Saturday, January 25, 2014

Newsline: January 25, 2014


Many state laws link Selective Service registration to driver’s licenses

By Lucas Kauffman

When young American men turn 18, they are required to register with the Selective Service System (SSS) because of federal law (50 U.S.C. App. 451 et seq). That law requires almost every male citizen, as well as immigrant men living in the United States, to register in the event of a military draft. Women are not required to register, nor are men 26 and older.

For officials, a high compliance rate is important, since that would mean that any military draft that might come up would be fair. To make sure there is 100 percent compliance, a lot of states have created legislation that links SSS registration with the process of applying for a driver’s license or state identification card.

Delaware was the first state that reached a nearly 100 percent compliance rate, since beginning the legislation in 2000. Seven other states also increased compliance rates after similar driver’s license legislation in 2002, the Selective Service reports on its website.

Reasons for these state laws include assuring eligibility for some programs and benefits to their citizens, because men who fail to register with Selective Service are not eligible for programs and benefits that Congress, 41 states and territories, and the District of Columbia have linked to registration for the draft. That would include student loans and grants for college, most government jobs, and job training. Also, immigrants who fail to register when they are at least 18 but not yet 26, may be denied citizenship.

Typical state legislation instructs the Department of Public Safety or Motor Vehicles to include a consent statement on all applications or renewals for driver’s permits, licenses, and identification cards, the SSS website says. The statement tells the applicant that by signing the application, he consents to his registration with the SSS. The applicant’s data is transferred to the SSS electronically through an arrangement the state has with the data sharing system of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.

A problem for nonregistrant conscientious objectors?

For those who do not want to register for the draft or who decide to be nonregistrant conscientious objectors, this legislation could be a problem. According to Bill Galvin, the counseling coordinator at the Center on Conscience and War, there is at least one option. “One option that people have is just not apply for a driver’s license until they turn 26 years old,” he said.

However, young men who do not register for the draft may be denied financial aid for college through the federal government. Galvin said that the Center on Conscience and War may be able to help provide funding, if that happens.

The Center on Conscience and War, based in Washington, D.C., was founded in the 1940s by the Historic Peace Churches--Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers. According to Galvin, the center exists to help protect the rights of conscientious objectors.

“We are active in the G.I. Rights Hotline, which is a hotline that people can call if they want to not be a part of the military anymore,” said Galvin. The center also monitors state laws such as the automatic registration into the draft, advocates for the rights of conscientious objectors, and helps immigrants and people of different religious backgrounds apply for conscientious objector status.

Since the Center on Conscience and War is opposed to a military draft and conscription, it does not want the law that protects the rights of conscientious objectors to go away, Galvin commented when asked about the necessity of a Selective Service System in light of automatic draft registration in so many states. If Selective Service were done away with, the Center on Conscience and War could still exist he said. “Churches do support us, especially if they have conscientious objectors in their congregations,” said Galvin.

“I believe that as long as there is war, there will be conscientious objection. The need for our work will go on.”

Find an article on “Selective Service Registration: Coercion of Conscience?” from the Center on Conscience and War at

Conscientious objector checklist, from the curriculum Call of Conscience published by the Church of the Brethren at .
Conscientious objector checklist, from the curriculum Call of Conscience published by the Church of the Brethren at

Role of Brethren Volunteer Service in event of a draft

Director of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) Dan McFadden offered his thoughts about the legislation that links Selective Service registration with driver’s licenses. “BVS would provide an opportunity for alternative service [in the event of a draft], and it has done so in previous drafts,” said McFadden. “There would most likely be more people that sign up for BVS to look for service opportunities, if there was a draft.”

Not many people know about the legislation that links registration with driver’s licenses, he said. “For most people, this is not a big deal. However for a conscientious objector, if you are not registered and you are in college, the government can block federal student loans.”

If that happens, McFadden said that some Church of the Brethren related schools, such as Manchester University, “will help with student loans, if you are not able to get loans because of not registering for the draft.”

McFadden has heard about and kept up to date on the legislation through regular conference calls with the Selective Service and other Anabaptist and church volunteer organizations. He thinks that the driver’s license legislation is a way the government is improving compliance rates, just like Selective Service wants. “It is a way to streamline the people who register,” he said. “This is a way to have names of people on hand, if there ever is a draft.

“This legislation does not really matter if you are planning on registering with the Selective Service,” said McFadden.“You have to selectively say that you do not want to, by sending in materials.

“Personally, I do not really think that the Selective Service System is necessary,” he added. However, he clarified that “the Selective Service draft system is one place where the federal government recognizes conscientious objectors.” If the current Selective Service System was dismantled, “there is no guarantee that a new selective service put back into place in the future would recognize the right to conscientious objection,” McFadden said. “If they do away with the system, conscientious objectors would not receive any recognition.”

How to register as a conscientious objector

While there is no official way to register as a conscientious objector, men may inform the government that that they are conscientious objectors by filling out a paper form and writing a personal statement.

According to McFadden, conscientious objectors should send in paperwork to the Selective Service using the “mail-back”registration forms that are available at any US Post Office. On that form, young men may write, “I am a conscientious objector,” and make several photocopies before mailing the form to Selective Service. McFadden has been informed by Selective Service staff that the department keeps a copy of all of the paper registration forms they receive.

Conscientious objectors should make several copies of the form and their personal statement, to keep for themselves, and to mail a copy to be kept on file by the denomination. Mail to the Church of the Brethren General Offices, Attn: Global Mission and Service Office, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. Some Brethren congregations may provide this service to their members by keeping a file for conscientious objectors.

Information about conscientious objection including a check list to prepare evidence to support a CO claim, and other helpful resources, are available at

States with laws linking registration to driver’s licenses

Following is a list of the 40 states, 4 territories, and the District of Columbia that have such legislation in effect, as of Oct. 25, 2013, according to the SSS website: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Virgin Islands, District of Columbia.

States and territories that have enacted but not yet implemented the legislation are Maine, Maryland, Puerto Rico.

Find out if you have automatically been registered for the draft by typing in name and social security number at the Selective Service website

-- Lucas Kauffman is a senior at Manchester University in N. Manchester, Ind., and a January term intern with the Church of the Brethren News Services.

Source: 1/25/2014 Newsline

Global Food Crisis Fund gives $50,000 for agricultural projects in Haiti

The Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF), a fund of the Church of the Brethren dedicated to developing food security, is making an allocation of $50,000 for the continuation of agriculture development projects in Haiti. A previous grant of $50,000 was given to this project in September 2012.

This grant will provide funds for mini-grants being used to start tree nurseries, to buy animals, to purchase improved varieties of seeds and fertilizer, and to start family gardens.

Jeff Boshart, fund manager, and the GFCF Grant Review Panel recommended the additional allocation in support of a program that operates in 18 communities where L’Eglise des Freres in Haiti (Church of the Brethren in Haiti) has an established presence. The agriculture program provides training in appropriate agriculture practices and gives small grants to families to initiate small enterprises suitable to their circumstances.

The GFCF is the primary way that the Church of the Brethren assists hungry people in developing food security. Since 1983, the fund has provided grants upwards of $400,000 annually to community development programs in 32 countries. Find out more at

Source: 1/25/2014 Newsline

Disaster grants go to South Sudan, Honduras

Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed grants from the church’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to the needs of people displaced by armed conflict in South Sudan, and to people threatened by food insecurity after Honduras declared a state of national emergency due to a disease affecting the coffee harvest.

An allocation of $15,000 responds to an appeal from ACT Alliance following heavy armed fighting that began in Dec. 2013 in South Sudan, resulting in the displacement of up to 194,000 people. Many of the displaced are seen in the Torit area of the Eastern Equatorial State, where the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service is active with two mission workers and several partnerships. Additional grants are anticipated in the future to support the response efforts organized by Global Mission staff and volunteers. The grant will help to provide emergency food, water, sanitation, and household supplies to families displaced inside South Sudan.

An allocation of $10,000 responds to a Church World Service (CWS) appeal following the declaration of a national emergency in Honduras due to the worst Coffee Rust plague since 1976. The grant will support CWS partnering with the Mennonite Social Action Commission of Honduras to assist 200 families at very high risk of food insecurity. The families will be provided with vegetable seeds, plantain trees, aquaculture, chicken coops, and help with improving agro-livestock production, agricultural inputs, nutritional education, access to alternative livelihoods, and on-site technical assistance.

Source: 1/25/2014 Newsline

NPR finds Peace Studies class in story about detained immigrants

Manchester Peace Studies class visits with men being held in Stewart Detention Center as part of an experience with the Alterna and El Refugio communities in Georgia.
Photo courtesy of Manchester University
Manchester Peace Studies class visits with men being held in Stewart Detention Center as part of an experience with the Alterna and El Refugio communities in Georgia.

By Jeri S. Kornegay

The National Public Radio (NPR) program Latino USA interviewed participants in Manchester University’s “Peace Issues” January session class for a story broadcast Jan. 17.

“We were visiting with men being held in Stewart Detention Center as part of an experience with the Alterna and El Refugio communities,” said Katy Gray Brown, director of Peace Studies for Manchester University. Stewart, in remote Lumpkin, Ga., is the largest immigrant detention center in the United States and the site of numerous abuses documented by the American Civil Liberties Union and other human rights organizations.

The students visited detainees in the center and met families who had come to visit relatives who are being detained. They also volunteered in hospitality programs created by neighbors of the detention center--reaching out to families, who often had traveled hundreds of miles to see their loved ones.

The experience gave Manchester students an excellent opportunity to meet those affected by immigration detention policies, said Gray Brown.

The story by Latino USA reporter Martha Dalton--“A Refuge for Detention Center Visitors”--includes an interview with Manchester senior peace studies major Katy Herder of Claremont, Calif. Dalton spoke with many of the Manchester group, Gray Brown noted.

As they traveled the South, the students discovered that the greatest civil rights sites in the United States today are Ground Zero for some the most contentious battles in immigration and immigration rights. Their class ends Jan. 23.

Listen to the story on the Latino USA website at

-- Jeri S. Kornegay works in University Media Relations for Manchester University.

Source: 1/25/2014 Newsline

Carrie Eikler to serve as TRIM and EFSM coordinator

Carrie Eikler
Stevenson Photography
Carrie Eikler
Carrie Eikler has been named half-time coordinator of the Training in Ministry (TRIM) and Education for Shared Ministry (EFSM) programs at the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. She will begin her duties on Feb. 1. The academy is a ministry training partnership of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Theological Seminary.

Eikler will continue as co-pastor of Morgantown (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren/Mennonite Church USA (a dually affiliated congregation), where she has served since 2007. As part of her new position, she will spend a minimum of a half week per month in office on the Bethany campus in Richmond, Ind., or at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

Eikler is a graduate of Manchester University (formerly Manchester College) and holds a master of divinity degree from Bethany Seminary. While in seminary, she served as peace studies assistant, interim admissions assistant, New Testament teaching assistant, worship coordinator, and a Student Leadership Team member. She is affiliated with the Church of the Brethren Ministerial Association, Morgantown Women’s Clergy Network, and Allegheny Mennonite Conference Leadership Council, and has served on the West Marva District Peace Team. Her continuing education experiences include the academy’s Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Vital Pastor program.

--Jenny Williams contributed this release. Williams serves as director of Communications and Alumni/ae Relations for Bethany Theological Seminary.

Source: 1/25/2014 Newsline

Annual Clergy Tax Seminar is offered online and at Bethany Seminary

Deborah Oskin leads Clergy Tax Seminar for Bethany Seminary, Brethren Academy, Ministry Office
The annual tax seminar for clergy will be held March 3. Students, pastors, and other church leaders are invited to attend either in person at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., or online.

The sessions will cover tax law for clergy, changes for 2013 (the most current tax year to file), and detailed assistance to correctly file the various forms and schedules that pertain to clergy including housing allowances, self-employment, W-2s clergy reductions, and so forth.

Greatly appreciated by Bethany Seminary students, this seminar is now open to clergy and others across the denomination. It is recommended for all pastors and other church leaders who wish to understand clergy taxes, including treasurers, steward commission chairs, and church board chairs.

Participants will learn how to file clergy taxes correctly and legally, will learn how to comply with regulations while maximizing tax deductions, and will earn 0.3 continuing education units.

Leadership is provided by Deb Oskin, EA, NTPI Fellow, who is also an ordained minister. She has been doing clergy tax returns since 1989, when her husband became pastor of a small Church of the Brethren congregation. She has learned the problems and pitfalls associated with the IRS identification of clergy as "hybrid employees," from the personal and professional perspective. During her 12 years with H&R Block (2000-2011), she achieved the highest level of expertise certification as a master tax adviser and certified advanced instructor, and has earned the status of enrolled agent with the IRS, qualified to represent clients to the IRS. She was called by Living Peace Church of the Brethren in Columbus, Ohio, to be the congregation’s peace minister to the wider community in 2004, and served as Southern Ohio District's board chair from 2007-2011. She also works closely with several interfaith peace organizations in central Ohio and currently operates her own independent tax service specializing in clergy taxes.

Seminar schedule, Monday, March 3
  • Morning session: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (eastern time),  0.3 continuing education units available for live attendance, either in person or online
  • Lunch is on your own
  • Afternoon session: 2-4 p.m. (eastern)

This event is sponsored by the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry, and Bethany Seminary's Office of Electronic Communication. Registration is $20 per person. Registration fees for current Bethany, TRIM/EFSM/SeBAH, or Earlham School of Religion students are fully subsidized (free). Registration is required to reserve a seat at the seminary or proper access to the online event, and make sufficient materials available. For those attending online, instructions and handouts will be sent a few days prior to the event. Registrations are not complete until payment is received. For space and quality reasons, registrations may be capped at 25 participants locally and 85 online. Prompt registration is advised. Go to

-- Julie Hostetter is executive director of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, a joint endeavor of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Theological Seminary.

Source: 1/25/2014 Newsline

‘Jesus Weeps--Resisting Violence, Building Peace’ is theme for advocacy days

The Office of Public Witness invites Brethren to the 12th Annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) that will take place in Washington, D.C., from on March 21-24. This year’s theme is “Jesus Weeps--Resisting Violence, Building Peace.”

EAD is an ecumenical conference grounded in biblical witness and shared traditions of justice and peace. EAD’s goal, through worship, theological reflection, and opportunities for learning and witness, is to strengthen our Christian voice and to mobilize for advocacy on US policy issues.

This year’s theme particularly speaks to the Church of the Brethren’s rich tradition of peacemaking in the world, so the Office of Public Witness staff hope that Church of the Brethren members will join the staff in Washington, D.C., for this exciting conference. For more information and to register go to EAD’s website at

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

Source: 1/25/2014 Newsline

Action Alert: End the violence in Syria

From the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness 

This week delegations from many of the factions involved in the Syrian conflict gathered in Switzerland for the Geneva II conference. Church of the Brethren general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger was in Geneva last week working with the World Council of Churches encouraging Christian leaders from across the world to come together as a united voice for peace in the lead up to the conference.

This conference provides the best chance for negotiating an immediate ceasefire and a possible plan for future negotiations to fully end the conflict in Syria. While in Geneva, Noffsinger wrote a personal letter to President Obama urging him and his administration to push for peace at Geneva II saying:

"The Church of the Brethren follows the One who promises to make all things new, and as people of faith we will work in solidarity with the people of Syria as they seek a new start and a way out of the cycle of violence that has crippled their country. Our hope is rooted in the belief that enemies can be reconciled to one another and that new beginnings can be salvaged from the ending of violence. We hope that you will work with us to make this hope a reality."

The conflict in Syria has persisted for more than 1,000 days, leaving over 100,000 Syrians dead, 6 million Syrians internally displaced, and over 2 million Syrians displaced as refugees in neighboring countries. This appalling violence continues and the humanitarian situation has reached historic proportions. The United States has been leading the way in providing humanitarian aid to Syrians affected by this conflict, but what we currently are doing is not enough, and the need will only grow as violence continues.

Late last summer, we had 495 Brethren at National Older Adult Conference write to the President regarding US involvement in Syria and a large response to our Action Alert to Congress and the President. We helped to successfully urge the Administration and Congress to refrain from engaging militarily in Syria, and once again we need to raise our voice up for peace.

American negotiators need to hear that we want peace above all else. We cannot allow this golden opportunity at Geneva II to be squandered away by cynicism or political agendas. Write the President and urge him and his administration to support an immediate ceasefire so that Syria can begin the process of rebuilding and reconciling.

Sample letter:
Mr. President,

As your administration prepares for the upcoming Geneva II conference, I want to urge you to prioritize peace above all other concerns. Only an immediate ceasefire that allows for serious political negotiations to begin can finally bring this violent conflict to an end.

This conference provides a golden opportunity to make progress towards a brighter future for Syria and its people, and I hope that your administration will make every effort to get as many different parties to the table so that a broad agreement can be reached. This conflict cannot be won on the battlefield, but rather must be ended by negotiators that prioritize peace and the safety of the Syrian people above everything else.

I pray that you will remember the many Syrians who are suffering under such awful violence as you and your administration deliberate on these tremendously important matters.

Thank you for hearing my concerns,


In God's peace,
Bryan Hanger
Advocacy Assistant
Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness
-- Church of the Brethren Action Alerts are a ministry of the denomination's Global Mission and Service and Office of Public Witness. To receive Action Alerts or other e-communications go to For more information about the public witness ministries of the Church of the Brethren, contact Nathan Hosler, coordinator, Office of Public Witness, 337 North Carolina Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003; ; 717-333-1649.

Source: 1/25/2014 Newsline

Brethren bits

Brethren Press logo
“Planning worship for Lent?” asks a Facebook note from Brethren Press. “View the updated lectionary, which highlights texts used in our bulletin series.” The Church of the Brethren offers an online page focused on the lectionary scripture readings for the year, with links to a listing of the scripture readings used in the Living Word Bulletins published by Brethren Press, and a guide for studying the lectionary scriptures with a discernment process and helpful questions. Go to Living Word Bulletins may be purchased from Brethren Press at or by calling 800-441-3712.
  • The Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., has announced the hiring of two new employees. Glenna Thompson has accepted the position of full-time office assistant for Material Resources starting Jan. 21. Most recently, she worked for IMA World Health as resource development associate and general administrator. Darlene Hylton has accepted the position of temporary part-time office assistant for the Brethren Disaster Ministries office, supporting the administrative and database work. Her most recent work has included assisting with the disaster ministry’s Church of the Brethren membership and IMA databases. 
  • Read the latest “Brethren in the News” at Topping online news reports from across the nation that feature Church of the Brethren members and congregations, is an article about the way Grossnickel Church of the Brethren continues its long-term support for the Foods Resource Bank. Also included are a number of other news pieces and obituaries.
  • Northern Indiana District seeks a district executive to fill a three-quarter to full-time position available Sept. 1. The district includes 40 congregations with 1 in southern Michigan and 39 in the northern third of Indiana. Its congregations are a mix of rural, urban, and suburban with a healthy mix of theological diversity. The district board’s commitment is “Communicating, Coordinating, Connecting our family of churches” (Galatians 6:10). The preferred candidate is a personable/relational, curious, and competent administrator, who will serve as coach and team builder. The district envisions a creative model for team leadership where the district executive facilitates ministry priorities as noted by the district. The district office currently is located in Nappanee, Ind. Responsibilities include to serve as executive officer of the district board offering administrative leadership; equip, empower, inspire the board to leadership and good governance; build and strengthen relationships with congregations and pastors; use mediation skills to work with congregations in conflict; facilitate and encourage the calling of persons to set-apart ministry and lay leadership; facilitate the pastoral placement process with congregations and pastors. Qualifications include a clear commitment to Jesus Christ demonstrated by a vibrant spiritual life; grounding in Church of the Brethren faith and heritage, belief, and practice; valuing the infinite worth of each person and congregation; a collaborative leadership style that enables teamwork and shares tasks; curiosity; a vision and plan for the future; valuing all aspects of relationships with and within congregations; expertise in the dynamics of small church life and its vital mission and ministry; strong communication, mediation, and conflict resolution skills; strong administrative and management skills; respect for theological diversity; flexibility in working with staff, volunteer, pastoral, and lay leadership. Requirements include ordination in the Church of the Brethren, with a variety of ministry experiences preferred. Apply by sending a letter of interest and resume via e-mail to Applicants are requested to contact three or four people to provide a letter of reference. A candidate profile must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. The application deadline is March 1.
  • The annual Meat Canning Project of Southern Pennsylvania District and Mid-Atlantic District takes place April 21-24 at Christian Aid Ministries in Ephrata, Pa. A note from coordinator Terry Wueschinski publicized in church newsletter reports that the goal for this year is to can 45,000 pounds of chicken. The amount planned for has been reduced from previous years due primarily to the lack of financial backing, Wueschinski noted. Last year 67,000 pounds were processed and labeled by volunteers. The funds that support the project are used to purchase the chicken and pay for facility usage, labels, and shipping. The canned chicken is distributed to those in need in the two districts, with the possibility of a portion going to an overseas mission. 
  • Virlina District’s Childrens Cabinet will hold a “Back In Time” event for children kindergarten thru fifth grade and their parents on Saturday,  April 26, 9 a.m.-12 noon in the Deer Field Center at Camp Bethel. Activities will include living history demonstrations, presentations, music, games, and snacks.
  • The 2014 “Peace Feast” in Shenandoah District will be March 18, at 6:30 p.m., at Sangerville (Va.) Church of the Brethren. The event will celebrate the service of the Seagoing Cowboys of Heifer Project (now Heifer International).
  • The Brethren Housing Association broke ground Jan. 23 on its Hummel Street Townhouses, a major housing renovation project in the distressed Allison Hill neighborhood of Harrisburg, Pa., said a release. In partnership with PinnacleHealth Systems and affiliated construction contractors, the association was able to purchase or procure five lots on Hummel St. across from Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren. “In place of crumbling buildings, BHA plans to erect five townhouse apartments for its transitional housing program serving mothers and their children recovering from homelessness” said the release. “More than 80 supporters and officials celebrated the project's groundbreaking, estimated at $950,000, of which approximately half has been pledged so far.” For more information contact Chris Fitz at 717-233-6016 or See photos on Facebook, search for brethrenhousing. Find a “Patriot-News” article about this project at
  • In more news from the Brethren Housing Association, the group has thanked the more than 250 volunteers who turned out for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Events took place at the Brethren Housing Association and Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren on Jan. 20 in conjunction with other neighborhood organizations including Brethren Community Ministries, the YWCA, Tri-County Community Action, Habitat for Humanity, and more, a release said. Volunteers renovated several apartments and a volunteer house, and did outside cleanup. Church groups who would like to be involved in an urban renewal project, especially involving carpentry, drywall, masonry, painting, and/or cleaning, are invited to contact Dennis Saylor at 717-233-6016 or
  • A $2,500 grant to Bridgewater (Va.) College from the Enterprise Holdings Foundation will fund the purchase of an electric-powered utility vehicle for use in the college’s recycling program reports a release. The foundation is the philanthropic arm of the company that operates Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental, and Alamo Rent A Car brands. According to Teshome Molalenge, director of the college Center for Sustainability, the purchase of a used, extended-cab electric utility vehicle will double the recycling transportation options available to the student-run  recycling program. Eight students currently work in the program and share one small electric utility cart and a student-assembled Bike Cargo to transport recycling items throughout the 240-acre campus.
  • The board of Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md., has approved a comprehensive Master Plan that “lays out three phases that will affect every aspect of Fahrney-Keedy while spanning a timeframe of up to 20 years,” said a release. Some key components of the plan include ensuring that revenue-generating projects are developed, combining a number of financing options to make the plan work, increasing short-term rehabilitation, expanding independent-living cottage and apartment homes as the market demands, expanding parking, completing a perimeter road, preserving campus green space, and constructing a water storage tank for present and future needs, said the release.   A major project will be the eventual replacement of the skilled nursing center. “The plan took months to research, write, and complete, involving many hours of board and staff time,” said president and CEO Keith Bryan. “Implementing the plan will involve everyone at Fahrney-Keedy.” Visit for additional details.
  • Another congregation of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has suffered an attack as terrorist violence has continued in northern Nigeria this January, carried out by extremist Islamist group Boko Haram according to media reports. The EYN building in Bzuba village was destroyed in an attack on Jan. 8, reports “Christian Today” of Australia, in an article that asserts that “Islamic extremists have attacked villages in three states in Nigeria every Sunday this month, killing at least 15 Christians.” Another wave of violence also has wracked Nigeria as anti-gay violence broke out following a recent law that bans gay marriages and activities, according to African media. “Gay individuals have reportedly inundated some foreign embassies in Lagos to seek asylum,” said a CAJ News piece posted today at . “The law stipulates 14-year jail term for any person found to be nurturing gay relations or promoting gay activities.... Officials have already begun the implementation of the law with the arrest and arraignment of five suspected gays in the northern part of the country.” A source told the CAJ news agency that “embassy authorities would likely give genuine considerations to visa applicants who were gay and might be in obvious danger.”
  • Jerry Dick of Penn Run Church of the Brethren has been named volunteer of the month by Community Action Inc. He has been a member of the Indiana County (Pa.) Senior Corps-RSVP since May last year, reports the “Indiana (Pa.) Gazette.” He volunteers for Aging Services Inc.’s Two Lick Valley Social Center and Indiana County Community Action Program’s White Township Food Pantry, and is a volunteer firefighter for the Cherryhill Township Fire Department.
Source: 1/25/2014 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 Deborah Brehm, Jeff Boshart, Charles Culbertson, Chris Fitz, Bryan Hanger, Mary K. Heatwole, Julie Hostetter, Lucas Kauffman, Jeri S. Kornegay, Nancy Miner, Glen Sargent, Jenny Williams, Roy Winter, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Newsline: January 17, 2014


Joint representative for Syria to deliver urgent call from churches to Geneva 2 talks

The group of church leaders at the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Consultation on Syria included Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger
World Council of Churches / Peter Williams
The group of church leaders at the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Consultation on Syria included Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger

With the Geneva 2 talks on Syria scheduled for Jan. 22, some 30 church leaders from Syria and around the world gathered a week ahead of time at the headquarters of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva, Switzerland, and called for substantial action be taken at the talks to end the armed conflict. Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger was one of the American church leaders who participated.

In a message to be delivered to Geneva 2 by Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations-Arab League joint representative for Syria, the group--which is convinced there is no military solution--said that there needed to be “immediate cessation of all armed confrontation and hostility within Syria,” thus ensuring that “all vulnerable communities in Syria and refugees in neighboring countries receive appropriate humanitarian assistance” and that “a comprehensive and inclusive process toward establishing a just peace and rebuilding Syria” should be developed.

“There is no time to waste; enough people have died or had to leave their homes,” Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, said following the meeting.

‘As churches we speak with one voice’

The church leaders and representatives came from the Middle East, the Vatican, Russia, other European nations, and the United States, and included representatives from Syrian churches, the Middle East Council of Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox, Protestants, and Anglicans.

The meeting, called the Ecumenical Consultation on Syria and sponsored by the WCC, was held Jan. 15-17. It is a follow up to a similar meeting in September 2013 sponsored by the WCC which also included Brahimi and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

"We are representing the silent majority, the voice of the voiceless," said Catholicos Aram I, head of the Holy See of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church, to Brahimi who consulted with the group on Thursday afternoon, Jan. 15.

Church leaders gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, for an ecumenical consultation on Syria in advance of the Geneva 2 talks by world leaders hoping to address the ongoing civil conflict, violence, and refugee situation in Syria
World Council of Churches / Peter Williams Church leaders gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, for an ecumenical consultation on Syria in advance of the Geneva 2 talks by world leaders hoping to address the ongoing civil conflict, violence, and refugee situation in Syria

"Your mission is not an easy one,” Aram continued. “It is a critical, crucial mission. You can be sure that you have our full support, the full support of all churches, the full support of the global Christian community.”

When asked what the church and others can do now about Syria, Brahimi said, churches can “mobilize international opinion, to condemn all that is bad in this situation and to support all that is good now.”

When describing the plans for the Geneva 2 talks, Brahimi said, "hopefully we will begin talking about peace and not war anymore."

“Our aspiration is that Syrians put an end to their war and start rebuilding their country,” he said.

Brahimi also recognized the ongoing work of the churches when distributing humanitarian aid in the region, saying, “we are grateful that the actual material aid that you are providing, you are providing it without asking whether it is for a man, woman, child, believers, unbelievers or Muslims.” Earlier in the meeting he thanked the group for their encouragement and prayers.

“The people of Syria crying for just peace deserve results from the upcoming Geneva 2 talks,” Tveit said. “Let us continue to work and pray for the people of Syria.”

The meeting was accompanied by an ecumenical prayer held on the evening of Jan. 16, also joined by the members of the international community to express their solidarity with the people of Syria, expressing hopes for peace in the country.

The service drew attention to the great antiquity of the Christian presence in Syria, as well as the commitment of Syria's Christians, inspired by the New Testament to transform violence and oppression into healing and reconciliation.

The Message to the Geneva 2 talks from the WCC Ecumenical Consultation on Syria:

An urgent call to action for a just peace in Syria
WCC Ecumenical Consultation on Syria
Ecumenical Centre -- Geneva -- Jan. 15-17, 2014

Church leaders and representatives from Syria, the Middle East Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches and the Holy See[1] gathered in Geneva from 15–17 January 2014 for a consultation to address the forthcoming Geneva II peace conference on Syria.
Christians have maintained a continuous presence in the land of Syria since the dawn of Christianity. Today, as churches and church-related humanitarian agencies, we are present with the people of Syria on a daily basis both inside the country and amongst refugees. In this communication, we seek to raise their voice.

Our concern is for all people affected by the indiscriminate violence and humanitarian calamity in Syria. Innocent children, women and men are being killed, wounded, traumatized and driven from their homes in uncounted numbers. We hear their cries, knowing that when “one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26).

There will be no military solution to the crisis in the country. Endeavouring to be faithful to God’s love of all human beings, and within the context of international humanitarian law, we submit these calls for action and guidelines for building peace.

We call upon you, as participants in the Geneva II conference, to:
  1. pursue an immediate cessation of all armed confrontation and hostility within Syria. We call for all parties to the conflict to release detained and kidnapped persons. We urge the UN Security Council to implement measures ending the flow of weapons and foreign fighters into Syria.
  2. ensure that all vulnerable communities in Syria and refugees in neighbouring countries receive appropriate humanitarian assistance. Where such large populations are at serious risk, full humanitarian access is essential in compliance with international law and the Responsibility to Protect.
  3. develop a comprehensive and inclusive process toward establishing a just peace and rebuilding Syria. All sectors of society (including government, opposition and civil society) need to be included in a Syrian solution for the Syrian people. We recognize the urgent need to integrate women and young people fully in these processes.
Geneva II must be transformed into a peace-building process, responding to the legitimate aspirations of all Syrian people. We offer these guidelines:
  • Any peace-building process must be Syrian-led. It should be transparent and credible so Syrians may determine their country’s future. Such a process requires the support of the Arab League, the United Nations and the constructive engagement of all parties involved in the current crisis.
  • All efforts must be made to secure the peace, territorial integrity and independence of Syria.
  • The multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-confessional nature and tradition of Syrian society must be preserved. The vibrant mosaic of Syrian society entails equal rights for all of its citizens. The human rights, dignity and religious freedom for all must be promoted and protected in accordance with international norms.
As Christians we speak with one voice in calling for a just peace in Syria. To achieve this peace, we are committed to working hand-in-hand with Muslim sisters and brothers, with whom we share a common history along with spiritual and social values. We seek to work for national reconciliation and healing through building trust.

“Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9).

[1] Participants came from the following countries: France, Germany, Italy, Iran, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Ecumenical partners included the ACT Alliance, the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Lutheran World Federation, Pax Christi International, Religions for Peace and the World Student Christian Federation.

-- This release was provided by the World Council of Churches.

Source: 1/17/2014 Newsline

Brethren Disaster Ministries staff to evaluate state of response to Typhoon Haiyan

Damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan in Northern Iloilo, Philippines.
Photo courtesy of ACT/Christian Aid
Damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan in Northern Iloilo, Philippines.
Roy Winter, associate executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries, will travel to the Philippines to evaluate the current state of the response to Typhoon Haiyan. The trip is part of a Brethren Disaster Ministries-facilitated response in the Philippines following the destruction and loss of life caused by Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013.

A $5,000 allocation from the Emergency Disaster Fund has been made for the trip in which Winter, accompanied by Peter Barlow, will evaluate the current state of the response in the Philippines, observe and monitor the Church World Service (CWS) response, meet with citizens to understand local needs, and meet with potential partners for a broader Brethren Disaster Ministries response.

Brethren Disaster Ministries is planning a response that will focus Brethren resources on the areas of greatest need by partnering with organizations already active in the area. “At this point, BDM does not intend to work directly in the Philippines or send volunteer groups,” staff wrote. “The intent is to identify organizations with capacity to do more recovery with BDM support. One of the groups being visited is Heifer International who sustained considerable damage to their operations from the Typhoon.”

Larger allocations from the Emergency Disaster Fund are expected in the future as these new partnerships are developed. A separate allocation of $35,000 made in November is helping to fund the CWS response.

Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines and then Vietnam causing a wide path of destruction and loss of life. “This massive storm had sustained winds reported at 195 miles per hour and gusts much higher, equivalent to a giant F4 tornado,” Brethren Disaster Ministries reported. “The loss of life is reported to be in the thousands and may grow into the tens of thousands. The hardest hit city of Taclaban is reported to be totally flattened.”

Find out more about the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries at

Source: 1/17/2014 Newsline

COMS meeting brings together leaders of Anabaptist denominations

At the beginning of December 2013, leaders of a number of Anabaptist denominations gathered for the annual Council of Moderators and Secretaries meeting. Attending from the Church of the Brethren were general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger and Annual Conference moderator Nancy Sollenberger Heishman. The gathering was hosted by the Conservative Mennonite Conference at its Rosedale International Center in Columbus, Ohio.

The purpose for the annual COMS gathering is two-fold, said Noffsinger. The meeting is designed as a place for leaders of the denominations that share a common Anabaptist heritage to come together for exploration of scripture from their perspective. Also, it serves as a forum for the sharing of joys, accomplishments, and challenges of the church leaders on both personal and denominational levels.

“It has been a powerful and important gathering,” Noffsinger said, noting that it has been at COMS meetings in the past that these church leaders have done common work on the history of Anabaptist peace witness and conscientious objection, for example.

Noffsinger also expressed appreciation for the opportunity for church leaders to mentor each other and give each other support.

"As each leader shared denominational highlights and challenges of the past year, I felt a sense of great joy in the partnership we share within the Anabaptist family as we work toward realizing the vision of God¹s reign in this world,” Heishman commented, sharing from her perspective as moderator of the Church of the Brethren this year.

The COMS meeting for 2014 will take place at the new headquarters of the Mennonite Church USA in Elkhart, Ind. It will be one of the two ecumenical events that the Annual Conference moderator attends during the year, along with the annual meeting of Christian Churches Together in the USA (CCT). The next CCT annual meeting is planned for February.

Source: 1/17/2014 Newsline

Service Sunday 2014 will focus on serving God by serving all

Service Sunday 2014 poster
The theme for the Church of the Brethren’s observance of Service Sunday 2014 is “Serving God by Serving All” inspired by John 12: 26, “If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me” (The Message version).

Recognized annually on the first Sunday in February, Service Sunday is sponsored by a number of Church of the Brethren ministries including the workcamp ministry, Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS), Brethren Disaster Ministries, and the Brethren Service Center.

Service Sunday celebrates those who serve in Church of the Brethren communities and throughout the world, and encourages church members to discover opportunities to serve through Brethren ministries and to explore possibilities to serve in local communities. The goal of the event is to “Be transformed by serving one another in the name of Christ.”

Worship resources for Service Sunday 2014 are online at

Source: 1/17/2014 Newsline

Youth ministry webinar series continues with event on Jan. 21

“Call and Gifts Discernment,” is the third webinar of a series on ministry with youth and young adults. It will be offered on Jan. 21, at 7 p.m. central time (8 p.m. eastern). It will be led by Bekah Houff, Bethany Seminary’s coordinator of Outreach Programs for the Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults.

The focus of the webinar will be on call and vocation--what the Bible says, what it means for each of us, and how to have conversations with youth and young adults in our churches and ministries.

To join the webinar on Jan. 21 go to The Youth and Young Adult ministry office notes that the technology used for this webinar works best with non-mobile devices. After joining the video portion, participants join the audio portion by dialing 877-204-3718 (toll free) or 303-223-9908. The access code is 8946766. To view the web portion on an iPad, download the link from the iTunes store (Level 3), and have the conference telephone number and access code available to enter. The name of the app is Level 3.

For more information about the Church of the Brethren webinar series on ministry with youth and young adults, go to

Source: 1/17/2014 Newsline

Nigerian Brethren hold Christmas celebrations despite the threat of violence

This graph summarizes the losses suffered by Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) in the terrorist violence experienced by northern Nigeria. EYN refers to a local congregation as an LCC, which stands for Local Church Council, and refers to a district as a DCC, which stands for District Church Council. LCB refers to a preaching point called a Local Church Branch.
Markus Jauro
This graph summarizes the losses suffered by Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) in the terrorist violence experienced by northern Nigeria. EYN refers to a local congregation as an LCC, which stands for Local Church Council, and refers to a district as a DCC, which stands for District Church Council. LCB refers to a preaching point called a Local Church Branch
The Global Mission and Service office is sharing a letter from Samuel Dali, president of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), about the Christmas celebrations of the Nigerian Brethren that were held despite the constant threat of violence from the Boko Haram extremist Islamist sect. Excerpts from the letter follow below.

The Global Mission and Service office expresses appreciation to Virlina District for its collection of relief for Nigerian Brethren, and appreciation to all those who contributed to an additional $15,000 for the EYN Compassion Fund through donations and gifts over the Christmas season. Jay Wittmeyer, executive director, reports that a large donation of $3,300 came from just one congregation.

For more about the ministry of the church in Nigeria go to

A letter from EYN president Samuel Dante Dali: Christmas celebration event in EYN 2013

The deadly Bokko Haram [an extremist Islamist sect] came up with a new strategy just some few weeks to Christmas. Instead of attacking civilians in their various villages they started mounting road blocks on Maiduguri Gwoza road. They were actively doing what they call stop and search for every car on that road for some days. The government tried to stop them but they will always have their way to do what they want to do.

With the above development, Christians who are from the northeast but working in different cities like Maiduguri, Potiskum, Bauchi, Jos, Kaduna, Kano, Abuja, Lago, and all the Hausa states, became indecisive about traveling for Christmas.

The attack on Ngoshe market on Monday just before they burnt down Arbokko town in the same area of Gwoza caused more fear. During that market attack they [Boko Haram] looted every foodstuff they saw, and money, and kidnapped young girls to cook for them.

Starting the 15th of December, the road leading to Yola became very busy with lots of traffic. People refused to go through Maiduguri and diverted to Yola. The assumption was that people might not travel for Christmas since the road was dangerous, but the case was really different. People traveled home to see their relations who are under attack, condole those who lost their dear ones, and also to help them with food and clothes, and to sympathize with them. Most churches in cities like Abuja, Jos, Kano, Kaduna, and other places were almost empty [because the people went to their home villages for Christmas].

Glory be to God. With His help and the effort of the government that put more security in places of worship, Christmas went well and we are hoping for successful and peaceful new celebrations to come....

We thank all brothers and sisters both within and outside Nigeria for all your encouragement, support of all kinds. As we cross over into the New Year 2013 we will sing a new song of thanksgiving to the Lord for His expected miracle of peace and healing in Nigeria.

God bless you all.

-- Greetings from EYN president Samuel Dante Dali

Source: 1/17/2014 Newsline

Brethren bits

 Heifer CEO visits Brethren in Puerto Rico
 “Heifer's CEO is in Puerto Rico visiting the first recipients of Heifer's gifts,” reported Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren in an e-mail dated Jan. 15, in which he shared these photos. Pierre Ferrari, shown with Puerto Rican Brethren above, is CEO and president of Heifer International, is visiting the Church of the Brethren in Puerto Rico as one of the places where Heifer got its start. He also visited the hospital in Castaner and viewed murals showing Puerto Rican recipients of heifers (below). Heifer International began as the Church of the Brethren’s Heifer Project, led by Dan West who was then a member of the denominational staff. Photos courtesy of Heifer International

A painting of Puerto Ricans receiving the gift of heifers through Heifer Project
  • Bethany Theological Seminary, a graduate school of the Church of the Brethren located in Richmond, Ind., seeks a part-time project director with education and experience in financial planning and program implementation to fulfill the aims of a grant received from Lilly Endowment Inc. This appointment will be renewed annually for up to three years. The grant will fund research to identify the unique financial challenges for Bethany students in the local and distance programs and to design and implement ways Bethany can better prepare and support students and alumni/ae to face the economic challenges of pastoral ministry. Duties will include overseeing the collection of new data outlined in the grant narrative; presenting research findings to Bethany staff and faculty (and others, as needed); introducing students to new ideas about “simple living”; connecting students with career counseling resources; increasing student awareness of available outside financial aid and sources of funding for seminary; exploring bivocational ministry preparation at Bethany and throughout the denomination; facilitating financial education for Bethany staff and faculty; establishing new programs to strengthen the financial literacy of students; informing alumni/ae of financial stewardship resources available to them; compiling grant reports; assessing grant initiatives. Candidates should have strong organizational abilities, good interpersonal skills, and excellent financial expertise. A bachelor’s degree is required. Additional education and familiarity with the values of the Church of the Brethren is preferred. Copies of the grant can be requested from Brenda Reish at Mail a letter of interest and resume to Project Director Search, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374 or The application deadline is Jan. 31, 2014, or until the position is filled. Bethany Seminary does not discriminate in employment opportunities or practices on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital status, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by law. Find this full announcement online at
  • The Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., has posted an opening for an archival intern. The Archival Internship Program develops interest in vocations related to archives and libraries and/or Brethren history. The program will provide the intern with work assignments in BHLA and with opportunities to develop professional contacts. Work assignments will include processing archival materials, writing descriptive inventories, preparing books for cataloging, responding to reference requests, and assisting researchers in the library. Professional contacts may include attending archival and library conferences and workshops, visits to libraries and archives in the Chicago area, and participation in a Brethren Historical Committee meeting. BHLA is the official repository for Church of the Brethren publications and records. The collection consists of over 10,000 volumes, over 3,500 linear feet of manuscripts and records, over 40,000 photographs, plus videos, films, DVDs, and recordings. The term of service is one year, beginning July 2014 (preferred). Compensation includes housing, a stipend of $540 every two weeks, health insurance. A graduate student is preferred, or an undergraduate with at least two years of college. Requirements include an interest in history and/or library and archival work, willingness to work with detail, accurate word processing skills, ability to lift 30-pound boxes. Request an application packet from the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; ; 800-323-8039 ext. 367. All submissions must be completed by May 1.
  • The district executive ministers of the 23 districts in the Church of the Brethren are holding an annual winter meeting in Cocoa Beach, Fla., from Jan. 19-23.
  • Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) announces the starts of the 2014 Winter Orientation held Jan. 26-Feb. 14 at Camp Ithiel in Gotha, Fla. This will be the 304th unit for Brethren Volunteer Service and will consist of 13 volunteers from across the United States and Germany. Several Church of the Brethren members will attend, and the remaining volunteers come from varied faith backgrounds, adding a healthy diversity to the group’s orientation experience. A BVS potluck is open to all those who are interested on Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 6 p.m. at Camp Ithiel. “Please feel free to come and welcome the new BVS volunteers and to share your own experiences. An evening of contra dancing will follow,” said an invitation from the BVS staff. “As always your thoughts and prayers are welcome and needed. Please remember this new unit and the people they will touch during their year of service through BVS.” For more information contact the BVS office at 847-429-4384 or go to
  • Online registration for the 2014 Young Adult Conference opens Jan. 24 at The conference will be held May 23-25 at Camp Brethren Woods in Keezletown, Va. Find out more at
  • The Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., is again hosting the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day food drive held by the city of Elgin. The food drive will be utilizing the denomination’s warehouse to accept, sort, and deliver donations of food over the holiday weekend. Donations will be accepted Sunday, Jan. 19, and groups of high school students from Elgin will help sort the food on Monday, Jan. 20. The church staff have been invited to participate by dropping off donations of food.
  • The annual World Hunger Auction-sponsored winter musical will be held at Germantown Brick Church of the Brethren in Virlina District on Jan. 26 at 4 p.m. Performing will be two groups from Franklin County, Va.--Haw Patch and After Jack. “It will be an inspiring afternoon filled with great music and fellowship,” said the district newsletter.
  • Bridgewater (Va.) College has announced that although the observance of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. is Jan. 20, the college will celebrate the day and King’s legacy on Jan. 29 when Wil Haygood, author of “The Butler: A Witness to History,” will speak in Cole Hall at 7:30 p.m. Haygood is an acclaimed Washington Post reporter, spent 17 years as a national and foreign correspondent for The Boston Globe where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. His appearance at Bridgewater is part of the college’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, which is held after the official birthday observation so that all staff and students--some of whom are absent from campus in January--may participate, said a release. Haygood’s lecture is free and open to the public, sponsored by the Anna B. Mow Lecture Series and the Center for Cultural Engagement at Bridgewater College.
  • At Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., the Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation will feature Ericka Huggins, a professor of women's studies at California State University, East Bay and a former leader of the Black Panther Party. She will speak on how love can be used as a tool to reclaim and sustain civil and human rights in a lecture at 4 p.m., Monday, Jan. 20, in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts. The lecture, "The Intersection of Love and Power: Women in the Human Rights Movement," is free and open to the public, sponsored by Juniata's Office of Diversity and Inclusion. “Huggins will use her experience serving as a leader of the Black Panther Party in New Haven, Conn., and in California, as well as her experience serving time in jail as a political prisoner as she awaited a trial on conspiracy charges, as a mirror to show how love for oppressed women, men and children inspired activism from women in revolutionary movements,” said a release. She is currently a professor of sociology at Laney and Berkeley City College and at California State University.
  • McPherson (Kan.) College, in conjunction with the community-wide MAC Diversity Team, will celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 20. The celebration will include a screening of “The Loving Story” at 1 p.m. in Melhorn Hall in connection with the Lincoln County Historical Society. “The Loving Story” documents the story of Mildred and Richard Loving, who were arrested in Virginia in July 1958 for breaking a state law banning marriage between people of different races. It was nominated for three Emmy Awards in 2013 and received a Peabody Award. Justin Echols, of Oklahoma City, Okla., will also be the guest speaker and performer for the evening event at 7 p.m. in Brown Auditorium. Echols is an internationally known jazz musician, mentored by jazz legend Wynton Marsalis and Antonio Ciacca, Juilliard professor and director of programming at Jazz at Lincoln Center. He was the youngest inductee to the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in 2012. Also performing will be the McPherson High School Jazz Band, under direction of Joel Wagoner. The events are free and open to the public.
  • The “first fruits” of World Council of Churches 10th Assembly have been published in the newest issue of “The Ecumenical Review,” according to a release from the WCC. This issue of the quarterly journal published by the WCC includes “chief contributions and highlights” of the WCC 10th Assembly held in the Republic of South Korea from Oct. 30-Nov. 8 last year. under the theme, “God of life, lead us to justice and peace.” The 14 pieces in the journal include the full reports of the WCC general secretary and moderator, the official “Message” of the assembly, a list of the other public statements with links to full texts online, the assembly's unity statement, and several notable presentations from the plenary sessions and the closing worship service. “The pieces convey something of the spirit and tone of the gathering, along with analysis of the current work and prospects of the WCC and the larger ecumenical movement,” said the release. Find out more at
  • Brethren are being invited to a public meeting in which historic peace church pastors from Mennonite and Brethren in Christ traditions will speak on war taxes. The event is Saturday, Feb. 8, from 9-10:30 a.m., at Akron (Pa.) Mennonite Church.  Three pastors will speak: Susan Gascho-Cooke, Community Mennonite Church; Barry Kreider, Pilgrims Mennonite Church; and John Yeatts, Grantham Brethren in Christ Church. The presentations will be followed by time for discussion. All are welcome, with a special invitation to pastors. The event is sponsored by . Drinks, fruit, and pastries will be available. For more information call John Stoner at 717-859-3388.
Source: 1/17/2014 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 Mark Beach, Deb Brehm, Mary Kay Heatwole, Don Knieriem, Nancy Miner, Harold A. Penner, Callie Surber, Becky Ullom Naugle, John Wall, Roy Winter, Jay Wittmeyer, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Newsline: January 10, 2014


Church youth groups get together to register for National Youth Conference

The NYC coordinators monitor registrations for National Youth Conference 2014, on the opening evening for online registration: (from left) Katie Cummings, Tim Heishman, and Sarah Neher.
Photo courtesy of the NYC office

The NYC coordinators monitor registrations for National Youth Conference 2014, on the opening evening for online registration: (from left) Katie Cummings, Tim Heishman, and Sarah Neher.

By Lucas Kauffman

Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren youth and advisors were among the groups that got together Jan. 3 for a National Youth Conference (NYC) registration party. The youth at Highland Avenue Church in Elgin, Ill., decided to hold their party so that they would be among the first to register for NYC 2014.

They were just seven of more than 200 people who registered in the first two hours after online registration for NYC opened at 7 p.m. (central time) that Friday evening.

The group of Highland Avenue youth started off the party enjoying a meal of pizza, chips, cookies, cake, and drinks. After watching the YouTube video about how to register online, they split up in three different rooms, sitting at different sets of computers, and went to work.

Nathaniel Bohrer and Elliott Wittmeyer were two of the youth who registered. Bohrer is looking forward to seeing old friends while at NYC, and playing some Ultimate Frisbee. Both Bohrer and Wittmeyer are looking to take away several things from NYC. Bohrer is hoping to create new relationships, and receive a new understanding of how the church works. Wittmeyer is looking to have some fun, while also learning some history about the denomination, and listening to sermons that teach him something.

NYC coordinators hold their own registration party

While Highland Avenue youth were registering NYC coordinators Katie Cummings, Tim Heishman, and Sarah Neher were having a registration party of their own at the denomination’s General Offices. They were joined by Becky Ullom Naugle, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, and Sarah Ullom-Minnich, who is on the National Youth Cabinet.

After eating pizza and getting everything ready, they each logged on to a computer to watch the registrations come in. They counted down from 10 seconds, to the official registration opening time. It took five minutes for the first registration to be received. A few minor problems had to be dealt with over the phone. They left the offices a little after 9 p.m.

An adult advisor looks on as one of the Highland Avenue youth uses the online registration process for NYC 2014
Photo by Lucas Kauffman  

An adult advisor looks on as one of the Highland Avenue youth uses the online registration process for NYC 2014
Heishman says he is looking forward to everything, as an NYC coordinator. “I’m looking forward to seeing all the names come in, and meeting as many people as possible during NYC. I’m excited about all of the speakers, the bands (Mutual Kumquat and Rend Collective Experiment), and especially the worship services. It will be so exciting to see everything come together this July.”

More than 400 register over the weekend

Some of the churches where youth registered for NYC on the first weekend: Wakemans Grove Church of the Brethren in Shenandoah District;  Ambler Church of the Brethren and Little Swatara Church of the Brethren in Atlantic Northeast District; McPherson and Wichita First Churches who teamed up in Western Plains District; Manchester Church of the Brethren  in South Central Indiana District; Gettysburg Church of the Brethren in Southern Pennsylvania District; Oak Grove Church of the Brethren in Virlina District; West Charleston Church of the Brethren and Cristo Nuestra Paz who teamed up in Southern Ohio District.

As of Tuesday morning, Jan. 7, 464 people had registered for NYC. That is up from 366 people in about the first four days of online registration for the last NYC in 2010.

Good reasons to go to NYC

There are several reasons why youth should sign up for NYC, according to Heishman. “NYC is a place where you can meet Christ and hear your calling as a follower of Jesus,” he said. “It is often the spiritual highlight for many youth during their high school years.”

Another reason to sign up? Heishman says that NYC will be a blast.

For more information and to register for National Youth Conference, which takes place at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., on July 19-24, go to

-- Lucas Kauffman is a senior at Manchester University in N. Manchester, Ind., and a January term intern at the Church of the Brethren News Services office.

Source: 1/10/2014 Newsline

Strategic pathways work continues by Brethren Benefit Trust board

By Brian Solem

At its annual November meeting, the Board of Directors for Brethren Benefit Trust’s pension, insurance, and asset management ministries pushed forward its strategic pathway process, made small but important adjustments to its investment program, and requested further dialogue regarding BBT’s Church Workers’ Assistance Plan.

At its Nov. 22-23 meeting, which was preceded by two days of committee meetings, the board spent two afternoons led by Randy Yoder working at creating new mission and vision statements. It also affirmed BBT’s Ethos Statement and Purpose Statement (both of which can be viewed at ) and developed a set of five Core Values, which emerged from BBT’s previous set of values. The core values are: Act with integrity, Lead with compassion, Provide competitive services, Encourage mutual support, Model social responsibility.

In December, the Strategic Planning Committee worked with the board’s ideas and will present draft statements, as well as priorities for BBT, at a next meeting in April.

Other important events from the meetings, some of which were held at Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren, include:
  • Upon recommendation from its investment consultant team, Marquette Associates, the board approved the move of Retirement Benefit Fund assets from its Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities Fund to a new All Asset Fund, which is currently invested through the PIMCO All Asset mutual fund. Adding this fund broadens BBT’s inflation protection options.
  • Because the manager of the Domestic Stock Value Fund, Iridian Asset Management LLC, invests that fund in a primarily mid-cap style, the board agreed that the name be changed to the Domestic Stock Mid Cap Fund. The board also requested a complete review of all fund names to ensure consistency across BBT’s ministries and in reports from its vendors.
  • To better serve Brethren Pension Plan members, the board approved an exploration of offering target date funds for the denomination’s retirement plan. This investment style allows an investor to choose a fund based on the number of years before retirement, and the level of risk and reward is adjusted by an investment manager based on retirement date. BBT staff will bring findings back to the board in April.
  • Two new socially responsible investing (SRI) fund programs will be explored by staff. First, the board approved the exploration of a set of Tactical Funds for Brethren Foundation that would be compliant with BBT’s socially responsible investing tenets. Its current, five-fund Tactical Fund program invests in diversifying funds that BBT currently invests in mutual funds, which means they are not necessarily SRI-compliant. Second, the board recognized the need for a Balanced Fund for Brethren Pension Plan members; currently, the Balanced Fund invests in US Treasuries.
  • Wayne Scott was selected by the board to be its self-appointed member starting in July 2014. He has served on the board since 2010.
  • BBT’s 2014 budget was approved by the board. It reflected a 5 percent decrease over the previous year’s budget.
  • The BBT board approved revisions to its Articles of Organization. These changes will be outlined and brought to Annual Conference delegates in July 2014.
  • The Investment Committee reviewed two of BBT’s investment managers--Segall Bryant and Hamill, which oversees BBT’s Large Cap Growth portfolio; and Kayne Anderson Rudnick, which oversees the agency’s Small Cap portfolio. Both firms were signed on for additional three-year terms.
  • The Investment Committee approved an update to the benchmark for the Bank Loans Fund, which may be utilized by the Retirement Benefits Fund and Brethren Foundation clients. It now tracks alongside the S&P/LSTA US Leveraged Loan 100 Index, which is a more cost-effective benchmark for the fund.
-- Brian Solem is publications coordinator for Brethren Benefit Trust.

Source: 1/10/2014 Newsline

Virlina District Conference supports peace efforts of Nigerian Brethren

Map of Nigeria
By Emma Jean Woodard

Virlina District has had individuals connected with ministry in Nigeria and has given support and prayers for the Nigerian Brethren for a long time. Because of the violence, destruction, and deaths that have taken place in Nigeria, the District Peace Affairs Committee decided to emphasize the peace efforts of Nigerian Brethren at the Sept. 2012 Virlina District Peace Sunday Service.

At that service, a portion of the DVD “Sowing Seeds of Peace” was shown, and postcards were distributed to participants to write words of support and encouragement for our Nigerian sisters and brothers. Those written postcards were given as the offering during that service.

Following that service, the Program and Arrangements Committee for district conference chose to continue the Nigerian support emphasis at the 2012 Virlina District Conference. A portion of the DVD was shown at conference as well, and blank cards on which persons could write a message were distributed. Delegates were encouraged to ask their congregations to write cards. Cards were collected and mailed to Jay Wittmeyer at the denomination’s Global Mission and Service office in January 2013, for him to deliver on his next trip to Nigeria.

As the Program and Arrangements Committee planned for the 2013 District Conference, they decided to continue the district’s support for Nigeria in a different way. The committee decided that the offerings taken during the two worship services at the district conference--which usually go to ministry projects in the district--would go to the EYN Compassion Fund of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

District conference in 2013 was held at Greene Memorial United Methodist Church in downtown Roanoke, Va., on Nov. 8 and 9. That congregation truly hosted the district with multiple meetings in preparation for the conference, a reduced building usage fee, and 30 volunteers throughout the two-day event.

The conference officers approved a suggestion to give the offering taken during the business session to the EYN Compassion Fund in appreciation and recognition of the Greene Memorial congregation and volunteers. This action was enthusiastically supported by conference participants. That offering was our largest ever, and the total of the three offerings and other donations came to $5,195.92.

The conference theme was “Come Near to God and He Will Come Near to You” from James 4:7-8a. Because God is ever near, the offering was Virlina District’s opportunity to share love and support to those who live and serve in dangerous and difficult circumstances for their faith.

-- Emma Jean Woodard is associate executive minister of Virlina District.

Source: 1/10/2014 Newsline