Thursday, August 11, 2011

Capitol Building Prayer vigil participants arrested

Jordan Blevins, director of the Church of the Brethren's and the National Council of Churches' Peace Witness Ministries, was arrested Thursday, July 28, along with other leaders from the faith community as they held a prayer vigil inside the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. They were released later that afternoon.

Recent events have inspired interfaith leaders to strive to promote a message calling for the President and Congress to exempt programs from budget cuts that help the most at-risk families and children. Without a sustained federal assistance program, these leaders fear they will not be able to support the country's most vulnerable in their time of need.

Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faith-based organizations are united by their shared beliefs in caring for their neighbors. Statements mad by prayer vigil participants included "Our faith calls us to lift up the voices and the stories of the most vulnerable," and "Faith leaders cannot stand idly by and watch while the mandate of the gospel to love our neighbors is violated in the halls of Congress." The interfaith leaders fear further reductions in federal assistance programs will result in heavier strains on finances of houses of worship, already suffering from decreases in contributions from their members.

Blevins said "It was a powerful experience - to kneel in prayer in the Rotunda of the Capitol building, and pray that the decisions made in that building would reflect the values of the faith that so many hold dear. That the Holy Spirit would fill that place, and move our decision makers to seek to make this world more in accordance with the will of God - and to stand where God stands, caring for the poor and feeding the hungry. And then to be arrested for doing that very thing - with 10 other persons of faith."

Training schedule announced by Children's Disaster Services

Children's Disaster Services, a Church of the Brethren ministry based at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. will be holding workshops across the country, training volunteers to care for children following disasters.

The workshops will be held in the following locations:
October 7 - 8, 2011 - Central United Methodist Church in Sedro-Woolley, Wash.
October 14 - 15, 2011 - Ben Hill United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Ga.
October 21 - 22, 2011 - First United Methodist Church in Victor, N.Y.
November 4 - 5, 2011 - Bethany Christian Church in Tulsa, Okla.
November 11-12, 2011- Somerset Church of the Brethren in Somerset, Pa.
March 24 - 25, 2012 - La Verne Church of the Brethren in La Verne, Calif.
For more information or to register call the Children's Disaster Services office 410-635-8735 or 800-451-4407, option 5.or go to

McPherson College recognized for community service

McPherson College students have logged more than 11,200 hours of volunteer service at home and abroad during the last academic year, assisting 123 organizations or locations in 176 events or projects.

This commitment to service resulted in McPherson College being named to the 2010 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction. McPherson College was the only Kansas college to receive this honor, awarded by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

It is significant to note that the students logged much of their service out of state and overseas. Five students, winners of the Global Enterprise Challenge in November 2010, traveled to Haiti in June 2011 to help the people of Aux Plaines on Tortuga Island. Four other students traveled to Ethiopia in April to help deliver wheelchairs to victims of polio.

Volunteers also assisted flood survivors at a Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project in Ashland City, Tenn. Eighteen students worked in Lybrook Community Ministries, Lybrook, N.M., during spring break helping the Navajo Native Americans.

Close to the McPherson campus, 129 students and staff packaged 20,000 meals for the people of Haiti through Numana, Inc.

BBT hosts Church Benefits Association

On Aug. 15-16, 2011 Brethren Benefit Trust will be hosting the annual meeting of the CEOs who represent the mid-level group of the Church Benefits Association (CBA) at the Church of the Brethren general offices in Elgin, Ill. The CBA is an ecumenical group that consists of 54 denominations and organizations that provide pension or health insurance benefits nationwide to people of faith. Joining Nevin Dulabaum, president of Brethren Benefit Trust will be the following CEOs of their respective pension boards: Don Walter, Church of the Nazarene USA; Jim Ceplecha, Christian Brothers Services; Jeff Jenness, Church of God (Anderson, Ind.); Ray Lewis, National Association of Free Will Baptists; Ross Morrison of Evangelical Free Church of America; Art Rhodes, Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.); Mitch Smilowitz, Joint Retirement Board for Conservative Judaism; and Jack Short, AG Financial (Assemblies of God).

New Windsor Conference Center Director resigns

Shelly Potts, director of the New Windsor Conference Center at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. has tendered her resignation effective Friday, August 12, 2011. Potts began her second term of employment at the Brethren Service Center on March 23, 2009. She brought skills in strategic planning, niche marketing, branding, and customer service. Her accomplishments included completing a Conference Center marketing plan and assisting with planning for facilities improvements. She has accepted a position with another organization.

Ronald E. Wyrick to serve as Interim District Executive

The Shenandoah District Leadership Team has announced that Ronald E. Wyrick will begin serving as Interim District Executive beginning November 1, 2011. Wyrick, currently pastor of the Harrisonburg (Va.) First Church of the Brethren, will work on Mondays from August 15 until he begins full time on November 1, providing transition time with Acting District Executive Joan Daggett, who concludes her work on September 9. Additionally, members of the Leadership Team will work with office staff prior to November 1, in carrying forward the ministry of the district. Wyrick, an ordained minister, has over 30 years of ministry experience in congregational, denominational, and college leadership positions. He is from the Waynesboro (Va.) Church of the Brethren where he was baptized (1963), licensed (1968), and ordained (1975). Wyrick is a graduate of Bridgewater College (1970) and has a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Bethany Theological Seminary.

Brethren Bits: Upcoming events and more
  • Cindy Laprade Lattimer has been called to fill a vacancy on the Program and Arrangements Committee. Thomas Dowdy, elected to the Program and Arrangements Committee by the 2011 Annual Conference delegate body, has resigned his position. Nominating Committee chairperson Ed Garrison and the current members of the Nominating Committee of Standing Committee called Cindy Laprade Lattimer to fill the vacancy left by Dowdy's resignation. Lattimer was the other candidate on the ballot for the Program and Arrangements Committee.

  • Stan Noffsinger, Church of the Brethren general secretary, will be the preacher for the 41st Annual Dunker Church Service on Sunday, September 18, at 3:00 pm, at the Antietam National Battlefield, near Sharpsburg, Md. This worship service will be in the restored Mumma Meeting House, commonly referred to today as the Dunker Church. It was built in 1853 and heavily damaged by the September 17, 1862, Battle of Antietam. After extensive repairs were made, services resumed in the summer of 1864. This service is sponsored by area Church of the Brethren congregations. For more information, call Eddie Edmonds at 304-267-4135 or Tom Fralin at 301-432-2653.

  • On November 7, 2011 a continuing education event, The Witness of the Hebrew Bible for the New Testament Church will be held at Elizabethtown College in the Susquehanna Room. Although the church affirms that its Scriptures include both the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the New Testament, Christians often down play or ignore the witness of its "first testament." In a 2010 Brethren Press publication titled The Witness of the Hebrew Bible for a New Testament Church, thirteen Brethren scholars address the question "Of what relevance is the Old Testament for Christians today?" This event is sponsored by the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center and the Elizabethtown College Department of Religious Studies. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the course will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The cost for this event is $50 with an additional $10 charge for those wishing to receive CEU documentation. The registration deadline is October 24, 2011. For more information contact Donna M. Rhodes, executive director of the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center 814-599-3680

  • Six Church of the Brethren youth gathered at Bethany Theological Seminary this summer for Exploring Your Call, held June 17-27. This unique program brings high school juniors and seniors together to reflect on their own faith, explore concepts of ministry, and form supportive relationships as they consider God's presence and call in their lives. The full schedule included shadowing pastors in their work; site visits, such as the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville, Ohio; class sessions with Bethany faculty; and leading and participating in worship. The group also traveled further afield to the Church of the Brethren general offices in Elgin, Ill., and Reba Place Fellowship, an intentional Christian community in Chicago, Ill.

  • There is a great need for Church World Service Emergency Clean up Buckets following the spring storms in many areas in the U.S. The Mechanicsburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren Witness Team challenged the congregation to complete 10 buckets in less than a month. The response was more than double the challenge. Twenty-two buckets were sent to the Material Resources program at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

  • Peter Becker Community celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Located in Harleysville, Pa. it is a Continuing Care Retirement Community and a member of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes. According to an article in the Souderton Independent, "The idea of building an assisted living and nursing home on 20 acres of open fields began with several families at Indian Creek Church of the Brethren in Vernfield, Pa. Four decades later, the continuing care retirement community expanded to cover 100 acres in Franconia Township, employ more than 250 people and become home to almost 500 people."

  • Manchester College is taking the lead on an interfaith initiative to boost literacy rates and reduce hunger in North Manchester, Ind. The college was among about 200 representatives from higher education and seminaries who gathered at the White House to kick off the President's Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge. "In a partnership with local churches, we will use education and coordinated service to improve the literacy rates in our community and combat the poverty level," said Carole Miller-Patrick, coordinator of the Manchester College Center for Service Opportunities. Miller-Patrick and campus Pastor Walt Wiltschek will lead the challenge.

  • Bridgewater College dedicated Stone Village a new environmentally sustainable student residences on August 9, 2011. Stone Village, which is located at East College and College View streets, is registered as a potential Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver project. The five residences adhere to an internationally recognized green building certification system and represent significant energy savings, water efficiency and improved indoor environmental quality. Everything about Stone Village - landscaping, building materials, electrical systems and appliances - reflects a carefully thought-out respect for the environment and commitment to sustainability. Funding for the project was provided through a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development loan.

  • The Bridgewater College Alumni Choir will present a concert at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 21, at the Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren located at 420 College View Drive. The Alumni Choir was co-founded by Jesse E. Hopkins, the Edwin L. Turner Distinguished Professor of Music at Bridgewater College, and Jonathan Emmons, a 2005 graduate of Bridgewater College. The choir will perform works by Byrd, Debussy, Fissinger, Mozart and Whitacre. The concert is open to the public at no charge.

  • A Peace Pole will be dedicated in honor of Jim and Mary Miller for their years of servant leadership to the Shenandoah District! The dedication service, led by Pastors for Peace, will be held on Tuesday, August 16, at 7 p.m. on the front lawn of the District Office. Fellowship and refreshments will follow the service.

  • The July edition of "Brethren Voices" features Special Moments at Song & Story Fest which was held on June 26 - July 2, 2011. Copies of the newsletter can be obtained from Ed Groff, Peace Church of the Brethren at The August edition of "Brethren Voices" will feature Heifer International. -

  • "Spread the Word" is the theme of the fall disciplines folder that will begin August 28 in the Springs of Living Water Initiative in church renewal. In addition to the Sunday lectionary readings from the Church of the Brethren bulletin series, the folders has daily scripture texts for persons to read, meditate on and use as a guide for daily discipleship. Bible study questions for the daily texts are written by Vince Cable, pastor of the Uniontown Church south of Pittsburgh, and can be used by individuals or small groups. Information is available on the Springs website at

  • The Missouri and Arkansas District Conference will be held at Windermere Conference Center in Roach, Mo., on Sept. 9-10.

  • Three districts will meet on Sept. 16-17: Northern Indiana District Conference at Middlebury (Ind.) Church of the Brethren; Southern Pennsylvania District Conference at Mechanicsburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; and West Marva District Conference at Moorefield (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren.

  • Two district conferences will take place on the weekend of Sept. 23-25: Oregon and Washington District Conference at Camp Koinonia in Cle Elum, Wash., on Sept. 23-25; and South Central Indiana District Conference at Logansport (Ind.) Church of the Brethren on Sept. 24.

  • On every August 6 and 9 since 1945 there has been a profound moment of sorrow and reason for hope as the world remembers the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 66-years-ago during World War II. In a statement released on Friday, August 5, Rev. Dr Olav Fkyse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, remembers this tragedy as one that can never be repeated."For as long as nuclear weapons exist, each year brings us new reasons to build a world where such a tragedy can never happen again," Tveit said To read the full statement click here

Newsline is produced by the news services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at Contributors include Jennifer Williams, Sue Snyder, Chris Adam Pracht, Jordon Blevins, Nancy Miner, Ed Groff, Jeri S. Kornegay, Chris Douglas, Donna Rhoades, Nevin Dulabaum, LethaJoy Martin and Mary Heatwole. This issue of Newsline is edited by Kathleen Campanella, director of partner and public relations at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.