Monday, December 22, 2014

Newsline: December 22, 2014


Brethren Disaster Relief Auction gives half million dollars for Nigeria relief

Photo by Chris Luzynski

A quilt from the 2013 Brethren Disaster Relief Auction
After a special request for support of the Nigeria Crisis Response, the Brethren Disaster Relief Auction board has allocated $500,000 to the Church of the Brethren Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) which is administered by Brethren Disaster Ministries. This is the auction’s largest grant ever to the EDF and the disaster relief work of the Church of the Brethren.

The grant will support disaster response activities in the US and around the world, with the board’s action granting flexibility for part or all of the funds to support the Nigeria Crisis Response, as the rapidly changing situation in Nigeria requires.

The Brethren Disaster Relief Auction is a cooperative effort of the Atlantic Northeast and Southern Pennsylvania Districts of the Church of the Brethren, and this year held its 38th annual auction. Duane Ness chairs the auction board.

The board gave the unprecedented grant in light of the goal of Brethren Disaster Ministries to raise $2.8 million to facilitate a three-phase Crisis Response Plan, already being implemented in northern Nigeria, said a Facebook post from the auction board. “With more than 100,000 Nigerian Brethren now displaced and without basic human needs, the need is great,” the post said.

Since 1977, the Brethren Disaster Relief Auction has raised a total of more than $14 million for disaster relief. This year’s event, held as always on the fourth Saturday in September at the Lebanon (Pa.) Expo and Fairgrounds, raised about $423,000, according to an auction press release from David Farmer.

“Some items sold years ago were redonated and resold,” reported Farmer, “a quilt for $2,300 and a scale-size wooden farm wagon for $3,000.” Volunteers also gathered during the auction to assemble an impressive 12,000 disaster relief school kits in a little over two hours.

Roy Winter, associate executive director for Brethren Disaster Ministries, described the event as “an amazing tribute of love and compassion for those impacted by emergencies and disasters.” Brethren Disaster Ministries deeply appreciates all the volunteers who have a hand in this Brethren tradition “for the glory of God and our neighbor’s good.”

For more information about the Brethren Disaster Relief Auction go to For more about the Nigeria crisis and the relief effort go to

-- Jane Yount, coordinator of the Brethren Disaster Ministries office, contributed to this report.

Source: 12/22/2014 Newsline

Brethren Disaster Ministries leader returns from trip to Nigeria, reports on EYN progress in midst of crisis

For more information about the Nigeria Crisis Response go to Shown above: displaced women and children who received food and relief supplies at one of the distributions organized by the Nigerian Church. Photo by Carl and Roxane Hill
By Roy Winter

How can we find ways to find hope in this crisis in Nigeria? The core leadership of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) is safely settling into temporary homes and establishing an annex or temporary headquarters for the church. In our many meetings with EYN leadership the challenge is clearly daunting, but we found time to laugh and rejoice in God.

We expected to find gloom and heartache, but we found a team working hard to get organized to assist EYN members through this crisis and maintain the church. Even though they are displaced and frustrated by the situation, they are working on a new vision for EYN that will make the church stronger.

US team

As associate executive director of Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries, I am leading a team of experts to provide training, tools, resources, and support to EYN.

Dan Tyler has joined the team as a special consultant. He brings 30 years of experience in relief and development in Africa, most recently spending 21 years with Church World Service.

Cliff Kindy comes with a great deal of experience working at peacebuilding in conflict zones and in disaster response. This expertise will support many of EYN’s effort during his three-month stay until the first of March. He is endeared to EYN because of his statement--made at the 2014 Annual Conference--of willingness to give his own life that the Chibok girls could go free. It seems his commitment to peacebuilding, nonviolence, and service has created a bond and deep respect with EYN leadership.


A report from EYN president Samuel Dante Dali titled “The Lamenting Story of EYN in Nigeria” updates the impact of this crisis on the Nigerian church. It is startling that only 7 of 50 districts in of EYN are fully functioning at this time. This means that 278 local church councils (of 456) and 1,390 local church branches (of 2,280) have been destroyed or abandoned during raids by the Boko Haram insurgents. This represents 61 percent of all EYN churches or worshiping centers, and many of largest EYN worshiping bodies.

Dr. Dali continues that the church leadership knows the general location of more than 170,000 displaced church members, and 2,094 displaced EYN pastors or evangelists, but the whereabouts of thousands and thousands more displaced members are unknown. Sadly he reports 8,083 members including 6 pastors have been killed, and expects many uncounted others also have died.

When a crisis is this large and when those providing aid also are displaced and have unmet needs, and the violence keeps expanding, it makes for a very complex and challenging environment. However, today a large multifaceted response is well underway working with EYN and other partners.

Crisis response

With guidance and support from the Church of the Brethren, EYN has appointed a Crisis Response Team under the leadership of manager Yuguda Z. Mdurvwa. The team of six church leaders are charged with managing the whole of the crisis response, regional staffing, and other matters as needed. In the four weeks of their tenure, they have made significant progress and completed a good deal of planning. The resources for all the programing has been made possible through generous donations to the Nigeria Crisis Fund and the Emergency Disaster Fund.

Photo by David Sollenberger

Children rejoice over bowls of food in Nigeria
Selected accomplishments:
  • Completed bulk distributions of food at camps or distribution locations around the cities of Yola, Jos, and Abuja. There were several distributions around each city. The distributions included bulk corn meal or rice (family choice), noodles, cooking oil, sugar, salt, seasoning, tea, body soap, laundry soap, lotion. A special second distribution of small packets of crackers were given to the children. Some distributions progressed very well and were orderly. Others were more difficult with people that are not displaced but wanting free supplies.
  • Established a temporary location for Kulp Bible College near Abuja. Classes are being held for upper level students so they can graduate on schedule.
  • Purchased two used trucks for transportation of relief supplies and building materials, and purchased an office building with warehouse for EYN relief operations.
  • Set up temporary offices for EYN national staff, which included building temporary walls to add more offices and purchasing office furniture for the site. Now key national staff and officers have private office space. This support is critical to help EYN stay together and organized in this time of incredible crisis.
  • Progress made on care centers. A number of properties around Yola, Jos, and Abuja are being evaluated for purchase as locations for Care Centers. This entails the building of a new community of homes, church, public space, and some farmland for the relocation of displaced people. This will be a major effort to help people move out of the temporary camps of internally displaced people, and to help Nigerian refugees in Cameroon relocate back in Nigeria.
  • Planning for trauma healing. With about two thirds of the church displaced, many with tragic experiences and the loss of loved ones, healing from the experience is critical. The Peace Program of EYN already has provided two different three-day workshops held with pastors in the Yola area in mid-December. Ongoing workshops and other peace building activates are planned for 2015.
These examples give an idea of all the different projects that EYN is undertaking. These represent amazing accomplishments considering so much of the church and leadership are displaced and in mourning.

Partner organizations

The response includes a number of partners with strengths and capacity that extend beyond EYN. What is most surprising is how few international relief organizations are working in Nigeria, considering how many people are displaced. Current partners are:
  • Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives (CCEPI). This organization will be familiar to many US Brethren because executive director Rebecca Dali spoke at the 2014 Annual Conference. Focused on the most vulnerable in the crisis--children, pregnant mothers, families with young children, and older adults--CCEPI is providing direct aid. Church of the Brethren funds have helped CCEPI provide food and nonfood distributions in the areas of greatest need. CCEPI also is working with the International Rescue Committee helping with their aid work.
  • Lifeline Compassionate Global Initiatives (LCGI). This interfaith program focuses on peacebuilding between Christian and Muslim groups. As part of the crisis response, LCGI has worked to relocate around 350 people, both Christians and Muslims, together near land for farming. Water wells and worship centers are part of the planning. A ceremony on Dec. 4 initiated the construction of homes. The goal is to complete simple mud brick and tin roof homes by March 2015. Half of the funding for this program came from the Nigeria Crisis Fund.
  • Women and Youth Empowerment for Advancement and Health Initiative (WYEAHI). This program has submitted a proposal to work with displaced persons, building on the organization’s strengths in livelihood development.
Photo by Carl and Roxane Hill

A worship service of EYN
Building relationships

An important part of my trip to Nigeria was developing as many connections and relationships as possible with potential areas of support for EYN. The success of this major response effort will hinge on how effectively we can network, and even more importantly, how effectively we can communicate.

The US team was able to share, problem solve, and develop budgets and programs together with the EYN Standing Committee and Crisis Response Team. This extended to a short presentation focused on encouragement to the Executive Committee of the Majalisa (the annual meeting of EYN). We also met with Mennonite Central Committee representatives, a local Anglican staff, and the US Embassy.

A delegation of three EYN staff and three US team members had a very productive meeting with the US Embassy staff. In a unusual turn, the Embassy wants to be in relationship with EYN to share information and to connect the church with the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The Embassy also is working with the Nigerian congress to create a way for displaced persons to vote in the upcoming national election in February.

Another important relationship is with Mission 21. Formerly known as Basel Mission, Mission 21 has been supporting EYN for many decades. In an unplanned meeting, staff from Mission 21, the Church of the Brethren, and EYN started working together to imagine a three-way partnership.

I really felt God working through us as we planned to work together through this crisis and help  EYN find new strength in the years to come. At the April Majalisa (annual conference of EYN) we plan to celebrate this partnership and extend the love of God to many hurting people... together.

-- Roy Winter is associate executive director of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries.

Source: 12/22/2014 Newsline

US and Cuban councils of churches issue joint statement

In the wake of last Wednesday’s announcement of President Obama’s intentions to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba, which would end a half century political stand off between the two nations, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) and the Cuban Council of Churches issued a joint statement expressing “great joy and celebration.”

Following is the full statement, as published in a press release from the NCC:

“Este nuevo clima creado en la adopción de estas decisiones, nos plantea nuevos desafíos a nuestro Consejo y sus instituciones miembros, para la acción pastoral para fortalecer el espíritu de reconciliación y la amistad entre nuestros dos pueblos. Nosotros continuaremos trabajando y celebrando  junto a nuestros hermanos y hermanas en los Estados Unidos hacindo posible cambios necesarios que favorezcan a nuestros pueblos.”

“This new environment as result of the recent events face us--as the Council of Churches of Cuba and her member institutions--with new challenges for the pastoral action in order to strengthen the friendship and reconciliation spirit between our two peoples. We will continue to celebrate and work with our brothers and sisters in the United States to make possible the change in favor of our people.”
--Presidente Joel Dopico, Cuban Council of Churches

It is with great joy and celebration that we, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, and the Cuban Council of Churches, join together in expressing our thanks to God, the One who inspired the writer of the Book of Revelation to declare, “Behold, I make all things new.”

In this new day of cooperation and openness between the United States and Cuba, we reflect upon the times when our councils worked together with grace and hope, looking for a future in which our nations’ leaders might join in welcoming each other as we have. We are pleased that our churches played a part in leading the way to the events of this week. We are grateful also for the witness of those who tirelessly work for reconciliation, especially today for Pope Francis, who, in the name of Christ, urged our governments to begin normalizing relations.

As we celebrate the changes that have begun, we recognize that still more must be done. We call upon the churches of our two nations to join together in unity and harmony as we urge our nations’ leaders to finish the work of normalization.

We call upon the US Congress to lift the economic embargo in place for more than fifty years.

We urge the Cuban government to take steps to help facilitate commercial, cultural, and overall exchange.

We laud the lifting of restrictions around religious and academic travel to Cuba, but also ask our respective governments to end all restrictions on travel between our two countries. We believe this will offer the greatest possibility for reconciliation and cultural exchange between our people.

We ask the government of the United States to remove Cuba from its list of countries believed to support terrorism.

We urge our churches, governments, and community groups to facilitate the healing of divisions that have hardened over the last 50 years.

We pledge to work through our churches for reconciliation and healing of pain caused through so many years of separation and confrontation.

In this season of light, celebrated both in Advent and Hanukkah, we pledge to continue lighting the fires of hope, and look forward to a brighter future for all people, this day for the people of the United States and Cuba.

-- Steven D. Martin of the National Council of Churches communications staff provided this release. Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 37 member communions--from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American, and Living Peace churches--include 45 million people in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

Source: 12/22/2014 Newsline

Webinar series takes a look at ‘family matters’

A webinar series titled “Family Matters” is offered by the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries and partners in the United Kingdom. Although the initial webinar in the series has already taken place, “Family Matters” webinars will continue in 2015 with one offered each month from January through May.

Following are the webinar titles, dates and times, and leadership:
  • “The Family and How the Scriptures Are Passed to the Next Generation” is offered on Jan. 15, 2015, at 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Eastern time), led by Howard Worsley, tutor in mission and vice principal at Trinity College in Bristol, England, and a researcher into children’s spirituality and their early perceptions. This webinar will look at biblical and historical perspectives on family and current contexts of how families enable children to read the Bible.
  • “Families in the ’Hood” is offered on Feb. 10, 2015, at 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Eastern time), led by  Martin Payne who is part of the “Messy Church” team at the Bible Reading Fellowship based in east London, in the UK. This webinar will look at the five key values of “Messy Church”--hospitality, creativity, celebration, all age, and Christ-centredness; offer reflections on ways forward for family ministry in areas of urban or rural deprivation; and explore differences between family ministry in challenging areas and in more affluent communities.
  • “Households of Faith” is offered on March 10, 2015, at 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Eastern time), led by Jane Butcher who also works for Bible Reading Fellowship overseeing its Faith in Homes ministry, and was formerly a teacher. This webinar addresses how families explore and nurture faith together when they face daily challenges such as lack of time, seldom having the family together, changing lifestyle patterns and needs as children get older, and others.
  • “Family Ministry” is offered on April 16, 2015, at 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Eastern time), led by Gail Adcock, the Family Ministry development officer with the Methodist Church in the UK. This webinar will consider the current shape and formation of family ministry, exploring the various methods taken to engage with families, and will reflect on how this work can be developed and supported in the future.
  • “Cradle to the Grave” is offered on May 19, 2015, at 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Eastern time), led by Mary Hawes who is the Church of England’s national adviser for Children and Young People’s Ministry, and also has been a primary school teacher, a Cathedral Education Officer, and children’s adviser for the Diocese of London. This final webinar of the series will seek to pull strands together, exploring how family life is woven from a complex blend of celebration, transition, and tragedy; offer models of how the wider church community can help to strengthen and support families; and will help participants consider what challenges face them in their own situations.
Register and find out more at For questions contact Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices for the Church of the Brethren, at 800-323-8039 ext. 343 or

Source: 12/22/2014 Newsline

Brethren bits

  • Earlier today an important e-mail message was sent to pastors and church board chairs from the Church of the Brethren Ministry Office and Brethren Benefit Trust. The message addressed changes in how the IRS interprets church contributions to the purchase of individual medical insurance for employees, including pastors. The message included letters from associate general secretary Mary Jo Flory-Steury, who is executive director of the Ministry Office, and BBT president Nevin Dulabaum. “Many of us have been caught off guard” by the changes, Flory-Steury wrote, in part. The changes mean that church employees will pay taxes on church contributions to the purchase of employees’ individual medical insurance. “We recognize that receiving this information at the end of the tax year is causing great stress and anxiety for those of you who have faithfully followed our denominational guidelines for support of our pastors,” Flory-Steury wrote. “Regrettably, implications of the ACA is causing us to rethink and reframe the way we will continue to support our pastor’s well-being as it applies to those who are on individual employer payment plans.” Dulabaum’s letter included best steps for the immediate concern of designating contributions in support of medical insurance as cash salary for 2014 income taxes. The Ministry Office will be working with the Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee to revise start-up and renewal agreements for pastors in 2015, and will be discussing the matter with the Council of District Executives at its January meeting.
  • Remembrance: Mary Magdalene (Guyton) Petre, 97, who served the church for many years as a mission worker in Nigeria, died on Nov. 11. Along with her late husband, Ira S. Petre, who died in 2002, she spent 22 years in Nigeria as a Church of the Brethren missionary. The two were married in 1937 in Brownsville, Md. For the past 13 years Mary Petre had been a resident of Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village near Boonsboro, Md., and previously had lived in the Village at Morrisons Cove in Martinsburg, Pa. In addition to mission work, her career had included four years as a weekday religious education teacher in the Dayton, Va., area. She is survived by children Rebecca Markey (husband Walter), Samuel (wife Marilyn Stokes), Rufus (wife Cathy Hoover), Dana Petre-Miller (husband Dan), Mary Ellen Condit, and Bernice Keech (husband James); grandchildren; and great-grandchildren. She was to be interred with her husband at Pleasant View Church of the Brethren near Burkittsville, Md. Memorial donations are received to Heifer International.
  • Remembrance: Sam Smith, 64, who in October started work as a member of the new Racial Justice Team of On Earth Peace, and was a leader in the Fellowship of Reconciliation, died on Dec. 11. He was born Dec. 7, 1950, to Henry and Vivian Smith and grew up in Howe, Ind., where his family were active members of English Prairie Church of the Brethren. He went to Moody Bible Institute and then received a degree in sociology from Wheaton College in the Chicago area. His life-long calling to each young people with a fresh approach in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ led him to develop Heavy Light Production multi-media shows, and he toured extensively with his unique presentations for two decades. He was an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren and helped pastor youth groups in Aurora, Wheaton, and Oswego, Ill. He also was a leader in the Shalom Ministries, and Upper Extreme, and led students from DePaul University in peace and reconciliation activities in the Chicago area. In recent years he suffered from chronic pain, mobility handicaps, and had a tentative diagnosis of ALS. He is survived by his wife, Linda, and children Lia Jean and Luke Isaiah Smith. Memorial donations are received to On Earth Peace and the Nigeria Crisis Fund.
Photo courtesy of Pacific Southwest District

“Worship in Pink” was the theme for a 2nd Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Sunday at Imperial Heights Community Church of the Brethren in Los Angeles, Calif. “We came together to Celebrate Life, Increase Awareness, and Inspire Hope,” said a report on the event in the Pacific Southwest District newsletter. “Statistics show that African-American women are more likely to die from breast cancer than all other women. Some of the reasons are lack of health care insurance, distrust of the medical community, not following up on tests, and the belief that mammograms are not needed. Educating the community is key and so on Sunday, Oct. 26, the members of Imperial Heights Community Church of the Brethren, joined hands in a collaborative effort with community organizations Tabahani Book Circle, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. Sigma Sigma Chapter, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Long Beach Alumnae Chapter.” The service included worship in song, preached word from pastor Thomas Dowdy, testimonies from breast cancer survivors and family members who have lost loved ones to breast cancer, and a candle lighting ceremony in honor of those diagnosed with breast cancer, survivors, and those who have died from the disease. A workshop was presented by Denise Lamb of Black Women’s Wellness.
  • Jim Grossnickle-Batterton has been hired as interim coordinator of admissions at Bethany Theological Seminary. He graduated from Bethany in 2014 with a master of divinity degree. He is serving in a part-time, temporary capacity while Tracy Primozich, director of admissions, is on leave. He will oversee admissions operations, working with the Student Services staff, to see that prospective students are identified and recruited and that the seminary has a presence at Church of the Brethren denominational and district events. His travels will include visits to Church of the Brethren-related colleges and universities.
  • Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., invites applications for the position of director of the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. This is a full-time faculty position with administrative release time. Rank and tenure are negotiable. The institute was inspired by the vision of Elizabeth Evans Baker and for more than 30 years has provided leadership in the development of the field of Peace and Conflict Studies within the academy and is generously supported by endowed funds. The mission of the institute is “To apply the resources of the academic community to the study of warfare and deep-rooted conflict as human problems and peace as a human potential.” In fulfilling this mission, the institute’s primary objectives are 1) to create and sustain an academically rigorous, interdisciplinary, clearly structured undergraduate peace and conflict studies program, and 2) to present campus, community, and international programing in support of the institute’s mission. The institute’s curriculum supports a number of other programs and departments at Juniata College and builds partnerships for innovative programing within the campus community and beyond. Its activities additionally include adult education and community outreach. The successful candidate will have a terminal degree in Peace Studies, or in a field of study within the Social Sciences or Humanities with an academic focus on peace-related issues. The ideal candidate should demonstrate expertise and experience working in the discipline, excellence in undergraduate teaching, and administrative experience in an academic environment. Candidates should demonstrate how their area of expertise contributes to and enhances the work of the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. The college seeks an innovative educator with global vision, interested in being part of a vibrant learning community. The director will provide the strategic vision and leadership needed to further the institute’s role as a flagship academic program, built on collaborative relationships that enhance student education across campus. The director shall be committed to the normative values of the field of Peace Studies that explore the potential for peacebuilding theories and tools to contribute to the creation of a future where war no longer exists and conflicts are addressed using nonviolent methods. For more information contact Lauren Bowen, Provost and chair of the Baker Institute Search Committee, at . To apply send a letter of interest, vita, teaching philosophy, graduate transcripts, and the names of three references to Gail Leiby Ulrich, Director of Human Resources, Juniata College, 1700 Moore St., Box C, Huntingdon, PA 16652. It is the policy of Juniata College to conduct background checks. The anticipated date of appointment is August 2015. Applications received by Jan. 15 will receive full consideration, but applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Juniata places great value on ethnic and gender diversity on its campus. The college commits itself to this policy not only because of legal obligations, but because it believes that such practices are basic to human dignity. AA/EOE.
  • The Church of the Brethren seeks an individual to fill a fulltime hourly position of program assistant for the Office of Donor Relations, located at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The major responsibilities of this position are to support and assist the office of Donor Relations in developing connections with donors and friends of the Church of the Brethren through electronic and print correspondence, individual and congregational contacts, special offerings, and stewardship education resources. Required skills and knowledge include ease of communication with individuals, congregations, and contributors to various projects as well as with donor support. Tasks will include assisting with a variety of production, printing, and proofreading logistics as well as assisting with development of congregation and donor support materials. A bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience is required, as is proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite, particularly Word, Excel, and Outlook, and the ability to become familiar with other software programs including Adobe Acrobat Pro, Photoshop, InDesign, and Blackbaud. Applications are being received and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Request the application form from the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; . The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
  • Registration opens soon for a number of events in 2015:
    • Registration for congregational delegates to Annual Conference opens online on Jan. 5 and continues through Feb. 24. The early registration fee is $285 per delegate. Beginning Feb. 25 the registration fee increases to $310 per delegate. Congregations may pay by credit card or by check. Registration for nondelegates and housing reservations for delegates and nondelegates will begin on Feb. 25. A letter is being sent to all congregations about delegate registration. More information about the 2015 Annual Conference including registration, hotels, airport transportation, directions, and conference theme and worship leadership can be found at
    • Registration opens Jan. 8, at 7 p.m. (central time) for next summer’s Church of the Brethren workcamps. Find a listing of the dates, locations, and fees for the 2015 workcamps on the theme “Side by Side: Imitating Christ’s Humility” at
    • Jan. 9 is the opening date for registration for the 2015 National Junior High Conference on the theme, “Living the Change: Our Offering to God” (Romans 12:1-2). The conference will be held on June 19-21 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College for youth who have completed 6-8 grades and their adult advisors. For more information go to . For questions contact Kristen Hoffman, conference coordinator, in the Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office at 847-429-4389 or
  • Applications for the 2015 Ministry Summer Service program and the 2015 Youth Peace Travel Team are due by Jan. 9:
    • Ministry Summer Service (MSS) is a leadership development program for college students in the Church of the Brethren who spend 10 weeks of summer working in the church (local congregation, district office, camp, or national program). The 2015 orientation dates are May 29-June 3. Go to for more information and application forms.
    • Members of the Youth Peace Travel Team also serve through MSS. The team is a cooperative effort of a number of Church of the Brethren programs, with a new team fielded each summer. The Youth Peace Travel Team travels to Brethren camps with the goal of talking with other young people about the Christian message and the Brethren tradition of peacemaking. College-age Church of the Brethren young adults from 19-22 years of age will be selected for the next team. A stipend is paid to team members. For more information go to
  • “Way to Live: Work and Choices,” a webinar for those involved in youth and young adult ministry, is offered Jan. 6, at 8 p.m. (eastern time). The webinar is one in a series that is a book study of “Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teens” edited by Dorothy C. Bass and Don C. Richter. The series is offered jointly by staff of the Church of the Brethren, Bethany Seminary, and On Earth Peace. The Jan. 6 webinar will be led by Bekah Houff of the seminary staff. Ordained ministers may earn .1 continuing education credit for participating in the real-time event. To request continuing education credit contact Houff at prior to the webinar. For more information go to .
  • “Mark your calendar!” said an announcement of the Annual Clergy Tax Seminar, hosted by the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership on Feb. 23, 2015, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. (eastern). Students, pastors, and other church leaders are invited to attend. Participants may attend in person at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., or via a webcast. Watch Newsline for additional information regarding registration, fees, and continuing education credit.
  • Torin Eikler, district executive minister in Northern Indiana District, was interviewed by WSBT-TV Channel 22 in Mishawaka, Ind., about the Church of the Brethren’s work to aid Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) during the current crisis. Eikler spoke about how he has been working with churches and organizations across northern Indiana on a campaign called the "Mustard Seed Bake Campaign." See
  • A Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) project supported by Central Church of the Brethren and other churches in Roanoke, Va., got attention from CBS affiliate WDBJ-TV Channel 7. The Congregations in Action program based at Highland Park Elementary School in Roanoke helps serve more than 450 homeless students. One special effort is to provide food for homeless students over the holidays, when they do not attend school. Find the video report at
  • First Church of the Brethren in Chicago, Ill., is hosting annual commemoration activities for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day: On Sunday, Jan. 18, at 10 a.m., First Church hosts an MLK Joint Worship Service with Chicago Community Mennonite Church and Iglesia Christiana Roca de Esperanza, followed by a potluck. On Saturday, Jan. 24, at 11 a.m.-3 p.m. is Peace in the City: MLK Nonviolence and Community Transformation Training. The latter is an intergenerational event with Samuel Sarpiya, a Church of the Brethren minister and pastor in Rockford, Ill., as speaker and lead facilitator. Register at . “Be welcome to join us,” said an invitation from First Church pastor LaDonna Nkosi. First Church of the Brethren Chicago hosted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1966 as one of their office locations for the housing and justice campaigns.
  • Pacific Southwest District recognized a number of ordination anniversaries at its conference this fall, according to a report in the district newsletter: Eugene Palsgrove for 65 years, Gerald Moore for 50 years, Lila McCray for 40 years, Jeffrey Glass and Thomas Hostetler for 35 years, Jo Kimmel and Nadine Pence for 30 years, Jeanine Ewert for 25 years, representing 310 years of service in total. The district conference also received an offering of just over $580 to support the Nigeria Crisis Fund. The conference saw a “record youth turnout,” the newsletter noted, with 32 youth and 4 adult chaperones from 7 different congregations.
  • “The world is giving itself a kind of Christmas gift this year,” said a release from the World Council of Churches (WCC). “On Dec. 24, 2014, an international law to regulate the global trade in armaments and ammunition, the newly ratified Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), enters into force.” The WCC and member churches and partners in some 50 countries campaigned and lobbied for an ATT that would help save lives and protect communities at risk from the weapons trade. WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit said, “Our prayer and expectation is that the ATT must become a treaty that no government and no arms dealer can ignore. The news reminds us almost daily of how many people need protection from armed violence, and it often involves illicit arms.” The release noted that the worldwide trade in arms is valued at nearly $100 billion per year. The WCC-led campaign concentrated on the criteria that the treaty sets for arms trading. The result is that the treaty denies arms transfers where there is a serious risk of war crimes or widespread human rights violations or endemic gender-based armed violence, the release said. The WCC also backed the relatively successful demand that the ATT must cover all types of arms and ammunition. To date, 60 nations have ratified the treat including large arms exporters like Germany, France, and the UK. Also, 125 countries have signed the treaty including the United States, the world’s largest arms exporter. Countries that abstained include Russia, China, and India.
Source: 12/22/2014 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 Sandy Bosserman, Deborah Brehm, Stan Dueck, Jan Fischer Bachman, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Tim Harvey, Julie Hostetter, Jon Kobel, Steven D. Martin, LaDonna Nkosi, Mary L. Rosborough, Jenny Williams, Roy Winter, David Witkovsky, Jane Yount, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Newsline: December 10, 2014


Church of the Brethren general secretary attends launch of Ecumenical Peace Advocacy Network

To build just and sustainable peace, engaging churches as well as ecumenical organizations and civil society, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has launched an Ecumenical Peace Advocacy Network (EPAN). The launch came out of a consultation on Dec. 1-5 in Sigtuna, Sweden.

Photo courtesy of Stan Noffsinger

Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger, right, with Ibrahim Wushishi Yusuf of the Christian Council of Nigeria, during the consultation and launch of EPAN. The WCC consultation afforded an opportunity also for conversation about the situation of the Nigerian Brethren with ecumenical colleagues, Noffsinger reported.
Church of the Brethren general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger was one of the Christian leaders to attend the consultation, and he moderated one of the sessions on the topic “Inter-Religious Cooperation in Peacebuilding.”

The consultation on Peace-building and Advocacy for Just Peace was hosted by the Church of Sweden, the Uniting Church in Sweden, and the Christian Council of Sweden. More than 80 ecumenical advocacy experts, church leaders, civil society and United Nations partners from 37 different countries took part.

Noffsinger noted key words spoken by WCC general secretary Olav Fykes Tveit in his opening remarks: “War is always undermining the intention of God's creation. War and the violence it elicits are sin and work against God’s creation, each aspect of creation in total.”

EPAN will aim to turn into concrete action the theme “Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace” described in a call issued by the WCC Busan Assembly in 2013. “This consultation was intended to create program synergies and develop collaboration methods, sharing best practices and lessons learned in peace-building, conflict prevention, and advocacy for peace,” said Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, WCC representative to the UN in New York.

The consultation focused on a framework for advocacy for peace, as well as practical strategies and tools required to support coordinated international advocacy for a peaceful world. Such a strategy would be employed by ecumenical organizations, including the WCC and its member churches, ACT Alliance members, national councils of churches, and other partners from civil society.

Bueno de Faria said: “The new Ecumenical Peace Advocacy Network is a great opportunity for churches to act collectively to address issues related to peace on a global level. Churches and ecumenical organization have the responsibility to mobilize themselves on specific peace issues and influence processes that brings about lasting and just peace.”

Noffsinger moderated a morning devotion session on “Inter-Religious Cooperation in Peacebuilding.” The speaker for that session was Lutheran bishop emeritus Gunnar Stålsett of Oslo, Norway, who is a member of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.

As a follow-up to the consultation, two events will be organized in 2015 in Africa and the Middle East with the purpose of preparing advocacy strategies and plans to promote just peace, reconciliation, and conflict prevention. More information about the WCC Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace is at

(This report includes portions of a World Council of Churches release.)

Source: 12/10/2014 Newsline

Jocelyn Snyder to coordinate orientation for Brethren Volunteer Service

Photo by BVS

Jocelyn Snyder
Jocelyn Snyder begins Jan. 5 as orientation coordinator for Brethren Volunteer Service. Her work will be based at the BVS office at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

From 2012-2014 she was a mission worker and BVS volunteer in South Sudan, serving with Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service. In Torit, South Sudan, she worked at a primary school of the African Inland Church and taught basic English courses for women.

In previous employment, she served with Mennonite Central Committee in Zambia for three years, 2006-2009, working as assistant chaplain at Choma Secondary School and also facilitating HIV/AIDS youth and young adult peer educator workshops.

Snyder has been youth and young adult coordinator at Hartville (Ohio) Church of the Brethren, where she is a member, and also has been youth director at Mount Tabor United Methodist Church in East Canton, Ohio. She is a 2005 graduate of Malone University in Canton, Ohio, with a bachelor of arts degree in youth ministry.

Source: 12/10/2014 Newsline

Children’s Disaster Services workshops offer training opportunities

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS), which is a Church of the Brethren program and a part of Brethren Disaster Ministries, has announced a number of workshops in early 2015.

Since 1980, CDS has met the needs of children by setting up child care centers in shelters and disaster assistance centers across the nation. Specially trained to respond to traumatized children, CDS volunteers provide a calm, safe, and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos created by natural or human-caused disasters.

Participants in the 27-hour workshops learn to provide comfort and encouragement to children by offering healing care in traumatic situations, and how to create a safe and friendly environment that gives children the chance to engage in therapeutic play activities designed to relieve stress and calm fears. The workshops include a simulated shelter experience (an overnight stay) and will be provided to any group of 15 or more adults interested in working with children after a disaster. Participants completing the course will have the opportunity to become certified Children’s Disaster Services volunteers.

Because children can experience personal disasters (when a friend moves away, a pet dies, etc.) people who come in contact with a distressed child can benefit from this workshop. Many of the concepts taught in the workshop are appropriate to use at those times as well as after disasters.

Normally a registration fee of $45 (or $55 for late registration) covers the cost of the training materials. Donations to cover other expenses are appreciated. More information and registration are at

Following are dates, locations, and local contacts for the workshops in early 2015:
Jan. 23-24, 2015, Central Christian Church, Bradenton, Fla.; contact Rev. Joy Haskin Rowe, 540-420-4896,

Feb. 21-22, 2015, LaVerne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren; contact Kathy Benson, 909-837-7103,

March 5-6, 2015, Diocese of Orange Pastoral Center, Garden Grove, Calif.; contact Elizabeth Sandoval, 714-282-3098 or 714-609-6884,

April 17-18, 2015, First Congregational Church of Wallingford, Conn.; contact Eloise Hazelwood, 203-294-2065,

April 24-25, 2015, Latrobe (Pa.) United Methodist Church; contact Deb Ciocco, 724-331-0628,

May 21, 2015, Special Partnership Workshop at a pre-conference session of the Child Life Specialist National Conference, Cincinnati, Ohio. This workshop is only available to Child Life Specialists. For more information contact Kathy Fry-Miller, associate director of Children’s Disaster Services, at 800-451-4407 or 260-704-1443,
Source: 12/10/2014 Newsline

Brethren Academy updates course list for 2015

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership has issued an updated list of courses for 2015. The Brethren Academy is a partnership of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Theological Seminary.

Academy courses are open to students in Training in Ministry (TRIM) and Education for Shared Ministry (EFSM), pastors (who may earn two continuing education units), and all interested persons. Students will be accepted beyond the registration deadlines, however those deadlines help determine whether enough students have registered to offer a course. Many courses have required pre-course readings, so students need to allow enough time to complete those readings. Those registering for courses should be sure to receive course confirmation before purchasing books or making travel plans.

To register for a course, contact or 765-983-1824.

“Evangelism: Now and Not Yet,” Jan. 5-9, 2015, with instructor Tara Hornbacker at Bethany Theological Seminary, Richmond, Ind. The registration deadline has been extended to Dec. 17. Pre-class reading is required.

Sustaining Ministerial Excellence Advanced Seminar, Jan. 16-19, 2015, will be a beginning retreat for a bi-vocational pastors cohort. The seminar will include four four-day retreats over the course of two years. Please contact the Brethren Academy at or 765-983-1824 for additional information on this program. The registration deadline is Dec. 31.

“Now the Silence, Now the Songs: An Introduction to Worship,” Feb. 2-March 27, 2015, an online course with instructor Lee-Lani Wright. The registration deadline is Jan. 5, 2015.

“Narrative Theology,” April 16-19, 2015, with instructor Scott Holland at McPherson (Kan.) College. The registration deadline is March 19, 2015.

“Administration as Pastoral Care,” April 17-19, 2015, with instructor Julie Hostetter at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. The registration deadline is March 20, 2015.

Christians in Germany-Intercultural Travel Seminar, May 29-June 14, 2015, with instructor Kendall Rogers. The registration deadline is Jan. 1, 2015, to fly with the group. For those making their own flight reservations to Marburg, Germany, the registration deadline is March 1, 2015.

Annual Conference Directed Independent Study Unit, July 10-11, 2015, with presenter Joyce Rupp on the theme “Delving Deeply Into Compassion” onsite at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Tampa, Fla. The DISU instructor is Carrie Eikler. The registration deadline is June 12, 2015.

“Bi-vocational Ministry,” July 20-Sept. 11, 2015, an online course with instructor Sandra Jenkins. The registration deadline is June 22, 2015.

Source: 12/10/2014 Newsline

The Pastor’s Study: Leaning into the Light

By Chris Bowman

Advent is upon us. The four Sundays before Christmas are set apart by the church as a season of waiting with anticipation for the Light of the World.

Each of the four Sundays of Advent we symbolize this anticipation by lighting a different candle. The light grows until, finally, the Christ candle is lit, on Christmas Eve. Symbolically at that same service we will each light our own candles to recognize that Christ came for each of us.

What’s up with all this pyromania?

Well, there is something honest and fulfilling in this symbol. I notice it when a match is struck in controlled explosion, or the acolyte enters the sanctuary with their light nearly out, or the glow of an ember in the ash of last night’s campfire.

The God of creation came to us as a tiny baby in a borrowed manger in an occupied land--a tiny little spark in a great big darkness. Yet that baby grew to become our savior and changed the world.

It often happens this way, doesn’t it? Brethren Volunteer Service began when one person stood up and spoke a new idea to the church; Brethren camping began when a person had a vision and visited each district to urge them to invest in camps for our youth; our denomination began, in fact, when a handful of people started studying the Bible together and decided to lean into what they learned.

Sometimes it starts with one small spark.

And as we look to our own new year I wonder what it is that we will decide to lean into.... This fellowship of followers where relationships matter and Christian discipleship counts. I’m looking forward.

-- Chris Bowman is lead pastor at Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren. This reflection first appeared in the church newsletter, and is reprinted with permission.

Source: 12/10/2014 Newsline

Iraqi Kurdistan: Project ‘Bringing Hope and Fun’ begins in Arbat IDP camp

By Terra Winston

This release from Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) was published today on CPTnet:

CPT Iraqi Kurdistan has begun a project, “Bringing Hope and Fun,” to work with children in the Arbat IDP camp for internally displaced persons, just outside of Sulaimani. Led by our intern, Alicja Zasadowska, and aided by the local organization STEP, we were able to create an activity for the children of the camp.

Photo courtesy of CPT
We asked them to draw a picture and write a story explaining the best day of their lives. The 25 children we were working with ranged in age from 5 to 15. For many of them, grief and horror has become a central part of their lives. People often ask them to reflect on these difficult things as they tell their stories. However, Alicja wanted them to share about something happy, so that they could practice cultivating good memories even in the midst of their trauma.

Alicja faced some resistance as she spoke with others about her intentions to have the children draw and write about happy moments. One father told her, “My children know nothing of joy; this project will not work.” Some of the staff at the camp warned her that “these children do not have happy stories to tell.” Another NGO questioned why we would want to share happy things, when sad stories influence people much more. However, her focus was not on others but solely on the children.

The look on the faces of these children when we asked them to share about happy moments was priceless. One 15-year-old young man burst into a smile and shook his head, “Yes.” You could almost see him transported to another place and time a he began to work on his drawing. These children have been though so much, but are still capable of happiness and of remembering joy. Even while we were setting up for the project a group of girls begin playing a clapping game in a circle.

For me, while sitting with people in their grief is difficult, I found it equally challenging to sit with these children in their joy and creativity. The humanity of young people drawing is something that I could easily connect to and understand. However, at times, something would call me out of their joy and into the surroundings of the IDP camp, and those moments almost broke my heart. The juxtaposition of these young people as they drew, made silly faces, sang songs, and giggled against the sorrow, cold tents, and worry of us grownups for their future, overwhelmed me.

“Bringing Hope and Fun” will be an ongoing project for CPT Iraqi Kurdistan. We hope to have an online gallery and perhaps create a book of the Arbat youths’ stories and drawings. We also hope to have a display at the camp for the children and their families to enjoy. We will update our Facebook page and CPTnet as these activities occur. In the meantime, please keep them in your prayers.

-- Christian Peacemaker Teams was originally begun by the Historic Peace Churches including the Church of the Brethren, and has the mission of building partnerships to transform violence and oppression, and the vision of a world of communities that together embrace the diversity of the human family and live justly and peaceably with all creation. Find out more at

Source: 12/10/2014 Newsline

Brethren bits

Artist's rendition of Civil War Battle of Dranesville
The Annual Battle of Dranesville Remembrance and Peace Service at Dranesville Church of the Brethren in Herndon, Va., will be held Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. This is the 153rd anniversary of the Battle of Dranesville, according to the church newsletter. “On Dec. 20, 1861, about 5,000 Union forces and 2,000 Confederate forces fought near the intersection of Georgetown Pike (Rt. 193) and Leesburg Pike (Rt. 7), resulting in 50 men killed and 200 men wounded,” the newsletter reported. “Dranesville congregation members have discovered the names of about 35 of the 50 men who died that winter day. At the service, candles will be lit in their memory--and then extinguished, one by one, to demonstrate war's dreadful cost in human suffering. The service will include readings and hymns from the Civil War period, and the message will proclaim the ‘gospel of peace’ (Ephesians 6:15). After the service, there will be Civil War artifacts (some from the Battle of Dranesville) on display in the fellowship hall, and Dranesville member/amateur historian John Waggoner will give a talk about the battle.” All are welcome to attend. For more information on the battle, see
  • Carol Berster is retiring after eight years of service as Peter Becker Community’s president and CEO. The community’s Board of Directors has announced the appointment of Suzanne Owens as new president and CEO, beginning Jan. 19. Peter Becker Community is a continuing care retirement community affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, located in Harleysville, Pa. Owens earned a master’s degree from Penn State University and a bachelor of science from Henderson State University in Arkansas. She has over 23 years of experience in the senior living field in executive management roles. Most recently, she served as operations and marketing consultant with Mennonite Health Services Consulting. Prior to that, she was senior vice president of operations for a Pennsylvania based senior living organization, providing oversight for operations for five sites that served more than 1,000 residents in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
  • Bethany Theological Seminary is seeking candidates for the new position of director of educational technology. This position will serve the seminary internally and externally by providing support for distance education and coordinating Bethany’s electronic presence in various settings. It is a full-time, salaried, exempt position, and applications will be reviewed until the position is filled. Major responsibilities including providing educational technology support for teaching faculty; webcasting and facilitating electronic communication for classes, events, and meetings; envisioning and providing for, facilitating, overseeing, and training others in internal and external communications based in electronic technologies; keeping the seminary current with technological advances in these and related fields. Qualifications include understanding of and commitment to the mission of Bethany Theological Seminary; a bachelor’s degree in computer science, educational technology, or related field; ability to organize a complex workload, set priorities, and learn new skills independently; thorough knowledge of the Moodle Course Management System; thorough knowledge of the Microsoft Windows and Mac OS platforms as they relate to educational technology and electronic communications; ability to work collaboratively from an office on campus in Richmond, Ind. A detailed description of responsibilities and qualifications can be found on Bethany’s employment opportunities webpage at . Apply by sending a letter of interest, resume, and contact information for three references to the Academic Dean’s Office, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN  47374; 765-983-1815; .
  • In news from Nigeria, Kulp Bible College has resumed classes at a new location, reports Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer. The new location is reported to be in central Nigeria at a place where Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) previously had a school named in honor of former mission worker Monroe Good. An e-mail received from a leader at the college said that this week lectures started for the final year diploma and degree students with encouragement and support from EYN president Samuel Dante Dali and his team.
  • On Sunday, Oct. 12, Little Swatara Church of the Brethren in Rehrersburg, Pa., celebrated 50 years of being in its “new” church. The original dedication services were Oct. 13 and 14, 1964, writes Richard E. Frantz in a report on the celebration. “The congregation, which is 257 years old, originally met in 4 meeting houses on a weekly rotating basis. During the 10:30 a.m. worship service, Sandra (Forry) Kauffman, the Historical Committee Chair, welcomed everyone and listed a few of the conveniences we now take for granted including indoor plumbing, a nursery, a dependable heating system, a sound system, a library, Sunday school classrooms with walls instead of classrooms created by pulling curtains on pipes, a kitchen to prepare meals, and a fellowship hall.” Three former pastors were able to attend and bring greetings: Jeffrey Copp of  Columbia City, Ind., who pastored the congregation for 23 years; Ervin Huston of Mt. Wilson, Pa., who was interim pastor for 2 years; and Robert Krouse of Florida who pastored for 5 years before recently retiring. Matt Christ, who began his pastorate in September, brought the message of the morning. Worship was followed by a church picnic in the fellowship hall. Frantz added: “We even had a flash mob of former teenagers who rolled in a piano and sang their youth choir music of several decades ago.”
  • Living Stream Church of the Brethren on Sunday, Dec. 14, at 8 p.m. (eastern time) will feature a presentation by Musa and Sarah Mambula during the live streaming of the congregation’s online worship service. The Mambulas are on a tour of the Pennsylvania area speaking to Brethren churches about the crisis in Nigeria. They will be hosted at Ambler (Pa.) Church of the Brethren for the filming of the online service. The service will highlight connections with the  Advent Offering of the Church of the Brethren for global outreach, scheduled for that same day, and the Nigeria Crisis Fund. “Since we worship online, Living Stream Church of the Brethren is inviting everyone in the country (and beyond!) to join our worship that evening to hear the Mambula’s presentation,” said Ambler team pastor Enten Eller, who also is on the pastoral team of Living Stream. “We see this as a way that Musa and Sarah can reach practically every congregation to share their stories and perspective about Nigeria, not just the churches to which the Mambulas can drive.” To participate in the online service go to where there will be a prominent link to the evening's worship. Questions may be sent to
  • Another round of Advent and Christmas announcements from Church of the Brethren congregations and organizations:
  • “For us, it is a witness tool,” pastor Earl Stovall told the Shippensburg (Pa.) News-Chronicle in an article about the live nativity at Ridge Church of the Brethren, slated for Friday and Saturday, Dec. 12 and 13. “We try to stay as true to the scripture telling as we can.” Find the article at .
  • Mt. Pleasant Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg, Va., presents its annual Live Nativity from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 11 and 12, and 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 13. The program starts with live music and then presents eight scenes telling the story of Jesus' birth. Crafts and refreshments follow in the Marketplace, according to an announcement in the Shenandoah District newsletter.
  • A group from Danville Church of the Brethren performed Christmas songs in the line up for the annual Christmas parade in Keyser, W.Va., reports the "Mineral Daily News-Tribune." The parade took place Dec. 5. Find the extensive line up listed at .
  • “Ring the Bells,” a lyrical ballet for the Christmas season, was presented on Sunday Dec. 7 at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren and will be repeated at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 12, at Otterbein United Methodist Church in Harrisonburg, Va. The ballet produced by InMotion School of Dance benefits the New Community Project’s Give a Girl a Chance providing education for girls around the world who might otherwise have no opportunity to go to school. Admission is free; an offering supports Give a Girl a Chance project.
  • Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community holds a Christmas Open House at its Houff Community Center from 2:30-4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 14. Come for music, beautifully decorated Christmas trees, and refreshments, said an invitation from Shenandoah District.
  • During the month of December, Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren is calling church members and the community to pray, fast, worship, and give for the crisis in Nigeria, according to the church newsletter. “Pray at every meeting, every worship, every small group, and every day for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria,” said the announcement inviting support for the effort. “Spend time during the month of December fasting as a sign of support and interceding on behalf of those in Nigeria.... Call to Worship--join us for a LOVE EYN Worship Night on Saturday, Dec. 13.... Call to Give--an offering will be taken at the Worship Night to go directly to support EYN needs. Give a donation as an alternate Christmas gift for your family, friends, and coworkers.” The announcement noted that all monies up to $500,000 will be matched by the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board.
  • A Live Nativity sponsored by Mill Creek Church of the Brethren and the community will be hosted by Vern and Mary Jane Michael at 8218 Port Republic Road, Port Republic, Va., from 7-9 p.m. on Dec. 21-23. “Enjoy scripture, music, and scenery along with Mary, Joseph, the Baby Jesus, and the wise men, shepherds, and animals, including camels,” said an invitation.
  • “A Medieval Christmas from Chapel to Hall” by Nutmeg and Ginger, a musical ensemble dedicated to the recreation of Medieval/Renaissance music, was performed in concert on Dec. 7 at York (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren. The concert was given to the congregation in honor of the church’s generosity and support to the Hollinger family. “We are forever grateful to God for you,” said a note from the family in the church newsletter.
  • “Brethren Voices” produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren for airing on community access cable television, is offering two episodes in December. A special produced at Lebanon (Pa.) Valley Brethren Home titled “The Search For The Elusive White Squirrel,” reports that the retirement community is home to “the Elusive White Squirrel...a white squirrel named Snoball,” writes producer Ed Groff. “According to Rob Nelson, an ecologist of the University of Hawaii, these white squirrels are a rare version of the eastern grey squirrel. There are a few types of genetic aberrations that cause the white coats.” The December episode features Madison Avenue Church of the Brethren in York, Pa., and its  “Reverse Offering” which is handed out once a year. “Everyone in attendance is given an envelope and inside is a $20 bill, which is to be given to someone in need,” Groff wrote in an announcement of the episode. “Several weeks later, during the worship service, the people of the congregation share their stories about giving the money away to someone who really needs it. The sharing of the reverse offering can be very creative, depending on the needs in the community.” A second segment features the “Gold Standard” and the 100 Strong Program of Aurora, Ore. In January, “Brethren Voices” will feature the ministry of Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren. DVD copies of “Brethren Voices” are available from Portland Peace Church of the Brethren. Contact Ed Groff at  Many of the “Brethren Voices” programs can be seen at
  • The Southern Ohio District Board has approved a donation of $10,000 from district reserves, recently increased through receipt of some assets from the recently closed Poplar Grove congregation, to the Nigeria Crisis Fund, reports the district newsletter. The newsletter notes that this donation will be matched by an amount set aside by the Mission and Ministry Board of the Church of the Brethren. “The board is asking congregations and district individuals to consider gifts to this special fund as well,” the newsletter reported.
  • Northern Plains District reports that the quarter tubes that have been collecting change in the various churches across the district have now collected enough donations to purchase six arks from Heifer International. “This sixth ark is given in honor of the BVSers [Brethren Volunteer Service workers] from the Northern Plains District,” said the newsletter report by Diane Mason.
  • “As we look to the end of the year, Pleasant Hill Village in Girard [Ill] has so much to be thankful for,” said a note in the Illinois and Wisconsin District newsletter. The retirement community raised more than $37,500 at its 18th Annual Fall Dinner and Auction on Oct. 18, the report said. More than 220 people attended the event. The proceeds will help pay for new tables for the Pleasant Hill Healthcare dining room as well as new vital sign monitors, equipment for the new assisted-living rooms at Pleasant Hill Residence, and landscaping and beautification projects.
  • “Being in the Light; Sharing the Light” is the title for the Springs of Living Water Spiritual Disciplines folder for the season of Epiphany, running from Jan. 11-Feb. 21, 2015. Springs of Living Water church renewal initiative is led by David and Joan Young. “This Season of Light in the midst of a dark world is one of the two seasons of joy in the Christian year and runs up until Lent,” said an announcement. “Using Sunday and daily lectionary readings that follow the Brethren Bulletin Series, the folder helps individuals and congregations in a daily prayer pattern to follow the age old Brethren practice to live the meaning of the text that day. On the insert, persons can select the next spiritual discipline they feel God is leading them to.” The folder includes Bible study questions written by Vince Cable, pastor of Uniontown Church of the Brethren south of Pittsburgh, Pa. The folder can be used for individual or group Bible study. Find the folder and Bible study questions on the Springs website at . In a related announcement, Suzie Moss who was formerly secretary for Western Pennsylvania District office, has retired from that position and is now volunteer administrative assistant for the Springs initiative. For more information contact David and Joan Young at 717-615-4515.
Photo courtesy of Manchester University

Manchester University executive chef Chris Fogerty, left, and Carole Miller-Patrick distribute locally produced honey at a Community Dinner
  • Manchester University has been named to President's Service Honor Roll for an eighth year. The school based in North Manchester, Ind., “is also on the Interfaith Community Service Honor Roll,” said a release. The President’s Honor Roll recognizes higher education institutions whose community service efforts achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities. Manchester University has a long reputation for its many service projects and volunteer opportunities, the release notes. These programs include volunteer projects at Camp Mack, American Red Cross blood drives, Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, and the Indiana Reading Corps. Last year, Manchester students contributed more than 49,000 hours to their communities, their churches, their country, and nations around the world.
  • In related news, Carole Miller-Patrick, who directs the Manchester University Center for Service Opportunities, spoke this fall at a White House conference. The university was among just three schools nationwide asked to present on “Interfaith Programming that Works” among hundreds of representatives from higher education at the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, said a release. “We like to say we are feeding the mind as well as the body,” said Miller-Patrick. She helps organize the North Manchester Community Dinners, offered 4-6:30 p.m. every second and fourth Tuesday at Zion Lutheran Church in North Manchester. What sets the program apart is that the dinners, offered at one site, are hosted by individual churches in the community on a rotating basis, each taking responsibility to provide food for a month or particular dinner, the release said. The churches are aided by university students who set up for meals, serve them, and clean up afterward. The community meals are part of the university’s effort to meet a Campus Challenge issued in 2011 inviting higher learning institutions to commit to programming aimed at increasing literacy and fighting hunger. Virtually every church in town participates through the Fellowship of Churches. Church of the Brethren congregations that help with the Community Dinners include Manchester, Eel River, and Liberty Mills. An average of 150 people attend each dinner, sometimes 50 at one meal and 200 at the next, and about 10 students volunteer at each meal, according to the release. When she was asked to talk about Manchester’s success at the White House conference, Miller-Patrick said others were astounded by the level of cooperation here. “The big question they kept asking was, ‘Why aren’t these churches complaining?’” She said the answer is simple, “It works.”
  • A release from the National Council of Churches (NCC) following the decision of a grand jury not to indict a police officer in the choke hold death of Eric Garner in New York, quoted from Luke 12:6-7: “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.” The NCC is calling on prosecutors and police forces, juries and judges, “to hold police officers accountable when they kill,” the release said. “The appropriate place to judge innocence or guilt is not in the grand jury but in a trial setting where defense and prosecution come together to carefully present the facts of a case.” The release quoted a “Wall Street Journal” analysis published Dec. 2 that looked at 105 police departments from 2007-2012 and found that 550 police killings were missing from the national total, and found that in those 105 police agencies at least 1,800 people were killed by police, the release said. “The current indignation is not based only on the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. We believe that no one can be above the law, including one whose job it is to enforce it.” NCC general secretary Jim Winkler said in the release: “As a society we must rid ourselves of the notion that one life is worth more than another.”
  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) has issued an expression of appreciation for a recent religious leaders’ declaration for the eradication of slavery. The declaration, issued at the Vatican, brought together signatories from the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican communion, and Orthodox churches, with Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim leaders. The joint document declared a commitment against modern-day slavery. “Each human being is a free person, whether girl, boy, woman, or man, and is destined to exist for the good of all in equality and fraternity,” the declaration said, in part. “Modern slavery, in terms of human trafficking, forced labor and prostitution, organ trafficking, and any relationship that fails to respect the fundamental conviction that all people are equal and have the same freedom and dignity, is a crime against humanity.” At the event, a new Global Freedom Network was announced to struggle against modern-day slavery and human trafficking from a faith basis. Fulata Mbano-Moyo, the WCC program executive for Women in Church and Society, who was present at the event, has invited WCC member churches to sign the joint declaration, if they have not already done so. The WCC release included the following link for those interested in signing the Declaration with the Global Freedom Network: United to End Slavery:
  • In more news from the WCC, general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit has extended sympathies for those affected by an attack on a major mosque in northern Nigeria. Following the attack on the Great Mosque of Kano on Nov. 28, resulting in the deaths of over 100 people, Tveit extended sympathies for those bereaved or wounded, offering prayers for Nigerians who, he said, are “so full of potential” yet “wounded by violence and injustice.” Tveit said the attack is a “salutary reminder that both Muslim and Christian communities are threatened by, and suffering from, the extremist violence which is impacting the lives of so many of the people of northern Nigeria.... There is a particular evil in any attack on people at a place of worship,” he added. Read more at
  • “Sunday, Dec. 14 will be the second anniversary of the gun tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., that took the lives of 20 schoolchildren and 6 teachers and administrators. Heeding God's Call believes it is important to take time from our daily lives to remember those lost to gun violence that day at Sandy Hook and every day in Philadelphia, Chester, Camden, and all across America,” said a recent announcement from Heeding God’s Call, a movement against gun violence that started at a meeting of the Historic Peace Churches in Philadelphia. The group is inviting supporters to attend “any or all” remembrances of victims of gun violence this week. Heeding God’s Call is helping to host an Interfaith Commemoration on Friday, Dec. 12, at 10:30 a.m. at Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia, in cooperation with CeaseFire PA and Mothers In Charge. Heeding God’s Call also is helping to host a Vigil of Remembrance on Saturday, Dec. 13, from 9-11 a.m. at Sherwood Ministry Center in Southwest Philadelphia, in cooperation with CityLights. For more information go to or contact Heeding God's Call, 8812 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19118.
Source: 12/10/2014 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 Colleen M. Algeo, Chris Bowman, Scott Duffey, Enten Eller, Richard E. Frantz, Kathy Fry-Miller, Anne Gregory, Julie Hostetter, Steven D. Martin, Glenn Riegel, David Sollenberger, Jenny Williams, Terra Winston, David Young, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Newsline: December 2, 2014


Haiti Medical Project receives second grant from Royer Family Charitable Foundation

For the second year the Royer Family Charitable Foundation of Lancaster, Pa., is providing major support to the Church of the Brethren Haiti Medical Project. The current grant of $126,300 will support an expanded program of mobile clinics, a first Social Ministries Consultation in Haiti, a new thrust into community health and pure water projects, and an endowment fund.

Photo by Mark Myers

Haiti Medical Project in action
An earlier grant from the foundation is making it possible to double the number of mobile clinics to 48 in 16 Haitian communities in 2014, and increase the number of persons served to about 7,000 this year.

The new grant will continue the expanded effort to provide basic health care in partnership with congregations of l’Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti).

“This grant really helps us change the lives of the poorest in the western hemisphere, the remote rural poor of Haiti,” said Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren.

The Royer Family Charitable Foundation was founded by Kenneth Royer and his late wife Jean. In its mission statement, the foundation “seeks to improve the quality of people's lives internationally and domestically through sustainable programs that have a long term impact on individuals and communities. The foundation's aim is to support basic needs for life and health while encouraging long-term self sufficiency. The foundation prefers to support efforts that have a tangible impact, defined measureable goals and permit a relationship between the grant recipients and the foundation.”

“We’re really impressed by the work being done in Haiti and we feel like our support is making a quantifiable difference,” said Becky Fuchs, a daughter of Kenneth and Jean Royer who is the foundation’s vice-president and treasurer. She is pastor of Mountville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. The improvement to people’s health and quality of life resulting from the Haiti Medical Project “is encouraging us to continue to be involved,” she said.

The Haiti Medical Project is one of the largest recipients of grants from the Royer Family Charitable Foundation, Fuchs said. Other s include a clinic project in Liberia that has been working diligently on the Ebola crisis; an agriculture and community development program in Sierra Leone; Found in Translation based in Boston, which trains immigrant women to be medical interpreters; and Horizons National, started in Connecticut to provide summer enrichment programs for average and below-average students from low-income families. The foundation also gave a small grant to Alpha and Omega Community Center--related to a Church of the Brethren fellowship of the same name in Lancaster, Pa.--to switch from oil to gas heat in order to free up money for program.

As is the case with all aspects of the Haiti Medical Project supported by the foundation grants, the clinics also receive generous support from Brethren individuals and congregations. Paul Ullom-Minnich, a Kansas physician who convenes the clinics’ Coordinating Committee noted that “these clinics have really empowered the local churches to serve their neighbors. As the ministry grows, feedback from the local communities has been amazing.”

According to Dale Minnich, a project volunteer, “Perhaps the most significant impact of these grants will be to help the Brethren launch a second major arm of the Haiti Medical Project--the new work in community health and pure drinking water projects.” This work on community health and drinking water will be led by a three-person Community Development Team consisting of its director, Jean Bily Telfort, along with Adias Docteur, and Vildor Archange.

Telfort and Docteur are agronomists who continue to work with agricultural and nutrition projects funded by the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund. Archange will give direction to the new work in community health, assisted by the other two members of the team.  The new work will include beginning community health committees in a number of villages, an effort to provide basic midwifery skills to untrained persons attending the majority of births in Haitian communities, and an educational pre- and post-natal program for pregnant mothers and mothers of children less than two years old.

The new Community Development Team will be fully functioning by Jan. 1, 2015.

The Haiti Medical Project is sponsored by the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service. It was begun in late 2011 as a grassroots initiative without specific budget support and depending almost completely on support by committed Brethren. For more information go to .

-- Dale Minnich contributed to this report.

Source: 12/2/2014 Newsline