Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Newsline: June 25, 2014


Situation in Nigeria is ‘awful,’ EYN continues effort to aid Chibok parents and refugees

Photo by Zakariya Musa

Distribution of relief goods in Maiduguri, Nigeria, at a church of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).
“It is awful,” wrote Rebecca Dali, a leading member of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) in a text on Saturday. At the time she was in Chibok meeting with parents of the abducted schoolgirls, when the Boko Haram extremist insurgents began attacking nearby villages.

Dali, who is married to EYN president Samuel Dante Dali, has founded the Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives (CCEPI) to aid those affected by the violence in Nigeria. She and CCEPI have visited with and brought aid to the parents of the schoolgirls abducted from Chibok in mid-April, most of whom are from EYN.

Dali texted: “Right now CCEPI is in Chibox with 181 parents of the 189 registered Chibox girls. Pray for us because Boko Haram is attacking three villages less than five kilometers away from where we are. Parents from these villages are trapped. They [Boko Haram] killed more than 27 people. It is awful.”

In related news from EYN, the church at Maiduguri provided relief materials to 3,456 refugees last week, according to Zakariya Musa, who provided a picture of the crowd of refugees receiving help. He is secretary of “Sabon Haske,” an EYN publication.

Church of the Brethren mission worker Carol Smith reported by e-mail today that she is fine, following a bombing in the capital city of Abuja where she is serving with EYN. She lives in a different part of the city than the shopping mall that was bombed today.

Multiple incidents of violence since the weekend

Since last weekend, multiple incidents of violence have hit different parts of north and central Nigeria, in addition to the kidnappings and killings in the area near Chibok.

Today a bombing at an upscale shopping mall in Abuja, in central Nigeria, killed at least 21 people and injured 17, according to media reports. The Associated Press and ABC News reported that the explosion is blamed on the Boko Haram insurgents, and may have been timed during the World Cup match in Brazil in which Nigeria played Argentina. “Witnesses said body parts were scattered around the exit to Emab Plaza, in Abuja's upscale Wuse 2 suburb. One witness said he thought the bomb was dropped at the entrance to the mall by a motorcyclist.... Soldiers shot and killed one suspect as he tried to escape on a power bike and police detained a second suspect,” the report said. Read it at

Yesterday, at least 21 soldiers and 5 civilians were attacked and killed and other people abducted at a military checkpoint near Damboa, some 85 kilometers from the northeastern city of Maiduguri, the AP report added.

On Monday, a bombing at a medical school in the city of Kano killed at least 8 people and wounded at least 12, according to the Associated Press and ABC News.

Also on Monday night 38 people were killed in two villages in the Kaduna area, in an attack by gunmen, reported by the “Premium Times” and posted on The newspaper noted that “the attack is believed be more out of ethno-communal crisis in the area, which borders Plateau State, than by terrorists.”

On Saturday the number of people kidnapped by Boko Haram was between 60 and 91 women, girls, and boys, according to media reports, which varied widely. The people were abducted from a village in Borno State in Damboa area, and some villages in the Askira/Uba area which shares a border with Chibok, said one report posted on As few as 4 village men and as many as 33 were reported killed in the attack, and at least one village reportedly completely destroyed. Another media report said the abductions took place over a few days. A vigilante group fighting Boko Haram claimed to have killed some 25 of the attackers. However, Nigerian security forces and some politicians have denied or are unable to confirm the weekend attacks and kidnappings, reports added. A Voice of America report included a timeline of major incidents of Boko Haram violence in Nigeria beginning in 2009 to the present, find it at

General secretary, Global Mission executive call for continued prayer

Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger and Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service, sent an e-mail message to the district offices and denominational leaders sharing Rebecca Dali’s note and calling for continued prayer for Nigeria.

“Take time right now to pray for this situation,” the e-mail said. “Share this news of this situation and the ongoing violence in Nigeria with your congregation during worship tomorrow. The season of prayer and fasting has not come to an end. Encourage members of your congregations to send notes and cards of encouragement and support to sisters and brothers in Nigeria, with your Annual Conference delegates.  They will have a special time to gather this offering of words.”

The communication closed with Psalm 46, a scripture that had been shared at a gathering of church leaders in the Middle East to consider the violence in Syria and the situation of refugees from that conflict, and the phrase, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” from Matthew 5:9.

Contributions toward the relief effort and the continuing mission work in Nigeria are received to the Global Mission and Service Nigeria program, the EYN Compassion Fund, or the Emergency Disaster Fund

Source: 6/25/2014 Newsline

Rebecca Dali to visit and speak at several places in the US in July

Photo by Stan Noffsinger

Dr. Rebecca Dali shows pictures of the violence going on in Nigeria; part of her work heading up CCEPI (Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives) is to collect the stories of survivors and pictures of the attacks that have occurred.
Rebecca Dali, a leading member of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), will visit and speak at several venues in the United States in July, including the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio, on July 2-6.

Also providing presentations on Nigeria are Carl and Roxane Hill, Church of the Brethren mission workers who in May completed a term serving with EYN in Nigeria.

Carol Smith, a Brethren mission worker placed with EYN in Abuja, Nigeria, is helping organize Dr. Dali's speaking engagements, working with Kendra Harbeck at the Global Mission and Service office.

Opportunities to hear Rebecca Dali speak

Rebecca Dali, wife of EYN president Samuel Dante Dali, has founded a nonprofit organization to aid those affected by the violence in northeastern Nigeria. The Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives (CCEPI) was begun in order to serve the most vulnerable victims of the violence--widows and orphans. In recent months as violence has escalated, CCEPI has begun providing aid to the thousands of refugees fleeing to neighboring Cameroon or internally displaced within Nigeria.

Dali’s speaking engagements at Annual Conference as well as several Church of the Brethren congregations and other sites:
  • South Bend, Ind., June 30: Dali is scheduled to be at a South Bend Peace Vigil at 5 p.m. in downtown South Bend, hosted by Lois Clark.
  • Columbus, Ohio, July 3: Dali has been invited to share informally about the situation in Nigeria at the “conversation circle” in the Annual Conference Exhibit Hall hosted by Global Women’s Project. The Womaen’s Caucus, Brethren Mennonite Council, and the Open Table Cooperative also are sponsoring the “conversation circle.” The conversation with Rebecca Dali will begin at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 3.
  • Columbus, Ohio, July 5: Dali will address the delegate body of the Annual Conference at the start of the afternoon business session on Saturday, July 5, at 1:55 p.m. The church will be invited into a time of prayer for Nigeria, and congregations will be invited to bring forward their cards for EYN.
  • Beavercreek, Ohio, July 6: Beavercreek Church of the Brethren will host a presentation at 6:30-8 p.m. The event is planned “to give us some insight to the struggles in Nigeria” an invitation said. “We welcome Dr. Rebecca Dali...who will share her experiences as founder of CCEPI in helping the families of northeastern Nigeria. At the Headquarters and Kulp Bible College of the EYN, Dr. Dali and the staff of the CCEPI, with the help of Church of the Brethren mission workers, distributed 4,292 articles of clothing, 2,000 kilograms of corn, and buckets and cups to 509 refugees who had lost at least one member of their family and were forced to leave their homes because of attacks by the Boko Haram. In May, Dr. Dali visited with the families of the abducted girls in Chibok, bringing relief supplies for those who lost homes, listening to their concerns and frustration and offering prayers and support.”
  • North Manchester, Ind., July 7: Dali will be at the North Manchester Public Library at 7 p.m., hosted by Sally Rich. The event will take place in the Blocher Room. An invitation notes that Dali and CCEPI “were among the first to visit the families of the abducted girls. Dr. Dali will share stories of her work not only with the Chibok families, but with the many other victims whose stories are not as well known, but equally important.” The talk is open to the public and is free; however, donations will be accepted.
  • South Bend, Ind., July 8: Crest Manor Church of the Brethren will host a presentation by Dali at 7 p.m.
  • Adel, Iowa, July 12: Panther Creek Church of the Brethren will host a presentation by Dali at 12 noon.
  • Chicago area, July 11: Tentative plans are being made for a speaking engagement at one of the Church of the Brethren congregations in the Chicago area.
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Roxane and Carl Hill at the church planting conference in Richmond, Ind., after their return from completing a term of service as mission workers and teachers at Kulp Bible College in Nigeria.
Opportunities to hear the Hills speak

Roxane and Carl Hill recently returned to the United States after completing a term of one-and-a-half years teaching at Kulp Bible College, a school of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria located in Kwarhi, near the EYN headquarters, in northeastern Nigeria.

The Hills have already begun a tour of presentations at Church of the Brethren congregations in the midwest, and they plan to be at Annual Conference. Most of their Sundays are booked through August, but congregations interested in hosting them for a mid-week event should contact Kendra Harbeck at

The Hills’ summer schedule:
  • Beavercreek, Ohio, on June 29, hosted by Beavercreek Church of the Brethren.
  • Columbus, Ohio, on July 2-6, where the Hills will attend Annual Conference.
  • Akron, Ohio, on July 13, hosted by Eastwood Church of the Brethren.
  • Littleton, Ohio, on July 20, hosted by Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren.
  • Online with Living Stream Church of the Brethren on July 27.
  • Roanoke, Va., on Aug. 10, hosted by Peters Creek Church of the Brethren. Pastor Jack Lowe also hopes to host a Virlina District-wide event for the Hills that afternoon, in addition to welcoming them to the Sunday morning service.
  • Manassas, Va., on Aug. 17, hosted by Manassas Church of the Brethren.
  • McGaheysville, Va., on Aug. 20, hosted by Mountain View Fellowship.
  • Johnstown, Pa., on Aug. 27, hosted by Pleasant Hill Church of the Brethren.
  • Mechanicsburg, Pa., on Aug. 31, hosted by Mechanicsburg Church of the Brethren.
For more information contact Kendra Harbeck, manager, Global Mission and Service Office, Church of the Brethren, 847-429-4388 or

Source: 6/25/2014 Newsline

CWS international situation report: Nigeria displacement crisis

While the global community has been watching Nigeria following the April kidnapping of 223 girls by the Boko Haram extremists, that event has to be seen in the context of an even larger humanitarian problem. Religious, ethnic, and land-based conflicts have uprooted 3.3 million people in Nigeria, according to a recent report by the Norwegian Refugee Council. That makes the number of displaced in Nigeria the largest in Africa and the third largest (after Syria and Colombia) in the world.

The militarized conflict between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government has made the humanitarian situation particularly dire in the states of Bomo, Yobe, and Adamawa, where more than 250,000 are displaced and where states of emergency have been imposed.

Unfortunately, churches have been targeted for violence. At the same time, churches are providing humanitarian support for uprooted communities.

Church World Service (CWS), members, and partners’ response

A number of CWS member communions and partner agencies that have churches and other ministry relationships in Nigeria are providing support and accompaniment to them and to their wider communities during this difficult time.

Among them:
  • The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The ELCA’s partner in Nigeria is the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria, and two global personnel are working with the Nigeria-based Mashian Foundation. The ELCA is in contact with these partners and personnel.
  • Christian Reformed World Missions and sister agency World Renew, formerly the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, have historic and ongoing ministry relationships in Nigeria. The three closest Nigerian partner denominations are all members of the TEKAN fellowship, to which EYN--the Nigerian Brethren Church--also belongs. Most of the member congregations of these three denominations are located in the "middle-belt" states of Benue, Plateau, and Taraba.
While the three Reformed denominations have not come close to suffering the level of EYN's losses, they have lost members, pastors, and church buildings, according to reports. Many of the incidents in these middle-belt states have been attributed to "Fulani herdsmen" rather than to Boko Haram. Whether there is a link between the Fulani actions and Boko Haram is debated. Christian Reformed groups have North American personnel in Abuja and Jos, and both cities have been hit by Boko Haram bombings over the last three years.
  • The Church of the Brethren has deep connections in Nigeria. The Nigerian Brethren Church comprises hundreds of thousands of members. The Church of the Brethren is aware of the many thousands of people who have been displaced from northern Nigeria. The Church of the Brethren in the United States has provided some small funds to the EYN Compassion Fund and would like to begin a much larger fundraising appeal and to encourage other communions to also join the effort. Current needs include food, housing, and schooling support.
Possible responses by CWS and its member communions and partners may be to collaborate on support to those who have been internally displaced. In addition, the CWS Immigration and Refugee Program may work with Nigerian refugees in Cameroon. This could include CWS assistance to urban refugees in Cameroon to become economically self-reliant.

An estimated 30,000 Nigerians have fled into neighboring Cameroon, with many living in camps and rural settlements. Limited access to rural livelihood opportunities is driving working age refugees to Cameroon's capital, in search of income to support their families.

The refugee arrivals from Nigeria are in addition to the more than 200,000 men, women, and children from Central African Republic (CAR) who have sought protection in Cameroon, many fleeing in 2013 after renewed violence in the CAR. According to UNHCR, malnutrition rates among refugees are alarming. There is a high level of family separation and an increasing numbers of unaccompanied refugee children and single woman-headed households. There is also a noted infiltration of armed elements into the camps along with recruitment attempts.

Depending on the outcome of further discussions with the Church of the Brethren and others, CWS may issue an emergency appeal in support of response efforts such as the Church of the Brethren EYN Compassion Fund. In addition, CWS is considering how it might play a role in bringing those concerned from the ecumenical family in the United States to some common advocacy efforts around the Nigeria situation.

How to help

For further information about disasters to which Church World Service is responding please visit or call CWS: 800-297-1516.

Contributions toward the Church of the Brethren relief effort and continuing mission work in Nigeria are received to the Global Mission and Service Nigeria program, the EYN Compassion Fund, or the Emergency Disaster Fund

Source: 6/25/2014 Newsline

NYC theme song is released, available online

Photo courtesy of the NYC office

Members of the NYC band recording at Andy Murray’s studio in Huntington, Pennsylvania, May 2-4.
“There are only 25 days until the opening worship service at NYC 2014, and we have big news!” reports the National Youth Conference office. “The NYC theme song has been released today!” The 2014 theme song was written by Brethren songwriter and musician Seth Hendricks, and was recorded last month by the NYC worship band at Andy Murray’s studio in Huntingdon, Pa. Download it from the NYC homepage:

“Download the song today and put it on your phone, mp3 player, or computer,” the NYC office invited in an e-mail message to youth. “Can you have it memorized by the time you arrive in Fort Collins?”

The NYC e-mail added: “We hope all of you are growing more and more excited for NYC. Each day here in the office is busier and more exciting than the one before. We have been praying for you every day and we can't wait to see you in Colorado. Blessings as you prepare for NYC over the next 25 days!”

National Youth Conference takes place in Fort Collins, Colo., on July 19-24. Coordinators for the conference are Katie Cummings, Tim Heishman, and Sarah Neher, working with the National Youth Cabinet and Becky Ullom Naugle, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. Find out more at Follow the NYC Twitter stream via #cobnyc.

Source: 6/25/2014 Newsline

Observance of 150th anniversary of John Kline’s death

By Ron Keener

A play about the last few weeks in the life of martyr John Kline was an added feature in the 150th anniversary of the death of the Civil War-era Brethren leader, who was shot from ambush on June 15, 1864.

“Under the Shadow of the Almighty” was authored by Paul Roth, pastor of Linville Creek Church of the Brethren in Broadway, Va., and was one of several events of the June 13-14 observance. Historical presentations, a vesper service at the gravesite marker of Kline, tours of the Homestead and other family houses, and the John Kline Riders on their heritage ride were among events of the weekend.

Photo provided by Ron Keener

The laying of a wreath on John Kline's grave took place during a commemoration of the 150th anniversary of his death. Kline was a Civil War-era Brethren elder and a martyr for peace.
Roth, president of the Homestead Foundation which purchased the site of the 1822 home four years ago, says he wrote the play to recount the final month and a half of John Kline’s life, gleaning information from local historical sources.

Roth will give a lecture on the reasons Kline was killed at the Annual Conference in Columbus in July, at an Insight session, and the Homestead will exhibit at the Conference.

“All the events mentioned in the play actually occurred,” Roth says, “and the characters were real people, cast in a conversation and settings to bring the story of John Kline to life.” Hymns of the period were sung throughout the play at intervals between scenes, adding to the dramatization.

John Kline is significant to the Brethren movement for several reasons, including his mentoring of the church during the Civil War. He has been one of the most beloved Brethren leaders. “Personally,” says Roth, “I have found Kline to be a dedicated disciple of Jesus Christ who lived with courage and conviction during the troubling times of the Civil War. He engaged community, government and military leaders to explain the Brethren beliefs, requesting they honor the commitment of the Brethren to be faithful to their calling to not take up arms against another.”

Kline took the stance of nonresistance and, says Roth, “even amid the anxiety of war, he remained centered on his faith in Jesus, believing that nothing could shake him from his appointed task as a minister of the gospel of the Prince of Peace.”

Candlelight dinners will be offered at the John Kline Homestead on Nov. 21-22 and Dec. 19-20 and reservations can be made by calling the Linville Creek Church at 540-896-5001. The dinners are family-style and seating is limited to 32 each night.

The Foundation board has an opportunity to purchase an additional five acres of land adjacent to the home and will meet July 21 to consider a capital fund campaign.

-- Ron Keener of Chambersburg, Pa., is a fourth generation Kline through his grandfather William David Kline of Manassas, Va., and Palmyra, Pa., and his mother Helen Kline. Keener also is a former member of the communications staff of the Church of the Brethren.

Source: 6/25/2014 Newsline

Tour canceled for National Youth Orchestra of Iraq

National Youth Orchestra of Iraq to be hosted by Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra
The United States tour of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq has been canceled because of the instability and violence happening in that nation. This announcement was received through the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra, which was to host the Iraqi group in what would have been its American debut.

“We regretfully announce that we have cancelled our US tour scheduled for this August,” said the announcement from the National Youth Symphony Orchestra of Iraq. “Instability in Iraq has made it impossible for orchestra members to complete the visa process that would allow them to travel, though thankfully all NYOI musicians are currently safe.

“As we look toward the summer of 2015, we are so grateful for all the support shown to us in the US so far. We're looking forward to continuing our partnership with Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra in the future, and we encourage everyone to stay up to date with both orchestras by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.”

Source: 6/25/2014 Newsline

International guests to be welcomed at the 2014 Annual Conference

A number of international guests are to be welcomed at this year’s Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, which takes places July 2-6 in Columbus, Ohio. Guests are expected from Nigeria, Brazil, and India. Global Mission and Service workers also will be attending from Nigeria, South Sudan, Haiti, and Honduras.
  • Rebecca Dali will be attending from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). She is the wife of EYN president Samuel Dante Dali, and founder of a nonprofit organization that is aiding those affected by the violence in northeastern Nigeria, CCEPI, the Center for Compassion, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives.
  • Also hoping to attend from EYN are several members of the BEST group of Nigerian Brethren business people: Apagu Ali Abbas, Njidda M. Gadzama, Dauda Madubu, Saratu Dauda Madubu, Esther Mangzha. Some of the BEST group’s attendance may depend on whether they receive visas to enter the United States in time for the Conference.
  • Darryl Sankey will be at Annual Conference from the First District Church of the Brethren in India, accompanied by two Indian youth who also will attend this year’s National Youth Conference in Colorado later in July: Darryl’s son Hiren Sankey, and Supreet Makwan. 
  • Attending from the Church of North India (CNI) are the Rt. Rev. Silvans S. Christian, Bishop of Gujarat; and Rev. Sanjivkumar Sunderlal Christian, Presbyter in charge of the CNI Church at Valsad.
  •  Alexandre Goncalves and his wife Gislaine Reginaldo of Igreja da Irmandade-Brasil (the Church of the Brethren in Brazil). Alexandre is currently pursuing a master of divinity degree at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., and has served as a pastor in Brazil.
Global Mission and Service workers also will be attending Annual Conference including:
  • Carol Smith, who is serving in Abuja, Nigeria;
  • Carl and Roxane Hill, who recently completed a term of service as teachers at Kulp Bible College in Nigeria;
  • Athanasus Ungang, who is serving with the Church of the Brethren mission in South Sudan;
  • Ilexene and Kayla Alphonse, who are mission workers in Haiti serving at the guesthouse and headquarters of the Haitian Church of the Brethren near Port-au-Prince.
Also at Conference will be Chet and Lizzeth Thomas, who serve with Proyecto Aldea Global (Project Global Village) in Honduras.

Source: 6/25/2014 Newsline

Congregations are invited to bring cards for Nigeria to Annual Conference

2014 Annual Conference logo - Live as Courageous Disciples
All congregations in the Church of the Brethren are invited to send with their Conference delegate to Annual Conference a card of encouragement and prayerful concern for Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

The Annual Conference takes place in Columbus, Ohio, on July 2-6. Find out more about the Conference schedule at

The cards for Nigeria will be gathered on Saturday, July 5, at the beginning of the afternoon business session during a time of remembrance and prayer for EYN.  Rebecca Dali, a leading member of the Nigerian church and wife of EYN president Samuel Dante Dali, is expected to briefly address the Conference at the start of that business session.

The cards will be delivered to EYN by denominational staff at the next available opportunity.

Source: 6/25/2014 Newsline

James Risser to serve as director of Brethren Disaster Ministries

James K. (Jamie) Risser of Sterling, Va., will begin July 1 as director of Brethren Disaster Ministries, working with Roy Winter, associate executive director of Global Mission and Service. Risser will work out of offices at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

Coming from a farm background, he has worked in various aspects of home construction including carpentry, drywall, electrical, roofing, and siding. His construction experience includes volunteering with Habitat for Humanity starting in high school and continuing in college when he was a Habitat volunteer and chapter president as well as a local member of the board. He has served as a board member for the McPherson Area Habitat for Humanity.

An ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren, he has training in clinical pastoral education. Most recently he pastored Dranesville Church of the Brethren in Herndon, Va. He also has served churches and chaplaincies in Pennsylvania and Minnesota. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and religion from McPherson (Kan.) College, and a master of divinity degree from Bethany Theological Seminary. He completed a year of Brethren Volunteer Service at Koinonia Partners in Americus, Ga.

His previous professional positions have included service as a residential supervisor with Multi Community Diversified Services in McPherson, working with individuals living with disabilities, and a position as chaplain with the Valley Hope Association in Moundridge, Kan. He is currently a staff chaplain at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma, Park, Md.

Source: 6/25/2014 Newsline

Brethren bits

  • On Earth Peace is welcoming Elizabeth Ullery as Peace Day campaign organizer. “Elizabeth brings social media, photography and graphic design skills to our team. Her position focuses on making social media connections to recruit congregations to hold prayers for peace on Sept. 21, and building deeper relationships with people working for peace and reconciliation,” said an announcement. Ullery has been serving as director of church operations for the United Churches of Olympia (Washington), and is convener of the board of directors for the Open Table Cooperative. Connect with the Peace Day planning for this year via Twitter at @PeaceDayPray.
  • On Earth Peace is working with six summer interns this year, including two master of divinity students at Bethany Theological Seminary, and the four members of the Youth Peace Travel Team which is a shared ministry of the Church of the Brethren, On Earth Peace, and the Outdoor Ministry Association. The two seminary students are Samuel Sarpiya and Karen Duhai. Both will be working primarily with the Ministry of Reconciliation, and will Annual Conference and National Youth Conference. The agency also has announced a new three-month internship program for college students “to offer skill development and personal growth for emerging peacebuilders in a faith-based nonprofit setting, fulfilling our mission to develop leadership for peace in each generation.” For more information go to .
  • “Bear Sightings Provoke Frenzy in Ogle County” was the title of a Channel 5 NBC Chicago report on June 19, of “a black bear making its way through Illinois.” Among places where the bear was spotted: Pinecrest, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Mount Morris, Ill. "Even though this is kind of exciting for our small town, a bear is not a normal occurrence. Leave it be and let it head where it is going to go. It is a wild animal. If provoked, it could turn against us," said one community leader quoted in the report. Find it at
  • The “Tears and Ashes Bus Tour” offered by CrossRoads Mennonite and Brethren Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., will return later this summer with a day-long bus tour of Civil War sites important to Mennonites and Brethren on Saturday, Aug. 16. The tour will be led by Norman Wenger and David Rodes. Cost is $65, which includes a tour booklet and a box lunch. Seats are limited, make reservations by calling 540-438-1275.
  • A peace retreat, “Let’s Get It Together: Conflict Transformation in the Congregation (and Beyond!)” will be held on Sept. 27 in the House of Pillars at Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va. Registration will start at 8:30 a.m. and the retreat will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m.  The retreat will be presented by the Virlina District Peace Affairs Committee and the Ministry of Reconciliation of On Earth Peace. “A well-equipped Christian is able to deal with conflict as it arises,” said an announcement from the district. “In this highly interactive workshop, participants will be introduced to basic conflict transformation skills in the morning session. In the afternoon specialized sessions run concurrently for pastors, deacons, youth advisors, and other congregational leaders, and youth.” Cost is $25, and continuing education credit is available. Register by e-mailing or call 540-362-1816. A retreat flier is available by request, e-mail and use PEACE RETREAT as the subject line.
  • Church leaders have met and agreed to advance peace on Korean Peninsula, at a Korea consultation sponsored by the World Council of Churches. “In a first meeting since 2009 and since the 2013 appointment of a new leader for the Korea Christian Federation (KCF) of North Korea, an international group of church leaders from 34 countries, including North and South Korea, met near Geneva, Switzerland, to seek ways to advance reconciliation and peace on the peninsula,” said a WCC release. The group agreed to seek new initiatives to advance peace, such as increasing visits between churches in North and South Korea, inviting younger people around the world to become involved in working for peace on the peninsula, and calling for an annual day of prayer for peace on the peninsula. The group also recommends promoting annual ecumenical meetings and consultations involving Christians from both countries in conjunction with the day of prayer.
  • Heeding God's Call, a gun violence prevention group that began at a meeting of the Historic Peace Churches, and based in Philadelphia, Pa., is calling for volunteers. “Volunteers are the backbone of our organization,” said the release. “They serve a variety of functions, from administrative and financial tasks to outreach and fundraising. Volunteering at Heeding is a life-changing and life affirming experience--we rely on the generosity of our volunteers to keep our programs going.” For more information, contact 267-519-5302 or . The group also has started a new YouTube channel and posted its first video recently. Find it at .
  • In more news from Heeding God’s Call, the group is joining with Delco United's Walk and Rally for Universal Background Checks, on Saturday, June 28, in Chester, Pa. The event is intended to let politicians know of the desire for every sale of a firearm to be accompanied by a background check. “Over 30,000 Americans die from gun violence every year, but we don’t even screen every person who tries to buy a gun to see if he or she is prohibited from owning one because of a history of domestic violence, criminal activity, or dangerous mental health problems,” said the announcement. “Requiring a background check on every gun sale is a simple change that is long overdue.” The walk begins at 10 a.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Historical Marker at Calvary Baptist Church in Chester. For more information see .
  • IMA World Health has made a campaign on domestic and sexual violence a priority in recent years, called WeWillSpeakOut. IMA World Health is a partner organization to the Church of the Brethren, which its offices on the Brethren Service Center campus in New Windsor, Md. In recent news, IMA World Health and Sojourners partnered to release a report detailing the attitudes of Protestant pastors in the US on the issue of sexual and domestic violence. “The results are compelling and in some instances, troubling,” said a release. “The telephone survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors conducted by LifeWay Research found that an overwhelming majority of the faith leaders surveyed (75%) underestimate the level of sexual and domestic violence experienced within their congregations. Despite its prevalence in society, two out of three (66%) pastors speak one time a year or less about the issue, and when they do speak out, the poll suggests they may be providing support that does more harm than good.” The release added, “The good news is that 80 percent of pastors said they would take appropriate action to reduce sexual and domestic violence if they had the training and resources to do so--revealing a great opportunity to turn this uncertain and unprepared group into powerful advocates for prevention, intervention and healing.” More information is at
Source: 6/25/2014 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, Kendra Harbeck, Stan Noffsinger, Roy Winter, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Newsline: June 17, 2014


Church of the Brethren general secretary among church leaders at consultation on Syria, held in Armenia

Recognizing the failure of the Geneva 2 talks four months ago and the ongoing violence and human calamity in Syria, church leaders and representatives from the region, Europe, and the United States gathered in Etchmiadzin, Armenia, to address the challenges for faith communities in the crisis in Syria.

In the group that gathered June 11 and 12 was Stanley J. Noffsinger, Church of the Brethren general secretary. Noffsinger was one of the American church leaders who attended the Jan. 22 meeting on Syria held at the Ecumenical Center in Geneva, Switzerland, at the invitation of the World Council of Churches (WCC).

The church leaders gathered in consultation at the invitation of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians, in cooperation with the World Council of Churches.

Photo courtesy of Stan Noffsinger

General secretary Stan Noffsinger (at right) with a Russian Orthodox representative at a consultation on Syria held in Armenia on June 11-12, 2014. Fr. Dimitri Safonov represented the Moscow Patriarchate Department for Interreligious Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, while Noffsinger was one of the American church leaders to attend the gathering.
Communique calls for humanitarian aid, end of arms and funding for conflict

In a communique released by the group on Thursday, June 12, they called for restrictions on funding humanitarian aid in Syria to be lifted, for an end to the flow of arms and funding to all parties to the conflict, and for withdrawal of all armed foreign fighters.

Conferees pointed to the current regional humanitarian assistance addressing the needs of refugees fleeing Syria, and they called for “further cooperation among the different churches and church agencies” working there.

They acknowledged the Jan. 22 meeting on Syria held at the Ecumenical Center in Geneva where church leaders said in a message to Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations-Arab League joint representative for Syria, that they were convinced there is no military solution and there needed to be an “immediate cessation of all armed confrontation and hostility within Syria” 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.

In Armenia they also called for “the immediate release of the two Archbishops from Aleppo, His Eminence Boulos (Yazigi), Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo and Alexandretta, and His Eminence Mor Youhanna Gregorios (Ibrahim), Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, as well as Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, and all captives and those unjustly imprisoned.”

The leaders gathered on the eve of the Centenary of the Armenian and Syriac Genocide and prayed for justice and peace. The group included representatives from the Middle East Council of Churches, the WCC, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, and the Community of Sant’Édigio.  Participants came from Armenia, Germany, Italy, Lebanon, Norway, Poland, Russia, the UK, and the USA.

Read the full text of the communique at

Committed to the stand that there is no military solution

In a telephone interview from Armenia, Noffsinger commented on the outcomes of the consultation and the importance of the church leaders’ communique. “As we met news of the insurgency going into Iraq from Syria added extra urgency,” he said. “It was very important that this meeting take place in the region. There was great gratitude that this meeting was held in Armenia.” Armenia borders on Iraq from the north, Noffsinger noted.

“The meeting was critical responding to the events of this week as the violence in Syria moved over the border into Iraq.”

The events in Iraq are “of grave concern,” Noffsinger said.

The church leaders reiterated the commitment originally made in January, “that there is no military solution,” Noffsinger said. “There is a realization that this is a costly and a more difficult path,” he added. “There was a strong voice at the meeting that peace must be for everybody in Syria and Iraq. The concern was for Muslim and Christian neighbors.”

The consultation discussed the fact that some areas are receiving humanitarian assistance and are making progress toward peace, which indicates that there can be good results when international players work toward that goal. But there are nations with influence in the region that are simply following their own agendas instead, he said.

He commented that although the consultation was very positive, the church leaders in the region are feeling “weariness” and “discouragement” about the lack of progress since the Geneva 2 talks. Now, even more people are being affected by the violence originating in the Syria conflict, and there is a mounting refugee crisis.

In addition to attending the consultation, the trip to Armenia afforded Noffsinger a chance to meet with Orthodox leaders from Syria and from Armenia. They shared their personal concerns about the serious consequences that the Syria conflict has had for their faith communities. “Voices of tremendous faith” expressed the need to stay the course and find a way to bring peace, Noffsinger said.

For more information

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2013 it had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican, and other traditions in over 140 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway. Find out more about the WCC at

For more about the work of the general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, go to

-- This report includes information from a World Council of Churches release.

Source: 6/17/2014 Newsline

Brethren Volunteer Service workers are in five nations across Europe

Photo by Kristin Flory

BVSers working in the Balkans, in a photo taken in December 
2013: (from left) Stephanie Barras, Julianne Funk, and Julia 
Fifteen Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) workers are serving in five nations across Europe. Here is an update on BVS project sites in Europe, where three volunteers are the first to serve in new projects for the program. The following listing is provided with help from Kristin Flory of the BVS staff, who works in the Brethren Service Europe office in Geneva, Switzerland:

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, Stephanie Barras is serving in Mostar with the OKC Abrasevic Youth Cultural Center. The project is described as a place “where everyone can drink coffee, see films, and attend concerts together regardless of ethnicity.”

In Croatia, Julianne Funk works for the Ecumenical Women’s Initiative in Omis, which grants funds to and networks with women’s groups in the Western Balkans. She concludes her assignment at the end of June.

Also in Croatia, Julia Schmidt is in an interim assignment in Osijek, with plans to return home in mid-summer.

In Germany, Marie Schuster is in Hamburg living and working with the Brot und Rosen Community, a house of hospitality for homeless refugees.

In Ireland, Margaret Hughes and Craig Morphew live and work in two of the four houses of L’Arche Community in Cork. L’Arche is French for “the ark,” and is a community for people living with disabilities.

Also in Ireland, Rosemary Sorg is in Callan with L’Arche Kilkenny Community.

Photo by Kristin Flory

BVSers working in Northern Ireland, in a photo take in early 
April 2014: (from left) Megan Miller, Emma Berkey, 
Megan Haggerty, Andrew Kurtz, Becky Snell, 
Hannah Button-Harrison,  and Hannah Monroe.
Eight BVS volunteers are working in Northern Ireland:

Andrew Kurtz and Becky Snell work with children at the Quaker Cottage cross community family center in Belfast.

Hannah Monroe lives and works and gardens with L’Arche Community in Belfast.

Sarah Caldwell just arrived in Belfast for a new BVS project site called Journey Towards Healing.

Megan Miller and Hannah Button-Harrison work with “Compass,” the family and community department of the Methodist Church’s East Belfast Mission.

Megan Haggerty in Richhill, County Armagh, is the first BVS volunteer with Enable, which offers activities and respite weekends to people with intellectual disabilities.

Emma Berkey is the first BVSer working with young people in Downpatrick, with the Youth Initiatives project.

For more about Brethren Volunteer Service go to

Source: 6/17/2014 Newsline

Disaster staff direct grants totaling $74,000 to flood relief in Afghanistan and the Balkans, response to spring storms in US

In four grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF), Brethren Disaster Ministries staff have directed a total of $74,000 to relief efforts following floods and landslides in Afghanistan, flooding and landslides in Balkan nations, and spring storms in the United States.


A grant of $35,000 supports the Church World Service (CWS) response in Afghanistan where hundreds have died and more than 120,000 people across 16 provinces have been heavily affected by flash floods and landslides.

This grant will support CWS as it provides assistance to 1,000 of the most vulnerable families affected, about 7,000 people. The relief program includes distributions of mattresses, hygiene kits, food, and tents. The people affected also will be encouraged to help rebuild their communities through a cash for work program. Mobile health teams will provide life-saving care and health education. Agricultural support programs will improve field irrigation. CWS has placed priority on orphans, people with disabilities, widows, and female-headed households.

The later part of April brought monsoon rains, flash floods, earthquakes, and landslides to the north, northeast and western regions of Afghanistan. Among the most severely affected areas were the provinces of Badakhshan and Jawzjan, along with Takhar Province. Inaccessibility remains a challenge in areas where roadways were severely damaged, where flood waters remain, and where insecurity poses high risk to relief efforts. Overcoming these challenges will be essential to ensuring the most vulnerable families in these areas receive assistance.

Balkan nations

An allocation of $30,000 will help fund the CWS response to extensive flooding in Serbia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, Balkan nations where more than 80 have died, tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed, and more than 1.6 million people are affected. Assessments of needs have shown a wide range including personal hygiene supplies, food, water, shelter, medications, as well as major infrastructure repairs, utility repair, and land mine removal.

This grant supports the CWS focus on providing food, personal health and hygiene supplies; equipment disinfecting; tools and packs; and agricultural assessment and relief. It also supports small emergency grants to local partners in Serbia including the Centre for Youth Integration in Belgrade, for work in informal Roma settlements; the Red Cross Smederevo for immediate aid in food, clothing, and hygiene kits; and a local partner doing needs assessments in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In mid-May, Cyclone Yvette (also called Tamara) dumped the heaviest rain in 120 years on Serbia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, causing extensive flooding and more than 2,000 landslides. It is estimated that more than 1 million people have been directly or indirectly affected. Some estimates are that damage from the floods will reach the billions in monetary terms, and in Bosnia it could exceed the damage from that country’s 1992-95 civil war. The ACT Alliance reports in addition that large amounts of arable land are under water and large numbers of livestock have been killed. Infrastructure is being reestablished in multiple locations, but access to potable water is still an issue, including in remote mountain villages that have had wells, roads, and bridges damaged or destroyed by flash flooding.

CWS is working in coalition with other ACT members, which include Philanthropy, the humanitarian arm of the Serbian Orthodox Church; International Orthodox Christian Charities; and Hungarian InterChurch Aid.

Bread of Life, Serbia

A grant of $5,000 is supporting the Bread of Life response to the extensive flooding in Serbia. Bread of Life is a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) placement site and is in the midst of the flooding. It has developed a program to offer assistance to families. Staff visit homes to assess the damage and needs, and select the most ”endangered“ families based on income and family size. The Brethren funds will assist Bread of Life help an additional 25 families in purchasing the most needed items, including furniture, appliances, and building materials. Bread of Life (Hleb Zivota) is a nonprofit humanitarian association that has been operating in Belgrade since 1992.

Spring storms in the US

An allocation of $4,000 will help CWS respond to damage and destruction caused by spring storms throughout the United States. The grant supports the shipping of Clean-Up Buckets and Hygiene Kits to communities that request this assistance. CWS will also provide these communities with training, expertise, and support in long-term recovery.

Extensive spring storms have brought tornadoes, flooding, and straight-line winds to at least 17 states. The loss of life, home damage, and destruction is extensive in smaller pockets in these states. Additional disasters this spring were the mudslide near Oso, Wash., and the Etiwanda Wildfire in drought-stricken California.

To date, CWS has shipped 252 Emergency Clean-Up Buckets and 500 Hygiene Kits to Jefferson County, Ala., and 75 Emergency Clean-Up Buckets to Baxter Springs, Kan., and expects to process at least three more material shipments.

For more about the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Emergency Disaster Fund, go to and

Source: 6/17/2014 Newsline

Global Food Crisis Fund provides grant to Bittersweet Ministries, gives grant to extend Going to Garden

The Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) of the Church of the Brethren has given a grant of $10,000 to support a ministry in Mexico, sponsored by Bittersweet Ministries. Also, the fund has given a second grant of $30,000 to Going to the Garden, in a cooperative effort with the denomination’s Office of Public Witness.

Bittersweet Ministries

An allocation of $10,000 has been given to support a ministry in Tijuana, Mexico, sponsored by Bittersweet Ministries. This one-time grant will support Two Machines, a sewing cooperative in the process of becoming registered as a 501c3. Two Machines’ community development approach includes participation of co-op members in planning and running their own business. Funds will be sent through Bittersweet Ministries and its board of directors, for use specifically for 501c3 filing fees and for wages, rent, and materials for operations through December 2014.

Photo courtesy of
Mountain View Church of the Brethren
in Boise, ID
Going to the Garden

A $30,000 grant extends the Going to the Garden project in cooperation with the denomination’s Office of Public Witness. “Going to the Garden: A Community Food Security and Nutrition Initiative” is intended to facilitate the formation or expansion of congregationally based community gardens and other garden based efforts to concretely address food insecurity, environmental degradation, and poverty in the US.

Attached to the grant request was the following listing of community gardens that are receiving support, each receiving a “mini grant” of $1,000. Four congregations have received two mini grants in two separate calendar years. The initial GFCF allocation of $30,000 that started Going to the Garden was made in the fall of 2012.

For more about Going to the Garden and to view a new video on this project, go to

Capstone Community Gardens and Orchard, New Orleans, La.
First Church of the Brethren, Harrisonburg, Va.
Meadow Branch Church of the Brethren, Westminster, Md.
Anawim Christian Community (Mennonite), Gresham, Ore.
Nampa (Idaho) Church of the Brethren
Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren, Fort Wayne, Ind.
Mount Morris (Ill.) Church of the Brethren
Mountain View Church of the Brethren, Boise, Idaho
I Care Inc., Topeka, Kan.
Living Faith Church of the Brethren, Concord, N.C.
Peace and Carrots Community Garden, La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren
Champaign (Ill.) Church of the Brethren
Annville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren
Brethren Hillcrest Homes, La Verne, Calif.
CrossPoint Community Church, Whitewater, Wis.
Heart of the Rockies Christian Church, Fort Collins, Colo.
Falffurrias (Texas) Church of the Brethren
Mount Wilson (Pa.) Church of the Brethren
Gracebridge Church of Christ, Chattanooga, Tenn.
West Charleston Church of the Brethren, Tipp City, Ohio
Hempfield Church of the Brethren, Manheim, Pa.
First Church of the Brethren, Wichita. Kan.
Akron (Ohio) Eastwood Church of the Brethren
Pleasant Dale Church of the Brethren, Decatur, Ind., for a garden project in Arctic Circle, Alaska

Source: 6/17/2014 Newsline

Church of the Brethren member named to field associate position with ADNet

By Christine  Guth of the Anabaptist Disabilities Network

Anabaptist Disabilities Network (ADNet) has appointed Rebekah Flores of Elgin, Ill., and Ronald Ropp of Normal, Ill., to serve as field associates. Flores is an active participant at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin.

Flores and Ropp join a team of volunteers who help to extend ADNet's reach and resources. Field associates are long-term volunteers who work part-time for ADNet from their home location on projects related to inclusion and hospitality toward persons with disabilities in faith communities.

Photo courtesy of ADNet

Rebekah Flores is the first Church of the Brethren member to serve as a field associate with ADNet, a disabilities network.
Flores to spearhead ADNet efforts in Brethren congregations

Rebekah Flores is the first field associate affiliated with the Church of the Brethren to begin volunteering for ADNet. Her interest in the role arose when she learned about a recently formed partnership between ADNet and the Disabilities Ministry of the Church of the Brethren.

Flores brings a strong concern for helping congregations meet the unique needs of people of all ages with diverse disabilities as they desire to participate in congregational life. She will be spearheading ADNet’s efforts to serve persons with disabilities in Church of the Brethren congregations, beginning in the Chicago area and expanding outward through Illinois and the Midwest.

Majoring in psychology and special education, Flores earned a bachelor of arts degree from Barat College in Lake Forest, Ill., and later attended Bethany Seminary in Richmond, Ind. She is employed as a qualified intellectual disabilities professional by Little Friends Inc., where she provides case management and supports adults with disabilities who reside in traditional group homes and in the community. Previously she served five years as an administrator of L’Arche Chicago, a small, faith-based, international intentional community of people with and without disabilities who share life together.

Flores welcomes opportunities to consult and speak about disability-related issues in Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, and other Anabaptist congregations in the Chicago region. Contact her at 773-673-2182 or

Ropp to help churches respond to needs of older adults

Ropp has spent a lifetime advocating for and encouraging appreciation of older adults. He is available for speaking and consulting with congregations seeking to respond to the needs and gifts of persons who are aging. His wide range of experiences as pastoral counselor and caregiver give him much to offer congregations seeking to respond to the needs of older members. He is available to help congregations evaluate needs and explore plans for dealing with issues of aging and caregiving.

“I have seen and heard great wisdom in elders, who often feel their knowledge and wisdom is irrelevant to the modern age,” Ropp observes. “Their wisdom is a tremendous resource to society and to the church. However, many of them feel they are no longer needed. This is a disability of the church not often noticed or addressed. In this age of renewable resources, our senior citizens may be one of the greatest untapped resources within our congregations.” Ropp looks forward to collaborating with ADNet in helping congregations rediscover and validate the valuable resource of their older members.

Ropp brings 38 years of experience in pastoral counseling and university teaching on gerontology and death and dying. Experience as a caregiver for aging parents and, more recently for his wife who suffered a stroke, enrich his perspectives on aging well. He attends Mennonite Church of Normal. To consult with him or invite him to speak, contact 309-452-8534 or

Organized in 2003, with offices in Elkhart, Ind., ADNet is committed to supporting congregations, families, and persons touched by disabilities, and nurturing inclusive communities. Contact ADNet at 574-343-1362, , or visit

-- Christine Guth is program director for the Anabaptist Disabilities Network. Find out more about the Disabilities Ministry of the Church of the Brethren at . Flores will be finding ways to encourage Church of the Brethren congregations to appoint local disabilities advocates, find forms and more information at the web page of the Disabilities Ministry.

Source: 6/17/2014 Newsline

Intergenerational events invite children and adults to ‘get real’ about courageous discipleship

“Get Real: Living as Courageous Disciples” is the theme of an evening of intergenerational events at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, 7-8:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 5. The Annual Conference will take place in Columbus, Ohio, on July 2-6. The evening of special events for all ages is organized and led by Joel and Linetta Ballew.

Children and adults who participate will have a wide variety of activity stations to choose from, focused on biblical and modern-day stories of courageous discipleship and an outdoor ministries theme. Activities will be led by volunteers at each station. Plans are for stations to feature camp-type activities, games, arts and crafts, a sing along, a book nook, nature exploration, dramatic storytelling, word puzzles, movies, and more. Participants will receive a sheet to mark off the stations they visit. Prizes will be awarded for completing at least seven stations.

Start at the “Welcome/Greeting Campsite” in the Hyatt Deleware Rooms, where guide sheets and initial information will be provided beginning at 7 p.m. on July 5. For more information go to

Source: 6/17/2014 Newsline

Ten years of the Springs initiative: Celebrating Brethren in renewal

By David Young

"The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life” (John 4:14). With this guiding biblical text, we come to the 10-year anniversary of Springs of Living Water in Church Renewal. Meeting with the Ministry and Mission Planning Council in 2004, we were encouraged to go out to develop this vision. In faith we went with a sense of urgency.

Now 10 years later, our hearts are filled with humble gratitude as we see renewal using the mission statement, “To provide and embody a spiritually oriented, servant-led ministry to assist churches to be spiritually vibrant congregations with an urgent Christ-centered mission.”

Three aspects of this vision have proved to be what churches find most helpful, with the primary being spiritual thrust, then the servant-led manner, and then developing vibrant Christ-centered congregations in mission.

The heart of the Springs work is practicing spiritual disciplines. Folders for the church have a daily Bible reading for meditation and prayer. Using folders, people have a daily encounter with Christ and live out of the scripture as the guide for daily living. People’s lives change. Congregations gain new energy, become more united, and feel that they are on a faith journey.

Brethren have stressed reading scripture and following its guidance daily. Pastors can preach on the spiritual disciplines and people have a folder to read scriptures on that discipline. Parents have discovered their young adults reading the scripture of the day. Bible study groups form and delve into the scripture. This filters down to children, and families converse about spiritual practices. This is a total immersion in spiritual growth for individuals and churches.

A second aspect of Springs is servant leadership, which grows out of the spiritual walk. Having our feet washed and our lives renewed in the name of Christ, we wash the feet of others. In serving, we hold the needs of others in trust and are entrusted with leadership--servant leadership. From that, authentic leaders come, spiritually nurturing people in Christ, calling forth their strengths, and building healthy churches with an urgent Christ-centered mission.

The new Springs Academy for pastors, carried out through telephone conference sessions, has been well received. Pastors practice spiritual disciplines, have leadership training in church renewal, interact with peers, have a group from their congregation walk along, and receive shepherding calls between sessions. Pastors go deep into the disciplines and learn how spiritual formation is central in their ministry. They learn the biblical basis of servant leadership and how to practice it in renewal.

Third is developing vibrant Christ-centered congregations in mission. A renewal team helps a church have moving congregational gatherings. Rather than find out what is wrong and fix it, people identify what is right and build upon it. Congregations ask, “Where is God leading our church?” In other gatherings they explore how their church touches people spiritually, their church’s core values and identity, and discern a scripture to guide a vision and a plan.

More spiritual transformation comes as churches implement their ministry plan. Creativity abounds as churches reach out into their communities. New people are attracted to renewing churches. This happens as churches become intentional about their mission.

In this tenth year of Springs, we are focusing on developing a closer walk in Christ and celebrating new life in churches. As Brethren join together with many efforts in renewal, let us celebrate new life in Christ.

In gratitude to God and to many people who have helped in many ways.

-- David Young and his wife Joan have founded and developed the Springs initiative for church renewal. Contact 464 Ridge Ave., Ephrata, PA 17522; ; 717-615-4515 or 717-738-1887. More information is at

Source: 6/17/2014 Newsline

Brethren bits

Photo courtesy of Kathy Fry-Miller

Children's Disaster Services (CDS) had a leadership seminar for 34 project managers earlier this month. “The weekend was full of energy, reflection, conversation, imagining, and presentation,” reports Kathleen Fry-Miller, associate director of CDS. “Our visit to the national American Red Cross Headquarters in D.C. was a highlight. What supportive partnership staff we have to work with at the Red Cross. I am confident that CDS is in good hands when we are out there serving children, families, and communities!”
  • “Beyond Hunger”--an event celebrating 70 years of Heifer International--will be held at Camp Alexander Mack near Milford, Ind., on Sept. 12-14. Heifer is an award-winning development organization based in Little Rock, Ark., that had its beginnings as the Church of the Brethren Heifer Project. Here is a brief history of the beginnings of Heifer International, which sent its first shipment of 18 heifers from Nappanee, Ind., to Puerto Rico on June 12, 1944. Peggy Reiff Miller reports in a release sent to Newsline: “The Heifer Project, as it was originally known, was the brain child of Church of the Brethren leader Dan West. He and his family lived on a small farm between Goshen and Middlebury, Ind. In 1937, the Society of Friends (Quakers) invited the Church of the Brethren and the Mennonites to assist them in a relief project in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. The Brethren sent Dan West as their salaried representative. While watching limited supplies of reconstituted powdered milk being distributed to infants, with those not gaining weight being taken off the list to die, West thought, ‘Why not send cows to Spain so they’d have all the milk they need?’ After arriving home in early 1938, West relentlessly promoted the ‘cow, not a cup’ idea. It took four years, but in April 1942, the Northern Indiana Men’s Work of the Church of the Brethren adopted Dan West’s plan for ‘Cattle for Europe.’ A committee was formed which became the core of a national Heifer Project Committee when the denomination’s Brethren Service Committee adopted the plan months later.” The event at Camp Mack will include a hog roast, two of Dan West’s children telling stories of their father and Heifer Project around the campfire, a luncheon with Heifer’s CEO Pierre Ferrari, presentations by Church of the Brethren author and researcher Peggy Reiff Miller and former Heifer Midwest director Dave Boothby, workshops with Heifer staff, children’s activities and a petting zoo, and recognition of seagoing cowboys. Early registration is required, and registration will be closed when the maximum of 300 participants is reached. There is a charge for Friday and Saturday evening meals and lodging. For more information and to register, contact Peggy Reiff Miller at or 574-658-4147. The event at Camp Mack is just one of several “Beyond Hunger” events that Heifer International is holding across the country. To find other Beyond Hunger events, go to .
  • Among five “high-achievement alumni” honored by Juniata College on Alumni Weekend 2014, June 7, was Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) manager Jeff Boshart who received the William E. Swigart Jr. Alumni Humanitarian Award. Other alumni who received recognition were Fred Lytle, professor emeritus of chemistry at Purdue University and currently a corporate fellow at Indigo BioSystems; Jane Brumbaugh Gough, retired program analyst and business programs specialist at the US Naval Research Laboratory; Khara Koffel, associate professor of art at MacMurray College, in Jacksonville, Ill.; and George M. Zlupko, director of the Lung Disease Center of Central Pennsylvania in Altoona, Pa. Boshart is a 1989 Juniata graduate and in addition to managing the Global Food Crisis Fund also manages the Emerging Global Mission Fund for the Church of the Brethren and represents the Church of the Brethren at the Foods Resources Bank. Previously he was a Brethren mission worker serving as Haiti Disaster Response Coordinator from 2008-12 with Brethren Disaster Ministries, and was a community development coordinator in the Dominican Republic from 2001-04.

A collage of Cold Water Challenge participants
Mission and Ministry Board member Janet Elsea has been involved in a Cold Water Challenge to benefit the EYN Compassion Fund of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria. “So far we have about six videos of folks taking the Cold Water Challenge specifically for the EYN Compassion Fund...and the list keeps growing,” she wrote to Newsline. The challenge was initiated by her daughter in law’s brother, and then other friends and family, and members of Pleasant Hill Church of the Brethren, began participating. “We are hoping it will catch fire!” Elsea wrote.
Cold Water Challege participants from Pleasant Hill Church of the Brethren
  • Hollins Road Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., will celebrate 100 yearsat its present location on Sept. 6, starting at 5:30 p.m. with food, music, and time to reminisce about the years gone by. The evening will end with a presentation by pastor Horace Light. The celebration continues on Sunday, Sept. 7, beginning at 9:30 a.m. with music and guest speaker David K. Shumate, district executive minister for Virlina District. Worship will be followed by a sit-down meal in the social hall. “Each and everyone is cordially invited to attend and share in this memorable celebration,” said an invitation in the Virlina District newsletter.
  • Mohrsville Church of the Brethren in Berks County, Pa., hosted the crowning of the 2014-15 Berks County dairy princess and her court this year. The young women will travel around Berks County promoting the dairy industry, led by Ashley Mohn, who was crowned the 2014-15 Berks County dairy princess. Gabrielle Kurtz and Megan Notestine were named the alternate dairy princesses, and Alyssa Troutman was named Li'l Miss Dairy Princess. Find a photo and full report from the “Reading (Pa.) Eagle" at .
  • Virlina District is sponsoring a Parent Training Event on Aug. 16, at Bethlehem Church of the Brethren in Boones Mill, Va. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the event will begin at 9 a.m. Two sessions will be presented: “Raising Nonviolent Children in a Violent World” from 9:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m., led by Carol Elmore and Dava Hensley based on a book by the same title by Dr. Michael Obsatz; and “The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander” from 1:15-3:15 p.m., led by Patricia Ronk based on a book by the same title by Barbara Coloroso. Lunch will be provided. The event will close with worship and evaluation and conclude at 3:30 p.m. Donations will be received toward the costs. For more information contact Patricia Ronk at or 540-798-5512. A flier is available by request, contact . Pre-registration is not required but would be helpful for lunch preparation.
  • Camp Bethel’s 20th Annual Benefit Golf Tournament is Aug. 20 at Botetourt Golf Club. Tee off is at 12:45 p.m. Cost of $70 per person includes green fees, cart, and dinner at camp ($15 for dinner only). Mulligans are sold at the course for $5 each. Prizes will be awarded for “best-ofs” and there will be door prizes at camp. “Assemble your dream team for a day fun on the greens while supporting the ministries of Camp Bethel,” said an announcement. Tournament sponsors also are needed to help provide support for summer camp programs. More information about the golf tournament and about the camp located near Fincastle, Va., is at .
  • Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va., celebrates its 30th Heritage Day Festival on Oct. 4. The festival is an important fundraiser for the camp. Heritage Day forms, fliers, and information are available at or call 540-992-2940.
  • Aug. 23 is the Southern Pennsylvania and Atlantic Northeast Districts Church of the Brethren night at Senator’s Baseball at Metro Bank Park. The districts invite Brethren to enjoy a night of fun and fellowship with the Harrisburg (Pa.) Senators, starting at 7 p.m. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.
  • Somerset (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is hosting the First Annual District Women’s Summer Tea Party in Western Pennsylvania District, on Saturday, Aug. 9, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The event is sponsored by the district Women’s Ministries and the Somerset Church Women’s Ministry. The district newsletter invited women to come and bring their relatives, friends, and neighbors to “a time to honor and refresh women.” Participants should bring along a cup and saucer. The theme will be, “Women of God--Growing in Grace” (2 Peter 3:18). Cost is $10 Registrations must be in by July 30. Contact Arbutus Blough at 814-629-9279.
  • “We are God's Servants Working Together” (1 Corinthians 3:1-9) is the theme of an Aug. 23 gathering of Southern Ohio District. The event starts at 3:30 p.m. at Troy Church of the Brethren. The gathering will assemble school kits for Church World Service, then join in a celebration of what God has done as the district works together, said an announcement in the district newsletter. “This event supports our district conference theme taken from 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, ‘We are God's Servants, Working Together,’” the announcement said. Monetary donations will be received to purchase supplies for the kits, contribute by sending a check to Southern Ohio District, 2293 Gauby Rd., New Madison, OH 45346.
  • “Ice cream, anyone?” said an invitation to a summer festival at Shepherd’s Spring, an outdoor ministry center and camp near Sharpsburg, Md. The festival on Aug. 16 also is an opportunity for sponsors to fund the event, at which ice cream will be served to benefit the ongoing ministry of Shepherd’s Spring. For more information go to
Source: 6/17/2014 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 Jeff Boshart, Chris Douglas, Janet Elsea, Kristin Flory, Peggy Reiff Miller, Nancy Miner, Stan Noffsinger, John Wall, Roy Winter, David Young, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Newsline: June 10, 2014


Ministry Summer Service interns and mentors complete orientation

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

The Ministry Summer Service orientation group for 2014
The 2014 class of Ministry Summer Service interns and mentors completed orientation last week at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. During their orientation, the group of nine interns led the Wednesday chapel service for the General Offices community. Following orientation, the interns began work at their summer placements.

Ministry Summer Service is a leadership development program for college students in the Church of the Brethren, who spend 10 weeks of the summer working in the church at a congregation, district, camp, or national program.

The interns participating in this summer’s program:
Chris Bache of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren in Pacific Southwest District

Christy Crouse of Warrensburg (Mo.) Church of the Brethren in Missouri and Arkansas District

Jake Frye of Monitor Church of the Brethren, McPherson, Kan., in Western Plains District

Renee Neher of York Center Church of the Brethren, Lombard, Ill., in Illinois and Wisconsin District

Caleb Noffsinger of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren, Elgin, Ill., in Illinois and Wisconsin District

Lauren Seganos of Stone Church of the Brethren, Huntingdon, Pa., in Middle Pennsylvania District

Amanda Thomas of Marilla Church of the Brethren, Copemish, Mich., in Michigan District

Shelley Weachter of Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren in Mid-Atlantic District

Shelley West of Happy Corner Church of the Brethren, Clayton, Ohio, in Southern Ohio District
This year’s mentors are Gieta Gresh, Marlin Houff (for the Youth Peace Travel Team), Dennis Lohr, Pat Marsh, Pam Reist, and Megan Sutton.

Staff who work with the program include Mary Jo Flory-Steury, associate general secretary and executive director of the Ministry Office; Becky Ullom Naugle, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry; and Dana Cassell, who is contract staff for Ministry Formation. For more about Ministry Summer Service go to

Source: 6/10/2014 Newsline

Church of the Brethren sends representative, helps support Bread for the World anniversary gathering

The Church of the Brethren was represented at the Bread for the World 40th anniversary gathering by Office of Public Witness director Nathan Hosler. The denomination helped provide financial support for the gathering, held in Washington, D.C., on June 9-10, through a $1,000 grant from the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) in honor of the anniversary, reports GFCF manager Jeffrey S. Boshart.

Bread for the World ( ) is a collective Christian voice urging the nation’s decisionmakers to end hunger at home and abroad. Dubbed “Bread Rising,” its 40th anniversary gathering aimed to lay groundwork for ending hunger by 2030, said a release from the organization.

The anniversary celebration also was Bread for the World’s annual National Gathering and Lobby Day. Announced speakers included travel expert Rick Steves, Gabriel Salguero of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, and CARE policy advocate Tony Rawe, among others. This year’s program educated activists on issues of immigration, mass incarceration, and sustainable food security. On Lobby Day, hunger advocates from across the country met with their representatives to urged reform of US food-aid programs and the immigration system.

“Behind our four decades of achievements for hungry people are strong activists, friends, and supporters working tirelessly to eradicate hunger and poverty in their communities, their country, and around the world,” said David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “It’s important that we not only celebrate where we came from and who helped us along the way; we must also map out how we will merge our collective talents, contacts, and faith to get the job done in 15 years.”

Learn more about Bread for the World’s 40th anniversary celebration at . For more about the Global Food Crisis Fund, go to .

-- This report includes excerpts from Bread for the World releases from Fito Moreno, media relations specialist.

Source: 6/10/2014 Newsline