Friday, August 30, 2013

Newsline: August 30, 2013


Church of the Brethren joins with groups warning against military action in Syria.

The Church of the Brethren is among some 25 churches, peacemaking groups, humanitarian organizations, and other nonprofits writing to President Obama to express concern about plans for military action in Syria ( ). The letter says, in part: “While we unequivocally condemn any use of chemical weapons along with continued indiscriminate killing of civilians and other violations of international humanitarian law, military strikes are not the answer. Rather than bringing an end to the violence that has already cost more than 100,000 lives, they threaten to widen the vicious civil war in Syria.”

Logo for the Office of Public Witness, Church of the BrethrenAn Action Alert from the denomination’s Office of Public Witness also warns that “military strikes are not the answer in Syria” ( ). “While we join American officials in condemning the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons attack on its own citizens, we urge the United States to refrain from retaliating militarily,” the alert says, in part. “Any intervention or attack by the United States will do nothing but escalate the violence that is already unconscionable.”

Both documents follow in full:

Action Alert: Military strikes are not the answer in Syria

Contact the President and your senators and representative. Ask them to oppose military intervention in Syria--and to support increased diplomacy and humanitarian assistance.

In the past couple of days, the war drums have gotten louder here in Washington. Ever since the horrific chemical weapons attack in Syria last week, officials here in Washington have sharpened their language and vowed to punish the Syrian government for this "moral obscenity."

While we join American officials in condemning the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons attack on its own citizens, we urge the United States to refrain from retaliating militarily. Any intervention or attack by the United States will do nothing but escalate the violence that is already unconscionable.

Instead, we urge the President and Congress to double down the United States' diplomatic efforts to achieve a negotiated political solution. Military strikes will do nothing but add another destabilizing element to an already volatile situation. On top of this, the United States must increase its humanitarian assistance as almost two million Syrians, of which one million are children, have been forced to flee their country as a result of this conflict.

As the US government itself has recognized, there is no solution to the crisis other than a political one. Instead of pursuing military strikes and arming parties to the conflict, we urge the United States to intensify diplomatic efforts to stop the bloodshed, before Syria is destroyed and the region further destabilized.

These decisions could be made within the next few days, so it is imperative that the President, your representative, and senators hear from you. Make sure your congressmen know that you oppose any and all military intervention and that Congress should hold the President accountable. Also let them know that the US does need to act by encouraging them to support increased diplomacy and increased humanitarian assistance to help stop the killing.

In God's peace, Bryan Hanger, Advocacy Assistant, Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness. For more information about the public witness ministries of the Church of the Brethren, contact Nathan Hosler, Coordinator, Office of Public Witness, 337 North Carolina Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003; ; 717-333-1649.

Find this Action Alert online at .
August 28, 2013
Dear President Obama,

We, the undersigned organizations, are writing to express our grave concerns with your reported plans to intervene militarily in Syria. While we unequivocally condemn any use of chemical weapons along with continued indiscriminate killing of civilians and other violations of international humanitarian law, military strikes are not the answer. Rather than bringing an end to the violence that has already cost more than 100,000 lives, they threaten to widen the vicious civil war in Syria and undermine prospects to de-escalate the conflict and eventually reach a negotiated settlement.

In the course of more than 2 years of war, much of Syria has been destroyed and nearly 2 million people--half of them children--have been forced to flee to neighboring countries. We thank you for the generous humanitarian assistance the US has provided to support the nearly 1 in 3 Syrians--8 million people--in need of aid. But such assistance is not enough.

As the US government itself has recognized, there is no solution to the crisis other than a political one. Instead of pursuing military strikes and arming parties to the conflict, we urge your administration to intensify diplomatic efforts to stop the bloodshed, before Syria is destroyed and the region further destabilized.

American Friends Service Committee
Church of the Brethren
Code Pink
CREDO Action
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Historians Against the War
Institute for Policy Studies
Just Foreign Policy
Oxfam America
Peace Action
Peace Education Fund
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Presbyterian Church, USA
Progressive Democrats of America
Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
Veterans for Peace
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Women’s Action for New Directions
For the final version of the letter in pdf format go to

Source: 8/30/2013 Newsline

Brethren program receives American Red Cross grant for work following Sandy.

BDM_logoBrethren Disaster Ministries has been awarded a grant of up to $280,010 from the American Red Cross to rebuild homes in response to Hurricane Sandy, or Super Storm Sandy as it was called when it hit the East Coast of the United States in 2012. After an initial disbursement of $50,000, the remainder of the grant will be disbursed quarterly based on the Brethren Disaster Ministries financial and project reports.

The grant will give funding for Brethren Disaster Ministries to set up at least two rebuilding sites and repair or rebuild at least 75 homes that were damaged or destroyed by Sandy. The grant will cover volunteer support and housing and transportation, tools, and more.

“Part of what makes this grant so nice is it supports how we work in community with Long Term Recovery Groups,” commented Roy Winter, associate executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries and Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren.

Brethren Disaster Ministries’ current home rebuilding projects include a project site in Toms River, Ocean County, N.J., among the worst affected regions of the mid-Atlantic coastline. The county saw more than 50,000 homes and 10,000 rental properties damaged or destroyed. Such extreme devastation has severely limited housing availability for displaced renters seeking alternative housing, and Brethren Disaster Ministries is partnering with OCEAN, Inc., a local non-profit, in a project aimed at increasing the supply of safe and affordable rental housing for Sandy survivors.

For more information about the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries go to

Source: 8/30/2013 Newsline

Shari McCabe to retire, Carol A. Davis to lead Fellowship of Brethren Homes.

The Executive Committee of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes has named Carol A. Davis to succeed Shari McCabe as executive director of the fellowship.

After five years of service as executive director of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes, McCabe has decided to fully retire. A release from the fellowship reports that she looks forward to fewer responsibilities, less travel, more free time, and more time with her family. The fellowship is expressing gratitude to her for her congenial spirit and for her years of dedicated service.

Davis is retired from years of service at the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville, Ohio (1999-2004) and at the Pinecrest Community in Mount Morris, Ill. (2004-2011). After a brief respite following her retirement, she is choosing to serve once again in this leadership position, the release said, adding that she is very familiar with the workings of the fellowship and its extended partnerships with Mennonite Health Services and Friends Services for the Aging. McCabe and Davis will work in tandem for several weeks to assure a smooth transition. Those attending the National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) may meet Davis at one of her first official functions.

Any inquiries about the Fellowship of Brethren Homes may be directed to Carol A. Davis, 2337 Bexley Park Rd., Columbus, Ohio 43209; 419-733-8634; . The Fellowship of Brethren Homes Executive Committee includes David Lawrenz, president; John Warner, vice-president; Chris Widman, secretary; and Jeff Shireman, treasurer.

Source: 8/30/2013 Newsline

Youth conference coordinators to hold ‘NYC Hangouts’ in September.

National Youth Conference (NYC) 2014 logo - large sizeAn itinerary of “NYC Hangouts” is planned by National Youth Conference (NYC) coordinators Katie Cummings, Tim Heishman, and Sarah Neher. The Church of the Brethren NYC 2014 is planned for July 19-24 on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. The event is a week-long “faith formation extravaganza” for youth and adult advisors. Youth who have completed ninth grade through a year of college at the time of NYC are eligible to attend.

The September “NYC Hangouts” are information sessions, complete with pizza, offered at several locations to raise excitement and interest in the conference. Youth and advisors are invited to come meet the NYC coordinators, learn about NYC, ask questions, receive resources such as fundraising ideas and options for transportation, and share pizza and fellowship.

Stops on the itinerary include:
  • Sept. 3, 7 p.m., Western Pennsylvania District Office, Hollsopple, Pa.
  • Sept. 5, 7 p.m., First Church of the Brethren, Roaring Spring, Pa.
  • Sept. 6-8, Mid-Atlantic District Youth Beach Retreat in Lewes, Del.
  • Sept. 8, 7 p.m., Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren
  • Sept. 9, 3 p.m., Madison Church of the Brethren, Brightwood, Va.
  • Sept. 9, 7 p.m., Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren
  • Sept. 10, 7 p.m. First Church of the Brethren, Roanoke, Va.
  • Sept. 11, 6 p.m., Happy Corner Church of the Brethren, Clayton, Ohio
Visit the NYC Facebook page at to RSVP for one of the “NYC Hangouts.” Find a video introducing the Youth Cabinet who is helping to plan NYC at

For more information about the 2014 National Youth Conference go to

Source: 8/30/2013 Newsline

Midwest regional youth conference ‘Powerhouse’ held at Camp Mack.

Powerhouse 2013Registration is open for Powerhouse 2013, the Church of the Brethren regional youth conference for the Midwest. The event is organized by Manchester University and this year will be held at a new venue: Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Ind. The dates are Nov. 16-17.

Registration is available at where youth and adult advisors will find a variety of information and forms needed for each participant to register. All forms must be completed for participants to attend. Forms should be downloaded, printed, and mailed to Manchester University when completed; please make enough copies so that each participant has one copy of each form.

Cost this year will be $65 for youth participants and a discounted rate of $60 for advisors. A late fee of $10 applies for registrations received after Nov. 8 (for extenuating circumstances, please contact the organizers). Rates are slightly higher than in previous years due to the camp venue, but the new location brings extra amenities of beds to sleep in, buffet-service meals, and other benefits. Opportunities for tours and other events at Manchester University will be available before and after the conference.

As in previous years, the schedule will be filled with energetic worship, workshops, recreation, music, fun and games, and good fellowship. Bethany Theological Seminary students Tim and Audrey Hollenberg-Duffey will be the keynote leaders for the weekend, on the theme: “On Earth as It Is in Heaven: Stories from the Garden” (Isaiah 61 and other texts).

Youth groups coming from a distance and needing a place to stay in the area Friday night should contact the organizers who will help make arrangements with local congregations or at Manchester University; lodging at Camp Mack also may be available at a cost.

Please be in prayer for this event, and encourage youth and advisors to attend.

-- Walt Wiltschek is campus pastor at Manchester University. For more information contact him at 260-982-5243 or

Source: 8/30/2013 Newsline

Congregational Life Ministries offers webinar on ‘Prayer and Service.’

Flyer for webinar on Prayer and ServiceAuthor and spiritual director Phileena Heuertz will lead a webinar on “Prayer and Service” sponsored by the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries on Thursday, Sept. 12, at 8 p.m. (Eastern time).

To attend the webinar go to There is no charge to participate. Ministers may receive .1 continuing education credit if they attend the live webinar.

The Church of the Brethren often is recognized for its service ministries around the world. Through programs such as Brethren Volunteer Service, Brethren Disaster Ministries, and Children’s Disaster Services, the church serves neighbors near and far. As a Historic Peace Church, members have embodied a witness for peace around the world. Often, however, in the midst of these acts of witness the life of the spirit may be overlooked.

Heuertz is no stranger to the active and prayerful aspects of ministry in the world. As a practitioner of contemplative prayer, she offers retreats and seminars on the role of prayer in the life of faith. Also, through her work among the poor, her contemplative prayer has grown into significant acts of compassion.

In this webinar, she will explore the intersection of contemplative prayer and ministry in the world. Church leaders, both pastors and lay people, will find her style accessible, challenging, and inspiring. Those interested in the webinar are encouraged to read Heuertz's book “Pilgrimage of a Soul” and to become familiar with her organization Gravity: A Center for Contemplative Activism, that she formed with her husband Chris.

-- Joshua Brockway is director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship for the Church of the Brethren. For more information contact him at or 800-323-8039 ext. 304.

Source: 8/30/2013 Newsline

Brethren bits.

  • Russell Otto Jr. of Plainfield, Ill., has been hired as media support specialist for the Church of the Brethren, beginning Sept. 9. He will work with communications and website staff at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill. He is a 2011 graduate of North Central College in Naperville, Ill., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in interactive media studies with an emphasis in convergent media. He was a writer for the college paper and a DJ for the college radio station. In more recent work he has been web editor for the blogsite, an online civil rights journal and collaboration with veterans of the American Civil Rights Movement, and also has volunteered as an office assistant for the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago.
  • Timbercrest Senior Living Community, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in North Manchester, Ind., seeks a Director of Development. Experience with fund-raising, donor development, planned giving, and church relations preferred. Send resume to David Lawrenz, Timbercrest, P.O. Box 501, North Manchester, IN 46962; or e-mail .
Brethren attend the March on Washington, August 28, 1963
Photo by BHLA collection
The view from the Church of the Brethren group that attended the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, in this photo from the collection of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives.
  • Five members of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren who attended the March on Washington were among the six Elgin, Ill., residents interviewed by the “Courier News” (affiliated with the Chicago “Sun Times”). The group told journalist Mike Danahey about the adventure of making their way to the march and being on the Mall in Washington that August 28, 1963. Those interviewed include Margaret Spivey of Elgin’s Second Baptist Church who at the time was a student in Chicago working on urban renewal; Willard “Duly” Dulabaum, at the time associate pastor at a Church of the Brethren congregation in North Manchester, Ind., who took 44 church members to the march; Jay Gibble, who was on the same bus as Dulabaum; Nancy and Lamar Gibble who traveled by car from Maryland where Lamar was a pastor; and Howard Royer who attended as news director for the Church of the Brethren magazine “Gospel Messenger.” Find the article “Witnesses to History: Elginites Recall Their Trip to Hear MLK’s ‘Dream’ Speech” online at
A group of pastors carry a Church of the Brethren sign at the 1963 March on Washington: (from left) Edward K. Ziegler, Glenn E. Kinsel, Robert G. Mock, and Philip E. Norris. They are shown in conversation with American Baptist executive Edward Tuller.
Photo by BHLA collection
A group of pastors carry a Church of the Brethren sign at the 1963 March on Washington: (from left) Edward K. Ziegler, Glenn E. Kinsel, Robert G. Mock, and Philip E. Norris. They are shown in conversation with American Baptist executive Edward Tuller.
  • Also in the news for her participation in the March on Washington was Manchester University president Jo Young Switzer. Her memories of the experience 50 years ago, when she was a high school sophomore, were published by the Fort Wayne (Ind.) “Journal Gazette” under the title: “March on Washington ‘day that shaped my life.’” Switzer remembered, “It was a day I will never forget, a day that reignited my hopes for all people to be treated with respect.... It was a day that shaped my life. King’s words ring in my ears to this day.” Read the full text of Young’s reflection at
  • The Gather ’Round Facebook page is sharing “some very nice words from some of our Baptist users ordering their fall curriculum: ‘We’ve been teaching for over 30 years and thought we had seen every possible way to tell the Bible story until we came across Gather ’Round. Gather ’Round tells the Bible story in a fresh and exciting new way. Our teachers love it and come away feeling refreshed. We are so happy to have found this curriculum!’” For more about Gather ’Round, a Christian education curriculum published jointly by Brethren Press and MennoMedia, go to Order curriculum from Brethren Press by calling 800-441-3712.
  • White Rock Church of the Brethren in Carthage in Floyd County, Va., will hold a 125th anniversary celebration and annual homecoming on Sunday, Oct. 13. Morning worship will begin at 10:30 a.m. with pastor Michael Pugh speaking. A potluck meal follows with the church providing meat, drinks, and tableware. The afternoon service begins at 1:30 p.m. and will feature speakers David Shumate and Emma Jean Woodard. The day will close with a reception at 3 p.m. “Invite your family and friends to join in this special celebration!” said the Virlina District newsletter.
  • Shady Grove Church of the Brethren in Bruceton Mills, W.Va., is issuing an invitation to its 100 Year Celebration on Sunday, Sept. 15, starting with worship at 10:30 a.m. A meal will be provided following the celebration service. Pastor Barry Adkins also serves two other churches (Clifton Mills and Hazelton), in a grouping that makes up the Sandy Creek Congregation. For more information or to RSVP contact 304-379-3800.
  • Southern Ohio District is announcing a new church project that has begun meeting at 10 Wilmington Place in Dayton, Ohio, a retirement home where Terrilyn Griffith leads a worship service all but one Sunday of each month. “Attendance has been averaging anywhere from 12-25 folks each week,” said the district newsletter. Support is requested for this church plant including people to provide special music and the donation of copies of Hymnal: A Worship Book. Contact Griffith at .
  • Glendora (Calif.) Church of the Brethren is holding a memorial service for two homeless men who were stabbed to death Aug. 15 at a car wash where both were spending their nights. John “Little John” Welch was a member of the church, and his friend Warren Blagrave was hoping to join as well, according to the “San Gabriel Valley Tribune.” Drew Alan Friis, 28, of Glendora has been arrested and charged with the murders. The Glendora-based organization Nurses For Christ is organizing the memorial service; its members used to provide meals to the two men along with other local homeless people. The service is Saturday, Aug. 31, at 2 p.m. Donations will be received to help pay for the funerals. For more information, contact Nurses For Christ at 626-315-7392. Find the newspaper article at
  • Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md., has received high scores in a state satisfaction survey. According to a release, “Families with loved ones at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village give the facility higher ratings for its quality of care than do families for other nursing homes, a 2013 state survey determined. The annual polling of families affiliated with 222 Maryland nursing homes again has given the Boonsboro facility other top marks as well. On a scale of 1-to-10, with 10 the best possible rating, Fahrney-Keedy residents’ families and caregivers gave the facility an 8.9 on quality of care, while those at other homes gave them ratings averaging 8.3.” The questionnaire sent by the Maryland Health Care Commission to families or other primary responsible parties of residents askd 25 questions about five aspects, using a four-point scale. The community reported, “Fahrney-Keedy’s score in each area and the comparable score given statewide are: Staff and administration, 3.8 to 3.7; care provided to residents, 3.7 to 3.5; food and meals, 3.6 to 3.5; autonomy and resident rights, 3.7 to 3.5 and physical aspects of the nursing home, 3.5 to 3.4.”
  • Camp Harmony, Hooversville, Pa., is reporting on its summer programs focused on a theme from Isaiah 43:18-19, “The Lord says, ‘Forget what happened before, and do not think about the past. Look at the new thing I am going to do. It is already happening. Don’t you see it? I will make a road in the desert and rivers in the dry land.’” In a report of summer statistics, the camp logged 437 registered campers, an increase from 418 in 2012; welcomed 203 campers from other groups and 1,500 people from rental groups; and provided 115 scholarships to campers. The camp also thanked 47 families and congregations for becoming “attached to Camp Harmony by giving a dollar a week for a total of $4,500.” In addition, the camp undertook a special ministry of providing 160 free meals and snacks to children for 2 days a week for 6 weeks at the Boswell Housing Authority through the Tapestry of Health and the Feeding of America program.
  • Illinois and Wisconsin District Facebook page shared an invitation from Pleasant Hill Village, a retirement community in Girard, Ill. The community is holding its next Community Night on Sept. 10 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. “They are planning fun games for the kids, cotton candy, popcorn, snow cones, food, and even a petting zoo!” said the announcement. For more information go to or contact Molly Hannon at 217-627-2181.
Source: 8/30/2013 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 Bryan Hanger, Tim Heishman, John Hollinger, Michael Leiter, Andrew Pankratz, Glen Sargent, Roy Winter, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Newsline: August 23, 2013


God of life, lead us to justice and peace: An interview with leaders of the World Council of Churches.

World Council of Churches staff Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary, and Natasha Klukach, program executive for church and ecumenical relations, were hosted by the Church of the Brethren for three days in mid-August. Tveit gave the message at Neighborhood Church of the Brethren in Montgomery, Ill., on Sunday, Aug. 11, and the two WCC staff visited the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on Aug. 12-13.

Their visit came as the WCC prepares for its 2013 assembly, a worldwide gathering of Christians that takes place every seven years. Member communions send delegates, and the WCC also extends invitations to non-participating communions and the interfaith community. Because the experience reaches well beyond the 350 member communions of the WCC and their 550 million members, and includes a large delegation of Catholics, the assemblies are considered the most significant times when Christians get together. This 10th Assembly of the WCC will be held in Busan, Republic of Korea (South Korea), on Oct. 30-Nov. 8.

During their time at the General Offices, the WCC leaders met with Brethren communicators including news director Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, associate director for donor communications Mandy Garcia, and “Messenger” editor Randy Miller. General secretary Stan Noffsinger also sat in on the conversation.

Here is an excerpt:

Question: WCC assemblies are times and places when the Spirit may move in new directions. Do you anticipate a new direction in this coming assembly?

WCC leaders pose for a picture with Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger and assistant Nancy Miner
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
World Council of Churches leaders Olav Fykse Tveit (left) and Natasha Klukach (second from right) pose for a picture with Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger (second from left) and office manager Nancy Miner (right).
Olav Fykse Tveit: As we prepare it together with our member churches, we are praying, “God of life, lead us to justice and peace.” If God answers that prayer through this assembly, we will see more clearly how God is leading us to contribute to justice and peace in the world and how we can do more of that together.

This assembly will touch all of us, both as we listen to one another’s struggle for justice and peace, but also as we listen to one another’s contribution. Something that can come out of this assembly is that it is not only for some churches or some activists or some offices of the church to deal with these issues of justice and peace. It is really to be a Christian to be involved in how we together pray for justice and peace, and to be led to justice and peace. I believe this will be an assembly where we find this is not one track among many others, but really a blood stream that goes through the whole ecumenical fellowship.

Q: The Church of the Brethren has a strong interest in just peace. What do you see happening with that philosophy in the wider church? Do you see other Christians picking it up?

Tveit: I hope that being a peace church is something that many churches would like to identify themselves as. And that we not only have peace as a historical definition of some churches, but also as a program for many churches.

Just peace as a theme, as a vision has been developed particularly well in this period leading up to this assembly, both in the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation which we had in Jamaica in 2011 where your church supported it significantly and was significantly present, but also in a commitment to make this something at the heart of being a church. The decision by the WCC Central Committee to have the theme for the assembly, “God of life, lead us to justice and peace,” also reflects about how our programs after this can be given a common vision through this perspective.

All of this shows that there is a momentum that goes beyond just some churches discussing this. I attended a two-day consultation in June in Berlin, where the representatives from different churches in Germany wanted to discuss how this is both a concept that is already giving a direction, but also a concept that still needs to be discussed. The discussion is not over, about what does it mean. But it continues to be an agenda and a vision that we want to develop.

In this Ecumenical Call to a Just Peace, which was developed and approved by the WCC Central Committee, we talk about just peace from four dimensions: one is peace in the communities, peace with nature, peace in the market places--economic justice as an issue, and peace between the nations. This four-dimensional understanding of just peace brings together the legacy of the council over many years but also leads us into very important, hopefully new programs and new projects we can do together.

Some churches have raised a critical voice to just peace. In some parts of the world, it is seen as a way of describing the American geopolitical interests. Particularly in Indonesia, some church leaders have told me that we have to be aware of this. And in Asia in general this is [seen as] a formula for the pax Americana.

For that reason it’s also important to discuss what we really mean. Is this a way to replace the discussion about just war? A discussion has been going on since the medieval ages in the church about under which conditions can Christians be a soldier. We cannot say that from now on nobody should discuss just war, because that is not up to us to decide. But we can try to say that it is much more important to have a discussion about how we as churches contribute to just peace, than how we contribute to the discussion of when is it acceptable to support a nation going into war.

There are some questions related to this just war issue that really belong to the just peace agenda. For example, you have a discussion about drones, which is actually a discussion about are there weapons that we definitely have to condemn in another way than others? We have had some of this discussion related to nuclear weapons. Even from a just war perspective, nuclear weapons were condemned because it’s impossible to say that there is a reasonable objective for the use of these weapons. Using these weapons can only mean destroying something, you can’t restore anything.

I feel that we need to be open to change these discussions to avoid either a just war or a just peace discussion. We need to move forward with the most important issues and how we contribute to a peace that is really a just peace, and not just a peace that covers up injustices.

Q: During the Vietnam War era, our Brethren focus was positional advocacy against war. We’re continuing that voice but out of an understanding of the gospel message to be reconcilers of people with God and people with each other. Does that show in our behavior and our presence?

Tveit: That’s why I was eager to come here, to learn more and to see where you are now according to this legacy, but also where are you heading? And what are your challenges in following this call? Part of my ministry is to have open and real conversations with our member churches, not only about what we want to be but what we are. And how to develop our visions out of the reality in which we are.

As far as I know the Church of the Brethren, you have contributed always by raising this perspective. It doesn’t mean that everybody listens to you, but it is important that somebody has a consistent voice saying that we shouldn’t go to war, we should solve our problems in another way. I think that has had an influence.

Natasha Klukach: Your use of the word reconciliation is very significant because I think that is entering public discourse more and more, particularly in North America. I could name some different areas: work with Native Americans and First Nations peoples in Canada, racial issues in the United States, issues of economic disparity. I see these as places where the Church of the Brethren through its strengths, through its history, through its consistent work in understanding of peace, can be part of a reconciling methodology.

I think of the number of places around the world which now have truth and reconciliation commissions for different purposes. Canada has one, of course South Africa, and other places. This is an area where there’s more than just the peace agenda, because it’s about how we talk to each other, how we hear experience, how we empathetically enter into another reality and thus change the relationship. It’s not just about understanding conflict but changing and forging a new future together. I think the Brethren are particularly well poised to be leaders in that, and the need is very significant and very urgent.

Tveit: That’s part of my challenge to the Church of the Brethren: how can you use your experience and your commitment in this new situation where it’s not just about discussing whether America should go to war or not, but much more diversified questions about how to contribute to peace.

-- This interview was edited for use in Newsline by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford. The October issue of “Messenger” magazine will feature a fuller version of the conversation (subscribe at , annual subscriptions are $17.50 individual or $14.50 church club or gift, or $1.25 per month for students). For more about the 10th Assembly of the WCC go to . For Tveit’s sermon at Neighborhood Church of the Brethren on Sunday, Aug. 11, go to . For the WCC release about Tveit’s trip to the US see . For a video clip of a conversation between the two general secretaries, Tveit and Noffsinger, find a link at . Thanks to Brethren Benefit Trust and Brian Solem for the help in producing this video.

Source: 8/23/2013 Newsline

Christian ecumenical organizations call attention to Egypt.

The World Council of Churches, Christian Churches Together in the USA, and the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem have issued statements in the last few days calling attention to the crisis of political unrest and violence in Egypt.

A WCC release highlights statements by general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit, who said in part, “Protection of all human life and sacred sites is a common responsibility of both Christians and Muslims.” CCT’s pastoral letter, signed by the presidents of its five faith “families” including Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden as president of the historic Protestant family, said in part, “As followers of the Prince of Peace, we mourn from afar the loss of lives and pray that peace be restored.” The statement by church leaders in Jerusalem said in part, “We strongly condemn these acts of vandalism carried out by some extremists, and call upon all parties to stop violence and killing and to work towards national unity, without which Egypt will risk a civil war.” The three documents follow in full:

Christian Churches Together in the USA:
“A Pastoral Letter to All Christians and People of Good Will”

Christian Churches Together bannerGrace and peace be to you, in the name of our Lord and Savior!

We write to you as leaders of Christian Churches Together in the USA. During the last three weeks of political unrest in Egypt, we have witnessed with great concern the escalation of violence. Hundreds of lives have been lost because of this violence. As followers of the Prince of Peace, we mourn from afar the lost of lives and pray that peace be restored.

In a more particular way, we are concerned for the ways in which this violence has affected the very lives of Christians in Egypt. Different news sources have reported how Christians have been the object of targeted violence because of their faith. These same sources have also reported how in many instances people of other faiths (particularly Islam) have risked their own lives to protect their Christian neighbors. We give thanks to God for those who have risked their lives to offer protection. We lament the violence against our brothers and sisters in Egypt.

We raise to our God the following prayer from the Coptic tradition:

"Make us all worthy, O our Master, to partake, of your holies unto the purification of our souls, our bodies and our spirits. That we may become one body and one spirit, and may have a share and an inheritance with all the saints who have pleased you since the beginning. Remember, O Lord, the peace of your one, only, holy, catholic and apostolic church."

We make an appeal to the U.S. government and other world political powers to actively seek, together with the people of Egypt, a prompt solution to this political crisis. But even more, we appeal to all Christians and people of good will to unite in prayer for the safety of followers of Christ and for peace in Egypt.

Kyrie Eleison, Lord have mercy!

Respectfully yours,
Rev. Stephen Thurston, Moderator, President of the Historic Black Family, National Baptist Convention, USA
Bishop Denis Madden, President of the Catholic Family, Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, President of the Orthodox Family, Armenian Orthodox Church America
Rev. Gary Walter, President of the Evangelical/Pentecostal Family, Evangelical Covenant Church
Ms. Wendy McFadden, President of the Historic Protestant Family, Church of the Brethren
Rev. Carlos L. Malavé, Executive Director of CCT
A release from the World Council of Churches: 
“Supporting interfaith calls for peace in Egypt”

The World Council of Churches (WCC) Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed support for the interfaith calls to action for peace and security in Egypt. He encouraged religious leaders to work together to call for protection and to promote the sanctity of human lives and religious places.

Tveit appreciated a recent statement issued by Bayt al-‘a’ila al-misriyya (the Egyptian Family Home) which appealed for the “security measures to protect the churches, the mosques, the national and the religious institutions, as well as the sacred places.”

The Egyptian Family Home, an initiative of the Christian and Muslim leaders in Egypt, created in 2011, collaborates with WCC member churches in Egypt, including the Coptic Orthodox Church.

“Terrorism does not take into account the sanctity of religion,” notes the statement, issued on Aug. 15.

The Egyptian Family Home also encouraged “efforts exerted by the civilians either Muslims or Christians who are defending the churches in this crucial period, setting a sincere example of the Egyptian patriotism against the sectarian divisions and terrorism.”

Echoing the concerns raised in the statement, Tveit emphasized that “the future of Egypt with justice and peace is only possible through the commitment of all Egyptians.”

“Protection of all human life and sacred sites is a common responsibility of both Christians and Muslims. The WCC supports and stands in solidarity with the call for joint action and efforts for reconciliation and security by the religious leaders in Egypt,” he added.
In recent events following the Aug. 14 demonstrations, hundreds of people have been in killed, while several churches and mosques were burnt down in Cairo and around.

Statement from the Egyptian Family Home:

WCC invokes prayers for peace in Egypt (WCC news release of Aug. 15):

Cross for Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in JerusalemStatement by the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem:
“Blessed be Egypt my people…” (Isaiah 19:25)

We, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, follow with great concern the dreadful situation in Egypt, which suffers from internal divisions, deliberate violence and terroristic acts against innocent people, both Muslims and Christians. Government institutions were attacked, a great number of Egyptian soldiers and policemen have been killed, public property was destroyed, and Christian churches were desecrated. The desecration and burning of churches is an unprecedented scandal and goes against the values of tolerance, lived in Egypt for centuries. We appreciate the fact that many Muslim compatriots have stood by the side of Christians in defending churches and institutions.

We strongly condemn these acts of vandalism carried out by some extremists, and call upon all parties to stop violence and killing and to work towards national unity, without which Egypt will risk a civil war.

We stand with the Egyptian people in their strife against terrorism and militant groups, both locally and internationally. We offer our condolences and sympathy to all victims and casualties and pray for healing of the wounded and afflicted.

We call upon the International Community to stand against violence and terrorism, to help the people of Egypt to overcome this cycle of violence and bloodshed, and to help to get the country back on track.

We pray the One Lord to enlighten the Egyptian leaders to save the values of democracy, dignity and religious freedom.

Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarchate
Patriarch Nourhan Manougian, The Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate
Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land
Archbishop Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem
Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate
Archbishop Abouna Daniel, Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate
Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey, Greek-Melkite-Catholic Patriarchate
Archbishop Mosa El-Hage, Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate
Bishop Suheil Dawani, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
Bishop Pierre Malki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
Msgr. Yoseph Antoine Kelekian, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
Source: 8/23/2013 Newsline

Southern Ohio District launches Vital Ministry Journey.

Vital Ministry Journey launches in Southern Ohio District
Photo by Stan Dueck
Vital Ministry Journey launches in Southern Ohio District
Seventy-five people representing 23 congregations attended Southern Ohio District's launch event of Vital Ministry Journey (VMJ) on Saturday, Aug. 10. The event was held at Happy Corner Church of the Brethren.

Another district launches its Vital Ministry Journey in late September: Mid Atlantic District’s launch event is scheduled for Sept. 28 at Union Bridge Church of the Brethren in Maryland.

In Southern Ohio District, the Missional Renewal Commission is sponsoring Vital Ministry Journey, a congregational vitality process being offered through the denomination’s Congregational Life Ministries. The commission and district staff have been promoting the Vital Ministry Journey process, including planning and hosting the launch event. Every congregation in the district was invited to send leaders to hear a presentation about Vital Ministry Journey.

The half-day event began with worship followed by a presentation by Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices for the Church of the Brethren. Then participants gathered in small groups to experience the Bible study process that is foundational to the VMJ process. The event concluded with a question and answer session so that participants could discuss the process with Dueck and district representatives. The church representatives were encouraged to return to their congregations and share their discoveries about VMJ. The Missional Renewal Commission will follow up with churches to check on their readiness to participate in this congregational vitality process.

Prior to the launch event, on Friday, Aug. 9, Dueck held a training session with resource people who have been called to serve as the district's VMJ coaches. The coaches will work with congregations that participate in the Vital Ministry process. Dueck will continue ongoing training with the coaches by way of scheduled web events.

Find out more about Vital Ministry Journey at .

-- Stan Dueck is director of Transforming Practices, Congregational Life Ministries.

Source: 8/23/2013 Newsline

The 301st unit of Brethren Volunteer Service begins work.

BVS Unit 301
Photo by BVS
BVS Unit 301: (first row from left) Sarah Ullom-Minnich, Esther Kilian, Julia Schmidt, Lina Herrmann, Nora Boston, Amanda Strott, Deborah Schlenger, Mark Pickens; (second row, from left) Tim Heishman, Shino Furukawa, Luke Baldwin, Charlotte Rutkowski, Whitnee Hidalgo, Sarah Neher, Stephanie Barras, Dylan Ford; (third row, from left) Andrew Kurtz, Mandy Witherspoon, Jess Rinehart, Chris Luzynski, Johann Toelle, Tobias Domke, Jan Fahrenholz, Turner Ritchie.
The volunteers in Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) Unit 301 completed their orientation on July 16-Aug. 3 at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The members of the unit, home congregations or home towns, and project placements follow:

Luke Baldwin of First Church of the Brethren in York, Pa., is working at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

Stephanie Barras of Indianapolis, Ind., is going to OKC Abrasevic in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Nora Boston of Bonn, Germany, is serving at the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C.

Tobias Domke of Castrop-Rauxel, Germany, and Jan Fahrenholz of Westerkappeln, Germany, are going to Project PLASE in Baltimore, Md.

Dylan Ford of Tipton, Ind., and Sarah Ullom-Minnich of McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren, are serving at Su Casa Catholic Worker in Chicago, Ill.

Shino Furukawa of Mutterstadt, Germany, is serving at Innisfree Village in Crozet, Va.

Tim Heishman of West Charleston Church of the Brethren in Tipp City, Ohio, and Sarah Neher of McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren, are working with the Church of the Brethren Youth and Young Adult Ministry serving as two of the three coordinators for the 2014 National Youth Conference, along with Katie Cummings.

Lina Herrmann of Luedenscheid, Germany, is serving at Human Solutions in Portland, Ore.

Whitnee Hidalgo of St. Clair, Mich., will work with Sisters of the Road in Portland, Ore.

Esther Kilian of Koblenz, Germany, is serving at Interfaith Hospitality Network in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Andrew Kurtz of Plymouth (Ind.) Church of the Brethren, will be volunteering with Quaker Cottage in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Chris Luzynski of Roanoke, Va., is going to the Brethren Disaster Ministries office in New Windsor, Md.

Mark Pickens of Mechanicsburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is serving at CrossKeys Village in New Oxford, Pa.

Jess Rinehart of Granger, Ind., will serve in Central America.

Turner Ritchie of Richmond (Ind.) Church of the Brethren, will serve in an interim assignment at the Brethren Service Center in Maryland, and then will go to the Asian Rural Institute in Tochigi-ken, Japan.

Charlotte Rutkowski of Hanover (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, is going to the Family Abuse Center in Waco, Texas.

Deborah Schlenger of Paderborn-Wewe, Germany, is serving at Washington City (D.C.) Church of the Brethren.

Julia Schmidt of Pandora, Ohio, is serving temporarily at the BVS office in Elgin, Ill., with plans to go to RAND in Zagreb, Croatia.

Johann Toelle of Muenster, Germany, is volunteering with Lancaster (Pa.) Area Habitat for Humanity.

Mandy Witherspoon of Columbus, N.C., will work at Gould Farm in Monterey, Mass.

For more about Brethren Volunteer Service go to .

Source: 8/23/2013 Newsline

Camp Emmaus auction raises $1,000-plus for camp scholarships.

Bidding on artwork, T-shirts, jewelry, bracelets, and other items, the youth and staff at this year’s senior high camp at Camp Emmaus in Mount Morris, Ill., raised more than $1,000 for camper scholarships.

An auction has become an annual tradition at the camp, starting about seven years ago. Proceeds each year go to aid a different charitable cause. Past beneficiaries have included a Honduras workcamp led by Camp Emmaus manager Bill Hare, a camper undergoing cancer treatments, and the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund. Campers and counselors donate the sale items.

Items ranged from the traditional, such as Camp Emmaus T-shirts, to the imaginative, such as a soda can holder featuring an image of Hare riding a dinosaur. Campers and counselors created many of the items, including framed photographs, paintings, hand-knit scarves, and a duct-tape wallet. Bidding was spurred on by incentives for reaching various levels: the director being thrown in the pool, a counselor wearing a bright pink shirt for the day, and another counselor’s mustache being colorfully dyed.

Hare said he was impressed by the campers’ generosity, which will provide scholarships to attend camp for children and youth who could otherwise not afford to do so.

About three dozen youth attended this year’s senior high camp during the last full week of July, one of six age-group camps offered by Emmaus this past summer. The camp also holds family camps over Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, a women’s camp, and other events. It is one of 29 Church of the Brethren-affiliated camps located across the US. For more information go to

-- Walt Wiltschek is campus minister at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind.

Source: 8/23/2013 Newsline

43rd annual Dunker Church Service planned at Antietam battlefield.

Civil War cannon with Dunker Church in the background
Photo by Joel Brumbaugh-Cayford
The 43rd annual worship service in the restored Dunker Church at the Antietam National Battlefield, a Civil War battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md., will be held on Sunday, Sept. 15, at 3 p.m. The service will be similar to an 1862 Dunker worship service, with Gene Hagenberger preaching on "Words Around Antietam." Scripture texts will be James 1:19 and 26, and 3:1-12.

The service is sponsored by the Churches of the Brethren in Maryland and West Virginia, and is open to the public. Leadership includes Tom Fralin of Brownsville, Md.; Eddie Edmonds of Moler Avenue (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren; Ed Poling of Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren; the Back Row Singers, also from Hagerstown Church of the Brethren; and Gene Hagenberger, district executive minister for Mid-Atlantic District.

For more information about the Dunker Church Service contact Eddie Edmonds at 304-267-4135, Tom Fralin at 301-432-2653, or Ed Poling at 301-733-3565.

Excerpts from the historical notes that will be provided in the bulletin for the service:

Today’s preacher Gene Hagenberger, executive minister, Mid-Atlantic District Church of the Brethren...wants to say a special thank you to Antietam Park Ranger Alan Schmidt for sharing time and information with him as he prepared for this service.

The Dunker Church, which stood in the midst of one of the bloodiest battles of our national history, was the place of worship for a group of people who believed that love and service, in place of war, was Christ’s message. After the battle they helped minister to both armies, using the church as an improvised hospital.

The Dunker movement began in the early 18th century in Germany with people seeking religious freedom. The treaty that closed the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) established three state churches. Those who did not accept the beliefs and practices of these churches were persecuted. One such group of people gathered in the village of Schwarzenau.

After much study and prayer, they came to the conclusion that repentance and baptism of believers was necessary. Eight of them were baptized in the Eder River by trine immersion. This method of baptism gave rise to the name Dunker--one who dips or dunks. Sometimes known as New Baptists, more commonly known as German Baptist Brethren, the official name became Church of the Brethren in 1908.

About 1740 the Brethren began to settle along the Conococheague and Antietam Creek of Maryland. At first holding worship services in homes, the members were organized into a congregation known as the Conococheague or Antietam in 1751. The Mumma Church--the battlefield church--was built in 1853 on a lot donated by Brother Samuel Mumma. Baptismal services were held in nearby Antietam Creek and the building was made available to other Christian denominations for funeral services.

Elder David Long and Daniel Wolfe conducted the Sunday, Sept. 14, 1862 church service, just before the Sept. 17, 1862, Battle of Antietam. The church building was extensively damaged by artillery shells, yet stood through one of the most severe battles of the Civil War. Funds raised under the direction of Elder D. P. Sayler were used to make repairs. Services were resumed in the building in the summer of 1864 and continued until a wind and hail storm demolished it in May 1921.

Today’s service is the 43rd commemorative service held since the church was rebuilt in 1961-62 through combined efforts of the Washington County Historical Society, the State of Maryland, and the National Park Service. The Churches of the Brethren of West Virginia and Maryland extend special thanks to participating area ministers and members of cooperating Churches of the Brethren present today. We extend our gratitude to the National Park Service for their cooperation, for the use of this meeting house, and the loan of the Mumma Bible.

“It is the hope of the Brethren that the little white church on the Antietam battlefield may be to our troubled world a symbol of tolerance, love, brotherhood, and service--a witness to the spirit of Him [the Christ] whom we seek to serve” (quote generally attributed to E. Russell Hicks, deceased, a member of Hagerstown Church of the Brethren.)

Source: 8/23/2013 Newsline

Churches plan creative events for Peace Day 2013.

Peace Day 2013Sept. 21 is international Peace Day, and On Earth Peace and the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness are teaming up to invite congregations to plan Peace Day events on this year’s theme “Who Will You Make Peace With?”

“Jesus calls us and gives us what we need to make peace with friends, enemies, family members, within our congregations, and in the world around us,” said an invitation. “Who will you make peace with this September?”

Here are some creative examples of what congregations around the globe are planning:
  • Pastor Ray Hileman of Miami (Fla.) First Church of the Brethren says, “We are planning a witness walk from our meeting place to a nearby park and back to raise funds for On Earth Peace’s 3,000 Miles for Peace campaign on Saturday the 21st.
  • Linda K Williams of First Church of the Brethren, San Diego, Calif., reported that the church will have a Peace Fair with multicultural entertainment, tabling by local groups, and children’s activities, followed by an interfaith vigil where religious leaders and participants from a number of faith groups will participate.
  • South Central Indiana District holds its district conference on Sept. 21 at Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind. The theme “Take Your Mat and Walk” (Mark 2:9), fits right in with plans for participants to walk a few steps for peace over the lunch hour, as part of the 3,000 Miles for Peace campaign. “We will have the course ready and you can walk the number of feet you choose so that collectively we will have a District Conference total of at least 5280 feet (1 mile),” said the district newsletter announcement. “Come, add your prayers, your steps, your passion for a world at peace!”
  • First Mennonite Church in Urbana, Ill., is planning to have a Salsa Party in cooperation with the mosque down the street--the Central Illinois Mosque and Islamic Center. “People from our church and the mosque share tending a common garden and will use produce from the garden to make salsa together,” the church reports.
  • West Richmond (Va.) Church of the Brethren is planning to go to a nearby river and have a feetwashing ceremony.
  • Lifelines Compassionate Global Initiatives, affiliated with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and led by an EYN church leader, is planning an opportunity for Christians and Muslims to fast, sing, and pray together or individually at home beginning on Sept. 19. Plans are yet to be finalized, but the hope is for three days of fasting and prayer to precede an interfaith gathering and visits by Peace Advocates to local churches and mosques to talk about peace. The Peace Advocates have benefited from interfaith peace skill training in preparation for the event, says the organizer.
  • Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren is participating in a Unity in the Community International Day of Prayer for Peace on Sunday, Sept. 22. The interfaith gathering is 5-8 p.m. hosted by the Dar Alnoor Islamic Community Center, and will include a community potluck meal. Unity in the Community was established in 1995 through the efforts of Church of the Brethren members Illana Naylor Barrett and Fred Swartz, along with members of various faith congregations within the Manassas area, said the announcement. The purpose of the group is to combat racism, anti-semitism, and other forms of discrimination in the community.
  • Centralia (Wash.) First United Methodist Church is planning a 3,000 Miles for Peace Fun-Run as well as a commemoration for the Decade for Nonviolence to Children at nearby Centralia College.
  • Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren holds itt 23rd annual 5K Run/Walk for Peace on Sept. 21, starting at 10 a.m., with a Kids' Fun Run starting at 11:15. A family mini-fest will include food, face painting, a bounce house, and other children’s activities. Proceeds will benefit 3,000 Miles for Peace. Find out more at .
Other congregations are invited to do something similar to these plans, or come up with something unique to express peace in the community. “Whatever your congregation decides to do, be sure to sign up at ,” say the Peace Day organizers. Find a full list and interactive map of participating congregations at .

-- Bryan Hanger, a Brethren Volunteer Service worker in the denomination’s Office of Public Witness, and Matt Guynn of the On Earth Peace staff, contributed to this report.

Source: 8/23/2013 Newsline

World Council of Churches calls members to observe day of prayer for peace.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is calling its member churches to observe the International Day of Prayer for Peace on Sept. 21.

This year parishes and individuals are invited to pray using the theme of the WCC Assembly, “God of Life, Lead Us to Justice and Peace.” The assembly takes place in Busan, Republic of Korea, Oct. 30-Nov. 8.

The International Day of Prayer for Peace is commemorated by the WCC in conjunction with the United Nations-sponsored International Day of Peace on Sept. 21.

“There’s fresh news each day of injustice, violence, and suffering, and the WCC assembly theme itself is a prayer for peace,” said Jonathan Frerichs, WCC program executive for peace-building and disarmament.

“It’s an active prayer--a witness to faith, a cry of hope, and a pledge to be disciples for peace together. May God hear us from International Peace Day to the assembly and far beyond.”

Churches are invited to pray for peace and to also share their prayers via Facebook or Twitter (#peaceday).

The peace prayer day began during the ecumenical Decade to Overcome Violence. The idea was born in a meeting between the WCC general secretary and the UN secretary general in 2004.

Find the website of the WCC 10th Assembly at . More information on the International Day of Prayer for Peace (IDPP) is at . (This release was provided by the World Council of Churches.)
Source: 8/23/2013 Newsline

The Time Is Now: An Annual Conference statement from the summer of 1963.

An ad in the
Photo by Gospel Messenger
An ad in the "Gospel Messenger" from late summer 1963 asks for special donations to help fund the mandates of an Annual Conference statement titled "THE TIME IS heal our racial brokenness." The ad lists developments in implementing the statement including communications to churches from the moderator and an Emergency Committee on Race Relations, the employment of a director of Race Relations, work by Brethren staff in Mississippi for a biracial commission and in Washington to promote Civil Rights legislation, and plans for Brethren to participate in the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963.
The following statement was adopted by the 1963 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, which met in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., that June. The statement is reprinted here as published in the "Gospel Messenger" magazine of July 20, 1963, pp. 11 and 13:

The time is heal our racial brokenness

The deepening crises in race relations all across the land confront the Christian church with its sharpest challenges to integrity and discipleship in this century. A revolution in relations between the races is upon us. We can neither stop it nor delay it. We can only hope to help guide it by active participation in it as concerned and courageous Christians.

The time is now to understand that racial reconciliation is built only on the foundation of racial justice, that justice delayed is justice denied.

The time is now to heal every broken race relationship and every segregated institution in our society--every church, every public accommodation, every place of employment, every neighborhood, and every school. Our goal must be nothing less than an integrated church in an integrated community.

The time is now to practice as well as to preach Christian nonviolence. In this revolution let us not only support and uphold the courageous Negro and white leaders of nonviolence, but let us take our share of initiative, leadership, and risk in helping guide the revolution over the precipitous trail of nonviolence.

The time is now to recognize Negro disappointment and even outright rejection of white Christians, their churches, and their faith. Few white Christians have suffered with their oppressed Negro brothers in efforts to obtain racial justice.

The time is now for us to confess to God our sins of delay, omission, and obstruction for racial justice within and outside the church. Our witness has been weak, despite the courageous witness of a few of our number. Our witness has not matched our basic belief that every child of God is a brother to every other.

The time is now for action, "even costly action that may jeopardize the organizational goals and institutional structures of the church, and may disrupt any fellowship that is less than fully obedient to the Lord of the church. In such a time the church of Jesus Christ is called upon to put aside every lesser engagement."

The call of Christ is for commitment and courage in such a time as this. This call comes to every one of us, every congregation among us, and every community in which we live. We can dodge neither the revolution nor the call of Christ. Let us respond in works as eloquent as our words, in practices as profound as our prayers, in action as heroic as our gospel.

Trusting in the Lord of the church for his continuing truth and power which strengthen us for every good work, we propose the following first steps to implement this declaration of concern:
  1. That this Annual Conference engage in an act of confession, repentance, and dedication regarding racial brotherhood and nonviolence;
  2. That the officers of this Conference establish a continuous prayer vigil seeking God's guidance in our concerns for racial brotherhood and nonviolence during the remaining hours of the Conference;
  3. That the moderator of Annual Conference send a pastoral letter to each congregation emphasizing the moral issue in the racial situation and lifting up the concerns of this paper;
  4. That the General Brotherhood Board take whatever urgent steps and risks it deems necessary and wise in order to move the church forward and to involve it more deliberately in the movement for immediate racial justice, brotherhood, and freedom, including such activities as participation in appropriate Christian forms of reconciliation, negotiation, demonstration, and nonviolent direct action; and that the board appropriate the necessary funds to implement this program;
  5. That each of the agencies and institutions related to the Church of the Brethren--Annual Conference Central Committee, the General Brotherhood Board, regions, districts, congregations, Bethany Seminary, colleges, hospital, and homes for the aged--immediately and thoroughly examine its policies and practices and take any necessary steps at once, both to eliminate any forms of racial discrimination and to adopt aggressive policies for racial justice and integration;
  6. That we emphasize with the strongest possible urgency the use of the method of nonviolence rather than violence in achieving racial justice in our country and that we call upon the major organizations leading the movement for racial justice to launch a nationwide educational effort as quickly as possible to counsel all Americans regarding the importance, philosophy, and method of nonviolence.
  7. That each local church is called upon to affirm by specific council action the already established Annual Conference policy that membership within the Church of the Brethren will be accorded without regard to racial background or national origin.
The time is now for every member of the church to be used of God to heal the brokenness in all peoples and races whom God hath made of one blood to dwell on all the face of the earth.
Source: 8/23/2013 Newsline

Brethren bits.

Program and Arrangements Committee begins work for Annual Conference 2014
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
The Program and Arrangements Committee has spent several days this week beginning the planning for the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in 2014. A highlight of the meeting was the option to Skype with a member who could not be at the church's General Offices in person this week.
  • Correction: There is new information to add to Newsline’s coverage of the Fifth Brethren World Assembly held in July at the Brethren Heritage Center in Brookville, Ohio. The center is issuing an invitation to help out with the task of preserving and sharing the rich Brethren heritage by donating significant items, or by becoming a "Heritage Friend." For details go to or contact the Brethren Heritage Center at 937-833-5222.
  • On Sunday, Aug. 18, First Church of the Brethren in Chicago held an "I Have a Dream" Anniversary Commemoration Service. The church for a time housed the westside Chicago office of Martin Luther King Jr., who preached from the First Church pulpit. “As our nation prepares to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, join us one and all as we look at ‘I Have A Dream’ for us today. What is the Dream now?” asked the invitation to the service. Pastor LaDonna Sanders Nkosi led the service and a community choir sang "Revelation 19." More information is at the Facebook event page .
  • Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock, Va., has begun worshiping in a new sanctuary, as the congregation anticipates its 145th anniversary on Oct. 13, reports Shenandoah District.
  • Olean Church of the Brethren in Giles County, Va., celebrates its 100th anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 8, according to the Virlina District newsletter. Olean was a mission point of the Oakvale congregation, the newsletter reported, and was originally planted by Brethren evangelists Levi Garst and C.D. Hylton beginning in 1913.
  • New in the “Hidden Gems” series from the Brethren Historical Library and Archives, a review of “The Challenge of Military Camp Life for the Church of the Brethren During World War I” by intern Andrew Pankratz. The article reveals the suffering of conscientious objectors during the war when “camp life for the several hundred Brethren who refused combatant and noncombatant service proved to be a challenging ordeal,” Pankratz writes. “Often the ordeal began when the young Brethren would refuse to wear a military uniform or do any military work. For many of these Brethren wearing the uniform or doing any work on base meant supporting the war effort and the killing of a fellow man. By refusing to wear uniforms or perform military camp duties, the Brethren underwent harsh treatment.” Go to .
  • Training in Ministry (TRIM) graduates were honored at the 2013 Bethany Theological Seminary Annual Conference Luncheon: Rhonda Dorn (Northern Indiana District), Mary Etta Reinhart (Atlantic Northeast), Diane Mason (Northern Plains), Marilyn Koehler (Northern Plains), and Traci Rabenstein (Southern Pennsylvania). TRIM is a program of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. For more go to .
  • The final group of pastors in the Sustaining Pastoral Exellence-Advanced Foundations of Church Leadership program of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership completed their two-year training on June 21: Mike Martin, David Hendricks, Martin Hutchison, Roland Johnson, Mary Fleming, Robin Wentworth Meyer, and Marty Doss. “This completes the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence initiative funded by Lilly Endowment Inc.,” reports the academy newsletter. The Sustaining Ministerial Excellence Advanced Seminar will begin in early 2014, funded by Wieand grants from the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Seminary.
  • The “Daily Gazette” of Schenectady, N.Y., has featured the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries in Schoharie in a feature article titled “Flood Recovery Groups Welcome Family Back into Their Schoharie Home.” The article posted on Aug. 16 at celebrates the new home built for the Coons family by SALT and Brethren volunteers.
  • Green Tree Church of the Brethren in Oaks, Pa., is offering an interactive workshop on “Brethren Peacemaking: Yesterday and Today” on Sept. 14 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Session One on  “Our Roots: History of Church of the Brethren Peacemaking” will be followed by a potluck dinner. Session Two on “Bringing Peacemaking into Our Communities” is from 7-8:30 p.m. The event is free. Leadership is provided by Rick Polhamus of Pleasant Hill Church of the Brethren in Ohio and one of On Earth Peace’s retreat and leadership training leaders. Contact to RSVP. More information is at .
  • July 14 was a day of celebration for Locust Grove Church of the Brethren, according to West Marva District newsletter. “A baptismal service was held at the Dominion Power Plant Recreation Center. Twenty people pledged to serve and love our Lord through the sacrament of baptism and commitment. Locust Grove then received 21 new members.” A picnic and afternoon of fellowship followed.
  • Also in West Marva District, Living Stone Church of the Brethren will host an event featuring Erik Estrada of “CHiPs” fame, on Sept. 9. The church will show the movie “Finding Faith” featuring Estrada, who has gone on to become a child advocate, portraying a sheriff who works with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The film tells the story of Holly Austin Smith, who was abducted by a child predator, to help educate parents and children about Internet safety. Doors open at 5 p.m. with the movie beginning at 6 p.m. The district newsletter reports that following the film there will be an opportunity to meet and talk to Estrada.
  • The Northern Plains District Conference recognized milestones for several ordained ministers: Lois Grove--5 years, Laura Leighton-Harris--5 years, Jeannine Leonard--5 years, Rhonda Pittman Gingrich--15 years, Diana Lovett--15 years, Mary Jane Button-Harrison--20 years, Nelda Rhoades Clarke--35 years.
  • Final accounting is complete for the 2013 Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Auction: $211,699.46. The district newsletter reported that “our 21-year total is now $3,692,379.60. Thanks to everyone who made this year's event such a success. Disaster response is one of our district's strongest ministries, and the proceeds from the auction support that outreach.”
  • Shenandoah District's Disaster Ministries Auction Coordinating Committee “Family Fun Day” is Aug. 24, at 502 Sandy Ridge Rd., Waynesboro, Va. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. “Come for games, food, and a pie-baking contest. Music groups will be performing from 12:30-4:30 p.m.,” said an invitation. There is a $10 fee for the two-mile run/walk and corn hole tournament. See .
  • Brethren Woods' 18th Annual Golf Blast and Elzie Morris Memorial Tournament and Fundraiser is Saturday, Sept. 7, at Lakeview Golf Course east of Harrisonburg, Va. A putting contest starts at 7:30 a.m., and the shotgun start is at 8:30 a.m. Cost is $70 per person which includes green fees, cart, prizes, and lunch. Go to .
  • The Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center is “calling all (apple) bakers” to compete in its inaugural Great Apple Bake-Off on Sept. 7, during CrossRoads' Harvest Day Festival. “Ribbons will be awarded to the top three entries in each category--pies, cakes, bread/pastry. Bakers will submit two items for each entry--one will be judged, the other sold at the baked goods booth. The winning baked goods will be auctioned at noon,” said an announcement in the Shenandoah District newsletter. The center is located in Harrisonburg, Va.
  • The website of the John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va.--historic home of Civil War-era Brethren elder and peace martyr John Kline--has posted a Civil War Sesquicentennial essay “150 Years Ago: The Shenandoah Valley and the Civil War” by Steve Longenecker of Bridgewater (Va.) College. Go to .
  • The Global Women’s Project will hold its next semi-annual meeting in September in North Manchester, Ind. The group will worship with Manchester Church of the Brethren and Eel River Community Church of the Brethren and will meet with Growing Grounds, a partner project in Wabash, Ind., that supports women in the criminal justice system.
  • “Brethren Voices” producer Ed Groff reports that the October edition will be the 100th for this Brethren community television show, a project of Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren. In September "Brethren Voices" features Jan and Doug Eller speaking about “A Brethren Visit to Cuba” with host Brent Carlson. The Ellers, who attend Portland Peace Church, recently visited Cuba with the organization Road Scholar, which provides educational tours in all 50 states and to 150 countries. Groff notes that “under US law, educational and cultural tours are permitted  during the embargo of Cuba, which has been ongoing for many years. The people of Cuba refer to it as a blockade, which restricts the shipment of goods from the United States.... Doug Eller states that a nine-day-visit does not make a person an authority, however their visit provides a good look at what is happening in Cuba, today.” October’s 100th edition of “Brethren Voices” features John Jones and Camp Myrtlewood, a Church of the Brethren outdoor ministry center in southern Oregon. Jones shares information about a Sept. 2002 stream restoration project conducted to restore fish habitat for migrating salmon and steelhead trout on Myrtle Creek, and shares his thoughts about the changes that have occurred to restore fish habitat over the years. For a copy of “Brethren Voices” contact .
  • New Community Project is turning 10. Described by founder David Radcliff as “a Christian nonprofit organization with Brethren affinities,” the project was founded in August 2003, and over the past decade has sponsored dozens of Learning Tours involving some 500 Church of the Brethren members to places as diverse as South Sudan, the Arctic, the Ecuadorian Amazon, Burma, and Nepal, Radcliff reports. The project also has sent over $600,000 to its partners in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America to support girls' education, women's development, and forest preservation, and has established a Sustainable Living Homestead in Harrisonburg, Va. More than 1,000 New Community Project presentations have been given in schools, colleges, congregations, and community groups. The New Community Project now includes a network of some 10,000 people across the US and internationally. To celebrate the occasion, the project’s booth at Annual Conference gave away over 250 t-shirts along with other items. Plans for year 11 include, according to Radcliff, another round of Learning Tours, a new “If We Build It...” campaign to construct a school in South Sudan, and an apprenticeship program at the Harrisonburg site led by coordinator Tom Benevento. Contact .
  • McPherson (Kan.) College on Aug. 20 hosted a Food for Orphans Anti-Hunger Run. A release about the event noted that “even small donations will make a huge difference for some of the 60 million orphans in developing countries suffering from famine, poverty, and conflict.” Shay Maclin, dean of students and assistant professor of education, said the fundraiser was a great way for incoming McPherson students to get an early taste of what the college’s mission--“Scholarship. Participation. Service”--actually means.
Source: 8/23/2013 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 Eddie Edmonds, Tom Fralin, Ed Groff, Larry Heisey, Kendra Johnson, Wendy McFadden, David Radcliff, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Newsline: August 8, 2013


WCC leader to preach at Illinois congregation, visit Church of the Brethren General Offices.

World Council of Churches general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit will bring the Sunday morning message at Neighborhood Church of the Brethren in Montgomery, Ill., this Sunday, Aug. 11, at 10:30 a.m. Tveit will be on a trip to visit various Christian groups in the United States, traveling from the World Council of Churches headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

Two general secretaries pose for the camera
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Two general secretaries pose for the camera during the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation held in Jamaica in 2011: at right Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches; at left Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren.
On Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 12-13, he will be in Elgin, Ill., visiting the Church of the Brethren General Offices.

The WCC is an ecumenical fellowship of 345 member denominations representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican, and other traditions in over 110 countries. General secretary Olav Fykse Tveit is from the (Lutheran) Church of Norway. The Church of the Brethren denomination is one of the founding members of the WCC and has been part of the ecumenical organization since its start in 1948.

Sunday’s service is open to the public, and will be followed by a time for coffee and fellowship. Neighborhood Church of the Brethren is located at 155 Boulder Hill Pass in Montgomery.

When Tveit visits the denomination’s General Offices he will be hosted by Church of the Brethren general secretary Stanley Noffsinger. Conversations will focus on the “Ecumenical Call to Just Peace” document and its role at the WCC 10th Assembly this fall in Busan, South Korea. The Assembly will be held October 30-November 8 on the theme, “God of Life, Lead Us to Justice and Peace.” Noffsinger has been named by the WCC Executive Committee as a special representative from the Historic Peace Churches to the delegate body of the Assembly.

Over the two days, Tveit also will tour the facility, hold meetings with staff, and be honored with a lunch reception to which pastors in Illinois and Wisconsin District of the Church of the Brethren will be invited.

For questions about the Sunday service at Neighborhood Church of the Brethren contact pastor Mark Flory Steury, 630-897-3347 or

Source: 8/8/2013 Newsline

Harold Giggler: CDS volunteers care for children following Asiana crash.

A young client of Children's Disaster Services
Photo by CDS/John Elms
A young client of Children's Disaster Services in San Francisco following the crash landing of an Asiana Airline plane in early July. CDS volunteers are specially trained to help children use creative play to work out the feelings of fear and loss that follow a disaster.
Following the July 6 crash landing of an Asiana Airline plane at the San Francisco airport, five volunteers from the Critical Response Childcare Team of Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) worked with children for three full days from July 10-12.

The Critical Response Childcare Team is specially trained to provide care for children and families following mass casualties events like airplane crashes. The group worked in San Francisco at the request of the American Red Cross.

The following story from this CDS response was shared by team member Mary Kay Ogden. For more information about Children’s Disaster Services go to

Harold Giggler

Four year old Harold Giggler arrived at the Crowne Plaza Children’s Disaster Services center in Burlingame near the San Francisco Airport on Wednesday, July 10. Harold Giggler is not his real name. We couldn't pronounce his given name. The CDS Critical Response Childcare providers named him after we got to know him. He and his parents had survived the Asiana airplane crash on July 6, and Harold rode in on a deluxe wheelchair with a casted broken left leg, which was to be kept immobile.

Harold was accompanied by either his mom, his dad, a cousin or all three. There was always someone to interpret, but the main language of communication was play. It wasn't until the third time that the parents left him in our care while they went to the hotel restaurant for some food. It can take a long time to earn trust, especially in a foreign country where your child's language is not spoken.

The group of five CDS childcare providers named him Harold because the only crayon he had any interest in was purple. This reminded us of the children’s book “Harold and the Purple Crayon” by Crockett Johnson. Two of us had listened carefully to his name and repeated it several times. However, Harold did not respond in the slightest degree of recognition when we used it, so we likely mispronounced it and used the wrong intonation.

We had a low table that Harold could sit parallel to and reach most items. Harold started off with the wooden puzzle, which had nine shapes. The first time, and every visit afterwards, he took out and put aside the oval, half circle, and circle. He especially liked the black trapezoid. After completing the puzzle with colors up, he put it together again with the color sides facing down. Harold worked with focus and determination.

The more time we spent with Harold, the more he jabbered in Mandarin. We smiled and nodded a lot. While we could not pronounce his name, he repeated in English some of the shape words his father taught him, including trapezoid.

When we brought the purple play doh over to him, he began pressing the puzzle shapes into the play doh. That is when some major giggling started. It continued when we flattened out some dough, thinking this would make the shape pressing more successful. He decided it was a pancake and that it should be eaten. So we pretended to do so. Once it disappeared he decided teeth brushing was in order. The giggles just got louder and more frequent.

He painstakingly built a tower out of Legos, using only the blue and the red ones. After completion and applause, he knocked the whole thing over in a fashion very typical of any preschooler.

It was the giggles and the eye contact that informed our actions. When something dropped, he would look at us and then down, effectively saying, "Pick it up!" Like many preschoolers, when he tired of coloring with his purple crayon, he pushed his clipboard and crayon off his lap and onto the floor. After picking them up several times, we pretended to go to sleep by closing our eyes and putting our heads on our hands near our shoulders. Soon three adult women were doing this, and Harold laughed with enthusiasm. Then he joined us and would wake us all up with noise and fist pumping. We all mimicked his actions, and by then Harold had earned his second name: Giggler.

It was 9:30 p.m. when Harold Giggler left to see the doctor next door to get some medication for pain. We were all tired, but refreshed with the resiliency of a four year old who never complained, worked around his casted leg, and was very easily entertained. The name Harold Giggler and the memory of his lilting voice and laughter will always bring a smile to our faces.

Source: 8/8/2013 Newsline