Thursday, March 21, 2013

Newsline: March 21, 2013


New Brethren Academy program receives funding from Wieand trust.

Photo by Walt Wiltschek
A gift from the David J. and Mary Elizabeth Wieand Trust is helping to start a new “Sustaining Ministerial Excellence: Advanced Seminar” at the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership.

“It is a real joy to bring to you something that will undergird the life-long training of our ministers,” said associate general secretary Mary Jo Flory-Steury as she requested board approval for use of $150,000 from the total gift received by the Church of the Brethren. The gift is restricted to specific purposes, including to provide books and other educational resources to ministers, support self-help programs, and for Christian work in inner city Chicago.

The Wieand family has provided decades of leadership in ministerial education in the Church of the Brethren, beginning with Albert Cassel (A.C.) Wieand who was a co-founder of Bethany Theological Seminary. He and E.B. Hoff founded the seminary in Chicago in 1905, originally called Bethany Biblical Seminary. David J. Wieand taught at Bethany when the seminary was located in the Chicago area, and headed up an Advanced Pastor’s Seminar that was a continuing education program for Bethany master of divinity graduates after three years in ministry. He also was instrumental in the doctor of ministry program. Also honored by this gift is Katherine Broadwater Wieand, wife of A.C. Wieand.

The new program at the Brethren Academy follows up on the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE) program, which will be completed by June 30. SPE was funded through a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

Sustaining Ministerial Excellence: Advanced Seminar will be a continuing education program for ordained ministers who pastor a church, do chaplaincy, or serve in another ministry setting. It will broaden opportunities for continuing education for all Church of the Brethren ministers, as its predecessor focused solely on pastors. It is intended to build on the success of SPE, using surveys and reports of the effectiveness and impact of SPE on those who participated.

The new program aims at ministers who have completed 3-5 years of ministry, but will be open to ministers in other phases of their careers. It is expected to launch in January 2014, and to have a program life of five to ten years. Julie M. Hostetter, executive director of the Brethren Academy, will serve as program coordinator.

Bethany Theological Seminary, which also received a gift from the trust, has approved use of a matching $150,000 to support the Sustaining Ministerial Excellence Advanced Seminar.

Source: 3/21/2013 Newsline

Estate gift funds new educational opportunities at Bethany Seminary.

Courtesy of Bethany Theological Seminary
Bethany Theological Seminary announces that two new educational initiatives will be supported by a major gift from the estate of Mary Elizabeth Wertz Wieand. This gift comes through the David J. and Mary Elizabeth Wieand Trust, established by members of a family whose roots go back to the very founding of the seminary.

“This generous gift came right at a time when we were evaluating how we would put some new curricular plans into effect,” said Ruthann Knechel Johansen, president. “We have been working with the family for some time on how we can most effectively utilize this resource in ways that honor the lifelong commitments of the Wieand family. It will be the pivotal financial element we needed to implement two new programs.”

One hundred fifty thousand dollars from the gift will function as endowment support for a new continuing education program entitled Sustaining Ministerial Excellence: Advanced Seminar. Offered through the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, the program will provide educational opportunities for ordained Church of the Brethren ministers who are serving in a variety of ministry settings. The Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board is contributing an equal amount to the project from its own Wieand estate gift. Bethany Seminary partners with the Church of the Brethren in offering ministry training programs through the Brethren Academy.

David J. Wieand, husband of Mary Elizabeth and long time faculty member at Bethany, helped establish an Advanced Pastors Seminar in the 1960s. More recently, the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program offered opportunities for personal and professional growth to Brethren pastors and church leaders. The new seminar initiative will incorporate features from both programs, according to Julie M. Hostetter, executive director of the Brethren Academy. Jonathan Wieand, son of David and Mary Elizabeth, agrees that the allocation of Wieand estate resources to this venture is especially appropriate. “I am certain that it would meet with my parents’ approval if they were here to review it.”

The balance of the Wieand gift, in excess of a half million dollars, will be reserved for long-term support of an emerging program in reconciliation studies at Bethany. This new niche in the curriculum will address such topics as the theology and the theory of conflict transformation. It will also include practical study of interpersonal, organizational, and public conflict as well as applications in the congregational setting. Bethany is actively working toward placement of new faculty in this area of study.

David and Mary Elizabeth Wieand, both Bethany graduates, partnered in many educational ventures during their years together. He served in a variety of professorial and administrative roles at Bethany from 1939 to 1980, and she was a school teacher and accomplished musician, performing publicly well into her 90s. Mary Elizabeth survived David by more than 20 years, and this joint testamentary gift came to Bethany upon her death. At David and Mary Elizabeth’s request, the gift also honors Katherine Broadwater Wieand, mother of David and spouse of Bethany co-founder A.C. Wieand.

-- Jenny Williams is director of Communications and Alumni/ae Relations for Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.

Source: 3/21/2013 Newsline

More Brethren agencies express support for resolution on drones.

Brethren Benefit Trust and On Earth Peace, which are both Annual Conference agencies, have affirmed the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board’s “Resolution against Drone Warfare.” The resolution was adopted at the board’s spring meeting and will be on the Annual Conference agenda in early July. Find the Newsline report and full text of the resolution at  

On Earth Peace affirms ‘Resolution against Drone Warfare’

Bill Scheurer of On Earth Peace talks with a small group of board members discussing resolution against drones
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Bill Scheurer of On Earth Peace (standing) talks with a small group of board members during the discussion of the Mission and Ministry Board's Resolution against Drone Warfare.
At its recent board meeting in New Windsor, Md., On Earth Peace affirmed the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board “Resolution against Drone Warfare,” which stated that the use of these remote weapons “to distance the act of killing from the site of violence” is in direct conflict with the peace witness of Jesus.

As an agency of the Church of the Brethren, On Earth Peace is committed to make all its resources available to help the church engage this serious issue. In particular, the On Earth Peace Ministry of Reconciliation is ready to help people from all different points of view seek the will of the Spirit together when this resolution is considered at the upcoming Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Charlotte, N.C., this July.

“Leslie Frye and the Ministry of Reconciliation team understand this may be a challenging conversation among people who bring strongly held views on this question,” says On Earth Peace executive director Bill Scheurer. “Even though On Earth Peace as an organization supports this Mission and Ministry Board resolution, our Ministers of Reconciliation are fully trained and capable to help create safe spaces for people of all viewpoints, concerns, and opinions to share and explore their differences respectfully.”

The Nonviolent Social Change ministry of On Earth Peace also is ready to help any congregations or groups wanting to organize around this issue. Likewise, the Youth and Young Adult ministry is available to any congregation or others requesting special events around this new and developing form of war.

“Our agency has a lot to offer the church as it faces these kinds of new challenges,” says Madalyn Metzger, On Earth Peace board chair. “We want people to be aware of all we can do to help.”

Rooted in Christian faith, On Earth Peace cultivates individuals and communities who advance justice and build a peaceful world.

Nevin Dulabaum, president of Brethren Benefit Trust, addresses the Mission and Ministry Board during its spring meeting 2013
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Nevin Dulabaum, president of Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT), addresses the Mission and Ministry Board during its spring meeting.
Brethren Benefit Trust expresses support for resolution

As an investment manager for each of the four national Church of the Brethren agencies, as well as for many other Brethren institutions, districts, and congregations, Brethren Benefit Trust has long witnessed the Brethren peace stance through the screening out of defense contractors and weapons manufacturers from Brethren Pension Plan and Brethren Foundation investment portfolios.

BBT’s investment guidelines prohibit investments in the top 25 publicly traded defense contractors or of publicly traded companies that generate 10 percent or more of their revenues from defense or weapons contracts or sales. As a result, BBT does not invest in Northrop Grumman, Boeing, or Lockheed Martin--three companies that are engaged in the manufacturing of drones for warfare.

“BBT supports the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board’s resolution on drone warfare, and we encourage institutional and individual investors to refrain from investing in companies that are on BBT’s top 25 and 10 percent defense contractor and weapons manufacturer lists,” said Nevin Dulabaum, BBT president. “Moreover, the lists are a good starting point for socially responsible investing discussion.

“Typically there are one or more companies included on the lists that seem misplaced, such as FedEx, which is found on our current Top 25 list. ‘What does this company do to make one of the defense lists?’ ‘What does it mean for us to personally or organizationally patronize this company?’ These are but two questions that help begin dialogue for individuals and organizations as they consider what it means to invest, or to not invest, using their values.”

BBT’s updated lists for 2013 are expected to be released after they are approved by the BBT Board in late April.

-- This report includes information from On Earth Peace provided by executive director Bill Scheurer, and information from Brethren Benefit Trust provided by president Nevin Dulabaum.

Source: 3/21/2013 Newsline

On Earth Peace board and staff participate in anti-racism training.

The On Earth Peace board of directors held its spring 2013 meeting in New Windsor, Md.
Photo by courtesy of On Earth Peace
The On Earth Peace board of directors held its spring 2013 meeting in New Windsor, Md.
During their spring 2013 meeting, the On Earth Peace board of directors and staff participated in an anti-racism training--the agency’s next step in a commitment to address issues of racism within and outside of the organization.

The training was conducted by Crossroads Antiracism Organization and Training, a nonprofit organization providing organizing, training, and consulting to institutions striving to dismantle racism. The purpose of this initial training was to educate the On Earth Peace board and staff about how racism, power, and privilege has become ingrained within our society and our institutional structures--including the church.

On Earth Peace will now begin analyzing and auditing internal policies and procedures that maintain white power and privilege, and begin creating a strategy to dismantle oppressive systems inside the organization.

The On Earth Peace board also affirmed the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board’s resolution on drone warfare. Other key items of business included revisions to the agency’s staff policy manual and an update on the 3,000 Miles for Peace campaign. In addition, the board approved the appointment of David Braune (Westminster, Md.) as the organization’s new treasurer.

During the meeting, the board welcomed new board members Melisa Grandison (Wichita, Kan.) and Jordan Bles (Lexington, Ky.). The group also recognized outgoing treasurer Ed Leiter (New Windsor, Md.) for his service to the organization.

As an agency of the Church of the Brethren, On Earth Peace answers Jesus Christ’s call for peace and justice through its ministries; builds thriving families, congregations, and communities; and provides the skills, support, and spiritual foundation to face violence with active nonviolence. On Earth Peace conducts discussion and decision-making by consensus.

-- Madalyn Metzger is chair of the board of directors of On Earth Peace.

Source: 3/21/2013 Newsline

Brethren Disaster Ministries names advisory group, seeks input to survey.

More than 700 people already have responded to a new online survey about the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries. “We want your feedback!” said an announcement of the survey from Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services. Take the survey at

Volunteers, supporters, and church members are invited to help guide the future direction of these ministries. “Your feedback will help us to determine areas of focus and growth among the different disaster related ministries,” said the announcement. The brief survey includes 11 questions, and responses are confidential. Results will be reviewed by staff and the Brethren Disaster Ministries advisory group.

Brethren Disaster Ministries has named a new advisory group, which began its term of service in January. Members of the group are Joe Detrick of Seven Valleys, Pa.; Kathleen M. Fry-Miller of North Manchester, Ind.; Dale Roth of State College, Pa.; R. Jan Thompson of Bridgewater, Va.; and Larry Wittig also of Bridgewater.

The group will serve in an advisory capacity to Brethren Disaster Ministries staff led by Roy Winter, associate executive director of Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries, and Zach Wolgemuth, associate director of Brethren Disaster Ministries.

For more about the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries go to

Source: 3/21/2013 Newsline

BVS Unit 300 completes orientation.

Brethren Volunteer Service Unit 300
Photo by BVS
Brethren Volunteer Service Unit 300: front row from left: Megan Haggerty, Ann Ziegler, Xinia Tobias; back from left: Mason Byers, Simeon Schwab, Sam Glover, Stan White, Richard Tobias.
The 300th unit of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) completed winter orientation from Jan. 27-Feb. 15 in Gotha, Fla. The new volunteers, their home towns or home congregations, and project placements are listed below.

Mason Byers of Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren will serve with Skyridge Church of the Brethren in Kalamazoo, Mich., and Camp Brethren Heights in Rodney, Mich.

Sam Glover of Mountain View Fellowship Church of the Brethren in McGaheysville, Va., and Simeon Schwab of Boennigheim, Germany, are volunteering with Abode Services in Fremont, Calif.

Megan Haggerty of Golden, Colo., is serving with the L’Arche Community in Chicago, Ill.

Richard Tobias and Xinia Tobias of Eastwood Church of the Brethren in Akron, Ohio, will be going to Hiroshima, Japan, to serve at the World Friendship Center.

Stan White of Freeport (Ill.) Church of the Brethren is serving at Talbert House in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Ann Ziegler of Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, has gone to Emanuel Children's Home in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

For more information about Brethren Volunteer Service go to

Source: 3/21/2013 Newsline

‘Something must change’: Harrisburg, Pa., pastor reports on efforts against gun violence.

Belita Mitchell pastors First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., and is a leader in the Harrisburg Chapter of Heeding God's Call.
Photo by Walt Wiltschek
Belita Mitchell pastors First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., and is a leader in the Harrisburg Chapter of Heeding God's Call.
The Harrisburg (Pa.) Chapter of Heeding God’s Call continues to operate on the premise that “Something Must Change.” Heeding God’s Call is a faith-based movement to prevent gun violence. The organization got its start at a meeting of the Historic Peace Churches in Philadelphia, Pa.

The first Harrisburg Chapter retreat was held on Feb. 11, to review and explore ways to more effectively accomplish our goals in the prevention of illegal handgun violence. We were fortunate to have executive director Bryan Miller present in addition to newly appointed board chair Katie Day, and administrator Susan Windle.

We engaged in a lively discussion about the degree to which we wish to engage in the political aspects of prevention. There was an expressed desire to consider strengthening our connections with organizations such as Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Cease Fire PA while at the same time maintaining our unique faith perspective.

The conversation focused on the difference between “alignment” and “endorsement.” We agreed we wish to advocate in ways that do not give us the appearance of being partisan. The chapter will send recommendations to the National Board requesting the board consider some of these issues and adopt a strategy that can be supported and adapted by all chapters.

The two-pronged focus of Public Witness Prayer Vigils at the sites of murders involving guns  and the Gun Shop Campaign to persuade gun sellers to agree to the Code of Conduct will be expanded. We will develop activities designed to share more broadly the impact of illegal guns in our communities. Methods of accomplishing this goal are still under consideration.

On a sad and tragic note, through March 9, there have been four homicides in Harrisburg involving the use of a gun. We continue to show support to the families and the communities where these senseless acts of violence occur. Through our presence at these Prayer Vigils, we hope to reinforce our resolve to stand together and affirm that “Something Must Change.”

-- Belita D. Mitchell pastors First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., and is a former Annual Conference moderator. She serves as chair of the Heeding God’s Call Coordinating Committee, Harrisburg Chapter. This report first appeared in the March newsletter from Heeding God’s Call, find it in full at .

Source: 3/21/2013 Newsline

Bus trips from several states will help participants get to NOAC.

People in several states will have the opportunity to ride a bus to National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) this year. Round-trip bus transportation to NOAC from Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, as well as Western Plains District, has been confirmed. See contact information below.

In other NOAC news, lodging reservations open April 1 at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center, the site for the September event. NOAC is a conference for those 50 and older, planned for Sept. 2-6 at Lake Junaluska (N.C.) Conference and Retreat Center. The theme is “Healing Springs Forth” from Isaiah 58:14, “Then you will be refreshed in the Lord.”

Reservations for hotels and lodges at Lake Junaluska will be accepted by mail or fax beginning April 1. People who require rooms in Terrace Hotel or Lambuth Inn due to physical limitations or age (75-plus) should mail or fax their reservations between April 1 through 15 to increase the likelihood of obtaining their first or second choice. After April 15, lodging will be assigned by the order in which the requests are received. After April 22, the conference center will accept phone reservations at 800-222-4930 ext. 1. Information about lodging options is at or call the NOAC office at 800-323-8039 ext. 305.

Bus transportation to NOAC is available for people from or living near the following areas:
  • Atlantic Northeast District, leaving from Hershey, Pa. Contact Bill Puffenberger at 717-367-7021 or .
  • Atlantic Northeast District, leaving from Brethren Village in Lancaster, Pa. Contact Bob and Mary Anne Breneman at 717-725-3197 or .
  • Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Don and Patti Weirich are coordinating a bus trip to NOAC that will start in Mt. Morris, Ill., with stops along the way in Indiana and Ohio. Contact them at 574-825-9185 or .
More information about NOAC, including registration materials, can be found at . Registrations are accepted online and by mail.

-- Kim Ebersole is NOAC coordinator and director of Family Life and Older Adult Ministry for the Church of the Brethren.

Source: 3/21/2013 Newsline

Prayers for peacemakers: Ten year anniversary of war in Iraq.

Peggy Gish serving with Christian Peacemaker Teams
Photo by CPT
Peggy Gish serving with Christian Peacemaker Teams
Prayers for Peacemakers, March 20

“Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out’” (Luke 19:39-40).

Lord, renew among your war-weary people the gifts of lamentation in the face of wrong, sharing in suffering, partnering with all who stand in and for peace and good, and offering oneself to protect from harm anyone branded as “enemy.”

A release from CPT on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War:
‘Ten years of lamentation, partnering, and action.’

Ten years after the US invasion of Iraq, Christian Peacemaker Teams, together with uncounted Iraqi families, laments the carnage that continues to echo from that moment.

Reports sent before, during, and after the invasion brought rare, non-embedded perspectives that helped earn CPT a reputation for reliable, independent reporting, broad partnering, and bold action.

Here are some views of CPT's peacemaking work at the time of the invasion: War report from team in Baghdad, the first report from the Iraq team after the invasion began, March 20: . The CPT team in Baghdad in March 2003 included Church of the Brethren members Cliff Kindy of Indiana and Peggy Gish of Ohio, working alongside Lisa Martens of Manitoba, Canada; Scott Kerr of Illinois; Betty Scholten of Maryland; Shane Claiborne of Pennsylvania; Martin Edwards of California; and Charlie Litke also from California. Find a list of all releases from the March 2003 team at .

Here are a few selections (dates are all 2003):

Final thoughts. March 19, 7 p.m.: “I mourn for all the people who will soon die. But I delight in the beauty of everything around me, and bask in the fellowship of my precious friends here--both the Iraqis and internationals....”

A letter to the churches in Canada and the United States from the CPT in Baghdad, March 15: “From prayer and fasting find the strength to stop paying for war. From joy in discipleship, hold fast to the evangelistic boldness to invite soldiers and corporate technocrats to abandon their posts…. Live in Easter hope.”

Cliff Kindy (second from right) serving with Christian Peacemaker Teams
Photo by CPT
Cliff Kindy (second from right) serving with Christian Peacemaker Teams
Spiritual sacrifices and the Iraq war, March 21, from CPT’s Aboriginal Justice Team: “The idea for the CPT shelter was born out of concern over the escalating threat of war in Iraq, over the conspicuous connections between that war and oil, and over the team's reliance on oil to heat the trailer that housed them.”

Canadian CPTer denied entry to USA, questioned by the FBI, March 14: “...Immigration officers claimed that the CPT newsletters, printed in Chicago..., were ‘anti-American.’”

“Caught,” March 19, CPT delegation member John Barber records his interaction with an Iraqi hotel clerk: “My family is here in Baghdad. My father, my brothers. Do you know I go home each night and I just sit. I only think of one thing: ‘What am I to do? War is coming, What am I to do?’... I look deeply into his eyes. Days, months, years, in this trap. ‘Why this war?’ he asks. I cannot answer. I want to console him, but I cannot. I want to hold him like my child, and tell him it will be all right, but it will not be all right. ‘Thank you and your friends for being here, you have good hearts,’ he says. He puts his hand over his heart--a common gesture here in Iraq. It is a reminder for me. For a moment we stand across from each other, holding our hearts, holding our anguish. We both begin to cry.”

-- This feature is taken from Christian Peacemaker Teams releases. CPT, originally begun by the Historic Peace Churches including the Church of the Brethren, has the mission of building partnerships to transform violence and oppression, and the vision of a world of communities that together embrace the diversity of the human family and live justly and peaceably with all creation. CPT has had a presence in Iraq since Oct. 2002, six months before the beginning of the US led invasion. A CPT team continues to serve in Iraqi Kurdistan. For more information go to . Read the full release from CPT at . Find Prayers for Peacemakers at .

Source: 3/21/2013 Newsline

Brethren bits.

  • James Edward Forbus, interim director of SERRV in the late 1980s, died March 7 at Frederick (Md.) Memorial Hospital. SERRV, a nonprofit organization with a mission to eradicate poverty by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide, began as a Church of the Brethren program. Forbus was born in Maverick, Texas, on June 15, 1932, to J. Douglass and Ruth M. Forbus. He married Elin B. Forbus on Aug. 22, 1953. He graduated from Baker School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a trombonist with the Austin Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Ezra Rachlin, and also did graduate study in public administration at the University of Southern California. His professional career included directing band for the Lubbock (Texas) Public Schools, and 30 years with the Social Security Administration and Internal Revenue Service in Texas, Louisiana, New York, and Maryland. He retired as IRS Deputy Associate Commissioner for Operations in Maryland in 1986. His service as interim director of the SERRV program based at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., followed his retirement. He is survived by his wife of almost 60 years, Elin Broyles Forbus, and son David Edward Forbus of Kerrville, Texas. He was preceded in death by an infant daughter, Deborah Lee Forbus. A memorial service will be held at Brook Hill United Methodist Church in Frederick on March 16 at 4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials are received to a charity of choice or to Brook Hill UMC music ministry. The full obituary from “The Frederick News-Post” is at .
  • Northern Plains District has shared a remembrance of Herbert Michael, 96, who died on March 15. He served the Church of the Brethren as a mission worker in Nigeria from 1948-61, alongside his wife Marianne. His work in Nigeria included setting up generators to provide electricity for a mission hospital, wiring a mission station for electricity, operating the maintenance shop for mission vehicles, and setting up a two-way radio communication system. He also is remembered for planting trees for fruit and shade, and building a merry-go-round for village children out of used car parts. He was born Aug. 28, 1916, the son of a Church of the Brethren minister, and had a life-long commitment to peace. He attended McPherson (Kan.) College, Kansas State University, and Bethany Bible School. As a pacifist he served in Civilian Public Service (CPS) camp at Cascade Locks, Ore., during World War II, fighting forest fires. His witness for peace included joining in the protests at Fort Benning against the School of the Americas, and traveling with a contingent to Nicaragua to protect coffee pickers there. His extensive files on peace issues were donated to PEACE Iowa. In 1944 he married Marianne Krueger of Panora (Iowa) Church of the Brethren where he remained a member. Many Brethren were touched by the hospitality of the Michaels, who gathered a monthly Brethren Fellowship in their Iowa City home. A memorial service was held March 19 at Sharon Center United Methodist Church in rural Kalona, Iowa. The family has asked that memorial gifts go to On Earth Peace. A link to Herbert Michael’s full obituary is at .
  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) has noted the ecumenical presence at the papal installation of Pope Francis, the new pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, who was installed on March 19 at the Vatican in Rome. The general secretary of the WCC, Olav Fykse Tveit, attended the mass along with other prominent religious and political leaders from around the world.

    Ecumenical leaders who were present included Bartholomew I, the first Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople to attend a papal installation since the schism of 1054, the release said. Tveit attended “in order to give a significant expression of the WCC’s collaboration with the Roman Catholic Church, as well as our mutual commitment to church unity and the ecumenical movement,” the WCC said. “In close collaboration with Pope Francis, we look forward to building on this positive relationship with the Catholic Church that has been nurtured so carefully in the past,” Tveit said in his letter to the new pope. He also called on Christians to “use this opportunity to pray for and with Pope Francis to reconfirm that we need one another, to address the challenges of the world in our time.”
  • Karen McKeever began March 15 as a temporary part-time assistant for National Older Adult Conference (NOAC), working with Kim Ebersole who is coordinator of NOAC and director of Family Life and Older Adult Ministry. She holds a bachelor’s degree in linguistics from Cal. State Fresno and a master’s degree in writing from De Paul University in Chicago. While assisting with NOAC preparations she will continue in her current position as assistant access services supervisor in the library at Judson University. She is a member of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill.
  • April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. “Children are a gift from God and have been entrusted to us for nurture and care,” says Kim Ebersole, director of the denomination’s Family Life ministry. “Our congregations can play an important role in educating people about child abuse and ways to prevent and respond to abuse if it does occur.” Ebersole encourages congregations to devote some time in April, which is Child Abuse Prevention Month, to learning more about this serious problem. Resources are available at . Congregations also are encouraged to consider adopting a child protection policy if they have not already done so. Visit for information and sample policies.
  • “Praise God!” says an announcement from the Global Mission and Service office. “On Feb. 6, L'Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti) became a legally recognized entity.” With this legal status, the church in Haiti can function as a denomination, mission staff report, and it can now ordain ministers and perform official ceremonies. This new legal status has broad implications for the Haiti Medical Project as well.
  • Global Mission and Service will host a workcamp in South Sudan on April 19-28. Work will include digging foundations and clearing brush in preparation for the building of a Brethren Ministry Center. Another possible project will be construction work at a school in Lohila village. Cost of the workcamp is $2,500 per person, which includes roundtrip airfare, visa fees, overseas travel insurance, and all in-country expenses (lodging, food, and transportation). Visit for more information.
Earl K. Ziegler preaches for the 275th anniversary of Black Rock Church of the Brethren
Photo by Black Rock Church of the Brethren
Earl K. Ziegler preaches for the 275th anniversary of Black Rock Church of the Brethren
  • In an ongoing celebration of its 275 years in ministry, Black Rock Church of the Brethren in Glenville, Pa., welcomed back its first paid minister--Earl K. Ziegler–as guest preacher on the first Sunday in March. Black Rock was established in 1738, and only hired its first full time pastor in 1960 after 222 years of plural nonsalaried ministry, said an announcement from current pastor David W. Miller. Following worship, church members joined in a carry-in meal and the sharing of stories, memories, and photos from the congregation’s long history. Upcoming activities include a Spring Fair on May 4, a summer focus on service to the community launched with a Vacation Bible School on the theme of peace, and a Fall Festival and Homecoming Weekend.
  • “Leaders Shape the Future” is the title of a training event for deacons and other church leaders who provide care in congregations, hosted by First Church of the Brethren in Roaring Spring, Pa. Leading the workshop will be Stan Dueck, the Church of the Brethren’s director for Transforming Practices. The event takes place Saturday, April 20, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, with a continental breakfast served beginning at 8:30 a.m. Cost is $10. The registration deadline is April 15. Contact First Church of the Brethren, 901 Bloomfield St., Roaring Spring, PA 16673; 814-224-4113; .
  • Hempfield (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a Church Leadership Conference on the topic “A Desert Spirituality: Learning from the Desert Fathers and Mothers” on April 10, 8:15 a.m.-4 p.m. Leadership is provided by Chris Hall, a chancellor of Eastern University and dean of Palmer Theological Seminary, who also leads Renovare Retreats and is the author of a number of books. Cost is $40, plus $10 for continuing education units. For more information contact David Young at or 717-615-4515.
  • The Bittersweet Gospel Band has produced a music video to its song "Jesus in the Line," written by Scott Duffey and produced by David Sollenberger. The Bittersweet Gospel Band is composed of several Church of the Brethren pastors--Gilbert Romero, Scott Duffey, Leah Hileman, and Dan Shaffer--as well as Brethren members Trey Curry and Kevin Walsh. They were assisted in this endeavor by Roanoke (Va.) First Church of the Brethren and Roanoke Renacer Church of the Brethren while filming a great deal at the Roanoke Rescue Mission. The band currently is looking for a sponsor to cover the costs of production and distribution (by DVD). Said an announcement: “If a church agency, a congregation, or an individual is interested in more detail, including putting a ‘Brought to you by...’ message at the beginning of the video, please be in touch with Scott Duffey ( or David Sollenberger (” The band hopes to release the music video sometime around Annual Conference.
  • For the 36th year the Church of the Brethren will can meat in Ephrata, Pa., for disaster relief. The canning begins April 1 and continues through April 4, with April 10 scheduled for labeling. need volunteers for labeling on Wednesday, April 10. Funds are needed to purchase and ship the meat, and congregations that would like to send volunteers should call the Southern Pennsylvania District office at 717-624-8626.
  • FaithQuest, a spiritual retreat for youth in grades 10-12 who are interested in growing in their faith, takes place at Camp Bethel on April 5-7 led by Virlina youth and adults who will teach about discovering God, self, and our relationships with others. Also at Camp Bethel later in the month, the Virlina District Children’s Cabinet will sponsor a “Back in Time Activity Day” on April 27 in the Deer Field Center with activities beginning at 9 a.m. This is for children K-5th grade and families, with living history demonstrations, presentations, activities, music, crafts, games, and snacks.
  • John Staubus of Harrisonburg (Va.) First Church of the Brethren is bringing the meditation for the Easter Sunrise Service at CrossRoads Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center, held on the hilltop at CrossRoads at 7 a.m. on Easter Sunday. The men's quartet from Harrisonburg First Church will provide special music. “Worship as the sun rises from behind Massanutten Peak,” said an invitation. For more information go to .
  • A John Kline Lecture originally scheduled for this Sunday at the John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va., has been postponed until April 28.
  • Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., has received a $445,039 grant from the National Science Foundation to fund a series of faculty development workshops to be held at Juniata College and other college and university campuses on genomics education over the next five years. A release from the college announced that the grant--which is one of about 20 awards spread across the US through the Research Coordination Networks: Undergraduate Biology Education program--will allow the Juniata-headquartered Genome Consortium for Active Teaching Using Next-Generation Sequencing Network (GCAT-SEEK) to recruit collaborative institutional partners from beyond the region. In its first year, the grant will fund a four-day seminar on Juniata’s campus, with subsequent locations for workshops the following years. The second-year workshop will be held at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa. In the third and fourth years, two workshops are scheduled each summer--one at Juniata and one at a minority-serving institution. Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md., hosts during year three and California State University at Los Angeles in year four. In the fifth year, only one workshop at Hampton University in Hampton, Va., is planned. “We’re creating educational laboratory modules that can be applied at liberal arts institutions across the United States,” says Vince Buonaccorsi, associate professor of biology at Juniata and lead principal investigator on the grant.
  • McPherson (Kan.) College is marking its fifth year in a row on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor roll, reports a release from the college. McPherson is one of only five institutions in Kansas to accomplish a similar streak. “The joy of giving of self was apparent on the McPherson College campus last school year,” said Tom Hurst, director of service. Established under the Corporation for National and Community Service in 2006, the honor roll recognizes those institutions that encourage and support community service. Learn more at .
  • Elizabethtown (Pa.) College was named to the 2013 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction. This designation is the highest honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement said a release from the college which added that only four other Pennsylvania institutions of higher education earned the Honor Roll with Distinction award. “Elizabethtown College has a long history of service-learning and believes strongly in preparing our graduates to be active leaders and participants in an ever changing world,” said president Carl Strikwerda. "We're honored to receive this prestigious award again this year--and owe much of it to the students themselves. They're the energy driving our commitment and they're the ones who make it all happen."
  • The Corporation for National and Community Service also has recognized Bridgewater (Va.) College. A release notes this is the second year that Bridgewater has been named to the Honor Roll. “Admission to the president’s honor roll pays high tribute to Bridgewater College and its ongoing commitment to community service,” said Roy Ferguson, interim president. Recent service-learning projects that have involved students, faculty, and staff include operating sports camps for children from impoverished backgrounds, volunteering at Special Olympics events, the “Read With an Eagle” program, food drives, trail maintenance for natural reserves, and Relay for Life fundraisers for the American Cancer Society.
  • A public auction of classroom and faculty office furniture and electronics from the historic Administration Building of Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., is set for Saturday, April 13. Bidding begins at 10 a.m. inside the building at 604 E. College Ave. “Lots and lots of memories will go on the auction block,” said a release from the university. “While we expect to have a fair amount of alumni and faculty bidders, the sale will attract antique collectors and church schools, too. Much of the old furniture is solid oak. Even the chalk boards will go!” More than 400 student desks, 75 computers and data projectors and screens are up for bidding. Also on the sale bill: pews from Petersime Chapel. The auctioneer is Larry J. Miller of North Manchester. Preview items at 7 a.m. on the sale day. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Terms are cash or checks with identification. For more information about the sale visit or contact Scott Eberly at 260-982-5321.
  • Manchester University also seeks nominations for its 2013 Warren K. and Helen J. Garner Alumni Teacher of the Year award. The honor goes to a current teacher in preschool through 12, who has made significant contributions to education, provides exceptional service to the profession, is deeply concerned for the individual students, is able to inspire learning. To nominate a Manchester graduate find more information at or contact the Department of Education at 260-982-5056. Deadline for nominations is March 29.
  • Josh Fox, writer and director of "Gasland," a finalist for an Academy Award in Best Documentary, is keynote speaker on April 23, during Elizabethtown (Pa.) College's 6th annual Scholarship and Creative Arts Day. His visit culminates a year-long program of learning activities centered on natural gas production and resource extraction, reports a release from the college. At 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, in Leffler Chapel and Performance Center, Fox shares his thoughts on the processes of fracking and offers insights about how the process impacts individuals and society at large. The complete schedule of events for the day is at and includes a screening of the film “Gasland” at 7:30 p.m. that evening.
  • Chicago (Ill.) First Church of the Brethren board chair Duane Ediger has been taking up the issue of fracking in the state of Illinois. Ediger has been doing prominent advocacy for renewable energy at the Chicago City Council and in the state capital Springfield, where he has been among those seeking a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” in Illinois.
  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) invites applications to join Christian Peacemaker Corps. Applications are due by May 1. “Have you participated in a recent CPT delegation that whetted your appetite for embodied peace work, partnering with others working nonviolently for justice, and confronting the injustice that leads to war?” said the announcement. “Does CPT's style of peacemaking, confronting injustice, and undoing oppressions fit with yours? Is now the time to take the next step and join the Peacemaker Corps?” Those who apply before May 1 will take part in CPT's Peacemaker Training in Chicago, Ill., on July 19-Aug. 19. The organization seeks applicants available for stipend-eligible service, as well as reservists. Applicants must have participated in a short-term CPT delegation. For questions, e-mail Adriana Cabrera-Velásquez, personnel coordinator, at . The application and more information is at .
  • Chet Thomas, executive director of Proyecto Aldea Global (PAG) in Honduras, has made an appeal for donations of two hay binder units in fairly good condition to help power a ferry boat. The ferry functions near a large hydroelectric dam called El Cajon, or “the box,” in an area where several PAG programs work. Two decades ago an access road between two rivers was cut off by the dam, greatly increasing the length and hardship of the trip between peoples’ homes and markets in northern Honduras. The connection of this area to the north is very important economically and politically, but the dam is too wide and deep to support a bridge. Volunteers built the first ferry in 2000, “Miss Pamela,” using out-of-date steel propane tanks, steel girders, etc. In order to move the 40- to 60-foot boat, a power unit was installed using motorized hay binders. The system has worked for 12 years, moving people, vehicles, heavy equipment, and cattle across a three-mile stretch of water 11 hours a day, 7 days a week--but the original hay binder units are now in need of replacement. Once donated, PAG staff will prepare units for shipment to Honduras. Contact Chet Thomas at or 305-433-2947.
Source: 3/21/2013 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 Tim Button-Harrison, Scott Duffey, Anna Emrick, Mary Kay Heatwole, Kendra Johnson, Genna Welsh Kasun, Jeri S. Kornegay, David W. Miller, Amy Mountain, Adam Pracht, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Newsline Special: March 15, 2013


Church of the Brethren in Spain receives recognition from denominational board.

Spanish Brethren wave flags
Photo by Tim Harvey
Brethren in Spain wave the flag of Spain during a dance. The occasion was a visit by past Annual Conference moderator Tim Harvey in 2012.
Recognizing the Church of the Brethren in Spain--and passing on to Annual Conference a recommendation for that body to recognize the fledgling Spanish church, was a key action of the Mission and Ministry Board at its March 8-11 meeting at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

The recommendation to recognize the Church of the Brethren in Spain came from the Mission and Ministries Planning Council, and was presented by Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer.

Nuevo Amanecer Church of the Brethren and Atlantic Northeast District made the initial proposal, following the establishment of congregations in Spain by Brethren immigrants from the Dominican Republic. Nuevo Amanecer pastor Fausto Carrasco has been a key leader in the development of the Brethren congregations in Spain.

Wittmeyer informed the board that there are several congregations of Brethren in Spain, located in Madrid and in an area on the northwest coast. Each of the congregations includes an average of 50-70 participants. Those involved with the Brethren congregations in Spain include native-born Spanish citizens as well as immigrants from the DR and a number of other countries. Congregations have been able to register locally but not corporately as a denomination to this point. The recognition from the US church will support their effort to do so.

The board is recommending to the delegates of Annual Conference that the congregations in Spain be recognized as “being part of the global Church of the Brethren community” and that Global Mission and Service staff be encouraged to nurture the relationship with Spanish Brethren, seeking to encourage efforts toward independence and self-governance.

The recommendation adds, in part: “We recognize the dangers of financially supporting new mission projects in ways that can unintentionally discourage local initiative and foster an unhealthy dependence on outside funding, limiting its growth and development. Therefore we seek to partner in ways that affirm, respect, and challenge the development of the spiritual and material resources already present in the mission, while offering spiritual, fraternal, and leadership development support.”

Many board members expressed excitement about the development, while noting the need to work at ensuring that the new Spanish body does not fall into the trap of financial dependence on the US church. Noted chair Ben Barlow, the action is “not that we are taking the Brethren movement back to Europe, but receiving Brethren there!”

Source: 3/15/2013 Newsline Special

Brethren board issues resolution against drone warfare.

Staff from the Peace Witness Ministry present a resolution against drone warfare
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Staff of the Peace Witness Ministry present a resolution against drone warfare to the Mission and Ministry Board in March, (from right) Nathan Hosler, director of Peace Witness Ministry, and Bryan Hanger, advocacy assistant and Brethren Volunteer Service worker.
A Resolution Against Drone Warfare was issued by the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board on March 10. Proposed by the denomination’s Peace Witness Ministry based in Washington, D.C., the resolution will be sent on to the 2013 Annual Conference for its consideration in early July.

The resolution addresses the use of drones in warfare in the context of a reaffirmation of the Church of the Brethren’s longstanding assertion that “war is sin.” Citing scripture and relevant Annual Conference statements, it states in part, “We are troubled by the quickly expanding use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. These drones are being used for surveillance and remote killing of people. In our opposition to all types of war, the Church of the Brethren has spoken out specifically against covert warfare.... Drone warfare embodies the fundamental problems that covert warfare entails.”

The resolution calls districts, congregations, and individual members of the church to study the issue in relation to the Brethren history of peacemaking, to care for the victims of drone violence, and to encourage all church-related institutions to follow denominational practices for socially responsible investing.

It calls on the President and Congress of the United States to halt the use of drones and calls on Congress to hold the President accountable for the administration’s use of drones and to institute legitimate oversight of their deployment. “We will no longer tolerate secretive ‘kill lists,’ and the decision-making process in the matter of armed drones must be made public,” the resolution says, “so that the lethal actions of government may be properly understood and judged.”

The full text of the resolution:

Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board
Resolution against Drone Warfare

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them..... Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”
(Romans 12:14, 17-21).

The Church of the Brethren follows the teaching and example of Jesus Christ, whose willingness to die was unaccompanied by a willingness to kill. In line with our Brethren heritage, we believe “that war or any participation in war is wrong and entirely incompatible with the spirit, example and teachings of Jesus Christ,” (1918 Statement of Special Conference of the Church of the Brethren to the Churches and the Drafted Brethren) and that all “war is sin…[and that we] cannot encourage, engage in, or willingly profit from armed conflict at home or abroad.  We cannot in the event of war, accept military service or support the military machine in any capacity,” (1934 Annual Conference Resolution on Peace and Goodwill). We seek to live this belief through working for peace in our communities and opposing violence in all forms.

The Church of the Brethren has consistently opposed the use of lethal force and has encouraged measures to support the wellbeing and security of all people. We are troubled by the quickly expanding use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. These drones are being used for surveillance and remote killing of people.

In our opposition to all types of war, the Church of the Brethren has spoken out specifically against covert warfare (1988 Annual Conference Statement on “Covert Operations and Covert War”). Drone warfare embodies the fundamental problems that covert warfare entails. The process for determining who is targeted by drones, and why, is decided by a small group of government officials who are not accountable to Congress or the American people for their actions. The names of people who are considered targets for drone warfare have been assembled on what are described as “kill lists.”

Drones are being used as weapons in many areas where the United States is not officially at war, such as Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan. In some cases, such countries have given the U.S. their blessing to use drones, but then have concealed the fact that it is the United States carrying out these strikes. Concealment of covert activities generates confusion, results in the deaths of countless targeted people and bystanders, and undermines international law and cooperation.

The Church of the Brethren has stated that peace can be achieved only by the unity of all humanity (1991 Annual Conference statement on “Peacemaking: The Calling of God’s People in History”). Drone warfare inherently disrupts the path toward this unity for which we pray and work. To act remotely shields the American people from the horror and discord of war. Though machines carry out the final action of these missions, U.S. citizens may not excuse or disconnect themselves from the lethal consequences of these decisions.

All killing mocks the God who creates and gives life. Jesus, as the Word incarnate, came to dwell among us (John 1:14) in order to reconcile humanity to God and bring about peace and healing. In contrast, our government’s expanding use of armed drones distances the decisions to use lethal force from the communities in which these deadly strikes take place. We find the efforts of the United States to distance the act of killing from the site of violence to be in direct conflict to the witness of Christ Jesus.

Therefore, be it resolved that the Church of the Brethren and its members shall:
  1. Call our districts, congregations, and individual members to study this issue in relation to our Brethren history of peacemaking and our biblical understanding of peace, so that Brethren may continue to be dynamic and prophetic peacemakers in a world riddled with violent behavior. We covenant together to care for the victims of this violence, as well as those who are not recognizing the consequences of their participation in this form of violence.
  2. Encourage our institutions, congregations, and individuals to pray and work for peace, to follow denominational practices for socially responsible investing, and to support organizations that use nonviolent means to promote stability, justice, and peace across the world. 1
  3. Call upon the President and Congress to halt the use of drones in places both foreign and domestic. As followers of Jesus we are called to be a radical witness for peace, and we must reject a deadly and destructive campaign that has killed and wounded many people and created a climate of fear. Additionally, even by the government’s standards and goals, this is failing to produce stability or progress toward peace. 
  4. Call upon Congress to hold the President accountable for his administration’s past use of armed drones, and to control the future use of armed drones by instituting legitimate oversight of any deployment of drones by the military or the CIA. We will no longer tolerate secretive “kill lists,” and the decision-making process in the matter of armed drones must be made public so that the lethal actions of government may be properly understood and judged.
“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.... Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:27-28, 31).

Endnote 1.
  • Minutes, Church of the Brethren General Board, Executive Committee 1/18/1972:  Proposed Answer to 1971 National Youth Conference Resolution on U.S. Savings Bond divestment.
  • Minutes, Church of the Brethren General Board, March 14-17, 1972, pages 4-6, V.2.) U.S. Bonds and Cash Flow Needs, and V.3) Investments.
Action of the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board: “The Mission and Ministry Board at its meeting on Sunday March 10, 2013, adopted the Resolution against Drone Warfare, and forwards it to the 2013 Annual Conference for adoption.”

Source: 3/15/2013 Newsline Special

Response on equitable board representation will go to Annual Conference.

Home page image for Spring MMBA response to the query about equitable representation on the Mission Ministry Board, which came to Annual Conference from Southern Pennsylvania District and was referred to the board for action, will be on the business docket at the 2013 Conference.

The board recommended the following changes to the bylaws of the Church of the Brethren Inc., revising a section governing the number and geographic balance of the members of the board:
  • increasing from 10 to 11 the number of “directors” or board members to be elected by Annual Conference,
  • decreasing from 5 to 4 the number of at-large board members elected by the board and affirmed by the Conference,
  • changing from 2 to 3 the number of members elected by Conference who come from each of the three most populous areas of the denomination (Area 1, Area 2, and Area 3),
  • decreasing from 2 to 1 the number of members elected by Conference who come from each of the two least populous areas (Area 4 and Area 5), and
  • charging the nominating committee of Standing Committee with the task of ensuring a fair and equitable rotation of board members from among the districts in each area.
Board leaders also voiced an intention to identify members as “liaisons” to districts, and to schedule opportunities during Annual Conference for board members to make closer connections with districts.

The recommendation follows a number of conversations in the board and its executive committee, and a conference call of board leaders with leaders of Southern Pennsylvania District. The board heard a number of concerns about how its members are named, the rotation of members from the 23 church districts across the US, and a call for board members to more closely relate to districts. Another specific question posed by the district was about the procedure in the event a person moves from one area to another during a term on the board, and the resulting loss of district connection.

“I get completely the concern,” said board chair Ben Barlow. He added, however, that the board also has to ensure continuity and develop experience among its members. He gave the fictional example of a board member who heads up a key committee, and then loses a job and has to move as a result--in which case the board would not want to have to replace that member and lose that person’s level of experience and expertise from the board.

Discussion of the recommendation re-emphasized the understanding that board members are not considered to be representatives of the areas or districts from which they come, but represent the entire denomination.

Source: 3/15/2013 Newsline Special

Board sees new congregational survey tool, names at-large member, among other business.

Board members heard about learnings from a new congregational survey
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Board members heard about learnings from a new congregational survey, one of several new tools in development as part of the Vital Ministry Journey for congregations and districts. The survey tool was presented by Congregational Life executive Jonathan Shively and Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices.
Mission and Ministry Board members got a glimpse of a new congregational survey that will be part of the Vital Ministry Journey for churches and districts, named a new at-large member pending affirmation at Annual Conference, reviewed financial reports from 2012, and made a small change to the 2013 budget among other business at the spring meeting.
  • Preliminary learnings from a congregational survey that will be a resource for those participating in the Vital Ministry Journey were presented by Congregational Life Ministries executive director Jonathan Shively and Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices. The survey will help congregations do self assessment, as they work toward vitality and renewal. Congregational Life Ministries staff had invited some members of the board to help test the instrument. It is one of several Vital Ministry Journey resources that are being developed and will be announced as they become available. Also in the works are resources for spiritual gifts discernment and worship, each involving Bible study and a “triads” small group process for use in congregations. For more information go to
  • The denominational budget revision for 2013 is to cover planning expenses incurred this year for the National Youth Conference (NYC) to be held next year. Almost $75,000 of anticipated expenses will be paid out of NYC reserves that have accumulated from previous years.
  • Connie Burk Davis of Westminster, Md., was named to fill an at-large position on the Mission and Ministry Board, pending affirmation from Annual Conference.
  • The board is requesting an amendment to the bylaws of the corporation to enlarge the number of at-large executive committee members to three from two, who will serve on the executive committee alongside the chair and vice chair. Continuing on the committee as ex-officio members are the general secretary and the Annual Conference moderator. This action is intended to increase communication lines between the executive committee and the full board.
  • The board approved the 2012 Annual Report that will be presented to Annual Conference.
Roy Winter gives a final report of the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries in Haiti
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Roy Winter gives a final report of the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries in Haiti, where more than 100 homes have been built and other programs have cared for those affected by the 2010 earthquake and the storms and hurricanes that have hit the island in recent years.
  • A digital version of “Messenger” magazine that soon will be available as a bonus for print subscribers debuted at this board meeting. Editor Randy Miller and publisher Wendy McFadden displayed the digital magazine, to oohs and aahs from board members who expressed enthusiasm for the development.
  • Among reports received: a final report on the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries in Haiti, a report from leaders who attended the annual meeting of Christian Churches Together (CCT) highlighting the need to focus on immigration, a report from a delegation that went to Israel and Palestine with an American Baptist group, followed up by a report from John and Joyce Cassel who served in Israel and Palestine for three months with EAPPI, an accompaniment program of the World Council of Churches.
  • Find a link to the photo album of the Mission and Ministry Board’s spring meeting at View two video clips from the meeting, including the Sunday morning message given by board chair Ben Barlow and the recommendation to recognize the Church of the Brethren in Spain, at
Source: 3/15/2013 Newsline Special

BMC representatives and MMB executive committee discuss concerns.

Representatives of the Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Interests (BMC) and the executive committee of the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board (MMB) met for about four hours on Monday, Feb. 4, at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

The purpose of the gathering was to begin dialogue about past difficulties in working together (most recently in relation to the process surrounding a proposed Brethren Volunteer Service placement within BMC) and ways the groups might work together in the future.

Representing BMC were: Katie Hochstedler; board president; Mia Miller, vice-president; Todd Steele; Susan Boyer; and executive director Carol Wise.

Representing the MMB were: Ben Barlow, board chair; Becky Ball-Miller, chair-elect; Andy Hamilton; Brian Messler; Don Fitzkee; Pam Reist; Annual Conference moderator Bob Krouse; and Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger.

Carol Rose, co-director of Christian Peacemaker Teams, facilitated the meeting. Rose led the group in a time of opening worship and invited participants to share hopes and expectations for the meeting. Significant time was devoted to reconstructing a timeline of events that may have contributed to misunderstanding.

While there was insufficient time to engage in a full restorative process, it was evident that both groups were willing to continue the conversation

Participants expressed their appreciation for the conversation and for the leadership provided by Carol Rose.     
No specific actions resulted from the meeting, and no further meetings have been scheduled.

Source: 3/15/2013 Newsline Special


Newsline is produced by the news services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at

Friday, March 08, 2013

Newsline: March 8, 2013


Major US ecumenical organizations restructure.

Two long-standing ecumenical bodies in the United States--the National Council of Churches (NCC) and Church World Service (CWS)--have undergone restructuring and re-envisioning in recent months.

The NCC banner is carried proudly at the 1963 March on Washington
Photo by Religious News Service
The NCC banner is carried proudly at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The NCC group was led by Robert W. Spike (center left), then executive director of the NCC Commission on Religions and Race, and John W. Williams (center right), of the National Baptist Convention of America.
The NCC began a plan for re-envisioning and restructuring last fall, which has since included the elimination of at least six administrative positions on the staff, and the announcement of a move away from historic headquarters in New York. The NCC counts 37 member communions from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African-American, and peace churches among its membership of 40 million people in more than 100,000 congregations.

CWS, which formerly shared the same general assembly as the NCC, has instituted a new governing structure that is independent of denominational representation. A global humanitarian agency, CWS works to help the world’s most vulnerable people overcome hunger and poverty through sustainable development. The Church of the Brethren is an active denomination in CWS, which is the primary means through which Brethren Disaster Ministries extends its work internationally.

Restructuring at the NCC

The governing board of the NCC last fall adopted the recommendation of a task force on Re-envisioning and Restructuring. The task force was co-chaired by NCC president Kathryn Lohre and former Church of the Brethren staff member Jordan Blevins, who directed the Peace Witness Ministry based in Washington, D.C.

The 17-member task force carried out its work over six months, drafting a vision statement calling for a “shared commitment to a transformed and transforming NCC through which the churches and other partners seek visible unity in Christ and work for justice and peace.” Transitional general secretary Peg Birk was named to lead the implementation.

Interaction of three foci will mark the “new NCC,” said a release: theological study and dialogue, inter-religious relations and dialogue, and joint advocacy and action for justice and peace. The new vision is that ministries of education, formation, and leadership development will integrate these foci and bolster the role of the NCC within the ecumenical landscape.

In mid-February the NCC announced it will move from the Interchurch Center at 475 Riverside Dr., New York, to its offices in Washington, D.C. The move aims at “streamlining operations to free up the council to be about the priorities that the churches set together,” said a release. In related changes, the NCC announced that outside vendors will likely provide human resources, IT, strategic accounting, and communications support.

Satellite offices for three leading staff remain in New York: Joseph Crockett, assoc. general secretary Education and Leadership Ministries; Antonios Kireopoulos, assoc. general secretary Faith and Order and Interfaith Relations; Ann Tiemeyer, program director Women’s Ministries.

Birk will join Cassandra Carmichael, head of the NCC’s Washington Office, and Shantha Ready Alonso, director of the NCC’s poverty initiative, in the offices at 110 Maryland Ave., Washington, D.C., at an ecumenical center owned by the United Methodist Church. The long-run savings of the move is projected at between $400,000 and $500,000.

The move highlights the shrinking of staff and resources of the NCC since its heyday in the 1960s when, according to a release, it “occupied three floors of the Interchurch Center in New York, in addition to its offices at 110 Maryland Avenue in Washington. The NCC was the impetus in the planning of the Interchurch Center, which opened in 1960. The Interchurch Center was conceived as the ‘Protestant Vatican on the Hudson’ when President Dwight D. Eisenhower laid the cornerstone in 1958.”

The NCC has not held a general assembly of denominational delegates since 2010 when the last one was held in New Orleans.

The shrinking of the NCC has occurred during the same period of time as the rise of a new ecumenical body, Christians Churches Together. CCT is not a church council in the way that the NCC is. With a minimal staff, it was created as a new kind of forum for leaders of Christian denominations and organizations across the US to meet once a year to broaden and expand their fellowship, unity, and witness. CCT is more inclusive of the diversity of Christians and includes five main “families”: Evangelical/Pentecostal, Orthodox, Catholic, Historic Protestant, and Historic Black churches.

The Church of the Brethren general secretary and Annual Conference moderator and/or moderator-elect attend the CCT annual meeting. Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden represents the Brethren on the CCT Steering Committee, and was just elected president of the Historic Protestant family of churches.

“One of the key aspects of this transitional period is the recognition that structures that were very effective from the 1950s through 2000 are no longer sustainable,” commented Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger who serves on the NCC governing board, is a past officer of the executive committee, and one of the heads of communion helping guide the NCC through its transition.

Noffsinger clarified that at the root of financial issues for the NCC is “the global recession affecting contributions to member communions, and their ability to support the structures of the past.” The NCC “was built on a church that was very strong and committed to ecumenical work,” he said, using “church” to refer to the broad Christian community in the US. “While this spirit is still strong, we just cannot afford the structure anymore,” he said.

“The transitional general secretary of the NCC was given a charge to carry out, and we’ll soon be living out the streamlined structure,” Noffsinger said. “We in the Church of the Brethren continue to be fully engaged in and supportive of the NCC.”

Structural changes at CWS

Church World Service also has made major structural changes. CWS elected a new board of directors last October at its annual members meeting. The board is now smaller and “non-representative,” with board members no longer considered to be representatives of their denominations.

A majority of the CWS board is still required to be recognized members of member denominations, but the remainder is now drawn from professional backgrounds that bring helpful skills and experience to CWS. This “leaner” board is expected to provide a new “pool of talent” said a CWS release in which Amy Gopp, chair of the nominations and board development committee, explained that “a majority of the directors are connected to churches that are CWS member communions, but the elections also make the board interfaith.”

The series of programmatic and staffing changes that have followed the election of the new board will help CWS “sharpen its focus and become a more global organization,” according to a release. The more global approach includes identification of the CWS headquarters in New York as a corporate center, and a change of web address from to . A global CWS Growth Plan is being studied by the new board, which met for the first time Jan. 22-23.

“For more than 65 years, the board of Church World Service has been composed of representatives from its member communions, with CWS board participation often included as a part of their job responsibilities,” said a CWS explanation. “The new board makeup, which expands representation to include people who are not of a member communion, is a major component of the agency’s CWS 2020 Vision, which defines a new foundation for CWS work as the agency adapts to current ecumenical, economic, and global contexts.”

CWS also has made staffing changes including naming James Landis vice president of program operations, and Maurice A. Bloem executive vice president. John L. McCullough continues as CEO and president. Donna Derr, a former member of the Church of the Brethren denominational staff, continues in a key role as director of development and humanitarian assistance.

The Church of the Brethren previously was represented on the CWS board by Roy Winter, associate executive for Brethren Disaster Ministries. He had been vice chair of the board for the past year, was on the executive committee, and chaired the planning committee. Now he continues as a denominational representative but no longer a member of the board. He also continues on the disaster and humanitarian assistance advisory group.

“CWS has been working on defining direction and improving structure and governance since it separated from the NCC,” said Winter. “This new board and reorganization is the result of all these years of work.”

A smaller board is “critical to improve the governance of CWS, to give it a board that could provide critical oversight and guidance to staff,” Winter added. “All these things I voted for, and supported. This seems like the right direction for CWS. However, these changes will require CWS to be more intentional in connecting with its member communions. Without continuing to nurture the relationship with the church, CWS could slowly drift away from its faith-based roots.”

-- This report was prepared by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. It incorporates information from NCC releases by Philip E. Jenks and CWS releases from Lesley Crosson and Jan Dragin.

Source: 3/8/2013 Newsline

Prattsville rebuilding project expands to Schoharie, N.Y.

Brethren Disaster Ministries works on a house in Prattsville, N.Y.
Photo by M. Wilson
Brethren Disaster Ministries works on a house in Prattsville, N.Y.
A Brethren Disaster Ministries home rebuilding and repair project in Prattsville, N.Y., is expanding into a nearby location, the town of Schoharie. Brethren Disaster Ministries is supported through giving to the denomination’s Emergency Disaster Fund. A second allocation of $30,000 was recently made to continue the project in Prattsville and Schoharie.

The New York State project was established in response to the flooding of homes by Hurricane Irene in August 2011. The storm brought high winds and up to 10 inches of rain, causing flash floods in mountainous areas and major flooding along rivers and streams. Parts of eastern New York were hit hard, among them the small town of Prattsville. The community of about 650 people lies along Schoharie Creek in Greene County in the Catskill Mountains, and suffered its worst flash flood in memory. In one of the lowest income regions of the state, nearly 300 homes were covered by floodwater when the creek rose over 15 feet in less than 12 hours. Many affected residents are uninsured or elderly.

Brethren Disaster Ministries has been repairing and rebuilding homes in the Prattsville area since July last year. To date, more than 250 volunteers have provided over 2,000 days of labor to rebuild 7 homes.

The creek also flooded Schoharie, about 35 miles north and down stream from Prattsville. A local organization named SALT requested the assistance of Brethren Disaster Ministries to rebuild, after they became familiar with the work being done in Prattsville by the Brethren.

BDM associate director Zach Wolgemuth met with SALT leadership some weeks ago and agreed to begin repair and rebuilding work in Schoharie as the caseload in Prattsville begins to diminish.

On Feb. 5, Wolgemuth visited the new Schoharie site with David L. Myers, director of the  Department of Homeland Security's Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and an ordained minister in the Mennonite Church. They spent the day discussing the Brethren operation and met with local partners including the newest, SALT, which invited media to the event. Also present was a representative of Lutheran Disaster Relief, Joseph Chu.

"SALT's board of directors got a morale boost Tuesday after hearing words of praise--and thanks--from national disaster response leaders,” reported the “Daily Gazette.” “Recovery efforts in the Schoharie Creek Basin have drawn national attention due to the uniqueness of our model and the breadth and pace of accomplishments. The presence of these visitors highlights the significance of the work that is being achieved by SALT and partner agencies, and has ramifications for the potential replication of our recovery model in other regions impacted by disaster.” Read the article at

Source: 3/8/2013 Newsline

Consultation considers expansion of Haiti Medical Project.

Three of the Haitian doctors involved with the Haiti Medical Project
Photo by Dale Minnich
Three of the Haitian doctors involved with the Haiti Medical Project: Kensia Thebaud, Pierre Emmerson, and Verosnel Solon.
On Feb. 28-March 3 a consultation about the Haiti Medical Project was held with leaders of L’Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Haitian Church of the Brethren) and the Global Mission and Service arm of the US church.

The consultation included meetings with the Haitian staff of the Haiti Medical Project’s mobile clinics, meetings with the National Committee of L’Eglise des Freres, a first meeting of a newly established Coordinating Committee for the Haiti Medical Project, and a trip to northern Haiti to explore possible partners for emerging new work.

The project began as a partnership of US and Haitian Brethren responding to health needs in the wake of the 2010 earthquake. Since then, clinics have been held in 10 communities where L’Eglise des Freres has congregations. Local churches have been key participants in promoting and arranging for the clinics. Klebert Exceus, a former field director for Brethren Disaster Ministries, played a vital role in the initial organizing of the project. Several communities have emerged as primary sites where clinics are scheduled about quarterly.

Staff for the Haiti Medical Project consists of Haitian medical professionals, aided occasionally by visiting Brethren physician, nurses, and other volunteers from the US. Haitian physicians who have been involved in offering the clinics include Kensia Thebaud, Pierre Emmerson, and Verosnel Solon. Clinics typically each serve around 150 patients and are enthusiastically affirmed by the National Committee of L’Eglise des Freres.

During the consultation, a Coordinating Committee was established. Convenor for the group will be Paul Ullom-Minnich, a physician from Moundridge, Kan., who was part of the first Brethren medical delegation to Haiti following the earthquake and has been a key leader in developing the project. Committee members include two Haitian physicians--Verosnel Solon and Pierre Emmerson; two members of the National Committee of the Haitian Church--Jean Altenor and Yves Jean; and on-site staff Ilexene Alphonse. Haiti-based members of the committee will convene monthly for a video conference meeting with Ullom-Minnich.

Strong support by individuals and congregations in the US has provided funds for the first year’s clinics and expansion of the work in Haiti beginning this year. The number of clinics will increase from 16 to 24 per year. The possibility of adding services such as eye care and simple dental service is being explored. A building to serve as a base for the project and as an office for the National Committee of L’Eglise des Freres is under construction.

There is interest in exploring new work to address wider issues of community public health. One issue of concern is the high mortality rate of mothers and infants in the birthing process. In Haiti, in the majority of cases childbirth is not attended by a medical professional and less than sanitary conditions prevail. The consultation visited and talked about partnership possibilities with leaders of Midwives for Haiti in Hinche, a ministry founded by Nadene Brunk and other members of West Richmond (Va.) Church of the Brethren.

The consultation team also visited the remote village of Mombin Crochu to meet with representatives of an organization that trains volunteers to lead community development work, often focused on public health education. A group of about 20 volunteers from surrounding communities traveled in to share their stories, some walking as much as three hours. The Brethren were interested this group’s approaches and the low-tech methods for household water purification that were demonstrated.  Possible links with this organization are being explored.

The consultation group also visited Brethren congregations in Bohoc, Croix des Bouquets, Laferriere, Sodo, and Acajou.

Participating from the Church of the Brethren were Ullom-Minnich, Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer, Global Food Crisis director Jeff Boshart, Haiti Medical Project volunteer Dale Minnich, and Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren member Otto Schaudel.

-- Dale Minnich is a former denominational staff member and a past chair of the Mission and Ministry Board.

Source: 3/8/2013 Newsline