“They replied, ‘We have nothing here except five loaves of bread and two fish.” He [Jesus] said, “Bring them here to me” (Matthew 14:17-18).
1) Denomination records stellar giving, but Core Ministries giving suffers
2) Mission and Ministry Board adopts 2016 budget of $9.5 million for denominational ministries
3) Church of the Brethren issues position posting for General Secretary
4) Districts take action addressing same-sex marriage
5) Workcamp schedule is announced for 2016
6) Brethren bits
Quotes of the week:
“No matter how dim the light or dark the hour, we have a never-giving-up God who says, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you’”
-- Mission and Ministry Board member Dennis Webb preaching on 1 Corinthians 13:9-12 for the closing worship service of the board’s Fall meeting.
“Hey look, we’ve got two of these and five of that! Imagine if we put those in the right hands!”
-- Mission and Ministry Board member Patrick Starkey in the opening devotions for the Executive Committee. He was speaking on Matthew 14:17-18, calling the board to take a positive look at the resources available to the denomination, and to act in faith to place those resources at God’s disposal.
“If we take the stand that only violence will change the world, then we’ll only have violence”
-- Donald Miller, former general secretary of the Church of the Brethren and a former faculty of Bethany Theological Seminary, responding to the commendations of his service to the church. The board meeting included a dedication of the Donald Miller papers, which have been donated to the Brethren Historical Library and Archives. Miller, among other peace church leaders from the Mennonite and Quaker traditions, is credited with having played a role in the adoption of the concept of “just peace” by the World Council of Churches.
A NOTE TO READERS: Newsline is undergoing a redesign, and will be making some more changes in its online content before the end of the year. These changes are made in relationship with enhancements to the online content of “Messenger” magazine. We always welcome input from readers about what is working and what needs improvement. An online survey will be made available soon, for reader feedback. Keep your eyes open for the survey in a future issue!
1) Denomination records stellar giving, but Core Ministries giving suffers
The Church of the Brethren is recording exceptionally generous giving to its denominational ministries this year, the Mission and Ministry Board learned at its Fall meeting. The financial reporting was given by treasurer Brian Bultman and assistant treasurer Ed Woolf. For a full report from the meeting, and a report of the 2016 budget decision, see the story below.
This year, total giving to denominational ministries as of the end of August amounts to $3,959,533--a 17.9 percent increase from 2014.
Other high points for 2015 include an overall 50 percent increase over 2014 in congregational giving to denominational ministries, in terms of dollars--which includes a 584 percent increase in congregational giving to the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF). The number of congregations and individuals who are donating also has increased.
This generosity was received with gratitude and appreciation. “We are receiving generous gifts from our donors,” said Woolf.
The reporting to the board, however, revealed more than a half million dollar shortfall in the Core Ministries year-to-date budget.
Generosity focuses on Nigeria disaster
The EDF, which includes the Nigeria Crisis Fund that financially supports the Nigeria Crisis Response, has received a sharp increase in giving from both congregations and individuals. This year, as of the end of August, the EDF has received $1,437,431 in giving from congregations, $262,118 in giving from individuals, and $164,936 from disaster auctions. In 2015, total giving to the EDF adds up to $1,864,485--a 230 percent increase over 2014.
Donations to the Nigeria Crisis Fund since it was started in October 2014 total $3,604,209, as of early October 2015. That total includes the $1.5 million that the Mission and Ministry Board contributed as “seed money” for the new fund: $1 million from denominational reserves, and a $500,000 transfer from existing monies in the EDF.
The giving to the EDF and the Nigeria Crisis Fund is making it possible for the Church of the Brethren to partner with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) in a ground-breaking disaster relief effort responding to the violence that has affected hundreds of thousands of Nigerians.
The Nigeria Crisis Response builds on decades of Church of the Brethren mission in Nigeria, and the hundreds of Nigerian leaders and American Brethren mission workers who developed the Nigeria mission. It is considered the Church of the Brethren’s largest disaster relief effort, and perhaps the largest ever undertaken in the worldwide Brethren movement. The crisis work in Nigeria is expected to be needed for some years to come.
Core Ministries budget suffers
At the same time, however, the Core Ministries budget of the denomination is experiencing a shortfall of hundreds of thousands of dollars. As of the end of September, the 2015 Core Ministries budget has a net deficit of $513,516. This is in addition to last year’s $528,000 deficit in the Core Ministries budget.
There are several reasons for the shortfall, but primarily it relates to lagging giving. “The Core Ministries budget depends on congregational giving, that’s the bottom line,” Woolf told the board.
As of September, total giving to Core Ministries is behind by $251,000 from what has been budgeted for 2015. This represents a shortfall of $183,000 in giving from congregations, and a shortfall of $68,000 in giving from individuals.
Asked by a board member how the programs of the Core Ministries can continue to operate with such deficits, Woolf explained that the net asset balance of the denomination continues to remain at a healthy level, as does the organization’s cash flow. As of the end of August, the cash balance of the Church of the Brethren registered a total $1,425,000.
Factors in the Core Ministries shortfall
A number of factors contribute to the budget shortfall in Core Ministries. In addition to a seeming shift being made by donors to emphasize giving to disaster relief over Core Ministries, other factors include less-than-expected investment income because of the recent economic downturn, and unexpected expenses in some departments, such as extra expenses related to the transition in the General Secretary’s office.
Bultman explained that many of these departmental budgets will balance out as the year progresses, and that the Fall finance report reflects fluctuations normal for this time of the year. Also, an up tick in giving to the Core Ministries usually occurs toward the end of the year, when congregations and individuals make Christmas-time gifts and fulfill their annual allocations to the work of the wider church.
A shift of giving from Core Ministries to the EDF is normal in years when there is a major disaster. This happened in 2010, in response to the Haiti earthquake, and in 2005 in response to Hurricane Katrina. The shift in giving patterns from 2014-15 in response to the Nigeria crisis is the largest recorded in some time, and is larger than either the response to the Haiti earthquake or to Hurricane Katrina.
Out of overall dollars given in 2015, as of the end of August, 47 percent has gone to disaster relief and only 37 percent to the Core Ministries. In terms of congregational giving, out of the dollars congregations have given to Church of the Brethren ministries as of the end of August, 52 percent of congregational giving has been to the EDF, and 40 percent to Core Ministries. In terms of giving from individuals, the comparable numbers are 30 percent to the EDF, and 27 percent to Core Ministries.
To put this year’s shift in giving into perspective, in the year Hurricane Katrina hit 49 percent of total giving to the Church of the Brethren was to the Core Ministries, with 47 percent to the EDF.
What are the Core Ministries?
The Core Ministries of the denomination are so named because they represent ministry that is central to the nature of the church:
-- Congregational Life Ministries encompasses age-related ministries such as the Youth and Young Adult Ministry and Older Adult Ministry, among others, and also includes Intercultural Ministry, the Vital Ministry Journey, and other work of the Congregational Life staff.
-- Global Mission and Service encompasses Brethren Volunteer Service and the Workcamp Ministry, carries out the international mission of the Church of the Brethren, ranging from South Sudan to Vietnam to Haiti and elsewhere, and oversees the Office of Public Witness. (Global Mission and Service also oversees several “self funded” ministries that are not in the Core Ministries budget, including Brethren Disaster Ministries, Children’s Disaster Services, Material Resources, Global Food Crisis Fund, and Emerging Global Mission Fund.)
-- The Office of Ministry provides services to districts and congregations in areas such as pastoral placement and ministerial training, helps to oversee the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership in partnership with Bethany Theological Seminary, and provides oversight of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives.
-- The General Secretary’s office provides oversight of the whole work of the denomination, provides staff support to the Mission and Ministry Board, and carries out the ecumenical relationships maintained by the General Secretary.
-- Additional behind-the-scenes work necessary to the denominational organization also are a part of the Core Ministries, including finance, communications, website and e-mail services, donor relations, information technology, human resources, Zigler Hospitality Center, and maintenance of buildings and grounds.
The following Church of the Brethren ministries are not included in the Core Ministries budget and are financed in other ways:
-- Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services are funded by donations to the Emergency Disaster Fund.
-- Brethren Press is funded through the sale of books, curriculum, and other resources.
-- The Conference Office, which represents the staffing and financial undergirding of Annual Conference, receives funding from registration fees and donations.
-- Material Resources is funded by fees paid by ecumenical and humanitarian organizations that use its services to warehouse and ship relief goods.
-- Messenger magazine is funded by subscriptions, advertising, and donations.
-- Management of the Global Food Crisis Fund and the Emerging Global Mission Fund are financed through donations to the respective fund.
2) Mission and Ministry Board adopts 2016 budget of $9.5 million for denominational ministries
The Mission and Ministry Board of the Church of the Brethren held its Fall meeting on Oct. 15-19 at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The meeting was led by chair Don Fitzkee, and chair-elect Connie Burk Davis.
Financial reports and the adoption of a 2016 budget were prominent items on the board’s agenda. The General Secretary Search Committee also updated the board on the process to name a successor to general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger, who completes his service by mid-year 2016. The committee has issued a position posting and is actively seeking candidates for the position of general secretary (see the Newsline report below, and at www.brethren.org/news/2015/church-of-the-brethren-issues-general-secretary-position.html ).
In addition to addressing the business of the denomination, the board members also shared daily devotions and worship, with a visiting class from Bethany Seminary leading the service on Sunday morning. The weekend included time for fellowship, meetings of board committees, and orientation of new board members.
Adoption of a 2016 budget
The board approved a 2016 budget that includes a balanced budget for Core Ministries of $4,814,000 in income and expense. The overall budget for all Church of the Brethren ministries was set at $9,526,900 in income, $9,554,050 in expense, with an expected net deficit of $27,000 for next year. The budget proposal was presented by treasurer Brian Bultman and assistant treasurer Ed Woolf.
Approved as part of the budget decision were a transfer of redirected one-time designated funds of $130,990 to offset extra expenses related to the transition in the General Secretary’s position; a transfer of $350,330 from the New Windsor Buildings and Grounds Land, Building, and Equipment Fund to offset expenses at the Brethren Service Center; and a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase in staff salaries, among other particulars.
In a related action, a Stewardship Task Team was appointed to bring recommendations to the board in March for how board and staff can work together to increase congregational giving and support of the denomination’s Core Ministries. Named to the team were board members Donita Keister and David Stauffer, David Shetler as a representative of the district executives, and donor relations staff Matt DeBall and John Hipps, who will serve as convener.
The board also made a number of changes to financial policies, the bulk of which were editorial. The few substantive changes included a reduction from $2 million to $1.5 million in the net assets for Core Ministries, that will be maintained in order to provide for stable operating needs.
Brethren Service Center
The board received a report on the work to sell property at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. A realty company that specializes in large church and nonprofit properties has been hired to work on the sale. The listing can be viewed at www.praisebuildings.com .
The realty company has put the property on the market, reported treasurer Brian Bultman, and already there is a “for sale” sign posted on the property. In addition, the realty company is carrying out an ad campaign to publicize the availability of the property, and at the same time is working to fill empty apartments with tenants and to find tenants for the empty office space at the Brethren Service Center. The realty company expects such a sale to take from one to three years, treasurer Bultman told the board.
The board learned that one of the large long-term tenants at the Brethren Service, IMA World Health, has moved its offices to a new location. IMA was headquartered at the Brethren Service Center for decades, but now has moved its offices to Washington, D.C. By the end of the year, most if not all IMA staff will no longer be working at the Brethren Service Center.
Mission philosophy study committee
A new mission philosophy study committee was named to rewrite the mission philosophy document of the Church of the Brethren, using as a basis the 1989 Annual Conference document on mission philosophy. The revision will be brought first to the board for its approval, and then will be proposed to a future Annual Conference.
The impetus for the committee grew out of a discussion of mission philosophy at the board’s March meeting, where members of other mission-minded Brethren groups were invited to participate. In late summer an ad hoc committee was formed by the board to follow up on the March discussion. That ad hoc committee has been named to serve as the study committee, and includes Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer as convener; board member Dennis Webb; former board member Brian Messler; former mission worker and past Annual Conference moderator Nancy S. Heishman; and Roger Schrock and Carol Waggy from the Mission Advisory Committee.
In other business
-- The board acted to follow up on an October 2014 invitation to staff to bring a proposal for ways to invest up to $250,000 per year for five years to work at revitalization of the church. At this meeting a proposal that had been brought by staff and presented to the board in March 2015 was respectfully returned. The board also rescinded its action of last fall, with the statement that the decision to rescind was made “even as the board continues to be eager to provide resources and support for the revitalization of the domestic church, anticipating further interaction from the Vitality and Viability Study Committee.” In the meantime, the 2015 Annual Conference in July had created and named a Vitality and Viability Study Committee, and the board discussion anticipated receiving direction from the study committee for how to further the work for church revitalization.
-- After discussing the benefits and cost of its March meeting held offsite at Lancaster, Pa., the board decided to hold such a meeting every five years, in an area of the country with a high population of Brethren. The board will be seeking invitations from congregations, districts, or other Brethren organizations like camps, retirement communities, or colleges.
-- The board received numerous reports, focused primarily on 2015 finances. Other reports were received on the Nigeria Crisis Response, the National Older Adult Conference, the relationship with Heifer International, and reports from the general secretary and board committees, among others. Parts of the strategic plan of the organization were reviewed. Board ex officio members also reported from their work or their agencies, including Annual Conference moderator Andy Murray and secretary James Beckwith, Bethany Seminary president Jeff Carter, Brethren Benefit Trust president Nevin Dulabaum, and On Earth Peace executive director Bill Scheurer.
-- Dedication of the Donald Miller papers, which have been donated to the Brethren Historical Library and Archives, was a special event of the weekend. A former general secretary and faculty of Bethany Theological Seminary, Miller was present for the dedication and heard in person several presentations commending his service to the church. Speakers included Noffsinger, who commended Miller for furthering the peace witness in ecumenical circles and international events, and former Bethany academic dean Rick Gardner, who offered a look at Miller’s achievements from the perspective of a colleague and a friendship of more than 50 years.
3) Church of the Brethren issues position posting for General Secretary
The Church of the Brethren has posted a position opening for General Secretary, as the next step in the search process for a candidate to fill the top executive staff position in the denomination. The application deadline is Dec. 15.
General secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger is concluding his term of service by mid-year 2016, and the Mission and Ministry Board has appointed a General Secretary Search Committee to seek his successor. See the relevant Newsline reports “Church of the Brethren General Secretary to conclude service as contract ends July 1, 2016” at www.brethren.org/news/2015/general-secretary-concludes-service-at-end-of-contract.html and “Mission and Ministry Board approves timeline and Search Committee for General Secretary search” at www.brethren.org/news/2015/ac/board-announces-general-secretary-search-timeline.html .
The position posting follows in full:
The Mission and Ministry Board of the Church of the Brethren is seeking a full-time executive to serve as General Secretary. This individual will help cast a vision of church vitality and will guide, develop, and oversee executive-level staff in key areas, including Congregational Life, Global Mission and Service, Ministry and Human Resources, Donor Relations, publishing and Communications. The Church of the Brethren General Offices is located in Elgin, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.
The General Secretary will lead from a strategic plan to support and advance local, national, and international ministries. These responsibilities include maintaining and nurturing partnerships with institutions and agencies of the Church of the Brethren and coordinating ecumenical relationships.
The ideal candidate will model spiritual depth, maturity, and servant leadership. The candidate will show the ability to communicate and implement a vision, structure and lead a complex organization, view challenges as opportunities for organizational growth, and integrate fiscal responsibility with fulfillment of the organizational mission. Ability to listen to and speak with diverse constituencies and to seek wholeness and restoration in all relationships are also key gifts needed for the position.
Minimum candidate requirements are: a Christian committed to the Church of the Brethren faith tradition, a bachelor’s degree with advanced degree or equivalent experience preferred, and significant experience in working with a board of directors. Ordination is not required for this position.
Individuals interested in exploring the call to this position should direct inquiries to:
Connie Burk Davis, Search Committee Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Application deadline is December 15, 2015.
4) Districts take action addressing same-sex marriage
At least three Church of the Brethren districts are addressing the topic of same-sex marriage. One of them has adopted a query on same-sex marriage, which will be sent on to Annual Conference.
West Marva District at its conference on Sept. 18-19 adopted a query that asks Annual Conference to consider “how shall districts respond when credentialed ministers and/or congregations conduct or participate in same-sex weddings?” The query was prompted by the recent Supreme Court ruling that institutes same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
The West Marva query, formulated by the district board, was presented with reference to the 1983 Annual Conference position paper on human sexuality and that document’s statement that “covenantal relationships between homosexual persons is an additional lifestyle option but, in the church's search for a Christian understanding of human sexuality, this alternative is not acceptable.”
Southeastern District has adopted a district resolution on same-sex marriage, see Newsline’s report at www.brethren.org/news/2015/southeastern-district-begins-query-process.html .
In Shenandoah District, action has been taken in response to a congregation that has voted to allow its pastors to perform same-sex marriages. A district “framework” for responding to such actions by congregations, based on the 2004 Annual Conference statement “Congregational Disagreement with Annual Conference Decisions,” will be presented to the district conference in early November said a letter from the chair of the district leadership team.
Since 1985, Shenandoah District has had a statement in place affirming that marriage should be between one man and one woman, according to the letter. The intent of the proposed action would call for work at reconciliation with a “dissenting congregation,” making it clear that the effort aims at returning the congregation to agreement with district and Annual Conference decisions. The proposed framework document also would address what the district should do when a church continues to dissent.
In a related action, on Oct. 15 the Shenandoah District Leadership Team set Tuesday, Nov. 3, as a day of prayer and fasting for all the congregations in the district. The action follows the Annual Conference guidelines on congregational disagreement, suggesting that one response is to call for a day of prayer and fasting to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and for appropriate spiritual conduct. The letter announcing the action closed with the request, “Pray for all our congregations and delegates that we might focus on getting the process in the best format possible.”
Read the two letters from the chair of the Shenandoah District leadership team at http://images.acswebnetworks.com/1/929/RandysLetter.pdf and http://files.ctctcdn.com/071f413a201/c54e69f5-b488-4fb9-abb3-22a75fb71828.pdf . Read “A Season of Lament,” a reflection by Shenandoah District executive minister John Jantzi, at http://images.acswebnetworks.com/1/929/JantziLament.pdf .
The topic of same-sex marriage was discussed this summer by the Standing Committee of district delegates to Annual Conference. In their meetings in Tampa, Fla., in July, the group conversed in closed session about concerns related to same-sex marriage. The 2015 Annual Conference moderator, David Steele, issued the following statement out of the closed session: “The Standing Committee met last evening in a closed session to enter into a deeper conversation about concerns related to same gender marriage. We met in a closed setting to provide a safe place for the members to share openly and to focus on hearing one another. There were no actions or straw votes taken. The intent and hope was to share with the Standing Committee delegates a way of engaging in the deeper conversations that are needed to strengthen the fabric of our church.”
5) Workcamp schedule is announced for 2016
A schedule of Church of the Brethren workcamps for the summer of 2016 has been announced by the Workcamp Ministry. Workcamp experiences are offered for junior high youth, senior high youth, young adults, intergenerational groups, and those living with disabilities. The Workcamp Ministry theme for the year is “Blazing with Holiness,” inspired by the scripture text from 1 Peter 1:13-16 in “The Message.”
The 2016 workcamp dates and locations follow:
Junior high workcamps (for those who have completed 6th through 8th grade):
June 15-19 Brooklyn, N.Y.
June 15-19 South Bend, Ind.
July 4-8 Camp Brethren Woods in Keezletown, Va.
July 14-18 New Community Project in Harrisonburg, Va.
July 20-24 Elgin, Ill.
July 27-31 Harrisburg, Pa.
July 27-31 Roanoke, Va.
Senior high workcamps (for those who have completed 9th grade through age 19):
June 6-12 Washington, D.C.
June 13-19 New Orleans, La.
June 19-25 Crossnore, N.C.
June 21-27 Knoxville, Tenn.
June 21-28 Puerto Rico
July 3-9 Family Abuse Center in Waco, Texas
July 10-16 Pine Ridge Reservation in Kyle, S.D.
July 10-17 Brethren Revival Fellowship workcamp in Puerto Rico
July 18-24 Portland, Ore.
July 19-25 Santa Ana, Calif.
July 31-Aug. 6 ECHO in N. Fort Myers, Fla.
Aug. 8-14 Koinonia Farm in Americus, Ga.
Intergenerational workcamp (for those who have completed 6th grade and older):
June 12-18 Camp Mardela in Denton, Md.
Young adult workcamps (for those age 18-35):
June 2-12 Northern Ireland
July 10-13 “We Are Able” assistants, at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.
We Are Able (for those living with disabilities, age 16-30):
July 10-13 Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.
For more information go to www.brethren.org/workcamps .
|This Fall, both Middle Pennsylvania and Western Pennsylvania District Conferences hosted Nigeria Crisis Response co-directors Carl and Roxane Hill. During the busy schedules for both districts, time was set aside for an update on the progress of the relief efforts in Nigeria. At the Middle Pennsylvania conference the theme was taken from Ephesians 3:20, “More Than You Can Imagine.” At the conclusion of the presentation the whole assembly posed for a picture offering a prayerful gesture in support of Nigerian sisters and brothers (see photo above). A week later, Western Pennsylvania District Conference also posed for a picture at the conclusion of the Nigeria report (see photo below). The Western Pennsylvania conference theme was “Wonderful Grace of Jesus,” and one of the highlights was the sermon offered by retiring pastor and moderator Vince Cable, who is seen in the foreground of the picture. The two conferences showed their ongoing support of the relief effort by taking an offering for the Nigeria Crisis Fund. Photos provided by Carl and Roxane Hill.|
6) Brethren bits
-- Remembrance: Tracy Stoddart Primozich, who had served as director of admissions at Bethany Theological Seminary, died on Oct. 15. She had been under doctors’ care since July of 2014. Her employment at the seminary in Richmond, Ind., concluded at the end of August due to ongoing health issues. She had begun her employment at the seminary on Oct. 28, 2011. “For nearly four years she traveled the country sharing news of the seminary’s good work and seeking individuals called to deeper conversations of faith, learning, and exploration,” said a message from Bethany president Jeff Carter. “Tracy’s creative spirit, inviting sense of humor, and deep thinking will be missed. We as a community are in shock from this sad news and offer our prayers to Tracy’s husband, Tony, and their extended family.” Previous to her employment at Bethany, Primozich had served in Brethren Volunteer Service for two-and-a-half years, including a term of service at the BVS office at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., from January 2000-August 2002 when she was orientation assistant and then recruitment assistant for BVS. Her BVS service also included work in Washington, D.C., volunteering with the SOA Watch, an organization that monitors the military school formerly known as the School of the Americas. She was a 1997 graduate of McPherson (Kan.) College, where she also had been an employee, and received the McPherson College Young Alumni Award in 2012. Primozich also was an ordained minister and earned a master of divinity degree at Bethany Seminary in 2010, with emphases in peace studies and youth ministry. A memorial service was held on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at Happy Corner Church of the Brethren in Clayton, Ohio. A remembrance is posted on the Bethany Theological Seminary website at www.bethanyseminary.edu/news/tracy .
-- Registration remains open for the 2015 Presidential Forum at Bethany Seminary, on the topic of Just Peace. Registration and complete information is at www.bethanyseminary.edu/forum2015 . Continuing education credit is available for ministers who attend the forum and the pre-forum gathering. For more information, contact email@example.com or call 800-287-8822.
-- Global Mission and Service is requesting prayer for the presidential election in Haiti on Oct. 25. “Pray for a peaceful and fair process that encourages Haitians to take part,” the request said. Parliamentary elections in August were marked by voter suppression, violence, and corruption. Pray for a stable government in Haiti that is dedicated to the rights and needs of its citizens. Pray for Eglise des Freres d’Haiti, the Haitian Church of the Brethren, in the midst of this process.” The Haitian church has postponed its next session of theological training in light of the country’s election tensions.
-- In Vietnam, Global Mission worker Grace Mishler reports that 160 participants walked the streets of Ho Chi Minh City to promote acceptance of the white cane, which is still stigmatized in Vietnamese society. Her part in the International Cane Awareness Day event held at the Nhat Hong Blind School, is an aspect of the disabilities ministry of the Church of the Brethren in Vietnam. Mishler joined with fellow university and blind school staff to help guide the event. Students from the National Vietnam University of Social Sciences, where she teaches, organized the event as a practical learning experience, and students from the two participating blind schools composed a song to depict life with blindness.
-- Brethren Disaster Ministries staff and volunteers are taking part in a 10-day project leadership training in Loveland, Colo. The training includes 18 volunteers who are willing to serve in leadership at Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding sites around the country for one or more months at a time.
-- A new webinar series on the theme "The Heart of Anabaptism" starts today, Oct. 22, at 2:30 p.m. (Eastern time). The seven webinars in the series are organized by the Center for Anabaptist Studies to explore the seven core convictions of the UK Anabaptist Network. Core Conviction 1--which is, in part, "Jesus is our example, teacher, friend, redeemer and Lord...."--will be examined by Joshua T Searle, tutor in Theology and Public Thought and assistant director of Postgraduate Research at Spurgeon's College in the United Kingdom. Go to www.brethren.org/webcasts .
-- Kulp Bible College has reopened in Kwarhi, Nigeria. KBC is the theological college and ministry training school of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). It was forced to close and relocate staff and students last fall when its campus at the EYN Headquarters in Kwarhi was overrun by extremist Islamist insurgents. Now the security situation has improved to the point where classes are resuming there despite damage caused to the Kwarhi campus by the insurgents, and the loss of a number of resources including income from farming that students and staff relied on for payment of college fees, reported KBC provost Dauda A. Gava. He led in holding classes at a temporary location elsewhere in the country during intervening months. “The Lord has protected us,” Gava wrote in a recent report, “though some of our students and staff lost their belongings, and up till now there is no information about Sani Hyelabapri, a security man. All students were able to escape, but later on we heard that two students were abducted from their villages: Ishaya Yahi and Ishaku Yamta.” KBC’s 39 staff, both academic and non academic, all were displaced because of the insurgency and had scattered to different states across the country. A more recent report from Rebecca Dali, who also teaches at the college, said, “Most of the returning students...were in class and most of them are very attentive to learning. New students are few only.... Thirty percent of the teaching staff did not resume their teaching assignment although I saw some came on Friday.” About the security situation, she reported, “Students and staff are carrying on with their normal work, some are harvesting their groundnuts, maize etc., but most of them are not sleeping at night.... Many students [are] sleeping in class. Boko Haram still attacks villages near Lassa, Chibok areas, and also Madagali, and Wagga areas, and many students in those areas are looking sad and not free as other students. Economically it is very hard for them to pay school fees and feed themselves including paying medical bills.” Dali’s nonprofit organization CCEPI, which is one of the partners in the Nigeria Crisis Response, is providing food to the households at Kwarhi, but she warned, “Hunger will emerge and extreme poverty has already set in.” Find her report on the Church of the Brethren blog at http://blog.brethren.org/2015/tough-going-at-kulp-bible-college .
-- The Outdoor Ministries Association of the Church of the Brethren holds its annual retreat on Nov. 15-20 at Shepherd’s Spring Outdoor Ministry Center near Sharpsburg, Md. The theme will be: “Seeds of Change: Multicultural Diversity and Stewardship in Outdoor Ministries.” Speakers include Gimbiya Kettering and Debbie Eisenbise of the Congregational Life Ministries staff, and Phil Lilienthal, an attorney from Reston, Va., who in retirement has established Global Camps Africa, originally called WorldCamps--an organization dedicated to helping AIDS-affected youth throughout Africa. In 2013, he was awarded the Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service by the Peace Corps. Carol Wise, executive director of Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interest (BMC), will present a workshop on “Striving for Inclusion: LGBT Campers and Staff.” Other breakout sessions include “Meatless Monday??” “Going Global without a Village,” “Child Protection Matters,” “Inclusion Conversations,” “Is There a Garden in Your Future?” “Baptism by Maintenance Staff,” “Livestock--Extra Staff or BS?” and “Global Food Sampler.” The event will include site tours, and a field trip to Antietam National Battlefield with worship in the historic Dunker Church. For more information go to www.oma-cob.org/OMAEvents.html .
-- Mt. Vernon Church of the Brethren in Waynesboro, Va., will host a workshop, "Honoring Our Grief," led by Regina Cyzick Harlow at 7 p.m. this Sunday, Oct. 25. “The workshop will explore how relationships are affected by our journeys through grief,” said an announcement from Shenandoah District. “It is open to all congregations, pastors and deacons at no cost.” Harlow is founder of the Sadie Rose Foundation, dedicated to helping families through the death of a child, and is a licensed minister in the Church of the Brethren.
-- The youth group at Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind., will be performing “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” on Nov.20-21, at 7 p.m., with a dessert bar beginning at 6 p.m. “There is no admission charge,” reported the South Central Indiana District newsletter. “Instead, donations will be accepted, with proceeds to be divided among costs for the show and the Crazy for Our Kids campaign to build a new Early Learning Center (preschool and daycare) in North Manchester.”
-- A new 256,000-gallon water storage tank is in operation for Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community near Boonsboro, Md. Local and state officials joined executives and board members of the community on Sept. 24 for a ribbon cutting ceremony marking the end of 10 months of construction, said a release. “The water storage tank brings the community in compliance with Maryland state regulations to have a three-day water supply on hand. In addition, the water storage tank is the reservoir for the fire suppression system. The new tank with its extra capacity will afford Fahrney-Keedy the ability to grow its campus population in years to come.” The US Department of Agriculture Rural Development program assisted in the project with a low-interest loan of $885,000 and a grant of $291,000. Construction began in the fall of 2014.
-- Bridgewater (Va.) College has opened its new Center for Engaged Learning. The new institute will bear the name of benefactors Ben F. and Janice W. Wade in recognition of their support and their service to higher education, said a release. “The Wade Institute for Teaching and Learning, under the direction of associate professor of political science and history James Josefson, will create and implement new ways for faculty to teach and students to learn. The program enables students to engage in learning while working with faculty and community leaders to develop new opportunities for skill development and experiential learning. The Ben and Janice Wade Outstanding Teaching Award, established by the Wades in 1998, will now be administered by the Institute. The award is given annually to a Bridgewater College faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding teaching in the classroom during the academic year.” The Ben and Janice Wade Outstanding Teaching Award, Annual Pedagogy Project, the Teaching Resource Group, and The Big Question provide examples of the kinds of activities the Wade Institute will support to nurture the development of excellent teachers and to achieve student learning outcomes. The Wades are graduates of Bridgewater’s class of 1957. Dr. Ben F. Wade holds master’s degrees from United Theological Seminary, Boston University, and Columbia University, and a doctor of philosophy degree from Hartford Seminary Foundation, and served several institutions as a member of the faculty and administration before returning to Bridgewater College in 1979 to serve as executive assistant to the president and as the college’s first provost. Janice Wade holds a master of education degree from the University of Hartford and has taught elementary school, adult basic education, and college courses in elementary education.
-- Juniata College will host three political activists from the front lines of the Ferguson, Mo., protests, according to a release from the school located in Huntingdon, Pa. The Ferguson protests rose up after police shot and killed Michael Brown, an African-American teenager, in August last year. The college’s Activists in Residence series will host Calvin Kennedy, Ebony Williams, and Jihad Khayyam, all associated with Ferguson Frontline. They will be in residence at the college from Oct. 26-Nov. 6. The three activists will host a discussion at 7 p.m. on Nov. 4 in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science, titled “This Ain’t Your Parents Civil Rights Movement.” The presentation will include a question-and-answer session and is free and open to the public. Kennedy and Williams are members of Ferguson Frontline, an organization dedicated to spreading knowledge about police violence and promoting social justice, the release said. Khayyam, a financial literacy educator in the greater St. Louis Area, also is a member of Ferguson Frontline. During the week the activists will take part in classes and hold discussions for students taking Peace and Conflict Studies courses. Polly Walker, professor and director of Juniata’s Baker Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, says that the series of residencies will serve as a “nexus of research and practice, enhancing practitioners’ ability to engage with theory while improving research and theory through a more rigorous engagement with practice.”
-- The McPherson (Kan.) College Automotive Restoration program is a finalist in the Industry Supporter of the Year category for the 2015 International Historic Motoring Awards, according to a release from the college. “Car enthusiasts across the globe submitted nominations for the competition. The winners of each of the prestigious awards will be announced at the International Historic Motoring Awards ceremony and gala dinner at London’s St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel on Nov. 19.” Other finalists include Hagerty, Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations, Porsche Motorsports North America, and the Royal Automobile Club. The International Historic Motoring Awards give awards in 14 categories ranging from Museum of the Year to Motor Sport Event to Personal Achievement. See www.mcpherson.edu/2015/10/mcpherson-college-automotive-restoration-among-finalists-for-prestigious-international-historic-motoring-awards .
-- Nov. 13 and 21 and Dec. 19 are the open dates for this Fall’s dinners at the John Kline Homestead in Broadway, Va. The site is the historic home of Elder John Kline, a Brethren leader and martyr for peace during the Civil War. The dinners will start at 6 p.m. and will feature actors portraying Kline family members and neighbors while guests enjoy a family-style dinner. “In the fall of 1865, the Civil War has ended but devastation covers the countryside. Experience the struggle to recover from the war through conversations around the dinner table in the 1822 John Kline house,” said an invitation. Cost is $40 per plate. Seating capacity is 36. Call 540-421-5267 to make reservations, or e-mail requests to firstname.lastname@example.org .
-- Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has published a first-hand account from the current escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine, written by a member of CPT Palestine who was arrested for posting an Instagram photo of the violence, and who was held in prison during the time three Palestinian young people were murdered on the streets of Hebron by Israeli military forces and settlers. “Israeli forces and a settler shot dead three Palestinian young people on the streets of Hebron on Saturday 17 October 2015: Bayan Ayman Abd al-Hadi al-Esseili, 17, Fadil Qawasmi, 18, and Tariq Ziyad al-Natshe, 20. And I was arrested for taking an Instagram photo two weeks earlier,” the account begins. “With three youth killed and settlers literally celebrating in the blood of Fadil Qawasmi, executed by a settler, it is perhaps little surprise that those with cameras slung over shoulders are increasingly coming under threat. Sitting in a cold room for hours, without access to a lawyer, I watched my beloved camera slammed on a table. Meanwhile, authorities at the base told my colleague I was not there. One of my photos, I was told, rendered me a threat to the ‘security of Israel.’ An Instagram photo? Me? A threat to one of the most powerful states in the world? The threat here? The truth. Cameras indicate that--Occupation--we are watching you, we are documenting you, we are here, and we see you. We see Palestinian blood running on occupied streets in Hebron. Indeed, I dropped my camera lens cap in Hadeel Hashlamoun’s a few weeks earlier. The Christian Peacemaker Palestine Team as a very small thread in the fabric of resisting this occupation, has recently come under increased attack from its actors and supporters, including abusive phone-calls, increased police aggression and checks, and now, arrest....” The report, titled “Bloody Saturday--the occupation murders three young people and arrests me for taking an Instagram photo,” was published on Oct. 22, and may be found at www.cptpalestine.com/uncategorized/bloody-saturday-three-palestinian-teenagers-murdered-cpter-arrested-for-instagram-photo .
-- In related news, the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed deep concern over the renewed wave of violence in Jerusalem. In a letter to WCC member churches in Palestine and Israel issued on Oct. 19, he expressed solidarity with the churches and peoples of the land, and affirmed WCC’s commitment to justice and peace in Palestine and Israel. “We are following with increasing dismay events throughout the region and especially in the Holy City of Jerusalem, which we hold in our hearts and prayers as an open city of two peoples (Israelis and Palestinians) and three faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam),” wrote Tveit. “We continue to work and pray for a just peace for both Palestinians and Israelis, promoting respect for the status quo of the holy sites of Jerusalem as an important contribution to reducing current tensions.” Tveit went on to say that “as Christians, we must all seek an end to violence against any of God’s children, just as we seek an end to occupation and the injustices that present such formidable obstacles to peace in Israel and Palestine. Violent attacks are an unacceptable and counter-productive means of seeking justice. Proportional security measures and the rule of law are the appropriate instruments for responding to such attacks, not extra-judicial killings,” he added. “The WCC stands firmly with Christians in the Holy Land in our conviction that the illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territories must be brought to an end--not as a pre-condition for an end to violence, but as an essential foundation for any long-term, sustainable and just peace in the region,” Tveit stressed. Find the letter at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/general-secretary/messages-and-letters/letter-to-wcc-member-churches-in-israel-and-palestine .
-- Ben Cronkite, who is active in the children’s ministry at Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren, recently received a God and Family Religious Emblem award through PRAY (Program of Religious Activities of Youth) and the Frederick Church. The award was covered in a short article in the “Frederick News-Post.” Cronkite is in the fifth grade and an Arrow of Light at Cub Scout Pack 277. Find the report online at www.fredericknewspost.com/news/community_page_news/earns-god-and-family-award/image_906344a3-5d73-5fad-a73b-5d6865e60dd3.html
Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Tyler Ayres, Deanna Beckner, Brian Bultman, Jeff Carter, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Mary Kay Heatwole, Carl and Roxane Hill, Michael Leiter, Dan McFadden, Wendy McFadden, Nancy Miner, Paul Roth, John Wall, Roy Winter, Ed Woolf, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline is produced by the News Services of the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at email@example.com . Newsline appears every week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. The next regularly scheduled issue of Newsline is set for Oct. 29.