Friday, April 05, 2013

Newsline: April 5, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: 4/5/2013 Newsline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- This report is adapted from a World Council of Churches release. Read the full WCC release at Read Tveit’s public comment on the treaty at

Source: 4/5/2013 Newsline

New 'Shine' curriculum is underway for fall 2014.

Shine logo - Brethren Press and MennoMedia Christian education curriculumDevelopment of a new Sunday school curriculum called Shine is underway by Brethren Press and MennoMedia. This month writers are beginning to prepare the first quarter of Shine: Living in God’s Light, which will be available for use in fall 2014.

“We are pleased to offer our congregations a user-friendly, enriching curriculum that grows out of our distinct beliefs as Brethren and Mennonites,” said Wendy McFadden, publisher of Brethren Press.

The two publishing houses are long-time collaborators on Sunday school curriculum and began more than 18 months ago to prepare a successor to the current curriculum, Gather ’Round: Hearing and Sharing God’s Good News. Gather ’Round was designed to run for eight years, with summer 2014 as its final quarter.

“We’re very excited about Shine’s emphasis on God’s light shining through us,” said Rose Stutzman, project director for Shine. “As you read the Bible, you notice that the theme of light is pervasive. God’s light shines through the darkness for God’s people, both then and now.”

Shine’s foundational scriptures include Isaiah 9:2 and Matthew 5:14-16. “Jesus told us, ‘You are the light of the world,’” said Rebecca Seiling, project developer. “Shine’s materials take this seriously. They serve to inspire children and their families to be that light in the world around them.”

Designed for children age three through grade eight, Shine will incorporate the latest understandings of the ways children learn. The material is based on a three-year overview of the Bible, with a separate Bible outline for early childhood (ages three to five). Sessions include an emphasis on teaching prayer and other spiritual practices, and also will highlight peace themes.

Primary and middler children will read from a hardcover Bible storybook for use at church and at home. Junior youth will read the stories directly from the Bible. A flexible multi-age resource will serve congregations with a small number of children of different ages.

Like Gather ’Round, Shine will continue to be Bible story based; lift up Christian discipleship, peace, simplicity, service, and community; use “wondering” questions and activities to help children reflect on the Bible stories and connect the Bible to their lives in age-appropriate ways; and provide a wide variety of engaging activities for children to explore the Bible story.

Shine is co-published by Brethren Press and MennoMedia, the publishing houses of the Church of the Brethren, Mennonite Church Canada, and Mennonite Church USA.

Congregations are encouraged to continue using Gather 'Round through summer 2014, in order to have a seamless transition to the new curriculum when it becomes available in fall 2014. Gather 'Round may be ordered from Brethren Press at 800-441-3712.

(This report includes information from a release by Melodie M. Davis of MennoMedia.)

Source: 4/5/2013 Newsline

Fellowship of Brethren Homes members awarded 2013 Continuing Education Grants.

Eight members of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes have been awarded Continuing Education Grants for 2013. The $1,000 grants are funded by the denomination’s Health Education and Research Fund, which supports nursing in the Church of the Brethren, and are administered by Congregational Life Ministries.

The grants are to be used for professional development workshops focused on clinical concerns and/or supervisory skills, leadership for in-house training for nursing assistants, or the purchase of reusable resources for in-service training for nursing staff and/or nursing assistants. To qualify, a retirement community must be a dues-paying member in good standing of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes. Invitations to submit proposals are extended to half of the FBH membership each year; each community is invited every other year.

The following retirement facilities applied for and received grants for 2013:

The Cedars (McPherson, Kan.) will enhance their respiratory care program through a grant that provides training for a staff member who will, in turn, train approximately 30 members of the nursing staff to perform respiratory therapy procedures on residents.

Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village (Boonsboro, Md.) received funds for nursing staff to receive advanced training in infection control in long-term care facilities.

Teepa Snow, an expert in dementia care, will facilitate a two-day seminar for nursing staff and other staff involved with the care of people with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia for the Good Shepherd Home (Fostoria, Ohio).

The grant to Hillcrest Retirement Community (La Verne, Calif.) will provide two workshops presented by Action Pact, a leader in culture change education: The New Face of Leadership in the Household Model and Creating a Climate for Vibrant Living.

The purchase of a multi-media projector and related equipment for large group presentations will enable the Palms of Sebring (Fla.) to improve capability to effectively educate and train nursing staff to enhance the care and lives of residents.

Online inservice training offered by Care2Learn will be provided to nursing home administrators, nurses, and certified nursing assistants at Pinecrest Community (Mount Morris, Ill.) through the grant. Pinecrest’s initial foray into flexible, cost-effective online learning was funded by a 2011 Continuing Education Grant.

Spurgeon Manor (Dallas Center, Iowa) will now be able to re-train staff to use their electronic medical record system to its maximum potential. This includes medication and treatment administration records, charting, assessments, MDS and care plans, reports, and admission information.

Timbercrest Senior Living Community (North Manchester, Ind.) received a grant to purchase continuing education videos by ElderCare Communications, which address a variety of patient care topics. Nursing staff will view the videos independently, the topics of which will be reviewed and discussed during staff meetings to support learning.

As a ministry to those who are aging and their families, the 22 retirement communities related to the Church of the Brethren are committed to providing high quality, loving care for older adults. This group, known as the Fellowship of Brethren Homes, works together on common challenges such as uncompensated care, long-term care needs, and nurturing relationships with congregations and districts. See

-- Kim Ebersole and Randi Rowan of the Congregational Life Ministries contributed this article.

Source: 4/5/2013 Newsline

Same love, new look: Three new special offerings for the Church of the Brethren.

2013 Pentecost Offering bannerThe Church of the Brethren is now giving congregations the opportunity to participate in a series of three new special offerings in addition to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering. They are the Pentecost Offering, the Mission Offering, and the Advent Offering. Although each one has a different theme and individual look, they all share one unified goal: to support the life-changing ministries of the Church of the Brethren. Read more at

Gifts to any of these special offerings support the work of Congregational Life Ministries, Global Mission and Service, the Office of Ministry, the General Secretary’s office, our communications and web services, the Brethren Historical Library and Archives, Brethren Volunteer Service, workcamps, Youth and Young Adult Ministries, and so much more. Special offerings are a unique and important way that Brethren congregations can join together to continue the work of Jesus through their denominational ministries.

Pentecost Sunday is May 19, the suggested date for the Pentecost Offering. The scripture theme is Acts 2:38-39, and this offering will emphasize congregational vitality and church planting. Offering materials will arrive at all churches on standing order by April 19. Corresponding worship resources are available now at

Sept. 22 is the suggested date for the Mission Offering, which will focus on service and international mission. And Dec. 8 is the suggested date for the Advent Offering, which will focus on how we can boldly speak the good news with our Brethren voice for the glory of God and our neighbors’ good.

If you have questions about any Church of the Brethren special offerings, call Mandy Garcia at 847-429-4361 or e-mail To order offering materials e-mail To support the ongoing work of Church of the Brethren ministries now, visit

-- Mandy Garcia is associate director of donor communications for the Church of the Brethren.

Source: 4/5/2013 Newsline

Big-name speakers to headline Annual Conference in Charlotte.

A riddle from Jon Kobel in the Conference Office: Stanley Hauerwas, Philip Yancey, Mark Yaconelli, John McCullough, Sharon Watkins, Ruthann Knechel Johansen, Devorah Lieberman, James Troha, Michael Schneider, Darla K. Deardorff. What do these nationally recognized theologians, authors, educators, and religious leaders all have in common?

Answer: All are speaking at the 2013 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, June 29-July 3 in Charlotte, N.C.
  • Stanley Hauerwas, a leading Christian theologian and ethicist and Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School, jointly appointed at Duke University School of Law, will speak for the Brethren Press and Messenger Dinner on Sunday, June 30. The dinner starts at 5 p.m. Tickets cost $25. Hauerwas was named “America’s Best Theologian” by “Time” in 2001, and also is known for his outspoken advocacy of pacifism and nonviolence. His books include “A Community of Character,” listed by “Christianity Today” as one of the 100 most important books on religion in the 20th century.
  • Philip Yancey and Mark Yaconelli are both preaching for the Day of Spiritual Renewal on Sunday, June 30. Yancey is a popular Christian writer and author of “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” and “The Jesus I Never Knew.” Yaconelli is a writer, speaker, spiritual director, and co-founder and program director for the Center for Engaged Compassion at Claremont (Calif.) School of Theology. Yancey will preach on the theme of grace for the morning worship service that begins at 9 a.m. Yaconelli will preach on the theme of prayer for an afternoon worship service that begins at 2 p.m. Yaconelli also will have an evening conversation with the young adults on Saturday, June 29, starting at 9 p.m.
  • John McCullough, president and CEO of Church World Service (CWS), is addressing the Global Ministries Dinner on Monday, July 1, starting at 5 p.m. McCullough will speak about the long-standing partnership between the Church of the Brethren and CWS, and the ways that they work together toward common purposes. Tickets are $25.
  • Sharon Watkins, general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), is the featured speaker at the Ecumenical Luncheon at noon on Monday, July 1. She will share reflections on Christian unity as a gift and a goal for the church of Jesus Christ. Tickets cost $17.
  • Ruthann Knechel Johansen, who concludes her term of service as president of Bethany Theological Seminary this summer, will speak for at least two special events: the Clergywomen’s Breakfast on Sunday, June 30, starting at 7 a.m. (cost is $16); and the Bethany Seminary and Brethren Academy Luncheon on Tuesday, July 2, at noon (cost is $14). Johansen’s address for the Clergywomen’s Breakfast is on “Finding Your Voice: Turning Crumbs into Bread” with scripture texts from Matthew 15 and Mark 7. The seminary and academy luncheon will focus on the transition in leadership at the seminary. Bethany is holding a reception for Johansen on Monday, July 1, from 4:45-6:45 pm.
  • Devorah Lieberman, president of the University of La Verne (ULV), Calif., will speak on “The La Verne Experience” at the ULV Alumni Luncheon on Sunday, June 30, beginning at 12 noon. Tickets cost $17.
  • James Troha, president of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., will share his vision for the future of the college at the Juniata College Alumni Luncheon on June 30 at noon. Tickets cost $17.
  • Michael Schneider, president of McPherson (Kan.) College, will be at a “McPherson College Alumni and Friends Reception” on Sunday, June 30, at noon.
  • Darla K. Deardorff, executive director of the Association of International Education Administrators at Duke University and a recognized expert on intercultural competency, will speak for the Brethren Journal Association Luncheon on Monday, July 1, at noon. The title of her presentation is “Beyond Barriers: Following Christ’s Teachings.” Tickets are $17. She also will lead an evening insight session on Monday, July 1, at 9 p.m., with the title “Unity within Diversity-Diversity within Unity: Implications for Brethren Today” hosted by the Brethren Journal Association.
Also on the extensive list of presenters for the Conference: popular Brethren singing group Mutual Kumquat will perform for youth events and help lead a Gather ’Round curriculum insight session on Monday, July 1; and Brethren musicians David and Virginia Meadows, featured at the National Youth Conference in 2010, will lead an evening of music for the youth.

For more details about Annual Conference 2013 and to register, go to

Source: 4/5/2013 Newsline

Children's Aid Society celebrates 100 years with author of 'The Shack.'

Logo of the Children's Aid Society of Southern Pennsylvania DistrictThe Children's Aid Society of Southern Pennsylvania District is marking April as Child Abuse Prevention Month and also its 100th birthday. The society was started on April 9, 1913.

To mark the occasion, the Children's Aid Society is holding a benefit event titled "An Evening with Author Wm. Paul Young" on April 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Brubaker Auditorium of Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Advance tickets are $25 for adults, or $10 for students. Tickets may be purchased at the door for $30. Limited availability tickets to attend a pre-lecture reception with the author cost $500.

Paul Young, author of "The Shack" and "Cross Roads," was abused physically, sexually, and emotionally as a child, notes an announcement. "His books embody the great loss he experienced and his roads to healing." Valerie Pritchett of Harrisburg's ABC 27 News "Live at Five" will join Young on stage as interviewer.

Supporters of the event include the ARK Foundation, the Wolf Organization, York Jaycees, Sunnyside Antiques, Final Focus Productions, John's Pizza Shop, Highmark Blue Shield, Douglas Miller Construction, York Traditions Bank, Anderson Family Chiropractic, and Farnham Insurance.

For more information go to or call 717-624-4461. A brochure about the event is online at . Order tickets from,_Author_of_The_Shack.html.

Source: 4/5/2013 Newsline

Brethren Journal Association announces new editor.

Denise Kettering-Lane
Photo by Church of the Brethren
Denise Kettering-Lane
The Advisory Board of the Brethren Journal Association, in partnership with Bethany Theological Seminary, announces that Denise Kettering-Lane has been named the new editor for "Brethren Life and Thought."

Kettering-Lane has been assistant professor of Brethren Studies at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., since 2010. As editor, her focus will be to compile and edit articles for the print journal. In addition to handling both solicited and unsolicited submissions, she will oversee the peer review process.

Kettering-Lane’s experience in both Brethren circles and wider Anabaptist and Pietist circles will provide potential for increasing the number of new persons as authors in future issues. She will begin her work in conjunction with guest editor Andy Hamilton on volume 59.1, spring 2014, now in the early stages of preparation.

In more new about "Brethren Life and Thought," volume 58.1, spring 2013, will feature papers from “The Life and Influence of Alexander Mack Jr.,” a conference sponsored by the Young Center in Elizabethtown, Pa., in June 2012. James Miller is guest editor for this issue, which is scheduled to be printed in late April.

Walt Wiltschek is serving as guest editor for volume 58.2, fall 2013, which is currently being edited.

The advisory board thanks the members and subscribers who have remained supportive in recent years during an irregular production schedule. The board is pleased to confirm that with the help of past editor Julie Garber, publication is now on schedule and is expected to remain so.

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

Source: 4/5/2013 Newsline

Global data upend usual picture of Christianity trends.

Despite a century-long decline, religious affiliation has shown a marked resurgence globally since 1970. Both Christianity and Islam make up growing segments of the world’s population. Africa and China have witnessed the most marked religious change.

These are among the findings discussed by religious demographer Dr Todd M. Johnson in an overview of religious identity and trends in world Christianity since 1910, presented at the Ecumenical Centre, Geneva, on 13 March.

Hosted by the World Council of Churches (WCC) program on Ecumenical Theological Education, Johnson’s lecture preceded his participation in a WCC sponsored conference about the pedagogical uses of work from research centers on global Christianity.

Johnson is associate professor of Global Christianity and director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, Massachusetts. He is co-author of several important resources in the emerging field of religious demography, including “The World’s Religions in Figures” (2013) and “Atlas of Global Christianity” (2009).

Resurgence of several religious traditions has caused “a new wave of interest” among scholars in a variety of fields, Johnson noted, and the CSGC work is being widely cited. The CSGC holds 1 million documents and draws on censuses, polls, interviews, and religious organizations for its data on religious affiliation and trends.

The CSGC’s data stretches from 1910 to 2010 and fully confirm the large-scale southward shift in Christianity’s center of gravity. Yet the global character of the data also yields some striking trends.

It shows that in global numbers, religious affiliation is growing, with 12 percent claiming no affiliation in 2010, versus 20 percent in 1970. Presently Christians of all sorts comprise 33 percent of the world’s population, while Muslims comprise 22 percent (up from 12.6 in 1910).

Christians in the Global North comprised 80 percent of all Christians in 1910, but today make up less than 40 percent. The collapse of Chinese folk religion during the post 1949 period (from 22 to 6 percent of China’s population) has been matched by the recent resurgence of religion there, significantly driving global statistics.

The data also illustrate that animist and indigenous religious traditions remain vibrant but have dramatically declined among both African and Asian populations. Africa has witnessed strong growth in Christian affiliation during the last 100 years, from 9 to 47.9 percent claiming Christian affiliation.

Migration has become a large factor in religious demographics, dramatically altering the religious make-up of some nations. The CSGC’s research shows that statistics on Evangelical and Pentecostal groups are difficult to compile, since the charismatic trend goes beyond denominational affiliations.

Fastest growth over the century was seen in the category of agnostics and atheists, though both categories have been shrinking since 2000. For the first time, the rise in Christian affiliation in the Global South is outpacing its decline in the North, fueling net growth of Christianity globally.

If present trends continued, by 2050, 36 percent of the world’s population would identify themselves as Christian, and by 2100 two-thirds of the world’s population would be either Christian or Muslim, stated Johnson in his presentation.

He argued that while the discipline of religious demography is emergent, its initial findings about the changing landscape of global religious life pose deep questions about enculturation, theological formulation, and church organization.

-- This is taken from a World Council of Churches release. The WCC promotes Christian unity in faith, witness, and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today it brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The Church of the Brethren is a member communion.

Source: 4/5/2013 Newsline

Brethren bits.

  • The agreement between the Church of the Brethren and the National Council of Churches (NCC) to jointly support a staff position in the area of peacemaking, based in Washington, D.C., ended last month. The person holding that position, Nathan Hosler, is continuing as a Church of the Brethren staff member and coordinator of the newly renamed Office of Public Witness (formerly Peace Witness Ministries). Contact information for the office remain the same, except for a new telephone number: 202-481-6933.
  • In more personnel news, Marcus Harden has been named the new program director/youth coordinator for Atlantic Southeast District.
  • On April 9 the Church of the Brethren and over 40 other religious organizations are joining forces again for a day of advocacy on gun violence, announces the denomination's Office of Public Witness (formerly Peace Witness Ministries) based in Washington, D.C. The event follows up on the Faiths Calling event on Feb. 4 that generated 10,000 calls to Congress, said an Action Alert. The Office of Public Witness is encouraging Brethren to join in the effort to contact senators. "The success of the first event spurred the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism to organize another call during a week that important gun violence measures will be debated in the Senate," said the Action Alert. "The Church of the Brethren has always mourned the abundance of violence in our world, and has consistently worked for peace and called on its members to be powerful witnesses to this tragedy." The Action Alert cited Annual Conference statements as well as a recent Mission and Ministry Board "Resolution in Support of the National Council of Churches of Christ, USA: Ending Gun Violence." It also acknowledged differences in perspective among the members of the church. "We ask you to express whichever policies that you are comfortable supporting," the Action Alert said. It listed the different types of legislation that Congress is considering including requiring universal background checks for all gun purchases, banning semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, making gun trafficking a federal crime, enhancing school and campus safety, and improving access to mental health services. Find the full Action Alert online at .
  • Individuals, families, and congregations are invited to celebrate God’s good gift of aging during Older Adult Month this May. The theme for this year’s observance is “Vessels of Love” based on the great commandment to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39). Meditations, worship resources, suggestions for recognition of older adults, and an intergenerational activity are available online at or by calling Kim Ebersole, director of Family Life and Older Adult Ministries, at 800-323-8039 ext. 305.
  • Stover Memorial Church of the Brethren in Des Moines, Iowa, has announced its 37th Annual Music Festival. "We invite any and all congregations to join us April 28 at 4 p.m. for special music, congregational singing, and fellowship. After our music fest in the sanctuary, we will retire to the fellowship hall for light refreshments and fellowship," said the announcement. For more information contact 515-240-0060 or
  • Walnut Grove Church of the Brethren in West Marva District will host a benefit hymn sing for its pastor, Donnie Knotts, to assist with his medical expenses. The district newsletter reported that Knotts recently underwent his third liver transplant. The sing is on April 13 beginning at 7 p.m., featuring the Potomac Valley Men’s Choir and the Calvary Singers.
  • Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., has announced that it will host the 2013 Progressive Brethren Gathering on Nov. 15-17. The announcement noted that this sixth annual event is expected to “draw progressive minded persons from Church of the Brethren congregations from across the United States for a time of mutual support, conversation, learning, worship, and activism.” The theme will be "Holy Longing: This Is My Body." Sharon Groves, religion outreach coordinator of the Human Rights Campaign, will be the featured speaker. The gathering is sponsored by the Open Table Cooperative, the Brethren and Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests, Womaen's Caucus, and On Earth Peace.
  • West Marva District is calling a special District Conference on April 20 at 10:30 a.m. at Moorefield Church of the Brethren to consider an expenditure for maintenance and improvements to the District Office and residence, and to introduce a proposed plan of reorganization to replace the district's present Constitution and By Laws, in advance of the regularly scheduled District Conference in September. The special District Conference was announced in the West Marva newsletter for April.
  • The new District Resource Center for Virlina District will be dedicated with a special service at 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 5. The new center is located at 3402 Plantation Road, N.E., in Roanoke, Va. The dedication service will begin at Williamson Road Church of the Brethren at 3110 Pioneer Road, N.W., in Roanoke, and conclude at the new location. Fred M. Bernhard, a past moderator of Annual Conference and a long-term pastor, will deliver the address. Stanley J. Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, will deliver greetings from the denomination.
  • The next date for assembly of Emergency Clean-Up Buckets in Southern Ohio District is April 16 at Eaton (Ohio) Church of the Brethren. The district's Disaster Ministry is sponsoring the event.
  • McPherson (Kan.) College president Michael Schneider was named the Diversity Research Center’s Spring 2013 Visiting Scholar at Rutgers University in New Jersey. A release from the college reported that he gave a keynote address on leadership and its role in diversity on March 5, and visited the business school at Rutgers on March 6. Sharon Lydon, associate dean of the Rutgers Business School, interviewed Schneider in an “Inside the Actor’s Studio” style format. “We were delighted that President Michael Schneider, who has a reputation as an innovative and visionary leader in higher education, accepted the invitation to serve as Visiting Scholar for the Diversity Research Center at Rutgers University,” said Mark D. Winston, assistant chancellor and director of the John Cotton Dana Library at Rutgers. The visiting scholar program at Rutgers was founded in 2010 to bring top scholars, public figures, and experts on diversity issues to the university.
  • Noted Quaker author Philip Gulley will speak on “The Evolution of Faith” at 7 p.m. April 11 for the spring Religious Life Convocation at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind.
  • Juniata College from April 7-12 will host a Genocide Awareness and Action Week on its campus in Huntingdon, Pa. Most events are free and open to the public. Here are a few highlights of the week's activities: A 7 p.m. showing on April 8 of the documentary "Tak for Alt," hosted by Holocaust survivor Judith Meisel in Neff Lecture Hall. "The film follows Meisel as she retraces her steps back to eastern Europe through the Kovno ghetto, to the concentration camp where she was transferred and to Denmark, where she escaped and recovered from her harrowing ordeal," said the release. On April 9 at 7 p.m., Holocaust scholar and expert on the psychological causes and effects of war and political violence Robert Jay Lifton will speak in Neff Lecture Hall. Lifton is the recipient of a Nobel lectureship and received the Holocaust Memorial Award and the Gandhi Peace Prize. Sasha Lezhnev, senior policy analyst for Enough: The Project to End Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, will speak at 7 p.m. on April 11 about conflict minerals and the role they play in the ongoing civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On April 12 at noon, Celia Cook-Huffman, professor of conflict resolution, will host a lunch discussion on “Post-Genocide Reconciliation” in Rockwell Seminar Room in the von Liebig center for Science.
  • The Juniata College Concert Choir will give a concert featuring a mix of secular, sacred, and international choral classics at 1 p.m., Saturday, April 6, in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts. The concert is free and open to the public. The 50-person choir tours every spring semester, focusing its program on historical sacred music, according to a release. The choir is conducted by Russell Shelley, Elma Stine Heckler Professor of Music, and during spring break made a multi-concert international trip to Guatemala.
  • The Bridgewater (Va.) College Concert Choir and Chorale is presenting several concerts as part of a spring tour. On Saturday, April 13, at 8 p.m. the chorale joins the Richmond Symphony Orchestra and choirs from around Virginia in a concert celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation at CenterStage in Richmond, Va. The choir and chorale will together present a program at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 14, at Central Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., in a concert that is open to the public at no charge. The Concert Choir and Chorale are conducted by John McCarty, assistant professor and director of choral music.
  • Also coming up at Bridgewater College, Suraya Sadeed, founder of Help the Afghan Children, will speak about her experiences confronting the Taliban and drug lords and delivering aid to thousands of children at 7:30 p.m., April 16, in the Carter Center for Worship and Music. Born and raised in Kabul, Sadeed immigrated to the US in 1982 following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and became a successful business woman. In 1993, at the height of the Afghan civil war,  a release reported, she returned to Afghanistan and was shocked by the horrific conditions of children and the destruction of her homeland. That year she founded the nonprofit Help the Afghan Children, and since then has helped provide humanitarian aid, medical care, education, and hope to an estimated 1.7 million Afghan children and their families. Following the overthrow of the Taliban in late 2001, she was selected as an educational commission adviser for the Transitional Government of Afghanistan and delegate to the Grand Assembly of Afghanistan. The program is sponsored by the Kline-Bowman Endowment for Creative Peacebuilding and is free and open to the public.
  • Manchester University has received its first LEED Gold certification for the design and construction of its Fort Wayne (Ind.) campus College of Pharmacy structure, said a release. The first students in the professional Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program began classes last August at the new campus at Dupont and Diebold roads in Fort Wayne. “This is our first LEED certified building at Manchester and we are very pleased. We were aiming at Silver and struck Gold,” said CFO Jack Gochenaur. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized green building program for the entire lifecycle of a building, with measurable design, construction, operation and maintenance solutions. Buildings that the US Green Building Council certifies as "LEED" curb operating costs, conserve energy and water, reduce landfill waste and harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and provide a healthy working environment. The Fort Wayne campus and College of Pharmacy structure were designed with energy-saving low-flow valves and faucets and high-performance insulation. Almost 32 percent of the construction used recycled materials and 35 percent of the purchased energy is renewable, or “green.” The project diverted 75 percent of its construction waste from landfills. Almost half the Fort Wayne campus is vegetated, true green space. Even the storm water is captured and recirculated for cooling the two-story structure and watering the lawns, plants and trees. The design-builder was Michael Kinder and Sons Inc., working with Design Collaborative, both of Fort Wayne. For more visit .
  • The 2013 John Kline Lecture has been scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday, April 28, at the John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va., according to an announcement in the Shenandoah District newsletter. The lecture on "Gettysburg Brethren on the Battlefield" will be given by Steve Longenecker, professor of history at Bridgewater (Va.) College, drawing from his book "Gettysburg Religion" to be published later this year by Fordham University Press. Reservations are appreciated. Call 540-896-5001.
  • With the positive reception to its first class, the Springs of Living Water Academy for Church Renewal has announced two fall classes for pastors using telephone conference calling. A release announced that the “Foundations for Church Renewal” course will be offered one day a week over the two-hour lunch period from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on five Wednesdays starting Sept. 11 through Dec. 4. Participants will use David Young’s third book "Springs of Living Water, Christ-centered Church Renewal" with foreword by Richard Foster. A level two course titled “Servant Leadership and Application to Church Renewal” will begin the second week of September with five sessions that run until early December. Participants in the level two course will use the book "Servant Leadership for Church Renewal, Shepherds by the Living Springs," along with other resources. Both classes will have the opportunity to participate in spiritual disciplines folders as a group, which has added to the richness of the academy through discussion of focused topics. To complete the course, participants write a seminal paper with application in their local church. Continuing education units are available. For course descriptions, general brochure about the Springs of Living Water Academy, and registration forms, e-mail David Young at .
  • This year's Earth Day Sunday resource from the National Council of Churches (NCC) Eco-Justice Programs is titled "Sunday Morning Sustainability." The resource highlights ways that individuals and congregations can transform their regular Sunday morning activities in order to better care for God's creation and God's people, said an NCC announcement. Download the resource from . For a printed copy of "Sunday Morning Sustainability" e-mail a request to making sure to include a mailing address and the number of copies needed.
  • A unique global online directory of more than 7,000 theological education institutions has been launched, according to the World Council of Churches (WCC). The directory is intended "to promote mutual sharing and dialogue between establishments in different parts of the world." The Global Directory of Theological Education Institutions is located within the Global Digital Library on Theology and Ecumenism (GlobeTheoLib), a joint project of the WCC and, a foundation promoting dialogue on ethical issues. The Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) in Boston, Mass., is one of the partners that developed the directory, together with the WCC’s ecumenical theological education program, the Institute for Cross-Cultural Theological Education of McCormick Theological Seminary, and "The directory is interdenominational and inclusive in its widest sense," said the release, "including all types of Christian institutions of theological education and ministerial formation: church based theological seminaries, Bible schools, university departments of theology, faculties of religious studies and mission training institutes. Institutions listed in the directory can register to update their details. Institutions not listed can apply for inclusion." Users can search directory entries by denomination or affiliation, types of institution, language of instruction, city and country, world region and degrees offered. Records include information about faculty and students, contact details and the accreditation for degrees offered. Register for GlobeTheoLib at .
  • Pope Francis’ decision to wash the feet of two women during a Maundy Thursday Mass at a Rome youth prison has been criticized by Catholic traditionalists "who say that the rite is a re-enactment of Jesus washing the feet of the 12 apostles before his death, and thus should be limited only to men," according to a report by Religion News Service (RNS). Traditionally, popes have washed the feet of 12 priests during a Mass in Rome’s St. John Lateran Basilica, the report noted. "But including women in the rite is a widespread practice in the United States and elsewhere," the report added. "As archbishop of Buenos Aires, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio regularly included women in the rite." Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the pope’s decision was “absolutely licit” and took into account “the real situation, the community where one celebrates.... This community understands simple and essential things; they were not liturgy scholars,” Lombardi said. “Washing feet was important to present the Lord’s spirit of service and love.” Read the full report posted by the Presbyterian News Service at .0
  • Chet Thomas, executive director of Proyecto Aldea Global (PAG) in Honduras, has made an appeal for donations of two hay binder units in fairly good condition to help power a ferry boat. The ferry functions near a large hydroelectric dam called El Cajon, or “the box,” in an area where several PAG programs work. Two decades ago an access road between two rivers was cut off by the dam, greatly increasing the length and hardship of the trip between peoples’ homes and markets in northern Honduras. The connection of this area to the north is very important economically and politically, but the dam is too wide and deep to support a bridge. Volunteers built the first ferry in 2000, “Miss Pamela,” using out-of-date steel propane tanks, steel girders, etc. In order to move the 40- to 60-foot boat, a power unit was installed using motorized hay binders. The system has worked for 12 years, moving people, vehicles, heavy equipment, and cattle across a three-mile stretch of water 11 hours a day, 7 days a week--but the original hay binder units are now in need of replacement. Once donated, PAG staff will prepare units for shipment to Honduras. Contact Chet Thomas at or 305-433-2947.
Source: 4/5/2013 Newsline


Newsline is produced by the news services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Chris Douglas, Theresa Eshbach, Mary Kay Heatwole, Jon Kobel, Jeri S. Kornegay, John Wall, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.