Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Newsline: April 8, 2014


Bethany Seminary’s Presidential Forum takes a look at the love feast

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
“Living Love Feast” was the theme of the sixth Presidential Forum held at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. A Pre-Forum Gathering April 3-4 was led by Bethany faculty and alumni. The forum on April 4-5 featured guest speakers and presenters including activist and peacemaker Shane Claiborne, Janet R. Walton of Union Theological Seminary, Ruth Anne Reese of Asbury Theological Seminary, actor and playwright Ted Swartz.

Previous Presidential Forums have addressed a wide variety of themes, from “Hearing Scriptures of Peace” in 2008 to “The Bible in Our Bones” in 2013. The intent of the forum is to build community among those at the seminary, the wider church, and the public, and to provide visionary leadership for reimagining the role of seminaries in public discourse, by exploring topics that thoughtfully address issues of faith and ethics. A grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations endows the forum. (Find a photo album at www.bluemelon.com/churchofthebrethren/livinglovefeastbethanyseminaryforum2014.)

Alumni/ae gather for pre-forum

An evening love feast service including feetwashing, the love feast meal, and communion opened the Pre-Forum Gathering, which was sponsored by the Bethany Seminary Alumni/ae Coordinating Council. After love feast, attendees also enjoyed dips of ice cream and fruit cobbler served up by president Jeff Carter along with others from the faculty, student body, and board.

Carter was one of those presenting the following day, on the topic, “Just Like the First Disciples.” Carter’s reflections on the traditional forms of the elements of love feast as practiced by the Church of the Brethren, invited response from attendees. As all of the forum presentations, Carter’s concluded with a time for questions from the audience and responses by the presenter. Carter focused on how changes in the elements of love feast may affect the meaning and value of the service for individuals and the church. The presentation encouraged consideration of the cultural constructs of the love feast, leaving the question open: if we change elements of love feast, will the meaning change?

Also presenting from the Bethany faculty were Denise Kettering-Lane, assistant professor of Brethren Studies, whose address was titled, “By Water, and Oil: Baptism and Anointing in Brethren Tradition”; Russell Haitch, professor of Christian Education, who spoke on the topic, “‘Do This’: Living the Tradition with New People and Young People”; and Malinda Berry, assistant professor of Theological Studies, who spoke on “More than Lighting Candles: Theology, Worship, Ritual Action, and the Arts.”

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Bethany Seminary president Jeff Carter
Forum seeks new meaning for Brethren tradition

With an array of speakers and presenters from outside the denomination, including academics, activists, and artists, the forum itself served to add meaning to the Brethren understanding of the love feast tradition.

Claiborne, who was a featured speaker at National Youth Conference 2010 and has served with Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq, is a founder of the Simple Way faith community in Philadelphia. He traced the life experiences that led him to commit to follow Jesus, which he characterized as a commitment to actively look for “the patterns of the kingdom,” from his youth in Tennessee through a time of volunteering with Mother Theresa to involvement with a movement of homeless families in Philadelphia. The occupation by homeless families of an abandoned church in Philadelphia led to the Simple Way community in which Claiborne currently lives and works.

Speaking on the topic, “Another Way of Doing Life,” Claiborne told many stories from his work and that of his community--ranging from pounding handguns into pieces of art, to planting community gardens in vacant lots--that illustrate “what it means to be a contrast culture.... That is what God is doing in the world, creating a counter culture community.” He closed by praying, “Give us dreams and visions, O God, for what you want to do in this world.... Help us fall in love with you so deeply that we become more like you.”

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

If we don't eat together, can we make peace together? asked Janet Walton, in her examination of the meaning of ritual meals like the love feast and communion
The two academic presentations given the morning of April 5 started off with a detailed examination of John 13, a “hinge” chapter in the gospel of John describing the last supper Jesus ate with his disciples and a model for the Brethren practice of love feast. Ruth Anne Reese, Beeson Chair of Biblical Studies and professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmington, Ky., noted that “love is the first and foremost action of this whole chapter. It’s not enough to have knowledge without love.” In John’s telling of the events of the last supper, Jesus demonstrates love in the face of danger and treachery, and despite betrayal, even by his closest friends and followers. It foreshadows the kind of life Jesus’ followers will take up, she told the forum.

Jesus’ persistence in serving and loving the disciples who will soon betray and deny him is a model for pastors today, she said, calling for recognition of the realities of working in the church as a human community. “Betrayal and denial are kneeling at the communion rail with us,” she said. “Even when love feast has been betrayed by the members of the community, they are encouraged to respond with prayer and mercy.” She urged attendees to look for inspiration not at the form and practice of the love feast, but at the Lord to whom the love feast points. “We can only trust in the midst of betrayal when we are looking at Jesus. You have to look at Jesus for the ideal, and the community is the imperfect living out of that reality.”

Does the love feast matter?

“Do ritual meals really matter?” asked the second guest academic, Janet R. Walton, professor of Worship at Union Theological Seminary in New York. “In the face of unceasing poverty, violence that just doesn’t stop, day-to-day choices that cost us, does anyone think that ritual meals matter? I guess I do!” She examined the nature of ritual meals such as the love feast and communion, and the historical first century Greco-Roman meal tradition with which the early church would have been familiar, using a variety of media images of meals and stories from a variety of communion services held at the chapel at Union Theological Seminary.

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Shane Claiborne is a peacemaker and Christian activist, and a founder of the Simple Way intentional community in Philadelphia.
Walton assumes, she said, that “all rituals are in constant need of repair” and that “in all ritual something is at stake.” She urged the forum to consider the “gaps” in our worship practices, in order to better serve the community--who may be left out, how rituals reinforce or break boundaries, how in rituals communities and individuals are forced to make choices. Among others, she gave the example of a chapel service at Union held on an Iraq war anniversary, led by a peace and justice group. Inert bodies were lying on the floor, students playing the role of the war’s dead. “The gap on the floor changed everything,” Walton said. “To eat and drink, we had to walk around and over them.”

Such experiences will not be welcomed by all, she acknowledged, even as her presentation encouraged listeners to continually examine how their churches plan and carry out rituals. She emphasized that “rituals that are effective often draw us closer to the experiences of our lives.... When our rituals enact experience that can prick our skin and disturb our hearts, we are led to do something.” At Union, she said, “We are aiming at the table for elasticity and generosity.... Making space for what we don’t know, making space for one another’s needs.”

The forum concluded with a number of “break out sessions” led by Brethren pastors and church leaders including “African Sahilian Love Feasts and Communion” with Roger Schrock; “Bringing Children to Christ’s Table” with Linda Waldron; a panel discussion of “Love Feast: Tradition and Innovation”: “A Poetic Love Feast” with Karen Garrett; and “Living Love Feast: From Re-enactment to Formative Worship” with Paul Stutzman.

The closing worship service began with Ted Swartz giving a solo version of selections from “Fish Eyes,” acting the part of the disciple Peter in scenes drawn from the four gospels, followed by a time of worship in the order of the love feast: examination and confession, feetwashing, meal, and communion.

“We are gathered as guests at your table,” said the worship leader who gave a prayer of blessing for the bread and the cup. It was a fitting invitation for participants to look toward the celebration of love feast with their own congregations during Holy Week, with a heightened awareness of the deep meaning of the familiar tradition, and eyes open for new understandings and new meaning to emerge.

A photo album of pictures from the forum is at www.bluemelon.com/churchofthebrethren/livinglovefeastbethanyseminaryforum2014.

-- Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford is director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.

Source: 4/8/2014 Newsline

Children’s Disaster Services responds to Washington mudslide

Photo courtesy of CDS

Cardboard robots built by children in the play area set up by CDS volunteers in Darrington, near the location of the mudslide in Washington State. Wrote Carol Elms, one of the CDS team, in a Facebook post: "The major activities for today have been hot potato ball play and robots. Children made their own super powerful robots out of big boxes." What an important activity for children who feel dis-empowered while waiting to hear news of loved ones in the mudslide aftermath.
Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) deployed seven volunteers in response to the catastrophic mudslide in Snohomish County, Wash. CDS is a program of Brethren Disaster Ministries. The CDS team served in Darrington, a community near the slide location. The response ended Sunday, April 6, having made a total of 83 child contacts, according to CDS associate director Kathy Fry-Miller.

FEMA has reported 30 confirmed fatalities from the March 22 disaster, with 13 people remaining missing or unaccounted for, and 43 homes destroyed, Fry-Miller said.

CDS volunteers receive special training to offer sensitive care to children in traumatic situations following disasters, giving them opportunities to express their feelings and stories through carefully selected play activities. The volunteers on this response included disaster project managers John and Carol Elms, Stephanie Herkelrath, Kathy Howell, Sharon McDaniel, Sharon Sparks, and Caroline Iha.

The CDS team served children from communities close to the mudslide area, where community members had been lost in the disaster. They also provided childcare on Friday during a meeting of first responders and loggers who were carrying out the search for bodies, and on Saturday during a memorial service for one of the people killed in the disaster.

“We were basically providing respite care for the tight-knit community. The loved ones they lost were the librarian or the neighbor,” Fry-Miller said. The volunteers gave their attention to children who had “a certain level of fear, like when’s the next mountain going to drop on us?” she said.

The CDS response concluded Sunday, after the mudslide became a federally declared disaster and FEMA was called in, Fry-Miller explained. CDS had responded at the request of the American Red Cross.

In a Facebook post from the CDS team, there was “good interactive play with children and CDS volunteers. The major activities...have been hot potato ball play and robots. Children made their own super powerful robots out of big boxes.... What an important activity for children who feel so dis-empowered during this very sad time while waiting to hear news of loved ones in the mudslide aftermath.”

The Facebook posts also quoted one nine-year-old girl who received care in the play area: “I hope you keep doing this for the children because it makes me feel better and it occupies the children. I like to paint and play with play dough. I like to draw. I love it when you do this.”

For more about Children’s Disaster Services go to www.brethren.org/cds .

(Jane Yount, coordinator for Brethren Disaster Ministries, contributed to this report.)

Source: 4/8/2014 Newsline

Brethren mission workers serve alongside Nigerian group aiding refugees

Photo courtesy of Roxane and Carl Hill

Staff of CCEPI and Brethren mission workers help distribute food to refugees. Over the weekend of March 14-16, 2014, the Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives served 509 refugees around the Headquarters and Kulp Bible College of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).
By Roxane Hill

Over the weekend of March 14-16, the Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives (CCEPI) served 509 refugees around the Headquarters and Kulp Bible College of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). CCEPI distributed 4,292 articles of clothing and shoes, 2,000 kilograms of corn, along with buckets and cups.

Of the 509 people served, more than 100 had experienced the death of at least one family member. All of these people have left their homes due to attacks by the Boko Haram, an Islamist insurgent group, and many homes and churches have been burnt.

In subsequent weekends, an outpouring of funds and materials from around Nigeria has allowed CCEPI to distribute food and an additional 3,000 items of clothing, shoes, etc., to 2,225 more persons who are internally displaced due to the conflict in northern Nigeria. The volunteers for CCEPI along with the director have worked tirelessly for many hours to sort, package, and distribute the items.

Detailed records are kept of both donations received and of each family who has been helped. It was a pleasure for Carl and I to serve alongside the workers of CCEPI in this worthwhile venture.
CCEPI, founded in 2011, is a registered NGO (non-governmental organization) in Nigeria. Its founder, Dr. Rebecca Samuel Dali, has been working with widows, orphans, and vulnerable children for over a decade. CCEPI promotes the well-being of the poorest of the poor and seeks to empower the down-trodden.

-- Roxane and Carl Hill are serving with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) through the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service.

Source: 4/8/2014 Newsline

Ecumenical Advocacy Days resist violence, build peace

Photo courtesy of Christy Crouse

Church of the Brethren participants at the 2014 Ecumenical Advocacy Days: Nathan Hosler, Christy Crouse, Bryan Hanger, and Sarah Ullom-Minnich in front of the Capitol on lobby day.
By Christy Crouse

The vision of “peace in the community, peace among the peoples, peace in the marketplace, and peace with the earth” was explored at the 12th annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) in Washington, D.C. This conference took place March 21-24, and brought together nearly 1,000 Christians from Sri-Lanka to Alaska to learn about the call to peace in our world.

EAD focuses each year on highlighting a certain political subject and honing in on ways to alter governmental policies in order to create a more just society based on the Christian perspective. This year’s EAD concentrated on the theme of peace, primarily on efforts to reduce acquisition and use of guns for purposes that cause harm, and to rebalance funding priorities toward preventing violence and enhancing human security.

EAD was guided by Luke 19:41-42, where Jesus weeps over Jerusalem, a capital city that turned from the true way of peace.
The conference consisted of worship, quality speakers, exhibits from sponsoring organizations such as Pax Christi and Bread for the World, numerous policy plenaries and issue workshop sessions, denominational gatherings, and a lobby day on Capitol Hill as the culmination of the event.

Multiple Church of the Brethren members attended including Nathan Hosler and Bryan Hanger from the denomination’s Office of Public Witness, as well as Sarah Ullom-Minnich and I, who were sponsored by the denomination to attend.

Throughout the conference, we were able to choose sessions to attend based on our interests. I attended sessions called “Drones: Remotely Operated Armed Foreign Relations,” “Restorative Justice Lens and Core Practices,” and “Israel/Palestine Negotiations: A Path to Peace?” to name a few. These all vastly increased my knowledge on current US policies and positions relating to fundamental issues in the search for peace within our country and throughout the globe.

On the Saturday evening of EAD, staff from the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness, Mennonite Central Committee, American Friends Service Committee, and other attendees from the peace churches gathered together for fellowship and discussion. According to Hosler, the dialogue “raised the question how do we fit into, differ from, and feel about a conference theme that has been historically associated with our groups? The hour-long conversation that ensued was quite valuable.”

For me, and countless others I am sure, this conference was a wonderful opportunity to increase my understanding of current political policies and events, practice both my persuasive speaking and attentive listening skills, and converse with other like-minded individuals from around the world.

Photo by Christy Crouse

Paper cranes hang at the 2014 Ecumenical Advocacy Days. "All who attended the conference set out to make as many peace cranes as possible in order to reach 1,000," says Christy Crouse. "We took them with us to our legislators and left one on each of their desks."
Two major ideas I will take away from EAD both deal with voice: the importance of hearing the voice of those you are speaking for, and the necessity of the Christian voice in the politics of today. The former can be applied throughout all scenarios of life, but especially in the political spectrum. It is vital to seek out the preferences and views of those you are speaking on behalf of. A woman for Libya who spoke at EAD brought this idea forth when speaking of the tumultuous situation in her country and how she felt the voice of her people must be heard in order to help mitigate the situation.

The latter idea, the necessity of the Christian voice in politics, was accentuated to me through my experience on Capitol Hill. Seeing over 800 Christians dispersing to advocate peace to their respective legislators was exciting; however, knowing that the view of peace is seldom promoted by other lobbyists who visit the hill every day made me realize how needed the Christian perspective is. In my mind, we were a literal “light on the hill” that day, bringing a needed hope to a part of society that does not always think in terms of the most positive options for humanity.

Ecumenical Advocacy Days opens the eyes of all who attend. The conference is well organized, promotes needed discussion, and provides exemplary tools to learn about relevant issues. I encourage all who have the time and means to consider attending EAD 2015.

-- Christy Crouse is a member of Warrensburg (Mo.) Church of the Brethren and a freshman at Truman State University. She attended Christian Citizenship Seminar in 2013, and will be a member of the 2014 Youth Peace Travel Team.

Source: 4/8/2014 Newsline

Church of the Brethren co-sponsors ‘Church and Post-Christian Culture’ event

By Joshua Brockway

Missio Alliance has announced a conference titled “Church and Post-Christian Culture: Christian Witness” in the Way of Jesus. “Church and Post-Christian Culture” seeks to gather historic Anabaptist groups along with a growing group of leaders who have found a new home in the theological visions of the tradition. The Church of the Brethren is co-sponsoring the gathering with Missio Alliance, a "fellowship of churches, denominations, schools, and networks partnering together to see the church in North America equipped for fuller and more faithful participation in God’s mission.” The event is scheduled for Sept. 19-20 at Carlisle (Pa.) Brethren in Christ Church.

As Annual Conference moderator Shawn Flory Replogle noted in 2010, the Brethren are in vogue. By co-sponsoring this gathering with Missio Alliance we are looking forward to the opportunity to take part in the growing interest in our perspective of Christian discipleship.

In announcing the gathering, Missio Alliance observes, “It seems that this interest [in Anabaptism] has arisen for a variety of reasons--most notably the realities and challenges of inhabiting an increasingly Post-Christian (Post-Christendom) cultural context, wearisome battles between the polarities of modern evangelicalism, and a fresh awareness of kingdom theology, especially regarding our understanding of the gospel.”

Keynote addresses will be given by leaders in this growing movement including author and pastors Greg Boyd, Bruxy Cavey, and David Fitch. Emerging leaders such as Anton Flores-Maisonet, Brian Zahnd, and Meohan Good also will take part. Evangelical theologians Cherith Fee-Nordling (Northern Seminary) and Frank James (Biblical Theological Seminary) will speak to the emerging intersection of Anabaptism and North American evangelicalism. Networking sessions and workshops round out the schedule and will include sessions by practitioner leaders from all the sponsoring groups, including the Church of the Brethren.

Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries, states, “As stewards of a unique combination of Anabaptist and Pietist commitments, we Brethren have an opportunity to contribute to a conversation that is shaping Christian practice for the 21st century. We are honored and excited to be at a table where God is breathing new life into discipleship formation and Christian community through the convergence of a historic witness and a fresh outpouring of the Spirit.”

As a co-sponsor for the gathering the Church of the Brethren has a number of discounted registrations. If you are interested in attending the conference, contact Randi Rowan, program assistant for Congregational Life Ministries at rrowan@brethren.org or 800-323-8039 ext. 303.

More information is at www.missioalliance.org/event/church-after-christendom-christian-witness-in-the-way-of-jesus .

-- Joshua Brockway is director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship for the Church of the Brethren

Source: 4/8/2014 Newsline

Touching lives deeply: Reflecting on a workcamp in Haiti

By Thomas R. Lauer

The week of Feb. 1-8, a team of 23 people traveled to Haiti on a short-term mission trip. The trip was arranged and facilitated by New Fairview Church of the Brethren in York, Pa. There were at least five denominations represented.

I know of no other experience that touches lives so deeply. Through the mission experience and the work of the Holy Spirit there is dramatic and dynamic life change. Our team is so excited to tell the stories of the trip, the relationships that developed, and the ways their eyes have been opened, I can only simply say, “Praise God!”

Photo courtesy of Thomas Lauer

The workcamp group who was part of the New Fairview
Church of the Brethren short term mission to Haiti
I believe the church in the United States is so isolated, comfortable, and wealthy that it is nearly impossible to break through and connect the church with God’s heart for His people in all other places and situations. We are ignorant of the great need and sadly, comfortable in our ignorance. A trip like this lands people next to sisters and brothers who live out their faith daily in their struggle--literally--to survive. While sharing in the struggle, experiencing the poverty and difficult life, our unknowing becomes understanding, our comfort at home becomes unexpectedly very uncomfortable.

We are immediately aware that neither we nor they decided where to be born, or chose what situations we would experience as a normal life. The disparity is shocking and unexplainable. Here in their hometown, in their neighborhood, in their church we are in their lives, and here God connects His overwhelming love for the oppressed with our hearts and our lives. It is life changing!

We had a very successful work project in the American sense of the size of the project and what was accomplished. The Cap Haitien congregation had purchased a property with a building that had been residences, which needed to be converted to a worship center. We also led three days of Vacation Bible School for local children. A work project always draws many spectators and this provides a great outreach opportunity to the community from the local church. The second day there were over 200 children at VBS.

We did far more than anyone expected or imagined. I suppose that’s good. I know some people believe that is the full measure of the trip, “What needed done?” and “Did we get it done?” The answer is a resounding yes!

Photo courtesy of Thomas Lauer

Vacation Bible School with local children drew
spectators and provided an opportunity for outreach
by the congregation
However, that measure alone is a narrow view of the purpose. I personally measure success in terms of engagement with local sisters and brothers, one-on-one interaction and relationships, and mutual worship. In this measure also, I say, “Praise God!” For each of these hopes this trip was by far the most successful I have ever participated in. The congregation was excited to work with us, 43 of their members teamed with us. They were dedicated, cooperative, willing to teach, and willing to learn. We worked side by side each day, all day. They were hard workers, probably at least as excited for the progress and moving the project forward as we were. Many of our group mention working together as a major highlight of the trip, probably second only to worshiping together.

Worship is a high point of many trips. The enthusiasm, joy, and thanksgiving in worship are things that always stand out when compared to our worship at home. As teams participate in worship their reactions are refreshing and inspiring. We participated in three worship services during the week. The first was in Port-au-Prince with the local congregation at the Brethren guesthouse, including communion. It was a great time together. We worshiped with the local congregation in Cap Haitien two evenings. Each was different but all were rewarding and provided varied opportunities for our group to connect with our brothers and sisters.

Along with the high points there were trials. I am confident we were protected from danger and harm through the prayers of many sincere sisters and brothers. Danger was ever present on the project site, there was danger in our road travel, and there was incidental potential for harm. Our exposure was limited to illness. We had a continuous string of team members suffering from a stomach bug. It was generally one or two at a time, but it moved through our group over a two-week period. I have been on trips where there were none, or only one or two who experienced illness. This time it was 80 percent of the team. The discomfort is real and the suffering is intensified by unfamiliar surroundings and accommodations. We had consciously entered the spiritual battlefield, and this was our most vulnerable feature. The enemy tried vigorously to shift the focus of the trip from great victory in spiritual and interpersonal growth to suffering, discouragement, and blame.

Prayers prevailed, we were overwhelmed by love and hospitality, and rejoicing continued. Throughout the trip we were witnesses to God’s faithfulness and His kingdom advancing in many ways.

In closing I assure you, I would gladly promote and lead another group. I have no hesitation whatsoever. The spiritual impact is beyond explanation and I would love to continue to be involved in this type of life change for as many people as possible.

-- Thomas R. Lauer submitted this report for use in Newsline.

Source: 4/8/2014 Newsline

We continue the mission of the church: A report from Falfurrias, Texas

Falfurrias (Texas) Church of the Brethren is one of the congregations receiving support from the Global Food Crisis Fund and the Office of Public Witness through the “Going to the Garden” initiative that gives grants for community gardens. Recently, church members reported to GFCF manager Jeff Boshart how the church’s mission is continuing. The following is excerpted from a lengthier report:

Courtesy of Don and Lucinda Anderson

Children at Falfurrias (Texas) Church of the Brethren
pick spring flowers
Our grandchildren CJ, Jason, and Emily picked these flowers last week. This is just an indication of what is happening here in Falfurrias. We like to think that we are getting a fresh start, and blooming. We might not be gaining in numbers, but it is clear to us that God is at work.

Our church was one of four churches that began praying and discussing the dire situation in Falfurrias. We have a lot of very difficult situations involving drugs, human trafficking, gang-related murders, and family violence. On top of all this the government budget cutbacks have added to the problem. We also have financial issues in the city of Falfurrias, as well as the county. Four churches met in December to discuss the problem. In January we discussed the different difficulties and continued in prayer. In February we discussed the importance of a spiritual solution to this dilemma and discussed forming a non-profit organization. We called it “Uniting Falfurrias for Christ.” The four churches involved are the Church of the Brethren, the United Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, and Love and Mercy, an independent church.

We were privileged to receive a grant of $2,500 from the Southern Plains District of the Church of the Brethren for the purchase of a tractor. Our church came up with $2,000 and a church family gave $1,000. We borrowed an additional $2,500 from the district at no interest and we bought the tractor and implements. We were in dire need of a larger tractor. The large amount of mowing and the plans we have for the garden made it necessary for this purchase

The garden is a new added ministry this year. With the help of the grant from the Church of the Brethren we have been able to start this ministry. We have started small but hope to expend as we learn and get added help from the community. The main reason for this project is the need in the community. We want to be a presence when things get harder and hopefully be a part of the solution to problems in our community.

Courtesy of Don and Lucinda Anderson

The new garden at Falfurrias (Texas) Church of the Brethren
We have another well on the property we would like to open up and fix as funds are available. This well will be used to water the garden and yard use. Our prayer is that this project will be accomplished by the fall planting.

We decided to walk by faith and we joined with the Catholic Church in support of a food bank. By February we supplied food to 300 people. By March we had 30 volunteers including leaders from the community helping with this effort. At our March food distribution we gave everyone who came for food a survey. We wanted to hear from their corner. We went to the least and we received a wealth of information. We will be reviewing the results and informing the residents of what they see as the most pressing issues in our community. Like the prophet Elijah in1 Kings17:7-15, we have gone to the least and in return we will gleam from the results for the Lord’s honor and glory.

Our prayer is that as the word gets out we will attract willing individuals and groups to a very important mission service. We are so grateful for the Southern Plains District and its members support, the “Going to the Garden” monetary help to get us started with the community garden, to Ono (Pa.) United Methodist Church for their generous monetary support, continual prayers, and encouraging calls, and to Gern and Pat Haldeman from Hummelstown, Pa., for helping us buy the tractor tires. The love and support during the good times and the bad is truly felt.

We continue the mission of the church which is to “Go unto all the world and make disciples as Christ commanded” (Matthew 28:16-20). We are reminded that what Jesus did most was to walk among the people meeting their immediate needs. Let us as the church of Jesus Christ covenant to walk among the people. Join us in ministry.

We would like to invite you to be a part of our church family this fall. We will have four RV spots. The hook-ups will be ready. All we ask is a suggested monthly amount, pay the electricity bill for the spot, and lend a hand in the church, the grounds, or the fall garden. Call 956-500-9614 or 956-500-5651 for more information.

-- Don and Lucinda Anderson are member of Falfurrias (Texas) Church of the Brethren.

Source: 4/8/2014 Newsline

Brethren bits

    Churches for Middle East Peace logo, 238 x 57
  • Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is asking for Christians to endorse an ecumenical letter urging a comprehensive agreement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger has signed the letter, and the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness is helping to promote it. A release from CMEP reported that “for the first time the Catholic, Coptic, Lutheran, and Episcopal heads of churches in Jerusalem and the Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Places are joining with US Christian denominations and groups to support urgent efforts to reach a comprehensive agreement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These prominent Christian leaders from Catholic, Orthodox, mainline Protestant, Evangelical, and Historic Peace Churches are endorsing Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to find a negotiated solution that will allow the communities of faith to flourish and improve in the Holy Land.” The letter “comes at a crucial time for the hope of peace in the Holy Land,” said CMEP executive director Warren Clark. More about the letter is at http://go.cmep.org/letterforpeace .
  • The Haitian Family Resource Center--a ministry of Haitian First Church of the Brethren of New York, in Brooklyn--is hosting a re-registration event for Haitian Temporary Protected Status (TPS) on April 17. The event is co-hosted by New York City Council member Jumaane D. Williams, Brooklyn Defender Services, and Habnet and 45th District Haitian Relief Effort. This event is by appointment only, with lawyers and immigration professionals available to assist registrants with applications, said a release. “Eligible nationals of Haiti will receive an extended TPS for an additional 18 months, effective July 23, 2014, through Jan. 22, 2016,” the release said. This follows on the TPS status offered by the US to Haitians after the earthquake of 2010. "Hundreds of thousands of Haitians who lost their homes and loved ones continue to live in devastation in temporary tent cities," said Williams in the release. "TPS has since helped many Haitians call the United States home while Haiti fights for recovery from this tragic disaster. In light of the sheer devastation, displaced families, homelessness crisis, and the broken economic system, we understand how impetrative TPS renewal is in reemergence of Haiti." Those who want to extend their TPS status must re-register during a 60-day period from March 3-May 2, 2014. To RSVP for the event in Brooklyn contact Rachel Webster, director of constituent services, at 718-629-2900 or rwebster@council.nyc.gov .
  • Chicago (Ill.) First Church of the Brethren has launched a 12-week KAPacity! Violence Eradication Pilot Program. “Dr. E.L. Kornegay of the Baldwin-Delaney Institute at Chicago Theological Seminary is our facilitator,” said the Illinois and Wisconsin District newsletter. “Community members from across Chicago have joined us each Wednesday from 5:30-7:30pm for prayer, planning, and training as we collaborate together for youth and community development and the ending of violence. Please be welcome to join us.”
Photo courtesy of CDS

A view of the mudslide in Snohomish County, Wash. Children's Disaster Services (CDS) deployed a team of volunteers to help care for children in nearby Darrington, where community members were lost in the slide.
  • Pacific Northwest District executive Colleen Michael reports the district is collecting funds to aid those affected by the catastrophic mudslide in Washington State. “Donations received through the Pacific Northwest District Church of the Brethren (P.O. Box 5440, Wenatchee, WA 98807) are being sent directly to the Coastal Community Bank of Darrington,” she reports. “This fund (100 percent) is going directly to the immediate needs of families affected by this disaster.” The district also is encouraging donations to the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services, give at www.brethren.org/edf .
  • The 22nd annual Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Auction is May 16-17 at the Rockingham County (Va.) Fairgrounds. “This year, the Auction Coordinating Committee has a new chair, Catherine Lantz of the Mill Creek Church of the Brethren, who succeeded Nancy Harlow when she completed her tenure,” the district newsletter said. The schedule of events is at www.shencob.org and the auction is on Facebook at "Brethren Disaster Ministries Auction."
  • The Ministry and Mission in Virlina event will be May 3, starting at 8:30 a.m., at Topeco Church of the Brethren in Floyd, Va. The theme is “Taste and See” (Psalm 34:8). Patrick Starkey, pastor of Cloverdale Church of the Brethren, will be the preacher for the morning worship service. The district newsletter reported a number of workshops planned by the commissions and committees of the district board including "Her Finest Hours" by the Outdoor Ministries Committee, "NYC Bus Trip Information" by the Commission on Nurture, "Continuing Education for Ministers" and "Changes in Licensing Process" by the Commission on Ministry, "Do Diligence, Finances, and Taxes" by the Commission on Stewardship, "We've a Story to Tell!" by the New Church Development Committee, "Small and Serving the Lord" by the Commission on Witness. Continuing education credits are available. Refreshments and lunch will be provided by the Topeco congregation. Following lunch, an Annual Conference Delegate Briefing will begin at 1:30 p.m. led by the Virlina District Standing Committee delegates and Annual Conference moderator, Nancy Sollenberger Heishman.
  • The 2014 Southern Ohio District Conference theme has been announced: “We Are God's Servants Working Together.” The district conference will be Oct. 10-11 at Happy Corner Church of the Brethren.
  • The “Brethren Helping Hands” group in Southern Ohio District has completed work at Mullen House at Bethany Seminary, announced the district newsletter. Mullen House was purchased by the seminary to provide affordable housing for students. Some 17 volunteers from Southern Ohio District worked a total of 62 days or 378 hours to help renovate the house. “Thank you to everyone who gave time and energy to assist Bethany to provide housing for our future leaders,” said the newsletter. “Brethren Helping Hands is now looking for our next project.” Go to www.sodcob.org/about-us/our-commissions/shared-ministries-commission/brethren-helping-hands.html .
  • CrossRoads Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., will hold an Easter sunrise service at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 20, on the hilltop at CrossRoads (1921 Heritage Center Way). Bring a lawn chair or blanket. “The spectacular view of the sun rising behind Massanutten Peak warms even a chilly morning!” said the Shenandoah District newsletter.
  • The 13th annual Sounds of the Mountains Festival of Music and Storytelling at Camp Bethel in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia, near Fincastle, Va., is April 11-12. The festival takes place rain or shine. The main stage will be inside the Deer Field Center. Featured are nationally known tellers Andy Offutt Irwin, David Novak, Ed Stivender, and Donna Washington, as well as music from the Luv Buzzards and New River Bound, plus the Back Porch Studio Cloggers. Go to www.soundsofthemountains.org for tickets and information.
  • Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community near Boonsboro, Md., has announced that Dr. Sheikh Shehzad Parviz of Tristate Infectious Diseases LLC, will serve as a consultant to manage infectious disease. He will help treat residents who require antibiotic use, and will assist with the facility’s new Antibiotic Stewardship Program. “Antibiotic stewardship until recently was only practiced in acute care hospitals,” the release said. “Fahrney-Keedy’s stewardship program has several goals: limiting inappropriate use of antimicrobial medications; optimizing antimicrobial selection, dosing, and duration of therapy; and limiting the unintended consequences of antimicrobial use such as the emergence of resistance, adverse drug events and cost.”
  • Five alumni of Bridgewater (Va.) College--three of them members of the Church of the Brethren--will be honored during an Alumni Weekend celebration April 11-13. Also on the weekend is inauguration of David W. Bushman as ninth president of Bridgewater (see the Newsline of March 18). Jim and Sylvia Kline Bowman, class of 1957 and members of Bridgewater Church of the Brethren, will receive the 2013 Ripples Society Medals. The Bowmans “were brought up in the Church of the Brethren and value the Brethren focus on nonviolence, peacebuilding, justice, and global unity,” a release said. “The Bowmans established the Kline-Bowman Endowment Fund for Creative Peacebuilding at Bridgewater. The endowment promotes programs, activities, academic work, and internships advancing the ideals of peace, nonviolence, and social justice, and protection of the earth’s environment. They hope this effort will cultivate these ethics in students as part of their broad education.” Christian M. Saunders, class of 1999 and a member of Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren, will receive the Young Alumnus Award. Saunders “has pursued a successful career in US intelligence...selected last year to attend the National War College,” the release said. Also honored: Douglas A. Allison, class of 1985, receiving the Distinguished Alumnus Award; and Bruce H. Elliott, class of 1976, receiving the West-Whitelow Humanitarian Award.
  • In more news from Bridgewater, the college Equestrian Club will host “Horses’ Easter” at the Equestrian Center in Weyers Cave, Va., on Saturday, April 12, at 1 p.m. A release noted that elementary and pre-school students and their families are invited to the presentation, “The Guardians of Children,” featuring skits about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Jack Frost, Mother Nature, the Sandman, and the Tooth Fairy. Jerry Schurink, director of riding, will narrate the events. Children may reward horses with treats following the presentation. In lieu of admission, the Equestrian Club requests donations of canned goods for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.
  • “The Juniata College art department enlisted three faculty artists and dozens of students to create hundreds of bowls for hungry diners for its eighth annual Empty Bowls event, which raises money to benefit various Huntingdon County food banks,” reports a release from the college. Empty Bowls starts at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 11, at Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa. Tickets are $10 for adults, $6 for children age 5 to 10, free for children under 5. Tickets are available at Unity House, where the campus ministry office is located, at Ellis Hall from 5:30-7 p.m. on April 9 and 10. Patrons who have paid the adult price will receive soup and bread, and a hand-made ceramic soup bowl from the college's pottery program. A commemorative T-shirt may be purchased for $10 as part of the fundraising effort. Empty Bowls is sponsored by the college ceramics club Mud Junkies, the Art Alliance, peace studies club PAX-O, and the Catholic Council. Restaurants donate soups and other businesses donate services or supplies.
  • In more news from Juniata, president James A. Troha will balance a cement block on his chest while lying on a bed of nails at Physics Phun Night. The event is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. on April 9, in Alumni Hall in the Brumbaugh Academic Center. It is free and open to the public. “Physics Phun Night's highlight has always been the demonstration showing how the distribution of force over a wide area can lessen the effects of the force. President Troha will demonstrate this principle by allowing James Borgardt, professor of physics, to break the cement block with a sledgehammer as Troha lies on a bed of nails,” said a release. Other demonstrations at the event, sponsored by the Society of Physics Students, will include fiery methane bubbles, liquid nitrogen freezing a number of substances, an air cannon, the Bernoulli Effect with toilet paper, and more.
  • Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., celebrates an International Fair with dance, food, music, children’s activities, and exhibits on Sunday, April 13, according to a release. Admission is free for the noon to 4 p.m. event in the Physical Education and Recreation Center. “A popular treat of the afternoon: samplings of international students’ favorite dishes from around the world, for a nominal fee,” said a release. “The students prepare the food in the university’s kitchen with assistance from Chef Chris and Chartwell's food service personnel.” One student from Germany plans to make “linsen und spätzle,” a lentil dish,  and Schwarzwälder-Kirsch Trifle, a Black forest trifle. Also on the menu: a Vietnamese tofu dessert called Tau Hu Nuoc Duong, an Ethiopian spicy meat dish called kitfo, Bangladeshi mashed eggplant, and more. Twenty countries from six continents will be represented at the fair with dance and various art forms, music, food, and more.
  • Send applications before May 1 to join the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) Corps summer 2014 training, said an invitation. “Did you participate in a recent CPT delegation that whetted your appetite for embodied peace work, partnering with others working nonviolently for justice, and confronting the injustice that leads to war? Does CPT's style of peacemaking, confronting injustice, and undoing oppressions work fit with yours? Is now the time to take the next step and join the Peacemaker Corps?” The training will be held in Chicago, Ill., on July 11-Aug. 11. Find the application at www.cpt.org/participate/peacemaker/apply . For answers to more specific questions, contact Adriana Cabrera-Velásquez, personnel coordinator, at personnel@cpt.org .
  • Five of the world’s major arms exporters are among a group of mostly European countries that ratified the world’s first Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on April 2, a year after the treaty was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The World Council of Churches (WCC) is celebrating this development. WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit release a statement saying, “It is especially important that five of the world’s top 10 arms exporters are among those ratifying today--France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK,” Tveit said. At this point 31 governments have ratified the ATT, but for the treaty to come into effect, 50 states need to ratify it, the WCC release said. Tveit noted that this example should be followed by the United States and Russia--the two largest arms exporters--as well as China. At the recent WCC assembly in South Korea, church delegates from more than 100 countries called for their governments to ratify and implement the Arms Trade Treaty. The WCC release noted that “armed violence and conflict kills approximately half a million people each year.” Read Tveit’s statement at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/general-secretary/statements/bringing-world2019s-new-arms-trade-treaty-into-effect .
  • A group of Brethren scholars are developing a book series called “Passing the Privilege,” hoping to kick off the series with a first volume this year, according to a release. The series is planned “in order to contribute a Brethren perspective to the emerging interest in Anabaptist theology and practice,” the release said. The group includes Denise Kettering, assistant professor of Brethren Studies at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.; Kate Eisenbise Crell, assistant professor of Religion at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind.; Joshua Brockway, director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship for the Church of the Brethren; and Andrew Hamilton, adjunct faculty at Ashland (Ohio) Theological Seminary. The first book in the series titled “Cooperative Salvation: A Brethren View of Atonement” is by Eisenbise Crell and is to be published this fall with Wipf and Stock through a “Kickstarter” campaign seeking pledges for financial support. The book will offer an in-depth survey of historic views of atonement, including Anabaptist views of salvation, and a contemporary constructive theology of atonement, the release said. For more information contact ahamilto@ashland.edu .
Source: 4/8/2014 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 Don and Lucinda Anderson, Jeff Boshart, Joshua Brockway, Christy Crouse, Andrew Hamilton, Bryan Hanger, Mary Kay Heatwole, Roxane Hill, Jeri S. Kornegay, Thomas R. Lauer, Michael Leiter, Glen Sargent, Jane Yount, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.