Wednesday, January 26, 2011

NEWSPERSONNELUPCOMING EVENTSFEATURE: FROM THE MODERATORBRETHREN BITS
Brethren teachers 'fall in love' with work in North Korea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Shanks are looking for teachers interested in volunteering at PUST for as little as one semester. The faculty is in need of more teachers for college-level English classes (BS degree required) and college and graduate-level science, business, and computer classes (advanced degree required). For more information see www.pust.kr and an article about PUST at www.38north.org. To register interest, contact Global Mission Partnerships executive director Jay Wittmeyer at jwittmeyer@brethren.org.

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more about the work of the Global Food Crisis Fund go to www.brethren.org/site/PageServer?pagename=go_give_food_crisis.

Sudan faith leader supports call to forgiveness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carl J. Strikwerda named president of Elizabethtown College.

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

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

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

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

February webinar tackles topic of funding for new church starts.

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

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

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

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

Link to the webinar at www.bethanyseminary.edu/webcasts. For more information contact Stan Dueck, director Transforming Practices for the Church of the Brethren, sdueck@brethren.org or 717-335-3226.

New Tennessee flood recovery project begins Jan. 30.

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

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

Volunteers will be doing repair work and some possible new construction. Major repair work includes insulation, drywall, laminate flooring, painting, trim work, and siding. For information about how to volunteer go to www.brethren.org/site/PageServer?pagename=serve_brethren_disaster_ministries_volunteer.

From the Moderator: Soul preparation for Annual Conference 2011.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Feb. 6 is the annual Service Sunday in the Church of the Brethren. The day celebrates those who serve, offers an opportunity to discover ways to serve through Church of the Brethren ministries and in local communities, and calls church members to be transformed by serving one another in the name of Christ. Worship resources are available at www.brethren.org/site/DocServer/ServiceSundayResources2010.pdf?docID=6681.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Northern Plains District staff have new e-mail addresses: Tim Button-Harrison, district executive, nplainscob@gmail.com; Nancy Davis, secretary, npofficesecretary@gmail.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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