Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Global Food Crisis Fund makes grant to North Korea

A grant has been approved for $50,000 from the Global Food Crisis Fund to assist the Ryongyon Sustainable Community Development Program in North Korea. Now in the eighth year of partnership with Agglobe International, the Ryongyon program of community development presents a countrywide model for sustainable agriculture and provides an opportunity for the Church of the Brethren to work at reconciliation as well as food security. Following a disappointing 2010 crop harvest, this grant will aid in the purchase of seeds, plastic sheeting, and fertilizer. Previous Global Food Crisis Fund allocations to Agglobe for the Ryongyon cooperatives have totaled $360,000.

For more about the work of the Global Food Crisis Fund, go to

Church of the Brethren Credit Union proposes merger

After more than 72 years of serving the Church of the Brethren with savings and loan opportunities, as well as checking accounts and online banking, the Church of the Brethren Credit Union (CoBCU) Board of Directors has unanimously approved a merger proposal with Corporate America Family Credit Union, with an anticipated completion date of June 1.

This decision was necessitated by the impact the economic recession has had on CoBCU and many other credit unions its size. For several years, savings figures at CoBCU have increased, but revenue producing loans have tapered off. Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) has served as the administrator of CoBCU since 2004 and has worked to grow membership and push the credit union toward self-sustainment.

"BBT staff worked tirelessly to grow and solidify CoBCU," said Nevin Dulabaum, BBT president and a 37-year member of the credit union. "While the economic challenges experienced by CoBCU finally made it impossible for BBT to continue serving as CoBCU's administrator, we were determined to help the credit union board find a way to provide enhanced services for CoBCU members. A merger with CAFCU achieves that goal."

After performing a thorough search of potential merger candidates across the country, the CoBCU Board accepted CAFCU's proposal. This decision was based on CAFCU's mission statement, excellent member service track record, familiarity with credit union mergers, financial stability, and its impressive list of products and branch locations.

Once the merger is complete, CoBCU members may access the many financial products and services that CAFCU offers its 60,000 members. In addition to the offerings at CoBCU, Corporate America Family Credit Union also offers several credit cards, mortgages and home equity loans, mobile banking, and a variety of educational tools for members.

In addition to its 20 branches nationwide, CAFCU participates in shared branching, meaning that members can perform banking functions at over 6,500 credit unions across the country. Additional services offered through CAFCU include expanded hours of operation, remote deposit options, BALANCE financial counseling, Fresh Start checking and debit card, Visa credit cards, mortgages and home equity loans, mobile banking, member loyalty program, and auto, homeowners, and pet insurance.

A brief history of CAFCU: One year after the groundwork for Church of the Brethren Credit Union was being established by Brethren employees and a Brethren congregation in Elgin, Ill., another credit union's charter was being finalized. In 1939, 15 employees of Automatic Electric Co. formed the Automatic Credit Union. Once that company was purchased by GTE Corporation, it became GTE Employees Federal Credit Union. To ensure the long-term well-being of the credit union, GTE Employees Credit Union began to expand its charter in the early 1980s in order to diversify its membership. To reflect this strategic change, the credit union adopted Corporate America Federal Credit Union as its name. Since the 1980s, CAFCU has grown to serve nearly 60,000 members, and it has seen its assets grow to $550 million (with $65 million in reserves). When it adopted a state of Illinois charter instead of its previous federal charter in 1997, it adopted the name Corporate America Family Credit Union.

A CoBCU membership meeting will be held on April 29 at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., providing an opportunity to ask questions and vote to support the merger. In the meantime, business will continue as usual at the Church of the Brethren Credit Union.

-- Brethren Benefit Trust provided this release. Questions or requests for more information may be addressed to Lynnae Rodeffer, Connie Sandman, or Jill Olson at 888-832-1383 or More about the Church of the Brethren Credit Union is at

CWS expedites relief to thousands in neglected coastal cities

Tokyo, Japan - Tuesday March 29, 2011 - Nearly three weeks after the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeastern coast of Japan, humanitarian organization Church World Service reports that the country's domestic resources alone aren't sufficient to deal with the disaster, and there are still thousands who haven't yet received assistance.

From Tokyo, Takeshi Komino, CWS Asia/Pacific's head of emergencies, is coordinating CWS efforts in Japan. Over the weekend, Komino reported that "It is evident that even a very developed country like Japan is not able to cope with its domestic resources only," due to the magnitude of four nearly simultaneous disasters - a 9.0 earthquake, tsunami, nuclear threat, and freezing winter weather in affected areas. . .

Church World Service now is working with local partners in Japan to coordinate emergency relief for about 25,000 individuals sheltered at 100 evacuation sites in Miyagi, Fukushima, Iwate, Ibaragi and Tochigi Prefectures.

CWS's Komino reports that needs are changing rapidly, even as the government copes with the triple challenge of working to restore safety at the damaged nuclear plant, building temporary shelters, and dealing with the half million people living at evacuation sites or visiting daily because they have no resources at home.

Komino credits the government for working hard to meet these challenges, but points out, that the government simply does not "have the human resources to serve the most vulnerable, including people who can't even go to these evacuation sites."

That is where local Japanese partner agencies have a distinct advantage, being "stationed in the field and working with the affected population on a daily basis," he said. Those local agencies will play a key role in finding and filling people's changing needs, Komino said, "much more precisely and faster ... and will enable CWS to target the most vulnerable, including those unable to go to evacuation sites." Excerpt from a news update provided by Lesley Crosson, Church World Service,, (212) 870-267

Steve Gregory to retire as District Executive

Steven W. Gregory has announced his plans to retire as District Executive of the Oregon and Washington District effective September 31, 2011. Gregory began his ministry as district executive on November 1, 1999.

Steven Wendell Gregory was licensed in 1962 and ordained in 1969 at the Lacey (Wash.) Community Church of the Brethren. He is a graduate of La Verne (Calif.) College (now University of La Verne) and received his M.Div. from Bethany Theological Seminary in 1969.

Gregory served as pastor of the Outlook (Wash.) Church of the Brethren from July 1969 to February 1972, pastor of the Ladera Church of the Brethren (Los Angeles, Calif.) from February 1972 to August 1977, campus minister at University of La Verne from August 1977 to August 1989, pastor of the Mountain View Church of the Brethren (Boise, Idaho) from August 1989 to August 1997, and as a member of the Congregational Life Ministries team of the Church of the Brethren General Board (now Mission and Ministry Board) from January 2000 to April 2009, along with his ministry as district executive of the Oregon and Washington District.

The Gregory's plan to continue to live in Wenatchee ,Wash. They look forward to traveling, gardening,refurbishing their Craftsman style house, and volunteering!

Juniata College to test laser-based instruments

Normally, college science researchers work on projects designed to advance our knowledge of chemistry, physics, or biology. But a Juniata College chemist and some student researchers are using a prototype laser instrument to examine materials that could potentially yield breakthroughs in forensic investigations, coal emissions, and even global politics.

The global politics part comes into play as a student researcher, Katrina Shughrue, a senior from New Freedom, Pa., studying chemistry, uses the laser-based instrument to analyze "conflict minerals."

Conflict minerals are rare and precious ores sold by groups in certain nations who use the proceeds to fund civil wars, genocide, or forced labor. Examples are "blood diamonds" from various African nations and materials from mineral-rich Congo, where rebel movements have used these resources to fund conflicts that have fomented genocide, sexual violence, and terror.

Richard Hark, professor of chemistry at Juniata, is collaborating with Applied Spectra, Inc. (ASI), a California-based company, to test a new commercial version of a Laser Induced Breakdown Spectrometer (LIBS). The instrument, called an RT-100, is a completely contained laser system, roughly about the size of a backyard gas barbecue grill, that can be moved easily in areas such as a building or laboratory, but is not designed to be portable in the field. An LIBS instrument uses a laser to atomize a sample of material. The bright spark formed is then analyzed according to its unique light signatures.

"This year and through 2012 our students will put this equipment through its paces," Hark explained. "As we see changes that need to be made we will contact ASI software engineers with suggestions."

Hark is working on three projects that use Applied Spectra's LIBS technology to accurately identify the chemical makeup of various materials. The project with the most far-reaching import may be the conflict minerals project funded by the II-VI Foundation and done in collaboration with scientists at the Smithsonian Institution and ASI. Shughrue and Hark are using LIBS to see if it is possible to identify the location from which conflict minerals originated.

They are examining two specific minerals, tantalite and columbite, both of which are used in the manufacture of capacitors in cell phones, computers, and other consumer electronics. Hark is using LIBS to characterize samples from individual mining sites in the US and around the world. If the LIBS shows that individual samples from different sites have unique "signatures," then it can be used to detect where and when minerals from conflict mines are being sold.

They also are analyzing various types of paper for unique signatures, which can be useful in forensic analysis. Results will be compared to testing using an RT100 at Florida International University. "This type of research is important in forensic science because it demonstrates the validity of the analysis," Hark explained. He said that his work will establish baseline information to determine if the LIBS instrument can be use in the investigative process or if it can be used in the evidentiary process, in a court of law.

A third LIBS project to analyze the ash content of coal is funded by the II-VI Foundation. Ash in coal is a clay-like aggregate within the coal that can cause maintenance problems and production inefficiencies during the burning process. "Using the LIBS instrument to examine coal samples will give us a baseline of information whether we can determine the exact amount of ash content so that in a production operation, 'dirty' coal can be removed," Hark said. "LIBS is very good at real-time analysis, so this work could be important in power plants and other operations."

-- John Wall is director of media relations for Juniata College, a Church of the Brethren-related school in Huntingdon, Pa.

BRETHREN BITS: Remembrances, job openings, Annual Conference Business, upcoming events and more.
  • Louise Garber Holderreed, former Church of the Brethren mission worker in China and India, died March 14, 2011 in Twin Falls, Idaho. While attending Bethany Bible Training School in Chicago, she met Andrew Holderreed who was studying to be a minister. They were married on May 30, 1941, and both graduated the following year in May. Louise and her husband were called to the mission field in China. On February 14, 1947, the family joined 450 other missionaries on a converted troop ship to set out for China. This was a time of great civil turmoil in China, and by April 1949, the American Consul advised all non-essential foreign personnel to leave in order to avoid becoming prisoners of war as General Mao Tse-Chung marched his Red Army across China. Louise and her family escaped in the back of a freight truck and returned to the United States. On Christmas Eve the same year, they boarded a freighter ship and left for India. The family lived in several locations as Andy's assignments changed. After completing 25 years of work in India, Andy and Louise returned to Tacoma, Wash., and began to minister in the Larchmont Church of the Brethren. A memorial service was held for Louise on April 1, at Twin Falls Church of the Brethren. The family suggests memorial contributions to Heifer International or Habitat for Humanity.

  • Position Opening -The Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., seeks a director of Buildings and Grounds, with an application deadline of April 26, 2011, or until the position is filled. Experience should include at least three years of administrative experience in facilities management and at least three years of HVACR, electrical and/or plumbing experience; education Bachelor's degree or equivalent experience. A detailed position description is available from the Church of the Brethren Office of Human Resources, 800-323-8039, Ext. 258, email

  • The Material Resources program, housed at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., has been busy moving shipments of relief goods. Shipments made over the past few weeks include one 40-foot container of hygiene kits, toothpaste, sheets, quilts, and t-shirts to Serbia for International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC); one 40-foot container of school kits to Syria for IOCC; one 40-foot container of quilts and kits to Armenia on behalf of Lutheran World Relief in cooperation with International Relief and Development (IRD); one 40-foot container with baby kits, sewing machines, and books to Yemen for IRD. Several shipments were sent on behalf of Church World Service (CWS): blankets and hygiene kits to Kansas City, Mo., for those affected by the flooding that began in May 2010; blankets, baby kits, school kits, hygiene kits, and 50 clean-up buckets to Appalachian Outreach in Moundsville, W.Va.; blankets and hygiene kits to St. Louis, Mo., and Fresnos, Tex., in response to winter storms; blankets and hygiene kits to Willamantic, Conn., and Brattleboro, Vt., for use by homeless persons in shelters.

  • The Business agenda for the 225th Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, July 2-6, 2011, is now available on the website

    Unfinished Business:
    A Statement of Confession and Commitment
    Query: Language on Same Sex Covenantal Relationships
    Query: Guidelines for Implementation of the Congregational Ethics Paper
    New Business:
    Query: Guidance for Responding to the Changing of the Earth's Climate
    Query: Proper Decorum
  • Gifts for Workcampers: Congregations and individuals are invited to support over 600 youth and adults who will serve as the Body of Christ at Church of the Brethren Workcamps in the summer of 2011, working on service projects throughout the United States and the world. These Christian servants will spend a week of their lives learning about people on the margins, God, service, and themselves, making change in the world through their actions and through their presence. Reflecting the love and support of the Church of the Brethren family, you are invited to give gifts - donations of craft items, cards, bookmarks, or any small item you would be willing to give to enrich their experience - that can be distributed to the participants of each workcamp. By giving to them, you enrich the experience of those who are giving their time to act as the hands and feet of Christ. In order to have the the gifts ready to pack into boxes sent to each workcamp, please send 40 small items by May 1, 2011, to 2011 Church of the Brethren Workcamp Office, 1451 Dundee Avenue, Elgin IL 60120. Bless you for your efforts in blessing others in service and love.

  • Church of the Brethren Christian Citizenship Seminar was held March 26 - 31, 2011 in New York City and Washington, D.C. High school youth gathered to consider how their faith interacts with the food. The Christian Citizenship Seminar (CCS) announcement read, "Since our beginnings, Brethren have been closely related to the agricultural system. While fewer and fewer of us work with the land on a daily basis, we all enjoy the fruits of the labors of those who do because we all eat. As our population (and the US population) continues to increase and shift from rural to urban, it is important to think about where our food comes from, why it comes from that particular place, and how it arrives to us. The number of questions we face about food and faith continue to expand." The youth brought these questions to Capitol Hill, sharing with legislators that the way we use and interact with food is an important part of their faith. "We have a moral obligation, in a time when more are suffering in our world than ever before, to protect and strengthen programs that serve those who are hungry and in a state of poverty, and that seek to alleviate hunger and poverty both domestically and around the world."

  • The board of directors of Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village near Boonsboro, Md., has welcomed a new chair, Joseph Dahms, and two new members, Lerry Fogle and Donna Ritchey Martin. Dahms, of Frederick, Md., was named to the board in 2009. He has been an economics professor at Hood College in Frederick since 1978 where he was chair of the Economics and Business Department from 2004-07, and is a member of Glade Valley Church of the Brethren in Walkersville, Md. Fogle, also of Frederick, served as director of Annual Conference from 2002-09. Ritchey Martin, of Myersville, Md., is pastor of Grossnickle Church of the Brethren along with her husband, Tim.

  • Manchester College is offering 191 high school seniors almost $11.3 million in academic scholarships, according to a release from the school. The students, on track to begin Manchester College careers in the fall, have qualified for four-year scholarships ranging from $50,000 to $64,000. Two will receive full-tuition Honors Scholarships. "We're thrilled to have top students interested in attending Manchester," said Dave McFadden, executive vice president. The college offers a "Triple Guarantee," the release said: financial aid for every student, a degree in four years, and a job or admission to graduate study within six months of graduation. For more visit

  • The first in a series of annual John Kline Lectures during the sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War will feature a Church of the Brethren scholar looking at the issue of slavery and the Brethren. Dr. Jeff Bach, director of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, will speak on "The UnChristian Negro Slave Trade: Brethren and the Problem of Slavery" at a dinner meeting at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at the Clear Spring Homestead west of Dayton. For tickets, $30 each, call the Linville Creek Church of the Brethren (540-896-5001) or send payment to the John Kline Homestead, PO Box 274, Broadway, Va. 22815. Seating is limited, and reservations are required.

  • Huntingdon, Pa. -- Two local artists are donating 100 hand-made bowls and more than 15 Juniata College students and community members are crafting bowls for hungry diners willing to eat a vast range of hearty soups at an Empty Bowls event to raise money to benefit four Huntingdon County food banks. The Empty Bowls dinner is at 5:00 p.m. Saturday, April 9 in the basement of the Stone Church in Huntingdon. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children under 10. Patrons of the event who have paid the adult price will get not only soup and bread, but also a hand-made ceramic soup bowl from the college's renowned pottery program. Empty Bowls, is a nationwide event designed to focus attention on world hunger. Tickets are available at the information desk in Juniata's Ellis Hall. The dinner will raise funds for the Huntingdon Food Pantry, Mount Union Food Bank, Southern Food Bank, Salvation Army Food Bank and the Mary Alexander Project. For more information contact John Wall e-mail:

  • The Bittersweet Gospel Band will lead an evening of praise at Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren on Sunday, April 10, at 4:30 p.m. Pastor Gilbert Romero from Los Angeles, Calif., and pastor Scott Duffey from Staunton, team up to lead worship with a revival atmosphere. More information is at

  • Steve Longenecker, history professor at Bridgewater (Va.) College, will discuss "Shenandoah Anabaptists and the Secession Crisis" at the April 10 Spring Lecture of CrossRoads Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center. The lecture is hosted by Weavers Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg, Va., at 4 p.m. In other news from the center, Ron Wyrick, pastor of Harrisonburg First Church of the Brethren, offers the meditation for the April 24 Easter Sunrise Service held at CrossRoads. The service starts at 6:00 a.m. April 30 is the date of the center's annual Tears and Ashes Bus Tour. The tour will describe how the Civil War impacted each of these places: 1) Breneman-Turner Mill, featuring re-enactors and a demonstration of grinding grain. 2) John Kline House, featuring a John Kline re-enactor. 3) Downtown Harrisonburg, with a choice of a walking tour or the Quilt Museum. 4) Hardesty-Higgins House, featuring the Civil War Room and Turnpike Museum. 5) Widow Pence house and farm, featuring re-enactors. The $70 per person fee includes lunch at Union Station Restaurant in Harrisonburg. Reservation, with payment, should be sent to CrossRoads by April 25. Send to P.O. Box 1563, Harrisonburg, VA 22803. For more information go to or contact or 540-438-1275.

  • Elizabethtown (Pa.) College will present Shirin Ebadi, award-winning human rights activist and Nobel Laureate at the 2011 Ware Lecture on Peacemaking, Thursday, April 14, 7:30 p.m. at Leffler Chapel and Performance Center. Tickets are free but required, via the Ticket Hotline, 717-361-4757.

  • The 10th annual Sounds of the Mountains Festival of Music and Storytelling will be held April 15-16 at Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va. "This being our 10th year, we're planning our BEST festival ever!" said an announcement. "Notably, Church of the Brethren singer-songwriters Andy and Terry Murray will perform Saturday afternoon, April 16." The festival also features four-time Grammy winner David Holt, master story teller Donald Davis, comedian Andy Offutt Irwin, humorist Suzy Whaples, and the bands the Wright Kids and Clinton Collins and the Creekboys. Check for tickets, schedule, and more information.

  • Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 each year, and the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice program has released its annual worship and education guide for individuals and congregations to use on the Sunday closest to Earth Day. This year the theme centers around community. Related resources are free at

  • Dates for the annual Meat Canning Project of Mid-Atlantic and Southern Pennsylvania Districts are April 25-28 and May 2-3. This is the 34th year for the project, and the goal is to process 67,500 pounds of chicken for hunger and disaster relief.

  • Live Oak (Calif.) Church of the Brethren celebrates 100 years of ministry, May 14-15. The celebration will include music, prayer, praise, and stories about the 100 years. Contact Roland Johnson at 530-695-1709 for more information.

  • Steven J. Schweitzer, academic dean at Bethany Theological Seminary, is the leader for "The Sermon on the Mount: Jesus and the Old Testament," a continuing education event for ministers held in Virlina District on June 4, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. Roanoke (Va.) Summerdean Church of the Brethren hosts the event. A credit of 0.6 continuing education units is available to ordained ministers. The event is the "Practice of Ministry Day" for the district's Christian Growth Institute. Cost is $25, which includes lunch.

  • On June 12, the Shenandoah District Leadership Team will host a retirement reception in honor of district executive minister Jim Miller and his wife Mary. The event takes place, 3-5 p.m. at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren.

  • Brethren Woods Camp and Retreat Center near Keezletown, Va., holds its Spring Festival on April 30, from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. The day's activities help raise money to support Shenandoah District's outdoor ministry program. Activities include a "Dunk the Dunkard Booth," fishing contest, pancake breakfast, craft demonstrations, paddle boat rides, hike-a-thon, children's games, petting zoo, zip line rides, live auction, and other entertainment along with food. More information is at

  • The 38th Annual Brethren Bible Institute of the Brethren Revival Fellowship will be July 24-29 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. Nine courses will be taught. Total cost for room, board, and tuition is $200 for the week. Cost for commuting students is $70. Continuing education units are available for ordained ministers. Some courses may apply toward district training programs for licensed ministers. Application forms must be received by June 24. More information is at Call Kenneth Leininger at 717-336-1287 for details.

  • For Palm Sunday, April 17, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)
    Colombia has prepared a litany, sermon notes, and bulletin insert
    connecting the passion Jesus faced with the one being suffered by the
    communities that CPT accompanies in Colombia due to the palm oil
    industry. Resources are available at

  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks applicants for its Peacemaker Corps. The summer 2011 Peacemaker Corps Training takes place in Chicago, Ill., July 15-Aug. 15. Applicants must have participated in a CPT delegation or equivalent CPT experience before June 2011. Full-time, and part-time positions with stipends are available, especially for the Palestine project, to start as early as Sept. 2011. Mail in Peacemaker Corps applications by May 1 to Christian Peacemaker Teams, P.O. Box 6508, Chicago, IL 60680; or e-mail to Find the application form online at peacemaker. Originally founded as an initiative of the Historic Peace Churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers) CPT seeks to enlist the whole church in organized, nonviolent alternatives to war, and places teams of trained peacemakers in regions of lethal conflict.

  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) and church organizations on both sides of the Atlantic have urged NATO to remove all United States nuclear weapons still based in Europe and end their role in the alliance's policy. The 200 or so nuclear weapons involved are "remnants of Cold War strategies" the ecumenical organizations say in joint letters. "NATO should rethink deterrence and security cooperation in Europe" and make good on NATO's new commitment last year to "creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons." The letters were sent to the leaders of NATO, the US, and Russia in mid-March by the heads of the WCC, the Conference of European Churches, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC), and the Canadian Council of Churches. The four organizations acted in anticipation of an important NATO nuclear policy review this year. That review and a NATO summit in 2012 present an "opportunity for change that is long overdue and widely anticipated," the letters say. Read the joint letter at

Newsline is produced by the news services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact Kathleen Campanella, director of partner and public relations at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., is serving as guest editor. Contributors to this issue of the Church of the Brethren Newsline include Jordon Blevins, Karin Krog, Loretta Wolf, Mandy Garcia, Nancy Miner, Carol Fike, Jeri S. Kornegay, Craig Alan Myers, Steve Longenecker and Howard Royer.