Friday, May 03, 2013

Newsline: May 3, 2013


Small church leaders advised to know yourself, know your church, take part in God’s mission.

Throughout the Strengthening Your Small Congregation event, leaders of small churches received essentially the same guidance from various speakers and workshop leaders: know yourself, know your congregation, seek out God’s purpose for you and your church.

A brainchild of the pastors of two small congregations in Indiana--Kay Gaier of Wabash Church of the Brethren and Brenda Hostetler Meyer of Benton Mennonite Church--the one-day conference April 13 included worship, a keynote speech by Margaret Marcuson, a panel discussion with pastors and lay leaders of small churches, and several afternoon workshops.

Leaders of small churches gather at conference
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Leaders of small churches gathered at the Strengthening Your Small Congregation event on April 13. The one-day event offered professional growth and training, as well as opportunities for mutual support and encouragement.

The conference was organized in large part by the Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren, with leadership from executive director Jonathan Shively and staff. Other contributing or endorsing partners included the Church of the Brethren’s Northern Indiana District and South/Central Indiana District, Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference and Central District Conference of Mennonite Church USA, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Bethany Theological Seminary, and the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership The day was hosted at Camp Alexander Mack near Milford, Ind.

Professional growth and mutual support

Designed for pastors and lay leaders of churches numbering under 100, the event offered professional growth and training. It also was an opportunity for mutual support and encouragement--and even cheer leading--for small church leaders who often feel alone and isolated, and may become discouraged in a society that equates success with size.

Gaier and Meyer focused worship on biblical texts that speak of God’s mission and call to faith communities both large and small. A series of Bible readings opened with Deuteronomy 7:7-8a: “It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you--for you were the fewest of all peoples. It was because the Lord loved you....”

Self, purpose, and people

There are three things a small church leader has to do, said keynote speaker Margaret Marcuson, a consultant and coach to small congregations and author of several books about ministry and leadership. “Know yourself, your purpose, and your people,” she said. She proceeded to focus on these three concepts, taking time for small group discussion and direct feedback from participants as she talked about the challenges and opportunities for ministry in small congregations. Often she spoke out of personal experience, having herself served as pastor of a small church.

“This is a spiritual process that requires prayer,” she told the group as she posed a number of questions aimed at helping participants reflect on their own lives and how they relate to their congregations and the people in their churches. Questions about self and purpose or calling, such as “What was your role in your family?” and “What did God create you for?” led into questions about leadership in the church, such as “Can you love people and lead them without imposing your will?” and “What are the things in your church’s history you really like to celebrate?”

Marcuson also led a workshop on money and ministry, and offered an open coaching session. Delegations from two churches volunteered to be coached by Marcuson, with others invited to sit in and learn how such coaching works and how the outcomes of such coaching may be helpful for small churches.

Engage in discernment

Workshops gave more targeted training and guidance in a variety of areas of ministry for small churches. Congregational Life Ministries staff offered a workshop on “The Pastoral Care Team” led by Deacon Ministry director Donna Kline, and a workshop on “Worship in Your Own Voice” led by executive director Jonathan Shively.

Several workshops repeated guidance similar to the keynote address. David B. Miller, on the faculty of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in the area of missional leadership development, led a workshop on “Discerning Our Congregation’s Future.” He opened by advising church leaders to analyze habits congregations have learned in the past and seem to be in danger of carrying into the future even if those behaviors are no longer applicable to the social environment.

Marcuson’s workshop on how finances relate to small church ministry challenged leaders to work at discerning long-term goals for their churches--even setting decades-long budgets to meet dreams that may not come to fruition for many years. Ask yourself what you want for your church, then ask what others want, as you do your planning, she told her workshop.

Charlene J. Smith, a minister of Evangelism and Vitality in the national office of the United Church of Christ (UCC), advised attendees at her workshop to understand their own mindsets in order to help their churches adapt to a rapidly changing world. Focusing on what evangelism looks like in a small church, she equated it with “a mindset for mission” and emphasized that success of evangelism has nothing to do with the size of a congregation. Her PowerPoint presentation proclaimed: “The greatness of your church is determined by the success and strength of your mission ministries NOT by the numbers of your members.”

Smith added another aspect of knowledge to the list that participants had already heard from others: know the specifics of the issues of the day in your community, she advised. Out of that, congregations must be empowered to discern and develop actions for themselves, in order to become “in tune with today” rather than the past. A pastor cannot tell people what to do, Smith said bluntly. Instead, leaders of small churches should “be positive police” and emphasize the congregation’s gifts. “We have got to have a mindset of abundance and blessings,” she said. “Celebrate who you are and what you are about to do.

“And then, after you have celebrated, set a start date” to pray about the ministry to which God is calling your church, Smith said. “We are going to pray that God will tell us and lead us on the the faith that Christ will go before us.”

For more about Congregational Life Ministries go to . Find a link to a photo album from Strengthening Your Small Congregation at

Source: 5/3/2013 Newsline

Mission workers report from annual meeting of Nigerian church.

“Our first Majalisa was a good experience,” report Carl and Roxane Hill, Church of the Brethren mission workers with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). “We were given an opportunity to give a short welcome so both Carl and I spoke for a few minutes. There were over 1,000 in attendance. We were also put on a committee to hand out ballots and count the votes for the elections.” EYN’s 66th Majalisa was held April 16-19 on the theme, “Reclaiming Our Heritage as Peace Church in Such a Time Like This.”

“We were impressed with EYN's plans to provide for so many public services that we take for granted in the USA (schools, health, security),” wrote the Hills in an e-mail report.

The Hills serve with EYN alongside another Church of the Brethren teacher, Carol Smith. During the meeting, the Hills had an opportunity to meet with several pastors as well as the district secretary from Maiduguri to hear first hand about the trouble that has occurred in that northeastern Nigeria city.

“It seems that the reports given to the public are often inaccurate in terms of the number of deaths,” the Hills wrote. “One thing they have not mentioned is that more Muslims have been killed by the violence than Christians.” The Hills reported that they have learned from two different sources that the ratio “may be even two to one” in terms of numbers of Muslims killed as compared to numbers of Christians killed by the Islamist extremist terror attacks in Nigeria in recent years.

Report on Majalisa

Toma Ragnijiya spoke several times during the conference about the theme, “Reclaiming Our Peace Heritage.” EYN president Samuel Dali gave an opening speech highlighting the vision for the future of EYN including new construction projects and the creation of new boards (see below). He challenged the EYN church to remain wise as serpents but gentle as doves through this time of persecution.

The new boards created by EYN include:
  • An Education Board that will focus on the quality of existing EYN schools as well as assess the need for additional schools. A grant from Japan will be used to build a new primary school at Nyeji in Nasarawa State.
  • A Health Management Board will oversee the major health clinics. Two doctors have been requested from the Church of the Brethren in the United States. Meanwhile, an offering was taken during the Majalisa to provide a salary for local doctors. Three ambulances and other medical equipment has been supplied by the MDGS.
  • A Security Board responsible for obtaining and training security personnel. It will focus on gathering intelligence as well as providing security. Press releases will be handled through this board.
  • A Microfinance Bank Board will empower the EYN community economically. When operational, these banks will provide employment and small loans. The church in general was very excited about this new venture.
  • An Agricultural Board to oversee various agricultural projects.
In other business: Musa Mambula was re-elected to the post of Spiritual Advisor. Two trustees were elected, one for the Garkida area and one for the Lassa area. Audit reports from last year were favorable. An increase in wages for EYN workers was approved. Directors will now be promoted from within departments instead of opening the jobs to outside applicants.

For more about the Brethren work in Nigeria go to

Source: 5/3/2013 Newsline

Manchester University’s annual Peace Week opens new doors.

A peace banner is held up in front of Petersime Chapel at Manchester UniversityManchester University in North Manchester, Ind., held its annual Peace Week on April 14-20 with a variety of guest speakers, workshops, worship times, and a concert under the theme “Opening New Doors: Acting for Peace.”

Playwright/actress Kim Schultz highlighted the week with the one-woman musical performance “No Place Called Home,” which lifted up the stories of Iraqi refugees. Local musician Brian Kruschwitz supplied percussion and vocals for the show.

The other spotlight event was a Saturday “Concert on the Lawn” with several student performers and headliners Mutual Kumquat, a band composed mostly of Manchester alumni and known for its message of social justice.

Christian Peacemaker Teams member Cliff Kindy spoke at the campus chapel service and also led an evening discussion on recent violence in Nigeria. Other events during the week included a workshop on “Theater for Social Change” led by Manchester theater professor Jane Frazier; a Yom HaShoah Holocaust remembrance service with leadership from Rabbi Javier Cattapan of Fort Wayne, Ind.; and a Peace Garden service project.

Manchester’s Campus Interfaith Board and Peace Studies Department planned the week, with assistance from the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Manchester Theater Society, and the Residence Hall Association.

-- Walt Wiltschek is director of Campus Ministry/Religious Life at Manchester University.

Source: 5/3/2013 Newsline

Manchester students lift 1,000,000 pounds for peace.

On April 28, a team of more than 15 Manchester University students succeeded in working together to lift one million pounds--for peace. This event was part of the On Earth Peace campaign, 3,000 Miles for Peace. Manchester University is a Church of the Brethren-related school with a main campus in North Manchester, Ind.

Manchester University students pose for the camera after lifting 1 million pounds for peace.
Photo by courtesy of Yvonne Riege
Manchester University students pose for the camera after lifting 1 million pounds for peace. The effort was part of the "3,000 Miles for Peace" campaign of On Earth Peace, in honor of the late McPherson College student Paul Ziegler.
Kyle Riege, one of the Million Pounds for Peace organizers, shared, “The efforts of On Earth Peace have always had a special place in my heart. This past summer I had the opportunity to work with them when I was a member of the Youth Peace Travel Team. Now that has ended and I have been aching for a new way to help.”

After hearing On Earth Peace staff Bob Gross speak at a Church of the Brethren event on Manchester's campus Riege and Sam Ott decided they needed to help. Both are avid weightlifters and have been lifting together for several years. They decided that a Lift-a-Thon would be a great way to get involved and show their support. “Weightlifting is something I have been passionate about for the past five years or so and I figured this would be a great way to help,” Riege said.

During the past several weeks, friends and family members of the lifting team have been pledging their monetary support for the Lift-a-Thon which began on Sunday April 28, a bit after 10 a.m., when various weight-lifters joined forces to pump iron.

The money raised supports the 3,000 Miles for Peace fund started in memory of Paul Ziegler, who had been a student at another church related school, McPherson College in Kansas. Before his untimely death, Ziegler had a dream to ride his bicycle across the country, gathering funds and fellow travelers for world peace along the way. Now many people are working together to do this for him.

Three official lifts were allowed for team effort: squat, dead lift, and bench press. A team of willing volunteers recorded the repetitions of each lifter’s poundage. By noon, these athletes were well on their way to the goal. Together they pumped for considerable progress prior to many taking a well-deserved lunch break.

Together the team kicked into high gear again around 1:15 p.m. Various lifters were spotted and assisted each other throughout their combined effort. Not long after 2 p.m., once all lifters had tallied their totals and turned them in to the recording team, the 1,000,000 pound goal was reached. Together lifters, helpers, and observers joined in a hearty round of applause.

It was a tired but enthusiastic bunch that assembled for a group picture. Afterward, several paused to calculate their own personal achievement, actually viewed as a secondary accomplishment. One headed back to the dead lift area in order to move beyond his own personal goal of 50,000 pounds lifted. “I had to do that!” he said. Another, who had said he wanted to be sure to do his part for the group, conquered the 150,000 mark. Others were thrilled with all they’d accomplished, and slipped quietly out the door for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. They were appreciative of the excellent help from a team recruited to tear down and clean up the area following the Lift-a-Thon.

This was truly a win-win for all. The lifters worked as a unit, but along the way many reached their personal best, and in so doing, succeeded in their effort for the united goal. Over $800 and counting was raised for On Earth Peace. Donations are still welcomed--especially during this week as preparations are made to commemorate Paul Ziegler’s 20th birthday on May 5 at his home congregation Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren (see the Newsline report at

-- Yvonne Riege is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren and licensed clinical addictions counselor from Wakarusa, Ind. For more about the Lift-a-Thon contact Kyle Riege at 574-305-0055.

Source: 5/3/2013 Newsline

Kettering-Lane to fill Brethren studies position at Bethany Seminary.

Denise Kettering-Lane has been hired as full-time assistant professor of Brethren studies at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., to begin July 1. She has taught Brethren studies at Bethany in a part-time capacity since 2010, with the majority of her courses in online and weekend-intensive formats.

The Brethren studies position has been expanded to full-time as a result of the seminary’s recent curriculum review. In addition to making a greater number and wider variety of Brethren studies courses possible, this change creates potential for the incorporation of a Brethren focus into new classes across the curriculum. Students who complete additional courses in Brethren studies beyond the required credits also now will be able to name it as an emphasis as part of their degree.

Kettering-Lane holds a bachelor of arts from Ashland University, a master of theological studies from Emory University's Candler School of Theology, and a doctorate in religious studies from the University of Iowa. In addition to her highly regarded teaching, academic advising, and effective use of technology at Bethany over the past three years, she was a teaching assistant in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Iowa. She has also been assistant archivist at the Brethren Historical Library and Archives at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., and an archival specialist at Nashotah House Theological Seminary.

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

Source: 5/3/2013 Newsline

Thirteen to graduate from Bethany Theological Seminary.

Bethany Theological Seminary will hold its 108th commencement in Nicarry Chapel on the seminary campus in Richmond, Ind., at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 11. Eleven master of divinity degrees will be conferred along with one master of arts degree and one Certificate of Achievement in Theological Studies. Admittance to the academic ceremony is by ticket only.

The commencement speaker will be J. Nelson Kraybill, lead pastor at Prairie Street Mennonite Church in Elkhart, Ind., and president-elect of Mennonite World Conference. With his “Dry Bones” teaching ministry, Kraybill is a frequent speaker in church and academic settings. The theme of his address will be “Who Is Worthy to Open the Scroll?” (Revelation 5:1-10).

A service of worship and blessing at 2:30 p.m. May 11 in Nicarry Chapel, will be open to the public. Planned and led by the graduates, the service will include reflections by Erik Brummett and Robert Miller on the scripture text Isaiah 55.

The commencement ceremony and the worship service will be webcast live, go to

The following degrees will be conferred:
  • Master of Divinity: Laura Beth Arendt, Gettysburg, Pa.; Amy Marie Beery, Indianapolis, Ind.; Glenn A. Brumbaugh, Camp Hill, Pa.; Erik Charles Brummett, Indianapolis, Ind.; Mary Alice Eller, Richmond, Ind.; Daniel J. Finkbiner, Bethel, Pa.; Andrew Graves, Lakeland, Fla.; Dylan James Haro, La Verne, Calif.; Robert Miller, Indianapolis, Ind.; Patricia Louise Owen, Batavia, Ill.; Terry Alan Scott, Pleasant Plain, Ohio.
  • Master of Arts: Elizabeth Ann Thorpe, Chambersburg, Pa.
  • Certificate of Achievement in Theological Studies: Michael V. Smith, Pendleton, Ind.
-- Jenny Williams is director of communications and alumni/ae Relations for Bethany Seminary.

Source: 5/3/2013 Newsline

Faithful Christian leadership is topic of the Ministers’ Association event.

L. Gregory JonesThe Church of the Brethren Minister’s Association pre-Annual Conference event on June 28-29 in Charlotte, N.C., will be led by L. Gregory Jones on the theme “Faithful Christian Leadership in the 21st Century.” Links to more information and online registration are at

Jones will lead three sessions starting Friday evening at 6 p.m., Saturday morning at 9 a.m., and Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m., using the books of Numbers, Philippians, and Acts to speak to excellence in ministry as well as the quality of forgiveness. He is a senior strategist for Leadership Education at Duke Divinity and a professor of theology in the Divinity School of Duke University, where he served as dean from 1997-2010. He has written or co-written several books including “Embodying Forgiveness” and “Resurrecting Excellence: Shaping Faithful Christian Ministry.”

Cost to attend is $85 if registering online in advance, or $125 at the door, with a discounted price for couples in ministry ane current seminary or academy students. Ministers who attend may receive continuing education units for an additional fee of $10. Child care is available for an extra fee as well.

Also related to the Ministers’ Association event and available for students who are in the TRIM or EFSM programs of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership is a directed independent study unit titled “The Word Alive--An Introduction to Preaching” offered June 28-29 and led by Julie M. Hostetter, executive director of the academy. The unit will include pre-Conference reading, a one-hour session before and after the Ministers’ Association event, and attendance at the entire event. A follow-up project will be expected. Contact

For more information or to pre-register for the Ministers’ Association event online by the June 15 deadline go to where a printable registration form also is available. The e-mail contact address is

Source: 5/3/2013 Newsline

Fifth Brethren World Assembly to take place in Ohio in July.

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

The assembly happens only every five years, with the last one celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Brethren movement in Schwarzenau, Germany, in 2008.

The theme of this 2013 gathering will be “Brethren Spirituality: How Brethren Conceive of and Practice the Spiritual Life.” It is sponsored by the Brethren Encyclopedia, Inc., whose board members come from each of the seven main Brethren bodies.

The planning team includes chair Robert E. Alley of the Church of the Brethren, Jeff Bach of the Church of the Brethren, Brenda Colijn of the Brethren Church, Milton Cook of the Dunkard Brethren, Tom Julien of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, Gary Kochheiser of the Conservative Grace Brethren Churches International, and Michael Miller of the Old German Baptist Brethren Church-New Conference.

Events begin the afternoon of Thursday July 11, with an opening panel discussion on Brethren spirituality. The first evening’s worship is hosted by Brookville Grace Brethren Church, closing with an ice cream social.

Friday, July 12, will see the assembly gather to hear morning speakers, go on an afternoon tour of Brethren sites (advance registration required) or attend a variety of concurrent workshop sessions. The evening meal, worship, and ice cream social are hosted by Salem Church of the Brethren.

On Saturday, July 13, the morning speakers will focus on Brethren ordinances and international perspectives, followed by another afternoon offering opportunities to take part in the bus tour or concurrent workshop sessions. The Saturday evening activities are hosted again by Salem Church of the Brethren.

The event closes with Sunday morning worship at an area Brethren congregation of participant’s choice for those who wish to stay through the morning.

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

Registrations are due by July 7. Find a detailed brochure and online registration at Registrations also will be taken by phone and credit card by calling the Brethren Heritage Center at 937-833-5222. For more information go to

Source: 5/3/2013 Newsline

COBYS conference to address PTSD in foster children.

COBYS Family Services logo
People often associate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with soldiers returning from battle, but foster children sometimes exhibit similar symptoms as a result of the trauma they have experienced in their lives.

COBYS Family Services therapist Laura Miller, LCSW, will lead a one-day seminar on “PTSD in Children, Adolescents, and Youth” on May 31 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.

Designed for professionals and foster and adoptive parents, the training will offer insight regarding how trauma affects the brain, how PTSD manifests across the lifespan, and how to recognize symptoms related to secondary trauma in caregivers. Participants will learn coping strategies for the whole family, as well as some effective tools to parent traumatized family members.

“Trauma affects so many people,” said Miller, “especially children and adolescents who are part of the foster care system. As adoptive and foster parents strive to parent traumatized kids, these caregivers sometimes find themselves at the receiving end of all the behavior related to past trauma.”

Miller has been an outpatient therapist since 2005, specializing in treating attachment and trauma issues among foster and adoptive children, adolescents, and their families. A resident of Lancaster, she has been a presenter at numerous conferences, educating others about attachment and trauma issues. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, has been a Licensed Social Worker since 2003, and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 2009.

Cost for the event is $30 for professionals and $10 for foster and adoptive parents. This program has been approved for an award of .5 continuing education units by the College of Graduate and Professional Studies at Millersville University. The registration deadline is May 24.

Motivated by Christian faith, COBYS Family Services educates, supports, and empowers children and adults to reach their full potential. COBYS carries out this mission through adoption and foster care services, counseling, and family life education. COBYS is affiliated with Atlantic Northeast District of the Church of the Brethren.

A brochure with registration form for the event is at . To learn more contact Nicole Lauzus at 717-481-7663 or

-- Don Fitzkee is director of Development for COBYS Family Services.

Source: 5/3/2013 Newsline

If it’s spring: A note from Gather ’Round.

Gather 'Round curriculum logo If it's spring... must be time to think about calling teachers for the fall!

Christian formation programs often depend on more volunteers than any other program of the church. Here is a six-step process to help you call and work with teachers ( ):

Define the ministry: Clearly articulate areas of responsibility. Provide written descriptions that outline the tasks and expectations for each position.

Discern the gifts of the people: What qualities do you seek in potential teachers? Who in your congregation has those qualities? Seek God’s wisdom and direction. With a church directory in one hand and your list of needs in the other, look for people with gifts of teaching and building relationships. Don’t overlook seniors, recently retired people, young adults, or newcomers.

Gently invite: Be specific when you talk to an individual. Be honest about your expectations. Give them time to pray about a decision. Offer to meet with them to have further conversation about the task to which you are calling them. If a person declines the invitation, thank them for considering it. Don’t pester them. If God is calling them to the position, they’ll get back to you.

Provide training: Treat your volunteers as unpaid staff. Give them the resources they need to be the best teachers they can be.

Support and affirm: With notes, a listening ear, small gifts, and prayer, encourage your teachers in their ministry.

Evaluate: Meet with each teacher to reflect. What is working well? What is frustrating? What changes are needed for the teacher to feel successful? Where was evidence of God’s presence? Give a teacher the opportunity to stop if the experience is unpleasant for the teacher or the class. Regular evaluations and check-ins can ease or prevent the pain that happens when someone leaves in anger or frustration--or when someone has to be let go because it is just not working out.

Here are some do's and don'ts:
  • DO assure prospective teachers that your call comes after a careful, prayerful process. DO specifically affirm the gifts you see in them.
  • DO promise that they will be supported (and DO follow through on that promise).
  • DON'T persist if a person gives you a definitive no.
  • DON'T beg ("Please, there just isn't anyone else we can ask").
  • DON'T stretch the truth ("There's really nothing to teaching preschoolers").
What if you can't find enough qualified teachers for the openings on your list? Maybe God is inviting you to consider something new. Could groups be combined in new ways? Would people be more willing to teach if the load was lightened by working in pairs or even triads? Would it help to change the time you meet? Use your challenges to get creative about your programming.

-- From the Gather ’Round e-mail newsletter “RoundAbout.” Gather ’Round is the Sunday school curriculum of Brethren Press and MennoMedia. This summer’s quarter for multi age groups of children is on an environmental theme and will familiarize students with Bible texts on care for creation. Order curriculum from Brethren Press at 800-441-3712.

Source: 5/3/2013 Newsline

Celebrating completion of the Brethren Digital Archive.

Some of the archivists, librarians, and historians who have been part of the committee organizing the Brethren Digital Archive
Photo by Brethren Digital Archive
Some of the archivists, librarians, and historians who have been part of the committee organizing the Brethren Digital Archive: (from left) Some of the Brethren Digital Archives committee (left to right): Liz Cutler Gates, Brethren Missionary Herald; Darryl Filbrun, Old German Baptist Brethren, New Conference; Gary Kochheiser, Conservative Grace Brethren; Steve Bayer, Old German Baptist Brethren; Paul Stump, Brethren Heritage Center; Eric Bradley, Morgan Library, Grace College and Seminary; Larry Heisey, Brethren Heritage Center. Seated, Shirley Frick, Bible Monitor.
We know little about the early Brethren. We do not even know the actual date of the first baptisms. In fact, few documents survive from our first century. Important early writings such as those by Virginian Benjamin Bowman (1754-1829) are no longer extant.

Not without reason have historians referred to the years from 1776-1851 as “the silent years.” The “silence” ends in 1851 with the publication of the first Brethren periodical, “The Gospel Visitor” edited by Henry Kurtz, joined in 1856 by James Quinter who would become sole editor. Eventually the “Visitor” would absorb other periodicals forming the “Gospel Messenger” in 1883.

As denominational factions that would result in painful divisions formed around editors and periodicals, many wished for a return to silence. There was, of course, no turning back. Periodicals were the driving force behind denominational expansion and world-wide mission for the Brethren. Editors emerged as powerful shapers of denominational culture and identity. Brethren increasingly understood themselves as part of an international community, unique yet in mission with other Protestants, sharing Christ far beyond their isolated communities.

The paucity of information had ceased. The days of information overload had begun. One was not only overwhelmed by the printed pages of denominational periodicals of such bodies as the Church of the Brethren, Brethren Church, Dunker Brethren, Old Order German Baptists, and Grace Brethren Church, but the new interest-driven periodicals established by advocacy groups within denominations such as missionary societies, colleges, seminaries, and even districts.

As we look back to the golden age of the printed page, we can only marvel at this remarkable flowering of Brethren thought and action and ask how, if, or in what manner the personalities, deeds, and thoughts of our own time will be remembered and recorded?

Now the golden age of Brethren print media has wonderfully come to life in the Brethren Digital Archives, available online in a full-text format without charge at . It contains 29 periodicals published from 1852-2000 by the spiritual heirs of those baptized in the Eder River.

Funded in part by a grant from the Sloan Foundation and the generosity of Brethren institutions and individuals, the project was directed by the librarians, archivists, and historians of Brethren-related colleges, universities, and historical centers.

This incredible resource is even searchable by names of individuals and congregations, and even concepts. Among the distinctly Church of the Brethren periodicals are “The Gospel Visitor,” “Brethren at Work,” “Gospel Messenger,” “Messenger,” “Inglenook,” and “Missionary Visitor.”

These resources provide a glimpse into past Brethren practice, beliefs, and dare we say controversies. The archive provides a rich source of congregational, regional, and even district history. One can read forgotten but still deeply profound devotional writings of A.C. Wieand, Anna Mow, and William Beahm, for example, and the moving and thoughtful editorials of Desmond Bittinger and Kenneth Morse. Readers may encounter vintage prophetic writings of Dan West and Kermit Eby, or children’s stories by Lucille Long, or explore how Brethren faced the crises of the Civil War, World War I, the Cold War, and the Civil Rights crusade for racial justice.

This remarkable resource is available to all with an Internet connection.

-- William Kostlevy is director of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives.

Source: 5/3/2013 Newsline

Brethren bits.

  • Remembrance: Bob Edgar, 69, a United Methodist minister and a former general secretary of the National Council of Churches (NCC), died unexpectedly April 23 of a heart attack at his home in the Washington area. NCC president Kathryn Lohre expressed the council’s condolences to Edgar’s family and many friends. “He is universally remembered as a man of tireless commitment and boundless energy,” she said. “We are finding it difficult to grasp the sudden loss of this fine church leader.” A United Methodist release described him as a “tireless defender of the poor and an advocate for justice.” Edgar led the NCC from 2000 to 2007. “The Edgar years at the NCC were filled with challenges that included the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, the War in Iraq, the acceleration of global warming, tsunamis and earthquakes, Hurricane Katrina, and crushing worldwide poverty and human rights abuses,” said an NCC release. His first days on the job in 2000 were consumed by a crippling financial crisis in the NCC as well. During his term as general secretary he initiated a major campaign against poverty, and brought in new staff to direct an eco-justice program. He traveled widely on behalf of the NCC, including to areas of Indonesia flooded by the devastating tsunami of 2004. “He liked to summarize the urgent ministries of the council in a single sentence: ‘Peace, Poverty, Planet Earth,’” said a leading NCC staff member. When Edgar departed the NCC in 2007, the council posted a retrospective of his career at . More recently, Edgar was top executive of Common Cause, a national advocacy group with more than 400,000 members and 35 state organizations. He also was a six-term member of Congress from Pennsylvania, and president of Claremont (Calif.) School of Theology 1990-2000. In 2006 he wrote the book “Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right,” published by Simon and Schuster. Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger served on the executive committee of the NCC during Edgar’s term, and hopes to be able to attend the funeral. Funeral arrangements are pending.
General secretary receives icon commemorating Brethren assistance to Armenians during genocide
Remembering the Armenian genocide:
On April 24, Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger worshiped with St. Gregory's the Illuminator Armenian Church in Chicago and took part in the annual remembrance of the martyrs of the Armenian holocaust. He was joined by Larry Ulrich of York Center Church of the Brethren, who is very active in interfaith work in Chicago. After the worship service, Noffsinger was invited to speak about the Church of the Brethren relief effort during the Armenian genocide--the first significant overseas relief and disaster response effort carried out by the denomination. On behalf of the church, Noffsinger received a lovely hand-carved wood icon as a gift commemorating the Brethren aid to Armenians in their time of need. Shown here: Noffsinger (center) receives the icon from the priest of the parish, Aren Jebejian, with Larry Ulrich at Noffsinger's right.
  • Anna Emrick has resigned as program coordinator for the office of Global Mission and Service. May 1 was her last day at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. She has been employed in the Global Mission and Service office since October 2009. During her time there, she has acted as liaison to the Mission Advisory Committee, helped coordinate the Mission Alive conference, served as a contact person for mission staff in a variety of countries around the world, helped organize workcamp groups, worked on the new Mission Advocate Network, started a new mission e-mail newsletter and prayer guide, and more. In previous volunteer work for the denomination, she spent time in Brethren Volunteer Service as the recruitment volunteer on the BVS office staff from August 2004 through August 2005. She is moving to Milwaukee, Wis., to work as program manager for the nonprofit Society of Immunotherapy of Cancer.
  • Raymond C. Flagg has been affirmed as treasurer of the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center by the SVMC Governing Board, which met at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College on April 17. SVMC is affiliated with the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. Flagg is a graduate of the University of La Verne in California (previously La Verne College) and Texas A&M University, and presently is employed as adjunct instructor in ,athematics at Harrisburg Area Community College, the Lancaster (Pa.) campus. He is a member of Annville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.
  • In another personnel note from SVMC, Amy Milligan, program coordinator for the center, has recently earned her doctorate and has resigned her position with SVMC effective July 31. Donna Rhodes, SVMC executive director, says, “We are grateful for the dedicated service which Amy has provided since 2007.” The Governing Board accepted her resignation with regret and wished her God’s blessing in her new position as visiting assistant professor of Women and Gender Studies at Elizabethtown College.
  • The Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center is seeking a full-time program coordinator to oversee day-to-day management of the SVMC office based at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. This position is accountable to the executive director of SVMC. Responsibilities include administrative support to the executive director and the Governing Board, student and instructor contacts, course record keeping, financial record keeping, and promotional work. To apply, candidates should send letter of interest, resume, and contact information of three references to Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center, Attn: Donna Rhodes, Executive Director, 1830 Mifflin St., Huntingdon, PA 16652; .
  • 2013 Older Adult Month logo 400May is Older Adult Month in the Church of the Brethren. Resources this year focus on the theme, “Vessels of Love: Love God, Love Neighbor, Love Self” from the scripture text Matthew 22:37-39, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Related worship resources are available online and focus on the three aspects, “Love God,” “Love Neighbor,” and “Love Self.” Ideas also are offered for how a congregation can share God’s love with adults age 50 and older. Go to .
  • In an update on Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) work in Boston following the marathon bombings, four CDS volunteers provided a child care center on April 20-23 at the Boston Family Assistance Center working in partnership with the American Red Cross. Only four children were served but Roy Winter, associate executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries, reported that “the contact with these four children was meaningful and significant.” For more about Children's Disaster Services go to .
  • A clothing drive for Love Elgin Day 2013 was given warehouse space at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Some 17 or 18 churches in the Elgin area together sponsored the Love Elgin Day on April 27, which offered variety of free services to anyone who wished to attend including clothing and food, simple medical care, legal services, and more.
  • Brethren attended the April 11-13 inaugural national gathering of Missio Alliance, an emerging network of evangelicals and Anabaptists looking for a new way to be the church in an increasingly post-Christendom culture. The gathering of over 700 ministers, scholars, and laypeople met in Alexandria, Va. Notable leaders included Amos Yong, Rodman Williams Professor of Theology and director of the Doctor of Philosophy program at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va.; Cherith Fee Nording, associate professor of Theology at Northern Seminary in Oak Brook, Ill.; Scot McKnight, professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary; and Jo Saxton, director of 3DM in Minnesota. The Brethren attending were Joshua Brockway, director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship; Tara Hornbacker, professor of ministry formation at Bethany Seminary; Dana Cassell, minister of youth formation at Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren; Ryan Braught of Veritas church plant in Atlantic Northeast District; and Laura Stone of Manchester Church of the Brethren and a student at Andover Newton Seminary. See or contact jbrockway@brethren,org or 800-323-4304 ext. 304.
  • The World Friendship Center (WFC) in Hiroshima was honored with a certificate and a monetary award of 100,000 yen (about $1,000) for peace efforts beyond Japan’s borders reports JoAnn Sims, who with her husband Larry are WFC hosts through Brethren Volunteer Service. Among activities that garnered the award were WFC’s partnership at the grassroots level with China, Korea, and Japan to gather junior high and high school students for a week to build friendships and to dilute the discrimination that is often common in each country; hosting the North Regional Asian Peacebuilding Institute for young adults from Mongolia, China, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, and Japan; and exchange of peace envoys between Japan, United States, Korea, and Germany.
  • Union Center Church of the Brethren in Nappanee, Ind., will provide the meals for the Old German Baptist Brethren Conference on May 18-21. “Planning has been underway for over a year and final details are being made,” reports Herman Kauffman, who is interim minister at the church. “Nearly every able-bodied member of the congregation will be involved from one shift to full-time work for four days.” The conference will be held on a farm, with an expectation of 4,000 to 5,000 people attending. “I would invite your prayers for us in this massive undertaking,” Kauffman requested.
  • Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa., held a weekend event with Bob Gross, staff member of On Earth Peace who is completing a 650-mile walk for peace from North Manchester, Ind., to Elizabethtown, Pa. While at Stone Church he shared during the morning worship. A Peace Walk followed with members and friends invited to walk with Juniata College students to the Peace Chapel, commemorating the campaign “3,000 Miles for Peace” in honor of the late Paul Ziegler who was a student at McPherson (Kan.) College.
A group from Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren with Haitian hosts during a workcamp trip to Haiti
Photo by courtesy of Jenn Dorsch
  • A group from Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren recently was in Haiti for a workcamp with Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti). The Frederick members were from both the hearing and deaf congregation, listed here with some of their Haitian hosts:  Jim and Doretta Dorsch, Bob Walker, Melissa Berdine, Anna Crouse, Bonnie Vanbuskirk, pastor Brian Messler, Sherwood "Woody" Boxer, pastor Paul Mundey, Yves Ouedraogo, Jenn Dorsch, Lisa and Chris Gouker, Ilexene Alphonse.
  • Virlina District dedicates its new District Resource Center this Sunday, May 5. The new center is located at 3402 Plantation Road, N.E. in Roanoke, Va. The service starts at 4 p.m. at the old location at 3110 Pioneer Rd., N.W., in Roanoke, and will conclude at the new location. Fred M. Bernhard, former Annual Conference moderator and long-term pastor, will deliver the address. Stanley J. Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, and Jonathan M. Barton, general minister of the Virginia Council of Churches, will be present to deliver encouragement from the wider church. The Peters Creek Church Choir under the direction of Betty Lou Carter, will provide special music.
  • West Marva District has announced a weight loss competition spearheaded by Westernport Church of the Brethren. “Pounds for Purpose” challenges the congregations and members to compete in losing weight--both for individual health and to benefit charities. Participants will solicit either one-time donations or donations of an amount of money for every pound lost individually or by the congregation’s team. The more money raised, the more charities will benefit, the announcement said.
  • The Ministry Excellence Project of Northern Indiana District and South/Central Indiana District has awarded 88 grants to pastors totaling $107,579 in the last four years, according to a recent district newsletter. Nearly half of the funds for those grants were contributed by churches. Find a new video about how the project has affected two pastors and congregations at .
  • A Haitian Peace Seminar is sponsored by Atlantic Southeast District’s Action for Peace Team, to be held in Miami, Fla., on June 7-9. The seminar aims to strengthen the peacemaking commitment and skills of Haitian Brethren in the US. It starts Friday at 5 p.m. and ends Sunday with worship and a noon meal. The event will be held in Kreyol and English, with leadership from Florida and other parts of the country. All food will be provided, transportation will be paid by participants. Lodging will be with members and friends of the Miami churches. A free will offering will help cover expenses. The coordinating committee includes pastor Ludovic St. Fleur of L’Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami, Rose Cadet, and Merle Crouse. Register by May 20. Contact Crouse at 407-892-6678.
  • The Brethren Home of Girard, Ill., has set its Sixth Annual Work Day for Saturday, May 4, starting at 8 a.m. (rain date May 18). Work will include clearing flower beds, planting, mulching, and brushing preservative on outdoor furniture. Bring gloves and garden trowels. A light lunch and refreshments will be provided. Contact 217-627-2181 and ask for Kyle Hood, maintenance, or Terry Link, chaplain, or e-mail .
  • “Camp Bethel is Best of Botetourt and KJPAS at Camp Bethel is Best of Roanoke!” proudly announced the Camp Bethel newsletter. The Church of the Brethren camp near Fincastle, Va., was voted Best of Botetourt County, Va., for 2013 by the readers of the “Botetourt View.” The Kevin Jones Performing Arts Studio held at the camp was voted “Best Camp for Kids” in the “Roanoke Times,” said the announcement. Learn more at . See the camp ad at .
  • Camp Emmanuel in Illinois and Wisconsin District is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year. The camp’s mission is “Sharing God’s message and love with children of all ages through the beauty and wonder found in nature.” This year’s managers are Randy and Jo Ellen Doyle. The camp is inviting each camping group this year to make a banner for the anniversary. Also, special anniversary t-shirts are being made, cost is $12 for regular sizes (cost may vary for special sizes). Contact the camp at 309-329-2291 or or see .
  • The Brethren Home Community in Windber, Pa., congratulates home administrator Edie Scaletta for her inclusion in the Johnstown YWCA 2013 Tribute to Women Awards. She is honored for her service as administrator of a nonprofit corporation and as a role model for other women. A banquet in May will recognize Scaletta and the honorees in other tribute categories.
Ruth Moss is honored for her 48 years of work at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village
Photo by Fahrney-Keedy
Ruth Moss is honored for her 48 years of work at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village
  • Recently Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village near Boonsboro, Md., celebrated the 48 years of work Ruth Moss has given to the retirement community. Staffers noted the milestone, recalling days without latex gloves and when uniforms consisted of white button-up dresses with long sleeves required, said a release. “We didn’t have lifts or air conditioning, either,” Moss remembered. “But we coped with it.” In 1965, she started work at Fahrney-Keedy as a nurse’s aide. Over the years, she became a Certified Medicine Aide and a Geriatric Nursing Aide. She now works part-time in Assisted Living and the Bowman Center Memory Care Unit. Her husband, Jim, also has worked in Fahrney-Keedy’s Maintenance Department since 1989. A Church of the Brethren continuing care retirement community, Fahrney-Keedy is along Route 66 a few miles west of Boonsboro.
  • Bridgewater (Va.) College took top honors in the state of Virginia for its collection of corrugated cardboard during RecycleMania 2013, a 10-week challenge to determine which schools could reduce, re-use, and recycle the most campus waste. According to a release, more than 520 colleges and universities competed and collectively recovered 90.3 million pounds of recyclables and organic materials, preventing the release of 121,436 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere. Bridgewater participated in three categories--paper, corrugated cardboard, and bottles/cans--and collected a total of 27,845 pounds of recyclables.
  • Eight Bridgewater (Va.) College alumni including three Church of the Brethren members--Ivan J. Mason, Peggy Glick Mason, and Ronald V. Cox--were honored at an Alumni Weekend April 19-21. Ivan J. Mason and Peggy Glick Mason of University Park Church of the Brethren in Hyattsville, Md., received Ripples Society Medals. He worked for NASA as an electronics engineer and aerospace technologist on the Apollo space program, later transferring to the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, where he was technical officer managing the contract to develop the Science Operations Center for the Hubble Space Telescope. Peggy Glick Mason worked as a data analyst and programmer for NASA, and from 1980-91 was a computer specialist for the Fish and Wildlife Service. She has served as a member and treasurer of the Coordinating Committee of the Church of the Brethren’s Womaen’s Caucus. Cox received the Distinguished Alumnus Award. He has served in various capacities at Richmond Church of the Brethren and Harrisonburg Church of the Brethren, and participated in a Katrina disaster-relief trip with Bridgewater Church of the Brethren. He was a programmer with IBM at NASA’s Space Computing Center on Project Vanguard--a program intended to launch the first artificial satellite into Earth’s orbit--and worked on the IBM 360 Series of computers. In 1967 he became the IBM systems engineer for the Shenandoah Valley, and since then has worked for the company’s Academic Information Systems at Virginia Tech and helped the engineering school establish its “every freshman required to get a PC” program.
  • Elizabethtown (Pa.) College is providing “stress release” therapy dogs to students during finals week. Dog handler Donna Grenko will bring trained therapy dogs including labrador retrievers, a sheltie, a golden retriever, and a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, as part of an event hosted by Student Wellness and the High Library. "Down-Time with a Dog" will give students an opportunity to relax and rejuvenate with "fur-therapy" during the hectic finals week.
  • The 14th annual C.A.R.S. Club Show at McPherson (Kan.) College will include the CEO of a tire company for classic cars, an opportunity for youth to take a shot at judging cars and a focus on restoration and racing legend Carroll Shelby. Events kick off Friday, May 3, at 6 p.m. with the “Evening with Automotive Restoration” dinner. This year features Corky Coker, president and CEO of Coker Tires. The student-run C.A.R.S. Club show is Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will include tours of the restoration building, a team of students assembling a fully functional Model T from a pile of parts in less than 15 minutes, and faculty demonstrations of restoration techniques. This year’s show recognizes Carroll Shelby, who passed away last year, known for his racing career and his trademark car designs such as the Shelby Cobra. Shelby cars will have free admittance to the show. Feature cars will include a rare 1907 Tincher, the “898” 1949 Studebaker pickup that set two new class speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 2010, and a supercharged 1933 Miller race car with 16 cylinders. People will have an opportunity to buy a signed book about automotive metal shaping by Ed Barr, assistant professor of technology, who will give a metal shaping demonstration.
  • The April edition of "Brethren Voices," the community television program of Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren, features Steve Cayford’s 4,000 mile bicycle journey from London to Senegal in West Africa. As part of the same program, On Earth Peace discusses its 3,000 Miles for Peace campaign. “At the age of 13, Cayford began thinking about making a bicycle trip from Europe to West Africa,” reports producer Ed Groff. “At the time his parents were Church of the Brethren missionaries in Nigeria. Steve remembers a couple of British cyclists that rode into town that year, providing the spark for an idea that would linger until he made the trip himself last winter.” Cayford is a graduate of the University of La Verne and a member of Portland’s Peace Church of the Brethren. Cayford shared his photos from the trip with Brethren Voices for this program, they may be viewed at . In May, Brethren Voices will feature Annual Conference moderator Bob Krouse, who discusses his life in the Church of the Brethren and some of the plans for the 2013 Conference. For copies of Brethren Voices, contact Ed Groff at .
  • Heeding God’s Call has announced a “Pre-Mother’s Day Rally and March Against Gun Violence” from Trenton, N.J., to Morrisville, Pa., on May 11. “Join us to make a public statement to support universal background checks and sensible gun laws,” said the announcement. The event starts  Saturday, May 11, at 2 p.m. with a rally at First Baptist Church in Trenton, will march over the bridge to Morrisville, where another rally will be held at Williamson Park. Speakers include Michael Pohle, whose son was killed at Virginia Tech. The announcement warned that counter protesters are expected and “they will likely be carrying guns openly.” Police will be present to handle any disorderly conduct that may occur. For more information contact or 267-519-5302.
  • Chet Thomas, executive director of Proyecto Aldea Global (PAG) in Honduras, continues to appeal for donation of hay binder units to help power ferry boats that carry people and goods across a large dammed lake in an area where PAG works. Volunteers built the first ferry in 2000, "Miss Pamela," installing using motorized hay binders to power it. The system has worked for 12 years, with supervision from PAG. The original hay binder units are now in need of replacement. Thomas states, "Almost any hay binder can be adapted by us for use on the ferry." Once donated, PAG staff will prepare units for shipment to Honduras. Contact or 305-433-2947.
  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and other groups working in Israel and Palestine have issued a report documenting “an alarming rate of abuse of the rights of children,” particularly Palestinian children in Hebron. “Human rights workers in H2, the portion of Hebron under Israeli military control, have witnessed 47 detentions or arrests of children age 15 and under by soldiers since the start of February,” said a CPT release. “Other violations...include conducting war training when children are present, delaying children and teachers as they pass checkpoints to access schools, detaining children in adult facilities, questioning children without the presence of an adult, and blindfolding children in detention.” The report is online at .
Source: 5/3/2013 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 Anna Emrick, Kathy L. Gilbert, Ed Groff, Terry Grove, Mary Kay Heatwole, Philip E. Jenks, Herman Kauffman, Amy Mountain, Glen Sargent, Roy Winter, Rachel Witkovsky, Jane Yount, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.