Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Newsline: October 28-29, 2014


Nigerian Brethren headquarters property overtaken by insurgents

Meeting for prayer with Musa and Sarah Mambula
General secretary Stan Noffsinger (at right) and Roy Winter of Brethren Disaster Ministries (at left) meet for prayer with Nigerian church leader Musa Mambula and his wife Sarah, after news is received that Nigerian Brethren headquarters have been overtaken by the Boko Haram insurgents in the early morning hours of Oct. 29. The Mambulas have been visiting their daughter in Pennsylvania. The US church leaders prayed with the couple and received an update from the Mambulas on the situation of EYN, Ekklesiyar Yan'ua a Nigeria, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria.
“The Lord is my shepherd...even when I walk through the darkest valley” (Psalm 23:4a, CEB).

The Nigeria Brethren church headquarters property has been overtaken by Boko Haram extremist insurgents. The news was shared in the early hours of this morning in an e-mail from the staff liaison of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), who wrote:


Since then, Church of the Brethren staff have been in contact with EYN leaders by telephone and e-mail, and additional information has been received. Many aspects of the situation remain unclear. However here is what is known at this time:

The EYN headquarters property and Kulp Bible College, which are located in the village of Kwarhi, were attacked and taken by the insurgents. Boko Haram is in control of Kwarhi, and also reportedly has taken the nearby city of Mubi, and another nearby town of Maraba.

At the time of the attack on Kwarhi and the EYN headquarters, leading staff including EYN president Samuel Dali were holding meetings in a community several kilometers away, and were safe. However their families, many of whom had returned to their homes on the headquarters property in recent weeks, were forced to flee for their lives.

In the attack on the EYN headquarters, some of the guards for the compound were killed, and the conference hall was hit by a rocket launcher. During the attack on Kwarhi, many soldiers in the contingent that was stationed there also were killed.

There is uncertainty about the whereabouts of some Kulp Bible College students and family members, and serious concern for the people who may be trapped in Mubi, along with many of the inhabitants of surrounding villages.

Among those whose whereabouts are causing concern are people from the International Rescue Committee, a partner organization to the nonprofit relief group CCEPI, which is headed up by Rebecca Dali who represented EYN at this summer’s Annual Conference.

Some weeks ago, at a time when Boko Haram attacks were closing in on Kwarhi, KBC was closed and students and families, as well as EYN staff families, were evacuated and left the compound. However, recently families had been returning, and in recent days there even were reports that KBC was reopening.

The EYN staff and their families are taking refuge in a community several kilometers away from the Mubi area, where they are assessing immediate needs and still waiting to hear from some members of the community. However, the EYN leadership does not feel the situation at that location is safe either, and understands it to be very vulnerable to attack.

EYN president Samuel Dali said that  “the situation is very bad” in a telephone conversation with Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service, and requested prayer.

In addition to prayer for those who have not yet been heard from, those who are trapped in Boko Haram controlled areas, those who have lost loved ones, and those who have been forced to flee their homes, prayer is requested for God’s guidance for EYN to decide where to relocate its headquarters and its staff and their families.

The Global Mission office has wired $100,000 which has been collected for the EYN Compassion Fund to assist EYN to meet the immediate needs at this time.

It is hoped that more information will be available from EYN later in the week.

For online resources and background information about EYN and the Church of the Brethren mission in Nigeria, go to www.brethren.org/nigeria.

Source: 10/29/2014 Newsline

Brethren workcamps schedule for 2015 is released

The Church of the Brethren Workcamp Office has released the workcamp schedule for 2015, which is now available at www.brethren.org/workcamps. The theme for the year, “Side by Side: Imitating Christ’s Humility” is inspired by Philippians 2:1-8. A brochure will be mailed soon to congregations. For questions, contact the Workcamp Office at cobworkcamps@brethren.org.

2015 workcamp schedule

Find the full workcamp schedule with links to descriptions of each workcamp and a picture key identifying the different types of work at each site, at www.brethren.org/workcamps/schedule . The key provides a rough guide to the five different types of work: emphasis on relational service, gardening and eco-service, construction and painting etc., food bank or soup kitchen, thrift store or packaging clothes.

Junior high workcamps for those who have completed 6th-8th grade:
  • June 21-25 at the John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va., $275
  • June 22-26 at Camp Pine Lake in Iowa, $275
  • July 1-5 hosted by Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., $275
  • July 22-26 hosted by Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in South Bend, Ind., $275
  • July 29-Aug 2 partnering with On Earth Peace and the Brethren Housing Association in Harrisburg, Pa., $275
  • Aug 5-9 hosted by Brooklyn (N.Y.) First Church of the Brethren, $275
  • Aug 5-9 hosted by First Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., $275
Senior high workcamps for those having completed 9th grade through age 19:
  • June 7-14 at Camp Wilbur Stover in Idaho, $325
  • June 8-13 at Koinonia Farm in Americus, Ga., $395
  • June 14-20 at a project site of Brethren Disaster Ministries, to be determined, $285
  • June 14-20 in New Orleans, La., $425
  • June 21-27 at Pine Ridge Reservation in Kyle, S.D., $455
  • June 28-July 4 at the Family Abuse Center in Waco, Texas, $335
  • July 5-11 at ECHO in N. Fort Myers, Fla., $375
  • July 5-11 at Innisfree in Crozet, Va., $325
  • July 19-25 partnering with Baltimore (Md.) County Christian Workcamp, $325
  • July 20-26 hosted by Camp Carmel working with Crossnore School in Crossnore, N.C., $325
  • July 20-26 hosted by York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill., $325
  • July 27-Aug 2 hosted by Olympic View Church of the Brethren in Seattle, Wash., $325
  • July 27-Aug 2 at the Brethren Nutrition Program in Washington, D.C., $325
  • Aug 9-15 co-sponsored by the Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) at New Horizons Ministries in Colorado, $335
  • Aug 9-15 hosted by Bittersweet Ministries in Los Angeles, Calif., $425
Intergenerational workcamps for youth and adults who have completed 6th grade and older:
  • June 14-20 at Camp Mardela on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, $325
  • June 20-27 co-sponsored by the Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) in Lewiston, Maine, $325
Young adult workcamps for those ages 18-35:
  • May 29-June 7 in the Dominican Republic, $700
  • June 29-July 2 We Are Able Assistants at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., $375
We Are Able:
  • June 29-July 2 We Are Able, a workcamp for youth and young adults with intellectual disabilities, ages 16-23, in New Windsor, Md., $375
Registration will open Jan. 8, 2015, at www.brethren.org/workcamps. Registrations will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 7 p.m. (central time) on Jan. 8. A $150 non-refundable deposit will be due seven days after receipt of registration confirmation, with the full balance of the registration fee due by April 1, 2015. For more information go to www.brethren.org/workcamps.

Source: 10/28/2014 Newsline

Presenters are announced for NOAC 2015

The major presenters, preachers, and performers at the 2015 National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) have been announced. The event on the theme “then Jesus told them a story...” (Matthew 13:34-35, CEV) is planned for Sept. 7-11 at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in western North Carolina.

NOAC is a Spirit-filled gathering of adults who love learning and discerning together, exploring God’s call for their lives and living out that call by sharing their energy, insight, and legacy with their families, communities, and the world. NOAC is sponsored by the Older Adult Ministry of Congregational Life Ministries. Kim Ebersole serves as NOAC coordinator and director of Family Life and Older Adult Ministries. Serving as NOAC assistant for 2015 is Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker Laura Whitman of Palmyra, Pa.

Preaching for NOAC 2015 will be
  • Robert Neff, associate for Resource Development at the Village at Morrisons Cove, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Pennsylvania, president emeritus at Juniata College, and a former general secretary of the Church of the Brethren
  • Chris Smith, a minister in the Covenant Baptist Church in Wickliffe, Ohio, and author of “Beyond the Stained Glass Ceiling: Equipping and Encouraging Female Pastors,” who was a popular speaker at the Intercultural Ministries Luncheon at this year’s Annual Conference
  • LaDonna Sanders Nkosi, “global pastor” and public poet, and pastor of First Church of the Brethren in Chicago, Ill.
Keynote presenters are
  • Ken Medema, a Christian musician who for four decades has inspired people through storytelling and music, with a unique ability to capture the spirit of the moment in word and song. Though blind from birth, he sees and hears with heart and mind.
  • Brian McLaren, a well known author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. A former college English teacher and pastor, he is an ecumenical global networker among innovative Christian leaders.
  • Deanna Brown, founder and facilitator of Cultural Connections, an international pilgrimage connecting women from the USA with women in India (and more recently in Turkey). 
Morning Bible studies will be led by Robert Bowman, a Church of the Brethren pastor and former missionary, and retired associate professor of Biblical Studies at Manchester University.

Musical and dramatic performances will be given by Terra Voce, a cello and flute duo, and comedian Bob Stromberg.

For more information about NOAC 2015, and an original poem inspired by the theme titled “then Jesus” by NOAC planning team member Jim Kinsey, go to www.brethren.org/NOAC . More information will be added to this website as planning progresses. Registration materials will be available in Spring 2015.

Source: 10/28/2014 Newsline

Webinar will explore relationship between farm workers and gardens

A webinar on the topic “For We Are Co-Workers in God’s Service” is planned for Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. (eastern time) to explore the relationship between farm workers and gardens.

Where do our fruits and vegetables come from? Who is responsible for seeing that these foods are harvested for us to buy and eat? What are the lives of these farm workers like? And how does our faith connect us to our brothers and sisters who do this work?

Through the Going to the Garden grant initiative of the Office of Public Witness and Global Food Crisis Fund, this webinar will focus on issues surrounding the national farm workers movement to create better work and living standards. The webinar will hear from individuals deeply involved with the National Farm Worker Ministry (NFWM) and the NFWM's Youth and Young Adult network in order to understand what these two groups are doing to support farm workers. It also will discuss how individuals can show support and solidarity in their own communities through initiatives like Going to the Garden.


Lindsay Andreolli-Comstock
Lindsay Andreolli-Comstock, an ordained Baptist minister and human-trafficking specialist, serves as executive director of the National Farm Worker Ministry. She served for four years as a human-trafficking specialist in Southeast Asia. She is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Alliance of Baptists and a doctoral candidate at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

Nico Gumbs
Nico Gumbs is the Florida state coordinator of the National Farm Worker Ministry’s youth-led program, YAYA. He has been in the agriculture sector most of his life, from growing up on a farm in avocado groves, to more than eight years with Future Farmers of America (FFA), and now active in the farmworker movement for more than three years.

Daniel McClain
Daniel McClain is director of Program Operations for Graduate Theological Programs at Loyola University Maryland. His areas of research and publishing include the doctrine of creation, theologies of education and formation, political theology, and theologies of art and image. In addition to these areas, he also has led classes and workshops on the theology and ethics of work and creativity.

Join us as we discuss how farm workers are organizing, how individuals and groups are becoming involved, and what we can all do about it in our own communities and churches. To register for this webinar, send an e-mail to kfurrow@brethren.org with your name and contact information.

-- Katie Furrow recently began a term of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) working with the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness.

Source: 10/28/2014 Newsline

Russell Matteson named district executive for Pacific Southwest District

Russell L. Matteson has accepted a call to serve Pacific Southwest District as district executive, beginning Jan. 16, 2015. He has 18 years of experience in ministry, currently serving as co-pastor of Modesto (Calif.) Church of the Brethren with his wife, Erin Matteson.

Previously the Mattesons co-pastored Fellowship in Christ Fremont (Calif.) Church of the Brethren from June 1993 to July 1996. Additionally, he served as director of Marketing and Sales for Brethren Press from July 1999 to August 2003, and was a youth worker with Brethren Volunteer Service from September 1988 to August 1989.

His leadership in Pacific Southwest District has included service on the Program Committee, Ethics Committee, Financial Task Force, and Camp Peaceful Pines Program Committee, where he has been chair and has served on the Executive Committee. Denominationally, he has been a worship coordinator for the 2012 Young Adult Conference, presenter at Annual Conference sessions related to technology and creativity in worship, and served on the Worship Planning Committee for the 2015 Annual Conference.

He holds master of divinity degree from Bethany Theological Seminary, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Grinnell College.

The Pacific Southwest District Office will continue to be located in La Verne, Calif.

Source: 10/28/2014 Newsline

Brethren bits

  • New Carlisle (Ohio) Church of the Brethren is hosting an event with Mark Yaconelli, titled “The Way of Radical Compassion: Practicing the Spiritual Path of Jesus” on Nov. 15 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Yaconelli is a writer, speaker, retreat leader, spiritual director, community activist, youth worker, storyteller, and co-founder and program director for the Center for Engaged Compassion at Claremont (Calif.) School of Theology. “This workshop will focus on practices and strategies for creating a local, personal storytelling series that strengthens community, heals shame, cultivates compassion, and builds inter-generational relationships,” said an invitation. “Through presentation, ritual, contemplative processes, and narrative exercises participants will develop the skills and practices for creating their own community storytelling series.” Registration opens at 8:30 a.m. Cost is $20, and includes lunch. Ministers may receive .6 continuing education credit. Childcare will not be available. Conference sponsors include New Carlisle Church of the Brethren, the Rosenberger Ministry Fund, Whotkee R. WeYin? Publishing, and Southern Ohio District. The registration deadline is Nov. 3. For more information contact Vicki Ullery, associate pastor, at ncbrethren01@aol.com.
  • Suzie Moss is retiring as administrative assistant for Western Pennsylvania District, as of Oct. 31, and her daughter, Tina S. Lehman, will be filling the position, according to an announcement in the district newsletter. Lehman holds an associate’s degree in Graphic Design from Pittsburgh Technical Institute and has worked at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Johnstown, Pa., where she was the Museum site coordinator and education administrator. Before her marriage she was a member at Arbutus Church of the Brethren, and currently is a member at Stahl Mennonite Church. Moss wrote in a farewell in the district newsletter: "I have been 'Suzie Speaking' for the last 23-plus years. A wonderful surprise retirement party was planned for the afternoon of the 19th, and it truly was a surprise!" The event was held in the dining hall at Camp Harmony.
  • The Church of the Brethren is seeking an individual to fill a full-time salaried position of director of Brethren Disaster Ministries. Major responsibilities include informing and engaging Church of the Brethren constituents in Brethren Disaster Ministries activities, maintaining ecumenical and interagency relationships to facilitate response to human need in the US, coordinating with staff to employ strategy and operations to facilitate the Church of the Brethren’s mission, providing sound financial budget management and initiating Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) grants for domestic response activities. Required skills and knowledge include strong interpersonal skills; ability to articulate, support, and operate out of the vision, mission, and core values of the Church of the Brethren as defined by the Mission and Ministry Board; ability to uphold and support the basic beliefs and practices of the Church of the Brethren as determined by Annual Conference; knowledge of International Building Code and ability to act within a multicultural and multigenerational team environment. Training or experience with making effective presentations and providing adult education, especially in conducting skill training workshops, managing staff and volunteers, and in house construction and repair is required. A bachelor’s degree is required with a preference for an advanced degree. An associate degree or experience in relevant fields will be considered. This position is based at the Brethren Disaster Ministries Office in New Windsor, Md. Applications will be received beginning immediately until Dec. 15, and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Qualified candidates are invited to request the application packet by contacting the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; humanresources@brethren.org.
  • Pinecrest Community, a Church of the Brethren-related nonprofit continuing care retirement community in Mount Morris in the Rock River Valley of Illinois, is seeking a full-time chaplain. The primary purpose of the position is to care for the spiritual needs of residents, families, and staff as needed. The chaplain will lead a variety of pastoral care services and serve as an inter-disciplinary team member assisting in resident care plan sessions, documenting the pastoral care provided and spiritual assessments of residents from admission through discharge. The qualified candidate must be a licensed or ordained minister within the Church of the Brethren and have experience with and understanding of the needs and challenges of the geriatric population. Clinical Pastoral Education is preferred. The candidate also must possess leadership ability and willingness to work harmoniously with other staff. For more about Pinecrest go to www.pinecrestcommunity.org. Because this position requires ministerial credentials in the Church of the Brethren, candidates should contact the district executive in their own district to express interest in the position. 
  • The Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness has signed a letter regarding the current nuclear nonproliferation negotiations with Iran. The letter was signed by 37 organizations and sent to members of Congress on Oct. 23, indicating concern that Congress is meddling with sensitive diplomacy in the final weeks before a Nov. 24 deadline to reach an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. The agreement is anticipated to provide access for inspectors to Iran’s nuclear sites and reduce the likelihood of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon., among other stipulations. The letter expresses “deep concern with inaccurate and counterproductive rhetoric from a handful of Members of Congress regarding possible outcomes of the current negotiations.... Congress’ authorization of the President’s power to suspend and re-impose US sanctions on Iran is clear and unmistakable in each piece of legislation it has passed on the subject. Use of these provisions by the President to implement the initial phase of an agreement that ensures Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon would reflect an affirmation, not a subversion, of Congress’ will.” The wide range of groups signing the letter include other Christian denominations and groups such as the United Methodist Church and Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding, as well as the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, J Street, MoveOn.org, the National Iranian American Council, Progressive Democrats of America, and VoteVets, among others. For more information contact Nathan Hosler, Director, Office of Public Witness, Church of the Brethren, 337 N. Carolina Ave, SE, Washington DC 20003; nhosler@brethren.org.
  • From May 15-31, 2015, Bethany Theological Seminary is again offering its intercultural travel seminar to Marburg, Germany. “Worship with the city's oldest church congregation,” said an invitation. “Learn from nationally renowned scholars of religion. Talk with pastors, students, and lay leaders. Reside with host families. Visit Wittenberg and the Wartburg.” Although this seminar is not a Brethren Heritage Tour, there will be a day outing to Schwarzenau, the village where the first Brethren baptisms were held in 1708. For further information, contact professor Ken Rogers at rogerke@bethanyseminary.edu or 617-999-5249.
  • 'Tis the season! For church holiday fairs and bazaars, that is. Here are just a few of the fairs, bazaars, and other such events being planned by congregations in early November:
    • Cloverdale (Va.) Church of the Brethren announced its 26th annual Women’s Fellowship Arts and Crafts Show on Nov. 1 from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. with handcrafted products made by 32 crafters, baked goods, and homemade breakfast and lunch. Proceeds go to the church’s outreach ministries including a food pantry, the Botetourt Resource Center, and Bradley Free Clinic.
    • Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren holds an annual Alternative Christmas Fair on Nov. 15, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., with groups or agencies scheduled to have exhibits including Heifer International, Trees for Life, Habitat for Humanity, a food
    • Northview Church of the Brethren in Indianapolis, Ind., hosts an annual Alternative Christmas Fair on Nov. 15, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., offering the  opportunity to purchase gifts from and donate to charitable organizations that promote peace, justice, fair trade, and environmental stewardship. A homemade lunch will be served. “Shop with Principle, Purpose, Pleasure,” said an invitation.
    • Bush Creek Church of the Brethren’s Women’s Fellowship offers a Crafts Bazaar in Monrovia, Md., on Nov. 8, 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. On sale will be handmade crafts, needlecrafts, ornaments, toys, aprons, cards, jewelry, houseplants, garden produce, home-made baked goods, and more. Breakfast and lunch will be served and door prizes awarded.
    • Penn Run (Pa.) Church of the Brethren will sponsor a Holiday Home and Craft Show on Nov. 8 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Penn Run Christian Outreach Center behind the church. “We will have crafters, a silent auction, pie auction, bake sale, and concessions available!” said an announcement.
  • November is the last month for Church of the Brethren district conferences in 2014:
    • Illinois and Wisconsin District meets at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., on Nov. 7-8.
    • Shenandoah District meets at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren on Nov. 7-8.
    • Pacific Southwest District gathers at Brethren Hillcrest Homes in La Verne, Calif., on Nov. 7-9.
    • Virlina District holds its conference in Roanoke, Va., on Nov. 14-15.
  • The Powerhouse Regional Youth Conference has reached its fifth anniversary in 2014. The event returns to Camp Mack on Nov. 15-16, providing a weekend of worship, workshops, music, recreation, and more for senior high youth in the Midwest and their advisors. This year's theme is “Almost Christian: Seeking an Authentic Faith" drawing from the book "Almost Christian" by Kenda Creasey Dean. Jonathan Shively, director of Congregational Life Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, is the keynote speaker. Cost is $75 for youth, $65 for advisors. Find out more at www.manchester.edu/powerhouse/registration.htm.
  • Shepherd’s Spring Outdoor Ministry Center in Sharpsburg, Md., is providing an aid station for the JFK 50 Mile Race on Nov. 22. “Join us as we provide an aid station,” said an invitation. “No running required--just passing out water and snacks to those who tackle the 50-mile challenge.”
  • Psalm 42 by Felix Mendelssohn will be a highlight of the Bridgewater (Va.) College Chorale, Concert Choir, and Oratorio Choir concert to be held on Sunday, Nov. 9, at 3 p.m. in the Carter Center for Worship and Music. The performance is under the direction of John McCarty, assistant professor of music and director of choral music. The Oratorio Choir, with more than 60 members including students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the community, will perform Psalm 42 with two students as soprano soloists: Kayla Becker, a music major from Bridgewater, Va., and Kaitlyn Harris, an athletic training major from Wyomissing, Pa. A 26-member orchestra, including members of the music faculty and students, along with local professional musicians, will accompany the work. The concert also includes a number of other pieces. The concert is free and open to the public.
  • The University of La Verne, a Church of the Brethren-related university in southern California, in late September was named by White House officials as a recipient of the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, “designated as a top 5 institution in the category of interfaith and community service,” said a release from the school. The ceremony, at George Washington University, drew presidents of higher education institutions, students, administrators and chaplains, among others. University of La Verne representatives who attended were president Devorah Lieberman, chaplain Zandra Wagoner, provost Jonathan Reed, professor of Religion and Philosophy Richard Rose, Office of Civic and Community Engagement director Marisol Morales, and two La Verne students. Programs that set La Verne apart from other institutions included Freshman La Verne Experience’s (FLEX) Community Engagement Day, which introduces new students to the value of volunteering, and students who have contributed thousands of hours of service to community groups addressing issues such as hunger, homelessness, and environmental conservation; the university’s various summer camp programs introducing high school students to career paths and the college experience; REACH Business Camp, which invites high school juniors and seniors to learn how to develop a business plan while experiencing campus life; and efforts in the area of interfaith cooperation, such as the university’s Summer Service Program pairing students with religious, secular, and social service organizations.
  • In more news from the University of La Verne, Lucile Leard, a lifelong member of Glendale (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, has been honored with the university’s Service to the Community Award. The award was presented during the Homecoming Alumni Dinner on Oct. 24.
  • Springs of Living Water in Church Renewal has announced that the next Springs Academy for Pastors and Ministers by phone begins Feb. 4. Pastors and ministers can enroll for 5 morning 2-hour group calls over 12 weeks starting Feb. 4. “During the calls they share new life practicing spiritual disciplines,” said an announcement. “They learn a seven-step path that builds renewed spiritual energy and, using servant leadership, build on the strengths of their church. A group from the church walks along and shepherding calls are made.” Continuing education units are available. Springs of Living Water is celebrating a tenth year of assisting churches to go to the next step in renewal. For more information and a video about the ministry go to www.churchrenewalservant.org. Contact leaders David and Joan Young at davidyoung@churchrenewalservant.org or 717-615-4515.
Source: 10/28/2014 Newsline


Newsline is produced by the news services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at cobnews@brethren.org. Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Deborah Brehm, Kim Ebersole, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Theresa Ford, Katie Furrow, Bryan Hanger, Mary Kay Heatwole, Nathan Hosler, Ferol Labash, Kendall Rogers, Walt Wiltschek, Andrew Wright, David Young, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Newsline: October 22, 2014


Mission and Ministry Board approves up to $1.5 million for expanded crisis response in Nigeria, authorizes marketing of Brethren Service Center property

At its fall meeting the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board took a number of significant actions, including approval of up to $1.5 million in funding for a greatly expanded response to the crisis affecting Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria); authorizing marketing of the Brethren Service Center property in New Windsor, Md.; and approval of a budget for denominational ministries in 2015.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

A green card is raised at the Mission and Ministry Board, signifying agreement with a proposal, in the consensus mode of decision making.
The board also continued board development and training in good governance, led by consultant Rick Stiffney; continued review of the organization’s strategic plan and related budgeting considerations; discussed congregational giving; received a recommendation from the Mission Advisory Committee and began a wider conversation on mission philosophy that is to continue at the next meeting; named a new chair elect; received reports; wrapped up a scheduled performance review for general secretary Stan Noffsinger; celebrated a 15-year service award for Noffsinger’s work for the denomination; and participated in the dedication of the donation of the personal papers of Warren Groff and Dale Brown to the Brethren Historical Library and Archives.

Chair Becky Ball-Miller led the meeting, which took place Oct. 17-20 at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Guests included a class from Bethany Seminary, who led the board’s Sunday morning worship service.

Brethren Service Center property

The Mission and Ministry Board authorized officers to market the Brethren Service Center property in New Windsor, Md. A real estate marketing effort and sale of property are expected to take time, perhaps years to accomplish.

The decision does not reflect on the future of Brethren Disaster Ministries, which currently is based in New Windsor. Board leaders and officers have stated that the decision is solely about property, and not about program.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayfod

Board chair Becky Ball-Miller (at center) joins in small group "table talk" at the fall meeting
The decision at this meeting came after the board read through and discussed feedback from “table talk” at Annual Conference about the Brethren Service Center. The table talk was intended both to help church members better understand the difficult financial situation at the center, where some facilities remain unfilled after the New Windsor Conference Center closed, and maintenance costs are mounting, and to solicit feedback about what Brethren understand as the center’s core purposes and how those may be continued through other means at other locations.

In June 2013 the board made a decision authorizing officers to pursue all options for the property, up to and including receiving letters of intent from potential buyers. In 2011 the board had decided to cease operation of the New Windsor Conference Center, after it was badly affected by the economic downturn of 2008 and had accumulated a negative asset balance exceeding $660,000. Previous consideration of the center’s viability dates to 2007 and prior years.

A communication about the decision was sent by the General Secretary to staff and partner organizations at the Brethren Service Center after the close of the meeting on Monday afternoon. Noffsinger will be traveling to New Windsor next week to be with staff there and to meet in person with the executive leadership of partner organizations on campus: IMA World Health, SERRV, Mid-Atlantic District. Also, On Earth Peace maintains an office at the center.

Expanded crisis response in Nigeria

In response to a staff presentation of planning for expanded crisis response in Nigeria, the board committed up to $1.5 million to begin funding the effort. An allocation of $500,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) was approved. The board also decided to commit $500,000 from reserves, and to commit another amount of up to $500,000 from reserves as a matching challenge to donors.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Jay Wittmeyer of Global Mission and Service and Roy Winter of Brethren Disaster Ministries make a presentation for expanded crisis response in Nigeria
The staff presentation by Global Mission and Service executive director Jay Wittmeyer and associate executive Roy Winter, who heads up Brethren Disaster Ministries, gave background and an update on the Nigeria crisis of insurgent violence by the extremist group Boko Haram, and the fact that EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, is the Christian denomination most affected in the northeast of Nigeria. EYN has been devastated by the violence, and has very few other international or ecumenical partners to extend aid.

The presentation gave current figures provided by EYN president Samuel Dali, that the Nigerian denomination has lost 18 of its 50 districts, because they are in areas either totally under control of the insurgents or under attack or suffering extreme violence, and a total of 37 districts are heavily impacted. The leadership of the church has been greatly disrupted, with the evacuation of the EYN headquarters, the closing of Kulp Bible College, and the loss of so many districts leaving some 280 pastors and evangelists displaced.

This level of damage will have a significant impact on the future of EYN as a denomination, the staff reported. Wittmeyer, showing a picture of the 2014 Majalisa or Annual Conference of EYN which he and Noffsinger attended, said bluntly, “There will not be a Majalisa like this again anytime soon.”

The board also heard reporting of expenditures for the Nigeria crisis to date from the EYN Compassion Fund and the EDF, which since 2013 have provided grants totaling more than $140,000 and $120,000 respectively. There remains about $100,000 in the EYN Compassion Fund at this time, the board learned.

The denomination will continue to honor the intentions of the gifts received to the EYN Compassion Fund, but donors are encouraged to support the next phase of the relief effort by directing their gifts to a new Nigeria Crisis Fund within the Emergency Disaster Fund.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Bethany Seminary students lead Sunday morning worship for the board
The plan for the expanded response in Nigeria is expected to encompass, over its first year:
  • the building of 300 family shelters, at a total cost of $1,200,000
  • providing emergency food rations for 10,000 families, $900,000
  • funding the salaries of 15 Nigerian staff, $63,000
  • supporting the EYN Peace Building program, $120,000
  • hiring of additional staff in the United States, $75,000
  • sending 3 American Brethren volunteers to work in Nigeria, $14,400
  • transportation expenses, $37,500
  • other miscellaneous expenses, $150,000
The total cost for the expanded program over its first year is expected to come to $2,559,900.

A video in which the Global Mission and Brethren Disaster Ministries executives explain the new program along with their PowerPoint presentation is online at http://youtu.be/VdnWx6-fsqg?list=UU5_HKLUHa1UDQo4nnETlRPA.

Budget for 2015

A 2015 budget with a grant total of $8,622,730 income, $8,639,520 expense, was approved for all Church of the Brethren ministries, representing an expected net expense of $16,790. This budget includes the denomination’s Core Ministries budget along with budgets for the self funded ministries Brethren Press, Messenger, Brethren Disaster Ministries, Global Food Crisis, Material Resources, and the Conference Office.

A balanced budget of $4,893,000 was approved for Core Ministries, which include foundational ministries of the Church of the Brethren such as the General Secretary’s Office, Congregational Life and age-related programs like National Youth Conference and NOAC, Global Mission and Service, Brethren Volunteer Service, the Ministry Office, the Brethren Historical Library and Archives, the Finance Office, communications, and more.

photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Hymn singing and prayer and moments of worship are part of the board meeting, along with business
The task of meeting the budget parameter for 2015 was “not a walk in the park,” said treasurer LeAnn Harnist, who reported it required cutting planned expenditures from some ministry areas in light of an expected budget shortfall for 2014.

The financial concerns she shared with the board included a continuing decrease in congregational giving, lower levels of individual giving to the denomination as compared to last year at this time, and a looming net loss for Core Ministries if giving trends do not improve by year’s end. However, giving is up to endowments such as the Brethren Medical Endowment and the Global Food Crisis Fund.

The 2015 budget also includes a 1.5 percent cost of living increase for employees, an estimated 12 percent increase in the expense of medical insurance premiums, and continuation of employer contributions to Health Savings Accounts that are part of the high deductible health insurance plan offered to employees. Some premium reserves left over from a previous health insurance plan are being used to help offset these additional costs.

The board discussed congregational giving and the self allocation process currently in use in the denomination, as well as the quarterly offerings, and other fundraising work. That conversation is slated to continue at a future meeting.

In other business
  • The Mission Advisory Committee proposal, presented by board member Becky Rhodes who serves as liaison to the committee, is that “a conversation be initiated by the office of Global Mission and Service with the endorsement of the Mission and Ministry Board and Annual Conference with recognized Church of the Brethren bodies from around the world i.e. Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, India, Nigeria, Spain, and the United States.” That proposal dove-tailed with changes the board approved in the organization’s strategic plan, calling for recognition of the Church of the Brethren as a world communion, and calling for staff to work to establish a global Church of the Brethren council with representation from all the national Church of the Brethren bodies.
  • As part of continued review of the strategic plan, a proposal for special budgeting consideration was brought and approval was given to request staff to bring creative proposals for use of up to $250,000 per year for five years to expand ministry in the areas of congregational vitality and church planting. The proposals are to come to the board’s March 2015 meeting. The extra-budgetary funding will not be allocated until a proposal is approved by the board.
  • Connie Burk Davis was named chair elect, starting after the meeting of the board in advance of the 2015 Annual Conference. At that time the term of chair Becky Ball-Miller will end and chair elect Don Fitzkee will become chair. In addition, the board extended the term of Patrick Starkey by one year, in order to balance numbers of board members to facilitate a process in which three new board members are named each year.
  • As part of its work on good governance, the board charged the Executive Committee with planning a process to determine leadership needs in the office of General Secretary for the next season in the life of the denomination. The current contract is in place through July 2016, and General Secretary and board are in a mutual process of discernment.
Photo by
Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Warren Groff
  • The board participated in a dedication of the personal papers that Warren F. Groff and Dale Brown are donating to the Brethren Historical Library and Archives. Groff, accompanied by his son David Groff, was present for the event. He served on the faculties of Bridgewater (Va.) College and Bethany Theological Seminary, where he was dean from 1962-75 and president from 1975-89, and also is a former Annual Conference moderator serving in 1979. Brown was represented by his daughter Deanna Brown. He served on the faculties of McPherson (Kan.) College and Bethany Seminary, and was Annual Conference moderator in 1972, as well as a denominational leader in the areas of peacemaking and social concern. Both men are important authors in the area of Brethren beliefs and theology.
The Mission and Ministry Board’s next meeting will be hosted by Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren on March 14-16, 2015.

Source: 10/22/2014 Newsline

‘Once and Future Mission’ event identifies Anabaptism as resource for post-Christian culture

By Joshua Brockway

On Sept. 19-20, a group of 400 people gathered in Carlisle, Pa., to ask the question: What does following Jesus look like in North America as it is increasingly clear that we now live in a post-Christian culture? The gathering “Church and Post-Christian Culture: Christian Witness in the Way of Jesus” was one in a series on the over-arching topic, “Once and Future Mission,” hosted by Missio Alliance. Co-sponsors included the Church of the Brethren.

Missio Alliance event logo, September 2014
Speakers and attendees clearly understood the Anabaptist tradition as one way of answering that question. As the description of the conference stated so plainly, “Anabaptism is increasingly turned to as a primary resource for the shaping of a missional imagination of the life and witness of the church in North America and beyond.”

The conference was framed by three key statements: “A Fresh Encounter with Jesus,” “A Radical Approach to Community,” “A Subversive Journey in Mission.” Speakers in the main session included leaders within historic Anabaptist traditions, and noted evangelical pastors and theologians who have come to see Anabaptism as the faithful alternative to North American evangelicalism. Church of the Brethren pastors Samuel Sarpiya and Dennis Webb took the stage with Greg Boyd, Brian Zahnd, and Bruxy Cavey to explore how Anabaptism and evangelicalism are finding common ground within the new post-Christian realities. Mennonite pastor Meghan Good and Brethren in Christ pastor Kurt Willems shared how being raised in Anabaptist traditions was at first something they wrestled with, but they have returned to Anabaptism with clear eyes, acknowledging both the cultural hurdles and the richness within the tradition.

Jonathan Shively, executive director for Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries, noted a key reason for the Church of the Brethren to take part in the conference: “It was important to have the Brethren at the table for this conversation about our tradition so that we could offer a Brethren vision of Anabaptism.” As a sponsor of the conference, the Church of the Brethren was able to share the perspectives of leaders who have come from evangelical backgrounds and have found a new home among the Brethren. Congregational Life Ministries also was provided space in breakout sessions to offer information about its work on congregational vitality to the wider Anabaptist and evangelical audience.

“The conference also provided a setting for the historic Anabaptist denominations to talk together about our shared tradition in today's religious landscape, an especially welcome opportunity for those of us in similar leadership positions,” Shively said. With the Brethren in Christ, Mennonite Church USA, and the Church of the Brethren as sponsors, a number of denominational and congregational leaders met on Sept. 18 to share their struggles and opportunities in ministry. Key themes emerged in those conversations that both encouraged further conversation and affirmed that all are asking similar questions of our organizations and the wider culture.

Several presenters noted in the plenary sessions that gathering with these historic and emerging Anabaptists served as a reminder that “we are not in this alone.” Pastor and writer Greg Boyd even went so far as to say that we are on the verge of a new reformation. One Brethren pastor, Shayne Petty, echoed Boyd, saying, "It was life-giving to be with people who, in spite of our diversity and nuances, 'get me' and 'speak my language.' As a Charismatic Anabaptist, I felt, and still feel, the Spirit moving powerfully toward revival."

“there is an energy and a zeal in these conversations as evangelicals discover for the first time some of the passion we, who have grown up with the peace of Jesus, tend to lose,” noted Laura Stone, another Church of the Brethren attendee.

-- Joshua Brockway is director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship for the Church of the Brethren, on the staff of Congregational Life Ministries. He is one of the participants who have offered substantive reflection on the event in blogposts. Find his reflections on the Church of the Brethren blog at http://blog.brethren.org/2014/an-anabaptist-family-meeting. Emmett Eldred, an intern supported by On Earth Peace and the Church of the Brethren, also has shared reflections at http://dunkerpunks.com/2014/10/08/dunker-punks-walking-into-the-storm-with-jesus.

Source: 10/22/2014 Newsline

Brethren pastors attend first Latino leaders meeting of Christian Churches Together

Photo courtesy of Daniel D'Oleo

Church of the Brethren pastors attend first Latino leaders meeting of Christian Churches Together
By Daniel D’Oleo

Please see this report as gratitude for the opportunity to be part of the first Latino meeting organized by Christian Churches Together on Oct. 14-16. I felt humbly privileged by the opportunity to spend time with the directors of Latino Ministry of several denominations, among them: Catholics Pentecostals, American Reformed, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Presbyterian, American Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and of course the Church of the Brethren.

The Church of the Brethren was represented by pastors Joel Peña, Richard and Becky Zapata, and Daniel D’Oleo.

The executive directors for Bread for the World, Christian Churches Together, and the Virginia Chapter director for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference attended.

Some of the purpose of this meeting involved: developing relationship with other Latino/Latina leaders, praying together, celebrating unity in Christ, and coordinating common actions in support of the Latino community.

Our first gathering was held at the offices of the Evangelical Covenant Church and part of the agenda included time for sharing personal background and ministerial/leadership responsibilities in the context of our faith tradition. We also spent time in identifying aspects that we share in common as well as differences in small groups. At dinner time we went to a local restaurant where we had more time for informal sharing, story telling, and jokes.

In the second gathering we spent time praying for different personal, family, and ministry concerns. We also spent some time discussing the immigrant reality in this country as well as the immigrant unaccompanied minors, which has become a national emergency. We talked about what our pastoral response should be and if there were any alternatives to help aleviate the problems. Several ideas and possible resources now in place by the different denominations represented were mentioned and offered.

At the end, the question if this group should continue meeting was raised and the absolute response was a “yes.” A committee of nine people was formed, with Carlos Malave, executive director of Christian Churches Together, as the chair.

The Church of the Brethren participants also met with:
  • Gimbiya Kettering, Intercultural Ministry coordinator--conversation in regard to immigration issues, the Latino community, and the future of reaching the Latino community
  • Chris Douglas, Annual Conference director--conversation about more Latino representation at Annual Conference
  • Becky Ullom Naugle, director for Youth and Young Adult ministry--idea of promoting the Christian Citizenship Seminar among Spanish speaking congregations
  • Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries--conversations in regard to Hispanic ministry, immigration issues, and cross-cultural participation.
I would like to thank Renacer Hispanic Ministry, Gimbiya Kettering, Congregational Life Ministries, and Brethren World Mission for the opportunity given to network and become part of all these conversations. Please continue praying for Renacer Hispanic Ministry and our relationship with the denomination in general. Gracias.

-- Daniel D’Oleo is a leader in the Renacer Hispanic Ministry in the Church of the Brethren and pastors Iglesia Cristiana Renacer in Roanoke, Va.

Source: 10/22/2014 Newsline

Global Food Crisis Fund supports agriculture in Haiti, Burundi

Recent grants to support agriculture in Haiti and Burundi from the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) total $40,000.


An allocation of $36,000 continues GFCF support for the agriculture work of Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti). Previous grants to this project include $50,000 given in 2012, and $50,000 given in January of this year.

This grant will provide funds for 19 mini-projects ranging from animal raising and crop production projects for rural communities, to value-added food projects such as fruit drinks and peanut butter sales for urban communities.

This past year the agriculture agents, along with staff from the Haiti Medical Project, received a series of training seminars on the formation of integrated community health committees, reports GFCF manager Jeff Boshart. “The agriculture program and the health program are hoping to work collaboratively going forward, more closely aligning the goals of the two programs and staff.” Boshart said in the grant request. “This new budget reflects a shift in emphasis away from agricultural inputs toward greater training and group formation activities.”


An allocation of $4,000 has been given for purchase of a cassava mill for a women’s group in Bujumbara, Burundi. The recipient of the grant is Ramirizadukore, a group of 22 women who are working with Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services (THARS) in Burundi. This request comes to the GFCF via John Braun, executive director of THARS International and member of the Brethren and Baptist congregation in Wenatchee, Wash. Funds will be used to purchase a grinding machine for cassava flour, including accessories, transport, and installation.

For more about the work of the Global Food Crisis Fund go to www.brethren.org/gfcf.

Source: 10/22/2014 Newsline

Brethren Volunteer Service Unit 307 begins service

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) Unit 307 has completed its orientation and the volunteers have been placed at their projects. This Fall unit held orientation on Sept. 28-Oct. 17 at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The volunteers, their home congregations or hometowns, and project placements follow:
Photo courtesy of BVS

The volunteers in BVS Unit 307: (first row, from left) Felix Pfeiffer, Immanuel Fuchs, Janet Stann, Kristen Hoffman, Katie Furrow; (second row) Ron Gruici, Severin Baumann, Andrea Keller, Taylor Kaase, Hannah Cherry, Jesse Winter; (third row) Denise DeGeorge, Carmen Shuman, Laura Whitman, Hannah Shultz, Aidan Ottoni-Wilhelm, Victoria Ebert.
  • Severin Baumann of Rottweil-Goellsdorf, Germany, and Immanuel Fuchs of Hamburg, Germany, to Project PLASE in Baltimore, Md.
  • Hannah Cherry of Chambersburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and Victoria Ebert of Berlin, Germany, to Abode Services in Fremont, Calif.
  • Katie Furrow of Monte Vista Church of the Brethren in Callaway, Va., to the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C.
  • Denise DeGeorge of Lemont, Pa., and Ron Gruici of Lemont, Pa., to the San Diego (Calif.) Friends Center.
  • Kristen Hoffman of McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren to the Church of the Brethren Youth and Young Adult Ministries in Elgin, Ill.
  • Taylor Kaase of Williamson Road Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., to Cross Keys Village in New Oxford, Pa.
  • Andrea Keller of Troy (Ohio) Church of the Brethren to the Rural and Migrant Ministry in Liberty, N.Y.
  • Aidan Ottoni-Wilhelm of Richmond (Ind.) Church of the Brethren to the Palms Retirement Community in Sebring, Fla.
  • Felix Pfeiffer of Muenster, Germany, to Lancaster (Pa.) Area Habitat for Humanity.
  • Hannah Shultz of Lutherville, Md., to the Church of the Brethren Workcamp Ministry in Elgin, Ill.
  • Carmen Shuman of Ephrata, Pa., to Camp Eder in Fairfield, Pa.
  • Janet Stann of La Grange, Ind., to Human Solutions in Portland, Ore.
  • Laura Whitman of Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren to the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries in Elgin, Ill.
  • Jesse Winter of Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren to SnowCap in Fairview, Ore.
For more information about Brethren Volunteer Service go to www.brethren.org/bvs.

Source: 10/22/2014 Newsline

Mandy Garcia resigns from Church of the Brethren donor communications

Mandy Garcia has resigned as associate director of donor communications for the Church of the Brethren. Her last day in this position will be Nov. 14.

Garcia began her work with the Church of the Brethren in July 2010 as coordinator of donor invitation. She was promoted to associate director of donor communications in Oct. 2012. During her tenure she has led the redesign of the denomination’s special offerings, including adding a fourth offering emphasis at Pentecost, and has redesigned the Congregational Outreach Planning packet and reporting process. She has edited the eBrethren newsletter and has been a part of producing Church of the Brethren live reports at Annual Conference.

In addition she has been part of music and worship leadership at several conferences, was a chapel committee member for the weekly chapel service at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, and has written for a number of church publications including Newsline and “Messenger” where she has had a regular column focused on simple living.

In previous service to the denomination, she worked at Brethren Benefit Trust as administrative office assistant Feb. 2009 to July 2010.

Source: 10/22/2014 Newsline

Webinar offers faith perspective on Pentagon spending

By Brian Hanger 

Join us for a webinar for a Faith Perspective on Pentagon Spending on Wednesday, Oct. 29.

Just how big is the Pentagon Budget? As we wind down from over a decade of war, Pentagon spending should be dramatically reduced. But in reality, US Pentagon spending remains excessive and contributes to the militarization of our foreign and domestic policy.

The Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness is collaborating with the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, the American Friends Service Committee, and others on a webinar that will provide an informative and engaging presentation on the consequences of spending so much on the Pentagon. As members of the faith community, our engagement with policy is rooted in spiritual conviction. In seeking a world that is free from war and the threat of war we must examine its true costs.

Please join us on Oct. 29 from 3-4 p.m. (eastern) for this important conversation by signing up here: http://bit.ly/1pqhX50.

For more information contact Nate Hosler, director of the Office of Public Witness, at nhosler@brethren.org.

-- Bryan Hanger is advocacy assistant at the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness based in Washington, D.C.

Source: 10/22/2014 Newsline

Academic symposium on the book of Job features leading Brethren scholars

An academic symposium on “The Book of Job and Brethren Tradition” will be held at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College on Nov. 5, featuring leading Brethren scholars. The registration deadline is today, Oct. 22. Download a registration form from www.etown.edu/SVMC or contact 717-361-1450 or svmc@etown.edu.

The day-long event, which offers continuing education credit for ministers, is co-sponsored by the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, Elizabethtown College’s Department of Religious Studies, and Bethany Theological Seminary. It takes place at the Susquehanna Room at the college from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., with registration opening at 8:30 a.m. Cost is $60, which includes lunch and .6 continuing education credit.

Headlining the event is keynote speaker Bob Neff, an Old Testament scholar and president emeritus of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. Neff has been a professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Bethany Theological Seminary, and also has served a term as general secretary of the Church of the Brethren. In recent years he has been a popular Bible study leader at Annual Conference and National Older Adult Conference.

Additional presentations on theological issues, teaching, preaching, and pastoral care on Job in a Brethren context, will be given by Jeff Carter, president of Bethany Theological Seminary; Steven Schweitzer, academic dean at Bethany Seminary; Christina Bucher, professor of religious studies at Elizabethtown College; Tracy Wenger Sadd, chaplain at Elizabethtown College; David Leiter, an Old Testament scholar and pastor; and Frank Ramirez, a scholar and pastor.

Source: 10/22/2014 Newsline

Brethren bits

Irven Stern
  • Remembrance: Irven F. Stern, 86, first principal and founder of Kulp Bible School (now Kulp Bible College) in Nigeria and a former district executive in the Church of the Brethren, died on Oct. 20. Along with his wife, Pattie, he was a missionary in Nigeria from 1954-62. The couple also served as co-executives of Pacific Southwest District from 1985-93. In addition, he served pastorates in Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Iowa, and California. Stern also co-authored “Invitation to Adventure: A 12-Week Study/Action Course on Church Growth.” He was born in Fredricksburg, Iowa, on March 8, 1928. He attended McPherson College, Bethany Theological Seminary, and Northwestern University. He married Pattie Bittinger in 1950, and she preceded him in death in 2006. As an avid gardener, he built his own greenhouse and started a business called Plants Please. Stern was an active member of McPherson Church of the Brethren, and even after a debilitating stroke in 2008 left him unable to walk or communicate verbally, he still attended church regularly. In 1991, Irven and Pattie Stern were honored by McPherson (Kan.) College with the Alumni Citation of Merit for service to profession, community, church, and college. He has three children: Gayle Bartel, Susan Boyer, and Gary Stern. He also has grandchildren and great grandchildren. A memorial service will be held on Oct. 28 at McPherson Church of the Brethren. Memorial contributions are received to McPherson Church of the Brethren, McPherson College, or the EYN Compassion Fund.
  • James K. (Jamie) Risser has concluded his service as director, Brethren Disaster Ministries. He began in the position on July 1. “We wish him the best in his future endeavors,” said an announcement from the Church of the Brethren human resources office.
  • Mary Ann Grossnickle began Oct. 20 as interim coordinator of hospitality at the Zigler Hospitality Center at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Her primary responsibilities are to coordinate meals and lodging for groups, guests, and volunteers visiting the Brethren Service Center, and oversee hospitality volunteers as well as the food service team.
  • Richard Best began Oct. 20 as temporary full time baler for the Material Resources program at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. His work will include folding and baling quilts, filling tables, assisting with cardboard baling, and other warehouse duties.
  • Laura Whitman of Palmyra, Pa., started Oct. 20 in a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) assignment as special projects coordinator in Congregational Life Ministries. One of her projects will be to assist with preparations for the 2015 National Older Adult Conference (NOAC). She is working out of the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. She is a 2014 graduate of Juniata College with a major in social work.
  • Lebanon Valley Brethren Home, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Palmyra, Pa., has concluded a search for a full-time chaplain. Audrey Finkbiner has been serving as interim chaplain following the untimely death of former chaplain Norm Yeater. Mary Alice Eller will join the staff as chaplain effective Nov. 17. She is a second career clergyperson with a master of divinity degree from Bethany Theological Seminary, presently serving with her husband, Enten Eller, in a team ministry position at Ambler (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. She has completed an extended unit in Clinical Pastoral Education, and has served chaplain rotations at Brethren Village, Peter Becker Community, and the Lutheran Community at Telford. She also has served with the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership and was a program coordinator at the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center in Elizabethtown, Pa.
  • Shine: Living in God’s Light, the new Sunday school curriculum from Brethren Press and MennoMedia, is accepting applications for curriculum writers. The curriculum is for children age three through grade 8. Accepted writers must attend a Writers Conference in Indiana on March 6-9, 2015. Shine pays for meals and lodging during the conference and covers reasonable travel expenses. More details are available at www.ShineCurriculum.com/Write. Applications and sample sessions are due by Dec. 15.
  • “Join our Anti-Racism Transformation Team,” said an invitation from On Earth Peace. “The time is now for racial justice…as it has always been and always will be.” Since 2002, On Earth Peace has been engaged in an intentional process to understand how racism and other social oppressions prevent the organization from fully living in to its purpose of answering Christ’s call through powerful peace programs of training and accompaniment. Recognizing that racism affects all institutions and in an effort to live out the mission of the organization, On Earth Peace is seeking volunteer members to serve on an institutional Anti-Racism Transformation Team. For more information go to www.onearthpeace.org/artt. Applications are available online at http://bit.ly/oep-artt. Applications should be submitted on or before Jan. 15, 2015. Please submit questions to ARTT@onearthpeace.org.
  • October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, in an announcement from the Family Life office in Congregational Life Ministries. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men over the age of 18 experience physical violence from an intimate partner. Domestic violence affects individuals of every age, race, ethnicity, gender, religion or socioeconomic status. If you or someone you know is involved in a harmful relationship, please visit the Church of the Brethren’s website for useful information, including national hotline numbers and bulletin inserts at www.brethren.org/family/domestic-violence.html.
  • There is a change in the series of webinars on “Opportunities and Challenges of Post-Christendom” offered jointly by the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries, Center for Anabaptist Studies at Bristol Baptist College in the UK, Anabaptist Network, and Mennonite Trust. Lloyd Pietersen and Nigel Pimlott are trading webinar dates because of changes in their personal schedules, said an announcement from Stan Dueck of the Congregational Life staff. Pimlott’s webinar on the subject “Youth Work after Christendom (Revisited)” will now take place on Nov. 20 at 2:30-3:30 p.m. (eastern time). Pietersen's webinar on “Reading the Bible after Christendom” is now scheduled for Feb. 26, 2015, at 2:30-3:30 p.m. (eastern time). Registration and more information is at www.brethren.org/webcasts.
  • A Celebration of Heifer International at Peace Church of the Brethren in Council Bluffs, Iowa, kicked off with an intergenerational worship service on Oct. 12 using resources from Animal Crackers, wrote pastor Laura Leighton-Harris in a report to Newsline. “We opened our service with a clip of ‘The Circle of Life’ from Lion King. Our youth and adults brought the Litany of Praise to life with their various animal sounds and movements. ‘Noah’ shared his story and the youth asked him for some animals to give to folks in other countries. Our youth handed out the arks and calendars during the offering time. ‘All Creatures of Our God and King’ and ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ were a few of our hymns.” A display table in the Fellowship Hall brings awareness of the program for groups who use the church facility and for those attending rummage sales, she added. A jar made by late members of the congregation, Jane Nelson and Toots Conaway, was set out for donations. Church member Anne Brooks and her students made a variety of animal bracelets, key chains, and bookmarks for sale, with the monies going to Heifer. Other fundraisers include a raffle for one of the plush animals around Christmas time, and a youth donation can at the Annual Trunk or Treat on Oct. 31. “In November after our collections of the arks and the other donations, the next fun part will be in selecting the animals for the individuals and families all around the world,” she reported. “We have many in our congregation for whom Heifer is very special and meaningful.”
  • Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren held its First-Fruits Celebration this Sunday, Oct. 19. The guest speaker was Fred Bernhard, a “long-time friend of FCOB and noted church leader,” said the church newsletter. The morning also featured delicious “Tasting Stations” around the church, and was preceded by an annual Fall Festival held Saturday, Oct. 18, at the Miller Farm in Buckeystown with opportunities for fun and building community with the whole family including hayrides, face painting, games, pumpkin decorating, building a scarecrow to take home, s’mores and hot dogs. A special event was the congregation’s Third Annual Fall Bake-Off in two categories--desserts and side dishes--for children, youth, and adults. Recipes had to contain apples or pumpkin/squash.
  • Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Port Republic, Va., will hold a Spiritual Renewal Weekend, “Harvest of Thankfulness,” on Nov. 15-16. The leader will be Tara Hornbacker, professor of ministry formation, missional leadership, and evangelism at Bethany Theological Seminary. Saturday's service at 7 p.m on “The Other Commandment” will be followed by an ice cream social. After Hornbacker's sermon at the 10 a.m. worship on Sunday, on the topic, “For Everything?” she will meet with youth. A carry-in meal at noon will be followed by an informal closing at 1:30 p.m. in the fellowship hall.
  • Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., had 19 walkers participate in the Elgin CROP Walk on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 20. “We had a great time walking in the CROP Walk yesterday and raising money to help Church World Service fight hunger,” one church member reported via Facebook. “We raised more than $2,800 thanks to our generous sponsors.”
  • Ted and Company TheaterWorks featuring Ted Swartz will present the Fall Spiritual Focus at Bridgewater (Va.) College on Nov. 4, in the Carter Center for Worship and Music. Ted Swartz and Jeff Raught will present “Creation, Dysfunction, and Destiny” at 9:30 a.m. and “Jesus Stories” at 7:30 p.m. Both performances are free and open to the public, said a release from the college. Swartz is well known among Brethren for his performances and leadership at National Youth Conferences and other venues, and will be one of the presenters at the 2015 Annual Conference.
Source: 10/22/2014 Newsline


Newsline is produced by the news services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at cobnews@brethren.org. Contributors to this Newsline include Marie Benner-Rhoades, Jeff Boshart, Susan Boyer, Deborah Brehm, Joshua Brockway, Daniel D’Oleo, Stan Dueck, Chelsea Goss, Brian Hanger, Mary Kay Heatwole, Gimbiya Kettering, Peg Lehman, Laura Leighton-Harris, Nancy Miner, Jeff Shireman, Craig H. Smith, Laura Whitman, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Newsline: October 14, 2014


‘Every single person was just so kind’: BVSers talk about their cross-country bicycle trek

Courtesy of BVS

BVS Coast to Coast bicycle trip ends on coast of Oregon. Shown here are the two bicyclers and Brethren Volunteer Service workers Chelsea Goss (left) and Rebekah Maldonado-Nofziger (right).
In this Newsline interview, Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) workers Chelsea Goss and Rebekah Maldonado-Nofziger talk about their cross country bicycling adventure “BVS Coast to Coast.” They started off May 1 from the Atlantic coast of Virginia, and completed the trek Aug. 18 on the Pacific coast of Oregon. On the way they visited church communities and friends and family to promote BVS, and participated in three Church of the Brethren conferences. Their major learning? The kindness and caring of the people they met:

Newsline: So, did the trip meet your expectations?

Chelsea: It did. I wasn’t a biker before, so I knew it was going to be something that would challenge me. There never was any time that I thought I wasn’t going to make it, but it was challenging. And I thought that I would get to meet people and see beautiful sights, and both of those things happened.

Everyone always asks, who’s the craziest person you met? Or, what’s the craziest thing that happened? I think the craziest thing that happened is that everyone we met--every single person--was just so kind. Everyone was very hospitable and gracious, strangers would offer us places to stay or food or water or ask if we had everything we needed.

Rebekah: The bike across the country happened and in some sense it just seems like it was a dream. It happened in less than four months, and went by so fast. People were so kind and gave us a lot of love. I think it surpassed expectations, and it was a good time.

My dad and I had done some biking together. I biked up to Harrisonburg, Va., from Ohio to begin my freshman year in college, and I did a couple of other trips that weren't so long. My dad was an avid biker. He passed away two years ago. My dad's dream was to have our family bike out to the west coast and then down to Bolivia, so I thought this could be the beginning of completing the dream we had together. I still want to go to Bolivia, but this is just the beginning!

Newsline: How many church communities did you visit?

Chelsea: It was like 25-30 Brethren and then like 15-20 Mennonite, and then 15-20 others. That’s just where we stayed overnight. Sometimes we visited people throughout the day too, and family’s not counted in those numbers. And we tried to take a day off a week. Whoever’s house we stayed at, we’d usually sit down and have a meal together and would talk and hear stories. It was more the individual contact and conversations that we had that were more important to us.

Newsline: How did you come up with this idea?

Chelsea: I had the idea after coming back from a Learning Tour with David Radcliff to Burma. The last couple of years I’ve had a lot of opportunity to travel, and I love traveling abroad. I just had this realization that there’s so much of this country that I haven’t seen, and cultures in this country that I don’t know or haven’t met.

In Harrisonburg, Va., I was working for New Community Project, and Rebekah was a nurse and lived in the intentional community. I had given myself two weeks to find someone to bike with. I said to myself, if I can find someone in the next two weeks then I’ll go. But if not, then I’m going to leave this idea behind. And then Rebekah became my roommate and she said to me, “If you need someone for this bike trip I’d be interested.” We didn’t know each other at that point, but I said, “Ok, let’s go!”

Newsline: So it was a step of faith? Did you have apprehensions?

Chelsea: Yeah, I was nervous, of course. You’re always going to take some kind of risk in whatever you do--driving to work is a risk. This was definitely a risk, but it was a thought-out risk.

Newsline: What kind of planning did you do?

Chelsea: I had Google maps and I started pin pointing where I knew people in the country. When Rebekah came on board we started pin pointing her people on this map, and then BVS sites also. And then we connected the dots so we had our whole schedule planned out before we left. I could tell you before we left where I was going to be on August 16, for example. Of course, we left some room for buffer days, just in case we got off track.

Newsline: What was the hardest part of the trip?

Chelsea: I’d say anytime there was wind it was really the hardest. Everyone said we were going the wrong way because we were going against the wind! But I said, when does the hard way have to be the wrong way? Something I knew, but it was emphasized more in the trip, was how being mentally present and aware of what you have in front of you really helps.

Rebekah: Not being able to stay longer with such nice people we met along the way! The bike trip was a challenge in various ways: routing, hard terrain, weather, communication, and just feeling plain tired on some days. But I think we learned from those experiences and moved forward.

Newsline: What learnings do you take away from this?

Chelsea: I took away the importance of just slowing down. Since we were able to slow down and not have a schedule running through our heads all the time, or a list of things to do, there was room for other things to think about. Or not to think about. I often found myself just enjoying the creation around us. You feel all the elements, if there’s rain or wind or sunshine. Some days I would just find myself in prayer, not consciously, it would just automatically happen.

One of what Rebekah called our “pump up songs” was “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley. “Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing’s gonna be alright.” Jesus says the same thing: “Don’t worry.” I think we worry a lot on a day-to-day basis, and it was neat to see how we were taken care of.

Rebekah: We listened to two songs in particular...“Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley and “One Day” by Matisyahu. Both songs we used as our time to gear us up to continue biking, and get me motivated  to keep pedaling onward. In “Three Little Birds,” Bob Marley writes that we should not worry--and it was a time of reflection and meditation for me. When listening to “One Day” it encouraged me--the young generation--that we can change the world, and we can work towards a more peaceful world. There is hope.

Another learning experience for me is that communication is really important. Ha, who would of thought! Being with the same person for such a long time shows how human you are.

I also learned more about the Church of the Brethren and the values and beliefs. I am so thankful and honored to be included in the family of the Church of the Brethren and be able to share the trek across the country with Chelsea! The Church of the Brethren has great examples on how to follow the revolutionary way of Jesus through loving your enemies, your neighbors, those in need. Look at Peggy Gish, for example, working with Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq. I am so thankful for the example folks in the church have challenged me to live!

Newsline: Was there any particular experience on the ride that you are going to remember?

Rebekah: I have been challenged by people we have met on this trip, both in the church and out, that have showed acts of love and mercy towards us and the world. I have found that it is very easy to make generalizations of people groups that we do not know very much about. By biking across the country, I have learned that there are very kind people that are so giving--that's all we encountered! To have us, two young women, bike across the country seems risky to many, but we found nothing but love and lots of care towards us.

Newsline: What’s next for you?

Chelsea: I’ve actually done my year of BVS, but I’m staying on a couple months to help with fall orientation. I just got my visa for Australia, and my brother Tyler and I are moving there to work with Jarrod McKenna and the First Home Project, as well as being the youth pastors at a church there. At this point, we're planning on leaving in December and staying for roughly a year.

Rebekah: I'll be working as a nurse with Seattle Mennonite Church and Seattle University College, in a program that partners to serve the homeless population. I will help them transition from the hospital to a more permanent home, assisting them with their health care needs.

-- Find out more about BVS Coast to Coast, read a blog, and see pictures from the experience at http://bvscoast2coast.brethren.org.

Source: 10/14/2014 Newsline