Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Newsline Special: Brethren Disaster Ministries responds to Illinois tornado outbreak

An aerial view of tornado destruction in Washington, Ill.
Photo courtesy of FEMA
An aerial view of tornado destruction in Washington, Ill.
By Jane Yount

Following an intense outbreak of thunderstorms and tornadoes that heavily impacted parts of Illinois and Indiana on Sunday, Nov. 17, Brethren Disaster Ministries is preparing to be involved as needed in those states.

Preliminary reports indicate some 91 tornadoes resulted in six fatalities and approximately 150 to 200 injuries. In Illinois, more than 1,000 residences sustained moderate to severe damage, with the heaviest damage in the towns of Washington and Minden. Indiana fared better with 26 counties reporting damage to about 56 dwellings and 2 schools.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is supporting Church World Service (CWS) efforts to provide disaster recovery training for communities hit by the tornadoes and material aid shipments such as Emergency Clean-up Buckets, Hygiene Kits, Baby Care Kits, School Kits, and CWS blankets. CWS responded to its first request for material goods by shipping 200 Clean-up Buckets to the American Red Cross Chicago Region for distribution in the Coal City area of Illinois.

Illinois and Wisconsin District disaster coordinator reports

Rick Koch, the Illinois and Wisconsin District disaster coordinator, is representing Brethren Disaster Ministries on daily conference calls of Illinois VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster). He reports that VOAD member organizations are assessing where to send early responders.

“While Washington, Ill., was first in the news, many communities other than Washington have been hard hit,” Koch reports. “Coal City, Ill., also had deaths, and a trailer park was destroyed.”

Koch shared with the Illinois VOAD that Brethren Disaster Ministries stands ready to do long-term recovery work as the affected communities become ready.

In an e-mail message to Illinois and Wisconsin District churches he wrote, “First and foremost, please pray for the families who have lost loved ones, for those injured and for those who have been displaced.... Some of our Brethren families have been affected directly as well.”

In an e-mail update today, Koch writes that “lists are being posted by the Red Cross on items needed. They vary, so find the one closest to your area,” he says, noting that churches in the district may begin to collect items. Three different collection sites are being opened in Illinois, at Coal City, in the community of Gillespie near Champaign, and in Washington. He recommends that interested congregations talk to their area Red Cross for more information about the need for volunteers.

“Also please do not forget to give financially to Brethren Disaster Ministries,” Koch urges. Giving to the Illinois tornado response may be done online at or by check to Emergency Disaster Fund, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is in touch with churches

Zach Wolgemuth, associate director of Brethren Disaster Ministries, has spoken with Dana McNeil, pastor of Peoria (Ill.) Church of the Brethren, one of the closest churches to the worst affected areas in Illinois. McNeil said the church is planning to get involved in clean-up work and other recovery efforts.

Cliff Kindy, South/Central Indiana District disaster coordinator, has reached out to several congregations in Indiana including Kokomo, Lafayette, and Logansport. They reported fallen trees and loose shingles but were spared major damage. “I’m not sensing any urgency in this state,” Kindy said. “I think the warning systems were effective.” He too plans to be in touch with his state VOAD.

-- Jane Yount is coordinator for Brethren Disaster Ministries. Find out more about the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries at . The program also recently announced a challenge to raise $500,000 for disaster response following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Source: 11/20/2013 Newsline Special

Friday, November 15, 2013

Newsline: November 15, 2013


Former general secretary Judy Mills Reimer is remembered for her leadership to the Church of the Brethren

Judy Mills Reimer at 1988 General Board meeting, in a photo by Kermon Thomasson
Photo by Kermon Thomasson
Judy Mills Reimer at 1988 General Board meeting, in a photo by Kermon Thomasson
Judy Mills Reimer, 73, who filled a number of key leadership roles in the Church of the Brethren including service as a former general secretary and Annual Conference moderator, died the morning of Nov. 13 in a hospital in Charlottesville, Va. She had suffered a series of strokes over the past few weeks.

“Her death is a loss to the whole Church of the Brethren, to which she gave so much of her life, energy, commitment, and passion,” said a statement from Church of the Brethren general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger.

Reimer became executive director of the denomination in 1998 and served in the position until she retired in July 2003, with the job title changing to general secretary in 2001. She was moderator of the Annual Conference in 1995. She served on the denomination’s General Board (now the Mission and Ministry Board) from 1985-90, and was board chair from 1988-90.

She was born Sept. 5, 1940, the daughter of Gladys and Mike Mills, and was nurtured in the faith as a child by her parents and Hollins Road Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va. She felt a call to the ministry in the late 1950s, according to a remembrance from Virlina District, but it was not until 1991 that she was licensed to the ministry. She was ordained in 1994, following graduation from Bethany Theological Seminary where she earned a master of divinity degree.

Her ministry in Virlina District included at least 11 years as a member of the district board where she served as chair of the Nurture Commission and chair of Outdoor Ministry, co-chaired or was vice chair of two district financial campaigns, and chaired the Virlina District Restructuring Committees in the 1970s and 1980s, among other positions.

On the denominational level, she also was field staff for Passing on the Promise in Atlantic Northeast and Middle Pennsylvania Districts in the late 1980s and early 1990s, was on the board of the Association of Brethren Caregivers and served a term as chair elect for the ABC board, chaired the Health and Welfare Council and the denomination’s Deacon Cabinet in the early 1990s, chaired the Pension Board Restructuring Committee in 1986-87, was in a group studying South African Divestiture in 1985-86, was worship coordinator for the 1994 National Youth Conference as well as an advisor for the National Youth Cabinet, was a member of the Brethren Business Network, served a term as delegate to the National Council of Churches (NCC) and the World Council of Churches, and on behalf of the NCC was an official observer at the Nicaraguan election in 1990.

Earlier in life, she did a term of Brethren Volunteer Service at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and at Hessish Lichtenau in Germany. After two years in BVS, she became an elementary school teacher in Canada and then in Roanoke, Va. Later, she and her husband, George, were the owners of Harris Office Furniture Co. Inc. in Roanoke.

Her life was “miraculous and exemplary,” said the Virlina District obituary, which noted that she suffered heart damage from an infection in 1967 “that would have diminished a lesser person. Judy chose to use every day as a gift from God.”

“I dream of the day when members of the Church of the Brethren are focused on the ‘bigger’ picture of Jesus Christ,” she wrote in a Messenger article in October 1994, during the year she served as moderator of Annual Conference, “seeking to discern through scripture, prayer, and community life how God would have us live our days as a denomination. Issues and questions will always be with us. Answers will come as we forthrightly communicate with each other in love and respect.... The joy of our faith is to shine through in all we do and say. To live each moment to the fullest. To live for God’s honor and glory.”

Judy Mills Reimer is survived by her husband of 49 years, George Reimer, and son Troy (Kristen), and two grandsons. She was predeceased by her parents and son Todd.

The family will receive friends from 2-5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 17, at Oakey’s North Chapel with a memorial service on Monday, Nov. 18, at 11 a.m. at Williamson Road Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va. Pastor Connie Burkholder will officiate. Entombment will follow at Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens Mausoleum at 2:30 p.m. Memorial gifts are received to the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; or to Camp Bethel, 328 Bethel Rd., Fincastle, VA 24090.

Source: 11/15/2013 Newsline

Great Multitude Symposium considers the intercultural vision of church

Intercultural Ministries Advisory Committee, October 2013
photo by Mandy Garcia
The Intercultural Ministries Advisory Committee, October 2013: (from left) Robert Jackson, Barbara Daté, Dennis Webb, and Gilbert Romero. Thomas Dowdy was honored in absentia.
By Gimbiya Kettering

The 50 participants at the “Great Multitude Symposium” Oct. 25-27 in Virlina District ranged from retired pastors to young adults. They traveled from California, and just a few miles down the mountain from the conference center. They spoke Hausa, German, Spanish, and English.

It seems possible, then, to say that the symposium brought together people truly representative of the many tribes, peoples, and languages in the Church of the Brethren. They were diverse, yet unified in the desire to make a biblically based vision of an intercultural church a reality. (Find a link to a photo album of The Great Multitude Symposium at .)

The vision was articulated and affirmed in the “Separate No More” paper adopted by the 2007 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren. The paper provides a foundational framework that is at once scriptural and communal.

To start off, Barbara Daté led a session that helped symposium participants get to know one another and share about their cultural roots.

Annual Conference moderator Nancy Sollenberger Heishman reminded attendees that Annual Conference papers start with queries from congregations and then return to congregations to be implemented--meaning that everyone has a role in achieving the goal of being a denomination with vibrant intercultural ministries.

Dennis Webb and Jonathan Shively led a creative session about the meaning of the word “intercultural” and how to be more effective in relating across cultures.

Then, with the “Separate No More” paper in front of them, participants engaged in small group conversations about how to implement the vision. Each group reported urgency and excitement for becoming more active in intercultural ministries at all levels of the church.

The excitement and new perspectives carried over to a panel discussion about Hispanic congregations that featured Daniel D’Oleo, Lidia Gonzales, Gilbert Romero, and Carol Yeazell. The day closed with a tradition from past intercultural gatherings--a concert by the Bittersweet Gospel Band.

After a hearty Southern-style brunch, Sunday morning services were held at Roanoke (Va.) First Church of the Brethren. A bilingual worship time was co-hosted by the Roanoke First and Roanoke Renacer congregations.

Daniel D’Oleo of Roanoke Renacer and Dava Hensley of Roanoke First, along with Virlina District executive minister David Shumate, worked closely with Congregational Life Ministries staff to make the conference possible.

Revelation 7:9 Award announced

When Barbara Daté, Thomas Dowdy (in absentia), Robert Jackson, Gilbert Romero, and Dennis Webb were called to the front of the room, they thought it was going to be a routine introduction of the Intercultural Ministries Advisory Committee. Instead, to their surprise, they were honored with the Revelation 7:9 Award.

Since 2008, the Revelation 7:9 Award has recognized individuals who have been passionate advocates for intercultural ministries in the Church of the Brethren. Few people have been more involved than this committee, whose cumulative involvement can be counted in terms of decades. The honorees were quick to name former members of the committee who were not present, and to call up others present who had worked with them in the past and helped bring the movement to where it is today.

-- Gimbiya Kettering is coordinator of intercultural ministries for the Church of the Brethren. Find a link to a photo album of The Great Multitude Symposium by Mandy Garcia at

Source: 11/15/2013 Newsline

Brethren Volunteer Service Unit 303 begins service

BVS unit 303
Courtesy of Brethren Volunteer Service
Brethren Volunteer Service Unit 303 has completed orientation and the volunteers have been sent across the US and into Europe and Latin America to begin a term of service. The volunteers, who met Sept. 22 to Oct. 11 at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., have been assigned to the following placements:
Emily Davis of Columbia, Mo., to Midwives for Haiti, Hinche, Haiti.

Tracie Doi of Granger, Ind., and David Mueller of Kassel, Germany, to Project PLASE, Baltimore, Md.

Erin Duffy of Hempfield Church of the Brethren, Manheim, Pa., to Highland Park Elementary School, Roanoke, Va.

Grace Elkins of Hollidaysburg, Pa., to CooperRiis, Mill Spring, N.C.

Theresa Ford of Green Tree Church of the Brethren, Oaks, Pa., and Olivia Haddad of Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren to Family Abuse Center, Waco, Texas.

Verena Goetz of Furth, Germany, to New Community Project, Harrisonburg, Va.

Tyler Goss of West Richmond Church of the Brethren, Richmond, Va., to Capstone, New Orleans, La.

Brandon Gumm of Midland (Va.) Church of the Brethren and Evelinia Husser of Speyer, Germany, to Cincinnati (Ohio) Church of the Brethren.

Becky Harness of North Liberty (Ind.) Church of the Brethren and Svenja Koenig of Dortmund, Germany, to Abode Services, Fremont, Calif.

Michael Himlie of Root River Church of the Brethren, Preston, Minn., to Brethren Disaster Ministries, New Windsor, Md.

Nate and Angela I. of Olympic View Church of the Brethren, Seattle, Wash., to CPR Sierra Unión Victoria, in Unión Victoria, Guatemala.

Carson McFadden of Highland Ave Church of the Brethren, Elgin, Ill., to Boys Hope Girls Hope, Kansas City, Mo.

Craig Morphew of Bethany Church of the Brethren, New Paris, Ind., to L’Arche Cork, Cork, Ireland.

April Moyer of Perkiomenville, Pa., to Capital Area Food Bank, Washington, D.C.

Andreas Pielczyk of Troisdorf, Germany, to the Center on Conscience and War, Washington D.C.

Sean Smith of Saint Petersburg (Fla.) Church of the Brethren to Church of the Brethren Material Resources, New Windsor, Md.

Becky Snell of McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren to Quaker Cottage, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Jenna Stacy of Melvin Hill Church of the Brethren, Columbia, N.C., to Brethren Workcamps, Elgin, Ill.

David von Rueden of Wieseloch, Germany, to SnowCap, Portland, Ore.

Source: 11/15/2013 Newsline

New Young Adult Steering Committee members announced

Three young adults will join the Young Adult Steering Committee of the Church of the Brethren this fall. Jess Hoffert is part of Stover Memorial Church of the Brethren in Northern Plains District. Heather Landram hails from Shenandoah District and Staunton Church of the Brethren. Laura Whitman comes to the team from Palmyra Church of the Brethren in Atlantic Northeast District.

Other members of the Young Adult Steering Committee are Joshua Bashore-Steury, Jon Bay, and Ashley Kern. The Young Adult Steering Committee met Nov. 8-10 to plan for Young Adult Conference, scheduled for May 23-25, 2014, at Camp Brethren Woods in Virginia.

Visit for more information, or contact Becky Ullom Naugle, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, at 847-404-0163 or

Source: 11/15/2013 Newsline

Church World Service issues update on Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts

Devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in Iloilo, the Philippines
Photo courtesy of ACT Alliance/Christian Aid
Devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in Iloilo, the Philippines
Church World Service (CWS) has issued an update on relief efforts following Typhoon Haiyan, which has devastated parts of the Philippines and also hit Vietnam. CWS is one of the ecumenical partners with which Brethren Disaster Ministries works to aid survivors of disasters.

Typhoon Haiyan, now being referred to as a “super typhoon,” made landfall in the Philippines on Nov. 8, affecting most strongly the islands of Leyte and Samar.

CWS has revised its initial appeal for the relief effort, with a new goal of $750,000, expanded from $250,000. Typhoon Haiyan, which also is known with the local name Typhoon Yolanda, “may have been the strongest typhoon on record, with sustained winds of 234 kilometers per hour and gusts of 275 kilometers per hour,” the update says.

The update notes that the “estimated number of fatalities from Typhoon Haiyan continues to fluctuate between 2,000 and 10,000. Whatever the final numbers, Typhoon Haiyan's effects have been devastating, with aid channels slowed due to severe damage to infrastructure and officials urging residents of decimated cities such as Tacloban to leave and relocate.” At least 982,252 families, or 4,459,468 individuals were affected, and an estimated 101,762 families or 477,736 individuals have been displaced, in numbers provided by the ACT Alliance.

CWS is supporting response and recovery efforts of fellow members of the ACT Alliance that have significant operations in the Philippines including the United Methodist Committee on Relief, Lutheran World Relief, Christian Aid, and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines. CWS-supported efforts include providing immediate assistance to more than 200,000 people: emergency food to 259,000 people, non-food items (plastic sheeting, etc.) to 192,000, water/sanitation repair to 205,000, programs of cash for work for 63,400, shelter assistance for 90,000, and disaster risk reduction programs for 2,500.

ACT Alliance member organizations are targeting their aid to subsistence farmers, small fishermen, poor urban dwellers, and female-headed households among the most affected by the typhoon, as people who have limited capacity, finances, and resources of their own to recover, CWS says. The total amount being sought for the entire ACT Alliance effort is $15,418,584.

Among what CWS and others know based on assessments by partners in the Philippines:
  • There are affected areas that government and non-governmental agencies have not yet reached. Urgent needs include food, sleeping materials, water, blankets, tarpaulins, tents, medicines, mosquito nets, generators, hygiene kits, and kitchen utensils.
  • The massive destruction of houses prevents families from returning home. As a result, there is an immediate and increasing need for plastic sheets for temporary cover and enclosed tents for families with vulnerable members.
  • Among the most urgent needs are safe drinking water and hygiene kits as water pipelines may have been damaged and accessible water is not potable. There is acute lack of clean water and food for the population in all nine provinces where more than 9 million people are affected.
Contributions to support the relief effort for Typhoon Haiyan survivors may be made at

Source: 11/15/2013 Newsline

World Hunger Auction completes its 30th year

By Lynn Myers 

The 30th World Hunger Auction, sponsored by a number of Churches of the Brethren in Franklin County and Roanoke, Va., was held in August. Beginning with one congregation in 1984, the auction has grown steadily to a point that 10 congregations currently are involved.

The results of the 2013 auction and associated activities were announced by the steering committee in early October. Of the $54,000 that was raised this year, $32,850 will be given to Heifer International; $13,687 to Roanoke Area Ministries; $5,475 to the Church of the Brethren Global Food Crisis Fund; and $2,737 to Heavenly Manna, a food bank in Franklin County.

Since 1984, more than $1,150,000 has been donated to these and other agencies that address hunger related issues.

While numerous auxiliary events such as meals, musical programs, a golf tournament, walk, and bike ride are scheduled through the year, the auction was the major fund raiser. This year, sale items included fried apple pies and baked goods, quilts and craft items, a walnut bowl and a bookcase, original art work and a blue bird carved from wood. In commemoration of the early auctions when cattle were sold, a Holstein heifer was auctioned.

Community support has been strong through the years and is vital to the event’s success. Many people make items specifically for the purpose of donating them to the sale, and literally hundreds of people are present on auction day.

Source: 11/15/2013 Newsline

Progressive Brethren Gathering to be webcast live this weekend

Home page image for Progressive Brethren Gathering 2013By Enten Eller

The Progressive Brethren Gathering happening this weekend, Nov. 15-17, in Fort Wayne, Ind., will be webcast live. Connect through either or

Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne is hosting the gathering, and will be sharing its facility with participants who are attending the event on the theme, "Holy Longing: This Is My Body." Sharon Groves, director of the Religion and Faith Program for Human Rights Campaign, will be the featured presenter.

To make the event available to any who wish to participate yet cannot make it to Fort Wayne in person, Living Stream Church of the Brethren will share its online facility to host participants who desire to attend from a distance. All major sessions of the gathering will be webcast, and all are invited to participate either live, or through viewing recordings at any later time.

For more information about the gathering, including the conference brochure, see

-- Enten Eller, pastor of Ambler (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and director of Electronic Communication for Bethany Theological Seminary, is helping provide the webcasting from the Progressive Brethren Gathering.

Source: 11/15/2013 Newsline

National Youth Conference speakers announced, registration opens January 3

National Youth Conference (NYC) 2014 logoThe National Youth Conference Office has announced its list of 10 speakers for NYC 2014, to be held July 19-24, 2014, in Fort Collins, Colo. The NYC Office also is encouraging all congregations to plan NYC registration parties for the evening of Jan. 3 when online registration opens at 7 p.m. (central time). Youth groups are encouraged to plan a fun evening of food and games, and register together when the clock strikes seven. Party ideas are available on the registration page of the NYC website at

NYC 2014 speakers

Here is a brief introduction to each of the speakers who will share with National Youth Conference 2014 during worship:
  • Jeff Carter is president of Bethany Theological Seminary, and up until recently served as pastor of Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren
  • Kathy Escobar is co-pastor of the Refuge, a church community in north Denver, Colo., and also a spiritual director, writer, and retreat and workshop leader
  • Leah Hileman is an indie recording artist, freelance writer, and licensed minister in the Church of the Brethren
  • Jarrod McKenna is the national advisor for Youth, Faith, and Activism for World Vision Australia as well as founder of EPYC--Empowering Peacemakers in Your Community
  • Rodger Nishioka is professor of Christian Education at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga., and previously served as denominational staff for youth and young adult ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA)
  • Jenn Quijano from Brooklyn, N.Y., is a student at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.
  • Samuel Sarpiya is pastor of Rockford (Ill.) Community Church, a Church of the Brethren fellowship
  • Ted Swartz of “Ted and Company” is a playwright and actor from Harrisonburg, Va., who brings the Bible to life through storytelling and humor
  • Katie Shaw Thompson is pastor of Ivester Church of the Brethren in Iowa
  • The Youth Speech Contest Winners are yet to be named. Youth may still apply for the contest. Submissions are due by Feb. 16, 2014.
Registration information

The registration webpage for NYC 2014 offers previews in PDF format of what the registration form will look like when it opens on Jan. 3. These are intended to help youth groups prepare and know exactly what information they will need in order to register. Stay tuned for a video tutorial on how to register. For more information visit or contact or 800-323-3039 ext. 385.

Source: 11/15/2013 Newsline

New video series asks, ‘Why NYC?’

The National Youth Conference Office has launched a weekly video series called "Why NYC Wednesdays." It features young adults from around the denomination reflecting on what their NYC experience meant to them, and sharing reasons why current youth should make NYC a priority next summer.

A new video will be released each Wednesday, available on the National Youth Conference YouTube channel and also on the NYC 2014 Facebook page. The first video featured Christy Crouse, from the Missouri/Arkansas District, who first attended NYC in 2010. You can view her reflections at

The NYC office invites others who have attended past youth conferences to submit their own reflections for consideration. How did attending NYC affect you? And why should youth make NYC a priority over any other possible summer activities? Videos can be up to 60 seconds long.

To inquire about submissions, contact the NYC office at or 847-429-4363. For more information about National Youth Conference 2014, visit

Source: 11/15/2013 Newsline

Bethany Seminary offers course on Dietrich Bonhoeffer

By Jenny Williams

In spring 2014, Bethany Theological Seminary will make one of its popular peace studies courses available through the Susquehanna Valley Ministries Center of Elizabethtown, Pa. Interested persons are invited to enroll in “Bonhoeffer, War, and Peace,” taught by Scott Holland, professor of theology and culture and director of peace studies and cross-cultural studies at the seminary in Richmond, Ind.

The application deadline for new students to enroll in spring semester classes is Dec. 1. Held at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., the class will be offered as a weekend intensive on Feb. 21-22, March 7-8, and March 21-22. Class times will run from 2-10 p.m. on Fridays and 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

Drawing upon the disciplines of peace studies, theology, and ethics, participants will explore the life and thought of German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, martyred during World War II. “His story is the struggle of a pacifist living under the influence of a tyrant who murdered millions of Jews and other citizens,” says Holland. “Bonhoeffer’s response was to join the active resistance movement to overthrow Hitler. Students value the blending of theology with biography, the concrete, real-life story of a renowned theologian. This is useful in peace studies because so often we study the abstract.”

To enroll or for more information, contact Tracy Primozich, director of admissions, at or 800-287-8822.

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

Source: 11/15/2013 Newsline

Brethren bits.

Frederick Church of the Brethren hosts
Image courtesy of Frederick Church of the Brethren
On Dec. 14, Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren hosts a special Christmas event called “Search for the Christ Child,” a journey to find the true meaning of Christmas, said an invitation. “Over 100 volunteers transform the entire church building into first century Bethlehem. Visitors are led through the story of the first Christmas and brought to the feet of a live baby representing the Christ child. The event is free for the whole family with guests being asked to donate a non-perishable food item to our Deacon Pantry,” the announcement said. The 30-minute guided tours will be held from 12 noon through 3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. For special accommodations, please e-mail . For more information visit, .
  • Remembrance: J. Henry Long, 89, a former executive secretary of the Church of the Brethren’s Foreign Mission Commission, passed away Oct. 19. He was a life-long member of the Church of the Brethren and served the denomination in many capacities throughout his long career. Born in Lebanon, Pa., to the late Henry F. and Frances Horst Long, he earned degrees from Hershey (Pa.) Junior College, Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, Bethany Theological Seminary, and Temple University. He also studied at the University of Chicago. He was licensed to the ministry in 1941 and in 1947 with his wife Millie served in post-WWII Holland, Poland, and Austria under the Brethren Service Committee. Thereafter, he directed Audio Visual Education for the denomination beginning in 1949, before becoming an associate executive secretary in the Foreign Mission Commission, and then assuming the executive secretary position in 1957. In all, he spent some 15 years in world missions work. During his work for the former General Board of the Church of the Brethren, he stressed the indigenous development of overseas churches and urged their move toward cooperative relationships with national boards in the United States. He also served on several specialized committees of the National Council of Churches, and on behalf of the NCC was part of a special delegation meeting with Christians in conflict areas of Asia during a time of crisis between India and Pakistan. In 1969 he joined the faculty of Elizabethtown College, where he was associate professor of Sociology and associate dean for Continuing Education. During his time at the college, he was elected chair of the American Leprosy Missions in 1974. He had been a member of the organization’s board of directors since 1967. Following retirement, he gave full time service as a volunteer Facilities Manager for Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren. Throughout his life, he was an ardent photographer and wood worker. He is survived by his wife Millie Fogelsanger Long, to whom he had been married for 69 years; daughter Nancy and her husband Michael Elder; son Scott and his wife Valerie Long; daughter Barbara Brubaker and her husband Henry Smith; grandchildren and great grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren on Nov. 30 at 11 a.m. Memorial gifts are received to the Elizabethtown Child Care Center Benevolence Fund and the Alzheimer’s Association.
  • Joe A. Detrick has been appointed interim district executive minister for the Church of the Brethren’s Pacific Southwest District. The interim position is fulltime beginning Dec. 1, for a period of nine to twelve months. Detrick is an ordained minister who retired in 2011 as district executive of Southern Pennsylvania District. In previous positions he has served as coordinator of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) orientation from 1984-88, and has pastored congregations in Indiana and Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., and holds a master of divinity degree from Bethany Theological Seminary. The Pacific Southwest District office will continue to be located at 2705 Mountain View Dr., P.O. Box 219, La Verne, CA 91750-0219; .
  • Fumio Sugihara has been named vice president for enrollment at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., effective Feb. 1, 2014. He has been director of admissions at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., since 2007. He will oversee Juniata’s enrollment office and provide leadership to grow the college’s enrollment, identify new markets for recruitment, and strengthen existing markets, nurture alumni connections to Juniata’s enrollment program, play a key role in retention efforts, and enhance communication and enrollment-related efforts throughout the campus community, said a release from the school. Sugihara started his career in higher education in 1998 at Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, Maine, where he was director for multicultural recruitment and associate director of admission. Bowdoin also is Sugihara’s alma mater, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1996 in women’s studies and environmental studies. He went on to earn a master’s degree in higher education in 2007 from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. He also has worked extensively with children, working as a vocational coordinator and case manager for developmentally disabled residential students at the New England Center for Children in Southborough, Mass., from 1996-98.
  • “The Gospel of John and the Anabaptist Tradition,” a one-day continuing education event sponsored by the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC) was held Nov. 4 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. Presenters were John David Bowman, Greg David Laszakovits, David Leiter, John Yeatts, Christina Bucher, Frank Ramirez, and Jeff Bach. A key resource was the Believers’ Church Bible Commentary on John by Willard M. Swartley. Approximately 70 participants listened to lectures and engaged in group discussion at round tables. SVMC is planning more such events in 2014: “What Every Christian Should Know about Islam” will be taught by Messiah College professor of Theology and Mission George Pickens at Mechanicsburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren on March 15; “Leadership for the Emerging Church” will be taught by pastor and district executive Randy Yoder at the Village at Morrison’s Cove in Martinsburg, Pa., on March 22. Contact the SVMC office at 717-361-1450 or .
  • Information about the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs is now linked at the Church of the Brethren Ministry Office web page . Also available is more information about other continuing education opportunities for ministers. Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs provide funds to congregations to support renewal leaves for pastors. Congregations may apply for grants of up to $50,000 to underwrite a renewal program for a pastor and family, with up to $15,000 of those funds available to the congregation to help cover expenses while the pastor is away. The link on the Ministry Office page will direct visitors to the Clergy Renewal Programs’ website with application materials and other content.
  • McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren is sponsoring its ninth annual Alternative Christmas Gift Market this Saturday, Nov. 16, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., hosted at the Cedars Conference Center. “The purpose of the market is to feature 21 charitable organizations that help persons in need and encourage market-goers to ‘Give Hope at Christmas’ by making donations to or purchasing items from these agencies,” said an announcement from Western Plains District. “This year's new booth is MacCare, a local organization which provides backpacks for children who are removed from their homes in emergency situations. Get in the true spirit of Christmas with live music, refreshments, and something for everyone on your hard-to-buy- for list.” For more information, contact the McPherson Church office at 620-241-1109 or .
  • The Iowa Peace Network Open House will be hosted by Stover Memorial Church of the Brethren in Des Moines, Iowa, on Nov. 24 from 2-4 p.m. “Jeffrey Weiss will be speaking about Syria, and Zach Heffernen will speak about The Great March for Climate Action scheduled for next summer,” said an announcement. “As always, alternative gifts will be available for sale to benefit nonprofit organizations.”
  • Virlina District held its 43rd conference on Nov. 8-9. Among newsworthy decisions, the conference approved a resolution to reprint “The Brethren in Virginia” and create a companion volume, and designated the entire amount of the offerings received of $5,078.37 for the Compassion Fund of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Also premiering at the conference was a new district study resource on stewardship titled, “Give of the First Fruits: A Study of Stewardship for the 21st Century Church.” Clyde E. Hylton was honored for 50-plus years of ministerial service.
  • Shenandoah District Conference was a "Living the Gospel" weekend, according to a newsletter report. The event included feetwashing and a remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice through communion. A Milestones in Ministry banquet brought together 27 pastors with a combined total of 1,292 years of ordained ministry. “Nineteen of those were ordained more than 50 years ago; Sam Flora, with 70 years of service, was the most senior pastor in attendance,” the newsletter said. The Friday offering for global mission projects in Haiti and Nigeria totaled $2,274.36.
  • Illinois and Wisconsin District held its conference on the theme “Renew.” “One sad item of business this year was the dissolving of the Douglas Park congregation” located in Douglas Park neighborhood of Chicago, reported the district newsletter. Among highlights of the district conference, the newsletter report recognized one of the elders present, that “Sister Esther Frey spoke on Renewal in her 95.5 years, plus three days.”
  • South Central Indiana District has announced dates for a court case regarding ownership of the property of Roann Church of the Brethren, after a group from the congregation decided to leave the district and denomination. “Tuesday and Wednesday (Nov. 19 and 20) are the days scheduled for the court case regarding the Roann Church of the Brethren property,” said the communication from district executive minister Beth Sollenberger. “Please be in prayer for the process and all who will be a part of the trial.... We are grateful for your expressions of care and concern. We especially value your prayers.”
  • A Heritage Day at Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va., raised $34,374. “Over 1,800 guests enjoyed our 29th annual Brethren Heritage Day Festival on a beautiful (and hot!) October 5,” said a report from the camp. “Big, big, big THANKS to everyone who attended, supported, or gave a special offering.” Groups and congregations supporting the event numbered at least 32, including some area businesses. More information is at .
  • Nobel laureate in physics, William (Bill) Phillips, is scheduled to return to his alma mater at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., on Nov. 21. A 1970 Juniata graduate and co-winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Physics, Phillips will speak to several physics classes and give a lecture on “Time, Einstein, and the Coolest Stuff in the Universe,” at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 21, in the Brumbaugh Academic Center. The lecture is free and open to the public, sponsored by the Juniata Department of Physics. A release from the college noted that Phillips “was honored by the Nobel panel for his work in laser cooling, a technique used to slow the movement of gaseous atoms in order to study them,” and shared the Nobel Prize with Steven Chu, former Secretary of Energy and a professor at the University of California-Berkeley, and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, a researcher at Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. Phillips is an atomic physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Md.
  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is celebrating a recognition for the community of Las Pavas in Colombia. “Members from the community of Las Pavas stood in the national spotlight at the National Museum in Bogotá where they won the National Peace Prize,” said a release. CPT has provided accompaniment to Las Pavas since 2009. The community has experienced displacement, eviction, victimization, and continuing threats of violence from armed security guards of the palm oil company Aportes San Isisdro, because the 3,000 hectares of land on which the farm of Las Pavas is located has been in legal contention, the release said. CPT noted that on Nov. 12, the Colombian government body investigates claims of forced displacement affirmed the farmers from Las Pavas are in fact victims of forced displacement, and are included without reservation in the national registry of victims. “The Las Pavas case file now lies on the desk of the...highest court in the land that deals with government administrative disputes,” the CPT release said. “This ruling will be the final step to land ownership for each of the 123 families.”
  • In Virginia elections, two members of Virlina District were elected to local school boards reports Tim Harvey of Central Church of the Brethren in Roanoke. Tom Auker, pastor of Eden (N.C.) First Church of the Brethren was elected to Henry County (Va.) school board; and J.D. Morse, a member of New Hope Church of the Brethren in Patrick County, Va., was elected to Patrick County school board. “J.D.’s seat had been held by another Brethren from the Smith River Church of the Brethren, who chose not to run for reelection,” Harvey reports.
Source: 11/15/2013 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 Jenn Dorsch, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Tim Harvey, Tim Heishman, Phil King, Wendy McFadden, Robert Saler, John Wall, Roy Winter, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Newsline: November 11, 2013


Brethren Disaster Ministries challenges church to raise $500,000 for Typhoon Haiyan response

Damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan in Northern Iloilo, Philippines
Photo courtesy of ACT/Christian Aid
Damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan in Northern Iloilo, Philippines.
By Roy Winter and Jane Yount of the Brethren Disaster Ministries staff

Please pause for a moment and pray for all impacted by the widespread devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and Vietnam. With extensive loss of life and destruction, our prayers are desperately needed for all who are left homeless, all who lost loved ones, and all whose lives have been terribly disrupted.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is intent on organizing a response that will focus Brethren resources on the areas of greatest need by working with partners already active in the Philippines and Vietnam. An initial grant of $35,000 already is being sent to support emergency operations and life saving support. Our goal is to raise at least $500,000 to expand this initial work into the long-term rebuilding of homes and lives.

This massive storm caused a path of destruction hundreds of miles wide with sustained winds reported at 195 miles per hour and gusts much higher. These winds are equivalent to a giant F4 tornado. While search and rescue efforts are still underway, the loss of life is reported to be in the thousands and may grow into the tens of thousands. The hardest hit city of Taclaban is reported to be totally flattened, while many other cities are heavily impacted and some reported still underwater. Less information is known about the destruction in Vietnam.

Please support the Brethren response to Typhoon Haiyan. Your support and prayers are needed.  Donations may be given online at or sent by mail to Emergency Disaster Fund, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.

-- Roy Winter is associate executive director of Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries. Jane Yount serves as coordinator for Brethren Disaster Ministries.

Source: 11/11/2013 Newsline

Church of the Brethren general secretary takes part in plenary on peace

General secretary Stan Noffsinger helps lead the peace plenary at the WCC 10th Assembly
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
“When Jesus said ‘Love your enemies,’ I think he probably meant don’t kill them,” said Stan Noffsinger at the plenary on peace at the World Council of Churches 10th Assembly. He was quoting a popular Brethren bumper sticker written by San Diego-based peacemaker Linda Williams.

Church of the Brethren general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger was asked by the WCC to present at the peace plenary on behalf of the peace churches. His part in the event followed a conversation between Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Laureate and leader in the women’s movement that helped stop the war in Liberia, Korean theologian Chang Yoon Jae who is an advocate for a world free of nuclear weapons and nuclear power, and South African church leader Thabo Makgoba who moderated the session.

The stage was set like an outdoor café, with a group of young adults observing from bleachers, raising up signs for peace and bringing the sounds of drums and songs to the event.

A powerful moment

Noffsinger invited forward two of the young adults--Agata Abrahamian from the Armenian Apostolic Church in Iran and Fabian Corrales, a scholar in disabilities studies in Costa Rica--to tell their stories.

It was a powerful moment as an American church leader stood with an Iranian Christian. Abrahamian talked about how the sanctions against Iran adversely affect people like her family. “Every day I see and I feel how ordinary people are struggling with problems...caused by the sanctions,” she said. “And I hope that the sanctions will be removed soon.”

Three speakers at the peace plenary include Nobel Peace Laureate Gbowee
PHoto by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Noffsinger showed his emotion as he responded. “What courage to speak truth to power,” he said. “May God have mercy on our souls.”

He then turned to Corrales, and explained that the two had met at the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in Jamaica. Corrales, who is hearing impaired, shared through spoken word and signing. “Brothers and sisters, hear me, as I cannot hear you,” he said. “It’s time to be a church of God, a church of action.... I want you to look beyond my disability, beyond my country and nation. I want you to look beyond what makes us different.... The message of God [is] love one another.”

A peace church witness

In his own remarks to the plenary, Noffsinger highlighted some of the understandings of the Church of the Brethren peace witness. But he also confessed there have been times when the church was tempted “to walk away from Jesus’ command to love.”
Screens display a favorite Church of the Brethren peace bumper sticker
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

He lifted up the Church of the Brethren witness to the sinfulness of war, the witness of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) during a difficult time in Nigeria, and the church’s call to “live on the margins.” He also spoke of the “cost to our own souls” if Christians rely on weapons and violence.

Noffsinger cast the peace witness and the Christian commitment to nonviolence as a “movement toward the cross, a movement on the way of Jesus...a call to engage in radical, compassionate discipleship.”

A personal confession

In a Facebook post the night before, Noffsinger wrote about how he first heard the Iranian woman’s story during a rehearsal for the plenary. It became a moment of personal confession for him, he wrote. “She finished her story and I looked at her and said, ‘I cannot speak for my government, but as for me, I am so sorry that I have not spoken loudly enough over the voices of hatred and fear so that the sanctions might stop.’

A celebration and photos at the end of the peace plenary
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
“When the other is a sister or brother in Christ, how can we keep silent about violence imposed by those we elect?” Noffsinger wrote. “Being a peace church doesn't not mean [being] complacent or standing idly by while violence continues in our world, in our land, in our cities, and in our neighborhoods. Jesus calls us into the midst of this chaos to speak God's shalom and Christ's peace.

“Being followers of Jesus, it also means carrying the burden of our sin before our sister or brother, that we might be forgiven and the community of the people of the Cross might again be one.”

Find the WCC release about the peace plenary, “Busan assembly highlights significance of peace,” at A recording of the webcast of the peace plenary may be available in the future.

Source: 11/11/2013 Newsline

World Council of Churches Assembly adopts statement on just peace

Delegates hold up orange cards signifying their support for inclusion of conscientious objection in the statement on just peace
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Delegates hold up orange cards signifying their support for inclusion of conscientious objection in the statement on just peace
A “Statement on the Way of Just Peace” was adopted by the World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly on Friday, Nov. 8, with an expression of strong support from the delegate body.

“Just peace is a journey into God’s purpose for humanity and all creation,” the statement’s first paragraph asserts. “It is rooted in the self-understanding of the churches, the hope of spiritual transformation and the call to seek justice and peace for all. It is a journey that invites us all to testify with our lives.”

The statement follows on a series of conferences and documents focusing on the concept of “just peace,” undertaken in conjunction with the council’s Decade to Overcome Violence that ended in 2010. A main document, the Ecumenical Call to a Just Peace, has been adopted by the Central Committee of the WCC. The International Ecumenical Peace Convocation held in Jamaica produced a message on just peace that was received with appreciation in peace church circles.

Also informing the ecumenical conversation on just peace was an “economy of life” document highlighting economic issues as they affect life in the world today, as well as ecological problems and concerns about climate change.

Nate Hosler reads the recommendations of the just peace statement to the delegate body
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Nate Hosler of the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness, who also served on the WCC Assembly's Public Issues Committee, reads the recommendations of the just peace statement to the delegate body
A series of conferences held by the Historic Peace Churches in several continents of the world helped contribute a peace church perspective to the overall ecumenical conversation.

The “Statement on the Way of Just Peace” includes sections titled “Together We Believe,” “Together We Call,” “Together We Commit,” and “Together We Recommend” with a number of recommendations to the World Council of Churches and its member bodies, and recommendations to governments.

Subtitles in the section on call pull on the four peacemaking emphases highlighted at the convocation in Jamaica and the message that emerged from that gathering: “For just peace in the community--so that all may live free from fear,” “For just peace with the earth--so that life is sustained,” “For just peace in the marketplace--so that all may live with dignity,” and “Just peace among nations--so that human lives are protected.”

Recommendations to the WCC and the churches

The recommendations start off with a call for the WCC and its member churches and specialized ministries to undertake “critical analysis of the ‘Responsibility to Prevent, React, and Rebuild’ and its relationship to just peace, and its misuse to justify armed interventions.”

Recommendations to the WCC and churches also call for support to just peace ministries, nonviolence prevention and nonviolence as a way of life, communication strategies that adovcate for justice and peace, advocacy with regard to international norms and laws, encouragement of interfaith programs to address conflicts in multi-religious societies, environmental efforts and the use of alternate sources of renewable and clean energy as a part of peacemaking, sharing of resources in line with the “economies of life” concept, work with international bodies on human rights protections, nuclear disarmament, and the Arms Trade treaty.

Two of the peace church leaders who were in the delegate body to support the statement on just peace
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Two of the peace church leaders who were in the delegate body to support the statement on just peace: at left Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger, at right Fernando Enns of the Mennonite Church in Germany, who was one of those requesting conscientious objectiion to be explicity supported in the document coming out of the 10th Assembly. He reminded the assembly that Korea Mennonites and other conscientious objectors in South Korea are being imprisoned, with an estimate of some 700 COs in prison.
After repeated requests from the floor for the statement to include a reference to conscientious objection, the final revision reaffirmed support for the WCC’s existing policy that supports conscientious objection.

Recommendations to governments

Recommendations to governments started off with a strongly worded call for action on climate change. The recommendation to “adopt by 2015 and begin implementing binding regulations with targets for lowering greenhouse gas emissions” kicked off a list of recommendations on other issues that relate to the viability of life on the planet including nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, cluster munitions, drones and other robotic weapon systems.

Governments are called to “reallocate national military budgets to humanitarian and developmental needs, conflict prevention, and civilian peace-building initiatives” and to “ratify and implement the Arms Trade Treaty by 2014 and on a voluntary basis include weapon types not covered by the ATT.”

The full text of the statement is at

Source: 11/11/2013 Newsline

Assembly adopts documents addressing concerns for unity, politicization of religion and rights of religious minorities, peace on the Korean Peninsula, among others.

Two young Korean Christian volunteers pose with a banner of the WCC Assembly theme
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Two young Korean Christian volunteers pose with a banner of the WCC Assembly theme
The WCC Assembly adopted a number of documents addressing public issues, a statement on unity, and a “message” coming out of the experience of the assembly.

In addition to just peace (see the Newsline report at ), the documents addressed the politicization of religion and the rights of religious minorities, peace on the Korean Peninsula, and the human rights of stateless people, among several other situations of concern for the ecumenical movement.

A number of the documents were adopted in an extra business session on the last day of the assembly after it became clear the delegates did not have time to discuss all of the remaining business items. The delegate body agreed to the moderator’s suggestion to decide to adopt the documents by consensus, without discussion. However, one of the proposed documents on nuclear weapons and nuclear energy did not receive enough support, and was referred to the WCC Central Committee.

The most prominent statements adopted by this assembly had been initiated through an “intensive process, which involved the WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, the WCC officers, and the WCC executive and central committees in 2012 and 2013,” said a WCC release.

The statement titled “Politicization of Religion and Rights of Religious Minorities” calls on the global ecumenical community to mediate with their respective governments “to develop policies of providing effective protection of persons and communities belonging to minority religions against threats or acts of violence from non-state actors.” It also calls for “concerted and coordinated efforts on the part of religious, civil society and state actors in order to address violations of rights of religious minorities and their freedom of religion and belief.” (Read the full statement at .)

A creative expression of the WCC Assembly theme, using cut outs from cardboard boxes
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
A creative expression of the WCC Assembly theme, using cut outs from cardboard boxes
The statement on “Peace and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula” calls for “a creative process for building peace on the Korean peninsula” through measures such as halting military exercises and foreign intervention, and reducing military expenditures.  (Read the full statement at .)

A statement on the “Human Rights of Stateless People” calls on churches “to engage in dialogue with states to adopt policies which confer nationality to stateless people and provide proper documentation.” It encourages churches and other organizations and the United Nations to collaborate effectively to reduce and eradicate statelessness. Haitian Brethren in the Dominican Republic are among the people threatened by statelessness for whom this statement is pertinent. (Read the full statement at .)

Members of a Korean Christian group promoting a world free of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Members of a Korean Christian group promoting a world free of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy
Other statements and minutes adopted by the assembly address:
The message of the assembly titled “Join the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace” is at

The assembly’s statement on unity is at

Source: 11/11/2013 Newsline

African moderator is historic choice for WCC, elections also name Noffsinger to Central Committee

The 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches has chosen a new Central Committee to serve for the period until the next assembly is held. Among the 150 delegates selected for the Central Committee is Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger.

According to a WCC release, three others from the historic peace churches also have been elected to the Central Committee: Fernando Enns of the Mennonite Church in Germany, Anne Mitchell of the Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Ann Riggs of the Friends General Conference..

In an historic choice, the Central Committee has chosen its first woman and African to serve as moderator, according to another WCC release. “In one of their first decisions as the Central Committee for the World Council of Churches, the newly installed 150-member committee made history Friday by electing Dr. Agnes Abuom of Nairobi, from the Anglican Church of Kenya, as the moderator of the highest WCC governing body,” the release said. “Abuom, who was elected unanimously to the position, is the first woman and the first African in the position in the 65-year history of the WCC.”

Eight new presidents also have been chosen to represent the major areas of the globe. WCC presidents promote ecumenism and interpret the work of the WCC, especially in their respective regions. They are ex-officio members of the WCC Central Committee:
  • Africa: Mary Anne Plaatjies van Huffel, Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa
  • Asia: Sang Chang, Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea
  • Europe: Anders Wejryd, archbishop in the Church of Sweden
  • America and Caribbean: Gloria Nohemy Ulloa Alvarado, Presbyterian Church in Colombia
  • North America: Mark MacDonald, bishop in the Anglican Church of Canada
  • Pacific: Mele’ana Puloka, Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga
  • Eastern Orthodox: H.B. John X Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East
  • Oriental Orthodox: H.H. Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians
-- This article includes information from World Council of Churches releases. Find the full list of elected Central Committee members at

Source: 11/11/2013 Newsline

Ecumenical conversation works at new definition of ‘security’

Ecumenical conversation 1
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
The ecumenical conversation on “human security” at the World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly was an exercise in changing the concept of what security means, as well as opening minds and hearts to the suffering of those who live in insecurity around the world.

Engaging the issues

The ecumenical conversations at the WCC Assembly were opportunities for participants to delve deeply into one particular current issue facing the worldwide church. They also were designed to give guidance for the work of the WCC staff in coming years. The way the official description put it, ecumenical conversations were for “harvesting affirmations and challenges to the WCC and the wider ecumenical movement.”

Ecumenical conversation 2
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Participants were encouraged to commit to one ecumenical conversation for the four days they were offered, an hour and a half each afternoon. Topics for the 21 ecumenical conversations ranged from new ecumenical landscapes to moral discernment to developing effective leadership to mission in changing contexts. Groups discussed the Korean peninsula and the Middle East, children’s rights and healing ministries, among other topics of interest.

At the end of the process, each ecumenical conversation turned in a one-page document outlining the important points that surfaced over the four sessions. The 21 documents were printed up and shared with the Assembly’s delegate body.

Redefining security

There is a changing definition of the concept of security, participants learned in the ecumenical conversation titled “Human security: Towards sustaining peace with justice and human rights.”
A leadership team from the Philippines, United States, Germany, and Ghana, and a member of the WCC staff, kicked off the conversation by inviting several presenters to share biblical and theological reflections, analysis of human rights issues, and stories and case studies of important areas of insecurity in the world today. Presentations were followed up with some time for small group discussion.

A linkage with human rights emerged strongly. So did evidence that a lack of security leads to human suffering, evidenced in tragic stories from the lives of migrant workers in the Arabian Gulf who live in virtual slavery, victims of human trafficking--mostly women and children, internally displaced people and refugees, and stateless people such as those of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic and the Rohyingas in Burma.

Ecumenical conversation 3
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
One recurrent thread in the conversation was suicide, violence against the self, as the only way some victims have to get out of horrific situations. Another thread was the suffering that ensues when violence and weapons are turned against others. And another was economic deprivation and the desperation caused by poverty.

Access to weapons, the continual development of more highly sophisticated weapons, and the amount of resources poured into them emerged as important aspects of human insecurity. Stories from places like Nigeria where the spread of small arms into the civilian population is wreaking havoc. Presenters spoke of the threats to humanity posed by highly sophisticated weapons such as robotic drones, and the threat of nuclear weapons as well as the threat posed to humanity and the environment by nuclear energy and its waste products.

A brief time spent on the idea of “just policing” and related concept of government “responsibility to prevent” violence led one small group to state clearly that the concept requires critical analysis. They expressed the fear that it would be used by some national powers to justify war and military intervention.

Another small group pointed out that the corporate world also holds responsibility for much suffering and human insecurity.

It became clear that in order to work toward peace in our world, the definition of what security means must shift from national security, or military security, to focus instead on what is required for human life. For at least one small group, this boiled down to the basics: food, water, shelter, the foundational requirements for living.

‘Don’t just pray, take action’

The leadership team encouraged participants to consider the question of what role churches play in all this.

Ecumenical conversation 4
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
One person’s response was blunt and to the point: “Don’t just pray, take action,” she said. “Awareness, advocacy, and action, this is what churches can do.”

She spoke out of the experience of working to prevent human trafficking in India, which she took up after finding out that some women she knew had fallen into the hands of traffickers. The traffickers lured the women away from their hometowns with promises of good jobs in far away cities. But when the women went to start what they thought was a new better paying job, they ended up being trapped and enslaved.

“In our spirituality, there needs to be constructive anger,” she said, expressing her own anger at the greed that is fueling this worldwide problem. She cited the statistic that human trafficking has become the second most lucrative industry in the world after the drug trade. “Without anger we cannot seek justice and peace,” she said. “Jesus was angry.”

As well as hearing the stories of suffering, said another woman, it is crucial for the church to listen to stories of courage and resilience. If people do not see glimpses of hope, they become overwhelmed and then are tempted to distance themselves from the problems of the world around them. “We talk about women of courage” in her work with survivors of domestic violence, she said, instead of talking about “victims.”
Ecumenical conversation 5
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

A priest from Russia pointed out the need to share frankly this kind of information with one’s congregation, in order to prevent church members from falling into situations of abuse themselves.

Once that kind of education begins to happen, things will start to change, another church leader pointed out.
Others highlighted a need for churches to be “bridges” to society and government in order to defend and enhance human security. “We need to tell governments that action is required,” one participant said. “This is a matter of political will.”

An Orthodox leader spoke out of the Syrian context, where his church is caught in the midst of a violent civil conflict. Out of his church’s experience, “War is sin,” he said. “War begets war. War will never make peace.”
In this context, he added, the Christian church must seek “peace with justice, or justice with peace. This is what is wanted.”

-- Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford is director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren

Source: 11/11/2013 Newsline

Leading EYN through its most difficult time: An interview with Samuel Dante Dali

Samuel Dali at the WCC 10th Assembly
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Samuel Dante Dali, president of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) at the World Council of Churches 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea
Samuel Dante Dali, president of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), attended the World Council of Churches 10th Assembly as delegate for the Nigerian Brethren. Here he talks about the increase of terrorist violence in northeast Nigeria where members of EYN have been among the many killed in attacks by extremist Islamists.

What is going on with EYN in Nigeria?

“We thought that the situation was getting better, when the government placed a state of emergency in three states. But recently terrorists mobilized especially in Yobe State, attacked churches, military offices, and police, and they also went to other parts of the country where most of our churches are. They attacked Christians from house to house and burned almost every church in the Gwoze and Gavva areas. Most of the EYN church is in these areas close to Cameroun. About 2,000 of our church members have fled to Cameroun as refugees.

“It makes us very worried that some government officials are part of this. The state government could have acted to provide security for the common citizen, especially when [the violence] becomes so intense. But it appears the government is not doing much about it.

“Since the government is not doing anything, people try to mobilize themselves to provide their own local security. Of course they are armless. [Terrorists] come with AK 47s and especially with machine guns. The people cannot face them, but what can they do? They can’t all run to Cameroun.
“We as a church are just praying, and praying. And sometimes we are very confused and depressed because there’s not much you can do. The church cannot mobilize and provide security. The resources aren’t there. And sometimes you can’t have a church service at all. Worship is out of the question in some places.”

How many EYN churches are affected?

“About 30 percent of the whole of EYN. Churches in Maiduguri for example, have a heavy military presence [for protection from terrorists]. The church pays for feeding the soldiers and pays their allowance. That’s how the churches can survive within this kind of situation and have their services on Sunday.”

We have seen news reports of local civilian forces for protection. How is that working?

“I went to Maiduguri, and I heard about the civilian Joint Task Force. I met some of them. They are very young people, some even five years old. With sticks and swords. They were checking every car that goes into Maiduguri. The idea was that some of those Joint Task Force were members of the terrorists before, so they know who the terrorists are. Whenever they find a terrorist, sometimes they beat them, sometimes they take them to security.

“It made me even more angry with our government. How can untrained civilians without arms become a security for the society? And after a few months the terrorists came and ambushed this civilian Joint Task Force and killed about 50 of them at once. So you see the danger.

“In the recent attack that happened, the armed men came from Cameroun, Niger, and Chad, and joined together with Nigerian terrorists to attack Maiduguri. The terrorists are not only Nigerians. They are from the neighboring countries. And of course from Mali. Most of them are trained in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. So it is a global problem.”

Where are they getting their guns and ammunition?

“That is another a big question because the arms are very sophisticated, even anti-aircraft guns. So how are they getting in? Some Nigerian politicians are part of the problem. They import guns for the terrorists and supply them. Recently there was one immigration control officer that was arrested, he was responsible for the terrorists in the Yobe area. If you can find an immigration officer who is part of the group, he is at the border controlling importation of weapons.

“Generally our problem is government politicians who are not interested in the life of the citizens. They are busy fighting one another, so they sponsor this kind of terrorist activities. They themselves do not understand it will get out of control and they will also be affected eventually.”

Is there a strong movement to have two separate states, northern Nigerian and southern Nigeria?

“Because of the tension that has been happening Nigerians have been calling for a national conference to discuss whether Nigeria should live together or separate. This is not going to be good for the country. If Nigeria splits, I think that’s the end of Nigerian society. Nigeria will get into a crisis that will affect the whole of Africa.

“The struggle of Nigeria is not against a foreign-dominated government like in South Sudan. It’s within, against each other. So if it splits, it will not split in two. You will have warlords in different sections of the country fighting one another. By the time the United Nations comes to pacify the situation, they will have killed themselves.”

Does the church have a role to play in the middle of all this?

“Before my recent trip to Indonesia, I thought the church could do nothing other than to develop itself. My thinking has been that we should forget that we have a government. Let us as the church do what we can do for our members within the capacity and the opportunity we have.

“So we are trying in EYN to develop our own schools, to develop our own health service, to promote our own agricultural activities. Even actually try to create a bank for ourselves.

“If the schools are getting bad, we can create a standard and our children will not lose their education. And then if we focus on agriculture, we can show our people how to develop whatever they can develop within their local community. And then with the health service, we may not need a government hospital. And the bank--most of our members send their money in a government bank which is mostly controlled by these politicians. So if we have our own bank, the church will save our own income within this bank so we can give it to our members to do their business, to improve themselves, and to empower themselves economically.

“But when I went to Indonesia, my mind began to change from a narrow focus to a wider focus for Nigeria.”

Say more about this conference in Indonesia.

“Myself and a pastor who is teaching about Islam at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria, a Muslim lady who is participating in an interfaith group with EYN, and the coordinator of the Peace Program of TEKAN [Christian council in northern Nigeria] went with the purpose of sharing our experience as Christians under Muslim persecution in Nigeria and also to hear from them as Christians in a Muslim predominant community.

“The first thing I discovered was that most of the interfaith and peace movement in Indonesia was supported and sponsored by Muslims. And most of the Muslims in Indonesia thought that a true Muslim would never force anyone to be converted to Islam. And that a true Muslim would never kill anybody. They also stress and emphasize diversity and pluralism as phenomena that must be recognized and respected.

“We visited Islamic schools, and in each of these they tried to organize a peaceful and interfaith dialogue with other communities. We went into the third biggest mosque in the world, built with contribution of Christians. And then there is a cathedral, also built with the contribution of Muslims. That gave me the impression that actually not all Muslims are fanatic mad people, the way we have them in Nigeria.”

There is hope that Muslims and Christians can live together in peace?

“Exactly. I am trying to talk about what Indonesia is doing, and trying it in Nigeria.

“For example, during elections we should only vote for people who are interested in peace and bringing the community together. And we should influence the media. We need to write, and speak ourselves, and talk to people, and give them an alternative view of what is happening.

“Even though the church is under persecution we can still focus on addressing some social problems regardless of tribe or religion, that can help the community. In the Christian hospital we visited in Indonesia, five percent of workers are Muslim. In Nigeria we can do something like that, recruit Muslims to work in some of our institutions. If we can get faithful, trained ones. But it will be an enormous challenge.

“That’s my new understanding: I think it’s possible that Christians and Muslims as a community can live together and address the common problems affecting all of us.”

What is one thing you want the church in the US to know about the church in Nigeria?

“That EYN is going through the most difficult time of its existence, and we don’t have a solution. For me, it almost made me resign from the work. People are being killed and I cannot do anything. I say, what is the point of my leadership? It is very difficult. Very, very difficult.

“Church members are taking refuge at Kulp Bible College. Sometimes providing food for them is difficult. EYN depends on offerings from members so when the members are terribly affected, the whole church is affected. Sources of income for the headquarters are gone. It is very painful to see members who have been sources of support to the church, and now they are homeless.

“I’m asking, what is the global church going to do about this global problem? The terrorists have a network. But does the church have a network to handle the problems of the world?

“I think we need to do something more than just a prayer. Of course, prayer is number one. But there’s something else needed to encourage one another. You cannot stop the situation completely but I think it’s important we come close to one another.

“I have received letters from the US, from church members. We compiled them and sent them to all the district church councils in the form of a big book so that the members can read it. The members feel that someone cares about them and someone is worried about their situation. You give them some comfort that they are not alone.”

In a follow up conversation, Dali shared at length and more personally about how the situation has affected him and his church. How can church leadership tell members not to try to defend their homes and families, he asked, expressing the struggle to face a virtually impossible situation and yet maintain a voice for peace.

He characterized the violent extremist Islamist movement as a demonic possession of the spirit of Islam. His greatest fear is that he and others in EYN may let the horrors of the situation push them into enmity, and that demon might possess them as well. There are times he has to stop listening to stories of suffering and death, to protect himself from being overtaken by hatred.

How can Brethren in the US help? No one from outside Nigeria can solve this problem for the Nigerians, Dali said, but US Brethren can help provide disaster relief for refugees and can visit and encourage the Nigerian Brethren with their presence. He requested the sending of volunteer medical personnel, doctors and midwives to work in the hospital EYN plans to develop.

He then asked something more difficult from the American church: in the midst of killing and death, he wants the Church of the Brethren to remind EYN of the need to focus on peace.

-- Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford is director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Source: 11/11/2013 Newsline