Thursday, May 30, 2013

Newsline: May 30, 2013


Children’s Disaster Services works in Moore, Brethren grant supports CWS relief effort.

Volunteers from Children’s Disaster Services, a program within Brethren Disaster Ministries, are at work in Moore, Okla., helping care for children and families affected by the tornado that devastated the town on May 20. As of Wednesday morning, the volunteers have provided care for 95 children.

In related news, Brethren Disaster Ministries staff have directed a $4,000 grant from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund to support the Church World Service relief effort in Oklahoma. The grant responds to a CWS appeal for the affected communities. CWS has been communicating with local, state, and National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), along with local groups, to assess the need for supplies such as clean-up buckets, blankets, and hygiene kits. CWS anticipates need for long-term recovery support and training and expects to provide long-term recovery groups with seed grants.

Brethren program cares for children

Over the long weekend, two CDS teams initially set up two child care areas at Multi-Agency Resource Centers (MARCs) at Little Axe Elementary School and West Moore High School. The the school sites were two of the four MARCs that were opened in the Moore area on Saturday, May 25.

The CDS volunteers in Oklahoma have included Bob and Peggy Roach, Ken Kline, Donna Savage, Beryl Cheal, Douetta Davis, Bethany Vaughn, Josh Leu, and Virginia Holcomb.

Established in 1980, 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 who 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 disasters.

The CDS teams served several children at the Little Axe center on Saturday and Sunday, before that center closed. The two teams were then consolidated at the West Moore High School center.

The CDS team has received comments of appreciation for their work. “Several Red Cross people came over and expressed appreciation ‘for the great job you are doing,’” Bob Roach wrote in his report to Brethren Disaster Ministries executive Roy Winter. FEMA staff stopped by the CDS child care center “and praised the program and what we were doing at the MARC,” Roach wrote.

The group also took part in a moment of silence on Monday, May 27, at 2:56 p.m., to mark the one week memorial of the tornado.

Donations to the Emergency Disaster Fund will support the response by Children’s Disaster Services. Go to or send a check to the Emergency Disaster Fund, Church of the Brethren General Offices, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.

NCC leaders express grief over the tragedy

The National Council of Churches Governing Board, which was meeting the day after the tornado struck Moore, issued a statement expressing “agony and grief” in the wake of the natural disaster. Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger was one of those at the meeting.

“There are no words to express the agony and grief that lie in the wake of killer tornadoes this week in Oklahoma,” the statement said, in part. “As we gather today as representatives of the 37 member communions of the National Council of Churches, we and the millions of members in our congregations weep for those who have lost loved ones and property. Our prayers go out especially for the bereaved whose losses cannot be overestimated. There are few things in life more painful or more difficult to understand than natural disasters over which we have no control. We beseech a loving God to be a powerful presence in the lives of those who have lost so much.”

Source: 5/30/2013 Newsline

Bethany Seminary celebrates its 108th commencement.

On May 11, members of Bethany Theological Seminary’s class of 2013 expressed joy and a sense of accomplishment as they graduated in front of family and friends in Nicarry Chapel on the seminary campus in Richmond, Ind.

Ten graduates received their diplomas from Ruthann Knechel Johansen, president, and Lynn Myers, board chair; three were recognized in absentia. Nelson Kraybill, president emeritus of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana, gave the address on the topic “Who Is Worthy to Open the Scroll?” (Revelation 5:1-10).

The following received master of divinity degrees: Laura Beth Arendt of Gettysburg, Pa.; Amy Marie Beery of Indianapolis, Ind., with emphases in peace studies and youth and young adult ministry; Glenn A. Brumbaugh of Camp Hill, Pa., with emphasis in peace studies; Erik Charles Brummett of Indianapolis, Ind., with emphasis in youth and young adult ministry; Mary Alice Eller of Richmond, Ind., with emphasis in peace studies; Daniel Finkbiner of Bethel, Pa.; Andrew Graves of Lakeland, Fla.; Dylan James Haro of La Verne, Calif.; Robert Miller of Indianapolis, Ind., with distinction in ministry studies; Pat Owen of Batavia, Ill.; Terry A. Scott of Pleasant Plain, Ohio.

The following received a master of arts degree: Elizabeth Ann Monn Thorpe of Chambersburg, Pa., with a thesis titled, “The Mystical Motif: Embracing Silence with God amidst the Sounds of Life.”

The following received a certificate of achievement in theological studies: Michael Smith of Pendleton, Ind.

Future plans for members of the class of 2013 include placement in pastoral ministry or chaplaincy, peace ministry, spiritual direction, and doctoral study.

Kraybill spoke to the unexpected and transforming ways of God: the One who is worthy--the lion of Judah--as a Lamb. With a power not of this world, the Lamb and his followers are to bring hope, love, and healing to the troubled, needy, and oppressed in the world. “Sunday after Sunday a pastor needs to open the scroll and talk about real things of life and death and politics and economics and violence and despair and hope,” Kraybill said. “Keep your eyes on the Lamb, and God will make you worthy to open the scroll, to speak and live prophetically in a suffering world that God loves.” Kraybill is lead pastor of Prairie Street Mennonite Church in Elkhart, Ind., and president-elect of Mennonite World Conference.

In a statement of thanksgiving, Johansen lifted up personal attributes that the graduates shared with the Bethany community as they pursued their own paths in ministry. She also recognized accomplishments and service of the faculty and staff, including Malinda Berry’s completion of her doctoral dissertation at Union Theological Seminary and the promotion of Russell Haitch to professor of Christian education and director of the Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults.

“The real test of the success and faithfulness of our studying the gospel of Jesus Christ together is lived out not only in our grand moments of achievement or in our visions of a more just world but in the small daily ways we are awake and responsive to the transforming work of the Holy One who calls within and among us,” she said. “Thank you most importantly for the essential gift of guarding the little piece of the divine that resides in each of us and for calling it forth as well.”

During the afternoon worship service in Nicarry Chapel, Johansen carried out the traditional ritual of blessing for each graduate, affirming their call and sending them forth in ministry. Planned and led by the graduates, the service included hymn singing, reflections by Erik Brummett and Robert Miller on Isaiah 55:1-13, and a sung offering by the graduates, “Take My Life.”

Music for the commencement ceremony was provided by organist Nancy Faus-Mullen, pianist Jenny Williams, clarinetist Don Miller, and a choir of Bethany community members directed by Enten Eller. Julie M. Hostetter was pianist for the worship service, with Tara Hornbacker, Dan Finkbiner, and Dylan Haro providing guitar and percussion accompaniment.

Both the ceremony and the worship service were webcast and can be viewed at

Source: 5/30/2013 Newsline

Forum of church retirement communities is held in Pennsylvania.

The annual Forum of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes was held April 10-12 at the Village at Morrisons Cove, Martinsburg, Pa. The forum is an opportunity for representatives from Church of the Brethren-related retirement communities and agencies to gather with others in long-term care services to learn about current trends, share best practices, and strengthen their connection with the church.

Shari McCabe, executive director of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes, shared a short history of the fellowship and the benefits of membership, an overview of the past year’s activities and accomplishments, and a look at future trends for long-term care providers. Maureen Cahill of Spurgeon Manor in Dallas Center, Iowa; John Snader of Brethren Village in Lancaster, Pa.; Keith Bryan of Fahrney-Keedy in Boonsboro, Md.; and Carma Wall of the Cedars in McPherson, Kan., shared innovative ways they are implementing change at the communities they serve.

Presentations included an update of HIPAA privacy and security regulations by Karla Dreisbach, senior director of Compliance at Friends Services for the Aging; a look at the structuring of entrance fees by Malcolm Nimick of Ascension Capital; and an update of health care reform by Marsha Greenfield, vice president for Legislative Affairs at Leading Age.

Additional presentations were given by Jonathan Shively and Kim Ebersole of the denomination’s Congregational Life Ministries, Loyce Borgmann and Scott Douglas of Brethren Benefit Trust, Jane Mack of Friends Services for the Aging, Suzanne Owens of Mennonite Health Services, and Keith Stuckey and Phil Leaman of Resource Partners: Risk Management Solutions.

Forum participants were treated to a tour of the Village at Morrisons Cove and a cooking demonstration and dinner of Pennsylvania Dutch favorites by Joby Dick, chef at the Bistro at the Village Green. The group also traveled to Huntingdon, Pa., for a tour of Juniata College and a dinner hosted by president Thomas Kepple Jr.

In addition to the participants previously mentioned, the following attended this year’s forum: John Warner of the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville, Ohio; Chris Widman of Good Shepherd Home in Fostoria, Ohio; Jeff Shireman of Lebanon Valley Brethren Home in Palmyra, Pa.; Corey Jones and Robert Neff of the Village at Morrisons Cove, Martinsburg, Pa.; Ferol Labash of Pinecrest Community in Mt. Morris, Ill.; Paulette Buch-Miller and Rod Dowell of Pleasant Hill Village in Girard, Ill.; and Dave Lawrenz of Timbercrest Senior Living Community in North Manchester, Ind.

More information about the Fellowship of Brethren Homes, including a directory of member communities, can be found at

-- Kim Ebersole is director of Family Life and Older Adult Ministries.

Source: 5/30/2013 Newsline

New investment options, SRI screening lists approved by BBT board.

Brethren Foundation clients will soon have access to three new investment options for their diversification needs. That's one of several actions taken by the Board of Directors of Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) at its April 27-28 meeting at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

The new funds--multi-strategy hedge, bank loans, and global aggregate fixed income strategies--were selected based on a report given by BBT's investment consultant to the Investment Committee in Nov. 2012, and the mutual fund investment vehicle for each strategy was selected from a list of top-rated options.

“Interest rates will inevitably increase in the next several years," said BBT president Nevin Dulabaum. "When they do, bond markets will likely be challenged to generate strong earnings. We hope that adding these three diversifying funds to our lineup of investment options will help investors offset the negative impact rising interest rates will have on bond returns."

These three new investment options will also be available for use in the asset allocation of Brethren Pension Plan's Retirement Benefits Fund, which is the pool of money that pays out annuity payments to Pension Plan retirees.

Department of Defense screening lists approved

As it does each year, BBT adopted two lists of companies that are prohibited from its actively managed funds--one containing publicly traded US companies that earn 10 percent or more of their income from Department of Defense contracts, and another containing the top 25 publicly traded Department of Defense contractors.

"These Department of Defense screening lists are part of our comprehensive attempt to invest in a way that reflects Church of the Brethren Annual Conference statements, when possible," said Steve Mason, director of BBT's socially responsible investing initiative. BBT also screens out companies that earn significant revenue from abortion, alcohol, firearms and other weapons, gambling, pornography, or tobacco.

This year, oil and gas companies Royal Dutch Shell, BP, and Valero Energy appear on the list. In addition to screening these companies out of its investments, BBT will not use any of their services--or the services of any other company that appears on these lists--in 2013. The complete lists are available at

Strategic Planning Committee establishes first steps

The Board approved the creation of a Strategic Planning Committee at its November meeting, and that group held its first gathering on the Thursday preceding the full April Board meeting. Together, the committee decided that its work in shaping the future course of BBT would be helped most by meeting with key stakeholders across the denomination. These times of inquiry will take place at Annual Conference in Charlotte, N.C., and at other opportunities in the coming months.

BBT's financial reports presented by auditor

An unqualified audit opinion of BBT's financial reports for 2012 for Brethren Benefit Trust Inc. and Brethren Foundation Inc. was reviewed by the Budget and Audit Review Committee. Craig Resch, a partner at auditing firm Legacy Professionals, presented an overview of the audited financial statements.

As this audit marked the end of a contract with Legacy, the committee also reviewed and recommended approval of a new three-year contract with that firm, which maintained its current fee for the next three years. The audited financials and recommendation about Legacy's renewal were approved by the committee and the board.

Bond manager and mutual funds retained for three-year terms

A representative of bond manager Agincourt Capital Management presented a review of its performance over the past three years to the Investment Committee. Agincourt has served BBT since 2006. After hearing the committee's recommendation to retain Agincourt, the board voted to retain the firm for another three-year term.

Tim Fallon of Marquette Associates presented a three-year analysis of the performance of the five mutual funds that BBT uses as vehicles for funds that do not currently have enough assets to be actively managed. The committee decided that these mutual funds' performances, compared with their benchmarks and peers, merited retention for another three years.

In other business
  • Brethren Pension Plan members elected Beth Sollenberger to be a representative of Church of the Brethren ministers and district executives. Her name will be presented for ratification by delegates at Annual Conference.
  • This was Donna Forbes Steiner’s last meeting as a board member. Her eight years of service on the board was commemorated at a banquet. In addition, the five-year tenures of staff members Steve Lipinski, manager of Foundation operations, and Patrice Nightingale, manager of production, were celebrated.
  • A report regarding the funded ratio of Brethren Pension Plan's Retirement Benefits Fund as of Dec. 31, 2012, was presented. The funded ratio for the RBF has increased significantly over its 2008 low. A full report will be mailed to Pension Plan annuitants.
  • The board received a report on the Supplemental Income Fund for Equitable Annuitants, a fund available to some employees of the entity formerly known as the Church of the Brethren General Board. The board approved funding for SIFEA grants for 2014.
  • The Governance Committee reviewed staff-suggested changes to BBT's bylaws and articles of organization. One significant change is a provision that requires Standing Committee to include on the ballot "any incumbent director who was elected by Annual Conference and who is eligible for and willing to be considered for a second term of service." The board approved recommended updates to these documents and asked that further legal opinions on the documents be sought before they are recommended for approval by Annual Conference in 2014.
-- Brian Solem is publications coordinator for Brethren Benefit Trust. The next meeting of the board will be July 4-5 after the Annual Conference in Charlotte, N.C.

Source: 5/30/2013 Newsline

Brethren Disaster Ministries trains project leaders for 2013.

On April 23, I traveled to Prattsville, N.Y., to undergo training to become a Disaster Project Leader. Disaster Project Leaders are wonderful men and women called to lead and guide volunteers who come out to Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding sites for a week. I was very excited to learn all that happened behind the scenes to keep the project sites running.

Upon arrival, I met the nine other volunteers who would be training with me: Adam Braun, Judy Braune, Sandy Bruens, Joel Conrad, Marilyn Ebaugh, Alan Miller, Karen and Eddie Meyerhoeffer, and Ruth Warfield. They came from all over the US and had volunteered with Brethren Disaster Ministries many times. We all bonded right away, sharing stories of our past disaster response trips.

Our sessions were led by Zach Wolgemuth, Tim Sheaffer, and John and Mary Mueller. Sessions included volunteer management, household management, construction management, record keeping, and more. We even had Tim Smail, a guest speaker from FLASH (Florida Alliance for Safe Housing), come and tell us about building homes for wind mitigation.

Afternoons were spent learning how to cook for large groups and for many different dietary needs, and learning how to teach and lead several different aspects of construction. We focused on how to keep volunteers safe and how to build safe housing for homeowners. We learned from the leaders as well as the other trainees as we tried new things like cooking vegan food or using a break to bend flashing.

By the end of the 10-day training we had become a family, and it was hard to say goodbye. We parted ways excited to see each other again someday out on the work sites. Each of us must now complete one month on a rebuilding project site under the training of an experienced project leader, before we will officially become project leaders ourselves.

-- Hallie Pilcher is a BVSer at the Brethren Disaster Ministries office in New Windsor, Md.

Source: 5/30/2013 Newsline

Spiritual directors gather for annual retreat.

Twenty-two spiritual directors and leadership recently gathered at Shepherd's Spring Outdoor Ministry Center in Sharpsburg, Md., for an annual retreat. From May 13-15 the spiritual directors spent time in keynote sessions with Roberta Bondi, professor emeritus for Church History at the Candler School of Theology.

Bondi shared her experiences of studying the early desert monks, bringing to life their understandings of the spiritual life through her own personal stories. Much of Bondi's material came from her books on the desert tradition, “To Love as God Loves” and “To Pray and To Love.” The challenge for the spiritual life, regardless of time or place, said Bondi, is the "perfecting of love of God and love of neighbor."

Attendees also spent about half a day in silence and prayer. Many took time to walk the grounds of Shepherd's Spring, including a labyrinth mowed into the grass alongside the retreat center. Each spiritual director was asked to meet and pray with another attendee during the retreat as well as gather for group spiritual direction. As a time of renewal and learning, the silence and peer learning offered Brethren spiritual directors the opportunity to meet with peers and explore the practice of spiritual direction from within their shared tradition.

The Spiritual Director's Network of the Church of the Brethren is a resource of nearly 60 spiritual directors who have received training in the practice and offer direction to both groups and individuals. The network often is called upon during denominational conferences to offer one-on-one direction for attendees as well as workshops on the practices of the spiritual life. The network’s next retreat will be May 19-21, 2014, at Shepherd's Spring.

If you are seeking a spiritual director, or would like to inquire about the practice of spiritual direction, contact or 800-323-8039 ext. 304.

-- Joshua Brockway is director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship for the Church of the Brethren.

Source: 5/30/2013 Newsline

Bethany Seminary fills new position in Reconciliation Studies.

Deborah Roberts has been named half-time assistant professor of Reconciliation Studies at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., to begin July 1. This new position was created to help implement intentional course work in conflict transformation within the seminary’s curriculum.

Helping students develop acumen and skills in this area from a theological perspective is a goal named in the seminary’s five-year strategic plan and the current Reimagining Ministries campaign. As part of Bethany’s revised curriculum, students also will be able to take courses in conflict transformation to earn a ministry focus within the master of divinity degree or an emphasis within both the master of divinity and master of arts degrees.

Roberts holds a bachelor’s degree from Berea College, a master of arts degree from Bethany Seminary, and a doctorate in women's studies in religion from Claremont (Calif.) Graduate University. Her dissertation research was titled "A Critical Appraisal of Conflict Resolution Theory and Methodology." As an adjunct faculty member at the University of La Verne in southern California, she taught in the areas of conflict transformation, mediation, women’s studies, and intercultural studies. She also held a one-year appointment as assistant professor of religious ethics at Berea College.

She has spoken widely in academic and religious settings on mediation, conflict transformation, and peacemaking from various perspectives, and has done community consulting and advocacy work. Within the Church of the Brethren, she has pastored two congregations and currently serves as an area minister for Pacific Northwest District.

-- Jenny Williams directs Communications and Alumni/ae Relations for Bethany Seminary.

Source: 5/30/2013 Newsline

Mueller to serve as executive of Atlantic Southeast District.

John M. Mueller has accepted the call to serve as district executive minister of Atlantic Southeast District in a half-time position beginning July 1. Most recently he has served as co-pastor of Jacksonville (Fla.) Church of the Brethren with his wife Mary, and previously was a regional director for Brethren Disaster Ministries.

Mueller has been a self-employed building contractor/inspector since 1981. He and his wife served with Brethren Disaster Ministries in the area of New Orleans, La., from 2007-11, where they helped supervise rebuilding following Hurricane Katrina. In previous pastoral ministry, he co-pastored Christ the Servant Church of the Brethren 2004-07, where he was ordained in 2004. He began serving as co-pastor of the Jacksonville Church in January this year.

He is a graduate of Silver Lake College in Manitowoc, Wis., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business management. He holds a Training in Ministry (TRIM) certificate from the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, a ministry training partnership of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Theological Seminary.

Mueller plans to continue to live and serve in Jacksonville. The Atlantic Southeast District office will be located at 1352 Holmes Landing Dr., Fleming Island, FL 32003; Telephone contact information is forthcoming.

Source: 5/30/2013 Newsline

New features for Brethren Pension Plan explained in webinars for church workers.

Enhancements are in store for Brethren Pension Plan users--and members are invited to attend webinars in June to learn about new tools and features they will be able to access starting July 1. Brethren Benefit Trust is providing the online tutorials on June 12, 18, and 20. To register for a webinar, contact Loyce Swartz Borgmann at 800-746-1505 ext. 364 or

Pastors and other church workers who are enrolled in the Brethren Pension Plan may log in to a one-hour online tutorial to learn about the Brethren Pension Plan’s new record-keeping system, daily valuations of accounts, and the new tools available through an updated website portal.

Sessions will be held at the following times (all times in Central Daylight Time):
  • Wednesday, June 12, at 8 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., and 6 p.m.
  • Wednesday, June 18, at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.
  • Thursday, June 20, at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., and 6 p.m.
During Annual Conference in Charlotte, N.C., June 29-July 3, demonstrations of the new website portal and other key features of the enhanced Brethren Pension Plan will be offered at the BBT booth in the exhibit hall. Stop by for a hands-on tutorial and 15-minute group sessions throughout the Conference.

More information about the Brethren Pension Plan’s transformation is available at .

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

Source: 5/30/2013 Newsline

BRF plans 40th annual Brethren Bible Institute for July.

The 40th annual Brethren Bible Institute sponsored by the Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) is planned for July 22-26 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. At least 11 courses are scheduled, and continuing education units will be available for ordained ministers.

BRF offers the annual Brethren Bible Institute as a one-week school intended to provide systematic instruction in the Bible for any person 16 years of age or older, according to the BRF Witness website. Students may take one, two, or three courses. The cost is the same regardless of how many courses are taken. Students meet for chapel each morning at 8:10 a.m. with classes to follow. The hour and a half classes meet every day, Monday through Friday.

Courses include “Brethren Life and Thought” (part 1 and part 2), “Genesis--Chapters 12-50,” “Biblical Glimpses of Eternity,” “The Book of Esther,” “Money and Finances,” “Judging the Judges,” “Women in the Early Churches,” “Old Testament Survey” (part 1 and part 2), “Ephesians--Chapters 4, 5, and 6,” “How to Study the Bible,” and “Basic Apologetics.”

Continuing education units will be offered for ordained ministers at a rate of one tenth of a unit for each hour spent in class, with each completed course counting as .75 continuing education units. Ministers should request the continuing education certificate when they register. Some courses may apply toward district training programs for licensed ministers.

Instructors for the classes will include Craig Alan Myers, Eric Brubaker, Carl Brubaker, Wilmer Horst, Fred Beam, Daniel Lehigh, John Minnich, Steve Hershey, and Kenneth Leininger, who is the principal coordinator.

Cost for the event is $200, or $70 for commuting students. Scholarship aid is available to students who cannot afford the tuition. For application forms and scholarship aid information write to Brethren Bible Institute, 155 Denver Rd., Denver, PA 17517; or go to Applications are due no later than June 26.

Source: 5/30/2013 Newsline

Registration remains open for Fifth Brethren World Assembly in July.

The Fifth Brethren World Assembly for constituents and friends of the Brethren bodies descended from the movement established by Alexander Mack in Germany in the early 1700s will be July 11-14 at the Brethren Heritage Center in Brookville, near Dayton, Ohio. Online registration remains open through July 7 at

The assembly happens only every five years, with the last one celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Brethren movement in Schwarzenau, Germany, in 2008. The theme of this 2013 gathering will be “Brethren Spirituality: How Brethren Conceive of and Practice the Spiritual Life.” The assembly is sponsored by the Brethren Encyclopedia, Inc., whose board members come from each of the seven main Brethren bodies.

Events begin the afternoon of July 11 with an opening panel discussion on Brethren spirituality. On July 12 the assembly will hear speakers in the morning, and enjoy workshop sessions and a tour of Brethren sites in the afternoon. On July 13, morning speakers will focus on Brethren ordinances and international perspectives, followed by another afternoon of workshops and tours. Sunday morning worship will be at area Brethren congregations of participant’s choice for those who wish to stay. Evenings will feature meals and worship hosted by local congregations, and ice cream socials.

The registration fee is $120, with spouses registering for $60, and a one-day registration option available for $40. Meals cost $7 for lunch, $10 for dinner. The fee to participate in the bus tour is $20. Continuing education credit is available. A list of area hotels will be provided upon request, along with homes in the area that are open to housing participants in the assembly. Go to

Source: 5/30/2013 Newsline

Annual Conference worship and business sessions to be webcast.

“Join us in Charlotte...over the Web!” says an invitation from the Conference Office. For church members who cannot attend the 2013 Annual Conference in person, arrangements are being made for significant portions to be webcast again this year. The links to webcasts will be found at at during and after the Annual Conference takes place from June 29-July 3.

All Annual Conference worship services and business sessions will be streamed live over the Internet, with recordings of these sessions to also be posted so that all Brethren may participate regardless of time or distance. Also to be webcast is the concert by the La Verne Church of the Brethren Sanctuary Choir on the opening evening of the Conference.

Of special interest to many Brethren will be the Sunday morning worship service starting at 9 a.m. (eastern time) on June 30, when noted theologian and author Philip Yancey will preach. Congregations are invited to project the Annual Conference worship service during their own morning worship service that Sunday, so that Brethren across the country may worship together. The streaming broadcast is designed to be started at any time after 9 a.m. eastern time, in order to accommodate any time zone or worship schedule. Viewers will be able to pause or rewind the live stream at any point. This year, the Conference will have an upgraded Internet connection that will prevent drops of the live streaming.

New this year, the Conference Office requests congregations who join the worship service on Sunday morning June 30 to send an e-mail to at the end of the morning giving the number of worshipers who were in attendance. The Conference will then be able to celebrate how many Brethren worshiped together from across the country, and even in other nations.

The Sunday morning worship bulletins will be available a week prior to the service, download from Also at that website will be detailed instructions for connecting your congregation to the Annual Conference webcasts. For more information or questions about Conference webcasting contact or call 800-323-8039 ext. 365.

Source: 5/30/2013 Newsline

Ministry of Reconciliation Team to serve again at 2013 Conference.

The Annual Conference officers have invited the Ministry of Reconciliation (MoR) of On Earth Peace to resume its role of presence at the 2013 Annual Conference. The diverse group of trained volunteers will be present and attentive, ready to respond where confusion, conflict, or negative emotions are causing a problem in the gathered body, said a release.

Identified by wearing yellow lanyards and "Minister of Reconciliation" tags, team members will be available during worship and business sessions seated under "MoR Observer" signs, as well as in the exhibit hall and at other Conference venues through each day and into evenings. Conferencegoers will be able to contact the team at the On Earth Peace booth in the exhibit hall, at the Conference Office, and by phone.

The MoR Team's primary role will be to listen, facilitate communication, and help navigate misunderstandings. They will be trained to respond appropriately in the event anyone is feeling or being threatened, or being harmed in any way (verbally, emotionally, or physically); to be a peaceful presence in tense situations; to mediate conflict; and to help make sense of the proceedings.

"Wherever two or three are gathered, conflict and tensions are inevitable--even healthy," said Leslie Frye, MoR program director. "It's also inevitable that we need the help of our sisters and brothers to respond faithfully. Working with the various aspects of the Annual Conference Ministers of Reconciliation Team last year in St. Louis was one of the most deeply profound faith experiences of my life and I look forward to the privilege of continuing this important ministry in Charlotte."

The Ministry of Reconciliation Team offers a three-way approach to creating safe space for faithfulness at Annual Conference. It begins with setting the tone by collaborating with leadership teams throughout the denomination and providing written resources to be considered before and during Conference. While at Conference, the team functions in a deacon role, providing pastoral care for individuals when the majority of ordained and lay leadership is busy with the needs of the larger group. In an emergency, the team is trained to play a role much like Christian Peacemaker Teams, standing in the way of violent words and repressive actions.

Members of the MoR Team commit to participating in a training/team-building event before Conference and two conference calls in the month prior to Annual Conference. For more information, contact the Conference Office at 847-429-4364 or or Ministry of Reconciliation program director Leslie Frye at or 620-755-3940.

Source: 5/30/2013 Newsline

L. Gregory Jones to speak for Ministers’ Association event.

The Church of the Brethren Ministers’ Association Pre-Conference Continuing Education Event in Charlotte, N.C., on June 28-29 will feature L. Gregory Jones, a widely recognized scholar and church leader on such topics as forgiveness and reconciliation, Christian vocation, leadership, and strengthening the church and its ministry.

Jones is senior strategist for Leadership Education at Duke Divinity and professor of theology in the Divinity School of Duke University. He is author or editor of 13 books, including the acclaimed “Embodying Forgiveness,” and most recently co-authored “Forgiving As We’ve Been Forgiven” and “Resurrecting Excellence: Shaping Faithful Christian Ministry.”

Moderator-elect Nancy Sollenberger Heishman comments that “Embodying Forgiveness” and “Forgiving as We Have Been Forgiven” (written with Célestin Musekura) “speak passionately and compelling to the urgency of taking forgiveness seriously. Rich in both theory and story, they have challenged me to explore more deeply my understanding and daily practice of forgiveness.  I look forward to hearing Gregory Jones at Annual Conference 2013!”

Jones will lead three sessions at this year’s pre-conference event beginning Friday, June 28, at 6 p.m., and continuing Saturday, June 29, at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Here is a brief sketch of each session:

Session 1: “The End Is Our Beginning: Numbers” focuses on the importance of vision being shaped by our witness to the Reign of God. When we lose sight of “the end,” we get trapped in bureaucracies, long to return to Egypt, and lose sight of the transforming power of God’s forgiveness.

Session 2: “The Character of Leadership: Philippians” focuses on the kind of people Christians are called to become, namely people for whom Christ’s forgiveness calls us to excellence. A holistic perspective that includes patterns of thinking, feeling, perceiving, and living in the light of Christ will enable us to become people of practical wisdom.

Session 3: “Traditioned Innovation: Acts” draws attention to the ways in which we are called, in the light of Christ, to have a mindset that holds together tradition and innovation. If we have only the former, we lose sight of the Holy Spirit’s work in making all things new; if we have only the latter, we engage in change for change’s sake and act arrogantly rather than in response to God’s forgiving and redeeming work.

Cost to attend is $85 (if registering online in advance) or $125 (at the door, check or cash only). Discounts are available for couples and current seminary or academy students. Childcare is available. Seating is limited to the first 250 who register. Register by the June 15 deadline at  A video clip from Greg Jones about this event can be found at

-- Dave Kerkove is chair of the Church of the Brethren Ministers’ Association.

Source: 5/30/2013 Newsline

BVS announces its Partners in Service Award for 2013.

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) is presenting its 2013 Partners in Service Award to its network of healing communities during the 2013 Annual Conference. The award typically recognizes an individual, project, or congregation that has demonstrated exceptional commitment in partnering with BVS to share God’s love through acts of service.

BVS currently has project partnerships with three healing communities: CooperRiis in Mill Spring, North Carolina; Gould Farm in Monterey, Massachusetts; and Hopewell in Mesopotamia, Ohio. These organizations are recovery-based, therapeutic communities for adults living with mental illness or emotional distress. They provide compassionate, respectful environments and aid the residents in moving toward more independent living situations through participation in meaningful work, recreation, and community life.

Gould Farm, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2013, stands as the longest-running BVS project site, with more than 100 volunteers serving there since the 1960s.

Virgil Stucker, executive director of CooperRiis, will accept the award on behalf of the three communities at the BVS Luncheon on July 1, during at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Charlotte, N.C.

-- Kendra Johnson serves as a Brethren Volunteer Service worker in the BVS office.

Source: 5/30/2013 Newsline

La Verne sanctuary choir tour culminates in Annual Conference concert.

The La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren Sanctuary Choir will embark on a “Crossin’ America Tour” this summer, performing in churches in Pennsylvania and Virginia, culminating with a concert the opening evening of Annual Conference in Charlotte, N.C.

Director Niké St. Clair will lead the singers through a collection of sacred choral compositions and arrangements by Shawn Kirchner, the church’s instrumental music coordinator and the Swan Family Composer in Residence for the Los Angeles Master Chorale.

“Morning Has Broken,” “O What a Beautiful City,” three Shaker songs, and many other church favorites are to be performed, including the centerpiece of the concert, “Heavenly Home: Three American Songs” (including “Unclouded Day,” “Angel Band,” and “Hallelujah”). The program also includes other spirituals and sacred songs for the church year. Along with director St. Clair, soloists include Heidi Brightbill, Ryan Harrison, and Deb Waas. Instrumentalists Karen Cahill and Audrey Lamprey will accompany on flute and horn, respectively.

Twelve days after a Send-Off Concert in their home sanctuary on June 9, the group of 56 choir members and companions will fly to Pennsylvania to begin the tour.

Five performances will be given in nine days:
  • on the morning of June 23 the choir sings for worship at Central Baptist Church, Wayne, Pa.
  • at 7 p.m. on June 23, the choir gives a concert at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren
  • at 7:30 p.m. June 25 the choir gives a concert at Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren
  • at 7:30 p.m. June 27 the choir gives a concert at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren
  • at 7:30 p.m. July 29 the choir sings during opening worship for the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Charlotte, N.C., followed by a concert at 9 p.m.
For more about the schedule of Annual Conference or to register, go to

Source: 5/30/2013 Newsline

Annual Conference bits and pieces: June 29-July 3 in Charlotte, N.C.

  • A Church of the Brethren Reception will be held in the Annual Conference exhibit hall in the Charlotte Convention Center on Sunday evening, June 30, following the Concert of Prayer. “You are invited to a reception sponsored by the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board and the General Secretary in the Exhibit Hall on Sunday evening 8:45-10 p.m.” said an announcement. “Come enjoy complimentary ice cream novelties and popcorn while you visit the various exhibit booths and engage with those staffing the exhibits.”
  • The Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) Fitness Challenge at the 2013 Annual Conference will be a 3,000 Miles for Peace fundraising event benefiting On Earth Peace, says an announcement from BBT. The annual 5K run/walk will be held on Sunday, June 30, starting at 7 a.m. at Freedom Park, approximately three miles from the Charlotte Convention Center. Participants provide their own transportation to and from the event. Directions will be available from the BBT booth in the exhibit hall, or go to for links to driving directions. The 3,000 Miles for Peace nation-wide fundraiser supports youth peace education, conflict resolution, living peace churches, and nonviolent social change efforts of On Earth Peace, in honor of the late Paul Ziegler. Participants should first register for the BBT Fitness Challenge using the link at ; then click on the “Fundraise” button at the same website to set up a personal fundraising page. The registration fee is $20 for individuals until May 31 ($25 after May 31) or $60 for families of four or more. Mail registration forms and payment to BBT by May 31 for the early-bird race fee. Go to .
  • Advanced Deacon Workshops are offered pre-Annual Conference in Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday, June 29, for deacons and other caregivers to attend in person or via webcast. The morning session “Listen and Play: Ministry with Children in Times of Stress” is from 9 a.m.-12 noon (eastern) with leaders from Children’s Disaster Services and the Deacon Ministry. The afternoon session “Conflict Transformation” from 1:30-4:30 p.m. (eastern) is based on training provided to the Annual Conference Ministers of Reconciliation Team, and is designed for those who already have a good understanding of conflict transformation, prior training, or experience. To attend in person go to to register online and pay by credit card, or download the registration form and mail it with a check . Cost is $15 for one workshop; $25 to attend both workshops. Continuing education units are available through the Brethren Academy for those who attend in person and those who view the live webcast. Registration is not required to view webcasts and there is no fee, but viewing live sessions is limited to the first 95 participants and a donation to cover costs is appreciated. Continuing education units are not offered for viewing recorded sessions. The deadline to register is June 21. Go to .
  • A Bible Visits Exhibit will be featured in the Annual Conference exhibit hall in Charlotte. A note in the Virlina District newsletter reports that the exhibit highlighting the Bible will offer children, youth, and adults the opportunity to share their love for God’s Word by submitting poems, choruses, or hymns they have created about the Bible. These will be put on display at the Bible Visits Exhibit, “which will share how and why the Bible came to us and how it is being shared around the world today,” the newsletter said. All items to be put on display must be submitted by June l to Bible Visits, c/o Al Huston, 6210 Townsend Lane, Waxhaw, NC 28173.
  • The Global Women’s Project is celebrating 35 years at this Annual Conference. It has been 35 years since Ruthann Knechel Johansen, now president of Bethany Seminary, delivered the speech, “Giving Birth to a New World,” which gave impetus to the Global Women's Project. The speech was delivered at a July 1978 women’s event at Manchester College. Johansen “reminded us that ‘neither a great social program nor a sophisticated theology are prerequisites to live in harmony with life. We need only the simple stuff of life--a commitment to the essential goodness by transcending the old order and creating new relationships and structures that nurture justice,’” remembers Pearl Miller of the Global Women’s Project steering committee, in a recent newsletter. “She challenged the gathered women ‘to refuse to purchase luxury (non-essential) items, or to tax our luxuries and redirect the luxury monies toward meeting the needs of people who are victims of our consumption.’ I felt the current of excitement that pulsed around Cordier Auditorium as women nodded and clapped and cried ‘Yes, here is something we can do.’” Conferencegoers are invited to celebrate the anniversary by stopping by the Global Women’s Project booth in the exhibit hall for “Tea Time” on Tuesday afternoon, July 2. Also, those who were at the 1978 North Manchester Women’s Gathering are invited to share memories at .
  • The Open Table Cooperative is starting off at the Annual Conference in Charlotte with “a truly Open Table Reception/Supper, inviting any and all to ‘come…eat…without money and without price’ (Isaiah 55:1),” said an announcement. “We’ll offer a variety of finger foods and share them along with a stimulating panel discussion on Saturday evening before the opening worship.” The reception is scheduled for 5 p.m. on June 29 in the Charlotte Convention Center, no ticket is required.
  • Service projects and other witnesses to the host city during the 2013 Annual Conference include two special opportunities for junior and senior high youth, and young adults and single adults. On Monday and Tuesday, July 1 and 2, the young adult and single adult groups will serve meals at the Charlotte Rescue Mission from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon. On Monday, July 1, the junior high and senior high will help with the Trout Unlimited River Clean Up, accompanied by David Radcliff of the New Community Project. For more about these and other activities during the Conference, visit .
  • The Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists will hold its Annual All-Member Business Meeting at 12 noon on Monday, July 1, during the Annual Conference in Charlotte, N.C. The agenda will include a presentation by Tom Crago on the fellowship’s past and future, and recognition of several early Brethren families by the newly established First Brethren Families Project, as well as election of officers and other business. Crago’s address and the First Brethren Families Project awards ceremony will be open to all interested in attending. The business portion of the meeting is for members only. Conferencegoers are invited to visit the Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists display booth in the exhibit hall, where volunteers will be on hand to answer questions about fellowship activities including the First Brethren Families Project. The meeting room location will be announced at the display booth.
  • The Annual Conference Blood Drive is held at the Westin Hotel this year. Those interested in donating blood should go to the Westin Hotel across from the Charlotte Convention Center on Monday, July 1, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. or on Tuesday, July 2, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Laura Stark, a professor at Vanderbilt University, is researching the partnership between the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Historic Peace Churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers) during the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. During those decades, medical research in the US increased substantially and required many healthy volunteer participants for medical work and testing, so the NIH set up a number of programs with colleges and denominational groups to recruit volunteers. Beginning in 1954, Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) and several Brethren colleges partnered with NIH to send young people to the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., to serve as subjects of clinical trials and to work as research assistants for these trials. Stark hopes to attend Annual Conference and would like to talk with Brethren who participated in NIH programs while in BVS or in college, in order to discuss the experiences of the “normal control” research subjects. If you are interested in learning more about Professor Stark’s research or if you can donate an oral history interview about your personal experience, contact or 860-759-3406.
Source: 5/30/2013 Newsline

Creation theme is the focus of Gather ’Round’s summer quarter.

Creation is the theme of the summer 2013 quarter of the Gather ’Round curriculum. The biblical texts are drawn from passages in Genesis, Psalms, Ruth, and Matthew. Together they depict a God who is intensely involved with creation, finds goodness in it, and nurtures, blesses, and sustains it. The texts also are a reminder that the goal of God’s redemptive work is to return people–and the world–to what they were created to be in the first place.

Gather ’Round is a Bible-based curriculum committed to nurturing children, youth, and their families in becoming followers of Jesus: people who know and love God, interpret God's word, belong to God's gathered community, and share God's good news.

Gather ’Round: Hearing and Sharing God’s Good News is co-published by Brethren Press, publishing house of the Church of Brethren, and MennoMedia, publishing ministry of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada.

Materials for Gather ’Round’s summer quarter can be purchased by calling 1-800-441-3712 or by visiting

-- Anna Speicher is the project director and senior editor for Gather ’Round.

Source: 5/30/2013 Newsline

‘Brethren Life and Thought’ announces special issue on Alexander Mack Jr.

The Brethren Journal Association announces publication of “The Life and Influence of Alexander Mack Jr.: Pietist and Anabaptist Intersections in Pennsylvania” featuring most of the papers presented at the Young Center Conference on Alexander Mack Jr. in 2012. In related news, Bethany Seminary trustees approved revised Articles of Organization for the Brethren Journal Association. On July 1, during the association’s lunch and annual meeting at Annual Conference in Charlotte, N.C., members will have opportunity to discuss the articles and add their affirmation. Read the revised articles in advance at

Special edition comes out next week

This special 170-page expanded edition of “Brethren Life and Thought” is Vol. 58, No. 1, Spring 2013. Even though Alexander (Sander) Mack Jr. wrote many letters and poems, very little has been written about him or about what we can learn from his writing. Sander Mack was the son of Alexander Mack, founder of the Brethren movement, and a leader of the Brethren in the American colonies in the mid-1700s.

“Brethren Life and Thought” Vol. 58, No. 1 should be in the mail to members and subscribers the week of June 2. Single copies will be available to purchase from the Brethren Life and Thought office at Bethany Seminary in Richmond, Ind., or from Brethren Press, the Young Center at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, and the Brethren Heritage Center in Brookville, Ohio.

To subscribe to the journal go to

-- Karen Garrett is managing editor of "Brethren Life and Thought."

Source: 5/30/2013 Newsline

Brethren bits.

  • Remembrance: James "Jim" E. Renz, 94, died May 19 at Pinecrest retirement community in Mt. Morris, Ill. He was a former director of social welfare for the Church of the Brethren, and founder of the Renz Addiction Counseling Center in Elgin, Ill., which now serves thousands of people through treatment and prevention programs. The “Daily Herald” newspaper notes that when Renz started the center 52 years ago it was a one-man operation in a small office on the second floor of a downtown building. It was Renz’ hard work and dedication as a Church of the Brethren pastor with a lifelong commitment to service, that propelled the center to become one of the largest nonprofits that serve northern Kane and western Cook Counties of Illinois, said the newspaper. Renz was a pastor in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois before he moved to Elgin to serve on the denominational staff in 1952. Read the full article at . A memorial service will be held at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin on Sunday afternoon, June 2.
  • Remembrance: D. Eugene Lichty, 92, died May 20 at McPherson (Kan.) Hospital. He was a former director of development for McPherson College, and served as a board member of On Earth Peace. He was born April 14, 1921, in Waterloo, Iowa, son of Ray W. and Elizabeth McRoberts Lichty. He married Eloise Marie McKnight on Aug. 20, 1944, in Quinter, Kan. He was a graduate of McPherson College and Bethany Theological Seminary in Chicago, and was a Church of the Brethren pastor. He is survived by his wife; daughters Jean (Francis) Hendricks of Abilene, Kan., and Marilyn (Rob) Rosenow of Tigard, Ore.; sons Dan (Lynne) of McPherson, Kent (Lori) of Lee’s Summit, Mo., and Lyle (Ilona) of Mount Vernon; grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A memorial service was held at McPherson Church of the Brethren. Memorial gifts are received to McPherson Church of the Brethren or to On Earth Peace.
  • A group of nine Manchester University graduates are planning to join Brethren Volunteer Service this year, to take part in either the summer or fall units: Carson McFadden, Traci Doi, Whitnee Kibler Hidalgo, Stephanie Barras, Dylan Ford, Craig Morphew, Turner Ritchie, Andrew Kurtz, and Jess Rinehart.
  • Jennifer Quijano, coordinator of SeBAH-CoB, reports that Spanish-speaking ministry students in Atlantic Northeast and Pacific Southwest Districts have completed the third course in the program, “Anabaptist History and Theology.” SeBAH-CoB (Seminario Biblico Anabautista Hispano) is a Brethren Academy partnership with the Mennonite Education Agency to provide a Spanish language ministry training program for the Church of the Brethren. The denomination-wide certificate-level program parallels the Academy Certified Training System programs available to English-speaking students. “This course took a deeper look at Anabaptist roots, role models, rituals, and theology. The students are now anticipating the fourth course in the program, ‘Theology of Pastoral Ministry,’ which will begin in early May,” Quijano reported in an academy newsletter. A SeBAH cohort from Atlantic Southeast District also is hard at work completing their first course, “Understanding the Bible,” and are beginning in-depth studies of Jonah and Ruth. “It is a joy to work with all the students around the denomination,” Quijano wrote. “With continuing prayers and support, we look forward to the ministries our sisters and brothers are preparing for.” Atlantic Northeast has 13 students in SeBAH-CoB, Pacific Southwest has six, and two Puerto Rican students in Atlantic Southeast are participating.
  • An orientation on Aug. 1-4 will welcome new Training in Ministry (TRIM) and Education for Shared Ministry (EFSM) students to the Brethren Academy for Ministry Training on the campus of Bethany Seminary in Richmond, Ind. “If you know someone who is considering TRIM or EFSM, please be in touch with the Brethren Academy office for information,” said an announcement. Registration deadline is June 15. A ministry training partnership of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Seminary, the Brethren Academy may be contacted at or go to .
  • Ministry Summer Service participants begin orientation Friday at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The group will be hosted by the Ministry Office and Youth and Young Adult Ministry. Interns include Todd Eastis, Heather Gentry, Lucas Kauffman, Andrea Keller, Amanda McLearn-Montz, and Peyton Miller. Mentors include Gieta Gresh, Cindy Laprade Lattimer, Carol Lindquist, Dennis Lohr, David Miller, and Marie Benner Rhoades. Leading the orientation are associate general secretary Mary Jo Flory-Steury and Youth and Young Adult director Becky Ullom Naugle, along with Dana Cassell, Jim Chinworth, Mark Flory-Steury, Tracy Primozich, and Christy Waltersdorff. Said Naugle, “Remember us in your prayers as we prepare these young adults to spend a summer discerning their call to ministry!”
  • Young adults are invited to apply to serve on the denomination’s Young Adult Steering Committee. “Are you interested in helping to shape the programs and ministries available to young adults in the Church of the Brethren? Do you know another young adult who would be interested?” said an invitation from Becky Ullom Naugle, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. Applications are due June 30. Download the application from .
  • This year's Song and Story Fest, an annual family camp co-sponsored by On Earth Peace, will be July 21-27 at Camp Myrtlewood in Bridge, Ore. The theme is "Between Sky and Sea" (Isaiah 55). The intergenerational gathering will feature Brethren musicians and storytellers. For more information, visit .
  • Manchester Church of the Brethren in N. Manchester, Ind., will explore the challenges faced by Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) at a Coffee House at 6:30 p.m. on June 9. The church also announced a June 16 special offering for EYN.
  • Black Rock Church of the Brethren in Glenville, Pa., continued its 275th anniversary celebration with a May 4 Spring Fair. Said a report from the church: “The event was blessed with a beautiful clear day and culminated in a release of 75 butterflies to honor and remember loved ones.” Contact 717-637-6170 or or go to .
  • Another Voice at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren is holding four weeks of "Dialogue on Gun Violence" including a special panel discussion at 6 p.m. June 2. The panel includes Rockingham County Commonwealth's Attorney Marsha Garst, Circuit Court Judge James Lane, Lolly Miller whose daughter was injured in the Virginia Tech shooting, and Bridgewater Police Chief Joe Simmons.
  • Shenandoah District has issued preliminary results of its 21st Annual Disaster Ministries Auction. Net proceeds are estimated at $180,000. Some 1,060 people were served an oyster-ham dinner, 270 people enjoyed made-to-order omelets and 157 opted for pancakes at the breakfast, and a lunch served 146 in addition to a la carte food items that were available. The event supported Brethren Disaster Ministries.
  • Shenandoah District also thanks kit-makers who brought Church World Service disaster relief kits to a Kit Depot at the district office. The depot collected CWS kits, clean-up buckets, and quilts to be processed and warehoused at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. “The grand totals are gratifying,” the newsletter said: 75 baby kits, 1,303 hygiene kits, 576 school kits, 54 emergency clean-up buckets and, from Lutheran World Relief, 392 quilts.
  • Virlina District has begun an Oklahoma Tornado Fund to aid those affected by the powerful tornados that hit the state in mid-May, including the devastated town of Moore. The fund will support a response by Brethren Disaster Ministries. “We will undoubtedly be sending disaster teams from Virlina for the follow up rebuilding,” said the district newsletter.
  • “Peace Gives Life!!!” (Proverbs 14:30) is the theme for the Western Plains District peace retreat for youth and young adults on Aug. 9-11 at Camp Mt. Hermon, Tonganoxie, Kan. It will be facilitated by On Earth Peace. Cost per person is $65. Download the Camp Mt. Hermon registration form and health form from and send along with a copy of health insurance card and payment by July 26 to Joanna Smith, 18190 W. 1300 Rd., Welda, KS 66091; 785-448-4436; .
  • The Brethren Home Community in Windber, Pa., received a Lee Initiatives grant in a ceremony at the Johnstown Holiday Inn on April 30. The retirement community was awarded $8,442 for adjustable electric beds in the nursing wing. Social Services Director Emily Reckner was responsible for authoring the grant, and Jerry Baxter awarded the check to Home Administrator Edie Scaletta at the ceremony. The community also received $3,000 in donations for laptops for charting throughout the facility, through a “Getting Connected” computer campaign. Contact Donna Locher, Finance Director, 277 Hoffman Ave., Windber, PA 15963.
  • A nonprofit organization created by a Manchester University business class has raised $15,356 and visibility about the growing number of homeless children, according to a release. The class company, H2.0 Drinkware, sold 1,121 water bottles to benefit Project Night Night, a national nonprofit that annually provides 25,000 night-time care packages for homeless children. Four area shelters for the homeless selected by the class will receive the care packages: Huntington House, Vincent Village, the Rescue Mission, and Interfaith Hospitality Network in Fort Wayne.
  • A World Council of Churches conference calls for prayer and action to support Christian presence in the Middle East. The conference May 21-25 in Lebanon included more than 100 church leaders and representatives of ecumenical organizations. The statement called churches to “continue to be being involved in the building of democratic civil societies, based on the rule of law, social justice, and respect for human rights, including religious freedom.... This is another time for such action, for a new vision of Christian cooperation in the region, for recommitment to Christian Muslim engagement, for engagement with Jewish partners also working for peace and justice, expressing our Christian vocations by working together to express mutual support and solidarity.” See .
Source: 5/30/2013 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 Chris Douglas, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Leslie Frye, Julie Hostetter, Philip E. Jenks, Donna Kline, Jon Kobel, Jeri S. Kornegay, Dan McFadden, Becky Ullom Naugle, Debbie Noffsinger, Janet Ober, Bonita Rogers, Roy Winter, Zach Wolgemuth, Jane Yount, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Children’s Disaster Services readies team to go to Oklahoma

Tornado destruction in Moore, Okla.
Photo by FEMA/Tony Robinson
Tornado destruction in Moore, Okla.
Children’s Disaster Services readies team to go to Oklahoma; Brethren urged to support the work of child care volunteers through donations to the EDF

Children's Disaster Services (CDS), a department within Brethren Disaster Ministries, is preparing to send members of its Critical Response Team to care for children and families affected by the powerful tornado that struck Moore, Okla., yesterday afternoon causing 24 confirmed deaths including at least 7 elementary school children.

The American Red Cross has confirmed the need for CDS volunteers to care for children in their Family Assistance Centers. CDS is mobilizing two teams to be at work in Oklahoma by tomorrow, including four Critical Response Childcare volunteers, several regional caregivers, and a project manager. The Critical Response Team has additional training to help children and families cope with extreme trauma and loss of loved ones.

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 who 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 disasters.

Donations to the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) of the Church of the Brethren will support the response by Children’s Disaster Services. Go to or send a check to the Emergency Disaster Fund, Church of the Brethren General Offices, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.

Ecumenical relief effort begins through CWS

Church World Service (CWS) has announced that it will respond to the extensive damage caused by the tornadoes in the Oklahoma City and Moore, Okla. area, including provision of emergency supplies as needed. Brethren Disaster Ministries is one of the agencies that participates in and supports the ecumenical disaster relief work of CWS.

More will be known in coming days about the details of the CWS response. “We have worked extensively in communities struck by tornadoes in the region," said Donna Derr, the agency's chief of emergencies. "Our job is to provide immediate assistance with CWS Kits, and focus on helping the most vulnerable, who typically have the hardest time recovering in the long term."

Information about how to assemble a CWS Kit is at . These kits provide immediate relief supplies to people affected by disasters, and are warehoused and shipped from the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

How to help

Donate online at or send a check to the Emergency Disaster Fund, Church of the Brethren General Offices, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. Donations to the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) will help support the response by Children’s Disaster Services and by CWS.

Brethren Disaster Ministries reminds church members of the importance of donating responsibly. Cash donations are best. The Oklahoma VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) is asking Americans to “do the following things to make our collaborative effort as effective as possible for our neighbors in need: At this time, please ask your organizations to make financial donations only until other types of donations are requested.  We all KNOW not heeding this request can lead to the second disaster after the disaster. Please instruct all volunteers associated with your organization … to NOT self-deploy. Best practices include a collaborative response, so people are directed WHEN NEEDED and WHERE NEEDED so their help and skills are most needed and will be most effective.”

Go to for more information about responsible and helpful donations following disasters . Another National VOAD website directly relates to the tornadoes:

Source: 5/21/2013 Newsline Special

Friday, May 17, 2013

Newsline: May 17, 2013


Bethany Seminary trustees hold spring meeting.

Courtesy of Bethany Theological Seminary

The Bethany Theological Seminary Board of Trustees held its spring meeting on the Bethany campus in Richmond, Ind., on March 21-23. In addition to hearing reports on department activities and new initiatives, the trustees addressed a number of action items. A highlight of the weekend was a retirement dinner for Ruthann Knechel Johansen, whose presidency of Bethany concludes on June 30.

"One of the most important tasks for a board during a transition time in the life of an institution is to preserve the fertility of the educational soil by attending to fundamental faith and institutional values that make thoughtful continuity possible,” said Johansen in her opening remarks. “You will do that by keeping the institutional mission and vision clearly in mind and being guided by the strategic plan."

Trustee officers for the 2013-14 year were approved as follows: Lynn Myers, chair; David Witkovsky, vice-chair; Marty Farahat, secretary; Jonathan Frye, chair of the Academic Affairs Committee; John Miller, chair of the Institutional Advancement Committee; and Greg Geisert, chair of the Student and Business Affairs Committee and the Audit Committee. Nate Polzin will serve as the board representative to the Council of District Executives as he begins his second five-year term on the board. Appreciation was expressed to Phil Stone Jr. as he concludes his 10-year tenure on the board, having served as chair of the Student and Business Committee and of the Investment Committee for the past two years.

A major board action was the approval of a pilot project entitled Seminary Associates. Developed to address a named priority in Bethany’s strategic plan as well as a goal of the Reimagining Ministries campaign, this project is intended to further extend Bethany’s presence and resources to those at a distance. In this first phase, Bethany will initiate conversations with people connected with selected Brethren colleges, exploring ways to strengthen Bethany’s relationship with the colleges and their extended regional communities.

Following up on an initiative from the October 2012 board meeting, trustees received a report from the Task Force on the Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults. They approved recommendations to continue the position of coordinator of outreach programs and to form a Review and Vision Committee, which will complete a review of the Exploring Your Call program and develop a vision for the institute.

Trustees also approved new demographic benchmarks as part of Bethany’s revised institutional-student profile. Projected for 2013-2016, these measurable goals are based on the diverse demographics and the academic, curricular, and vocational profiles of the current student body. They include increased enrollment; desired percentages of ecumenical, male, female, and international students; a stronger focus on recruiting recent college graduates; and more intentional preparation for bi-vocational ministry.

Led by Tara Hornbacker, professor of Ministry Formation, a faculty task team shared its progress in the first phase of Bethany’s Ministry Formation assessment and refinement project. The project is funded by a $20,000 grant from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion.* The team is conducting church visits over a year’s time to learn about varieties in ministry, changes in congregational life and ministry, and what is needed for excellence in ministry. They have been met with appreciation for their initiative and have engaged in sincere, constructive dialogue. The information will help Bethany structure its ministry training for the realities of current congregational life.

Academic Affairs

Dean Steven Schweitzer gave a thorough overview of Bethany’s new curriculum, calling it a “long process but a worthwhile process. Our faculty and curriculum will be in a better place.” To be implemented in fall 2013, the new structure was developed over an 18-month period by the teaching faculty and has a flexibility that will appeal to prospective students. Master of divinity students will be able to select a ministry studies focus area, and all students will have the opportunity to combine their elective courses for a named emphasis. Master of arts students now have a first-year formation course, and new requirements in history, intercultural, and intergenerational studies were added.

The board approved the promotion of Russell Haitch to professor of Christian education and director of the Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults.

Thirteen seniors were approved for graduation upon their completion of all courses.

Updates on the new faculty searches included a projected announcement for the Brethren studies position in the next few weeks. Candidates for the reconciliation studies position will be on campus in late April. Schweitzer commended the board for approving these positions, which will strengthen the academic programs and the faculty.

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership report included a potential new cohort in the Spanish language ministry training program (SeBAH-COB) and plans for the new Sustaining Ministerial Excellence program, to succeed Sustaining Pastoral Excellence. Donna Rhodes, executive director of the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center on the campus of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, reported on course and program offerings. The board also heard that the Brethren Journal Association has updated its articles of organization regarding hiring and employee review and will be reviewing its partnership with the seminary this year.

Institutional Advancement

The Reimagining Ministries campaign has reached nearly 80 percent of its $5.9 million goal with 15 months remaining in the public phase. While successful and educational, campaign meetings are drawing fewer new people and increases in giving than was hoped. Fiscal 2012-13 giving to date is lower than in 2011-12, but close to that of the three previous years.

Lowell Flory, executive director of Institutional Advancement, noted characteristics of younger generations’ approach to philanthropy, particularly their support of specific causes and more indifference to general institutional support. The packaging and delivery of Bethany’s message to new generations of constituents needs to reflect changing values and forms of communication. The Advancement Office is also working on publicity materials for a speakers bureau, publicizing lecture and workshop topics that faculty are able to present.

Student and Business Services

The Compensation Committee, named at the previous board meeting, recommended updated policies for compensating Bethany employees, which were approved. Comparative data was gathered from peer institutions for these proposed benefits and teaching faculty salary ranges. Determining compensation for administrative faculty is more challenging as position titles and responsibilities vary widely among schools. This research will continue, allowing for flexibility in meeting Bethany’s particular staffing needs and values.

The board passed the proposed 2013-14 budget of $2,638,640. This represents a 10.8 percent increase and slightly higher endowment draw than in 2012-13 due to new positions and program expansion. The administration also proposed a series of benchmarks to be met over the next three years if the new expenditures are to be maintained.

The SBS Committee also reported progress on plans to use the Mullen House property adjacent to the Bethany campus. Offices for the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership will be moved to the first floor of the house, while the second floor will remain as an apartment. Relocation of offices within the Bethany Center also will take place.

Recognition celebration

On March 22, more than 120 faculty, staff, students, colleagues, and friends gathered for “A Community Called to Shalom,” honoring Ruthann Knechel Johansen with festive fellowship, laughter, and memories. Tributes to her personal and presidential contributions were given by Ted Flory, former Bethany board chair; Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren; and Jay Marshall, dean of Earlham School of Religion. Poetry, musical selections, readings, and a video titled “Images of the Journey” filled the evening. In closing, Lynn Myers announced that the board had named Johansen president emerita upon her retirement. In addition, he revealed to Johansen that the new, fully funded Ruthann Knechel Johansen Endowment for Theology in Literature, recognizing her personal and professional passion, would cultivate the relationship of literature and theology within the Bethany community for years to come.

*The Wabash Center is located on the campus of Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind. Its programs are funded by Lilly Endowment Inc.

-- Jenny Williams directs Communications and Alumni/ae Relations at Bethany Seminary.

Source: 5/17/2013 Newsline

Seventy-year-old Brethren Pension Plan transforms in 2013.

Brethren Benefit Trust president Nevin Dulabaum shakes hands with Marie Flory
Photo by Brethren Benefit Trust
Brethren Benefit Trust president Nevin Dulabaum shakes hands with Marie Flory, a Brethren Pension Plan retiree, at a workshop he led for Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community in January.
An enhanced web portal, daily valuation of investments, and a variety of retirement readiness calculators are just a few elements of the Church of the Brethren Pension Plan’s dramatic upgrade, scheduled to be available to members in mid-2013.

“We think it is critical to provide our members with additional retirement planning tools, which will augment our strong lineup of investment funds, so that each member can establish informed retirement goals and easily chart their progress toward those goals,” said Nevin Dulabaum, Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) president. “Though much of the new functionality will be web- and phone-based, Brethren Pension Plan members will continue to receive support from an enhanced customer service team, which will quickly and effectively respond to the needs of our members.”

These enhancements will be made available to members through a partnership with an outside vendor, which will handle all record-keeping processes for Brethren Pension Plan beginning on June 1. During the transition, all benefit payments will continue to be sent to annuitants, and all active members’ accounts will continue to be invested.

The Brethren Pension Plan sent a Transition Bulletin to all members in April explaining important dates related to the transition. Questions related to this upgrade can be directed to Scott Douglas, Employee Benefits director, at 800-746-1505 or

New Brethren Pension Plan features:
  • A revamped website portal that streamlines account management and asset allocation processes.
  • Daily account valuation that reflects day-to-day investment changes to account balances. This will allow people to make mid-month changes to their asset allocations, although we will take steps if necessary to discourage people from becoming day traders with their Pension assets.
  • A 24/7 phone system that lets participants manage their accounts at any time.
  • Online tools to help plan for retirement--including a redesigned annuity projection calculator.
  • An online file manager that allows the storing, saving, and printing of statements.
A payment for life or until the money runs out?

What is the primary difference between the Brethren Pension Plan and a 401(k) retirement plan that many employers offer today? Just what the headline says--the Brethren Pension Plan will make annuity payments for your life, and perhaps for the life of your spouse, depending on which annuity type you select. A 401(k) plan, on the other hand, provides income for as long as your funds last. Once your 401(k) account is depleted, it’s gone for good.

This is an important distinction to understand when trying to compare retirement programs in an apples-to-apples manner. Other issues that also need to be compared carefully are fees, investment choices, portability, customer service, and whether your plan invests your assets in accordance with your values.

Over the past four years, BBT has made a number of improvements to the Brethren Pension Plan to ensure that it will provide competitive service and will be able to fulfill its obligations for years to come.

BBT has increased customer service representatives, added a number of new investment options, increased communications to members (and Plan sponsors) to help improve their knowledge regarding retirement planning and financial decision making, and staff has increased visits with Plan members, whether it be at the workplace or at denominational events where Brethren Pension Plan members are in attendance.

BBT has analyzed the mortality basis used to calculate life expectancy, to make sure calculations reflect the living experience of members. We have refined the investment allocation of the fund from which our annuities are paid--the Retirement Benefits Fund--to maximize gains and to minimize risks. And we have worked diligently to grow Plan participation. Even so, the experience of members with the Brethren Pension Plan is about to change in a profound manner. By July 1, the Brethren Pension Plan is expected to offer members some new and outstanding functionality that will enhance the retirement planning experience.

New website and telephone interfaces will provide new tools for conducting routine business, like changing asset allocations for existing and future contributions and earnings, changing beneficiaries, etc. A gap analysis of a member’s account will be available to indicate what steps a member needs to take now to help ensure they have the income they are looking for in retirement. BBT also has the longer-term goal of providing asset allocation guidance so that members can have assistance in the fund selection process.

This month, BBT staff are visiting several Brethren Pension Plan sponsor organizations for employee and employer training, to help ensure they are prepared to utilize the new functions when they go online. Pastors and other church staff members will be offered training sessions via webinar and at the Annual Conference in Charlotte, N.C.

This new functionality will come through a new partnership between the Brethren Pension Plan and Great-West, the plan’s new record keeper. Through this new alliance, Brethren Pension Plan will be able to offer its members robust retirement readiness tools backed by efficient and effective customer service.  All of this and an annuity for life--that’s the Brethren Pension Plan, which was created 70 years ago to serve you. We hope our Plan members enjoy, but most importantly, utilize this new functionality.

-- Nevin Dulabaum is president of Brethren Benefit Trust.

Source: 5/17/2013 Newsline

BDM directs grants to support rebuilding in New York, send canned chicken to the Caribbean.

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.
Brethren Disaster Ministries staff are directing grant money to support a continuing home rebuilding effort in New York State following flooding caused by Hurricane Irene in 2011, and a church effort to distribute canned chicken in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

A $40,000 grant from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) continues funding for the Brethren Disaster Ministries home repair and rebuilding project in New York State, originally started in the small town of Prattsville in July 2012, and now extended to the nearby community of Schoharie. These Catskill towns are located in some of the lowest income regions of New York, and an area where creeks rose over 15 feet in less than 12 hours devastating the lives of residents. Many of those affected were uninsured or elderly.

The grant provides the opportunity for volunteers to assist in the repair and rebuilding of homes for qualified individuals and families, underwriting operational expenses related to volunteer support including housing, food, travel expenses incurred on site, volunteer training, tools, and equipment. To date over 350 volunteers have provided over 2,500 days of labor to rebuild 15 homes for flood survivors. Previous allocations made to this project total $60,000.

An EDF grant of $13,000 is making it possible to “preposition” a supply of canned chicken in Haiti and the DR, for use in the event of disasters. The grant covers the cost of shipping canned chicken donated by the Church of the Brethren’s Southern Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic Districts, customs fees, and in-country distribution costs.

Haiti and the DR are vulnerable to a variety of natural disasters, especially hurricanes and flooding. Last fall, for example, Hurricane Sandy brought heavy rain and winds that caused flooding and damaged homes in both countries, leaving many homeless and without stored food in communities with Church of the Brethren members. The grant provides for the prepositioning of 37,500 pounds of canned chicken, with the Haitian Church of the Brethren’s ministry center receiving 7,200 28-ounce cans and 10,800 cans designated for the DR, to be divided between the Dominican Church of the Brethren and the Social Service of Dominican Churches, a partner organization.

For more about the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries go to For more about the Emergency Disaster Fund go to

Source: 5/17/2013 Newsline

Dinner celebrates completion of Prattsville, N.Y., rebuilding project.

On May 1, more than 75 people gathered at Prattsville Community Church in the New York Catskills to celebrate all the work Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteers have done. Delicious dinner and desserts were provided by the church and community for volunteers and homeowners.

Homeowners told their stories as they looked at pictures and remembered the destruction caused by Hurricane Irene in August 2011. “This seemed hopeless,” one homeowner said as many others nodded in agreement, “but the volunteers made it happen, and without that beginning none of us would be here today.”

Volunteers laughed and cried as they reminisced about all the work they had done and the people they had met in the 12 months Brethren Disaster Ministries had served there.

After dinner, pastor Charlie Gockel, Brethren Disaster Ministries associate director Zach Wolgemuth, and long-term Disaster Project Leader Tim Sheaffer shared their thoughts about the work that Brethren Disaster Ministries and other volunteer groups had done.

“If it wasn’t for the Brethren, we would have been done,” Gockel remarked. “We could have never made it this far without them.”

When the floor was opened, homeowners began to share their thoughts and memories. Homeowners teared up as they thanked all the volunteers for their service. “You helped us with our homes, but you also helped us to laugh throughout the whole process, which was a great thing,” commented one homeowner.

The service concluded with Pastor Gockel saying a prayer of blessing over the volunteers, who will continue their service up river in nearby Schoharie, N.Y. He also offered up a prayer of blessing for all of the families who will continue to rebuild their lives. Afterward, hugs were shared and stories were told, but no goodbyes were uttered. After 12 months in such a special community, no one was ready to leave.

The community of Prattsville has blessed the lives of the volunteers who served there. And Brethren Disaster Ministries blessed a lot of people in the community of Prattsville. Over 12 months, more than 400 volunteers served 15 families in the town, giving over 2,650 total workdays.

-- Hallie Pilcher is a Brethren Volunteer Service worker for Brethren Disaster Ministries.

Source: 5/17/2013 Newsline