Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Newsline: July 30, 2014


That youth would encounter Christ: A conversation with the NYC coordinators

Photo by Glenn Riegel

The NYC coordinators with Becky Ullom Naugle, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Church of the Brethren. From left: Tim Heishman, Katie Cummings, Becky Ullom Naugle, and Sarah Neher.
Tucked away in the coordinators’ office at National Youth Conference, Katie Cummings, Tim Heishman, and Sarah Neher took a few minutes to chat with me about the week so far. Between chirps on the walkie talkie and bites of gluten-free oatmeal, they caught me up on their unique perspective of this long-awaited event. We talked about what it has meant to be a part of NYC, and how it will affect their lives on the other side. -- Mandy J. Garcia

Question: You’ve been working to plan this conference for over a year. Is it meeting your expectations?

Tim Heishman: I hoped that youth would encounter Christ, grow in faith, and experience spiritual renewal at NY. Watching that happen this week has been exciting and inspiring, and it means the world to me.

Sarah Neher: One dream of mine for NYC was to have the message that we can all be different but still have unity. The worship sessions have done a great job doing that, and the speakers have come from all different points on the spectrum.

Katie Cummings: When Rodger Nishioka preached that church should be different from the rest of the world--a place that we can belong and feel safe, I remembered how much that concept resonated with me in high school. I was often singled out because of my pacifist beliefs, but church was the place where I felt most alive--most my true self.

Heishman: I have taken to going to the Moby arena early for worship. There’s not much greater than when the tech crew announces “Doors open!” and everyone charges into the arena. After 18 months of planning, there’s nothing greater than seeing 2,400 people that excited.

Q: What is something that has been especially moving to you this week?

Heishman: When I sense the Holy Spirit, it manifests in tears for me--and that has happened about 20 times per day. But I don’t think I will ever forget the view near the end of the anointing service on Tuesday. Most everyone had taken their seats and was facing me, singing, full of emotion; it was powerful.

Neher: Anointing was really powerful for me as well. The look in their eyes as they came forward, knowing what a powerful moment it was for them, and being able to be a channel for the Spirit was powerful. Some youth even came to thank me after the service, and that was so humbling.

Cummings: I cried when Ken Medema wrote and sang the song following the speech contest winners. It made me remember high school, and how significant NYC was for me as a youth.

Q: What is something significant that you’ve learned through this process?

Neher: When Jenn Quijano preached about Esther on Tuesday morning, I was reminded that NYC would have happened without me, and it would have glorified God. But it has been amazing to jump on this ride. I feel completely blessed and humbled to be chosen.

Cummings: There have been humble reminders like that all week long. Reminders that even though I’m a coordinator, it’s not about me. Sometimes I get anxious about logistics, worship, timing, all kinds of things--but then I remember that it’s about God working.

Heishman: There have been times this week when I was afraid I couldn’t do it. I never thought I’d be able to have the stamina to make it through on four hours of sleep per night, or the grace to handle the pressure. But when God calls you, God equips you. There’s no need to worry because if you claim your call right now, and accept the struggle, you can live on the journey.

Q: Now that NYC is wrapping up and your time as coordinators is drawing to a close, what is on your mind as you prepare to leave this place?

Heishman: Over the past 18 months, we were regularly reminded of the hundreds of thousands of people who were praying for us all year. Without that, this would have been impossible.

Cummings: When we first started planning NYC, I had doubts about my own abilities, but the last year has been an affirmation of my call.

Neher: A thing that has been terrible and awesome at the same time is that, over the past year, we have had to embrace the NYC theme in every aspect of our lives--at the BVS house, in our work, everywhere. And I will be able to draw back on it for the rest of my life. Right now, called, struggle, claim, live, journey--it’s a cycle that will never end.

-- Mandy Garcia is a member of the NYC News Team.

Source: 7/30/2014 Newsline

NYC speakers encourage youth to seek their calling in Christ

Photo by Nevin Dulabaum

Samuel Sarpiya speaks on the theme, "Right Now"
Over the course of six days at National Youth Conference, July 19-24, Brethren youth heard from 10 outstanding speakers who brought messages for morning and evening worship services each day. Here is an review of the messages for NYC 2014, written by NYC News Team volunteer Frank Ramirez:

Saturday, “Right Now”:

Samuel Kefas Sarpiya, a Church of the Brethren pastor and church planter in Rockford, Ill., preached on the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10.

The opening worship for NYC 2014 ran the gamut, from heart-felt music that brought people to their feet, to heart-rending emotion at the shared struggles of sisters and brothers in Nigeria. It was all about “Right Now,” as Sarpiya prayed, “As your Spirit moves in our midst, our earnest prayer is that we will encounter you right now.”

“Wow!” Sarpiya said as he stepped up to the pulpit. “Turn to the person next to you and say, ‘Right Now!’”

His challenge was clear. “Think for a moment what matters to you right now. The discovery holds a very important key to your future.”

Sarpiya unwrapped his scripture, Luke 10:38-42, the familiar story of Martha and Mary, which he described as “Martha’s discovery of the one necessary thing.” Jesus, he suggested, really desired Martha’s undivided attention.

“Life’s distractions happen to the best of us--including social media!” he warned the youth. “We are consumed about what other people say about us rather than what God says about us, but what God says about us is more important than anything anyone else says about us... Let us seek this week that you will let the Spirit talk to you.”

Sunday, “Called”:

Photo by Glenn Riegel

The three youth speech contest winners for 2014
Morning worship featured youth speech contest winners Alison Helfrich of Oakland Church of the Brethren, Southern Ohio District; Katelyn Young of Ephrata Church of the Brethren, Atlantic Northeast District; and Laura Ritchey of Woodbury Church of the Brethren, Middle Pennsylvania District.

“What if you had to make a choice to save your life or the lives of thousands of people?” Young asked, speaking about the dilemma that faced Esther, the hero of the biblical book of the same name. “Esther was a teenager. She was just like you and me,” Young reminded her listeners. Esther asked her fellow believers to pray and fast together, creating a community of prayer, then she answered God’s call and asked the king to spare lives. “I’m not going to say you’re going to…become a superhero,” Young said, but she insisted that all of us can make a difference. “The call is a big part of Esther’s story, and a big part of this week.... Esther is an example of how nothing is impossible with God,” she concluded.

Ritchey called to mind “the various ways we arrived [at NYC]. For many of us (including me) this is the biggest journey we ever embarked upon. We as Christians follow a path that leads to Christ. What does it look like to follow the calling?” She suggested that Christians are meant to follow a different path than the world, one that leads to Christ. Love, peace, the word of God, and Christ Jesus are all signs we are on the right path. “We must all strive to forgive one another and mend fences. When we take a stand for Jesus we take a stand against the world.... Let us live up to our calling, glorifying the Lord, with our vast array of talents.”

Helfrich began her speech with the story of a time when no one else was home to answer the phone. She took the call, which was from an old family friend who suggested she probably didn’t know who he was. “I’d know your voice anywhere,” she replied, adding, “It never occurred to me I wasn’t listening to the correct voice.” She suggested that although we may wonder what God’s voice sounds like, we will recognize God’s voice when it comes. “When we hear God calling we have a choice. We can ignore his voice and hope he stops calling us, or we can answer the call.” She concluded by saying she believes we all receive a calling from God. “God tells us before we were even born, he calls us, and we receive our work.”

The Sunday morning service also featured an original song from Sam Stein, winner of the youth music contest, with his group Green Eggs and Ham.

Photo by Glenn Riegel

Rodger Nishioka's message resonates with 
the youth
Rodger Nishioka, who holds the Benton Family Chair in Christian education and is an associate professor at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga., preached on Sunday evening on the story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man from Luke 5:17-26.
Nishioka guesses most people have a list of people they want to meet when they go to heaven. He wants to meet the three friends who lowered the paralyzed man through the roof to be healed. They had to lose a day’s pay in order to take care of their friend, he noted, in an era when if you didn’t work, you didn’t get paid, and if you didn’t get paid, your family didn’t eat.

Those friends skipped pay and food to carry their friends. “We’ve got to carry each other!” he told the NYC youth.
Nishioka spoke to laughter, cheers, applause and tears as he told youth that although the world tells them “you are not enough, not enough, not enough.... that is a lie!”

He told the story of a girl in a junior high Sunday school class he taught, who startled everyone when she said she wanted to be a teacher. She hated school, but she told Nishioka’s class that she had been bullied every single day, and every one one of her teachers, when she approached them with her problems, had been no help at all. As a teacher, she looked forward to helping students who were bullied, and telling the bullies that in her class everyone would be respected and treated with kindness.

The most telling part of the story was that this revelation led one of her Sunday school classmates to say how much she thought of this student, who replied that she wasn’t surprised. After all, this is the church. “That’s why I’m a part of this youth group. It’s supposed to be different.”

“We need each other,” Nishioka said. “Carry one another. The call of the Lord is for you and I to be carriers, carrying people to Christ, because all of us need healing.”

He concluded with a challenge: “It’s been four months since your sisters have been kidnapped just for trying to go to school.” He listed other kidnappings and deaths that have occurred in Nigeria and other troubled places. “Every single day the nations of the world spend more on warfare than welfare. You are the Church of the Brethren. For 300 years you are one of the three historic peace churches in the world. C’mon! This is your job! ...Carry us to Jesus. We need to be healed!”

Monday, “Struggle”:

Photo by Nevin Dulabaum

Ted Swartz (right) and Ken Medema (left) onstage 
at the Moby Arena
The morning worship presenter was Ted Swartz of Ted & Co., a Mennonite comedy troupe. Swartz’s theatrical world is peopled by a host of beings--human, angelic, and divine--most portrayed onstage by him or else unseen. But on Monday morning during worship at NYC he shared the stage with Jen Scarr, a Bethany Seminary student intern with Ted & Co., and with a Brethren favorite Ken Medema as well.

Medema, a Christian musician who has performed at many NYCs, played two roles: Isaac, a blind blues piano player, and God (yes, the math works out if you know the biblical story). Scarr played Abigail, a somewhat ditzy factotum who played a mean game of biblical “Who’s On First” with Jacob. Swartz played both Jacob and Esau, and also himself, depending on whether he was wearing a scarf or not.
At the heart of the drama was Jacob’s struggle with his family, his faults, and himself, and God. It was a heart rending story as Swartz called to mind the suicide of his theatrical partner Lee Eshelman. “You don’t grow or change without conflict,” Swartz said. “Wrestling with God sounds good, but it hurts. And God is not afraid of our pain, our grief, our anger. He wants our wrestling. When you wrestle with God you are touching something holy. You may come out of it with a limp. You may come out of it with a new name. So keep wrestling. Keep wrestling.”

Photo by Nevin Dulabaum

Kathy Escobar of the Refuge mission and Christian community 
in North Denver
Preaching Monday evening was Kathy Escobar, co-pastor of the Refuge mission center and Christian community in North Denver.

She always imagined that Christians would finally become comfortable once they had struggled with their faith, Escobar told NYC. But that hasn’t proven to be the case. Noting that her church is “dedicated to being a safe place for struggle,” she admitted that everyone there “is safe but no one is comfortable.”

Using the story of Peter’s acceptance of outsiders into the early Christian church as a springboard, Escobar compared that struggle centered around the issue of clean and unclean, with our own issues of acceptance and rejection. The Refuge is open to everyone, for example, she said, but there is great diversity in matters of politics, economics, gender, and race. However, “the barriers between Christians can be broken with Christ at the center.”

Struggle is key, and struggle never ends, because people are people. “Faith is a struggle. Struggle is defined by Webster’s as ‘contending with opposing forces.’ There are all kinds of contending forces working against us all the time.”

Admitting that sometimes she longs for the life of faith to be comfortable, Escobar reminded the youth that when Jesus tells us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves, we sometimes forget those last two words. She has always struggled with the tension between self-love and self-rejection, she said, but we must embrace all the tensions in our lives.

“We show up with all of our strengths and all of our weaknesses,” she concluded. “The work of our lives is to wrestle with the struggle and never expect it to be gone.”

Tuesday, “Claim”:

Photo by Glenn Riegel

Jennifer Quijano is a Bethany Seminary student
and youth director in Ohio
The morning worship service was led by Bethany Seminary student Jennifer Quijano, who serves as youth and worship director at Cedar Grove Church of the Brethren in Ohio.

“What a blessed moment it was! To answer the call means risk and stepping into the unknown,” Quijano told the youth, speaking about her choice to go to Bethany Seminary, which required a move from New York to Indiana. “Be courageous disciples,” she said. “Claim your call in the body of Christ.”

Quijano brought to life the Old Testament story of Esther, and wove into it the story of her own call. She praised Esther’s choice to create a community of prayer and fasting to seek God’s will together, and suggested that when we claim our call we may find strength in shared prayer and Bible study. She has found the strength she needs in the supportive Bethany community, which made possible the transition from Brooklyn.

She reminded youth that Esther was told that God’s will would be done whether or not she claimed her part in the story. Perhaps all youth, she suggested, are called as Mordecai told Esther, “for such a time as this.” Those words were part of the theme of the National Youth Conference Quijano herself attended in 2002.

Photo by Glenn Riegel
Katie Shaw Thompson speaks Tuesday evening of NYC 2014
Tuesday evening worship was led by Katie Shaw Thompson who pastors at Ivester Church of the Brethren in Grundy Center, Iowa, and helps lead Camp Pine Lake in Northern Plains District.

“I wonder how anyone claims anything in the midst of the struggle and confusion,” Thompson commented, in a sermon that emphasized belonging, calling youth to claim their place and their identities as children of God.

“We have been living, loving, and learning together this week. Whether you know it or believe it, we all belong here,” she said.

When Thompson was introduced to the NYC, she thought it important to list her faults as well as her strengths. Nor did she sugarcoat the great difficulties facing youth today such as characterizations and cruelties that divide youth into separate groups, the pressure of belonging or not belonging, and the social media assaults on youth that never cease.

Just as the Ephesians struggled to find a unity in Christ that would trump their differences, so we share the same struggles today. The solution is found in the words of Ephesians 4:1-7, to lead a life worthy of the calling. Our differences can seem great, she said, but the answers are to be found in Jesus.

Prior to the evening’s service of anointing--a tradition that is offered at every National Youth Conference--Thompson challenged everyone present, saying, “Tonight I invite you, I beg of you, claim your part in the story, in the call, and your identity. You are a blessed and called child of the Living God. Don’t let anyone tell you, you don’t belong. You belong. You belong. You belong. You belong. You belong.”

Wednesday, “Live”:

Photo by Nevin Dulabaum

Leah Hileman preaches about reconciliation and 
right alignment with God and others
Leah J. Hileman, who is pastoring Lake View Christian Fellowship in Southern Pennsylvania District, led the morning worship.

“We serve not because it’s the right thing to do,” said Hileman,“but because God’s Spirit is in us and we can’t help it!”

Unpacking Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, focusing on 5:16-20, she agreed with the apostle that we are called to be ministers of reconciliation and ambassadors for Christ. Hileman likened Paul’s transformation from someone “on fire for the law of Moses,” to one who could see--even in his chains--an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ with his guards.

For herself it began with naming what Paul calls “secret and shameful ways,” and rejecting them for a new life in Christ. “To be reconciled with God brings us into right alignment with God...and each other,” she said. She then addressed her former life, saying, “Secret and shameful ways! You suck! You are ruining my life! ...You are robbing me of blessing! I am evicting you from my spiritual house. ...I've got Jesus on speed dial. You don't own me anymore!”

Speaking on the need for reconciliation and right relationship, to one wing of the church she said: “It is not enough to preaching without service,” and to the other wing: “It is not enough to serve without preaching. Our ministry as Ambassadors of Jesus Christ has to include both parts. It has to include our good works with the message of who Christ is.”

She closed with a second original number titled Walk In Me, in which the refrain “Make me like Jesus,” was intertwined with lyrics calling upon God to breathe life back into us and mold us in the image of Christ.

Photo by Glenn Riegel

Jarrod McKenna calls youth into a radical commitment 
to the faith
Jarrod McKenna made a return appearance at NYC as speaker for the Wednesday evening service. He is a teaching pastor at Westcity Church in Australia, where he and his family live with 17 recently arrived refugees at the First Home Project. He also serves as World Vision Australia’s national advisor for Youth, Faith, and Activism.

“Who’s in?” Following a minute of silent prayer, these two words led to an avalanche of youth coming forward, responding to McKenna’s challenge to commit to radical discipleship to Jesus Christ.

It was an altar call, with a twist. Having described how much the example of the early Brethren inspired the intentional Christian community in Australia of which he is a part, McKenna explained the combination of the Anabaptist strain of the Brethren tradition, and the mystical and practical Pietist sense of Jesus in our midst.

This combination ought to lead Brethren to be a part of what McKenna calls the “mustard seed conspiracy” of Christlike living that leads to radically surprising changes in our world--but some Brethren have strayed far from that radical faith, he said.

It only takes eight people to change that, he told NYC, recalling the first eight whose baptisms started the Brethren movement. He asked for eight youth to respond. “Who’s up for radical revolution?”

As one, hundreds of youth and adults rose from their seats and streamed forward in a quiet, orderly, but determined fashion.
Then McKenna invited the congregation to pray in small groups, as a time of mutual encouragement for the commitment they had just made. He spoke of things the youth can do following NYC to continue this commitment, specifically to find a small group with whom to regularly pray the Lord’s Prayer, and to memorize the Sermon on the Mount. “When you love your enemy and love your neighbor as yourself, you will find your call in Jesus,” he said.

Thursday, “Journey”:

Photo by Nevin Dulabaum

Jeff Carter gives the closing message of NYC 2014
Morning worship focused on the appropriate theme of “Journey” as youth gathered for a final time of worship, singing, prayer, and blessing led by Bethany Seminary president Jeff Carter.

Carter reviewed the different speakers throughout the week of NYC, and their messages, and then turned to a message of his own for the Church of the Brethren. “We have a ministry of the heart. We have a ministry of the hand,” he said, emphasizing the way the Brethren tradition combines spirituality and service.

He also noted the fast pace the youth had been through at NYC, and contrasted it with the steadfast persistence required for the Christian life of discipleship. “We have been sprinting all week. The Christian life is not a sprint. It is a marathon. A marathon in which we don't run alone.”

Carter told the story of preparing to run a marathon, and receiving encouragement from a bystander after he “hit the wall” because he had started out the race at too fast of a pace. He praised that bystander for taking a step out from the crowd to give him personal encouragement. “It's not about having. It's about giving,” he said. “Step out from the crowd. Make a difference.”

He concluded by telling the youth: “My last story is about you. It hasn't been written yet. So what's your story? How will you make a difference?”

The closing service ended with a time of blessing for the youth and adults present. Carter invited each to go to one of the stations around the arena, and identify themselves to the people sharing the blessing, so that each might go home having been blessed by name.

-- Frank Ramirez is a volunteer writer on the NYC News Team.

Source: 7/30/2014 Newsline

NYC enjoys a Brethren Block Party

Photo by Nevin Dulabaum

Arm wrestling for peace, at the Brethren Block Party
“We were all brainstorming with the coordinators,” said Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, a former NYC coordinator herself, “to think of an event that would help people mix together, get to know each other while having a great time, while letting the agencies tell a little of their story.”

And that’s what led to the first NYC Brethren Block Party.

There were many popular activities, chief among them the Dunk Tank--labelled appropriately “The Easy Dunker.” Prominent (but not pompous) agency heads and denominational leaders as well as NYC coordinators were dunked. Many were willing to wait in a long line to throw three balls at a metal button. Most missed, resulting in a dull thunk, but every now and then a solid “thwack” preceded a scream, then a splash!

Brethren Benefit Trust sponsored a photo booth, where individuals and groups could don Viking outfits, Hulk Hands, oversized glasses, and extravagant hats for pictures. Within seconds, every participant received three copies of the photo.

At a Brethren Voice table the NYC News Team invited passersby to “Paint Your Story” on sheets laid out on the sidewalk. Some took a painstaking approach, recreating the NYC logo, or painting trees, hearts, and peace signs. Others dug in to make handprints and even footprints.

There was a beanbag toss celebrating Heifer International, as well as GaGa Ball played in an oval created by overturned tables--seemingly a cross between handball and cage fighting. Also popular: a rubber chicken toss, and apple butter tasting.

Bethany Theological Seminary sponsored a “selfie” scavenger hunt which resulted in youth asking anyone with a Bethany t-shirt to pose with them for a cell phone picture.

Not all was fun and games. Another booth with long lines was sponsored by Global Mission and Service, involving the serious task of filling out postcards to Secretary of State John Kerry encouraging him to act more proactively on the crisis in Nigeria. The cards bring attention to the mass abductions of schoolgirls who are the same age as the NYC participants.

“I think it is very important to be involved,” said one youth who carefully filled out a postcard. Another said, “I met Beatrice from the EYN when she was here with her mother. I became her friend. This is very personal.” A third said, “I just think it’s a terrible thing. I can’t imagine how it would feel to have no freedom to come and go as I pleased.”

Their advisor said she hadn’t had to ask twice if they wished to be involved. “We do important work in our youth group,” she said.

Another opportunity for an in depth activity was offered by the Spiritual Direction Team, which posed two questions: “What do you pray for?” and “What gives you hope?” Samples of responses: “My church family,” “Homeless people,” and “My friends and relations I do not know.” Hope was found in “My family,” “Our youth,” and “Reassurance.”

-- Frank Ramirez is a volunteer writer on the NYC News Team.

Source: 7/30/2014 Newsline

Reception welcomes international guests and NYC scholarship recipients

Photo by Nevin Dulabaum

Four members of EYN in Nigeria are among the international guests at NYC 2014. They received a standing ovation during the first evening's worship service, when they were introduced during a time of violence and struggle in their home country.
"It’s exciting to have so many countries represented here, as well as people from across the US," said NYC coordinator Tim Heishman, in his welcome to the reception for International Guests and Scholarship Recipients at National Youth Conference 2014.

While it was tough to find the event, held in the North Lory Ballroom as a late night activity on Saturday, it also was tough to beat. Hosted by Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger and Annual Conference moderator David Steele, guests mingled freely in several circles.

Noffsinger asked how many present would be willing to travel for two days without any rest. "Some of our guests did precisely that," he said.

After Noffsinger invited people to sit in groups where they did not know anyone, I joined a group that included individuals from Harrisburg, Pa., and southern California. I live in Indiana. We all shared different levels of proficiency in Spanish and English, but as we answered some questions provided by Noffsinger and Steele it was clear we agreed on many of the questions.

Those in our area agreed that worship is the highlight of NYC, and that meeting new people is second. People talked about how important they found their church praise bands, and how important prayer is in their lives.

I also spent a few minutes with our guests from Nigeria, who spoke about how much they are enjoying NYC, and how welcome they feel.

The room was alive with laughter and a good spirit. Noffsinger reminded those in attendance, now that we have met, we are to greet each other through the week.

International participants include five youth and adults from Brazil, three from the Dominican Republic, four from India with three from First District Church of the Brethren India and one from Church of North India, four from Nigeria, and three from Spain.

-- Frank Ramirez is a member of the NYC News Team

Source: 7/30/2014 Newsline

Service projects take youth beyond campus borders to share with others

Photo by Glenn Riegel

A group poses at one of the NYC service projects
On a blisteringly hot Monday, willing volunteers from the 2014 National Youth Conference were spread from the Colorado State University campus beyond to the greater Fort Collins and Loveland areas, working at indoor and outdoor projects.

“This is what we do because we’re the church,” one of the youth noted. “This is really important.”

Work took place on and off campus

Beside a window in the lower level of the Moby Arena, a group of 20 youth and advisors sorted health kits and canned goods that had been donated during worship. They stood around a long table, checking contents of the kits and pulling out extra items to build new ones.

“We chose to sign up for this service project because we like helping others,” said Justin Kier. And even with an injured ankle, Gabe Hernandez used his crutches to work alongside his teammates.

Another, larger group of volunteers walked down the street to the Geller Center for Spiritual Development, a non-profit that specifically focuses on creating space to encourage spiritual health for college students. They stained outdoor furniture, mowed the lawn, prepped a fundraising letter, and completed housed cleaning projects. “They did an incredible job mopping floors,” said Laura Nelson, director of the center. “This group is incredible!” While folding and stuffing envelopes, Olivia Hawbecker said she enjoys, “Helping with whatever needs to be done to help keep our world beautiful. And it’s fun to remember there are kind people who want to help!”

Several more service project workers went to the Turning Point, a 40-year-old nonprofit that exists to help at-risk teens and their families who have suffered from trauma or abuse. “We help kids who have had a hard upbringing,” said director Scott VonBargen. “But these NYCers are good kids, and we appreciate them being here.” Volunteers planted bushes in the front of the building, and scraped paint off a shed in the back. “I like being outside,” said Colleen Murphy, one of the youth. “So I thought this would be fun!”

“You never know what you’ll find in a thrift shop,” said Kayla Means, who was serving with another group at Arc Thrift in Fort Collins. The youth unloaded and hung up clothes from more than 15 “melons,” which are large containers that hold about 400 articles of clothing each. “The store was completely empty when we got here,” said Paula Elsworth, a youth advisor. “But now it was filled with racks of hanging clothes!” Gerta Thompson, the merchandise manager for Arc Thrift, sung the praises of the NYC volunteers. “They did an awesome job!”

At an environmental landscaping project supported by the local industrial parks, a group of youth and advisors set to work replanting trees, great and small, in an effort that will help moderate the temperatures around the several ponds in the area.

Another group, consisting of youth from Pennsylvania and Indiana, worked so fast at the Arc Thrift store in Loveland that the store’s employee assigned to supervise them expressed amazement that they brought so much enthusiasm to the task that they finished far earlier than expected. The youth were found resorting clothes on the rack according to color and size. “It’s fun to be taking our turn to help other people out,” said one youth. “It will be easier for them to find what they need.” Another added, “We’re helping out the community.” However, when asked if there was anything they felt like buying, members of these youth groups were unanimous that they bought name brands.

Another group was dropped off at a warehouse owned by a theater in Fort Collins, and were set to a number of tasks. One group of girls opened big tubs of paint to see if they were still useful. “I’m learning what a hammer’s for,” said one, who grimaced, then pried open a particularly stubborn can.

Six youth sorted shoes, coats, belts, and dresses that would be used in plays and operas. “We’re really contributing to the cultural life of Fort Collins,” one said. Items that were unusable were thrown out. When asked if this would help her throw out her old clothes back home, another youth laughed. “Are you kidding? Now I think I’m a hoarder.”

Overall, the youth assigned to indoor work on this very hot day seemed to be doing very well, while those working on outdoor assignments required the five-gallon water jugs and bottles of water they carried.

-- Frank Ramirez and Mandy J. Garcia of the NYC News Team produced this report.

Source: 7/30/2014 Newsline

Hiking trips take youth into Rocky Mountain National Park

photo by Nevin Dulabaum

Suncreen is distributed to youth while in line 
for hiking trips and service projects
The sweat was real, the views were spectacular, and the heat wasn’t nearly as bad as it was back in Fort Collins, as youth took part in the hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.

The process began with sorting the youth into easy, intermediate, and difficult hikes. In addition, others took a bus tour up to the Alpine Visitor’s Center, nearly 12,000 feet in elevation.

As they disembarked at the Park and Ride center, some Hoosiers pronounced themselves ready to go. Upon their return, they were both surprised at how difficult the hike turned out to be, and also pleased that they had accomplished their goal.

Another hiking group combined Brethren from Ohio and Nigeria, many of whom had already bonded, taking selfies of each other as they began an arduous climb.

The group that went to the RMNP Alpine Visitor’s Center did not go on a hike, but they did their share of walking. Having travelled above the tree line, they read the signs that warned them to stay off the delicate tundra, and stared into the vast expanse of rugged mountain peaks and spectacular vistas. They learned valuable information about preserving the delicate ecological balance of the region, and saw several elk as well.

Hikes were scheduled for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, with busloads of youth and advisors traveling together with folks from their districts as well as others from beyond district borders.

-- Frank Ramirez is a member of the NYC News Team.

Source: 7/30/2014 Newsline

Blessed on the journey to NYC

Photo by Glenn Riegel

Youth workers welcome buses arriving at CSU 
with high fives
The bus pulled out of the Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren parking lot at 5 a.m. last Sunday, bound for National Youth Conference. There were 30 youth, 9 advisors, and 1 bus driver aboard, representing the Elizabethtown, Mt. Wilson, and Madison Avenue congregations. Together they took several days to drive across the country, making stops in Chicago, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Colorado Springs, before reaching Fort Collins just in time for NYC.

Jon Brenneman, pastor of the Mt. Wilson congregation, said that one of the highlights of the trip was visiting a Hutterite Community in South Dakota. “The students liked seeing Anabaptism at work--simplicity lived out.”

Luke Stroyer, one of the youth, added that when they stopped in the badlands, he and some friends witnessed a heard of mountain goats running over the rocks. “It was awesome.”

Another group that road-tripped to NYC was a large one from the Virlina District. “It has been quite the trip,” laughed Tim Harvey, pastor of Central Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va. The 113 Virlina youth piled into three buses last Tuesday and took four nights to trek across the country, stopping several places along the way.

“Mount Rushmore was really big,” said Josh Grubb, a youth from the Central congregation. “The whole trip has been fun--nice and spacious on the bus.”

Andy Buckwalter is another church leader, and one with a unique call of pastoring the youth of two congregations: York First and Bermudian, both in Pennsylvania. For the special occasion of NYC, he combined the two small groups into one larger group of 20 youth and 5 advisors. Together, in their matching bright blue shirts, they all flew to Fort Collins on Saturday, arriving in time for the opening picnic.

“It was a plane full of Brethren!” said Kayla Miller, one of the youth as she told about discovering even more NYC-bound youth at the airport. “This trip had already brought us closer together.”

-- Mandy Garcia is a member of the NYC News Team

Photo by Glenn Riegel

On the start line at the NYC 5K

Source: 7/30/2014 Newsline

NYC bits and pieces

  • Go to for full coverage of the 2014 NYC. This NYC news index page features photo albums, news reports, the “NYC Tribune” daily news sheet in pdf format, and more. This coverage was provided by the NYC News Team: Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services; photographers Glenn Riegel and Nevin Dulabaum; writers Frank Ramirez and Mandy Garcia; Question of the Day by Maddie Dulabaum, Britnee Harbaugh, and Frank Ramirez; Eddie Edmonds, NYC Tribune editor; website and NYC app support by Don Knieriem and Russ Otto.
  • Worship resources that were used in services at NYC have been posted online for use by youth groups and congregations following on the conference. Resources include calls to worship, prayers, scripture readings, litanies, and even the texts of the “Wonder Moments” that were led by Josh Brockway, director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship. Download the NYC worship resources from .
  • On Wednesday, July 23, during the morning worship service Nigerian participants at NYC presented a plaque to Church of the Brethren leaders expressing the appreciation of Nigerian Brethren youth for American Brethren youth. Emmanuel Ibrahim, who is a youth director for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) presented the plaque on behalf of the youth of EYN to the youth of NYC. “Hallelujah! Amen! On behalf of the youth of Nigeria, I greet you, and thank God for his love and protection of our lives.... We want to present this as a token of our love. As we face a myriad or problems, this experience defined the challenge of our true Christian character. I would like to thank you for your support...for such a time as this.”
  • More than 160 NYCers turned out early on Sunday morning for the 5K fun run around the CSU campus. “Congratulations to all participants who were crazy enough to wake up for a 6 a.m. run!” said a thank you note from the coordinator for the event. “We had an OUTSTANDING turnout of over 160! Way to go! Thank you all for a fantastic 5K.” A shout out to these top runners: Female: 1 Rachel Peter, 2 Annie Noffsinger, 3 Jennifer Simmons; Male: 1 Bohdan Hartman, 2 Mark Muchie, 3 Nathan Hosler.
  • NYC by the numbers (some of these numbers are preliminary):
    • 2,390 NYC registrations, including youth, adult advisors, volunteers, and staff
    • 19 international participants including 5 youth and adults from Brazil, 3 from the Dominican Republic, 4 from India with 3 from First District Church of the Brethren India and 1 from Church of North India, 4 from Nigeria, and 3 from Spain.
    • 92 people whose attendance at NYC this year was made possible with help from the NYC Scholarship Fund
    • 519 Hygiene Kits donated to Church World Service.
    • 780-plus pounds of food collected for the Larimer County Food Bank
    • $1,566 received in cash and checks for the food bank
    • 1,900-plus postcards signed and mailed in support of the Nigerian schoolgirls abducted from Chibok. The postcards were provided by the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service office and directed to Secretary of State John Kerry. They read: “I’m in Fort Collins, Colorado, with more than 2,000 youth from the Church of the Brethren, U.S., for our National Youth Conference. Our sisters from the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria could have been here too, but they were abducted from their school in Chibok. Please use your office to bring stability to Nigeria and stop the trafficking of women.”
    • $6,544.10 received in an offering for the Haiti Medical Project
    • $8,559.20 received in an offering for the NYC Scholarship Fund
    • 1,091 downloads of the new NYC app

A hiking group with a mountain panorama
photo by Glenn Riegel

A hiking group with a mountain panorama

Source: 7/30/2014 Newsline

CWS announces efforts for unaccompanied child refugees, faith leaders and immigrant activists to protest deportations

Church World Service is involved in an action of civil disobedience at the White House this week, as the Congress and US administration consider expediting deportations of refugee children, said a release today. CWS is a longstanding ecumenical humanitarian organization, of which the Church of the Brethren is a member denomination.

CWS is asking supporters to call Congress to urge passage of a “clean” supplemental funding bill responding to the situation of unaccompanied children fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, said a separate release. The agency is asking for support to increase funding for refugee resettlement and reject rollbacks to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. “The Senate bill, S. 2648 would provide adequate funding to serve the children and fully replenish the $94 million of refugee social services funding that was recently reprogrammed,” said the release. “But the House bill would replenish only $47 million of the refugee funding cuts and contains negative policy provisions that would deport children to unsafe situations.” (Go to and

A recent memo to member churches from CWS president John L. McCullough outlined a number of ways the organization is involved in aiding unaccompanied child refugees, and gives updated background information on the crisis.

Action at the White House

The action of civil disobedience is planned for tomorrow, July 31, at 12 noon in Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C., on the north side of the White House. The CWS release said that some 100 faith leaders and 30 immigrant rights activists from across the country plan to risk arrest to demand that President Barack Obama end his immigration enforcement policies.

“Bishops, nuns, rabbis, pastors, workers, and impacted immigrants will hold a 12 p.m. prayer service and press conference in Lafayette Park to urge the President to stop deportations immediately, dramatically expand relief for America’s immigrant families and workers, and protect unaccompanied children who have sought refuge in the US,” said the release. “Alongside a crowd of more than 500 supporters, 130 faith and immigrant advocates will then engage in civil disobedience along the White House fence to bring moral clarity on the injustice of 1,100 deportations per day.”

In addition to CWS, sponsors include the United Methodist Church, United Church of Christ (UCC), Disciples Home Missions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), CASA de Maryland, Bend the Arc, the Unitarian Universalists Association, Sisters of Mercy, and the PICO National Network. Prominent leaders who plan to risk arrest include United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño, Linda Jaramillo who is executive minister of the UCC Justice and Witness Ministries, Sharon Stanley-Rea who directs the Refugee and Immigration Ministries of the Disciples Home Missions, and CWS president John L. McCullough, among others.

CWS efforts for unaccompanied refugee children

“While the issue of immigration remains somewhat contentious for many Americans, what we hold in common is concern for the welfare of children,” McCullough wrote in a July 23 memo to CWS member communions. “How children are best protected may be open for public debate, but their vulnerability demands that we respond, before resolving matters of policy, to the first priority of making sure that they are in safe and caring environments and not placed in or returned to situations that could cause them undue harm.

“This crisis is not new,” said the memo. “Unaccompanied children have been arriving for several years now, and some of them are already due in court and need representation. Church World Service has already issued an appeal that will enable it to offer that assistance on a pro-bono basis. For those whose cases are denied and for whom CWS believes appeals are in order, our legal staff will pursue that direction.

“CWS encourages communions and local congregations to contact our local and affiliate offices directly to ascertain ways in which they can offer assistance.”

Brethren Disaster Ministries is working on a grant from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund to help with the CWS appeal for $309,818 to meet urgent and immediate needs of unaccompanied refugee children in the US.

Information shared in the CWS memo
  • The number of unaccompanied children entering the US has grown to more than 57,000, up from 27,884 children for all of fiscal year 2013. Nearly 200 are reported to be crossing daily into the US. Almost three-quarters of all immigrants from Central America are crossing the border in the Rio Grande Valley on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
  • In addition to extreme poverty, these children and also some families, are fleeing drastic increases in gang-related violence and their governments’ inability or unwillingness to protect them. On their way to the US, many report experiencing extreme violence, extortion, and even torture. Some children are as young as five, and teenage girls are encouraged to take a “precautionary contraceptive” before their journey as reports of rape are common.
  • Once they cross into the US, the children are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection, which legally can hold children for 72 hours after which they are moved to temporary shelters operated by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). ORR places children in the care of family members already residing in the US, or with foster care families or detention facilities.
  • Children receive a “Notice to Appear” in Immigration Court where a judge will determine if the child will be deported or remain in the US--often through the asylum process or on a special immigrant juvenile visa that is available to children who have been abused or neglected by a parent. As Immigration Courts are currently backlogged, children often stay with family or in a foster home or in detention for an extended period of time.
  • As soon as possible after processing and health screening, ORR makes an effort to release children to relatives they may have in the US. The children travel to their relatives with a “Notice to Appear” before immigration authorities and are placed in “removal proceedings.” Once in their temporary destination, they need legal, emotional, education, and other assistance. 
  • ORR has experienced serious pressure on its budget as the number of unaccompanied children has escalated. ORR has re-programmed $94 million in social service assistance to the Refugee Resettlement Program. The Obama administration has asked Congress for emergency funding of $3.7 billion to help support the Department of Homeland Security, ORR, State Department, and the Immigration Courts. The supplemental appropriation will focus on increasing immigration court capacity and expanding law enforcement that targets criminal networks, both in the US and in Central America. The additional funding also will be used to bolster foreign cooperation to help with repatriation and reintegration into Central America and to increase the capacity of the US to provide detainment care and transportation for these children.
  • CWS is receiving troubling reports that in some instances after initial screening, DHS is dealing with the volume of this crisis by dropping off women and children in potentially vulnerable spaces, such as bus stops and parking lots. More than 50 children and women reportedly were dropped off in a Yuma, Ariz., parking lot where faith communities have begun working together to provide them with housing, clothing, and food, and are helping coordinate bus tickets for the women and children to reach relatives elsewhere in the US to await the court dates that will determine if they can stay or will be deported.
The CWS response

The CWS response is carried out through its Immigration and Refugee Program. CWS will deploy Spanish-speaking legal staff to Lackland Air force Base in San Antonio, Texas, where a large number of children are held for processing. This will be done in partnership with legal service agencies with access to the facility. The CWS staff will interview children and their families, offer “know-your-rights” briefings, and help individuals understand the sequence of events they must follow to apply for protection. Plans are for CWS staff to spend up to 21 days interviewing approximately 8 cases a day.

CWS currently offers spiritual care in a detention facility in Artesia, N.M., formerly Artesia Christian College--a DHS “family detention facility” where children who are accompanied by a parent or a sibling are placed. Until further notice, CWS has moved its chaplain from Port Isabel, Texas, to Artesia. CWS hopes to establish a similar presence in other detention centers.

Another phase of the response is an effort by CWS local and affiliate offices to provide aid to children who are placed temporarily with relatives in the US, who have a “Notice to Appear” before immigration authorities and are in “removal proceedings.”

CWS also is exploring the possibility of convening an ecumenical roundtable for ongoing collaboration, “because support for unaccompanied children will be needed for the next several years,” McCullough’s memo notes.

For more information about the work of Church World Service go to

Source: 7/30/2014 Newsline

Brethren bits

  • Correction: The editor apologizes for omitting the full name of Common Spirit Church of the Brethren fellowship, when it was welcomed into the denomination at Annual Conference. “Being identified as part of the Church of the Brethren is very important to us as a fellowship and we appreciate our full name being used,” wrote church board chair John Willoughby. “Most of the membership are life-long members of the Church of the Brethren and all of our members value our heritage and place within the Church of the Brethren.”
Anne Haynes Price Fike
  • Remembrance: Anne Haynes Price Fike, a psychotherapist with the Saddleback Pediatric Medical Group in Mission Viejo, Calif., and a leader with the Church of the Brethren program Children’s Disaster Services (CDS), died on July 17. She passed away at her home at Brethren Hillcrest Homes, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in La Verne, Calif. The only child of George Nash and Mildred Haynes, she was born May 31, 1936, in Bassett, Va. She earned a bachelor of arts degree from Bridgewater (Va.) College, a master’s degree in community clinical psychology at California State University at Long Beach, and a doctorate in psychology from the University of California, Irvine. She met Stan Price in 1961 at the Annual Conference in Long Beach, Calif., and they were married in 1962. Their nearly 50 years of marriage ended when he died on Dec. 24, 2010. She was a licensed marriage and family therapist, and practiced with Saddleback Pediatric Medical Group for 15 years as an adjunct psychotherapist in parenting, learning disability evaluations, and primary intervention. Early in her career she served at La Verne Church of the Brethren as Christian education director, and as dean of women at La Verne College, which is now the University of La Verne. She volunteered for many years providing leadership in training and childcare response for Children’s Disaster Services. One of her most significant cases involved working with the children of 9/11 as a critical incident responder. In 2006, she was presented the West-Whitelow Award from the Bridgewater College Alumni Association acknowledging her tireless dedication and commitment to humanity. She is survived by her husband of two years, Earle Fike, Jr., and her two sons Doug and Mike Price, and grandsons. A service to celebrate her life was held July 26 at La Verne Church of the Brethren. Memorial gifts are received to Children’s Disaster Services, c/o La Verne Church of the Brethren, 2425 E Street, La Verne, CA 91750.
  • The Church of the Brethren’s Pacific Southwest District seeks a district executive to fill a full-time position available Jan. 1, 2015. Pacific Southwest District includes 26 congregations and 1 church plant in California and Arizona. It is geographically, ethnically, and theologically diverse, with several Spanish-speaking congregations. In addition to a district executive, the district staff also includes a youth advisor, an administrative assistant, and a secretary. The district office is located in La Verne, Calif., 30 miles east of Los Angeles. Responsibilities of the district executive include collaborating with the District Board of Administration in shaping, articulating, and promoting the vision of the district; administering and overseeing the work of the district office; overseeing and supporting the Ministerial Leadership Program of the district; uplifting the vision and mission of the congregations and nurturing relationships with congregational leaders; upholding and promoting the core values of faith and practice of the Church of the Brethren in areas of ministry, congregational life and relationships, and practices of the church. Qualifications include a clear commitment to Jesus Christ demonstrated by a vibrant, mature spiritual life; a commitment to New Testament values; a commitment to Church of the Brethren faith and heritage; passion about the potential of the Church of the Brethren and openness to the leading of the Holy Spirit; 10 years of pastoral experience; administrative, management, and budget skills; staff and team management skills demonstrating flexibility working with staff, volunteers, pastors, and lay leadership; experience dealing with the dynamics of growth and change; ability to listen and build relationships across cultural, theological, and geographical diversity. A master of divinity or equivalent theological degree is preferred. English and Spanish bilingual skill is advantageous. Apply by sending a letter of interest and a resume via e-mail to Applicants are requested to contact three or four people to provide letters of reference. Upon receipt of resume a Candidate Profile will be provided, which must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. The application deadline is Sept. 22. Learn more about the ministries of Pacific Southwest District at
  • Resources for a week of prayer and fasting for Nigeria on Aug. 17-24 will be made available soon at . In the works is a webpage offering ideas and guidance for the spiritual discipline of fasting, renewed links to Nigeria prayer resources in English and Spanish as well as Haitian Kreyol, and a survey for congregations, groups, and individuals to register their commitment. The survey also will offer a way to share prayers and encouragement with others who are taking on this commitment, and to find a congregation or group near you with whom to join in prayer and fasting. The call to fasting and prayer for Nigeria comes from the 2014 Annual Conference resolution in solidarity with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) as the Nigerian Brethren endure turmoil in their country. Among other things, the resolution commits the church to a week of fasting and prayer on Aug. 17-24, and invites the worldwide community of the Brethren to join in that commitment. Find the resolution at Check back in to later in the week for helpful resources.
    Peace Day 2014
  • On Earth Peace has begun sharing plans for the 2014 International Day of Prayer for Peace on Sunday, Sept. 21. “Will you pray with us?” said an invitation and announcement in this week’s Peacebuilder newsletter. “Inspired by the book of Acts, we invite groups to ask God for ‘Visions and Dreams of Building Peace.’ Can we dream of overcoming violence and sharing God's love with all? This is the heart of the Gospel. Will you find a vision of how you and your congregation can build peace with justice? Dream and pray with us!” A Peace Day worship service may include personal sharing, prayers, a topical sermon, special music, and a related children's story, the invitation said. On Earth Peace already is gathering sample plans from congregations and groups who are taking part. For more information or to register a Peace Day event, go to
  • The World Hunger Auction will be held at Antioch Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va., on Saturday, Aug. 9, starting at 9:30 a.m. The event will be a culmination of a year of fund-raising activities to address hunger, and includes sales of crafts, quilts, toys, produce, baked and canned goods, special services, and more. “Come early for the best selection,” said an announcement from Virlina District. The district newsletter adds, “The sale will include a Washington Nationals baseball experience which will include admission to the Diamond Club.” Also to be auctioned: three pieces of antique furniture which are said to have once been in the Virginia governor's mansion. See for more information.
  • Aug. 9 also is the date of a Camping and Retreat Commission Golf Outing in Southern Ohio District. The event takes place at Beechwood Golf Course, with profits designated for the Camp Scholarship Fund that will be used to help individuals to attend district camping programs in the future. Prizes will be awarded for a variety of golf achievements determined by the Golf Outing Committee. “The committee's goal is to make this a fun day for renewing or creating new relationships. You do not have to be a great golfer to participate. Everyone is invited who desires to support the camping program and campers,” said an invitation. Download a registration form from
  • The Southern Ohio District holds its 8th Ice Cream Social Fundraiser for Brethren Disaster Ministries on Sunday, Aug. 2, from 4-7 p.m. at Happy Corner Church of the Brethren in Clayton, Ohio. “There will be great food, great fellowship, and lots of ice cream!” said a district announcement. “Come enjoy music by Happy Corner, Eversole, and Eaton COB musicians. There will be a silent auction which will include a plaster cast of the Lord's Supper. Bring the coins you've been saving, or pick up a coin collection jar for the upcoming year.”
  • Several district conferences will be held in the next few weeks: On Aug. 1-3 Northern Plains District will be meeting at Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Brethren/Baptist Church, Cedar Rapids. On Aug. 7-8, the Southern Plains District Conference takes place at Antelope Valley Church in Billings, Oklahoma. On Aug. 15-17, Michigan District Conference is planned for Camp Brethren Heights, Rodney, Mich.
  • The World Council of Churches (WCC) is offering a seminar on migration and theological education, to take place Sept. 1-5 at the Ecumenical Institute Bossey in Switzerland, where the WCC has its headquarters. “How should the growing phenomenon of migration affect training for ministry?” said a release explaining the goals of the seminar, which will focus on evaluating experiences and devising new approaches to theological education that can help churches understand migration as an opportunity of “being the church together.” Titled “Evaluation of Ecumenical Theological Education Programs for Migrant Church Leaders,” it will bring together some 20 participants from migrant churches, Christian organizations, and non-governmental organizations. Participants will come from diverse ethnic backgrounds and from countries such as Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Togo, and Guyana, while they serve Christian ministries in European countries. “Migration constitutes a global reality,” said Amélé Ekué, the seminar organizer and faculty member at the Ecumenical Institute. “People leave their countries of origin due to situations of war, environmental factors, and persecution. Churches have become increasingly aware of these movements, as they call for the protection of migrants’ rights and care for their needs in situations of vulnerability.... The presence of migrant church communities in all parts of the world has given rise to a fascinating new terrain for ecumenical encounters. The time is ripe for reflection on and analysis of different initiatives in ecumenical theological education related to migration.” For more information go to
  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is requesting prayer for the Christians of Mosul, Iraq, as well as the Turkmen, Shabak, Yeziki, and Shia Muslim people of Mosul, who are being driven from their homes by militants. “ISIS militants have driven them from their homes in Mosul and confiscated their possessions. Give thanks for Iraqi Muslims who are speaking out against this violence and injustice,” said today’s “Epixel” and Prayer for Peacemakers from CPT. Find the full prayer concern and “Epixel” at
Source: 7/30/2014 Newsline


Newsline is produced by the news services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at The NYC 2014 News Team: Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services. Eddie Edmonds, NYC Tribune editor. Photography: Glenn Riegel, Nevin Dulabaum. Writers: Frank Ramirez, Mandy Garcia. Question of the day: Maddie Dulabaum, Britnee Harbaugh, Frank Ramirez. Web and app support: Don Knieriem, Russ Otto.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Newsline: July 16, 2014


District youth visit and tour General Offices on their way to NYC

Brethren youth from across the country are making their way to National Youth Conference in Colorado this week--by bus, van, car, and airplane. Several busloads from five different districts visited and toured the Church of the Brethren General Offices on their way to NYC.

NYC starts Saturday, July 19, on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Follow NYC at where visitors will find photo albums, news stories, and more posted from Fort Collins throughout the conference, and the NYC app for smartphones. The NYC Twitter stream is found via #cobnyc.

Visiting the General Offices this week were some 39 youth and advisors from Atlantic Northeast District on Monday, July 14; 70 youth and advisors from Middle Pennsylvania District and Western Pennsylvania District on Tuesday, July 15; and today close to 100 youth and advisors from Shenandoah District, and some 113 youth and advisors from Virlina District.

Source: 7/16/2014 Newsline

‘Called by Christ: Blessed for the Journey Together’ theme shapes NYC 2014

The 2014 National Youth Conference planning has been shaped by the theme from Ephesians 4:1-7, “Called by Christ: Blessed for the Journey Together.” The theme was chosen by the National Youth Cabinet, working with Youth and Young Adult Ministry director Becky Ullom Naugle and the three NYC coordinators Katie Cummings, Tim Heishman, and Sarah Neher.

The conference, described by organizers as “a week-long faith formation extravaganza” is held by the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries every four years. All youth who have completed ninth grade through one year of college (at the time of NYC) are eligible to attend, along with their adult advisors. This year more than 2,000 people are expected.

The NYC theme song, “Blessed for the Journey,” can be previewed via a link at . The song was commissioned for the 2014 NYC with text and music by Seth Hendricks of Mutual Kumquat.

Daily themes and schedule

Each day of NYC will feature morning and evening worship services focused on a daily theme. The daily schedule also includes morning devotions, required small group meetings that include each youth and advisor, afternoon workshops, recreation options, and late night activities. On several days, youth may choose to spend the afternoon hiking in the Rocky Mountains or taking part in service projects to aid the local community:
  • On the opening day, Saturday, July 19, the day’s theme “Right Now” will inform the evening worship service and message to be brought by Samuel Sarpiya, a Church of the Brethren pastor and church planter from Rockford, Ill. Saturday’s events start with registration and a picnic supper, and close with late night activities including a swing dance.
  • On Sunday, July 20, the daily theme “Called” is the subject for the youth speech contest winners who will give the morning message in worship: NYC Speech Contest. Alison Helfrich of Bradford, Ohio, from Oakland Church of the Brethren in Southern Ohio District; Katelyn Young of Lititz, Pa., from Ephrata Church of the Brethren in Atlantic Northeast District; and Laura Ritchey of Martinsburg, Pa., from Woodbury Church of the Brethren in Middle Pennsylvania District. Rodger Nishioka, who holds the Benton Family Chair in Christian education and is an associate professor at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga., will preach for evening worship. The Sunday morning offering is Hygiene Kits for Church World Service. The Sunday evening offering will be received for the Haiti Medical Project of the Church of the Brethren. Sunday will open with a 5K around the CSU campus, includes a first-ever NYC “Brethren Block Party” in the afternoon, and closes with a late-night Mutual Kumquat concert.
  • Monday’s theme “Struggle” will be addressed by the morning worship presenter Ted Swartz of Ted & Co., a Mennonite comedy troupe, and evening preacher Kathy Escobar, co-pastor of the Refuge, a mission center and Christian community in North Denver. The Monday morning offering will collect canned food for the Larimer County food bank to help meet the needs of people in Fort Collins and surrounding area. The Monday evening offering will benefit the NYC Scholarship Fund for international and intercultural youth. Also on Monday: the first mountain hiking trips, and the first afternoon of service projects, as well as a performance of Ted Swartz’s most recent production “Laugher as Sacred Space.”
  • - The theme “Claim” sets the stage for worship on Tuesday led in the morning by Bethany Seminary student Jennifer Quijano, who serves as youth and worship director at Cedar Grove Church of the Brethren in Ohio, and led in the evening by Katie Shaw Thompson who pastors at Ivester Church of the Brethren in Grundy Center, Iowa, and helps lead Camp Pine Lake in Northern Plains District. Late night activities include a camp fire, pizza with a Brethren higher education group, and an international worship experience.
  • Wednesday’s theme, “Live,” will offer food for thought as Leah J. Hileman, pastor of Lake View Christian Fellowship in Southern Pennsylvania District, preaches in the morning, and Jarrod McKenna makes a return visit to NYC as guest speaker for the evening service. He is a teaching pastor at Westcity Church in Australia and he and his family live with 17 recently arrived refugees at First Home Project modeling Christian Hospitality. He also serves as World Vision Australia’s national advisor for Youth, Faith, and Activism. On Earth Peace sponsors an evening peace vigil, just prior to worship. A concert by the Rend Collective, described as “an eclectic group of multi-instrumentalists from Northern Ireland,” will be a highlight of the last night of NYC.
  • NYC closes with the theme, “Journey,” as youth gather for the final worship service, then pack up to head back home. Bethany Seminary president Jeff Carter is the morning preacher.
For onsite coverage from NYC 2014 go to

Source: 7/16/2014 Newsline

Annual Conference makes changes to ‘Special Response’ process for strongly controversial issues

Photo by Regina Holmes

Delegates engage in community building at the round tables that are now standard seating for the Annual Conference business sessions.
The 2014 Annual Conference approved revisions and amendments to the “Special Response” process for strongly controversial issues, during business sessions at the Church of the Brethren annual meeting held in Columbus, Ohio, on July 2-6.

The revision to the document was proposed by the Standing Committee of district delegates. The revision adapts the process in a number of ways including requiring training for facilitators of district hearings, limiting time for open floor dialogue, and no suspension of Roberts Rules of Order, among others.

One amendment made from the floor and passed by the delegate body added scientific materials to the list of study materials provided to the denomination in the event the process is used again. The “Special Response” process was used a few years ago when the Church of the Brethren engaged in a discussion of human sexuality.

For full coverage of the 2014 Annual Conference go to . Go to or call Brethren Press at 800-441-3712 to purchase the Wrap-Up DVD for $29.95 and the Sermons DVD for $24.95 (shipping and handling will be added to these prices). An Annual Conference Wrap Up in pdf format is free to download and print from . This two-page piece highlights the main business decisions and statistics in a easy-to-digest form designed for delegate reports to congregations and districts and for inclusion in church bulletins and newsletters.

Source: 7/16/2014 Newsline

Nigerian Brethren write petition to United Nations

Samuel Dante Dali, president of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has written a petition to the United Nations. The two documents–a letter and a review of the situation of violence in Nigeria--concern “what is happening to us in Nigeria,” Dali wrote in a cover note to Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer, to whom he copied the petition. “Thanks again for your love for Nigeria and assistance,” Dali wrote.

Wittmeyer and Roy Winter, associate executive of Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries, plan a trip to Nigeria in August to assist EYN to design a crisis management plan.

Petition to the UN

The petition to the United Nations includes a letter signed by EYN president Samuel Dali, accompanied by a lengthy document titled “Report on the Genocide of Christians in North Eastern Nigeria: The Time to Act is Now.”

“I am appealing to the international community to show solidarity with a section of humanity that is threatened to being eradicated from the face of the earth,” the letter said, in part. “These are people, women and men, youth and children who are being slaughtered, abducted, enslaved, and reduced to sexual objects. These have the right to peacefully live and enjoy their freedom of belief, and the right to live with dignity in their land in Northern Nigeria, and neighboring countries. To be precise, these are innocent people who have been harassed, intimidated and many of whom are murdered....

“We plead with the United Nation as foremost international organization to put all its effort and influence to assist the government of Nigeria stop the current murderous carnage, a crime against humanity.”

Find the full text of the petition below.

Another EYN church burned

The Vanguard newspaper of Nigeria reported on July 14, at, that “gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram sect invaded Dille Village in Askira-Uba Local Government Area of Borno State and opened fire on residents, setting ablaze three churches, including the Church of Brethren in Nigeria (EYN), as well as, shops and residential buildings.”

The news came from people who had fled the attack, who said that the attackers were heavily armed, and that the attack was still ongoing. The Nigerian Air Force sent fighter jets to repel the attackers, the newspaper said.

Nigerian Brethren in the news in the US

After her presentations at Annual Conference, Rebecca Dali spoke at several Church of the Brethren locations before flying back to Nigeria this week. While in Iowa, her presentations were covered by the WFC Courier of Waterloo and KWWL TV Channel 7. Find those reports at and

Also in the news was a visit to the Peter Becker Community in Pennsylvania by EYN member Ali Abbas Apagu, who also had attended the Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio. “According to Apagu, the support from members of the Church of the Brethren in the United States has been ‘overwhelming,’”said The Reporter News of Landale, Pa. “The event was opened with a time for prayer before Apagu spoke about the recent violence against Christians in Nigeria by the Boko Haram insurgent group. After a question and answer segment, the members of Peter Becker Community gathered around Apagu and prayed for Nigeria.” Read the full report at

Full text of the petition to the United Nations
To the Secretary General of the United Nations
The United Nations Security Council
The General Assembly of the United Nations

Dear Sir or Madam and honorable members of the United Nations

On behalf of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, in humility and tears, I am appealing to the honorable members of the United Nations, who, I believe are deeply concerned about the peace of the world and the rights of every human being. We would like to draw your attention to the magnitude of the damage and the threat of murderous actions of Boko Haram against members of our community and other Christians in Northern Nigeria.

Since the beginning of the Boko Haram terrorist activities in 2009: the perennial killings of people, the destruction of properties and the kidnapping of women, church leaders, and school girls have increased to potentially leading to a genocide of Christians in Northern Nigeria in general and in particular, the members of our community.

As I am writing this appeal, there are 1,941 houses and properties that belong to our members that have been burnt, Now, 2,679 members of our community including women and children have been displaced from their ancestral native lands. These people have now lost their houses and properties. They are living homeless, with their women and children, without food and clean water. They camp under trees to find shelter and live as refuges either in Cameroon or in other states within the country. These displaced people who are mostly farmers cannot go and work on their farm this year. Those who have attempted to go back to their farm are either killed or chased away. Also, over 35,000 of their children cannot go to school, which means, the future for such children is in danger of being lost.

It is in light of these that I am appealing to the international community to show solidarity with a section of humanity that is threatened to being eradicated from the face of the earth. These are people, women and men, youth and children who are being slaughtered, abducted, enslaved, and reduced to sexual objects. These have the right to peacefully live and enjoy their freedom of belief, and the right to live with dignity in their land in Northern Nigeria, and neighboring countries. To be precise, these are innocent people who have been harassed, intimidated and many of whom are murdered. The latest horror that partly mobilized the international community has been the abduction of more than two hundred girls. This tragedy severally hit our community in that Boko Haram has kidnapped 178 girls who belong to our community, including a pregnant wife of one of our pastors and three of her children. Hence, we plead with the United Nation as foremost international organization to put all its effort and influence to assist the government of Nigeria stop the current murderous carnage, a crime against humanity.

Yours faithfully
REV. Dr. Samuel Dante Dali
The President of the Church of the Brethren

To the Secretary General of the United Nations,
The United Nations Security Council
The General Assembly of the United Nations.

A Report on the Genocide of Christians in North Eastern Nigeria: The Time to Act is Now.

Understanding the Undergirding Issues of the Current Crisis and the Religious Cleaning that is Perpetrated.

“There is no greater sorrow on earth than the loss of one’s native land.” Euripides, 431 BC,

With the above statement from one of the famous Greek philosophers I make this special appeal to you men and women of peace.

Presently, Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist group together with al-Qaeda terrorists groups from North Africa are plotting to wipe Nigerian Christians out of the face of the earth from their native land.

As I am presenting this petition, there is every probability that some Christians are being slaughtered in North Eastern Nigeria right now. There is every probability too that a church or the houses of Christians in North Eastern Nigeria are burnt or destroyed right now.

This is the harrowing situations Christians in Northern Nigeria and particularly the North East sub-region have found themselves in as it is in the present day Nigeria in the hands of the Islamic terrorist group called Boko Haram.

On behalf of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (The EYN Church), I, as president, present this petition.

The Church of the Brethren in Nigeria is one of the worst affected Churches and if not the worst affected by the Boko Haram terrorists activities in Nigeria.

The Church of the Brethren in Nigeria has 550,000 baptised communicant members and over five million worshippers on each service day every Sunday.

It is worth mentioning that the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria is the largest national body of Church of the Brethren in the world.

It has its Headquarters in Mubi Adamawa State Nigeria which is amongst the three states where the Boko Haram atrocities is most devastating.

The records available as at the time of compiling this presentation on the 9th of June 2014 show that the Church incurred the following lost and damages.

Boko Haram terrorists have killed 517 members of the Church. Find attached the names of the murdered Church members.

Six district church council have been closed down and 52 local churches have been burnt down and their properties looted or destroyed completely.

1,941 houses and properties of members have been burnt.

Boko Haram has kidnapped 178 members of the Church.

2, 679 members including their women and children have been displaced from their ancestral native lands.

These people who lost their houses and properties are now living homeless, with their women and children without food and good water.

These displaced people who are mostly farmers cannot go and work on their farm this year, as those who attempted are either killed or chased away from the farm.

Over 35,000 of their children cannot go school.

I make haste to state here that because of the rural nature of our Churches and poor communication facilities, this report is the one from semi-urban and urban Churches.

Find attached as an appendix the summary of killing and destruction done to the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria by Boko Haram Islamic terrorists.

Killings and destructions have not all been reported.

What is highly disturbing about all this genocide on Christians is that it is in connivance with some well placed political and Islamic leaders within and outside of Nigeria.

The ongoing pandemic genocide by the Boko Haram Islamic terrorists’ ethnic and religiously motivated violence, burning of and destruction of churches and Christian homes is a crime against humanity which the UN must act to address urgently before it will be worse than Rwanda and Darfur put together.

The carnage by Boko Haram Islamic terrorists is exacerbated by spurious reports being carried by Hausa language services of foreign media like the BBC Hausa, VOA Hausa, Radio France International Hausa and the Germany DW radio Hausa services.  As I present this petition, life in North Eastern Nigeria has descended into unimaginable, uncontrolled bloodshed.

Images flowing out of the country paint a scene of unprecedented carnage. The photographs attached below are a clear proof of why the UN must intervene now.

Let me quote from a well publicised article by Gary K. Busch, author and political analyst. “The genocide by Boko Haram on Northern Christians is purely for political power. In 2010, when it became apparent that Goodluck Jonathan would contest in 2011, Alhaji Lawal Kaita a leading political figure in the North had warned that should Jonathan contest and win in 2011 Nigeria would be made ungovernable. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar was more poetic.  Jonathan’s National Security Adviser then, General Gusau resigned to contest against him. All northern contestants banded together to support Atiku Abubakar. At their political party “PDP” Convention of December 2010 when it was obvious that delegates were rooting for Jonathan, Atiku Abubukar,a contestant at a political forum quoted Frantz Fanon saying “those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable.”

These are the precursor statements to the post-election violence that took place in 2011 even before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) finished announcing the results of the Presidential Election of that year. Those violent incidents that claimed the lives of hundreds in Bauchi, Maiduguri, Gombe, Yola, Kano, Minna and Kaduna have not abated in the guise of Boko Haram.

“The jihadists fighting for Boko Haram are said to have been trained in eight different countries namely Sudan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Egypt and the Niger Republic. They travelled as a group and received basic and advanced training. As proof of the success of their training they sport a mark (tattoo) showing proficiency. The mark is in the form of a sword held in a hand. Those who went through the training regard it as the ‘license to kill for Allah’. They included Ali Baba Nur, Asari Dokubo, Mohammed Yusuf, Salisu Maigari, Danlami Abubakar, Ali Qaqa, Maigari Haliru and Asabe Dantala.”

It is true that the duty to prevent and halt genocide and mass atrocities lies first and foremost with each individual State, but the international community has a role that cannot be blocked by the invocation of sovereignty. Sovereignty no longer exclusively protects States from foreign interference; it is a charge of responsibility where States are accountable for the welfare of their people. This principle is enshrined in article 1 of the Genocide Convention and embodied in the principle of “sovereignty as responsibility” and in the concept of the Responsibility to Protect.
As it is now, the Nigerian state has not succeeded to overcome this serious challenge to its mandate to protect all the people of Nigeria specially the Christians living in the North East sub-region of Nigeria.

There are reports that the Nigeria armed forces and other security organisations may have been compromised and that they have been infiltrated by Boko Haram elements.

Many reports have that the Nigerian military commanders have been known to divulge troop movement and locations to Boko Haram that has always led to the troops being ambushed by the Boko Haram fighters. In fact that led to mutiny recently in one of the military barracks. We still count of the government protection of all its citizens. We are Nigerian citizens.

Our requests as a Church are as follows:

We earnestly appeal to the Nigerian government to protect its citizens particularly the Christians in the North East from mass murder by Boko Haram Islamic terrorists. Given the scope of this religious cleansing, across states, we urge the UN to come under the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) on humanitarian grounds

1. To protect us from total annihilation by Boko Haram.

2.To arrest the genocide on Christians in North Eastern Nigeria in particular and Northern Nigeria in general, we seek the immediate deployment of UN peace keeping and peace enforcement troops in the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe until peace is permanently returned.

3. I urge the General Assembly of the UN under the Article 111, which prevents the genocide on any group, should allow the world powers to use drones to track and take out all the Boko Haram terrorists’ camps in Sambisa forest in Nigeria and wherever they are located in West and Central African regions.

4. Since the Nigerian government has failed in its primary responsibility to protect its citizens in North Eastern Nigeria, the UN should declare the above three state as a UN territory as it did in the Darfur region of Sudan.

We as a Church urge the Security Council to invoked R2P for the deployment of the above measures to protect Christians in North Eastern Nigeria.

We note that the Security Council of the UN has invoked the R2P in a number of resolutions: three times in 2006, once in 2009, six times in 2011, twice in 2012, seven times in 2013 and at least four times in 2014.

The Human Rights Council has also invoked R2P in a number of resolutions, most recently on the situations in Syria.

Today, “our world continues to be confronted with different challenges of global reach and impact,” including poverty and hunger; unemployment; myriad impacts of climate change; armed conflicts; and emerging security threats such as transnational organized crime, terrorism, piracy and human trafficking of which terrorism by this Boko Haram is the most deadly because it has spread into Cameroon, Chad and Central African Republic.

“Collectively, we must continue to take concerted action to address these challenges. This is what has made the United Nations a strong, unique and indispensable organization.

The world cannot sit by as whole towns and cities are depopulated by grotesque bloodletting and unprecedented murder by Boko Haram.

North east Nigeria requires the world’s long-term commitment to end the bloodshed, secure peace and facilitate inclusive dialogue, and to recover its landscape from what can only be described as catastrophic destruction.

Boko Haram massacre of Christians in North east Nigeria is a perfect example of a major tragedy occurring in front of our eyes with no one taking decisive action to stop this tragedy once and for all. Our protection has not been secured par local, regional or federal leaders. The killings continue.

We trust that prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, are an intrinsic part of your noble mandate. To bring about in conformity with the principles of justice and international law…”Article One UN Charter” will ultimately benefit all people groups.

The Church of the Brethren in Nigeria strongly calls on United Nations and its members to heed to the demands of the endangered remaining population in the North east of Nigeria now. Indifference and staying silent in the face of tragedy that has befallen the Christians in North Eastern Nigeria is not an option for this great assembly.

To arrest the genocide on Christians in North Eastern Nigeria in particular and Northern Nigeria in general, we once more seek the immediate deployment of UN peace keeping and peace enforcement troops  in the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe until peace is permanently returned.

Since the efforts of the Nigerian government has as yet resulted in stopping the massacre, abductions, sufferings, and predicament of Christians, we call upon the UN as an International organization to intervene. Because one of the primary responsibilities of the Nigerian government, that of protecting all its citizens has not yet been secured, (It may even become necessary for the UN to declare the above three state as a UN territory as it did in the Darfur region of Sudan.

We urge the United Nations and in a concerted effort with the Western democratic nations to act quickly as they have done in Syria, Iraq and even Darfur region of Sudan. To neglect the suffering Christians of North Eastern Nigeria at the mercy of the Boko haram Islamic terrorists who have brutally ransacked all the Christian communities from their native land is not an option.

The worst hit is our Church, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN Church), which has its Headquarters in Mubi, Adamawa State Nigeria.

It is true that there are many conflicts going on globally at the moment but the pogrom by Boko Haram and the Northern Nigeria states government deserve a special attention to starve the complete annihilation and extermination of the remaining Christian population.

As at the last count, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria has lost 750 Churches to the attack of the Islamic terrorists group Boko Haram.

This august assembly has enough grounds to intervene in the situation in North Eastern Nigeria.

This august assembly must not wait until 800,000 innocent people like in Rwanda are killed before they will intervene. Now is the time to take action to prevent this catastrophe in North Eastern Nigeria which has actually spread to the Republic of Cameroun, Chad and some part of Central African Republic from escalating beyond control.

I thank you for your time.

Long Live the United Nations General Assembly.

Thank You,

Reverend (Dr) Samuel D. Dali
Church of the Brethren in Nigeria.
Source: 7/16/2014 Newsline