- Earlier today an important e-mail message was sent to pastors and church board chairs from the Church of the Brethren Ministry Office and Brethren Benefit Trust. The message addressed changes in how the IRS interprets church contributions to the purchase of individual medical insurance for employees, including pastors. The message included letters from associate general secretary Mary Jo Flory-Steury, who is executive director of the Ministry Office, and BBT president Nevin Dulabaum. “Many of us have been caught off guard” by the changes, Flory-Steury wrote, in part. The changes mean that church employees will pay taxes on church contributions to the purchase of employees’ individual medical insurance. “We recognize that receiving this information at the end of the tax year is causing great stress and anxiety for those of you who have faithfully followed our denominational guidelines for support of our pastors,” Flory-Steury wrote. “Regrettably, implications of the ACA is causing us to rethink and reframe the way we will continue to support our pastor’s well-being as it applies to those who are on individual employer payment plans.” Dulabaum’s letter included best steps for the immediate concern of designating contributions in support of medical insurance as cash salary for 2014 income taxes. The Ministry Office will be working with the Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee to revise start-up and renewal agreements for pastors in 2015, and will be discussing the matter with the Council of District Executives at its January meeting.
- Remembrance: Mary Magdalene (Guyton) Petre, 97, who served the church for many years as a mission worker in Nigeria, died on Nov. 11. Along with her late husband, Ira S. Petre, who died in 2002, she spent 22 years in Nigeria as a Church of the Brethren missionary. The two were married in 1937 in Brownsville, Md. For the past 13 years Mary Petre had been a resident of Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village near Boonsboro, Md., and previously had lived in the Village at Morrisons Cove in Martinsburg, Pa. In addition to mission work, her career had included four years as a weekday religious education teacher in the Dayton, Va., area. She is survived by children Rebecca Markey (husband Walter), Samuel (wife Marilyn Stokes), Rufus (wife Cathy Hoover), Dana Petre-Miller (husband Dan), Mary Ellen Condit, and Bernice Keech (husband James); grandchildren; and great-grandchildren. She was to be interred with her husband at Pleasant View Church of the Brethren near Burkittsville, Md. Memorial donations are received to Heifer International.
- Remembrance: Sam Smith, 64, who in October started work as a member of the new Racial Justice Team of On Earth Peace, and was a leader in the Fellowship of Reconciliation, died on Dec. 11. He was born Dec. 7, 1950, to Henry and Vivian Smith and grew up in Howe, Ind., where his family were active members of English Prairie Church of the Brethren. He went to Moody Bible Institute and then received a degree in sociology from Wheaton College in the Chicago area. His life-long calling to each young people with a fresh approach in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ led him to develop Heavy Light Production multi-media shows, and he toured extensively with his unique presentations for two decades. He was an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren and helped pastor youth groups in Aurora, Wheaton, and Oswego, Ill. He also was a leader in the Shalom Ministries, and Upper Extreme, and led students from DePaul University in peace and reconciliation activities in the Chicago area. In recent years he suffered from chronic pain, mobility handicaps, and had a tentative diagnosis of ALS. He is survived by his wife, Linda, and children Lia Jean and Luke Isaiah Smith. Memorial donations are received to On Earth Peace and the Nigeria Crisis Fund.
- Jim Grossnickle-Batterton has been hired as interim coordinator of admissions at Bethany Theological Seminary. He graduated from Bethany in 2014 with a master of divinity degree. He is serving in a part-time, temporary capacity while Tracy Primozich, director of admissions, is on leave. He will oversee admissions operations, working with the Student Services staff, to see that prospective students are identified and recruited and that the seminary has a presence at Church of the Brethren denominational and district events. His travels will include visits to Church of the Brethren-related colleges and universities.
- Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., invites applications for the position of director of the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. This is a full-time faculty position with administrative release time. Rank and tenure are negotiable. The institute was inspired by the vision of Elizabeth Evans Baker and for more than 30 years has provided leadership in the development of the field of Peace and Conflict Studies within the academy and is generously supported by endowed funds. The mission of the institute is “To apply the resources of the academic community to the study of warfare and deep-rooted conflict as human problems and peace as a human potential.” In fulfilling this mission, the institute’s primary objectives are 1) to create and sustain an academically rigorous, interdisciplinary, clearly structured undergraduate peace and conflict studies program, and 2) to present campus, community, and international programing in support of the institute’s mission. The institute’s curriculum supports a number of other programs and departments at Juniata College and builds partnerships for innovative programing within the campus community and beyond. Its activities additionally include adult education and community outreach. The successful candidate will have a terminal degree in Peace Studies, or in a field of study within the Social Sciences or Humanities with an academic focus on peace-related issues. The ideal candidate should demonstrate expertise and experience working in the discipline, excellence in undergraduate teaching, and administrative experience in an academic environment. Candidates should demonstrate how their area of expertise contributes to and enhances the work of the Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. The college seeks an innovative educator with global vision, interested in being part of a vibrant learning community. The director will provide the strategic vision and leadership needed to further the institute’s role as a flagship academic program, built on collaborative relationships that enhance student education across campus. The director shall be committed to the normative values of the field of Peace Studies that explore the potential for peacebuilding theories and tools to contribute to the creation of a future where war no longer exists and conflicts are addressed using nonviolent methods. For more information contact Lauren Bowen, Provost and chair of the Baker Institute Search Committee, at email@example.com . To apply send a letter of interest, vita, teaching philosophy, graduate transcripts, and the names of three references to Gail Leiby Ulrich, Director of Human Resources, Juniata College, 1700 Moore St., Box C, Huntingdon, PA 16652. It is the policy of Juniata College to conduct background checks. The anticipated date of appointment is August 2015. Applications received by Jan. 15 will receive full consideration, but applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Juniata places great value on ethnic and gender diversity on its campus. The college commits itself to this policy not only because of legal obligations, but because it believes that such practices are basic to human dignity. AA/EOE.
- The Church of the Brethren seeks an individual to fill a fulltime hourly position of program assistant for the Office of Donor Relations, located at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The major responsibilities of this position are to support and assist the office of Donor Relations in developing connections with donors and friends of the Church of the Brethren through electronic and print correspondence, individual and congregational contacts, special offerings, and stewardship education resources. Required skills and knowledge include ease of communication with individuals, congregations, and contributors to various projects as well as with donor support. Tasks will include assisting with a variety of production, printing, and proofreading logistics as well as assisting with development of congregation and donor support materials. A bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience is required, as is proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite, particularly Word, Excel, and Outlook, and the ability to become familiar with other software programs including Adobe Acrobat Pro, Photoshop, InDesign, and Blackbaud. Applications are being received and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Request the application form from the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; firstname.lastname@example.org . The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
- Registration opens soon for a number of events in 2015:
- Registration for congregational delegates to Annual Conference opens online on Jan. 5
and continues through Feb. 24. The early registration fee is $285 per
delegate. Beginning Feb. 25 the registration fee increases to $310 per
delegate. Congregations may pay by credit card or by check. Registration
for nondelegates and housing reservations for delegates and
nondelegates will begin on Feb. 25. A letter is being sent to all
congregations about delegate registration. More information about the
2015 Annual Conference including registration, hotels, airport
transportation, directions, and conference theme and worship leadership
can be found at www.brethren.org/ac.
- Registration opens Jan. 8, at 7 p.m. (central time) for next summer’s Church of the Brethren workcamps.
Find a listing of the dates, locations, and fees for the 2015 workcamps
on the theme “Side by Side: Imitating Christ’s Humility” at www.brethren.org/workcamps.
- Jan. 9 is the opening date for registration for the 2015 National Junior High Conference on the theme, “Living the Change: Our Offering to God” (Romans 12:1-2). The conference will be held on June 19-21 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College for youth who have completed 6-8 grades and their adult advisors. For more information go to www.brethren.org/yya/njhc . For questions contact Kristen Hoffman, conference coordinator, in the Youth and Young Adult Ministry Office at 847-429-4389 or email@example.com.
- Registration for congregational delegates to Annual Conference opens online on Jan. 5 and continues through Feb. 24. The early registration fee is $285 per delegate. Beginning Feb. 25 the registration fee increases to $310 per delegate. Congregations may pay by credit card or by check. Registration for nondelegates and housing reservations for delegates and nondelegates will begin on Feb. 25. A letter is being sent to all congregations about delegate registration. More information about the 2015 Annual Conference including registration, hotels, airport transportation, directions, and conference theme and worship leadership can be found at www.brethren.org/ac.
- Applications for the 2015 Ministry Summer Service program and the 2015 Youth Peace Travel Team are due by Jan. 9:
- Ministry Summer Service (MSS) is a leadership development program for college students in the Church of the Brethren who spend 10 weeks of summer working in the church (local congregation, district office, camp, or national program). The 2015 orientation dates are May 29-June 3. Go to www.brethren.org/yya/mss for more information and application forms.
- Members of the Youth Peace Travel Team also serve through MSS. The team is a cooperative effort of a number of Church of the Brethren programs, with a new team fielded each summer. The Youth Peace Travel Team travels to Brethren camps with the goal of talking with other young people about the Christian message and the Brethren tradition of peacemaking. College-age Church of the Brethren young adults from 19-22 years of age will be selected for the next team. A stipend is paid to team members. For more information go to www.brethren.org/yya/peaceteam.html.
- “Way to Live: Work and Choices,” a webinar for those involved in youth and young adult ministry, is offered Jan. 6, at 8 p.m. (eastern time). The webinar is one in a series that is a book study of “Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teens” edited by Dorothy C. Bass and Don C. Richter. The series is offered jointly by staff of the Church of the Brethren, Bethany Seminary, and On Earth Peace. The Jan. 6 webinar will be led by Bekah Houff of the seminary staff. Ordained ministers may earn .1 continuing education credit for participating in the real-time event. To request continuing education credit contact Houff at firstname.lastname@example.org prior to the webinar. For more information go to www.brethren.org/yya/webcasts.html .
- “Mark your calendar!” said an announcement of the Annual Clergy Tax Seminar, hosted by the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership on Feb. 23, 2015, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. (eastern). Students, pastors, and other church leaders are invited to attend. Participants may attend in person at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., or via a webcast. Watch Newsline for additional information regarding registration, fees, and continuing education credit.
- Torin Eikler, district executive minister in Northern Indiana District, was interviewed by WSBT-TV Channel 22 in Mishawaka, Ind., about the Church of the Brethren’s work to aid Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) during the current crisis. Eikler spoke about how he has been working with churches and organizations across northern Indiana on a campaign called the "Mustard Seed Bake Campaign." See www.wsbt.com/news/local/local-humanitarian-efforts-being-made-for-missing-nigerian-girls/30217146.
- A Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) project supported by Central Church of the Brethren and other churches in Roanoke, Va., got attention from CBS affiliate WDBJ-TV Channel 7. The Congregations in Action program based at Highland Park Elementary School in Roanoke helps serve more than 450 homeless students. One special effort is to provide food for homeless students over the holidays, when they do not attend school. Find the video report at www.wdbj7.com/video/hundreds-of-homeless-kids-in-roanoke-need-food/30252332.
- First Church of the Brethren in Chicago, Ill., is hosting annual commemoration activities for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day: On Sunday, Jan. 18, at 10 a.m., First Church hosts an MLK Joint Worship Service with Chicago Community Mennonite Church and Iglesia Christiana Roca de Esperanza, followed by a potluck. On Saturday, Jan. 24, at 11 a.m.-3 p.m. is Peace in the City: MLK Nonviolence and Community Transformation Training. The latter is an intergenerational event with Samuel Sarpiya, a Church of the Brethren minister and pastor in Rockford, Ill., as speaker and lead facilitator. Register at http://peace-in-the-city.eventbrite.com . “Be welcome to join us,” said an invitation from First Church pastor LaDonna Nkosi. First Church of the Brethren Chicago hosted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1966 as one of their office locations for the housing and justice campaigns.
- Pacific Southwest District recognized a number of ordination anniversaries at its conference this fall, according to a report in the district newsletter: Eugene Palsgrove for 65 years, Gerald Moore for 50 years, Lila McCray for 40 years, Jeffrey Glass and Thomas Hostetler for 35 years, Jo Kimmel and Nadine Pence for 30 years, Jeanine Ewert for 25 years, representing 310 years of service in total. The district conference also received an offering of just over $580 to support the Nigeria Crisis Fund. The conference saw a “record youth turnout,” the newsletter noted, with 32 youth and 4 adult chaperones from 7 different congregations.
- “The world is giving itself a kind of Christmas gift this year,” said a release from the World Council of Churches (WCC). “On Dec. 24, 2014, an international law to regulate the global trade in armaments and ammunition, the newly ratified Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), enters into force.” The WCC and member churches and partners in some 50 countries campaigned and lobbied for an ATT that would help save lives and protect communities at risk from the weapons trade. WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit said, “Our prayer and expectation is that the ATT must become a treaty that no government and no arms dealer can ignore. The news reminds us almost daily of how many people need protection from armed violence, and it often involves illicit arms.” The release noted that the worldwide trade in arms is valued at nearly $100 billion per year. The WCC-led campaign concentrated on the criteria that the treaty sets for arms trading. The result is that the treaty denies arms transfers where there is a serious risk of war crimes or widespread human rights violations or endemic gender-based armed violence, the release said. The WCC also backed the relatively successful demand that the ATT must cover all types of arms and ammunition. To date, 60 nations have ratified the treat including large arms exporters like Germany, France, and the UK. Also, 125 countries have signed the treaty including the United States, the world’s largest arms exporter. Countries that abstained include Russia, China, and India.