Newsline for Feb. 25, 2015




home page image for Annual Conference 2015 logo

 

Open today: General registration for the 2015 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren.
Go to www.brethren.org/ac . Also starting today, housing reservations may be made in the Conference hotel block. Annual Conference will be in Tampa, Fla., on July 11-15, with daily worship, music, concerts, dramas, meal events and insight sessions with a wide variety of speakers, activities for all ages, and business sessions. Congregations are urged to send delegates to represent them in business. Church members and their families are welcome and encouraged to come enjoy the worship, fellowship, and opportunities for spiritual growth. For more information about the Conference schedule, go to www.brethren.org/ac


“Love each other” (John 15:12b, CEB).

NEWS
1) IRS issues new ruling regarding Affordable Care Act
2) Nigerian Brethren leaders visit refugees in Cameroon
3) Nigerian initiative declares ‘Education Must Continue’
4) Bethany Seminary recognized for ‘Education That Engages’
5) Peace churches hold sixth annual gathering in Florida
6) ‘Together for Nigeria’ event in Michigan raises funds, brings attention to the crisis

PERSONNEL
7) Jenn Dorsch begins as director of Brethren Disaster Ministries
8) Tina Christian to be Gulf Coast coordinator for Children’s Disaster Services

UPCOMING EVENTS
9) Youth ministry webinar series continues with focus on ‘Life and Time’
10) Webinar will focus on ‘Reading the Bible after Christendom’
11) ENGAGE to welcome prospective students to Bethany Seminary

RESOURCE
12) Spring issue of Guide for Biblical Studies seeks the Holy Spirit

13) Brethren bits: Remembering Pete Roudebush, Margie Petry, June Kindy; National Youth Cabinet; webinar on Syria and Iraq; jobs at BBT and Timbercrest; Seniors for Peace meet on Nigeria; registration for leadership conference; La Verne Church celebrates 125 and Casa de Modesto 50 years; “Keep Calm and Be a Dunker Punk” with Mutual Kumquat and Ted and Co.

 


******************************************************

Quotes of the week:

“Growing up in America has been such a blessing. . . . That's the beautiful thing here, is that it doesn't matter where you come from. There's so many different people from so many different places, of different backgrounds and religions--but here we're all one, one culture. And it's beautiful to see people of different areas interacting, and being family. Being, you know, one community.”
-- Yusor Abu-Salha, one of three Muslim students murdered in Chapel Hill, N.C., earlier this month. This quote is from her piece on National Public Radio’s StoryCorps. Find out more at www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/02/12/385714242/were-all-one-chapel-hill-shooting-victim-said-in-storycorps-talk .

“The Church has a special calling to show that this unity of humanity is real."
-- World Council of Churches general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit in a letter of condolence to the people of Denmark, in particular the Jewish community there, following the terrorist attacks in Copenhagen in mid-February. Read the full letter at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/general-secretary/messages-and-letters/letter-to-bishop-of-copenhagen .

******************************************************


1) IRS issues new ruling regarding Affordable Care Act

From a Brethren Benefit Trust release

The Internal Revenue Service on Feb. 18 issued a new ruling regarding the Affordable Care Act. Here are the highlights of that ruling, which were approved by BBT’s legal counsel:

-- Employers can reimburse premiums pre-tax through June 30, 2015.

-- Employers don’t have to file IRS Form 8928, even if they did have violations in 2014.

-- By June 30, 2015, employers must stop paying for or reimbursing individual health insurance unless they have just one employee.  After that date, ACA penalties will be incurred.

-- If employers have only one employee, they can continue reimbursing healthcare premiums on a pre-tax basis.

-- Employers who have more than one employee and are not in a bona fide group plan, but want to continue to help pay insurance costs, need to change the way this is done after June 30, 2015, to avoid penalties. The way to do this is to increase salaries to cover the health care premiums without stipulating the salary increase for that use.

-- Employers should consider amending their 2014 payroll reports and W-2s to treat the premiums as non-taxable.

The IRS ruling can be found in its entirety at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-15-17.pdf . You can also read the legal summary of the IRS ruling written by our legal counsel at Conner and Winters by clicking here.

To be added to the BBT Alert e-mail list, please send your name and e-mail address to jbednar@cobbt.org .

-- Jean Bednar is director of communications for Brethren Benefit Trust.

A worship service held by Nigerian Brethren leaders with refugees in Cameroon

Nigerian refugees at a camp in Cameroon gather to worship with leaders of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria)

Nigerian refugees in Cameroon gather for worship with EYN leaders


2) Nigerian Brethren leaders visit refugees in Cameroon

By Carl and Roxane Hill

Leaders of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and the manager of the EYN Disaster Team traveled to Cameroon last week to visit and support Nigerian refugees who have fled across the border into the neighboring country. This camp hosts more than 30,000 refugees mainly from Gwoza Local Government Area.

Travel through this very dangerous area required cars, buses, motorcycles, and lots of prayer.

EYN was able to take more than five million Naira ($25,000) to give to camp officials to help support all those at the camp, both Christians and Muslims. The camp is run by the United Nations, but there is never enough to help everyone. These funds will help purchase supplies, food, and shelter in Cameroon. In this situation, transporting cash was the only effective way to provide support to these refugees.

On Sunday a church service was held in an open space with over 10,000 EYN members in Minawawo Camp in Maroua Province of Cameroon.

-- Carl and Roxane Hill are co-directors of the Church of the Brethren’s Nigeria Crisis Response. For more about the crisis response effort in cooperation with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, go to www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .


3) Nigerian initiative declares ‘Education Must Continue’

By Roxane Hill

Paul* and his wife, Becky* have a passion for the education of displaced children in Nigeria. They are members of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and have started an organization called “Education Must Continue.” Their main goal is to get displaced children back in school. They know the value of a good education and what it means for the future of these children and the country of Nigeria.

Here is their list of what they have accomplished just since the beginning of the year:

“We have constructed some classes at Yola and started lessons for the IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) children. We are looking at over 500 kids in the first instance.

“We rented three class blocks from an existing school near Jos and we hope to start classes there also by next week.”

“We have approval from both our LCC Jos (local church council) and the president of EYN Samuel Dali to start classes at the EYN Jos Sunday School building.

“We are currently in Abuja seeking opportunity for placement into various schools in Nigeria for over 2,000 displaced children from our region. We discovered that the Borno State Government has made arrangements for most Kanuri children and totally ignored the southern Borno people. (Kanuri is mainly a Muslim tribe.) Pray for favor with the government to help the maximum number of students.”

Please pray for Paul and Becky as they work tirelessly to educate the children.

*Full names have been omitted for security purposes.

-- Roxane and Carl Hill are co-directors of the Nigeria Crisis Response of the Church of the Brethren. For more about the crisis response effort being carried out in cooperation with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, go to www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .


4) Bethany Seminary recognized for ‘Education That Engages’

By Jenny Williams

Bethany Theological Seminary has been notified by the Center for Faith and Service at McCormick Theological Seminary that it is included in the 2015 list of “Seminaries That Change the World.” Twenty-six institutions were named this year, including Bethany’s partner school in Richmond, Ind., Earlham School of Religion.

Schools selected for this distinction demonstrate innovation in theological education in integration with classical approaches for learning, even as they navigate negative stereotypes about organized religion and work to expand narrow definitions of traditional ministry. Each also commits to be part of a consortium of seminaries and divinity schools that would work together to recruit and educate new leadership for our time.

Now in its second year, Seminaries That Change the World was initiated to help reclaim the important role that theological education has played in promoting community and justice while training and launching local and world leaders in all areas of society. It is facilitated by the Center for Faith and Service, directed by Wayne Meisel. An ordained Presbyterian minister, Meisel has a distinguished career in civic engagement, including the President’s Commission on National and Community Service. “The 2015 class of schools has demonstrated a commitment to invite, welcome, support, train, and launch individuals into the world as community leaders,” he said.

To apply for consideration by the Center for Faith and Service, Bethany responded to questions about its commitment to engage with the world through student community life, field education programming, available financial aid and student employment, and collaboration with peer institutions. As the application’s opening sentence stated, “Bethany Theological Seminary has been building community purposefully since its beginnings. It is a hallmark of our faith tradition in the Church of the Brethren and our understanding of Christ and the teachings in the New Testament.”

For more information about Seminaries That Change the World and the Center for Faith and Service, visit www.stctw.faith3.org . For more information about Bethany Seminary go to www.bethanyseminary.edu .

-- Jenny Williams is director of communications and alumni/ae relations at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.


5) Peace churches hold sixth annual gathering in Florida

By Tom Guelcher

The sixth annual “Gathering” of the Historic Peace Churches in Florida was held Jan. 31 at Bay Shore Mennonite Church in Sarasota. Organized by the Peace Coordinating Committee of the Historic Peace Churches, the day-long conference featured speakers who pursued their passion for peace in various ways.

Peace dove

Danielle Flood, director of Communications for ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization), gave a presentation on the work of the North Fort Myers-based Christian organization. ECHO equips people with agricultural resources and skills to reduce hunger and improve the lives of the poor in more than 165 countries. ECHO intern and 2013 Colorado University graduate, Steven Kluck, shared how his work at ECHO is a progression of God’s call to help those in need. Both encouraged Gathering attendees to tour the ECHO Global Farm and Tropical Fruit Nursery in North Fort Myers. Further information is available online at www.echonet.org .

Inspired by Howard Zinn’s book “A People’s History of American Empire,” Sarasota video production teacher Bob Gray used his spare time over a six-year period to produce his 2014 documentary “Making A Killing: From Crony Capitalism to Corporate Plutocracy.” Shown at the gathering, the film traces the history of America’s use of military and espionage forces to further enrich US corporate interests. Most telling was the writings and speeches of former Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler, who confessed he was nothing more than “a high class muscleman for big business, for Wall Street and the bankers.” Looking back over his 33-year military career of projecting American military might in several incursions and occupations, Butler expressed his realization that he had been “a gangster for capitalism.”

The conference concluded with a Historic Peace Churches panel presentation about peace concerns and individual involvement. The panel comprised Jerry Eller, Church of the Brethren Atlantic Southeast District Action Peace Team member; Alma Ovalle, Southeast Mennonite Conference Mennonite Women board member and Annual Conference Youth Coordinator; and Warren Hoskins, clerk of the Miami Friends Meeting Peace and Social Concerns Committee and clerk of the Southeastern Yearly Meeting Peace and Social Concerns Committee. All three spoke passionately about their concerns and actions to promote peace. It was an uplifting end to the day.

Nearly 60 Brethren, Mennonites, Quakers, and others were in attendance. Literature was provided by the Church of the Brethren Action for Peace Team, the Quakers, ECHO, and Wage Peace. Lunch was provided by Miller’s Dutch Kitchen.

The Peace Coordinating Committee of the Historic Peace Churches in Florida formed as a result of a meeting of interested parties in Jan. 2010 at Camp Ithiel. By means of education, advocacy, and cooperation it seeks to motivate individuals to support policies and embrace behaviors which will lead to a more peaceful world. Our efforts aim to reawaken the deep connection of unity within the human family and the recognition that humanity’s true interests lie in communities of fellowship and harmony. The foundation of our work rests upon God’s love and the path of peace upon which Jesus walked.

-- Tom Guelcher is facilitator of the Peace Coordinating Committee of the Historic Peace Churches in Florida.


6) ‘Together for Nigeria’ event in Michigan raises funds, brings attention to the crisis

A cloth worn by the ZME women's group of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria
photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

A cloth worn by the ZME women's group of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria

In the fall last year, Tim Joseph conceived the idea of holding a big event at Onekama (Mich.) Church of the Brethren on Jan. 31 as a fundraiser for the Nigeria Crisis Fund. The struggle that the Nigerian Brethren are undergoing right now may be the biggest crisis the Church of the Brethren movement has ever suffered, particularly considering the sheer number of people involved, the number of churches destroyed, the number of deaths. Of course we should do all we can to send aid.

Several people formed a planning committee, including people from Onekama Church of the Brethren and Lakeview Church of the Brethren. We printed a poster that got about 1,200 views on Facebook. Posters also went up around the town and county. We sent copies of the poster and an explanatory letter to every Brethren person and church in Michigan we had addresses for, as well as local churches of various denominations. During the event, people from at least 10 churches in the Michigan District came.

Mark Ward put together a silent auction and people from as far away as the West Coast sent things to sell. We had to be selective because of space limitations. Lovely art works and other items were donated.

Esther Pierson and others worked on the food for a hearty soup supper. Lakeview Church of the Brethren brought desserts, and friends from outside the churches also brought some things.

Tim Joseph was busy lining up musicians for the prayer service held upstairs at 4 p.m., and for the informal concert after supper downstairs. The choir included people from Lakeview and from Manistee Choral Society, 25 singers plus Marlene Joseph leading and Carol Voigts on piano.

Tim Joseph also was interviewed by the newspaper with a front page article. Many people from the community who saw the article sent donations for the Nigeria Crisis Fund even though they were unable to attend. Donations are still being received weeks after the event.

The paper sent a reporter and so a second article after the event also was published. That will help people in our community remain alert to the need in Nigeria, not just for relief aid, but for prayer support as well.

To prepare the church visually, Susan Barnard brought fabrics she collected from Africa and those were hung in the sanctuary and basement. We projected a video during the prayer service, which explained the situation and how the crisis fund is helping. A slide show also was projected during the concert.

Around 140 to 150 people attended. The weather was good, so they were able to come from quite a distance.

Musicians included the expanded choir, Katy Joseph on piano; Tim and Byron Joseph, along with Jamey Barnard, Marlene Wood, and Trevor Hobbs; Arina Hiriwiriyakun on piano; Loren Deal with guitar. Downstairs after supper, Tim and Byron Joseph and friends sang, as did Tucker Laws and Clara Gallon, Ellie McPherson and Chloe Kimes. Carol Voigts led a sing-along story with audience participation, and Dave Gendler shared a poem.

Meanwhile, the silent auction was going on. Many people from within and outside the church donated. There was a large quilt from Oregon, smaller ones from Lake Ann United Methodist women and others, original art works including created by several different artists, and even a gift certificate for a mediation session, among several dozen other items. All of the auction items went for good sums and even then, people often paid over what they bid, all in the spirit of supporting the cause.

Everyone had a great evening. Many people were made much more aware of what is happening in Nigeria. Many prayers were lifted up. We as a community working, playing, and praying together raised over $10,000. Thanks be to God. May our brothers and sisters in Nigeria remain faithful and hopeful in this difficult time.

-- Frances Townsend is pastor of Onekama (Mich.) Church of the Brethren.


PERSONNEL

7) Jenn Dorsch begins as director of Brethren Disaster Ministries

The Church of the Brethren has hired Jenn Dorsch of Frederick, Md., as director of Brethren Disaster Ministries, beginning Feb. 24. Most recently she has been part-time interim program assistant in the Brethren Disaster Ministries office at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., while also working part-time at Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren as director of communications.

In a volunteer capacity, Dorsch has served on numerous domestic and international disaster rebuilding project sites, including leading groups from the Frederick Church in workcamp trips to Haiti. She also has worked as a program counselor and athletic director at a summer camp organization for girls, Girls Inc. In addition, she has experience as a graphic designer.

She has completed a masters of arts degree in Conflict Transformation at the Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, with a focus on trauma healing and peacebuilding. She also has completed STAR training from EMU. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa.


8) Tina Christian to be Gulf Coast coordinator for Children’s Disaster Services

Tina Christian

Tina Christian

Tina Christian has been named as the new part-time Gulf Coast coordinator for Children’s Disaster Services (CDS), a ministry within Brethren Disaster Ministries. She will serve as an independent contractor committed to the ecumenical mission of CDS in the Gulf Coast. The Gulf Coast project of CDS is a partnership between the Church of the Brethren and the Disciples of Christ.

Christian will work with CDS associate director Kathy Fry-Miller on expanding the work of Children’s Disaster Services in the Gulf Coast states, including networking with faith-based, disaster response, and child-care contacts; setting up workshops; and developing new Rapid Response teams. She has experience in ecumenical work, volunteer management, training, and information technology support, and is bilingual in English and Spanish.

She is a member of the Disciples of Christ and is serving as part-time associate pastor at Tropical Sands Christian Church in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., where she is active with a Family Promise program for those who are homeless. She also is working on a master of divinity degree.

Her start date is March 6, and her first week with CDS will include attending a Training of Trainer's session in southern California, on March 8-10. CDS also has a workshop scheduled in Boynton Beach, Fla., on April 24-25. The staff is eager to get more Gulf Coast trainings on the summer and fall schedule, and invites contacts from those who would like to host or co-host a training.

Christian’s e-mail address will be CDSgulfcoast@gmail.com . For more about the work of Children’s Disaster Services go to www.brethren.org/cds .

-- Kathleen Fry-Miller is associate director of Children's Disaster Services.


UPCOMING EVENTS

9) Youth ministry webinar series continues with focus on ‘Life and Time’

The third webinar in a series on Christian practices for teens, offered for adult leaders of youth, will be on the topic “Life and Time.” Emily Tyler, coordinator of workcamps and volunteer recruitment for the Church of the Brethren, will be leading the webinar which takes place the evening of Tuesday, March 3, at 8 p.m. (eastern time).

This is one in a series of webinars offered jointly by staff of the Church of the Brethren, Bethany Theological Seminary, and On Earth Peace. These staff are teaming up to provide informational and educational webinars geared to pastors, parents, and anyone who works with youth, primarily within the Church of the Brethren.

This series takes the form of a book study of “Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teens” edited by Dorothy C. Bass and Don C. Richter, and will offer reflections on a few selected chapters of the book. While having a copy of the book is helpful, it is not required. The book may be purchased through Brethren Press at www.brethrenpress.com or by calling 800-441-3712.

Both a telephone and a computer are required to join the webinar. To join the video portion, go to www.moresonwebmeeting.com and enter the phone number and access code given below (the technology used for this webinar works best with non-mobile devices). After joining the video portion, participants will need to join the audio portion by dialing 877-204-3718 or 303-223-9908. The access code is 8946766.

For those of you who wish to view the web portion via an iPad, download the link from the iTunes store (Level 3), and have the conference telephone number and access code available to enter. You will still need to join the audio portion with the Audio Login credentials. The name of the app is Level 3.

The final webinar in the series is planned for May 5, at 8 p.m. (eastern), on the topic “Forgiveness and Justice” led by Marie Benner-Rhoades of the On Earth Peace staff.

Ordained ministers may earn .1 continuing education credit for participating in the real-time event. To request continuing education credit, prior to the webinar contact Bekah Houff, coordinator of Outreach Programs at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., at houffre@bethanyseminary.edu .


10) Webinar will focus on ‘Reading the Bible after Christendom’

Lloyd Pietersen webinar on 'Reading the Bible after Christendom'

By Stan Dueck

Throughout Jay Leno's career as host of the Tonight Show, he interviewed people in his “Jay Walking” segments. The topics ranged from history to current events and sometimes Bible knowledge. In one segment, Leno asked people how long ago Jesus lived. One person responded 250 years. Another thought it was 250,000,000 years. Interesting and humorous conversations Leno had with “people on the street” shared what they know about the Bible.

Although regarded as a classic of Western civilization, the contents of the Bible are not well known. Christendom marginalized the teachings of Jesus, resulting in ways of reading scripture alien to the earliest church.

This webinar scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 26, at 2:30-3:30 p.m. (eastern time), draws on Lloyd Pietersen’s book “Reading the Bible after Christendom.” Pietersen will explore fresh ways of reading the Bible in our contemporary context that resonate with the early church and its rootedness in the teachings of Jesus. His work is regarded highly by leaders such as Phyllis Tickle, Walter Brueggemann, and Stuart Murray Williams.

Lloyd Pietersen, formerly senior lecturer in New Testament Studies at the University of Gloucestershire, England, currently is a research fellow at Bristol Baptist College. For years, he has been a leader with the Anabaptist Network in the UK.

Register and find more information at www.brethren.org/webcasts .

-- Stan Dueck is director of Transforming Practices in the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries.


11) ENGAGE to welcome prospective students to Bethany Seminary

By Jenny Williams

Campus visit days are well-established events at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., eliciting appreciation from attendees for the information and hospitality they receive. The spring 2015 ENGAGE visit day, to be held Friday, March 27, will again offer prospective seminary students as much of the Bethany experience as possible in a day’s time.

Faculty, current students, and staff will be involved in leadership. A morning presentation, “Living Words, Living People: Creative Ways of Presenting Scripture in Worship,” will be led by Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm, Brightbill Professor of Preaching and Worship. “This session will explore new ways to read, recite, and perform scripture in worship--and help us understand scripture as a living text that seeks to engage us today. We’ll look and listen to scripture anew, in ways that call forth the best of our energy and imagination.”

Attendees will learn about Bethany’s newly revised curriculum and its many options from Steve Schweitzer, academic dean. Over lunch, a presentation on the changing landscape of ministry will be led by Scott Holland, Slabaugh Professor of Theology and Culture, and Tara Hornbacker, professor of ministry formation, missional leadership, and evangelism.

To convey the student experience, a student panel discussion will be held via Bethany’s new technology classroom, demonstrating how Bethany allows for distance students to participate in classroom events in real time. Kristy Shellenberger, an MA student, will lead joint worship for the Bethany and Earlham School of Religion communities, and students will also give tours of the Earlham College campus.

Information on the financial investment of seminary education will include the amenities of the emerging Bethany Neighborhood in addition to financial aid and other considerations presented by Brian Schleeper, student services associate. Courtney Hess, grant project director, will speak to the research and programming being undertaken to address student debt and ongoing stewardship, of which the housing and community opportunities of the Neighborhood are a part. Students who have already applied also will be able to meet with faculty.

Bethany will cover lodging expenses and two meals for ENGAGE guests. For more information and to register, visit bethanyseminary.edu/visit/engage or call 800-287-8822.

On Saturday, all are invited to stay for the Willson Lectures at Earlham School of Religion, presented by renowned writer and speaker Diana Butler Bass on the topic, “Finding the Spirit of God in the Spirit of the World.” The event is free; breakfast and lunch will cost $25, and registration is required. For more information go to http://esr.earlham.edu/news-events/news/esr-welcomes-diana-butler-bass-2015-willson-lectures .

-- Jenny Williams is director of communications and alumni/ae relations for Bethany Theological Seminary.


RESOURCE

12) Spring issue of Guide for Biblical Studies seeks the Holy Spirit

“A Guide for Biblical Studies,” the Brethren Press curriculum for adults, this spring will have a focus on the Holy Spirit. The theme for the quarter--March, April, and May 2015--is “The Spirit Comes.”
 
Frank Ramirez is the author of the study and writer of the lessons, study questions, and “out of context” feature. He is pastor of Union Center Church of the Brethren in Nappanee, Ind.
 
Lessons explore scripture texts from John, Mark, Acts, 1 Corinthians, 1 John, and 3 John, with themes such as “Jesus Promises an Advocate,” “The Spirit of Truth,” “Receive the Holy Spirit,” and “Gifts of the Spirit,” among others.

Written from a Church of the Brethren perspective, “A Guide for Biblical Studies” follows the International Sunday School Lessons/Uniform Series and includes daily texts for individual meditation, as well as weekly lessons for small group study, and questions for both individual preparation and classroom use.

Price is $4.50 or $7.50 for large print books, plus shipping and handling. Purchase one copy per student, per quarter. This resource may be purchased online at www.brethrenpress.com or by calling Brethren Press at 800-441-3712.


13) Brethren bits

National Youth Cabinet for 2015-16
The National Youth Cabinet met Feb. 20-22 at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., to select the theme for National Youth Sunday 2015. The cabinet selected Romans 8:28-39 as scripture focus for the theme “Always Loved, Never Alone.” Congregations are invited to celebrate the worship leadership gifts of their youth by participating in National Youth Sunday on May 3. Worship resources will be posted at
www.brethren.org/youthresources on April 1. Shown above from left: Digby Strogen, Pacific Southwest District; Olivia Russell, Pacific Northest District; Krystal Bellis, Northern Plains District; Alexa Harshbarger, Northern Indiana District; Yeysi Diaz, Southern Ohio District; Emily Van Pelt, advisor, Virlina District; Jeremy Hardy, Mid-Atlantic District; Glenn Bollinger, advisor, Shenandoah District. Becky Ullom Naugle met with the cabinet in her role as director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

-- Remembrance: N.L. “Pete” Roudebush, 73, of Taylor Valley, Va., a former co-executive minister for Southeastern District, died Feb. 22 in Bristol, Tenn. He was an ordained minister and pastor of Walnut Grove Church of the Brethren in Damascus, Va. The following message was shared by Southeastern District: “It is with heavy hearts we want everyone to know Pastor Pete of Walnut Grove Congregation went to be with the Lord this morning at Welmont Hopsice House. We ask you to keep the family and our congregation in your prayers in the days ahead.” He was born in Harrison, Ohio, on June 19, 1941, attended Sinclair Community College earning an engineering degree, and worked for Parker Hannifin in Eaton and Brookville, Ohio. He was called into ministry and earned a bachelor of arts in Biblical Studies from Trinity Bible College and Seminary, and a master of divinity, doctor of ministry, and doctorate in theology from Andersonville Bible Seminary. In 2000 he was called as co-executive minister for Southeastern District with his wife, Martha, and served the district for 10 years. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Martha June Roudebush; son Daryl Roudebush and wife Jackie of Alexandria, Ohio; daughter Carol Morris and husband Chris of Orland Park, Ill.; grandchildren and great grandchildren. The funeral was held this afternoon, Wednesday, Feb. 25, at Riverview Chapel at Garrett Funeral Home in Damascus. A second service will be on Saturday, Feb. 28, at 2 p.m. at Robert L. Crooks Funeral Center in West Alexandria, Ohio, and the family will receive friends from 1-2 p.m. prior to the service. Memorial gifts are received for Wellmont Hospice House in Bristol, Tenn., and Walnut Grove Church of the Brethren. Condolences may be posted online at www.garrettfuneralhome.com .

-- Remembrance: Margaret M. “Margie” Petry, 84, a former Church of the Brethren mission worker in Nigeria, died on Dec. 8, 2014. She had been living at Timbercrest in N. Manchester, Ind. She and her husband Carroll “Kaydo” Petry served in Nigeria with the Church of the Brethren from 1963-69. She also was a professional artist. Many of her works are found at Camp Alexander Mack, including the most recent addition to the camp’s murals. She was born Aug. 10, 1930, in Akron, Ohio, to Joseph Clyde and Rachel Merle (Barr) James. In Aug. 1950 she married her high school sweetheart, Kaydo, and supported him while he completed Manchester College and Bethany Seminary. The couple lived in Indiana and Illinois, where Carroll Petry pastored several churches, before going to Nigeria. On their return to the US he continued his career as a pastor while she completed a degree at Manchester College and became an art teacher for 17 years, teaching at two high schools in Indiana. She earned a master’s degree and a life teaching license during the course of her teaching years. She was a member of Manchester Church of the Brethren. She is survived by her husband, Carroll "Kaydo" Petry; son Daniel Mark (Amy) Petry of Bristol, Ind.; daughters Dianne Louise (Rich) Wion of North Manchester, and Darlene Kay (Doug) Miller of Dillsburg, Pa.; grandchildren and great grandchildren. A memorial service was held Dec. 22, 2014. Memorial gifts are received to Timbercrest Senior Living Community, Charitable Assistance Fund. Condolences may be shared online at http://mckeemortuary.com/Condolences.aspx .

-- “Please hold Cliff in your prayers for comfort and safety in the days ahead, and for safe travel home,” said a prayer request from the Church of the Brethren General Offices, asking for prayer for Cliff Kindy whose mother June Kindy passed away Feb. 20. Cliff Kindy has been serving in Nigeria as a volunteer with the Nigeria Crisis Response, and will be returning to the US within the week. A memorial service for June Kindy will be held March 28 at the Timbercrest Chapel in North Manchester, Ind. The family will receive visitors at the chapel beginning at 1:30 p.m. and the service will begin at 2 p.m. June A. Kindy, 85, was active in service work and volunteering in the church, having been a part of the second unit of Brethren Volunteer Service, and having served in Migrant Ministry in Florida. Her family frequently sponsored refugees and worked with exchange students, many of whom lived for a time with them. She volunteered at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., and as a Heifer Project hostess in Massachusetts. She was a member of Eel River Community Church of the Brethren in Silver Lake, Ind. She is survived by sons Cliff (Arlene) Kindy of North Manchester, Ind., Bruce (Donna) Kindy of Wooster, Ohio, and Joe (Peggy) Kindy of Sterling, Ohio; daughters Treva Schar of Wooster, Ohio, and Gloria (Dan Garrett) Kindy of Rockville, Md.; grandchildren and great grandchildren. Memorial gifts are received to Heifer International and the Timbercrest Charitable Assistance Fund. Condolences may be shared online at http://mckeemortuary.com/Condolences.aspx .

-- A webinar on the “Faith Community Responding to Crisis in Syria and Iraq” on Feb. 27 at 1-2 p.m. (eastern time) is recommended by the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness. The event addresses how the faith community can respond more fully, clearly, and effectively to the crisis in Syria and Iraq, discusses regional dynamics and the US role in the crisis. The event will propose action items for the faith community to engage. There will be time for discussion from all participants. Main speakers are Raed Jarrar, Policy Impact coordinator, American Friends Service Committee (who was born in and lived in Iraq); Elizabeth Beavers, legislative associate on militarism and civil liberties, Friends Committee on National Legislation; Wardah Kalhid, Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellow in Middle East Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation. Facilitators are Marie Dennis, co-president, Pax Christi International; and Eli S. McCarthy, director of Justice and Peace, Conference of Major Superiors of Men, a Catholic organization. Register at https://pbucc.webex.com/pbucc/j.php?RGID=r6f7897e80e077d9e2bd986ead18a0c22 . Once the host approves the request, a confirmation e-mail will be sent with instructions for joining the meeting. For assistance go to https://pbucc.webex.com/pbucc/mc and on the left navigation bar, click “Support”; or contact Neurothm@ucc.org .

-- Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) is seeking an assistant director of Financial Operations, a full-time salaried position based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The primary function is to review and coordinate the reporting of all accounting and financial transactions related to the operations of the programs and administration of BBT. Duties include producing monthly financial statements, managing payroll, monitoring and managing cash flow, preparing account analyses, providing backup for other positions in the Finance Department, and completing other duties assigned by the director. The assistant director of Financial Operations will attend local BBT Board meetings and other BBT-related events, as assigned. The ideal candidate will possess a high level of technical proficiency, attention to detail, impeccable integrity, a collegial and engaging demeanor, and a strong faith commitment. Candidates with undergraduate degree in accounting are sought, a CPA is preferred. Requirements include strong verbal and written communications skills, proficiency in Microsoft Office, a strong working knowledge of fund accounting, and a track record of developing first-in-class support of operating activities across product lines within a complex enterprise. Experience with Microsoft Great Plains is desired. Current and active membership in the Church of the Brethren is preferred; current and active membership in a faith community is required. Salary and benefits are competitive with Church Benefits Association agencies of comparable size and scope of services. A full benefits package is included. Apply by sending a letter of interest, résumé, three professional references, and salary-range expectation to Donna March, 1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120,,or dmarch@cobbt.org . For questions or clarification about the position, call 847-622-3371. For more information about BBT visit www.brethrenbenefittrust.org .

-- Timbercrest seeks an associate administrator. Timbercrest is a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in N. Manchester, Ind. This position has responsibility for human resources, risk management, corporate compliance, and oversight of support services departments. The position requires an Indiana Health Facilities Administrator’s License or the ability to obtain the same. Interested parties should contact David Lawrenz, Executive Administrator, at 260-982-2118 or dlawrenz@timbercrest.org .

-- David Sollenberger will present a program about Nigeria at a meeting of Seniors for Peace at the Timbercrest Chapel in North Manchester, Ind., tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 26. “Everyone is invited to join,” said an announcement. The presentation will begin at 10 a.m.

-- Registration is open online at www.brethren.org/codeconference for a conference on church leadership sponsored by the Council of District Executives. A brochure with more details is at www.brethren.org/ministryoffice/documents/code-conference-brochure.pdf . The event takes place May 14-16 at Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren.

Home page image for La Verne Church 125th logo
Logo design by Eric Davis

-- La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren is celebrating its quasquicentennial (125th anniversary) this year, reports member Marlin Heckman. Some special events are planned throughout the year, and one Sunday each month the church is having a “quasquicentennial moment” in worship on themes such as the cornerstone, women in the church, music in the church, camping, relationship to the University of La Verne, and more. An anniversary logo has been created by Eric Davis.

-- Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a presentation by John Tirman, executive director and principal research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for International Studies, on March 4, at 7 p.m. Tirman heads the Persian Gulf Initiative at the center. He will talk about his book, "The Deaths of Others: The Fates of Civilians and Their Cultures in America's Wars." The free event is co-sponsored by the Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness Forum and the international studies program at Franklin and Marshall College.

-- “Keep Calm and Be a Dunker Punk” is the theme for Regional Youth Conference at McPherson (Kan.) College on March 6-8. The event is for senior high youth and advisors. The theme scripture is from Isaiah 1:17: “Say no to wrong. Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless” (The Message). The conference will feature leadership by David Radcliff of the New Community Project, and performances by Mutual Kumquat and Ted and Co. The fee for youth to attend is $65. Special pricing is available for college students willing to volunteer part of their time to assist with the weekend. For more information and online registration go to www.mcpherson.edu/ryc . For questions contact Jen Jensen, McPherson College director of Spiritual Life, jensenj@mcpherson.edu or 620-242-0503.

-- The public is invited to performances by Mutual Kumquat and Ted and Co. in McPherson, Kan., as part of the Regional Youth Conference. Ted and Co. will present “Laughter Is Sacred Space” in Brown Auditorium at McPherson College at 12 noon on March 6, and “The Big Story” at 1 p.m. on March 7 at McPherson Church of the Brethren. Mutual Kumquat, a band rooted in the Church of the Brethren, and billed as “obviously the best band ever,” will perform at the McPherson Church at 9 p.m. on March 7. “All are welcome to attend these events!” said an invitation from the church.

-- Mount Morris (Ill.) Church of the Brethren “is encouraging others to be visible in a stand for peace and a different approach to life” through the sale of yard signs with the words “On Earth Peace” and a logo featuring the dove of peace. A letter from the congregation’s Mission and Evangelism Team announced the effort. The team had signs printed using memorial funds, with permission from On Earth Peace, in order to share a “clear, simple, and beautiful” message, wrote Dianne Swingel. The congregation promoted the signs at the Illinois and Wisconsin District Conference and now is reaching out to neighboring congregations, camps, nursing homes, educational institutions, and some 20 Mennonite churches in the area. The signs are suitable for placing in a yard or window. Each sign is printed on both sides on durable material, and comes with a sturdy metal framework. “When thinking about the many cars and trucks which pass my home, with the OEP sign out front, there is likely a very, very small number who are Church of the Brethren,” Swingel wrote. “The others are those with whom we want to share the beautiful message of peace.” Cost per sign is $10. Order from Mt. Morris Church of the Brethren, P.O. Box 2055, Mt. Morris, IL 61054, 815-734-4574, mtmcob@frontier.net .

-- The February edition of “Brethren Voices,” a community television program of Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren, features an interview with Kim Stafford, son of poet William Stafford. Producer Ed Groff notes that this follows the March 2014 “Messenger” feature about William Stafford, who was Poetry Consultant for the Library of Congress in 1971-72. He was a member of the Church of the Brethren and during World War II served as a conscientious objector in Civilian Public Service. He worked for three years maintaining roads, building trails, restoring eroded lands, and fighting forest fires. After the war he taught high school, worked as secretary to the director of Church World Service, and completed his master’s degree at the University of Kansas with his thesis topic concerned his war experience as a CO. In 1948, William Stafford taught at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon before serving on the faculty at Manchester College in the English Department. He later returned to Lewis and Clark where he taught until his retirement. He died in Aug. 1993, having authored more than 60 volumes of poetry. His son Kim Stafford has continued to assist his father’s publishing efforts. Many poems are still to be published. Kim Stafford speaks with host, Brent Carlson, in this edition of  “Brethren Voices.” Next month “Brethren Voices” features David Radcliff of the New Community Project. Contact producer Ed Groff at groffprod1@msn.com .

-- “A Collage” concert is set for March 1 at Bridgewater (Va.) College, according to a release. The concert will be in the Carter Center for Worship and Music and is free and open to the public. A variety of college ensembles will perform jazz, gospel, and popular music. The Jazz Ensemble will be directed by Christine Carrillo, assistant professor of music and director of instrumental music. The College Chorale and the Concert Choir will perform under the direction of John McCarty, assistant professor of music and director of choral music. The A Cappella Choir will be directed by Katelyn Hallock, a senior music major, and Jordan M. Haugh, a junior music major, both from Frederick, Md. The Gospel Choir will perform under the direction of Rianna Hill, a senior English and communication studies double major, from Richmond, Va.

John Kline Candlelight Dinners, spring 2015

-- Candlelight dinners at the John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va., are planned for March 20 and 21, and April 17 and 18, at 6 p.m. The dinners bring to life the Shenandoah Valley of 150 years ago, during the fifth year of the Civil War. After the burning of the valley by Union forces under General Sheridan, “families strain to find enough food and shelter after a bitterly cold winter,” said an announcement. “Listen to their conversation around a family style meal in the 1822 Kline home.” For reservations call 540-421-5267 or e-mail proth@eagles.bridgewater.edu . Cost is $40 per plate and groups are welcome.

-- Casa de Modesto marks its 50th anniversary in May, and is planning a year’s worth of activities to celebrate. Casa de Modesto, Calif., is a member of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes. As part of the celebration, the center is adding special activities including several open houses and a fundraiser in the fall. Staff and residents are putting together a time capsule to be opened in 2065. Also in the works are a Senior Gala in May, a Chamber of Commerce mixer in June, and participation in the 4th of July parade. The anniversary recognizes the work and foresight of Merle Strohm, member of Modesto Church of the Brethren, whose dream led to the creation of Casa de Modesto. It is the only nonprofit retirement center in Modesto that offers three levels of care for its residents--independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing care.

-- A New Community Project Learning Tour visited communities and a camp for internally displaced people in South Sudan from Feb. 8-18. The focus of the trip was to connect with partners in Nimule and Narus, where grants support girls' education, women's skill training, and reforestation initiatives, reported director David Radcliff. “NCP provides scholarships for some 250 primary and secondary girls in half a dozen schools, sanitary kits for 3,000 young women, and recently raised over $30,000 to construct a girls' boarding school, which had just opened its doors as the group arrived,” he reported. “For women, the organization provides funding for tailoring training courses and gardening projects. To facilitate these efforts, NCP works through the Sudan Council of Churches in Narus, and the Girlchild Education and Development Association in Nimule.” The group also visited the Melijo camp, home to more than 1,000 refugees from the current round of fighting in South Sudan. A group of 100 women welcomed them, and shared requests for pots and pans, sleeping mats, a grinding mill--concluding with “husbands” because many are widows or have been abandoned. “NCP will offer some modest support, short of spouses,” Radcliff said. Brethren from Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Arizona participated in the delegation. Find out more at www.newcommunityproject.org .

-- Civil society groups including churches have again been denied access to the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, reports the World Council of Churches (WCC). “With governments spending record sums on arms, the world desperately needs a multilateral negotiating forum dedicated to disarmament,” said Peter Prove, director of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, in a release. “It used to have one, here in Geneva. It is called the United Nations Conference on Disarmament (CD) and it has just tried--for the 18th year in a row--to agree a program of work. It has failed again, spectacularly,” said Prove. The UN Conference on Disarmament is the world’s only permanent multilateral disarmament negotiating forum. Its successes include a 1996 treaty banning all nuclear tests, its last achievement to date, the WCC release said. All civil society organizations are excluded and the CD president, Ambassador Jorge Lomónaco of Mexico, presented three drafts on the topic early in the session. However, the United Kingdom objected which denied the required consensus. In the meantime, the WCC reports that momentum is building in other international gatherings to ban nuclear weapons, with 44 of the countries present at the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons calling for a ban (see www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/momentum-builds-for-ban-on-nuclear-weapons ).

-- The World Day of Prayer is scheduled for Friday, March 6. This global, ecumenical movement of Christian women joins together to observe a common day of prayer each year on the first Friday of March, under the motto, “Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action.” The 2015 worship celebration is written by women from the Bahamas, on the theme of “Radical Love,” and the invitation to “come and be washed in God's ever-flowing ocean of grace: to bask in the iridescent light of Christ's love, and to be embraced by [God's] Holy Spirit with the cooling trade-winds of transformation.” Order this year’s worship resources by calling 888-937-8720. Find out more at www.worlddayofprayer.net or www.wdp-usa.org .

-- The National Council of Churches (NCC) has distributed a “Call to Multi-Faith Solidarity” in the wake of the killings of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, N.C. The call comes from Shoulder to Shoulder, a campaign with the goal of “standing with American Muslims; upholding American values.” The three murdered students were Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; her husband, Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19. “Regardless of the motivation of this particular tragedy, it has very clearly highlighted concern in the Muslim community about rising anti-Muslim sentiment. Now is the time for those of us in the faith community who are not Muslim to stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters,” said the statement from Shoulder to Shoulder. The campaign urges religious leaders to use scriptures highlighting themes of love, contact mosques or Islamic centers to offer condolence and support, use social media to join in expressions of condolence and support, among other activities. One suggestion is to listen to a National Public Radio StoryCorps piece with shooting victim Yusor Abu-Salha, at www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/02/12/385714242/were-all-one-chapel-hill-shooting-victim-said-in-storycorps-talk .

Rudy Amaya
Photo courtesy of Pacific Southwest District

Rudy Amaya

-- The World Council of Churches (WCC) has strongly condemned the latest attacks and atrocities reportedly committed by the so-called “Islamic State” against Assyrian Christians in Syria. The WCC released a statement today, Feb. 25, expressing grave concern over reports of attacks on Christian settlements, killings of civilians, abduction of more than 100 people, and provocation to a mass exodus of communities. The WCC denounced “these and all other attacks against this diverse social fabric, on which rest the prospects for an inclusive society and sustainable peace,” said Georges Lemopoulos, as acting general secretary. “The WCC condemns all violent attacks against civilians as war crimes and crimes against humanity, whoever may commit them.” Read the statement at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/general-secretary/statements/statement-condemning-attacks-on-assyrian-christians-in-syria .

-- Rudy Amaya of Principe de Paz Church of the Brethren has received a Youth Opportunity Scholarship from Pacific Southwest District. He will use it to attend Christian Citizenship Seminar this April in New York and Washington, D.C. “Rudy demonstrated his skills for preaching during the Saturday evening District Conference Worship in November, 2014,” reported district youth advisor Dawna Welch. “He feels called to serve God, his church, and the disadvantaged. Please uphold Rudy and the 10 youth from La Verne Church of the Brethren with your prayers and blessings for safe travel and continued growth in faith.”

******************************************************
Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Deborah Brehm, Chris Douglas, Stan Dueck, Larry Elliott, Ed Groff, Bryan Hanger, Kendra Harbeck, Mary Kay Heatwole, Marlin Heckman, Carl and Roxane Hill, Bekah Houff, Donna March, Ralph G McFadden, Nancy Miner, Becky Ullom Naugle, Dianne Swingel, Dawna Welch, Roy Winter, Jay Wittmeyer, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. The next regularly scheduled issue of Newsline is set for March 3. Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at cobnews@brethren.org . Newsline appears every week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source.

Go to www.brethren.org/Newsline to subscribe to the Church of the Brethren Newsline free e-mail news service and receive church news every week.