Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Newsline: November 30, 2011


Committee announces decisions regarding 2012 Annual Conference.

Logo for the 2012 Annual Conference
The logo for the 2012 Annual Conference offers a new take on the Church of the Brethren "tagline" that has been chosen as the theme of the Conference: Continuing the Work of Jesus. Peacefully. Simply. Together. Logo design by Paul Stocksdale working with Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden
At a recent meeting, the Program and Arrangements Committee of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference made a number of decisions including approval of all applications for booth space in the exhibit hall at the 2012 Conference. Among applicants was the Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Interests (BMC).

Other decisions announced by Conference moderator Tim Harvey include a new set up for business sessions that will seat delegates at round tables, a "Continuing the Work of Jesus Wall" to stand in the business and worship hall, a service project to benefit the city of St. Louis, and the naming of Robert Neff as leader of an all-Conference Sunday school session prior to Sunday morning worship. Also, a new logo illustrating the theme, "Continuing the Work of Jesus. Peacefully. Simply. Together," has been unveiled (see image at right).

The Program and Arrangements Committee, which includes the three Annual Conference officers, three elected members, and the Conference director as an ex-officio member, made its decision to grant BMC booth space as part of an evaluation of the 30-plus applications from church-related groups requesting space in the exhibit hall, Harvey said in a telephone interview.

The decision on BMC's application “was based on the decision of the 2011 Annual Conference,” he said, referring to the 2011 delegate body's action that “reaffirmed the entire 1983 Statement on Human Sexuality from a Christian Perspective, and voted to continue deeper conversations concerning human sexuality outside of the query process.” Harvey specifically cited the delegates' reaffirmation of the entire 1983 paper, which includes instruction to the church to challenge fear, hatred, and harassment of homosexual persons, and decision to continue conversation in venues outside the query process that brings items of business to the Conference. “It is the belief of Program and Arrangements Committee that conversation and understanding of the ministries represented in the exhibit hall does take place and is affirmed as a value of the exhibit hall,” Harvey said.

Instruction for the Program and Arrangements Committee to make an evaluation of all the applications it received for exhibit space at the 2012 Conference came from the Standing Committee of district delegates, Harvey said. None of the applications were rejected, he said.

There has been lobbying in the church about the granting of a booth to BMC, Harvey acknowledged. "We received some correspondence both for and against," he said. He stated firmly, however, that none of that correspondence was discussed at the Program and Arrangements Committee meeting. "We were deliberately trying to get out of the political realm...which is why we went back to what the Annual Conference said."

He added that as moderator, he hopes to help the church figure out "a better way to talk with each other." The decision to seat delegates at round tables is another step in that direction. "I'm pretty excited about it," Harvey said. "It's an idea that has been around for awhile."

The concept dates back to a 2007 Conference item on "Doing Church Business" that was received by the delegates and referred to the Annual Conference Officers for implementation. Several recommendations in the document have found life over the years, Harvey noted. He hopes for some business items in 2012 to include time for small group discussion around the tables, including the reports from the Annual Conference-related agencies of the church. He also hopes delegates will sit with people they do not know, and the officers will create opportunities for delegates to find out about each other's congregations and what is going on in churches beyond their own areas. The round tables will "really build these community groups around the hall," he said.

Cost for the table set up is "budget neutral" he said. However, since extra cost would be incurred to change seating arrangements mid-Conference, the round tables also will be in place for worship services held in the same hall as business sessions. Due to space limitations, the tables will be provided only for delegate seating (during the business sessions), with non-delegates seated in rows of chairs. 

In the business and worship hall will be the new "Continuing the Work of Jesus Wall." The wall will be a bulletin board for participants to post affirmations in the following three categories: things they are thankful for in their own congregations, "shout outs" to Brethren ministries they are impressed with, and the names of people who should be called to ministry. Program and Arrangements Committee also hopes to set up some electronic means for people to submit affirmations and potential leadership.

The Sunday school session in advance of worship on July 12 will be led by Neff, an Old Testament scholar who is a former general secretary of the denomination, a frequent contributor to Brethren Press, and in recent years a popular speaker at National Older Adult Conference. Harvey said he hopes Neff will be able to take advantage of table groups to foster discussion and make the Bible study an interactive experience for the whole Conference.

Information about the witness to the city of St. Louis will be shared as it is available, Harvey said. The project will be in keeping with the 2008 Annual Conference query ‘Conference Witness to the Host City.” The 2012 Annual Conference takes place in St. Louis, Mo., on July 7-11 next year. For more about the Conference go to

Source:11/30/2011 Newsline

Enhancing, restructuring, and safeguarding its ministries was the focus of the BBT board’s fall meeting.

BBT fall board meeting
Photo by Patrice Nightingale
The Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) board of directors held its fall 2011 meeting in mid-November at the Village at Morrisons Cove, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Martinsburg, Pa.
New capabilities for Brethren Pension Plan members, a restructuring of Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) as an organization, and the creation of a reserve fund for Brethren Foundation Charitable Gift Annuities were three of the main outcomes from the BBT board’s fall face-to-face meeting, which was held Nov. 18-19 in Martinsburg, Pa.

Each of these items will be implemented as a result of the board approving staff’s proposed 2012 budget.

“The respective changes that are on their way will allow the Brethren Pension Plan to better serve its retirees and current plan members, as well as to be more competitive at bringing in new members,” said Nevin Dulabaum, BBT president. “The changes will also reduce BBT’s overall expenses as we seek to maintain our effectiveness while utilizing some new efficiencies, and will provide Brethren Foundation protection from future liabilities. While change is never easy, I am confident that these proposals will serve the organization well.”

Total expenses for 2012 are budgeted at $4.18 million, down $58,000 (1.4 percent) from the 2011 budget and down $11,565 from BBT’s end-of-September annualized expenses. While overall expenses will be at a similar range in 2012, the story is in how the expenses will be allocated. Brethren Pension Plan is going to assume additional expenses so that it can transition to an outsourced record keeper, which will provide a number of value-added services for members and administrators including enhanced online tools for each member’s personal account and asset allocation advice. This shift will keep the plan competitive and compliant in a challenging, regulated marketplace. Meanwhile, BBT’s Insurance Services department will adopt some new efficiencies and will be slightly downsized in operations.

With the slight downsizing in operations in insurance, and with the closing of the Church of the Brethren Credit Union this past June, BBT finds itself with administrative support expenses that can be reduced. Thus, five BBT positions will be eliminated effective Dec. 16. A sixth position previously announced--a chief operating officer--will not be filled. The equivalent of a seventh position is being eliminated from BBT consulting fees. In addition to these positions, staff members combed through all budget line items, rethinking how BBT performs its work as they attempted to balance effectiveness with efficiencies. This process also resulted in BBT freezing its 2011 wages for 2012.

“Our organizational needs are changing,” Dulabaum said. “It is our responsibility to redirect expenses to meet the demands of those we serve and to fulfill internal obligations such as compliance. We are working hard to strengthen our ministries while creatively seeking new efficiencies to help bolster our operations. As we live into our new structure, we will continue to look at ways to reduce costs.”

In addition to the budget reductions, the organization will also become more streamlined in 2012. The BBT management team as of Jan. 1, 2012, will be composed of four members, and each member will carry an additional responsibility. Dulabaum will oversee communications. Scott Douglas, BBT’s vice president and director of Brethren Pension Plan, will become the director of the newly formed Employee Benefits Department, supervising all pension and insurance operations. Steve Mason, director of Brethren Foundation, will continue directing BBT’s socially responsible investing initiatives. John McGough, chief financial officer and director of investments, will become BBT’s chief compliance officer.

The other business item with financial ramifications was the board’s creation of a Charitable Gift Annuity Loss Reserve Fund, which will help offset gift annuities that have greater liabilities than assets. Mason indicated that the fund is needed to protect BFI’s assets from “underwater” gift annuities. The board also approved three additional steps that will help govern the administration of the gift annuities BBT manages; donors and intended recipient agencies will be notified of the changes by BFI staff.

Other significant actions

The BBT board affirmed its Ethos Statement for another year, with the belief that the statement that was first approved in Nov. 2008 continues to serve the organization well. The board also produced an announcement that reaffirms the Ethos Statement (see news item below). The Ethos Statement is available at

The long-term strategy of Brethren Pension Plan’s Retirement Benefits Fund, the status on the search for a pension plan record keeper, and an update from the denomination’s vision committee were some of the reports received by the board.

In September, the board had heard departmental reports during a conference call. This call was designed to accommodate routine business items, which allows for more discussion about difficult issues when the group is convened in person. To this end, the board also decided not to meet at Annual Conference 2012, which would consist of a four-hour meeting following the conclusion of the conference. To conserve expenses and maximize meeting time, the board approved the concept of meeting for two days at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., over a weekend in August or early September.

The board also:
  • Approved an amendment to Brethren Pension Plan’s legal plan document, which clarifies when a person shall be entitled to receive an annuity benefit.
  • Retained Sterling Capital Management as its short-term investment manager for a three-year term.
  • Welcomed board members Harry Rhodes and John Waggoner as the Investment Committee’s chairman and recorder; Ann Quay Davis and Carol Ann Greenwood as the Budget and Audit Review Committee’s chairwoman and recorder; and Donna Forbes Steiner and Eunice Culp as the Governance Committee’s chairwoman and recorder.
  • Met with Brethren Pension Plan members and Brethren Foundation Clients at the Village at Morrisons Cove retirement community. BBT’s board members and several staff also met with Corey Jones, Bob Neff, and Linda Banaszak, senior staff members of the Village at Morrisons Cove.
  • Affirmed April 21-22 as the board’s next face-to-face meeting dates, in Elgin, Ill., with a conference call to be held in late March.
(This release was provided by BBT).

Source:11/30/2011 Newsline

BBT board offers Ethos Statement to Church of the Brethren community as a guide for interaction.

These are difficult times for the church. As an agency of the Annual Conference, Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust takes seriously its leadership role as it serves the church. We value and affirm the relationships that we have with individuals and entities we serve.

In November 2008, the BBT board approved an ethos statement designed to guide board members and staff in their interactions with others. In these uncertain times within the denomination and society, the BBT board reviewed and reaffirmed the statement on Nov. 19 during its fall meeting.

Christ calls us to respect and honor one another. To this end, BBT’s board and staff invite all Church of the Brethren members, congregations, and groups to consider the following statement to guide their interactions with others--
  1. Embracing the spirit of God in all that we do.
  2. Showing unconditional positive regard* for each other and for those we exist to serve.
  3. Equipping ourselves to fulfill our individual and collective responsibilities.
  4. Empowering one another.
  5. Exhibiting a commitment to serve.
  6. Being accountable, individually and corporately, with each other and with those we exist to serve.
  7. Operating in a transparent and collaborative manner. 
* Unconditional positive regard, a concept developed by Carl Rogers, is when one person is completely accepting of another, modeling an attitude that is demonstrated through behavior.

(This release was provided by BBT).

Source:11/30/2011 Newsline

Brethren funds jointly support relief for Horn of Africa famine. Kenya camp tents

Kenya camp tents
Paul Jeffrey, ACT Alliance
Refugees and workers for the ACT Alliance pitch tents in the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya. Tens of thousands of refugees have fled drought-stricken Somalia in recent weeks, swelling what was already the world's largest refugee settlement.
Two new grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) and the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) have been given to help hundreds of thousands of people affected by famine and drought in the Horn of Africa. The EDF grant of $40,000 and the GFCF grant of $25,000 follow up on two previous grants in the same amounts made in August.

The region most affected is southern Somalia, which has had the first true famine of the 21st century, caused by the worst drought to hit northeast Africa in 60 years. Areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, and Eritrea also have experienced severe drought. It is estimated that more than 13 million people are affected.

Not all countries in drought have experienced famine. Famine is defined by several measures of the severity of lack of food, such as more than 3 in 10 children are acutely malnourished, more than 2 of every 10,000 people die in a day, 1 in 5 people are unable to access basic foods. On July 20 the United Nations declared Somalia to be suffering famine. Since then, famine conditions spread into six areas of southern Somalia.

In news shared recently by Ecumenical News International, the movement of migrants has greatly lessened to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, just across the border from Somalia. The change is credited to rainfall, along with increased humanitarian aid, “and military operations inside Somalia.” However, Dadaab continues as the world's biggest refugee complex incorporating outlying border camps that have drawn Somali refugees, particularly women and children. The Dadaab population now exceeds a half million people.

A coordinator of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) relief effort--which is among ecumenical partners receiving Brethren funding--spoke to ENI days after the UN reported that famine had receded in three areas of Somalia previously described as the worst affected. However, ENI also reported that on Nov. 28 the Al-shabab radical Islamic group banned 16 aid agencies, including some with a Christian focus, from areas it controls in southern Somalia. Banning humanitarian agencies from southern Somalia will worsen the situation for 160,000 severely malnourished children and thousands of people recovering from famine, relief agency officials told ENI.

The EDF and GFCF grants jointly support the work of Church World Service (CWS), the ACT Alliance, and partner organizations such as LWF, which are providing life-saving food, water, and support for hundreds of thousands of people. CWS and partners are working in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia to provide immediate relief, and working toward longer-term food security and nutrition and water initiatives in areas of Kenya in particular. In Dadaab, shipments of food, cooking pots, and hygiene supplies have been provided.

With these two most recent grants, the Church of the Brethren has given more than 10 percent of CWS’s total appeal for $1.2 million for the Horn of Africa crisis. A pre-Thanksgiving e-mail letter from Brethren Disaster Ministries director Roy Winter and GFCF manager Howard Royer called Church of the Brethren congregations to join in the response. “A crisis this big should be on the front pages of our newspapers,” the letter said. “We must not ignore it!”

For more about the Brethren response and an opportunity to give online, go to Gifts to the EDF and GFCF may be sent by mail to Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. A bulletin insert is at A sample letter to lawmakers is at An illustrated “Prayer for All Who Are Suffering in East Africa” composed by Glenn Kinsel is at

Source:11/30/2011 Newsline

BBT announces personnel changes and restructuring.

Five Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) colleagues will end their responsibilities with the organization effective Dec. 16 due to budgetary and economic factors.

Cindy Benthusen, general office services representative, began her employment on April 17, 2000. She has been the first point of contact for many BBT members and clients, serving as receptionist. She also has provided support to the president’s office, led mailing projects, provided ancillary services to each BBT department, and kept the office supplies stocked. She and her son live in Elgin, Ill.

Cindy Bravos began serving in BBT’s Communications department on May 3, 2007, when she was hired as the Congregational Contact Network coordinator. More recently, she has served as the organization’s marketing coordinator. Her work focused on promoting BBT’s ministries in the denomination and at Brethren-affiliated organizations. She also produced the annual Memorial Tribute video for the past three years. She lives with her family in St. Charles, Ill.

Willie Hisey Pierson began serving BBT as the director of Insurance Services on Sept. 21, 2010, and has helped increase the number of client groups serviced by that ministry. He brought a plethora of insurance knowledge to BBT after gaining more than 16 years of experience working in the industry. He and his family live in Plainfield, Ill.

Lauryn Klotzbach has served as production coordinator since June 1, 2004. She has been key in developing the look of BBT’s marketing materials and publications. She also served as the lead administrator of the organization’s customer relations management system. Prior to her BBT tenure, she worked for Church of the Brethren General Board for four years. She and her husband live in Elgin, Ill.

Diana Seymour joined the insurance team on Jan. 4, 2010, to help grow that ministry’s medical and ancillary business. She spent 24 years in the insurance industry before working at BBT, including positions with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida and The Plexus Groupe. She and her husband live in Bartlett, Ill.

These staff will complete their duties in mid-December, but will receive salary and benefits through March 31, 2012. They also will receive consulting services to assist them in finding employment.

Please hold these people in prayer as they search for new employment. To honor the service of these staff members, BBT has scheduled a farewell gathering on Dec. 15 when the General Offices community will have an opportunity to say goodbye.

Additionally, in the restructuring process, Randy Yoder will end his employment with BBT on
Dec. 31, 2011, but maintain a role with BBT as an individual contractor selling Long-Term Care insurance. Patrice Nightingale will shift to the manager of production position effective Jan. 1, 2012, to reflect the changing level of demand on BBT’s Communications department. Also, on Jan. 1, Scott Douglas will become the director of Employee Benefits and provide leadership for insurance services in addition to continuing to provide oversight for the Pension Plan.

Effective Jan. 1, 2012, BBT will restructure according to the following chart:

Nevin Dulabaum, President
Donna March, Director of Office Operations
Diane Parrott, Administrative Office Assistant
Eric Thompson, Director of Operations for Information Technology
German Gongora, Programmer Analyst & Technology Support Specialist
Patrice Nightingale, Manager of Production
Loyce Swartz Borgmann, Manager of Client Relations
Brian Solem, Coordinator of Publications
John McGough, Chief Financial Officer
Sandy Schild, Director of Financial Operations
Ovidiu Catanescu, Accounting Manager
Veronica Aragon, Systems Specialist
Employee Benefits (includes Pension and Insurance):
Scott Douglas, Director of Employee Benefits
John Carroll, Manager of Pension Operation
Lori Domich, Member Services Representative, Pension
Jill Olson, Member Services Representative, Pension
Tammy Chudy, Manager of Insurance Operations
Connie Sandman, Member Services Representative, Insurance
Steve Mason, Director of Brethren Foundation
Steve Lipinski, Manager of Operations
-- Donna March is director of Office Operations for Brethren Benefit Trust.

Source:11/30/2011 Newsline

Brethren Academy announces upcoming courses.

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership has announced courses for 2012. Courses are open to Training in Ministry (TRIM) students, pastors seeking continuing education units, and all interested persons. Registration brochures are available at or call 800-287-8822 ext. 1824. For a Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center course contact or 717-361-1450.
  • "The Historic Peace Churches Seeking Cultures of Peace" on Jan. 9-13 at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., taught by Scott Holland (register by Dec. 9).
  • "The Spiritual Life of the Congregation," an online course with Rhonda Pittman Gingrich from Jan. 30-March 23 (register by Jan. 2).
  • "Matthew and the Brethren" online with Susan Jeffers from Feb. 12-March 23 (offered through the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center, register by Jan. 30).
  • "Seeing Things Through John's Eyes: A Study of Revelation" taught by Richard Gardner on April 26-29 at McPherson (Kan.) College (register by March 25).
  • "The Protestant National Church in Germany Today," a study trip to Marburg, Germany, led by Kendall Rogers on May 18-June 3 (call the Brethren Academy to receive details as they emerge; estimated cost $2,000 from departure airport, not including registration; register by Dec. 1).
  • Academy level course in conjunction with the Church Planters' Conference, "Plant Generously, Reap Bountifully" held May 17-19 at Bethany Seminary in Richmond, Ind. The instructor will be David K. Shumate; exact class dates TBD.
  • "Defining Set-Apart Ministry within the Bivocational Reality" online with Sandra Jenkins from June 6-Aug. 14 (register by May 4).
Source:11/30/2011 Newsline

Young adults will meet on theme, ‘Humble Yet Bold: Being the Church.’

NYAC 2012 logoYoung adults between the ages of 18-35 are invited to National Young Adult Conference (NYAC) in Knoxville, Tenn., on June 18-22, 2012. The conference sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry will be held at the University of Tennessee campus on the theme, "Humble, Yet Bold: Being the Church," from Matthew 5:13-18, "Being Salt for the Earth" and "A Light for the World."

“The Young Adult Steering Committee is hoping this event will be a chance for young adults to gather and create a loving community,” said an invitation. “Young adults will gather together and have engaging conversations about our role in the denomination with one another, our various speakers, and others that will join us in Knoxville.”

Online registration begins Jan. 6, 2012, at 8 p.m. (central time) at Cost is $375, which includes housing, programing, and meals. A $100 nonrefundable deposit is due within two weeks of registering. The steering committee encourages congregations to put NYAC scholarships in their 2012 budgets to help young adults be able to attend. Also, NYAC gift certificates may be purchased by friends and family members for their favorite young adults.

Young adults are invited to show their support for the event by joining the Facebook group called "Young Adults of the Church of the Brethren." For more information go to or contact NYAC coordinator Carol Fike at 800-323-8039 ext. 281 or

Source:11/30/2011 Newsline

Bethany Seminary invites youth to explore their call.

High school youth are invited to attend Exploring Your Call (EYC) at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., this summer, June 15-25, 2012. This event provides the opportunity for young people entering their junior or senior year of high school in fall 2012 to explore faith and vocation through classes, congregational involvement, service projects, personal and spiritual enrichment, and recreation.

Russell Haitch, associate professor of Christian education and director of the Institute for Youth and Young Adults at Bethany, oversees EYC. “It’s an intense but beautiful program. Last year, youth studied theology in the classroom, then shadowed pastors and did real-life ministry, then took a trip to Chicago to live in an intentional community and learn about all sorts of non-pastoral vocations. The level of conversation and quality of friendship that developed was really splendid, and I’m excited that equally good things will happen this year.”

Through continued generous funding from Barnabas Ltd., participants can attend EYC at no cost except for travel to and from Richmond, Ind. Located in New South Wales, Australia, this family foundation was begun by the parents of current Bethany trustee Jerry Davis and focuses primarily on projects that help prepare people for ministry. “Although the program is free,” says Haitch, “it could cost you a whole change of direction in life.”

First held from 2001-2005, EYC was revived in summer 2011 with an “intellectually alert, emotionally alive, and spiritually courageous” group of youth, according to Haitch. “Unprompted by us, they started sharing about transformational experiences of God in their lives--and every day it kept getting better.” Participant Stephen Dowdy from Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntington, Pa., said, “EYC helped me to better understand how my actions are a part of my ministry. I came to realize that my church life and my ‘normal’ life should not be separate parts, but a whole experience with a concentration in community.”

Participants have also shared that EYC sparked their interest in doing advanced biblical and theological work in a seminary environment, gave them a lively introduction to the work of pastoral ministry, and enabled them to meet peers who were serious about their Christian faith. Many continue to stay in contact with each other. Former participant Dylan Haro is now a middler student at Bethany and served as a student organizer and leader for EYC 2011. “It was during my participation in Exploring Your Call that I first considered ministry as my vocation. I am excited for high school students today who have the same opportunity to experience this unique and enriching program.... It is programs and people like these that ignite my hope for the future of the church.”

More information and an online application for Exploring Your Call can be found at or contact or 800-287-8822.

-- Jenny Williams is director of communications and alumni/ae relations at Bethany Seminary.

Source:11/30/2011 Newsline

Brethren bits: Correction, remembrance, personnel, Christmas events, much more.

  • Corrections: Two links in the Nov. 16 Newsline were incorrect. The correct link to more information about Church of the Brethren workcamps is The website for the Feast of Love movement is
  • Remembrance: Former district executive S. Earl Mitchell (101) passed away Nov. 29 at his home in Slidell, La., according to a prayer concern from Virlina District. He was born in Boones Mill, Va., on Jan. 30, 1910, the son of Martha and Zion Mitchell. He was the beloved husband of the late Vera Woodie Mitchell. He graduated from Bridgewater (Va.) College, and Bethany Theological Seminary, and was awarded a doctor of Divinity degree by Bridgewater in 1958. He served a number of congregations in Virginia, Maryland, and Illinois as pastor following ordination in 1927 and advancement to the eldership in 1933 by the Middle Maryland District. He was a district executive for a predecessor of Mid-Atlantic District (1948-51) and director of Church Relations at Bridgewater College during the 1980s. In 1996 the Mitchells moved to Slidell and became associate members of First United Methodist Church. He is survived by two children, Karen Allen of Slidell and David Mitchell (Alice) of New Port, Ore.; four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. Relatives and friends of the family are invited to visitation at Honaker Funeral Home in Slidell on Dec. 1 from 6-8 p.m. Funeral service will be at First United Methodist Church in Slidell on Dec. 2 at 11 a.m. Interment will be at Antioch Church of the Brethren at a later date. Please visit for a guest book.
Rachel Buller
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Rachel Buller is heading to Japan to serve as a longterm volunteer at a brand new project for Brethren Volunteer Service: ARI, or the Asian Rural Institute in the area of Tochigi-ken.
  • Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker Rachel Buller leaves today for placement at the Asian Rural Institute in the area of Tochigi-ken. The institute, known as ARI, is a new project site for BVS. It developed connections with the Church of the Brethren through the Global Food Crisis Fund, and following the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan ARI also received funding from the church’s Emergency Disaster Fund. Buller will work on an organic farm helping with gardening, caring for livestock, cooking, office work, and hosting short-term volunteer groups. She grew up at Koinonia, an intentional Christian community and farm in Americus, Ga., also known as Jubilee Partners. While awaiting her visa to Japan she has been serving at the Meeting Ground in Elkton, Md.
  • Manchester College is seeking a new dean for its School of Pharmacy. Philip J. Medon, vice president and founding dean of the new school, has resigned for health reasons. During the search for a replacement, college executive vice president Dave McFadden will serve as interim dean working closely with three associate deans. “We are grateful that Dean Medon has led the School of Pharmacy through several significant stages in its growth since his arrival in 2010,” said Manchester president Jo Young Switzer. “He has hired an exceptional team of faculty and administrators and the accreditation agency has expressed confidence with the leadership transition plan we have put in place.” The school already has 23 faculty members for its four-year professional doctoral program. The pharmacy leadership also already has secured hundreds of experiential opportunities for the pharmacy students in northeast Indiana. Classes will begin in Aug. 2012 for about 70 students in a $20 million state-of-the-art learning and research facility under construction on the north side of Fort Wayne, near Interstate 69 and Dupont Road. By the fourth year of the Pharm.D. program, enrollment is expected to exceed 260 students. The full news release is at
  • On Earth Peace has announced a job opening for a peace retreat coordinator who will serve through Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS). The peace retreat coordinator works closely with the program coordinator for Peace Education to develop, resource, and facilitate peace retreats for youth as well as work with the Step Up! network and other peace education initiatives. For a full job description, contact Marie Benner-Rhoades at
  • Congregational Life Ministries is offering prayers and questions in connection with this year's Advent devotional from Brethren Press. “Join us as we look and listen for the coming of the Word through the reading of scripture, David's reflections, times of prayer, and conversations on this blog,” said an invitation from Joshua Brockway, director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship. Find the blog site at . Order the devotional written by David W. Miller for $2.50 plus shipping and handling at or call 800-441-3712.
  • Registration for the 2012 Christian Citizenship Seminar opens at on Thursday, Dec. 1, at 6 p.m. (central time). The Christian Citizenship Seminar is an opportunity for youth and their advisors to travel to Washington, D.C., and New York City and explore the theme “Stepping Out: Our Relationship with Carbon.” The cost for the week will be $375, which includes some meals, lodging, and transportation from one city to the other. For more information check out Contact Carol Fike or Becky Ullom at 800-323-8039 ext. 281 or 297, or
  • The Church of the Brethren’s Intercultural Consultation and Celebration scheduled for April 19-22, 2012, in Santa Ana, Calif., has been postponed until a future time to be determined. “The decision to postpone is due to the current staff vacancy for director of Intercultural Ministries and ongoing strategic planning,” said an announcement from Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries. “We remain committed to developing intercultural competence and relationships throughout the Church of the Brethren, but simply do not have the resources and readiness to follow through with this event as originally scheduled. Further information will be posted as it becomes available.” Questions? Contact Shively at 800-323-8039 ext. 282 or
  • This week’s Action Alert from the church’s witness and advocacy office calls attention to the United Nations climate change conference that started Monday in Durban, S. Africa, and continues through Dec. 9. Citing the 2011 Annual Conference acceptance of a query regarding the earth’s climate, the alert asks Brethren to help encourage the US to take a prominent role on climate change. It also encourages participation in a “Do It in Durban” ecumenical Christian campaign on climate change led by the National Council of Churches Eco-justice program. The Durban meeting is an attempt to advance toward a global agreement cutting carbon emissions, with expiration of the Kyoto protocol expected at the end of 2012. Find the Action Alert at
A Brethren medical clinic held in Haiti
Photo by Dr. Emerson Pierre
A Brethren-sponsored medical clinic was held in Haiti earlier this month, hosted by Laferriere congregation of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Haitian Church of the Brethren) near Mirebalais. The initiative for medical clinics in Haiti came out of a medical delegation of Brethren who helped out shortly following the earthquake in 2010.
  • An initiative for Brethren-sponsored medical clinics in Haiti has held its first clinic, serving some 150 people and hosted by the Laferriere Haitian Brethren congregation near Mirebalais. The initiative is spearheaded by physicians and others who took part in a medical delegation to Haiti in March 2010, shortly after a massive earthquake ravaged the nation. The group hopes to set up an endowment fund of $100,000 for the effort. A grant of $6,000 in initial funding has been given by the denomination’s Global Mission and Service program. For photos from the clinic, plus photos of the new Canaan church in Haiti, go to
  • Church of the Brethren United Nations representative Doris Abdullah is inviting church members to join her at a forum for non-governmental organizations on the status of women, from Feb. 26-March 9, 2012, in New York City. The forum kicks off with a Consultation Day on Feb. 26 at the Salvation Army Headquarters (120 West 14th Street) and continues with a reception and other events. For more information go to
  • On Nov. 18-20, Miami (Fla.) First Church of the Brethren held its fifth annual Brethren Press booth at the Miami International Book Fair.
  • Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village retirement community near Boonsboro, Md., is planning its second annual Holiday Festival, from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11. Guests will be able to tour the main building and Village, sample refreshments, hear holiday music in the Dining Room, take a horse-drawn-sleigh ride, and meet staff and residents. Santa will be on hand for photos in the Parlor. A slide show of events during the year at Fahrney-Keedy will be on display. A copy of the 2011 Fahrney-Keedy cookbook, “Golden Goodies, Then and Now” will be a complimentary gift to all attending the event. RSVP by calling 301-671-5016.
  • Bridgewater (Va.) College Equestrian Club will host the 10th annual “Horses’ Christmas” at the college’s Equestrian Center in Weyers Cave, Va., on Dec. 10 at 1 p.m. This year’s theme is “A Fairy Tale Christmas.” All elementary and pre-school students in the community and their families are invited to the presentation, which will feature horses dressed in seasonal garb and skits that are focused on fairy tales. Santa and Mrs. Claus will make an appearance on horseback. Jerry Schurink, coach of the Bridgewater riding team, will narrate. Awards will be presented to the best costumed entries. Kids will be allowed to reward horses with a tasty treat following the competition. In lieu of an admission charge, the club requests donations of canned goods for a local charity. For more information call Beth R. Boteler at 540-223-2437.
  • Pleasant Hill Village, the Brethren retirement community in Girard, Ill., is offering a “Church of the Brethren Illinois/Wisconsin District Historic Sites Jigsaw Puzzle” as a gift option for the holidays. “Puzzles make perfect gifts for all occasions!” said an announcement. $25 includes shipping to family and friends, with a note card included carrying a personal message. Sales benefit Pleasant Hill Village. Call 217-627-2181 and order from chaplain Terry Link.
  • The latest "Brethren Voices" community television program from Portland Peace Church of the Brethren deals with the subject of slavery in the 21st century. “We were able to get permission from a journalist in Denmark to use his documentary, ‘The Dark Side of Chocolate,’” reports producer Ed Groff. “We're asking viewers to contact the CEO of Hershey chocolate to change the ways they do business. Most of their cocoa comes from the Ivory Coast where the documentary was filmed.” The Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in 2008 passed a resolution against modern-day slavery. “The Dark Side of Chocolate” directed by Miki Mistrati shows young children still being illegally trafficked and sold to cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast, producing cocoa used by Nestle, Hershey’s, and other large chocolate producers. In 2001, these large chocolate producers signed the Cocoa Protocol promising to work for the eradication of child labor by 2008. Contact Groff for a copy of the program, at
  • Tom Hurst, director of service programs at McPherson (Kan.) College, has been recognized as the 2011 Kansas Community Engagement Professional of the Year. The award cites his initiative to greatly increase participation by students and faculty and staff in service work since 2007.
Source:11/30/2011 Newsline


Newsline is produced by the news services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jordan Blevins, Jeff Boshart, Josh Brockway, Carol Fike, Mary Kay Heatwole, Julie Hostetter, Jeri S. Kornegay, Michael Leiter, Matthew E. McKimmy, Glen Sargent, Callie Surber, Becky Ullom, Jane Yount, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Newsline: November 16, 2011


Northeast Nigeria again experiences violence, EYN church burned.

Nigeria MapNortheast Nigeria has again suffered terrorist-type violence since Friday, Nov. 4, when attacks blamed on the Boko Haram sect began targeting government facilities like police stations and a military base, along with shops, churches, and mosques. As of last week, the Red Cross has said at least 100 people have been killed.

“Pray for peace and safety in Nigeria,” said a note of condolence from Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service office. “Our condolences to the family of Jinatu Libra Wamdeo, general secretary of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, whose wife’s brother was killed at a road block on his way home from work in Sokoto State.” At least one church of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has been burned.

US Brethren currently serving in Nigeria are Carol Smith and Nathan and Jennifer Hosler. In addition, videographer David Sollenberger was in Nigeria documenting peace activities when the new wave of violence broke out.

Boko Haram, a Muslim militant group, has the goal to establish a state based on Sharia or Islamic law in northern Nigeria, according to a CNN report, which added that the US embassy issued a warning to Americans living in Nigeria that more Boko Haram attacks might be imminent during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. The holiday is called Sallah in Nigeria and this year was held Nov. 6-9.

Following are excerpts from an e-mail report by Jauro Markus Gamache, EYN administrator for partner relations, who accompanied Sollenberger as he traveled to film in places in central and northeast Nigeria affected by previous episodes of violence:

“Dear brothers and sisters, many greetings from Nigeria.

“The Church of the Brethren in America sent a camera man to interview people about peace among the two faiths in Nigeria and also film places that were destroyed.... His visit and documentation will be a very good resource for the church and our society.

“Prior to Sallah celebration many places were attacked by the Muslim sect Boko Haram and some killings and destruction again in towns like Kwaya Kusar in Borno State, Damaturu in Yobe State, Maiduguri the capital of Borno State.

“For those who have been to Nigeria, Kwaya Kusar is on the way to Biu while coming from Jos. It is just on the main road. On Thursday the 3rd of November we were there to interview the pastor and to film the destroyed EYN properties by the sect in April. That same night after we left the town was attacked again by the sect and burnt police station completely. There was no report of life or churches destroyed in this recent attack.

“Damaturu, the state capital of Yobe State, was also attacked on Friday evening. About 15 people lost their lives and some churches burned down including an EYN church in that town (which has) been destroyed. The pastor of the church and his family including some of his members were away for his daughters' wedding in Nogshe when the violence took place. Damaturu is the big city before you reach Maiduguri when driving from Jos.

“(In) Potiskum there was an attack on churches and community but I am yet to get any full information from there.

“In Maiduguri, the main city where Boko Haram originated, (there were) several explosions at different places but there was no report of life (lost) or burning properties at the time I am writing this mail.
“Jos was very tense but to God be the glory nothing happened with the help of enough security and restricted movement for both Muslims and Christians in some areas to avoid clashes.

“We have not heard of any EYN member being killed but the wife of EYN General Secretary (Mrs. Jinatu Libra Wamdeo) lost her blood brother who was coming home from his place of work in Sokoto State. He was killed at one of the road blocks by the Islamic sect. This has touched the EYN family because the General Secretary and his wife, including workers at the EYN Headquarters and pastors, have to attend the funeral today 7th November.

“We were in Mubi after church service and after Sallah too. We visited the Emir of Mubi and we were welcomed warmly by the people at the place, and the emir himself is a peace loving man.

“Most people in Abuja celebrated Sallah in fear because of threat from the sect to destroy big hotels like the Sheraton and Hilton and other places. The government announced to the public to be careful of those areas during the Sallah celebration.

“We want to thank you for all your prayers and concern.”

For more about the work of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria go to

Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

EDF announces grants, new disaster project to start in Alabama.

Workcampers volunteer at Brentwood disaster project site
Photo by Clara Nelson
Participants in a summer workcamp were some of the Brethren volunteers who put in 1,000 workdays and completed 26 repair jobs at the Brentwood, Tenn., project site of Brethren Disaster Ministries. For more photos from Church of the Brethren workcamps this past summer go to
The Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) of the Church of the Brethren has announced a number of grants. One is funding start-up of a new Brethren Disaster Ministries project site in northeast Alabama, in the area of Arab.

An EDF allocation of $30,000 provides funding to start a disaster rebuilding site in Arab, struck by a tornado during the “2011 Super Outbreak.” The largest and most destructive tornado outbreak ever recorded on April 25-28 spawned 336 tornadoes in 21 states, claiming 346 lives. The tornado in the Arab area was an EF4 (winds up to 200 miles per hour) and was on the ground for 50 miles. Numerous homes were affected.

Brethren Disaster Ministries has been invited to serve in Arab by repairing and rebuilding homes, working closely with a local long-term recovery group. The Brethren Disaster Ministries caseload includes 12 roof repairs and the building of two new homes, with more cases likely to be identified as work begins. The project site is expected to be active at the end of November.

An EDF grant of $30.000 continues support for a Tennessee flood recovery project of Brethren Disaster Ministries in Cheatham County and surrounding areas. A $19,000 grant continues support for a related project site in Brentwood, Tenn.

In May 2010, devastating floods caused widespread damage to Nashville and surrounding counties. Thousands were left homeless as dozens of trailer home parks were completely destroyed, and neighborhoods of traditional homes flooded up to the roofline. Many were not in identified flood plains and, as a consequence, flood insurance coverage was minimal.

In January, Brethren Disaster Ministries established a project in Ashland City, Tenn., to serve flood-affected residents in Cheatham County. This project is expected to continue through early spring 2012. Working closely with the county longterm recovery committee, Brethren have completed building two new homes, are in process of a third, and have worked on 14 other homes with varied degrees of repair or reconstruction. This project will take on two new buildings started by the Brentwood, Tenn., site as that project closes later this fall. To date more than 3,500 volunteer work days have been given serving the needs in Cheatham County.

Brethren Disaster Ministries established the Brentwood project outside of Nashville in June. Working closely with local long-term recovery organizations, volunteers have been doing mostly repair work in the Bellevue area, mainly for families still in need of permanent housing more than a year after the floods. Plans are to close this project before the end of the year. Volunteers giving at least 1,000 workdays have completed 26 repair jobs so far.

An EDF grant of $25,000 has been given following heavy rains, flooding, and landslides in Central America. The grant supports partners in El Salvador and Honduras who are providing emergency aid and helping with long-term recovery for the most vulnerable displaced families. The amount of $10,000 is going to Proyecto Aldea Global in Honduras, and $6,000 to Emmanuel Baptist Church in El Salvador. The remaining $9,000 will be transferred based on effectiveness of each partner’s relief work and program focused on long-term recovery.

An EDF grant of $3,000 completes funding for the work of Children’s Disaster Services in Joplin following the EF 5 tornado that devastated the town on May 22. The CDS response in Joplin, where teams of volunteers worked in FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers as well as with the American Red Cross, over-spent its initial grant.

For more about the work of the Emergency Disaster Fund go to

Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

Progressive Brethren Gathering focuses on response to 2011 Conference.

T-shirt worn at Progressive Brethren Gathering, Nov. 2011
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
The Progressive Brethren Gathering on Nov. 11-13 was hosted by Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., and sponsored by a coalition of progressive groups. Some 170 people attended, with about 30 more viewing the live webcasts.
With the theme “Pressing On, No Turning Back,” the Progressive Brethren Gathering Nov. 11-13 focused on a response to decisions and events at the 2011 Annual Conference regarding sexuality and women’s leadership in the church.

This was the fourth Progressive Brethren Gathering, sponsored jointly by Womaen’s Caucus, Voices for an Open Spirit (VOS), and the Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Interests (BMC). The event was hosted by Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill.

In advance of the weekend, organizers had issued an open invitation for “ideas that you think will either sustain us or move us forward as individuals or as a group.” The invitation continued, “We believe that a multitude of responses are required to do this work of justice and faith, so we are interested in a variety of ideas and proposals.”

Following a presentation by keynote speaker Sharon Welch, a nonviolent activist and feminist scholar who is provost and professor of religion and society at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, the gathering received presentations of action ideas from several groups and individuals. The ideas were discussed and prioritized in small groups, and then participants were offered the opportunity to commit to do further work on several of the ideas presented.

A new Progressive Brethren Council was announced to be a coordinating body for the informal coalition of groups, which now includes the new “Feast of Love” movement formed through social media since the 2011 Conference and led primarily by young adults. The new council includes two representatives of each of the three original sponsoring groups plus Feast of Love.

Feast of Love interim organizational team presents to Progressive Brethren Gathering
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
The Feast of Love interim organizational team was one of the groups presenting at the Progressive Brethren Gathering: (from left) Matt McKimmy of Richmond, Ind.; Elizabeth Ullery of Olympia, Wash.; Josih Hostetler of Pomona, Calif.; Roger Schrock of Mountain Grove, Mo.; and Gimbiya Kettering of Washington, D.C. Feast of Love has grown as a social media movement since the 2011 Annual Conference. More information is at
Action ideas ranged broadly. One group of ministers proposed creating a list of clergy willing to participate in a marriage celebration for gay or lesbian couples. La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren encouraged addressing concerns through financial means, restricting giving based on the monitoring of church programs “for movement toward greater inclusion.” The BMC board challenged the gathering to strengthen the Supportive Communities Network of churches that are publicly affirming of people of all sexual orientations. The Common Spirit House Church in Minneapolis presented itself as a model for establishing new congregations. The Feast of Love interim organizational team gave a presentation on the goals and growth of its new movement. Ideas for direct nonviolent action at the next Annual Conference were discussed, as were ways to relate to denominational staff.

Many participants signed a petition to the Program and Arrangements Committee of Annual Conference, asking for BMC to be allotted booth space at the 2012 Annual Conference. The petition cited the 2011 Conference decision “to continue deeper conversations concerning human sexuality outside of the query process.”

Some 170 people attended the gathering, with about 30 more viewing live webcasts. The weekend also included daily worship, joining with Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren for the Sunday morning service, as well as a benefit concert for Christian Peacemaker Teams given by the Circle Singers. View webcast recordings at

Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

Bethany trustees address seminary’s role in church leadership.

During a semiannual meeting on Oct. 28-30, the Bethany Theological Seminary board of trustees devoted time for thoughtful consideration and discussion of Bethany’s role in leadership for the Church of the Brethren. The board strongly reaffirmed Bethany’s mission and vision to “equip intellectual and spiritual leaders with an Incarnational education for ministering, proclaiming, and living out God’s shalom and Christ’s peace in the church and world.”

Consensus formed around the desire for Bethany to serve as a place for the study of and dialogue about theological, cultural, and individual diversity. Additional key themes included how to communicate this call effectively to the church and society through word and deed and the importance of proactively responding to opportunities that arise from challenges.

The board expressed appreciation for Bethany's efforts to embrace intellectual and spiritual hospitality for individuals of various backgrounds and theological viewpoints, both in the classroom and in campus community life. They affirmed Bethany's actions to foster respectful conversation on difficult and controversial questions, seeking the mind of Christ together as directed by Standing Committee of district delegates to Annual Conference. The April 2012 Presidential Forum at the seminary, “Joy and Suffering in the Body: Turning toward Each Other,” was named as an exemplary step toward this goal.

In other business, four new trustees were welcomed: D. Miller Davis of Westminster, Md., representing laity; Gregory Geisert of Keezletown, Va., at large; Dave McFadden of N. Manchester, Ind., at large; and Katherine Melhorn of Wichita, Kan., representing laity.

Guest presenter Mary Jo Flory-Steury, associate general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, spoke with the board and individual committees about the current draft of the Ministerial Leadership paper, to be brought to Annual Conference in 2013.

Updates were made to the board policy manual and updates to the by-laws were also reviewed in executive session.

Steve Schweitzer, academic dean, reported to the Academic Affairs committee on how changes enacted by accrediting agencies are affecting the seminary. Bethany is currently accredited by both the Association of Theological Schools and the Higher Learning Commission. Due to increasing differences in standards between the two agencies and evidence that ATS is better able to appropriately evaluate a seminary of Bethany’s size and nature, maintaining accreditation with HLC is under review by Bethany’s administration. A complete review of all curriculum is on track to be implemented in fall 2013. The faculty also approved a formation seminar for first-year MA students beginning in fall 2012 as a parallel to the Ministry Formation track for MDiv students. MA students will be able to choose between writing a thesis or a combination of developing a portfolio and taking exams.

The Student and Business Affairs committee recognized Elizabeth Keller, outgoing director of admissions, and received a report that residential student enrollment is trending downward as more students opt for distance education, and a more intentional student development program for these students is being planned. Bethany closed the 2011 fiscal year with a surplus, for which Brenda Reish, treasurer, and staff received appreciation. It was reported that Bethany will discontinue with the Perkins loan program and that the increasing amount of debt held by incoming students is a concern.

Lowell Flory, executive director for institutional advancement and gift planning, reported that Bethany’s total gift income for fiscal year 2011 was higher than in 2010, due to a large estate gift. Although giving to the annual fund was 92.7 percent of goal, this percentage is in keeping with a seven-year average. Congregational giving has continued to decline. The Reimagining Ministries campaign was launched at Annual Conference with the benchmark 47 percent of the total $5.9 million goal having been met. Since then, staff and National Leadership Committee members have been planning and hosting a series of cottage meetings to garner campaign contributions.

Board members, faculty, and staff joined special guest Ruth Aukerman to dedicate her gift of a handcrafted stained glass window titled “I Will Make You Fishers of Men.”

-- Jenny Williams is director of communications and alumni/ae relations at Bethany Seminary.

Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

Sustaining Pastoral Excellence welcomes final Vital Pastor cohorts.

The Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership this year has welcomed its final five cohort groups of pastors in the Vital Pastor track. In addition, seven pastors began the Advanced Foundations of Church Leadership track in September.

The final "class" of the Vital Pastor track includes three cohort groups who began in August or September, and two groups that began in January 2011. Each cohort group studies a particular question and has an opportunity for a travel experience.

A cohort from Atlantic Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Districts will study "How can our spirituality be enhanced by experiencing and studying the powerful movement of the Holy Spirit among contemporary Messianic Jewish communities?" The group will travel to Israel in March 2012. It includes Ron Ludwick of Lebanon (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; Wayne Hall of Locust Grove Church of the Brethren in Mount Airy, Md.; Nancy Fittery of Swatara Hill Church of the Brethren in Middletown, Pa.; Dean Lengel of Meyerstown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; Tracy Wiser of Harmony Church of the Brethren in Myersville, Md.; and Pedro Sanchez of Long Run Church of the Brethren in Lehighton, Pa.

A cohort formed by pastors in South Central Indiana, Northern Indiana, and Northern Ohio Districts is studying "Connecting gnosis and episteme: How do we practice the inescapable presence of God?" They will travel to Scotland and Ireland and the Iona Community. The cohort includes Patricia Meeks of Poplar Ridge Church of the Brethren in Defiance, Ohio; David Bibbee of Lincolnshire Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind.; Andrew Sampson of Eel River Community Church of the Brethren in Silver Lake, Ind.; and Brian Flory of Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne.

A cohort of Florida pastors from Atlantic Southeast District includes Keith Simmons of Sebring Church of the Brethren; Jimmy Baker of Lorida Church of the Brethren; Ken Davis of Good Shepherd Church of the Brethren in Bradenton; Leah Hileman of A Life in Christ Church of the Brethren in Cape Coral; and Ray Hileman of Miami First Church of the Brethren. Their question is "By what means can we, as pastors, develop a disciplined, holistic lifestyle so as to deepen our spirituality and effectively model both discipline and discipleship?" They will attend the Academy for Spiritual Formation, a Renovare Retreat at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, and a third event yet to be named.

Martin Doss of Dayton (Va.) Church of the Brethren; Mary Fleming of Prince of Peace Church in Sacramento, Calif. (a jointly affiliated Brethren and American Baptist congregation); David Hendricks of Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in South Bend, Ind.; Martin Hutchison of Community of Joy Church of the Brethren in Salisbury, Md.; Roland Johnson of Live Oak (Calif.) Church of the Brethren; Michael Martin of Glendora (Calif.) Church of the Brethren; and Robin Wentworth Mayer of Anderson (Ind.) Church of the Brethren participated in their first Advanced Foundations of Church Leadership session Sept. 26-29. The cohort will meet quarterly over the next two years for spiritual formation, study, and exploration of topics related to leadership.

For more about the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership go to

Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

Elizabethtown College students go hungry for Food Stamp Challenge.

Students at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College are participating in a local version of a national program--Fighting Poverty with Faith Food Stamp Challenge--to create awareness and advocate on behalf of people who receive food stamps.

Under the program offered by the Chaplain's Office of the college, students can choose from one of three scenarios: eat one meal that costs essentially $1.50 or the amount in food stamps that a recipient would have to spend for one meal; exist on $4.50 worth of food stamps for an entire day's meals; or live on $31.50 worth of food stamps or the equivalent of a week's meals.

Students are invited to advocate for the hungry by writing letters to government representatives to continue or increase aid for Food Stamp Assistance. They also may write a letter to the editor of their local paper to help create awareness of the funding issue for the food stamp program. Many students have answered the question "What is it about my faith that causes me to advocate or act on behalf of the hungry?" on video, which can be viewed at

"By stepping into the shoes of someone who lives on food stamps, students experience the difficult decisions many families make every day," said Amy Shorner-Johnson, assistant chaplain at Elizabethtown College. "My hope for the Food Stamp Challenge is students go beyond simply being grateful for what they have, toward action and advocacy on behalf of the hungry."

As reported in the “Huffington Post” on Oct. 31, a number of congressional Democrats are participating in the Food Stamp Challenge to oppose Republican proposed cuts to the program. The number of people relying on food stamps has risen in response to the ongoing recession. According to the Post report, more than 40 million individuals and 19 million households used food stamps in 2010, as cited by the US Department of Agriculture.

-- This release was provided by Elizabeth Harvey, marketing and communications manager for Elizabethtown College ( The Food Stamp Challenge was promoted as an outreach to the Brethren-related colleges by Jordan Blevins, advocacy officer and ecumenical peace coordinator for the Church of the Brethren and the National Council of Churches.

Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

CCS 2012 asks ‘What is your carbon footprint?’

CCS 2012 image 200The Church of the Brethren’s Christian Citizenship Seminar (CCS) in 2012 will consider carbon footprints and large-scale responses to elevated levels of carbon in the atmosphere, such as carbon labeling. The event for high school youth and adult advisors takes place April 14-19 in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Participants will focus on how individuals and the country might respond to the high level of carbon in today’s atmosphere. Rather than debate global warming, participants will explore questions like "How much carbon do everyday tasks, such as driving to school or eating a banana, put into the atmosphere?" "What is our country’s carbon footprint?" "How does that footprint compare to other developed countries?" "Are there actions we can encourage our government to implement?"

As always, after a number of educational sessions, CCS participants will visit their legislators to discuss what they have learned and what changes they would like to see in government policy as a result.

Online registration opens at on Dec. 1. Registration is limited to the first 100 participants. Churches sending over four youth are required to send at least one adult advisor to insure an adequate number of adults. Cost is $375, which includes lodging for five nights, dinner on the opening evening of the seminar, and transportation from New York to Washington. Each participant should bring additional money for meals, sightseeing, personal expenses, and a few subway or taxi fares.

“Our task is nothing less than to join God in preserving, renewing, and fulfilling the creation. It is to relate to nature in ways that sustain life on the planet, provide for the essential material and physical needs of all humankind, and increase justice and wellbeing for all life in a peaceful world” (from the “Creation: Called to Care” statement approved by the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in 1991).

Visit for more information, to download a flyer, or to register.

-- Carol Fike and Becky Ullom of the Youth and Young Adult Ministry provided this report.

Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

Workcamps prepare participants to be ‘Ready to Listen.’

Workcampers in Castaner, P.R., summer of 2011
Photo by Manuel Gonzalez
Workcampers in Castaner, P.R., this past summer. Several photo albums from the 2011 workcamp locations are online. Find descriptions and links at
“Ready to Listen” (1 Samuel 3:10) is the theme for Church of the Brethren workcamps in 2012. God is always present, listening to us. Join a workcamp this summer and be ready to listen as we continue the work of Jesus and answer God’s call through the workcamp ministry.

Workcamps are short-term mission trips that connect service with Christian faith. They give people from age 12 to 100-plus a chance to have life-changing experiences while helping to change someone else’s life for the better.

Registration opens online on Jan. 9, 2012, at 7 p.m. (central). For more information go to or contact Catherine Gong or Rachel Witkovsky in the Workcamp Office at 800-323-8039 ext. 283 or ext. 286. If you have access, check out the workcamps Facebook page periodically for updates and spotlights on certain workcamps. E-mail any questions to Several photo albums from this past summer’s workcamps are posted for viewing at

-- Rachel Witkovsky is an assistant coordinator for the workcamp ministry.

Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

‘Prepare the Way’ is theme for annual Advent offering.

2011 Advent banner English 200Resources are now available for the 2011 Church of the Brethren Advent Offering on the theme “Prepare the Way.” The offering is designed to help congregations connect with Church of the Brethren peace and justice ministries through worship and reflection. The offering provides support for the denomination’s core ministries fund.

“Through your gifts you help prepare the way of the Lord, you help the world experience the in-breaking of the kingdom of God, you help the world see Jesus,” said the offering website.

A packet of resources has been mailed to each congregation, and also are available online. Resources available in both Spanish and English include words of reflection, hymn suggestions, and other worship resources. Congregations not already on standing order with Brethren Press can request one-piece bulletin insert/offering envelopes.

Visit to find out more, and check out for other stewardship materials. E-mail any questions to Mandy Garcia at

Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

Honor to whom honor is due: A reflection on St. Martin’s Day.

Dr. James Kim at Nov. 10, 2011, reception at General Offices
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Dr. James Kim, founder of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in N. Korea (second from left) at a reception held in his honor at the Church of the Brethren General Offices on Nov. 10. Also shown with a cake celebrating his visit is (from left) Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren; Howard Royer, manager of the Global Food Crisis Fund through which the Brethren work in North Korea was established; and Norma Nichols, staff at a sister university in China also founded by Dr. Kim.
The following reflection from chapel at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, Elgin, Ill., was given by Global Mission and Service executive director Jay Wittmeyer. He reflects on the original meaning of Nov. 11 celebrations, and the honor due to St. Martin and modern-day peacemakers like Dr. James Kim, founder of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in North Korea, who visited with Brethren staff on Nov. 10:

“Pay to all what is due to them--taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due” (Romans 13:7).

Friday is an unique day, as the calendar will sync as 11/11/11. The eleventh day of the eleventh month in the eleventh year. Nov. 11 is, of course, a special day and has been recognized as a holiday for a long time in many countries. In the US it is Veteran’s Day. As is the American tradition, on Friday a ceremony will be held at the Arlington National Cemetery, commencing precisely at 11 a.m., and a wreath will be laid at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Eleven a.m. is significant because it was exactly at this time in 1918 that the armistice was signed bringing World War I to an end. My grandparents always referred to Nov. 11 as Armistice Day, or the day of cessation of arms that ended the Great War, the war to end all wars. Nov. 11 became Veteran’s Day after World War II. In the UK and Commonwealth nations, Nov. 11 is observed as Remembrance Day. Some also refer to it as Poppy Day because of that poem “In Flanders’s Fields.” Bright red poppies are associated with the day, an appropriate symbol for the blood spilled in the war.

Nov. 11 was fittingly chosen for the cessation of WWI hostilities for it was St. Martin of Tours Day ( Martin (c. 316-397), a contemporary of Constantine, was an early pacifist of the Roman Empire. Martin Luther, born on Nov.10, was baptized on Nov. 11 and named after St. Martin. St. Martin is the patron saint of France.

Martin was forced to join the Roman army when he was young. One evening while on duty, he was riding in the rain when he saw a beggar lying cold along the side of the road. Martin tore his heavy officer’s cape in half to give part to the beggar. Later that night he had a dream in which he saw Jesus wearing the small cape. Jesus said, “What you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.”

Martin was baptized into the church at age 18. Just before a battle, Martin announced that his faith prohibited him from fighting. Charged with cowardice, he was jailed, and his superiors planned to put him in the front of the battle. However, the invaders sued for peace, the battle never occurred, and Martin was released from military service.

Give honor to whom honor is due. After a century of hard-fought and brutal wars, the essence of Nov. 11 has changed for us in the US--from pacifist to armistice to Veteran’s Day, where we honor those, and only those who have served in the armed forces. 

But the Christian community should give the same honor and respect to those who are in an even greater service--those who dedicate their lives in service to God. I believe we should honor all to whom honor is due. This includes war correspondents and journalists, missionaries, and professionals serving around the world in organizations like Doctors Without Borders. And what about those who avert war in the first place? What about the negotiators, the diplomats, the peacemakers? What would it mean for someone to actively work to bring peace and avoid nuclear war on the Korean peninsula? What honor should be due that person?

Dr. James Kim is doing that very thing and he visits us at the General Offices tomorrow. Robert and Linda Shank have served in North Korea for the past year with Dr. Kim at the university he began, the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. This is Dr. Kim’s story as told by Lord David Alton (

The story of Dr. James Chinkyung Kim:

In 1950, at the outbreak of the Korean War, Chinkyung (James) Kim was just 15 years old. Nevertheless, he enlisted and fought against the north. Of the 800 men in his unit, only 17 survived.

One night on the battlefield, after reading the Gospel of St. John, “There and then I vowed to God to work with the Chinese and the North Koreans, then our enemies,” Dr Kim says, the very forces against whom he had been bearing arms. “If I survived the war, I promised God that I would devote my life to their service, to peace and to reconciliation.”

After the war, penniless, he travelled first to France, and then on to Switzerland, where he met Francis Shaeffer who would write the highly influential “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” In 1960, he went to Britain where he studied at Bristol’s Clifton Theological College.

Later, he returned to Seoul, Korea, and in 1976 began a series of business enterprises in Florida. But he never forgot his vow--a promise he kept hidden in his heart--and, in the 1980s, he sold his businesses and home to finance a university college in South Korea. By1992 he was ready to export his model of education to China. Yanbian University of Science of Technology, in Yanji, northeastern China, became the country’s first foreign joint-venture university. It, in turn, became the model for Pyongyang.

Before that could happen, Dr. Kim would be arrested by Kim Jong Il’s North Korean Government, accused of being an American spy, and for 40 days he would languish in jail. He was sentenced to death.

Ordered to write a will and, in keeping with his vow to give everything back to his country, he told his captors that once they had executed him they could have his body parts for medical research. In his will and testament he wrote to the US government that “I died doing things I love at my own will. Revenge will only bring more revenge and it will be an endless cycle of bitter hatred. Today, it will stop here and the hate will not see a victory. I am dying for the love of my country and my people. If you take any actions for my death then my death would truly have been for nothing and for no reason.”

In explaining what then occurred, James Kim says that “The North Korean government was moved and allowed me to return to my home in China.” He made no public complaints about what had happened and two years later “They invited me back to North Korea and asked whether I would forget our differences and build a university for them like the one I had established in China?”

Dr. Kim believes his own experience is evidence that the North Korean regime “can be touched and messages can be communicated at some level. On a much grander scale we need to deepen the experience of reconciliation.”

We give honor and respect to Dr. James Kim for his reconciling work in North Korea and to all who serve around the globe on Nov. 11, St. Martin’s Day.

-- Wittmeyer closed the chapel service with a quote from the hymn, “The Church of Christ in Every Age”: “We have no mission but to serve in full obedience to our Lord, to care for all, without reserve, and spread his liberating word.” For more about the Church of the Brethren’s work in North Korea go to For more about conscientious objectors from the Historic Peace Churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, and Quaker) who served in Civilian Public Service instead of going to war, go to

Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

Brethren bits: NCC and district personnel, church and college news, much more.

  • The National Council of Churches (NCC) Governing Board has approved a “process for a stable and grace-filled transition” after general secretary Michael Kinnamon announced his intention to leave the position due to health reasons. “Members of the governing board received the news with reverence and respect for Kinnamon’s leadership of the council during the last four years,” said an NCC release. The action by the board came after Kinnamon, 63, said his cardiologist insisted that the stresses of his current position must be reduced immediately.
Jillian Foerster to serve in South Sudan
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Jillian Foerster will serve at RECONCILE in South Sudan as a Brethren Volunteer Service worker sponsored by the Church of the Brethren's Global Mission and Service office.
  • Jillian Foerster, a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker from Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Port Republic, Va., will soon begin as administrative associate at RECONCILE International in Yei, South Sudan. Her placement is sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service program. She plans to leave for Sudan near the end of November. She holds a degree in international relations with a minor in economics.
  • Don Knieriem has begun in a new data analyst and registration specialist position with the Church of the Brethren Information Services. His primary responsibilities will be database management, reconciliation of discrepancies between multiple databases, and in building, testing, and support for both registration and donation forms. He is a member of Wilmington (Del.) Church of the Brethren and graduated in 2008 from the University of Delaware with degrees in mathematics and computer science. He served as a Brethren Volunteer Service worker for Brethren Disaster Ministries and as a staff volunteer in the BVS office.
  • Carol Mason, Jim Miller, and Debbie Roberts have accepted appointments as area ministers for Oregon and Washington District. When the district reduced its executive position to quarter time it also established the area minister positions. “We recognized that the far-flung geography of the Pacific Northwest would frustrate the attempts of a quarter-time executive to provide needed support to pastors and churches,” explained the district newsletter. Area ministers will work closely with new district executive Colleen Michael.
  • Nancy Davis' service as Northern Plains District financial and office secretary concludes Dec. 31, as announced in the district newsletter. “We are grateful for Nancy's years of excellent service,” the announcement said. Phyllis Prichard of Ames, Iowa, has been appointed to begin serving on Jan. 1, 2012, as the district’s next financial secretary. The district has opened a new post office box in Ames, effective immediately. The old post office box in Ankeny, Iowa, will stay open only until the end of the year. The new address is Northern Plains District/Church of the Brethren, P.O. Box 573, Ames, IA 50010-0573.
  • Applications for the 2012 Youth Peace Travel Team are due Jan. 13. College-age young adults (ages 19-22) are invited to apply. Through the summer, the team travels to camps and conferences talking about the Christian message and the church’s tradition of peacemaking. The team is sponsored by the Youth and Young Adult Ministry, Brethren Volunteer Service, On Earth Peace, and Outdoor Ministries Association. Go to
  • Abraham Harley Cassel (1820-1908) is the focus of the latest "Hidden Gems" webpage from the Brethren Historical Library and Archives. Cassel was a 19th century book collector and antiquarian whose collection in his home in Harleysville, Pa., was the major informational source for Martin Grove Brumbaugh’s "History of the German Baptist Brethren" (1899). Go to
  • Church of the Brethren United Nations representative Doris Abdullah was moderator of a Nov. 10 event in the “Sacred Season Series” sponsored by the Subcommittee for the Elimination of Racism of the NGO Committee on Human Rights. Held at the UN Plaza in New York, the event was on the theme “Spirituality, Environmental Justice, and Human Rights.” Abdullah also has called attention to Nov. 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The day was designated by the UN General Assembly in 1999 as the date of a brutal assassination in 1960 of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic. For more information about the day go to
  • New Covenant Church of the Brethren in Chester, Va., has honored Elaine McLauchlin Lowder for 70 years of playing piano for the church. According to the Virlina District newsletter, she began playing at Hopewell Church of the Brethren when she was 16 years old and has continued to play for church, weddings, and special occasions ever since.
  • Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., is hosting a presentation on “Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) Witness for Justice in the Middle East” given by Brethren member Peggy Gish. The event is Nov. 17, at 6:30 p.m. Gish has been a longterm volunteer on the CPT team in Iraq.
  • Papago Buttes Church of the Brethren in Scottsdale, Ariz., has been certified as Monarch Waystation #5125 after the congregation planted a garden of native plants. The Pacific Southwest District newsletter noted that Monarch butterflies are nourished by native milkweed plants, and that master gardeners come and harvest seeds to propagate native milkweed in other waystation gardens. Papago Buttes hosted the fall meeting of the Central Arizona Butterfly Association.
  • Several ministers have been recognized for significant years of service. Middle Pennsylvania District Conference recognized Luke Bowser and Floyd Mitchell for 70 years; Ronald Hershberger for 60; Marilyn Durr, David L. Miller, and Frank Teeter for 25; and Timothy Laird and Hannah Wilson for 10 years. Atlantic Northeast District Conference recognized Paul H. Boll and Luke B. Bucher for 50 years of ordained ministry.
  • The Powerhouse regional youth conference 2011 at Manchester College The second annual “Powerhouse” regional youth conference took place at Manchester College Nov. 12-13, with nearly 100 senior high youth and advisors from Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Jeff Carter, pastor of Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren, spoke at three worship services on the theme “Follow: If You Dare,” looking at what it really means to follow Jesus. Worship themes were inspired by Shawn Kirchner’s 2010 National Youth Conference theme song, “More Than Meets the Eye,” which touched on various aspects of Jesus as he carried out his ministry. Carter looked at some of these aspects in his messages, emphasizing the importance of all facets in fully understanding who Jesus is and what that means for Christians. Students, staff, and others led a variety of workshops during the weekend, which also included opportunities for a campus tour, displays from Brethren programs, recreation, and a game of “Mission Impossible.” The next Powerhouse is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 10-11, 2012.
  • A Renovar√© Conference will be held April 21, 2012, at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College led by Kris Webb, the new president of Renovar√©, and Renovar√© founder Richard Foster. Atlantic Northeast and Southern Pennsylvania Districts are inviting pastors and church leaders to prepare for the event. Cost is $40, with registration limited to the first 850 people. A children’s program will be offered during the conference, with spiritual disciplines lessons by Jean Moyer. A resource is available for pastors to preach ahead of time on the 12 spiritual disciplines that will be emphasized at the conference. After the conference on May 5 the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center will offer a “Deepening Day” on the topic, “Growing in Christian Spiritual Vitality: Personally and Corporately” led by David Young of the Springs Initiative. For more information contact
  • Springs of Living Water has announced a new Advent/Christmas Spiritual Disciplines folder, posted at Titled, “For There Is Born to You a Savior Who Is Christ the Lord,” the folder follows the lectionary readings and topics used for the Brethren Press bulletin series. An explanation of the theme and an insert helps church members learn how to use the folders and discern their next steps in spiritual growth. The Bible study questions are written by Vince Cable, pastor of Uniontown Church of the Brethren near Pittsburgh, Pa. For more information contact Joan and David Young at
  • This holiday season relive experiences in the Elder John Kline household in the fall of 1861 around a family-style meal at the John Kline house in Broadway, Va. Candlelight Dinners will be offered Nov. 18 and 19 and Dec. 2 and 3 at 6 p.m. Actors will convey the sentiments of family members after the Civil War came to Virginia soil. Tickets are $40. Call 540-896-5001.
  • Three Bridgewater (Va.) College alumni were honored Nov. 4 at the President’s Dinner: Carol S. Fenn of Bridgewater, division superintendent of Rockingham County Public Schools, received the Distinguished Alumni Award; Linda Knight Wilson of Mathews, Va., a counselor-educator and civic volunteer, received the West-Whitelow Award for Humanitarian Service; and Cheryl M. Mascarenhas of Plainfield, Ill., associate professor of chemistry at Benedictine University, received the Young Alumnus Award. Also, Krishna Kodukula of Harrisonburg, Va., has been elected to the Bridgewater College board of trustees. He is a scientist, entrepreneur, and executive director of SRI International’s Center for Advanced Drug Research (CADRE).
  • Global Entrepreneurship Week at McPherson (Kan.) College kicked off a new Global Enterprise Challenge for 35 students competing on teams to come up with the best venture to help out the country of Panama. A release from the college also announced “Jump Start Kansas,” a new program offering a $5,000 grant to the Kansas high school student who comes up with the best new commercial venture and another $5,000 to the best non-profit venture. In addition, scholarships are offered to the winners and 10 finalists. “We’re putting our money (about $100,000 commitment) where our heart is--in developing young entrepreneurs,” said the release. Find an application form for Jump Start Kansas at
  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has renewed its work on health issues related to the manufacture and use of depleted uranium (DU) weapons. In Jonesborough, Tenn., a CPT Depleted Uranium delegation has been collecting samples to be examined for contamination around an Aerojet Ordnance, Inc. processing plant. In the group that accompanied Dr. Michael Ketterer, professor at Northern Arizona State University, in collecting soil, water, and sediment samples was Church of the Brethren member Cliff Kindy, a longterm volunteer with CPT both in the US and Iraq. The delegation participated in a public forum at Eastern Tennessee State University on Oct. 25 and a public action at the plant on Oct. 29. For more go to
  • As Super Committee lawmakers approach a Nov. 23 deadline to slash $1.2 trillion from the federal budget, Church World Service will be represented at a Nov. 20 “Super Vigil” for a budget that preserves vital domestic and international assistance funding, said a CWS release. CWS is encouraging churches across the country to hold Nov. 20 vigils in their own communities. “We are asking simply for a just and compassionate--a life-saving--budget,” said CWS director of advocacy Martin Shupack, who helps lead the Faithful Budget Campaign. For more Super Vigil information:
Source:11/16/2011 Newsline