Thursday, January 24, 2013

Newsline: January 24, 2013

NEWS PERSONNEL UPCOMING EVENTS FEATURES BRETHREN BITS

Church of the Brethren joins in religious coalition working to end gun violence.

Church of the Brethren representative is at the press conference Jan. 15, 2013
Photo by courtesy of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence
Church of the Brethren representative Jonathan Stauffer (left) attended the press conference of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence. On Tuesday, Jan. 15, faith leaders called on President Obama and Congress to move quickly on legislation that would require background checks on all gun sales and remove military-style assault weapons from our streets.
In response to the recent tragedy in Newtown, Conn., the Church of the Brethren has been collaborating with a coalition of over 40 religious groups as a part of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence.

Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence is an alliance of religious groups that bases its work in the belief that, “Gun violence is taking an unacceptable toll on our society, in mass killings and in the constant day-to-day of senseless death. While we continue to pray for the families and friends of those who have perished, we must also support our prayers with action” (www.faithsagainstgunviolence.org ). On Martin Luther King Day 2011, 24 national faith groups announced the formation of the coalition, united by the call of faith to confront America’s gun violence epidemic and to rally support for policies that reduce death and injury from gunfire. Two years later, the coalition has grown to 40 groups representing tens of millions of Americans.

Earlier this month, Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence drafted a letter to President Obama and Congress calling on them to push for a mandatory criminal background check on all gun purchases, a ban on high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines, and to make gun trafficking a federal crime.

Church of the Brethren general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger signed this letter (see full text below) along with the heads of over 40 other religious groups including the National Council of Churches, the Presbyterian Church USA Office of Public Witness, the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the Islamic Society of North America, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Mennonite Central Committee, Sojourners, and the United Church of Christ.

On Jan. 15, representatives from many of these groups came together in Washington, D.C., for a press conference to talk publicly about gun violence and to promote the letter to political leaders. Many faith leaders spoke at the event including Sojourners’ Jim Wallis. The Church of the Brethren was represented by Jonathan Stauffer, an advocacy assistant at the denomination’s Advocacy and Peace Witness Office. The event garnered coverage in many news sources, including the “New York Times” in its “The Lede: Blogging the News with Robert Mackey” and the “Washington Post” ( www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/under-god/post/faith-leaders-launch-gun-control-push/2013/01/15/82d78632-5f2c-11e2-9940-6fc488f3fecd_blog.html ).

Vinny DeMarco, national coordinator for Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, was invited to be at the White House to represent the coalition when President Obama and Vice President Biden announced their gun violence prevention plan on Jan. 16.

In addition to the letter signed by Noffsinger and the continuing work of Advocacy and Peace Witness Ministries, Church of the Brethren members are urged to join a nationwide call-in effort to ask Congress to enact laws to help end gun violence.

On Feb. 4, many faith groups are asking their members to call representatives and senators and tell them how they feel about gun violence. “Faiths Calling: If Not Now, When?” is the name of this call-in effort organized by the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism. For more information go to http://faithscalling.com.

We are asking you to join this effort. The Church of the Brethren has taken a stance on gun violence in the past, most recently in 2010 with a “Resolution in Support of the National Council of Churches of Christ, USA: Ending Gun Violence” (www.brethren.org/about/policies/2010-gun-violence.pdf ). We must now speak up and act again, as this devastating violence cannot go on.

-- Bryan Hanger is an advocacy assistant for the Church of the Brethren and the National Council of Churches, working through Brethren Volunteer Service. Contact the church’s Advocacy and Peace Witness office in Washington, D.C., at 202-481-6931 or e-mail advocacy officer Nathan Hosler at nhosler@brethren.org.
Brethren staff who work together regularly on advocacy issues include Nathan Hosler (left), Bryan Hanger (center), and Stan Noffsinger (right)
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Church staff who work together regularly on advocacy and peace witness issues include Nathan Hosler (left), Bryan Hanger (center), and Stan Noffsinger (right). The three were photographed together at a staff gathering focused on common work toward the denomination's strategic goals.

Full text of the letter sent to Congress by Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence:

Faiths United To Prevent Gun Violence
United Methodist Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, N.E., Washington, DC

January 15, 2013

Dear Member of Congress:
On Martin Luther King Day, January 17, 2011, 24 national faith groups announced the formation of “Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence,” a diverse coalition of denominations and faith-based organizations united by the call of our faiths to confront America’s gun violence epidemic and to rally support for policies that reduce death and injury from gunfire. Two years later, we have grown to more than 40 groups representing tens of millions of Americans in faith communities across the nation--and our call to confront this epidemic has grown ever more urgent and imperative.

The recent loss in Connecticut of 20 innocent young children, of the teachers and administrators that cared for them, and of a desperately troubled young man and his mother, tears our hearts and minds to the core. Faith leaders in Newtown have been on the front line of responding to the grief and pain of the families whose loss is unimaginable, and of the entire community there. Across the country, we grieve with our own congregants and communities, and we share their determination to do all within our power to ensure that this never happens again.

In light of the tragedy in Newtown--and in Aurora, Tucson, Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Oak Creek, and so many more--we know that no more time can be wasted. Gun violence is taking an unacceptable toll on our society, in mass killings and in the constant day-to-day of senseless death. While we continue to pray for the families and friends of those who died, we must also support our prayers with action. We should do everything possible to keep guns out of the hands of people who may harm themselves or others. We should not allow firepower to kill large numbers of people in seconds anywhere in our civil society. And we should ensure that law enforcement has the tools it needs to stop the virtually unrestrained trafficking of guns.

Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence member organizations, representing millions of people across the country, urge you to respond to this crisis in our nation. With each day that goes by, dozens more of our children, parents, brothers, and sisters are lost to gun violence. We support immediate legislative action to accomplish the following:
  • Every person who buys a gun should pass a criminal background check. Preventing dangerous people from getting firearms has to be a top priority. Universal background checks via the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) should be utilized in every gun sale, including guns sold online, at gun shows, and through private sales.
  • High-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines should not be available to civilians. There is no legitimate self-defense or sporting purpose for these military-style, high-capacity weapons and magazines. They are, however, the weapons of choice for those who want to shoot and kill a large amount of people quickly. It’s time to build off of the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and draft an updated law that will take these weapons off our streets.
  • Gun trafficking should be made a federal crime. Currently, prosecutions only happen through a law that prohibits selling guns without a federal license, which carries the same punishment as trafficking chicken or livestock. We must empower law enforcement to investigate and prosecute straw purchasers, gun traffickers, and their entire criminal networks.
In recent weeks, the American people have come together in a national outpouring of grief and sympathy for the families of victims slain in the mass shooting in Newtown. We share in that grief, but will not let it substitute for action. We look forward to working with you to enact these common-sense measures to reduce gun violence. Should you or your staff have questions or need additional information, please visit our website at www.faithsagainstgunviolence.org or contact our National Coordinator, Vincent DeMarco, by email at demarco@mdinitiative.org or by phone at 410-591-9162.

Find this letter, and the complete list of the faith leaders who have signed it, at www.faithsagainstgunviolence.org.

Source: 1/24/2013 Newsline

BVS marks milestones of Unit 300, 65th year.

BVS Logo with TextBrethren Volunteer Service (BVS) is marked by two key milestones in 2013: the 65th anniversary of the program’s enactment by Annual Conference, and the volunteer Unit 300.

Starting orientation at Camp Ithiel in Florida on Sunday, Unit 300 is composed of eight volunteers. The new unit will complete orientation on Feb. 15. BVS friends and alumni are invited to a potluck with Unit 300 at Camp Ithiel at 6 p.m. on Feb. 5.

The new recruits bring to approximately 7,000 the number of individuals who have entered BVS since its inaugural in 1948. Currently 80 BVS workers are on assignment throughout the US and in a number of countries around the world including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, El Salvador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Japan, and South Sudan. Four are based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., serving in the workcamp ministry, the Youth and Young Adult Office, and in the BVS office.

Establishing a record at the BVS helm is Dan McFadden, who has begun his 18th year as director. Of the 10 leaders who have headed the program, McFadden holds by far the longest tenure. His staff coworkers include Kristin Flory, who has served for 25 years as coordinator of Brethren Service in Europe; Callie Surber, who has served for five years as coordinator of orientation; Todd Bauer, representing BVS in Latin America; and Emily Tyler, BVS recruitment staff who also is coordinator of the workcamp ministry.

BVS directors since 1948 (although all who held this position directed BVS, the title has varied over the years):
Ora Huston, 1948-59
Joel Thompson, 1960
Rodney Davis, 1961-64
Wilbur Mullen, 1965-69
Charles Boyer, 1970-76
Joanne Nesler, 1977-80
Joyce Stolzfus, 1981-87
Jan Schrock, 1987-94
Ivan Fry (interim), 1994-95
Dan McFadden, 1995 to present.
BVS orientation or training leaders since 1948:
Ed Crill, 1948-51
Rodney Davis, 1951-52
Dale Aukerman, 1952-53
Ivan Fry, 1953-57
Robert Mock, 1958-60
Albert Huston, 1961
Don Snider, 1961-69
Ron Hanft, 1969-73
Willard Dulabaum, 1974-77
Jan Mason, 1977-79
Beverly Weaver, 1979-83
Joe Detrick, 1984-88
Debbie Eisenbise, 1989-92
Tammy Krause, 1992-94
Todd Reish, 1994-98
Sue Grubb, 1998-2002
Karen Roberts, 2002-04
Genelle Wine, 2004-07
Callie Surber, 2007 to present.
-- Howard Royer is retired from many years on the staff of the Church of the Brethren. He wrote this article originally for the Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren newsletter. Dan McFadden provided the lists of BVS directors and orientation/training leaders.

Source: 1/24/2013 Newsline

‘3,000 Miles for Peace’ campaign honors cyclist, raises funds for violence prevention.

“Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step” -- Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
Masthead image for the 3,000 Miles for Peace campaign of On Earth PeaceWith that quote, On Earth Peace has announced a new campaign dedicated to the memory of Paul Ziegler, a Church of the Brethren college student who died in a bicycle-automobile accident in McPherson, Kan., last September. The campaign, “3,000 Miles for Peace,” will help On Earth Peace raise funds for violence prevention efforts.

“I really believe what Martin Luther King, Jr., said about taking the first step,” writes Bob Gross, director of development for On Earth Peace, in an announcement. “Right now, with wars in Afghanistan and Mali and Syria, with shootings in Colorado and Connecticut, with economic violence destroying people's lives, it is easy for me to be discouraged. That is when I need to hear Dr. King's counsel just to take the first step. And I know I'm not alone. There are so many of us who are choosing to step toward a more peaceful world--a more peaceful life for ourselves and for all God's children.”

Ziegler, who was a sophomore at McPherson College, was planning a 3,000-mile bicycle ride across the country in 2015, for peace, reports Elizabeth Schallert, project coordinator for 3,000 Miles for Peace. The campaign is to begin March 1 and end May 5 with a closing event in Elizabethtown, Pa., in honor of Paul Ziegler. “It's a way for all of us to take another step toward peace and justice. It's people standing up and saying that violence will not have the last word.”

On Earth Peace encourages people to join the campaign by organizing bicycle rides and walks this spring to raise up a message of peace and to help prevent violence. Schallert emphasizes that the campaign is for everyone. “It can be anyone!” she notes. “Church groups, individuals, families, peace groups. Who can you think of to join you?”

Individuals and groups can organize their own walk, roll, or ride, participate in one in their area, be a sponsor for someone else, or simply raise funds online without coordinating an event. Already, more than a dozen events are planned in at least nine states.

Gross himself is planning a long-distance walk from March 21-May 3, walking from North Manchester, Ind., to Elizabethtown, Pa. The walk of approximately 650 miles will take six weeks. “Along the way I will meet and talk with people in churches, colleges, and anywhere I can,” he says. “I'll be writing a blog as I journey, so you might be interested to follow my walk online.”

The blog address is http://3kmp.tumblr.com/tagged/USbob. Find out more about “3,000 Miles for Peace” at http://3kmp.tumblr.com/3kmp and view a video introduction at http://3kmp.tumblr.com.

Source: 1/24/2013 Newsline

BBT’s free financial and stewardship workshops can help your congregation.

Brethren Benefit Trust BBT workshop
Photo by Brian Solem
How can you offer your congregation or district assistance with financial matters? By asking the Church of the Brethren’s finance and benefits agency, Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT), to lead a free workshop.

Sessions about financial management, retirement planning, stewardship, long-term care, and more are available to Brethren congregations, districts, and Brethren-affiliated employer groups.

Not only do BBT’s workshops offer sound guidance on difficult topics, but they do so with a uniquely Brethren approach.

“Bringing financial guidance within the congregation is a good way for people to get the information that they may be looking for,” said Lynnae Rodeffer, a workshop leader for BBT. “It’s also helpful to keep it in a biblical context.”

BBT provides 12 different workshops that can be tailored to the needs of churches, district gatherings, retirement community employees, and other Church of the Brethren-affiliated communities. These sessions are free and subject to BBT staff availability.

BBT has added several workshops to its list for 2013, including:
  • “Living and Leaving Your Legacy” -- Come and explore the different ways that you can give a gift to your local congregation, district, or other Church of the Brethren-related organization--either now or in the future. We will talk about charitable gift funds and deferred gifts, along with other gifting options.
  • “It’s More Than Counting the Cash and Paying the Bills” -- It’s not just about counting the offering and writing checks--there is so much more involved in being a church treasurer. We will offer helpful guidance and tips to church treasurers about how best to fulfill those duties for their churches. Watch a preview of this session at www.youtube.com/brethrenbenefittrust .
  • “Your Church as a Small Business” -- Managing the business side of a church can be challenging, but this presentation for congregations will help empower church leaders to feel confident in their financial and human resources decisions. Learn about best practices in financial management; health care reform and the church; the latest pastoral housing issues; and taxation, compensation, and retirement issues. This presentation is designed for pastors, church treasurers, financial secretaries, stewardship and finance committee members, and others involved with managing the business side of a church.
Visit www.brethrenbenefittrust.org/workshops to read the complete list. To learn more about hosting a workshop at your church, district event, or organization, contact Loyce Swartz Borgmann at 800-746-1505 ext. 364 or lborgmann@cobbt.org.

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

Source: 1/24/2013 Newsline

Nigerian Brethren headquarters hosts Girl’s Brigade training.

The crest of the Girl's Brigade, an international Christian organization started in Ireland in 1893 The Girl’s Brigade held a one-week training at the headquarters of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) aimed to equip young leaders with responsibilities of nurturing the upcoming girls. The Girl’s Brigade is an international organization that could be likened to the Girl Scouts in the United States.

The training was meant for the ranks of “Warrant Officer” and “Lieutenant Officer” and was given to young women from 62 Girl’s Brigade districts.

Coordinator Ruth Danladi said the training contained “commanding, how to establish new company, how to tell what Girl’s Brigade is.” The trained sat for written and practical examinations for their certificates at the end.

The essence, Danladi said, is to move girls to grow in fear of God, promote the group in churches, and give the ability of or opportunity for teenage girls and young women to make decisions for themselves and shape their own lives in return. Danladi added that they expect the trained to yield more new companies and officers who would come for the next similar course.

One of the participants, Jimre Bitrus, added that they were coached to command and drill, which concluded with exams.

The Girl’s Brigade is one of the seven church groups in EYN that exist in almost all of the local churches across the country.

-- Zakariya Musa reports on activities of the Nigerian Brethren for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria.

Source: 1/24/2013 Newsline

Delegation from China visits Fahrney-Keedy retirement community.

A Chinese delegation visits Fahrney-Keedy Home, 2013
Photo by Fahrney-Keedy
A delegation from Guangzhou City in China visited Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village on Jan. 14. The purpose of the visit was to experience a premier senior-care-provider in Washington County, Md., tour the facilities, and discuss how senior-care services are delivered in the United States.

Keith Bryan, president and CEO of Fahrney-Keedy, welcomed the group to the community. Six high-level Chinese government officials engaged in conversation through an interpreter, discussing a variety of subjects such as quality of care, funding programs, and allocation of resources. During the tour of the community, the delegation had the opportunity to meet with staff and residents.

The visit was coordinated by John Brantley, associate dean of Workforce Development at Kaplan University, Hagerstown, Md. Susan MacDonald, director of the Washington County Commission on Aging, and Dave Engle, director of Social Services for Washington County, accompanied the group.

A Church of the Brethren continuing care retirement community, Fahrney-Keedy is along Route 66 a few miles west of Boonsboro, Md. With nearly 160 full- and part-time employees, it serves a resident population of more than 200 women and men in independent living, assisted living, and long- and short-term nursing care. Fahrney-Keedy is committed to enhancing the lives of seniors through caring quality service. For more information, contact Deborah Haviland, director of Marketing, at 301-671-5038; or Linda Reed, director of Admissions, at 301-671-5007.

(This report is from a press release provided by Fahrney-Keedy staff members Michael Leiter and Glen Sargent.)

Source: 1/24/2013 Newsline

Volunteers prepare $100,000 Christmas gift for hurricane victims--and set record.

Brethren Disaster Relief Auction bucket assembly 2012, 1,000 emergency clean up buckets assembled in 60 minutes!
Photo by David Farmer
On Dec. 14, 2012, 150 Brethren Disaster Relief Auction (BDRA) volunteers from the Atlantic Northeast and Southern Pennsylvania Districts assembled 1,000 Emergency Clean-up Buckets for victims of Hurricane Sandy at Florin Church of the Brethren in Mt. Joy, Pa.--and they did it in 60 minutes.

A clean-up bucket is a large plastic bucket tightly filled with 58 items needed by people to clean up after a disaster. It includes such items as cleaning supplies, detergents, disinfectants, trash bags, gloves, insect repellents, and other items needed after a natural disaster.

The assembly of 1,000 Emergency Clean-up Buckets at one place and one time had never been attempted before. Most are donated in smaller amounts by churches or individuals. Last May, 500 were assembled at the same location in two hours. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the auction assembled 30,000 school kits in three hours during the annual auction at Lebanon (Pa.) Expo Center. This feat has not been duplicated since.

The estimated assembled value of the 1,000 buckets is $100, 000.

Hurricane Sandy caused wide-spread destruction to New York and New Jersey in October. Even though the auction is held once a year in September, its charitable activities continue year-round, including sending volunteers to areas affected by natural and man-made disasters.

The BDRA of the Atlantic Northeast and Southern Pennsylvania Districts was founded in 1977 and has raised more than $12,000,000 for disaster relief, both domestically and internationally. The website for the auction is www.brethrendisasterreliefauction.org .


-- David L. Farmer submitted this report to Newsline.

Source: 1/24/2013 Newsline

Bridgewater College selects David Bushman as new president.

David W. Bushman named president of Bridgewater College, January 2013
Photo by courtesy of Bridgewater College
The Bridgewater (Va.) College Board of Trustees has unanimously selected David W. Bushman as ninth president of the college.

Bushman, dean of the School of Natural Science and Mathematics at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md., will assume the presidency on June 1. An accomplished academic leader, Bushman was selected following a national search and brings to Bridgewater College extensive experience in higher education administration and in the classroom.

Bushman has been with Mount St. Mary’s University since 2009, when he was appointed the founding dean of the School of Natural Science and Mathematics. In this role, he oversees numerous academic programs and new academic program development as well as strategic and communications planning and fundraising.

Prior to leading Mount St. Mary’s School of Natural Science and Mathematics, Bushman was president of Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, N.C., where he oversaw a successful bid for re-accreditation from Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and developed and implemented a new strategic plan, engaged in a number of significant campus renovation projects, implemented curricular and co-curricular enhancements, and increased its freshman retention rate.

“Our search has led us to the next great leader of Bridgewater College,” said Judge G. Steven Agee, Bridgewater trustee and chair of the search committee. “We are confident that Dr. Bushman is a man with the integrity, leadership skills and academic credentials needed to guide our college into the future.”

Before joining Lees-McRae in 2004, Bushman served in a variety of roles at Mount St. Mary’s, including dean of academic services, director of assessment, chair of the department of science, and associate professor of biology. He earned a bachelor of science degree in biology, summa cum laude, from Loyola College in Maryland. He graduated from the University of Maryland with both a master of science and a doctorate in entomology. Upon completion of his doctorate, he worked in private industry as a research biologist and research fellow. He has been published in the field of entomology as well as undergraduate science education.

He has served as an executive committee member for North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, and was a board member for the Edgar Tufts Memorial Association. In addition, he has served as a campus site visit member for SACS re-accreditation.

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

Source: 1/24/2013 Newsline

Part 2 of ‘Living Biblical Vision’ webinar is Jan. 29.

The second part of a webinar on “Living the Biblical Vision of a Multi-Voiced Church” will be offered Jan. 29 as a collaborative resource from Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries and the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership.

The webinar is offered online on Jan. 29 at 12 noon-1:30 p.m. (Pacific time) or 3-4:30 p.m. (eastern time). There is no pre-registration and no fee required to attend the online event. Participants may earn .15 continuing education units for attending the live sessions.

“The New Testament indicates that the early churches were multi-voiced, participative, and expected that the Holy Spirit would speak through all the members of the community,” said an announcement of the webinar. “First-generation renewal movements (such as the Anabaptists) have typically been multi-voiced as well, recovering this New Testament characteristic. But institutionalization has persistently reduced such diversity of participation and resulted in many aspects of church life becoming mono-voiced or restricted to only a few voices. The webinars will survey mono-voiced and multi-voiced expressions of church. Murray Williams will offer insights and engage participants in a discussion on the biblical and missional basis advocating for a multi-voiced church, and exploring practical ways of developing multi-voiced communities today.”

The presenter is Stuart Murray Williams, founder of Urban Expression, a pioneering church planting agency with teams in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, and the US. Regarded as one of the world’s leading advocates for contemporary forms of Anabaptism, he is a scholar, trainer, mentor, writer, strategist, and consultant with particular interest in urban mission, church planting, and emerging forms of church. He holds a doctorate in Anabaptist hermeneutics and is an associate lecturer at the Baptist College in Bristol. His books on church planting, urban mission, and the contribution of the Anabaptist tradition to contemporary missiology include “The Power of All” and “The Naked Anabaptist.”

For more information about the webinar contact Stan Dueck at 800-323-8039 ext. 343 or sdueck@brethren.org.

Source: 1/24/2013 Newsline

Service Sunday is scheduled for February 3.

Service Sunday poster for 2013 “Let Your Light Shine” is the theme for the Church of the Brethren’s 2013 Service Sunday. The theme comes from Matthew 5:14-16, which closes, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to God in heaven.”

This annual event celebrates the Church of the Brethren tradition of engaging in acts of service as disciples of Jesus Christ. Sponsored by Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS), Service Sunday worship resources are available online.

Resources for 2013 include:
  • a call to worship by Rachel Witkovsky
  • an invocation by Rachel Witkovsky
  • scripture jams by Tricia Ziegler, Katie Cummings, and Rachel Witkovsky
  • the poem “Simply Living” by Rachel Witkovsky
  • a meditation titled “Why?’ by Margaret Hughes
Also available are a poster, a PowerPoint presentation of Service Sunday photos that may be downloaded from the denominational website, as well as worship resources from previous years. Go to www.brethren.org/servicesunday.

Source: 1/24/2013 Newsline

Children’s Disaster Services offers workshops in Georgia, Connecticut.

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) is holding volunteer training workshops in Georgia and Connecticut in February and March, respectively. An article about the recent--and first--CDS workshop in Connecticut is at http://canton-ct.patch.com/articles/group-learns-how-to-help-children-in-the-midst-of-a-crisis. The piece title “Group Learns How to Help Children in the Midst of a Disaster” reports on the event held Jan. 18-19 that trained 26 people, and how the “CT Project” is working to bring CDS to the state.

Participants in a CDS workshop learn to provide comfort and encouragement to children by offering the healing young children need in traumatic situations. The CDS workshop experience teaches how to create a safe, friendly environment that gives children the chance to engage in therapeutic play activities designed to relieve stress and calm fears. Most workshops also include a simulated shelter experience (an overnight stay) for adults interested in working with children after a disaster. Participants completing the course will have the opportunity to become certified CDS volunteers.

A workshop in Norcross, Ga., is planned for Feb. 18-21 at the Lodge at Simpsonwood Conference and Retreat Center. This workshop is in conjunction with a Disaster Academy coordinated by UMCOR, a United Methodist relief organization, and the Southeast Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. The schedule varies from the usual 2-day, 27-hour format of CDS workshops. In addition to the registration fee of $45 the cost for room and board ranges from $228 (double) to $458 (single). A minimum registration number of 15 people is required by Jan. 28 for this workshop to be conducted. Go to www.brethren.org/cds/training/dates.html for more information.

A workshop in Stratford, Conn., is planned for March 15-16. The event will be held at the Stratford Municipal Center. Registration costs $45. To express interest, contact local coordinator Bruce Lockwood at lockwoodbruce@comcast.net or 860 883-4280, or contact the Children’s Disaster Services office at CDS@Brethren.org or 800-451-4407, option 5.

More information about CDS workshops is online at www.brethren.org/cds.

Source: 1/24/2013 Newsline

King James Bible exhibition visits Elizabethtown College.

Manifold Greatness, exhibit on King James Bible“Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible,” a traveling exhibition opening Feb. 2 at the High Library at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, celebrates the 400th anniversary of the first printing of the King James Bible in 1611 and examines its fascinating and complex history.

Elizabethtown College is one of 40 sites across 27 states displaying the exhibition and the sole location in Pennsylvania where the public can experience it. Visit www.manifoldgreatness.org for detailed information about the exhibition.

In addition to the exhibition, the High Library will showcase four displays of historical texts and bibles including the High Library c.1599 copy of the Geneva Bible from the Elizabethtown College special collections. Additional items will be shown from the special collections of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies including the 1712 Marburg Bible, a mystic and prophetic Bible, as well as the Behrleburg folio, which includes a Bible and related commentary from the 1730s.

The exhibit was organized by the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C., and the American Library Association Public Programs Office. It is based on an exhibition of the same name developed by the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, with assistance from the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas. The traveling exhibition was made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The story behind the King James Bible remains little known, despite the book's enormous fame. Translated over several years by six committees of England's top scholars, the King James Bible became the most influential English translation of the Bible and one of the most widely read books in the world. For many years, it was the predominant English-language Bible in the US. Many of those whose lives have been affected by the King James Bible may not realize that less than a century before it was produced, the very idea of the Bible translated into English was considered dangerous and even criminal.

Equally compelling is the story of the book's reception over the centuries, and how it came to be so ubiquitous. Essential to this story is the profound influence that the King James Bible has had on personal lives and local communities. For example, the Bible became a place for many families to record births, deaths, marriages, and other important events in their history. The King James Bible also has had a broad literary influence. Many authors have demonstrated the influence of its language and style on their work. The words of the King James are heard in a diversity of contexts, from Handel's “Messiah” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” to the words of the Apollo 8 astronauts as they orbited the Moon on Christmas Eve 1968.

"We are delighted to have been selected as a site for this exhibition," said BethAnn Zambella, director of the High Library, which is sponsoring a number of free programs for the public to view the exhibition:
  • Feb. 2, 2 p.m., Opening Reception in the Winters Alcove at the High Library, featuring light refreshment, live music, and guest lecturer Jeffrey Bach, director of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, speaking on "In the Beginning Was the Word."
  • Feb. 6, 4 p.m., “Shakespeare, Literature and the Language of the King James Bible,” a panel discussion held in the Winters Alcove, with Christina Bucher, professor of Religious Studies; Suzanne Webster Roberson, associate professor of English; and Louis Martin, professor of English.
  • Feb. 7, 4 p.m., “The Bible as Art” at the Brinser Lecture Room in Steinman Hall, a lecture by Patricia Ricci, associate professor of History of Art and director of the Fine Arts Division.
  • Feb. 20, 7 p.m., “The King James Version: Your Family Bible Memories” at the Elizabethtown Public Library. The public is invited to “bring your well-worn, dog-eared, marked-up, under-lined copy of the King James Version” and be prepared to share favorite passages.
  • Feb. 21, 4:30 p.m., Closing Reception in the Winters Alcove at the High Library, featuring college librarian BethAnn Zambella speaking on this unique exhibit and its impact for future generations. The Manifold Greatness exhibition will close at 5:30 p.m. Visit www.etown.edu for more information.
-- Amy Mountain is director of Communications for Elizabethtown College.

Source: 1/24/2013 Newsline

One-minute message: OBE? OBJ!

Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren features short messages from pastor Paul Mundey in its weekly e-mail newsletter. Here is last week’s “one-minute message”:
 
A few weeks ago, I included one of my favorite scripture verses in a sermon, Romans 8:37-39: “In all things we are more than conquerors through [the God] who loves...[and wins. For] ...neither death, nor life, neither angels, nor demons...neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, is able to separate us from the love [the power, the strength, the courage, the victory] that is [ours] in Christ Jesus our Lord....”

A key word in these verses is the word separate. It’s a wrenching word which means literally to divide, to put asunder, to tear apart. But that’s exactly what evil does: it tries to divide, to put asunder, to tear apart. Specifically it tries to tear us apart from the triumph of God.

Persons have communicated through abbreviations for eons, most recently in three-letter abbreviations. LOL: laughing out loud. GTG: got to go. TMI: too much information. OBE: overcome by events. That last abbreviation, in particular, registers, for we are OBE, overcome by events.

And so awhile back, I decided to do something about it; to invent my own abbreviation: OBJ: overcome by Jesus! For we do live in an OBE world, but we’re called to be an OBJ people--overcome not by events, but by Jesus, who ultimately overcomes all! For nothing in “all creation is able to separate us from...[His] love [and power] (Romans 8:37-39).

-- Pastor Paul Mundey serves Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren. Read the reflection and view the church newsletter at http://bbemaildelivery.com/bbext/?p=land&id=D384171E736B0FC0E040730A07096402 .

Source: 1/24/2013 Newsline

Brethren bits.

  • Marvin W. Thill, 78, a former district executive in the Church of the Brethren, died on Dec. 19, 2012, at his home in Stockton, Ill. He was a retired ordained Church of the Brethren minister who served as served as Missouri/Arkansas District executive as well as pastor of a number of congregations in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Washington State. He also was a supporter of the denomination’s older adult ministry and instrumental in coordinating bus transportation to National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) for hundreds of older adults. He was born April 25, 1934, the son of William and Ruth (Bruss) Thill. He was a graduate of Stockton High School and Olivet Nazarene University. He married Betty Folkens on Aug. 12, 1954. In 1997 he retired to the Stockton area and served as pastor in the area of Freeport, Ill. He enjoyed raising sheep, back packing in the Cascade Mountains, photography, making post cards, master gardening, and raising corgis. He is survived by his wife Betty; two daughters, Kristin Thill (Mark McKenzie) of Oregon City, Ore., and Lisa Thill (Gordon Franck) of Columbia, Mo.; three sons, Curtis Thill (Yolanda Yoder) of Paoli, Ind., Byron Thill of Seattle, Wash., and Jeffrey (Karin) Thill of Orlando, Fla.; and grandchildren. A memorial service was held at Wesley United Methodist Church in Stockton. Memorial contributions are received to his favorite charities: Heifer International and On Earth Peace. Condolences and remembrances may be sent to the family at www.hermannfuneralhome.com .
  • Todd Lilley of Bridgewater, Va., has been hired as Bridgewater College’s director of institutional advancement. Lilley brings an extensive background in development and fundraising, and will begin in early March. He has been serving at the Bridgewater Retirement Community as vice president for development. As director of institutional advancement, Lilley will oversee planning, coordination, and implementation of fundraising programs and alumni activities. He earned his bachelor’s degree in management and organizational development from Eastern Mennonite University and his master’s degree in religion and leadership from Liberty University. He is currently a doctoral candidate in organizational leadership at Shenandoah University. He is senior pastor at Mount Olivet United Brethren Church in Mt. Solon, Va.
  • The Church of the Brethren’s Atlantic Southeast District seeks a district executive minister for a part-time position available July 1. The district includes comprises 17 congregations and 2 fellowships in Florida and 8 congregations and 2 fellowships in Puerto Rico. The district is culturally, ethnically, and theologically diverse. Its congregations are rural, suburban, and urban. The district has a strong interest in new church development and church renewal. Consideration is being given to separating Puerto Rico into its own district. The preferred candidate is a spiritually wise pastoral leader who offers inspiration and works collaboratively to envision the work of the district. The district office currently is located in Sebring, Fla. Responsibilities include serving as administrator of the board of the district, facilitating and giving general oversight to the planning and implementation of its ministries as directed by the District Conference and the District Board, and providing linkages to congregations, the Church of the Brethren denomination, and Annual Conference agencies; assisting congregations and pastors with placement; facilitating and encouraging the calling and credentialing of persons to set-apart ministry; building and strengthening relationships with congregations and pastors; using mediation skills to work with congregations in conflict; promoting unity in the district. Qualifications include a clear commitment to Jesus Christ demonstrated by a vibrant spiritual life with a commitment to New Testament values and to the Church of the Brethren faith and heritage; membership in the Church of the Brethren required, ordination preferred; bachelor’s degree required, master of divinity degree or beyond preferred; pastoral experience preferred; bi-lingual preferred; strong communication, mediation, and conflict resolution skills; strong administrative, organizational, and computer skills; passion for mission and ministry of the church, with an appreciation for cultural diversity; flexibility in working with staff, volunteer, pastoral, and lay leadership. Apply by sending a letter of interest and a resume via e-mail to OfficeofMinistry@brethren.org . Applicants are requested to contact 3 or 4 people to provide a letter of reference. Upon receipt of a resume a Candidate Profile will be sent that must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. The application deadline is March 25.
  • Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) seeks an accountant for a temporary, part-time salaried position based in Elgin, Ill. BBT is an agency of the Church of the Brethren and a not-for-profit organization that provides Pension, Foundation, and Insurance services for 6,000 members and clients nationwide. Function: To support the director of Financial Operations with planned projects and assist the Finance Department staff with financial operations. Scope of duties: Responsibilities include establishing financial reports and budget in Great Plains accounting software; preparing audit schedules; assisting with year-end and month-end closings; assisting with transition from in-house to outsourced pension record-keeping system; and assisting with monthly reconciliation of investments, checking register and bank accounts, and daily valuation of Pension and Foundation funds. Additional responsibilities include confirming trading activity of mutual fund shares for Pension and Foundation investments; providing backup for payroll, accounts payable, and accounts receivable; conducting internal audits and testing for accuracy and compliance within each program offered by BBT; and other duties assigned by the director of Financial Operations. Knowledge/experience: BBT is seeking candidates with an undergraduate degree in accounting, business, or related fields. A CPA is preferred. Requirements include proficiency in Great Plains accounting software and Microsoft Office, demonstrated accounting competency related to not-for-profit/corporate financial transaction processing, as well as strong verbal and written communications skills. Current and active membership in the Church of the Brethren is preferred; current and active membership in a faith community is required. Salary and benefits are competitive with Church Benefits Association agencies of comparable size and scope of services. A full benefits package is included. Apply by sending a letter of interest, resume, three references (one supervisor or professor/teacher, one colleague, one friend), and salary range expectation to Donna March at 1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120, or dmarch@cobbt.org . For questions or clarification about the position, please call 847-622-3371. For more information about Brethren Benefit Trust, visit www.brethrenbenefittrust.org .
  • General secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger is one of 36 Christian leaders of national denominations and organizations calling upon President Obama to urgently redouble his efforts for meaningful progress in the realization of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, according to a release from Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP). “This new year is also our new beginning, our opportunity to act upon our conviction that God can ‘make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert’ (Isaiah 43:19). Working together, Christians, Jews, and Muslims; Americans, Palestinians and Israelis can find a way to take steps that lead to a just, durable, and comprehensive end to the conflict. As followers of Jesus we can take action in hope that peace is possible, God can make a way, and we must do our part through prayer and action,” the release said. Find the full text of the letter at www.cmep.org/sites/default/files/letter%20to%20the%20President%20Jan%202013.pdf .
  • The National Council of Churches (NCC) has issued an update on its recent work on gun violence prevention. “No one could have anticipated the tragedy in Newtown, nor the once-in-a-generation conviction it is creating in the public and on Capitol Hill to change our nation's policies on gun violence prevention. We have gathered our member communions so that together, we can provide a needed moral voice on this issue,” said the e-mail report from Cassandra Carmichael, director of the NCC’s Washington Office. “So far, here's what we have accomplished,” she reports: issued a media statement immediately after the Newtown shootings, sharing a 2010 resolution on Gun Violence Prevention; consolidated prayer, pastoral, and action resources from member communions and used them to promote the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath; convened member communions' staff and stakeholders who work on gun violence issues; shared the NCC perspective on gun violence prevention at a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden; participated in two gun violence prevention media events, one at the National Cathedral in December and one at the United Methodist Building across from the US Capitol in January. Biden “told us in earnest that the faith community will raise the most important and authoritative voice in our nation's conversations on gun violence prevention,” Carmichael added. The NCC plans therefore to galvanize as much of its constituency as possible to participate in an interfaith Gun Violence Prevention call-in day to Congress on Feb. 4. For more information go to www.ncccusa.org/SHaction.html .
  • The 2013 Global Mission and Service workcamp to Nigeria includes participants Jay Wittmeyer, missions executive, and Fern Dews of N. Canton, Ohio. The two will travel to Nigeria Jan. 27 to help with construction of a wall surrounding and enclosing the EYN Secondary School, a ministry of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). They will work with students at the school, meet with EYN leadership and members, and travel to nearby places important to Brethren history in Nigeria. In response to ongoing violence in Nigeria, the two will carry letters of support gathered from churches and individuals from across the US, addressed to EYN leaders and members. To read more about Nigeria, visit www.brethren.org/partners/nigeria . The Global Mission and Service workcamp to South Sudan is scheduled for April 20-28. Find application materials and more information at www.brethren.org/partners/workcamp.html . All application materials are due to the Global Mission and Service office by March 8.
Black Rock Church of the Brethren celebrates 275 years
Photo by courtesy of Black Rock Church of the Brethren
  • “Celebrating 275 years!! Black Rock Church unveils anniversary sign,” says a note from pastor Dave Miller announcing that Black Rock of the Brethren, established in 1738, is celebrating its 275th year of serving Christ and community in Southern Pennsylvania District. “Black Rock was the fourth Church of the Brethren planted in North America and the first west of the Susquehanna River,” he adds. Throughout 2013 the congregation will hold events that celebrate the church’s past legacy, communicate its present activity, and outline a vision for the future. Plans are under way for a Spring Fair with food and fun for all ages, a summer focus on service to the community launched with a Vacation Bible School on the theme of peace, a Fall Festival and Homecoming Weekend, and more. Black Rock Church is located near the Pennsylvania-Maryland state line in Glenville, Pa. For more information contact 717-637-6170 or blackrockcob@comcast.net or go to www.blackrockchurch.org .
  • White Rock Church of the Brethren at Carthage in Floyd County, Va., this year is celebrating its 125th anniversary of becoming a congregation.
  • Lincolnshire Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., holds a 13th annual “Taste of Chocolate” on Feb. 9. First seating is 5-6:30 p.m. Second seating is 7-8:30 p.m. Tickets are $9 for adults, $5 for ages 4-10, free for age 3 and under. Proceeds go to youth ministry. Contact the church office at 260-456-1993.
  • Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren is hosting lunch and supper events featuring “Shrove Tuesday Pancakes,” in an annual pre-Lenten fellowship meal sponsored by the Bridgewater Home Auxiliary. The lunch is Feb. 12, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and supper will be served from 4-7 p.m. Cost is a free-will donation to support the work of the auxiliary in serving residents of the Bridgewater Home.
  • Steve Crain, campus pastor at McPherson (Kan.) College, will lead sessions at the next Western Plains District Leadership Training event on Feb. 7-9. Crain, who is ordained in the Church of the Brethren and trained both at Fuller Theological Seminary and the University of Notre Dame where he earned a doctorate in theology, will lead the district in focusing on its statement of vision: “Rooted Together in Love to Be Christ’s Transforming Hope and Power.” A district announcement reported that participants will seek to answer the question, “How do we become a community in which Christ’s transforming hope and power can ‘take flesh’?” Sessions will include small group exercises in meditation and reflection, idea-building, and group spiritual direction. Contact the district office, 620-241-4240 or wpdcb@sbcglobal.net .
  • Pastors in Northern Plains District are joining together in a new project to preach on the denominational vision statement. “Central Iowa Brethren pastors meet once a month to share how our ministries are going and how we are doing personally,” writes pastor Laura Leighton-Harris of Peace Church of the Brethren. “At the October meeting we reviewed the Church of the Brethren Vision Statement passed by the 2012 Annual Conference and decided we would each preach a four-part sermon series on it during January.... We also invited the other pastors in Northern Plains District to join us." The group is working together via e-mail, sharing scripture reflections, sermon ideas, worship plans, hymns, etc. Quite a few pastors are doing the preaching series and sharing their thoughts and plans by e-mail, she reports. "This has been a very rewarding experience and we are discussing future collaborative sermon series." Find the denominational Vision Statement and related resources at www.brethren.org/about/vision.html .
  • Camp Eder near Fairfield, Pa., offers a Winter Camp for children and youth on Feb. 8-10. The theme is “All Things New” (Genesis 1). Cost is $75. For more information go to www.campeder.org/winter-camp .
  • Camp Mack near Milford, Ind., has released its 2013 events, retreats, and summer camps brochure. “God Makes All Things New” is the 2013 Camp Mack theme, taken from Isaiah 41:19.

    “Check out the first events of the year,” invites the camp in a Facebook post. “Our first quilt retreat of the year is Feb. 14-17.” For more information go to www.campmack.org/files/adult_and_family_forms_info/Winter_Quilt_Reteat_2013.pdf .
  • McPherson (Kan.) College is offering more than $80,000 in prizes for Kansas high school entrepreneurs in its second “Jump Start Kansas” program. Every year, “Jump Start Kansas”--created and hosted by McPherson College--awards two grand-prize grants of $5,000 to a Kansas high school student or team of students who present the best entrepreneurial idea. One grant is given in the area of commercial entrepreneurship, and one for social entrepreneurship. The grants come with no stipulation that the high school students attend McPherson College, said a release. The grand prize winners may receive a $20,000 scholarship to McPherson College across four years. All students for the remaining eight finalist ideas will be offered a $4,000, four-year scholarship to attend the college. Students can enter with their ideas between now and Jan. 28 at www.mcpherson.edu/jumpstartkansas .
  • Living Stream Church of the Brethren, a new online church in Pacific Northwest District, has launched a video contest. The church seeks submissions of spiritual or scripture-based videos for its Lenten worship services, according to an announcement from pastor Audrey deCoursey. The contest is open to all and seeks original content in music, photography, animation, interviews, and more to reach its audience of roughly 100 people each week. Submission guidelines are available at www.livingstreamcob.org . Living Stream worships live on Sunday evenings, and participated in the National Council of Churches’ Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath. Now in its second month of weekly worship, the ministry has reached worshipers in over a dozen states and four countries, deCoursey reports. She is working with Portland Peace Church of the Brethren as the ministry grows to provide community and encouragement to persons who may not have a connection to another congregation. For more information, e-mail contact@livingstreamcob.org .
  • The Bittersweet Gospel Band was in Puerto Rico from Jan. 14-21 for the Annual Assemblea of the Churches of the Brethren in Puerto Rico, held this year at CastaƱer Iglesias de los Hermanos. The band included Gilbert Romero from Los Angeles, Calif.; Dan and Abby Shaffer from western Pennsylvania; Leah Hileman from Florida; Trey Curry and Scott Duffey from Staunton, Va. Duffey delivered the message for the opening worship based on the conference theme from Isaiah 40:9, "Lift Up Your Voice." The band played four worship concerts while in Puerto Rico, including concerts at the congregations at Arecibo and Bayamon, and at a rehabilitation center. At Bayamon, the band presented a guitar as a gift to the congregation from Staunton Church of the Brethren. Lillian Reyes, pastor of the Bayamon church, “received the gift and immediately passed it on to a teenage girl in the congregation who has expressed a desire to take guitar lessons and play for church, but she had no instrument,” Duffey reported in a note for Newsline.
  • In a newsletter this week, the Brethren Revival Fellowship has given an update on its Brethren Mission Fund and decisions made for use of funds. Among its support of a variety of mission workers, the BMF is making a one-time gift of $5,000 to the Church of the Brethren Theological Training Academy in Spain on Feb. 20-27, channeled through the denomination’s Emerging Global Mission Fund. A one-time gift of $3,000 is going to pastoral leadership training for the Haitian Church of the Brethren, channeled through the denomination’s Global Mission and Service office.
  • "Lent is coming!" reminds the Global Women's Project (GWP), which is offering a Lenten calendar again this year. The calendar shares stories and information from GWP partner projects around the world, and provides daily devotionals and "invigorating activities," said the announcement. To receive the calendar either electronically or on paper, send a request to cobgwp@gmail.com . GWP also has published its annual newsletter featuring partner project updates, a remembrance for Barbara Smith, a financial report, and a note about celebrations being planned for the organization’s 35th anniversary. The newsletter is online at http://globalwomensproject.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/gwp-newsletter-2013.pdf .
T-shirt display by Heeding God's Call calls attention to gun deaths in Philadelphia in 2012
Photo by Heeding God's Call
  • Heeding God’s Call planted 331 t-shirts on a church lawn Saturday to remember the 331 Philadelphians murdered in 2012. The event at Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill on Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia, drew attention to “too many gun deaths” and was intended as a challenge to the mayor to act to stem the flow of illegal guns in the city. Heeding God’s Call is a faith-based grassroots movement to prevent gun violence headquartered in Philadelphia, where it began during a conference of the Historic Peace Churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers). The organization brings pressure to bear on gun shops to persuade them to avoid selling to people who would put guns on the street. It is currently active at two gun shops in Northeast Philadelphia and one in Washington, D.C. For more information contact info@heedinggodscall.org or 267-519-5302.
  • La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren member Russell Traughber has written “Driving the Birds” for Jabonkah Sackey, who was born in Liberia in 1948 and suffered the horror of female genital mutilation “at the cutting hands of the Secret Society at age eight,” he reports in a note to Newsline. “As horrible as this is, Jabonkah's story proves courageous and uplifting. She asked me to write her story to be free of the secrets of her childhood and to do her part in stopping FGM. I believe ‘Driving the Birds’ will be meaningful to my fellow Church of the Brethren members and help raise awareness about FGM and the problem it continues to be, especially in Africa.” More about Traughber’s book is available at www.amazon.com .
Source: 1/24/2013 Newsline

Credits

Newsline is produced by the news services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at cobnews@brethren.org. Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Anna Emrick, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Mary Kay Heatwole, Keith Morphew, Hallie Pilcher, Brian Solem, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Newsline: January 10, 2013

NEWS PERSONNEL UPCOMING EVENTS FEATURES BRETHREN BITS

Special provisions make IRA Charitable Rollover extension more complex.

By now many are aware that the IRA charitable rollover has been extended through the end of 2013. There are some special provisions this time that make it more complex. Read on to learn about the details of the law.

The IRA charitable rollover has proven a popular way for donors to support their favorite causes. It enables donors to make a gift to charity from their IRA and not include the distributed amount in their taxable income. Beyond making it easier to make gifts from their IRA, this can be advantageous for donors from a tax standpoint if:
  • They do not itemize deductions.
  • They pay state income tax but cannot take charitable deductions on the state return.
  • They would not be able to deduct all of their charitable contributions because of deduction limitations.
  • An increase in taxable income may negatively impact their ability to use other deductions.
The extension keeps in place all of the previous requirements in order for the transfer to qualify:
  • The donor must be at least 70 1/2 years of age when the gift is made.
  • The transfer must be made directly from the IRA administrator to the charity.
  • The gifts from the IRA cannot exceed $100,000 per person or $200,000 for a couple in a given year.
  • They can only be outright gifts (they cannot fund a charitable gift annuity or charitable trust).
  • No goods or services can be given in exchange.
  • The gift cannot be made to a donor-advised fund or a supporting organization.
The law is retroactive and includes gifts in 2012 as well as 2013. This helps donors who made qualifying IRA distributions in 2012 in the hope that the provision would be extended. These donors need to make sure they get a receipt that has the required information for IRA charitable rollover gifts.

If donors did not make a qualifying gift in 2012 but would still like to, they can do so in one of two time-limited ways:
  • Make a 2012 IRA rollover in January 2013. A donor can do a rollover gift in January and elect to have this be considered made in 2012. There is a short window of opportunity for this--it must be made by the end of January. How the election is to be made will be specified by the secretary of the Treasury Department later this year (presumably before April 15!).
  • Convert a December 2012 IRA distribution into a 2012 IRA charitable rollover gift. Some donors waited to take their required minimum distributions until December, hoping that the IRA rollover would be extended for 2012. If that is the case, and the distribution meets all of the IRA rollover criteria except for the direct transfer to charity requirement, donors can now claim it as a charitable rollover gift in 2012, to the extent that they now transfer the distribution in cash to the qualifying organization.
This transfer from their bank account to the charitable organization must occur by Jan. 31, 2013. If the donor took a distribution in December and made a gift to a qualifying organization in December, these two can be tied together, as long as the charitable distribution occurred after the withdrawal from the IRA.

It is not clear at this time what the Internal Revenue Service will require from the taxpayer (donor) to document this gift arrangement. Please contact the Brethren Foundation if you would like to receive this information when it becomes available.

This is great news for the not-for-profit community and its donors, and a good way to start the new year!

-- From the Newsline editor: Our thanks to Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) staff Brian Solem for submitting this report to Newsline, with information provided by PGCalc.

Contact the Brethren Foundation if you would like to receive more information about the IRS requirements to document rollover gifts, when it becomes available. Call 888-311-6530 or 847-695-0200 or e-mail bfi@cobbt.org.

Contact the Church of the Brethren Donor Relations team for more information or help with giving a gift to the Church of the Brethren denomination: John R. Hipps at jhipps@brethren.org or Mandy Garcia at mgarcia@brethren.org.

Church members interested in supporting other Church of the Brethren-related agencies through the IRA charitable rollover are encouraged to contact those organizations directly. A directory of church agencies is available at www.brethren.org/about/directory.html.


Source: 1/10/2013 Newsline

Applicants sought for Ministry Summer Service, Youth Peace Travel Team.

2010 Youth Peace Travel Team - jumping
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
2010 Youth Peace Travel Team - jumping
The denomination’s Youth and Young Adult Ministry is seeking applicants for Ministry Summer Service and the 2013 Youth Peace Travel Team. Registration for both of these summer programs closes on Friday, Jan. 11. Go to www.brethren.org/yya/mss for more about Ministry Summer Service. Go to www.brethren.org/yya/peaceteam.html for more on the Youth Peace Travel Team.

Ministry Summer Service

Ministry Summer Service (MSS) is a leadership development program for college students in the Church of the Brethren, who spend 10 weeks of the summer working in the church--either in a  congregation, district office, camp, Youth Peace Travel Team, or denominational program.

Through MSS, God calls congregations to reach out in the ministry of teaching and receiving new leadership, and God calls young adults to explore the possibility of church work as their vocation.

The MSS orientation dates for 2013 are May 31-June 5. Interns are required to spend one week at the orientation with the other interns, followed by nine weeks working in a church setting to develop leadership skills and to explore a call to ministry. Interns receive a $2,500 tuition grant, food and housing for 10 weeks, $100 per month spending money, transportation from orientation to their placement, transportation from their placement to home.

Congregations and other placement sites are expected to provide an atmosphere for learning, reflection, and development of leadership skills of the intern; a setting for intern to engage in ministry and service for a 10-week period; a stipend of $100 a month, plus room and board; transportation on the job and travel of the intern from orientation to the placement site; a structure for planning, developing, and implementing a ministry or service project in a variety of areas; financial resources and time for the pastor or another mentor to attend two days of orientation.

Mentors are expected to spend at least an hour a week with the intern in intentional supervision or mentoring, using materials shared during orientation or other ideas to develop their own model and style for doing mentoring or supervision; informally check in daily with the intern for questions, progress reports, and feedback; negotiate expectations for the number of hours the intern will work each week; prepare a written report; assist the placement site in creating a support network for the intern; communicate expectations and responsibilities to the intern and to the congregation or placement site; attend a two day orientation.

Four of the Church of the Brethren-related colleges and universities (Bridgewater, Elizabethtown, Manchester, and McPherson) provide $2,500 scholarship from the respective college for the first two interns from their institutions who participate in MSS, and the Ministry Summer Service program provides $2,500 per student for each young adult from other colleges.

For more information go to www.brethren.org/yya/mss.

Youth Peace Travel Team

The Youth Peace Travel Team, composed of Ministry Summer Service interns, is sponsored by the Church of the Brethren, On Earth Peace, and the Outdoor Ministries Association. The group gives peace programs at a variety of camps and conferences over the summer including the Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren.

The first Youth Peace Travel Team was formed in the summer of 1991 as a cooperative effort of a number of Church of the Brethren programs. Since that year, a team has been fielded every summer. The members of the team travel to Brethren camps throughout the US with the goal of talking with other young people about the Christian message and the Brethren tradition of peacemaking.

College age Church of the Brethren young adults (19-22 years old) will be selected for the next team. Team members receive the same scholarship and benefits as other MSS interns.

Go to www.brethren.org/yya/peaceteam.html or for more information, contact the Youth and Young Adult Ministry office at 800-323-8039 ext. 385 or cobyouth@brethren.org.

Source: 1/10/2013 Newsline

Kettering begins as coordinator of Intercultural Ministries.

Gimbiya Kettering, shown here speaking at the On Earth Peace breakfast at the 2009 Annual Conference
Photo by Ken Wenger
Gimbiya Kettering, shown here speaking at the On Earth Peace breakfast at the 2009 Annual Conference
Gimbiya Kettering began Jan. 7 in a part-time position as coordinator of Intercultural Ministries for the Church of the Brethren. Her position is within the staff of Congregational Life Ministries.

The focus of her position will be to facilitate planning for the Intercultural Consultation and Celebration and its successors, to strengthen and develop networks of support for ethnic minority congregations and their leaders, and to assist denominational staff in becoming more effective at helping the church live out the intercultural vision articulated in the Annual Conference paper “Separate No More.”

She brings a lifetime of experience with the Church of the Brethren, both abroad and in the US, which has been enhanced with ecumenical relationships. As a young adult of color, she brings insight and passion toward building an intercultural identity for the Church of the Brethren.

In previous service to the church, Kettering was communications coordinator for On Earth Peace for close to five years, from Aug. 2007-Dec. 2011. She has a degree in International Studies from Maryville College, Tenn., and holds an MFA degree in Creative Writing from American University. Recently she was named the “Undiscovered Voices Scholar” at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, Md., she has been published in national literary magazines, and continues to work on her first novel. After college, she interned with her father Merlyn Kettering on a series of workshops and peace gatherings led by the New Sudan Council of Churches and sponsored by the Church of the Brethren, which culminated with the publication of a book entitled “Inside Sudan: The Story of People-to-People Peacemaking in Southern Sudan.”

She remains rooted in Maple Grove Church of the Brethren in Ashland, Ohio, and lives in the Washington, D.C., area.

Source: 1/10/2013 Newsline

Coordinators are named for National Youth Conference 2014.

The three coordinators for National Youth Conference 2014Three coordinators have been named for National Youth Conference 2014, to be held July 19-24, 2014, on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo.: Katie Cummings, Tim Heishman, and Sarah Neher.

Katie Cummings hails from Summit Church of the Brethren in Bridgewater, Va. She graduated from Bridgewater College in 2012 with a major in sociology and a minor in peace studies. She currently is serving in Brethren Volunteer Service as an assistant coordinator for the Church of the Brethren workcamp ministry.

Tim Heishman calls the North Baltimore Mennonite Church “home” this year as he serves as a youth leader through Mennonite Voluntary Service and also teaches seventh graders at Acts4Youth, an after-school program in the city. Over the years, he has called many places “home,” including the Dominican Republic where his parents served as Church of the Brethren mission workers. He graduated from Eastern Mennonite University in 2012 with majors in biblical studies and history.

Sarah Neher, currently a senior at McPherson (Kan.) College, calls McPherson Church of the Brethren her home church. She will complete student teaching this spring, and graduate in May with a degree in biology education.

The three coordinators will meet Feb. 15-17 with the National Youth Cabinet to begin planning the next National Youth Conference.

--Becky Ullom Naugle is director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

Source: 1/10/2013 Newsline

‘Strengthening Your Small Congregation’ to be held in mid-April at Camp Mack.

Margaret Marcuson
Photo courtesy of Margaret Marcuson
Margaret Marcuson
“Strengthening Your Small Congregation” is the title of a day-long event planned for Saturday, April 13, from 8:45 a.m.-4 p.m. at Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Ind. The gathering will be devoted to encouraging and equipping pastors and lay leaders of small congregations. It is designed especially to reach those in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio who can travel to Camp Mack within a reasonable amount of time, but it is open to anyone.

Keynote leadership will be provided by Margaret Marcuson, whose presentation will be on “Leaders Who Last: Sustaining Yourself in Small Church Ministry.”

Congregational Life Ministries executive Jonathan Shively reports some of the story behind the event, featuring two Indiana pastors: Kay Gaier of Wabash Church of the Brethren, and Brenda Hostetler Meyer of Benton Mennonite Church.

The two women met through a Lilly-funded program for small church pastors. “Kay approached me in 2010 about their enthusiasm for the work they’d done and their desire to pass along the same encouragement and insight to other pastors and leaders of small churches like theirs,” Shively remembers. “We had them do an insight session in Grand Rapids (at the Annual Conference), which was standing room only and very well received.

“A few months ago Kay contacted me and said that they were planning a day-long event for small church leaders and that they had already arranged for the keynote leader, Margaret Marcuson, who had worked with them in the Lilly process. They were looking for some support from Mennonite and Church of the Brethren folk. They realized quickly that you don’t just put together a conference, and so we’ve been working collaboratively to give shape to the event.

“I love the initiative of these two pastors and the vision they have for supporting others in the vital ministry of smaller congregations!”

Contributing partners are the Congregational Life Ministries, the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference and the Central District Conference of the Mennonite Church USA, and the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. Endorsing partners are Bethany Theological Seminary, the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, and two Church of the Brethren districts: Northern Indiana and South/Central Indiana.

Marcuson speaks and writes on leadership and works with church leaders in the US and Canada as a consultant and coach. She is author of “111 Tips to Survive Pastoral Ministry,” “Leaders who Last: Sustaining Yourself and Your Ministry,” and “Money and Your Ministry: Balance the Books While Keeping Your Balance” (forthcoming). She has taught in the Leadership in Ministry workshop, a family systems training program for clergy, since 1999. An American Baptist minister, she pastored First Baptist Church of Gardner, Mass., for 13 years, where the average worship attendance was 80 people.

The schedule for the day includes opening and closing worship, a keynote address in the morning, followed by a panel discussion with small church pastors, lunch, and two afternoon workshop sessions. Workshops will be offered on the following topics:
  • “Worship in Your Own Voice”
  • “Fair Fighting in the Small Church: Caring for Each Other Through Divisive Issues”
  • “Money and Your Ministry: Balance the Books While Keeping Your Balance”
  • “Discerning Our Congregation’s Future: Finding the Meeting Place of God's Intention and Our Hope”
  • “The Pastoral Care Team: Elders and Deacons and Pastors, Oh My!”
  • “The Gift of Leadership: Structures for Small Congregations”
  • “Welcoming and Nurturing Children within the Small Congregation”
  • “Evangelism: A Mindset for Mission”
Also an open coaching session with Marcuson will be offered. Participants are invited to bring a challenge from their own churches to this session, at which Marcuson will coach several participants and observers will have the chance to think through possibilities and solutions for their own leadership settings.

Cost is $50 for the first person from a congregation, and $25 for each additional person from the same congregation. Students enrolled in ministry training may attend for $25. Continuing education units are available for an additional $10 fee.

Find out more and register at www.brethren.org/smallchurch . A Facebook page is available at www.facebook.com/smallchurch or go to www.facebook.com/events/173968569409127 . A Twitter stream is planned as well, to be found at #smallchurch2013. For more information, contact 800-323-8039 ext. 303 or congregationallife@brethren.org.

Source: 1/10/2013 Newsline

Clergy tax seminar is Feb. 11, both online and at seminary campus.

The annual tax seminar for clergy will be held on Monday, Feb. 11, sponsored by the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry, and Bethany Theological Seminary's Office of Electronic Communication. Students, pastors, and other church leaders are invited to attend, either in person at the seminary in Richmond, Ind., or online.

The sessions will cover tax law for clergy, changes for 2012 (the most current tax year), and detailed assistance as to how to correctly file the tax forms and schedules that pertain to clergy including housing allowances, self-employment, W-2s clergy reductions, and so forth.

Participants will learn how to file clergy taxes correctly and legally and how to comply with regulations while maximizing tax deductions, and will earn .3 continuing education credit.

Greatly appreciated by Bethany Seminary students, this seminar is now open to clergy and others across the denomination. It is recommended for all pastors and other church leaders who wish to understand clergy taxes including treasurers, steward commission chairs, and church board chairs.

The seminar takes place Feb. 11 with the following schedule: morning session from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (eastern time) with .3 continuing education units available upon request for live attendance; afternoon session from 2-4 p.m. (eastern time). Lunch is not included.

Registration is $20 per person. Registration for current students of Bethany Seminary, the Brethren Academy programs (TRIM, EFSM, SeBAH), and Earlham School of Religion are fully subsidized although registration is still required to reserve a seat. Registration also is required for those attending online to allow proper access to the online seminar and for instructions and handouts to be sent a few days prior to the event. Registrations are not complete until payment is received. For space and quality reasons, registrations may be capped at 25 persons locally and 85 persons online.

Leadership is provided by Deb Oskin, EA, NTPI fellow, who has been doing clergy tax returns since 1989 when her husband became pastor of a small Church of the Brethren congregation. She has learned the problems and pitfalls associated with the IRS's identification of clergy as "hybrid employees," both from a personal and professional perspective. During her 12 years with H&R Block (2000-2011), she achieved the company’s highest level of expertise certification as master tax adviser, and teaching certification as certified advanced instructor, and has earned the status of enrolled agent with the IRS and is qualified to represent clients to the IRS. She was called by Living Peace Church of the Brethren in Columbus, Ohio, to be the peace minister to the wider community in 2004 and served as Southern Ohio District board chair from 2007-2011. She also works closely with several interfaith peace organizations in central Ohio and currently operates her own independent tax service specializing in clergy taxes.

Register for the seminar at www.bethanyseminary.edu/webcasts/clergytax2013.

Source: 1/10/2013 Newsline

Bridgewater College to host conference on substance abuse prevention.

A conference and continuing education opportunity that explores substance abuse prevention and treatment methods will be held at Bridgewater (Va.) College on Jan. 26 from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. in Bowman Hall.

Sponsored by the Shenandoah District of the Church of the Brethren, the conference is open to all members of the community including pastors, youth leaders, lay leaders, substance abuse prevention professionals, students, and parents.

The conference will include guest speakers, a panel discussion, and activities designed to examine current trends and explore how drugs work, cultural sensitivity, risk factors for addiction, assessments and referrals, tools for church engagement, signs and symptoms of abuse, and short- and long-term outcomes.

Topics also include “Substance Abuse Across Development,” “Environmental Scan: Media’s Impact on Perception of Risk” and “Risk Factors for Use and Abuse.”

“Substance abuse is our nation’s number-one public health problem, with more than 25 percent of our country dealing with some form of chemical addition,” said Brian Kelley, associate professor of psychology and department chair at Bridgewater and organizer of the conference. “While substance abuse may conjure up images of sordid neighborhoods and dangerous, predatory drug dealers, the most serious drug abuse problems often occur in our own homes and include drugs and chemicals that are the most easily accessible like cigarettes, alcohol, prescription pills, and inhalants.”

Kelley said nearly every home in America contains a chemical that potentially may be abused and that “the most common drug dealer in the US is parents.” The most common age for drug-use initiation, he said, is the teen years.

“While it is true that faith and fellowship provide significant protective factors for reducing substance use and abuse, many folks in our various faith communities end up leaving just when they need support the most, generally in their late teens and early twenties, and don’t come back to the church,” Kelley said. “Or, if they do, it is generally in their forties after drugs have already ravished their lives. Our community would benefit tremendously from a concentrated and coordinated message of support from our faith communities.”

He said the goal of the conference is to help explain the scope of the problem and equip faith leaders with more effective prevention and treatment strategies.

The cost of the conference is $30, which includes a DVD, handouts, and light breakfast. A lunch buffet is an additional $7.50. To register or RSVP, contact Kelley via e-mail by Jan. 11 at bkelleyphd@gmail.com.

-- Mary K. Heatwole is editorial assistant for medial relations in the Office of Marketing and Communications at Bridgewater College. For more about the college see www.bridgewater.edu .

Source: 1/10/2013 Newsline

At home in beloved community.

The Freedom Ride group sings together
Photo by Steve Pavey, courtesy of CPT
The Freedom Ride group sings together
The following reflection by Lizz Schallert, development assistant at On Earth Peace, was originally published by Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) on Dec. 19, 2012:

In November I received an e-mail from Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) describing the 21st Century Freedom Ride, asking if someone would be willing to represent CPT on the trip. After reviewing the website, I quickly jumped on the opportunity to spend a weekend with Vincent Harding and dozens of folks representing present social justice movements. I am thankful to be a part of CPT and support its work to reduce violence and undo structural oppression.

Over the weekend of the Freedom Ride I found myself celebrating the diversity of God’s people: openly undocumented youth, recently incarcerated women now working against our prison industrial complex, formerly homeless men seeking shelter for others, sisters and brothers at various Catholic Worker houses and intentional Christian communities, and those carrying on the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement by fighting for racial justice--certainly an unlikely gathering in the eyes of the world.

What is the thread that binds us together in our diverse ages, races, and stories? How did we all end up on a bus travelling across southern states, visiting war zones and holy sites of the Civil Rights Movement? As the weekend progressed, answers to these questions emerged.

While Dr. Harding spoke to us and encouraged us toward the New America, the "America that must be born again," the dust began to settle and the spool began to spin. We all wanted to be midwives in this work--to dream, to yearn, to create this "country that does not exist, of which we are citizens."

Throughout the weekend we were blessed, critiqued, and encouraged by Dr. Harding as we envisioned a new democracy. We sat close, shared the microphone, and incarnationally found ourselves living what we hope for.

As a Christian, I could not help but draw connections between our discussions of hope for a new country with my hope for a new Church. As a somewhat lost Catholic-Quaker-Brethren who grew up in the Church of Christ, I felt at home for a few days. Every voice mattered. Everyone was seeking the truth.

Before boarding the bus to Alabama I was hoping I could still make it to Mass on Sunday, particularly in this season of Advent, when we anticipate and hope for the return of Christ in us and the world. This desire gently diminished and disappeared as Dr. Harding put on Ben Branch's Operation Breadbasket Orchestra's version of "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" during our first gathering over the weekend.

As the song came over us our eyes began to close, our toes tapped, and we were together. Our barriers no longer mattered. Eternity mingled with the present. This is the Holy Church, I thought. This is the work we are to be about. Here we were, in 2012, a rag-tag mix of concerned citizens of a "country that does not exist," singing Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s last request.

"Ben, make sure you play 'Precious Lord' in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty," Martin Luther King Jr. said on April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel, just before his assassination.

-- Lizz Schallert is development assistant at On Earth Peace. Christian Peacemaker Teams was founded by the Historic Peace Churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers) and has the mission to build partnerships to transform violence and oppression, with a vision of a world of communities that together embrace the diversity of the human family and live justly and peaceably with all creation. For more go to www.cpt.org.

Source: 1/10/2013 Newsline