Thursday, December 29, 2011

Newsline: December 29, 2011


GFCF gives grants to Rural Service Center, Brethren group in Congo.

Global Food Crisis Fund sustaining livesRecent grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) have gone to the Rural Service Center in India and an agricultural development project of Brethren congregations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

A grant of $8,000 has gone to the Rural Service Center for its work in tribal and small-holder communities in the Ankleshwar area of Gujarat State, India. The money will support center operations that link small farm operators to resources such as soil testing, biogas development, animal vaccination, and greenhouse produce.

The Rural Service Center is an extension program begun by the Church of the Brethren in the late 1950s. This support for the center allows the church to stay actively involved in a region of India that is fast becoming a modernized breadbasket, according to the GFCF grant request. Within range of Mumbai, the area has an insatiable appetite for food, energy, and technology. While agribusinesses may flourish, smallholder farmers find the complexities of technology and capitalization overwhelming. The suicide rate of Indian farmers is among the highest in the world, the grant request said.

“For an Indian family to lose land that it has possessed for generations is devastating,” said Jay Wittmeyer of the church’s Global Mission and Service program. “A Global Food Crisis Fund grant of $8,000 enables the Rural Service Center to help vulnerable farm families navigate the tumultuous times of globalization.”

A grant of $2,500 supports reconciliation and agriculture work in the DRC. A cluster of Brethren congregations in the Congo are working at mediation with displaced Pygmy and Bafulero communities. The funds will help enable displaced people to return home and restart agriculture, with reconciliation work remaining the prime focus.

For five years, Brethren in the DRC have been actively engaged in a peacebuilding program titled SHAMIREDE (Shalom Ministry in Reconciliation and Development). Initially funded by the UN Development Program, the endeavor more recently is being supported by the Church of the Brethren in the United States, and also works in collaboration with the Quaker Peace Network.

Two displaced groups, the Pygmy and Bafulero, have been engaged in a violent conflict for a number of years, according to the GFCF grant request. The conflict recently escalated, with people killed, villages burned, and many families displaced. The source of the conflict has been a degrading of hunting-gathering resources for the Pygmies, and the slow creep of the Bafulero into Pygmy regions for slash-and-burn agriculture. Both groups have recognized the need for mediation, which the Congolese Brethren are working at by visiting communities in the mountains to carry mediation forward. Families are beginning to trust the process and want to return to their home areas. This funding helps them restart agriculture and get farming back on track.

For more about the Global Food Crisis Fund go to

Source:12/29/2011 Newsline

EDF sends money to Thailand, Cambodia for flood response.

Grants have been made for flood response in Thailand and Cambodia by the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF). Also in recent grants is support for disaster relief following wildfires in Texas.

A grant of $20,000 responds to a Church World Service (CWS) appeal following monsoon rains in Thailand, which resulted in extensive flooding. Funds support CWS work through partner Church of Christ in Thailand and the ACT Alliance, providing emergency food, survival packets, and shelters to survivors.

Heavy monsoon rains plagued southeast Asia this fall and severely affected one-third of Thailand's land mass, according to the CWS appeal. A total of 3.4 million acres of farmland--an area 13 times the size of Hong Kong--was submerged under water with more than 12.3 million livestock affected and more than 2 million tons of un-milled rice destroyed. Authorities said the death toll exceeded 307. More than 2.4 million people including 700,000 children were affected.

In Cambodia, a grant of $10,000 responds to a CWS appeal following extensive seasonal flooding. The money helps provide emergency food and water purification tablets for the most affected and poorest families. According to CWS, Cambodia has experienced its worst seasonal flooding in more than a decade, with 17 of 24 provinces affected. Some 1,500,000 people have been affected and more than 90,000 families displaced. About 13 percent of Cambodia’s rice crop was flooded, and almost half of it destroyed. Shortages and high prices are likely to make rice unaffordable through to the next harvest period in Dec. 2012. CWS is responding as part of a joint six-month effort of ACT Alliance members. Distribution of rice and other food has begun, with an overall objective to provide food and water purification tablets to 8,859 of the most affected and poorest families in six of the nation’s provinces.

A grant of $2,500 from the Emergency Disaster Fund has been given to a CWS appeal following multiple wildfires in east-central Texas in September and October. In Bastrop County fires destroyed 1,700 homes of which approximately half were not insured. Additionally four churches were destroyed. In the Spicewood area approximately 5,600 acres were burned and 52 homes were destroyed. Most families affected were lower middle class. The grant supports CWS efforts to assist local Long Term Recovery Committees with start-up grants and group training.

To support the work of the Emergency Disaster Fund go to

Source:12/29/2011 Newsline

Brethren staff leave North Korea for Christmas break.

Robert Shank was one of the speakers at PUST international conference
Photo courtesy of Robert Shank
Robert Shank (center) was one of the speakers at the recent international conference at PUST, a university in Pyongyan, North Korea. Shank is dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. He and his wife, Linda, are teaching at PUST with sponsorship from the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service program.
Robert and Linda Shank, Church of the Brethren staff in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), were free to leave as scheduled for a Christmas break, reports mission executive Jay Wittmeyer.

Many worried that the death of Kim Jong-Il would cause political instability with repercussions for the Shanks and other expatriates in the country, but there were no difficulties.

The Shanks heard about the death of Kim Jong-il through a CNN broadcast, which they saw on the campus of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology where Robert is dean of the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Linda teaches English. This news was then shared with PUST staff and students.

When the Shanks arrived in Beijing, their plane was met by a throng of Chinese reporters wanting to hear details of events in Pyongyang since Kim’s death. The Shanks arrived in Chicago Tuesday afternoon.

The Elgin (Ill.) “Courier-News” yesterday ran an interview with Howard Royer, manager of the Global Food Crisis Fund, about the Shanks’ work at PUST and prospects for N. Korea now. Royer has been one of the denominational staff responsible for Church of the Brethren connections in North Korea. Go to

-- Wendy McFadden, publisher of Brethren Press and communications for the Church of the Brethren, contributed to this report.

Source:12/29/2011 Newsline

Hoslers conclude their service in Nigeria, report on peace work.

Church of the Brethren mission workers Nathan and Jennifer Hosler have concluded their service in Nigeria and returned to the United States in mid-December. Following is an excerpt from their final newsletter reporting on their work at Kulp Bible College of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria):

We have had much time for reflection lately--with farewell parties, goodbyes, and graduations--and feel content at the progress that has been made since we arrived in 2009. A peace and reconciliation curriculum is now complete and included in the course of studies at Kulp Bible College (KBC). An interfaith steering committee, CAMPI (Christians and Muslims for Peacebuilding Initiatives), has been in existence for more than one year, it has completed its first peace initiative and is currently planning the second. Through CAMPI, imams and pastors have been brought together, have dialogued with each other, and have built relationships across religious divides. A KBC Peace Club was formed and it is actively pursuing peace initiatives within communities around KBC.

CAMPI Committee farewell to Nathan and Jennifer Hosler
Photo courtesy of the Hoslers
The CAMPI Committee, along with new Peace Program staff of EYN (Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), at a farewell meal for Nathan and Jennifer Hosler as they finish their term in Nigeria. CAMPI (Christians and Muslims for Peacebuilding Initiatives), in existence now for more than a year, brings imams and pastors together to dialogue with each other and build relationships across religious divides.
We leave thankful that we can see fruit of our labors and the labors of our colleagues. The EYN Peace Program has assigned new Nigerian staff to the organization and the denominational leadership of EYN has expressed its commitment to further strengthening peacebuilding in EYN. We know that the work will move forward and pray for a continued strengthening of the Peace Program, CAMPI, and peace education within EYN. We look forward with expectation and hope that we will hear more about the progress for peace which will come in the future: Christians and Muslims living together peacefully, EYN churches modeling reconciliation, conflict transformation, and justice to their surrounding communities.

Peace Club update: When we think of peace, we typically assume that the opposite of peace is conflict or violence. However, when we think about the broader practice of peacebuilding and the biblical theology of peace, we must expand our thinking to include many other aspects of life. For many people the absence of peace means poverty. When your children are hungry, susceptible to treatable diseases, and are unable to attend school because of poverty--this is the absence of peace. Additionally, resource scarcity tends to lead to conflict. This semester, the KBC Peace Club prepared two dramas and two sermons addressing the issues of peace and poverty. They suggested that we can deal with poverty through working together (literally in Hausa it is “putting heads together”) and challenging injustice. The program was conducted on Nov. 5 and 6 as well as Nov. 12 and 13. Between the two services, more than 2,000 people attended the programs. They constituted the third and fourth outreach events conducted by the KBC Peace Club.

Documentary: In early November, videographer Dave Sollenberger visited Nigeria and EYN. He conducted filming for a documentary on the conflicts in Nigeria and EYN’s response to conflict through its Peace Program. He attended the Peace Club event on Nov. 6. He also filmed a CAMPI meeting, KBC peace classes, the Peace Resource Library, and interviewed many EYN workers and members.

Finishing up our work: Dec. 13 we will be leaving KBC. Our final weeks have included the expected packing up procedures and farewells, as well as handing over Peace Program documents, tasks, and projects, working to organize the Peace Club so that it will continue, and finishing all of the other relatively small but numerous tasks.

We are grateful for the prayers, support, and encouragement that sisters and brothers have given to us during our time of service. As we head back to the United States, we look forward to three months of home leave where we can rest, regroup, visit with family, attend a staff meeting in Elgin, Ill., and speak at Church of the Brethren churches about peace ministry in Nigeria.

Prayer requests: For travel preparations and travel. The Christmas season is expected to bring more incidences of violence. For peace in Nigeria in this time when the angels proclaimed “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” For a smooth transfer of our work to other Peace Program staff.

Source:12/29/2011 Newsline

NCC condemns attack on worshipers in Nigeria.

The National Council of Churches (NCC) has condemned the Christmas Day bombing of a Roman Catholic Church in Madella, Nigeria, as “intrinsically evil.” Incoming NCC president Kathryn Mary Lohre joined Pope Benedict XVI and other religious leaders in denouncing the terrorist acts that claimed the lives of 39 people and injured hundreds.

“The National Council of Churches deplores any attack on Christian communities anywhere in the world,” Lohre said. “But more than that, we condemn any violent act so contrary to the common understanding of God’s love as it is expressed among Christians, Muslims, and persons of all the major faith traditions.”

Lohre called on the council’s member communions “and all persons of good will to pray for the families in Madella who have lost loved ones, and to ask God’s healing mercies for all who have been touched by this tragedy.”

Pope Benedict termed the attacks as “absurd.” “Violence is a path that leads only to pain, destruction, and death,” Benedict said. “Respect, reconciliation, and love are the only path to peace.”

Responsibility for the attack was claimed by an Islamist extremist group Boko Haram.

-- Philip E. Jenks of the NCC communications staff provided this release. As of today, no word has been received that congregations or members of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) were affected by the attacks on Christmas Day in the capital city of Abuja and the city of Jos in central Nigeria.

Source:12/29/2011 Newsline

BVS Europe welcomes largest number of volunteers since 2004.

BVS volunteers in Europe 2011
Photo by Don Knieriem
Some of the Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) workers who went to project sites in Europe recently. The Europe program this year logged its largest number of volunteers since 2004.
The Europe program of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) welcomed many new BVS volunteers this year, 2011--16 in all, “which is more than we’ve seen since 2004,” reports coordinator Kristin Flory in a recent newsletter. Flory works out of an office in Geneva, Switzerland.

Following are the BVS volunteers who have served in Europe this year or are currently serving, listed by country, along with information about their projects:

In Belgium, Bahirah Adewunmi has worked in Brussels in the Pax Christi International office.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, Samantha Lyon-Hill has worked in Mostar with the OKC Abrasevic Youth Cultural Center. Julianne Funk Deckard has been in Sarajevo with Mali Koraci, an interfaith peace network.

In Hungary, Jill Piebiak is in Budapest has worked in the World Student Christian Federation’s European regional office.

In Germany, Marie Schuster has lived and worked in Tecklenburg at the Arche community there. Kendra Johnson has been in Hamburg with Peace Brigades International’s German office. Susan Pracht has been in Laufdorf at the international office of Church and Peace. Katarina Eller has lived and worked at the Brot und Rosen community in Hamburg.

In Ireland, Joe Pittoco has worked in Callan, Co. Kilkenny, with the L’Arche Community. Michelle Cernoch has been living and working in Cork with the L’Arche Community there.

In Northern Ireland, Courtney Klosterman and Samantha Carwile have worked in Belfast at the Quaker Cottage family center. Micah and Lucy Loucks have been living and working with the L’Arche Belfast Community. Megan Miller has been with the East Belfast Mission, a project of the Methodist church. Rebecca Marek has worked with Holywell Consultancy and with the Junction community relations center in Derry/Londonderry. A. J. Detwiler, Adam Stokes, and Cori Miner have been at Greenhill YMCA in Newcastle, Co. Down. Tiffany Monarch has been in Coleraine with the Kilcranny House peace farm/residential center.

For more about Brethren Volunteer Service go to .

Source:12/29/2011 Newsline

Juniata takes action during Sandusky investigation.

Juniata College, a Church of the Brethren-related school in Huntingdon, Pa., has been named in news reports of the investigation of charges against Jerry Sandusky, former football coach at Penn State. ESPN reported that in May 2010, Sandusky applied for a volunteer football coaching job at Juniata but was rejected after failing a background check ( ). Other media outlets followed up with reports that Sandusky continued to be on the Juniata campus parts of last year. On Dec. 16, Juniata president Thomas R. Kepple Jr. released the following open letter on the college website:
Taking Action: Juniata and Steps Taken During Sandusky Investigation

Dear Juniata Community, in the last several weeks, as the alleged actions of Jerry Sandusky have dominated news headlines, we have been talking with various media about the facts of Sandusky's having been present on our campus and around our football team during the 2010 season.

The story has rightly caused concern among our alumni, students, families of our students, and other friends of Juniata. To aid in your understanding of what happened and to give you confidence in what Juniata is doing about it, I will share three things: facts regarding our initial response, the facts about Sandusky's presence as we have known and have communicated them, and what we are doing to ensure such a situation does not occur again.

When Sandusky was initially arrested, Juniata administration received information and communication from individuals close to and employed by our football program. We interviewed athletics staff still here, reviewed public safety reports, and worked to ensure we understood the facts. We contacted the state police on Nov. 9, 2011, and let them know Sandusky had been around our team. We offered to be of assistance should they want to interview people or perform any other investigative work. To date, they have thanked us for calling, but have chosen not to do any work here.

Our current athletic director, Greg Curley, and current head football coach, Tim Launtz, communicated with players, reminding them of campus resources if they wished to speak with counselors. We encouraged players and coaches that, if they had information of any wrongdoing, to contact police. We also shared with players that if they were approached by media, to feel free to talk with them. We also offered players, if they wished, to work with our media relations professionals, to help them know what to expect if talking with press. We also ensured that our media relations professionals had the facts as best we knew them to respond to press, and urged campus staff to send all inquiries through them.

In the days and weeks that followed, various media outlets chose to accentuate some facts rather than others, and some outlets have made errors of fact. We have responded to news media as they have contacted us. While CBS 21 in Harrisburg first chose to break the story, we have shared facts with other media outlets prior to speaking with CBS 21, none of whom opted to run the story.

In August 2009, Jerry Sandusky gave a motivational talk to players, as one of several individuals who gave similar talks during the preseason. The former head coach, Carmen Felus, had numerous contacts in central Pennsylvania and asked them to come and talk with players.

In May 2010, Felus, then the football coach, asked to have Jerry Sandusky serve as a volunteer coach with our football program. As is standard practice with anyone who wishes to do significant volunteer work or work on our campus, Juniata ran a background check on May 27, 2010. We received notice on June 2, 2010, that Sandusky was under criminal investigation.

Sandusky did not mention the investigation on the form for his background check. He was informed in a letter sent to his home that he was to have no association with Juniata's football program.
At this point Juniata College did not know the full nature of the criminal investigation affecting Jerry Sandusky. We knew only that he was under investigation in Clinton County.

Our athletic director at the time, Larry Bock, and provost, Jim Lakso, instructed Felus twice in June 2010 that Sandusky was not to be associated with the program. When Sandusky was spotted in the press box at the Franklin & Marshall game on Sept. 25, 2010, Larry Bock again informed Felus that Sandusky was not to be part of the program.

We have learned recently that assistant coaching staff present in Fall 2010 were unaware of the ban on Sandusky, despite Felus having been directed to inform his staff and players. Juniata administration was not aware of Sandusky's reappearance and its increasing frequency late in the fall 2010 semester until the following spring semester, by which time the former head coach had resigned.

We have spoken with several current players and coaching staff and accounts of the degree to which Sandusky was present after Sept. 25, 2010, are varied. We now know Sandusky attended Sunday coaching meetings (at which players are not typically present), but do not know which practices he did or did not attend.

We do not know and will not speculate on the relationship between Sandusky and the former head coach, nor do we know or wish to speculate on the reasons Felus had for continuing to enable Sandusky to be present.

Juniata administration heard neither complaints nor commentary from any students, coaches, or athletes about Sandusky's presence during the fall 2010 semester.

Juniata made changes as soon as the former head coach resigned on March 3, 2011.

The first thing we did was to hire an upstanding member of the Juniata community to serve as head coach--Tim Launtz. Launtz's background as director of public safety and residence life made him student- and academics-centered, and he had a record of excellent communication and assistance with students, faculty and administration. Tim was made clear that we expected significant communication and collaboration, and he readily and enthusiastically agreed.

Since then, Tim has built positive relationships with the enrollment office, the Dean of Students office, the provost, alumni relations, and a host of other campus bodies. Tim has clearly and repeatedly shared the mission he has for Juniata football. I quote him here: "The mission of the Juniata football program is to make Juniata men. A Juniata man is a man who treats women with respect; does not lie, steal, cheat; does not use drugs; and respects the cultural differences of his teammates and the campus community. We want our student/athletes to receive a degree in four years, have a plan for their future, and know that they had a positive experience at Juniata."

I have spoken with Tim many times this fall both before and after this situation. He has elevated and broadened the communication and connection between Juniata football and the rest of the community.

When Larry Bock left for a new full-time coaching position at Navy in February 2011, we discussed the limitations (which Larry had pointed out and helped us to consider) of having an athletic director who coached at a time when he or she could give limited attention to football. As the sport with the largest roster, largest attendance, and largest gross budget, football had to have better oversight from an athletic director.

Our current athletic director, Greg Curley, a longtime Juniata basketball coach, has a season that begins after football ends. He has been able to work with Coach Launtz, be present at games, and provide oversight for our larger-roster sports (football, as well as field hockey, men's and women's soccer, cross country, track and field) while they are in season, given that basketball's season runs at a time with few other sports active.

Greg's focus with our coaches has reiterated communication and the primacy of Juniata's educational mission. We have an excellent coaching staff, and their words and actions repeatedly underscore that the education of our students is our top priority.

In January 2012, we will convene a meeting of Juniata's leadership team, comprised of supervising directors in administration across all campus units. In these meetings we discuss enrollment, budgets, operations, and generally the ways we can improve. Given the human resource issues this situation has involved, we will be discussing proper use and administration of chain-of-command, documentation of key communications, and a review of our whistleblower policies (recently strengthened by our Board of Trustees Audit Committee).

We have also started reviewing with our Office of Public Safety how to ensure people understand reporting burdens in the event of various crimes and access issues. We have emergency notification protocols in place, and routinely perform practice exercises with key administrative staff, so I am confident we will be able to update and remind key personnel of our collective duties and responsibilities.

Finally, our Board of Trustees has been fully informed along the way about these issues and our actions.

I cannot say enough good things about our faculty, students and staff here at Juniata. They are the source of all that is great on this campus, and their work is what defines us. Juniata is far more than the actions of any one individual. We are the collective achievements of many people who work to serve others, to promote peace and learning, and to change their communities and their world for the better. And because we are a community of learners, we will learn from what happened here, and work toward better things.

If you have questions, please contact me.

--Thomas R. Kepple Jr., President

Source:12/29/2011 Newsline

Royer retires as manager of Global Food Crisis Fund.

Howard RoyerHoward E. Royer is retiring as manager of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) on Dec. 31. He has completed eight years as GFCF manager, serving three-quarter time on a contract/volunteer basis.

Also ending its work is the GFCF Grant Review Panel composed of three former international mission workers: Shantilal Bhagat of La Verne, Calif.; Peggy Boshart of Fort Atkinson, Wis.; and Ralph Royer of Claypool, Ind. The three served as volunteers.

This is the second time that Howard Royer has retired from service on the Church of the Brethren staff. He previously served on the denominational staff for 50 consecutive years from 1953-2003, starting out as a 1-W conscientious objector and volunteer in stewardship. He then filled successive roles as youth editor, news director, editor of “Messenger” magazine, coordinator of a salvation and justice program, and director of interpretation.

Over the span of his career, he served terms as national president of the Associated Church Press and the Religious Public Relations Council and as executive of the Council on Church and Media. He has carried out media assignments with the National Council of Churches, Church World Service, Religion News Service, and the World Council of Churches. He served six years on the board of SERRV International, eight years on the board of the Foods Resource Bank, and as a regular participant with inter-faith hunger directors.

Royer is credited with initiating the REGNUH campaign to “Turn Hunger Around” and a very successful food pantry matching grant project. He encouraged Brethren congregations across the country to become involved in growing projects to fight hunger and build denominational ties with the Foods Resource Bank, having the Brethren take the lead on FRB hunger projects in such places as Nicaragua, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and most notably North Korea. His efforts were instrumental in establishing a Church of the Brethren staff presence in North Korea.

The Global Food Crisis Fund continues as a program of Global Mission and Service. Since its beginning in 1983, the fund has issued grants of several millions dollars to foster sustainable food security in more than 30 countries. It issued grants totaling approximately $325,000 in 2011. Find out more at

Source:12/29/2011 Newsline

Blevins resigns as advocacy officer, ecumenical peace coordinator.

Jordan BlevinsJordan Blevins has resigned as advocacy officer and ecumenical peace coordinator for the Church of the Brethren and the National Council of Churches (NCC), effective March 1, 2012. He has served the Church of the Brethren, seconded to the NCC, since July 1, 2010, giving the denomination a new kind of witness and presence in Washington, D.C., and giving staff support to the peace witness of the NCC.

In that time, more than 450 Brethren have called on their members of Congress to support policies more reflective of Brethren values and have given voice to issues including poverty and hunger, creation care, and issues of violence. The NCC has actively supported the ratification of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, passed a General Assembly resolution calling for an end to the war in Afghanistan, and pursued a United States conversation following the World Council of Churches Decade to Overcome Violence.

"Jordan's work in Washington for both the Brethren and the National Council of Churches has raised the Brethren voice on peace and justice on the national and international stage,” commented general secretary Stan Noffsinger. “He is well respected and has received appreciation from many who have worked with him."

Previously, Blevins served in the NCC’s Eco-Justice Program and Domestic Poverty Initiative. His last day of work will be Feb. 29.

Source:12/29/2011 Newsline

World Interfaith Harmony Week is Feb. 1-7.

Logo for World Interfaith Harmony Week, UN initiative for first week of FebruaryOn Oct. 20, 2010, the General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously adopted a resolution designating the first week in February to be an annual World Interfaith Harmony Week. The General Assembly called for dialogue among the different religions internationally, nationally, and locally to enhance interfaith harmony and cooperation.

In this historic action the UN General Assembly recognized the possibility and necessity for the believers in the major world religions to facilitate peace building and to engage in the global moral issues of poverty, hunger, health care, environmental destruction, and other world challenges. Clergy and congregations are asked to focus during this week on
  1. learning about the faith and beliefs of followers of other religious traditions,
  2. remembering interfaith cooperation in prayers and messages, and
  3. sharing together in cooperative compassionate care for persons suffering and marginalized in local communities.
Increasingly, American diversity has persons of other faith traditions living with us as neighbors. In the cacophony of misunderstanding and mistrust, harmony is a recognition of the moral impact of learning about each other’s faith, religious beliefs, and practices, and the increased possibilities of helping local people in need through cooperative service. The World Interfaith Harmony Week is an opportunity to expand compassion locally by reducing our fears and prejudices.

For further information and resources go to .

-- Larry Ulrich is the Church of the Brethren representative on the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches.

Source:12/29/2011 Newsline

Peace meditation: Reflections from a BVS volunteer in Europe.

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker Susan Pracht has completed a term of service with Church and Peace in Laufdorf, Germany--the first BVSer to serve there since the late 1980s. Church and Peace is an ecumenical organization of more than 110 corporate and individual members from all over Europe. Before departing Europe, Pracht posted the following meditation on Facebook:
Ice drips off winter branchesIn a few weeks we will be back to the unlit bare bones of trees gracing our landscape on whatever walk we can convince ourselves to endure in below freezing weather. The cloak of the festive holiday season will be stripped away, and we will be left to face January on our own.

For these short weeks of Advent and the Christmas season, we are awash in the best qualities of humanity and God: peace, joy, love, hope, family, comfort, gratitude, beauty, grace, selflessness. A few years ago I worshiped at a midnight Mass in a very formal Anglican church. With the incense, the bells, and the choir, it was easy to believe that it was magic, that the coming of the Savior really had changed everything, ourselves, all the beings of the world.

In the cold bleakness of January, it’s just harder to maintain that belief. Does our attachment to the beautiful sentiment of “righteousness and peace will kiss each other” (Psalm 85:10) mean anything after Jan. 1, 2012? In my ministry with Brethren Volunteer Service, I have had the great privilege of meeting people and communities that have dedicated decades of their lives to the peace movement. What does it take to sustain such a commitment? Based on what I have seen, these people have given themselves as a “living sacrifice.” As a member of Church and Peace’s Administrative Committee put it, peace is not a church project; it is the way of Christ.

So how do we bring the way of Christ into our everyday lives? As “The Message” translation of Psalm 85:10-13 phrases it: “Love and Truth meet in the street.” Love and Truth meet on the bus. Love and Truth meet in the grocery store. Any time you recognize the Inner Light, the image of God within another being, and treat them as such.

“Right Living and Whole Living embrace and kiss!” Or, in the words of W.H. Bellinger Jr., a professor in the United States: “God’s unchanging love and trustworthiness come together to bring the community into right relationship with God and each other” ( ). When we accept that gift of redeemed relationship and strive to live our lives accordingly, with grace, mercy, and compassion from God, God gives us peace and acceptance with ourselves, and out of that, we can give that to others. But it’s not easy. There are many voices in our heads and in our hearts. Do something every day that helps you separate yourself from the autopilot in your mind, whether it is centering prayer, meditation, cooking, taking a walk....

“Truth spouts green from the ground, Right Living pours down from the skies!” When in doubt, step outside. Breathe deeply. Look. Listen.

“Oh yes! God gives Goodness and Beauty; our land responds with Bounty and Blessing. Right Living strides out before him, and clears a path for his passage.”

-- Susan Chase Pracht, Advent 2011

Source:12/29/2011 Newsline

Brethren bits

  • Remembrance: Teresa Anne "Terri" Meushaw, 62, died on Dec. 17 after a long battle with cancer. (The story of her struggle with cancer is told in an online journal, find it at .) She had retired as administrative assistant for the Church of the Brethren’s Mid-Atlantic District. She was a long-time presence at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., having also been a part of SERRV, a former administrative assistant to Miller Davis when he was director of the center, and director of the New Windsor Conference Center. Her memorial service will be held on her birthday, Dec. 31, at noon at Uniontown Bible Church in Union Bridge, Md. Memorial contributions are received to Uniontown Bible Church in support of missions. “Please keep Terri’s husband Bill and her children in your prayers,” said a prayer concern from the district.
  • The Church of the Brethren seeks a coordinator of Workcamps and Volunteer Recruitment. This full-time salaried position located at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., provides oversight and administration of youth and young adult workcamps and supports recruitment of volunteers for Brethren Volunteer Service. Applicants will need the following: Experience in leadership during workcamps or mission trips; experience working with youth; strong interpersonal skills and an ability to take initiative without regular supervision; experience working in a team; excellent ability in organizational skills; demonstrated ability in communication skills (verbal and written); demonstrated ability in providing faith/spiritual leadership in group settings; experience in word processing, database, and spreadsheet software. In addition the candidate will be well-grounded in Church of the Brethren heritage, theology, and practices, and be able to articulate and operate out of the vision of the Mission and Ministry Board of the Church of the Brethren. Recruitment experience in a college or equivalent volunteer service setting preferred. Understanding of managing a budget required. Experience managing a budget preferred. Willingness to travel extensively is required. A bachelor’s degree is expected, with a master’s degree or equivalent work experience helpful but not required. Request an application packet and full job description by contacting Director of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120;
  • The Church of the Brethren seeks a manager to fill a three-quarter time salaried position with benefits to provide oversight and administration of the Global Food Crisis Fund and the Emerging Global Mission Fund. This includes fundraising, grant making, and education and support of the Church of the Brethren regarding hunger issues. A bachelor’s degree is required, a master’s degree or equivalent experience is preferred in sustainable agriculture, economic development, community development, or a related field. Requirements also include strong interpersonal skills; ability to take initiative without regular supervision; strong verbal and written communication skills; willingness to travel; experience in word processing, database, and spreadsheet software; and understanding of budget management, with experience with grant management preferred. Knowledge of Church of the Brethren heritage, theology, and polity strongly preferred. Request an application packet and full job description by contacting Director of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120;
  • The Church of the Brethren seeks a program assistant in Human Resources, a part-time hourly position located at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The program assistant will facilitate human resources activities such as employment, compensation, labor relations, benefits, training, and employee services. Requirements include an associate’s degree, with a bachelor’s degree strongly preferred; two to four years generalist experience and/or training in the Human Resources field, business, or equivalent combination of education and experience; knowledge of the ADP Workforce Now human resource and payroll system a plus. Request an application packet and full job description by contacting Director of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120;
  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) has publicized vacancy notices for four positions: Manager Income Monitoring and Development (deadline for receiving applications is Jan. 25, 2012); Associate General Secretary for Programmes Public Witness and Diakonia to set strategic directions for the WCC’s programmatic work in the area of Public Witness and Diakonia (deadline for receiving applications is Jan. 25, 2012); Programme Executive for Inter-religious Dialogue and Cooperation to facilitate reflection and action on dialogue and cooperation with other religions, especially in relation to East Asian religions (deadline for receiving applications is Jan. 10, 2012); and EAPPI Communications Officer. The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) is a program of the WCC that brings internationals to the West Bank to experience life under occupation. Ecumenical Accompaniers provide protective presence to vulnerable communities, monitor and report human rights abuses, and support Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace and for a just and peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through an end to the occupation, respect for international law, and implementation of UN resolutions (deadline for receiving applications is Jan. 16, 2012). Vacancy notices are at . Applicants should apply online to within the planned time frames.
  • Applications for the Church of the Brethren’s Youth Peace Travel Team for summer 2012 are due Jan. 13. Each year four young adults ages 18-23 spend the summer visiting Brethren camps and conferences to educate youth about Christian peacemaking, with sponsorship from the Youth and Young Adult ministry, On Earth Peace, the Outdoor Ministries Association, Brethren Volunteer Service, and Global Mission and Service. Find information and application form at
  • Also due Jan. 13 are applications for Ministry Summer Service 2012. MSS is a leadership development program for college students in the Church of the Brethren who spend 10 weeks of the summer working in the church either in a local congregation, district office, camp, or denominational program. The 2012 orientation is June 1-6. For more about the program go to
  • A number of online registration opportunities begin in the next few days:
    • Jan. 2 is the opening date for early registration for congregational delegates to the 2012 Annual Conference in St. Louis, Mo. Registration opens at noon (central time) on Jan. 2 at The early registration fee is $285 per delegate. The fee increases to $310 on Feb. 23. Congregations will be able to register their delegates online and will be able to pay either by credit card or by sending a check. A memo and registration form has been mailed to every congregation. Nondelegate registration and housing reservations will begin Feb. 22. Contact the Conference Office at or 800-323-8039 ext. 229.
    • Jan. 6 is when online registration opens for National Young Adult Conference. Registration opens at 8 p.m. (central) on Jan. 6 at The conference is June 18-22 at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with the theme, "Humble Yet Bold: Being the Church" (Matthew 5:13-18). Go to the YAC web page above for more information about the conference.
    • Jan. 9 is the opening day of registration for the 2012 workcamps. “Get ready, get set, and get registered!” says a reminder from the Workcamp Office. “Can’t wait to see you this summer!” Workcamp registration opens Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. (central). Go to to register. For questions, please contact Cat Gong or Rachel Witkovsky in the Workcamp Office by e-mail at or by phone at 800-323-8039 ext. 283 or 301.
  • A draft revision of “Ministerial Leadership Polity in the Church of the Brethren” as well as resources to help explain and interpret the paper are posted at . The revision will come to the Annual Conference for a first read in 2012, to be voted on in 2013. “Until Annual Conference approves a new polity document on ministerial leadership, the Church of the Brethren follows polity laid out in the paper on Ministerial Leadership adopted by Annual Conference in 1999,” explains an introductory note from the Ministry Office. “Calling and sustaining leadership for the church are the responsibilities of the whole church. Individuals, congregations, districts and the denomination work together to call forth leaders for our life together. Our hope in making this draft widely available is that we might read, study, and consider all that it includes--together.” Plans are for each district to host a listening and information session for its District Ministry Commission, facilitated by Office of Ministry staff and representatives to the Ministry Advisory Council, in the early months of 2012. Available at are the draft revision, timeline, and responses to frequently asked questions.
  • “Benign Neglect Imperils Children after a Disaster” is the title of an article contributed by Judy Bezon, associate director of the Church of the Brethren’s Children’s Disaster Services, to the “The Dialogue,” a journal published by the Disaster Technical Assistance Center of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The journal provides information and resources to disaster behavioral health professionals. Find the article at
    Henry Kurtz chest, acquired by BHLA Fall 2011
  • The Brethren Historical Library and Archives has acquired a historic chest originally belonging to the Kurtz family. The chest reportedly was brought over to the US from Europe in 1817 by Henry Kurtz (1796-1874), first Brethren publisher (“Monthly Gospel-Visiter”). Measuring two feet by two feet by 55 inches, made of wood with metal fastenings and handles, the chest stayed in the family long after the death of Henry Kurtz. It was donated to the archives at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., by Edward and Mary Jane Todd of Columbiana, Ohio, members of Zion Hill Church of the Brethren. The chest is a companion piece to a pipe organ (1698) brought over to America by Henry Kurtz in 1817. For a “Hidden Gems” page about Henry Kurtz go to
  • The Third Peace Gathering of the Historic Peace Churches in Florida will be held Jan. 28, 2012, from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. hosted by Sebring Church of the Brethren. The $20 registration fee includes lunch and snacks. A special peace testimony will be given by Enten Eller, former draft resister and now staff at Bethany Theological Seminary, who also will lead a morning workshop on “Social Networking and Electronic Communications for Peace.” Other workshops will address praying for peace, peace education, witnessing to lawmakers, and more. Contact Phil Lersch, facilitator of the coordinating committee, at 727-544-2911 or .
  • Emmert F. Bittinger’s book, “Allegheny Passage: Churches and Families of the West Marva District of the Church of the Brethren, 1752-1990,” is being reprinted and will be made available in early 2012 by West Marva District. The book had been out of print for some years. A group from West Marva, working with the Bittinger family, facilitated the reprinting. A pre-publication discount price of $64.95 (plus $6 shipping and handling per copy by mail) is available for those purchasing the book by Dec. 31. After the first of the year, the cost will be $79.95 plus shipping and handling. Contact West Marva District Office, 384 Dennett Rd., Oakland MD 21550.
  • The Milestones in Ministry dinner was again a part of the Shenandoah District Conference this year. Twenty-eight ministers were recognized for years of service since ordination: Fred Bowman and Emerson Fike, 65 years; Bob McFadden, 60 years; Dee Flory, David Rittenhouse, and Albert Sauls, 55 years; Auburn Boyers and Fred Swartz, 50 years; J.D. Glick, 45 years; Ed Carl and John Foster, 40 years; Sam Sligar, 35 years; JuliAnne Bowser Sloughfy, Don Curry, and Bruce Noffsinger, 30 years; Jim Jinks and Elaine Hartman McGann, 25 years; Bill Abshire, Shelvie Mantz, Julian Rittenhouse, and George Yocum, 20 years; George Bowers, Walt Crull, Bill Fitchett, and Don Guthrie, 15 years; Gary Major, Daryl Ritchie, and Glenn Shifflett, 5 years.
  • At least two other districts also honored ministers for terms of service: Virlina District Conference honored L. Clyde Carter Jr. for 50 years of service. Atlantic Southeast District Conference recognized the following ministers: Steve Horrell and Jaime Diaz, 5 years; Jimmy Baker, 20 years; Jerry Hartwell and Benjamin Perez, 35 years; Terry Hatfield, 40 years; Wendell Bohrer and Merle Crouse, 55 years. Also, Berwyn Oltman received the Gemmer Peace Award at the Atlantic Southeast District Conference.
  • Feb. 3, 2012, is the Annual Dinner and Meeting of the Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at Shady Oak beside Weavers Mennonite Church. In addition to food prepared by the Rhodes Sisters and provided by a generous donor, guests will see a preview of the play, "Jordan's Stormy Banks."
  • The December edition of "Brethren Voices," the community television program produced by Portland's Peace Church of the Brethren, features the Intentional Community Houses of Brethren Volunteer Service. Since 2009, BVS has created Intentional Community Houses in Elgin, Ill.; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Portland, Ore. These projects offer volunteers a community living experience and the opportunity to volunteer with local organizations serving the needs of  the nearby community, along with relationship to a local congregation. This edition of “Brethren Voices,” hosted by Brent Carlson, features five volunteers who have been the first to serve in the Portland project. Members of the congregation provide insight into how a small church was able to bring this into reality as part of its ministry. The  January 2012 “Brethren Voices” features 2012 Annual Conference moderator Tim Harvey of Roanoke, Va. “Brethren Voices” is offered as community television resource and isbeing used by some congregations as a resource for Sunday school classes. Contact Ed Groff at for more information.
  • A children’s book by Jan West Schrock, daughter of Heifer International founder Dan West, has been made into a play. Schrock reports, “My little children’s book, ‘Give A Goat,’ is featured in the Dec. 2011 ‘Library Sparks’ magazine. It has become a play in the Reader’s Theater for children Grades 3-5.” Find an interview with Schrock at , click on “Meet the Author.”
  • Two Church of the Brethren members have co-authored “Beneath the Tip of the Iceberg: Improving English and Understanding US Cultural Patterns” (Univ. of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor). Darla K. Bowman Deardorff of Peace Covenant Church of the Brethren in Durham, N.C., is executive director of the association of International Education Administrators based at Duke University where she also teaches cross-cultural courses, and on the faculty at North Carolina State University and the University of N. Carolina, Chapel Hill. Kay M. Bowman of Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren is a retired minister’s wife, speaker, author, and writer for more than 50 years. Their book introduces students who are new to the US to deeper levels of American culture in order to help improve their interactions with others in their communities.
Source:12/29/2011 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 Terry Barkley, James Deaton, Kristin Flory, Ed Groff, Karin L. Krog, Howard Royer, Larry Ulrich, Rachel Witkovsky, Jay Wittmeyer, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Newsline: December 14, 2011


Brethren statement presented at meeting on torture.

Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger was one of several officials of faith-based groups in a meeting with members of the Obama administration to discuss the issue of torture. The meeting yesterday, Dec. 13, in Washington, D.C., followed up on a letter to the administration from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) urging that the US sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture.

Stan Noffsinger and Michael Kinnamon at vigil in Washington, D.C.
Photo courtesy of the National Council of Churches
Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger (left) joined National Council of Churches general secretary Michael Kinnamon (right) at an outdoor vigil in Washington, D.C., yesterday calling on Congress to remember struggling people in the federal budget. The two also were part of a meeting with members of the Obama administration to discuss the issue of torture, organized by NRCAT, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.
Noffsinger was one of those presenting during the meeting (read his prepared comments below). The interfaith group also included Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, and representatives of several Christian denominations and Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh groups. Representing NRCAT was executive director Richard L. Killmer alongside the organization's president and two staff members.

Sixty-six American religious leaders including Noffsinger have signed on to the NRCAT letter calling for the United States to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT). Titled, "Join the Treaty: The US Should Act to Prevent Torture Everywhere," the letter opens with the statement, "Torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment are contrary to our common religious belief in the fundamental dignity of each human being. We call upon the US government, once a leader in the effort to end the use of torture, to reclaim that role by signing and ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture."

The letter proposes that the country take steps against the use of torture by providing independent oversight of conditions in detention facilities such as prisons and police stations. "We believe that if the US joins OPCAT and provides robust oversight of its places of detention, it will be significantly more difficult for cases of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment to occur within the US. Ratifying OPCAT would also enhance our government's effectiveness in urging other countries to end their use of torture," the letter says.

The full text of Noffsinger's presentation:
"Good morning. It is no surprise that a Historic Peace Church is before you to reflect on the topic of torture as our historical understanding that violence perpetrated against another is inconsistent with Holy Scriptures. Our strong beliefs have at times have placed us in peril with the communities in which we live. Thus, we have experienced violence and torture ourselves, and the price at times has been great.

"In 2010 the church proclaimed its opposition to torture stating that 'torture is a blatant violation of the tenets of our faith.' Torture injects into the perpetrator's character the sense of being better than the other, that dehumanizing the other is justifiable, and that breaking of the human spirit, which is a God begotten gift, is a noble pursuit when done in the name of a nation state. We acknowledged our contemporary complacency and declared, 'we would be silent no more.'

"I was recently an honored guest of the Vatican as a delegate to the Day of Reflection, Dialogue, and Prayer for Peace and Justice in the World, held in Assisi, Italy. Each delegate received a copy of the October 13, 2011, letter from President Obama that commended us to 'interfaith dialogue, to unite in a common cause to lift up the afflicted, make peace where there is strife, and find the way forward to a better world for ourselves and our children.' On that world stage I declared 'my commitment to 'urge the leaders of Nations to make every effort to create and consolidate, on the national and international levels, a world of solidarity and peace based on justice.' I committed to working for world in which peace and justice are recognized as a human right.

"Being present today to encourage the administration and the President to discern, evaluate and eventually sign and the Senate to ratify OPCAT is an implicit responsibility as one who has heard the global community's yearning for a Just Peace. It is my hope and prayer that 'in the name of God, every religion bring upon the earth justice and peace, forgiveness and life.' Thank you."
For more about NRCAT go to or For the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference statement of 2010, "Resolution Against Torture," go to For yesterday's Action Alert from the witness ministry of the Church of the Brethren that includes a link for voicing support for the NRCAT letter, go to

Source:12/14/2011 Newsline

Mission and Ministry Board member is part of ecumenical visit to Cuba.

Becky Ball-Miller represents the Church of the Brethren on Cuba delegation
Photo by José Aurelio Paz, Coordinador Área de Comunicaciones del CIC
Becky Ball-Miller, a member of the Mission and Ministry Board, was the Church of the Brethren representative on an ecumenical delegation of church leaders visiting Cuba. Shown here: the two delegations from the councils of churches in the United States and Cuba work together to arrive at a joint statement. Ball-Miller is in the second pew, at center right, wearing a light blue blouse.
A meeting of US church leaders with leaders of the Council of Churches of Cuba concluded in Havana on Dec. 2 with a joint declaration celebrating signs of greater unity between US and Cuban churches. Sixteen representatives of National Council of Churches (NCC) member communions including the Church of the Brethren were in Cuba from Nov. 28-Dec. 2 meeting with Cuban church and political leaders, including President Raúl Castro.

Mission and Ministry Board member Becky Ball-Miller was the Church of the Brethren member on the delegation to Cuba (read her reflections on the trip in the feature article below).

The delegation, which Cuban church leaders said was the highest ranking US church group to visit the island in their memory, was led by Michael Kinnamon, NCC general secretary. The joint statement by the churches declared that normalization of relations between the US and Cuba would be in the best interest of both nations, and the leaders called for the resolution of three humanitarian issues “which cause unjustifiable human misunderstanding and suffering.”

Foremost among the issues is the 53-year-old US economic embargo of Cuba that dates back to the administration of President John F. Kennedy. The embargo is “the major obstacle to the resolution of differences, to economic interaction, and to fuller engagement of our peoples and churches,” the US and Cuban church leaders said.

Also cited as obstacles to normalization of relations is the imprisonment in the US of the “Cuban Five,” whose sentences in 1998 “have been deemed unjust by numerous human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and the United Nations; and the two-year incarceration in Cuba of U.S. citizen Alan Gross.

“Together, we affirm the importance of living in hope, but also to demonstrate the credibility of our hope by acting to help make it so,” the church leaders said. “We, therefore, commit ourselves to promote, even more vigorously, the relationship between our churches and church and ecumenical councils, and to advocate, even more assertively, for the normalization of relations between our countries. Such commitment, we confess, is a response to the One who has bound us to one another (e.g., Ephesians 4:6) and sent us forth to be ambassadors of God’s reconciling love.”

Kinnamon and other members of the delegation met with the wives of the “Cuban Five” and with Alan Gross to publicize their support for their release. Gross’ name came up during a meeting Dec. 1 between Kinnamon and Cuban President Raúl Castro. Kinnamon said Castro expressed concern about Gross’ declining health, but did not comment on the possibility of his release.

Kinnamon also preached Nov. 27 at the National Episcopal Cathedral, highlighting a passage from the Apostle Paul: “Give thanks in all circumstances… (1 Thessalonians)”; and laying out challenges faced by the churches of the United States and Cuba.

In addition to Kinnamon and his wife, Mardine Davis, the 18-member US delegation included John McCullough, executive director and CEO of Church World Service, and top leaders of a number of Christian denominations including the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church, among several others.

-- This article is excerpted from a release by Philip E. Jenks of the National Council of Churches communications staff. The full text of the joint declaration can be read at

Source:12/14/2011 Newsline

National Youth Cabinet chooses theme for the year.

National Youth Cabinet, 2011-2012
Photo by Carol Fike/Jeremy McAvoy
The Church of the Brethren's National Youth Cabinet for 2011-12: (left front to back) Becky Ullom, Marissa Witkovsky, Lara Neher, Michael Himlie; (right, front to back) Ben Lowman, Amy Messler (adult advisor), Michael Novelli (adult advisor), and Josh Bollinger. Not shown: Kinsey Miller.
“Bridging the Gap” (Romans 15:5-7) has been chosen as the youth ministry theme for 2012 by the Church of the Brethren’s National Youth Cabinet, which held a weekend meeting at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on Dec. 2-4. “Bridging the Gap” also will be the theme for National Youth Sunday on May 6, 2012.

The members of the 2011-12 National Youth Cabinet are
  • Josh Bollinger of Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren in Shenandoah District;
  • Michael Himlie of Root River Church of the Brethren in Northern Plains District;
  • Ben Lowman of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Virlina District;
  • Kinsey Miller of Black Rock Church of the Brethren in Southern Pennsylvania District;
  • Lara Neher of Ivester Church of the Brethren in Northern Plains District;
  • Marissa Witkovsky of Roaring Spring Church of the Brethren in Middle Pennsylvania District;
  • adult advisors Amy Messler of Waynesboro Church of the Brethren in Southern Pennsylvania District, and Michael Novelli of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Illinois and Wisconsin District; and
  • Becky Ullom, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries.
Source:12/14/2011 Newsline

Bethany Seminary receives grant for faculty study.

The Association of Theological Schools has awarded Bethany Seminary a $4,000 grant as part of its Christian Hospitality and Pastoral Practices in a Multifaith Society project. The funds will support Bethany faculty in exploring the nature of ministry in multifaith contexts and in the practical application of these findings to student course work.

“As a faculty, we’ve wondered how to educate people for Christian ministry in multifaith settings, and this grant lets us explore this question in an intentional, disciplined way,” said Russell Haitch, associate professor of Christian education and writer of the grant proposal. Anticipated outcomes of the study, scheduled for spring 2012, include better teaching and learning on pastoral practices in multifaith contexts, greater clarity about key concepts of Bethany’s mission, and stronger collegiate relations and collaborative scholarship.

One influence that led to the writing of the proposal was the seminary’s new mission statement, emphasizing education for “ministering, proclaiming, and living out God’s shalom and Christ’s peace.” Bethany faculty have expressed a desire to examine how this language, in conjunction with the Brethren peace tradition, should inform the preparation of ministry students for the variety of multifaith contexts that exist in society today.

A second factor was Haitch’s personal interest in interfaith dialogue, stemming partly from Bethany’s 2008 Presidential Forum on “Hearing Scriptures of Peace,” which brought together speakers and scholars from Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Haitch also appreciates the work of the Scriptural Reasoning Society, a group of scholars from the Abrahamic traditions. “Their approach is not a big-tent philosophy which searches for some elusive lowest common denominator, but a dialogue which strives for what they call ‘higher quality differences.’ The goal is not consensus but friendship and better understanding,” he said.

Two practical ministry settings will serve as test contexts for the study: hospital ministry and hospitality in cross-cultural experiences, the multifaith contexts that Bethany students are most likely to encounter. A number of students participate in clinical pastoral education in health care settings, and all degree-seeking students are required to participate in a cross-cultural experience.

"We are excited to be one of the few seminaries selected by the Association of Theological Schools to receive this grant,” said Steve Schweitzer, academic dean. “It will provide an excellent opportunity for Bethany faculty to engage in conversations on a topic that affects many of our graduates and has practical implications for those in congregational settings. This type of forward thinking will only make our educational programs stronger."

Six faculty members will participate in the study through a series of meetings and assigned readings. Jewish scholar Peter Ochs from the University of Virginia and Muslim scholar A. Rashied Omar from the University of Notre Dame, both of whom have professional connections with Haitch, have been invited to share their faith and intercultural perspectives.

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

Source:12/14/2011 Newsline

On Earth Peace announces staff changes.

On Earth Peace will close the position of communications coordinator on Dec. 31, and will carry out the responsibilities of that position in new ways. This means that Gimbiya Kettering, the current coordinator of communications, will conclude her service this month. Kettering began employment with On Earth Peace in August 2007, and has edited print and electronic newsletters, in addition to producing annual reports to constituents and coordinating the organization’s participation at Annual Conference.

James S. Replogle will conclude his service on the staff of On Earth Peace on Dec. 31. He was called in October 2010 to the temporary role of operations director, to assist the organization with strategic planning and transition.

-- Bob Gross is executive director of On Earth Peace.

Source:12/14/2011 Newsline

New Brethren staff are placed in South Sudan.

Athanasus Ungang and Jay Wittmeyer in South Sudan, Fall 2011
Photo by
Athanasus Ungang (right), who began work in South Sudan in September with sponsorship from the denomination's Global Mission and Service program, poses with Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of the program. Ungang is serving as a program volunteer for the Church of the Brethren placed with an ecumenical partner, the Africa Inland Church (AIC).
Athanasus Ungang and Jillian Foerster have begun work in South Sudan on behalf of the Church of the Brethren. Both have been placed with ecumenical partners, with sponsorship from the denomination’s Global Mission and Service program.

Ungang started in September as a program volunteer with the Africa Inland Church (AIC), a Sudanese church denomination where former Church of the Brethren mission worker Michael Wagner also was placed. Ungang is an ordained minister in the AIC, who became connected with the Church of the Brethren when he was translator for the late Phil and Louise Rieman while they were mission workers in Sudan many years ago. Since then he and his family immigrated to the United States, where he worked for the state of South Dakota on immigrant placement. Ungang’s wife and children continue to live in the US.

Foerster is working with RECONCILE International as an administrative associate, serving through Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS). She is a member of Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Port Republic, Va., and holds a degree in international relations with a minor in economics.

Global Mission and Service executive director Jay Wittmeyer accompanied Foerster to South Sudan and stayed for a week visiting with ecumenical partners, returning to the US on Dec. 6. He met with leaders of AIC, RECONCILE, and the Sudan Council of Churches.

Wittmeyer reported on plans for the Church of the Brethren to establish a Peace Center in the area of Torit in South Sudan as “a place of outreach out of which we will be able to work.” He envisions partnering with AIC to build a site for the Peace Center, which will also be a place for Brethren to work on related efforts such as theological education, community development, and agricultural development. Wittmeyer added that he hopes establishment of the center will enable the placement of a number of BVS volunteers in South Sudan.

During his trip, Wittmeyer learned of new leadership of the Sudan Council of Churches, where a former head of the council has been removed from office after financial irregularities. Wittmeyer met with Rev. Mark Akec Cien, acting general secretary of the council, who is encouraging the Church of the Brethren to be involved in South Sudan “because of our long history there,” Wittmeyer said.

Source:12/14/2011 Newsline

Reflections on Cuba, December 2011.

Cuban political leader Esteban Lazo with Michael Kinnamon of the NCC
Photo by José Aurelio Paz, Coordinador Área de Comunicaciones del CIC
MIchael Kinnamon (right) general secretary of the US National Council of Churches chats with Cuban political leader and Politburo member Esteban Lazo (left) during an ecumenical delegation of US church leaders to Cuba. The delegation included Church of the Brethren representative Becky Ball-Miller, a member of the Mission and Ministry Board from Goshen, Ind.
Becky Ball-Miller, a member of the Church of the Brethren’s Mission and Ministry Board and CEO of Troyer Foods, Inc., an employee-owned company in Goshen, Ind., wrote the following reflection after she returned from an ecumenical delegation to Cuba:

It has been a little over a week since I returned from Cuba as part of a delegation with the National Council of Churches (NCC) meeting with the Cuban Council of Churches. I have not “scribed” my thoughts to paper before this for two reasons; first, life tends to be very full as we enter Advent and return from travels, and second, and mostly, because I have such a myriad of thoughts, feelings, and responses to my time away.

I travelled to Cuba in 1979 for a January term class at Manchester College. I was curious to see how much I remembered from that trip and how my responses may have changed--both because of the change in Cuba and especially because of the change in my life assumptions and expectations. In 1979 I was a self-described “poor college student” and today I might be described by some as a wealthy, successful business person who is blessed with opportunities to serve my faith community.

I was intrigued by how similar my reflections have been regarding the Cuban people and our relationship with Cuba. As one colleague reflected, the Cuban people will often say they may be poor but they are not desperate. It is apparent that they feel “cared for.” They advocate strongly and verbalize often their belief in the fundamental right of all Cubans for healthcare, education, food, and shelter. Cuban Politburo member Esteban Lazo shared that if he has two potatoes and his neighbor has none, then he should share his with his neighbor. It’s hard not to have images of the early church flood to my mind.

As we worked with the Cuban Council of Churches to develop a joint statement on our relations with Cuba, as we listened to the Cuban people and government representative, as we spent time in prayer and reflection, it seemed clear to me that the US embargo feels very much like bullying and holding a grudge. When they shared the dire economic conditions experienced in Cuba after the fall of the wall in 1991 (which they equated to our great depression), I couldn’t help but think that we missed a perfect opportunity to reach out and be the good neighbor, both exercising and asking for forgiveness and entering into a new and life-giving relationship.

What does this mean now? What have I learned from my experience? How will I live differently? I was intrigued by how similar my responses have been to 1979. My sense is that many Cubans have a strong sense of Christian identity and perhaps “do” church better than many Americans. I was intrigued with the level of fundamental care for one another in the midst of what we would define as poverty and perhaps even oppression. I was curious about the statement from an economic advisor we met with that they are not a socialist nation, but a nation founded on socialist principles. Another colleague shared that many of the parishioners described Castro as a strict father who took care of his children and they needed to do as he said.

Perhaps as you read this many mixed emotions and thoughts swirl in your mind, as they do mine. It became clear to me that there is no place for judgment and tremendous opportunity for learning and for improving the human condition--for all of us. It has certainly touched my mind and spirit with a new level of interest in ways we can increase humanitarian aid to Cuba and other people in need.

My life lessons from this experience are still forming. Yet, this I know: I have been much more sensitized to both the “different” and the “same” among us. That first and foremost, I want to focus on the need to offer life-giving care, for my neighbor(s) both near and far, for God’s earth, for God’s creatures (yes I couldn’t help but notice the cats and dogs and even reflect on the difference in care for our pets) and even for myself. It has been very meaningful to step away from the “norm”--my usual hustle and bustle--and be reminded of the spiritual connectedness that the noise in my life can often drown out. I believe this experience will continue to develop me, my relationship with others and my relationship with God and for that I give great thanks.
May we look at each day this Advent season--and always--as a new gift and an opportunity to share in Kingdom living.

Source:12/14/2011 Newsline

Wonder stick: An interview with Grace Mishler. Grace Mishler, November 2011

Grace Mishler, November 2011
Photo courtesy of Vietnam News Service / Vaên Ñaït
Grace Mishler is serving in Vietnam with sponsorship from the Global Mission and Service department, placed at the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities. Working with disabilities issues, she was interviewed for White Cane Safety Day in Vietnam by a journalist from the Vietnam News Outlook, a publication with national distribution.
The following interview with Grace Mishler, Church of the Brethren member serving in Vietnam with support from the denomination’s Global Mission and Service office, is by Vietnamese journalist Löu Vaên Ñaït. It is reprinted here with permission, originally appearing Nov. 15 in English in the “Vietnam News Outlook” social section, whose circulation is nation-wide:

The visually impaired struggle to be more independent by using a white cane that allows them to better integrate into society. “With my cane, I feel more independent in Vieät Nam. It’s my best friend here,” says American Grace Mishler, whose eyesight began to fail when she was 31 years old. 

Today, at 64, Grace works as a consultant at the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities. Her work, which aims to raise public sensitivity and compassion about the disabled, is supported in part by Church of the Brethren Global Mission based in the US.

Grace settled in Vieät Nam 12 years ago after an initial three-week visit. Having traveled all over the country, she is never without her cane. When I arrived at her house for an interview, she insisted that she first demonstrate how to cross a busy street with the white cane. She showed me the moves which she had learned from her friend Leâ Daân Baïch Vieät, who studied mobility training for the blind in the US at the University of Pennsylvania. He later returned to teach blind people in Vieät Nam.

“Leâ was the master of mobility for visually impaired people. Unfortunately, he died from cancer after he set up the first mobility-training course in Vieät Nam,” she adds.

Grace says that most visually impaired people in the country do not know how to use the cane, and they often don’t go out because they feel embarrassed and uncomfortable. Few of them own a white cane, which began to be widely used in the early 20th century in France, the UK, and the US.

Her biggest concern now is that few blind people in Vieät Nam choose to use a cane. Without it, they stay isolated from friends and the community.

The three things that have helped her survive in Vieät Nam are her hat, sunglasses, and white cane, she says. “Even though the cane helps me, I know sometimes I can still get really nervous,” Grace admits.

She struck me as a woman of strong self-determination, with an iron spirit. She has had several difficulties in her life. Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at aged 31, she later discovered that she had leukemia, which was successfully treated and remains in remission.

During her first few days in Vieät Nam, Grace says she felt odd when she stepped out onto the street, hearing the roaring sound of motorbikes. She often took a taxi or motorbike to travel because of her fear. She says the streets in Saøi Goøn can be difficult to navigate without assistance, from either a cane, a seeing-eye dog or another person. The pavements are often crowded with parking lots for motorbikes or kiosks, she says.

In 1999, before coming to Vieät Nam, she relied heavily on her cane during a five-week stay in India. Later, when she moved here, she found that the roads here were more organized than in India. During her 12 years here, she has not had any accident, except for one fall in a bathroom.

More young people in Vieät Nam are beginning to use the white cane, which helps them to walk and use public transport. Hoaøng Vónh Taâm, 18, who was born with a visual impairment, travels by bus to his university in District 3 from Nhaät Hoàng Centre for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Thuû Ñöùc District. He learned how to use the cane from teachers at the centre.

“Thanks to the cane, I travelled independently to high school, and now I can attend university,” says Taâm, who wants to become a tour guide.

A few weeks ago, Taâm got lost when he was going home because the bus suddenly changed route. He got off and began walking. “I was able to get home because of my cane and what I was taught,” he says.

Leâ Thò Vaân Nga, director of the centre, was trained in Australia in mobility techniques for the blind. Nga, who is not visually impaired, says the white cane is like a long finger for the people who use it. Without the cane, they can feel isolated from the community, refusing to participate in social activities or studies at school.

In Vieät Nam, there are only about 20 lecturers around the country who can teach mobility techniques for the blind. Nga said that when she studied in Australia, as part of her training, she was dropped in the middle of nowhere blindfolded, and had to find a way to return to a previously appointed location. In Vieät Nam, Nga teaches the same practical techniques as well as several theory classes. “Walking on the street, I understand the challenges that the blind face, and know the importance of the white cane,” she says.

She hopes to develop more orientation courses for the blind. “Even sighted people get lost, so the course is very important.” 

Recently, four five-day courses on mobility techniques were offered to teachers at schools for the blind and other schools. 

Symbol of independence: To raise awareness about the visually impaired, Vieät Nam celebrated the first White Cane Safety Day on Oct. 14, with 50 visually impaired people walking with their white canes down Nguyeãn Chí Thanh Street from Nguyeãn Ñình Chieåu Blind School in HCM City. The special day was initiated in 1964 by the US Congress in a joint resolution that designated Oct. 15 as White Cane Safety Day. Renamed Blind Americans Equality Day by President Barack Obama this year on Oct. 14, the day recognises the contributions of Americans who are blind or have poor vision.  

“On this day, we celebrate the achievements of blind and visually impaired Americans and reaffirm our commitment to advancing their complete social and economic integration,” Obama said.

Not only does the white cane offer protection and help the visually impaired live independently, it also alerts motor vehicles and pedestrians to yield the right of way to the person using the cane.

Source:12/14/2011 Newsline

An Advent letter from the Annual Conference officers.

“If we have love, disagreement will do us no harm. If we do not have love, agreement will do us no good.” --Kurtis Friend Naylor

To our sisters and brothers in the Church of the Brethren:

The items of business at Annual Conference earlier this year addressed significant matters of life and faith, and our passionate discussions showed that we take those matters seriously.

Vigorous debate is not necessarily cause for concern, but within our discussions there were clearly times when our tone and attitudes toward one another crossed a line. In those moments, it was painful to see that our debate sounded no different from the way society in general debates controversial matters--sides are taken, accusations are made, threats are received. One church member received a death threat. Another member was told, “I wish you would go to hell.” And many individuals spent their time identifying with their particular sub-group rather than with the church as a whole.

As officers of Annual Conference, we long for our discussions in the Church of the Brethren to be markedly different from that of the world. If those who are not disciples of Jesus were to observe us at our most difficult moments, would they be able to see--through our words, our tone, and our actions--how much we love and respect one another?

And so we offer a challenge. We urge each of us to take a step back from our current disagreements and examine whether our own attitudes and actions reflect the transformation we have come to know through the Holy Spirit.  Specifically, we encourage members to consider taking the following actions before the 2012 Annual Conference in St. Louis:

  • If we have spoken ill of anyone or in any way failed to build up the church through our spoken words, our social media, or even by our thoughts, that we make an effort to be reconciled again in Christ Jesus our Lord, in the spirit of Matthew 18:15-20.
  • That we devote ourselves to study and prayer around the 2012 Annual Conference theme, “Continuing the work of Jesus. Peacefully. Simply. Together,” and theme verses Matthew 28:19-20.
Finally, it is our hope that we would all hold one another in prayer as we seek to “Continue the work of Jesus. Peacefully. Simply. Together.”

Grace and peace to you,
Tim Harvey, 2012 Annual Conference Moderator
Bob Krouse, Moderator-elect and Fred Swartz, Annual Conference Secretary

Source:12/14/2011 Newsline

Brethren bits: Job openings, Annual Conference delegate registration, college news, and more.

  • Shenandoah District seeks a full-time district executive minister for a position available May 1, 2012. The district includes 97 congregations, 5 fellowships, and 1 project. It seeks a strong, outgoing leader who will develop and build vital and growing relationships with congregations and ministers. The district is making a transition from multiple staff to a district executive minister who will work with a Leadership Team to develop additional staffing needs. Camp Brethren Woods is a significant aspect of district ministry. The camp director is part of district staff as an associate district executive. The district office is located in Weyers Cave, Va. Responsibilities include serving as executive officer of the district Leadership Team; facilitating and overseeing planning and implementation of ministries set forth by the District Conference and the Leadership Team; providing linkages between the district and its congregations, the Mission and Ministry Board, and denominational agencies; promoting and cultivating the vision set forth by the district; providing leadership in pastoral placement, development, and support, among others. Qualifications include a mature and personal commitment to Jesus Christ and a faith shaped by New Testament values and the heritage and practice of the Church of the Brethren; ordination in the Church of the Brethren with at least 5-9 years of pastoral experience; administrative and management skills; oral and written communication skills; interpersonal skills and ability to collaborate and work with a range of personalities; master of divinity degree preferred. Send a letter of interest and resume via e-mail to Applicants are requested to contact three or four people to provide a letter of reference. Upon receipt of the resume the individual will be sent a candidate profile that must be completed and returned before the application is complete. The application deadline is Jan. 31, 2012.
  • The Gather 'Round curriculum, produced by Brethren Press and MennoMedia, is accepting applications to write for Preschool, Primary, Middler, Multiage, Junior Youth, or Youth age groups for 2013-14. Writers produce well-written, age-appropriate, and engaging material for teacher's guides, student books, and resource packs. All writers will attend an orientation March 19-23, 2012, in Chicago, Ill. See Job Opportunities at . Application deadline is Jan. 9, 2012.
  • Early registration for congregational delegates to the 2012 Annual Conference in St. Louis, Mo., will open at noon (central time) on Jan. 2. The early registration fee is $285 per delegate. The fee increases to $310 on Feb. 23. Congregations will be able to register their delegates online at and will be able to pay either by credit card or by sending a check. A memo and registration form also is being mailed to every congregation. Non delegate registration and housing reservations will begin Feb. 22. For questions or more information contact the Conference Office at or 800-323-8039 ext. 229.
  • Shipping of the 2012 Brethren Reminder has been delayed in order to provide up-to-date staff listings, and copies should arrive in early January. The complimentary pocket calendar is sent by Brethren Press to pastors and other church leaders. It includes key dates on the denominational calendar, as well as address information and staff listings.
  • The church’s advocacy and peace witness office in Washington, D.C., has signed on to a number of ecumenically sponsored letters. One calls for cuts in nuclear weapons spending, organized by staff of the Friends (Quaker) Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) and signed by 47 faith-based groups. Another communication on behalf of 26 faith-based organizations opposes an anti-diplomacy provision in House of Representatives legislation on sanctions against Iran. Again with organization from the FCNL, the communication expressed concern that “this legislation would undermine prospects for a diplomatic resolution of Iran’s disputed nuclear program, increasing the threat of war.” The Church of the Brethren also joined nearly 150 other organizations in a call to Congress to re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. The act creates an office within the Department of Justice to develop federal policies around issues relating to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
  • A new “Brethren in the News” page is online at . This occasional news feature on the denominational website offers links to the latest Brethren-related news, obituaries for church members, and more, with link to the full stories online.
  • In recent work, the Material Resources program based at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., has shipped two 40-foot containers of Lutheran World Relief (LWR) quilts, soap, toothpaste, and kits to Tanzania; received and unloaded 11 boxcars and 6 piggyback trailers of LWR materials; shipped Church World Service (CWS) blankets to Michigan, Connecticut, and Florida for homeless and economically disadvantaged people; shipped 1,050 heavyweight CWS blankets to Pharr, Texas, for distribution by Methodist Border Ministries Network and Faith Ministry on both sides of the US/Mexico border; sent 30 CWS blankets to Wellsboro, Pa., for use by homeless individuals and families in Tiogo County; and sent two 40-foot containers on their way on behalf of a cooperative effort of International Orthodox Christian Charities, LWR, CWS, and IMA World Health: one container of school kits for Cameroon and one loaded with quilts, baby kits, and bed sheets for Serbia.
Speicher sisters in international meeting on HIV and AIDS

The group who gathered for an international interfaith meeting on HIV and AIDS included two Church of the Brethren members: Anna Speicher, editor of the Gather ’Round curriculum, and Sara Speicher, a former staff of the Association of Brethren Caregivers.
  • Anna Speicher, editor of the Gather ’Round curriculum, was one of two Church of the Brethren members at an international meeting on HIV and AIDS organized by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance and hosted by the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Her sister, Sara Speicher, who is a former staff of the Association of Brethren Caregivers and a former Brethren Volunteer Service worker, was a primary organizer of the meeting. Leaders from five world religions gathered to encourage engagement and action on HIV in dialogue with people living with HIV. The group expressed dismay at the recent drop in funding for the AIDS response just as recent statistics show the effectiveness of prevention and treatment approaches, and stated in its final reflections: “As we ourselves recommit to deeper and more active engagement in the HIV response, we call on donor and recipient governments to fulfill their promises and provide the sustainable financial resources to reach the goal in the 2011 Political Declaration (UN declaration on HIV and AIDS) that we now see as attainable--zero deaths, zero new infections, and zero stigma and discrimination.” The 15 leaders from the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim traditions included religious leaders living with HIV, and met with representatives of organizations including the Global Network of People Living with HIV, UNAIDS, United Nations Population Fund, and World AIDS Campaign.
  • A spiritual disciplines folder for Epiphany has been announced by the Springs of Living Water initiative for church renewal, on the theme, “The Invitation to Discipleship, ‘Follow Me and I Will Make You Fish for People.’” Prepared so that churches can distribute them at their Christmas Eve services, this folder is a guide for persons to read the scriptures in their devotional life. The folder can be found on the Springs website at . Vince Cable, pastor of Uniontown Church of the Brethren, prepared study questions on the daily readings which can also be found on the website. For more information e-mail David and Joan Young at .
Florence Graff honored
Photo courtesy of Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village
Florence Graff (center), a volunteer and former board member at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village near Boonsboro, Md., was honored on Nov. 4 as a Distinguished Volunteer during the National Philanthropy Day luncheon at Ceresville Mansion in Frederick, Md.
  • Florence Graff, a volunteer and former board member at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village near Boonsboro, Md., was honored on Nov. 4 as a Distinguished Volunteer during the National Philanthropy Day luncheon at Ceresville Mansion in Frederick, Md. Graff served on the Fahrney-Keedy Board of Directors 1994-2007. Keith Bryan, president and CEO, said of Mrs. Graff, “Fahrney-Keedy is blessed to have been the recipient of Dr. (Henry) and Mrs. Graff's generosity both through endowments and volunteer efforts over many years. She is tireless in her dedication and hard work and we wish to express our deep thanks on behalf of the facility and its residents for her service to the board.” For more information visit
  • Manchester College seeks nominations for its 2012 Warren K. and Helen J. Garner Alumni Teacher of the Year. To be eligible, candidates must be currently teaching (preschool -12) and have made significant contributions to education, provide exceptional service to the profession, are deeply concerned for the individual students, and are able to inspire learning. To nominate a Manchester graduate for the award visit or contact the Department of Education at 260-982-5056. Deadline for nominations is March 9. The Garners, who have endowed the Teacher of the Year recognition, are 1950 graduates of the college. A member of the Indiana Educator Hall of Fame, Warren Garner chaired the Manchester College Department of Education for more than 20 years and helped rewrite teacher training licensing standards. Helen Garner taught fifth- and sixth-graders for 22 years.
  • Theater at Bridgewater (Va.) College has been invited by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival to perform its fall 2011 theater production, “A Dream Play” by August Strindberg in a new version by Caryl Churchill at the Regional Festival at 8:30 p.m. Jan. 13, 2012, in Fisher Auditorium at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. “It is a great honor to have our show selected to participate in the Regional Festival,” said Scott W. Cole, associate professor of theater, in a release from the college. “It puts Bridgewater College and the theater program ‘on the map’ as a program of high-quality and excellence.” An encore performance of “A Dream Play” is free and open to the public at 8 p.m. on Jan. 7 in Cole Hall.
  • The University of La Verne, Calif., received one of 20 competitive grants awarded to Hispanic-serving institutions from the US Department of Agriculture, according to a release sent by the university. The USDA awarded a total of $8.8 million in the grants, as reported by . The grants are intended to enhance the ability of colleges and universities to support underserved students and develop a skilled American workforce.
  • McPherson (Kan.) College has announced the winning team of its Global Enterprise Challenge: Panama. The winners receive scholarships and all-expenses paid trip to Panama to explore what it would take to make their entrepreneurial idea a reality. The team proposed "Esperanza: Cultivating with Compassion,” a concept to establish a grade school with a circular model in which the Panamanian community helps sponsor promising students to receive higher education and in return students commit to returning to the community as teachers to help the next generation. The winning team included mentor Jonathan Frye, professor of natural science; Jacob Patrick, sophomore from Elizabeth, Colo.; Lara Neher, freshman from Grundy Center, Iowa; Emily James, junior from Westminster, Colo.; Sarah Neher, senior from Rochester, Minn.; and Tabitha McCullough, senior from Hill City, Kan.
  • The Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) is sponsoring an intergenerational work camp for ages 11-plus in Haiti from June 17–25, 2012. The number of participants is limited to 20. The team will be serving at the New Covenant School in St. Louis du Nord, helping to build a new school building as well as leading a vacation Bible school. Another BRF workcamp is planned for July 23-29, 2012, in Puerto Rico for youth who have completed grade 9 to age 19. The number of participants is limited to 20. The team will be at the new Church of the Brethren project in Morovis, and will do light construction or painting as well as community clean-up or working with children. Online registration for both workcamps opens Jan. 9, 2012, at 7 p.m. (central) at the Church of the Brethren website
  • Church Women United celebrated its 70th anniversary on Dec. 1-3. In a recent e-mail, the Global Women’s Project, a Church of the Brethren group, extended its congratulations to Church Women United, reporting that “since 1941, CWU has organized into more than 1,200 local and state units in the United States and Puerto Rico in its quest to create a more just and peaceful world.”
  • Bethany Seminary professor Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm has co-edited a new Bible lectionary commentary titled, “Preaching God’s Transforming Justice: A Lectionary Commentary, Year B.” The book was published by Westminster John Knox Press with a goal to “help the preacher focus on the implications for social justice in every biblical reading in the Revised Common Lectionary.” It also highlights 22 “Holy Days for Justice” such as World Aids Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The 90 contributors are a diverse group of biblical scholars, preachers, social activists, and professors of preaching. Find out more at
Source:12/14/2011 Newsline