Thursday, July 26, 2012

Newsline: July 26, 2012


Disaster projects in New York, Alabama, Virginia are extended.

House under construction at Brethren Disaster Ministries project site in Pulaski, Va.
Photo by Brethren Disaster Ministries
A house under construction at the Brethren Disaster Ministries project site in Pulaski, Va.
Brethren Disaster Ministries has announced a decision to extend the timeline for three of its disaster rebuilding project sites. The projects in Prattsville, N.Y., and Town Creek, Ala., will be extended through October, and the site in Pulaski, Va., will continue through September.

Projects are staffed primarily by groups of volunteers from the Church of the Brethren districts, who typically spend a week working at a disaster site. District groups are invited to contact coordinator Jane Yount at the Brethren Disaster Ministries office in New Windsor, Md., to schedule volunteer groups. Call her at 800-451-4407.

The project at Arab, Ala., was completed and closed as of the end of June. Volunteer groups scheduled to work at that site have been rescheduled to other sites.

The project in Prattsville, N.Y., is repairing homes destroyed by floods following Hurricane Irene, which pummeled the East Coast on Aug. 27-28 last year. The storm brought the worst flash flooding in memory to the small town of Prattsville in the Catskills, in a low-income region of New York. Nearly 300 homes were covered by floodwater, and many of the affected residents are uninsured or elderly. The Brethren Disaster Ministries project in Prattsville opened July 1.

The Town Creek project in Lawrence County, Ala., also opened July 1. Brethren Disaster Ministries is assisting survivors of an EF5 tornado that plowed across the county last year on April 27. It claimed 14 lives and wiped away entire neighborhoods. The current caseload at the project includes replacement of roofs and the building of new homes.

The Pulaski, Va., project is in response to two tornadoes that struck on April 8, 2011. This project has been extended because Brethren Disaster Ministries has accepted an assignment to build one more new home. Volunteers are engaged in completing one home and will start the final new building as soon as the foundation is put in.

In related news, on July 5 the “Arab Tribune” ran articles about the Brethren Disaster Ministries work and dedication of completed homes in Arab, Ala. Articles focused on the dedication of a home for James "Mike" and Brenda Casey. The dedication ceremony was led by Brethren project crew leader Dennis Minick, the newspaper reported. "Lord God,” Minick said, “today is a day of rejoicing. There is a home that has just been built, and it is our desire to dedicate this dwelling place to you.” The volunteers presented the Casey family with a Bible, a candle, and a plant as reminders of the gifts of God. “Brenda cried with joy,” the newspaper said. Find the article at . An overview of Brethren Disaster Ministries work in Arab is at . A video from WAAY ABC TV is at

Source:7/26/2012 Newsline

BVS summer unit begins work at project sites.

BVS Unit 297 group photo - Summer 2012
Photo by Kendra Flory
Members of BVS Unit 297 have completed orientation and began their term of volunteer service this summer: front from left, Jenna Horgan, Amber Buck, Margaret Hughes; back from left, Chris Horgan, Jennie Ott, Hallie Pilcher, David Hoffmann, Shurè-Nachelle Parrish.
Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) Unit 297 has completed its orientation and begun work at a number of project sites in the United States, Ireland, and El Salvador. The summer unit held orientation on June 10-29 in Chicago and Elgin, Ill.

Following are the new BVS volunteers, their home congregations or home towns, and projects sites:

Amber Buck of Mount Wilson Church of the Brethren in Lebanon, Pa., is working at Comfort House Services Inc. in McAllen, Texas.

David Hoffmann of Emmendingen, Germany, is serving at Spanish Catholic Charities in Washington, D.C.

Jenna and Chris Horgan of Minneapolis, Minn., are assigned to El Centro Arte para la Paz in Suchitoto, El Salvador.

Margaret Hughes of Charlottesville, Va., has been assigned to L’Arche Community in Cork, Ireland.

BVS Europe holds annual retreat
Photo by Kristin Flory
BVSers serving in Europe held an annual retreat in June: front from left, Courtney Klosterman, serving at Quaker Cottage in Belfast, N. Ireland; Marie Schuster, Arche Tecklenburg, Germany; Tania Monroy, Fellowship of Reconciliation Germany, in Minden, Germany; Samantha Carwile, Quaker Cottage, Belfast; Cori Miner, Greenhill YMCA in Newcastle, N. Ireland; Gloria Oseguera-Verdugo, L'Arche Kilkenny, Callan, Ireland. Back row from left, Megan Miller, East Belfast Mission, N. Ireland; Julianne Funk, Mali Koraci (Small Steps), Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina; Katarina Eller, Brot und Rosen, Hamburg, Germany; Adam Stokes, Greenhill YMCA; Samantha Lyon-Hill, OKC Abrasevic (Youth Cultural Center), Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina; Tiffany Monarch, L'Arche Belfast; Michelle Cernoch, L'Arche Cork, Ireland.
Jennie Ott of Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., is working with Camp Myrtlewood in Myrtle Point, Ore.

Shurè-Nachelle Parrish of Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind., will serve as a placement still to be determined.

Hallie Pilcher of First Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., is volunteering for Brethren Disaster Ministries in New Windsor, Md.

Two more BVS orientations are planned for this year. The BVS BRF (Brethren Revival Fellowship) orientation unit is scheduled for Aug. 19-29 at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. (application deadline has passed). The BVS Fall orientation unit is set for Sept. 16-Oct. 5, also at the Brethren Service Center. Applications for the Fall orientation are due by Aug. 3. For more about Brethren Volunteer Service go to

Source:7/26/2012 Newsline

Brethren leader sends update on violence in Nigeria, interfaith delegation issues report.

A leader of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has sent an e-mail report on recent violence in Nigeria. Also, a new Christian and Muslim alliance committed to solving tensions in Nigeria has been announced by the World Council of Churches (see “In related news” below).

The church leader’s report from the area around the central Nigerian city of Jos focused mainly on attacks on nearby villages earlier this month. He did not say the most recent violence has affected EYN churches or members.

A number of villages near Jos were attacked by gunmen. During a mass burial of the people who had been killed, another attack by gunmen on July 8 killed government officials including a senator and a house of assembly member, among other people. Also a member of the house of representatives was injured and hospitalized.

“This gave a record of the first time when top government officials were killed in ethnic, religious, and political or socio-economic violence in Nigeria,” the church leader wrote.

On July 13 a suicide bomber failed in an attempt targeting government officials in the northeastern city of Maiduguri. “In this attack five people died including the suicide bomber,” the church leader wrote. “The police reported that the Emir and the deputy governor escaped death just some meters from where the explosion started.”

On July 16, gun shots and explosions rocked Damaturu, the state capital of Yobe State. Since then, an explosion at an Islamic school located in Bukuru, near Jos, killed at least one student and broke down walls at the school.

In addition, Nigerian media has reported difficulties in getting food and relief supplies to refugees from the villages that were attacked, who have been living in camps. The media reports seem to indicate most of the recent violence around Jos likely stems from inter-ethnic conflict, although some days later the Islamist sect Boko Haram claimed responsibility.

The church leader expressed frustration that “since the crisis has so many heads (folds) true interpretation...will always have a different meaning for the opposite faith.”

He also sent thanks for the prayers of American Brethren. “We want to thank you all for your prayers always,” he wrote.

In related news, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought (RABIIT) sent a high-level interreligious delegation to the Nigerian cities of Abuja, Jos, and Kaduna in May. The delegation’s report discusses complex reasons behind the violence, suggesting that it goes beyond religion and is rooted in a matrix of political, social, ethnic, economic, and legal problems. “The issue of justice--or the lack of it--looms large as a common factor,” said Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, chairman of the RABIIT. The delegation also expressed admiration for the vast majority of Nigerians who do not want their religion to be used to propagate violence.

Read the full text of the “Report on the inter-religious tensions and crisis in Nigeria” at

Source:7/26/2012 Newsline

Ministry of Reconciliation seeks feedback on expanded Conference role.

This year the officers of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference invited On Earth Peace to expand its Ministry of Reconciliation (MoR) presence. The 2012 Conference took place in St. Louis, Mo., on July 7-11. The expanded presence included the entire Conference, not just the business sessions.

Identified by yellow lanyards and “Ministers of Reconciliation” tags, a team of trained volunteers was available throughout the Exhibit Hall and other Conference venues during the day and evening. They could be reached by calling a special telephone number and also could be contacted via the On Earth Peace booth and the Conference Office.

Like the MoR observers who have served during Annual Conference business sessions for over 20 years, members of the Ministers of Reconciliation Team were available to listen, help make sense of the proceedings, be a peaceful presence in tense situations, and mediate conflict, facilitate communication, and help navigate misunderstandings. They received training to respond appropriately in the event anyone was being threatened or harmed, whether verbally, emotionally, or physically.

The team was active throughout Conference and members report that interactions were overwhelmingly positive.

As On Earth Peace prepares a report for the Annual Conference officers to help in planning for next year, we welcome feedback. Please send impressions, reflections, and/or suggestions, including what worked well or what could be improved. Send responses as soon as possible--ideally within the next week--to Ministry of Reconciliation program coordinator Leslie Frye at or 620-755-3940.

-- Leslie Frye is Ministry of Reconciliation program coordinator for On Earth Peace.

Source:7/26/2012 Newsline

Barkley resigns from the Brethren Historical Library and Archives.

Terry Barkley displays an old manuscript at the Brethren Historical Library and Archives
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Terry Barkley displays an old manuscript at the Brethren Historical Library and Archives. He has served as archivist and director of the BHLA since Nov. 2010.
Terry Barkley has announced his resignation as archivist and director of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Oct. 31 will be his last day at the BHLA, allowing him to complete two full years in the position.

His resignation is due to family changes in Alabama, which require his daily assistance at home.

His accomplishments include a smooth transition following the death of former archivist Ken Shaffer Jr., and the continuation of projects that Shaffer had begun including collaborations with the Brethren Digital Archives and the Civilian Public Service website. He has expanded working relationships with the Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists and the Brethren Heritage Center in Ohio, and has served ex-officio on the Germantown Trust in Philadelphia and the Brethren Heritage Committee. He also was a facilitator at the Alexander Mack Jr. Conference at the Young Center at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College in June.

Major BHLA acquisitions during his service include the H. Austin Cooper papers and a wooden chest (c. 1817) belonging to Henry Kurtz, the first Brethren publisher.

He joined the Church of the Brethren as a member in 1980, and began as director of the BHLA on Nov. 1, 2010, bringing experience from previous positions as archivist at Marion (Ala.) Military Institute and as archivist/museum curator at Bridgewater (Va.) College 1993-2005.

Source:7/26/2012 Newsline

Evans named president of Cross Keys Village-Brethren Home Community.

The Board of Directors of Cross Keys Village-The Brethren Home Community has announced the appointment of Jeffrey M. Evans as president and CEO effective Aug. 27. The Church of the Brethren retirement community is located in New Oxford, Pa.

During Evans’ 30-year career in the aging services field, he has served in various roles in not-for-profit and for-profit organizations including a family-owned nursing home chain and consulting company. Most recently he served as CEO at Immanuel Lutheran Communities in Kalispell Mont.

Originally from Indiana, he received a bachelor’s degree in business from Taylor University and a master’s degree in business from Indiana Wesleyan University. He is a licensed nursing home administrator. He and his family plan to relocate to the New Oxford area this summer.

Source:7/26/2012 Newsline

Peace Day 2012 theme is ‘Praying for Ceasefire.’

Peace Day 2012 logo imageOn Earth Peace has announced a theme and a new name for its campaign encouraging churches and communities to observe the International Day of Prayer for Peace on Sept. 21. This is the sixth year that On Earth Peace has held its campaign.

Peace Day is the new name for the campaign, centered this year on the theme, “Praying for Ceasefire.” On Earth Peace is inviting community groups and church congregations to organize events on or near Sept. 21. It is seeking 200 faith and community groups around the world to plan public events that include prayer, cultural sharing, music, and art to help communities talk and pray together.

In addition, “this year On Earth Peace is inviting communities to imagine something beyond the usual prayer vigil observance and to declare or pray for a 24-hour ceasefire based on the unique struggles and challenges of your community,” said a release.

“What could a real ceasefire look like where you are? What ceasefire do you pray for?” the announcement asked. “It could mean not one incident of domestic violence. An end to bullying. No more shootings. A time to pray for restored relationships or new relationships to be formed across walls that divide. A time to declare that all the wars are over and to call for our young men and women to come home. A pause to seek, asking God for vision for a new path. Who do you need to bring together to pray in a new and powerful way to challenge violence?”

In its release about the International Day of Prayer for Peace, the World Council of Churches (WCC) highlighted the theme adopted by On Earth Peace, quoting staff member Matt Guynn: “For some people, praying for ceasefire will mean praying for a break in armed conflict. For others, a ceasefire will mean ending conflict in their community, workplace, church, or family.”

The WCC noted that last year, prayers for peace lifted up on Sept. 21 “circled the globe from Cuba to Fiji, Indonesia, Rwanda, Germany, and Canada.” Observance of a day for Christians to pray for peace began in 2004 as part of the ecumenical Decade to Overcome Violence (DoV) after an agreement between the heads of the WCC and the United Nations.

For more about Peace Day to go

Source:7/26/2012 Newsline

New Brethren Press resources include Advent devotional, ‘Brethren Beliefs,’ Guide and Covenant studies.

A Dunker Guide to Brethren BeliefsNew from Brethren Press are a host of resources for personal devotions, for Bible studies and small groups, and for maintaining connection with Church of the Brethren ministries and Annual Conference. Order any of the following by calling 800-441-3712 or going to . A shipping and handling charge will be added to the listed price.

‘A Dunker Guide to Brethren Beliefs’

A new volume in the Dunker Guide series, “A Dunker Guide to Brethren Beliefs,” is a collection of 20 essays, each focusing on a core Brethren belief. They are written by 20 members--some former clergy, some lay members--of Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. The brief essays help the reader engage the topic, whether it’s salvation or baptism or simplicity. The book also provides discussion questions to take the themes even further. Foreword is written by Jeffrey A. Bach of the Young Center at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, preface by Guy E. Wampler, editor, and Charles Denlinger, assistant editor. Brethren Press hopes the book will be used for new member classes and small group studies. “It’s a great introduction on core Brethren values and beliefs,” according to James Deaton, Brethren Press managing editor for books and study resources. “As the preface states, not everyone will agree with everything in the book. But we do hope the book will spark your thinking and stir you to articulate, like these writers have done, what you do believe.” Previous books in the series are “A Dunker Guide to Brethren History” and “A Dunker Guide to the Bible.” $12.95, paperback.

The Advent Road, Advent devotional by Walt Wiltschek, 2012Advent devotional

Brethren Press will celebrate 10 years of its devotional series when it publishes “The Advent Road” by Walt Wiltschek this fall. Pre-production prices are now available for this pocket sized booklet that includes daily scripture texts, meditations, and prayers for the Advent season. The booklet is suitable for personal devotions and for churches to provide to their members. Some special features this year are publication in three formats including e-book as well as the regular size and large print versions, and a fresh page design. Order by Oct. 1 to receive the pre-production price of $2 for regular size print or $5 for large print.

‘Holy War or Just Peace’

Holy War or Just Peace, Covenant Bible Study 2012A new Covenant Bible Study titled “Holy War or Just Peace” is written by Robert W. Neff and Frank Ramirez. The period of the conquest of Canaan and the rise of the judges--narrated in the books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth--contains some of the most disturbingly violent scenes in the Bible. Despite the presence of these acts of war and violence, some that even seem sanctioned by God, alternative voices within the texts call for attention. This study provides an avenue for hearing all the voices from this period and dealing with the question of violence from all sides. The Covenant Bible Studies series can be used by individuals, but is especially designed for small group settings. Each study includes 10 sessions that promote interaction and encourage open discussion about practical aspects of the Christian faith. $7.95, paperback.

A Guide for Biblical Studies

“A Living Faith” is the theme of this fall’s Bible study curriculum for adults, written by Richard Gardner. The lessons employ texts from Hebrews and Acts to move toward a biblical definition of faith. The first unit studies the closing chapters of Hebrews, on responsive obedience to God’s love revealed in Jesus. The second unit focuses on personal stories from the book of Acts that highlight what it means to understand faith. The final unit concludes with the study of Paul’s faith and ministry, and its costliness. $4.25 or $7.35 for large print.

2013 Living Word Bulletin flierThe Living Word Bulletin Series for 2013

The Church of the Brethren’s very own bulletin series features texts and images chosen by Brethren, for Brethren. The series includes bulletins for 52 Sunday services plus love feast and Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, and is shipped quarterly. The series has been enhancing the worship of Brethren congregations for over 50 years with prices that save churches both time and money. “Give your church that visual edge by calling Brethren Press and starting your subscription today,” says Jeff Lennard of Brethren Press. Bulletin size: 8.5 x 11 inches. $4.25 for 50, or $2.65 for 25.

Annual Conference Wrap-up and Sermons

A video wrap-up of the 2012 Conference and the five sermons preached for the Conference worship services are each offered in DVD format by Brethren Press. The Wrap-up provides an overview of the Church of the Brethren Conference held July 7-11 in St. Louis, including popular bonus material such as the “live report” of denominational ministries and video clips of the individuals and congregations who were showcased as “continuing the work of Jesus.” The DVD of sermons contains the messages given by preachers Walter Brueggemann, Tim Harvey, Becky Ball-Miller, Jennifer Leath, and Daniel D’Oleo. David Sollenberger produced both videos. $29.95 for the Wrap-up, $24.95 for the Sermons.

2012 Church of the Brethren Yearbook

The annual denominational yearbook on CD is an essential resource for Church of the Brethren information. The disk format is searchable, easy to navigate, and contains contact information for congregations, districts, pastors, ministers, moderators, Church of the Brethren agencies, and denominational staff. The 2012 yearbook includes the 2011 statistical report. Order one per user. $21.50.

Source:7/26/2012 Newsline

A thank you letter from Plowsharing Crafts.

Annual Conference director Chris Douglas has shared the following letter from the staff of Plowsharing Crafts, sent in response to the generosity of Conference-goers after the SERRV store suffered a robbery during the Conference. The store lost some $1,000 worth of jewelry merchandise, but donations given by concerned Conference-goers virtually made up for the loss.

Dear Friends:

At the recent Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in St. Louis, our locally-based fair trade store called Plowsharing Crafts worked together with SERRV on bringing the display of SERRV items to the Conference attendees. I am the manager of Plowsharing, and on behalf of our staff I wanted to have an opportunity to share with you about an experience we had at the Conference, and talk a little bit about grace.

Overall, we had a wonderful time at our display, and we enjoyed many conversations with the wide variety of people who came by our booth and who supported fair trade. Sales were very positive, and by extension, quite a number of artisans and their families in the developing world benefited from the purchases that occurred.

However, as the conference progressed, we were saddened to find that a substantial amount of items, over $1,000 in value and primarily religious jewelry (cross pendants), had been stolen from our display. This information was conveyed to the Public Security office at the Conference, as well as the Conference staff, and both groups worked with us on resolving the issue and finding the perpetrator(s). Unfortunately, we were unable to find who had done this, and get the items returned.

At the same time, Conference leaders shared this information with the attendees at several of the large gatherings, and suddenly we were overwhelmed by the expressions of regret and sadness that this had happened, and by financial donations to help us recover from these losses. Over $1,000 was donated by a large number of people, and our feelings of anger and dismay that this had happened turned to feelings of gratitude and loving appreciation for the concern that untold numbers of attendees conveyed to us.

We feel blessed that we met so many wonderful and caring people who responded to a negative situation in a caring and gracious way. It truly helped us restore within ourselves the sense of community and sharing that is essential to our common faith journeys.

May God bless and keep all of you.
Shalom, Rich Howard-Willms, Plowsharing Supervisory Manager

Source:7/26/2012 Newsline

Brethren bits.

BDM associate director Zach Wolgemuth
Photo by: Courtesy of BDM
Zach Wolgemuth, associate director of Brethren Disaster Ministries, was one of the presenters at Monday's “Housing Recovery Support Function Training” hosted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C. He serves on the Board of Directors for National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) and presented on behalf of NVOAD.
  • Correction: Maddie Dulabaum’s name was inadvertently omitted from the Annual Conference news team listing in the last issue of Newsline. She served as reporter for the Conference Journal’s “Question of the Day” feature.
  • Remembrance: Philip West, a son of Heifer International founder Dan West, passed away June 21. He and his twin Larry were born Oct. 4, 1938, in Goshen, Ind., to Dan and Lucille West. He became one of the “seagoing cowboys” who cared for heifer cows en route to farmers struggling to recover from World War II, traveling to Japan where he remained to study at the International Christian University in Tokyo. The experience ignited a love of east Asia that would become his life’s work. He graduated from Manchester College in 1960 and served as a conscientious objector teaching English for two years in Poland with Brethren Volunteer Service. By 1971 he had earned a doctorate from Harvard University in modern Chinese history and East Asian languages. Throughout his career he expanded east Asian curricula in university and public school classrooms, engaging in interdisciplinary work that bridged the worlds of academia, language studies, culture, arts and business. Before he came to the University of Montana he taught at Indiana University for 18 years, during the last seven of which he was director of the East Asian Studies Center where he established the Summer Language Institute for intensive training of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. He and his wife Young-ee Cho moved to Missoula, Mont., in 1988 when he became Mansfield Professor of Modern Asian Affairs and then directed the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center. His projects focused on the human experience of American wars in Asia, the Korean War in particular, creating opportunities for dialogue and healing between former enemies. During his 24 years at the University of Montana he also worked abroad as co-director for the Center for Chinese and American Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Nanjing, China. His book, “Yenching University and Sino-Western Relations, 1916-1952” (Harvard University Press, 1976) was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. In 2011, he received an Alumni Honor Award from Manchester College. He is survived by his wife Young-ee Cho; son Daniel; daughters June, Jennifer, and Barbara; and grandchildren. A memorial service is planned for Aug. 9, at 4 p.m., at Christ the King Parish in Missoula. Memorial donations are received to the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center.
  • Remembrance: Wolfgang Klaus Juergen Spreen, 67, a former member of the staff of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., most recently living in Middleburg, Fla., died July 17. He was a native of Germany and moved to the US in 1998 to reside in Maryland. He moved to Middleburg in 2009. He retired from AOK Insurance Company with the government of Germany and following his retirement worked with the Church of the Brethren in New Windsor as assistant to the general secretary and supporting other program areas until 2009. Survivors include his wife Susan; children Britta Porto, Ina Spreen, Kevin (Lorriane) Jones, Karen Weimert, and Michelle (Jon) Ford; and grandchildren. Funeral services were held on July 21 at the graveside in Evergreen Cemetery of Westminster, Md. Family and friends may share their condolences at
  • The Church of the Brethren’s Shenandoah District is expressing appreciation to Ron Wyrick, who completes his term of service as interim district executive on July 31. “Our prayers of thanksgiving are lifted up for Ron Wyrick for his leadership of the Shenandoah District,” said a recent district newsletter. Wyrick stepped into the role on a fulltime basis on Nov. 1, 2011. The district will welcome John N. Jantzi as district executive minister beginning Aug. 1.
  • Twyla Rowe has accepted the fulltime position of director of pastoral care/chaplain at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md. Her first day in the office will be July 30. She is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren and has served as a pastor at two congregations during the past 19 years, most recently at Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren where she has been minister of Christian Nurture since 2001. She holds a bachelor of arts in Organizational Management from Eastern Mennonite University, and a certificate for the completion of TRIM (Training in Ministry) from Bethany Theological Seminary. She succeeds Loyal Vanderveer, who had served as interim chaplain following the untimely death of former chaplain Sharon Peters in December 2011. With nearly 180 full- and part-time employees, Fahrney-Keedy serves a resident population of almost 200 women and men in independent living, assisted living, and long- and short-term nursing care. For more visit
  • The Church of the Brethren seeks a director for the Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA). The position promotes the history and heritage of the Church of the Brethren by administering the BHLA and facilitating research and the study of Brethren history. Responsibilities include to provide reference services, assure the cataloging of books and processing of archival records, formulate policies, budget, develop the collection, recruit and train interns and volunteers. Required education includes a master’s degree in library science/archival studies and extensive knowledge of Church of the Brethren history and beliefs. A graduate degree in history or theology and/or certification by the Academy of Certified Archivists is preferred. Required skills and knowledge include the ability to articulate and operate out of the vision of the Church of the Brethren; grounding in library and archival disciplines; customer-service skills; research and problem-solving skills; proficiency in Microsoft software and experience with OCLC products; and 3-5 years of work experience in a library or archives. Location is the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. An application packet may be requested from Deborah Brehm, Program Assistant, Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL  60120-1694; 847-742-5100 ext. 367; Applications include a cover letter, resume, application form, background check authorization, resume, and three reference letters. Interviews begin Sept. 1.
  • New at : Two new “Christian understanding” papers on mission and the environment are available to download from the denominational website at, representing an ecumenical effort with the National Council of Churches. Also now online is a new “Volunteer Opportunities” page intended to make it simple for people to find a variety of ways to volunteer, browsing by age group, office, or length of service, at The new “Hidden Gems” webpage from the Brethren Historical Library and Archives is on Alexander Mack, Jr. Find it at
  • A guide titled “Travel Responsibly this Summer” is available to help people concerned about modern-day slavery and particularly child sex trafficking. The guide is offered by ECPAT, one of the organizations recommended in the Church of the Brethren’s resource packet on modern-day slavery. Resources include a list of US-based companies that have signed on to the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct to prevent child sex trafficking, and suggestions for travel with other companies that haven’t signed the code--such as a sample letter to give to the manager or owner of your favorite hotel, airline, or tour operator about the issue of commercial sexual exploitation of children and the importance of protecting children. TassaTag Fair Trade Luggage Tags also are offered to raise awareness, with proceeds going to support ECPAT-USA's work to fight trafficking while providing an income for women in Thailand. Visit and to learn more.
  • Hostetler Church of the Brethren in Meyersdale, Pa., celebrates its 200th year as a congregation on Sept. 9. Festivities will include morning Sunday school and worship, an afternoon service at 2 p.m., music by members and former members, recognition of those who have been called into ministry by the congregation, and time for sharing. The church is handicapped accessible. For more information contact 614-634-8500.
  • Panther Creek Church of the Brethren near Roanoke, Ill., holds its 160th Anniversary Celebration on Aug. 11. Festivities begin at 2 p.m. and include family entertainment, gospel/country music, trumpeters, games for people of all ages, balloon art, a Christian magic show by Anet Satvedi, a pizza supper, a Christian family movie night with popcorn, dedication of new children’s playground equipment, reminiscing and sharing memories and church history. RSVP to 309-923-7775.
  • Mt. Bethel Church of the Brethren in Dayton, Va.--now in the midst of its centennial celebration--is planning special events each month culminating in a final celebration on Oct. 21. A centennial cookbook is being produced with recipes from across the generations. Order for $16 by calling the church at 540-867-5326.
  • On June 10, Nanty Glo (Pa.) Church of the Brethren celebrated its 90th anniversary. According to the Western Pennsylvania District newsletter, the celebration included hymns that were found in the 1924 hymnal, and that can still be found in the hymnal today. A picnic followed worship.
  • The youth group at Pine Grove Church of the Brethren in West Marva District raised $4,542.49 for World Vision during a recent lock in, according to the district newsletter. During the lock in, the group also completed a community project of staining the church playground equipment. “That is what joining together can do,” the newsletter commented.
  • Bermudian Church of the Brethren in East Berlin, Pa., held a second annual "Drive Your Tractor to Church Sunday" and Farm Family Blessing on July 1. The York First Church’s newsletter noted the event, quoting pastor Larry Dentler: "Both services were full, a record number of tractors, many visitors--most important of all we had the privilege to ask God's special blessing upon our hard working farm families!"
  • First Haitian Church of the Brethren in Brooklyn, N.Y., sent a mission group to the Dominican Republic. In late May and early June, pastor Verel Montauban and five members of the congregation attended an annual missionary seminar and revival services in the DR. The group was able to visit four sister churches including Mendoza Church of the Brethren, Saint Louis Church of the Brethren, Bocachica Church of the Brethren, and Salemanatolsa Church of the Brethren, and a new church, Las Americas Church, which has expressed a desire to become affiliated with the Brethren congregations.
  • Virlina District Children's Cabinet will sponsor a Children's Ministry Roundtable at Peters Creek Church of the Brethren from 9:30-11:30 a.m. on Aug. 18. Presentations and discussion will address the participation and inclusion of children in worship, Sunday school, church activities, and the life of the congregation. This event is for children's leaders and teachers as well as pastors and all who care about children and the future of the church. Contact the Virlina District office at or 540-362-1816.
  • The Southern Ohio District Disaster Ministry holds its 6th Annual Ice Cream Social on Aug. 4 at Happy Corner Church of the Brethren. “This year's event promises to be much more than an ice cream social--even though the ice cream itself will be fabulous!” said an announcement from the district. Activities for children, special entertainment, and a collection of Church World Service School Kits also will be part of the event. Also to be collected: donations from the district’s “Change for Change” jars which will benefit people whose lives have been affected by a natural disaster.
  • Golf, golf, and more golf. A number of golf tournaments are being held this summer and fall to benefit camps and district ministries. Middle Pennsylvania District and Camp Blue Diamond hold their annual Brethren Open on Aug. 14 at Iron Masters Golf Course in Roaring Spring, Pa., with a meal following the tournament hosted by Albright Church of the Brethren. Brethren Woods holds its 17th annual golf tournament and fundraiser at Lakeview Golf Course near Harrisonburg, Va., on Sept. 8. Camp Bethel holds its 18th annual benefit Golf Tournament and Banquet on Aug. 15 at Botetourt Golf Club. The Camp Mack Annual Golf Outing is Aug. 18 at Sycamore Golf Course in North Manchester, Ind. The Children's Aid Society's 16th Annual FORE Children Golf Outing is Aug. 4, starting at 2 p.m., at the Hanover Country Club in Abbottstown, Pa.
  • A 60th Annual Church of the Brethren Rhodes Grove Camp Meeting takes place Aug. 25-Sept. 2 at the campground near Greencastle, Pa. Each day includes a morning and evening worship service, with special youth activities on Saturday evening, and on Sunday a morning Sunday school and an afternoon service added to the morning and evening worship schedule. Speakers include Allen Nell of Upper Conewago Church of the Brethren; Dwane Schildt of Pleasant Hill Church of the Brethren; Luther Patches of White Oak Church of the Brethren; and Leon Myers of Upton Church of the Brethren as Bible study leader. For cabin or hotel reservations call 717-375-2510.
  • The 11 “Food for Preston” food pantries located throughout Preston County, W.Va., have shared a “very special thank you” to the Camp Galilee staff and campers. The thank you was printed in the West Marva District newsletter. The camp held a summer food drive. “In light of the recent storms and power outages which caused a rise in emergency food needs county-wide, the pantries were beyond thankful for the donations,” said the newsletter.
  • On Sept. 2, Camp Pine Lake in Northern Plains District will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its Friendship Lodge. The celebration starts at 4 p.m., with a meal following. Stories and memories of the lodge and the camp are being collected at
  • District conferences taking place in early August include the Southern Plains District Conference on Aug. 2-4 at Falfurrias (Texas) Church of the Brethren, and Northern Plains District Conference on Aug. 3-5 at Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Brethren/Baptist Church on the theme "Imagine What God Has in Store" (1 Corinthians 3:9).
  • Marking its 50th anniversary (1962-2012) Brethren Colleges Abroad is inviting alumni to share memories at an online memory book. Go to The organization held a celebration with former students and staff on June 8 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, and also celebrated at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in St. Louis.
  • Thirteen Church of the Brethren members joined a New Community Project Learning Tour to the Ecuadorian Amazon in mid-June. The group was hosted by partner organization SELVA, and spent five days in the Cuyabeno Ecological Reserve, one of the most biodiverse--and threatened--areas on the planet, according to a release. The group hiked and travelled by boat through the forest and rivers, learned about local culture and challenges facing native people and the ecosystem, got a first-hand look at one of many toxic waste ponds near oil processing facilities in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and noted widespread deforestation due to oil production, cocao and coffee plantations, cattle ranching, and human settlements. There was also a visit to a 137 acre parcel NCP has purchased to preserve, adjacent to the reserve. Photos and narrative can be found on the NCP Facebook page!/media/set/?set=a.414097735295099.92395.270047579700116&type=1. More about New Community Project is at
  • "Brethren Voices," the community television program produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren, can now be viewed on YouTube at Currently, the June program featuring Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and the Caring Cupboard is being shown. Producer Ed Groff plans to place another 30 broadcasts on the Brethren Voices channel on YouTube. “All of this has been made possible by a fan of Brethren Voices in Spokane, Wash.,” Groff reports. In more news from the show, the July program of “Brethren Voices” features the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. Hosted by Brent Carlson, the show meets Jeff Bach, director of the Young Center, who discusses the ways of the early Brethren who adopted biblical pacifism, plain and compassionate living, and a shared search for truth. Bach also shares about the Anabaptist desire to follow New Testament teachings, and the history of the early Brethren movement and the persecution it encountered because of its radical positions on baptism and separation of the church from government. For more information contact
  • A number of ecumenical partners of the Church of the Brethren have made statements following the shooting spree in Aurora, Colo., last week. The president of the National Council of Churches (NCC) said Christians across the nation are surrounding the community in prayer following the loss of loved ones and neighbors in the shooting rampage. NCC president Kathryn Lohre also called upon elected officials at every level of government to “seek policies that will foster greater peace in our communities and throughout this country,” pointing out that the NCC has been expressing its concern about gun violence for decades. The NCC’s most recent resolution on the issue, the 2010 “Ending Gun Violence, A Call to Action,” was affirmed by the Church of the Brethren’s Mission and Ministry Board and calls for a unified effort of churches, government, and individuals to enact reforms that limit access to assault weapons and handguns, including closing the so-called federal “gun show loophole.” The resolution is at
  • In related news, leaders of organizations representing some 90 percent of the world’s two billion Christians have issued a joint appeal to the 194 governments currently negotiating the first global Arms Trade Treaty. Their message is “Keep ammunition in the treaty,” according to a release from the World Council of Churches. Proposals on the negotiating table would ban arms sales for genocide, war crimes, and grave human rights violations. Almost all of the 194 states involved recognize that the arms and ammunition most often used in these crimes must therefore be included in the treaty, the release noted. “Churches and their members witness the human costs of unlawful armed violence every day, as victims are brought to church hospitals and church graveyards in different parts of the world. The Arms Trade Treaty must regulate the ammunition that strikes them down," the release said. The groups joining together in the appeal are the World Council of Churches, the World Evangelical Alliance, Pax Christi International, and Caritas.
  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) is inviting applications for workshops, exhibitions, and side events for its upcoming 10th Assembly to be held in Busan, Korea. Proposals must be submitted by Oct. 31. The WCC assembly will take place from Oct. 30-Nov. 8, 2013, addressing the theme “God of Life, Lead Us to Justice and Peace.” The series of workshops, exhibitions, and side events are to be part of the assembly’s “madang” or the “courtyard” of a traditional Korean home. It implies a space for encounter, sharing, celebration, fellowship, and welcoming a stranger, underlining the spirit with which assembly programs will be prepared. More information and a proposal form can be downloaded from
  • Heifer International has been presented with the Kiwanis International’s 2012 World Service Medal. The medal, presented to Heifer International president Pierre Ferrari by Kiwanis International president Alan Penn at the organization’s annual convention in New Orleans, also provides a $10,000 grant, said a Heifer release. Previous winners have included Mother Teresa, Sir Roger Moore and Audrey Hepburn, and First Ladies Nancy Reagan and Rosalynn Carter. Since 1944, when Heifer International was begun by Dan West as the Church of the Brethren’s Heifer Project, the organization has provided livestock and agricultural training to families who struggle to survive. To date, more than 15 million families in more than 125 countries, including the US, have been assisted to become self-reliant the release said.
  • Among latest news from IMA World Health, which has its headquarters at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., is a new campaign to end sexual and gender based violence. The campaign is called “We Will Speak Out” and has received a grant from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) for work in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • As South Sudan marked its first anniversary as a nation July 9, Christian leaders there said it has made positive progress but also highlighted significant problems. A joint letter from Roman Catholic Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro of Juba and Sudan Episcopal Church Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul congratulating the president and citizens for reaching the landmark celebrations. They also termed this as spiritual journey of the people. "We stand celebrate the first anniversary...and to express our joys and concerns," said the letter, reported by Ecumenical News International.
Source:7/26/2012 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 Jan Fischer Bachman, Deborah Brehm, James Deaton, Chris Douglas, Kristin Flory, Kendra Johnson, Michael Leiter, Jeff Lennard, Kelly MacNeil, David Radcliff, Glen Sargent, Jay Wittmeyer, Jane Yount, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Newsline: July 12, 2012


Delegate seating at round tables facilitates face-to-face conversation, prayer

Delegates join hands in prayer
Photo by Glenn Riegel
Delegates pray at round tables
Photo by Glenn Riegel
“Watching you all hold hands around the tables and pray is one of the most beautiful things I have seen in my life,” said Annual Conference moderator Tim Harvey to the delegate body after one morning’s devotions during the 2012 Conference, held July 7-11 in St. Louis, Mo.

The delegates, who were seated at round tables, had been asked to pray together with their table groups. This is the first year in recent memory that the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference has used table groups for face-to-face discussion, giving feedback on items of business, and prayer in small groups.

The decision to meet at round tables received many expressions of appreciation. “This year I really felt I was a part of everything. I love the round tables. It was the best idea,” said one delegate, speaking at the microphone during a time for conversation with the moderator. Meeting at round tables “is absolutely fantastic,” said another delegate, recommending that it be considered for future Annual Conferences.

Each table seated eight or more delegates, with one identified in advance as table facilitator to help facilitate the group discussion of questions. For at least the first day of business, delegates were seated at tables where they would meet new people from outside their own districts.

“Table talk” was used in particular following reports from the Conference-related agencies: Bethany Theological Seminary, Brethren Benefit Trust, Church of the Brethren Inc., and On Earth Peace. After each report, tables had several minutes to discuss questions posed by the agency, and then several minutes for table representatives to come to the microphones to report out of the groups and ask further questions. During “table talk,” the delegates agreed to a rule limiting speeches at the microphones to 45 seconds in an attempt to allow more people to speak.

Haitian church leaders join in prayer for Nigerian Brethren
Photo by Glenn Riegel
Haitian church leaders who attended the 2012 Conference were on stage during a time of prayer for the Nigerian Brethren. The Church of the Brethren in Nigeria is experiencing increased violence, killings, and terrorist attacks.
Table talk also facilitated discussion of the statement issued by Standing Committee titled “A Way Forward,” intended to address the continuing controversy following last year’s Annual Conference decision to reaffirm the 1983 statement on sexuality and continue deeper conversation outside of the query process (“A Way Forward” is at ). Out of the times of table talk, probing questions and concerns from across the theological spectrum were posed to all of the groups that have made decisions that some consider controversial, including the Mission and Ministry Board, the Program and Arrangements Committee, and On Earth Peace.

Opportunity for deeper discussion seemed to encourage deeper sharing by church leaders. For example, after concerns were voiced about decisions that open the possibility for a Brethren Volunteer Service project at the Brethren and Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests, general secretary Stan Noffsinger gave an emotional statement from the floor. “My apologies to the church because it was never my intention to hurt the body,” he said. “It was my intention to expand the boundaries of the body. I pray that nothing I have done has hurt anyone’s relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Despite a sense of underlying controversy at times, camaraderie quickly developed among table groups. After the first day of business, the moderator invited each table to decide for itself whether to stay together the next day, or indicate that the table was open to new members. The vast majority decided to stay together.

Table 92 sports a candy collection
Photo by Regina Holmes
Table 92 sports hard candy, one of the table groups where delegates experienced camaraderie and sharing of snacks and goodies during this year's business sessions.
Tables began to acquire nicknames, or became known for the snacks and goodies they shared with each other, which became a running joke at the microphones. One group was nicknamed “The Wild, Woolly, and Wonderful Table,” another the “Table of Shared Mints and Gum.” One table was known to have donuts, and the Table 3 spokesperson announced, “We have chocolate, the best kept secret here.” At one table a cake was spotted by envious bystanders, and another shared fresh strawberries.

During times for table talk, the gallery of nondelegates was invited to share together in small groups. When the delegates joined in prayer, some groups of nondelegates stood together holding hands in prayer as well.

Following a report on the situation of the Brethren in Nigeria, who are suffering increased violence, terrorist attacks, and killings, the moderator asked table groups to hold hands and pray with him: “For our brothers and sisters in Nigeria...for whom the cost of discipleship may mean their very lives, I offer our prayers.” After the moderator’s prayer, a murmuring of prayer rose up from the table groups and lasted for several minutes.

At the end of business Tuesday--the last time the table groups would be together--many exchanged contact information so that they could stay in touch. Others were seen taking group photos, or giving hugs or handshakes around their circles.

-- Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford is director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Source:7/12/2012 Newsline

Church of the Brethren Vision Statement is adopted for 2012-2020

A skit during presentation of the Vision Statement
Photo by Glenn Riegel
A skit during presentation of the Vision Statement was a lighthearted look at what the apostles Paul and Peter might have said about having a vision statement. Playing Paul: Larry Glick (aka A. Mack), playing Peter: committee member David Sollenberger.
On Monday morning, July 9, the following vision statement was adopted by the delegate body for denomination-wide use:

Through Scripture, Jesus calls us to live as courageous disciples by word and action:
To surrender ourselves to God,
To embrace one another,
To express God’s love for all creation.

This vision statement is expected to be useful to focus the mission of the church and spur activity on the denominational level and also in congregations and districts, much like the Goals for the ‘80s and Goals for the ‘90s did in the past. The statement is meant to be short and memorable, yet containing depth and possibilities that different congregations can work at in a variety of ways.

During discussion by the delegates, some concerns were raised that the statement does not explicitly address evangelism, but the committee believed it is strongly implied within the line about living as disciples by word and action.

This vision statement came from a committee appointed in 2009, after the Annual Conference Council
brought a proposal suggesting it to Standing Committee that year.  Members of the group were appointed from Standing Committee and each of the agencies reportable to Annual Conference.

In 2011, Standing Committee affirmed the vision statement and interpretive material accompanying it, but they saw the need for an implementation committee to design additional materials and study guides so the vision statement would really be used and not simply shelved after adoption.

The Vision Interpretation and Implementation Committee of David Sollenberger, Rebekah Houff, James Sampson, and Ron Nicodemus, have spent the past year gathering more resources for congregational use. During deliberation on this business item, the delegates experienced use of some of the resources. They sang a hymn text for the vision statement written by Roseanna Eller McFadden, saw a music video using Joseph Helfrich’s “Jesus Calls,” enjoyed a skit, and spent table talk time discussing some of the study guide questions designed for congregational use.

The resources available to congregations will include starters for children’s stories in worship, sermon notes and video clips for use in worship services, instructions for banner making related to the theme, and other material.

-- Frances Townsend is pastor of Onekama (Mich.) Church of the Brethren

Source:7/12/2012 Newsline

Recommendations for revitalization of Annual Conference are accepted.

The Annual Conference officers join in singing a hymn
Photo by Glenn Riegel
The Annual Conference officers join in singing a hymn during the business sessions. The singing of hymns and prayer marked the discussions of Conference business.
If Annual Conference is to survive and thrive, planners will need to make some changes according to a Revitalization Task Force report. One of the most significant is that economic realities will limit the number of future Conferences held west of the Mississippi.

“There is as strong belief among us,” said task force facilitator Shawn Flory Replogle, “that Annual Conference in its totality is not all that it could be.” He concluded, “The point of the report is to lay a flexible foundation for Conference to be renewed.”

By a nearly unanimous vote, delegates affirmed a recommendation from Standing Committee to “receive the report from the Revitalization Task Force with appreciation and that the four recommendations proposed by the Task Force be approved.”

The first two recommendations affirm the current length (four nights) and timing (June/July) of Annual Conference. The third releases Conference planners from polity approved in 2007 that required a strict geographical rotation covering the entire US. Instead, under the new recommendation, Conference may be rotated among a handful of locations that “maximize sound fiscal stewardship for Annual Conference and attendees”--presumably ruling out most western sites.

As part of the recommendations that were accepted, the Program and Arrangements Committee is charged with offering travel scholarships for all delegates west of the Mississippi River. Replogle acknowledged that western congregations have the most to lose from the proposal, and that the scholarship provision was made in sensitivity to that fact. Currently, he said, 74 delegates would be eligible for scholarships, which would be funded from Conference registration fees.

Fourth, the report charges Conference officers and the Program and Arrangements Committee by 2015 to implement the many recommendations pertaining to management of business sessions found in the 2007 “Doing Church Business” statement. That statement sought to move “from issue-focused Conferences to relationship-centered Conferences,” according to the Task Force.

Past moderator Shawn Flory Replogle presents from the Revitalization Task Force
Photo by Regina Holmes
Past moderator Shawn Flory Replogle, who helped lead a Revitalization Task Force doing envisioning for improvements to Annual Conference, presents the four recommendations that were approved by the delegates.
The Revitalization Task Force was appointed by the denomination’s Leadership Team in 2010 to conduct and analyze research, assess the long-term viability of Annual Conference, and make recommendations about the Conference mission statement and core values and possible alternatives for the format. The concern of a 2010 query from Southern Ohio District, asking how Annual Conference might more successfully fulfill its mission, also was referred to the task force. Replogle summarized the group’s job as doing research, studying trends, and thinking outside the box.

The 15-page paper affirms the current mission statement--“Annual Conference exists to unite, strengthen, and equip the Church of the Brethren to follow Jesus”--and then addresses challenges to achieving that mission and ways those challenges might be overcome. The recommendations grew out of a review of existing statistical data and additional information gathered through an online survey completed by 300 respondents.

Key findings of the survey included:
  • Worship, fellowship, and business (in that order) are the most highly valued components of Annual Conference, but the church needs to find a less polarizing way of doing business.
  • High costs limit attendance.
  • People are largely satisfied with the Conference length and June/July timing.
  • Brethren believe many myths about the costs of Conference (which the task force sought to debunk).
In addition to recommendations, the document includes a section called “A New Vision” offering a variety of ideas for future Conference planners to consider. Among suggestions are rotating Conference among three or four recurring locations, naming a spiritual director charged with enhancing spiritual growth through Conference, reinstituting a Wednesday through Sunday schedule, beginning Conference with a shared meal for all, coordinating Conference themes with the denomination’s vision statement, several ideas related to conducting business including increased use of delegate seating at round tables to invite conversation, increased opportunities for training for participants and service and outreach to host communities, more long-range planning for worship to obtain nationally known speakers, utilizing offerings entirely for support of denominational ministries and outreach, rather than using a portion to support costs of Conference, and more.

Delegates spent several minutes discussing the paper in table groups before sharing affirmations and concerns with the whole body. Much of the discussion was on ways to reduce or share costs of Conference. An amendment that sought to expand the offer of Conference scholarships to small churches, regardless of location, was defeated.

Members of the Revitalization Task Force were Becky Ball-Miller, Chris Douglas (staff), Kevin Kessler, Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, and Shawn Flory Replogle.

-- Don Fitzkee is a volunteer writer on the news team for Annual Conference and a member of the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board

Source:7/12/2012 Newsline

Elections query is returned, Call to Accountability reaffirmed

Delegates discuss business items
Photo by Regina Holmes
Delegates discuss business items at round tables this year, which many agree has helped facilitate conversation and face-to-face dialogue about issues.
The delegate body of the 2012 Annual Conference has acted on a query about elections. The body adopted a recommendation from the Standing Committee of district delegates that “the query respectfully be returned and that the 1979 statement, ‘Call to Accountability,’ be reaffirmed.”

The query concerned the issue of whether the ballot process should be changed beyond what the 1979 statement says to further ensure representation of women, ethnic and other minorities in denominational leadership. It was prompted particularly by the nomination from the floor in 2011 that resulted in a male moderator-elect being chosen over the two female candidates who had been presented through the usual nominating process.

Leah Hileman presented the recommendation on behalf of Standing Committee and the rationales that led to it, including the concern that the Holy Spirit have freedom to move not only during the established nominating process but also on the Conference floor.

Among other concerns shared by the Standing Committee representative was that many women have declined invitations to serve, that in general more nominations are needed, and that gifts discernment and calling out of leaders and leadership development must be deliberately worked on at all levels of the church, from the local congregation on up. This would develop a larger pool of qualified candidates for denominational service. Also, individuals should monitor themselves concerning gender bias. Hileman concluded her presentation with an emphatic shout, “Nominate more people!”

Although the Standing Committee’s recommendation to return the query was adopted with strong support, concerns and suggestions for improving the leadership selection process were raised at the microphones. A leader from Pacific Southwest District--which sent the query--expressed dismay, saying that it had been affirmed unanimously at the district conference last year. Other speakers were concerned that the competitive Annual Conference elections process creates winners and losers and discourages qualified, willing people, and suggested working toward bringing a slate to Annual Conference for affirmation.

-- Frances Townsend is a volunteer writer on the Annual Conference news team, and pastor of Onekama (Mich.) Church of the Brethren

Source:7/12/2012 Newsline

Delegates affirm need for more equity on Mission and Ministry Board

General secretary Stan Noffsinger
Photo by Glenn Riegel
General secretary Stan Noffsinger was one of those responding to the delegate body, affirming the need for a revision of the membership structure for the denomination's Mission and Ministry Board.
Addressing a business item requesting more equitable representation for districts on the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board, the 2012 Annual Conference adopted the query and referred its concerns to the denominational board.

The query, brought by Southern Pennsylvania District, concerns the current method of selection of members of the Mission and Ministry Board which uses geographical areas originally designed for Congregational Life Team staffing. A wide disparity between these areas in membership numbers has created a sense of unfairness in representation. Use of the geographical areas in selecting board members also means that some districts may not have anyone on the board for extended periods of time.

During the time for comment from the floor, the point was stressed that although people are named to the board from various areas, each board member represents the entire denomination.

Mission and Ministry Board chair Ben Barlow spoke, saying the board welcomes the query and will bring its recommendations back to Annual Conference.

One of the questions from the floor was about the timeline for receiving a recommendations for changes. General secretary Stan Noffsinger said the item would be on the board’s agenda for this October’s meeting.

-- Frances Townsend is a volunteer writer on the Annual Conference news team and pastor of Onekama (Mich.) Church of the Brethren

Source:7/12/2012 Newsline

Revision to Ministerial Leadership polity document receives a first reading

Delegates engage in table talk
Photo by Glenn Riegel
Delegates engage in table talk during discussion of revisions to the Ministerial Leadership polity document. The ministerial leadership polity will be a study document for a year before coming back to the 2013 Conference for consideration.
Delegates engaged in a first reading of a proposed revision of the denomination’s ministerial leadership polity, paving the way for a year of study and potential approval at the 2013 Annual Conference. If approved, the new polity would replace previous ministry polity documents and be implemented beginning January 1, 2014.

Ministry Office director Mary Jo Flory-Steury, who also serves as associate general secretary, has shepherded the paper throughout its development. She explained that the seed for the polity revisions was planted at a 2007 Ministerial Leadership Conference and initial drafting began in 2009. Various stakeholders in the church received multiple opportunities to shape the paper along the way.

For the past century, said Flory-Steury, the church has made significant changes in ministerial leadership polity about once per decade. The last such revision came 13 years ago, in 1999, and changing times again necessitate re-examining polity to ensure standard calling and credentialing processes across the denomination that serve ministerial leaders and the church well.

Flory-Steury, with assistance from other members of the team that drafted the paper, walked delegates through key concepts and goals of the document. It begins with a preamble that explains why changes are needed; moves to an introduction that affirms the Brethren commitment to the priesthood of all believers and how the calling of set-apart leaders takes place within the context of a church that believes every member is called to ministry; and then includes a significant section on the history and theology of ordination in the Church of the Brethren.

Perhaps the most noticeable polity change is that the familiar language of “licensed minister” and “ordained minister” would be altered. In the new polity, a person discerning a call to ministry is assisted by an accountability and support group termed a “Calling Cohort” to flesh out the call and develop a “Covenant of Accountability” to guide a process of preparation. Once approved by congregation and district, the applicant becomes an “Inquiring Minister” and moves toward becoming either a “Commissioned Minister” with a specific role in one congregation or an “Ordained Minister,” a role virtually identical to ordained ministry in current polity. Absent from the new polity is the former role of “licensed lay speaker.”

Instead of a hierarchy of ministry, the document speaks of three ministry circles (licensed, commissioned, ordained) designed to “effectively form, equip, and support ministers for a particular sort of ministry within the denomination.”

Guided by two questions provided by the committee, delegates engaged in 10 minutes of “table talk.” Out of the table discussions, about a dozen people posed questions or shared concerns. Representatives from two tables expressed preference for the existing term “licensed minister” over the proposed “inquiring minister,” arguing that the new term would not be understood in circles of ministry beyond congregations (such as hospitals) or that it devalues the role. Other questions were raised about the role of the “calling cohort” and the complexity of the paper.

Flory-Steury noted that while some of the terminology is unfamiliar, many of the concepts are not new and resources have been provided to facilitate deeper understanding of the document. She encouraged congregations to study the paper in the coming year.

In addition to the feedback shared by delegates on the Conference floor, insights recorded by table facilitators during table talk will be forwarded to the Ministry Office. Crafters of the document are Flory-Steury; Dana Cassell; Ministry Advisory Council members Tara Hornbacker and Steve Schweitzer; district executives David Steele, Kevin Kessler, and David Shumate; and Julie Hostetter, representing the Brethren Academy. The paper and additional resources, including a study guide, timeline, and frequently asked questions, can be found at .

-- Don Fitzkee is a volunteer writer on the Annual Conference news team and a member of the denomination’s Mission and Ministry Board

Source:7/12/2012 Newsline

Conference approves variety of polity changes, discontinues the CIR

The Annual Conference officers join in singing a hymn
Photo by Glenn Riegel
The Annual Conference officers join in singing a hymn during the business sessions. The singing of hymns and prayer marked the discussions of Conference business.
In other business, the Annual Conference approved a variety of polity changes for districts and the Program and Arrangements Committee, approved a recommendation to discontinue the Committee on Interchurch Relations (CIR) in anticipation of a new vision for ecumenical witness, gave two groups additional time to work on revisions to the Ethics for Congregations document and response to climate change, and recommended a cost of living increase for pastor salaries.

A new vision for ecumenical witness

An item of business on the church’s ecumenical witness came from a study committee that has reviewed the Brethren history of ecumenism and the work of CIR in particular. The Conference approved a recommendation to discontinue the CIR, which has been in place since 1968 to carry forward conversations and activities with other church communions and encourage cooperation with other religious traditions, and a recommendation that the Mission and Ministry Board and denominational Leadership Team appoint a committee to write a “Vision of Ecumenism for the 21st Century.”

General secretary Stan Noffsinger explained that approval of an additional recommendation “that the church’s ecumenical witness be expressed by the staff and the church at large,” makes it clear that denominational staff carry responsibility for the ecumenical witness in the interim, until a new vision is put in place. It also encourages congregations and individual Brethren to take initiative for ecumenical involvements on a local level. “We are well aware that many of our churches are engaging in ecumenism,” he told the delegates, adding that he considers that a success for the entire denomination.

The need for a new ecumenical vision comes out of a changing ecumenical and interfaith environment worldwide that poses challenges for the church, and a sense of opportunities for the Brethren voice to reach beyond traditional venues, at a time when the actual work being done by CIR has dwindled.

The recommendations came with the involvement of the CIR, and after the decision to discontinue the committee chair Paul Roth gave a final CIR report. To the church he said, “We entrust this legacy of witness, that it continue faithfully.” He added, “We firmly believe that God’s Spirit is actively at work in this transition.”

Polity revisions are approved

Revisions to polity on districts, proposed by the Council of District Executives, were approved. Existing polity dated back to 1965 and the revisions in essence update that polity to make it congruent with current practice. On a few points, the polity revisions call for new action on the part of districts, for example encouraging them to put in place vision and mission statements and to provide visionary leadership. Other changes give districts more flexibility in structure and staffing to reflect their wide variations of size and population. The polity changes are relevant to Section I, District Organization and Function of Chapter 3 of the denomination’s “Manual of Organization and Polity.”

A brief item recommending that polity be amended to remove a requirement for the Church of the Brethren Treasurer to be on the Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee was approved.

Additional time granted to two groups

Congregational Life Ministries staff charged with revising the Ethics for Congregations document have received two years of additional time to do their work. A hearing was held at this year’s Annual Conference, and the timeline for future action includes hearings on a first draft of revisions in 2013, with a revised document to be presented to the 2014 Conference.

A working group led by the Advocacy and Peace Witness Office received approval for another year to respond to the 2011 query “Guidance for Responding to the Changing of Earth’s Climate.” A hearing this year produced ideas for the working group, and a special exhibit on climate change was provided for Conference-goers to get information and bring questions, concerns, and feedback. The working group does not anticipate a need for revision of existing Annual Conference statements that already provide guidance for the care of Creation, but will consider ways individuals, congregations, and the denomination can take further action.

Cost of living increase recommended for pastor salaries

A 1.7 percent cost of living increase to the Minimum Cash Salary Table for pastors for 2013 was approved. The increase came as a recommendation from the Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee.

Source:7/12/2012 Newsline

Election results are announced for 2012

Moderator Tim Harvey holds up a ballot
Photo by Glenn Riegel
Moderator Tim Harvey holds up a ballot sheet as he gives instructions to the delegates before elections were held. The election results were announced today, July 9.
Election results were announced today during the Annual Conference business session. The ballot and nominees were presented to the delegate body yesterday, July 8, and the election was held this morning.

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 was presented to the Conference.

Those elected are listed by position:
Annual Conference Moderator-Elect: Nancy Sollenberger Heishman of Tipp City, Ohio.

Annual Conference Secretary: James Beckwith of Lebanon, Pa.

Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee: Christy Waltersdorff of Lombard, Ill.

Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee: Bernie Fuska of Timberville, Va.

Mission and Ministry Board: Area 1 -- Rhonda Ritenour of York, Pa. Area 2 -- J. Trent Smith of New Lebanon, Ohio.

Bethany Theological Seminary Trustee: Representing the clergy -- Paul Brubaker of Ephrata, Pa.

Representing the colleges -- Celia Cook-Huffman of Huntingdon, Pa.

Brethren Benefit Trust Board: Eric Kabler of Johnstown, Pa.

On Earth Peace Board: Cindy Weber-Han of West Chicago, Ill.
Agency appointees also were confirmed by the Conference, as follows:
On Earth Peace Board: Melisa Grandison of Quinter, Kan., and Don Mitchell of Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Bethany Theological Seminary Trustees: Christina Bucher of Elizabethtown, Pa., and Martha Farahat of Oceano, Calif.

Brethren Benefit Trust Board: Ann Quay Davis of Covina, Calif., and Thomas McCraken of York, Pa.
Source:7/12/2012 Newsline

Standing Committee makes recommendations on new business, appoints committee to update Special Response process

Conference officers consult during Standing Committee
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
The Annual Conference officers consult during Standing Committee: from left, Conference secretary Fred Swartz; moderator Tim Harvey; moderator-elect Robert Krouse.
The Standing Committee of district delegates ended pre-Annual Conference meetings today in St. Louis, Mo. Meetings began the afternoon of July 4, led by Annual Conference moderator Tim Harvey. He was assisted by moderator-elect Robert Krouse and Conference secretary Fred Swartz.

Recommendations on new business

Delegates from the Church of the Brethren’s 23 districts made recommendations to Annual Conference on new business items--one of Standing Committee’s main responsibilities. No recommendation was made on the revision to the Ministerial Leadership polity document, which is only coming for a first reading at this Annual Conference.

Query: Annual Conference Elections. Brought by La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren and Pacific Southwest District, the query cites previous Annual Conference statements upholding gender equality but a voting record showing men more likely to be elected to denominational office than women. It asks, “How will Annual Conference ensure that our ballot preparation and election process support and honor gender equality in all elections?”

Standing Committee’s recommendation to the Annual Conference is to respectfully return the query and reaffirm the call for accountability in the “Goals for Annual Conference Elections and Appointments” adopted in 1979.

Query: More Equitable Representation on the Mission and Ministry Board. Formulated by the Southern Pennsylvania District Board, the query points to inequitable representation in relationship to percentage of membership in the five areas of the denomination. It asks, “Should the bylaws of the Church of the Brethren be amended to more equitably apportion Mission and Ministry Board representation with the membership of the church?”

Standing Committee has recommended adoption of the query and that it be referred to the Mission and Ministry Board.

Church of the Brethren Vision Statement 2012-2020. Last year’s Standing Committee adopted a Vision Statement for the Church of the Brethren for this decade, and recommended that it come to the 2012 Annual Conference for adoption. Accompanying the statement are an introduction, expanded description of each phrase, related biblical texts, and a section of explanation about “Living into the Vision.” In addition, the Vision Implementation Committee prepared a packet of resources including a study guide to help congregations use the statement.

The Standing Committee recommendation in full: “Standing Committee recommends to the Annual Conference the adoption of a denominational Vision Statement for the rest of the decade as follows: ‘Through Scripture, Jesus calls us to live as courageous disciples by word and action: To surrender ourselves to God, To embrace one another, To express God’s love for all creation.’ Standing Committee further recommends this Vision Statement for study and direction.”

Conference secretary Fred Swartz
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Conference secretary Fred Swartz is marking his final Annual Conference in the position. He has served for a decade as secretary for the church's annual meeting.
Revitalization of Annual Conference. A task force charged with reviewing the mission and core values of Annual Conference and analyzing whether the meeting should remain in its present form or recommend alternatives, is bringing four recommendations: in brief, to maintain the present timing and length of the Conference, release Program and Arrangements Committee from the requirement of holding the event from Saturday evening to Wednesday morning, release polity requirements for geographical rotation to allow focus instead on locations that maximize stewardship and minimize costs, and incorporate by 2015 the recommendations of the 2007 “Doing Church Business” paper regarding management of business sessions and use of discernment groups. A “New Vision” section explains and elaborates on the recommendations and hopes for increasing the meaningfulness and inspiration of the annual meeting.

Standing Committee recommended “that Annual Conference receive the report from the Revitalization Task Force with appreciation and that the four recommendations proposed by the committee be approved.”

Revisions to Polity on Districts. The proposal for revisions to district polity comes from the Council of District Executives, which for several years has been working on revisions that will reflect updates in district structure, organization, staffing, and more. Revisions relate to a polity document that dates back to 1965, and are relevant to Section I, District Organization and Function of Chapter 3 of the denomination’s “Manual of Organization and Polity.”

Standing Committee recommended that the Conference delegates adopt the revisions to district polity.

Updating Structure for Program and Arrangements Committee. This brief item recommends that polity be amended to remove a requirement for the Church of the Brethren Treasurer to be on the Program and Arrangements Committee for Annual Conference.

Standing Committee recommended approval of the polity change.

Church of the Brethren Ecumenical Witness. A proposal to discontinue the Committee on Interchurch Relations (CIR) and “that the church’s ecumenical witness be expressed by the staff and the church at large” comes from a study committee that has been reviewing CIR’s work and the history of ecumenism in the Church of the Brethren. The proposal cites “the changing nature of ecumenism,” and makes an additional proposal that the Mission and Ministry Board and denominational Leadership Team appoint a committee to write a “Vision of Ecumenism for the 21st Century.” CIR has been in place since 1968 to carry forward conversations and activities with other church communions and encourage cooperation with other religious traditions.

The Standing Committee recommended adoption of the item, with an additional recommendation that “upon completion this vision will be brought for adoption by Annual Conference.”

Updating of Special Response procedure

Agency leaders meet with Standing Committee
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
An annual event allows time for agency leaders and a representative of the district executives to meet with Standing Committee: from left, Atlantic Northeast District executive Craig Smith, general secretary Stan Noffsinger, Bethany Seminary president Ruthann Knechel Johansen, On Earth Peace executive Bill Scheurer, Brethren Benefit Trust board chair Karen Orpurt Crim and president Nevin Dulabaum.
Standing Committee has chosen to update the Special Response procedure for highly controversial issues, following a proposal from the denomination’s Leadership Team. A significant amount of critique of the Special Response process has been received by the Leadership Team, which includes the Annual Conference officers and general secretary Stan Noffsinger.

The Special Response procedure was used for the first time a few years ago, to consider business items related to sexuality. It included a two-year denomination-wide discussion, culminating at last year’s Annual Conference in Grand Rapids.

A three-member committee has been appointed to bring suggestions for revision of the Special Response procedure to the 2013 Annual Conference: Fred Swartz, who is closing out his service as Conference secretary, and Standing Committee member Ken Frantz, both named by Standing Committee; and Dana Cassell, named by the Conference officers.

Safe space at Annual Conference

A Ministry of Reconciliation (MoR) team reported to the Standing Committee on plans to ensure safe space for all participants in Annual Conference. The moderator explained that the officers requested expansion of MoR’s usual role at Annual Conference after several incidents of harassment and threats at last year’s annual meeting.

Leslie Frye of the On Earth Peace staff reported that the 13-member MoR team includes people with skills and training in conflict mediation, chosen from a variety of backgrounds and theological points of view. The group is receiving additional training in advance of the start of Conference. They will be available throughout the venue in order to provide assistance or intervention. Conference-goers are being given a phone number to call if they require immediate assistance from the team.

Controversy surfaces during discussions

District delegates spent some hours each day in closed session, in conversation centered on the controversy over sexuality that has marked the denomination recently.

An undercurrent of controversy surfaced during open sessions as well, even in discussion of unrelated business. Issues that seemed to add tension included the granting of exhibit space for the Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests (BMC), following reaffirmation of the church’s 1983 paper on sexuality, and a series of decisions opening the possibility for BMC to be a project site for Brethren Volunteer Service.

When Standing Committee was asked to  recommend the Vision Statement to the Conference, for example, some expressed unwillingness because of concern about one sentence in the accompanying study guide and resource packet--a sentence with a phrase expressing openness to all people.

In another example Bill Scheurer, introduced as the new executive director of On Earth Peace, fielded several very critical questions about the Statement of Inclusion that his agency’s board issued last fall.

District delegates represent the church's 23 districts
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Standing Committee delegates represent the church's 23 districts, which range from Atlantic Northeast to Atlantic Southeast and Puerto Rico, from Oregon and Washington to Pacific Southwest, and all areas in between.
In a traditional time for Standing Committee to counsel with the moderator, Harvey asked for help to think through managing conversation about sexuality if it emerges on the Conference floor. He identified places in the business agenda where unhappiness with actions of agencies and Program and Arrangements Committee might arise. Advice from Standing Committee included making space for people to share their feelings frankly, making good use of time already planned for delegates to talk in table groups, and strategies for as many people as possible to join in conversation.

In other business
  • Reports were received on the two items of unfinished business--guidelines for implementation of the Congregational Ethics Paper and guidance for responding to the changing of earth’s climate. Also received were reports from the denomination’s Leadership Team, the Nominating Committee, a report on the international church, and sharing from districts.
  • New members named to Nominating Committee are Kathryn Bausman of Idaho District, Jeff Carter of Mid-Atlantic District, Kathy Mack of Northern Plains District, and J. Roger Schrock of Missouri and Arkansas District.
  • New members named to the Appeals Committee are Terry Porter of Northern Ohio District, Roger Stultz of Virlina District, and Linda Sanders of West Marva District, with R. Edward Weaver of Southern Pennsylvania District chosen as first alternate, and Margaret Pletcher of Northern Indiana District as second alternate.
Source:7/12/2012 Newsline