Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Newsline: April 29, 2014


Nigerian churches urge global prayer for 230 missing girls, most from EYN

Church of the Brethren leaders in the US are joining Nigeria’s largest church network, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), to call for prayer and fasting for the safe release of hundreds of teenage school girls abducted April 14. The girls were kidnapped from a school in Chibok, Nigeria, by Boko Haram, an extremist Islamic sect in northern Nigeria violently seeking a “pure” Islamic state. Most of the affected families are part of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN--Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria).

In related news, Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer has written to Illinois Senator Dick Durbin about the kidnapping of the girls, in order to raise awareness of the situation in Nigeria among US government officials.

Chibok is in Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, and in past decades was a mission station of the Church of the Brethren. Here are excerpts from a report by World Watch Monitor, which exists to report the under-reported story of Christians worldwide under pressure for their faith:

“The CAN leadership, especially our president, has called that all Christians pray and fast because of the security situation in the country: the recent bomb blast in Nyanya in Abuja, and then the abduction of students in a girls’ secondary school...and all the challenges of security that are going on,” said Musa Asake, general secretary of CAN. The local chapter of CAN in Borno State also decreed three days of prayer and fasting.

On April 14, at around 10 p.m., suspected members of Boko Haram swooped into Chibok in seven Hilux Toyota pick-ups. While some of the attackers set government and other buildings ablaze, others went to the senior secondary school where they overpowered the security guards before herding at least 230 of the female students onto trucks, and drove the girls (who were between the ages of 16 and 20) deep into the nearby Sambisa Forest.

“Such an attack where girls were taken away has never taken place. Even recently when they [Boko Haram militants] attacked a Federal Government College in Buni Yadi, the boys were killed but the girls were told to go away and leave the school. They never took them away. This is the first time they are taking such a number of girls in a school. So we are assuming they did so because most of the girls are Christians,” said a local church leader, whose identity could not be disclosed for security reasons.

State Governor Alhaji Kashim Shettima first announced that 52 girls had escaped, leaving 77 still missing. But the head teacher at the school Ms. Asabe Kwambura refuted his claims and said parents reported 230 girls were abducted, with 40 having escaped. All schools in the state were closed due to the insecurity.

The federal government has challenged Borno security agents to do everything possible to rescue the girls. Borno State Governor Shettima has offered a reward of 50,000,000 Naira (about $50,000) for any information leading to the rescue of the girls. But this is not enough to calm parents’ anger, and criticism of the military's handling of the crisis is mounting.

Samuel Dali, president of EYN, spoke to World Watch Monitor a week after the kidnapping. “We haven’t heard anything that the government is planning. Even some in the state government who are supposed to direct us are starting to complain that the federal government needs to do something. We just hear people saying we need to do something, we need to do something, but we just don’t know what needs to be done.”

Some parents have decided to take things into their own hands, and have pleaded with Boko Haram to release the girls, in vain. Others have ventured into the Sambisa Forest to look for their daughters, without the support of the military. About 60 kilometers into the forest, locals advised them not to proceed any further because it was too dangerous, as Boko Haram is equipped with much more sophisticated weapons than the sticks and machetes the parents were carrying.

“We call on President Goodluck Jonathan to take the necessary measures to free our children. We really feel neglected. I am convinced that if these abducted girls were their own daughters, they would have done something,” said a grieving father. “We call on the kidnappers to listen to our cry and sorrow and let our children come back home,” he added in despair.

A worker with Open Doors International, which partners with churches in northern Nigeria, added: “The abducted girls will most probably be responsible for cooking and cleaning for the insurgents. But there is every possibility that these children could be forcefully converted to Islam and married off to members of the group or other Muslim men.”

So far the affected parents have not received any psychological or medical assistance. Moreover, the girls who escaped have been already recalled to sit their examinations again. Some parents accused local authorities of attempting to prevent these escaped schools girls from retelling their ordeal to the media.

Meanwhile, the thoughts of the stunned Nigerian nation are with the girls who still remain in the forest. One commentator described to the BBC the mood of the nation as one of “present, continuous agony.”

-- This is excerpted from a report provided by World Watch Monitor. 

BBC reports on the kidnapping note that “Boko Haram, whose name means ‘Western education is forbidden,’ is fighting to establish Islamic law in Nigeria” and “often targets educational establishments.” BBC Nigeria correspondant Will Ross in an analysis piece compared this kidnapping to a notorious incident in Uganda: “The attack is an eerie echo of a mass abduction in northern Uganda back in 1996. A total of 139 girls aged between 11 and 16 were seized from dormitories at St Mary's School in Aboke. They were tied together with rope and were taken away by the Lords Resistance Army, which says it is fighting for a state based on the Biblical 10 Commandments. So, same terror tactics, different religion.” Go to www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27187255 to read the full report from Will Ross.

For Brethren who wish to gain more insight, Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer recommends “Our Bodies, Their Battleground: Boko Haram and Gender-Based Violence against Christian Women and Children in North-Eastern Nigeria Since 1999" by Atta Barkindo, a doctoral candidate with SOAS, London; Benjamin Gudaku of Eduwatch Consults and Research Centre, Abuja, Nigeria; and Caroline Katgum Wesley of Nigeria’s Political Violence Research Network. “Our Bodies, Their Battleground” was published by Open Doors International. Find it online at www.worldwatchmonitor.org/research/3117403.

Source: 4/29/2014 Newsline

Bethany Seminary to hold commencement

By Jenny Williams

Bethany Theological Seminary will hold its 109th commencement in Nicarry Chapel on the Bethany campus in Richmond, Ind., at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 10. Eight master of divinity degrees will be conferred. Admittance to the academic ceremony is by ticket only.

The public is invited to attend a worship service that afternoon at 2:30 p.m., also in Nicarry Chapel. Following tradition, it will be written, planned, and led by graduates and will center around the stories of biblical characters who received new, God-given names.

The 2014 commencement speaker will be Christopher Bowman, pastor of Oakton Church of the Brethren in Vienna, Va. His address, drawing from the fourth chapter of Jonah, is entitled “God Ordained a Worm.” A Bethany graduate, Bowman received his doctorate from San Francisco Seminary. His denominational service includes chair of the former General Board and moderator of Annual Conference, and he was selected to preach at both the Church of the Brethren’s Christmas Eve service broadcast in 2004 and the 300th Anniversary Celebration in 2008.

Both the commencement ceremony and the worship service will be webcast live and available to view as recordings. Those interested in viewing the events can access the webcasts at www.bethanyseminary.edu/webcasts.

The following seniors will receive master of divinity degrees:

  • Claire Flowers-Waggener, Albany, Ind.
  • Daniel Fullen, Tipp City, Ohio
  • James Grossnickle-Batterton, Iowa City, Iowa
  • Audrey Hollenberg-Duffey, Richmond, Ind.
  • Timothy Hollenberg-Duffey, Richmond, Ind.
  • Todd Peterson, Loveland, Ohio
  • Ronda Scammahorn, Arcanum, Ohio
  • Anita Hooley Yoder, Cleveland Heights, Ohio

-- Jenny Williams is director of Communications and Alumni/ae Relations for Bethany Seminary.

Source: 4/29/2014 Newsline

Revision to Ministerial Leadership Polity heads up Annual Conference business agenda

Photo by Glenn Riegel

Delegates to the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference pay close attention during a business session. This photo was taken at the 2011 Conference.
The business agenda for the Church of the Brethren’s 2014 Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio, on July 2-6 includes proposed revisions to the Ministerial Leadership Polity, along with other returning business items that deal with guidelines for implementing the Congregational Ethics Paper, guidance for responding to the changing of Earth’s climate, a Vision of Ecumenism for the 21st century, and more equitable representation on the Mission and Ministry Board.

New business items on the docket include a proposed revision to the Special Response Process “A Structural Framework for Dealing with Strongly Controversial Issues,” as well as amendments to the bylaws of the Church of the Brethren Inc. and the Brethren Benefit Trust Articles of Organization. The delegate body also will hold elections and receive reports from the Conference agencies and representatives to ecumenical bodies.

Revision to Ministerial Leadership Polity

This document will return to the delegate body this year with further revisions, after the 2013 Conference returned it to the Mission and Ministry Board “for revision in accordance with Standing Committee concerns, to be brought back to the 2014 Annual Conference.” The revised polity has been in the works for several years, led by staff of the Office of Ministry and the Ministry Advisory Council along with other groups including the Mission and Ministry Board and the Council of District Executives. Find the full document coming to the 2014 Annual Conference at www.brethren.org/ac/2014/documents/business-items/2014-ub1-revision-to-ministerial-leadership-polity.pdf.

Query: Guidelines for Implementation of the Congregational Ethics Paper

A first hearing of the Congregational Ethics Revisions was presented to the 2013 Annual Conference by Joshua Brockway, director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship in the Congregational Life Ministries staff. The final draft is being presented to the 2014 Conference for approval. The document is a revision and replacement of the 1996 Ethics for Congregations polity. Find the full document coming to the 2014 Conference at www.brethren.org/ac/2014/documents/business-items/2014-ub2-congregational-ethics-paper.pdf.

Query: Guidance for Responding to the Changing of Earth’s Climate

This query was first adopted by Annual Conference in 2011 and referred to the then titled Washington Advocacy Office of the Global Mission Partnerships (now the Office of Public Witness). Progress reports were brought back to the 2012 and 2013 Conferences. A document titled “Responding to the Changing of Earth’s Climate” is being brought to the 2014 Conference for approval. Referring to biblical texts including Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,” and Genesis 2:15, the paper affirms the Church of the Brethren 1991 Annual Conference Statement “Creation: Called to Care” and calls on members of the church “to build on this foundational understanding of creation care by addressing the earth’s changing climate.” The paper includes sections on “Biblical and Brethren Foundations” and “Living in Hope.” Go to www.brethren.org/ac/2014/documents/business-items/2014-ub3-changing-of-earth-climate.pdf.

A Vision of Ecumenism for the 21st Century

This document originated with a new business item brought to the 2012 Conference from the Committee on Interchurch Relations Study Committee with recommendations to discontinue the Committee on Interchurch Relations and to have the Mission and Ministry Board and denominational Leadership Team appoint a committee to write a “Vision of Ecumenism for the 21st Century.” The committee has been appointed and has begun its work. It is bringing a progress report to this year’s Conference, and intends to present a statement at the 2015 Annual Conference. See www.brethren.org/ac/2014/documents/business-items/2104-ub4-a-vision-of-ecumenism.pdf.

Query: More Equitable Representation on the Mission and Ministry Board

This query was formulated by the Southern Pennsylvania District Board and adopted by the 2012 Annual Conference. The concerns of the query were the Mission and Ministry Board, which brought a proposal to last year’s Conference. However, the motion brought by the board to the 2013 Conference to make proposed amendments to the bylaws of the Church of the Brethren Inc. did not receive the required two-thirds majority vote. This year, the Mission and Ministry Board is bringing a recommendation that the current structure of the Mission and Ministry Board be maintained. The document is at www.brethren.org/ac/2014/documents/business-items/2014-ub5-equitable-representation-mmb.pdf.

Revision to the Special Response Process “A Structural Framework for Dealing with Strongly Controversial Issues”

The denomination-wide dialogue process known as “Special Response” was initiated by the 2002 Annual Conference. It is intended for use when needed to address strongly controversial issues in the life of the church. The process was adopted by the 2009 Annual Conference and first used by the 2011 Conference to address two queries related to human sexuality. After receiving evaluations, the 2012 Standing Committee of district delegates appointed a task committee to review the process and propose changes to strengthen it. The revised document is being brought to the 2014 Annual Conference for approval. Find the document with proposed changes indicated at www.brethren.org/ac/2014/documents/business-items/2014-nb3-revision-to-special-response-process.pdf.

Amendments to the Bylaws of the Church of the Brethren, Inc.

Amendments to the bylaws of the Church of the Brethren, Inc. are proposed by the Mission and Ministry Board in order to clarify “that the term of service for a director who is chosen to serve as chair elect becomes a new four-year term rather than the regular five-year term of service for other directors,” to clarify “that the full five-year term allowed for a director who serves less than half of an unexpired term is subsequent to that unexpired term, not in place of it,” and to update the bylaws to reflect the change of Oregon-Washington District’s name to Pacific Northwest District. Find the full proposal at www.brethren.org/ac/2014/documents/business-items/2014-nb1-amendments-to-bylaws.pdf.

Amendments to Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust Articles of Organization

A number of amendments to the BBT Articles of Organization are proposed, ranging from style changes, to adding a clause related to BBT’s socially responsible investing in a manner of conforming to Church of the Brethren values, to governance and reportability matters that clarify that a financial report and annual report will be submitted, to eligibility and implementation matters for members of the board, among others. Find the full listing at www.brethren.org/ac/2014/documents/business-items/2014-nb2-amendments-to-bbt-aticles-of-incorporation.pdf.

For details about the Annual Conference business and schedule, and to register to attend, go to www.brethren.org/ac.

Source: 4/29/2014 Newsline

New Annual Conference App designed to aid Conference-goers

A new Annual Conference App has been created to aid Conference-goers and delegates as they attend the Church of the Brethren annual meeting this year on July 2-6 in Columbus, Ohio.

Created primarily by Russ Otto of the Church of the Brethren web staff, in cooperation with the Conference Office and other staff, the app is intended to enhance the Conference experience and will provide detailed guidance for attendees.

With the 2014 Annual Conference App, Conference-goers will be able to:
  • Plan their Conference with a custom schedule
  • Set schedule reminders, in order never to miss a Conference event
  • Get updates when there are schedule changes
  • Navigate the Conference with maps of the Greater Columbus Convention Center
  • Find their way to local attractions with the area map
  • View profiles of speakers, presenters, and exhibitors
  • Stay informed with news and Twitter updates
Download the app at www.brethren.org/ac/app.html.

Source: 4/29/2014 Newsline

Congregations are invited to join in Annual Conference Sunday

Church of the Brethren congregations and individuals are invited to join in a special Annual Conference Sunday worship service from around the country on July 6. The Conference Office is inviting churches to join in the webcast of worship that Sunday, in order “to worship together as one virtual church.”

Congregations are invited to come together in celebration of Annual Conference Sunday by sharing in the worship webcast. The webcast can be broadcast live to churches who will then worship with thousands of other Brethren as a virtual congregation.

Find the webcasting link on the Annual Conference homepage at www.brethren.org/ac . Congregations in any location may join in the webcast at any time or restart the broadcast from the beginning, as well as comment and chat online with the webcast coordinator. A bulletin will be available to download and print from the Annual Conference webpage. 

In addition, all of the Conference business sessions and worship services will be webcast or streamed over the Internet. The schedule is as follows (all times are Eastern time):

Photo by Glenn Riegel

The webcasting of worship services and business sessions from Annual Conference is made possible by a group of dedicated people including Enten Eller (shown here, working at webcasting from the 2011 Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich.), David Sollenberger and a team of videographers, and Church of the Brethren communications staff who are responsible for the denominational website at www.brethren.org.
Wednesday, July 2
Opening Worship, 6:50-8:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 3
Bible Study and Morning Business Session, 8:30-11:30 a.m.
Afternoon Business Session, 1:55-4:30 p.m.
Evening Worship, 6:50-8:30 p.m.

Friday, July 4
Bible Study and Morning Business Session, 8:30-11:30 a.m.
Afternoon Business Session, 1:55-4:30 p.m.
Evening Worship, 6:50-8:30 p.m.        

Saturday, July 5
Morning Worship, 8:30-10 a.m.   
Morning Business Session, 10:15-11:30 a.m.   
Afternoon Business Session, 1:55-4:30 p.m.    

Sunday, July 6 – Annual Conference Sunday
Closing Worship, 8:30-10:30 a.m.  

Source: 4/29/2014 Newsline

National Youth Conference registration fee to increase May 1

Youth and advisors have a day to register for this summer’s National Youth Conference (NYC) before the price goes up to $500 on May 1. All participants are encouraged to register as soon as possible to avoid a late fee. For all information regarding the conference, visit www.brethren.org/NYC.

The NYC 2014 theme is “Called by Christ, Blessed for the Journey Together” (Ephesians 4:1-7). NYC will be held July 19-24 in Colorado, sponsored and organized by the Church of the Brethren Youth and Young Adult Ministry. It is held only every four years for senior youth and their adult advisors. All youth who have finished ninth grade through one year of college are eligible to attend.

The week of NYC includes worship services, Bible studies, workshops, small groups, hiking, service projects, and outdoor recreation. NYC is held on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo.

NYC is often characterized as a “mountaintop” event for youth who attend, and for most is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. To learn more about NYC, or check out some of the week’s speakers and events, visit the NYC website. For all questions regarding NYC, please contact the NYC office at 800-323-8039 ext. 323 or cobyouth@brethren.org.

Source: 4/29/2014 Newsline

May is Older Adult Month: Celebrate the gift of aging

By Kim Ebersole

Each May, the Church of the Brethren observes Older Adult Month, an opportunity to celebrate God’s gift of aging and the contributions of older adults to our lives and our congregations. This year, the denomination’s Older Adult Ministry invites the church to consider the “Rhythms of Life: For Everything There Is a Season…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

Like the seasons, the ocean tide, and our favorite musical compositions, our lives have a rhythm--an ebb and flow that accompanies our living. To assist individuals, small groups, and congregations reflect on how the rhythms of our lives change, a variety of resources are available. Materials include meditations, a scripture rap, an evening examen, a dramatic interpretation of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, worship resources, and an entire order of worship.

Visit www.brethren.org/oam2014 to download resources or contact Kim Ebersole, director of Older Adult Ministry, at 847-429-4305 or kebersole@brethren.org.

-- Kim Ebersole of the Congregational Life Ministries staff provided this report.

Source: 4/29/2014 Newsline

Mission across margins is topic for webinars in May and June

Two webinars with Mike Pears will explore the theme of mission in marginal places. They are sponsored by the Church of the Brethren and its Congregational Life Ministries, with partners in the UK: Urban Expression, Bristol Baptist College, and BMS World Mission.

On May 21, a webinar will be offered on the theme “Mission in Marginal Places: Engaging with Power.” Church planters can spend months researching a new place in order to shape their strategy, however neighborhoods are not that easy to read, said an announcement. “Often we settle for a superficial understanding. Getting to know our neighborhood more deeply will change and challenge us in unexpected ways. It will open our eyes to what Jesus is doing around us and help us to be a prophetic church.” The webinar will offer practical tools for this exploratory journey.

On June 10, the webinar titled “Researching Neighborhoods: Practical Tools for a Prophetic Community” will address how poor neighborhoods are often stigmatized and the people who live there divided into insiders and outsiders. “When we do mission in these areas we realize that the issues are much more complex than they first appeared,” said the announcement. “We soon find ourselves with more questions than answers. What is marginalization? Why does it affect people so powerfully? What does mission look like in marginal places?” This webinar will explore these key questions.

Mike Pears will lead the webinars. He is coordinator of Urban Life--a center for urban mission in the UK. Pears has 30 years of experience in urban ministry, incarnational mission, and church planting, and is faculty at Bristol Baptist College and facilitator of Urban Expression. He is completing his doctoral studies in Mission and Urban Deprivation.

Time for both webinars is 2:30-3:30 p.m. Eastern time. Registration is free, go to www.brethren.org/webcasts. Ministers may earn 0.1 continuing education units for attending the live event. For more information contact Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices for the Church of the Brethren, at sdueck@brethren.org.

Source: 4/29/2014 Newsline

Protests reveal a country’s struggle: A BVSer reports from Bosnia

hoto by Stephanie Barras

The Stari Most (Old Bridge) that crosses the Neretva River in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. BVSer Stephanie Barras provided this photo, among a series of pictures displaying both the beauty of an old city set before snowy mountain peaks, and the climate of protest resulting from the accumulated frustrations of a region still dominated by "war politics."
Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) worker Stephanie Barras provided this report from Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, where she has been living since Sept. 2013. She is working at OKC Abrasevic, a youth cultural center:

I will do my best to explain what has been happening here after the Feb. 7 protests. A day or so before, there was a protest by workers in the city of Tuzla. This protest was specifically related to their workplace, but it turned into something much bigger. It seemed to trigger all the feelings of despair and anger that have been bubbling just under the surface for the past 20 years, following the war in the 1990s.

Bosnia-Herzegovina did have a period of time where things seemed to be improving and there was hope that life would be better. But ever since around 2006 or 2007, things started to go downhill in terms of the economy and politics.

There is a high level of unemployment, especially among the youth. People go several months without salary pay and the education system continues to dwindle. At the universities--an education students can barely afford--graduates almost never land a job related to what they studied.

The leaders in the country at all levels have been taking more than giving. In other words, they are not using money in the way that it should be used. Not only are the abandoned and destroyed buildings proof of this, but also the stories of the people. Even when the citizens realized that their country’s economy was going nowhere, almost no one took a stand against the government. Fear is implemented by many politicians/leaders in order to keep people divided. If they keep the citizens from uniting against them, it is easier for them to continue their corruptive behavior.

Photo by Stephanie Barras

Protests broke out on Feb. 7 in major cities in Bosnia-Herzegovina
While fear is still there for some, it has begun to fade and at the beginning of this year, numerous people took to the streets to protest. On Feb. 7, in major cities including the capital Sarajevo and Mostar, crowds went from building to building and, while a smaller number of people were destroying the building inside and out and then setting it on fire, a hundred others watched. People had finally had enough and these protests were just the beginning.

Soon after, peaceful protests began taking place in several cities and along with them assemblies--also called plenums--which simply means citizens gathering together in a public space in order to listen to each other as well as voice their own concerns and complaints about a particular problem. The protests are usually held at 5 p.m., with the plenum following right after. The very first plenum in Sarajevo had to be rescheduled because there was not enough room to seat all of those who showed up. Even though the number has fluctuated at the protests and plenums, there is a good steady number of people taking part in several cities in the country. There are moderators at the plenums and protests, encouraging people to voice their concerns.

There have been numerous demands, concerns, and stories of struggle from various citizens on all sides, from almost all backgrounds. A person who has seen the plenums said the following: “The two-minute statements by citizens covered a wide range of topics, but with a frequent focus on economic injustice, privileges of the political elites, and the lack of accountability for their misdeeds. Previous waves of privatization have been a perennial topic, as have the salary levels of officials” (Bassuener, K., web log message of Feb. 23, 2014, retrieved from www.democratizationpolicy.org/how-bosnia-s-protest-movement-can-become-truly-transformative).

When ordinary citizens began to organize themselves into protests and plenums, many threats and political games followed. I am not sure if it still happening, but there were numerous people who received phone calls warning them to stay away from the protests.

Photo by Stephanie Barras

A view of the city of Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, taken from the Partisans Memorial.
Also, there have been several people attacked on the streets. Here in Mostar, a citizen was attacked at night and shot in the foot. There was only one article I could find about it when it happened and later I confirmed with a staff member from Abrasevic that it was true. Also, several arrests were made in various cities. There have been a few articles and stories that say the youth who have been arrested were beaten by police for no reason.

Many politicians have used scare tactics in order to gain more political points in order to win the next election, yet again. There has been a lot of finger pointing. Croat politicians have said that all the Bosniaks are behind the revolution. It seems like they keep looking for a way to keep everyone divided and against each other. The president of Republika Srpska, an entity of Bosnia, Milorad Dodik, said that it would be better if Bosnia just broke up into three countries. And a Bosnia Croat leader has urged the country to become three entities instead of two.

From “Mostar Rising”: “These people [the ones who set the buildings on fire on Feb. 7] are not hooligans or riotous young men, they are desperate people with much to lose. They are hungry, and they see how bloated and corrupt the government has become. Among the buildings burned, there were two that belonged to popular political parties. None of the nearby housing units or businesses were burned, none of them were even damaged. Nobody wanted to touch them. They are tired of nationalism, politics, corruption, and the structure of hopelessness created by the fascist nationalist system. They did not seek to destroy, they only wanted to convey the message that it’s been nearly 20 years since the war, but war politics still dominate the region….” (“Mostar Rising: The Most Divided City in Bosnia Is Standing up to Nationalism and Government Corruption,” Feb. 21, 2014, published online by Revolution-News.com ).

-- Stephanie Barras is a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) volunteer working at the youth cultural center OKC Abrasevic in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Source: 4/29/2014 Newsline

Brethren bits

  • Through the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness is involved in a Christian response to Sarah Palin’s remarks about the use of the torture technique called waterboarding. Faithful America is the group spearheading the campaign to respond to her comment made during a speech to the National Rifle Association: "If I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists." Faithful America is inviting others to add their names to the following statement via an online petition: “For Christians, torture is not a joke or a political punchline, but a ghastly reminder of the suffering of Jesus upon the cross. By equating it with Holy Baptism--the act by which we are united with Christ in his death and resurrection--Sarah Palin is blasphemously twisting our faith into a weapon of hatred and violence. No media outlet should cover her remarks without reporting on how sincere Christians of all theological and political persuasions are appalled.” Go to http://act.faithfulamerica.org/sign/palinwaterboarding/?t=1&akid=314.234737.Kq49dM.
  • Warrensburg (Mo.) Church of the Brethren will celebrate its 100th anniversary Aug. 30-31 with the theme “Continuing the Work of Jesus: Celebrating 100 Years...Looking Back, Moving Forward,” said an announcement from the church. On Saturday, Aug. 30, an open house will be held from 4-6 p.m. followed by a Love Feast at 6 p.m. A youth worship and praise service will be held at 9 p.m. On Sunday, Aug. 31, the worship will begin at 10 a.m. with guest preacher, Sandy Bosserman, former district executive minister of the Missouri Arkansas District. A celebration luncheon will be held at noon. Anyone wishing to attend is welcome. For lodging information or more details, contact bbcrouse@cmh.edu or 660-441-7427. The church is located at 802 East Hale Lake Road, Warrensburg, MO 64093.
  • A report on the Polo (Ill.) Growing Project of three Brethren congregations and a Presbyterian church in Illinois recently appeared in the Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren newsletter. “This year the approach for the Polo Growing Project will consist of 40 acres of soy beans,” the newsletter reported. “This will be the tenth year for the Polo Growing Project which was started as a facet of the Polo congregation's 100th anniversary celebration.... Over its nine years the project has raised $295,000 for alleviating global hunger through the Foods Resource Bank.” Teaming together are Polo, Dixon, and Highland Avenue Churches of the Brethren and Faith Presbyterian in Tinley Park.Each church contributes $1,700 and area agribusinesses assist with supplies and cash. Highland Avenue is asking members and friends to support the project by sponsoring half-acre plots.  Jim and Karen Schmidt are the project coordinators and farmers tending the crop.
  • The Mid-Atlantic Disaster Response Auction begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 4, at the Carroll County (Md.) Agriculture Center in Westminister.
  • The Southern Ohio District Camping and Retreat Ministry has announced a Caregiver’s day on Aug. 2, from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. The ministry is making arrangements with the Brethren Retirement Community Shuff Adult Day Care Center in Greenville, Ohio, to offer caregivers a day set aside for themselves, while their loved one is cared for by professionals trained to deal with a wide variety of adult health issues. “The event will offer educational opportunities and free time for the caregiver,” said a district announcement. “We hope you will take this opportunity as a caregiver to find renewal, relaxation, and network with others who share the same responsibilities, rewards, concerns, and joys that you do.” Cost for the day is $50 for both participants, and includes a light breakfast and dinner which the loved one and caregiver will share together. Registration will open in May.
  • The Timbercrest Spring Festival is June 5-7. The Timbercrest Senior Living Center in North Manchester, Ind., will be celebrating its 125-year anniversary at the three-day festival.
  • The Children’s Aid Society Lehman Caring Center held a 23rd Annual Benefit Auction today, April 29. The event was to feature sports memorabilia, antiques, art, food, and more. “Come out to support a center that helps children who are at risk for abuse and neglect and buy that item you have been searching for high and low,” said an invitation. The auction was held at the York County 4-H Center in York, Pa.
Photo courtesy of Fahrney-Keedy

Aryan Crouse, 2, with her grandmother, Shelley Barnhart (left), and Lorna Angle (right) at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village’s annual Easter Egg Hunt. Barnhart is Bistro Manager at the Boonsboro, Md., retirement community, and Angle is a resident there. A Church of the Brethren continuing care retirement community, Fahrney-Keedy is located along Route 66 a few miles north of Boonsboro, Md., and with nearly 180 full- and part-time, and contract associates, serves a resident population of more than 200 women and men in independent living, assisted living, and long- and short-term nursing care.
  • The fifth Spring Open House at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in Boonsboro, Md., will be held on Saturday, May 10, from 1-4 p.m. There will be plenty for visitors to see and do, said a release. “Some new attractions are planned, as are some popular opportunities from years past.” New this year will be health screenings, a massage therapist, spiritual support from Fahrney-Keedy’s chaplain, and healthy cooking demonstrations with refreshments and snacks planned to “feed the mind.” Guests will be able to tour available independent living residences and other resident accommodations, view the expanded Therapy Gym, chat with residents and staff members, and learn more about various aspects of the Master Plan that envisions major expansion of facilities in the next 15 to 20 years. For more information contact Deborah Haviland, director of Marketing, at 301-671-5038, or Linda Reed, director of Admissions, at 301-671-5007.
  • The Annual Chicken Barbecue at the Brethren Home Community in Windber, Pa., is planned for June 6 from 12 noon-6 p.m. with the option to dine in or take out. “Delicious chicken dinners grilled to perfection!” said an announcement in the Western Pennsylvania District newsletter.
  • The Brethren Housing Association in Harrisburg, Pa., will celebrate its 25th anniversary in October with events at the Harrisburg Hershey Sheraton. More information will be made available at www.bha-pa.org/events.
  • “Are you still glowing like we are?! The gratitude & love keeps flowing,” said Mutual Kumquat in a Facebook post about a concert on April 26 at Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind. “Truly was such an honor to share the evening with all of you and share the stage with some of our musical heroes!!” The evening with Brethren singers and song-writers was billed “Goodbye Still Night” and in addition to Mutual Kumquat featured Shawn Kirchner, Andy and Terry Murray, and Kim Murray Shahbazian.
Source: 4/29/2014 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 Stephanie Barras, Becky Crouse, Chris Douglas, Stan Dueck, Kim Ebersole, Christopher Fitz, Kristin Flory, Tim Heishman, Jon Kobel, Michael Leiter, Glen Sargent, Jay Wittmeyer, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.