Friday, October 25, 2013

Newsline: October 25, 2013


Mission and Ministry Board adopts 2014 budget, revision of Ministerial Leadership Polity, recommendation on equitable representation.

A budget for denominational ministries in 2014 and responses to items of business sent back by Annual Conference--the Ministerial Leadership document and a query on equitable representation--were high on the agenda of the Mission and Ministry Board at its fall meeting Oct. 18-21. The meeting was chaired by Becky Ball Miller. (Find a photo album from the Mission and Ministry Board’s fall meeting at

Also on the agenda were a review of the organization’s strategic plan, changes to financial policies, capital proposals, discussion of the future of the Brethren Service Center, a celebration of the Gather ’Round curriculum, discussion of expanding the Annual Conference delegate travel stipend, resolution of issues related to terms of board members, and reports--among others a report from National Older Adult Conference and plans for the 2014 National Youth Conference.

A class from Bethany Theological Seminary attended and led the Sunday morning worship service. At the close of the meeting, an afternoon workshop sponsored by Congregational Life Ministries was led by David Fitch, B.R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary in Chicago.

Janet Elsea holds up sticky notes during an exercise in which board members aided staff in assessing results of the strategic plan
Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
“By and large there’s hope on every one of these doors for us to be ‘strangers no more.’” -- Janet Elsea, a Mission and Ministry Board member, commenting on how intercultural ministry is increasingly part of various ministries of the denomination. Her comment came during an exercise to assess the Strategic Plan and its six goal areas--Brethren voice, vitality, service, mission, planting, and sustainability. Each goal was represented by a door, and participants wrote sticky notes to place on the doors showing how the goals are being carried out in the church.
The Mission and Ministry Board adopted a revision to the Ministerial Leadership Polity document, after the 2013 Annual Conference returned it with instruction for certain changes. Once adopted the document will represent a major revision to Church of the Brethren polity for ministers. It was presented to the Conference in early July.

The new revision was presented to the board by Mary Jo Flory-Steury, associate general secretary and executive of the Ministry Office. The revision was prepared by the Ministry Advisory Council after conversations with key groups in the denomination including representatives of the plural non-salaried ministry (free ministry) and the Intercultural Advisory Committee. In all, the Ministry Advisory Council has been working on the revision of the document for about seven years.

Numerous revisions respond to Annual Conference concerns in several areas: integration of plural non-salaried ministry (free ministry) into the document, guidelines for the make-up of “calling cohorts” for ministry candidates, a process for commissioned ministers to be ordained and a process for change of call for commissioned ministers, and intentional conversation with ethnic congregations about how the document will affect ministers in their contexts.

The board received the report of the revisions with appreciation, focusing particularly on the guidelines for makeup of calling cohorts. The board made one significant change, to state that calling cohorts “will include” an ordained mentor appointed by the District Ministry Commission. With that change the document received approval from the board, and will be brought back to the 2014 Annual Conference.

General secretary Stan Noffsinger gives closing comments to the Mission and Ministry Board at the end of the fall 2013 meeting
Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
“We live so intimately with our culture that we grow comfortable, not recognizing the consequences.... Baptism is a radical act of civil disobedience. It marks the clear shift of allegiance from a nation state to our God.” -- General secretary Stan Noffsinger in his closing remarks to the Mission and Ministry Board.
The board approved a total budget of $8,033,860 income, $8,037,110 expense, for all Church of the Brethren ministries in 2014. Those figures include a Core Ministries balanced budget of $4,915,000 for next year, as well as separate budgets for the “self funding” units of Brethren Disaster Ministries, Brethren Press, Conference Office, Global Food Crisis, Material Resources, and Messenger.

The 2014 budget reflects one-time use of funds from the Gahagan Trust for youth and children’s ministries to support the planning for National Youth Conference and curriculum development by Brethren Press, among other youth and children’s ministries. The budget includes a cost of living increase for employee salaries of 2 percent, and continuing employer contributions to employees’ Health Savings Accounts.

Changes to financial policies

The board approved a new Gift Acceptance Policy to help staff evaluate proposed gifts to the church’s ministries, and to set up a committee that reviews proposals for large gifts.

The board also followed up on previous board critique of the practice of charging interest on interfund borrowing within departments of the denomination, and acted to end the practice and delete the section on interfund borrowing from the financial policies.

Capital proposals

Two capital proposals were approved by the board. A proposal for use of up to $125,000 was approved for renovation to the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., to create a handicapped accessible entrance to the building and to renovate two bathrooms to make them handicapped accessible. Funds for the project were raised in a campaign that was carried out some years ago.

A capital proposal for a new database including software, technical support, and design consultation, was approved to the amount of up to $329,000. A “phase two” of the project may require a small amount of additional funding in future years. The money for the project will come from funds set aside in the Building and Equipment Fund for the General Offices.

Samuel Sarpiya preaches for the Mission and Ministry Board Sunday morning worship service
Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
“What will the neighborhood look like if all the violence and the crime we read about ceases to exist? ...That’s what it means when Jesus moves into the neighborhood, lives are transformed.” -- Samuel Sarpiya, Rockford, Ill., pastor who attended the Mission and Ministry Board meeting with a class of Bethany Seminary students. He was one of two students who gave homilies for Sunday morning worship, along with Tara Shepherd. The seminarians planned and led worship centered on the meeting theme “Jesus Moved into the Neighborhood” (John 1:14, The Message).
After lengthy discussion, and review of suggestions and responses from the table talk at Annual Cnference 2013, the board decided to recommend to the 2014 Annual Conference that no change be made in the process for selecting members of the Mission and Ministry Board.

Several board members and staff expressed trust that the current system works effectively to ensure equitable representation from the various areas of the denomination.

The query that originated in Southern Pennsylvania District was directed to the Mission and Ministry Board by Annual Conference in 2012. However the board’s proposed amendments to the bylaws to respond to the concerns of the query did not receive enough votes from the 2013 Conference, so the business was returned to the board for further work.

Board member terms

The board acted on a by law change that clarified the intention to fill the unexpired term of a board member named chair elect, which requires a separate term of service.

The moving of a board member into the chair elect position has in recent years caused a complex and unequal staggering of terms on the board. The board approved a leadership team proposal that will bring about consistent number of new members on the board each year.

Trent Smith leads the Mission and Ministry Board's closing worship, fall 2013
Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
“When we come together as the body of Christ our hearts begin to beat as one.... So it is that in these gatherings the space becomes holy ground.” -- Board member Trent Smith, preaching for the closing service of the Mission and Ministry Board’s fall 2013 meeting.
The fall meeting included a discussion of the Brethren Service Center, located in New Windsor, Md. The conversation followed up on a decision made by the Mission and Ministry Board at the summer meeting on June 29, authorizing staff to pursue all options for the property, up to and including receiving letters of intent.

In June the board received a brief update on the situation of the Brethren Service Center following the closing of the New Windsor Conference Center, and heard that staff have been working hard to seek options for the use of two of the main buildings on the campus that are not being fully utilized, including meeting with county officials and real estate consultants.

At this meeting, general secretary Stan Noffsinger gave more background information and reviewed the studies of the denominational properties that began in 2005 and included an intensive study of the Brethren Service Center by the board-appointed Stewardship of Property Committee, which was followed by another committee that looked at ministry options for the property in New Windsor. After the economic downturn that started in 2008 adversely affected the New Windsor Conference Center, the board subsequently decided to close the conference center. Since then staff have continued the search for options for use of the property while monitoring the costs of having some large buildings mostly vacant, and having conversation with other agencies that use center facilities.

“There has been exhaustive work by your staff and people who love the center to find ways to utilize the center,” Noffsinger told the board. He asked the board’s help to discern “how to approach the heart side of this conversation with the church,” noting that the property is not on the market but staff need to be prepared “if and when a bona fide offer comes.” He emphasized that if concerned church members came up with a solution it would be considered, although he warned that upgrade and renovation costs might come to around $10 million.

Several rounds of small group “table talk” followed. Board members, staff, and guests including the class of Bethany Seminary students who were at the meeting, responded to questions including “Identify what has been the essence of the legacy of the Brethren Service Center?” and “Who do we need to engage in similar conversations to identify the holy memories to carry forward?”

The staff hope for a time for similar small group conversations during “table talk” time at the 2014 Annual Conference, Noffsinger said. In the next few months, the Inter Agency Forum and the Council of District Executives’ annual retreat are also possible venues for conversation about the Brethren Service Center.

Wendy McFadden and Anna Speicher lead the board in a celebration of Gather 'Round
Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
“To give up on publishing our own material for our church members is to give up on the Church of the Brethren.” -- Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden, reviewing the history of the Gather ’Round Sunday school curriculum, which is in its concluding eighth year of publication and was celebrated at the Mission and Ministry Board’s fall meeting. She is at the podium with Gather 'Round project director and senior editor Anna Speicher. Shine, the follow up curriculum to Gather ’Round, will be available beginning next fall. Find out more at .
A review of the organization’s Strategic Plan and the six goal areas for the work of the board and staff was led by the executive staff. Stories were told about successes in each area, and continuing work. Then the group was led in an exercise to affirm what people were seeing happening in each area of emphasis.

In a celebration of the Gather ’Round curriculum jointly produced by Brethren Press and MennoMedia, the board saw a presentation highlighting the accumulation of Christian education resources produced by the curriculum staff over the eight years of Gather ’Round. The board expressed appreciation for the work of project director and senior editor Anna Speicher, managing editor Cyndi Fecher, and editorial assistant Roseanne Segovia, who are completing the work and concluding their employment this year.

The board’s Audit and Investment Committee report included the information that the investments managed for the denomination by the Brethren Foundation have increased in value by more than $1.5 million since the end of 2012. The value of the investments now totals more than $26 million.

The Executive Committee of the board approved a proposal for a grant of $47,500 from the David J. And Mary Elizabeth Wieand Trust to fund a new web platform for the sharing of worship resources.

Board member Jonathan Prater was named to the Board Development Committee.

Find a photo album from the Mission and Ministry Board’s fall meeting at

Source: 10/25/2013 Newsline

Getting the best value for your Medicare Part D dollars.

By Kim Ebersole, director of Older Adult Ministry

Did you know that you might be paying more for your medications than you need to if you have Medicare Part D coverage for your prescription drugs? The Medicare website offers tools to help you choose the best plan for your medication needs during open enrollment, now through Dec. 7. By entering your medications, you can see the annual cost for all the plans in your area. You may be surprised by what you find.

There are more things to consider when choosing a Part D plan than just the monthly premium. The price you will pay for your medications can vary significantly from plan to plan, so you need to consider the total cost--premiums plus the price of prescriptions--when making your decision. It is especially important to make sure all your medications are on the formulary (list of drugs covered) for the plan you choose. If they are not, you may pay full price for those drugs, which can make your cost go up significantly.

A test comparison between Part D plans for three medications that treat health conditions older adults often experience--high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and acid reflux--found the annual cost for those medications and the plan premiums ranged from $443 to $1,905 at a retail pharmacy, and from $151 to $2,066 for mail order. That is a significant price difference for the same three medications. It pays to do some checking before signing up to ensure you are getting the best value for your money.

Whether you are signing up for Part D coverage for the first time or deciding whether to stay with your current plan or switch to another during the open enrollment period, the Medicare website makes it easy to check to see what your total annual costs through Part D insurers will be based on your current medications. Not computer savvy? Call Medicare at 800-633-MEDICARE (800-633-4227) for assistance and to sign up.
  • Enter your ZIP code and click on “Find plans.”
  • Answer the questions about your current Medicare coverage and click on “Continue to plan results.”
  • Follow the directions to enter your drugs. When you have entered all of them, click on “My drug list is complete.”
  • Select your pharmacies and click “Continue to plan results.”
  • Select “Prescription drug plans (with Original Medicare)” and click on “Continue to plan results.”
  • Check to make sure you are viewing 2014 plan data. Scroll down to see Prescription Drug Plans. Click on “View 50” to see more plans on your screen.
  • Choose “Lowest estimated annual retail drug cost” to sort results, then click “Sort” button.
  • Scroll down the list. The annual prices of both retail pharmacy and mail order are in the left-hand column.
  • You can click on individual plans to see more information about coverage and costs with that plan. You also can select up to three plans at a time to compare pricing by checking the box next to the plans and clicking on “Compare plans.”
  • If you decide to remain with your current 2013 plan for 2014, you do not need to do anything. If you wish to switch plans during the open enrollment period (Oct. 15-Dec. 7), you can enroll online by selecting the plan and clicking on “Enroll” or you can enroll by phone with the number provided by the plan.
  • The tools can also be used when you sign up for Part D for the first time.
It pays to make sure you are spending your healthcare dollars wisely. Choosing the plan that covers your medication needs at a lower annual expense will help you be a good steward of your resources.

--Kim Ebersole is director of Older Adult Ministry for the Church of the Brethren.

Source: 10/25/2013 Newsline

Webinar on short-term mission trips takes place Nov. 5.

A webinar on short-term mission trips will help address the question, what are the advantages and struggles? The online event on  Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. central time (8 p.m. eastern) will be led by Emily Tyler, the Church of the Brethren’s coordinator of Workcamps and Volunteer Recruitment, and is one of a series of webinars focused on youth ministry

Additionally, participants will talk through what to expect of youth, and what might be expected of adult advisors of youth, when participating in such trips.

A .1 continuing education credit is available for ministers who participate in the real-time event. Credit cannot be obtained for watching the recording after the webinar takes place. To request credit contact Rebekah Houff at prior to the webinar.

To join the webinar on Nov. 5, dial 877-204-3718 (toll free) and enter access code 8946766. After joining the audio portion, join the video portion by logging in to

A third webinar in this series focused on youth ministry is planned for Jan. 21, 2014, when Rebekah Houff will lead a discussion on call and gifts discernment. For more information contact Youth and Young Adult Ministry director Becky Ullom Naugle at 847-429-4385.

In related news, Congregational Life Ministries has rescheduled the webinar "Pioneers--Embracing the Unknown," which was to take place Oct. 24. The webinar led by Juliet Kilpin is rescheduled for Thursday, Nov. 7, at 2:30 p.m. (eastern time). Registration for the free webinar remains open at

Source: 10/25/2013 Newsline

Booz, Cassell, and Hosler named as consultants for the next year.

Three people have been named as consultants for various ministry areas of the Church of the Brethren, in an announcement from the human resources department. Donald R. Booz will serve as a consultant to the Office of Ministry; Dana Cassell will continue as contract staff for Ministry Formation; and Jennifer Hosler has been contracted to work on a writing project for Congregational Life Ministries.

Booz, who is retiring as district executive minister of Pacific Southwest District, will begin Jan. 1 as a consultant to the Office of Ministry for district ministry support for the year 2014. He will conduct a review, evaluation, and update for the Readiness for Ministry Program. The review will be conducted in partnership with the Council of District Executives through its Ministry Issues Committee, Bethany Theological Seminary, and the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. He also will assist with orientation and coaching of new district executive staff, and assist with revising and finalizing credentialing interview guides.

Cassell, who is minister of Youth Formation at Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren, continues her work as contract staff for Ministry Formation through 2014. On behalf of the Office of Ministry, her work includes coordination of the 2014 Clergy Women’s Retreat and a newly formed Minister’s Manual development task team, interpretation and resource development for the Ministerial Leadership Polity paper, coordination planning for Ministry Summer Service, and resource development for sustaining ministerial leadership.

Hosler is one of the ministers and an outreach coordinator at Washington (D.C.) City Church of the Brethren. She has been contracted to work on a Stories from the Cities project of Congregational Life Ministries, beginning this month through Jan. 2015. The goal of the project is to help urban congregations share their unique stories with the denomination, in order to increase awareness of Church of the Brethren urban churches, foster increased interest in urban ministries, and help others learn from the unique contexts that city churches face. She has a background in community research and biblical and theological studies, and previously was a peace and reconciliation worker with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) working through Global Mission and Service.

Source: 10/25/2013 Newsline

WCC general secretary speaks about hopes for the council’s 10th assembly.

World Council of Churches general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
World Council of Churches general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit
By the WCC news service

The 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) begins at the end of October and promises to be one of the most diverse gathering of Christians in the world. The assembly will be an opportunity for renewing the worldwide ecumenical movement--infusing it with honesty, humility, and hope, according to the WCC general secretary.

As to why this is the case, Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary and a Lutheran pastor from the Church of Norway, says it is “through humility, honesty, and hope that we can live together as humanity and a church in a world, where justice and peace are fundamental initiatives and not merely words.”

The theme of the WCC assembly is a prayer: “God of Life, Lead Us to Justice and Peace.” The assembly will take place from Oct. 30 to Nov. 8 in Busan, Republic of Korea (South Korea). It will bring around 3,000 participants from Asia, Pacific, Africa, Europe, Middle East, North America, and Latin America, including a large number of young people and several thousand Korean Christians.

In the assembly, Tveit finds the foundation of his hopes in the legacy of the WCC, which began in 1948 and has continued during the past 65 years. The member churches, Tveit says, will be harvesting fruits of the work of the WCC since the last WCC assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2006, while setting directions for a new ecumenical vision for the future. There are 345 member churches in the WCC and all but a few will be represented at the assembly.

Tveit expects the WCC assembly to be an opportunity of learning. “Churches will engage in open and accountable conversations,” he said, about issues important to the church today such as mission and evangelism, faith and order, justice, peace, and unity. This dialogue is significant for the WCC assembly as “justice and peace imply effectively addressing core values of the kingdom of God, the will of God, the creator,” he says.

The proposal made by the outgoing WCC Central Committee that the assembly initiates a pilgrimage of justice and peace can unite Christians in a unique way, according to Tveit. This aspect, he says, also is echoed in the call from Pope Francis in which he has proclaimed that the church is here to serve, for justice and peace.

“This call makes us look beyond our boundaries and limitations journeying towards being a church together. The assembly will bring a realization of what we have received. But, we are not finished with our tasks and we have to continue our work and prayers for Christian unity.”

The WCC assembly will feature varied spiritual expressions from churches around the world. The participants will share these reflections of Christian unity through worship, Bible study, and prayer.

Having the assembly in South Korea is significant, Tveit says. “The assembly will be a place for the global fellowship of the churches to express solidarity with the Korean churches, which have suffered separations and had been calling for the reunification of the divided Korean peninsula,” he said.

Simultaneously, Asia being one of the areas of rising economies in the world, Tveit sees a great potential for the assembly to provide a critical and hopeful voice in the reality of globalization and a development paradigm that needs to change to be just and sustainable. “The WCC assembly for the churches is a place to strengthen a deeper understanding of the Asian contexts through sharing, caring, and dialogue,” he said.

“Praying that this is an assembly where we all meet the God of life, we also look forward to move forward together in a pilgrimage for justice and peace,” he concluded.

The first WCC Assembly took place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1948. Since then assemblies have been in held in Evanston, in the United States, in 1954; New Delhi, India, in 1961; Uppsala, Sweden, in 1968; Nairobi, Kenya, in 1975; Vancouver, Canada, in 1983; Canberra, Australia, in 1991; Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1998; and Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2006.

Find out more at the website of the WCC 10th Assembly:

Source: 10/25/2013 Newsline

Divided Korean peninsula is steeped in decades of pain and sadness.

By the communications staff of the World Council of Churches
The distance between the North Korean and South Korean sides of the demarcation line (DMZ) near Panmunjom can be measured in a few meters.

Yet for Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, this short distance fails to mask a deeper and wider divide steeped in decades of pain and sadness experienced by the Korean people.

While visiting the North Korean side of the DMZ recently, Tveit said, "The pain of separation felt by Koreans on both sides of the border is hard to ignore and escape. They are a divided people, divided families, longing for peace and justice and to be reunited."

"Our objectives (in the WCC) are to work toward this peace and reunification," Tveit said following a visit to the North during which he met with newly appointed church leaders of the Korean Christian Federation (KFC) and leaders of the North Korean government.

Tveit was accompanied on the five-day trip, Sept. 21-25, by Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima, from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and Mathews George Chunakara, director of the WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs.

The group visited the KCF’s Theological Seminary and construction site of the Chigol Church, a church in North Korea’s capital city, Pyongyang. They participated in the Sunday worship service at the Bongsang Church in Pyongyang, and a house church meeting.

The visit came one month before the WCC holds its 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea (South Korea), from Oct. 30-Nov. 8.

During meetings with the KCF chairman, Kang Myung Chul, and Ri Jong Ro, the KCF’s vice chairman and director of International Relations, discussions included the potential of holding talks in Geneva early in 2014 between church leaders from North and South Korea.

The idea of the Geneva talks was well received during an hour-long meeting in Pyongyang with Kim Yong-nam, president, Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea.

Tveit reiterated to Kim Yong-nam the WCC’s commitment to work for a peaceful reunification of divided Korea, saying the upcoming WCC assembly will be “an opportunity to pray and encourage the attention of the international community, to work for renewed support and understanding of the WCC role for creating dialogue for reunification in the Korean peninsula.”

This is not the first time the WCC has convened talks between church leaders of North and South Korea. The WCC has been engaged in facilitating talks between churches in North and South Korea since its Tozanso process was initiated in 1984. But with new leadership in the KCF and the North Korean government, and a new president in South Korea, there is hope the churches in North and South Korea, as well as others within the WCC membership, will have a more pronounced impact on moving reunification forward.

The issue of the divided Korea and reunification will be on the agenda at the WCC Assembly with plans for a statement on peace and reunification of the Korean peninsula to be adopted by the assembly.

Source: 10/25/2013 Newsline

Christian activists pray and fast to protest nuclear dangers in Busan and beyond.

By the WCC news service

In preparation for the World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea (South Korea), pastors and peace activists are holding a 40-day “fasting prayer” in front of the Busan City Hall. They are protesting the dangers of nuclear radiation and asking to shut down South Korea’s oldest and incident-prone Kori Nuclear Power Plant, some 20 kilometres from the venue of the WCC Assembly.

The 35-year-old Kori Nuclear Power Plant has broken down 120 times. There are 3.4 million people living within 30 kilometres of the Kori Power Plant. Local residents fear a meltdown, mindful of the disasters at Fukushima in Japan and Chernobyl in Ukraine.

South Korea has the highest geographic density of nuclear power plants in the world. Korean Christians participating in the fasting prayer want to remind the world’s Christians that the WCC Assembly is taking place in the most dangerous part of the world in terms of threats from nuclear power plants and from the nuclear stand-off involving four countries with nuclear weapons--United Sates, Russia, China, and North Korea.

The protesters are asking the WCC Assembly to tackle the issue of nuclear weapons and power generation as central to the proposed “ecumenical pilgrimage of justice and peace.”

One of the Busan prayers repents for having “stopped our ears to the dangers of nuclear power generation despite the warning from Fukushima.” Another asks that all Christians “abandon the great catastrophe of nuclear weapons and power plants” and “walk together toward the path of peace” instead.

The 40 day fasting prayer began on Sept. 30 and will end on Nov. 8, the last day of the WCC Assembly.

Busan lies just across a strait from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Massive quantities of radioactive water are still seeping into the ocean from the stricken Fukushima plant each day.

Prayers of the Korean ministers and peace activists:

We repent that our lives that have caused catastrophic problems for the ecology and have threatened the survival of all humankind by indiscreet use of nuclear energy;

We repent that we have turned blind eyes and stopped our ears to the dangers of nuclear power generation despite the warning from Fukushima;

We pray that we can turn from the road to nuclear power generation which can be disastrous to ecology and humanity;

We pray that a world of peace is realized and the dignity of life is protected as we convert nuclear energy into renewable natural energy;

We pray that the world's Christians may abandon the great catastrophe of nuclear weapons and power plants and instead walk together toward the path of peace for all.

Source: 10/25/2013 Newsline

Peace Train takes a journey towards reunification of the Koreas.

By the WCC news service

A Peace Train recently started its journey from Berlin, Germany, through Russia and China, to northeast Asia and the World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea (South Korea).

The train, which aims to raise awareness about the 60-year division of the Korean Peninsula, will travel through Moscow, Irkutsk, Beijing, Pyongyang and Seoul, and will finally arrive in Busan around the beginning of the assembly. The Peace Train is a project of the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) and the Korean Host Committee for the WCC assembly.

Some 130 people from around the world are travelling on the Peace Train and include church and civil society representatives. They will arrive in Busan on Oct. 28 and share their experiences at the WCC assembly. The train will highlight the importance of achieving peace on the Korean peninsula, cooperating with the churches of those countries which participated in the division of the Korean peninsula in 1953.

As part of this project, a seminar on “Religious Communities for Justice and Peace” has been organized in Moscow, the second stop of the Peace Train. The event was held in collaboration with the Russian Orthodox Church on Oct. 11.

WCC staff including Guillermo Kerber, program executive for Care for Creation and Climate Justice, and Mathews George Chunakara, director of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, addressed the seminar. Kerber expressed “heartfelt appreciation” on behalf of the WCC for the efforts of the NCCK and the Korean Host Committee in coordinating the Peace Train project. He said, “Being confronted by overwhelming crises, churches and religious communities must overcome their divisions, speak out, and react as an expression of their commitment to life, peace, justice, and love.”

“A pilgrimage is always a transformative experience. May the Peace Train transform your lives, our lives, the lives of all of those going to the assembly,” Kerber added.

Catherine Christie from the NCCK and the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, herself a traveller on the Peace Train, shared how Bible studies and discussions during the journey are a transformative experience. She said that many people in our world “suffer because of the corporate sin in our world--suffer from militarism, national hostilities.

“This group, made up of people from some African nations, India, Korea, European nations, Australia, New Zealand, North America, and Brazil,” creates “a variety of perspectives and wisdom,” added Christie.

In Berlin, where the Peace Train commenced its journey, several programs were organized by the German churches. One of these was a Peace Candlelight Prayer Vigil which took place in front of the Brandenburg Gate on Oct. 7. Among the speakers were Konrad Raiser and Kim Young Ju. Around 120 people from 15 countries participated in the event.

Find out more at the Peace Train website The website of the WCC 10th Assembly is

Source: 10/25/2013 Newsline

‘Thursdays in Black’ shows zero tolerance for violence against women.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is working to revive “Thursdays in Black,” a campaign against sexual and gender-based violence. The emphasis is pertinent to the theme of the WCC’s upcoming assembly: “God of Life, Lead Us to Justice and Peace.”

On Oct. 31, during the assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea (South Korea), participants will be encouraged to wear black and through this simple gesture, to be part of a global movement urging an end to violence against women.

Thursdays in Black was started by the WCC in the 1980s as a form of peaceful protest against rape and violence--especially taking place during wars and conflicts. The campaign focuses on ways through which individuals may challenge attitudes that cause rape and violence.

“Thursdays in Black,” according to Fulata Mbano-Moyo, WCC program executive for Women in Church and Society, is a “united global expression of the desire for safe communities where we can all walk safely without fear of being raped, shot at, beaten up, verbally abused, and discriminated against due to one’s gender or sexual orientation.

“Through this campaign we want to accompany our sisters, who bear the scars of violence, invisible and visible, in Syria, Palestine and Israel, Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, and the whole world, where women’s bodies remain a battlefield, whether in armed conflict or so-called ‘peaceful’ situations,” adds Mbano-Moyo.

“Through this campaign we are demanding a world free of rape and violence!”

The Thursdays in Black campaign is significant for the women and men’s pre-assembly events in Busan, where issues related to violence against women will be in focus, instigating varied reflections from theological, ethical, legal, spiritual, social, and political perspectives. The pre-assembly programs take place on Oct. 28-29.

Thursdays in Black has influenced several church and ecumenical initiatives in the 1970s and 1980s, including the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women. The campaign was further strengthened by the “Women in Black” campaign born out of women-to-women solidarity visits to Serbia and Croatia during the Balkan war in the 1990s. Through this initiative, Serbian women called people to join them in speaking against the use of rape as a weapon of war.

Thursday in Black also has a link with Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a movement of mothers who protested against the policy of having dissidents "disappeared"--a term used to describe people killed during the political violence in Argentina between the 1970s and 1980s. These mothers walked around Plazo de Mayo in Buenos Aires every Thursday to register their protest.

The Thursdays in Black campaign is currently observed in South Africa by the Diakonia Council of Churches and the Christian AIDS Bureau of Southern Africa, ecumenical partners of the WCC’s project Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa and the International Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV or AIDS.

The WCC will continue to work with its partner organizations to revive the Thursdays in Black campaign. Partners include CABSA, We Will Speak Out Coalition, Lutheran World Federation, Fellowship of the Least Coin, United Methodist Women, and the World YWCA, among others.

Find out more about the WCC program on Women in Church and Society at

Source: 10/25/2013 Newsline

The WCC Assembly by the numbers.

Home page image for WCC 10th Assembly in Busan, South Korea, 2013 By Ka Hyun MacKenzie Shin and Roddy MacKenzie

The WCC Assembly in South Korea will be the largest and most diverse gathering of Christians ever. What will happen in Korea will be a unique moment in the worldwide Christian ecumenical movement. Those coming to Korea for this extraordinary gathering include:

1,000 official delegates from 90 percent of the WCC's

345 Christian denominations in 110 countries

575 representatives of non-WCC member Christian churches and other guests

1,000 Korean host volunteers

1,000 international assembly participants including hundreds of young people

150 stewards recruited from worldwide, young people between the ages of 18 and 30 who will give their time and energy to assist the assembly in its work

300 WCC staff and "co-opted staff" invited to assist with various tasks at the assembly

130 international accredited media including several hundred Korean media

180 students and faculty from the Global Ecumenical Theological Institute plus students and faculty of the Korean Ecumenical Theological Institute

30 minutes of Daily Morning Prayers commencing each day at 8:30 a.m. followed by 30 minutes of Bible study

30 minutes of Daily Evening Prayers to conclude each 12-hour fully packed day from 8 to 8:30 p.m., followed by Confessional Evening Prayers and Vesper Services of the various member denominations

-- From a release by Ka Hyun MacKenzie Shin of St. Stephen the Martyr Anglican Church in Vancouver, Canada, and Roddy MacKenzie, communications volunteer at the WCC Assembly.

Source: 10/25/2013 Newsline

Brethren bits.

  • Remembrance: Ruth Christ Baugher, 95, the widow of former Church of the Brethren general secretary Norman Baugher, died on Oct. 15 at Hillcrest Homes in La Verne, Calif. She had lived at Hillcrest Homes since 1985. Her husband became general secretary of the former General Board in 1952, and died in 1968. During that time she lived in Elgin, Ill., and after her husband’s death she held secretarial positions in several places including the denomination’s General Offices. She was a member of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., for some 33 years prior to moving to southern California. Two sons, four grandsons, and several great grandchildren survive her. A memorial service will be held on Nov. 22 at Hillcrest Homes.
  • 2014-retreat-logoThe cost to attend the 2014 Church of the Brethren Clergy Women’s Retreat go up on Nov. 1. The retreat takes place Jan. 13-16 at the Serra Retreat Center in Malibu, Calif. “Hand in Hand, Heart to Heart: On the Journey Together” is the theme. Leading the retreat will be Melissa Wiginton, vice president for Education Beyond the Walls at Austin Seminary. The scriptural focus is Philippians 1:3-11 (CEB), “I keep you in my heart. You are all my partners in God’s grace.” For online registration and more information go to .
  • Mt. Zion Church of the Brethren in Luray, Va., is hosting Steve Mason, director of the Brethren Foundation Inc., for a discussion of investment opportunities for churches and individuals on Sunday, Nov. 10, at 3 p.m.
  • Happy Corner Church of the Brethren in Clayton, Ohio, is hosting a Ted and Company performance of “Peace, Pies, and Prophets” with a pie auction benefiting Christian Peacemaker Teams. The Nov. 23 event centers around a performance of “I’d Like to Buy an Enemy” starring Ted Swartz and Tim Ruebke, and starts at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $10.
  • The Gathering 2013, a headline event in Western Plains District, takes place Nov. 1-3 in Salina, Kan. “What Now?! Where Next?!” is the theme, inspired by Luke 24:13-35, in which disciples encounter the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus. “The prayer is that our Gathering will inspire us in a new way, also, as we continue to journey with Jesus,” said an announcement from the district. Speakers include Annual Conference moderator Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, and Jeff Carter, president of Bethany Theological Seminary. More information is at .
  • The Congregational Care Advisory Team in Shenandoah District is sponsoring a seminar titled "Worship God's Way: Biblical Models of Worship," on Nov. 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Mt. Pleasant Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg, Va. Leah J. Hileman, pianist for the 2008 Annual Conference and music coordinator for the 2010 Annual Conference, will be the seminar leader. She is the author of more than 250 songs and has written, recorded, and produced four Christian pop albums. Cost is $15 and 0.5 continuing education units are available to minister for an additional $10. Registration is due by Nov. 6. Go to .
  • Also in Shenandoah District, a Brethren Heritage Tour is being organized for the weekend of Jan. 17-19, 2014. The tour will take a bus to Pennsylvania to visit the Ephrata Cloisters, the Moravian settlement, and the Germantown area, among other places with special significance to Brethren, said the district newsletter. The event is being planned by the Pastoral Support Committee of the Shenandoah District Ministerial Leadership Team. Tour leaders will be Jeff Bach, director of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, and Jim Miller, retired district executive of Shenandoah District. Cost is $140 per person for double occupancy and includes two nights' lodging, admission to tour sites, and chartered bus transportation from Bridgewater, Va. Participants will be responsible for meals and tips or gratuities. Contact the district office at or 540-234-8555.
  • Illinois and Wisconsin District Conference will be Nov. 1-2 at Mt Morris (Ill.) Church of the Brethren, assisted by Pinecrest Community, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Mt. Morris. Mark Flory Steury will serve as moderator, leading the conference on the theme, “Renew” (Romans 12:2). The Friday evening speaker will be Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries.
  • Shenandoah District Conference will be Nov. 1-2 on the theme, “Living the Gospel,” at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren led by moderator Glenn Bollinger. Former Annual Conference moderator Tim Harvey will bring the opening message on Friday evening, with music by a choir singing under the direction of Jesse E. Hopkins, professor emeritus of music at Bridgewater College. The evening includes a district-wide Love Feast as spiritual preparation for business sessions. In advance of the conference, the district newsletter invited congregations to share Love Feast traditions such as who makes the communion bread, a treasured recipe, how children participate, the menu for the meal, and more. “Based on some recent informal conversations, it seems we have a wide range of traditions just here in our district,” said the newsletter. “Let us hear your voice.”
  • Pacific Southwest District is holding its 50th District Conference on Nov. 8-10 in Scottsdale, Ariz., at the Franciscan Renewal Center. “Our meeting comes at a time of challenge to the Brethren and indeed to almost all Christian denominations,” said an invitation from moderator Jim LeFever, “but also at a time when a variety of bright sparks show hope in many directions. Let us join in thinking, discussion and prayer as we take up the work of our faith in the West and beyond.” Prior to the conference, an all-ministers education event will be held Nov. 7-8 with leadership by James Benedict on the topic “Community Centered Authority: Biblical, Theological, and Historical Foundations.” Find out more at
  • Virlina District Conference is Nov. 8-9 at Greene Memorial United Methodist Church in Roanoke, Va., on the theme, “Come Near to God and He Will Come Near to You” (James 4:7-8a). Moderator Frances S. Beam is encouraging each individual and congregation, and every camper who participates at Camp Bethel, to write a letter about their experiences of the nearness of God. The letters will be displayed at the district conference and incorporated into the worship and business sessions. Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, moderator of the 2014 Annual Conference, will preach for Friday and Saturday worship.
  • The Camp Harmony Pig Roast is Sunday, Oct. 27, from 12 noon-2 p.m. Ticket prices are adults $10, children age 6-12 $5, under age 6 is free. The camp is located near Hooversville, Pa. For more information go to .
  • The Fall Lecture at CrossRoads, the Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in Virginia, will feature Bob Gross, director of development at On Earth Peace, sharing experiences from the 3,000 Miles for Peace campaign. The lecture takes place at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 3, at Montezuma Church of the Brethren in Dayton, Va.
  • 26407.jpgPeacemaker Shane Claiborne will speak at Bridgewater (Va.) College’s Fall Spiritual Focus. “Shane Claiborne’s adventures have taken him from the streets of Calcutta, where he worked with Mother Teresa, to an internship at Willow Creek, a mega-church in the suburbs of Chicago,” said a release. Claiborne also has worked with Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq, and is a founder and leader of the Simple Way faith community in inner-city Philadelphia. His books include “Jesus for President,” “Red Letter Revolution,” “Common Prayer,” “Follow Me to Freedom,” “Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers,” and “The Irresistible Revolution.” He will be speaking at Bridgewater on Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m., in the Carter Center for Worship and Music. A reception will follow. The program is free and open to the public.
  • Herb Smith, McPherson (Kan.) College professor of Philosophy and Religion, is organizing a study trip to China on Jan. 14-24, 2014. “As the Pacific Century is now upon us, we will venture forth to explore the Dragon Kingdom, ancient and contemporary China,” said an announcement. “Besides the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, Ming Dynasty Tombs, Terra Cotta Soldiers Tomb, other cultural treats await us.” The trip will include riding on a bullet train, dinner cruise in Shanghai, as well as study of the religions of the Middle Kingdom. For brochures and more information contact or 620-242-0533.
  • “Learn Martin Luther King Jr.’s principles of nonviolence from a Palestinian Christian!” says an invitation to a workshop in Akron, Pa., sponsored by and featuring Tarek Abuata, Christian Peacemaker Teams coordinator for Palestine and a nonviolence trainer. The “intensive experiential workshop” is to give participants a comprehensive introduction to King’s philosophy and strategy of nonviolence. It will be held at Akron Mennonite Church on Nov. 16-17. Participation is limited. Partial scholarships to offset the $100 fee are available. Contact registrar H.A. Penner at or 717-859-3529 prior to Nov. 4.
Source: 10/25/2013 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 Deborah Brehm, Stan Dueck, Kim Ebersole, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Mary Kay Heatwole , Ka Hyun MacKenzie Shin and Roddy MacKenzie, Becky Ullom Naugle, Stan Noffsinger, Harold Penner, Howard Royer, LeAnn Wine, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.