Newsline for July 2, 2015




Love circle with unity scripture from Ephesians 4

NEWS
1) Nigerian Brethren send letter of condolence to Emanuel AME Church


2) AME bishops issue alert after seventh church fire since Charleston shootings

3) Brethren Disaster Ministries directs $70,500 in EDF grants to Burundi refugee crisis

4) Dominican Brethren receive support for effort to naturalize Haitian members

5) Wenatchee wildfire affects Pacific Northwest Brethren

6) Mission 21 adopts resolution on Nigeria crisis

ANNUAL CONFERENCE UPDATES
7) Reception at Annual Conference will honor general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger

8) Thomas Dowdy to speak at Congregational Life Ministries Dinner

OTHER UPCOMING EVENTS
9) Webinar ‘Healthy Boundaries 201' meets requirements for ordination review

10) Brethren bits: Correction, Nigerian tour, Workcamps assistant coordinators, staff announcements from Zigler Hospitality Center and Bethany Seminary, job openings with BDM and Southeastern District, VBS for Haiti Medical Project, honoring the late Chuck Boyer, more

A note to readers: Look for onsite coverage from Tampa to start next week, as events surrounding the 2015 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren get underway. News coverage of Annual Conference along with links to photo albums, webcasting, worship bulletins, sermons, the Conference app, and more will be at www.brethren.org/AC2015 .


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Quote of the week:

“As members of God’s family, we believe there is no boundary to our unity in faith. Let us continue praying with one voice since Christ is the Prince of Peace who through His love unites all human kind.”

-- Rev. Mbode M. Ndirmbita, EYN Vice President, and Rev. Jinatu L. Wamdeo, EYN General Secretary, in a letter from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria to Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. See the full text of the letter below.
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1) Nigerian Brethren send letter of condolence to Emanuel AME Church

A letter of condolence has been sent to Emanuel AME Church from leadership of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The letter, sent through the General Secretary’s Office of the Church of the Brethren in the United States, expresses caring on behalf of the entire membership of EYN, following the shooting attack in which nine members including the pastor of Emanuel AME were murdered during a Bible study.

Following is the full text of the letter:

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church
110 Calhoun St.
Charleston, South Carolina 29401-3510

Through
The General Secretary
Church of the Brethren, USA

Dear members of the Christian family,

On behalf of the entire members of the EYN -- Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, we send you our hearts feelings over the sad news of attack on your Church which leads to ask WHY? We stand by you in this difficult time as you mourn nine memorable lives of your members. We pray for the family to bear the sudden killing and to have heart of being encouraged by our Lord’s word that those who have been killed for His name’s sake have the everlasting reward.

As members of God’s family, we believe there is no boundary to our unity in faith. Let us continue praying with one voice since Christ is the Prince of Peace who through His love unites all human kind. Indeed your grieve has just awaken our sorrow afresh as we are still going through the trauma of Boko Haram. So, when we heard the news, we quickly want to identify with you and share the grief.

A blogpost from the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness calls on Brethren “to stand in faith and solidarity with all our brothers and sisters in Christ--especially those who persecuted. In response to the shootings at Emanuel AME Church.” See  http://blog.brethren.org/2015/ending-the-isolation-a-statement-from-the-office-of-public-witness-on-the-recent-violence-against-black-churches .

We do not know the grieved families as individual but we trust you will extend our condolence to all.

Remain blessed.

Yours in God’s vineyard,

Rev. Mbode M. Ndirmbita, EYN Vice President
Rev. Jinatu L. Wamdeo, EYN General Secretary


2) AME bishops issue alert after seventh church fire since Charleston shootings

The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church bishops have issued an alert after an AME church became the seventh predominantly black church to suffer a fire since the shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., two weeks ago. Through a release issued by the National Council of Churches, the AME Church shared information about an interfaith call to action that its bishops were to issue yesterday.

However, late this afternoon the ATF--a federal agency investigating the Mt. Zion AME Church fire in South Carolina--tweeted that this most recent fire was “caused by lightning. No criminal intent. The investigation is complete.”

In related news, threatening letters have been sent to two women pastors of AME churches in Clarendon County, S.C., and another woman pastor in the area. A report from WISTV Channel 10 in Columbia, S.C., said the pastors may have been targeted with threats of violence “just because they are women.” One letter was left at Society Hill AME Church, and another at Reevesville AME Church. Find the report at www.wistv.com/story/29446127/female-pastors-in-clarendon-county-receive-letters-threatening-their-safety .

Home page image for church steeple, in dark stylized image
Image by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Church fires

The fire at Mt. Zion AME Church in Greeleyville, S.C., began on Tuesday, June 30, at 8:35 p.m. (Eastern time). Whatever the cause, it became the seventh predominantly black church in the South to suffer a fire since the Charleston shootings. The fire at Mt. Zion AME Church occurred 20 years and 9 days after that same church was burned to the ground by KKK members.

The NCC release said that “the AME Church is preparing its local congregations to set up safety watches and take preventative measures to protect human life and physical assets.”

Federal authorities have been investigating the church fires and have determined that at least three were arson attacks, according to ABC News.

The seven churches that have suffered fires:
-- College Hill Seventh Day Adventist Church, Knoxville, Tenn.; fire occurred June 21
-- God’s Power Church of Christ, Macon, Ga.; June 23
-- Briar Creek Baptist Church, Charlotte, N.C.; June 24
-- Fruitland Presbyterian Church, Gibson County, Tenn.; June 24
-- Greater Miracle Temple Church, Tallahassee, Fla.; June 26
-- Glover Grove Missionary Baptist Church, Warrenville, S.C.; June 26
-- Mt. Zion AME Church, Greeleyville, S.C.; June 30

Interfaith call to action

“Two weeks after the church massacre at Mother Emanuel AME Church, the AME Church is meeting in New Orleans, La., to issue an interfaith ‘Call to Action’ for this 4th of July weekend,” said the NCC release. The AME Church Council of Bishops and church leadership represent members in 39 countries on 5 continents.

The NCC release included the following statement from the AME Council of Bishops concerning the shootings at Emanuel AME Church:

“The Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) joins with our components and worldwide membership in expressing our grief and sympathy. The senseless and evil action which took the lives of those who gathered at Mother Emanuel to study and pray is indicative of a major crisis facing our nation and its people. While we are relieved that the alleged murderer has been arrested, we do not believe this matter has been concluded. We call upon the nation’s political leadership, faith institutions and other organizations in this country to face the reality that racism remains an unresolved sin in our nation.”


3) Brethren Disaster Ministries directs $70,500 in EDF grants to Burundi refugee crisis

Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed another two grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) totaling $70,500 to the Burundi refugee crisis, in addition to a grant of $11,500 that was made in June.

“Since April 2015, Burundians have been fleeing their country following election violence and a failed coup, which has led to the deterioration of safety and security,” explained the Brethren Disaster Ministries grant request. “This has led to significant displacement towards surrounding countries, with the largest influx of refugees--more than 50,000--arriving in Tanzania.”

An allocation of $60,000 is supporting Church World Service (CWS) humanitarian assistance for Burundi refugees in Tanzania, where living conditions at the Nyarugusu Refugee Camp have become dire as existing facilities are inadequate. “Tensions have arisen between the newly-arriving Burundian refugees and the Congolese refugees, some of whom have lived there for 20 years,” the grant request said. Tanzania’s government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have been selecting a nearby location where a new refugee camp can be built for the newly-arrived Burundian refugees.

The funds from the EDF will support local partners of CWS in providing emergency aid for more than 50,000 individuals over the next year, including safe water, appropriate sanitation and hygiene, shelter, household supplies, protection for women and girls, and psychosocial support.

A grant of $10,500 is being directed to the Shalom Ministry for Reconciliation and Development of the Congolese Brethren. The Shalom Ministry also received the previous allocation of $11,500. The ministry is providing 350 refugee families with emergency food including corn flour, beans, cooking oil, and salt.

This most recent grant supports a second phase of the response which includes the distribution of laundry soap, household and cooking supply kits, and clothing for the 350 households, which represent 2,800 people.

Find out more about the Emergency Disaster Fund at www.brethren.org/edf .


4) Dominican Brethren receive support for effort to naturalize Haitian members

Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed a grant of up to $8,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) supporting the work of Iglesia de los Hermanos (the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic) to assist the naturalization of ethnic Haitians living in the DR. This grant is in addition to funding of $6,500 from the budget of Global Mission and Service, for a total of up to $14,500.

The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, and many people of Haitian descent live across the border in the DR. However, in Sept. 2013, a high level court in the DR made a ruling that denies Dominican nationality to children of undocumented migrants who have been born or registered in the country after 1929, and who do not have at least one Dominican parent. The ruling was made under a 2010 constitutional clause declaring these people to be either in the country illegally or in transit.

As a result, tens of thousands of people born in the DR to undocumented Haitian parents are stateless, jobless, and in need of international assistance. The Church of the Brethren in the DR has responded with a project to assist church members of Haitian descent to register and become naturalized in the DR.

The Dominican Brethren work to register and naturalize Haitian members has been going on for some time, according to Global Mission executive Jay Wittmeyer, who reported that initially there was some caution about the DR government’s process.

“The Church of the Brethren in the DR has been actively registering names,” Wittmeyer said. Funding support is needed because of the expense of the substantial documentation that is required for an individual to go through the registration and naturalization process, he explained.

“The Dominican church, which is half Dominican and half Haitian, is committed to unity in Christ and is fully supportive of their Haitian Brethren in this time of crisis,” Wittmeyer said. “The church has always had shared leadership between the Dominican and Haitian communities.”

To date, the Church of the Brethren in the DR has registered nearly 300 members in what is called Phase 1 of the naturalization effort, according to the Brethren Disaster Ministries grant request. Phase 2 will cost about $80 per person, with a plan to have $40 provided by the individual and a matching grant of $40 from the Church of the Brethren in the United States. The Dominican Brethren have a goal of helping 250 people in Phase 2, at a cost of $10,000.

For more information about the Emergency Disaster Fund go to www.brethren.org/edf . For more information about the Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic go to www.brethren.org/partners/dr .


5) Wenatchee wildfire affects Pacific Northwest Brethren

A map showing the area of wildfire near Wenatchee, Wash., courtesy of the Chelan County Emergency Management agency.
Image: Chelan County Emergency Management

A map showing the area of wildfire near Wenatchee, Wash., courtesy of the Chelan County Emergency Management agency.

Brethren Disaster Ministries reports that a wildfire on the outskirts of Wenatchee, Wash., has destroyed 24 homes and 4 businesses. No lives have been lost. “We need and appreciate your prayers for my home town,” said Colleen Michael, executive minister of the Church of the Brethren’s Pacific Northwest District.

As of this morning, FEMA reported that the fire is 85 percent contained. Officially named the Sleepy Hollow wildfire, the fire started Sunday and burned more than 3,000 acres, affecting at least one housing development on the edge of Wenatchee.

Forrest “Frosty” Wilkinson, who serves as disaster co-coordinator for Pacific Northwest District, is monitoring the situation through partner agencies in the Washington State VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), on behalf of Brethren Disaster Ministries.

This fire comes on the heels of the recent Carlton Complex fires in Okanogan County, Wash. Six volunteers from Pacific Northwest District worked on a rebuilding project there the week of June 14 in cooperation with Mennonite Disaster Service, with more volunteers planning to serve in ensuing weeks.

“Please hold Colleen and all residents of Wenatchee in your prayers during this frightening and uncertain time,” said a prayer request from the General Secretary’s Office.


6) Mission 21 adopts resolution on Nigeria crisis

From a Mission 21 press release

The Mission 21 assembly unanimously approved a resolution on June 12 clearly condemning terror by Boko Haram, reaffirming the obligation of Christian organizations to assist the people of Nigeria, and making a point to state that the support and aid should benefit all people in Nigeria--Christians as well as Muslims.

Mission 21 is a longstanding partner of the Church of the Brethren mission in Nigeria and of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

Mission 21 and its partners received prominent support for this resolution from representatives of the Lutheran World Federation, the Church of the Brethren, and the Mennonites. Silvio Schneider of the Lutheran World Federation traveled to Basel, Switzerland, specifically to support the resolution and the work of Mission 21 and its partners. Schneider was delighted the common stance to work together with partners in Africa and not just for them.

The resolution was developed in constant dialogue with various churches, in particular with the EYN. As a partner, EYN carries out the aid project for the local population, with support from Mission 21.

The continental assemblies of Mission 21 from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe were each given 700 bracelets with the names of victims of the terrorist group Boko Haram. The bracelets are part of a global action of solidarity of Mission 21 for Nigeria, which lasts from June to Dec. 2015. Together with partner churches, this will help to continue and spread the support for EYN in Nigeria.

Samuel Dali, president of EYN, shared his great thanks with all participants. It was followed by a standing ovation. With this act of solidarity, the Mission 21 assembly came to an end.

The full text of the resolution follows:

Mission 21 Resolution on the Situation in North-Eastern Nigeria

The Mission Synod of Mission 21, meeting in Basel, Switzerland, 12 June 2015, representing 90 churches and organizations in 22 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America,

a) Reaffirming our commitment as a Christian faith-based organization to stand with the people of north-eastern Nigeria and in a special way with EYN Church of the Brethren Nigeria, who is currently suffering severely from the consequences of attacks by terrorists known under the name ‘Boko Haram’,

b) Mindful of and deeply concerned by the global activities of jihadists, in particular in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and the resulting massive streams of internally displaced people and refugees,

c) Reiterating that the scourge of terrorism in Nigeria has primarily affected the populations of the north-eastern States of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, where Christians and moderate Muslims have been victims of violent attacks by radical groups,

d) Stressing that, according to many Nigerian opinion leaders as well as national and international analysts, the root causes for the magnitude of the insurgencies are likely to be located at the intersection of severe economic inequality, low levels of education, corruption and criminal activity, and religious fanaticism,

e) Condemning in the strongest terms the violations of human dignity committed by Boko Haram, whose leaders propagate an ideology of hatred that births violence against anyone who does not submit to their worldview,

f) Expressing outrage at the atrocities perpetrated in the name of the establishment of an Islamic caliphate: the forced displacements, the murders, the kidnapping, the torture and abuses, the destruction of property and livelihoods,

g) Reiterating that women and children are among those who suffer the greatest harm in war-torn societies as they are often victims of devastating forms of physical and psychological violence, including sexual violence, forced conversions, slavery, and that women are the first to be affected by lack of infrastructure as they struggle to care for the wounded and the weak,

h) Expressing grave concern at the great loss and damage these terrorist attacks have incurred on EYN since the beginning of the insurgencies in 2009, in particular the high toll of more than 8’000 human lives lost, several hundred women and girls abducted, 700’000 members having been displaced within Nigeria or having fled to the neighbouring country of Cameroon, some 1670 EYN churches or worship centres having been destroyed,

i) Bearing in mind recent statements, letters and prayers in support of the people in Nigeria, issued by the United Nations, the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), the Church of the Brethren USA (COB) and the United Methodist Church USA (UMC),

j) Welcoming the voices from Muslims and Islamic organizations that take a firm stand against the ideology held and the acts perpetrated by Boko Haram and related terrorist groups, such as the statements made by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), the Abrahamic Peace Centre Kaduna,

k) Applauding the efforts made by churches and organizations of whom we know that they are actively involved in alleviating the plight of the people in north-eastern Nigeria, the Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA), the interreligious NGO Lifeline Compassionate Global Initiative (LCGI), COB USA for providing emergency relief to EYN, the WCC for establishing a centre to promote interreligious harmony, justice and peace,

Expressing concern that the urgent call for funding (16 September 2014) by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has not yet been met by the international community, resulting in a severe underfunding of the UNHCR mission in Nigeria,

1. Resolve to partner with the people in north-eastern Nigeria to create new perspectives for a life of peace,

2. Commit ourselves to
-- alleviating the suffering of the displaced Nigerians, Christian and Muslim, by providing food and improved shelters, buying land for permanent settlements, building houses, building latrines and constructing wells,
-- supporting those who suffer from physical and psychological trauma to recover their health by offering counselling to victims and by training and equipping co-workers in partner organizations in counselling,
-- creating livelihood opportunities in order to allow people to secure the necessities of life by supplying agricultural equipment, seeds and fertiliser, and by specifically empowering women through skill training and children in enabling them to attend school,
-- promoting peaceful and constructive relations between Christians and Muslims through joint refugee settlements and care programs, the establishment and support of peace initiatives in camps and communities that have been affected by violence, while advocating for constructive Christian-Muslim relationships at the local, regional and national levels,
-- raising awareness in Europe and encouraging people to pray, dialogue and speak up publicly and to make donations towards the relief and reconstruction work in north-eastern Nigeria

3. Applaud the Government of Nigeria for having developed a National Action Plan for the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on women, peace and security,

4. Call upon all Governmental Agencies, Civil Society organizations, donors and all people of good will involved in relief and reconstruction work to plan and act
-- according to the best practices of responsible humanitarianism (‘do no harm’)
-- proactively promoting peace between religious (denominational) and ethnic groups
-- informed about and appreciative of local initiatives, skills and knowledge
-- in alignment with the above mentioned National Action Plan, which includes
-- ensuring the participation of women and youth at all levels of the reconstruction and peace process
-- making the socio-economic empowerment of women and girls a priority
-- intensifying advocacy against traditional and cultural practices that inhibit or obstruct the effective implementation of UNSCR 1325
-- promoting awareness of national and international laws concerning the rights and protection of women and girls
-- supporting the establishment of special courts to try the violators of women and girls

5. Call upon all ethnic and religious communities to embrace and actively accompany victims of any kind of violence, in particular victims of sexual violence, by
-- creating an environment that is physically and emotionally safe
-- sensitizing the members of the community with regard to the specific situation of victims
-- coordinating support (trauma counselling, pastoral care, health care, etc.)
-- condemning any form of stigmatization of individuals who have suffered from sexual violence

(Kendra Harbeck provided help with the translation of the Mission 21 press release from German into English.)


ANNUAL CONFERENCE UPDATES

7) Reception at Annual Conference will honor general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger

Stanley J. Noffsinger

Stanley J. Noffsinger

“You are cordially invited to be our special guest to honor and celebrate 12 years of faithful and excellent service of Stanley J. Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren,” states an invitation from the Mission and Ministry Board to a recognition event during Annual Conference in Tampa, Fla., on the morning of July 14.

Memory Book

Those not attending the Conference may “sign” a Memory Book for Noffsinger by sending e-mail greetings for a Memory Book being prepared by the Craft and Crop group at Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. Send an e-mail with a one- or two-sentence greeting to Noffsinger and the sender’s name, congregation, and district, to haldemanl@etowncob.org .

‘Answering the Call, Celebrating the Service’

The Annual Conference recognition event for general secretary Noffsinger titled “Answering the Call, Celebrating the Service,” is planned for Tuesday, July 14, at the Tampa Convention Center. A formal recognition from 10:30-11:30 a.m. takes place in the East Hall of the convention center, followed by an informal reception at 11:30 a.m. in Rooms 24 and 25. Refreshments will be provided.

“We hope you can join this celebration!” said the board’s invitation.


8) Thomas Dowdy to speak at Congregational Life Ministries Dinner

There has been a change of the speaker and topic for the Congregational Life Ministries Dinner at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Tampa, Fla. Thomas Dowdy, an African American pastor serving at Imperial Heights Church of the Brethren in Los Angeles, Calif., will speak on the topic “Keeping the Faith, Acting in Faith,”

The dinner is scheduled for Tuesday, July 14, at 5 p.m.

“In the last year, we have all witnessed so much tension, fear, and hurt in our country. Especially as current events have been part of a growing awareness about racial inequalities and the structural violence that plagues our most vulnerable communities,” said an announcement of the change from Intercultural Ministries director Gimbiya Kettering.

“Many of our congregations have been praying for healing and peace. And still we are seeking and searching to do more. What is a faithful response, in the Brethren tradition, to the violence of racism? What actions could come from our values of community, simple living, and peace? How can our faith be part of the needed work of racial justice?”

Dowdy also is the Wednesday morning preacher at the 2015 Annual Conference. He is a member of the Intercultural Ministries Advisory Committee and is active in Pacific Southwest District leadership. He was part of the committee that wrote the “Separate No More” paper that was adopted by Annual Conference in 2007.

Tickets for the dinner cost $27 and may be purchased onsite at the Annual Conference registration area at the Tampa Convention Center. For detailed information about the 2015 Annual Conference go to www.brethren.org/ac .


OTHER UPCOMING EVENTS

9) Webinar ‘Healthy Boundaries 201' meets requirements for ordination review

A webinar from the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership titled “Healthy Boundaries 201 and Ethics in Ministry Relations Training” will offer ordained ministers another opportunity to complete requirements for ministerial ethics training for the 2015 ordination review. The webcast is scheduled for Aug. 15, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (Eastern time), with a break for lunch.

Julie M. Hostetter, executive director of the Brethren Academy, will lead the webinar and the training. Dan Poole, director of Educational Technology at Bethany Theological Seminary, will provide technology support.

Ministers interested in attending the webinar may contact the Brethren Academy at academy@bethanyseminary.edu . A website link will be e-mailed to participants a few days prior to the webcast, to connect participants to the webcast “room” online. The registration fee of $30 covers the cost of a book to be used during the sessions and a .5 continuing education unit certificate on completion of the webinar.

Registration and payment must be sent to the Brethren Academy by July 31. For more information contact academy@bethanyseminary.edu .


10) Brethren bits

The EYN Women's Fellowship Choir performs at Highland Avenue Church

The EYN Women’s Fellowship Choir and BEST group have been a big hit as they tour the country in advance of Annual Conference. The tour is getting great coverage by press at many of its stops, and is receiving a warm welcome from Church of the Brethren congregations and districts along the way.
     Gloria Casas, who writes for the Elgin “Courier-News” covered the June 26 concert and program in Elgin, Ill., hosted at the last minute by Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren after cold rainy weather forced the event indoors from its original park venue. The report was picked up by the “Chicago Tribune” online. Find it at www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/elgin-courier-news/lifestyles/ct-ecn-church-of-bretheran-st-0630-20150629-story.html .
     “A big success” is how South Central Indiana District’s newsletter characterized the EYN Women’s Fellowship Choir concerts in North Manchester and Lafayette, Ind. The newsletter said that “the choir was well received by about 300 people at the Manchester Church of the Brethren and at least 500 at the Long Center in Lafayette. A huge thank you to the many many people who were involved in these events through organizing, publicity, food, housing, and donating funds. Thousands of dollars were raised for support of the tour, and for the Nigeria Crisis Fund. Please continue in prayer for the group as they continue their travels, as well as for the church in Nigeria, as it continues to cope with its great losses.”
     WLFI Channel 18 reported on the concert in Lafayette, Ind., posting a news article and a video. Find the WLFI reporting by Ryan Delaney at http://wlfi.com/2015/06/29/nigerian-choir-sings-songs-of-appreciation .
     Shenandoah District is hosting the EYN choir and BEST group for a few days in mid-week this week, and has planned some special outings for them in addition to the Wednesday evening concert at the Carter Center for Worship and Music at Bridgewater (Va.) College and the Thursday evening concert at Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock, Va. Outings are also planned to visit Brethren Woods, the Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center, Bridgewater Retirement Community, and a picnic on the Skyline Drive.
     Virlina District will welcome the EYN tour with a dinner at 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 9, at Central Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., followed by a concert and program. The dinner is for the choir “and all who would like to greet and fellowship with the choir members,” said the district newsletter. Cost of dinner will be $8 and reservations are needed. Make your reservation by contacting the District Resource Center at 540-362-1816, 800-847-5462, or virlina2@aol.com .
     The full tour schedule for the Nigerian group is at www.brethren.org/news/2015/tour-schedule-for-eyn-womens-choir.html .

In related news: BBC and other news outlets have published interviews with women who have escaped or been rescued from insurgents in Nigeria, and who have brought back stories about the whereabouts and activities of Chibok schoolgirls who remain in the hands of Boko Haram. A variety of such reports, often contradictory, have surfaced in recent weeks. The Church of the Brethren staff have received no corroboration of any of the reports so far. “Please continue to pray for the girls and the names you have been given,” said Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer, referring to the names of girls that were shared with congregations shortly after the schoolgirls were abducted last year. “We really do not have solid information on any of the girls who are still held captive, and we pray for them and for the EYN Church.”

-- Correction: The Youth and Young Adult Ministry has corrected the number of participants reported at the National Junior High Conference. There were 325 participants at the event at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College in mid-June.

-- The Church of the Brethren Workcamp Ministry has announced the assistant coordinators for the 2016 season: Deanna Beckner of Columbia City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren, and Amanda McLearn-Montz of Panther Creek Church of the Brethren in Adel, Iowa. Beckner graduated from Manchester University in May with a degree in Communication Studies. McLearn-Montz graduated from Tulane University in May with a degree in Spanish and Public Health. The two assistant coordinators will begin their work in August, to plan for the 2016 workcamp season.

-- The Church of the Brethren has hired Connie Bohn of Taneytown, Md., as part-time hospitality assistant at the Zigler Hospitality Center on the campus of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., beginning June 29. She brings to the job more than 20 years of experience as a secretary and receptionist, including her work as secretary for the New Windsor Conference Center from 1999-2011, before it was closed. She also worked as administrative support assistant at the Heifer International Mid-Atlantic Office from 1988-1998, when it was located at the Brethren Service Center. She has studied at Carroll Community College, where she received medical receptionist training, and at Abbie Business Institute in Frederick, Md., where she earned a Certificate in Office Assistance.

-- Bethany Theological Seminary has announced new duties for Monica Rice, who as of July 1 adds responsibilities as coordinator for Alumni/ae Relations to her existing duties as administrative assistant of Institutional Advancement and coordinator of Congregational Relations. As a Bethany representative to congregations and at district and denominational events, she will foster a program of mutual support between the seminary and the Church of the Brethren congregations. In addition, she will continue to deepen relationships with alumni/ae of the seminary through programming and communication. In 2011, Rice graduated from Bethany with a master of arts degree, and since then has been serving on the staff of the seminary.

-- The Church of the Brethren seeks candidates for three fulltime positions at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.: office manager for Brethren Disaster Ministries, program assistant for the Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuild program, and program assistant for Children’s Disaster Services. The office manager position is salaried; the program assistant positions are hourly. For details including responsibilities, required skills, and knowledge, go to the Jobs page at the Church of the Brethren website: www.brethren.org/about/employment.html . These positions all begin Sept. 1. Applications will be received beginning immediately and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the positions are filled. Qualified candidates are invited to request an application form by contacting the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; humanresources@brethren.org .

-- The Southeastern District of the Church of the Brethren has an opening for a director of a School of Spiritual Learning (SSL) Program that works with licensed and ordained ministers. This program provides training for completion of licensing requirements as well as continuing education credit for ministers to fulfill their five-year ordination reviews. The director’s responsibilities include working with SSL trustees and district executives to secure instructors and review the program for any needed changes; working with instructors to create course syllabus and to select textbooks; maintaining student records; communicating with the district financial officer regarding registration, fees, honorariums, and expenses; creating continuing education certificates; providing updates to the District Ministry Commission; reporting to the District Conference; reviewing student transcripts and providing student progress reports; and more. Send a resume with a letter of interest by e-mail to sedcob@centurylink.net or by mail by Southeastern District Office, P.O. Box 8366, Gray, TN 37615. Resumes will be accepted through July 10.

-- The 32nd World Hunger Auction will be held at Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock, Va., on Saturday, Aug. 8, starting at 9:30 a.m. The event is a culmination to a year of fundraising activities to address hunger. The auction includes the sale of crafts, quilts, toys, produce, baked and canned goods, special services, and more. “Come early for the best selection,” said an invitation from Virlina District. For more information go to www.worldhunger auction.org .

The children of Black Rock Church of the Brethren Vacation Bible School pose with pastor Dave Miller in front of the chart showing their giving to the Haiti Medical Project.
Photo courtesy of Black Rock Church

The children of Black Rock Church of the Brethren Vacation Bible School pose with pastor Dave Miller in front of the chart showing their giving to the Haiti Medical Project.

-- Black Rock Church of the Brethren in Southern Pennsylvania District designated the offering from its 2015 Vacation Bible School to the Haiti Medical Project. “Over four days, June 22-25, 30 children contributed $300.16. This will be added to the $527.45 donated by the congregation for a total of $827.61 to help establish Mobile Clinics in Haiti,” reported pastor David W. Miller. Find out more about the Haiti Medical project at www.brethren.org/haiti-medical-project .

-- A project honoring the late Charles “Chuck” Boyer has presented “Living Peace Church” certificates and helped plant Peace Poles at the 27 congregations of Pacific Southwest District in connection with the 40th anniversary of On Earth Peace, according to a report from Maurice Flora. Boyer, who served as moderator of Annual Conference and pastor of the La Verne Church, also was involved with the development of On Earth Peace. A group of On Earth Peace supporters arranged a presentation of framed certificates to the district’s congregations at the Pacific Southwest District Conference last year. “All congregations were presented with a new On Earth Peace certificate proclaiming each as a ‘Living Peace Church.’ Each congregation had been contacted beforehand to indicate they would be receiving the framed certificates recognizing them as part of the ‘Community of Practice,’” Flora reported. The certificates were developed by the University of La Verne and signed by the On Earth Peace executive director and board chair. As part of the project, congregations also were asked if they had a Peace Pole. Flora reports that 14 already had a Peace Pole, and 13 which did not were given plaques for a Peace Pole, one in English and one in Spanish. The group involved with the project included Shirley Campbell Boyer of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, Lucile Cayford Leard of Glendale (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, Linda Williams of San Diego (Calif.) First Church of the Brethren, Marty Farahat who is an On Earth Peace volunteer based in California, and Maurice Flora of the La Verne Church.

-- District conference season in the Church of the Brethren opens later this month, with Northern Ohio District’s conference on July 24-25 at Mohican Church of the Brethren in West Salem, Ohio; and Southeastern District’s conference on July 24-26 at Mars Hill University in Mars Hill, N.C. The end of July see Northern Plains District meeting on July 31-Aug. 2 at West Des Moines (Iowa) Christian Church; and Western Plains District holding its conference on July 31-Aug. 2 at McPherson Church and McPherson College, both in McPherson, Kan.

-- “Servant Leadership for Church Renewal, Shepherds by the Living Springs” is a new training DVD by David and Joan Young of the Springs of Living Water Initiative in Church Renewal.  Produced by David Sollenberger, the DVD is in four sessions with questions for individual and group reflection. A booklet of resources plus a page of uses is clipped in the DVD box. The DVD will be released at a Springs Insight Session at Annual Conference in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, July 13, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. as Tim Harvey shares about servant leadership and the round tables that are in use for delegate seating at the Conference, and Keith Funk shares about servant leadership and church renewal at Quinter (Kan.) Church of the Brethren. Receive this anniversary gift at the insight session or contact davidyoung@churchrenewalservant.org or 717-615-4515.

-- “Everyone urged to join Zero Hunger Challenge,” said a release from the World Council of Churches (WCC) this week. The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, an initiative of the WCC, is calling churches and individuals to join in a world-wide “zero hunger” challenge initiative of the United Nations. “No one should be hungry, especially in a world that already produces more than enough food to feed everyone,” said Manoj Kurian, interim coordinator, who highlighted the challenge as part of the Food for Life Campaign. “We can build sustainable and waste-free food systems that nourish and support all people and empower the smallholder and family farms that produce the vast majority of the world’s food.” Three years ago, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon issued the Zero Hunger Challenge, and now all individuals and organizations are being asked to join the challenge and pledge to make a difference. The Zero Hunger pledge asks groups and individuals to actively work to eradicate hunger. “This includes advocating for actions and policies to reach zero stunted children less than two years, ensure 100 percent access to adequate food all year round, sustainable food systems, 100 percent increase in smallholder productivity and income, and zero loss or waste of food,” the release said. Churches and individuals can “Join the Challenge” by signing up at http://blog.zerohungerchallenge.org/join-the-challenge . More information is at www.un.org/en/zerohunger .

-- In more news from the World Council of Churches, a church pilgrimage is planned to Hiroshima and Nagasaki to seek action to end nuclear threats on the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings. “In early August, the WCC representatives will embark on an unusual pilgrimage. A group of church leaders will travel to two cities devastated by the deadliest of weapons 70 years ago, then visit governments still willing to destroy thousands of cities in similar fashion today,” said a release. “The cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were attacked with atomic bombs on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945. A lifetime after that fearsome destruction, 40 governments still rely on nuclear weapons. Nine states possess nuclear arsenals and 31 other states are willing to have the United States use nuclear weapons on their behalf.” The church pilgrimage will take church leaders from eight of these countries to Hiroshima and Nagasaki to listen to A-bomb survivors, pray with local churches, reflect with other faiths on the plight of the two cities, then bring calls for action home to their own countries. “One key step is to urge their governments to join a new inter-governmental pledge to ‘close the legal gap’ and establish a formal ban on nuclear weapons. This humanitarian initiative already has the support of 110 countries,” said the release. The eight member churches involved in the pilgrimage are from the US, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Netherlands, Norway, and Pakistan. Heading the delegation is Bishop Mary-Ann Swenson of the United Methodist Church in the US. Find out more at www.oikoumene.org/en/what-we-do/nuclear-arms-control .


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Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Deborah Brehm, Jenn Dorsch, Maurice Flora, Bryan Hanger, Kendra Harbeck, Gimbiya Kettering, Steven D. Martin, Fran Massie, Colleen Michael, Nancy Miner, Becky Ullom Naugle, Stan Noffsinger, Pamela A. Reist, Emily Tyler, Jackie Dupont Walker, Jenny Williams, Roy Winter, Jay Wittmeyer, David Young, Jane Yount, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for 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. The next issue of Newsline will preview events at the 2015 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren taking place in Tampa, Fla., on July 11-15.

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