Thursday, June 16, 2011

ANNUAL CONFERENCE UPDATESNEWSPERSONNELUPCOMING EVENTSBRETHREN BITS
Conference officers review how Special Response decisions will be made.

The following report from the three Annual Conference officers--moderator Robert E. Alley, moderator-elect Tim Harvey, and secretary Fred Swartz--reviews plans for how Special Response business items will be addressed during the Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., on July 2-6:

Two years ago, Annual Conference adopted a revised document "A Structural Framework for Dealing with Strongly Controversial Issues" and directed two items of new business to that framework: a query from Northern Indiana District regarding "Language on Same Sex Covenantal Relationships" and a statement from Standing Committee (a committee of district delegates) titled "A Statement of Confession and Commitment." Both items relate to various matters regarding homosexuality.

During the past two years, through personal and congregational study, through Standing Committee-led hearings, through prayer, and in other ways, we have sought to consider how to respond to these two business items. They are part of the unfinished business for the 2011 Annual Conference.

When Annual Conference delegates meet this year in Grand Rapids, any Standing Committee recommendation to these two items will be processed using the five-step procedure described in the framework document. This framework document may be read as part of the Special Response resources at www.brethren.org/ac or go directly to http://cobannualconference.org/ac_statements/controversial_issues-final.pdf.

Officers have scheduled the first two steps in this process on Sunday evening, July 3. These include presentations by Standing Committee regarding the background on the two business items, what Standing Committee has learned from hearings, etc., and what Standing Committee recommends to answer the query and statement. These steps are for information only.

On Monday afternoon, July 4, we will return for Step 3 which will follow a "sandwich" approach with persons first offering affirmations of Standing Committee’s recommendation, then persons presenting concerns or questions about the recommendation, and finally additional affirmations. During this step, persons may speak for only one minute.

On Tuesday morning, July 5, Step 4 will put the recommendation before the delegates for any amendments or other motions. Each amendment or motion will be tested with the delegates, who will be asked whether they wish to entertain that proposal. If so, then the proposal will be processed by normal parliamentary procedure. If not, then the proposal will not be considered further. At the end of this step, the delegate body will vote on the recommendation. After the decision, Step 5 will be a time of closure with the process and decisions.

When Standing Committee meets prior to the Annual Conference, it will engage in a similar process, first receiving the report from the Forms Reception Committee from the district hearings and other communications, then engaging in conversation around the report and the two items of business, and then formulating any recommendation to the delegate body.

This special response process has been deeply undergirded with prayer by individuals and groups within our denomination. As we come to Annual Conference, we continue in prayer for discernment, for understanding, for clarity, for unity, for forbearance, and for faithfulness to Christ. All who have engaged in this process love Christ and the church, especially the Church of the Brethren. May that love fill us with hope and promise as we gather in Grand Rapids.

-- Annual Conference moderator Robert E. Alley, moderator-elect Tim Harvey, and secretary Fred Swartz.

Annual Conference bits and pieces.
  • The "Messenger" series of Special Response essays has been collected into a single resource available as a download. The six essays were published from Sept. 2010 through June 2011 to help readers prepare for the 2011 Annual Conference. "Considering the Special Response Process" can be downloaded for $1.99 from www.brethrenpress.com.

  • A new and important survey is now posted on the Annual Conference website at www.brethren.org/ac. The Revitalization Committee, appointed last year by the Church of the Brethren Leadership Team, wants people who have never gone to Annual Conference, those who have attended sporadically, those who used to go but no longer do, and those who attend regularly, to all fill out this brief survey. "Please help us shape the future format and design of Annual Conference by taking time to give your input," said the Conference Office.

  • For the second year in a row, congregations are invited to join in worship with Annual Conference by viewing the webcast of Sunday morning worship together at www.brethren.org/webcasts. "Using a computer to project Sunday morning's worship live (or recorded, in the case of congregations in western time zones), congregations can share in the prayers, the singing, and the preaching right from the Conference floor for their worship services on July 3," said an invitation from the Conference Office. Last year, estimates were that well over 1,000 Brethren from more than 16 states joined in. For technical assistance to join in the service, contact Enten Eller, director of Electronic Communication at Bethany Seminary, enten@bethanyseminary.edu or 765-983-1831.

  • There will be many ways to follow events at Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., on July 2-6. Webcasts of every business session and worship service are planned, find them at www.brethren.org/webcasts, click on "Annual Conference." A recording of each webcast will be available shortly after the session concludes. Daily news reports and photo albums will be at www.brethren.org/news, along with the daily sermon and worship bulletin. Facebook updates will be posted at www.facebook.com/ChurchoftheBrethrenAnnualConference.

  • The 2011 Annual Conference will make a witness to host city Grand Rapids. The Michigan District Witness Commission is planning service projects that are within walking distance of the convention center. Sign up at https://brethrenwitness.org. On the right hand side of the page, there are three different service options for Tuesday, July 5. Click on any of the three to get more information and to participate.

  • In other service projects Conference attendees are invited to prepare and bring along School Kits and non-perishable food items to Grand Rapids. The School Kits are used by Church World Service to give children affected by disasters, or those in impoverished schools, refugee camps, or other difficult settings, some of the basic tools for learning (instructions are at www.churchworldservice.org/site/PageServer?pagename=kits_school). The School Kits will be presented during the opening worship service on the evening of July 2. The food offering to benefit the West Michigan Food Bank will be led by the junior and senior high youth during the evening worship service July 4. The following day, the youth will load the food onto a truck for delivery to the food bank. "Our goal is for Annual Conference 2011 to contribute 4,000 items. ‘Can’ we do it?" asked an announcement.

  • Free Wi-Fi will be available throughout the DeVos Place Convention Center during the Conference, made available by Brethren Benefit Trust, which is paying the cost for all participants. Username will be "brethren benefit" (with a space between the two words). The password will be "trust" (all lower-case). "We’re grateful for their sponsorship, which will make it easy to stay connected to Internet while in the convention center," said Conference director Chris Douglas.

  • A number of international guests have been invited to Annual Conference, but the Global Mission Partnerships staff fear many will not be granted visas by the US government to enter the country. Those who have been invited include Jinatu L. Wamdeo, general secretary of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria; Elijah Tumba, director of finance for EYN; Agnes Thliza, national secretary of the EYN women’s organization ZME; Jean Bily Telfort, general secretary of the National Committee of Elgise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti); Vivek and Shefali Solanky of the Church of the Brethren in India and currently attending Bethany Seminary. Mission workers who are expected include Robert and Linda Shank (North Korea), Grace Mishler (Vietnam), and Jennifer and Nathan Hosler (Nigeria).

  • Save a life by giving blood at the Annual Conference Blood Drive on July 4, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and on July 5, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The blood drive will be in the Recital Hall. Each donor must show photo identification (driver's license for most) or two pieces of non-photo identification (credit card, library card, blood donor card, etc.). Appointments may be scheduled in advance at the Conference registration area. "Donors and volunteers to help with the donation area are greatly needed to make this a success," said an announcement from coordinator Bradley Bohrer. "We met our goal last year of 200 units. Let's exceed that this year!" Contact Bradley Bohrer, Pastor, Crest Manor Church of the Brethren, 574 291-3748 or 574 231-8910, cell 574 229-8304, bradleybohrer@sbcglobal.net.

  • A gathering to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Youth Peace Travel Team will be held on the first evening of Annual Conference on Saturday, July 2, at 9 p.m. at Ah Nab Awen Park in Grand Rapids. Past years’ teams will join the 2011 team--Mark Dowdy of Huntingdon, Pa.; Tyler Goss of Mechanicsville, Va.; Kay Guyer of Woodbury, Pa.; and Sarah Neher of Rochester, Minn.

  • Volunteers and mediators from the Ministry of Reconciliation (MoR), a program of On Earth Peace, will be available during all of the business sessions at the 2011 Annual Conference, according to an announcement from On Earth Peace. The mediators will be present in order to assist participants in resolving conflicts during a year in which business items are considered particularly controversial. On Earth Peace also is advertising a special insight session, "What Have We Learned from the Special Response?" on July 5, at 9 p.m. "As a people we are striving to learn how to communicate faithfully so that we can hear the voice of God among us when we have strongly different opinions," said an announcement. "What would we like to carry forward from our experiences with the Special Response Process for next time? What would we prefer to leave behind? Come prepared to share and hear experiences of this unprecedented process as we seek to build and care for the body of faith in the midst of conflict and difficult conversation." For more information contact Leslie Frye at frye@onearthpeace.org or 620-755-3940.

  • Church of the Brethren staff have been invited to prepare for Annual Conference by setting aside a time of prayer and scripture each weekday. Beginning this week, employees based at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill., have been invited to gather in the chapel each day from 9:15-9:30 a.m. Those unable to join the gathering can participate through a worship guide posted on the General Secretary’s page of the church’s website.
Haitian church celebrates 100th home.

A group of church leaders from the US traveled to Haiti June 4-8 to help Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti) celebrate completion of the 100th home built by Brethren Disaster Ministries. The church was also celebrating a new Church of the Brethren guesthouse, which will be able to house workcamps.

The guesthouse sits on two-thirds of an acre in Croix des Bouquets, outside Port-au-Prince. A wall was built in November, and work began on the guesthouse in January. The group visiting from the US in June was the first to stay in the building, where plumbing and electrical hook-ups were being finished the day of the celebration.

"I want to thank God for this occasion to gather in this building," said Klebert Exceus, who has led the building efforts in Haiti. "We give God the glory."

The 100th home sits with two others just beyond the wall of the guesthouse. They are among 22 homes completed since January. People were expecting to move into the new homes throughout the month of June. Each house cost $7-8,000.

Several pastors and church leaders spoke at the celebration, which was held in the guesthouse and attended by a busload of Brethren from the two closest congregations. They asked the visitors to convey their thanks to supporters in the US. Jean Bily Telfort, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren in Haiti, recalled the days immediately after the January 2010 earthquake.

"There were people who were in tears, but today there is joy. We want to thank all the volunteers and supporters. We thank God for you."

While in Haiti, the group from the US church worshiped with several congregations and visited communities in Port-au-Prince, Fond Cheval, Morne Boulage, Gonaives, and Bohok. They saw a number of the houses built by Brethren Disaster Ministries, and visited with some of the recipients of these homes.

"We have traveled here from the US to celebrate the many accomplishments God is doing here among you in Haiti," said Andy Hamilton during his sermon on Sunday morning at the Delmas church in Port-au-Prince. "Every time I hear the stories I am encouraged. Your faith has an effect on my small congregation in Akron, Ohio. We hold you in prayer constantly."

The delegation from the US included representatives from Church of the Brethren staff, the Mission and Ministry Board, the district executives, the Haiti Advisory Group, and disaster auctions.

-- Wendy McFadden is publisher and executive director of Brethren Press.

CDS volunteers go to Springfield, complete Joplin response.

A new response site for Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) is Springfield, Mass., which was hit by a tornado on June 2. A team of five CDS volunteers began work there late last week in response to a call from the American Red Cross.

In Springfield, the CDS team is working in the Mass Mutual shelter--a multi purpose arena and convention center. "The center is working well," reports CDS associate director Judy Bezon.

The Springfield Tornado has just been "declared," Bezon says, "which means the President has identified it as a major disaster area, which in turn makes federal resources available to those whose homes have been destroyed." She expects FEMA to open eight Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) where people come to apply for aid. "We have had preliminary talks with the FEMA Voluntary Agency Liaisons about setting up child care centers in some of their DRCs," she adds.

Meanwhile, CDS volunteers are completing a project to care for children of families living in shelters in Joplin, Mo. Previously this spring, CDS also served in Tuscaloosa, Ala., after tornado destruction there in April.

The last CDS volunteers will leave Joplin today. A total of 28 CDS volunteers have worked there since the tornado. The response has lasted well past the standard time limit of two weeks for CDS volunteers, so new volunteers have been rotated in while others left after completing their two weeks. "The last few days, CDS volunteers who lived locally drove in to help us--they couldn't stay an entire week," Bezon reports. "The Red Cross Case Workers worked hard to find places for the last people in the shelter to live. Generally we leave a few days before the shelter closes, as numbers of children are dwindling."

Bezon herself worked in Joplin up until last week as part of a Critical Response Childcare team that was deployed because of the high number of fatalities. That specially trained team was "very very needed in the shelters," she says. Some of the children in the Joplin shelters required intensive caregiving.

The CDS volunteers in Joplin handled an especially stressful situation very well, Bezon says gratefully. "It was a hardship because the volunteers were living in the shelters, and the work was so difficult. The sheer number of children and the behavioral needs were very intense."

The destruction in the area of Joplin hit by the tornado is "just unbelievable," in Bezon’s words. The path of the tornado was a mile wide and six miles long, and passed through low and middle income areas. "Everything in its path was completely flattened," she says. "It looks barren in every way."

One reason the shelters in Joplin had been needed for longer than usual was that damaged homes continued to be condemned and demolished, forcing families to find other places to live when all available housing and hotels were already full, Bezon explains. Many residents "doubled up" by sharing their homes with friends. The people left in the shelters were those without the connections or the money to find other places to live.

In other disaster relief news, Brethren Disaster Ministries has just learned that it will receive a grant for $52,500 from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee for the rebuilding work in the Nashville area.

The Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) has given $5,000 to Brethren Disaster Ministries for assessment and project development following the 2011 spring storms in the US. The money will help BDM staff gather information, attend meetings, and travel to disaster sites.

An EDF grant of $4,000 has been given to aid the community of Union Victoria CPR in Guatemala, following wind damage to a suspension bridge used for transporting coffee beans to market.

Carol Bowman resigns as coordinator of stewardship formation.

Carol Bowman, coordinator of stewardship formation, has resigned effective July 31. Her last full day of work is July 20. She has served fulltime in her present position since Nov. 16, 2006.

She began employment with the Church of the Brethren on Jan. 1, 1998, as a half time member of the Congregational Life Team in Area 5. In April that year, she assumed an additional half time position with the Funding Team as a financial resource counselor for the West. Her future plans include spending time enjoying family and friends, and employing her passion for creativity and for the local and district church.

New webinar focuses on importance of emotional intelligence.

A new Church of the Brethren webinar led by Pacific Southwest District executive minister Don Booz will focus on the importance of emotional intelligence for pastors and church leaders. The webinar is scheduled for June 21 and 23.

"We all have emotions but some of us do not have emotional intelligence," said an announcement. "This webinar begins to help people understand what tools they need to build and to sustain meaningful relationships" and "will illustrate how emotional intelligence makes a difference in effective leadership."

In addition to serving as executive for Pacific Southwest District, Booz is a trained marriage and family therapist and has helped pastors and lay people understand church dynamics and systems for over 30 years. He is certified in Emotional Intelligence (EQi), Emotional Intelligence 360 (EQ360), and the Team Emotional and Social Intelligence (TESI), and is most interested in helping church leaders and ministers to develop better skills for effective communication.

Go to www.brethren.org/webcasts to view the webinar at 3:30-5 p.m. (eastern time) / 12:30-3 p.m. (Pacific time) on Tuesday, June 21; or 8-9:30 p.m. (eastern) / 5-6:30 p.m. (Pacific) on Thursday, June 23. The content will repeat on Thursday. A continuing education credit of .1 will be offered to those who participate in the live session only, offered through the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership.

Next in the webinar series will be a September webinar led by Roger Shenk, a pastor in Sarasota, Fla., on the "Turnaround Congregation."

In related news, Stan Dueck, director for Transforming Practices and a key organizer of the Church of the Brethren webinars, recently completed a certification process for the "EQ-i.2," a resource to help people better understand personal qualities such as initiative, empathy, self-control, adaptability, and decision-making, and the connection to interpersonal traits such as getting along with others, working with teams, and leadership.

Coaching is one of the leadership resources provided by Congregational Life Ministries through the office of Transforming Practices. The EQ-i.2 is now one of several resources available to further develop the vitality and skills of pastors, church leaders, and congregations. For more information about receiving coaching and resources such as the EQ-i.2, contact Dueck at 717-335-3226, 800-323-8039, or sdueck@brethren.org.

Denominational Deacon Trainings continue in 2011.

Donna Kline, director of the Church of the Brethren’s deacon ministry, has provided the following report about the Denominational Deacon Trainings that are being held in 2011:

Mexico in February? Count me in!!! It was a great trip, even though in reality it was Mexico, Ind., the location of the first deacon training session of the winter/spring 2011 calendar. Next was a visit to Roaring Spring, Pa., where the training included a very meaningful session on the power of anointing.

For some of the Freeport, Ill., attendees the March workshop was their third deacon training session in as many years, and they’ve already signed up for another! The spring calendar ended with a full weekend in Pennsylvania, starting with a visit to the northernmost congregation in Southern Pennsylvania District, Sugar Valley, and ending with the largest session of the spring where more than 90 attendees participated in an afternoon workshop hosted by County Line Church of the Brethren in Champion, Pa., not far from Pittsburgh.

Altogether, nearly 250 deacons have been trained so far in 2011!

Next on the calendar are pre-Annual Conference deacon workshops to be held on Saturday, July 2, in Grand Rapids, Mich. The morning session will be on "Deacon Spirituality and Commitment," and in the afternoon we will talk about creative ways to offer support in the workshop "Beyond Casseroles." Register now at www.brethren.org/deacons/training.html.

The fall schedule is nearly complete as well, starting with workshops at Oakton Church of the Brethren in Vienna, Va., in late September. Other host churches include Quakertown, Pa., in October, and Lakeview Church of the Brethren in Brethren, Mich., in November. Visit www.brethren.org/deacons for full calendar and registration information, and plan to attend a session near you. For more information contact dkline@brethren.org or 800-323-8039 ext. 304.

Brethren bits: Correction, remembrance, personnel, Today Show, more.
  • Correction: In the Newsline of June 2, Ron De Weerd’s name was spelled incorrectly in a "Brethren bits" note about a Foods Resource Bank celebration. In another correction to "Brethren bits," in addition to his other accomplishments Wilbur Mullen served on the denominational staff in the area of health and welfare and as director of Brethren Volunteer Service.

  • Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-CayfordMinistry Summer Service interns received orientation at the church’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill., before most of the group went to summer placements in congregations, camps, and on the Youth Peace Travel Team (YPTT): (from left) Mark Dowdy, serving on the YPTT; Todd Eastis, serving at Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; Ryan Roebuck, Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren; Kyle Riege, Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; Hunter Keith, Black Rock Church of the Brethren in Glenville, Pa.; Tyler Goss, YPTT; Kay Guyer, YPTT; Sarah Neher, YPTT; Kristen Hoffman, Middlebury (Ind.) Church of the Brethren; Allison Snyder, Hanover (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; Sally Lohr; Katie Furrow, Camp Mardela in Denton, Md.

  • Phyllis Louise Miller, 79, died June 6 at her home in Richmond, Ind. She was the wife of Donald E. Miller, who was general secretary of the Church of the Brethren from Sept. 1986 until he retired in December 1996, and is professor emeritus at Bethany Theological Seminary. Born Oct. 4, 1931, in Dayton, Ohio, to J. Paul and Verda Hershberger Gibbel, she grew up in Hollansburg, Ohio, and attended Manchester College. She taught home economics in public schools in Illinois and Ohio. After she and her husband were married on Aug. 19, 1956, they moved to Chicago where she taught in elementary schools. In 1969 she helped develop and direct a nursery school program related to York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill. In 1986 she and her husband moved to Elgin, Ill., and she became deeply engaged in the ministries of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren. She retired to Richmond, Ind., in 1997, where she was an active member of Richmond Church of the Brethren. Over the years she taught Sunday school and helped coordinate Christian education in congregations. She was one of the initiators of the Global Women’s Project and is regarded as an advocate of women’s leadership in the ecumenical church. Survivors include her husband, daughter Lisa Kathleen Miller (Cyrille Arnould) of Luxembourg, sons Bryan D. Miller of Chicago and Bruce D. Miller (Michelle Ellsworth) of Boulder, Colo., and grandchildren. The funeral was held at Richmond Church of the Brethren on June 12. Memorial contributions are received to the Global Women’s Project and Richmond Church of the Brethren. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.doanmillsfuneralhome.com.

  • Amy Buchweitz is serving as Brethren Press summer intern from June 6-Aug. 5. She is a senior at Murray State University in Kentucky.

  • On June 15, NBC’s "Today Show" featured a Brethren Volunteer Service project with Al Roker broadcasting live from the grounds of Casa de Esperanza de los NiƱos (House of Hope for Children) in Houston, Texas. Patrick and Susan Chapman Starkey, BVS volunteers from Virlina District, are serving there as foster parents.

  • "Peace in Isaiah" is the latest Covenant Bible Study from Brethren Press, written by David A. Leiter, an Old Testament scholar and pastor of Green Tree Church of the Brethren in Oaks, Pa. Explore the eight visions and two songs of peace in Isaiah, in this study meant for small group use. "Isaiah employs messages of peace to move the community forward from despair to hope, from desolation to restoration, from ruin to rebuilding. By taking these same messages seriously, perhaps we can be moved to do those things that will bring a larger sense of peace into our lives and our world," said a review from Brethren Press. The book offers 10 sessions that promote group interaction and open discussion. Order for $7.95 per copy, plus shipping and handling. Call 800-441-3712 or order online at www.brethrenpress.com.

  • Brethren Volunteer Service workers in Germany attended Kirchentag, a national church festival that took place in Dresden, along with Kristin Flory, coordinator of Brethren Service (Europe). Two BVSers are serving in Germany: Kendra Johnson at Peace Brigades International in Hamburg, and Susan Pracht at Church and Peace in Laufdorf.

  • A "hidden gem" from the Brethren Historical Library and Archives is a new feature at Brethren.org. Not many know of a connection between "Peanuts" creator Charles Schultz and the now defunct Brethren Service Center in Modesto, Calif. Schultz moved to California in 1958 where he built his first studio, and during this time he was featured in the junior high magazine "Friends," co-published by the Church of the Brethren. See a rediscovered photograph of Schultz at www.brethren.org/bhla/hiddengems.html.

  • Bethany Theological Seminary has launched a redesigned website at www.bethanyseminary.edu. "Enjoy the crisp, clean looks; larger layout; and improved navigation structure!" said an announcement from Enten Eller, director of electronic communication at the seminary. "While we are proud of our work, we know that it is difficult to capture every single loose end--we'd be glad for your help! If you find a loose end that still needs to be tied up, such as a broken link or a missing photo, or even a missing page, just let us know. Additionally, we're also glad to hear your comments and suggestions as to how we might improve things even more." Send feedback to webmaster@bethanyseminary.edu.

  • First Church of the Brethren in the Allison Hill area of Harrisburg, Pa., has become a center for peace concern after the neighborhood suffered a series of incidents of senseless gun violence. In one incident, a 24-year-old man survived being shot seven times on a sidewalk near the church. Reports in the "Patriot-News" have highlighted the way residents are using the church as a home base for restoring community. Find stories at www.pennlive.com.

  • Skyridge Church of the Brethren in Kalamazoo, Mich., kicked off a year-long celebration of its 50th anniversary on Pentecost, June 12 (find the "Kalamazoo Gazette" report at www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2011/06/skyridge_church_of_the_brethre.html). The church also sponsored the annual "Peace Pizzazz" celebration, with the Campaign for a US Department of Peace. The outdoor festival emphasized multicultural acceptance and was made possible by some 100 volunteers and more than 60 organizations, including 12 schools and 10 religious communities. The theme was "Weaving the Golden Rule into Our Lives."

  • Eaton (Ohio) Church of the Brethren collected clean-up buckets for Church World Service in response to the spring’s tornadoes and flooding. The Fellowship Class sponsored the project, holding an Italian dinner to raise funds. Many churches in Southern Ohio District helped purchase items and sent volunteers to assemble the buckets at a "bucket party" in early June. In total 304 buckets were assembled along with cartons of school kits, hygiene kits, and baby kits.

  • Springfield (Ore.) Church of the Brethren is part of a partnership with ShelterCare and Brethren Community Services to create affordable housing. On June 10, they dedicated the new Afiya Apartments for 16 adults with psychiatric disabilities. "Our Springfield Church has once again accomplished an amazing thing for the people of their community," commented Oregon and Washington District executive Steven Gregory in an e-mail note about the event.

  • In honor of Jim Miller’s service as Shenandoah District executive for the past 19 years, the district’s Leadership Team presented him with special gifts at a reception June 12 at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren: a desktop sculpture of "The Divine Servant," and the planting of a peace pole in his honor at the district office, at a date later in the summer.

  • Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village ceremonially broke ground recently for its $2.6-million Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion. Fahrney-Keedy is a Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md. Lantz Construction of Winchester, Va., is heading up the project. The groundbreaking included (from left) Charles Wiles, a Fahrney-Keedy resident and Board member; Joe Dahms, Board of Directors chair; Keith Bryan, Fahrney-Keedy President/CEO; William McKinley, member, Washington County Board of Commissioners; State Del. Neil Parrott; Pete Heffern, Lantz Co. project manager; and Partha Tallapragada, senior engineer, Maryland Environmental Service.

  • Elizabethtown (Pa.) College has announced a new partnership with the Wheatland Chorale, which brings the chorale to the college as a resident artistic organization. Established in 1987, the chorale--taking its name from the Wheatland Hills neighborhood of Lancaster, Pa., where founder Robert J. Upton lived--is one of Pennsylvania's premier choral ensembles.

  • Twelve students at the University of La Verne, Calif., have been awarded Summer Service Scholarships and will spend 10 weeks serving at a variety of locations along the Pacific Southwest and Northwest. Each was awarded $3,000 from the scholarship program, funded by the Christian Leadership endowment fund. Students are serving at camps in Oregon, Washington, and California, including Camp Myrtlewood, Camp Koinonia, Camp La Verne, Camp Mariastella, and Camp Oaks, as well as in church communities such as Portland Peace Church of the Brethren and La Verne Church of the Brethren, and in social service organizations such as Pomona Valley Habitat for Humanity.

  • As Bridgewater (Va.) College coaching and teaching legend Harry G.M. "Doc" Jopson celebrates his 100th birthday on June 23, former students and supporters have created an endowed fund in his honor for track and cross country programs. Jopson, who came to Bridgewater in 1936 to head up the biology department, also reinvigorated a defunct track program and founded the cross country program. By the time he retired in 1981, his runners had chalked up two dozen undefeated track seasons and dozens of conference and state championships. Jopson was selected Old Dominion Athletic Conference Track Coach of the Year, 1978-81. The new Jopson Track Endowed Fund now contains more than $25,000.

  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is celebrating 25 years with the help of a benefactor who matched all 25th anniversary donations up to $5,000 this spring, according to a release. "As we celebrate 25 years of disciplined, nonviolent peacemaking, we face the challenge of ensuring the financial foundation to go forward for the next 25 years," said co-director Carol Rose. The release warned that CPT is some $67,000 behind budget projection for the year, despite trimming expenses, and if donations do not increase important projects will be cut. In more news from CPT, "Create Space for Peace" has earned top honors in the second Annual International Book Awards. The book is a collection of experiences and insights from the late Gene Stoltzfus, CPT founding director, and his 40 years of peacemaking. The book made the list of finalists in the 2011 International Book Awards, announced in Los Angeles on May 11 by the JPX Media Group. "Create Space for Peace" was a finalist in the category of Spirituality: Inspirational. For more information go to www.cpt.org.

  • The next Spiritual Disciplines Folder for the Springs of Living Water Initiative in Church Renewal can be found at www.churchrenewalservant.org for the season after Pentecost, June 13-Aug. 28. "With the coming of the Holy Spirit, the focus of this season is the church’s mission in the world," said an announcement. Vince Cable, pastor of Uniontown Church of the Brethren in Western Pennsylvania District, has created this summer disciplines folder. The Spiritual Disciplines Folder is the basic tool used in the Springs initiative to aid congregations in reading scripture and having prayer together as a body. The folder offers Sunday morning texts, based on the lectionary, and daily scriptures that build up to each Sunday, with the options of an insert inviting participants to take the next step in spiritual disciplines, and a place church name and times of services on the front. At Annual Conference in early July, Joan and David Young and members of the Springs Advisory Committee will be available to talk about the Springs Initiative, and will assist at the Congregational Life Insight Session on Tuesday evening on the topic, "Transformation: Stories of Congregational Vitality and Hope."Contact davidyoung@churchrenewalservant.org.

  • Escalating violence against civilians in Sudan’s disputed oil-producing state of South Kordofan is leading to a major humanitarian catastrophe, says a release from the World Council of Churches. An estimated 300,000 people are cut off from relief aid and unable to escape fighting, according to aid agencies. Up to 40,000 people have fled fighting between Sudanese government troops and members of the former Sudan People's Liberation Army. The Sudan Council of Churches is calling on the international community and the UN mission to rescue survivors and prevent a return to war. "The people of Sudan as well as the churches in Sudan have committed too much of their lives in the past decades to work for peace to see the region slip into violence again," WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit said. In a Jan. 9 referendum nearly 99 percent of voters in South Sudan chose to secede. On July 9, South Sudan is to formally declare independence and become the world’s newest nation.
Credits

Newsline is produced by the news services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at cobnews@brethren.org. Contributors to this Newsline include Charles Culbertson, Chris Douglas, Stan Dueck, Anna Emrick, Kristin Flory, Jeff Lennard, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Elizabeth Harvey, Karin L. Krog, Michael Leiter, Martin Rock, Howard Royer, Pat Via, Becky Ullom, Zach Wolgemuth, David Young, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford.