Friday, April 19, 2013

Children's Disaster Services to work in Boston following bombing

A team from Children's Disaster Services (CDS) is traveling to Boston to help care for children and families affected by the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

CDS staff have put together a team of four caregivers to respond to the Boston attack. The four, headed by CDS project manager Connie Rutt, will travel to Boston on Saturday morning April 20 and work in the Red Cross Family Assistance Center through the weekend.

CDS will send replacement volunteers on Monday if needed.

This response depends on security allowing volunteers into the city.

Established in 1980, Children's Disaster Services works cooperatively with FEMA and the American Red Cross to provide care for children and families following disasters, through the work of trained and certified volunteers. CDS is a Church of the Brethren ministry.

CDS volunteers set up child care centers in shelters and disaster assistance centers. Specially trained to respond to traumatized children, the volunteers provide a calm, safe, and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos created by natural or human-caused disasters.

CDS also regularly offers workshops to train participants to understand and respond to children who have experienced a disaster, recognize fears and other emotions children experience during and following a disaster, and learn how child-led play and art mediums can start the healing process. Once participants complete a workshop and undergo a rigorous screening process, they may apply for certification to serve as a CDS volunteer.

For more information about Children's Disaster Services go to www.brethren.org/cds or call 800-451-4407 option 5.

Source: 4/19/2013 Newsline Special

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Newsline: April 18, 2013

NEWS ANNUAL CONFERENCE NEWS UPCOMING EVENTS BRETHREN BITS

Fifty years later, church leaders respond to Birmingham letter.

Fifty years later, Christian Churches Together (CCT) has issued a response to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” The document was signed by representatives of CCT’s member communions and presented to King’s youngest daughter, Bernice King, at a symposium April 14-15 in Birmingham, Ala.

King’s famous letter on April 16, 1963, was written in response to an open letter from a group of eight clergy--one Catholic priest, six Protestants, and a rabbi--urging him to exercise restraint and call an end to the nonviolent demonstrations.

As far as is known, the CCT document is the first response to the “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” CCT issued a short statement two years ago in Birmingham, and committed then to produce this detailed response on the occasion of the 50th anniversary. The full statement is posted at www.brethren.org/birminghamletter.

In the document, CCT calls member churches to repentance and confesses the history of racism within its institutions. “Those of us who lead predominantly white churches confess to our CCT colleagues of other ethnicities that we would prefer to overlook the ways in which we have replayed the role of the ‘white moderates’ who most disappointed Dr. King.” A significant part of the paper is an appendix with separate confessions from the faith families that constitute CCT.

The document elaborates on the key themes of King’s letter and the challenges that face the church today. It also expresses commitments for the future. “We proclaim that, while our context today is different, the call is the same as in 1963--for followers of Christ to stand together, to work together, and to struggle together for justice.”

The symposium featured addresses from clergy and from several key civil rights leaders who had worked with King.

Educator Dorothy Cotton, who was one of the highest ranking women in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, cautioned against regarding the civil rights movement as “Dr. King’s movement.” “When we say that, we think we have to have some big leader, we disempower ourselves.” That’s what is missing today, she said. “If you see something that’s not right, you might have to start an action all by yourself.”

Congressman John Lewis recounted how a month earlier he had received a formal apology from the Montgomery police chief for failing to protect him and other Freedom Riders in 1961--evidence of “the power of love, the power of the teachings of Jesus.” He challenged the church “to make some noise, to get into some good trouble.”

Baptist minister Virgil Wood emphasized the economic face of racism today and reminded listeners that King had focused as much on the “beloved economy” as on the “beloved community.”

In her remarks, Bernice King said she appreciated the emphasis on her father’s Birmingham letter, which she felt conveyed much about who he was. “He has been described as a great civil rights leader,” she noted, “but most of all he was a minister and a man of God.”

The Church of the Brethren was represented by Stan Noffsinger, general secretary; Nancy S. Heishman, moderator-elect; and Wendy McFadden, a member of the CCT steering committee and president of the Historic Protestant family of CCT. Also in attendance was Bill Scheurer, executive director of On Earth Peace.

Christian Churches Together in the USA is the nation’s broadest fellowship of Christian communions, representing African-American, Catholic, Evangelical/Protestant, Historic Protestant, and Orthodox churches, as well as several national organizations.

-- Wendy McFadden is publisher of Brethren Press.

Source: 4/18/2013 Newsline

Church leaders comment on national tragedy, CDS offers advice for parents.

Christian leaders are joining the nation in prayer following the Boston Marathon bombings. Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger added his voice to that of other ecumenical leaders following the tragedy. Ecumenical groups making statements include the Massachusetts Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches, and the World Council of Churches. 

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) also has called for prayer and offered advice to help parents talk with their children about what happened (see below).

“We join this day in remembering those who lost their lives, the pain of recovery for those injured, the families who bear the brunt of their support, and for all those who witnessed this tragedy. They must be held in our prayers,” Noffsinger said.

“We are no strangers to horrific violence,” he added, “and violence leveled against any person anywhere is violence against all of humanity.”

Having just returned from a Christian Churches Together event marking the 50th anniversary of the writing of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Noffsinger spoke of the terrorism in Boston as “the same disease of humanity” that has affected so many others around the world. He likened it to the terrorist violence suffered by Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) in recent years.

Quoting from King’s letter, the general secretary called Brethren as we mark this national tragedy to have compassion for people here and around the world who experience violence in their daily lives. “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny,” Noffsinger quoted from King’s letter. “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

“We must work on the deeper source of behavior that sparks violence. Ask, how can I help change the course of humanity to a more nonviolent course,” Noffsinger said.

The Church of the Brethren has just one church plant in Massachusetts. Noffsinger noted that the denomination connects with ecumenical partners there through the council of churches. He recommended to Brethren the statement and resources posted online by the Massachusetts Council of Churches at http://masscouncilofchurches.wordpress.com.

Children’s Disaster Services help for parents

Children’s Disaster Services in a Facebook post offered prayer “for all those impacted by the terror at the Boston Marathon yesterday.” The ministry that trains and places child care givers at disaster sites also offered advice for parents:

“Remember that children are often watching and listening,” the CDS post said. “They may hear parents talking about violence and terror or see reports on the TV that cause confusion and stress. Be prepared to help your child understand and feel safe.”

Children's Disaster Services has two brochures that can help. Online at www.brethren.org/CDS under the heading “Resources” is a brochure titled "Trauma: Helping Your Child Cope." Another offering advice for helping support children through war and terrorism may be provided by e-mail to anyone interested. Contact cds@brethren.org .

Statements from ecumenical groups

The National Council of Churches:
April 16, 2013

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

We are grieving with those in Boston, and joining in prayer with Christians and people of faith around the world. As the National Council of Churches, we stand in solidarity with the Massachusetts Council of Churches. We give thanks for the pastoral leadership of its executive director, the Rev. Laura Everett, and all those Christian leaders who join her in reaching out to those impacted yesterday and in the days to come.

The MCC has offered a powerful public statement, printed below and available here: http://masscouncilofchurches.wordpress.com/

The prayers offered in this statement are fervently echoed by all of us. We pray that God will continue to bring comfort to those who mourn, healing to those who are injured, and peace to those who are living in fear and uncertainty in this difficult time.

Kathryn M. Lohre
NCC President
The Massachusetts Council of Churches:
"Behold, I will bring health and healing to the city; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth" (Jeremiah 33:6).

Our hearts are heavy in Massachusetts. On a great day of civic pride and joy, our city of Boston was scarred by violence. We grieve for those who have died. Bodies made to run and cheer were wounded. Our eyes are burned with images of terror in the very streets where we walk. Attend to us, Great Physician.

We do not yet now why this has happened. Preserve us from quick judgements, O Lord. Give us wisdom in the days ahead. Reveal to us peace and truth.

We sing the African-American spiritual, "Guide my feet, while I run this race, for I don't want to run this race in vain." In this time of uncertainty and fear, we cling to the sure promises of our God that we do not go on in vain.

Even as we grieve, we will remain steadfast in charity, defiant in hope, and constant in prayer. We are grateful for the prayers and support from across the country and the globe. Please continue to pray for the victims. Pray for our first responders, our elected officials, and the media who work with such trauma and return home to their own families. Pray for those without permanent homes who live in our public parks, displaced by this violence in our city. Pray for the marathoners, tourists, and visitors far from home.

The Massachusetts Council of Churches joins our prayers with citizens throughout the Commonwealth. In the words of the prophet Jeremiah, may our God indeed bring health and healing to the city.

The Rev. Laura E. Everett
Executive Director
Massachusetts Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches:

The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev.  Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, has offered prayers and support for advocacy against violence on behalf of the WCC member churches in light of the bombing at the Boston Marathon on Monday.

In a letter to the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, he said, “This violence in the midst of what was to be a time of celebration and personal accomplishment as many from around the world gathered for a peaceful competition has brought pain and fear to so many across your country.”

The letter was addressed to the NCCCUSA transitional general secretary, Peg Birk and president, Kathryn Lohre.

“In this time when the sanctity of life must be proclaimed most strongly, I offer my personal support to your ongoing advocacy against violence in all its forms,” Tveit said. “In the name of the God of Life all of us must offer such witness as we are called to be agents of justice and peace in a too often wounded world.”

Source: 4/18/2013 Newsline

Nigerian Brethren experience another church attack, hold annual meeting.

Another Nigerian Brethren congregation has suffered an attack during worship, shortly before leaders of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) are to gather for the Majalisa or general church council, equivalent to the Annual Conference of the US church.

EYN’s 66th Majalisa is scheduled for April 16-19 on the theme, “Reclaiming Our Heritage as Peace Church in Such a Time Like This.”

On Sunday, April 7, gunmen suspected to be part of the radical Islamist group called Boko Haram attempted an attack on an EYN congregation in the city of Maiduguri in the northeast of Nigeria. The attack came while the congregation was in worship, and a Nigerian television station reporting the incident noted, “Today’s incident marks the first time that an attack will be launched on a church in the Maiduguri metropolis in broad daylight during Sunday service since the Boko Haram insurgence heightened in the area.”

Worshipers told the TV stations that about five gunmen opened fire into the church, during the sermon, but that soldiers who were stationed at a post in front of the church immediately repelled the attack. One soldier was hit by a bullet but was treated and discharged from hospital, the TV station reported.

Since that attack, others have followed reports an EYN leader by e-mail. In one incident last week 16 people were killed in an area of Adamawa State, with six more injured--and a majority of those affected were members of EYN, the report said. On April 8, one person was shot dead in Gwoza following the attack on a Christian district head in that area of Borno State, and in another incident a group of Christians playing cards near the Gwoza general hospital were shot and killed.

Majalisa to be on theme of peace

Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger has sent a letter to EYN general secretary Jinatu Wamdeo and to the Nigerian Brethren as they gather for their annual meeting this week. Noffsinger was to have spoken at the Majalisa, but canceled his trip to Nigeria out of concern for the added burden and expense to the Nigerian church for the extra security that would have been required for his public presence at the event.

Noffsinger’s letter expressed his regrets and the continued concern of American Brethren for “the safety and wellbeing of the members of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria.... We can hardly imagine the struggle you are living with as a people committed to Christ’s witness of nonviolence,” he wrote. “Your witness of Christ’s peace to the US Church of the Brethren has been profound in ways that move our hearts deeply toward our Lord.... You are known and will be known globally as a people who are Living Stones of Christ’s Peace.


“I will be ceaseless in praying for you and the General Council in the coming days,” Noffsinger wrote. “May the 66th General Council gathering in Christ’s name, be a witness of the Christ light in Nigeria.”

“We are encouraged by your words of love, concern, and commitment,” wrote Wamdeo in response. “We are grateful for your prayers which we believe sustain us in the midst of persecution. The lost peace could not be found unless we keep talking to our Lord Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace. Indeed we are together in good or in bad situation. We will continue praying for peace in the entire world.... Extend our gratitude to all Brethren whom we know are in deep concern for us. Thank you very much for your commitments and ceaseless prayers for Nigeria.”

Find the full report on the attack on the EYN congregation from Channels Television at www.channelstv.com/home/2013/04/07/gunmen-storm-church-during-service-in-maiduguri/

Source: 4/18/2013 Newsline

PAG in Honduras, Brethren in Nigeria and Congo, Friends in Rwanda receive GFCF grants.

The Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) has given several grants recently, including an allocation of $60,000 to PAG in Honduras, and $40,000 to an agriculture project of the Rural Development Program of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Also receiving grants of smaller amounts were a Brethren group in the Congo, and a Friends church in Rwanda.

Honduras

The $60,000 grant to Proyecto Aldea Global in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, supports work with the Lenca people in animal raising projects over two years. Funds will support animal purchases, staff and training costs, materials, and transportation. Church of the Brethren member Chet Thomas works with PAG in Honduras.

PAG estimates about 60 families per year will be served. “The first five families in each community are selected based on their poverty situation, needs, but they must be known as responsible persons who have a small piece of land to build their pig pens, chicken coops, fish pond, or maybe have a place to place their bee hives. Then there are a second set of families selected and they are trained and are responsible to the first set of families and on it goes,” explained the grant request. “The challenge is that most poor families need some place to start and when you are indigent, you  have no land of your own or even to build a house, so farming is out of the question. However we have worked with similar families who have been able to plant a small but renewable food supply on very small pieces of land.... More importantly we can help them establish a small economic micro business that can provide a sustainable income.” 

PAG’s goals for the funds are three-fold: production of year-round food for the families who take part, improvement of families’ nutritional intake, and improvement of families’ abilities to have a small business and improve their economic income.

Nigeria

The $40,000 grant to EYN will fund a two-year poultry, fish, and pig raising project, which will in turn allow the Rural Development Program to continue funding the supply of agricultural inputs such as veterinary medicines, improved varieties of seeds, and fertilizers to local farmers in over 80 communities. These items are purchased in bulk and resold at a fair price to rural farmers, who would otherwise not have access to them. The grant request explains that in Dec. 2012, EYN leadership pulled together a panel of experts from across the denomination to plan for ways to raise funds, identify strengths and weaknesses of the current program, and develop a strategic plan for bringing new direction to the programs of RDP. The animal raising projects are designed to be a significant income generator and would be established on land owned by EYN near its headquarters. The church also will seek donations and loans from EYN members toward the cost of the projects.

“At this time of great instability and violence, EYN leaders wish to expand their agricultural services to their neighbors--demonstrating hope and love when all around there is hate and fear,” said GFCF manager Jeff Boshart.

Rwanda

An Evangelical Friends church in Rwanda has received a grant of $5,000 for the ETOMR (Evangelistic and Outreach Ministries of Rwanda) program to train Pygmy families in agriculture. The grant request explains that the Pygmies (Batwa) are 1 percent of the population of Rwanda and normally live by hunting in forests. However many forests have been cleared or are being used as national reserves. ETOMR will offer training in modern farming skills and resources such as seeds to help Pygmy families establish farms and become self-supporting.

Congo

Eglise des Freres de Congo, a self-identified Brethren group, also is receiving a grant of $5,000 for similar work. The Brethren group also is working with Pygmy people in the Congo to help them develop skills and resources for agriculture through a project called Shalom Ministry and Reconciliation in Development (SHAMIREDE). The project hopes to improve the lives of 100 families through teaching techniques and methods of sowing different crops such as cassava and bananas. The funds also will purchase seeds and the necessary tools and agricultural equipment.

Find the latest Global Food Crisis Fund newsletter at www.brethren.org/gfcf/stories.

Source: 4/18/2013 Newsline

Disaster and mission staff offer support after fire in South Sudan village.

Staff of Brethren Disaster Ministries and Global Mission and Service have given support to South Sudanese villagers affected by a recent fire, through a grant from the denomination’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF). Other recent disaster relief grants have gone to Church World Service work at a refugee camp in Thailand, and areas of southern states in the US affected by recent storms.

The allocation of $6,800 for the village of Lafon in South Sudan provided emergency shelter and tools for the people affected. The fire in January destroyed 108 homes, as well as personal belongings, and stored food. The Brethren grant purchased tarps, bags of food, and machetes and axes for the affected families--tools they needed to rebuild, and emergency shelter for the rainy season.

A Church of the Brethren mission worker in South Sudan--Athanasus Ungang--with the help of Brethren Volunteer Service worker Jocelyn Snyder, facilitated the purchase and delivery of the supplies.

The grant of $3,500 to the Ban Mae Surin Refugee Camp in Thailand follows a fire at the camp that killed 36 people, injured 200 more, and destroyed more than 400 houses, leaving 2,300 people homeless. The Brethren funds support the response of Church World Service (CWS) in building emergency shelters and providing 10 days of emergency food. A longer term response will include reconstruction of homes, community buildings, and food warehouses.

The amount of $2,000 given to CWS responds to an appeal following several severe storm systems that swept across the southern US during the first few months of 2013, causing significant damage in communities in five states. The CWS response includes distribution of hygiene kits and clean-up buckets, as well as support for long-term recovery committees in the affected communities.

For more about the Emergency Disaster Fund go to www.brethren.org/edf.

Source: 4/18/2013 Newsline

Sponsor a peace and reconciliation scholarship in South Sudan.

Although South Sudan is a new country, decades of war have left traumatic scars that today manifest themselves in re-occurring clashes, conflicts, and challenges, which all witness to the need for relevant, practical, and sustainable peace efforts in the country.

The RECONCILE Peace Institute, or RPI, seeks to actualize the full potential of this great new nation by providing comprehensive three-month training to a select group of faith and community leaders who are already connected and active in peacebuilding efforts. By building the capacity of the community through these leaders, RPI as a program and RECONCILE as a whole hope to contribute to nation building and achieve the vision of harmonious and caring communities in South Sudan. The vision is for communities that realize their full potential, and live and work together in justice, peace, truth, mercy, and hope.

One graduate of the program has become an active peace advocate, mobilizing his community’s pastors to encourage the peaceful release of women and children who were wrongfully imprisoned.

Another graduate has worked in his community to re-integrate former child soldiers by talking with families about the issue, saying, “Families are broken and I help them to reconcile.”

A 2012 RPI graduate stated at the end of her training that she planned to tackle problems in her village by facilitating meetings and awareness trainings with local elders, cattle keepers, and women’s associations. She said that because of RPI, she was equipped with the knowledge and skills to be an “ambassador for peace in [her] community.”

The $4,200 scholarship will allow a leader from a community in South Sudan to receive training so that he or she may become another “ambassador for peace” and begin the work to transform conflict in the country and the region. Contact Global Mission and Service at 800-323-8039 ext. 363 or mission@brethren.org to sponsor a full or partial scholarship.

-- Anna Emrick is program coordinator for the office of Global Mission and Service.

Source: 4/18/2013 Newsline

3,000 miles campaign of On Earth Peace receives lots of support.

In a recent update on its 3,000 Miles for Peace campaign, On Earth Peace reported that over 60 fundraisers are underway in support. As of last week, over $80,000 has been raised for the Paul Ziegler Young Peacemaker Fund. Twelve riding or walking events have already taken place, and those taking part have already traveled more than 1,000 miles toward the goal of 3,000 miles.
The 3,000 Miles for Peace campaign is a fundraiser for On Earth Peace that honors young peacemaker Paul Ziegler who had the goal of bicycling across the country--a distance of about 3000 miles--before he was killed in an accident in Sept. 2012. “Together, we are fulfilling Paul's vision,” On Earth Peace said in the update.

Headlining the campaign is a walking trek by On Earth Peace staff member and former director Bob Gross, who is on a 650-mile walk across the Midwest. Gross reported by telephone this week that as of April 17 he has covered 450 of those miles. He expected to walk to the Altoona area of Pennsylvania by today, and to be in Huntingdon and at Juniata College on the weekend.

A key event in the campaign happens on May 5, Ziegler’s birthday, at his home congregation at Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. The church will host a “3KMP Celebration!” that Sunday from 5-6 p.m. (gathering music begins at 4:45). Gross will be welcomed to Elizabethtown as he completes his 650-mile walk and will share highlights of his journey from North Manchester, Ind. There also will be stories and pictures from other individuals and teams who have participated in the campaign and information about upcoming events in the remaining months of the campaign will be highlighted.

“May 5 would have been Paul Ziegler’s 20th birthday,” said pastor Pam Reist. “In honor of Paul and his passion for peace on earth, the celebration will conclude with birthday cake for all. Everyone is welcome to join the celebration!”

Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren is planning an additional event for all who wish to ride, walk, run, or even scooter “for Paul and for peace,” said an announcement from pastor Greg Davidson Laszakovits. Participants will gather at the Lancaster-Lebanon Rail trail on May 4, with registration starting at 9 a.m. and a send off at 10 a.m.cThe congregation has already raised over $2,000 towards a goal of $10,000.cTo join the effort, or for more information visit www.etowncob.org/3kmp.

Since the launch of the campaign on March 1, interest and participation has been steadily growing. Supporters and participants include bicyclers but also marathon runners, Appalachian Trail hikers, youth groups, canoers and kayakers, college students, weightlifters, congregations, and retirement communities.

Ideas for campaign events “are as diverse as our Beloved Community,” said the On Earth Peace update. A 12 year old at Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Ft. Wayne, Ind., walked while on his Spring Break. A 90-year-old resident of a retirement community in Virginia has contacted On Earth Peace to ask how she can get her community involved. Student groups at church-related schools including Manchester University, Juniata College, Elizabethtown College, and McPherson College all have events taking place. 

Youth at the Southeast Regional Youth Conference (Roundtable) on March 23 used part of their free time to contribute to the campaign. Said participant Katie Furrow, "We walked through and around campus (at Bridgewater College in Virginia) with signs supporting peace activism and peace education. It was so exciting to see the interaction between the youth and the community as people and vehicles we passed would throw up peace signs, wave, or honk in our direction as we joyfully filed past!"

Also on March 23, Anna Lisa Gross and 14 others associated with Common Spirit Church of the Brethren or Living Table United Church of Christ circled Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis, Minn., collectively walking 57 miles. They wore On Earth Peace's "When Jesus said love your enemies, I think he probably meant don't kill them" bumper stickers, and handed them out to interested onlookers.

Paul Fry-Miller, a member of Manchester Church of the Brethren, is planning a “paddle event” co-sponsored by the local Fellowship of Reconciliation. "We are planning a 5.5-mile afternoon float on the beautiful Eel River through North Manchester, Ind., that will include several stations along the way for brief stories and talks about peacemaking and our environment,” he told On Earth Peace. The Kenapocomoco Coalition members of Manchester University Peace Studies program will be camping out Friday night, April 26, in preparation for the float.

A group of bicyclists including denominational staff are planning a ride from the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., to Camp Emmaus in Mt. Morris, a 150-mile roundtrip to be accomplished over two days with an overnight at the camp. Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) president Nevin Dulabaum is one of the organizers and has invited other interested cyclists to join the effort.

On Earth Peace recently hired a part-time campaign organizer, Becca DeWhitt, to help staff the campaign. The organization also is seeking volunteers gifted in publicity, social media, data management, or outreach, who may have connections to bike clubs, congregations, or campuses where a ride or walk for peacemaking might be held. A number of volunteer positions are available. Contact executive director Bill Scheurer at bill@onearthpeace.org.

For more information visit www.3000MilesforPeace.org. To hold a peace witness as part of the campaign, contact 3kmp@OnEarthPeace.org.

Source: 4/18/2013 Newsline

Congregational ethics, ministerial leadership, drone warfare, biblical authority are on business docket for 2013.

Delegates to Annual Conference on June 29-July 3 in Charlotte, N.C., will consider several key documents for the Church of the Brethren, among nine items of business coming to the meeting. As at last year’s Conference, delegates will again be seated together at round tables.

Unfinished business items including revisions to polity on ministerial leadership, and responses to queries on climate change and congregational ethics, among others. New business includes a resolution against drone warfare and a query on biblical authority, as well as recognition for the Church of the Brethren in Spain.

Find the full text of business documents, the ballot, and a video briefing for delegates at www.brethren.org/ac/2013-conference-business-1.html

Revision to Ministerial Leadership Polity

A revised Ministerial Leadership Polity document has been in the works for some years, led by staff of the Office of Ministry along with a number of other leadership groups in the denomination including the Mission and Ministry Board and the Council of District Executives. The revised paper is now coming to the Annual Conference for action. The paper is in several sections with major space given to the concept of Circles of Ministry (Calling Circle, Ministry Circle, and Covenant Circle). Key sections address the Calling Circle and steps in the calling process for ministers, and the two types of Ministry Circles including the Commissioned Minister Circle and the Ordained Minister Circle, as well as a detail of the credentialing process for ministers. Other sections give background information, the history of ministerial leadership and ordination in the Church of the Brethren, theological perspective, and guidance for related issues such as accountability of ministers, reinstatement of ordination, receiving ministers from other denominations, and ministers serving congregations with dual affiliation.

Query: Guidelines for Implementation of the Congregational Ethics Paper

A query on congregational ethics from Western Pennsylvania District came to the 2010 Conference and was referred to a committee including Congregational Life staff and three people appointed by the Conference officers. In 2011 Annual Conference approved a recommendation from that committee that the 1996 Ethics for Congregations paper be reviewed, revised, and updated in collaboration with Congregational Life Ministries, Council of District Executives, and Office of Ministry. The 2012 Conference granted two more years for study. The current report coming in 2013 includes a revision to the 1996 paper, and several recommendations including that the revised paper be reviewed by each congregation, that each congregation engage in a regular process of self assessment every five years in conjunction with the five-year ordination review for ministers, that district leadership be involved in the process, and that materials and resources to support congregations be developed.

Query: Guidance for Responding to the Changing of Earth's Climate

This query from Circle of Peace Church of the Brethren in Peoria, Ariz., and Pacific Southwest District first came to Conference in 2011. It was referred to the denomination’s advocacy office. A small working group led by then-director of advocacy and peace witness, Jordan Blevins, brought a progress report in 2012. This year the Office of Public Witness is bringing a report on actions taken since, including the writing of a study guide for use by congregations, and requests another year to accept further comments and revise the study resource in preparation for a statement to come to the 2014 Annual Conference.

Query: More Equitable Representation on the Mission and Ministry Board

This query came to Annual Conference from Southern Pennsylvania District, and was referred to the denomination’s Mission and Ministry Board. The following bylaw changes are being recommended: increasing from 10 to 11 the number of board members elected by Annual Conference; decreasing from 5 to 4 the at-large members elected by the board and affirmed by the Conference; changing from 2 to 3 the number of members elected by Conference from each of the three most populous areas of the denomination (Areas 1, 2, 3); decreasing from 2 to 1 the number of members elected by Conference who come from each of the two least populous areas (Areas 4 and 5); charging the nominating committee of Standing Committee with ensuring fair and equitable rotation of board members from among districts.

Church of the Brethren Ecumenical Witness

A study committee on the Committee on Interchurch Relations (CIR) recommended that the CIR be discontinued and that the church’s ecumenical witness be expressed through other means, and that a committee be appointed by the Mission and Ministry Board and Leadership Team to write a “Vision of Ecumenism for the 21st Century.” The general secretary reports to the 2013 Conference that such a committee has been formed, and will bring a vision paper back to Annual Conference upon its completion.

Resolution Against Drone Warfare

The resolution comes from the Mission and Ministry Board, and was proposed by the Office of Public Witness. It 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 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 includes a section of calls for action directed to the church and its members, and to the President and Congress.

Recognition of the Church of the Brethren in Spain

The recommendation to officially recognize the Church of the Brethren in Spain comes to the Annual Conference from the Mission and Ministry Board, after that body received the recommendation from the Mission and Ministries Planning Council. 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. The board recommends 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, seeking to encourage efforts toward independence and self-governance.

Query: Biblical Authority

This brief query from Hopewell Church of the Brethren and Virlina District asks if the 1979 Annual Conference statement on “Biblical Inspiration and Authority” (available online at www.cobannualconference.org/ac_statements/79BiblicalInspiration%26Authority.htm ) is still relevant and represents the denomination today, given what “appears to be a great diversity in approach to the primacy of scripture in general and the New Testament in particular within the Church of the Brethren.”

Membership on the Executive Committee of the Mission and Ministry Board

The Mission and Ministry Board is requesting an amendment to the denominational bylaws in order to increase the number of members on its executive committee.

For more information about the Annual Conference go to www.brethren.org/ac.

Source: 4/18/2013 Newsline

Annual Conference service project collects school supplies for Charlotte.

The 2013 Witness to the Host City at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference will benefit Classroom Central, an organization that distributes free school supplies in the host city of Charlotte, N.C.

“Following last year’s overwhelmingly successful drive to bring school supplies for St. Louis schools in need, we will again be collecting school supplies this year for Classroom Central in Charlotte,” said an announcement from the Conference Office.

The mission of Classroom Central, which got its start through a team of local business leaders in 2000, is to equip students living in poverty to effectively learn by collecting and distributing free school supplies. It functions as a free store for teachers, and is characterized as an “invaluable resource” for area students and classrooms. The vision of the organization includes ensuring that all children living in poverty have all the tools they need to not only learn but to succeed. “When equipped with the proper supplies, we believe there’s no limit to what children can achieve.”

Classroom Central serves high-poverty schools in six school districts: Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Gaston, Iredell-Statesville, Union, Kannapolis, and Lancaster. All materials distributed are given to students who do not have basic school supplies. Last year Classroom Central distributed more than 379,000 pens, 632,000 pencils, and 67,000 one-subject notebooks.

The Annual Conference officers are asking each Conference-goer to bring one or more of the following suggested items to keep the program well stocked:
  • pens (one package)
  • pencils (two packages)
  • crayons (24 count box)
  • erasers (8-count)
  • markers (one package)
  • back pack (gender-neutral in color)
The items will be collected during the Sunday afternoon worship at the Conference, on June 30, and will be presented to the executive director of Classroom Central in front of the Conference at the close of business on Tuesday afternoon July 2. Find out more about Classroom Central at www.classroomcentral.org.

Source: 4/18/2013 Newsline

Children’s Disaster Services offers training workshop in New England.

Children’s Disaster Services is offering a New England training workshop on May 3-4 in Litchfield, Conn., at Friendship Baptist Church. This is one of a series of CDS workshops in Connecticut. The workshops in Connecticut after this will give state residents priority, but for this workshop registration numbers are unlimited.

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) works cooperatively with FEMA and the American Red Cross to provide care for children and families following disasters, through the work of trained and certified volunteers. CDS is a Church of the Brethren ministry that has been meeting the needs of children since 1980.

CDS sets up child care centers in shelters and disaster assistance centers across the nation. Specially trained to respond to traumatized children, CDS volunteers provide a calm, safe, and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos created by natural or human-caused disasters.

This workshop will offer training in care for children who have experienced disasters, but information learned at this workshop can be beneficial to anyone working with children. The workshop trains participants to understand and respond to children who have experienced a disaster, recognize fears and other emotions children experience during and following a disaster, and learn how child-led play and art mediums can start the healing process. Hosted by a local congregation, the workshops also offers participants a taste of living conditions in disaster-affected areas as they sleep overnight in church facilities.

Once participants complete a workshop and undergo a rigorous screening process, they may apply for certification to serve as a CDS volunteer. CDS training is open to anyone over 18 years old. Cost is $45 for early registration, or $55 less than three weeks in advance. The fee covers meals, curriculum, and one overnight stay.

To register for the workshop, go to www.brethren.org/cds/training/dates.html. For more information about Children’s Disaster Services go to www.brethren.org/cds or call 800-451-4407 option 5.

Source: 4/18/2013 Newsline

Young Adult Conference 2013 is held at Camp Pine Lake in Iowa.

The 2013 Young Adult Conference will be held May 25-27 for Brethren age 18-35 at Camp Pine Lake near Eldora, Iowa. The event will offer participants a long weekend of worship, fun, and fellowship.

The annual conference is an opportunity for young adults to connect with others from across the denomination and to together explore a theme and scripture. This year the theme will be “Voice: ...The Stones Would Shout Out!” from the story of people spreading their cloaks before Jesus as he entered Jerusalem, told in Luke 19:36-40: “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.’”

Leadership will be provided by speakers Eric Landrum, Kay Guyer, Jonathan Brenneman, and Joanna Shenk. Worship coordinators are Marie Benner Rhoades and Tyler Goss. Jacob Crouse is the music leader.

The cost is $100 per participant, or $125 after May 1. Scholarship help is available. The registration fee includes two nights of lodging, as well as all meals and programming during the event.

Coordinating the 2013 young adult event is Becky Ullom Naugle, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. Contact her at bullomnaugle@brethren.org. For more information and registration go to www.brethren.org/yac.

Source: 4/18/2013 Newsline

Gettysburg Brethren are the subject of John Kline Lecture for 2013.

The author of a forthcoming book on the religious history of Gettysburg, Pa., will deliver this year’s John Kline Lecture at the John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va., on April 28. The speaker, Steve Longenecker, will explain the impact of the famous battle on members of the Church of the Brethren (Dunkers) who lived on the battlefield.

Brethren lived on farms just outside Gettysburg, and in 1863 they witnessed the great collision of armies. One Brethren-owned farm became the famous Peach Orchard, a critical point in the battle. The experience the Gettysburg Brethren is particularly ironic because they belonged to an anti-slavery, pacifist denomination.

The lecture titled “Gettysburg Brethren on the Battlefield” is at the John Kline Homestead on, Sunday, April 28, beginning at 3 p.m.  Nineteenth-century refreshments will be served. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited and reservations are required. Contact Paul Roth at proth@bridgewater.edu or Linville Creek Church of the Brethren at 540-896-5001 for reservations.

Longenecker’s book, “Gettysburg Religion,” will be released by Fordham University Press later this year as part of its series on the North’s Civil War. Longenecker has written five other books on American religious history. He earned a doctorate in history from Johns Hopkins University and is professor of History at Bridgewater (Va.) College.

The lecture series is named for Elder John Kline, an inspirational and legendary leader in Brethren history, and sponsored by the John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va. This will be the third in a series of five annual John Kline Lectures that commemorates the Civil War Sesquicentennial. For additional information, call Paul Roth at 540-896-5001.

-- Paul Roth pastors Linville Creek Church of the Brethren in Broadway, Va.

Source: 4/18/2013 Newsline

Brethren bits.

  • Correction: The Newsline of April 5 mistakenly listed On Earth Peace as a co-sponsor of this fall’s Progressive Brethren Gathering to be hosted by Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren. 
  • Remembered: Emilio Castro, 85, a Methodist pastor and theologian from Uruguay who served as general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) 1985-92. He passed away in Montevideo, Uruguay, on April 6. A WCC release noted his role as a leading ecumenist of the late 20th century. Castro initially joined the WCC as director of its Commission on World Mission and Evangelism in 1973. During social unrest in Uruguay in 1970s, he played a significant role in fostering dialogue between political groups and in the creation of a broad coalition of democratic forces. For his efforts in defending human rights in Latin America in the 1980s, he was awarded Orden de Bernardo O'Higgins, the Chilean government’s highest honor. Read the WCC tribute at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/general-secretary/tributes/tribute-to-emilio-castro .
  • Remembered: Frederick W. Wampler, 80, former Church of the Brethren mission doctor in India, passed away April 13 at Bridgewater (Va.) Home. He was born on July 1, 1932, in Harrisonburg, Va. He served as the physician surgeon for nine years in Maharastra, India, at the Brethren Mission Hospital at Dahanu. He was an active member of the Church of the Brethren, having served as a past moderator of Southeastern District and was currently a member of Bridgewater Church of the Brethren. Previously he was a faithful member of Walnut Grove Church of the Brethren before moving to Bridgewater. He is survived by his wife Josephine and three daughters--Amanda Marie Smith and husband David; Ruth Virginia Seaberg and husband James, all of Mountain City, Tenn.; and Rosalie Wamper of Baltimore, Md.--and grandchildren. The family received friends and held a graveside service on April 16 in Harrisonburg. A memorial service will be held Saturday, April 20, at Bridgewater Church of the Brethren, at 11 a.m. There will a second memorial service at Walnut Grove Church of the Brethren on Sunday, April 28, at 1:30 p.m. Memorial contributions may be made to the Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. Online condolences may be made to the family at www.mcmullenfh.com .
  • Remembered: Harold B. Statler passed away April 12. A Church of the Brethren minister, he served for several decades in executive positions with state and county councils of churches. He was born April 28, 1927, in Huntingdon, Pa., and was a graduate of Manchester College and Bethany Theological Seminary. While in college he met Ruth Ludwick. They were married June 5, 1950, and enjoyed a 57-year marriage. Beginning in 1957, he had a 28-year career in the ecumenical movement serving as executive of the Indiana Council of Churches, Kansas Council of Churches, and York County (Pa.) Council of Churches. In volunteer positions, he was a representative of the denomination to the National Council of Churches General Assembly, Governing Board, and various commissions and departments. Following retirement in 1986, he lived in West Virginia and he and his wife volunteered at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., and at the Brethren House at Bethany Seminary. He also was a regional coordinator for Brethren Vision for the ’90s. He moved to Timbercrest in North Manchester, Ind., in 2008 after Ruth died the previous January following a car accident. He is survived by son Michael Statler of Muncie, Ind., daughter Suzanne Statler (husband Tom List) of Port Costa, Calif., and daughter Amy Statler Bahnson (husband Poul Bahnson) of Palm Springs, Calif., grandchildren, step-grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at the Timbercrest Chapel on April 26 at 2 p.m. Memorial contributions are received to Timbercrest Senior Living Community, Manchester University, Bethany Seminary, and On Earth Peace.
  • Southern Ohio District has called Karen and Tom Dillon of Salem Church of the Brethren as interim directors of Outdoor Ministries. Karen is a retired elementary school teacher and currently serves at Salem as Christian Education director. Tom has many talents related to management and maintenance of property. “Please keep Karen and Tom (as well as all those who serve with Outdoor Ministries) in your prayers,” said the district announcement.
  • Camp Brethren Woods in Shenandoah District has hired Emily LaPrade as program director to succeed Linetta Ballew. A native of Boones Mill, Va., and a 2008 graduate of Bridgewater College, LaPrade has served in various capacities at Camp Bethel in Virlina District. She also has served in Brethren Volunteer Service, was a co-coordinator of the 2010 National Youth Conference, and a former workcamp coordinator for the denomination. She will begin her work at Brethren Woods on April 29.
  • Southern Pennsylvania District is seeking a district executive minister to fill a full-time position available Jan. 1, 2014. The district includes 41 congregations and 3 fellowships (find map at www.cob-net.org/church/sopa/maps/district-map.jpg ). The district is theologically diverse ranging from moderate to conservative, including plural non-salaried ministries Congregations are primarily rural, some suburban, and a few urban. The largest have fewer than 400 members with half having less than 100 members. The district’s mission is “To create New Testament communities committed to personal transformation through Jesus Christ.” District ministries include Camp Eder, Brook Lane Health Care Services, Carlisle Truck Stop Ministry, Children’s Aid Society, Cross Keys Village, and Elizabethtown College. The preferred candidate is committed to the authority of scripture and affirms the historic positions of the Church of the Brethren as reflected in Annual Conference statements. The district office is located at 6035 York Rd., New Oxford, Pa. Responsibilities include serving as executive of the board of the district, facilitating and giving general oversight to the planning and implementation of the ministries as directed by District Conference and the District Board, providing linkages to congregations, the Mission and Ministry Board, and other denominational agencies; developing and utilizing team models for district ministry making use of the gifts and skills of board members and others in the district; overseeing the work of ministerial leadership and pastoral placement including calling and forming ministers; building and nurturing relationships with congregations and pastors; modeling a balanced approach to ministry personally and professionally. Desired characteristics include clear commitment to Jesus Christ demonstrated by a vibrant spiritual life with a commitment to New Testament values and Church of the Brethren faith and heritage; doctrinally sound and biblically based belief; a bridge person who models integrity and is able to relate to, understand, appreciate, and respect diversity in the district. Required qualifications include ordination in the Church of the Brethren, minimum 10 years in congregational ministry, completion of Brethren-approved ministry training. Other qualifications include being an excellent communicator and proven administrator with organizational, budget, and technical skills. Send letter of interest and resume to OfficeofMinistry@brethren.org . Applicants are requested to contact three or four people to provide a letter of reference. Upon receipt of resume applicant will be sent a candidate profile that must be completed and returned before the application is complete. The application deadline is June 15.
  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) is seeking to fill two full-time staff positions: program executive of the Ecumenical Office to the United Nations in New York, and director of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs located in Geneva, Switzerland.

    The program executive of the Ecumenical Office to the United Nations in New York coordinates the Ecumenical Office to the UN in New York; builds up relations with main players in the UN system, with the WCC Geneva team; analyzes trends and issues in the UN agenda relevant to the concerns in the ecumenical movement; engages the competencies available in the ecumenical movement and in advocacy, action and reflection on behalf of the WCC and with member churches and other ecumenical partners; facilitates the advocacy role of leaders in the ecumenical movement, in particular the general secretary and the associate general secretary for Public Witness and Diakonia of the WCC. Qualifications include at least a university degree, preferably a doctorate or equivalent in a relevant field (e.g. law, political science, international relations, political theology); a minimum of five years of experience and a strong track record in project management, preferably in an international, ecumenical, and/or church-related environment; a minimum of five years of experience in advocacy work, preferably in the UN; ability to represent, interpret, and communicate the positions of the WCC to partners, UN organizations, other stakeholders, and WCC constituencies; sensitivity to multicultural and ecumenical settings with respect to gender and age diversity; willingness to travel and work on a regular basis in Geneva, Switzerland; and excellent command of written and spoken English. Knowledge of other working languages of the WCC (French, German and Spanish) is an asset. Starting date is Jan. 1, 2014. The deadline for applications is June 15. More information is at www.oikoumene.org/en/get-involved/job-openings .

    The director of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs directs the WCC’s work on international affairs and engages in advocacy, action, and reflection on behalf of the WCC and with member churches and other ecumenical partners. Qualifications include a doctorate or equivalent qualifications (demonstrated through publications and experience), preferably in a field related to international affairs; demonstrated high level knowledge of the UN system; minimum of five years of professional engagement at a leadership level in the area of advocacy in an ecumenical and multicultural environment; experience in project management, including result oriented planning, monitoring, evaluation, and reporting; experience in working sensitively in multi-cultural and ecumenical settings and with gender related issues; and good command of written and spoken English. Knowledge of the other working languages of the WCC (French, German, and Spanish) is an asset. Starting date is Feb. 1, 2014. The deadline for applications is May 15. For more see  www.oikoumene.org/en/get-involved/job-openings .

    To apply for a WCC staff vacancy, obtain full details for the open position together with the general conditions of service and application forms from the Human Resources Office, World Council of Churches, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland; recruitment@wcc-coe.org . Applicants are requested to apply online within the planned time frame.
  • The Brethren Historical Library and Archives at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., has an opening for an archival intern. The purpose of the internship program is to develop interest in vocations related to archives and libraries and/or Brethren history. The program will provide the intern with work assignments in the BHLA and with opportunities to develop professional contacts. Work assignments will include processing archival materials, writing descriptive inventories, preparing books for cataloging, responding to reference requests, and assisting researchers in the library. Professional contacts may include attending archival and library conferences and workshops, visits to libraries and archives in the Chicago area, and participation in a Brethren Historical Committee meeting. BHLA is an official repository for Church of the Brethren publications and records. The collection consists of over 10,000 volumes, over 3,500 linear feet of manuscripts and records, over 40,000 photographs, plus videos, films, DVDs, and recordings. Term of service: one year, beginning July 2013 (preferred). Compensation: housing, stipend of $540 every two weeks, health insurance. Requirements: graduate student preferred or undergraduate with at least two years of college; interest in history and/or library and archival work; willingness to work with detail; accurate word processing skills; ability to lift 30-pound boxes. Request an application packet from the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; dbrehm@brethren.org . All submissions must be completed by June 1. For additional information about the position contact the BHLA at 800-323-8039 ext. 368 or 847-429-4368 or brethrenarchives@brethren.org .
  • The National Farm Worker Ministry is seeking an executive director. This faith-based organization committed to justice for and empowerment of farm workers, seeks a dynamic, passionate leader with demonstrated commitment to social justice. Since its organization in 1971, the ministry has worked with farm workers in their struggle for justice and equality and supported farm-worker-led efforts to improve wages and working and living conditions. The organization has partnered and engaged with farm workers in their communities and campaigns with a focus on educating, equipping, and mobilizing member organizations, other faith communities and justice seekers for effective support of those efforts both regionally and nationally. Review of resum├ęs will begin on April 30 and continue until the position is filled.  For more information and application instructions, visit http://nfwm.org .
  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) invites expressions of interest in and nominations for the half time position of Aboriginal Justice Team project support coordinator. The coordinator will provide leadership and support for the team and will serve as primary link between the project and the rest of CPT. Job description, qualifications, and application are at www.cpt.org/ajt-psc-job-description . Preferred starting date is Sept. 1. Appointment will be for a period of three years, renewable upon mutual agreement. Compensation includes a need-based stipend of up to $1,000 per month. Preferred location is Turtle Island/North America. Must be able to spend time in Toronto, Canada, and in the context of partner communities, and to travel elsewhere occasionally. Persons with the required experience and skills who have not yet been members of CPT are welcome to apply. If chosen as the most promising applicant, that individual will need to participate in a CPT delegation or an internship with the AJT, and a month-long training/discernment process July 19-Aug. 19 in Chicago, Ill., prior to finalizing the appointment. The next AJT delegation is May 3-13. CPT is engaged in an organization-wide process of transformation to undo racism and other oppressions and is working toward more truly reflecting the strong diversity of God’s creation. Persons of the global majority are encouraged to apply. Contact hiring@cpt.org with nominations, questions, and expressions of interest. Application materials are due by May 2.
  • Brethren Press staff would like to thank everyone for the great response to The New Inglenook Cookbook pre-publication offer. To date, more than 7,300 cookbooks have been ordered. The deadline for pre-publication orders may be over but you still have until April 30 to add quantity to a previously placed order and those additional books will come under the discounted rate. For those who missed the pre-publication ordering deadline, you can still receive a 25 percent discount by ordering 10 or more cookbooks. Call Brethren Press 800-441-3712. The New Inglenook Cookbook is expected to be ready for distribution early this summer.
  • “Messenger,” the Church of the Brethren magazine, inaugurated its digital version with the April issue. The new digital edition comes as a free bonus for print subscribers, and does not replace the print edition. “The full-color digital edition of ‘Messenger’ is searchable and has one-click access to online resources mentioned in articles,” said an announcement. “You'll also find occasional links to related short videos and music. There are several ways to navigate through the pages, and text can be enlarged for easier viewing.” For subscription information contact Diane Stroyeck at messengersubscriptions@brethren.org .
  • Robert and Linda Shank, Church of the Brethren members who have been teaching at a university in North Korea through the Global Mission and Service program, have returned unexpectedly to the US for personal reasons including a death in the family. The couple expect to return to their teaching positions at PUST, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, in upcoming weeks. “We assured the students we expected to return,” said a recent e-mail message from the Shanks explaining their plans. “Robert needs to teach botany in a condensed form to the Sophomores and Linda will continue with (English) thesis projects. We are, however, delaying buying tickets to return with the hope that tensions will ease a bit,” they added. “We continue to feel strengthened by the loving/concerned contacts from church friends and the General Offices.”
  • Brethren Disaster Ministries’ Zach Wolgemuth has been part of discussions with the Isaiah Fund on strategies for responding to Superstorm Sandy. A meeting Wolgemuth took part in was attended by approximately 40 individuals representing CDFI (Community Development Financial Institutions), foundations, and disaster response agencies, he reported. “The Isaiah Fund is a multi-faith-based permanent disaster response loan fund that invests in the revitalization of disaster-torn communities over the long haul,” he said in a note about the meeting. It was founded in May 2008 as the result of a collaborative initiative by the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, CHRISTUS Health, Highland Good Steward Management, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, and Everence Community Investments. “This was an opportunity for BDM to help guide discussion, share best practices, and engage the various funds in conversation around disaster recovery work that seeks to provide a holistic approach to community re-development,” Wolgemuth wrote. “The Isaiah Fund has already verbally committed an initial $100 million to the Sandy affected region and will be tasking an advisory council to help guide future decisions. I have been asked to join this advisory council.” For more about the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries, go to www.brethren.org/bdm .
  • Coming up in 2014: the next clergywomen’s retreat. The Ministry Office reports that the retreat will be held Jan. 13-16, 2014, in southern California with leadership provided by Melissa Wiginton, vice president for Education Beyond the Walls at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and former vice president for Ministry Programs and Planning at the Fund for Theological Education. She holds degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and the Candler School of Theology, Emory University.
  • A member from First Church of the Brethren in Chicago, Ill., will testify at a hearing on the Keystone XL pipeline on April 18. Duane Ediger, who is congregational chair of First Church, will travel to Grand Island, Neb., to testify at the State Department hearing on environmental impacts of the proposed pipeline. "Completion of the pipeline would commit us to decades of contamination and make it impossible to avoid catastrophic consequences of climate change," Ediger said in a release about his testimony. He plans to bring into his testimony “the spirit and letter” of a 2001 Church of the Brethren resolution calling on the US to "move beyond its dependence on high carbon fossil fuels that produce emissions leading to climate change," "concentrate on reducing carbon dioxide emissions within the US and not rely on mechanisms such as emission trading with other countries to meet our targets for emission reductions," and develop renewable and small-scale, decentralized energy systems.
  • West Marva District has issued an invitation to its 2013 Praise Gathering on May 5, beginning at 3 p.m. at Bethel Church of the Brethren in Petersburg, W.Va. Leading the event is Annual Conference moderator Bob Krouse. The theme will be the 2013 Annual Conference theme from the Kenneth Morse hymn "Move in Our Midst." The scripture focus will be 2 Chronicles 7:14. A District Mass Choir is being formed and led by Krista Hayes of Maple Spring Church of the Brethren. An offering to support District Ministries will be received.
  • Northern Plains District is dedicating the third Heifer International $5,000 Ark it has purchased to all the "Seagoing Cowboys" who cared for animals onboard ships traveling to overseas destinations at part of the Church of the Brethren’s Heifer Project (predecessor to Heifer Int.). “The list of names of those who served as seagoing cowboys is not completely documented and the district would very much like to make it more complete,” said an announcement. Panther Creek Church of the Brethren is the clearinghouse to receive names of sea-going cowboys from the people and churches of the district. Send information to: Panther Creek Church of the Brethren, 24529 J Ave., Adel, IA 50003; 515-993-3466 or panthercreekchurch@gmail.com .
  • Brethren Woods, a camp and retreat center near Keezletown, Va., is holding a celebration of Linetta Ballew and her work as the camp's program director on Sunday, May 5, at 4:30 p.m. A short program and refreshments are planned, and photos, cards, or letters are sought for a memory book for Linetta as she leaves Brethren Woods for Camp Swatara.
  • In more news from Brethren Woods, the camp holds its Spring Festival on April 27 from 7 a.m.-2 p.m., rain or shine. The event will raise money to support the district outdoor ministry program. Events include a fishing contest (7 a.m.), pancake breakfast (7:30-9:30 a.m.), craft demonstrations, paddle boat rides, hike-a-thon (starts at 8:30 a.m.), children’s games, petting zoo, entertainment, zip line rides, and a live auction, as well as a BBQ chicken and pork and ham pot pie lunch. The Dunk the Dunkard Booth will be part of the action along with a “Kiss the Cow” contest and a new Cornhole Tournament. “There’s something for everyone!” said an announcement. Find out more at www.brethrenwoods.org .
  • “We now have six 100 year olds living at Peter Becker Community,” says Colleen Algeo, public relations coordinator for the retirement community in Harleysville, Pa. Recently celebrating 100th birthdays were Kathryn Alderfer, who turned 100 on April 7, and Evelyn Weber, who turned 100 on March 28. A release noted that Weber is the recent winner of the community’s blue ribbon in the “Our Favorite Things” resident houseplant competition. As for Alderfer, she was honored by citations from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the Governor of Pennsylvania. In the home’s release about her birthday, Alderfer offered this advice to people who want to live to 100: “Go do your thing; do what is right, don’t hurt anyone. Use your imagination to see what you should do next.” For more go to www.peterbeckercommunity.com.
  • Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md., is having a Spring Open House on May 11. This is the community’s fourth annual Spring Open House and will take place from 1-4 p.m.  Guests may tour the village and available residences, chat with staff members and residents, and ride a horse-drawn wagon. Refreshments will be provided. On display will be renovated skilled nursing dayrooms, newly expanded physical therapy gym, and walking trail. “We want everyone to get to know Fahrney-Keedy’s lifestyle,” said Deborah Haviland, director of Marketing. “Very likely there will be people who visit us that day who will come away motivated to move here.” To RSVP or to obtain additional information, call 301-671-5016 or 301-671-5038 or visit www.fkhv.org .
  • COBYS Family Services is hosting an Open House for its new Family Life Center at 171 E. King Street, Lancaster, Pa., on Sunday, April 28, and Monday, April 29, from 1-4 p.m. each day. Staff will be available to give tours and light refreshments will be served. COBYS purchased the 5,400-square-foot facility in October. Family Life Education staff moved from the COBYS main office in Leola, Pa., to the new building in early December, and began hosting programs there in January. Motivated by Christian faith and connected to the Church of the Brethren, COBYS Family Services educates, supports, and empowers children and adults to reach their full potential, and offers family life education, foster care, and adoption services, in cooperation with LCCYSSA, as well as providing therapy at three counseling centers in Lancaster and Lebanon Counties. A printable invitation to the Open House is at www.cobys.org/pdfs/ open_house_invitation.pdf .
  • David Radcliff, founder and director of the New Community Project, will speak at Bridgewater (Va.) College’s Earth Day convocation April 22 in Cole Hall. The event is free and open to the public. Radcliff is a former member of the Church of the Brethren denominational staff and a noted environmentalist. During the week he also will speak to a number of classes on topics that include women’s and girls’ roles and challenges around the world, as well as environmental challenges facing key global ecosystems, and native cultures in the Arctic and Amazon.
  • The Alexander Mack Memorial Library at Bridgewater (Va.) College turns 50 this year, and is celebrating with an exhibition of items that reflects the history of the library. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, will be on display Friday, April 19, from 9 am.-5 p.m.; Saturday, April 20, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.; and Sunday, April 21, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. The exhibition will feature a diorama of the Alexander Mack Memorial Library created by Bridgewater junior Chris Conte; photographs from Bridgewater College Special Collections depicting the library in its several campus locations through the years; and a range of college-related items from the Reuel B. Pritchett Museum.
  • The McPherson (Kan.) College Choir will be appearing at “unconventional” venues during its spring tour, according to a release from the school. “In the middle of a quiet art gallery. Underneath the wings of an SR-71 Blackbird spy plane. Not the sort of places one normally associates with a choir performance,” said the release. The tour on April 24-28 led by Josh Norris, assistant professor of music and choir director, will take the singers to the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson on April 24, and the Wichita CityArts Gallery on April 27, both of which fit into the tour theme “Earth, Sea and Sky.” Other more conventional locations are First Plymouth Church in Lincoln, Neb., on April 25, and First Central Church of the Brethren in Kansas City, Kan., on April 26. The tour wraps up with a homecoming performance on April 28 at McPherson Opera House. All performances start at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the public.
  • Mike Long, associate professor of religious studies and peace and conflict studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, has added another book title explores the man behind the legend, baseball great Jackie Robinson. Long has edited "Beyond Home Plate: Jackie Robinson on Life After Baseball," reports a release from the college. The book comes out in tandem with the Warner Bros. movie about Robinson titled "42." This is Long’s second book focusing on the famous baseball player. His first, “First Class Citizenship: The Civil Rights Letters of Jackie Robinson,” gives insight into Robinson’s passionate fight to rid the country of racism. Long is traveling to speak about his newest book and will appear at Fenway Park in Boston on May 9, and the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian on a date yet to be announced.
  • The 2013 Peace Week at Manchester University in N. Manchester, Ind., focuses on the theme, “Opening New Doors: Acting for Peace” according to a Facebook announcement. Events culminate with a Concert on the Lawn by Mutual Kumquat on the afternoon of Saturday, April 20. Previously in the week were a workshop on “Theater for Social Change” with Jane Frazier, a Refior Peace Lecture featuring “No Place Called Home” and a workshop with playwright Kim Schultz, a Yom Hashoah service, chapel led by Cliff Kindy, a meeting of the Simply Brethren campus group, and a service project in the Peace Garden. For more go to www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/peacestudies.coordinator .
  • Global Women's Project says, “Mother's Day is coming up, and we encourage you to participate in our annual Mother's Day Gratitude Project!” The project steering committee invites church members to express their gratitude to mothers “with a gift that supports women around the world.” Donors designate a loved one to receive a hand-written card indicating that a gift was made in her honor. Contact Global Women's Project, c/o Nan Erbaugh, 47 S. Main St., West Alexandria, OH 45381-12433. Deadline for a mother’s day card is May 6.
  • “Move in Our Midst” is the theme of the next spiritual disciplines folder from the Springs of Living Water initiative in church renewal, in preparation for the 2013 Annual Conference on the same theme. Beginning May 5, the folder has a description of the Conference theme by moderator Robert Krouse, and suggested scriptures “to invite God’s spirit to work in us afresh,” said an announcement. The folder gives a scripture reading and prayer format for daily use along with a weekly prayer focus. An insert helps participants identify their next steps in spiritual growth. Vince Cable, pastor of Uniontown Church of the Brethren, provides Bible study questions. The spiritual disciplines folder and study questions are on the Springs of Living Water website at www.churchrenewalservant.org (select the Springs button and locate a description under B and the folder and Bible study questions under C). For more details contact David Young at davidyoung@churchrenewalservant.org .
  • “The Bread Basket: Thoughts for Daily Living”  (224 pp., clothbound) by Paul W. Brubaker, a leader in the Brethren Revival Fellowship, is being distributed by the BRF for a suggested donation of $15 plus $2 postage and handling. “In this book, Paul Brubaker has included devotionals he has written over nearly 40 years,” said a release. “These one-page essays were all printed in the bi-monthly ‘BRF Witness.’ ... Many of the devotionals Paul gleaned from his own life's experiences, or from reading and hearing about the experiences of others.” Brubaker is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren, a Bethany Seminary trustee, and a retired banker. For more information go to www.brfwitness.org/?wpsc-product=the-bread-basket .  
Source: 4/18/2013 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 Newsline include Colleen Algeo, Jeff Boshart, Chris Douglas, Don Fitzkee, Brian Flory, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Elizabeth Harvey, Mary Kay Heatwole, Greg Davidson Laszakovits, Nancy Miner, Stan Noffsinger, Russell and Deborah Payne, Adam Pracht, Pam Reist, Roy Winter, Zach Wolgemuth, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Newsline: April 5, 2013

NEWS UPCOMING EVENTS PERSONNEL FEATURE BRETHREN BITS

Youth voice is heard in New York and Washington during Christian Citizenship Seminar.

A CCS guest speaker highlights poverty across the nation
Photo by Rachel Witkovsky
A CCS guest speaker highlights poverty across the nation through a graphic. Speakers at the 2013 Christian Citizenship Seminar offered varying perspectives on poverty and children affected by it.
During the last week of March, 55 Church of the Brethren youth and advisors joined forces to learn more about the issue of childhood poverty at this year's Christian Citizenship Seminar. CCS is a week-long event sponsored by the denomination's Youth and Young Adult Ministries and Office of Public Witness (formerly Peace Witness Ministries) based in Washington, D.C.

CCS gives senior high youth the chance to explore the relationship between faith and a particular political issue. This year the focus was on how a child’s lack of adequate housing, nutrition, and education may perpetuate the cycle of poverty and limit a child’s potential.

The event was planned and led by a number of denominational staff including Becky Ullom, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries; Nathan Hosler, coordinator of the Office of Public Witness; Rachel Witkovsky, a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker and coordinator of National Junior High Conference; and Bryan Hanger, also a BVS volunteer and advocacy assistant in the Office of Public Witness.

The week began in New York City where Nathan Hosler and I spoke of our experiences with the issue as part of our work at the church’s Office of Public Witness. We spoke specifically of the “sequester” and the effects these cuts to the federal budget have on children facing poverty. For example, some 600,000 participants will be cut from the Women, Infants, Children (WIC) program designed to help the nutrition of young infants and mothers. In another example, more than 100,000 formerly homeless people will lose access to shelters due to drastic cuts in homelessness assistance (see www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/02/08/fact-sheet-examples-how-sequester-would-impact-middle-class-families-job ).

In Washington, so much emphasis has been placed on the bottom budget line that the human costs of these cuts has been tragically overlooked. We encouraged the youth to instead look for inspiration from Jesus’ example in scripture to care for the "least of these."

This theme was expanded by the first guest speaker, Shannon Daley-Harris, who is the religious affairs advisor for the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF). Her vast experience of working with religious communities addressing childhood poverty provided great insight for our youth on the human cost of poverty. She spoke specifically of the CDF’s program “Be Careful What You Cut,” which emphasizes long-term effects of cutting anti-poverty programs for young children (more information is at www.childrensdefense.org/be-careful-what-you-cut ).

The second guest speaker was Sarah Rohrer, deputy director of Bread for the World’s office in New York. The Church of the Brethren has a history of working with and supporting the mission of Bread for the World through the Global Food Crisis Fund. Recently Stan Noffsinger, Church of the Brethren general secretary, signed Bread for the World’s Circle of Protection Pastoral Letter to the President and Congress ( www.circleofprotection.us ). Rohrer talked about the effects of poverty on children around the world, and spoke specifically about Bread for the World’s 1,000 Days program and Offering of Letters advocacy effort. The 1,000 Days program focuses internationally on the early development of children and is designed to eliminate malnutrition of young children and mothers by providing ample and healthy food during the 1,000 days from pregnancy to the child’s second birthday. The Offering of Letters is an advocacy effort that provides a way for church members to speak out on issues of poverty from a faith perspective and encourage their representatives and senators to support policies that will help programs like 1,000 Days be effective.

In between these two sessions with guest speakers, youth got to explore the Big Apple including a trip to the United Nations where youth were able to take a tour and learn about UN efforts to reduce poverty. After three days of fun and learning in New York, the CCS group boarded a bus to Washington, D.C., for the second half of the seminar.

In the nation’s capital, the educational tour continued with a trip to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) where three staff members of the USDA’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships spoke about how they work with churches and social organizations to implement government policies at a community level. The USDA staff encouraged our youth to learn from the success stories they shared, and create community programs that collaborate with the USDA to help as many people as possible. We learned how recent budget cuts have affected many of the USDA efforts to combat poverty effectively, but also how they were proactively adapting their strategies and goals to transform many of their programs. One of the changes is a new program entitled "Strikeforce," which will work to reduce poverty and encourage economic development in rural communities that have not traditionally been recipients of USDA programs ( www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=STRIKE_FORCE ).

After the USDA visit, the youth had a chance to learn how to put their knowledge into action. For this task our guests were Jerry O’Donnell, a member of Washington City Church of the Brethren and also press secretary for Rep. Grace Napolitano (CA-32), and Shantha Ready-Alonso, director of the National Council of Churches (NCC) Poverty Initiative. O'Donnell provided an insider perspective as a Congressional staffer while Ready-Alonso demonstrated the advocacy skills and strategies needed to be an effective Christian voice on Capitol Hill.

This combination gave our youth the confidence and knowledge to go to Capitol Hill themselves and lift up the issue of childhood poverty with their own representatives and senators. By the time the seminar concluded, Brethren youth had advocated their concerns with senators and representatives from Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, California, Ohio, and Oregon.

Overall, the week was a rousing success. Brethren youth connected with each other and worked with adult advisors and staff to learn more about child poverty. Visiting New York and Washington, and getting to speak faithfully with a Brethren voice to policy experts and lawmakers, was truly a unique experience. We can’t wait to hear about the fruits of this experience once the youth carry their ideas home and put them to work in their own communities.

-- Bryan Hanger is an advocacy assistant at the Church of the Brethren's Office of Public Witness.

Source: 4/5/2013 Newsline

Christian leaders celebrate adoption of the world’s first Arms Trade Treaty.

“We give thanks to God for the adoption of the world's first Arms Trade Treaty and for the efforts by a large majority of countries and many civil society groups to bring it into existence,” said an April 3 public statement by World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit.

The Arms Trade Treaty was adopted on April 2 by the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York. It was voted for by 155 countries including the United States. The WCC is one of the Christian groups around the world celebrating the adoption of the treaty, along with other humanitarian organizations.

Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger and Nathan Hosler, coordinator of the denomination’s Office of Public Witness, were among the American church leaders to encourage the Obama administration to agree that the US be among nations voting for the treaty.

A “New York Times” report characterized the treaty as “a pioneering treaty aimed at regulating the enormous global trade in conventional weapons, for the first time linking sales to the human rights records of the buyers. Although implementation is years away and there is no specific enforcement mechanism, proponents say the treaty would for the first time force sellers to consider how their customers will use the weapons and to make that information public. The goal is to curb the sale of weapons that kill tens of thousands of people every year.”

However, the Times also reported that the National Rifle Association has vowed to fight ratification of the treaty by the US Congress.

The WCC is calling the Arms Trade Treaty “a milestone in efforts to bring commerce in deadly weapons under much-needed controls,” according to Tveit. “This long-overdue act of international governance means that people in many parts of the world who live in fear for their lives will eventually be safer.... Churches in all regions share in the suffering caused by armed violence,” Tveit noted. “We can all now give thanks that national authorities responsible for public safety and well-being have finally adopted binding regulations for the global arms trade.”

The WCC had been a leader in an Ecumenical Campaign for a Strong and Effective Arms Trade Treaty. Tveit praised efforts by the churches and organizations in more than 40 countries who joined in the ecumenical campaign. “Together, we have helped in the long struggle to make the treaty strong and effective so that it can save lives and protect communities. Our first reason for doing so is to put a human face on the heavy scourge of armed violence,” he said.

The campaign grew from a WCC Central Committee action followed by recruitment at the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in 2011. With policy set by the WCC Executive Committee in early 2012 and almost two years of mobilization, the campaign eventually reached nearly 100 churches and ministries who advocated for the Arms Trade Treaty. The campaign focused on ways that the treaty can help to save lives and protect communities. Campaigners made repeated contacts with governments in their countries in parallel with ecumenical lobbying related to treaty meetings at UN sessions in New York and Geneva.

“From Syria to Democratic Republic of Congo, from Sudan to Colombia, our prayers will continue for people afflicted by violence and injustice,” Tveit said. “With them, we all need weapons to be controlled, given up and melted down into useful implements.”

-- This report is adapted from a World Council of Churches release. Read the full WCC release at www.oikoumene.org/en/news/news-management/eng/a/article/1634/worlds-first-arms-trade.html. Read Tveit’s public comment on the treaty at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/general-secretary/statements/adoption-of-arms-trade-treaty.html.

Source: 4/5/2013 Newsline