Thursday, May 31, 2012

Newsline: May 31, 2012


New Church Planting Conference emphasizes love for God, and others.

A painting by Dave Weiss illustrates the New Church Planting theme
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Throughout the New Church Planting Conference, artist and church planter Dave Weiss illustrated the themes for worship. Shown here, his painting made during the opening worship service, which also illustrates the overall theme of the conference: "Plant Generously, Reap Bountifully."
On May 16-19 about 120 people--including seminary and academy students--gathered at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., for the 2012 New Church Planting Conference. The event is held every other year, sponsored by the New Church Development Advisory Committee and Congregational Life Ministries.

With the theme “Plant Generously, Reap Bountifully,” the conference was a training event for church planters and district leaders, while also offering a chance to celebrate the wide variety of new church plants across the denomination.

Church planters were recognized and received laying on of hands and prayer for their ministries. At the same time, the conference also included members of house churches as well as people who are simply interested in a movement for new congregations of Brethren.
Speakers emphasize knowing the heart of God

Keynote speakers Tom Johnston and Mike Chong Perkinson of the Praxis Center for Church Development, are successful church planters and pastors as well as consultants and coaches for denominations doing church and leadership development.

Keynote speakers on church planting are from the Praxis Center for Church Development
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
The two keynote speakers for the conference (from left)--Mike Chong Perkinson and Tom Johnston--are founders and senior developer and executive director, respectively, of the Praxis Center for Church Development. Their work entails training and coaching church planters and serving as consultants for church revitalization.
The Praxis Center looks at Jesus as the model for building the church, Perkinson told the group. The speakers called on Brethren to consider basing church development in Jesus and how he understood church, and to let go of acculturated ways of thinking about what church should be.

The highlight of church should be Christ, not great music or scintillating preaching, Perkinson said. This leads away from assessing the health and wellbeing of churches through statistics like attendance, to assessing the church’s identity in relationship with God. “Church planters, be released from the numbers game!” Johnston said.

It also leads away from an emphasis on right belief to discipleship as a way of life, and makes family relationships a  priority alongside personal relationships with Christ. Perkinson told how he includes his daughters in his ministry, even at elementary school ages inviting them to help pray for a neighbor in need of healing, for example. The end result is that children and spouses of church leaders and other families in the church, are discipled and become devoted followers of Jesus too.

Among other basic principles for church, Perkinson and  Johnston presented what they call the “Irreducible Core” from Matthew 22 and 28: 1. Love God. 2. Love others. 3. As you go make disciples. As pastors seek to replicate Jesus’ understanding of church, and how best to express God’s love in the community, the church grows in the way families grow--through personal relationships, in which faith is shared. The process is longterm, the speakers said, but in story after story they told of seeing groups welcome new disciples through the sharing of God’s love.

Brethren are using a variety of models for new churches

The range of workshops at the New Church Planting Conference illustrate the variety of approaches Brethren are taking to plant new churches.

“Retro Yet Relevant” was the title of Kim Hill Smith’s workshop on house churches, for example. She is a founding member of Common Spirit Fellowship, a house church in Minneapolis. The house church movement harks back to a model familiar to Brethren since their beginnings 300 years ago, she said. Two more Common Spirit house churches have been started on the same model, one in North Manchester, Ind., and one in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Daniel D’Oleo gave a workshop on Renacer, a movement creating new Hispanic congregations in the Church of the Brethren. Renacer began in Leola, Pa. Over three years, two more Renacer churches have been planted in Roanoke and Floyd, Va.

Another model is campus ministry-based. Primarily occurring in Michigan, churches are emerging out of ministries with college and university students. Michigan District executive Nate Polzin is leading one of these, the Church in Drive in Saginaw.

Energy and a structure for new church planting is centered in districts with active New Church Development committees. including but not limited to Atlantic Northeast, Virlina, Shenandoah, and Northern Plains. In Atlantic Northeast District, for example, the styles and models for the current group of 12 new church plants is wide and various including Brethren Revival Fellowship groups, Spanish- and Arabic-speaking congregations, and an arts-based model for missional churches.

In the Church of the Brethren, districts are responsible to develop new congregations, while denominational staff take a supporting role. Congregational Life Ministries executive Jonathan Shively and his staff, with guidance from the denomination’s New Church Development Advisory Committee, offer support and encouragement for church planting and facilitate training opportunities and coaching for the districts. Recently the denomination’s Mission and Ministry Board affirmed church planting as one of six directional goals for the Church of the Brethren.

During one of his workshops, Shively discussed the problems and possibilities inherent in a structure that decentralizes the work and places most responsibility at the local level. Issues include how Brethren can give recognition and support to new church plants across district lines, the fact that opportunities for planting may be greatest in districts with less resources, and related funding questions for the denomination as a whole.

Facilitating access to effective assessment, training, and coaching for church planters has become a focus for the denominational support to districts where church planting is becoming most successful. Denominational staff also are providing opportunities to celebrate the hard work and struggle that goes into new church planting.
For more about church planting

For more information about the Praxis Center for Church Development go to and For more about church planting in the Church of the Brethren go to or contact A photo album from the New Church Planting Conference is at

The conference received an offering of $829 to the Emerging Global Missions Fund to support church planting. More about the fund and an opportunity to give online is at

Opportunities to celebrate and learn more about church planting are coming up in July at Annual Conference in St. Louis, Mo. New fellowships and congregations will be welcomed at the beginning of the first business session on July 8. Later that afternoon, a reception for new fellowships and congregations will be held from 4-6 p.m., and a 9 p.m. insight session will address "New Churches: Stories and Strategies.” On July 9 a church planter networking session will be held at 9 p.m. On July 10 another 9 p.m. networking session will discuss the emergent and missional church. Go to

The July/August issue of “Messenger” magazine will include a cluster of articles on new church planting. To subscribe, go to

Source:5/31/2012 Newsline

BBT Board approves new funds for BFI clients and charts a course for Pension Plan.

Returning the Brethren Pension Plan’s Retirement Benefits Fund to fully funded status and approving five new tactical fund options for Brethren Foundation’s organizational clients were the primary focuses of the Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) Board of Directors meeting on April 21-22 at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

The board also spent time approving lists of defense-related companies that will be kept out of BBT investments, evaluating the performance of the board, receiving an unqualified opinion from the organization’s auditor, and recognizing departing and nominated board members during the weekend-long meeting. But the Pension Plan’s Retirement Benefits Fund (RBF) was the primary focus of the board’s attention.

“Many pension plans across the country have experienced hardships in recent years,” said Nevin Dulabaum, president of BBT. “We’re not immune to those challenges. But we are steadfastly working to strengthen the RBF so that it can meet its obligations for the lifetimes of all current and future annuitants.”

The two-day assembly was preceded by several meetings of the board and its committees. A board conference call was held on Feb. 26, which allowed BBT board and staff members to review departmental reports and routine business. The Governance Committee met with Dulabaum in Lancaster, Pa., on April 12; the Property and Compliance task team met in Elgin on April 19; and the board’s Investment, Budget and Audit Review, and Governance Committees each met in Elgin on April 20.

Three studies offer insight and possible paths for the RBF

Since the recent economic crisis of 2008 and 2009 left the Pension Plan’s RBF at 68.5 percent funded as of Dec. 31, 2008, BBT’s highest priority has been to return that fund--which pays out all Pension Plan annuitants’ monthly benefits--to fully funded status.

Scott Douglas, director of Employee Benefits, led the board through reports from three studies that analyzed key components of Brethren Pension Plan. Although they were separate studies, their goals were the same--to provide information that will help safeguard the Brethren Pension Plan and the RBF for years to come.

One study was reviewed ahead of the full board meeting by the Investment Committee; prepared by investment consulting firm Marquette Associates, the study examined different economic and investment scenarios for returning the RBF to fully funded status. Based on these projections, it could take a decade or more to achieve this goal. Factors that contribute to the RBF’s funding status include the fluctuations of the investment markets, the number of new annuitants, the mortality experience of Pension Plan members, the spousal options that are selected, and the conversion rate used to determine how much money each annuitant will receive as a lifetime benefit.

Another study examined the mortality assumptions that BBT uses in its calculations of annuity payments. Human resources consulting firm Aon Hewitt put together a review of BBT’s current mortality assumptions and concluded that while the mortality table BBT uses is on target, it would be appropriate to switch to a different table in the future. The report made several other suggestions that the board’s Pension Plan task force will review at its next meeting.

A study commissioned each year by BBT examined the funded status of the RBF. The report indicated that as of Dec. 31, 2011, the RBF was 78 percent funded--meaning that for each dollar it must pay out to annuitants, it has 78 cents available. This is a 10 percent increase over its low, but it indicates that the task force’s work is not complete.

Tactical investments added to Foundation’s fund options

In response to requests from several current and prospective organizational clients, Brethren Foundation staff members have worked with the BFI Board and investment and client service counsel to develop a way to offer five goal-oriented investment choices. These new funds are composed of multiple BFI funds and are monitored by an investment adviser.

The five tactical funds are named after the purpose each is intended to serve--Aggressive Growth, Growth, Income and Growth, Income, and Conservative. The asset allocation of each of these funds will be evaluated on a regular basis, and changes will be made within an asset range defined by the BBT board. These changes will be made based on perceived opportunities within the capital markets. These funds will be available to all organizational clients for an additional fee.

“We’re pleased to be able to offer Foundation clients a way to simplify their allocation process,” said Steve Mason, director of BFI. “These five tactical funds will allow our clients greater ease in directing their investments toward specific goals.”

The board approved the addition of these five new funds to BFI’s 16 existing funds.

Lists of Defense-related companies used to screen investments approved by the Board

To honor the Church of the Brethren’s historic peace stance, BBT creates two lists each year of US Department of Defense contractors that either earned 10 percent or more of their income from defense contracts or hold one of the top 25 defense contracts issued to publicly traded companies. Companies that fall into these categories in the Department of Defense’s previous fiscal year are then prohibited from being included in any of BBT’s or BFI’s actively managed portfolios. The board approved the lists created for use in 2012 during Saturday’s session. These lists are available for review at

IR+M retained for another three years of investment management

Representatives of Income Research and Management (IR+M) presented a report to the Investment Committee during its meeting on Friday. IR+M is an investment management firm based in Boston that has been serving BBT as a fixed income manager since June 1995. After hearing the Committee’s recommendation to retain IR+M, the BBT board voted to retain the firm for another term. For the three-year period ending March 31, IR+M had a return of 10.2 percent for its Brethren Pension Plan portfolio, compared with the benchmark, Barclays Capital US Government/Credit Bond Index, which returned 7.1 percent in that same period. Each manager is reviewed every three years by the Investment Committee.

Orientation and governance session helped undergird the Board’s mission

To strengthen the performance and focus of the BBT board, Saturday’s morning session was dedicated to a time of board evaluation. The members discussed what it means to serve on the BBT board, and it reviewed an updated orientation and resource guide for new board members. This exercise was led by the Governance Committee, which has recently expanded its focus to include selecting BBT board nominees, orienting new members, pairing those new members with mentors from the board, and evaluating board members individually and collectively.

“We have an important mission--to provide BBT with solid leadership and support,” said Karen O. Crim, BBT board chairwoman. “As a board, we need to ensure that we are performing our duty to BBT’s members and clients effectively.”

In other news

An unqualified audit opinion of BBT’s financial reports, including Brethren Benefit Trust Inc. and Brethren Foundation Inc., was reviewed by the Budget and Audit Review Committee. Craig Resch, a partner at auditing firm Legacy Professionals, presented an overview of the audited financial statements. Board members then met with Resch in closed session. The audited financials were approved by the committee and the board.

Three positions on the BBT board are up for election or appointment this year, and the Governance Committee reviewed for the board the status of all three positions. One will be filled by Annual Conference election; the nominees for this slot are Eric Kabler of Johnstown, Pa., and Karen Pacheco of North Miami Beach, Fla. Pension Plan members have elected Tom McCracken of York, Pa., to represent the Fellowship of Brethren Homes for a four-year term. The BBT board in November had indicated it would appoint Ann Quay Davis of Covina, Calif., to serve another term on the board. Both appointments will be submitted for affirmation by Annual Conference delegates this summer.

The board and staff bid farewell and offered thanks to two departing board members--Jack Grim of East Berlin, Pa., who was previously elected by Annual Conference, and Michael Leiter of Boonsboro, Md., who was chosen to replace Carol Davis as the representative of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes in April 2010.

Upcoming BBT board meetings in 2012 will take place at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on Aug. 4-5 and at the General Offices and Pinecrest Community, a Brethren-affiliated retirement center in Mount Morris, Ill., on Nov. 17-18.

-- Brian Solem is coordinator of publications for Brethren Benefit Trust.

Source:5/31/2012 Newsline

June 4 is the last day of operation of New Windsor Conference Center.

The campus of the Brethren Service Center, New Windsor, Md., March 2012
Photo by Randy Miller
The New Windsor Conference Center on the campus of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., ceases operation as of June 4. After this week’s chapel service at the denomination’s General Offices, staff called for prayer for those leaving employment with the Conference Center and expressed thanks for their work for the church.

The three regular fulltime employees who conclude their service with the church once the Conference Center closes are Ella Patterson, Fay Reese, and Rita Taylor. Other employees who have been working at the Conference Center on a temporary and/or part-time basis are Sheila Becker, Kenneth Bryant, Janet Comings, Nathan Gibson, Vira Knights, Ridge Millberry, Virginia Ryan, Joseph Wade, Charlotte Willis, and David Zaruba.

The decision to cease Conference Center operations was made by the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board at its Fall 2011 meeting. The board determined that "operating the New Windsor Conference Center is not in alignment with the directional goals of our strategic plan and not financially sustainable" (find the original Newsline report, which includes financial background for the decision, at

The board’s decision is not about the Brethren Service Center property as a whole nor the ministries that continue there including Brethren Disaster Ministries, Children’s Disaster Services, Material Resources, On Earth Peace, SERRV, IMA World Health, and the Mid-Atlantic District Office.

The center is making provisions to meet continuing needs to provide hospitality for volunteers who serve at the Material Resources program, IMA World Health, and SERRV. The center will transition Zigler Hall to become the Zigler Hospitality Center, initially keeping open several guest rooms and the kitchen and dining facilities to accommodate volunteer groups as needed. Cori Hahn will serve as hospitality coordinator and Walter Trail will manage the kitchen and dining facilities. Other possible uses for the buildings of Old Main and Windsor Hall are being explored.

Source:5/31/2012 Newsline

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

Jeff Lennard chats with Brian McLaren about Gather 'Round
Photo by Wendy McFadden
Brethren Press's Jeff Lennard (right) chats with Brian McLaren about Gather 'Round at the conference on Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity. The conference was held in Washington, D.C., on May 7-10 with co-sponsorship from the Gather 'Round curriculum.
An innovative conference on ministry with children and youth drew well over 400 people from across North America and from several other countries.

“Whatever our faith tradition, wherever we live, we are united in shared convictions that the vitality of the church depends on children and youth and that young people are dear to God’s heart,” said Dave Csinos, founder and chief planner of the conference, called “Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity” (CYNKC).

The conference was held May 7-10 in Washington, D.C. Keynote speakers were Brian McLaren, John Westerhoff, Almeda Wright, and Ivy Beckwith. Some 55 others made short presentations and led workshops.

One of the co-sponsors was Gather ’Round, the Sunday school curriculum co-published by Brethren Press and MennoMedia. Staff members Anna Speicher and Rose Stutzman led a workshop on “Sunday School that Doesn’t Have All the Answers.” At the Gather ’Round booth, all preview packs were taken before the conference ended.

Speicher was gratified by the interest shown by participants. “People are hungry for the Anabaptist-Pietist message of our curriculum,” she observed.

Those attending represented a range of Christian churches and organizations, including the Church of the Brethren, Mennonite Church Canada, and Mennonite Church USA.

"As the church increasingly finds itself on the margins of our culture, we must rethink what it means to do faith formation,” said Josh Brockway, director of spiritual life and discipleship for the Church of the Brethren. “A gathering like Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity gives ministers and leaders a chance to share their experiences, explore emerging trends, and seek ways to minister faithfully in changing times."

-- Wendy McFadden is publisher of Brethren Press.

Source:5/31/2012 Newsline

Global Food Crisis Fund gives first round of grants for 2012.

GFCF logo 75A first round of grants for 2012 has been announced by the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF). Totaling $23,500, the grants have supported work toward food security in the Sahel region of northern Africa, Haiti, and Honduras.

The GFCF has given $5,000 this year for a total of $35,000 since 2009 for wells and food programs to NAGARTA, a nonprofit organization in Niger. Niger is in the Sahel region of Africa situated just south of the Sahara desert and continuing southward into the savanna regions that cross the entire continent, touching numerous countries. International aid agencies predict a coming famine as poor rainfall last year and this are endangering crop and livestock farmers. NAGARTA recently reported that since November they have completed 10 wells and trained community committees on proper installation and maintenance of wells.

Another grant of $3,000 was given to an initiative in Burkina Faso from the Church of the Brethren Foods Resource Bank (FRB) account. The church is involved in the FRB through the Global Food Crisis Fund. Along with other FRB partners, this project of the Office of Development of Evangelical Churches in Burkina Faso works with farmers involved with agroforestry, sesame production, and supplemental nutrition programs.

Also in April, a $3,000 grant was sent to L’Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti) for a pond project in the village of Aux Plaines on the island of La Tortue. The pond is used for watering livestock in the dry season. This is a second grant toward an effort that includes many local Brethren. The plan is to stabilize the sides of the pond. Animals will still have access while allowing for other possible uses of the pond. Last spring, a group from McPherson (Kan.) College spent one week on the island.

In early April, a grant of $12,500 was given to Proyecto Aldea Global in Honduras. PAG’s executive director Chet Thomas shared the following: “The Church of the Brethren has provided financial support to set up more than 200 family businesses over the past several years, that has provided a small economic miracle to the lives of these families. Currently we have families which have started with one small female pig and today have over 80 pigs in different stages of growth.” Thomas’s home church is Maple Spring Church of the Brethren in Hollsopple, Pa.

A new GFCF Review Panel is named

Along with a new manager--Jeff Boshart, who served most recently as Haiti response coordinator for Brethren Disaster Ministries--the Global Food Crisis Fund also has a new Review Panel which helps make decisions about grants. The five members are:
  • Merle Crouse of St. Cloud, Fla., who brings experience as a sea-going cowboy with Heifer Project, former district executive, and former denominational staff in Turkey, Germany, and Ecuador, and with the General Board’s World Ministries and Parish Ministries. He is on the ministerial team of New Covenant Church of the Brethren in Gotha, Fla.
  • Jeff Graybill whose family farm is located near Manheim, Pa., works with Penn State Extension providing educational programming in Lancaster County with special interest in nutrient management and no-till cropping systems. He holds degrees in Agronomy from Penn State and Cornell University and has participated in workcamps in Nigeria and Kentucky.
  • Beth Gunzel of York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill., who previously worked in the Dominican Republic as consultant to the microfinance project funded by the GFCF. She holds degrees in Social Work and Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois and is an employment training manager at Growing Home, Inc., in Chicago.
  • Gretchen Sarpiya, originally from Genadendal, South Africa, and currently a church planter in Rockford, Ill., alongside her husband Samuel. As a discipleship trainer director, she worked in many African countries during her 16 years with Youth With a Mission.
  • Jim Schmidt, who farms over 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans near Polo, Ill., and attends Polo Church of the Brethren. He has a degree in Agronomy from the University of Illinois. Along with his wife Karen he has partnered with three other congregations and local business people who are now in their eighth year of having a Growing Project with the Foods Resource Bank.

For more about the Global Food Crisis Fund go to

Source:5/31/2012 Newsline

On Earth Peace announces Bill Scheurer as new executive director.

Bill Scheurer, new executive director of On Earth Peace, May 2012
Photo by: courtesy of On Earth Peace
The On Earth Peace Board of Directors has announced the selection of Bill Scheurer as its new executive director. Scheurer will take over the role as previous executive director Bob Gross moves to other responsibilities within the organization. The selection was made after an extensive national search and selection process.

"We are very pleased to announce this appointment," said Madalyn Metzger, On Earth Peace board chair. "Bill brings exceptional abilities and professional experiences to advance the mission and ministry of On Earth Peace in the years ahead."

Scheurer's resume includes over 35 years of experience and success in both the corporate and nonprofit arenas. Previously, he served as interim executive director of Beyond War, founded a number of successful start-up technology companies, and worked as an investment attorney. His peacebuilding activities include serving as a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation national council, running as a peace candidate for the United States Congress (establishing a new peace party ballot status), and serving as co-coordinator of the Peace Garden Project and as editor of the Peace Majority Report. He holds a bachelor's degree in Religious Studies and a J.D. degree from the University at Buffalo. He resides in Lindenhurst, Ill.

"The Church of the Brethren and the other historic peace churches are longtime beacons in my life and calling, both as a peacebuilder and a follower of Jesus," said Scheurer. "I am deeply grateful for the call from On Earth Peace to become part of this vital ministry for advancing justice and building peace in our communities and around the world."

To the On Earth Peace community he said, "Words cannot say how much it means to me to receive this calling from On Earth Peace. As with faith, I hope to show my gratitude by my works. The entire arc of my life has bent toward such a ministry, and yet there is no calling without community. You have given me community, and with it the ministry that has been calling me for years. I rejoice and give thanks! Peace be with you."

(This report is taken from an On Earth Peace release.)

Source:5/31/2012 Newsline

National Young Adult Conference takes place in mid-June.

NYAC 2012 logoOnline registration closes June 1 for the 2012 National Young Adult Conference of the Church of the Brethren. NYAC will be held June 18-22 at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville on the theme “Humble, Yet Bold: Being the Church” (Matthew 5:13-18). Young adults ages 18-35 who attend will have the opportunity to take part in a wide range of activities including daily worship and Bible studies, free time for fun activities and good conversation, service projects, and more.

The morning Bible studies and evening worship services will be webcast live and available to view online at

“Talk Back Sessions” will give young adults an opportunity to meet leaders of the denomination including general secretary Stan Noffsinger and Annual Conference moderator Tim Harvey, as well as some of the NYAC speakers. “Coffee and Conversation” times will give participants a chance to learn more about specific organizations within the Church of the Brethren including Bethany Theological Seminary, Brethren Volunteer Service, the Office of Ministry, and On Earth Peace.

Service projects will be held with the Knoxville Area Rescue Mission and the Lost Sheep Ministry. Special offerings will support the Haiti Mobile Medical Clinic and “Christmas in July” at the John M. Reed Nursing Home, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Limestone, Tenn. Among the more informal evening activities are games including Frisbee, a movie night, praise and worship time, a campfire, and a talent show. The event also includes an opportunity for the whole conference to go rafting together.

The list of speakers and leaders includes Harvey and Noffsinger along with Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren pastor Greg Davidson Laszakovits, Bethany Seminary director of admission Tracy Stoddart Primozich, director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship Josh Brockway, Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren Minister for Youth Formation Dana Cassell, Nate and Jenn Hosler who recently returned from serving with the church in Nigeria, pastor Joel Peña of Alpha and Omega Church of the Brethren in Lancaster, Pa., recent high school graduate and Happy Corner Church of the Brethren member Shelley West, and Angie Lahman, a licensed minister at Circle of Peace Church of the Brethren in Peoria, Ariz. Due to unforeseen circumstances guest speaker Paul Alexander is no longer able to be at NYAC.

Webcasting starts with evening worship on Monday, June 18, at 7:30-9 p.m. On Tuesday through Thursday, June 19-21, both the morning Bible studies at 9:30-10:30 a.m., and the evening worship services at 7-8 p.m., will be webcast. On June 22, the closing worship service will be webcast at 10:15-11:15 a.m. Go to to view webcasts.

Online registration also is at Cost is  $375 which includes lodging, meals, and programming. A $100 deposit, non refundable, is due within two weeks of registering.

Source:5/31/2012 Newsline

Pre-registration remains open for Ministers’ Association event.

Walter Brueggemann, well-known and sought after speaker, author, and biblical scholar, is the keynote speaker for the 2012 Ministers’ Association Pre-Conference Continuing Education Event.

The event takes place July 6-7 at the America’s Center Room 120, St. Louis, Mo., in advance of Annual Conference. The event begins Friday night at 6 p.m. and concludes Saturday afternoon at 3:35 p.m. Registration will be available beginning at 4 p.m. Friday afternoon.

The schedule includes: Session 1 (Friday night, 6 p.m.) “Food Fight 1--The Narrative of Greed”; Session 2 (Saturday morning, 9 a.m.) “Food Fight 2--The Narrative of Gratitude”; Session 3 (Saturday afternoon, 1 p.m.) “The Psalms--Script for a Counter-Culture.”

The organizers anticipate a large gathering so register soon to reserve a place at this exciting event. Go to for pre-registration for the Ministers’ Association event. Online registration closes June 15. After that date, registration will be available at the door at a higher cost. For more information contact Chris Zepp at 540-828-3711 or

Online registration for the full Annual Conference is available until June 11 at

Source:5/31/2012 Newsline

Brethren Volunteer Service holds summer orientation unit.

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) announces the start of the 2012 Summer Orientation. To be held June 10-29 at the Brother David Darst Center in Chicago, Ill., this orientation will be the 297th unit for BVS and will consist of eight volunteers from across the US and Germany.

Three Church of the Brethren members will attend, and the remaining volunteers come from varied faith backgrounds, adding a healthy diversity to the group’s orientation experience. A highlight of the three weeks will be a simple living weekend stay at the Kindy Farm in North Manchester, Ind.

A BVS potluck is open to all those who are interested on Friday, June 15, at 6 p.m. at the Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill. Come with a dish to share to welcome the new BVS volunteers and to share your own experiences.

For more information contact the BVS office at 800-323-8039 ext. 384. As always your thoughts and prayers are welcome and needed. Please remember this new unit and the people they will touch during their year of service through BVS.

-- Callie Surber is the Brethren Volunteer Service orientation coordinator.

Source:5/31/2012 Newsline

Brethren bits.

  • Correction: The Ministry Excellence Project referred to in the Newsline of May 16 is a joint program of both Church of the Brethren districts in Indiana under a grant from Lilly Endowment: Northern Indiana District and South Central Indiana District.
  • The National Council of Churches (NCC) has elected a new transitional general secretary: nationally known change management consultant and active Congregational laywoman Peg Birk. She is president and CEO of Interim Solutions, Minneapolis, Minn., a former City Attorney of St. Paul, former adjunct faculty member of the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, and a former interim president for the Fund for Theological Education, among other positions. She is a member of Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis, which is affiliated with the United Church of Christ. The transitional general secretary will be in place for 18 months to work with the NCC board and staff to seek a new vision and clarity of mission for the NCC, according to a release.
  • Rebekah Houff, May 2012Rebekah Houff has been named coordinator of outreach programs for Bethany Theological Seminary, to begin June 1. She is a 2012 graduate, having earned a master of divinity degree with an emphasis in youth and young adult ministry. In this one-year position, she works with Russell Haitch, associate professor of Christian education and director of the Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults, to expand the institute’s current programs, explore implementation of pilot projects for future programs, and assess ways for Bethany to strengthen outreach in youth and young adult ministry. Her responsibilities include facilitation of educational opportunities for congregations, current Bethany students pursuing a youth and young adult ministry emphasis, and leaders in this ministry field, as well as events for youth and young adults themselves. A key responsibility is to plan and facilitate the 2013 Exploring Your Call, a 10-day seminar for high school students finishing the sophomore, junior, or senior year to consider how faith, vocation, and God’s call intersect in their lives. Exploring Your Call is held June 15-25 at the seminary campus in Richmond, Ind. Houff has previously served in the denomination’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry, coordinating national conferences and workcamps, and has provided youth ministry leadership in several districts and congregations.
  • Francine Massie began May 22 as administrative assistant for the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, working out of the academy offices on the campus of Bethany Seminary in Richmond, Ind. She holds an associate’s degree in applied business from Bowling Green State University and has 20 years of experience in a variety of office settings. She has served as a marketing secretary at Friends Fellowship Community and a secretary at First Christian Church, both in Richmond, and as office manager/secretary at KC Creations in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Most recently she was an administrative assistant for the Area 7 Workforce Investment Board in Springfield, Ohio, where she coordinated support for the central office and 43 county sites.
  • Sarah Long, a member of Grottoes (Va.) Church of the Brethren, has accepted the part-time position of financial secretary and clerical assistant in the Shenandoah District office. She began her work on May 7, succeeding Jennifer Rohrer, who is working in North Carolina.
  • Brethren Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Lancaster, Pa., has announced that Bethany Seminary student Mary Alice Eller is its summer intern with the pastoral ministry.
  • The 2013 national workcamp assistant coordinators will be Katie Cummings and Tricia Ziegler. Cummings is a recent graduate of Bridgewater (Va.) College, where she majored in sociology and minored in peace studies. She comes from Shenandoah District. Ziegler, a 2011 graduate of Bridgewater College, hails from Atlantic Southeast District. She graduated with a biology major and has been pursuing a secondary teaching certificate this year. Both women will begin their work to plan the denomination’s 2013 workcamp season in August.
  • Congregational Life Ministries is welcoming J. Curtis Dehmey as an intern this summer, serving at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Dehmey is a student at Lancaster (Pa.) Theological Seminary. He has already participated in the New Church Planting Conference and will attend National Young Adult Conference and Annual Conference, assisting in a variety of capacities.
  • Brethren Disaster Ministries continues to seek skilled volunteer electricians to work in Minot, N.D., where flooding last year damaged or destroyed thousands of homes. A shortage of local licensed electricians has created a backlog of work that threatens to hinder the recovery. The need is immediate, with dozens of homes waiting for wiring to be completed before reconstruction can continue. Volunteers will work under the direction of the disaster recovery organization in Minot. Specific criteria for volunteer electricians: needed immediately and through the next several months; must have Journeyman’s or higher license; must be willing to serve for a minimum of two weeks. Through Brethren Disaster Ministries’ partnerships, selected individuals will be provided with round-trip transportation, food, and lodging. Call the Brethren Disaster Ministries office at 800-451-4407 or e-mail for details.
Vivek and Shefali Solanky, May 2012
Photo by Jay Wittmeyer
  • The church’s Global Mission and Service staff congratulate India Brethren member Vivek Solanky on his recent graduation from Bethany Theological Seminary. Solanky attended the seminary with support from the denomination’s Global Mission office, accompanied by his wife Shefali Solanky. He completed his studies at the campus in Richmond, Ind., with a master of arts degree with a concentration in Brethren Studies. His presentation was titled, “History of the Conflict Between the Church of the Brethren-India and Church of North India: A Possible Step Toward Conflict Resolution.” Solanky’s path to seminary began when he attended the Historic Peace Church meeting in Asia in 2007, where he became curious about peacemaking and was encouraged to pursue studies at Bethany by American Brethren leaders. He currently is applying to a doctor of ministry program to continue his theological studies in the United States.
  • Jay A. Wittmeyer, executive director for Global Mission and Service, has been appointed as the Church of the Brethren representative to the Board of Directors of Heifer International. Wittmeyer will represent the founding denomination of Heifer, which began as the Church of the Brethren’s Heifer Project.
  • Advance registration ends June 11 for the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in St. Louis, Mo. The Annual Conference will be held July 7-11 at America’s Center in St. Louis. Both online registration and hotel reservations end Monday, June 11, at 10 p.m. (central time). The nondelegate registration fee of $105 per adult for the whole Conference goes up to $140 after June 11, when registration will only be available onsite. For advance registration go to
  • The Brethren Historical Library and Archives has posted a list of used books for sale online at . The list includes more than 1,500 titles ranging from minutes of annual meetings, to histories of Brethren congregations and districts, to books of theology and biblical study, to old Brethren Press titles, and more. Contact the BHLA staff for more details, including pricing, at or 800-323-8039 ext. 368.
Students at work at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology
Photo by Robert and Linda Shank
  • Harvey E. Good, professor of Biology emeritus at the University of La Verne, Calif., has been instrumental in providing a shipment of 20 boxes of scientific instruments and laboratory supplies to Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) in North Korea. The donated materials support the teaching effort of Robert and Linda Shank, Church of the Brethren members who serve on the PUST faculty with support from the church’s Global Mission and Service office. Robert Shank is dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences at PUST and reported that his students were “ecstatic” about the new opportunities they will receive through the donated supplies. He added that he and others on the faculty count on the new equipment sent by Good and the university “to provide the next step in stocking our labs and supporting grad student thesis research.” In his e-mail to announce that the shipment had left La Verne, Good wrote to the Shanks: “We sincerely hope that the donation of this equipment will in some small way will help to alleviate the famine and lack of nutrition in North Korea.”
  • During the recent NATO meetings in Chicago the Red Cross asked Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) to put five teams of volunteers on “high alert,” according to associate director Judy Bezon. The request for five teams meant 20 volunteers had to be recruited. “I received many responses and the teams were placed on alert,” Bezon reported via e-mail. “One volunteer told me that she was available and would be staying with her daughter in the area, but there would not be any room for others as her daughter had planned for a long time to have a houseful of guests that would be protesting the NATO meetings. One man lived nearby, but would be in Pennsylvania (at the time). He said he considered that to be within driving distance and...offered to take his travel trailer to our work site for a place to get away for breaks and to house six volunteers if necessary.... I truly have phenomenally thoughtful and generous volunteers.”
  • Bear Run Church of the Brethren in Mill Run, Pa., celebrated 90 years on March 25.
  • Plumcreek Church of the Brethren in Shelocta, Pa., is having a 150th anniversary celebration and homecoming on June 3 with morning worship at 10:30 a.m., followed by a meal, and a 2 p.m. anniversary service. RSVP to or 724-354-4108.
  • Crest Manor Church of the Brethren in South Bend, Ind., recently finished a project of creating 38 Clean Up Buckets for Church World Service (CWS). The disaster kids of give gallon buckets filled with cleaning supplies are warehoused and distributed through the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. “In all, we collected the materials for these buckets, one item per week, through Lent and finally finished, blessed them a few weeks ago and sent them off,” reports pastor Bradley Bohrer.
  • Richard Yowell, pastor of Cedar Run Church of the Brethren in Broadway, Va., is raising money for Special Olympics by demonstrating his block-breaking strength, according to the Shenandoah District newsletter. On June 6, at SunTrust Bank in Harrisonburg, Va., he will attempt to break six stacks of five patio blocks each in 30 seconds, as the Special Olympics torch arrives in Harrisonburg. Yowell also will join in the Special Olympics torch run.
  • Milledgeville (Ill.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a 3.16 mile run/walk on June 9 in place of the usual 5K. Think John 3:16. “While the event celebrates scripture, it promotes a healthy lifestyle,” said the Illinois and Wisconsin District newsletter. Pastor Rick Koch is a devoted runner. Proceeds will send children to Camp Emmaus and support disaster relief.
  • During the Pacific Southwest District Youth Retreat at Camp La Verne in April, the entire cast and crew of the “Grey's Anatomy” television show was onsite filming the season finale. “It involves a plane crash,” reported district youth advisor Dawna Welch. “It was very exciting!” Camp La Verne is located at an altitude of 6,900 feet, in the mountains above San Bernardino, Calif. The show aired earlier this month on ABC.
  • The Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Auction has published preliminary results: estimated proceeds of $195,000 (with additional income anticipated), 1,121 diners served at the Friday evening oyster-ham dinner, 311 people enjoyed omelets and 197 chose pancakes at the Saturday morning breakfast, 219 people were served lunch on Saturday, the blood drive collected 27 units. “Thanks again to everyone for a great effort on behalf of Brethren Disaster Ministries!” said the district newsletter.
  • McPherson (Kan.) College has given its annual Citation of Merit awards to alumni. This year’s recipients are Harold and Lynda Connell, Eldred Kingery, and John Ferrell. Since their retirement, the Connells have volunteered in a number of venues especially the Red Cross, Civitan, and Brethren Volunteer Service, and have given time on more than 95 national-scale disasters. Kingery is president and CEO of Calvin Community, a Presbyterian retirement community in Des Moines, Iowa, and has been a member of the McPherson College Board of Trustees and former staff at the Cedars, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in McPherson. Ferrell has been principal, registrar, dean of students, director of admissions and vice-president of advancement and admissions at Central Christian College, and was named “Hometown Hero” in 2002 by the McPherson County United Way and Chamber of Commerce.
  • Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., has received a $1 million research grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to implement and integrate a Genomics Leadership Initiative into the curriculum. It combines and expands Juniata's existing teaching and research in genomics with a developing curriculum designed to provide a solid foundation in the ethical, legal, and societal issues surrounding discoveries in genomics. Juniata is one of 47 colleges and universities nationwide to receive more than $50 million from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
  • World Council of Churches general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit has condemned the violence in Syria. “I express my deep pain over the massacre of innocent people and especially children that took place last Sunday in Taldou village, in the area of Houla, near Homs, in Syria,” said Tveit in his recent statement. “We, as churches, cannot but condemn this inhumane act and manifest our feelings of solidarity with the families of the victims, mourning their beloved ones.” Tveit expressed grave concern over the cycle of violence that has been continuing in Syria for more than a year. Find the statement at
  • The “Brethren Voices” community television show produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren features Brethren author, historian, and storyteller Jim Lehman in the second of a two-program series this month. Lehman, a member at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., is author of “The Old Brethren” and a number of children’s books, among other writings. In “Brethren Voices” he discusses writing and storytelling and tells one his favorite stories about how Brethren Volunteer Service was begun by young adults at the 1948 Annual Conference. In June, “Brethren Voices” features the youth of Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren who were instrumental to the beginnings of the community’s Caring Cupboard. Contact producer Ed Groff at for copies. “Brethren Voice” is available for use as a Sunday school resource as well as for distribution on community access cable.
  • Church of the Brethren ordained minister Sam Smith is in his eighth year of organizing a peace recruitment booth at the Cornerstone Music Festival, a summer Christian music festival held in Bushnell, Ill. The festival takes place July 2-7. Smith reports that “we need your help both financially and through your physical presence in running the booth. We’ve averaged 75 young people every year signing the ‘I Will Not Kill’ statement,” which is promoted through the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Contact Smith at 630-240-5039 or
  • Shawn Kirchner, pianist/organist/composer-in-residence at La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, has been named Swan Family Composer in Residence with the Los Angeles Master Chorale. “The Los Angeles Master Chorale has often presented Kirchner's choral pieces in their concerts at LA's Walt Disney Concert Hall, and commissioned his 2007 setting of the Pablo Neruda sonnet, Tu Voz and his most recent concert suite, Behold New Joy: Ancient Carols of Christmas,” said an announcement on the chorale website. A tenor with the chorale, Kirchner also sings regularly with the LA Philharmonic. His TV/film credits includes music director for the Church of the Brethren’s 2004 Christmas Eve Special on CBS, and singing on feature film soundtracks including “Avatar” and “Horton Hears a Who,” among others. He was music coordinator for several National Youth Conferences and has led music at Annual Conference.
Source:5/31/2012 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 eff Boshart, Chris Douglas, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Ed Groff, Virginia Harness, Julie Hostetter, Herman Kauffman, Donna Kline, Debbie Noffsinger, Robert Shank, Jonathan Shively, Becky Ullom, John T. Wall, Jenny Williams, Jane Yount, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Newsline: May 16, 2012


Bethany Seminary grants 16 degrees at 107th commencement.

Bethany Seminary graduates at 2012 commencement
Photo by: courtesy of Bethany Seminary
Bethany Theological Seminary held its 107th commencement on May 5, 2012, with some 150 people present to celebrate the achievements of 16 graduates. The graduating class and their degrees include: (front from left) Jeanne Davies (MDiv), Linda Waldron (CATS), Jiae Paik (MA), Rebekah Houff (MDiv), Katie Shaw Thompson (MDiv); (standing from left) Aaron Shepherd (MA), Andrew Duffey (MDiv), Benjamin Harvey (MA), Dennis Webb (MA), Vivek Solanky (MA), Nicolas Miller-Kauffman (MA), Parker Thompson (MDiv), Jerramy Bowen (MA), Matthew Wollam-Berens (MDiv), Brandon Hanks (MDiv); (not pictured) Diane Mason (CATS).
Bethany Theological Seminary held its 107th commencement the morning of May 5, in Nicarry Chapel on the Bethany campus in Richmond, Ind. Approximately 150 were present to celebrate the achievements of 16 graduates.

Nadine S. Pence, director of the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion in Crawfordsville, Ind., gave the commencement address. Pence also previously held the position of professor of theological studies at the seminary. Entitled “Border Crossings,” her comments drew on the scripture texts John 21:1-14 and Acts 10:34-48, recounting the period between Christ’s resurrection and Pentecost.

“You are a border crosser...someone who stands between the places of your life--in the gaps and interstices of life--and who will work to know the people and contexts to which you are called, and the vocation you are to serve among them,” she said. “We are called, as Christians, to live as border crossers, testifying to the presence of the Spirit, to the presence of the Christ when he appears among us.”

President Ruthann Knechel Johansen addressed the gathering with appreciation for both the contributions of faculty and staff to the success of the graduates and the graduates’ own personal and academic gifts. “I mention with gratitude an amazing array of attributes that our faculty and
ministry placement supervisors have identified in the students we honor today: deep thinking, compassionate hearts, impressive scriptural knowledge, self-confidence, wonderful wit and humor, humility, strong relationality, teachable spirits, and commitments to social justice.”

Professional accomplishments by the faculty also were noted, among them the promotion of Tara Hornbaker to professor of Ministry Formation; the completion of a doctor of ministry degree from Columbia Theological Seminary by Amy Gall Ritchie, director of Student Development; and the promotion of Julie M. Hostetter to executive director of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership.

Special music was performed by Community of Song, a men’s ensemble from the Richmond, Ind., and Dayton, Ohio, areas. Music for the ceremony consisted of organ-piano duets by Nancy Faus-Mullen and Jenny Williams.

An afternoon worship service, planned and led by the graduates, also took place in Nicarry Chapel. Class members Andrew Duffey, Rebekah Houff, and Jeanne Davies reflected on the themes in the scripture text Ephesians 4:1-16: unity in the Spirit through the bond of peace, the bestowing of spiritual gifts, and the contributions of all to the body of Christ. Each new graduate was given a blessing by members of the faculty to mark the conclusion of their years at Bethany.

Seven graduates received master of divinity degrees: Jeanne Davies of Elgin, Ill.; Andrew Duffey, Westminster, Md.; Brandon M. Hanks, Hatfield, Pa.; Rebekah L. Houff, Palmyra, Pa.; Katie Shaw Thompson, Grundy Center, Iowa; Parker Ammerman Thompson, Grundy Center, Iowa; Matthew Wollam-Berens, Middlebury, Vt.

Seven graduates received master of arts degrees: Jerramy D. Bowen, West Milton, Ohio; Benjamin Wil Harvey, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Nicolas Miller Kauffman, Goshen, Ind.; Jiae Paik, Seoul, South Korea; Aaron Russell Shepherd, Richmond, Ind.; Vivek A. Solanky, Valsad-Gujarat, India; Dennis John Richard Webb, Naperville, Ill.

Two students received certificates of achievement in theological studies: Diane E. Mason, Unionville, Iowa, in absentia; Linda S. Waldron, Clayton, Ohio.

Graduates’ future endeavors include pastoral and congregational ministry, further graduate study, and social service. Bethany Theological Seminary was founded in 1905 and is the graduate
school and academy for theological education for the Church of the Brethren.

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

Source:5/16/2012 Newsline

Annual Conference ‘Witness to Host City’ will be school collection.

Pencils collected as part of a kit donation by the youth at Annual Conference
Photo by Sarah Kovacs
Delegates to the 2008 Annual Conference in Richmond, Va., processed an item of business entitled “Query: Conference Witness to the Host City.” The query acknowledges that because Annual Conference is held in various cities, it would be good to give witness to a shared faith in Jesus Christ in these places. Delegates in Richmond adopted the concern of the query and referred it to Program and Arrangements Committee for implementation.

The Annual Conference witness to the city of St. Louis, Mo., will involve the collection of school supplies for the St. Louis Public School system. During the 2012-13 school year, the St. Louis Public Schools will serve approximately 28,000 students in 72 different schools.

Several Church of the Brethren congregations around the denomination have learned recently that a significant part of urban revitalization involves a strong public school support system. Churches, including Churches of the Brethren, are providing leadership in their local communities through their involvement with the local school system. Through these ministries, the churches are finding renewed life in Christ as well.

The list of school supplies was provided by the St. Louis Public Schools, and includes the following: 2 pocket letter size portfolios, glue sticks, ball point pens--medium tip, highlighters, washable markers--10 pack, rulers--12-inch plastic, colored pencils--12 pack, protractors--6-inch plastic, pencils #2, crayons--16 pack, paper filler--3 hole college rule, erasers, primary writing paper, backpacks (black only). (This list also is posted online at

Annual Conference moderator Tim Harvey recently went to a local store and purchased the entire list of supplies--not including the backpack--for under $18. The color of the backpacks was requested by the St. Louis school staff, and may be difficult to find at this time of year.

Conference attendees who participate in this outreach are invited to bring their donations of supplies to the Sunday morning worship service at Annual Conference on July 8, where they will be received during the offering. Representatives from the St. Louis Public Schools will receive the supplies during the afternoon business session on Tuesday, July 10.

The latest “Moments with the Moderator” video highlights the school collection. Go to

Source:5/16/2012 Newsline

EDF grants support disaster rebuilding in Alabama, food crisis in Africa.

Brethren Disaster Ministries has received an Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) grant for $17,000 to continue its work in Arab, Ala., following an EF 4 tornado that hit the town on April 27 last year. In another recent EDF grant, $8,000 has been given to aid food security in the Sahel region of north Africa.

In other news from Brethren Disaster Ministries, associate director Zach Wolgemuth has been elected to the board of National VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster).

At the rebuilding project site in Alabama, in the area of Arab, more than 200 volunteers have given more than 1,400 days of service to build two new homes and repair 20 others. Brethren Disaster Ministries’ current case load includes one additional new home and approximately six home repairs. The grant will underwrite operational expenses related to volunteer support including housing, food, and travel expenses incurred onsite as well as volunteer training, tools, and equipment needed for rebuilding and repair. Previous EDF allocations to the project total $30,000.

The allocation of $8,000 responds to a Church World Service (CWS) appeal following unusually low rainfall, low crop production, and food insecurity in the Sahel region of north Africa. Also a factor in the food insecurity is political strife/violence in north and west Africa. This complex humanitarian crisis affects more than 15 million people. The Church of the Brethren grant supports CWS as it leads a response to the emergency working with partner organization Christian Aid in providing emergency food assistance, seeds, and other emergency assistance to more than 83,000 people in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Senegal.

Source:5/16/2012 Newsline

Brethren disaster volunteer Steve Keim receives awards.

Brethren volunteer project director Steve Keim receives awards
Photo by Gene Borochoff, NECHAMA
Steve Keim, a volunteer project director for Brethren Disaster Ministries, received awards at the 2012 National VOAD conference on May 8. He was named Volunteer of the Year by National VOAD, and received the President’s Volunteer Service Award. He is shown here (at left) with Daniel Stoecker, executive director of National VOAD.

Steve Keim, a volunteer project leader for Brethren Disaster Ministries, was named Volunteer of the Year by National VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) on May 8, during the 2012 Annual VOAD Conference in Norfolk, Va.

A second and completely unexpected award, the President’s Volunteer Service Award, was facilitated by Points of Light and presented to Keim by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Then, to top off the award-giving, FLASH (Federal Alliance for Safe Homes) presented him with tickets to Disney World.

The National VOAD Team selected Keim “for exemplifying the core values of the VOAD movement: Coordination, Cooperation, Communication, and Collaboration,”--known as the four Cs. Brethren Disaster Ministries executive director Roy Winter reported that Keim had a standing ovation from the 500-plus people present at the awards ceremony.

The ovation was well deserved. Since the beginning of last year, Keim has served 349 days at Church of the Brethren disaster recovery projects in Indiana, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Alabama. While serving in his leadership role with Brethren Disaster Ministries, he consistently embodies the “4 Cs” of National VOAD in his relations with clients, partner agencies, local businesses, building inspectors, local churches, and disaster volunteers.

“Steve understands the value of volunteers, and he always ensures that each volunteer, regardless of skill level or background, is made a part of the team,” said Zach Wolgemuth, associate director of Brethren Disaster Ministries. “He makes safety a priority and provides proper training, directions, and appropriate work.”

Building inspectors have been impressed by the quality of work done by volunteer crews under Keim’s leadership. “Inspectors would comment about how great it was to work with groups that constructed to code and wanted homes to be built correctly,” said Wolgemuth.

Lisa Warren, who is president for the Marshall County VOAD and recently worked with Keim in Arab, Ala., said she “has heard nothing but good things from all the clients he had been working with. Steve goes out of his way to do extra things for the clients and treats them all with the utmost respect possible.” One disaster survivor affirmed Keim is an “instrument of God’s hands for the edification of the church and the betterment of the world.”

What does Keim make of all the excitement? He admits, “I don't deal well with fussing, especially about me.” He prefers to be an “invisible force behind things,” adding that “it’s all about the volunteers.”
Nonetheless, “Steve is a truly deserving candidate for the National VOAD President’s Award,” said Wolgemuth, who had nominated Keim for the award. “He has proven to be an invaluable volunteer with an unquenchable passion and dedication to service.”

-- Jane Yount is coordinator for Brethren Disaster Ministries.

Source:5/16/2012 Newsline

BVSers in Hiroshima help organize peace concert with Brethren singer.

Mike Stern gives peace concert in Hiroshima, Japan
Photo by JoAnn Sims
Brethren folk singer Mike Stern (center, at microphone) gave a peace concert in Hiroshima, Japan, at the invitation of the World Friendship Center. WFC directors JoAnn and Larry Sims, who work at the center through Brethren Volunteer Service, helped organize the event that also featured the WFC Peace Choir and other Japanese musicians.
Brethren Volunteer Service workers at the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima, Japan, recently helped organize a concert for peace given by American Brethren folk singer Mike Stern on April 13.

“Congratulations!” was the comment of one participant after over 400 people attended the concert on a rainy April evening in Hiroshima. BVSers JoAnn and Larry Sims, who are volunteer directors of the World Friendship Center, wrote in an e-mail report on the event: “Surely the spirit of Peace is gaining strength!”

The World Friendship Center sponsored and organized the concert. Steve Leeper, chairperson of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation and a member of the Board of Directors of the World Friendship Center, served as Stern's translator. The Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation is the city organization that directs all events at the famous Peace Park and directs the Peace Memorial Museum and the International Peace Conference Center.

In addition to Stern, the concert featured Asaka Watanabe, World Friendship Center Peace Choir director, and Japanese musicians sharing songs of peace. The concert was held in the Memorial Cathedral for Peace to an audience of over 400.

The World Friendship Center’s office manager has put together an online “peek” at the concert at Photography and editing are by Naomi Kurihara.

Source:5/16/2012 Newsline

Manchester College executive vice president will lead School of Pharmacy.

Ending a nationwide search, Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., is turning to executive vice president Dave McFadden as its new dean for the School of Pharmacy. McFadden, who was influential in establishment of the professional Doctor of Pharmacy program in Fort Wayne, Ind., has served as interim dean for five months. Founding dean Phil Medon resigned in November for health reasons.

“Dave was at the forefront in our thinking and planning for the Pharmacy School and has immersed himself in learning about pharmacy for the past five years,” said president Jo Young Switzer in announcing the appointment, effective May 4. “He worked with the core team that developed the successful $35 million grant proposal for the School of Pharmacy to Lilly Endowment Inc.”

Pharmacy classes begin Aug. 13 on the new campus in north Fort Wayne. Working from a national pool of 470 applicants, Manchester is close to filling its first class of 70 students for the four-year program.

McFadden has more than 20 years of higher education leadership experience. At Manchester, he has led enrollment, strategic planning, and marketing initiatives, as well as the name change to Manchester University scheduled for July 1. He has served as interim dean of academic affairs and assistant professor of political science. He is a 1982 graduate of Manchester College and holds a Ph.D. from Claremont (Calif.) Graduate School.

A search committee reviewed a strong pool of applicants and brought two finalists to the campuses. Afterward, both the committee and Manchester’s national pharmacy consultant recommended McFadden for the position. McFadden will continue as executive vice president, retaining an office on the North Manchester campus but spending the majority of his time in Fort Wayne. For more about the Manchester School of Pharmacy, visit

-- Jeri S. Kornegay is director of Media and Public Relations for Manchester College.

Source:5/16/2012 Newsline

Young Center holds conference on legacy of Alexander Mack Jr.

The Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College is holding a conference June 6-8 titled, “Pietist and Anabaptist Intersections in Pennsylvania: The Life and Influence of Alexander Mack Jr.”

This study conference commemorates the 300th birthday of Mack, an important Brethren leader, minister, weaver, and writer of poetry, doctrinal, and devotional works. He was born in Germany, the son of Alexander Mack Sr.--founder of the Brethren movement--and then moved to the Netherlands and then to Pennsylvania, where he eventually became minister of the Germantown congregation.

“Scholars from multiple disciplines will use various methodologies to illumine Mack’s career and writings,” said the flier for the conference. “Some of the presentations will invite reflection on the lasting legacy of Mack in the Brethren context and beyond.”

Speakers include Dale R. Stoffer of Ashland Theological Seminary; Carl Desportes Bowman of the University of Virginia; Stephen Longenecker of Bridgwater (Va.) College; William Kostlevy of Tabor College; Hedda Durnbaugh of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa.; Michael Showalter, museum curator of the Ephrata Cloister; Bethany Theological Seminary faculty Russell Haitch, Scott Holland, Denise Kettering Lane, and Daniel Ulrich; Frank Ramirez, pastor and frequent contributor Brethren Press publications and “Brethren Life & Thought”; Karen Garrett, business manager of “Brethren Life & Thought”; and Young Center director Jeff Bach, among others.

In addition, the preliminary agenda for the event includes preconference tours to Germantown and the Ephrata Cloisters, an evening hymn festival, and daily times of devotion. Those who attend the full conference are eligible for 1.85 continuing education units. Registration costs $120, or $135 after May 18. Student and single day rates are available. The tour and housing are additional costs. For more information and a registration form go to or call 717-361-1443.

As a special event during the weekend, Brethren Colleges Abroad (BCA) will celebrate its 50th anniversary, “BCA Study Abroad: 50 Years 1962-2012.” The anniversary dinner is June 8 immediately following the close of the conference, with speaker Robert Johansen, fellow at the Joan Kroc Institute of Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. BCA also will honor its longest serving president, Allen Deeter. Cost is $30. BCA is a cooperative organization begun by the Church of the Brethren-related colleges, currently sending nearly 400 students to study in 15 countries around the world and bringing international students to study at BCA partner colleges in the US.

Source:5/16/2012 Newsline

Brethren World Assembly planned for July 2013.

A Brethren World Assembly, consisting of constituents and friends of the Brethren groups descended from the German Anabaptist/Radical Pietist religious leader Alexander Mack in the early 1700s, will be held in the Dayton, Ohio, area Thursday-Sunday, July 11-14, 2013.

The meetings will be hosted by the Brethren Heritage Center in Brookville, Ohio, with evening worship services at Salem Church of the Brethren and Brookville Grace Brethren Church.

Utilizing the theme “Brethren Spirituality: How Brethren Conceive of and Practice the Spiritual Life,” the program will include daily plenary addresses, workshops, and panel discussions on such topics as “Brethren Hymnody,” “Separation from the World and Engagement with the World,” “Brethren Devotional Literature and Poetry,” and more. Friday and Saturday afternoon tours will be offered to historic Brethren sites in the proximity of Brookville and southern Ohio.

A planning committee for the event has been meeting regularly and is being led by Robert Alley, immediate past moderator of the Church of the Brethren. Other groups participating in the event include the Brethren Church, the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, Conservative Grace Brethren Churches International, Dunkard Brethren Church, Old German Baptist Brethren Church, and Old German Baptist Brethren Church, New Conference.

The Brethren movement had its origin in Schwarzenau, Germany, in late summer of 1708 when reformer Alexander Mack and seven others participated in believer’s baptism in the Eder River. According to Alley, the purpose of the gathering is to provide an opportunity for all who value the Brethren heritage to join together in conversation around a common theme. He said, “We would seek to balance study and worship, to enhance dialogue among our Brethren bodies, and to acquaint Brethren with their historic roots. Hopefully, there will be international guests from some of our Brethren bodies.”

Registration will open at 9 a.m. on Thursday, July 11, 2013, and the assembly will conclude with Sunday worship services at congregations of the various Brethren groups. Further details regarding lodging, registration costs, and specific program details will be released as the event draws closer. Updates will be available through and through the Brethren Heritage Center at

Source:5/16/2012 Newsline

‘Joshua’ is newest Believers Church Bible Commentary.

Joshua Believers Church Bible Commentary by Gordon Matties"Joshua" by Gordon Matties has been released as the newest volume in the Believers Church Bible Commentary series. The series is a cooperative project of the Church of the Brethren, Brethren in Christ Church, Brethren Church, Mennonite Brethren Church, Mennonite Church USA, and Mennonite Church Canada. The series is published by Herald Press and MennoMedia, and is available to purchase through Brethren Press.

Also new from Brethren Press is the summer quarter of “A Guide for Biblical Studies.” Written by Kim McDowell, pastor of University Park Church of the Brethren in Hyattsville, Md., the lessons for June-August focus on the theme “God Calls for Justice” and study texts from Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and the Kings and Chronicles books, as well as the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.

“Joshua” is the 25th volume in the commentary series. In it, Matties calls for “an openness to the unexpected” in the book, and suggests that reading Joshua carefully will open windows into how and why we read scripture at all. “In an age of fear and insecurity, in which ethnic nationalism continues to give rise to conflict and war, we dare not avoid critical engagement with biblical texts that have been used to justify colonialism, conquest, occupation, and ethnic cleansing,” said a publisher’s release. “Building on the idea of scripture as dialogue partner, Matties advocates for the book of Joshua even as he engages in a difficult conversation with it.”

Matties is professor of biblical studies at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Most recently he served as dean of humanities and sciences at CMU, led numerous study tours to Israel/Palestine, and dabbled in film studies. He holds a doctorate in Old Testament from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and is a member of River East Mennonite Brethren Church in Winnipeg where he serves as moderator of the church.

“A Guide for Biblical Studies” may be purchased from Brethren Press for $4.25 per book, or $7.35 for large print--buy one for each member of a study group. “Joshua” may be purchased from Brethren Press for $29.99 plus shipping and handling. Call 800-441-3712 or order from

Source:5/16/2012 Newsline

Brethren bits: Personnel, NYAC, CCS photo album, Brethren Press consignment sale, much more.

  • Shawn Flory Replogle has accepted the position of district youth coordinator for Western Plains District. The announcement in the district newsletter was made by the Congregational Resourcing Fulfillment Vision Team. He began his work in March participating with the planning team for Regional Youth Conference. Replogle served as moderator of the 2010 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren.
  • The Brethren Service Center, located in New Windsor, Md., is looking for a CDL driver for occasional runs to support worldwide development, relief, and disaster response programs. The driver will be supporting people experiencing poverty, hunger, starvation, famine, violence, or a natural disaster through this ministry. A volunteer is preferred, but a stipend is available for the right driver. Must be at  least 25 years of age with class A CDL and a good driving record. Contact Loretta Wolf at or 410-635-8795 for more information.
  • June 1 is the deadline to register for National Young Adult Conference (NYAC). This once-every-four-years Church of the Brethren event is June 18-22 at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, on the theme, “Humble, Yet Bold: Being the Church.” Young adults ages 18-35 are invited to register or find more information at
  • The New Church Planting Conference on the theme, “Plant Generously, Reap Bountifully,” begins the evening of May 16, hosted at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. “For those of you not able to attend, please continue to uphold this gathering in your prayers,” said a Facebook note from Congregational Life Ministries executive Jonathan Shively.
  • A new online photo album displays pictures from the recent Christian Citizenship Seminar for Church of the Brethren youth in New York and Washington, D.C. Go to
  • Also new online: statistics from the training workshops held by Children’s Disaster Services last year. In 2011, this innovative Church of the Brethren program trained 156 people to care for children following disasters. This Spring, yet more people have been trained in a 2012 workshop series. Go to
  • Brethren Press is advertising consignment sales at Annual Conference. Brethren Press makes space available at Annual Conference for individuals and groups to sell items to Conference attendees on a consignment basis. Consignment space must be reserved by June 1. Contact Brethren Press Consignments, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694;
  • The Church of the Brethren Ministry Advisory Council met May 7-8 at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. A group created by and responsible to Annual Conference, the council brings together representatives from the Church of the Brethren denominational staff, Bethany Seminary, Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, Council of District Executives, and Brethren Higher Education Association. For the last several years, this group has been working diligently to draft new polity for ministerial leadership in the denomination. The paper nears completion as it comes before Annual Conference this summer for a first read. In addition to its work on the Ministerial Leadership Paper, the council heard reports from each represented body and discussed current trends and questions in ministry, education, and placement of ministers.
  • June 10 is the 100th anniversary celebration for Ivester Church of the Brethren in Grundy Center, Iowa. On June 24, Panora (Iowa) Church of the Brethren celebrates its 150th anniversary.
  • Trotwood (Ohio) Church of the Brethren is hosting the Manchester College A Cappella Choir on May 21 at 7 p.m. The choir, an auditioned ensemble of 40-50 singers directed by Debra Lynn, tours each spring after May commencement ceremonies. Tours have included performances at Carnegie Hall in New York,  the Vatican in Rome, and other prestigious venues. Trotwood is a stop on this year's tour to other churches in Pennsylvania.
  • Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Port Republic, Va., hosts the CrossRoads’ spring Civil War bus tour on May 26 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. CrossRoads is a Brethren and Mennonite heritage center. The tour stops at the Widow Pence Farm, Port Republic museum, and other landmarks.
  • At a March 27 meeting, Roann (Ind.) Church of the Brethren voted to leave the denomination, according to a note in the South/Central Indiana District newsletter. Those who voted to remain Church of the Brethren continue to meet weekly at the district office to worship and share. “They would appreciate your prayers as they work through this difficult time,” the newsletter reported.
  • Middle Pennsylvania District Brethren Disaster Ministries is sponsoring a Benefit Dinner/Auction on June 2 at Albright Church of the Brethren in Roaring Spring, Pa. Doors open at 6 p.m. and dinner is served at 7. Tickets are $20. Call 814-932-4040 for tickets.
  • “How Can I Afford to Retire?” is the title of a workshop co-sponsored by the South/Central Indiana District Ministry Excellence Project and Timbercrest Senior Living Community. The workshop takes place June 2, 9- 11:30 a.m., in the Assembly Room at Timbercrest in North Manchester, Ind. The workshop is primarily designed for clergy and others who serve the church. More details and registration information can be found at
  • Virlina District Developmental Disabilities Ministries Committee holds a Potluck Lunch for families of special needs children and adults on June 2, from 12 noon to 2:30 p.m. at Summerdean Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va. “Anyone interested in ministry to persons with developmental disabilities are also invited to attend,” said the district newsletter. For additional information, contact Emma Jean Woodard at 540-362-1816 or 800-847-5462 or
  • Shenandoah District has reported a successful Kit Depot project to collect Church World Service kits for relief. The district newsletter reported that when the truck arrived to load up the several weeks-long collection, “we had at least 1,463 health kits, 315 school kits, 240 emergency clean-up buckets, and six baby kits. In addition, 133 quilts plus other boxes full of quilts and blankets were contributed through Lutheran World Relief. What a blessing that area congregations (not all of them from the Shenandoah District and not all of them Brethren either!) responded with such generosity to those in need both in this country and around the world.”
  • Camp Mt. Hermon’s “Come Along With Me Weekend Camp” has become a tradition and will be offered again this year on June 1-3. “Mark your calendars now, as this is a weekend not to be missed!” said an announcement from the camp in Tonganoxie, Kan. The weekend camp is for children who have finished kindergarten through 2nd grade and an adult over 21 who would like to accompany them. It is a time that the child and adult can worship, learn, play, and work together. For more information contact camp director Dalene Ward at or 402-476-8350.
  • Bridgewater (Va.) College students recognized by the Department of Philosophy and Religion for academic excellence at the annual awards convocation on May 1 included two Church of the Brethren members: Rebekah L. Miller of Bridgewater Church of the Brethren and Jesse Winter of Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren. Miller was presented the Outstanding Senior Award in Philosophy. Winter, a junior, was selected for the Ruth and Steve Watson Philosophy Scholarship Award, receiving a scholarship for the 2012-2013 academic year. Also receiving an award from the department was Blake Strother, who received the Outstanding Senior Award in Religion.
  • In more news from Bridgewater, five students including Church of the Brethren member Tyler Goss, are recipients of a 2012 Summer Christian Experience Scholarship and will spend 10 weeks in the summer working at church camps. Each student was awarded $2,500 from the scholarship program, which is funded by the Bridgewater College endowment fund. Goss will serve at Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va. Also receiving the scholarship are Morgan Elkins and Whitney Fitzgerald, who will serve at Shepherd’s Spring in Sharpsburg, Md.; Stina Kang, who will serve at Camp Swatara in Bethel, Pa.; and Emily Ridenour, who will serve at Camp Eder in Fairfield, Pa.
  • “Jordan’s Stormy Banks,” a theatrical production presented by the Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., will be staged at Eastern Mennonite University’s MainStage Theater in June. A drama in two acts, “Jordan’s Stormy Banks” tells of one Shenandoah Valley family’s struggles during the Civil War and how they reconciled loyalty to family, to country, and to their Lord. “Jordan’s Stormy Banks” is an original production commissioned by the heritage center and written by Elizabeth Beachy Hansen, wrestling with the deep questions of what it means to be true to one’s faith in the midst of extreme trials and challenges. Last performed in 2003, it is being presented as a part of Civil War Sesquicentennial commemoration events. Matinee performances are 3 p.m. on June 3, 10, and 17; evening performances are 7:30 p.m. on June 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, and 16. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, and $6 for children ages 7-12. Ticket sales and more information can be found at or by calling 540-438-1275.
  • Michael G. Long, associate professor of religious studies and peace and conflict studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, has edited the book "I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters," a collection of writings by the civil rights activist. According to a college release, the book published on the centennial of Rustin’s birth in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the historic civil rights March on Washington, held in 1963, is Rustin's life story told in his own words. It includes over 150 of his letters, with correspondents including the major progressives of his day, for example, Eleanor Holmes Norton, A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Ella Baker, and Martin Luther King, Jr. The book is published by City Lights Publishers, San Francisco. Visit for information about the multiple stop book tour Long is undertaking to promote the book's release.
  • Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., is hosting "Sequential SmArt" on May 18-19, a conference designed for college faculty and secondary school teachers interested in using comics as teaching tools. The conference is the brainchild of several Juniata faculty, said a release: Jay Hosler, associate professor of biology, David Hsuing, professor of history, and Jim Tuten, associate professor of history. Workshop leader is Matt Madden, a comic book author who teaches at Yale University's School for the Visual Arts, with the keynote address by Eric Shanower, author-illustrator of the graphic novel "Age of Bronze," a retelling of Homer's "Illiad." Cost is $75 for the full event or $45 for just the Saturday conference. To register and for more information, go to
  • McPherson (Kan.) College has announced its first graduate-level courses in education starting this Fall. Mark Malaby, director of the graduate courses in education and associate professor of education at McPherson, has spent the last academic year developing the unique curriculum, a release said. McPherson is seeking initial accreditation in fall of 2012 from the regional accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), with the hopes of gaining HLC approval to offer a Master’s in Education degree based on the course offerings. The courses have received the endorsement of the McPherson, Little River, and Smoky Valley school districts, which are encouraging their teachers to enroll in the classes. About half of the classes will be taught by working school administrators and superintendents in the area. The initial graduate level courses are “Issues in Education” and “Foundations of Education.” To apply for the graduate level courses contact Teresa Graham, graduate admissions officer, at or 620-242-0485. More information about the program is at
  • The 39th Annual Brethren Bible Institute, sponsored by the Brethren Revival Fellowship, will be July 23-27 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. Participants may take one, two or three of nine courses offered during the week. Cost, which includes dormitory housing, meals, and tuition, is $200. The fee for commuting students is $70. Application forms are available from Brethren Bible Institute, 155 Denver Road, Denver, Pa., 17517. Applications must be completed by June 29.
  • The Brethren Heritage Center in Brookville, Ohio, is making a newly updated book available for purchase: "Roots by the River: The History and Doctrine of the Old German Baptist Brethren Church in Miami County, Ohio,” revised and updated in 2011. The book first published by author Marcus Miller in 1973 covers the history of the very early Brethren moving from the east to the then-wilderness called Ohio, said a release. The book also explains the doctrines and traditions of the early Brethren and their place in local society, with several maps and photographs of early Old German Baptist Brethren leaders. It has expanded and updated to include the story of the latest division in 2009. An index has a large collection of personal and family names, with photographs listed in bold. This first printing was limited to 400 copies. Price is $40 or $36 plus tax for Heritage Friends. Go to for more information or to contact the center.
  • Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is holding its 2012 Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C., on June 18-19. Participants will enrich their knowledge about the conflict and the work for peace in the Holy Land, said a release. Morning and afternoon workshops will include a variety of topics such as “Jerusalem Update,” “Water in a Dry Land,” and “Middle East Peace and US Federal Elections,” among others. The morning plenary session is on Iran and Middle East peace with Trita Parsi, an expert on US-Iranian relations, Iranian foreign policy, and the geopolitics of the Middle East. An afternoon roundtable discussion on perspectives for peace will feature, among others, Daniel Kurtzer, former US Ambassador to Israel (2001-2005) and Ambassador to Egypt (1997-2001). The Church of the Brethren is a member denomination of CMEP. For conference details go to
Source:5/16/2012 Newsline