Newsline for Dec. 27, 2012

Askew view of poster on prayer from Christian Aid in Israel/Palestine
Quote of the week
“Pray not for Arab or Jew, for Palestinian or Israeli, but pray rather for ourselves that we might not divide them in our prayers but keep them both together in our hearts.”

-- From a Christian Aid poster at one of the sites visited by the Church of the Brethren and American Baptist delegation to Israel and Palestine earlier this month. Find a picture of the poster taken by general secretary Stan Noffsinger, and the full story at .

"But with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth" (Isaiah 11:4a).

1) Delegation learns about sensitivities in the Holy Land, calls for continued work for two-state solution.
2) National Youth Cabinet is announced for 2013-14.

3) Save the date for next deacon training events, says Deacon Ministry.
4) Stuart Murray Williams to lead webinar on ‘Living the Biblical Vision.’
5) Fifth Presidential Forum to be held at Bethany Seminary.

6) Brethren bits: Personnel, jobs, mission prayer guide, registration deadlines, district events, much more.


1) Delegation learns about sensitivities in the Holy Land, calls for continued work for two-state solution.

Church of the Brethren leaders have returned from an ecumenical delegation to Israel and Palestine with a renewed commitment to a place sacred to the Brethren faith tradition, and a call for the expression of love to all the people involved in the violent struggles ongoing in the Middle East.

In an interview made after their return to the United States, general secretary Stan Noffsinger and associate general secretary Mary Jo Flory-Steury commented on their experience of joining with other Brethren leaders and a group from the American Baptist Churches USA in an ecumenical faith pilgrimage earlier this month.

The ecumenical delegation to Israel and Palestine poses for a group picture
Photo by courtesy of Stan Noffsinger
Along with the general secretary and his wife Debbie Noffsinger, and Flory-Steury and her husband Mark Flory-Steury, the Brethren delegation included Keith Goering, Andy Hamilton, and Pam Reist, who are members of the Mission and Ministry Board. The total delegation numbered 16, and included American Baptist general secretary Roy Medley.

In addition to an opportunity for a first-hand view of the situation in Israel and Palestine, and chances to meet with and talk with people on all sides of the conflict there, Noffsinger and Flory-Steury emphasized the value of renewing relationships with the American Baptists. The two denominations have a long history of working together, but in recent years the relationship has not been maintained as closely as in past decades.

In addition, the two church leaders said they benefited from the opportunity to better prepare themselves to speak publicly on behalf of the denomination about the realities of a Middle Eastern situation they characterize as complex, with geo-political as well as religious dimensions.

The delegation was led by three people representing the three main faiths in the region--Jewish, Christian, and Muslim. The experience was “an immersion into the life of the living stones” of the Holy Land, Noffsinger said, and included visits with Israelis and Palestinians who are active religiously and politically. The range of people the group visited represented “a broad spectrum” that included peacemakers as well as those holding more extreme views.

The group also visited historic sites important to the Brethren and Baptist traditions, such as the place where it is thought Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. At each historic site, they read scripture, prayed, and had a meditation. They also began every day together with worship, with a key scripture coming from Isaiah 11:3-4a. On their last evening together the group shared in a Love Feast with feetwashing. The experience of an intentional ecumenical faith journey has sparked other ideas for getting groups of Brethren and American Baptists together in the future, Noffsinger said.

Learnings about a complex land

Both Noffsinger and Flory-Steury commented on the importance of the experience for their personal spiritual lives, as well as for their professional development. A key aspect was increased understanding of a complicated place that is yet so important to the Christian faith.

“One of my learnings is the very small percentage of people in the land that are Christian,” Noffsinger said. He noted that only two percent of the population is Christian, and that percentage has fallen dramatically in recent years. “But they’re a vibrant community,” he added. He heard from the Christians with whom the delegation met “a desire to find a just peace for all peoples.”

“Everybody there is tired of the peace process, because it has not worked and there is a lot of distrust,” noted Flory-Steury. One key learning for her is that problems surrounding the peace process are linked to the increase of growth in Israeli settlements. Also, Christians expressed to the delegation the conviction that there is no one solution, nor an easy solution, to the issues they face.

People of all backgrounds talked to the delegation about the importance of caring for the needs of all the human beings involved. One speaker told them, “As Americans, don’t love one of us and hate the other. Love the people of the land, both Israeli and Palestinian,” Noffsinger quoted from his notes.

Flory-Steury remembers a leading Lutheran pastor asking the group to urge American Christians to reflect on their theology in relation to the people of the Holy Land. The pastor pointed out that some theological attitudes held by Americans are doing harm to Palestinian Christians.

Another Palestinian Christian leader, the president of a Bible college, said to Noffsinger: “The decision to be a Christian is something I consider daily as I cross the border (into Israeli controlled territory). I choose to show the poor young Israeli soldier Christ’s peace and love.”

Civil, human, and equal rights are of high importance, Flory-Steury said. These rights should include equal access to holy sites, as well as equal access to water, she added. One issue that has not gained much space in the news is the problem of who controls the water, she said. Another issue noted by Noffsinger is the inequalities experienced by Palestinians living in Israeli territory, who pay taxes yet may not receive equal services.

Meeting with parents who lost children to the violence

The last people the group met with were bereaved parents, who had lost children to the violence ongoing in Israel and Palestine. From her notes, Flory-Steury quoted one woman who spoke with the group: “There is either compassion or revenge after the killing of a child,” she said. “The seeking of revenge kills you because there is no revenge. Forgiving is giving up your just right to revenge.”

Noffsinger quoted the words of a man whose daughter had been killed: “Letting go and forgiving gives you the freedom to move on.”

Following is the letter that Noffsinger and Medley issued after they returned to the United States, which has been delivered to the White House:

Dear President Obama,

We write to you with the highest sense of urgency about the situation in Palestine and Israel to plead to you for a strong voice against the establishment of a Jewish settlement in the E-1 area. We write as religious leaders who love Israel and pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We write as religious leaders who love the Palestinians and pray for the fulfillment of their yearning for self-determination. We write as religious leaders who are committed to peace and whose denominations have long supported a two-state solution.

We have just returned from a joint visit to Israel and Palestine. We have spent time with Israelis and Palestinians in Nazareth, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem. We came with open hearts and minds as we have sought "the things that make for peace." We have encountered courageous people in every place who are working to bridge hatred and animosity with love and respect, affirming the image of God in each and every one.

In every place we visited we were met with a growing alarm that the two-state solution is being dealt a death blow by the announcement that a Jewish settlement will be built in the E-1 area. There is strong consensus that without strong intervention by yourself and our government to oppose this and to bring the parties together to do the hard work of negotiating a peace, the legitimate desires of both people to live in security and freedom will be dashed, the forces of extremism will be strengthened, and catastrophic armed conflict in the area will ensue.

Therefore, we urge you to act firmly to bring the power and influence of the United States to bear by clearly and forcibly stating our opposition to the expansion and by opening serious discussions that will lead to a negotiated settlement based upon a two-state solution that guarantees the rights and security of both Israel and Palestine.

2) National Youth Cabinet is announced for 2013-14.

2013 Nat Youth Sunday logo
"In God's Image" is the theme for the next National Youth Sunday in 2013. For more about youth Sunday and worship resources from the National Youth Cabinet go to  .

The Church of the Brethren's National Youth Cabinet for 2013-14 has been announced by the Youth and Young Adult Ministry office.

Youth members of the new cabinet include:
-- Emmett Eldred from Middle Pennsylvania District
-- Brittany Fourman from Southern Ohio District
-- Sarandon Smith from Atlantic Northeast District
-- Sarah Ullom-Minnich from Western Plains District
-- Kerrick van Asselt from Western Plains District
-- Zander Willoughby from Michigan District

Adult advisors to the cabinet are:
-- Rhonda Pittman Gingrich of Northern Plains District
-- Dennis Lohr of Atlantic Northeast District.

Becky Ullom Naugle, director of the denomination's Youth and Young Adult Ministry, will work with the cabinet to plan National Youth Conference 2014.

Deacon ministry - hands image

3) Save the date for next deacon training events, says Deacon Ministry.

"It’s not too late, save the date," reminds the Church of the Brethren's Deacon Ministry office.

Just a few days remain before registration ends for the first deacon training event of 2013, to be held on Saturday, Jan. 5, at Chambersburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. Topics will include "So What are Deacon Supposed to Do, Anyway?" "The Art of Listening," and "Beyond Casseroles: Offering Support Creatively." The registration fee of $15 per person or $25 for a couple includes lunch. An additional fee of $10 is required from those ministers desiring .45 units of continuing education credit. Registration ends on Monday, Dec. 31. Register now at .

Mark your calendars now for the fourth annual pre-Annual Conference deacon workshops on Saturday, June 29, in Charlotte, N.C. The morning workshop, "Listen and Play: Ministry with Children in Times of Stress," will be offered in conjunction with Children’s Disaster Services. The afternoon workshop will be on "Conflict Transformation," presented with Ministry of Reconciliation (MoR) staff. Cost $15 per person or $25 for a couple, lunch is on your own. Go to for registration materials.

4) Stuart Murray Williams to lead webinar on ‘Living the Biblical Vision.’

Stuart Murray WilliamsA webinar titled, “Living the Biblical Vision of a Multi-Voiced Church,” will be offered in January as a collaborative resource from the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries and the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership.

The webinar will take place in two parts:

-- Webinar 1, “Monologue or Multi-Voiced Learning?” will be held Jan. 22, 2013, at 12 noon-1:30 p.m. (Pacific time, 3-4:30 p.m. eastern).

-- Webinar 2, “The Vision for a Multi-Voiced Church,” takes place Jan. 29 at 12 noon-1:30 p.m. (Pacific time, 3-4:30 p.m. eastern).

There is no pre-registration and no fee required to attend the online event. Participants may earn .15 continuing education units for attending the live sessions.

“The New Testament indicates that the early churches were multi-voiced, participative, and expected that the Holy Spirit would speak through all the members of the community,” said an announcement of the webinar. “First-generation renewal movements (such as the Anabaptists) have typically been multi-voiced as well, recovering this New Testament characteristic. But institutionalization has persistently reduced such diversity of participation and resulted in many aspects of church life becoming mono-voiced or restricted to only a few voices. The webinars will survey mono-voiced and multi-voiced expressions of church. Murray Williams will offer insights and engage participants in a discussion on the biblical and missional basis advocating for a multi-voiced church, and exploring practical ways of developing multi-voiced communities today.”

The presenter is Stuart Murray Williams, founder of Urban Expression, a pioneering church planting agency with teams in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, and the US. Regarded as one of the world’s leading advocates for contemporary forms of Anabaptism, he is a scholar, trainer, mentor, writer, strategist, and consultant with particular interest in urban mission, church planting, and emerging forms of church. He holds a doctorate in Anabaptist hermeneutics and is an associate lecturer at the Baptist College in Bristol. His books on church planting, urban mission, and the contribution of the Anabaptist tradition to contemporary missiology include “The Power of All” and “The Naked Anabaptist.”

For more information about the webinar contact Stan Dueck at 800-323-8039 ext. 343 or .

5) Fifth Presidential Forum to be held at Bethany Seminary.

Image for Bethany Seminary fifth Presidential ForumBethany Theological Seminary will hold its fifth Presidential Forum on April 5 and 6, 2013, at the Bethany campus in Richmond, Ind. The forum’s theme, “The Bible in Our Bones: Telling and Living the Stories of Our Faith,” invites all to encounter God’s word with fresh eyes and to live and share its life-giving messages with insight and integrity. Scholars, storytellers, artists, and other ministerial leaders will guide this exploration of biblical story through worship, instruction, and reflection.

David L. Barr and Thomas E. Boomershine will serve as plenary speakers. Barr’s address, “It’s Not the End of the World: The Fantastic Story of John’s Apocalypse,” will present the book of Revelation not as a prediction of the future, but as a story of how the followers of Jesus are to live in the world. Having taught at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, since 1975, Barr currently holds the title of professor of religion. He also has served as director of the University Honors Program and chair of the Departments of Religion, Philosophy, and Classics, and was named the Brage Golding Distinguished Professor of Research in 2004. His recent books include "Tales of the End," a narrative commentary on the apocalypse of John, and "New Testament Story: An Introduction."

Boomershine will deliver a plenary address titled “Mark’s Story of Jesus and the Gospel of Peace.” While the understanding of Jesus as a Messiah of peace is often drawn from the birth narratives and the Sermon on the Mount, Boomershine will illustrate how this theme is most explicit in the passion and resurrection narrative. Boomershine is president of GoTell Communications and founder of the international Network of Biblical Storytellers. He is also the organizer of the Bible in Ancient and Modern Media group in the Society of Biblical Literature and the NBS Seminar, both helping develop a paradigm of biblical study focused around performance criticism. Boomershine is professor emeritus of New Testament at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Husband and wife collaborators Garrison Doles and Jan Richardson will lend their artistic and leadership skills to the forum’s worship services and workshops. A prolific and celebrated songwriter and singer, Doles tours nationally and has won major songwriting competitions in North Carolina, Texas, Florida, and Massachusetts. Also the cofounder of Theatre Downtown in Orlando, Fla., he has produced, acted, directed, designed, and written for the stage. Richardson is an artist, writer, and ordained minister in the United Methodist Church. She serves as director of the Wellspring Studio, LLC, and travels widely as a retreat leader and conference speaker. Characterized by a distinctive intertwining of word and image, Richardson’s work has attracted an international audience.

Complementing the formal sessions, a wide array of instructional and interactive workshops will encourage personal engagement with scripture. A number of Church of the Brethren educators, lay leaders, and members in ministry will join Boomershine, Doles, and Richardson to provide leadership. From music to "bibliodrama" to storytelling with children, attendees may take away new techniques or insights for themselves and their faith communities. Among other workshop topics are interpretations of scripture, living out the gospel’s messages, and questions of faith among today’s young adults.

Friday evening will feature a performance of "Requiem," composed and directed by William E. Culverhouse, director of choral music at Earlham College, and performed by members of the college choral program. This rich and varied work for mixed chorus and harp draws on texts taken from the King James Bible and the "Book of Common Prayer" and incorporates elements of Celtic folksong  and American folk hymnody.

A Pre-Forum Gathering will again welcome Bethany alumni/ae and friends to the seminary for fellowship and interaction with faculty, staff, and students. Sponsored by Bethany’s Alumni/ae Coordinating Council, the gathering will open Thursday evening, April 4, with dinner, worship, and a coffeehouse, and will continue April 5 with four educational sessions. Drawing on both historical and contemporary contexts, current and former faculty will speak to the presence that scripture has in human experience: Amy Gall Ritchie, director of student development; Scott Holland, professor of theology and culture; Eugene Roop, president emeritus of Bethany Seminary and adjunct professor in the DMin program at Anderson University; Michael McKeever, adjunct professor in New Testament Studies for Bethany and professor in biblical studies at Judson University; and Enten Eller, director of electronic communication.

The Presidential Forums were inaugurated in 2008 under the direction of president Ruthann Knechel Johansen. By exploring topics that thoughtfully address issues of faith and ethics, the forums strive to build community among those at Bethany, the wider church, and the public, and to provide visionary leadership for re-imagining the role of seminaries in public discourse. In fall 2010, Bethany received a generous grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to endow the Presidential Forums.

The forum will begin with dinner and worship on Friday, April 5, and extend through Saturday afternoon. Registration will open Jan. 15, 2013. Registration costs will increase modestly after Feb. 15. A discounted rate is available for students. Each event qualifies for 0.5 continuing education units. Registration will be capped at 150 participants. For a complete schedule, registration information, and housing options, visit .

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

6) Brethren bits.

-- Linda Reed has begun as the new director of Admissions at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren continuing care retirement community near Boonsboro, Md. She began work on Nov. 12. Prior to coming to Fahrney-Keedy, she was a financial consultant to nursing homes in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and most recently was director of Admissions and Marketing for six years at Reeders Memorial Home in Boonsboro. She and her family also operate a carriage company, and volunteer horse-and-wagon rides at nursing communities in the area. She is a member of Downsville Church of the Brethren.

-- Good Shepherd Home, a full-service continuing care retirement community located in Fostoria, Ohio, is seeking a fulltime long-term care chaplain. Salary will be based on experience and education in the ministry field. The Good Shepherd Home was developed by the Northwest Ohio District of the Church of the Brethren and opened in 1904. It is a member of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes. It currently serves about 200 seniors. To apply, submit a résumé to Good Shepherd Home, 725 Columbus Ave., Fostoria, OH 44830, Attn: Chris Widman, Executive Director. Résumés must be received by March 1, 2013.  For information about the home visit . Good Shepherd Home is an equal opportunity employer.

-- The new Sunday school curriculum to be produced by Brethren Press and MennoMedia is accepting applications for a part-time contract editor. Editors work closely with curriculum writers to edit manuscripts in accordance with editorial and production guidelines. Candidates must have excellent editorial and writing skills, understand faith formation and developmental stages, and operate well in a collaborative environment. Must be well-grounded in Church of the Brethren or Mennonite beliefs and practices. A bachelor’s degree is required; a graduate degree in theology or education is preferred. See Job Opportunities at .

-- The Global Mission and Service office is producing a monthly prayer guide lifting up Church of the Brethren mission workers and mission partners around the world. Daily prayers are provided in a flier format easy to download and print from an online document. Find the January 2013 issue at .

-- Online registration has opened or will open soon for church events in 2013. Unless otherwise noted, find registration links at . Registration is open now for the Christian Citizenship Seminar for high schoolers and adult advisors on March 23-28 in New York City and Washington, D.C. Registration for congregational and district delegates to the 2013 Annual Conference on June 29-July 3 in Charlotte, N.C., opens Jan. 2 at (non-delegate registration will open Feb. 20). Registration opens Jan. 4 for the National Junior High Conference set for June 14-16 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College (please note that an online parental consent form is required to register). Registration opens Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. (central time) for summer workcamps (find out more at ). On Jan. 25 young adults may begin registering for the Young Adult Conference on May 25-27 at Camp Pine Lake in Eldora, Iowa.

-- A national call-in day to Congress against gun violence has been set for Feb. 5, 2013, in an announcement from the National Council of Churches. NCC president Kathryn M. Lohre wrote, “Sisters and brothers in Christ, it is because of my hope in the birth of Jesus that I dare to ask: What will it take? How many more communities will suffer in the wake of gun violence? How will we honor those lives lost in Aurora, Oak Creek, and Newtown, and all those lives lost over the years to gun violence on the streets and in homes throughout the US? When will we heed the call to action? Now is the time to raise our voices and pray with our feet!” The NCC is joining several interfaith partners in calling for a national religious call-in day in which congressional representatives will be urged to enact gun control legislation within 50 days. Those participating in the day are encouraged to contact President Obama to urge him “to continue to act swiftly to end this national epidemic.” A Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath weekend to prepare churches and other faith groups for the effort is set for the first weekend of the year, Jan. 5-6. Go to to sign up to receive more information as it becomes available.

-- In the wake of the Newtown school shooting, Heeding God’s Call brought Philadelphia area faith leaders together to name gun violence a “spiritual and religious issue,” according to a release. The group stood at a historic spot for a press conference and rally Dec. 19--the west sidewalk of North Sixth Street between Race and Arch, site of Pennsylvania Hall, where Philadelphia leaders in 1838 named slavery as a spiritual and religious problem and demanded its end. Faith traditions represented included Mennonites, Society of Friends (Quakers), United Church of Christ, Presbyterian Church USA, Episcopal Church USA, United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, and Reform Judaism. Heeding God’s Call is a movement to prevent gun violence, started during a meeting of the Historic Peace Churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, Quakers) in 2009. It seeks to bring faithful and public pressure to bear on gun shops to persuade them to avoid selling to those who would put guns on the street. Find out more at .

-- “In this new year, the Cloverdale Church will mark their 100th anniversary as a congregation,” reports the Virlina District newsletter. Celebration of Cloverdale (Va.) Church of the Brethren’s centennial started on Dec. 16, when James Flora was guest speaker for worship. Flora was called into ministry by the Cloverdale congregation in the late 1940s, the announcement said. Additional anniversary events will include Cloverdale hosting the Roanoke-area Brethren Lenten services known as “Awakening” in March. On May 5, Church of the Brethren general secretary Stanley Noffsinger will speak for worship. The “big” anniversary weekend will be July 5-7. On Dec. 22, 2013, the congregation will mark 100 years since the dedication of the original Cloverdale church meetinghouse.

-- McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren raised more than $20,000 at an 8th annual Christmas Gift Market on Nov. 10, reports a note from Jeanne Smith in the Western Plains District newsletter. The event began in 2005 when the church's Leadership Team challenged the board to come up with a year-long project that would kindle excitement for church ministries, Smith reported. “This year the eight-year total surpassed $138,000, a tremendous out-pouring of love from the church and community,” she added.

-- Peoria (Ill.) Church of the Brethren has held a special “Mountain Mission Trip” dedicated to Jim Harshbarger, who suddenly passed away the afternoon after loading his truck for the trip. The Illinois and Wisconsin District newsletter reported that for many years he had promoted the trip to the congregation and spent many hours driving around the area collecting donations of furniture, appliances, household items, and clothing to contribute to the annual trip to Missions in Eastern Kentucky. “There was a noticeable empty space in the caravan this year,” the report said. “Even though Jim was missing his son, David, and grandsons Dylan and Randy took over the helm of Jim’s GMC/Ford truck and trailer to make the trip in his Dad’s memory.”

-- Central Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., was represented at a Homeless Person's Memorial Service at Greene Memorial United Methodist Church, as part of the Congregations in Action effort. “Even more exciting was the presence of eight Highland Park Elementary School students, and the ENTIRE Highland Park faculty, who came in support of Congregations in Action and their students,” reported pastor Tim Harvey in a Facebook post. Harvey delivered the sermon for the service. The “Roanoke Times” reported on the event, which remembered the 21 homeless residents of Roanoke who died in the past year (go to ). “Some were welders and constructions workers,” Harvey wrote. “Some held master's degrees. All were created in the image of God.”

-- Peaceknits is a charity knitting and crocheting group that meets the first and third Mondays of the month at Bedford (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. “In preparing for the group's Christmas lunch on Dec. 14, a tally was made of what the group has donated since its beginnings in 2008,” reported the Middle Pennsylvania District newsletter. “Peaceknits has hand made 405 items from donated yarn and given them to: Bedford UPMC Hospital, World Vision, Bedford County Children and Youth Services, Your Safe Haven, Special Olympics, a refugee center in Istanbul, the children of Alakanuk, Alaska, and Hurricane Sandy victims.”

-- Virden (Ill.) Church of the Brethren celebrated its 100th anniversary at the Illinois and Wisconsin District Conference this year. Patricia Barnett wanted to do something to help the congregation celebrate, so she crocheted over 200 crosses to give out at the conference, reports the district newsletter. The theme of the conference, chosen by moderator Fletcher Farrar, was “The Courage of Daniel” and was represented by the artwork of Kay Guyer. Delegates numbered 64. A silent auction and a live auction of donated quilts and a cedar chest raised a total of $2,865. During the conference, the district youth group visited Pleasant Hill Village Healthcare, met residents, and learned about Alzheimer’s and dementia care.

-- The Shenandoah District Pastoral Support Committee is sponsoring a day-long faith-based conference on substance abuse on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, at Bridgewater (Va.) College. Location will be Bowman Hall. The conference will be led by associate professor of psychology Brian M. Kelley, who has done extensive research and lecturing about addiction. Continuing education units will be offered. Among topics to be considered are risk factors for addiction, signs and symptoms of abuse, and tools for churches to become engaged with the problem of substance abuse. Cost is $30, which includes a DVD, handouts, and a light breakfast. The lunch buffet will cost an additional $7.50. A fee of $10 will be charged to receive continuing education credits. To RSVP by Jan. 11 contact .

-- Gilbert Romero will be performing in Shenandoah District with the Bittersweet Gospel Band in January. Then the band will leave for a week of ministering with the Puerto Rican Brethren on Jan. 14, reports the district newsletter. The band will play several times for Puerto Rican churches and at the Assemblea, the annual meeting of the island churches, to be held at Castañer. Romero will speak at Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren on Sunday morning, Jan. 13, and a Bittersweet Concert will be held at the Staunton church that afternoon at 3 p.m. The band also will perform at Sunrise Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg, Va., on Jan. 12 at 6:30  p.m. For more information go to .

-- “Why Young People Leave the Church and What to Do about It” is the title of a two-part workshop in Southern Ohio District on Jan. 12, 2013, at New Carlisle Church of the Brethren and Feb. 9 at Eversole Church of the Brethren. Each workshop begins at 9 a.m. and ends at noon. “Most young adults are striving for financial and emotional independence, and the energy they pour into this activity often draws them away from practicing faith,” said an announcement. “The percentage of young adults who leave the church has stayed pretty steady since the 1970s. But one thing has definitely declined: The hope that if we do nothing they will soon come marching back (along with spouses and kids). If we build a church, they may not come. But if they leave, what should we do about it?” The workshops will review proposals for how the church should change, and explain terms such as “missional” and “emergent.” Participants will look at ways churches can connect with young adults and help them connect with God. The workshop is offered in conjunction with a “Focus on Finance” workshop. Bekah Houff and Russell Haitch, staff and faculty of Bethany Seminary, respectively, are presenters.  Go to for more information and to register.

-- Brethren Woods is holding a “Caving Adventure Day” on Feb. 10, 2013. The half-day underground adventure will visit natural subterranean features in a cave near Bridgewater, Va. Participants will gather at 12:30 to 1 p.m. at Bridgewater Church of the Brethren and travel to a cave site together, returning to the church by 6 p.m. Lester Zook of WildGuyde Adventures and EMU’s Outdoor Ministry and Adventure Leadership Department will be the guide. Cost is $45 and includes a bag lunch, transportation, headlamp, caving helmet, and some additional gear. For more information and permission slips/waivers, as well as registration (due by Jan. 25) go to or call 540-269-2741.

-- Springs of Living Water, a Christ-centered church renewal initiative, has announced “Celebrating the All Sufficient Christ” as the title of its next spiritual disciplines folder for Epiphany, the Season of Light. The resource is for the season beginning Jan. 13, 2013, up to the start of Lent. “This short season of one month will focus on Paul’s book of Colossians with the highest Christology,” said the announcement. “Meditating on and pondering on these scriptures on a daily basis can be life changing.” Instructions for use of the folder by the entire congregation are given and an insert invites participants to next steps of Christian growth. Along with the disciplines folder are Bible study questions written by Pastor Vince Cable of Uniontown Church of the Brethren. Find the resources at . In another announcement from the Springs initiative, registrations are now being received for the first Springs Academy course, “Foundations of Christ-centered Church Renewal,” for pastors and church leaders using interactive telephone conference calls. For more information contact David Young at .

-- In January 2014, Bridgewater (Va.) College chaplain Robbie Miller will lead a 15-day study tour of Israel and Palestine as part of a “Lands of the Bible” interterm course. The tour, conducted by the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem ( ), will visit sites of biblical and religious importance. The Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center related to Bethany Seminary will grant 8 continuing education units for the study tour. Pastors and members of the Church of the Brethren are welcome to participate as space permits. Contact or 540-828-5383.

-- The Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education has awarded Elizabethtown (Pa.) College a $50,000 program development grant. A release reports that the grant, which is supported by Lilly Endowment Inc., provides colleges and universities with funds to foster the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation in their campus communities. Elizabethtown intends to use the grant to create programs that deepen faculty, staff, and student understanding of its Educate for Service motto related to purposeful life work and ethical leadership across disciplines and departments. One program that will receive funding is a summer retreat for faculty to have an opportunity to think about their life's work and how engaging in reflection can make them better mentors.

-- Che Wiechart, a Manchester University student, is a finalist in the Everence Financial “Money Talks” video contest. Wiechart’s video is one of seven that made the final cut as visitors voted on the Everence website at , reports a release. The voting continues through Jan. 15, 2013. The theme “Money Talks: The World Is Listening” encouraged people to think and talk about the role of money in the world today. The finalist who receives the most votes will win the contest and a cash prize as well as a grant to their favorite charity. Awards also will go to the second- and third-place vote getters and their selected charities.

-- Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., has committed to purchase 50 MWh of Keystone Solar annually for the next seven years, according to a release. Community Energy will supply the clean energy generation from the Keystone Solar Project in Lancaster, Pa. “As the country and state move toward a clean energy future, sponsorship of the Keystone Solar Project highlights Juniata College's commitment to environmental sustainability,” the release said. “Juniata College has a college-wide initiative to reduce its carbon footprint.... In a difficult economy that demands excellence, Juniata College has set a strong example for how to not only set an environmental goal, but make that goal mean something.” The Keystone Solar Project is a 5 megawatt (AC) ground-mounted solar project that will produce approximately 8,000 MWh of electricity annually, the equivalent of powering 950 homes or avoiding 5,516 tons of carbon dioxide each year. As part of the program, the college will have access to "Building Keystone Solar," an online course designed to invite students and professors behind the scenes at real-world solar projects.

-- A new online publication from the World Council of Churches (WCC) invites congregations to explore the themes of Christian unity, justice, and peace in advance of its upcoming 10th Assembly. “Pilgrimage to Busan: A Journey into Ecumenical Christianity” is a six-unit resource designed for study groups, adult forums, and retreat groups to study the theme of the upcoming assembly, “God of Life, Lead Us to Justice and Peace.” The resource includes participants’ and leaders’ guides, which are available online for free download, and also suitable for printing. The assembly will take place Oct. 30-Nov. 10, 2013, in Busan, Republic of Korea (South Korea). It is anticipated to be the most diverse Christian gathering of its size in the world, the WCC release said.Translations of the resource in French, German, Spanish and Korean are underway. Find the study resource at .

-- The 2013 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will be celebrated on Jan. 18-25.  Sponsored jointly by the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Week of Prayer invites congregations all over the world to share in common prayer for Christian unity. A WCC release announced that the materials for 2013 were initially prepared by the Student Christian Movement of India and shaped by the context of great injustice experienced by the Dalits or “untouchables.” The theme will be “What Does God Require of Us?” (Micah 6:6-8). To order congregational resources for this year’s celebration, go to

-- The National Council of Churches (NCC) is inviting young adults to apply for seed grants to start ecumenical projects. The NCC’s New Fire Task Force, in partnership with the Ecumenical Young Adult Ministries Team, invites young adults to apply for seed grants of up to $500 to support local ecumenical young adult-initiated projects, a release said. The New Fire Network is a network of young adult Christians who are connecting and organizing young adult ecumenical leadership to re-invigorate and re-envision cooperative Christian community. Through the Seed Grant Program, New Fire seeks to support ecumenical projects that connect young adults to an experience of Christian unity in a concrete and meaningful way. The grant program aims to break down divisions among those age 18-35; renew the relationship between the church and young adults; equip young adults to be agents of love, justice, and peace; and facilitate capacity-building opportunities for young adults to expand knowledge and skills so they can better serve churches and the ecumenical movement. Find the application form online at or contact for a copy. Applications are due by Feb. 28, 2013, and can be submitted to the New Fire Task Force at . Award decisions will be announced by March 31. 

Contributors to this issue of Newsline include John Ballinger, Stan Dueck, Philip E. Jenks, Donna Kline, Don Knieriem, Michael Leiter, Madalyn Metzger, Amy Mountain, Becky Ullom Naugle, Rose Stutzman, John Wall, David S. Young, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Look for the next regularly scheduled issue on Jan. 9, 2013. Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at Newsline appears every other week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To unsubscribe or change your e-mail preferences go to

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