Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Newsline: November 16, 2011

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Northeast Nigeria again experiences violence, EYN church burned.

Nigeria MapNortheast Nigeria has again suffered terrorist-type violence since Friday, Nov. 4, when attacks blamed on the Boko Haram sect began targeting government facilities like police stations and a military base, along with shops, churches, and mosques. As of last week, the Red Cross has said at least 100 people have been killed.

“Pray for peace and safety in Nigeria,” said a note of condolence from Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service office. “Our condolences to the family of Jinatu Libra Wamdeo, general secretary of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, whose wife’s brother was killed at a road block on his way home from work in Sokoto State.” At least one church of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has been burned.

US Brethren currently serving in Nigeria are Carol Smith and Nathan and Jennifer Hosler. In addition, videographer David Sollenberger was in Nigeria documenting peace activities when the new wave of violence broke out.

Boko Haram, a Muslim militant group, has the goal to establish a state based on Sharia or Islamic law in northern Nigeria, according to a CNN report, which added that the US embassy issued a warning to Americans living in Nigeria that more Boko Haram attacks might be imminent during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. The holiday is called Sallah in Nigeria and this year was held Nov. 6-9.

Following are excerpts from an e-mail report by Jauro Markus Gamache, EYN administrator for partner relations, who accompanied Sollenberger as he traveled to film in places in central and northeast Nigeria affected by previous episodes of violence:

“Dear brothers and sisters, many greetings from Nigeria.

“The Church of the Brethren in America sent a camera man to interview people about peace among the two faiths in Nigeria and also film places that were destroyed.... His visit and documentation will be a very good resource for the church and our society.

“Prior to Sallah celebration many places were attacked by the Muslim sect Boko Haram and some killings and destruction again in towns like Kwaya Kusar in Borno State, Damaturu in Yobe State, Maiduguri the capital of Borno State.

“For those who have been to Nigeria, Kwaya Kusar is on the way to Biu while coming from Jos. It is just on the main road. On Thursday the 3rd of November we were there to interview the pastor and to film the destroyed EYN properties by the sect in April. That same night after we left the town was attacked again by the sect and burnt police station completely. There was no report of life or churches destroyed in this recent attack.

“Damaturu, the state capital of Yobe State, was also attacked on Friday evening. About 15 people lost their lives and some churches burned down including an EYN church in that town (which has) been destroyed. The pastor of the church and his family including some of his members were away for his daughters' wedding in Nogshe when the violence took place. Damaturu is the big city before you reach Maiduguri when driving from Jos.

“(In) Potiskum there was an attack on churches and community but I am yet to get any full information from there.

“In Maiduguri, the main city where Boko Haram originated, (there were) several explosions at different places but there was no report of life (lost) or burning properties at the time I am writing this mail.
“Jos was very tense but to God be the glory nothing happened with the help of enough security and restricted movement for both Muslims and Christians in some areas to avoid clashes.

“We have not heard of any EYN member being killed but the wife of EYN General Secretary (Mrs. Jinatu Libra Wamdeo) lost her blood brother who was coming home from his place of work in Sokoto State. He was killed at one of the road blocks by the Islamic sect. This has touched the EYN family because the General Secretary and his wife, including workers at the EYN Headquarters and pastors, have to attend the funeral today 7th November.

“We were in Mubi after church service and after Sallah too. We visited the Emir of Mubi and we were welcomed warmly by the people at the place, and the emir himself is a peace loving man.

“Most people in Abuja celebrated Sallah in fear because of threat from the sect to destroy big hotels like the Sheraton and Hilton and other places. The government announced to the public to be careful of those areas during the Sallah celebration.

“We want to thank you for all your prayers and concern.”

For more about the work of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria go to www.brethren.org/partners/nigeria.

Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

EDF announces grants, new disaster project to start in Alabama.

Workcampers volunteer at Brentwood disaster project site
Photo by Clara Nelson
Participants in a summer workcamp were some of the Brethren volunteers who put in 1,000 workdays and completed 26 repair jobs at the Brentwood, Tenn., project site of Brethren Disaster Ministries. For more photos from Church of the Brethren workcamps this past summer go to www.brethren.org/album.
The Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) of the Church of the Brethren has announced a number of grants. One is funding start-up of a new Brethren Disaster Ministries project site in northeast Alabama, in the area of Arab.

An EDF allocation of $30,000 provides funding to start a disaster rebuilding site in Arab, struck by a tornado during the “2011 Super Outbreak.” The largest and most destructive tornado outbreak ever recorded on April 25-28 spawned 336 tornadoes in 21 states, claiming 346 lives. The tornado in the Arab area was an EF4 (winds up to 200 miles per hour) and was on the ground for 50 miles. Numerous homes were affected.

Brethren Disaster Ministries has been invited to serve in Arab by repairing and rebuilding homes, working closely with a local long-term recovery group. The Brethren Disaster Ministries caseload includes 12 roof repairs and the building of two new homes, with more cases likely to be identified as work begins. The project site is expected to be active at the end of November.

An EDF grant of $30.000 continues support for a Tennessee flood recovery project of Brethren Disaster Ministries in Cheatham County and surrounding areas. A $19,000 grant continues support for a related project site in Brentwood, Tenn.

In May 2010, devastating floods caused widespread damage to Nashville and surrounding counties. Thousands were left homeless as dozens of trailer home parks were completely destroyed, and neighborhoods of traditional homes flooded up to the roofline. Many were not in identified flood plains and, as a consequence, flood insurance coverage was minimal.

In January, Brethren Disaster Ministries established a project in Ashland City, Tenn., to serve flood-affected residents in Cheatham County. This project is expected to continue through early spring 2012. Working closely with the county longterm recovery committee, Brethren have completed building two new homes, are in process of a third, and have worked on 14 other homes with varied degrees of repair or reconstruction. This project will take on two new buildings started by the Brentwood, Tenn., site as that project closes later this fall. To date more than 3,500 volunteer work days have been given serving the needs in Cheatham County.

Brethren Disaster Ministries established the Brentwood project outside of Nashville in June. Working closely with local long-term recovery organizations, volunteers have been doing mostly repair work in the Bellevue area, mainly for families still in need of permanent housing more than a year after the floods. Plans are to close this project before the end of the year. Volunteers giving at least 1,000 workdays have completed 26 repair jobs so far.

An EDF grant of $25,000 has been given following heavy rains, flooding, and landslides in Central America. The grant supports partners in El Salvador and Honduras who are providing emergency aid and helping with long-term recovery for the most vulnerable displaced families. The amount of $10,000 is going to Proyecto Aldea Global in Honduras, and $6,000 to Emmanuel Baptist Church in El Salvador. The remaining $9,000 will be transferred based on effectiveness of each partner’s relief work and program focused on long-term recovery.

An EDF grant of $3,000 completes funding for the work of Children’s Disaster Services in Joplin following the EF 5 tornado that devastated the town on May 22. The CDS response in Joplin, where teams of volunteers worked in FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers as well as with the American Red Cross, over-spent its initial grant.

For more about the work of the Emergency Disaster Fund go to www.brethren.org/edf.

Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

Progressive Brethren Gathering focuses on response to 2011 Conference.

T-shirt worn at Progressive Brethren Gathering, Nov. 2011
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
The Progressive Brethren Gathering on Nov. 11-13 was hosted by Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., and sponsored by a coalition of progressive groups. Some 170 people attended, with about 30 more viewing the live webcasts.
With the theme “Pressing On, No Turning Back,” the Progressive Brethren Gathering Nov. 11-13 focused on a response to decisions and events at the 2011 Annual Conference regarding sexuality and women’s leadership in the church.

This was the fourth Progressive Brethren Gathering, sponsored jointly by Womaen’s Caucus, Voices for an Open Spirit (VOS), and the Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Interests (BMC). The event was hosted by Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill.

In advance of the weekend, organizers had issued an open invitation for “ideas that you think will either sustain us or move us forward as individuals or as a group.” The invitation continued, “We believe that a multitude of responses are required to do this work of justice and faith, so we are interested in a variety of ideas and proposals.”

Following a presentation by keynote speaker Sharon Welch, a nonviolent activist and feminist scholar who is provost and professor of religion and society at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, the gathering received presentations of action ideas from several groups and individuals. The ideas were discussed and prioritized in small groups, and then participants were offered the opportunity to commit to do further work on several of the ideas presented.

A new Progressive Brethren Council was announced to be a coordinating body for the informal coalition of groups, which now includes the new “Feast of Love” movement formed through social media since the 2011 Conference and led primarily by young adults. The new council includes two representatives of each of the three original sponsoring groups plus Feast of Love.

Feast of Love interim organizational team presents to Progressive Brethren Gathering
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
The Feast of Love interim organizational team was one of the groups presenting at the Progressive Brethren Gathering: (from left) Matt McKimmy of Richmond, Ind.; Elizabeth Ullery of Olympia, Wash.; Josih Hostetler of Pomona, Calif.; Roger Schrock of Mountain Grove, Mo.; and Gimbiya Kettering of Washington, D.C. Feast of Love has grown as a social media movement since the 2011 Annual Conference. More information is at www.progressivebrethren.org/Other/Other/feastoflovemain.html.
Action ideas ranged broadly. One group of ministers proposed creating a list of clergy willing to participate in a marriage celebration for gay or lesbian couples. La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren encouraged addressing concerns through financial means, restricting giving based on the monitoring of church programs “for movement toward greater inclusion.” The BMC board challenged the gathering to strengthen the Supportive Communities Network of churches that are publicly affirming of people of all sexual orientations. The Common Spirit House Church in Minneapolis presented itself as a model for establishing new congregations. The Feast of Love interim organizational team gave a presentation on the goals and growth of its new movement. Ideas for direct nonviolent action at the next Annual Conference were discussed, as were ways to relate to denominational staff.

Many participants signed a petition to the Program and Arrangements Committee of Annual Conference, asking for BMC to be allotted booth space at the 2012 Annual Conference. The petition cited the 2011 Conference decision “to continue deeper conversations concerning human sexuality outside of the query process.”

Some 170 people attended the gathering, with about 30 more viewing live webcasts. The weekend also included daily worship, joining with Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren for the Sunday morning service, as well as a benefit concert for Christian Peacemaker Teams given by the Circle Singers. View webcast recordings at www.progressivebrethren.org.

Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

Bethany trustees address seminary’s role in church leadership.

During a semiannual meeting on Oct. 28-30, the Bethany Theological Seminary board of trustees devoted time for thoughtful consideration and discussion of Bethany’s role in leadership for the Church of the Brethren. The board strongly reaffirmed Bethany’s mission and vision to “equip intellectual and spiritual leaders with an Incarnational education for ministering, proclaiming, and living out God’s shalom and Christ’s peace in the church and world.”

Consensus formed around the desire for Bethany to serve as a place for the study of and dialogue about theological, cultural, and individual diversity. Additional key themes included how to communicate this call effectively to the church and society through word and deed and the importance of proactively responding to opportunities that arise from challenges.

The board expressed appreciation for Bethany's efforts to embrace intellectual and spiritual hospitality for individuals of various backgrounds and theological viewpoints, both in the classroom and in campus community life. They affirmed Bethany's actions to foster respectful conversation on difficult and controversial questions, seeking the mind of Christ together as directed by Standing Committee of district delegates to Annual Conference. The April 2012 Presidential Forum at the seminary, “Joy and Suffering in the Body: Turning toward Each Other,” was named as an exemplary step toward this goal.

In other business, four new trustees were welcomed: D. Miller Davis of Westminster, Md., representing laity; Gregory Geisert of Keezletown, Va., at large; Dave McFadden of N. Manchester, Ind., at large; and Katherine Melhorn of Wichita, Kan., representing laity.

Guest presenter Mary Jo Flory-Steury, associate general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, spoke with the board and individual committees about the current draft of the Ministerial Leadership paper, to be brought to Annual Conference in 2013.

Updates were made to the board policy manual and updates to the by-laws were also reviewed in executive session.

Steve Schweitzer, academic dean, reported to the Academic Affairs committee on how changes enacted by accrediting agencies are affecting the seminary. Bethany is currently accredited by both the Association of Theological Schools and the Higher Learning Commission. Due to increasing differences in standards between the two agencies and evidence that ATS is better able to appropriately evaluate a seminary of Bethany’s size and nature, maintaining accreditation with HLC is under review by Bethany’s administration. A complete review of all curriculum is on track to be implemented in fall 2013. The faculty also approved a formation seminar for first-year MA students beginning in fall 2012 as a parallel to the Ministry Formation track for MDiv students. MA students will be able to choose between writing a thesis or a combination of developing a portfolio and taking exams.

The Student and Business Affairs committee recognized Elizabeth Keller, outgoing director of admissions, and received a report that residential student enrollment is trending downward as more students opt for distance education, and a more intentional student development program for these students is being planned. Bethany closed the 2011 fiscal year with a surplus, for which Brenda Reish, treasurer, and staff received appreciation. It was reported that Bethany will discontinue with the Perkins loan program and that the increasing amount of debt held by incoming students is a concern.

Lowell Flory, executive director for institutional advancement and gift planning, reported that Bethany’s total gift income for fiscal year 2011 was higher than in 2010, due to a large estate gift. Although giving to the annual fund was 92.7 percent of goal, this percentage is in keeping with a seven-year average. Congregational giving has continued to decline. The Reimagining Ministries campaign was launched at Annual Conference with the benchmark 47 percent of the total $5.9 million goal having been met. Since then, staff and National Leadership Committee members have been planning and hosting a series of cottage meetings to garner campaign contributions.

Board members, faculty, and staff joined special guest Ruth Aukerman to dedicate her gift of a handcrafted stained glass window titled “I Will Make You Fishers of Men.”

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

Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

Sustaining Pastoral Excellence welcomes final Vital Pastor cohorts.

The Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership this year has welcomed its final five cohort groups of pastors in the Vital Pastor track. In addition, seven pastors began the Advanced Foundations of Church Leadership track in September.

The final "class" of the Vital Pastor track includes three cohort groups who began in August or September, and two groups that began in January 2011. Each cohort group studies a particular question and has an opportunity for a travel experience.

A cohort from Atlantic Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Districts will study "How can our spirituality be enhanced by experiencing and studying the powerful movement of the Holy Spirit among contemporary Messianic Jewish communities?" The group will travel to Israel in March 2012. It includes Ron Ludwick of Lebanon (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; Wayne Hall of Locust Grove Church of the Brethren in Mount Airy, Md.; Nancy Fittery of Swatara Hill Church of the Brethren in Middletown, Pa.; Dean Lengel of Meyerstown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; Tracy Wiser of Harmony Church of the Brethren in Myersville, Md.; and Pedro Sanchez of Long Run Church of the Brethren in Lehighton, Pa.

A cohort formed by pastors in South Central Indiana, Northern Indiana, and Northern Ohio Districts is studying "Connecting gnosis and episteme: How do we practice the inescapable presence of God?" They will travel to Scotland and Ireland and the Iona Community. The cohort includes Patricia Meeks of Poplar Ridge Church of the Brethren in Defiance, Ohio; David Bibbee of Lincolnshire Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind.; Andrew Sampson of Eel River Community Church of the Brethren in Silver Lake, Ind.; and Brian Flory of Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne.

A cohort of Florida pastors from Atlantic Southeast District includes Keith Simmons of Sebring Church of the Brethren; Jimmy Baker of Lorida Church of the Brethren; Ken Davis of Good Shepherd Church of the Brethren in Bradenton; Leah Hileman of A Life in Christ Church of the Brethren in Cape Coral; and Ray Hileman of Miami First Church of the Brethren. Their question is "By what means can we, as pastors, develop a disciplined, holistic lifestyle so as to deepen our spirituality and effectively model both discipline and discipleship?" They will attend the Academy for Spiritual Formation, a Renovare Retreat at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, and a third event yet to be named.

Martin Doss of Dayton (Va.) Church of the Brethren; Mary Fleming of Prince of Peace Church in Sacramento, Calif. (a jointly affiliated Brethren and American Baptist congregation); David Hendricks of Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in South Bend, Ind.; Martin Hutchison of Community of Joy Church of the Brethren in Salisbury, Md.; Roland Johnson of Live Oak (Calif.) Church of the Brethren; Michael Martin of Glendora (Calif.) Church of the Brethren; and Robin Wentworth Mayer of Anderson (Ind.) Church of the Brethren participated in their first Advanced Foundations of Church Leadership session Sept. 26-29. The cohort will meet quarterly over the next two years for spiritual formation, study, and exploration of topics related to leadership.

For more about the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership go to www.bethanyseminary.edu/academy.

Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

Elizabethtown College students go hungry for Food Stamp Challenge.

Students at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College are participating in a local version of a national program--Fighting Poverty with Faith Food Stamp Challenge--to create awareness and advocate on behalf of people who receive food stamps.

Under the program offered by the Chaplain's Office of the college, students can choose from one of three scenarios: eat one meal that costs essentially $1.50 or the amount in food stamps that a recipient would have to spend for one meal; exist on $4.50 worth of food stamps for an entire day's meals; or live on $31.50 worth of food stamps or the equivalent of a week's meals.

Students are invited to advocate for the hungry by writing letters to government representatives to continue or increase aid for Food Stamp Assistance. They also may write a letter to the editor of their local paper to help create awareness of the funding issue for the food stamp program. Many students have answered the question "What is it about my faith that causes me to advocate or act on behalf of the hungry?" on video, which can be viewed at www.etown.edu/offices/chaplain/food-stamps-challenge.aspx.

"By stepping into the shoes of someone who lives on food stamps, students experience the difficult decisions many families make every day," said Amy Shorner-Johnson, assistant chaplain at Elizabethtown College. "My hope for the Food Stamp Challenge is students go beyond simply being grateful for what they have, toward action and advocacy on behalf of the hungry."

As reported in the “Huffington Post” on Oct. 31, a number of congressional Democrats are participating in the Food Stamp Challenge to oppose Republican proposed cuts to the program. The number of people relying on food stamps has risen in response to the ongoing recession. According to the Post report, more than 40 million individuals and 19 million households used food stamps in 2010, as cited by the US Department of Agriculture.

-- This release was provided by Elizabeth Harvey, marketing and communications manager for Elizabethtown College (www.etown.edu). The Food Stamp Challenge was promoted as an outreach to the Brethren-related colleges by Jordan Blevins, advocacy officer and ecumenical peace coordinator for the Church of the Brethren and the National Council of Churches.

Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

CCS 2012 asks ‘What is your carbon footprint?’

CCS 2012 image 200The Church of the Brethren’s Christian Citizenship Seminar (CCS) in 2012 will consider carbon footprints and large-scale responses to elevated levels of carbon in the atmosphere, such as carbon labeling. The event for high school youth and adult advisors takes place April 14-19 in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Participants will focus on how individuals and the country might respond to the high level of carbon in today’s atmosphere. Rather than debate global warming, participants will explore questions like "How much carbon do everyday tasks, such as driving to school or eating a banana, put into the atmosphere?" "What is our country’s carbon footprint?" "How does that footprint compare to other developed countries?" "Are there actions we can encourage our government to implement?"

As always, after a number of educational sessions, CCS participants will visit their legislators to discuss what they have learned and what changes they would like to see in government policy as a result.

Online registration opens at www.brethren.org on Dec. 1. Registration is limited to the first 100 participants. Churches sending over four youth are required to send at least one adult advisor to insure an adequate number of adults. Cost is $375, which includes lodging for five nights, dinner on the opening evening of the seminar, and transportation from New York to Washington. Each participant should bring additional money for meals, sightseeing, personal expenses, and a few subway or taxi fares.

“Our task is nothing less than to join God in preserving, renewing, and fulfilling the creation. It is to relate to nature in ways that sustain life on the planet, provide for the essential material and physical needs of all humankind, and increase justice and wellbeing for all life in a peaceful world” (from the “Creation: Called to Care” statement approved by the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in 1991).

Visit www.brethren.org/ccs for more information, to download a flyer, or to register.

-- Carol Fike and Becky Ullom of the Youth and Young Adult Ministry provided this report.

Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

Workcamps prepare participants to be ‘Ready to Listen.’

Workcampers in Castaner, P.R., summer of 2011
Photo by Manuel Gonzalez
Workcampers in Castaner, P.R., this past summer. Several photo albums from the 2011 workcamp locations are online. Find descriptions and links at www.brethren.org/album.
“Ready to Listen” (1 Samuel 3:10) is the theme for Church of the Brethren workcamps in 2012. God is always present, listening to us. Join a workcamp this summer and be ready to listen as we continue the work of Jesus and answer God’s call through the workcamp ministry.

Workcamps are short-term mission trips that connect service with Christian faith. They give people from age 12 to 100-plus a chance to have life-changing experiences while helping to change someone else’s life for the better.

Registration opens online on Jan. 9, 2012, at 7 p.m. (central). For more information go to www.brethrenworkcamps.org or contact Catherine Gong or Rachel Witkovsky in the Workcamp Office at 800-323-8039 ext. 283 or ext. 286. If you have access, check out the workcamps Facebook page periodically for updates and spotlights on certain workcamps. E-mail any questions to cobworkcamps@brethren.org. Several photo albums from this past summer’s workcamps are posted for viewing at www.brethren.org/album.

-- Rachel Witkovsky is an assistant coordinator for the workcamp ministry.

Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

‘Prepare the Way’ is theme for annual Advent offering.

2011 Advent banner English 200Resources are now available for the 2011 Church of the Brethren Advent Offering on the theme “Prepare the Way.” The offering is designed to help congregations connect with Church of the Brethren peace and justice ministries through worship and reflection. The offering provides support for the denomination’s core ministries fund.

“Through your gifts you help prepare the way of the Lord, you help the world experience the in-breaking of the kingdom of God, you help the world see Jesus,” said the offering website.

A packet of resources has been mailed to each congregation, and also are available online. Resources available in both Spanish and English include words of reflection, hymn suggestions, and other worship resources. Congregations not already on standing order with Brethren Press can request one-piece bulletin insert/offering envelopes.

Visit www.brethren.org/adventoffering to find out more, and check out www.brethren.org/stewardshipresources for other stewardship materials. E-mail any questions to Mandy Garcia at mgarcia@brethren.org.

Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

Honor to whom honor is due: A reflection on St. Martin’s Day.

Dr. James Kim at Nov. 10, 2011, reception at General Offices
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Dr. James Kim, founder of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in N. Korea (second from left) at a reception held in his honor at the Church of the Brethren General Offices on Nov. 10. Also shown with a cake celebrating his visit is (from left) Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren; Howard Royer, manager of the Global Food Crisis Fund through which the Brethren work in North Korea was established; and Norma Nichols, staff at a sister university in China also founded by Dr. Kim.
The following reflection from chapel at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, Elgin, Ill., was given by Global Mission and Service executive director Jay Wittmeyer. He reflects on the original meaning of Nov. 11 celebrations, and the honor due to St. Martin and modern-day peacemakers like Dr. James Kim, founder of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in North Korea, who visited with Brethren staff on Nov. 10:

“Pay to all what is due to them--taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due” (Romans 13:7).

Friday is an unique day, as the calendar will sync as 11/11/11. The eleventh day of the eleventh month in the eleventh year. Nov. 11 is, of course, a special day and has been recognized as a holiday for a long time in many countries. In the US it is Veteran’s Day. As is the American tradition, on Friday a ceremony will be held at the Arlington National Cemetery, commencing precisely at 11 a.m., and a wreath will be laid at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Eleven a.m. is significant because it was exactly at this time in 1918 that the armistice was signed bringing World War I to an end. My grandparents always referred to Nov. 11 as Armistice Day, or the day of cessation of arms that ended the Great War, the war to end all wars. Nov. 11 became Veteran’s Day after World War II. In the UK and Commonwealth nations, Nov. 11 is observed as Remembrance Day. Some also refer to it as Poppy Day because of that poem “In Flanders’s Fields.” Bright red poppies are associated with the day, an appropriate symbol for the blood spilled in the war.

Nov. 11 was fittingly chosen for the cessation of WWI hostilities for it was St. Martin of Tours Day (http://stmartinoftours.org/about-us/st-martins-background). Martin (c. 316-397), a contemporary of Constantine, was an early pacifist of the Roman Empire. Martin Luther, born on Nov.10, was baptized on Nov. 11 and named after St. Martin. St. Martin is the patron saint of France.

Martin was forced to join the Roman army when he was young. One evening while on duty, he was riding in the rain when he saw a beggar lying cold along the side of the road. Martin tore his heavy officer’s cape in half to give part to the beggar. Later that night he had a dream in which he saw Jesus wearing the small cape. Jesus said, “What you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.”

Martin was baptized into the church at age 18. Just before a battle, Martin announced that his faith prohibited him from fighting. Charged with cowardice, he was jailed, and his superiors planned to put him in the front of the battle. However, the invaders sued for peace, the battle never occurred, and Martin was released from military service.

Give honor to whom honor is due. After a century of hard-fought and brutal wars, the essence of Nov. 11 has changed for us in the US--from pacifist to armistice to Veteran’s Day, where we honor those, and only those who have served in the armed forces. 

But the Christian community should give the same honor and respect to those who are in an even greater service--those who dedicate their lives in service to God. I believe we should honor all to whom honor is due. This includes war correspondents and journalists, missionaries, and professionals serving around the world in organizations like Doctors Without Borders. And what about those who avert war in the first place? What about the negotiators, the diplomats, the peacemakers? What would it mean for someone to actively work to bring peace and avoid nuclear war on the Korean peninsula? What honor should be due that person?

Dr. James Kim is doing that very thing and he visits us at the General Offices tomorrow. Robert and Linda Shank have served in North Korea for the past year with Dr. Kim at the university he began, the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. This is Dr. Kim’s story as told by Lord David Alton (http://davidalton.net/2011/10/14/report-on-the-first-international-conference-to-be-held-at-pyongyang-university-of-science-and-technology-and-how-the-university-came-into-being):

The story of Dr. James Chinkyung Kim:

In 1950, at the outbreak of the Korean War, Chinkyung (James) Kim was just 15 years old. Nevertheless, he enlisted and fought against the north. Of the 800 men in his unit, only 17 survived.

One night on the battlefield, after reading the Gospel of St. John, “There and then I vowed to God to work with the Chinese and the North Koreans, then our enemies,” Dr Kim says, the very forces against whom he had been bearing arms. “If I survived the war, I promised God that I would devote my life to their service, to peace and to reconciliation.”

After the war, penniless, he travelled first to France, and then on to Switzerland, where he met Francis Shaeffer who would write the highly influential “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” In 1960, he went to Britain where he studied at Bristol’s Clifton Theological College.

Later, he returned to Seoul, Korea, and in 1976 began a series of business enterprises in Florida. But he never forgot his vow--a promise he kept hidden in his heart--and, in the 1980s, he sold his businesses and home to finance a university college in South Korea. By1992 he was ready to export his model of education to China. Yanbian University of Science of Technology, in Yanji, northeastern China, became the country’s first foreign joint-venture university. It, in turn, became the model for Pyongyang.

Before that could happen, Dr. Kim would be arrested by Kim Jong Il’s North Korean Government, accused of being an American spy, and for 40 days he would languish in jail. He was sentenced to death.

Ordered to write a will and, in keeping with his vow to give everything back to his country, he told his captors that once they had executed him they could have his body parts for medical research. In his will and testament he wrote to the US government that “I died doing things I love at my own will. Revenge will only bring more revenge and it will be an endless cycle of bitter hatred. Today, it will stop here and the hate will not see a victory. I am dying for the love of my country and my people. If you take any actions for my death then my death would truly have been for nothing and for no reason.”

In explaining what then occurred, James Kim says that “The North Korean government was moved and allowed me to return to my home in China.” He made no public complaints about what had happened and two years later “They invited me back to North Korea and asked whether I would forget our differences and build a university for them like the one I had established in China?”

Dr. Kim believes his own experience is evidence that the North Korean regime “can be touched and messages can be communicated at some level. On a much grander scale we need to deepen the experience of reconciliation.”

We give honor and respect to Dr. James Kim for his reconciling work in North Korea and to all who serve around the globe on Nov. 11, St. Martin’s Day.

-- Wittmeyer closed the chapel service with a quote from the hymn, “The Church of Christ in Every Age”: “We have no mission but to serve in full obedience to our Lord, to care for all, without reserve, and spread his liberating word.” For more about the Church of the Brethren’s work in North Korea go to www.brethren.org/partners/northkorea. For more about conscientious objectors from the Historic Peace Churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, and Quaker) who served in Civilian Public Service instead of going to war, go to http://civilianpublicservice.org

Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

Brethren bits: NCC and district personnel, church and college news, much more.

  • The National Council of Churches (NCC) Governing Board has approved a “process for a stable and grace-filled transition” after general secretary Michael Kinnamon announced his intention to leave the position due to health reasons. “Members of the governing board received the news with reverence and respect for Kinnamon’s leadership of the council during the last four years,” said an NCC release. The action by the board came after Kinnamon, 63, said his cardiologist insisted that the stresses of his current position must be reduced immediately.
Jillian Foerster to serve in South Sudan
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Jillian Foerster will serve at RECONCILE in South Sudan as a Brethren Volunteer Service worker sponsored by the Church of the Brethren's Global Mission and Service office.
  • Jillian Foerster, a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker from Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Port Republic, Va., will soon begin as administrative associate at RECONCILE International in Yei, South Sudan. Her placement is sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service program. She plans to leave for Sudan near the end of November. She holds a degree in international relations with a minor in economics.
  • Don Knieriem has begun in a new data analyst and registration specialist position with the Church of the Brethren Information Services. His primary responsibilities will be database management, reconciliation of discrepancies between multiple databases, and in building, testing, and support for both registration and donation forms. He is a member of Wilmington (Del.) Church of the Brethren and graduated in 2008 from the University of Delaware with degrees in mathematics and computer science. He served as a Brethren Volunteer Service worker for Brethren Disaster Ministries and as a staff volunteer in the BVS office.
  • Carol Mason, Jim Miller, and Debbie Roberts have accepted appointments as area ministers for Oregon and Washington District. When the district reduced its executive position to quarter time it also established the area minister positions. “We recognized that the far-flung geography of the Pacific Northwest would frustrate the attempts of a quarter-time executive to provide needed support to pastors and churches,” explained the district newsletter. Area ministers will work closely with new district executive Colleen Michael.
  • Nancy Davis' service as Northern Plains District financial and office secretary concludes Dec. 31, as announced in the district newsletter. “We are grateful for Nancy's years of excellent service,” the announcement said. Phyllis Prichard of Ames, Iowa, has been appointed to begin serving on Jan. 1, 2012, as the district’s next financial secretary. The district has opened a new post office box in Ames, effective immediately. The old post office box in Ankeny, Iowa, will stay open only until the end of the year. The new address is Northern Plains District/Church of the Brethren, P.O. Box 573, Ames, IA 50010-0573.
  • Applications for the 2012 Youth Peace Travel Team are due Jan. 13. College-age young adults (ages 19-22) are invited to apply. Through the summer, the team travels to camps and conferences talking about the Christian message and the church’s tradition of peacemaking. The team is sponsored by the Youth and Young Adult Ministry, Brethren Volunteer Service, On Earth Peace, and Outdoor Ministries Association. Go to www.brethren.org/yya/peaceteam.html.
  • Abraham Harley Cassel (1820-1908) is the focus of the latest "Hidden Gems" webpage from the Brethren Historical Library and Archives. Cassel was a 19th century book collector and antiquarian whose collection in his home in Harleysville, Pa., was the major informational source for Martin Grove Brumbaugh’s "History of the German Baptist Brethren" (1899). Go to www.brethren.org/bhla/hiddengems.html.
  • Church of the Brethren United Nations representative Doris Abdullah was moderator of a Nov. 10 event in the “Sacred Season Series” sponsored by the Subcommittee for the Elimination of Racism of the NGO Committee on Human Rights. Held at the UN Plaza in New York, the event was on the theme “Spirituality, Environmental Justice, and Human Rights.” Abdullah also has called attention to Nov. 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The day was designated by the UN General Assembly in 1999 as the date of a brutal assassination in 1960 of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic. For more information about the day go to www.un.org/en/events/endviolenceday.
  • New Covenant Church of the Brethren in Chester, Va., has honored Elaine McLauchlin Lowder for 70 years of playing piano for the church. According to the Virlina District newsletter, she began playing at Hopewell Church of the Brethren when she was 16 years old and has continued to play for church, weddings, and special occasions ever since.
  • Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., is hosting a presentation on “Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) Witness for Justice in the Middle East” given by Brethren member Peggy Gish. The event is Nov. 17, at 6:30 p.m. Gish has been a longterm volunteer on the CPT team in Iraq.
  • Papago Buttes Church of the Brethren in Scottsdale, Ariz., has been certified as Monarch Waystation #5125 after the congregation planted a garden of native plants. The Pacific Southwest District newsletter noted that Monarch butterflies are nourished by native milkweed plants, and that master gardeners come and harvest seeds to propagate native milkweed in other waystation gardens. Papago Buttes hosted the fall meeting of the Central Arizona Butterfly Association.
  • Several ministers have been recognized for significant years of service. Middle Pennsylvania District Conference recognized Luke Bowser and Floyd Mitchell for 70 years; Ronald Hershberger for 60; Marilyn Durr, David L. Miller, and Frank Teeter for 25; and Timothy Laird and Hannah Wilson for 10 years. Atlantic Northeast District Conference recognized Paul H. Boll and Luke B. Bucher for 50 years of ordained ministry.
  • The Powerhouse regional youth conference 2011 at Manchester College The second annual “Powerhouse” regional youth conference took place at Manchester College Nov. 12-13, with nearly 100 senior high youth and advisors from Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Jeff Carter, pastor of Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren, spoke at three worship services on the theme “Follow: If You Dare,” looking at what it really means to follow Jesus. Worship themes were inspired by Shawn Kirchner’s 2010 National Youth Conference theme song, “More Than Meets the Eye,” which touched on various aspects of Jesus as he carried out his ministry. Carter looked at some of these aspects in his messages, emphasizing the importance of all facets in fully understanding who Jesus is and what that means for Christians. Students, staff, and others led a variety of workshops during the weekend, which also included opportunities for a campus tour, displays from Brethren programs, recreation, and a game of “Mission Impossible.” The next Powerhouse is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 10-11, 2012.
  • A Renovar√© Conference will be held April 21, 2012, at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College led by Kris Webb, the new president of Renovar√©, and Renovar√© founder Richard Foster. Atlantic Northeast and Southern Pennsylvania Districts are inviting pastors and church leaders to prepare for the event. Cost is $40, with registration limited to the first 850 people. A children’s program will be offered during the conference, with spiritual disciplines lessons by Jean Moyer. A resource is available for pastors to preach ahead of time on the 12 spiritual disciplines that will be emphasized at the conference. After the conference on May 5 the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center will offer a “Deepening Day” on the topic, “Growing in Christian Spiritual Vitality: Personally and Corporately” led by David Young of the Springs Initiative. For more information contact davidyoung@churchrenewalservant.org.
  • Springs of Living Water has announced a new Advent/Christmas Spiritual Disciplines folder, posted at www.churchrenewalservant.org. Titled, “For There Is Born to You a Savior Who Is Christ the Lord,” the folder follows the lectionary readings and topics used for the Brethren Press bulletin series. An explanation of the theme and an insert helps church members learn how to use the folders and discern their next steps in spiritual growth. The Bible study questions are written by Vince Cable, pastor of Uniontown Church of the Brethren near Pittsburgh, Pa. For more information contact Joan and David Young at davidyoung@churchrenewalservant.org.
  • This holiday season relive experiences in the Elder John Kline household in the fall of 1861 around a family-style meal at the John Kline house in Broadway, Va. Candlelight Dinners will be offered Nov. 18 and 19 and Dec. 2 and 3 at 6 p.m. Actors will convey the sentiments of family members after the Civil War came to Virginia soil. Tickets are $40. Call 540-896-5001.
  • Three Bridgewater (Va.) College alumni were honored Nov. 4 at the President’s Dinner: Carol S. Fenn of Bridgewater, division superintendent of Rockingham County Public Schools, received the Distinguished Alumni Award; Linda Knight Wilson of Mathews, Va., a counselor-educator and civic volunteer, received the West-Whitelow Award for Humanitarian Service; and Cheryl M. Mascarenhas of Plainfield, Ill., associate professor of chemistry at Benedictine University, received the Young Alumnus Award. Also, Krishna Kodukula of Harrisonburg, Va., has been elected to the Bridgewater College board of trustees. He is a scientist, entrepreneur, and executive director of SRI International’s Center for Advanced Drug Research (CADRE).
  • Global Entrepreneurship Week at McPherson (Kan.) College kicked off a new Global Enterprise Challenge for 35 students competing on teams to come up with the best venture to help out the country of Panama. A release from the college also announced “Jump Start Kansas,” a new program offering a $5,000 grant to the Kansas high school student who comes up with the best new commercial venture and another $5,000 to the best non-profit venture. In addition, scholarships are offered to the winners and 10 finalists. “We’re putting our money (about $100,000 commitment) where our heart is--in developing young entrepreneurs,” said the release. Find an application form for Jump Start Kansas at www.mcpherson.edu/entrepreneurship.
  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has renewed its work on health issues related to the manufacture and use of depleted uranium (DU) weapons. In Jonesborough, Tenn., a CPT Depleted Uranium delegation has been collecting samples to be examined for contamination around an Aerojet Ordnance, Inc. processing plant. In the group that accompanied Dr. Michael Ketterer, professor at Northern Arizona State University, in collecting soil, water, and sediment samples was Church of the Brethren member Cliff Kindy, a longterm volunteer with CPT both in the US and Iraq. The delegation participated in a public forum at Eastern Tennessee State University on Oct. 25 and a public action at the plant on Oct. 29. For more go to www.cpt.org.
  • As Super Committee lawmakers approach a Nov. 23 deadline to slash $1.2 trillion from the federal budget, Church World Service will be represented at a Nov. 20 “Super Vigil” for a budget that preserves vital domestic and international assistance funding, said a CWS release. CWS is encouraging churches across the country to hold Nov. 20 vigils in their own communities. “We are asking simply for a just and compassionate--a life-saving--budget,” said CWS director of advocacy Martin Shupack, who helps lead the Faithful Budget Campaign. For more Super Vigil information: www.churchworldservice.org/fbc.
Source:11/16/2011 Newsline

Credits

Newsline is produced by the news services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at cobnews@brethren.org. Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Lesley Crosson, Charles Culbertson, Jan Dragin, Mary Kay Heatwole, Julie Hostetter, Philip E. Jenks, Nancy Miner, Adam Pracht, Elizabeth Ullery, Walt Wiltschek, Roy Winter, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.