, representing BBT, spoke on this issue at the 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 meetings.

The statement supporting the rights of indigenous peoples, which was approved by Chairman Jim Mulva and the ConocoPhillips board, was facilitated by active and positive dialog between ConocoPhillips executives and representatives of interested stakeholders like BBT. This conversational approach to facilitating change is a major step in the direction of corporate transparency and shareholder dialog for ConocoPhillips.

"Boston Common sees ConocoPhillips as an industry leader by incorporating ILO 169 and the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into its corporate human rights policies," said Steven Heim, a managing director of Boston Common Asset Management. "BBT and Boston Common's deliberative and constructive engagement with ConocoPhillips has paid off. We encourage ConocoPhillips to fully and transparently implement a free, prior, and informed consent policy globally, like its pledge for indigenous communities in Peru. If the company both consults and integrates the views and aspirations of indigenous communities in development decisions, we believe - in the long term - it will help ConocoPhillips maintain its social license to operate and therefore gain access to new reserves."

U.N. statement on indigenous peoples demands "the right to full enjoyment" The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was adopted by the General Assembly in 2007, includes 46 articles of conduct that address matters such as land ownership (including the right to seek compensation for territories that were seized in the past), political representation, cultural preservation rights, and more.

Similarly, the Convention Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, which was adopted by the General Conference of the International Labour Organization in 1989, encourages the adoption of a litany of rights related to land, government protection, and self-expression.

BBT's socially responsible investing program includes active engagement with companies BBT is the financial services agency of the Church of the Brethren. It oversees the management of assets invested in Brethren Pension Plan and with Brethren Foundation. In addition to pursuing change through shareholder engagement, such as the work done with ConocoPhillips, BBT's SRI program also screens out companies that are in conflict with positions of the Church of the Brethren as presented in Annual Conference statements and offers a community-building investment option for its members.

Source: 9/9/2011 Newsline

Remembering and renewing the work for peace in Hiroshima

JoAnn and Larry Sims, volunteer directors of the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima, Japan, share their experiences. "Hiroshima, Japan makes the news each year on August 6th. It is the day the city remembers the many who lost their lives in an instant when the Atomic Bomb turned the city and those in it to ashes. The city also remembers those who die each year as a result of the radiation exposure during those days of ashes. The ceremony is two-fold. Remembering is first, and second, is the renewing of community efforts to work for peace and a nuclear weapon-free world. The second part of the ceremony is uplifting and inspiring with words of hope, peace doves that fill the sky, and the flame of hope and peace swelling in rhythm with a chorus of all ages. August 6th is a day to rededicate the world to the work of Peace."

Source: 9/9/2011 Newsline

Brethren Bits: Upcoming events, Milestones and More

  • In a report sent to Global Mission Partnerships by Markus Jauro Gamache, a staff member of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa (EYN-the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), describes violence that occurred on August 26, 2011 in Gombi, Nigeria. It was reported that a radical sect, Boko Haram, bombed a police station and raided banks, leaving 12 people dead including policemen and a soldier. EYN lost one person who was a member of the security staff working with UBA Bank. Three members of Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN) also died in the attack.

  • Juniata College names eight new members to Board Of Trustees. The Juniata College board of trustees has added eight new members to begin the 2011-2012 academic year. The new trustees appointed to begin service Sept. 1, 2011, through August 2014, are: Henry Siedzikowski, of Blue Bell, Pa.; Glenn O'Donnell (church trustee), of Royersford, Pa.; Carole Calhoun (alumni trustee), of Rehoboth Beach, Del.; Carol Ellis, of Vienna, Va.; Bruce Moyer, of Takoma Park, Md., Robert McMinn (church trustee), of Huntingdon, Pa.; Todd Kulp, of Houston, Tex. and Patrick Chang-Lo, of San Rafael, Calif.

  • Manchester College has surpassed its strategic enrollment goal, starting classes Wednesday with more than 1,300 students, up 27 percent since fall 2007. Once again, the independent college is setting records, with its largest enrollment in 40 years.

    The College is riding a three-year momentum of large incoming class sizes, as well as an increase in transfer students and retention of students into their sophomore year, said President Jo Young Switzer. Manchester will announce its official enrollment within two weeks.

    More than 40 students are enrolled in a growing two-year pre-pharmacy program that will prepare them for the College's School of Pharmacy doctoral program slated to open next fall in Fort Wayne. The strongest enrollments continue to be in education, accounting and business, the sciences, and athletic training.

  • Elizabethtown College's Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies will host a one-day conference Thursday, Sept. 22, focusing on the topic of forgiveness. Using the fifth anniversary of the Nickel Mines Amish schoolhouse shooting as a springboard for the event, scholars, authors and practitioners will offer insights into the process and power of forgiveness in daily life. The conference includes two major addresses and five seminar options as well as a free evening session open to non-attendees of the conference at 7:30 p.m.

    The conference will tackle questions such as "How do forgiveness, pardon and reconciliation differ?" and "How does forgiveness relate to justice?" Donald B. Kraybill, senior fellow at the Young Center, will give the opening address, "Forgiveness in the Face of Tragedy: Five-Year Lessons." The keynote address, presented by L. Gregory Jones, senior strategist and professor of theology at Duke Divinity School, follows. Other speakers and seminar leaders include Linda Crockett, Terri Roberts, Steven M. Nolt, Frank Stalfa, Maria Erling, and David Weaver-Zercher. Seminar topics include forgiveness in the face of sexual abuse and domestic violence and the Lutheran-Mennonite reconciliation in 2010. To register and for a conference brochure, visit www.etown.edu/forgiveness2011.

  • Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) will host this fall's annual meeting of Anabaptist Communicators in Harrisonburg, Va., Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28-29, 2011. The conference title is "Anabaptism in a Visual Age." The plenary speaker is Jerry Holsopple, PhD., visual and communication arts professor at EMU. A Friday evening conference banquet will feature Ted Swartz, well-known actor and comedian, on his book in progress Laughter is Sacred Space: The Not-so-typical Journey of a Mennonite Actor (expected release by Herald Press, spring, 2012). Conference breakout sessions will include input from Gravity Group, a Harrisonburg-based marketing consultant group, visits to MennoMedia headquarters and Crossroads Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center, and other options. Registration and more information are available at www.anabaptistcomm.org.

  • The Lake Side Church, a new church development project of the Virlina District, will hold a Ground Breaking Service on Sunday, September 11, at 5:00 p.m. They are beginning construction of the second phase of their building project. This will comprise a sanctuary seating approximately 100 persons and an addition to the parking to accommodate this increase. The congregation is located on Virginia Route 122 just north of the intersection with Virginia Route 24. Refreshments will be served following the service.

  • The 35th Annual Brethren Disaster Relief Auction will be held at the Lebanon Valley Expo, 80 Rochery Road, Lebanon, Pa., on September 23 & 24, 2011. It is a joint effort by the Southern Pennsylvania and Atlantic Northeast Districts of the Church of the Brethren to raise funds to respond to disasters both locally and around the world.

  • "Climate Change: What, Why, and What Now?" On Saturday, September 24, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, David Radcliff of New Community Project will be in the church fellowship hall of Central Church of the Brethren, 416 Church Avenue SW, Roanoke, Va., for a discussion of the causes and consequences of climate change. Included will be suggested actions that can be taken to protect God's earth, our neighbors, and future generations. The morning will feature the latest information on our changing climate; a discussion of how humans contribute to a warming world; photos and stories of the impact on Africa, Asia, the Arctic, and the Amazon; and practical examples of personal and community action.

  • Sat., Oct. 1 is the 27th Brethren Heritage Day Festival at Camp Bethel in Fincastle, Va. It is biggest day of the year! Please encourage everyone in your church to participate and attend this vitally important fund raiser for Camp Bethel. Heritage Day forms, fliers and information are available at www.campbethelvirginia.org/hday.htm, from your Pastor, Camp Rep, or at (540) 992-2940. Breakfast begins at 7:30am and booths open from 9:00am to 2:30pm. For what to expect, check the Heritage Day A-to-Z at www.campbethelvirginia.org/hday.htm. Apple Butter Overnight is Friday, September 30!

  • Bethel Church of the Brethren, located 9 miles north of Arriba, Colo., will celebrate their 100th Anniversary on October 2, 2011. Worship Service will begin at 9 a.m. Introductions, history review and sharing of pictures and stories will begin at 10 a.m. A Time Capsule Dedication will begin at 11:45 followed by a meal and fellowship.

  • Pulaski disaster response offering is underway. As of August 31, donations in the amount of $43,612.35 from 67 congregations and a number of individuals in Virlina, West Marva and Southeastern District have been received for the Pulaski Tornado relief effort.

  • Four district conferences take place on Oct. 7-8: Atlantic Northeast District Conference at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College; Atlantic Southeast District Conference at Winter Park (Fla.) Church of the Brethren; Idaho District Conference at Community Church of the Brethren in Twin Falls, Ida; and Mid-Atlantic District Conference at Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren.

  • Three district conferences are planned for the weekend of Oct. 14-15: Southern Ohio District Conference is at Eaton (Ohio) Church of the Brethren on Oct. 14-15; Middle Pennsylvania District Conference is at Carson Valley Church in Duncansville, Pa., on Oct. 14-15; and Western Pennsylvania District Conference is at Camp Harmony in Hooversville, Pa., on Oct. 15. This will be the 150th Middle Pennsylvania District Conference.

  • New Community Project announces 2012 Learning Tours. Encounter amazing people and places while exploring the challenges they face-join an NCP Learning Tour to Nepal (January 5-17-poverty and beauty in the shadow of the Himalaya); Harrisonburg, Va. (April 19-23-learn about organic gardening, greenhouse construction and more); Ecuadorian Amazon (June 13-22-explore the rainforest and the threats to it, guided by Siona leader Delio); Guatemala or Dominican Republic (determined by 12/11) (July 12-21-communities filled with gracious but impoverished people); Denali/Kenai Fjords, Alaska (August 2-9-Mt. McKinley, moose, and more in Denali; whales, glaciers at Kenai); Arctic Village, Alaska (August 9-17-Gwich'in native culture in sight of the Brooks Range; camp in Arctic National Wildlife Range). Leaders include David and Daniel Radcliff, Tom Benevento. For more information, contact ncp@newcommunityproject.org or visit the NCP website.

  • Frank Ramirez, pastor of the Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, and author of "Out of Context" in A Guide for Biblical Studies, has written a six-week faith formation resource including a family Christmas devotional and a celebration for the Season of Christmas. The series made available on CDRom, by Logos Productions Inc., consists of six 4-page devotionals, written under the title of "Wonder," and includes interactive devotions to help families build on the weekly Bible stories through at-home rituals and simple activities.

  • "Refugee Resettlement: Faith Communities Making A Difference," a CBS religion special about refugees who resettle in the United States, will be broadcast Sunday, September 25, on the CBS Television Network. Please check your local station for exact time.

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that in 2010 more than 43 million people were forcibly displaced by conflicts. Those fleeing persecution can apply to live elsewhere in the world, but must undergo an extensive screening process and prove they are living with a well-founded fear of persecution. Only one-half of one percent of those who apply will be resettled in a new country.

    "Refugee Resettlement" interviews volunteers from the interfaith co-sponsorship teams, as well as refugees from Eritrea and Somalia, who are adjusting with the help of their new friends, many of whom are now like family. "There's simply no solution in resettlement alone," Erol Kekic, Director of Immigration and Refugee Program for Church World Service, tells CBS. "Resettlement needs to be seen as a part of the solution, not the only solution, that we can offer the complex humanitarian emergencies such as the one in Somalia and the Horn of Africa at large."

  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is seeking staff for its two project sites in Palestine, one in the southern West Bank city of Hebron (Al-Khalil) and the other twenty-five kilometers (fifteen miles) further south in the village of At-Tuwani. For the past few months, these teams have experienced staff shortages.

    Tarek Abuata, CPT Palestine project support coordinator urges prospective CPTers, "People living in Middle Eastern countries are demanding peace and justice. New members of CPT's Palestine team can become part of that movement by joining a project that has for seventeen years supported Palestinian-led nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation, and helped to create a space for peace and justice to grow."

    Interested persons must first go on a CPT delegation and then attend a CPT training. Delegations link communities experiencing violence with concerned individuals and groups and offer participants a first-hand experience of CPT's on-the-ground experiment in active peacemaking. The next available delegation to Palestine/Israel takes place November 15-28 2011. For more information go to www.cpt.org.
Source: 9/9/2011 Newsline

Credits

Newsline is produced by the news services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at cobnews@brethren.org. Contributors include Carol Fike, Jane Yount, Sue Snyder, Kendra Flory, Jenny Williams, Wendy McFadden, Karin Krog, Brian Solem, John Wall. Lesley Crosson, and Loretta Wolf. This issue of Newsline is edited by Kathleen Campanella, director of partner and public relations at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.