Thursday, March 22, 2012

Newsline: March 22, 2012


Board adopts 2012 budget, discusses financial policies for self-funding ministries.

A 2012 budget for the denominational ministries was the top business item at the spring meeting of the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board. Chair Ben Barlow led the March 9-12 meeting, which was held at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

Also on the agenda were an allocation from the Global Food Crisis Fund, the Ministerial Leadership paper, an appointment to the Brethren Historical Committee, and a number of items presented for conversation and input from the board including financial policies related to self-funding ministries, the proposed denominational Vision Statement, and an emerging effort of Congregational Life Ministries called “Vital Ministry Journey.”

The Ecumenical Call to Just Peace document also was presented for board conversation. World Council of Churches (WCC) representative Michael Hostetter and general secretary Stan Noffsinger invited the board into conversation about the content of the paper, with special attention to its relevance to the Church of the Brethren. The document comes to the next Assembly of the WCC in 2013.

Ben Barlow chairs the Spring 2012 meeting of the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Ben Barlow (center) chaired the Spring 2012 meeting of the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board. At right is vice chair Becky Ball-Miller, with general secretary Stan Noffsinger shown at left.
Finances and 2012 budget

Treasurer LeAnn Wine presented financial reports for 2011 (see her report in the Feb. 22 issue of Newsline, go to ) as well as a proposed 2012 budget for denominational ministries. The board had delayed approval of a 2012 budget because of financial decisions in late 2011.

The board approved a total budget for denominational ministries (including self-funding ministries) of $8,850,810 income, $8,900,080 expense, with an expected net loss of $49,270. The net loss is related to the closure of the New Windsor Conference Center. The conference center will continue to host groups and retreats until it closes June 4. The denomination’s other ministries at the Brethren Service Center are continuing.

Wine also informed the board of staff discussions about policies related to self-funding units. A review of those policies is part of the organization’s strategic plan, which has a directional goal on “sustainability.” The self-funding programs include Brethren Press, Brethren Disaster Ministries, New Windsor Conference Center, Global Food Crisis, Material Resources, the Conference Office, and “Messenger” magazine.

Although many different internal policies govern these self-funded ministries, one aspect gained the attention of the board: a practice of charging interest on interfund borrowing by self-funding departments. The board asked the treasurer to do additional study and bring a recommendation on whether this practice should be discontinued.

GFCF grant

The board approved a grant of $58,000 to support agricultural development in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). This grant for the Ryongyon Community Development Program continues long-term Brethren support for four farm cooperatives that feed and are home to 17,000 people. The program is carried out in cooperation with other members of the Foods Resource Bank, and is directed by Dr. Pilju Kim Joo of Agglobe International.

“The need for food security is great,” said the grant request. “Caritas reports that floods, a harsh winter, poor farming infrastructure, and rising global food prices have left two-thirds of the 24.5 million population without enough to eat.” Find out more about the church’s work in North Korea at

Ministerial Leadership paper

The board reviewed the provisional approval it gave at its last meeting to a draft of the Ministerial Leadership document, and approved the document to be brought to the 2012 Annual Conference. The proposal to the Conference will be to approve the document as a study paper, before it comes back for final adoption. The document reviewed by the board at this meeting included revisions from the previous version, with a new section of “Scriptural Theological Perspective,” as well as new sections of additional recommendations and a glossary of terms, among other smaller revisions. For more information go to

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
A new concept of "Share and Prayer Triads" was experienced at the Mission and Ministry Board meeting. Congregational Life Ministries executive Jonathan Shively led the board in small group Bible study, personal sharing, and prayer. The model is part of the Vital Ministry Journey initiative that Congregational Life is putting into place in collaboration with districts.
Vital Ministry Journey

An emerging effort of Congregational Life Ministries, the “Vital Ministry Journey” is a new way for denominational staff to partner with congregations and districts toward holistic health. Built around conversation, Bible study, prayer, and storytelling, the first phase seeks to identify churches that are ready to grow their “mission vitality.”

Initially developed with Middle Pennsylvania District, which plans to launch the process in  September, the Vital Ministry Journey is a work in progress said Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries. As he presented an outline of the goals and steps envisioned for the two phases of the journey, Shively emphasized that at its core the process is adaptable and intended to be customized by congregations and districts.

Practices supporting the process include coaching, training, networking, mutual support, and the cultivation of shared mission among congregations. Shively led the board in an experience of “Share and Prayer Triads,” three-member study groups that will be in place for 60 days in a congregation, a time intended for self-study and discernment of a church’s state of health, calling as a community, and next steps in mission.

In other business

The Executive Committee appointed Dawne Dewey to a four-year term on the Brethren Historical Committee. She is head of special collections and archives at Wright State University in Ohio and attends Pleasant Hill Church of the Brethren in Southern Ohio District.

Board members worshiped with Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren, attending two of the four Sunday morning services held by the congregation. Frederick is the largest Church of the Brethren in the US. Following worship, the board was given lunch by the congregation, and pastor Paul Mundey led the board in a private workshop on “Developing Leadership Skills in Turbulent Times.” The board also held a conversation in closed session (see a release from the board below).

During the board meetings, Annual Conference moderator Tim Harvey led devotions focused on the proposed Vision Statement for the Church of the Brethren coming to the 2012 Conference. On behalf of the Conference officers, who also were meeting in New Windsor over the weekend, he made a recommendation that the Church of the Brethren as a whole and each congregation spend a month this fall focusing on the Vision Statement through Bible studies and small group discussions. Find the proposed statement, a study guide, a new theme hymn, and worship resources at

Release from the Mission and Ministry Board: Executive Session Report

Recognizing the importance in the life of a board for generative time, the Mission and Ministry Board entered into executive session on Sunday afternoon, March 11, at the Frederick Church of the Brethren.
Pastor Paul Mundey preaches at Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Pastor Paul Mundey preaches at Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren. The denomination's Mission and Ministry Board during its Spring meeting worshiped with the Frederick congregation. The events on Sunday, March 11, 2012, also included a lunch provided by the host church, and an afternoon session that Mundey led for the board on "Developing Leadership Skills for Turbulent Times."

As a board development component of the afternoon, Frederick pastor Paul Mundey led the board through a seminar on “Developing Leadership Skills in Turbulent Times.”

General Secretary Stan Noffsinger brought a progress report on the New Windsor Conference Center closure and potential retasking of conference center facilities.

The board then entered into a conversation about how best to communicate with each other and with the wider church. The board focused on decisions made in the past year regarding BVS [Brethren Volunteer Service] project approvals. Specifically, the board spoke about the approval of the Brethren Mennonite Council’s BVS project application. The timeline and the process that led toward the decision was shared by the General Secretary and the board Chair.

In January 2011, the Executive Committee discussed the approval process for BVS projects in general and potential placements with BMC in particular. The Executive Committee affirmed that all BVS volunteers must be engaged in service consistent with the values of the Church of the Brethren as articulated by Annual Conference statements and policies. The Executive Committee further affirmed that any project placement meeting this criterion and not involving advocacy against Church of the Brethren positions should receive consideration. The Executive Committee then instructed the General Secretary and an Executive Committee member to engage in conversation with BMC representatives to determine whether potential BMC placements could meet those criteria and, if so, consider such placements. The General Secretary determined that the BMC project met the criteria articulated by the Executive Committee.

The board agreed that, going forward, all BVS projects should be reviewed periodically to assure that they meet these criteria.

The board acknowledged that the Executive Committee could have communicated this decision and its rationale more effectively with the wider board and the larger church and expressed regret for the confusion and pain that resulted.

Given that experience, the board committed itself in the future to find ways to communicate more effectively with the larger church. The board seeks in all of its work to be a unifying force that is respectful of all members of the Church of the Brethren.

The board ended its closed session in prayer, seeking God’s wisdom and guidance in its role in providing leadership for the Church of the Brethren.

Source:3/22/2012 Newsline

New phone system is installed at Church of the Brethren offices.

A new telephone system has been installed for the Church of the Brethren at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The new VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) system is expected to save the church thousands of dollars and is a significant upgrade of telephone service. Installation took place March 12.

Main telephone numbers for the Church of the Brethren offices remain the same: 847-742-5100, 800-323-8039 (toll free), 847-742-6103 (fax). Also unchanged is the Brethren Press customer service number at 800-441-3712.

Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) main numbers continue to be 847-695-0200 and 800-746-1505.
Employees have been assigned new extension numbers. New capabilities also offer staff the ability to view voice mail, identify callers via a computer connection, and forward calls to cell phones when away from the office.

There are new options for those calling in as well. On calling either 847-742-5100 or 800-323-8039, a caller may dial an extension number at any time, or press 1 to access a menu of departments. Callers also may dial an employee’s last name to be connected.

A listing of Church of the Brethren staff extensions is at

Source:3/22/2012 Newsline

Giving among US and Canadian churches drops $1.2 billion.

Churches continue to feel the effects of "the Great Recession" of 2008 as contributions dropped $1.2 billion, according to the National Council of Churches' 2012 “Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.”

Membership trends in denominations reporting to the Yearbook remain stable, with growing churches still growing and declining churches still declining, reports Eileen Lindner, Yearbook editor.

The 80th annual edition of the Yearbook, one of the oldest and most respected sources of church membership and financial trends in the US and Canada, may be ordered for $55 each at

Not all churches report their financial information to the Yearbook, Lindner said, but the downward trends are reasons for concern. The nearly $29 billion contributed by nearly 45 million church members is down $1.2 billion from figures reported in the 2011 Yearbook, Lindner said. "This enormous loss of revenue dwarfs the $431 million decrease reported last year and provides clear evidence of the impact of the deepening crises in the reporting period," Lindner wrote.

In terms of per capita giving, the $763 contributed per person is down $17 from the previous year, according to Lindner, a 2.2 percent drop. The decline "took place in the context of ongoing high unemployment and a protracted economic downturn," Lindner wrote.

The decline in church giving has deeply affected national churches and member communions of the NCC, many of which are dealing with severe financial exigencies.

Church membership increases or declines continued as they have for several years, the Yearbook reports. "The direction of membership (growth or decline) remains very stable," Lindner wrote. "Most churches which have been increasing in membership in recent years have continued to grow and likewise, those churches which have been declining in membership in recent years have continued to decline."

Changing habits in church attendance among younger generations have had a noticeable impact on declining churches, Lindner suggests. "For the age cohorts known as Gen Xers and Millennials (people now in their 30s and 20s respectively), formal membership may lie outside of their hopes and expectations for their church relationships," according to Lindner. (The 2012 Yearbook includes Lindner's essay, "Can the Church Log In with the 'Connected Generation?' The Church and Young Adults").

The 80th annual edition of the Yearbook reports a continuing decline in membership of virtually all mainline denominations. Membership figures reported in the 2012 Yearbook were collected by the churches in 2010 and reported to the Yearbook in 2011.

The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's second largest denomination and long a reliable generator of church growth, reported a decline in membership for the fourth year in a row, down .15 percent to 16,136,044 members.

The Catholic Church, the nation's largest at 68.2 million members, reported a membership growth of .44 percent.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints grew 1.62 percent to 6,157,238 members and the Assemblies of God grew 3.99 percent to 3,030,944 members, according to figures reported in the 2012 Yearbook.

Other churches that continued to post membership gains in 2010 are Jehovah's Witnesses, up 1.85 percent to 1,184,249 members, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, up 1.61 percent to 1,060,386 members.

"Four of the 25 largest churches are Pentecostal in belief and practice," Linder wrote. "Strong figures from the Assemblies of God, and a big jump in the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World...balanced against relatively modest losses from the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), might suggest a continuing increase in total adherents to Pentecostal groups."

Among mainline denominations, the sharpest rate of membership decline (down 5.90 percent to 4,274,855 members) was posted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Others posting declines include the Presbyterian Church USA (down 3.45 percent to 2,675,873), the Episcopal Church (down 2.71 percent to 1,951,907), the United Church of Christ (down 2.02 percent to 1,058,423), the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) (down 1.45 percent to 2,278,586), the United Methodist Church (down 1.22 percent to 7,679,850), and the American Baptist Churches USA (down .19 percent to 1,308,054).

Nine of the 25 largest churches did not report updated figures. The 2012 Yearbook reports on 228 national church bodies. The Yearbook also includes a directory of 235 US local and regional ecumenical bodies with program and contact information and provides listings of theological seminaries and Bible schools, religious periodicals, and guides to religious research including church archive listings. Information in the Yearbook is kept up to date in two regular electronic updates each year. Access to this Internet data is provided through a unique pass code printed inside the back cover.

Total church membership reported in the 2011 Yearbook is 145,691,446 members, down 1.15 percent over 2011.

For more information, or to purchase a copy of the 2011 Yearbook, see Yearbooks from earlier years may be available at a discounted price at 888-870-3325.

-- Philip E. Jenks is a member of the National Council of Churches communications staff.

Source:3/22/2012 Newsline

Boshart to manage Global Food Crisis Fund, Emerging Global Mission Fund.

Jeff Boshart
Photo by Wendy McFadden
Jeff Boshart (center right) has begun work as manager of the Global Food Crisis Fund and the Emerging Global Mission Fund. Most recently he has wprked for Brethren Disaster Ministries as Haiti disaster response coordinator. He is shown here in Haiti with colleague Klebert Exceus (center left) helping orient a delegation from the US who were visiting on the occasion of the completion of the 100th home rebuilt by the Brethren.
Jeff Boshart started March 15 as manager of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) and Emerging Global Mission Fund (EGMF). This new position located at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., combines management of the two funds.

Formerly managed by Howard Royer until his retirement in December, the GFCF is the primary way the church helps develop food security and works against chronic hunger. In existence for over 25 years, it has served community development programs in 32 countries. Grants develop sustainable agriculture through providing seeds, livestock, tools, and training, and also work on related issues such as providing clean and potable water. GFCF grants have totaled around $300,000 annually, in recent years.

The EGMF supports development of new and emerging international mission, but also is intended to support the New Church Development Advisory Committee’s work encouraging church planting in the US. Currently it is funding mission in Brazil and Haiti.

As manager of GFCF, Boshart will represent the Church of the Brethren at the Foods Resources Bank and other ecumenical bodies to address hunger.

Most recently he has been the Haiti disaster response coordinator for Brethren Disaster Ministries, since Oct. 2008. He and his wife Peggy worked for the Church of the Brethren from 2001-04 as community development coordinators in the Dominican Republic, implementing a microloan program. In Haiti from 1998-2000 they served in agricultural development with ECHO (Educational Concern for Hunger Organization).

Boshart holds a master’s of professional studies degree in agriculture from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and a bachelor’s of science in biology from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., and is vice president of the board of directors of FARMS International, a Christian micro-credit organization. He speaks Haitian Kreyol and Spanish. He is a member of Rockford (Ill.) Community Church of the Brethren. He and his family live in Fort Atkinson, Wis.

Source:3/22/2012 Newsline

New unit of BVS volunteers begins service.

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) unit 296The Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) Winter Orientation Unit 296 completed training from Jan. 29-Feb. 17 in Gotha, Fla. Following are the volunteers, their congregations or hometowns, and placement sites:

Willi Berscheminski of Schifferstadt, Germany, will work at the Meeting Ground in Elkton, Md.

Sarah Marie Dotter of Wyomissing (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is working with Cincinnati (Ohio) Church of the Brethren.

Bryan Eby of Trinity Fellowship Church of the Brethren in Waynesboro, Pa., is going to Hope House in Quinter, Kan.

MaryBeth Fischer of Hempfield Church of the Brethren in Manheim, Pa., will work at Highland Park Elementary in Roanoke, Va.

Damon Fugate of West Milton (Ohio) Church of the Brethren is serving with the Palms in Sebring, Fla.

Amanda Glover of Mountainview Church of the Brethren in McGaheysville, Va., is going to SnowCap in Portland, Ore.

Alex Harney of Creekside Church of the Brethren in Elkhart, Ind., will be at ABODE Services in Fremont, Calif. Also going to ABODE are Sophia Mangold of Muenstertal, Germany, and Natalie Pence of Mountainview Church of the Brethren.

Max Knoll of Meiningen, Germany, will serve with Su Casa Catholic Worker in Chicago, Ill.

Marc Kratzer of Nuremburg, Germany, is to serve with Talbert House in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Laban Wenger of Stone Church Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa., is going to CooperRiis in Mill Spring, N.C.

Melissa Wilson of Copper Hill (Va.) Church of the Brethren is working with Brethren Disaster Ministries at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

For more information about BVS go to

Source:3/22/2012 Newsline

Illinois Central Song and Story Fest will precede Annual Conference.

The Song and Story Fest that is held each year around the time of Annual Conference this year will be July 1-7 at Camp Emmanuel near Astoria, Ill. The family camp featuring Brethren musicians and storytellers is titled “Illinois Central Song and Story Fest: All Aboard!” with a railroad theme.

“We’re going to celebrate railroads and trains...and take some of our themes and titles from songs and stories about trains,” said publicity for the event. “Our country has been interlaced with railroad tracks for almost 200 years, but those tracks are fast disappearing, like the other physical connections we have with each other. We’ll explore the impact of our increasingly virtual (not to be confused with virtuous) world on our relationships and on the role of the church in keeping face-to-face communities alive.”

Storytellers and workshop leaders will include Deanna Brown, Bob Gross, Kathy Guisewite, Reba Herder, Jonathan Hunter, Jim Lehman, and Sue Overman. Musicians will include Rhonda and Greg Baker, Patti Ecker and Louise Brodie, Peg Lehman, LuAnne Harley and Brian Kruschwitz, Jenny Stover-Brown and Jeffrey Faus, Chris Good and Drue Gray of Mutual Kumquat, and Mike Stern.

Co-sponsored by On Earth Peace, the Song and Story Fest is an intergenerational camp for all ages. The schedule includes worship and workshops for adults, children, and youth, as well as afternoon free time for recreation, nature walks, story swaps, and jamming. Evenings feature campfires, snacks, and concerts or a folk dance. This is the sixteenth summer in a row for the Song and Story Fest.

Registration includes all meals, on-site facilities, and leadership, and is based upon age. Registration fees begin at $260 for adults, $200 for teenagers, $130 for children age 4-12, with children three and under welcome at no charge and a maximum fee per family of $780. Daily fees are available. An additional 10 percent late fee is charged for registrations made after June 1.

Register at . Contact Bob Gross at On Earth Peace if you need financial help to attend, 260-982-7751 or . More about Camp Emmanuel is at . For additional information about Song and Story Fest contact director Ken Kline Smeltzer at 814-571-0495 or 814-466-6491, or

Source:3/22/2012 Newsline

Registration for Mission Alive 2012 opens April 1.

2012 Mission Alive conference logo“Sign up early for your spot at the Church of the Brethren missions conference, Mission Alive 2012!” invites the church’s Global Mission and Service office.

Global Mission and Service along with Brethren World Mission and the Brethren Mission Fund, are co-sponsoring Mission Alive 2012. The conference takes place Nov. 16-18 hosted at Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.

“As we are ‘Entrusted with the Message’ in 2 Corinthians 5:19-20, this conference aims to encourage, inspire, and ignite passion in each participant to become an advocate for Christ through Church of the Brethren mission and service in whatever way they’re able--through local congregational efforts or perhaps through a term of service abroad,” said the invitation. “Come prepared to be challenged, equipped, and commissioned to continue the mission of reconciling the people of our nation and world to Christ in this generation.”

Cost to attend the full conference is $65, with a daily fee of $40. Students in high school, college, or seminary will pay only $50 to attend the full conference. Register a family for the full conference for $150. Online and paper registration open April 1. Register at Contact 800-323-8039 ext. 363 or with questions.

Source:3/22/2012 Newsline

From Vietnam: The amazing story of 30 blind students.

Students at the Warming House / Thien An school for the blind in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Photo by Nguyen to Duc Linh
Students at the Warming House (Thien An) school in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The school serves 30 blind students, led by Principal Nguyen Quoc Phong.
On a sunny day, a group including a professional social worker, two assistants, and a fourth-year social work student from National Vietnam University of Social Sciences and Humanities, paid a visit to the Warming House (Thien An). The school is a spacious five-story house in Tan Quy Ward, Tan Phu District, in Ho Chi Minh City.

We were warmly greeted by the school's headmaster, Nguyen Quoc Phong. The room we met in on the ground floor looked much like a living room. The area displayed awards, trophies, and medals that Principal Phong and his students have achieved in Special Olympics sports competitions in Vietnam and abroad. The medals and awards sparkle as they proudly show the great pride felt not only by the principal but by all the students as well. These awards are reminders of much hard work over the years.

We shared with Mr. Phong the purpose of our visit, and he was glad to give us a tour of the school. The center we visited is new, built four years ago. Cost of construction was solicited by Mr. Phong and his friends and funded by national and international nongovernmental organizations.

Next to a massage room was the book room, which displayed the marvelous achievements of Mr. Phong and other professors. After many years of research, these professors translated textbooks, the Bible, and other legal and educational resources into Braille. Mr. Phong proudly told us that the school is the pioneer in research software, converting texts from Word format to Braille letters. With this software, teachers can transfer books, course materials, and exam questions from Word into Braille for blind students. Conversely, visually impaired students can do their homework in Braille and then transfer it into Word format. This vitally important improvement not only reduces the burden on teachers but also promotes the integration of visually impaired people into community and higher education. Principal Phong noted that visually impaired students study at general education schools for sighted students and receive equal treatment as do other students.

The mobility of the visually impaired students surprised us. When a student entered the book room, a staff member informed him, “Professor Phong is talking with visitors right now.” The student, who had just returned from the university, turned and said, “Hello,” to us. We did not realize he was visually impaired. Students run, use the stairs, and find their way around their environment without tripping, as though their eyes can see.

Braille markings on handrails help students navigate the staircases at the Warming House
Photo by Nguyen to Duc Linh
Braille markings on handrails (shown here) as well as distinct patterns on the first or last step of each stairway help blind students navigate the staircases and identify floor levels at the Warming House.
Nguyen Thi Kieu Oanh, one of the first visually impaired students to graduate, came back as a teacher, following in the footsteps of her headmaster. Ms. Oanh shared how all the equipment and furniture in the school must be put back in its location after use so the next person can find it. It helps their mobility and orientation. Students remember and visualize the location of each piece of furniture, room, or corner in the school like a map. In addition, on the first or last step of each stairway, the surface of the step is designed so students know how to handle the next step. The handrails of the stairs have clear symbols marking which floor they are on.

We visited a classroom where students were doing homework. Two students were working on math exercises, some writing essays, and others engrossed in reading books about computer science. They worked so hard and passionately, we did not hear a noise or giggle from anyone. Watching a student focused on carving out letters on Braille paper, I asked, “How long does it take to remember each letter simply by using your fingertips?” He told me it took him two months to memorize the letters and another month to put letters into words.

The next room was a large, spacious music room with various musical instruments hanging on the walls. Mr. Phong demonstrated a new type of piano the school purchased from Singapore, with sound settings such as flute, a river flowing, sounds of vehicles, etc., to serve the needs of school performances.

I chatted with an older student who was playing piano. He said his hometown is far away, but people told him about the school and Mr. Phong. Coming to Ho Chi Minh City and enrolling in the school, he can continue to develop his artistic abilities.

The most impressive thing to me was the abundance of books at this blind school. There are shelves of books in every room in the school--living room, reading rooms, computer room, dining room, and bedrooms. Professor Phong encourages a spirit of reading in all his students. There are basic textbooks, advanced textbooks, reference books, computer science books, Braille books on national laws and policies related to disabilities, the entire Bible, and famous novels--all in Braille. Visually impaired children find it difficult to explore our beautiful world, so Mr. Phong wants them to “see” the world through books, recorded tapes, and talking books.

As we walked into the computer lab, groups of students used computers for homework. The room is modern, spacious and airy with 20 modern computers available around the room. Principal Phong introduced us to a visually impaired student who is in his second year at the College of Mathematics and Information Technology. He was one of five students from Thien An school enrolled in university. Like Kieu Oanh, this student’s desire is to finish university and return to the school to help teach with Principal Phong.

The school has a prayer room for the Christian students. Every Saturday a local priest comes to celebrate prayer and offers a spiritual message to these students.

In addition to being integrated into society, the school also teaches everyday chores like washing clothes, cleaning house, washing dishes, cleaning rooms and bedrooms, and mobility training with a cane on Saturdays, if needed.

Before we left, Mr. Phong suggested that we sing a song together. You can sense that love is not “somewhere out there,” but is budding right here at this school, in this small room, where people are visually impaired but not handicapped. The rose of Thien An school is scented with the strong vitality of life.

This story of a visit to the Warming House, a school for 30 blind students in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is written by Nguyen to Duc Linh. She is personal assistant to Grace Mishler, a program volunteer working in Vietnam through the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service. This article is edited with help from Betty Kelsey, a member of Mishler’s Mission Support Team

Source:3/22/2012 Newsline

Brethren bits: Personnel, jobs, Kony 2012, march for Trayvon, Bittersweet tour, much more.

  • Moala Penitani has resigned from the Church of the Brethren, as of March 30. She has worked as customer service/inventory specialist for Brethren Press since Oct. 4, 2010. During her employment with the church, she also served part-time as an assistant to the Older Adult Ministry helping to prepare for the 2011 National Older Adult Conference. She came to Brethren Press from Elkhart, Ind., after graduating from Manchester College with a degree in marketing and management. She is leaving to pursue interests in the Boston metropolitan area.
  • Christian Churches Together in the USA (CCT) is seeking an executive director who will provide strategic leadership for the engagement of denominational church bodies and other faith-based organizations at the national level in order to build and strengthen the effectiveness of the mission of CCT. Responsibilities and activities include developing and implementing strategy for engagement with communions and denominational church bodies and other faith-based organizations in order to build participation and strengthen the effectiveness of CCT; be a public face of CCT by representing CCT at conferences, meetings, and events; facilitating relationships between CCT participants and between CCT and other Christian unity organizations; organizing the Annual Meeting and doing follow-up; organizing and facilitating meetings of the Steering Committee and other committees; developing and overseeing fundraising; overseeing tasks of the national office, including finances, communication, and the work of an administrative assistant; helping CCT regularly review its vision and methods; encouraging development of local expressions of CCT. Knowledge and skill required include extensive experience in ecumenical relations and knowledge of a range of Christian churches; strong relational skills; program or operational management experience, including staff supervision, budgeting, and fundraising; writing and editing skills; capability of traveling; a master of divinity degree or equivalent. Location is negotiable. Compensation is a base salary plus benefits.  CCT is an equal-opportunity employer. Minority candidates are encouraged to apply. The Search Committee chairman is Bishop Don diXon Williams. To apply send a letter and resume to (write “CCT-USA Executive Director Position” in the subject line). For more information go to
  • Cross Keys Village ( ), a retirement community in New Oxford, Pa., seeks a chief executive officer to lead its 900 resident/700 employee campus with a $40MM budget. Located on 232 acres in south/central Pennsylvania, this Church of the Brethren-affiliated organization seeks candidates with the following qualifications: strong financial acumen, extensive board experience, at least a bachelor’s degree (master’s degree preferred), and at least eight years of senior management experience in a complex organizational setting. Interested candidates should contact Caryn Howell with MHS Alliance at or 574-537-8736.
  • The Cedars, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in McPherson, Kan., is looking for an experienced development officer to be involved in marketing, development, and work with tax sheltered annuities. As a key member of the management team, duties involve working with board members and business leaders. Salary is commensurate with experience. For more information contact Carma Wall, CEO, at 620-241-0919.
  • Brethren Press seeks a part-time customer service inventory specialist to work at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Applications will be received until the position is filled. Position description and application form are available on request to contact information below. Responsibilities are to provide professional customer service by handling phone, fax, mail, and Internet orders; maintain a thorough knowledge of products offered by Brethren Press; optimize an e-commerce website with consistent product additions, updates, and promotions; carry primary responsibility for answering the customer service phone line and processing orders; provide resource information to congregations and individuals; maintain inventory; provide sales and marketing support services; assist in coordinating and developing standardized procedures and maintain written documentation. Qualifications include ability to become familiar with Church of the Brethren organization and beliefs and operate out of the vision of the Mission and Ministry Board; ability to relate with integrity and respect in and beyond the organization; skills for effective interaction with customers and colleagues; fundamental understanding of accounting; good listening and phone skills and competency in oral and written communication; keyboarding and data entry; ability to work well in a team environment and juggle several tasks simultaneously; knowledge of Christian education and resourcing congregations. Required education and experience include customer service functions and computer literacy as essential, along with experience in sales, marketing, inventory management, and reporting. A high school diploma or general education degree is required, some college preferred. Apply by completing an application form, submitting a resume and letter of application, and requesting three references to send letters of recommendation to Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 847-742-5100 ext. 367;
  • Brethren Mutual Aid Agency is seeking a licensed agent (Property/Casualty and Life/Health) to work with church accounts. The successful candidate will be honest and ethical, and possess a strong understanding of church insurance needs, estimating the value of church buildings, and identifying and managing ministry risks. A faith-based, service-minded spirit, coupled with a strong desire to act in the client’s best interest is mandatory. Responsibilities include sales, service, and retention of insurance plans to churches and their related ministries. This position offers a flexible schedule, team environment, full office support, and a strong marketing communications program. Compensation includes a competitive salary, based on applicable experience, and a very generous benefit package. Send a letter of interest and resume to Brethren Mutual Aid Agency, Attn: Kim Rutter, 3094 Jeep Road, Abilene, KS 67410 or e-mail to
  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks an interim CPTnet editor. The one year, quarter-time, temporary position starts this summer when the current editor begins a sabbatical. Responsibilities include editing CPTnet; following the releases that teams on project locations are writing for CPTnet (as well as blogs, Facebook, and Twitter accounts of individual CPTers in the field as time allows); vetting, organizing, and editing releases from teams in English; posting edited releases to CPTnet, CPT’s English language news service; communicating with translators and posting Spanish versions of releases to redECAP, CPT’s Spanish language news service; if time allows, taking on other communication-related responsibilities. Approximately 10 hours a week, flexible location and work hours. Compensation is a need-based stipend and “satisfaction of having participated in important work supporting peacemakers around the world,” said the announcement. Contact Carol Rose, CPT Co-Director, at no later than April 2. She will respond with application materials. Full application materials are due April 22.
  • CPT also seeks applicants to join the Christian Peacemaker Corps. Applications are due before May 1. “Did you participate in a recent CPT delegation that whetted your appetite for embodied peace work, partnering with others working nonviolently for justice, and confronting the injustice that leads to war?” said an invitation. “Does CPT's style of peacemaking, confronting injustice, and undoing oppressions work fit with yours? Is now the time to take the next step and join the Peacemaker Corps? If so, please send your application.” CPT seeks applicants available for stipend-eligible service, as well as reservists. Once accepted, applicants must participate in a Peacemaker Training in Chicago on July 13-Aug. 13. Find the application form at . For questions contact
Circles of Names logo
  • Three Church of the Brethren women leaders have been nominated to the National Council of Churches (NCC) Circles of Names project: Ruthann Knechel Johansen, president of Bethany Theological Seminary; Judy Mills Reimer, former general secretary of the Church of the Brethren; and Nancy Faus Mullen, professor emerita at Bethany Seminary and former leader in the Hymnal Project that produced the “Hymnal: A Worship Book.” The nominations were made by general secretary Stan Noffsinger, who noted that each of the women “have in their own way made significant contributions to the life of the Church of the Brethren and the ecumenical movement.” The Circles of Names project on International Women’s Day, March 8, celebrated completion of a campaign raising $100,000.00 to support the ongoing work of the Women’s Ministries office of the NCC. For more information go to
  • This week’s Action Alert from the Advocacy and Peace Witness Office offers analysis of Kony 2012, a popular social media campaign to stop the atrocities committed by Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony. Kony is leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, which has been active in eastern Africa for more than 20 years, and is responsible for wide-spread violence as well as the abduction of children for use as child soldiers and sex slaves. “I am writing in order to reflect on this video, the advocacy it is part of, the solution that it suggests, and what might be a Brethren response to all of this,” comments Nathan Hosler in the alert, which suggests points for Brethren may consider from the Annual Conference statement on “Nonviolence and Humanitarian Intervention.” “As we read and hear about what is happening in the world I pray that we act with wisdom, in line with biblical teaching and our Annual Conference statements,” Hosler writes. “The Church of the Brethren supports and partners with a number of organizations throughout Africa and the world which are doing good work to alleviate suffering, poverty, and violence.” Read the alert at
  • Media reports of an attack on a church of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) have been confirmed by church leaders in Nigeria. On March 6 the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram attacked an EYN church in Kunduga, near the northeastern city of Maiduguri, as well as a Roman Catholic church and a police station. There were no reports of loss of life or injuries to EYN members. The pastor and his family foresaw the trouble and members of the congregation fled before the mob arrived at the church premises.
  • An annual program commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is being celebrated today in New York. Doris  Abdullah, Church of the Brethren United Nations representative, and chair of the UN NGO Human Rights Sub-Committee on Racism, gave welcoming remarks at a panel discussion that featured Corann Okorodudu, professor of Psychology and Africana Studies and a UN representative for the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues; Vilna Bashi Treitler, professor of Black and Hispanic Studies at Baruch College, City University of New York; and Theddeus Iheanacho, MD, of the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, among others. Co-sponsors were the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the NGO Committee on Migration, the NGO Committee on Mental Health, and the NGO Committee on the UN International Decade of the World ‘s Indigenous Peoples.
  • A number of congregations in Pennsylvania and Virginia are hosting the Bittersweet Gospel Band for a Spring tour. The band features Gilbert Romero of Los Angeles’ Bittersweet Ministries; Scott Duffey of Staunton, Va.; Trey Curry, also of Staunton, on the drums; Dan Shaffer of Hooversville, Pa., on the bass guitar; David Sollenberger of North Manchester, Ind., on the lead guitar; and Jose Mendoza of Roanoke, Va., on keyboard. The tour schedule is: April 16, 6:30 p.m., at Somerset (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; April 17, 7 p.m., at Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; April 18, 7 p.m., at York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren; April 19, 10 a.m., at Brethren Village in Lancaster, Pa.; April 19, 7 p.m, at Bermudian Church of the Brethren in East Berlin, Pa.; April 20, 7 p.m., at York Second Church of the Brethren; April 21, 7 p.m., and April 22, 11 a.m., at Alpha y Omega Church of the Brethren in Lancaster. The band has added a pre-tour Benefit for Emergency Disaster Relief at Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren on April 14, at 6 p.m. The love offering will go to disaster relief work and attendees are asked to bring Church World Service hygiene kits or items for emergency clean-up buckets (for lists of kit items go to ). All services and concerts are open to the public. For more go to
Robert Witt of Children's Aid Society, with a special guest at first annual fundraising dinner
Photo by: courtesy of Children's Aid Society
Robert A. Witt, executive director of Children’s Aid Society, Southern Pennsylvania District Church of the Brethren, with Izyek, a special guest, at the 1st annual fundraising CAS dinner.
  • Southern Pennsylvania District’s Children’s Aid Society has been selected as a finalist in the Central Penn parents 2012 Healthcare Heroes Awards in the “Children’s Health Advocate” category, according to a release. A unique nonprofit that began helping children in 1913, Children’s Aid Society provides services at the Frances Leiter Center (Franklin County), the Nicarry Center (Adams County), and the Lehman Center (York County). Services include art/play therapy, family advocacy, parent support groups, and a crisis nursery with a 24-hour hotline. During last year the society provided 3,670 therapy sessions, 34,906 hours of respite care at the crisis nursery, 620 home/office visits with the Family Advocate, and 428 parents participated in Parent Support Group sessions. “As we begin preparations for our 100th anniversary, the Healthcare Hero recognition validates the ministry and rich history of Children’s Aid Society,” said Robert A. Witt, executive director.
  • Responding to urgent needs created by recent tornadoes across the Midwest, the Southern Ohio District Brethren Disaster Ministries has announced a collection for Church World Service emergency clean-up bucket kits. “By purchasing items carefully, and in bulk, we are able to obtain the items needed to assemble the kits for $20 less than the estimated cost per bucket,” said an announcement. “Our goal is to collect enough money to assemble 300 clean-up buckets ($10,000).” Send donations to Southern Ohio District Church of the Brethren, 2293 Gauby Rd., New Madison, OH 45346. For questions contact Barbara Stonecash at 937-456-1638 or Dick and Pat Via at 937-456-3689 or e-mail
  • Dates are April 9-12 and 16-17 for the annual Meat Canning Project of Mid-Atlantic and Southern Pennsylvania Districts. This year’s goal is to process 67,500 pounds of chicken.
  • March 31 is FUNdraiser Day at Woodland Altars, a Church of the Brethren camp and outdoor ministry center near Peebles, Ohio. The day begins with a 5K Walk/Run, continues with a hog roast lunch, followed by a corn hole tournament. For more information contact Matt Dell at or Gene Karn at . Proceeds support outdoor ministries.
  • The Brethren Woods capital campaign has collected over $800,000, according to a report in the Shenandoah District newsletter from Galen Combs, prayer coordinator for the campaign. Brethren Woods Camp and Retreat Center is located near Keezletown, Va. “Fifteen acres of adjoining land has been purchased, and the roof to the dining hall has been replaced!” said the report. “Let us thank our God in prayer for what He is doing at Camp Brethren Woods.” In more news from Brethren Woods, its Spring Festival is April 28. Go to
  • Bridgewater (Va.) College students are planning a “March for Justice” to protest the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida. The march is planned for March 26, starting at 6 p.m., according to a release from the college. Marchers will wear hoodies and walk from the Kline Campus Center down Dinkel Ave. to a 7-Eleven store where they will purchase Skittles and a bottle of iced tea--items found on the body of Martin, who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watchman who has claimed self defense. After making the purchase, the group will march back to the college mall for a candlelight vigil. The march is organized by Visible Men, a college-based enrichment program that “focuses on meeting the unique needs of underrepresented male students through leadership, personal, career, and professional development.”
  • After serving 14 years at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., president Tom Kepple will retire following the 2012-13 school year, according to an announcement on the school’s website. A presidential search committee has started the search for his replacement and hired search consultant R. Stanton Hales of Academic-Search, Inc. The committee also has provided students, faculty, administrators, and the community with opportunities to voice their opinions and say what they want to see in the next president. For periodic updates on Juniata’s presidential search see
  • The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has recognized Bridgewater (Va.) College as a leader among institutions of higher education for its support of volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement. Bridgewater was named to the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for engaging its students, faculty, and staff in meaningful service that achieves measurable results in the community.
  • The Springs of Living Water initiative for church renewal has announced its next spiritual disciplines folder for Easter through Pentecost. The folder “Walking in New Life with the Risen Lord” can be found at . It follows lectionary readings and topics used for the Brethren Press bulletin series. Along with suggested Sunday texts and messages, there are daily scripture readings that lead up to the next Sunday’s service. An explanation of the theme and an insert helps members learn how to use the folders as well as discern their own next incremental step in spiritual disciplines for growth in discipleship. Bible study questions that can be used by individuals, small groups, or Sunday school classes are written by Vince Cable, pastor of Uniontown Church of the Brethren near Pittsburgh, Pa., and can be found on the website. For more information contact Joan and David Young at
  • Heeding God’s Call, a Historic Peace Church initiative to prevent gun violence in America’s cities, is holding its Fourth Annual Interfaith Good Friday Service at the site of the Mike and Kate’s Gun Shoppe in northeast Philadelphia, Pa. The event convenes April 6 at  4 p.m. at Redeemer United Methodist Church, then processes to the gun shop, ending at about 5:15 p.m. Each of the past three years Heeding God’s Call has held an interfaith service next to a gun store for which there is a published report that “straw buying” has occurred. The services “are times for the faithful to gather at a critical juncture of the gun violence that plagues our city,” said an announcement. For more go to
  • Following an announcement that Rowan Williams will be stepping down as Archbishop of Canterbury, the World Council of Churches (WCC) expressed admiration for his leadership and contribution to the ecumenical movement. The release from the WCC said Williams is accepting a new position as master of Magdalene College at the University of Cambridge beginning in January 2013. He leaves the office of Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of December, concluding his decade-long leadership of the Anglican Communion that started in 2003.
  • South Sudanese people living in the north of Sudan are facing a deadline to leave the north, according to Ecumenical News International. “Sudanese Christians who have barely a month to leave the north or risk being treated as foreigners are starting to move, but Christian leaders are concerned that the April 8 deadline set by Islamic-majority Sudan is unrealistic,” ENI reported. Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Adwok of the Khartoum archdiocese auxiliary told ENI that, “We are very concerned. Moving is not easy...people have children in school. They have homes.... It is almost impossible.” In February, Sudan announced the deadline for former citizens it had stripped of nationality after South Sudan’s vote to secede. The deadline may affect up to 700,000 people, mainly Christians of southern origin, many of whom have lived in the north for decades after fleeing the civil war in the South. More recently, AFP reported that the pressure of the deadline may be reduced by an agreement made during African Union talks. Under the deal, both the north of Sudan and South Sudan agreed to accelerate their cooperation to provide identification and other documents related to the status of people.
Source:3/22/2012 Newsline


Newsline is produced by the news services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Deborah Brehm, Charles Culbertson, Scott Duffey, Anna Emrick, Mary Kay Heatwole, Caryn Howell, Kendra Johnson, Carma Wall, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Newsline: March 7, 2012


Annual Conference ballot for 2012 is announced.

2012 AC logo 200The ballot has been announced for the 2012 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, to take place in St. Louis, Mo., on July 7-11. The Nominating Committee of the Standing Committee of district delegates developed a slate of candidates, and the Standing Committee then voted to create the ballot that will be presented to the delegate body in July.

Nominees are listed by position:

Annual Conference Moderator-Elect: Dava Hensley of Roanoke, Va.; Nancy Sollenberger Heishman of Tipp City, Ohio.

Annual Conference Secretary: James Beckwith of Lebanon, Pa.; Bonnie Martin of Annville, Pa.

Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee: Wendy Noffsinger Erbaugh of Clayton, Ohio; Rebekah Houff of Richmond, Ind.

Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee: Bernie Fuska of Timberville, Va.; Carol L. Yeazell of Arden, N.C.

Mission and Ministry Board: Area 1 -- Connie Burk Davis of Westminster, Md.; Rhonda Ritenour of York, Pa. Area 2 -- J. Trent Smith of New Lebanon, Ohio; Sherry Reese Vaught of Mansfield, Ohio.

Bethany Theological Seminary Trustee: Representing the clergy -- James Benedict of New Windsor, Md.; Paul Brubaker of Ephrata, Pa. Representing the colleges -- Celia Cook-Huffman of Huntingdon, Pa.; W. Steve Watson of Harrisonburg, Va.

Brethren Benefit Trust Board: Eric Kabler of Johnstown, Pa.; Karen Pacheco of North Miami Beach, Fla.

On Earth Peace Board: Barbara Wise Lewczak of Minburn, Iowa; Cindy Weber-Han of West Chicago, Ill.

For more information about the 2012 Annual Conference and for online registration, go to

Source:3/7/2012 Newsline

Brethren give grant for tornado outbreak, Syria; CDS begins care for affected children.

Kansas tornado damage
KS Div. of Emergency Mgt.
The town of Harveyville, KS was heavily damaged by a Feb. 28, 2012 tornado.
The tornado outbreak that began on Feb. 28-29 and continued March 2-3 was one of the largest ever recorded in March, according to Brethren Disaster Ministries. The program has given a grant from the denomination’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) in response to a plea from Church World Service (CWS) for funds for affected communities. Another EDF grant has been given to aid those affected by violence in Syria.

Children's Disaster Services (CDS) is sending volunteers to Multi Agency Resource Centers in Moscow, Ohio, and Crittenden, Ky., and waiting for confirmation of another location in Missouri to provide care for children affected by the storms. “It is anticipated that these MARCs will be open for four to five days or longer if the need persists,” reports associate director Judy Bezon. In these locations, teams of trained and certified CDS volunteers will care for children while parents apply for assistance and attend to other needs.

Brethren Disaster Ministries has been contacting the affected Church of the Brethren districts about local needs and how the program can support any local or regional efforts. Preliminary reports indicate that there were no Brethren congregations in the affected areas.

“BDM does not normally provide direct assistance in the form of cleanup or chainsaw crews on a national level,” wrote coordinator Jane Yount in an update, “as there are a number of other organizations whose mission and structure is well suited for this type of work--just as BDM is well suited to repair and rebuild homes.

“Many people are wondering how they can help. Following a major disaster such as this, it is always advisable to follow the lead of the affected communities with regard to volunteers and donations. At this time state and local emergency operations are underway in many areas, and access to some of them is limited or prohibited. The message coming from the affected areas is ‘Cash is King.’ Monetary donations are currently needed and will continue to be needed to ensure a sustained recovery and rebuilding of these communities. Unsolicited in-kind donations can clog the system and prevent the most needed supplies from reaching the disaster survivors quickly.”

It is still too early to tell how Brethren Disaster Ministries may be involved in long-term rebuilding efforts. The program is supporting immediate response efforts by CWS through the EDF grant of $7,500. The money will help CWS respond in 13 states.

CWS staff have been monitoring the situation, communicating with response organizations, assessing needs, and arranging shipments of material aid. As local long-term recovery groups are forming in affected areas, CWS will support these groups through training and small seed grants to assist with start-up costs. The total goal for the CWS appeal is currently $110,000.

CWS reported the following worst-hit areas (numbers are preliminary):
  • Indiana: 13 fatalities, with the city of Marysville heavily damaged by one of 16 reported tornadoes in the state
  • Tennessee: 11 tornadoes, 3 fatalities, 40 people injured, at least 5 counties affected
  • Kentucky: 32 tornadoes, 12 fatalities, flash flooding reported in Bell County
  • Alabama: at least 16 tornadoes, 5 injuries reported, as many as 40 homes destroyed and several hundred more damaged. “Some of the houses damaged were just recently rebuilt from damage incurred by tornadoes in April 2011,” CWS said.
  • Ohio: 9 tornadoes, 3 people dead, 8 injured.
In the Feb. 28-29 outbreak, tornadoes caused significant damage in Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois:
  • Missouri: 17 counties hit by tornadoes, 3 people killed, more than 100 injured, in Cape Girardeau County as many as 490 homes damaged and 25 destroyed, in Kimberling City (Stone County) 22 homes destroyed and 54 with major damage, in Branson (Taney County) 41 homes destroyed, in Le Clede County 1 home destroyed with 8 sustaining major damage and 85 suffering minor damage, in Phelps County 22 homes damaged
  • Kansas: town of Harveyville most severely damaged with 1 person killed and 14 injured, 2 houses destroyed, 28 houses with major damage, 36 with moderate damage, 3 injuries reported in Labette County, 1 person injured in Wilson County, some damage reported in 14 other Kansas counties
  • Illinois: tornadoes throughout the lower third of the state, 500 houses affected, town of Harrisburg hit by a major category-4 tornado in which 6 people died, 100 homes were destroyed, and 200 sustained major damage.
“BDM will post further updates as things progress,” Yount wrote. “Please keep all tornado survivors and response workers in your prayers.” Find her current update at . Support the grant from the Emergency Disaster Fund by donating online at

In related news:

The EDF grant of $8,000 for Syria responds to a Church World Service appeal following an 11-month political crisis in the Middle Eastern country. The related violence has resulted in a humanitarian crisis, with thousands of people displaced within Syria and thousands more seeking refuge in neighboring countries. The money supports the work of CWS and its partner, International Orthodox Christian Charities, in responding with food packages, relief kits, household supplies, and training for community health care workers.

Brethren Disaster Ministries also requested an EDF grant of $15,000 for the Ashland City, Tenn., rebuilding site established following flooding in May 2010. This grant supports the completion of the work in Cheatham County and surrounding areas. Funds will underwrite operational expenses related to volunteer support, including housing, food, travel expenses incurred on site, training, tools, and equipment, and will pay to transport tools and equipment to other BDM sites or headquarters once the work at Ashland City is completed. Prior grants for this project total $85,000.

An EDF grant of $2,500 has responded to a Church World Service appeal following a series of severe storms in several southern states in January. The grant helped pay for CWS to process and ship material goods, and for long-term recovery group start-up grants and training.

Brethren Disaster Ministries needs skilled volunteer electricians to help rebuild homes in Minot, N.D., where flooding last June damaged or destroyed thousands of homes. Since the flood, the city of Minot has struggled to meet the needs of many of its residents. BDM is working closely with FEMA and other National VOAD member organizations to recruit and mobilize volunteers to assist with specific work. A shortage of local licensed electricians has created a backlog of work that threatens to hinder the recovery. BDM seeks electricians to do residential wiring in flood damaged homes. The need is immediate, with 90 homes waiting for wiring to be completed before reconstruction can continue. Specific criteria for volunteer electricians: needed immediately and through the next few months; must be Master level or Journeyman; must be willing to serve for a minimum of two weeks. Through BDM’s partnerships, selected individuals will be provided with round-trip transportation, food, and lodging. Call the BDM office at 800-451-4407 for additional details.

(Roy Winter, Zach Wolgemuth, Judy Bezon, and Jane Yount contributed to this report.)

Source:3/7/2012 Newsline

Dominican Brethren hold annual assembly.

Brethren leaders pose for a photo at the Dominican church's 2012 Asamblea
Photo by Jay Wittmeyer
Brethren leaders pose for a photo at the Dominican church's 2012 Asamblea (from left): Isaias Tena, moderator of Iglesia de los Hermanos and pastor of the San Luis congregation in the Dominican Republic; Earl K. Ziegler, a longtime supporter of the Brethren in the DR, who was at the Asamblea with a group of workcampers from Atlantic Northeast District; and Daniel d’Oleo, who is serving as a mission liaison between the Church of the Brethren in the US and the Brethren in the DR.
Iglesia de los Hermanos (Church of the Brethren) in the Dominican Republic held its 2012 Asamblea on Feb. 24-26. The annual assembly was “really positive,” said general secretary Stan Noffsinger, who attended along with Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer and mission liaison Daniel d’Oleo.

Two Brethren leaders from Haiti represented l’Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Haitian Church of the Brethren). The two countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, and many members of the DR church are of Haitian background. Also at the assembly were workcampers from Atlantic Northeast District led by Earl K. Ziegler, a long-time supporter of the DR church.

Following the Asamblea, Wittmeyer met with DR church leaders to talk about the microfinance community development program of the Dominican church, and a meeting also was held with a leading Haitian-Dominican pastor to hear concerns for those of Haitian descent living in the DR.

Noffsinger also spent time with the Los Guaricanos congregation, and visited in the homes of church members. Wittmeyer and d’Oleo accompanied the workcamp group to San Jose de los Llanos, where they worked on a building project in cooperation with the Sabana Torza congregation.

Both at the Asamblea and in his visits with church members, Noffsinger reported seeing evidence of a mature church that is “engaging society, leading to spiritual and community transformation.” He praised the DR Brethren for publishing a transparent and fully audited financial report this year, and expressed admiration for the combination of evangelism, church planting, and peace work that is being carried out in various congregations.

He lifted up the example of the Guaricanos congregation and its five preaching points. The Guaricanos church has a goal of expanding that effort to 10 preaching points, Noffsinger said, and is deliberately planting in communities where there are social issues that need to be addressed. One preaching point, for example, is in a neighborhood marked by gun violence, prostitution, and gambling. Even as they do evangelism at a weekly open market, the Guaricanos Brethren also have held weapons swaps in which they offered food to people who turned in their guns. Noffsinger said, “There is critical need in that community, and they are reaching out to affect the lives of the people.”

Wittmeyer and Noffsinger both commented on seeing the effects of the global recession on the DR’s economy, which is “dismal” in Wittmeyer’s words. In part, this results from a decline in tourism, he said. There was a decline in attendance at the Asamblea because of economic difficulties among church members, he added, as many were already surviving on subsistence wages. “They’re facing the same kinds of things (as American Brethren),” he said. “Staggering increase in the price of gasoline, increases in the price of food.” During the trip, the American church leaders noticed that the price of gas in the DR had risen above $7.50 per gallon.

At the Asamblea, Ziegler preached the Sunday morning sermon from Philippians 3, and called on the Dominican Brethren to press toward the mark, with the goal of following Jesus. “The worship at the Asamblea was outstanding,” Noffsinger said.

Business items included a “clean” and independently audited financial report. Noffsinger said that at the invitation of the executive committee, the auditor presented his credentials and the audit in person, and answered questions. Also, each congregation reported how much it is giving to support the ministries of the national church.

Wittmeyer reported that the Global Mission and Service office is giving a grant of $20,000 to the church in the DR for the year 2012. The money will help rent properties for congregations, and support the Dominican Brethren in holding outreach events like Vacation Bible School, but will no longer be used to pay salaries for pastors.

In other business, Ariel Rosario Abreu, pastor at Los Guaricanos, was chosen moderator-elect. Isaias Tena, co-pastor of the San Luis congregation, is serving as moderator.

Source:3/7/2012 Newsline

EYN Ministers’ Council 2012 is praised.

Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) held its ministers’ annual conference from Feb. 13-17, the first under the leadership of Samuel Dali as president of EYN. The conference is the second in decision making on ministerial issues. The meeting included ordained ministers from the nationwide church and other mission fields outside Nigeria.
During the meeting, the group approved the ordinations into probation of 66 people and 47 full ministers. On the other hand, the group also confirmed the action to let go one pastor for alleged misconduct.

The event carried teachings on “Pastor and Wealth Creation” from Rebecca S. Dali, the wife of the EYN president; and “Pastor and His Family,” presented by Musa A. Mambula. EYN secretary Amos Duwala, commenting on the conference said it was wonderful and welcomed teachings, which he said came at point when the church needs to strengthen its ways to create income.

A participant from Local Church Council (LCC) Port Harcourt, Joshua B. Mainu, said, “We can see that EYN will move to the greater height. Let us support Mr. President; we have the big dream for EYN. Let us put our hands on deck to make EYN the best.

“The meeting has changed from the past meetings we used to have, because of the questions, contributions, and addressing issues has taken a different dimension altogether.”

Anthony A. Ndamsai is the former coordinator of the EYN Pastoral Development Program, now pastor of LCC Ikeja Lagos. “In fact I am impressed with this year’s Ministers' Council,” he said. “The teachings and deliberations were thought provoking. Especially the business session; it was straight to the point and the president who chaired the meeting was able to coordinate it very well.”

-- Zakariya Musa provided this report on behalf of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria and the “New Light” journal.

Source:3/7/2012 Newsline

Bridgewater College announces change in leadership.

The Board of Trustees of Bridgewater (Va.) College accepted a request by George Cornelius to allow his contract as president to expire at the end of the current academic year. The Board of Trustees has appointed executive vice president Roy W. Ferguson, Jr. as interim president to succeed Cornelius, with the transition to be completed on May 14.

“After significant reflection I have decided not to pursue an extension of my contract as president of the college,” Cornelius stated. “I would like to conclude the efforts I’ve started on campus and then focus my efforts elsewhere. I look forward to partnering with my friend and colleague Roy Ferguson to ensure a smooth transition.”

“We thank George and Susan, his wife, for their service to Bridgewater and wish them the best in their future endeavors,” Nathan H. Miller, chair of the Board of Trustees, affirmed. “The college has benefited from George’s broad business experience across an array of industries during its current strategic planning efforts. And we are pleased to have a leader of Roy Ferguson’s caliber to maintain the college’s momentum and history of providing a valuable education to our students.”

“Today the board invites the campus community to join its leaders in the next chapter of our strong story,” Miller continued. “Together, we are a campus that is keeping pace with change and embracing our robust future. Bridgewater College has and will continue to be a home for students, faculty, staff, and alumni who believe in our values and the college’s approach of educating the whole person.”

“I am honored to be asked to serve in the vital role of interim president of Bridgewater College,” stated Ferguson. “As begun by my predecessors, I look forward to leading the transition of a strong campus with a bright future.”

A search for the ninth president of the college will commence after discussion by the board at its regularly scheduled meeting in April. Under the board’s leadership, the search will progress with input and involvement from the campus community.

For more about Bridgewater College go to

-- Mary Kay Heatwole is editorial assistant for Media Relations for Bridgewater College.

Source:3/7/2012 Newsline

Tyler to serve as coordinator of workcamps and volunteer recruitment.

Emily Tyler will begin June 27 as coordinator of workcamps and volunteer recruitment for the Church of the Brethren. The job combines oversight and administration of the youth and young adult workcamps with recruitment of volunteers for Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS).

This new coordinator position is located within the Global Mission and Service program, reports to the director of BVS, and also works closely with the director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

Tyler has been teaching music and choir at the elementary school level in Peoria, Ariz., where she is a member of Circle of Peace Church of the Brethren. In previous teaching positions she was an elementary music teacher in Wichita, Kan., where she received the Kansas State Teacher of Promise Award in 2004.

Her volunteer work for the Church of the Brethren has included serving as a co-coordinator of National Youth Conference in 2006, working as a BVS volunteer. She also was a coordinator for Young Adult Conference in 2006. She was a member of the National Young Adult Steering Committee 2003-05. In recent years she has been a volunteer director for some of the workcamps that are held across the country through the Workcamp Ministry, and in 2009 co-coordinated youth activities at Annual Conference. She is a graduate of McPherson (Kan.) College.

Source:3/7/2012 Newsline

Crain hired by McPherson College as new campus minister.

McPherson (Kan.) College has chosen a new campus minister with deep roots in both the spiritual and the scientific--Steve Crain.

The campus minister is responsible for the spiritual life of the McPherson College campus. Among the responsibilities are creating spiritual formation programs, supporting students of faith, and connecting students in need to available resources. The campus minister helps create the connection between the intellectual and spiritual at the college.

Crain comes to McPherson College from Fort Wayne, Ind., where he has served as director of Christian formation at Trinity Episcopal Church; co-chaplain for Timbercrest Senior Living Community, a Church of the Brethren retirement community; and adjunct faculty at the Department of Philosophy and Theology at the University of Saint Francis. He also has previous experience as a campus pastor at Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind.

Ordained in the Church of the Brethren, he holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Stanford, a master’s degree in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a master’s in history and philosophy of science from the University of Notre Dame from which he also received his doctorate in theology. His academic focus has been on the relationship between theology and natural science. In his spare time, he is a passionate reader and outdoorsman.

-- Adam Pracht is coordinator of development communications for McPherson College.

Source:3/7/2012 Newsline

Gather ’Round co-sponsors conference on children, youth, and Christianity.

Display of Gather 'Round curriculum
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
A display of the Gather 'Round curriculum, produced jointly by Brethren Press and MennoMedia. Products include Christian education materials for preschool, primary, middler, junior youth, and senior high youth ages, along with multiage class sessions, a "Talkabout" CD that helps congregations connect Sunday school with life at home in family settings, an annual music CD, and more.
The Gather ’Round curriculum project is co-sponsoring an innovative conference on “Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity.” The event takes place May 7-10 in Washington, D.C.

Gather ’Round: Hearing and Sharing God’s Good News is a Bible story-based curriculum published jointly by Brethren Press and MennoMedia.

“Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity” is presented by Emergent Village, Wood Lake Publishing, Seasons of the Spirit, Virginia Theological Seminary, and Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., which is hosting the event. Other sponsors of the conference are the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, District of Columbia Baptist Convention, Eastern Mennonite University,, Duke Divinity School, Vibrant Faith Ministries, Bethel University and Bethel Seminary, Transform, Wesley Theological Seminary, CBFVA, Church Publishing Incorporated, and United Church of Canada.

“I’ve been saying again and again that we need a creative revolution in spiritual formation and Christian education for children and youth,” says Brian McLaren, one of the conference planners, “and this is the gathering that I think will bring the right people together.”

Dave Csinos, founder of the conference, believes that new movements within Christianity have much to offer young people but too often lack the resources they need to develop innovative ministries with them. He issued a call to those who are searching for a new kind of Christianity, inviting them to come together and generate new ideas and practices for new generations.

Topics discussed will include cultivating young public theologians, teaching young people about violence in the Bible and the world, faith development in interfaith contexts, sexuality and youth ministry, educating young people about social justice, innovative ideas for ministry, and teaching peace to children.

Keynote presentations will be by McLaren, John Westerhoff, Ivy Beckwith, and Almeda Wright. Titles are: McLaren: “Christian Faith (and) the Next Generation: Why We Need this Conference”; Westerhoff: “Changing Times, Changing Responses”; Wright: “Personal Jesus, Public Faith: Cultivating a Generation of Young Public Theologians”; Beckwith: “Godspell, Footloose (the Original) and a New Kind of Children’s and Youth Ministry.”

“On the Ground,” a panel of practitioners, will be led by Church of the Brethren member Michael Novelli and Amy Dolan. Others presenting at the conference include Shane Claiborne, Jeremiah Wright, Jr., the Jim Wallis family, Joyce Ann Mercer, and Tony Campolo. See the full list at

“This event sets the bar high: it’s got passion, purpose, and a line-up of theological luminaries who rarely share the same stage,” says youth ministry expert and Princeton Theological Seminary professor Kenda Creasy Dean. “What brings it all together is a shared core conviction: if we’re going to be the church Christ calls us to be, we’re going to need to take young people as seriously as Jesus does.”

Register and get information about the conference at Find out more about Gather ’Round at

Source:3/7/2012 Newsline

Brethren bits: Jobs, MMB meeting, ‘Basin and Towel’ online, registration deadlines, and more.

  • The Church of the Brethren seeks a director of Donor Relations to fill a fulltime salaried position based at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill. This position manages the direct gift, planned giving, congregational stewardship, and enlistment programs of the Church of the Brethren. The director for Donor Relations is responsible for the solicitation and management of gifts and for securing special, deferred, and direct gifts from individuals and congregations. In this capacity the director works in collaboration with all stakeholders of the Church of the Brethren to develop and carry out an organizational plan for fund development, while nurturing and building relationship with members of the church. Additional responsibilities include overseeing congregational stewardship and enlistment activities; working collaboratively with the Donor Invitation coordinator, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries, and director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship; working with volunteers, contractors, and staff to hold area meetings to acquaint individuals with planned giving options and ministries supported by special and deferred gifts, and to interpret the ministries and programs of the church; objectives, budget, and program for the Donor Relations office; and representing the denomination as appropriate in ecumenical organizations. Required skills and knowledge include grounding in Church of the Brethren heritage, theology, and polity; ability to articulate and operate out of the vision of the Church of the Brethren; at least five years of experience in planned/deferred giving and/or five years in development-related activities in the not-for-profit sector; ability to inter-relate with individuals and groups; some management experience or work experience related to objective setting, budget preparation, team building, and organizational dynamics. A bachelor’s degree is required. A master’s degree is preferred. Interviews begin mid-March and continue until the position is filled. Request the application form and complete job description, submit a résumé and letter of application, and request three letters of reference to be sent to: Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694; 800-323-8039 ext. 258;
  • The National Council of Churches (NCC) is searching for a leader skilled in change management, organizational transformation, and funds development to serve as its transitional general secretary for 18 months during the council's planned restructuring. The Search Committee is chaired by Bishop Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Review of applicants will begin immediately with the aim of presenting a candidate to the NCC's Governing Board in May. Clare J. Chapman has been serving as the council's interim general secretary since the departure on Dec. 31 of former general secretary Michael Kinnamon. The announcement of the search for a transitional general secretary coincides with the formation during the NCC Executive Committee meeting Feb. 23-24 of a task force to re-envision and restructure the council. This Task Force will facilitate a coordinated effort among NCC leaders, Governing Board members, and staff to provide clarity of mission, and to develop and implement an organizational structure that is better suited to the unique challenges of today's ecumenical landscape. The transitional general secretary will be expected to work with board and staff to transform the NCC mission and oversee funds development. Special skills in addressing institutional racism and working with diverse constituencies are required. Since its founding in 1950, the NCC has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the US. The NCC's 37 member communions include the Church of the Brethren and represent a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African-American and Living Peace churches, which include 45 million people in more than 100,000 congregations in communities across the nation. See the job posting at
  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks a full-time delegations and administrative coordinator. The person in this position will provide leadership support to CPT’s delegation program. CPT delegations form essential advocacy links between communities experiencing violence with concerned individuals and groups, and offer participants first-hand experiences of CPT's on-the-ground faith-based, active peacemaking. This includes working with CPT teams to schedule delegations, recruiting delegates and delegation leaders, facilitating pre-delegation orientation and post delegation debriefings, administering details such as booking flights and finances, taking part in CPT’s Chicago-based administrative coordination. Exact roles will be determined by how the appointee’s gifts mesh with those of others working in CPT administration. Location is Chicago, Ill. Expressions of interest/nominations are due no later than March 19, with full application materials due March 30. Position to start as soon as preferred candidate is available. After confirmed, appointment will be for a period of three years. Compensation includes a need-based stipend, full health coverage, and “incredibly  meaningful work within a team of kind, gutsy, and committed peacemakers,” according to the announcement. Contact Carol Rose, CPT Co-Director, at . See for background information.
Mission and Ministry Board, Fall 2011 meeting
The Church of the Brethren’s Mission and Ministry Board (MMB) holds its Spring meeting
at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., on March 9-12. Board chair Ben Barlow will lead the meeting. Topping the agenda are financial reports and a budget for denominational ministries in 2012, alongside a conversation on the “Ecumenical Call to Just Peace,” the Ministerial Leadership Paper that is coming to the 2012 Annual Conference, a new Congregational Vitality Initiative partnership between Congregational Life Ministries and the Council of District Executives, a query from Southern Pennsylvania District on representation to the board, and a conversation with executives of agencies that report to Annual Conference, among other business. On Sunday the group worships with Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren and board members will meet with pastor Paul Mundey for an executive session on “Leadership in Times of Struggle.” A report from the meeting will appear in the next Newsline.
  • The visas of Samuel Sarpiya and his family have been denied, according to a release from Illinois and Wisconsin District, where Sarpiya serves as a new church planter and pastor in Rockford, Ill. Sarpiya also is a part-time staff person with On Earth Peace, and has been a presenter and a preacher at Annual Conference. Prior to moving to the United States, Sarpiya and his family lived in various European and African countries. “The denial letter states that a 30-day window is open for Samuel's attorney to file a motion to continue or re-open the case for Samuel's visa,” said the release from the District Leadership Team, which has established a Sarpiya Visa Fund. For the full release from the district go to
  • “Basin and Towel,” a magazine published by Congregational Life Ministries, is now offering resources from each issue at . Click on the books referenced to order them through Brethren Press. Complete issues more than a year old also are being made available online, as is a subscriptions link to subscribe to the magazine, order a gift subscription, or order a subscription for a congregation (minimum of three copies) to share with leaders in your faith community.
  • Rates go up March 16 for the Church of the Brethren’s New Church Development Conference. Go to for online registration and information including a schedule, speakers, workshops, logistical details, and more. The conference is May 17-19 at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., on the theme, “Plant Generously, Reap Bountifully” (1 Corinthians 3:6). Pre-conference activities begin May 16. Keynote leaders are Tom Johnston and Mike Chong Perkinson of the Praxis Center for Church Development ( ). Workshops for Spanish speaking participants are offered and Spanish translation is available. Sponsors are the New Church Development Advisory Committee and Congregational Life Ministries. The early registration fee of $169 is available through March 15.
  • A March 31 deadline is quickly approaching for young adults who would like to request a scholarship to attend this year’s National Young Adult Conference. The conference is June 18-22 at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. March 31 is the deadline for attendees to contact the Youth and Young Adult Office requesting staff to send a letter to their home church requesting a scholarship. More information and online registration are at . For questions contact Carol Fike, NYAC coordinator, at 800-323-8039 or
  • Regional Youth Conference will be held at McPherson (Kan.) College on March 30-April 1 on the theme “For All of You Are One” (Galatians 3:26-28). For more information and to register, go to . Registration is due by March 19. For questions, call McPherson College dean of students LaMonte Rothrock at 620-242-0501.
  • Covington (Wash.) Community Church of the Brethren in November began “Soup, Soap, Socks, and Soccer Balls,” a holiday collection. “Here’s what we collected,” reports the church in a recent newsletter: 120 pairs of socks for 16 mentally ill men and women who used to be homeless, 67 soccer balls and 110 bars of soap for refugee children and families being resettled in the community, 8 boxes and 142 cans of food for hungry families in the Covington area.
  • Whittier Community Church, a new church plant in Denver, Colo., in Western Plains District, has started a free meal program called “The Feast of Love,” according to the district newsletter. The meal is held on the last Sunday of every month, “when a lot of folks’ checks run out.” Go to
  • The steering committee for the Renovaré Essentials Conference at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College on April 21 has extended the $40 registration fee until the registration deadline of April 5. “This is going to be a wonderful conference,” said David Young, a leader in the Springs Initiative for church vitality. “We invite you to an ‘oil change’ for our spirit! ...The (Atlantic Northeast) District Spiritual Renewal Team...hopes that this will be a way to develop the spiritual journey of for you and your congregation in 2012.” Richard Foster and Chris Webb will be the speakers. Foster is the author of “Celebration of Discipline” and a founder of Renovaré. Webb is the new president of Renovaré and an Anglican priest from Wales. A program for children will be part of the conference. Go to
  • A “Matthew 18 Workshop” is offered in Northern Indiana District on March 16-17 at Union Center Church of the Brethren. Cost is $10 if pre-registered by March 9 ($15 at the door) which includes lunch, snacks, and materials. The workshop will be led by District Shalom Team members. At the close of this workshop, participants will be able to articulate the relevance of Matthew 18 and put conflict transformation skills into practice. Contact Northern Indiana District Church of the Brethren, 162 E. Market St., Nappanee, IN 46550.
  • The Shenandoah District office in Weyers Cave, Va., is a drop-off depot for Church World Service (CWS) kits again this year. The depot is open to receive donations of kits Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., through April 20 (excluding April 5, 6, and 9). For current information about CWS kits go to . Contact the Shenandoah District office at or 540-234-8555.
  • In more news from Shenandoah District, Pastors for Peace is holding a second annual Living Peace Award Banquet on March 20 at 6:30 p.m. at Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Port Republic, Va. David Radcliff, director of the New Community Project, is the speaker. A Living Peace Award will be presented to a local Church of the Brethren person who embodies the living peace witness of Christ's gospel. Tickets are $15 ($10 for students). Contact David R. Miller at
  • Middle Pennsylvania District is holding a lay leadership event titled “Changing Landscapes: Responding to Congregational Challenges” on March 24 at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. The event takes place in the Von Liebig Center for Science Sill Boardroom. The district’s Shalom Team is sponsor. Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries, will facilitate. Cost is $60. “Being a Christian congregation in North America is more unpredictable than in years past,” said an announcement. “Such unpredictability makes some people very anxious; for others it signals new opportunities. Whether you are anxious, eager, or somewhere in between, this workshop will provide key insights and introduce essential tools for responding to the rapid changes taking place both within and around the church.” Find a brochure on the district website (click on the tab “Middle PA News”).
  • “Reflections on the Care of Creation from the Perspective of the Hebrew Bible” is the title of a continuing education event with Robert Neff on March 27 at the Village at Morrisons Cove, Willows Room, in Martinsburg, Pa. Cost is $50, with an additional $10 for continuing education credit. Light refreshments and lunch are included. Registration deadline is March 13. Contact the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center to register, 717-361-1450 or
  • The Brethren Home Community in Windber, Pa., is planning a 90th Anniversary Celebration Service on June 24, to be hosted by Scalp Level Church of the Brethren. Organizers are seeking copies of old photographs from over the years for displays, including photos for an album of Candy Striper classes through the years. Contact Rebecca Hoffman, director of Church and  Community Relations/Fund Development, at
  • “Pasta with the Pastors,” an annual fundraiser benefiting the scholarship fund for staff of Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community, will be held from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on March 16, in the facility’s Houff Community Center. Following dinner, the Rockingham Male Chorus will present a concert at 7 p.m. in Lantz Chapel.
  • COBYS Family Services is planning to “Have a Ball” on March 15. The annual informational/fundraising banquet will be a Fancy Ball, according to a release. The COBYS Fancy Ball takes place March 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Middle Creek Church of the Brethren in Lititz, Pa., with a mix of good food, humor, music, information, and inspiration about COBYS ministries. Doors open at 6 p.m. During the program, guests will meet COBYS resource parents Matt and Marie Cooper and some special friends they met through foster care; Ryan and Erica Onufer and their four adopted children; Lancaster County judge Jay Hoberg, who presided over the Onufer adoptions and many other COBYS adoptions; and District Magisterial Justice Rodney Hartman with COBYS Family Life Education supervisor Abby Keiser. Providing music is a quartet of members of the Susquehanna Chorale, including COBYS controller Cynthia Umberger, Brethren Village pastor Mark Tedford, Sara Zentmeyer, and Stephen Schaefer. There is no charge to attend, but reservations are required. Register by contacting director of Development Don Fitzkee at or 717-656-6580. Additional information is at the News and Events page at
  • The February edition of “Brethren Voices” tells the story of how one Church of the Brethren congregation is continuing the work of Jesus. Portland Peace Church of the Brethren in Oregon has transformed Super Bowl Sunday to "Souper Bowl Sunday,” making a gift to the community and having fun--all at the same time. Members of the church put together packages of bean soup for the community’s emergency food program, Snow Cap. “Host John Zunkle and his crack on-field-reporters interview the MVPs of this years record breaking ‘Souper Bowl Sunday,’” said an announcement from producer Ed Groff. Brethren Voices is a community television program offered by Portland Peace Church, tailored for congregations to air on local community access cable television, or for use by study groups or Sunday school classes. In March, Brethren Voices features the work and photographs of Laura Sewell, who served in India as a missionary for the Church of the Brethren from 1946-84. In May, Brethren Voices features Jim Lehman of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., who is known for his writing about the Brethren and his involvement with the annual Song and Story Fest family camp. To order a copy or subscribe to the show, contact Groff at
  • Manchester College in N. Manchester, Ind., is awarding a record $14.4 million in academic scholarships to 228 top high school seniors, according to a release from the school. The four-year scholarships for the baccalaureate program range from $56,000 Dean’s Scholarships to two full-tuition Honors Scholarships valued at $103,400 each. All are competitive, awarded for academic achievement and impressive presentation at Scholarship Day last month. “A record number of top students participated in our Scholarship Days this year,” said Dave McFadden, executive vice president. “It was exciting to see such a positive response. We responded to their enthusiasm with record scholarships.” For more about Manchester go to
  • McPherson (Kan.) College is offering students at least three service opportunities with Church of the Brethren organizations during Spring break: in Lybrook, N.M., at a mission site related to Western Plains District; at the district’s Camp Mount Hermon in Kansas; and at a Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project in Arab, Ala. The college’s Spring break is March 17-24.
  • Eighteen students and two staff of Bridgewater (Va.) College are volunteering with Habitat’s Collegiate Challenge Spring Break 2012, according to a release from the school. The group, accompanied by Jarret and Whitney Smith, director of admissions and director of student activities respectively, left for Maryville, Tenn., on March 4 and return to campus March 10. The group is working in partnership with the Blount County Habitat for Humanity affiliate in the Great Smoky Mountains. To raise money for the trip, they held a chili cook-off and sponsored an evening of childcare for Parents’ Night Out. This makes the 20th year that Bridgewater students have used their Spring break to work in various Habitat projects.
  • This Spring students at the University of La Verne, Calif., will offer free tax services for local taxpayers. Several students are part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, an IRS-sponsored program that helps low-to-moderate income families and individuals. “Our students have all been trained and will be supervised by our adjunct faculty...who are also IRS employees. Students had to pass an exam to participate in this volunteer program,” said professor of Accounting Renee Miller in a release. “They will be providing free tax filing services to eligible taxpayers as part of the university’s efforts to help the communities we serve.” Approximately 35 students are participating and donating about 40 work hours of their time. For more information on the VITA program contact 909-593-3511 ext. 4432 or
  • The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival has announced its National Awards for Festival Year 2011, including two individual awards and one ensemble award to Bridgewater (Va.) College. The awards recognize outstanding achievement showcased at the eight regional festivals in January and February this year. The awards to Bridgewater are for its presentation of Caryl Churchill’s adaptation of August Strindberg’s “A Dream Play” at the 44th annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Regional Festival in January. Jessica Snellings, a freshman music major from Stanley, Va., won the Distinguished Sound Design award for her work in the play. Production assistant for theater Holly Labbe was one of two Distinguished Costume Design awardees. “A Dream Play” also received a Kennedy Center nod in the Distinguished Performance and Production Ensembles category. The play was first performed at Bridgewater last November, and was chosen to perform at the Region 2 festival at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in January.
  • Robert Willoughby, a 1947 graduate of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, returns to his alma mater to talk about his experiences as a conscientious objector during World War II. On March 20 at 7:30 p.m. his presentation at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies is titled, "Starvation Volunteer: A Conversation with an Elizabethtown Alumnus." Young Center director Jeff Bach will facilitate a discussion about Willoughby’s CO experience and his participation in US government research on human starvation. On March 21 at 11 a.m. in Gibble Auditorium in Esbenshade Hall, he will be interviewed by Diane Bridge of the Biology Department about the government experiments he endured, and by Donald Kraybill, senior fellow at the Young Center, who will explore his Brethren heritage, conscientious objection to war, and civilian public service. Willoughby majored in sociology while at Elizabethtown, went on to earn a master's in sociology from the University of Chicago, and taught middle school in Maryland for most of his professional life, before retiring in 1984. He has remained connected to the Church of the Brethren since his days as a CO. Go to to read more about the programs conducted during the 1940s that tested the impact of wartime diets on human volunteers.
  • The Fasnacht Committee on Religion and Society at the University of La Verne, Calif., has announced the Spring 2012 Fasnacht Lecturer: Bishop Carlton Person, who will speak March 22 at 11:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. in Morgan Auditorium. Pearson is a theologian and senior pastor of New Dimensions Chicago, a multicultural and radically inclusive spiritual community, according to the announcement. He is the author of “God Is Not a Christian,” published by Simon and Shuster in 2010. His lectures will be titled “What Has Hell to Do With It?” and “Emerging Spirituality.” The Fasnacht Committee oversees the longest-standing endowed lecture series at the university, named in honor of former president Harold Fasnacht. Its goal is to encourage debate and discussion in the learning community about the place of religion in society today.
  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has announced a spring tour by Ted and Company TheaterWorks. The "Peace, Pies, and Prophets" tour initially travels to four cities, with additional performances to be announced: a performance on March 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Akron (Pa.) Mennonite Church; March 10 at 7 p.m. at Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia; and March 11 at 3 p.m. at Souderton (Pa.) Mennonite Church. “Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, and Moses said, ‘Thou shall eat pie’ (or so some imagine),” said a release about the tour, which will incorporate theater and comedy into biblical storytelling. Performances will include “I’d Like to Buy an Enemy,” and will feature pie auctions to benefit CPT. Go to
  • The tenth annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days takes place March 23-26 in Washington, D.C., on the theme, “Is This the Fast I Seek? Economy, Livelihood, and Our National Priorities” (Isaiah 58). The event co-sponsored by Church World Service and the National Council of Churches and many of their member communions, brings faith-based advocates and activists from across the US and around the world to Washington to explore issues related to the economy, livelihoods, and national priorities. Presentations, workshops, and policy issue discussions will explore the need for and means of seeking a global economy and a national budget that addresses injustice, poverty, hunger, and unemployment throughout the world. Area specific sessions are planned on Africa, the Asia-Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East, and the US, including workshops on human trafficking and slavery, the economics of the Arab Spring, the US embargo on Cuba, and indigenous land rights. Following the weekend of worship, dialogue, and training on policy issues and grassroots advocacy, participants will go to Capitol Hill on March 26 to lobby lawmakers for effective and just economic policies. More information and registration is at
  • Sunbury Press has released the memoir of Helen Buehl Angency, a Church of the Brethren missionary who was held captive in a Japanese detention camp during World War II. The book is titled “Behind Barbed Wire and High Fences” and tells the story of how Angeny and her husband were held for three years in a detention camp in the Philippines, after they replaced murdered missionaries in China in 1940. According to a report in the “Pueblo (Colo.) Chieftain” newspaper, Angeny wrote the memoir when she was 80. She died in 2005. For more go to
Source:3/7/2012 Newsline