Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Newsline: August 26, 2014


Plans progress for Nigeria relief effort in cooperation with EYN, Global Mission and Service, and Brethren Disaster Ministries

Photo courtesy of EYN

Global Mission and Service staff visit a refugee camp in Nigeria. Shown here, Jay Wittmeyer and Roy Winter speak with leaders of a refugee camp in Ankoma, in Karu local government in Nasarawa State. EYN staff report that more than 550 people are living in the refugee camp.
Plans are progressing for a relief effort responding to the violence in northeastern Nigeria, in cooperation with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries.

This follows on a resolution on Nigeria adopted by the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in July stating, in part: “We further resolve to partner with EYN and ecumenical international relief and development agencies to offer support as requested and directed by the leadership of the Nigerian Brethren.”

Global Mission and Service executive director Jay Wittmeyer and associate executive director Roy Winter of Brethren Disaster Ministries visited Nigeria earlier this month and met with EYN leaders to begin the planning. The meeting also considered needs for crisis management for EYN as well as security assessment and civil defense for EYN congregations and members.

“Just the fact that they were starting to move to an organized plan was extremely helpful to their own wellbeing,” Winter said in an interview he and Wittmeyer gave to Newsline on their return to the US. He warned that the plan is in the formative stages, and a lot of work must yet be done before a full relief effort is underway. “We can’t do much until we do a good assessment,” he said. “That’s got to be one of the first things” after EYN identifies leadership for the effort and hires staff to carry it out.

Winter said he anticipates a similar level of involvement in Nigeria as Brethren Disaster Ministries took on following the massive earthquake that devastated Haiti in early 2010, which resulted in a large disaster relief and rebuilding program and significant cooperation with the Haitian Brethren.

In recent years, EYN and its members have suffered innumerable losses at the hands of the Boko Haram insurgent group, including hundreds of murders, village massacres, the destruction of churches and homes and businesses, and abductions including the schoolgirls kidnapped from Chibok and the abduction of pastors and their families, among other atrocities. The United Nations says 650,000 people have fled their homes because of Boko Haram fighting, according to a recent Voice of America report.

Among the displaced are 45,000 EYN members, according to reporting from EYN staff. The displaced church members have been seeking refuge in other communities or with extended family in other areas of Nigeria, or have fled across the border to Cameroon.

Boko Haram, which translates as “Western education is forbidden,” is an extremist Islamist group that has turned to terror tactics in a fight for a “pure Islamic state” and the imposition of Sharia law in northeastern Nigeria.

A call to be the church in Nigeria

A highlight of the meeting between EYN leaders, Wittmeyer, and Winter was the setting of priorities for a response, and the decision to regard the effort in terms of spiritual discernment. “Discerning the call to be the church in Nigeria today” was a key component of the planning process, Winter said.

The meeting with top EYN staff included president Samuel Dante Dali, general secretary Jinatu Wamdeo, and leaders of church departments crucial to the relief effort and crisis management: the Relief Committee, the ZME Women’s Fellowship, the Peace Program, and the staff liaison to the Church of the Brethren in the US, among others.

Six priorities were set:
  • work with internally displaced people,
  • development of a risk management/security plan to help mitigate the effects of violence on Brethren congregations,
  • growth of the EYN Peace Program,
  • pastoral care and trauma healing and resiliency programs,
  • training of youth to deal with the situation,
  • work with refugees across the border in Cameroon.
Winter helped facilitate the meeting, which in addition to identifying needs and priorities laid out an agenda for strategic planning and crisis management, and talked about how to get started, and who is assigned to these tasks.

The Nigerian Brethren leaders provided background information and updates, including a history of the crisis and an analysis of the extremist Islamist focus on northeastern Nigeria. They reviewed latest statistics, which revealed significant increases in the impact of the violence on EYN.

Violence increasingly affects EYN

“Some of those statistics were startling to me,” Winter said. For example, he reported that EYN has now closed 7 of its 51 church districts--two more than the 5 districts that had been closed as of the start of the summer. Parts of other districts also are being abandoned. The districts are closing because their areas are being overrun by the insurgents or are becoming too violent and dangerous.

Winter was struck by what this means in terms of financial impact on the Nigerian church and its leaders. The loss of whole districts means less support for ongoing church program, even as EYN tries to mount a new relief effort. It also means loss of a living for numerous pastors and their families.

Celebrating EYN’s capacity to respond

During the meeting, Wittmeyer and Winter said the group took time to celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of EYN in the midst of such difficulties, and the capacity of the Nigerian Brethren. EYN’s strong administrative structure, with districts that hold regular meetings and communication between denomination and district leaders, lends itself to effective response in crisis.

For example, the general secretary has been contacting districts to get an accounting of what each is doing in the way of aid for those affected by violence. In another example, EYN staff have been sending out information about the Ebola epidemic and how to recognize symptoms and prevent spread of the deadly virus.

“We have to talk about Ebola within the current crisis, which is so frightening,” Winter commented.

Geopolitical analysis

In the historical background offered by the EYN leaders, Wittmeyer said he was impressed by the level of geopolitical analysis. EYN leaders trace the rise of Boko Haram back to pre-colonial empires--Fulani Empire and Borno Empire--that once ruled much of West Africa, and the Fulani/Hausa Caliphate that controlled the northeast of Nigeria before the creation of an independent, democratic nation.

They characterized Boko Haram as not unique in the world, Wittmeyer said, reporting that they placed Boko Haram among other violent factions who are actors in a global conflict playing itself out between different Muslim groups in various areas of the world.

One hope the EYN leaders hold to is that more Muslims will be open to cooperative work toward peace with Christians, as Boko Haram increasingly targets moderate Muslims and traditional community leaders, Wittmeyer said.

The refugee situation

Wittmeyer and Winter also visited refugee camps with EYN staff, to see first-hand some of the living conditions of those who have fled the violence. They visited camps outside of the capital city Abuja. One camp they visited houses more than 550 people, mainly from the Gwoza area which has been overrun by Boko Haram and now is under insurgent control.

In his follow up notes to the visit, EYN staff liaison Jauro Markus Gamache listed some key concerns about the situation of refugee families: diseases like malaria and typhoid and the related need for good toilet facilities, proper medical care for pregnant women, food needs in the refugee camps and malnutrition of some children, widows who are being marginalized and orphans who are not receiving care, problems associated with lack of protected sleeping spaces, lack of shade in a hot season of the year, and the need to purchase land for the camps both for living space and for farming.

“There is tremendous increase in the [refugee] population and need for food and house rent is highly our priority,” he wrote.

His list bemoaned the disappearance of family members who are presumed to have gone into hiding, and the fact that some surrounding areas will not accept refugees because they fear retaliatory attacks by Boko Haram. He wrote as well that Muslims who are not affiliated with the insurgents are increasingly suffering from the violence.

The document also noted the activity of other Christian groups becoming active in camps where most of the people are EYN members.

Next steps

Next steps in the response start with refinement of the priorities, in communication with the EYN staff liaison, Winter said.

On the financial side, he and Wittmeyer will take on the task of clarifying what portions of the response are best covered by the EYN Compassion Fund, and which will be covered through grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF).

EYN plans to hire several staff for the relief effort, with some financial support from the American church, Wittmeyer said, adding that the new staff may include some of the pastors who have lost their churches.

How to help

There are three ways to contribute to the relief effort in Nigeria:

Donate to the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) at www.brethren.org/edf or by mailing a check to Emergency Disaster Fund, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120, note “EDF Nigeria” in the memo line.

Donate to the Global Mission and Service program in Nigeria at https://secure2.convio.net/cob/site/Donation2?df_id=1660&1660.donation=form1 or by mailing a check to Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120, note “Global Mission Nigeria” in the memo line.

Donate to the EYN Compassion Fund at www.brethren.org/eyncompassion or by mailing a check care of the Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120, note “EYN Compassion Fund” in the memo line.

Source: 8/26/2014 Newsline

Grant goes to IMA World Health appeal for Ebola emergency

Brethren Disaster Ministries is directing an allocation of $15,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to an IMA World Health appeal for support of Ebola health workers in Liberia. The grant is funding work carried out through the Christian Health Association of Liberia (CHAL).

Ebola is a highly contagious and deadly virus that continues to spread in Africa, especially in Liberia. It is responsible for more than 1,000 deaths. Since July, CHAL has been implementing an Ebola Awareness Project in three high alert counties in Liberia through funding mobilized from Lutheran World Relief, Week of Compassion, International Ministries, and the American Baptists.

The EDF grant will provide CHAL health workers with personal protective equipment including gloves, gowns, goggles, surgical masks, leg covers, face masks, head covers, and disinfectant, as well as training for their use.

For more about the Emergency Disaster Fund go to www.brethren.org/edf .

Source: 8/26/2014 Newsline

Bethany Seminary surpasses $5.9 million campaign goal

By Jenny Williams

Bethany Seminary had reason to celebrate this summer--and everyone at Annual Conference was invited to the party. On June 30, Bethany completed its three-year Reimagining Ministries Campaign, having raised 112 percent of the $5.9 million goal in gifts and commitments. Conferencegoers in Columbus, Ohio, joined Bethany faculty and staff for a popcorn party on the evening of July 4.

Reimagining Ministries, which was publicly launched at Annual Conference in 2011, had its beginnings in the seminary’s 2010-2015 strategic plan. The plan called for a financial campaign to support both ongoing programs and new initiatives outlined in the plan itself. The goals of the campaign named ways for Bethany to help address current challenges faced by the church, those in ministry, and theological education:
  • $1.7 million in new endowments to support
  • additional instruction in evangelism, the missional church, and multiple models of ministry
  • new curriculum in reconciliation studies
  • increased access to Bethany’s resources and services through technology, a personal presence in districts and churches, and on-site events
  • $750,000 in startup funds for the aforementioned projects until endowment support is available
  • $3.45 million for Bethany’s annual fund over four years.
“We made the decision to initiate a campaign during the economic downturn, and our feasibility study told us it might be a difficult to achieve the goals,” said Lowell Flory, executive director of institutional advancement and gift planning. “However, constituents saw the value of our plans and committed accordingly. We made the 47 percent goal we had set for our initial lead gift or “silent” year prior to the launch. In the three public campaign years, we were able to surpass the total campaign goal with gifts and commitments. Estate gifts from a number of longtime supporters were crucial to this success.”

Campaign strategy called for staff to work with a National Leadership Committee comprising alumni/ae and friends of Bethany from across the country. The committee provided input on communicating the challenges in ministry education and how this campaign better enables Bethany to meet those challenges; they also assisted with logistics, identifying many potential hosts for meetings and participating in these events. Small gatherings in homes were favored for engaging people in discussion and drawing in those who may not have been as familiar with Bethany. Over the past three years, nearly 100 meetings were held in 21 districts.

The results? New emphases in the curriculum on missional church and evangelism and on reconciliation studies with four new courses and three new courses, respectively. Debbie Roberts was hired as the new assistant professor of reconciliation studies. Bethany is also increasing access to its educational resources through seminars and courses taught at more locations, webcasting of campus events, and new technology that can bring students at a distance directly into the campus classroom.

“We are exceedingly grateful for the sense of partnership that Bethany donors share with us in preparing ministry leadership for what tomorrow's church is becoming,” said Flory.

-- Jenny Williams directs communications and alumni/ae relations at Bethany Seminary.

Source: 8/26/2014 Newsline

International Day of Prayer for Peace 2014 is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 21

A coloring page to help children celebrate the International Day of Prayer for Peace, one of the resources that On Earth Peace is offering for Peace Day 2014
By Elizabeth Ullery

Sunday, Sept. 21 is the International Day of Prayer for Peace, and On Earth Peace invites all in the Church of the Brethren to participate. Facing all the violence in the headlines and in human hearts, what if on Sept. 21 our communities of faith renewed our commitment to challenge violence and build peace?

This year’s events are guided by the 2014 theme for Peace Day, “Visions and Dreams of Building Peace,” drawn from Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17. Here are five things you can do on Sept. 21 to build peace in your community:
  1. Offer a prayer for peace on your own or gathered with others. Lift up prayers for peace that sit heavy on your heart. Find prayers at http://peacedaypray.tumblr.com/tagged/pray4peace .
  2. Talk about peace with the children in your life, share a book, or draw a picture of your dreams for building peace.
  3. Sing a song for peace.
  4. Light a candle to bring the light of peace into the world. Maybe even launch peace lanterns into a lake.
  5. Teach the next generation of peacemakers through a Kids as Peacemakers Mural. Find out more at http://peacedaypray.tumblr.com/post/89782467527/2014kidsaspeacemakers .
Make a commitment to join us in offering visions and dreams of building peace on Sept. 21 by registering your event or your congregation’s participation at http://peacedaypray.tumblr.com/join or joining in an event near you . Some events are being posted at http://peacedaypray.tumblr.com/tagged/2014stories .

Whether you are gathering with your congregation, lighting a candle on your own, or walking for peace in your community, Peace Day is an opportunity for practical peace action or capacity-building. Join us!

-- Elizabeth Ullery is coordinating the 2014 Peace Day Campaign for On Earth Peace. For more resources and information about the 2014 campaign see http://peacedaypray.tumblr.com . For more about the ministries of On Earth Peace go to www.onearthpeace.org .

Source: 8/26/2014 Newsline

Brethren Academy, Ministry Office, Bethany Seminary create new Sustaining Ministerial Excellence Advanced Seminar

The Brethren Academy, the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry, and Bethany Theological Seminary are developing a new Sustaining Ministerial Excellence Advanced Seminar to succeed the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE) program that concluded last year. The first seminar experience is scheduled for Jan. 16-19, 2015, designated as a Beginning Retreat for a Bivocational Pastors Cohort.

A follow up to SPE

From 2004 to 2013, 197 pastors and 10 district executives completed the SPE program funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and administered by the Brethren Academy. The SPE participants focused on holistic health (intellectual, spiritual, emotional, relational, physical), greater connectedness to the whole church, and transformational leadership.

This new continuing education option of the Sustaining Ministry Excellence Advanced Seminar will include components from SPE as well as the Advanced Pastoral Seminar offered in the past by the denomination and seminary.

Seminar participants to examine church, ministry

Participants in the Sustaining Ministry Excellence Advanced Seminar will
  • examine the church and its mission in today’s society,
  • create strategies for personal and professional growth,
  • participate in community with other ministers, and
  • explore theological issues and ministry topics with seminary faculty, denominational leaders, and seminar members.
Cohorts will be formed for bi-vocational pastors, full-time pastors, chaplains, ordained camp staff, and those serving in other ministry contexts. Participants will attend four four-day retreats over the course of two years. Four continuing education units will be granted upon completion of the program.

Contact the Brethren Academy at academy@bethanyseminary.edu or 765-983-1824 for additional information. Pastors are invited to join in this opportunity that encourages lifelong learning and builds up the body of Christ.

-- Julie M. Hostetter contributed to this report. She is executive director of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, a partnership of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Seminary.

Source: 8/26/2014 Newsline

Brethren Academy announces upcoming courses in 2014, 2015

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership has issued an updated list of courses for 2014 and 2015. The Brethren Academy is a partnership of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Theological Seminary, with offices on the Bethany campus in Richmond, Ind.

Academy courses are open to students in the Training in Ministry (TRIM) and Education for Shared Ministry (EFSM) programs, pastors (who may earn two continuing education units), and all interested persons. Students will be accepted beyond the registration deadlines, however those deadlines help determine whether enough students have registered to offer a course. Many courses have required pre-course readings, so students need to allow enough time to complete those readings. Those registering for courses should be sure to receive course confirmation before purchasing books or making travel plans.

To register for a course, contact academy@bethanyseminary.edu or 765-983-1824. For courses indicated “SVMC” register through the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center, at www.etown.edu/svmc or svmc@etown.edu or 717-361-1450.


“Luke-Acts and the Birth of the Church” is an online course from Sept. 29-Nov. 21 with instructor Matthew Boersma. The registration deadline is Sept. 5.

SVMC Academic Symposium Directed Independent Study Unit (DISU): “Book of Job and the Brethren Tradition” will be held on Nov. 5 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College with keynote speaker Bob Neff and panelists, and DISU instructor Erika Fitz. In addition to attending the symposium, DISU participants will prepare required readings and a follow-up paper, meet over lunch during the event, and participate in two online sessions with the DISU instructor, one before and one after the symposium. For more information on the Academic Symposium visit the course catalog at www.etown.edu/svmc . The registration deadline is Oct. 8.


“Evangelism: Now and Not Yet” will be held on Jan. 5-9, 2015, at Bethany Seminary in Richmond, Ind., with instructor Tara Hornbacker. The registration deadline is Dec. 1.

“Now the Silence, Now the Songs: An Introduction to Worship” is an online course from Feb. 2-March 27, 2015, with instructor Lee-Lani Wright. The registration deadline is Jan. 5, 2015.

“Narrative Theology” will be held on April 16-19, 2015, at McPherson (Kan.) College, with instructor Scott Holland. The registration deadline is March 19, 2015.

“Administration as Pastoral Care” (SVMC) will be held April 17-19, 2015, at Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and Elizabethtown College, with instructor Julie Hostetter. The registration deadline is March 20, 2015.

A Travel Seminar to Germany will be held on May 15-31, 2015, led by instructor Kendall Rogers. The registration deadline is Nov. 1.

Annual Conference Directed Independent Study Unit (DISU) will be held onsite at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Tampa, Fla., July 10-11, 2015, with presenter Joyce Rupp on the topic of “Delving Deeply into Compassion,” and DISU instructor Carrie Eikler. The registration deadline is June 12, 2015.

“Early Church History” is an online course with instructor Kendall Rogers, fall dates to be announced.

SVMC Academic Symposium Directed Independent Study Unit (DISU) on “New Testament Foundations of Ministry” with keynote speaker Dan Ulrich will be held at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. DISU instructor and fall dates to be announced.

Source: 8/26/2014 Newsline

Webinar series to address ‘Opportunities and Challenges of Post-Christendom’

Authors of published or forthcoming books in the popular “After Christendom” series will lead a series of six webinars this year and next, presented by the Church of the Brethren, the Center for Anabaptist Studies at Bristol Baptist College in the UK, the Anabaptist Network, and the Mennonite Trust.

Following are dates, times, topics, and leadership of the webinars:

Oct. 21, 2014, “The Fading Brilliance of Christendom” with Stuart Murray Williams. He is the author of “Post-Christendom” and “Church after Christendom,” editor of the “After Christendom” series, a trainer/consultant working under the auspices of the Anabaptist Network, director of the Center for Anabaptist Studies at Bristol Baptist College, and one of the coordinators of Urban Expression.

Nov. 20, 2014, “Reading the Bible after Christendom” with Lloyd Pietersen. Pietersen has a doctorate from Sheffield in Biblical Studies, has written extensively on the Pastoral Epistles, was a senior lecturer in New Testament Studies at the University of Gloucestershire, and currently is a research fellow at Bristol Baptist College and serves on the Steering Group of the Center for Anabaptist Studies.

Jan. 29, 2015, “Hospitality and Community after Christendom” with Andrew Francis. Francis is a community theologian, published poet, writer of several books including “Hospitality and Community after Christendom” and “Anabaptism: Radical Christianity,” served as the UK Anabaptist Network’s first development worker, and as executive vice-chair of the UK Mennonite Trust until 2013.

Feb. 26, 2015, “Youth Work after Christendom (revisited)” with Nigel Pimlott. Pimlott has worked for Frontier Youth Trust for many years and is the author of numerous books and youth work resources, with a current book project titled “Embracing the Passion” about Christian youth work and politics.

May 6, 2015, “Atheism after Christendom” with Simon Perry. Perry is chaplain at Robinson College, University of Cambridge, and author of “Atheism after Christendom: Disbelief in an Age of Encounter,” with other publications including a piece of historical fiction titled “All Who Came Before” and a theological monograph, “Resurrecting Interpretation: Technology, Hermeneutics and the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus,” among others.

June 2, 2015, “God after Christendom?” with Brian Haymes and Kyle Gingerich Hiebert. Haymes is a Baptist minister who has served in several pastorates, the last being Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, London, and has been principal of Northern Baptist College, Manchester, and Bristol Baptist College. Hiebert is a Canadian Mennonite who holds a doctorate in theology from the University of Manchester.

Each webinar begins at 2:30 p.m. (Eastern) and runs for 60 minutes. There is no charge to participate, but donations are welcome. Registration and more information about the topics is online at www.brethren.org/webcasts . For questions contact Stan Dueck, the Church of the Brethren’s director of Transforming Practices, at sdueck@brethren.org .

Source: 8/26/2014 Newsline

Children’s Disaster Services offers training workshops in Hawaii, Indiana, Oregon

Photo by Lorna Grow

CDS volunteer Pearl Miller reads with a child in Joplin, Missouri, following severe tornadoes
Children’s Disaster Services (CDS), a Church of the Brethren ministry offering care for children and families following disasters, is holding three volunteer training workshops in September and October. The workshops will be held in Hawaii, Indiana, and Oregon. Cost is $45. Register and find more information at www.brethren.org/cds/training/dates.html .

Honolulu, Hawaii, is the location of a Sept. 5-6 workshop. For more information about registering for this training, contact Kathy Fry-Miller, associate director of Children's Disaster Services, at kfry-miller@brethren.org or 260-704-1443.

Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind., is host of a CDS workshop on Sept. 19-20. Register online for this event. The local contact person is Susan Finney, 260-901-0063.

Portland, Ore., is the site for a CDS workshop on Oct. 24-25. Register online for this event. The workshop will be held at Fruit and Flower,  2378 NW Irving, Portland. The local contact is Rhonda McDowall, 503-228-8349.

Cost to attend a CDS volunteer training workshop is $45, which includes all meals, curriculum, and one overnight stay. A late fee of $55 is required when registrations are mailed less than three weeks before the event. For CDS volunteers, there is a $25 retraining fee. Workshops are limited to 25 persons, so early registration is recommended.

Workshops are scheduled throughout the year. To be notified of upcoming workshops, please send an e-mail with name, address, and e-mail address to CDS@brethren.org .

Find out more about what participants may expect at a CDS workshop, and what to bring along, at www.brethren.org/cds/training . For more information and questions, call the CDS office at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., at 800-451-4407, ext. 5.

Source: 8/26/2014 Newsline

Brethren bits

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

The assistant workcamp coordinators for the 2015 workcamp season are Theresa Ford and Hannah Shultz
  • The Workcamp Office of the Church of the Brethren has welcomed Theresa Ford and Hannah Shultz as assistant coordinators for the 2015 Brethren workcamp season. They will serve through Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS), working at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Ford has spent the last year serving in BVS in Waco, Texas, and comes originally from Atlantic Northeast District. Shultz graduated from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., in May with a degree in Religious Studies, and is originally from the Baltimore, Md., area.
  • A shipment of relief materials has been sent to Kentucky by the Material Resources program based at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., in response to an urgent request from Church World Service (CWS). Clean-up buckets, blankets, and hygiene kits were shipped to Garrett, in Floyd County, Ky., “bringing practical comfort to people...who are struggling amidst multiple disasters--including flash flooding that overwhelmed schools and homes on Aug. 12,” said a note from Glenna Thompson, office assistant for Material Resources. “Extending solace is a local group called Sisters of Hope Charitable Community and Disaster Relief, based in Garrett.” The shipment left New Windsor, Md., today and will be delivered tomorrow.
  • The Church of the Brethren is one of the sponsors of a National Service of Mourning in remembrance of those who have died in Palestine and Israel, to take place Sept. 3 at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. “The loss and suffering resulting from the latest conflict between the Israeli military and Palestinian groups in Gaza is staggering,” said an announcement shared by the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness. “More than 1,400 civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been displaced. Weeks of overwhelming destruction have devastated land, homes, and infrastructure. The siege of Gaza and the military occupation of Palestinian territory cripple normal life. As the people of the region cry, ‘How long, O Lord?’ we join our prayers with theirs in a service of worship. In the midst of sorrow and grief, please join us in a witness to faith, hope and love.” Other sponsoring groups include the Alliance of Baptists, American Friends Service Committee, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Friends Committee on National Legislation, and Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, among many others. The service is coordinated by the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy, a network of national Christian denominations and organizations working for a just peace in the Middle East with a primary focus on Israel and Palestine. The service will start at 6 p.m. In addition to the in-person service, live streaming will be available.
  • Shenandoah District’s Congregational Care Advisory Team is sponsoring two deacon training events this fall, under the title “Equipping for Leadership: His Hands and Feet.” The training will be led by Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries for the Church of the Brethren. Leake's Chapel Church of the Brethren in Stanley, Va., will host the first training on Saturday, Sept. 27, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., with three sessions on the topics "What Are Deacons Supposed to Do, Anyway?" "Deacons and Pastors: The Pastoral Care Team," and "The Art of Listening and Caring Support During Grief and Loss." Waynesboro (Va.) Church of the Brethren will host the second training on Saturday, Oct. 4, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. with three sessions on the topics "What Are Deacons Supposed to Do, Anyway?" "Answering the Call," and "Reconciliation and Peacemaking." The registration fee of $15 per person, or $25 per couple, includes lunch. Ministers will receive continuing education credit. Find a registration form at http://origin.library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1110837621104-371/2014+DeaconTrainingRegform.pdf . For additional information about the training at Leake's Chapel contact 540-778-1433; at Waynesboro, contact 540-280-0657.
  • Geiger Church of the Brethren is celebrating 100 years of serving the Lord in its present location in the village of Geiger just northeast of Somerset, Pa. The first sermon at the Geiger Church was preached by J.H. Cassady 100 years ago on Aug. 20, according to a newspaper announcement of the anniversary.
  • The 44th Annual Dunker Church Remembrance Service held in the restored Dunker Church at Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md., will be on Sunday, Sept. 14, at 3 p.m. Pastors Tim and Audrey Hollenberg-Duffey of Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren will be the preachers. This remembrance service sponsored by area Churches of the Brethren reflects on what the Dunker Church symbolizes for 1862 and 2014. The service is open to the public. For more information, contact Eddie Edmonds at 304-267-4135, Tom Fralin at 301-432-2653, or Ed Poling at 301-766-9005.
  • Arlington (Va.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a presentation on the New Community Project “Give a Girl a Chance” program. The speaker is New Community Project director David Radcliff. The program starts at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 19.
  • Berkey (Pa.) Church of the Brethren joined Bethany Covenant Church in Mayfield, Ohio, again this year for an annual Kentucky Mission Trip. Youth and adults traveled to Kentucky to do physical labor and to teach Vacation Bible School in Caney Creek holler, said a story in the Western Pennsylvania District newsletter. The trip took place July 6-12. “Since we have done this VBS for more than a decade, we are known in the community and God is able to build each year on the work He did through us the years before,” the report said.
  • Northern Plains District Conference recognized a number of ministers for significant years of ordained ministry with the church: Christina Singh, 5 years; Dave Kerkove, 15 years; Alan McLearn-Montz, 15 years; Marlene Neher, 20 years; Lucinda Douglas, 25 years; Marge Smalley, 25 years; Vernon Merkey, 60 years; Richard Burger,70 years. Video highlights from the district conference by Jesse McLearn-Montz are posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XLmrtQVAhE .
  • Western Pennsylvania District’s 31st Annual Brethren Heritage Festival at Camp Harmony near Hooversville, Pa., takes place on Saturday, Sept. 20. Events start at 7:30 a.m. with breakfast, followed by devotions and bread and cup communion, and continue through the day and into the evening, closing with a heritage auction at 3 p.m. In between are activities for all ages including booths, hayrides, a district choir, a children’s program, climbing tower, the “Love Tones” (pastor Larry and Judy Walker), “Tabernacle Time” with Jim Myer, and a Red Cross Blood Drive from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. For more information contact the camp at 814-798-5885.
  • “You still have time to sign up for the Brethren Heritage Tour that will visit sites of significance in Brethren history in Maryland and Pennsylvania over the weekend of Oct. 17-19,” said an announcement from Shenandoah District. The tour has been arranged through the district's Pastoral Support Committee and offers 1.4 continuing education units for ministers. However, it is open to everyone “until the bus is full,” said the note from the district. Among other sites, the tour will visit the Civil War battlefield at Antietam and the Brethren meetinghouse there, Sharpsburg African American Chapel (Tolson’s Chapel), the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, Ephrata Cloisters in Ephrata, Pa., the Kreider Meetinghouse in Lititz, Pa., and Germantown Church of the Brethren and its historic cemetery in the greater Philadelphia area. The cost of $158 per person includes chartered bus transportation, an evening meal in an Amish home, two nights lodging, and admission and instructor fees. Registration and a $50 deposit are due by Sept. 5. Find a schedule at http://origin.library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1110837621104-365/2014BHTAugLtr.pdf .
  • The Springs of Living Water Academy is convening another class in church renewal, intended for pastors. The class meets by phone five times over a 12-week period, beginning Sept. 10 from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The class is designed for growth in spiritual disciplines, using Richard J. Foster's “Celebration of Discipline, The Path to Spiritual Growth.” A guided syllabus with learning objectives provides the framework for discussion of readings out of “Springs! of Living Water, Christ-centered Church Renewal” by teacher David S. Young. A few persons from each congregation walk with pastors to begin the journey of a spiritually-focused, servant-led path to renewal for individuals and congregations. Find an interpretative video about the Springs Initiative by David Sollenberger at www.churchrenewalservant.org . The registration deadline is Aug. 20. Contact davidyoung@churchrenewalservant.org .
  • As part of its 125th anniversary celebration, Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., is offering an evening of entertainment by the Chicago comedy powerhouse Second City, said an announcement from the alumni office. The Second City performance is part of that group’s 55th Anniversary Tour. Held at the Embassy Theater in Fort Wayne, Ind., on Nov. 7 at 8 p.m., the performance will feature “a special improv routine dedicated to Manchester,” said the announcement. To reserve tickets, contact 888-257-ALUM or alumnioffice@manchester.edu . Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Aug. 29.
  • Pacific Southwest District is publicizing a “Healthy Conversations Workshop” to be held Sept. 20, from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. in the President’s Dining Room at the University of La Verne, Calif. “Have you ever felt frustrated, hurt, or discouraged by another’s words?” asked an invitation. “In this workshop you will discover what happens in unhealthy conversations and what you can do to get different results. The workshop goal is to create a foundation for conflict resolution, relationship building, and spiritual growth. Jesus gave us the key to thriving and conflict resolution 2,000 years ago. Love God with your heart, mind, and soul and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22: 37-40). In this workshop we will learn how to do this!” Cost is $50. Continuing education credit is available for ministers. Find a flyer with details at www.pswdcob.org/email/HealtyConversationsFlyer.pdf .
  • “The National Council of Churches USA grieves for the plight of Christians and other religious minorities, including Yazidis, Turkmen, and Shabaks, in Iraq,” said an NCC news release this week. The release noted that in the early part of the last decade, there were some 1.5 million Christians living in Iraq, but now it is estimated that less than 400,000 remain and numbers are dwindling in the midst of ongoing unrest. “The evolving disappearance of the Christian community from that ancient landscape, as well as the displacement of neighbors of other faiths and traditions, is a cause for great alarm,” the NCC said. The statement went on to express concern for the suffering of the Iraqi people in general, saying that it is not limited to religious minorities and mentioning the murder of American journalist James Foley as well. The release called for a greater role for the United Nations in Iraq, saying that the NCC is hesitant to endorse a military campaign by the United States. “The continual reliance on military action as the default solution to conflict must be called into question, and alternative, more far-reaching solutions to the vicious cycle of violence must be found,” the release said, in part. “As we reflected on the war in Iraq eight years ago, ‘We believe that freedom, along with genuine security, is based in God, and is served by the recognition of humanity's interdependence, and by working with partners to bring about community, development, and reconciliation for all.’”
  • Church of the Brethren member Peggy Gish is one of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) volunteers working in Iraqi Kurdistan, who are accompanying a Kurdish women’s organization in its efforts to aid Yazidi women and girls abducted by the Islamic State. In a release, CPT encouraged creation of “a nonviolent alternative to the terror of the IS [Islamic State]. We urge international governments to step up their humanitarian aid donations to agencies desperately trying to help the hundreds of thousands Iraqis fleeing the IS onslaught and to open their borders to refugees.” The release told about a protest on behalf of the abducted Yazidi women and girls held Aug. 24, when more than 60 activists from the woman’s organization marched to the UN Consulate in Erbil to demand that the UN do more to help. “They carried banners reading, ‘UN, Take Action, Our Women and Girls are Enslaved,’ and ‘Committing Genocide Against the Minorities is a Stark Violation of International Humanitarian Law.’” Leaders who went into the consulate to speak with representatives from the UN were accompanied by Gish and another member of CPT. The release said Islamic State militants have forced some of the women to become wives of fighters, have sold others into slavery, have threatened women with death, and have killed men who refused to convert to the group’s version of Islam. The Yazidis are a small ethnic and religious community in Iraqi Kurdistan, and are among minority groups targeted by the militants along with Christians and others. The Islamic State has “attacked the Yazidis with particular viciousness,” the release said. For more about CPT, go to www.cpt.org .
Source: 8/26/2014 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 Stan Dueck, Nathan Hosler, Julie M. Hostetter, Philip E. Jenks, Nancy Miner, Glenna Thompson, Susan P. Wilder, Roy Winter, Jay Wittmeyer, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.