Newsline for Sept. 3, 2015




“Then the Lord came and stood there, calling.... Samuel said, ‘Speak. Your servant is listening’” (1 Samuel 3:10, CEB).

Sunset over the ocean, with a text from 1 Samuel
Photo by Joel Brumbaugh-Cayford

NEWS
1) An open letter to members and clients of Brethren Benefit Trust

2) John Mueller resigns from leadership of Atlantic Southeast District

NIGERIA UPDATES
3) Nigeria Crisis Response co-directors report from trip to Nigeria

4) Nigerian children face dangers as they seek education

5) Volunteer observes a Trauma Healing Workshop in Nigeria

6) Trauma healing is the path to forgiveness in Nigeria

7) Small-scale ‘Wall of Healing’ display is available from Global Mission office

UPCOMING EVENTS
8) Living Stream worship webcast from Lake Junaluska to kick off the 13th NOAC

9) Nominations are sought for Annual Conference-elected offices

10) McPherson College offers ‘Ventures in Christian Discipleship’ courses

11) Powerhouse Regional Youth Conference to celebrate an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’

SPECIAL SECTION: REFLECTING ON FERGUSON
12) Ferguson: An invitation for the church to participate in dismantling racial discrimination

13) Thinking About Ferguson--again

14) This is an effort which the faith community must lead

15) In wake of Ferguson, Rockford church works to build nonviolent community

16) Brethren bits: Remembrances, General Secretary Search Committee, jobs at Bethany and Camp Mack, NRCAT seeks fellow, Haitian Dominicans get work permits, Brethren Service Center fashion show, 45th Dunker Church Service at Antietam, webinar on evangelism, more


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TO READERS: The next issue of Newsline will appear following the 2015 National Older Adult Conference (NOAC), which takes place in Lake Junaluska, N.C., on Sept. 7-11. Follow NOAC online next week through daily reporting, photo albums, and more at www.brethren.org/news/2015/noac.html .
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NEWS

1) An open letter to members and clients of Brethren Benefit Trust

By Nevin Dulabaum
 
When there is a remarkable correction in the world markets, it is understandable that we all feel vulnerable, especially those of us with nest egg money invested to grow and sustain us through retirement, or those of us who manage the funds of congregations or institutions. I want you to know that we at Brethren Benefit Trust and Brethren Foundation Funds watch the markets closely, and with the recent volatility have been meeting daily and discussing strategy. Our main concern is you and your assets.
 
Here is what I want to share with you right now, in light of the recent events in the markets.
 
What to expect:

The decline in global markets in mid-August began with China’s faltering economy, and what continues to happen in China will continue to affect volatility. It is important and encouraging to know that they took measures to correct some of the decline, and have still more economic tools they can use to further add to the stability. We are confident that policymakers are motivated to work toward a long-term recovery, using every measure available.
 
How to react:

It’s normal to be worried about what is happening to your money during times of tremendous market fluctuation, but BBT developed investment guidelines with a long-term view in mind, and the recent economic developments do not warrant any change in that viewpoint. What we are sensing from meetings with our financial experts is that the markets are doing what they always do, but in the most recent case with more volatility than we have seen in quite some time. There is no need to panic; rather, you should continue to think long-term. Volatility is not a bad thing--it is what drives growth. What you should do is assess your own risk tolerance when it comes to your portfolio. BBT’s diversified funds were constructed with the goal of insulating them from the effects of substantial losses in any single investment or sector of the market. If you are not comfortable with risk during an unusual period of market volatility, then you should use this time to minimize the amount of risk in your investments.
 
How can we help?

As I write this, the markets are on what seems to be the third day of a rebound. Who knows where the markets will go tomorrow? In the meantime, education is your best defense, and reading business publications is a great place to start. The financial reports are telling us to stay the course (unless you need to adjust your risk tolerance), that China has the tools to help things improve, and that nothing has fundamentally changed in the US markets.
 
As always, if you have questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to drop me a line at ndulabaum@cobbt.org or give me a call at 847-622-3388.
 
-- Nevin Dulabaum is president of Brethren Benefit Trust.

John M. Mueller
Photo by Walt Wiltschek

John M. Mueller

2) John Mueller resigns from leadership of Atlantic Southeast District

John Mueller has announced his resignation as district executive of Atlantic Southeast District, effective Dec. 31. He began his ministry with the district on July 1, 2013.

Mueller began his ministry as district executive with a wealth of business, organizational, and ministry experience, most notably as a self-employed building contractor/inspector since 1981. He was co-pastor of Christ the Servant Church of the Brethren in Atlantic Southeast District, from June 2004-March 2007, and regional director for Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding in the area of New Orleans, La., from March 2007-May 2011.

He was ordained at Christ the Servant Church of the Brethren in June 2004. He is a graduate of Silver Lake College in Manitowoc, Wis., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business management, and received his Training in Ministry certificate from the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership.

He and his wife, Mary, began serving as co-pastors of Jacksonville (Fla.) Church of the Brethren in Jan. 2013, where they will continue to live and serve.


NIGERIA UPDATES

3) Nigeria Crisis Response co-directors report from trip to Nigeria

By Carl and Roxane Hill

Having recently returned from a short trip to Nigeria, we were encouraged by the relief efforts headed by the EYN Disaster Team of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The church’s large-scale program of assistance is funneling money to EYN with a five-pronged approach. We were happy that progress has been made in all five areas that we have designated.

Staff of EYN and Christian Aid Ministries distribute food and relief goods in remote areas of northeast Nigeria, with accompaniment from the Nigerian military for the sake of security.

Staff of EYN and Christian Aid Ministries distribute food and relief goods in remote areas of northeast Nigeria, with accompaniment from the Nigerian military for the sake of security.

The five areas where donations are being targeted are:
1. Food and basic living materials
2. Land acquisition and the building of care centers for displaced people, which includes medical care
3. Trauma and reconciliation workshops
4. EYN strengthening
5. Livelihood, sustainability, and education.

Each area is a huge undertaking and donations are only enough to scratch the surface. But each area is so vital for recovery and sustainability that we cannot ignore any of the efforts currently being made.

Food and basic living materials

As the situation in Nigeria continues to be unsettled, these efforts are very challenging, to say the least. This summer one of our American partner organizations, Christian Aid Ministries based in Berlin, Ohio, has been funding the distribution of food. Their representatives, Glen Zimmerman and Marcus Troyer, have been on the ground in Nigeria encouraging the EYN Disaster Team in its work.

In a two-week period in July, the team was able to reach more than 6,000 needy people. Multiple distributions took place to provide aid to people, reaching from the camps around Abuja and Jos to some of the villages in the northeast that were considered safe. At some of the locations in the northeast the Nigerian military accompanied the EYN Disaster Team. No problems were encountered at these sites.

Glen Zimmerman told us that he was amazed at the number of people showing up to receive support. “Many times, almost double the number of people showed up compared to what we were expecting,” he said. “We were able to provide for everyone, although sometimes the portions were smaller. But, by God’s grace, everybody received something.”

The long-range goal is to continue providing emergency food until the fall of 2016.

Nigerians line up hoping to get aid
Photo courtesy of Carl and Roxane Hill

Nigerians line up hoping to get aid

When we visited a site south of Yola, more than 350 people were waiting for us to arrive. The purpose of our visit there was just to inspect another parcel of land set aside for a new Care Center (a community for displaced persons). When we saw the desperation of the people who had assembled we “pooled” the money we had on us and purchased foodstuffs so they could be given to these very appreciative people.

We wish we could take all of you with us to Nigeria so you could see the look of appreciation on the faces of these people, especially the children. The Church of the Brethren is making a big difference and a huge impact for the Kingdom of God.

Our prayer, as coordinators for Nigeria Crisis Response, is that the church does not tire of doing good. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

-- Carl and Roxane Hill are co-directors of the Nigeria Crisis Response, a cooperative effort of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries, working with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). For more information go to www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .


4) Nigerian children face dangers as they seek education

A
Photo courtesy of Tom Crago

A "classroom tree" at the Gurku Resettlement Community in Nigeria

By Tom Crago

This past week, visiting the resettlement camp in Gurku near Nigeria’s capital city Abuja was an eye-opener for me. This was our first visit to the camp, an interfaith resettlement community for both Christians and Muslims displaced by the violence in northeast Nigeria. The camp has been developed by Lifeline Compassionate Global Initiatives (LCGI), an initiative led by Markus Gamache who is staff liaison for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

We had a special opportunity to worship with the Gurku camp on Sunday, Aug. 16. Church attendance was 142 people that Sunday, down from 152 the previous Sunday. When we asked about this difference, we heard a heart-wrenching tale.

It seems that many of the displaced families who are staying in the Gurku resettlement camp were desperate to find educational opportunities for their children. Stretched financially, they heard of several private schools near Benin in Edo State that were offering free tuition and board for the IDPs (Internally Displaced People) from northeastern Nigeria. So, many of them sent their children, many secondary school [high school] age boys and girls, to Edo State to continue their education.

Then, last week an incident occurred which caused considerable alarm. A group of about 40 buses showed up at one of these private schools, announcing that the children were being relocated to another place. The school principal, not understanding this move, called Nigerian security authorities who intervened to stop the movement.

It seems there was no official documentation for authorizing such a move, and those attempting to remove the children have been arrested.

It remains unclear, as I write this short note, whether this was an elaborate attempt to sell these children into household and/or sexual slavery, or possibly even an attempt by Boko Haram to carry out yet another mass abduction. It seems that Benin is known here in Nigeria as a “hotspot” for movement of children into the sex slave trade. Many children end up as slaves in Middle Eastern households, or as sex workers in Europe, and even occasionally in America.

We plan to follow up on this incident as the investigation continues.

But, getting back to the Sunday worship attendance figures, about a dozen fathers had traveled that Sunday from Gurku to Benin to retrieve their children, and bring them back to the camp. The incident, and the desperation we see in this attempt by parents to continue the education of their children in spite of the risks, points to just one problem facing the many thousands of IDPs from the EYN. One EYN leader has estimated that more than 1,000 children may have been relocated to Delta and Edo States--many to further their education.

The Gurku camp we were visiting is a new development, and has no school, either primary or secondary, associated with it. All of the resettlement camps related to EYN face similar problems. Camps in Jalingo, Jos, and Masaka are all being developed, and another is planned in Yola. EYN’s Comprehensive Secondary School and Kulp Bible College are located in Kwarhi, in an area over-run by the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram last year, and they have not been open for most of the past year. Ultimately, another secondary school is planned for Chinka on a large parcel of land owned by EYN, located between Abuja and Kaduna, but it is still under development.  But, there is clearly an immediate need for more safe schooling opportunities in EYN, and the insurgency and refugee situation has only made a stretched EYN educational system even worse.

Our hopes and prayers, of course, are focused on EYN finding safe alternatives and solutions for these children, who may be faced with the rhetorical--and diabolical--choice of “sitting in the frying pan, or jumping into the fire,” as they struggle to continue their schooling.

Pray, with us, that safe solutions can be found, that schools can be set up in the resettlement camps, and that educating this next generation of Nigerian children will continue safely.

-- Tom and Janet Crago are two of the three current Church of the Brethren volunteers with the Nigeria Crisis Response, a joint effort of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries.


5) Volunteer observes a Trauma Healing Workshop in Nigeria

By Jim Mitchell

The Trauma Healing Workshop is held at a displacement camp that is filled with EYN members from the northeast area of Nigeria where the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency has done much of its terror, killing, and destruction. EYN stands for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

The people who are here speak mostly Hausa and a few are not literate. When we start, 21 persons show up--10 men and 12 women, three with babies. The three facilitators are Dlama K.*, Peace Project Officer for EYN; Suzan M., director of EYN’s Women’s Ministry; and Rhoda N. My presence is to observe the process so that I can begin to participate as a facilitator. 

Church of the Brethren volunteer Jim Mitchell (at front left) attends one of the Trauma Healing Workshops being offered in Nigeria through the Nigeria Crisis Response effort of EYN and the Church of the Brethren, along with other partner organizations.

Church of the Brethren volunteer Jim Mitchell (at front left) attends one of the Trauma Healing Workshops being offered in Nigeria through the Nigeria Crisis Response effort of EYN and the Church of the Brethren, along with other partner organizations.

Day One is as follows: song and prayer, devotional/Word of God, opening and introduction, group guidelines and norms, Johari’s Window, understanding and defining trauma, morning tea break, causes of trauma, symptoms of trauma reactions, reflection: discussion groups, gathering: Name Game, consequences of trauma, lunch, Web of Healing, reflection: discussion groups, conclusion, evaluation of the day

Beyond observing the process and how the facilitators engage and interact with the participants, I find myself becoming a prayerful presence, calling upon God’s presence to fill the hall, for Jesus to be with the facilitators, and for the Holy Spirit to grace the participants that they are able to open their minds, hearts, and souls to what is being offering them for healing, reconciliation, peace, and new life. 

Several of them had expressed that they didn’t want to come, but attended at the encouraging of others who are here.

For the discussion groups, there are four groups and they have assignments to write down on flip chart paper responses to the question and bring back their responses. This they do with conviction and a growing sense of ownership for the healing process. This is exciting to see and experience. There are times I look around upon the faces and at the body language of the participants, and throughout the day see more and more individuals open up and share a new sense of hope and promise of something happening in them, because of the presentations and discussions. 

At the end of our time together that first day, everyone gives thumbs up when Dlama goes through the agenda in the evaluation process. It is a real affirmation of the workings of God and the facilitators’ passion. 

During different breaks between presentations, I seek out each of the facilitator’s focus during their presentation and interaction with the participants. In talking with Suzan, I share how I use an image to describe trauma and she wants me to present that towards the end of the day. I prayerfully do so, as she interprets for me. It is a humbling moment and graciously received through the expressions of the people. It has been an awesome day and the kingdom of God is making its presence known.
 
Day Two is as follows: song and prayer, devotional, gathering: Empty Chair of Someone Speaking Who Loves Me, definitions of loss, grief, and mourning, reflection: personal sharing of stories, morning tea break, stages of grief, healing from grief, visioning exercise, lunch, distinguishing anger caused by trauma, how to handle anger, closing and evaluation.

This is a very intense and draining day as the participants begin to open up and freely share their stories of what they experienced, saw, and heard regarding the terror, killings, and destruction caused by Boko Haram. Their stories: a woman saw nine brothers killed in front of her and dumped into a pit, women saw husbands killed in front of them, women were severely tortured because of not renouncing their faith in Jesus Christ, one young man was the sole survivor of his village. Hundreds of men, women, children, and the elderly were killed in caves by tear gas or as they were trying to escape. Many individuals were killed in the bush or on tops of mountains trying to escape. People traveled many weeks to find help and shelter, passing through villages burned to the ground and fields destroyed of crops. There are bodies left behind that have not been buried. Participants are hearing that family members have died from starvation and distress...and many, many, many more such traumas. 

Everyone is in tears and paper napkins are passed out to everyone. I am over taken with very deep sadness and sorrow as Suzan gives me the gist of their stories. Yet, there is a noticeable lightness and a greater spontaneity of newness as they participate in the large and small groups during the rest of the day. As we get back into the van, everyone is exhausted and praising God for his mighty works of grace.
 
Day Three is as follows: song and prayer, devotional, gathering: who do you trust and why, and how does that make you feel, Trust Walk, Tree of Mistrust, Tree of Trust, morning tea break, What Can We Do to Build Trust, gathering: Acceptance Circle, question and answer period, lunch, What Have We Learned, recommendations for the Trauma Healing Program, general evaluation, closing.

Developing trust within and among the participants comes to be an essential part of the healing process after the exercises and presentations are finished. The focus becomes prayer, forgiveness, and fellowshiping at church. Individuals around the circle begin to share that they now see how forgiveness is the way of healing trauma.

Here is some of their sharing:

-- Statements of faith, like calling the Muslim who betrayed him and his family to say “hello and that he is forgiven,” and no longer having resentment, fear, and doubt in his heart. Now he is feeling a real lightness in his soul that the burden is gone.

-- The hate he has been carrying in his heart for so long, that has caused so much darkness and uselessness, is now disappearing. He feels his spirit is coming back to him by the Holy Spirit.
 
-- Even though he has food, shelter, and clothing, he now has received life from EYN Headquarters and is grateful.

-- She has carried around a burden like a mountain because she saw her nine brothers killed and buried, and now that burden is gone and she free and happy.
 
-- Her husband was killed, her house burned down, and all of her goods and possessions are gone. She felt that there was nothing left for herself, but now she has hope that God will somehow provide for her.

-- He was planning to return his village and take revenge on his Muslim neighbors, but now he has let go of revenge and has forgiven them and wants to live in peace.

-- He has forgiven the man who killed his father.

Others who have shared about bitterness, guilt, overwhelming distress, desolation, and helplessness, now are feeling relief, joy, hope, and love from God because of being here at the workshop. We celebrate with a “Circle of Healing” and celebrate the love and grace of Jesus Christ, and the sweet fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

All in all, it is an indescribable and awesome experience. Praise the Lord!

*Full names are withheld in an effort to protect EYN staff living and working in areas of northern Nigeria still subject to terrorist violence.

-- Jim Mitchell is one of the three current Church of the Brethren volunteers with the Nigeria Crisis Response, a joint effort of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries.


6) Trauma healing is the path to forgiveness in Nigeria

A circle of hands at a Trauma Healing Workshop in Nigeria

A circle of hands at a Trauma Healing Workshop in Nigeria

By Janet Crago

Is it truly possible to forgive someone who has hurt you so grievously that you can hardly function? Some of the IDPs (Internally Displaced People) in Nigeria have been hurt in ways that most of us can only imagine. To understand the healing process let me begin with a definition of trauma and move through some of the important steps necessary to accomplish this goal.

Trauma is defined as any kind of significant loss that is caused by a natural event such as an earthquake, fire, or flood, where multiple deaths are involved and destruction of property usually occurs. Trauma will be something you’ve experienced, that you’ve seen, that you’ve heard, or something you’ve done that wounds the heart deeply. It usually involves threat to life or bodily integrity or a close personal encounter with violence and death. Examples are war or natural disasters. 

Not surprisingly, some common reactions to trauma are extreme anger, wanting revenge, paralysis (the inability to make decisions or participate in normal life experiences), extreme grief, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, feeling useless, hopeless, and/or depressed. These feelings often result in the inability to function normally, such as the inability to grasp events or the inability to function normally in social situations.

As the IDPs have been sharing their stories, listeners often find that it is very difficult to listen. Just listening causes images to come to your own mind that are truly awful, and the stories are hard to hear without strong emotion. Our colleague, Jim Mitchell, confessed that tears rolled down his face more than once, and he prayed constantly. The presence of God was there. But, the IDPs need a chance to tell their stories. Just telling their stories helps to start the healing process.

Can one truly heal from these kinds of traumas?

The steps to recovery:

1. Recognizing that life is very important. Pointing out that God has spared them and that with life there is hope. They are encouraged to fix their eyes on Jesus and decide to start life again. Examples are given about how to start life again. Ideas have been offered by trauma team members like purchasing very small goods like Maggi (bouillon) cubes or matches and selling them to others. When you have sold them, you have a little money to purchase more goods and sell again. (You can buy small quantities of product all over Nigeria. There are small businesses like this wherever you go. You don’t need a license.)
 
2. Recognizing that someone still loves them. During the Trauma Healing Workshops, the leaders use the Open Chair Exercise, where each person faces an empty chair and imagines a real person sitting in this chair who still expresses love for them. They explain some of the actions of this person that demonstrate love.

3. Developing trust. They take a trust walk where another person leads them and they follow with their hand on the shoulder of the person leading. They must keep their eyes closed during this walk. Then they have a discussion about trust and how trust is built. They discuss the damages of mistrust.

4. Repentance. Near the end of a workshop, they hear that God loves us so we need to learn how to move toward forgiveness, because that is what Jesus did for us. Many come to the workshop with hate in their hearts, and are thinking of plans to go back and kill the perpetrators. As a result, many of the participants talk about who they must forgive and how they will express that forgiveness.

As you can imagine, there are many tears during these workshops. Powerful emotions are experienced and lived through. Many people leave these workshops with more peace of mind than they’ve had in a very long time. The leaders help them set up meetings where they come together and support each other through the continued healing process.

Praise the Lord that they have had this opportunity, and that EYN now has some very competent leaders who can provide these workshops. 

-- Janet and Tom Crago are two of the three current Church of the Brethren volunteers with the Nigeria Crisis Response, a joint effort of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries.


7) Small-scale ‘Wall of Healing’ display is available from Global Mission office

A Small scale

A Small scale "Wall of Healing" Nigeria display is available from the Global Mission and Service office.

At this year’s Annual Conference, Global Mission and Service presented the “Wall of Healing,” a poster exhibit commemorating the thousands of Nigerians who have been killed in recent years through terrorist violence and persecution. The exhibit is based on the information collected by Rebecca Dali and the Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives, and was put together by Brethren Volunteer Service workers Pat and John Krabacher.

Now, Global Mission has created a scaled-down version of the “Wall of Healing,” which can be shipped to and exhibited at district conferences or other events.

The original exhibit at Annual Conference included 17 large posters. The scaled-down version may include a sampling of the posters, printed at a smaller size, but still listing many hundreds of the names of victims. Two tri-fold end pieces provide additional narration, information, and photos.

To arrange for the display to appear at a district conference or other event, contact Kendra Harbeck in the Global Mission and Service office at kharbeck@brethren.org or 847-429-4388.


UPCOMING EVENTS

8) Living Stream worship webcast from Lake Junaluska to kick off the 13th NOAC

The cross is lit above Lake Junaluska on an early morning at National Older Adult Conference
Photo by Eddie Edmonds

The cross is lit above Lake Junaluska on an early morning at National Older Adult Conference

“This Sunday, we are lucky to get a sneak peek at the fun happening at Lake Junaluska next week,” said an announcement of a webcast worship service by Living Stream Church of the Brethren, an online ministry. The service will be webcast from the Lake Junaluska (N.C.) Conference Center where the National Older Adult Conference is set to begin Monday, Sept. 7.

The webcast starts at 8 p.m. (Eastern time) on Sunday evening, Sept. 6. Go to http://livestream.com/livingstreamcob .

MarySue and Bruce Rosenberger, two of the Living Stream ministers, will be in Lake Junaluska to attend this year's NOAC on the theme of story-telling inspired by Jesus, the great story teller, said the announcement. “On Sunday, the Rosenbergers will give us a preview of what's to come for those on site.”

Special guests for the webcast include NOAC coordinator Kim Ebersole and Debbie Eisenbise of the Congregational Life Ministries staff.

Church of the Brethren holds 13th NOAC

More than 850 people already are registered to attend the Church of the Brethren’s 13th National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) on Sept. 7-11. Anyone age 50 and older is invited to register and attend. New participants and those from any faith background will be welcomed. Registration will continue up to the start of the conference. A $25 first-timer discount is available toward the $199 registration fee for those attending NOAC for the first time.

Logo for NOAC 2015

Storytelling focus

“Then Jesus Told Them a Story” is the conference theme, based on the Bible text from Matthew 13:34-35. Storytelling in many forms will be interwoven throughout the event.

A great line up of speakers and performers is planned, including
-- well known author, speaker, activist, and public theologian Brian McLaren
-- Christian songwriter and musician Ken Medema
-- Covenant Baptist Church minister Christine Smith, author of “Beyond the Stained Glass Ceiling: Equipping and Encouraging Female Pastors”
-- Alexander Gee Jr., founder and president of the Nehemiah Urban Leadership Institute and senior pastor/founder of Fountain of Life Family Worship Center in Madison, Wis.
-- comedian Bob Stromberg
-- storyteller Gary Carden
-- Terra Voce, a cello and flute duo
-- the J. Creek Cloggers, a high-energy dance team based in Haywood County, N.C.

Church of the Brethren leadership includes Robert Bowman, Deanna Brown, Robert Neff, LaDonna Nkosi, Jonathan Shively, and the NOAC News Team, who always delight NOAC audiences with their zany antics.

New this year is a NOAC Coffee House featuring West Coast Brethren singer/storyteller Steve Kinzie. NOAC participants also are invited to perform at the coffeehouse.

In addition there will be numerous workshops and creative arts classes, recreational opportunities, and service projects.

Continuing education units are available for many presentations and workshops, which is a great benefit for ministers attending the conference.

Service projects

Thursday, Sept. 10, is designated as “Service Day.” People who have served in Brethren Volunteer Service, Brethren Disaster Ministries, Children’s Disaster Services, or Church of the Brethren workcamps are invited to wear t-shirts from their experience.

“Share a Story,” an outreach project to the Junaluska Elementary School, has the goal of donating at least 350 new illustrated children’s books for students in grades K-5. Books should be non-religious and without any inscription. The Brethren Press bookstore at NOAC will feature a display of appropriate books.

A walk/run around Lake Junaluska on Thursday morning will be held on the theme “One World, One Church: NOAC for Nigeria!” The event benefits the Nigeria Crisis Response of the Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) aiding those affected by violence and displacement in northeast Nigeria. Many Nigerian Brethren have lost family members, homes, and businesses, and have been displaced by the Boko Haram Islamist extremist insurgents. Since Oct. 2014, close to $3.3 million has been donated for the effort that is distributing food and relief goods, building resettlement communities, providing education for displaced children and orphans, supporting employment opportunities for displaced people, offering trauma healing for Nigerians, and supporting the EYN leaders and staff, most of whom also have been displaced. See www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis.

The “Kits for Kids” project collects and donates School Kits and Hygiene Kits for Church World Service to distribute to disaster survivors. Monetary donations to purchase items for kits will be received, along with donations of items needed for the kits. Kits will be assembled onsite by NOAC participants. See www.brethren.org/noac/documents/cws-noac-service-project.pdf .

Visit www.brethren.org/NOAC for more information.


9) Nominations are sought for Annual Conference-elected offices

By Chris Douglas

Nominations are being accepted for all Annual Conference-elected offices in 2016 including Annual Conference moderator-elect; Program and Arrangements Committee member; Mission and Ministry Board members for Areas 3, 4, and 5; On Earth Peace Board member; Brethren Benefit Trust board member; Bethany Theological Seminary laity and college representatives; and Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Committee member. Descriptions of these offices are available at www.brethren.org/ac .

Please make nominations between now and Dec. 1. To make an on-line nomination, simply go to the Annual Conference website www.brethren.org/ac and click the blue button that says “AC 2016 Nominations,” or go directly to www.brethren.org/ac/nominations . At this page, nominations may be made, and nominees who already have been nominated may enter their nominee information form. On this page there is also a brief description of the offices that are open in 2016.

If you have any questions, please call or e-mail the Conference Office at 847-429-4365 or annualconference@brethren.org .

-- Chris Douglas is director of the Conference Office for the Church of the Brethren.


10) McPherson College offers ‘Ventures in Christian Discipleship’ courses

By Adam Pracht

Now entering its third year, McPherson (Kan.) College’s “Ventures in Christian Discipleship” program is providing web-based courses to help provide training to lay leadership in congregations, both large and small. Offerings for 2015-16 include everything from dealing with grief to trends in worship, and from the use of technology to human justice issues.

Ventures was established with the purpose “to equip lay persons of all ages and education levels with skills and understandings for faithful and dynamic Christian living, action, and leadership, with special emphasis on small congregations.”

McPherson College values its 128-year relationship with the Church of the Brethren. The college’s identity and values reflect its heritage in the church and efforts to nurture and maintain that relationship. In an effort to be supportive of its constituent church, Ventures creates an opportunity to respond to congregational needs. It has been a highly effective program, one that is growing and building momentum. 

All of the classes have relevant topics for clergy and for congregations of all sizes. However, a particular emphasis on small congregations was chosen because few Church of the Brethren congregations west of the Mississippi River have worship attendance above 60 people. This means that often these congregations cannot afford full-time pastoral leadership and must rely on lay leaders. McPherson College is committed to using its connections and resources to fulfill this critical training need. Classes are designed to highlight:
-- Positive envisioning of the small church
-- Spiritual nurture/training
-- Human justice and world issues
-- Small-church functions/how-to issues

Ken and Elsie Holderread are on the Ventures Planning Committee and longtime leaders in the Church of the Brethren. They have participated in every Ventures class offering.  “We find the presenters and their material to be outstanding,” they said via e-mail. “We believe them to be quite helpful and interesting for participants in congregations of all sizes.”

Ventures receives significant financial support from McPherson College, as well as guidance and resources from Western Plains District, Northern Plains District, Missouri/Arkansas District, Illinois/Wisconsin District, and the Plains to Pacific Roundtable.

Broad financial support has meant that MC has been able to keep the cost for the online courses affordable--a high priority in the development of the program. Each course costs just $15 per session, per person. A group rate of $75 for 5 or more participants joining a course at the same location is also available. 

To learn more about Ventures in Christian Discipleship and to register for courses, visit www.mcpherson.edu/ventures .

2015-16 Ventures in Christian Discipleship course offerings

All courses are online and simply require a 250 kbps Internet connection and a compatible web browser. Mobile devices are possible, but will not give the best results. A desktop or laptop computer with a high-speed Internet connection and externally powered speakers is recommended for the best experience. For groups, a projector and speakers are recommended. All times listed are in Central Time.

-- Sept. 26, 9 a.m.-12 noon and 1-4 p.m. ($15 per session): “The Hunger and the Dream” presented by Gimbiya Kettering, director of Intercultural Ministries for the Church of the Brethren. As Peter traveled during his ministry, he encountered diverse cultures and people. Communities today--both faith-based and secular--face a similar struggle to retain a familiar identity yet embrace diversity and multiculturalism. Kettering will explore different meanings of diversity and why the topic is important to church ministry.

-- Nov. 21, 9 a.m.-12 noon ($15): “Congregational Ethics: Patterns of Healthy Communities” presented by Josh Brockway, director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship for the Church of the Brethren. Healthy congregations know their and value their expectations. With the Church of the Brethren recently revising its Congregational Ethics Policy, it’s important to become familiar with the section that names key areas of appropriate conduct. Brockway will help participants explore key aspects of the ethics policy through case studies and discussion.

-- Jan. 16, 9 a.m.-12 noon ($15): “The Road We Travel...a Journey Shared” presented by Deb and Dale Ziegler. The Zieglers will reflect on and explore the process of loss, grief, and healing through their personal journey of grace extended and received. Their son Paul died at age 19 while a sophomore at McPherson College in 2012, as the result of an accident while he was out riding his bike. His last text message to Deb and Dale read simply: “I’m going on a bike ride to be with God.” The Zieglers will share the challenges of coming to terms with their grief, how they were supported, and resources that they found helpful in dealing with loss.

-- Feb. 13, 9 a.m.-12 noon ($15): “From Call to Empty Tomb: An Encounter with Jesus” presented by Steve Crain, associate professor of religion at McPherson College. Participants will take a journey in their imaginations to four key moments in the life of Jesus Christ: his call to “Come, follow me,” sailing with him on the Sea of Galilee, breaking bread and sharing the cup with him in the upper room, and journeying to his burial tomb, to find it empty. Crain will invite the participants to hear Jesus’ voice, feel his real presence, and renew their experience of his love.

-- March 5, 9 a.m.-12 noon ($15): “Cymbals and Silence: The Changing Sounds of Worship and Prayer” presented by Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm, the Brightbill professor of preaching and worship at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. Across the last three decades, church worship in North America has seen some of the most significant changing trends--surprising, powerful…and worrisome--since the Protestant Reformation. Ottoni-Wilhelm will explore these changes, what congregations are trying to accomplish in worship, and how congregations can incorporate new and traditional practices into worship.

-- April 23, 9 a.m.-12 noon ($15): “Technology for Congregations” presented by Enten Eller,  a technology expert, owner and operator of his own computer business for 30 years, and former webmaster and director of distributed education, electronic communication, and educational technology at Bethany Seminary. This course will explore strategy to improve congregational communication, visibility, and outreach through the use of affordable technology solutions that are appropriate in different contexts. Topics will include conference calls, virtual meetings, phone trees, e-mail, websites, streaming or recording of services, copyright issues, and more. An hour of the presentation will include Brandon Lutz, a school district Internet specialist in the greater Philadelphia area, who will share about Internet safety. Time dedicated to specific questions from participants will be included.

-- Adam Pracht is public relations coordinator for McPherson College. Visit www.mcpherson.edu for more information.


11) Powerhouse Regional Youth Conference to celebrate an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’

By Walt Wiltschek

The Powerhouse Regional Youth Conference will return to Camp Mack in Milford, Ind., again this year for its sixth edition, providing a weekend of worship, workshops, music, recreation, and more for Midwest senior high youth and their advisors. We hope you can join us Nov. 21-22 for this great weekend! Our theme will be “An Attitude of Gratitude,” looking at ways we live out and express thankfulness.

Rich Troyer of Middlebury, Ind., former district youth coordinator for Northern Indiana District, will be the keynote speaker for three worship times. Opportunities will be available to visit and tour the Manchester University campus, about 45 minutes from Camp Mack, before or after the conference, and as a workshop option on Saturday.

Visit www.manchester.edu/powerhouse to find a variety of information and forms needed for each participant to register. All forms must be completed for participants to attend. Forms should be downloaded, printed, and mailed to the university with payment when completed.
 
Cost this year will be $75 for youth, $65 for advisors. Everyone will have a bed to sleep in, and the camp will be preparing the meals. Checks should be made out to and sent to Manchester University, 604 E. College Ave., North Manchester, IN 46962. An online payment option for this year may also be available; stay tuned!
If your group is coming from a distance and needs a place to stay in the area Friday night, please contact us and we can help you make arrangements at Manchester University or with congregations in the area, or at Camp Mack at your own additional cost.

Please be in prayer for this event, and encourage your youth and advisors to attend.

-- Walt Wiltschek is campus pastor and director of Church Relations for Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind. Contact the Campus Ministry/Religious Life office at 260-982-5243.


REFLECTING ON FERGUSON

12) Ferguson: An invitation for the church to participate in dismantling racial discrimination

Photo by Jeanne Davies

"Jesus" written in the sand on a street in Ferguson

By Zandra Wagoner

During the weekend of Aug. 7-10, St. Louis, Mo., and the suburb of Ferguson commemorated the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death. It was a weekend of speakers, panels, gatherings, trainings, workshops, marches, and vigils featuring activists, academics, clergy, musicians, poets, and community organizers.

For me, the weekend began with a Friday evening panel at the University of Missouri on “Black, Brown, and LGBTQ Liberation” highlighting that Black Lives Matters is unquestionably a far-reaching, multiple issue movement for justice and deep societal transformation.

On Saturday, there were trainings in nonviolent direct action to prepare for civil disobedience actions that would take place on Monday.  Later in the afternoon the community held a march through the streets of St. Louis to honor the activists and organizers who have steadfastly called for an end to racism and police violence, as well as a recognition of all the families nation-wide (many who were present) who have lost loved ones to police violence. 

Protest signs and posters from many different perspectives (Black, Latino/a, Asian American, Arab American, and so on) proclaimed the significance of Black Lives Matter and we filled the air with chants and songs of justice. The march concluded with a family-oriented Block Party of music, dance performances, poetry, and food, and an evening of vocal artists. 

Sunday began with an interfaith prayer vigil on the street in front of the Canfield Green Apartments where Michael Brown lived and the site where he was killed. We gathered around the community-maintained memorial, held hands, and said prayers. Following the vigil, there were church services throughout the area focused on the one-year anniversary. I attended a Unitarian-Universalist congregation to hear Julie Taylor, a white UU minister who has been deeply involved in Ferguson activism and trusted by the Black community.

That afternoon, hundreds gathered again at Michael Brown’s home at Canfield Green for a moment of silence, followed by a silent march led by his family to Greater St. Mark’s Church, the nearby congregation that has played a significant role in calling for justice and providing safety and healing during uprisings.

And that evening, we gathered back at Greater St. Mark’s Church for a large community hearing about the role and future of the church in addressing racism and state-sanctioned violence. Speakers included philosopher Dr. Cornel West, St. Louis clergy leaders, as well as Bree Newsome who recently made national news when, as an act of faith, she climbed the 30-foot flagpole in Columbia, S.C., to remove the Confederate flag.

Finally, on Monday, hundreds gathered for a clergy-led civil disobedience action in downtown St. Louis--the event that had drawn me to travel to St. Louis. The night before, a young black protester had been shot in Ferguson, which made Monday tense and uneasy. We trained and prepared ourselves for a variety of unpredictable scenarios, and with a mixture of fear and courage, we walked to the Department of Justice with a list of demands written by the local clergy.

We were met by a barricade of police. Before crossing the police line, the list of demands was read, we blessed each other with oil, and anointed the Department of Justice as sacred space with a moral obligation to do justice. 

In an attempt to personally deliver the list of demands to the Department of Justice, 57 clergy and activists crossed the police lines, and were arrested.

The weekend was intense, heartbreaking, and empowering. Ferguson represents a nonviolent movement of love, led by young people with a clear voice and vision. At many of the events, especially the marches and civil disobedience action, we chanted these words:
What does love look like? This is what love looks like.
What does community look like? This is what community looks life.
What does theology look like? This is what theology looks like.

While the media was portraying the weekend as a “state of emergency,” I experienced a community of deep abiding love. While there are instances of violence that erupt from within the community, it is a symptom of a system that is broken and oppressive. The media focuses on the occasional eruptions of youth violence and represents the movement as criminality.

As Jeanne Davies, another Church of the Brethren minister pastor who came to St. Louis for the commemorations, noted on Facebook following Sunday night’s shooting of a young black man after an outbreak of violence: “Don’t get distracted.” The Ferguson community is not the violence portrayed by the media. What we experienced and observed over the weekend was a movement of thousands of peaceful protesters using their bodies and voices to call for change.

In stark contrast, we were surrounded by heavily armed police and followed by buzzing surveillance drones flying above our heads. Being in the presence of the militarized police was scary, and underscored the reality that the young activists of Ferguson who work for dignity, justice and safety in their community are putting their lives on the line every day.

Importantly, this movement does not look like our romanticized memory of Selma’s peaceful protest and idealized martyrs. The youth of Ferguson have experienced trauma and carry deep sadness and far-reaching hopes. They are creatively using nonviolent means grounded in love, but it may not look “respectable.” As Cornel West asked us, “Are you more concerned with the profanity of their language than the profane conditions they live in?” We all need to resist the lure of “respectability” and the media-constructed pictures of Ferguson. There is life and love in Ferguson, and it is beautiful, courageous, prophetic, and a gift to our nation: an invitation to dismantle racial discrimination.

In addition, Ferguson is giving birth to a vital and thriving theology. As articulated by a number of local clergy and academics, the church has too often shown up late and wrong. “Ferguson,” said Cornel West, “will determine whether the church is still relevant, and the jury is still out.” He continued: “The church needs to repent for not being in the street with the poor folk, the young folk, and the queer folk--their lives were never negotiable.”

The clergy affirmed the brave and prophetic voice of the youth who are giving meaning to a theology of “the word made flesh.” This is a theology where a sermon is not heard but seen, and the congregation is made up of persons of integrity who face oppression and put something on the line for the sake of justice and freedom. No longer can the institutional churches assume that they will be grandfathered into leadership positions. Instead, the spiritual leadership is emerging on the street where the people are gathering. According to Ferguson pastor Traci Blackmon, for the church to be relevant it must tell the truth of injustice. It must be a place of belonging, a safe space for revolution and social transformation, and a community that cares for the vulnerable in society and those who cannot care for themselves. At its heart, Ferguson’s theology is an embodiment of love. 

Most importantly for me, as a white person who benefits from a system of white privilege, I left Ferguson with a greater understanding of the work I need to do inside myself, as well as how one might be a worthy ally in the movement toward racial justice. Some of the messages I heard from the Unitarian Universalist minister Julie Taylor include: as white people we need to be careful about our need for “respectability,” as mentioned above. Rather than being the leader, white people need to learn how to follow and take the lead from those who are already working toward racial justice. We need to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. 

In other words, in our desire to be good allies, we will mess up and sometimes be called on our mistakes and we need to have the strength to take responsibility and keep showing up and coming back. Being uncomfortable is a small price to pay in comparison to those whose lives are at risk because of their Black bodies.

And probably the most important message I heard was at the panel of local clergy: in contrast to white guilt, white arrogance, white fear, white patronization, white people need to find a different spirit within themselves--a soft, still, gentle voice of humility. 

I am grateful to On Earth Peace and the University of La Verne for supporting my travels to St. Louis and Ferguson. On Earth Peace has begun a very important racial justice initiative with a growing list of resources and tools that further our understanding of racial history, racial justice, white privilege, and how to engage mindfully in actions and efforts across our nation.

It’s my hope that the Church of the Brethren is a full partner in the current movements for racial justice. The community in Ferguson is asking us, “What does love look like?” In response, I hope we can affirm, yes, “This is what love looks like,” and then roll up our sleeves and show up.
 
-- Zandra Wagoner was one of two Church of the Brethren ministers who participated in the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown's killing in Ferguson, Mo., along with Jeanne Davies. Wagoner is university chaplain for the University of La Verne, Calif. Davies is interim pastor of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill. Wagoner participated in the Ferguson anniversary events with support from On Earth Peace and the University of La Verne.

-- Dunker Punks blogger Emmett Eldred also posted a reflection on “Ferguson, One Year Later,” marking the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown's shooting death in Ferguson, Mo. “If there is one thing that we have witnessed since Michael Brown's death, it is indelible proof that the justice system in the United States is deeply broken, and it has been broken along racial lines,” he writes in the lengthy blogpost. “There is a justice system that white Americans experience, and there is a profoundly different, decidedly more harsh justice system that Black Americans experience. What we've known all along but are only now beginning to fully admit is that virtually every structure in our society, not just our justice system, aches to be healed of racial inequality.” Citing 1 John 1:7-10, Eldred’s post went on to call young Brethren to take “just one step...to continue to work for true racial justice and reconciliation, one year after Michael Brown's death. We must admit our sin.” Read the full blogpost at http://dunkerpunks.com/2015/08/10/ferguson-one-year-later .


13) Thinking About Ferguson--again

By Gimbiya Kettering

“This is not a one year old problem.” --Efrem Smith

A year ago, I had never heard of Ferguson--despite having traveled to Missouri several times, and despite loving a sci-fi show set in St. Louis. Or if I heard of it, it didn’t register. Not the way it does now.

Now I cannot hear “Ferguson” without flinching.

As we approached the first anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown, I found myself reflecting on what had happened in the past year. I have been completely overwhelmed and saddened by the long list of unarmed African Americans who have been killed. I have been inspired by the national conversation this awareness has sparked. I have been afraid that nothing is going to change.

I had a feeling of déjà vu when I heard there were protests in Ferguson--again. Of course, I expected something to happen but I was not prepared for more violence and another state of emergency. I was not expecting me to be looking away from the news with tears in my eyes and too discouraged to find solace in prayer.

Efrem Smith, a pastor at the Covenant Church who spoke at the Church of the Brethren’s 2014 Church Planting Conference, has written eloquently on it. He has kept his eyes on our faith, the role of Christ in all of this. I encourage you to read his piece, “A Year from Ferguson” at www.efremsmith.com/category/blog/2015/08/a-year-from-ferguson .

-- As director of Intercultural Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, Gimbiya Kettering seeks to continue and expand the conversation and ministry work for those working in intercultural and cross-cultural settings. To join the conversation, leave a comment or e-mail gkettering@brethren.org . This reflection is one post in the new blog “Continuing Together,” a conversation about how race, culture, ethnicity, and language impact our relationships with one another and how we do ministry. Find the Continuing Together posts in the Brethren blog at http://blog.brethren.org/category/together .


14) This is an effort which the faith community must lead

By Nathan Hosler

A logo for the Great Gathering of the African Methodist Episcopal Communion, courtesy of the National Council of Churches.
Courtesy of the National Council of Churches

A logo for the Great Gathering of the African Methodist Episcopal Communion, courtesy of the National Council of Churches.

On Tuesday evening, Sept. 1, the African Methodist Episcopal Coalition held a worship service in Washington, D.C. I had received the invitation from the National Council of Churches (NCC) the week before in my capacity with the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Public Witness, but it was also relevant for my role as a minister in Washington City Church of the Brethren.

The invitation read: “In the wake of the tragic shootings in Charleston, S.C., in June, as well as the many other incidents of racial injustice that have occurred in our nation, the African Methodist Episcopal Coalition will hold a special worship service at 7 p.m. on Sept. 1 at John Wesley AME Zion Church.” So in line with the denomination’s deep desire to seek the peace of Jesus through a commitment to solidarity with historic black churches and racial justice, I attended this event.

The worship service was held at John Wesley African Methodist Episcopal Church in northwest Washington. I had passed the building on a bicycle on several occasions but had never entered. While the NCC had sent out an invitation on their behalf, and visiting leaders and staff from other denominations were acknowledged, this was said to be a “family gathering” by the leaders speaking to a group of several hundred people. Although the gathering was not “for” me, either denominationally or racially, I was welcomed as a brother in Christ.

Close to half of the group were clergy from the Christian Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal, and African Methodist Episcopal Zion churches. The purpose was a call to greater action within these churches to address racism and injustice that their communities face.

The sermon by Bishop Lawrence L. Redick II considered God’s calling of the boy Samuel. The bishop noted that in “those days” the “word of God was precious,” or “rare” in another translation, drawing parallels and exhortation for today. He also observed that this was before the boy Samuel “knew God” and concluded that the venerable church leaders who remembered the days of the Civil Rights Movement should welcome the moving of the Spirit and leadership in the young leaders organizing on the streets across the country.

The next day, Wednesday, Sept. 2, we gathered at the National Press Club. In this event the focus shifted outward and included specific policy recommendations from the Coalition which urged legislators to deal with issues of racism, criminal justice, educational reform, economic justice, gun control, and voting rights.

Events continued on at a White House briefing that I was unable to attend. A theme repeated often was that these events were not the end, but the beginning, as a confession and recommitment to action as churches.

An immediate next step is a call to a day of prayer and preaching in our congregations on Sept. 6. A Day of Confession on Sunday, Sept. 6, has been announce by the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church for congregations across the nation to take time for confession related to racism during their Sunday services. The theme is “Liberty and Justice for All: Day of Confession, Repentance, Prayer, and Commitment to End Racism.”

An invitation to take part reads: “Racism will not end with the passage of legislation alone; it will also require a change of heart and thinking. This is an effort which the faith community must lead, and be the conscience of the nation. We will call upon every church, temple, mosque, and faith communion to make their worship service on this Sunday a time to confess and repent for the sin and evil of racism, this includes ignoring, tolerating, and accepting racism and to make a commitment to end racism by the example of our lives and actions.”

For more information and resources go to www.ame-church.com/liberty-and-justice-for-all .

-- Nathan Hosler is director of the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness, located in Washington, D.C., and a minister at Washington City Church of the Brethren.


15) In wake of Ferguson, Rockford church works to build nonviolent community

By Samuel Sarpiya

Since the Michael Brown incident, as a congregation we have been looking for ways to avert such from happening in Rockford, knowing that back in 2009 we had a similar incident. We have been working with the Police Department to build a healthy and positive Nonviolence Community Policing and Community relationship.

We are in the process of launching what we call the “Mobile Lab” where young Black men caught in a vicious cycle may be trained in nonviolence and conflict response to gang violence, by using their creative skills and talents.

This initiative is gaining traction within the minority community in Rockford. As part of a community and police partnership, the Police Department has donated an RV that we intend to re-purpose for empowerment and transformation.

Here is a document about the new effort:

An RV that has been donated to the Rockford Community Church effort to create a Mobile Lab to help build nonviolent community among the youth.
Photo courtesy of Samuel Sarpiya

An RV that has been donated to the Rockford Community Church effort to create a Mobile Lab to help build nonviolent community among the youth.

Mobile Lab!

Rockford Community Church in collaboration with the Center for Nonviolence and Conflict Transformation invites you to join us in a movement to transform our city, which has been affected by gang and drug related violence most especially in the minority communities. We recognize that there are great potential that exist in this city. We are introducing a ground-breaking project that would change the face of our city. We plan on rising a generation that seeks nonviolence as a way of life and at the same time use their potential for a fulfilled life. We are introducing to you the Mobile Lab.

The Mobile Lab is geared towards educating Rockford city teen and young adults with skills in computer literacy, i.e. graphic design, App development, web design, coding.

-- MobileApp Design will teach the youth of the proper age everything there is to know when it comes to creating an application for mobile phones and mobile pads. Whether it is for fun and games, books, business, or education, learning the skills of App Development is very essential.

-- Web Design is a very important skill to have knowledge of in today's world of technology. The Internet makes up a large part of the economy when it comes to global business and marketing. The Mobile Lab will provide all the training for website design.

-- Video Editing and Production. There is no other way to express your visual creativity without the right video production. The Mobile Lab will train youth of the proper age everything from pre- to post-production video editing and camera operation and video special effects using professional editing software.

-- Coding. Software programming is the language of today and the future. We will teach young and creative kids how to code for websites as well as based on the customer’s need.

The Mobile Lab will also function as a Mobile Recording Studio.

As a Lab, it would serve as an incubator for transformation. With the abundance of talents in the city’s creative skills and the ability to learn on the fly, the Mobile Lab would seek to educate young people to use their gifts and talents instead of joining gang-related activities due to boredom and lack of a place to express them.

Currently we are seeking grants to help retrofit our newly gifted RV into the Mobile Lab.

-- Samuel Sarpiya pastors Rockford (Ill.) Community Church of the Brethren and is active in the denomination’s Intercultural Ministries and in On Earth Peace.


16) Brethren bits


 Haitian Dominican Brethren display temporary work permits
 Members and friends of La Esperanza de la Naciones (Hope of the Nations), a Church of the Brethren congregation in the Dominican Republic, display their new one-year temporary work permits. The group are among Haitian Dominican Brethren who have received aid from the church to complete the paperwork needed to receive legal resident status in the DR, reports Jeff Boshart, manager of the Global Food Crisis Fund and Emerging Mission Fund. There is hope that these permits may be renewed annually for a fee, and may ultimately lead to a pathway to citizenship, Boshart shared by e-mail. The Church of the Brethren has been 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 since a high level Dominican court made a ruling that stripped citizenship from tens of thousands of people born in the DR to undocumented Haitian parents.

-- Remembrance: Joan Harrison, 76, a former denominational employee, died on July 27 in Decatur, Ga. A nurse, she also had worked in the finance department at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. She and her family were active in Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren and the Elgin community in the 1980s.

-- Remembrance: Kent Naylor, 89, who had served on the staff of the former General Board, passed away on Aug. 25 at the Cedars, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in McPherson, Kan. He had served on the staff of the Church of the Brethren General Board in the 1970s, in the area of congregational renewal.

-- The General Secretary Search Committee held its first meeting at Calvary Church of the Brethren in Winchester, Va., on Aug. 31. Convener Connie Burk Davis was selected to serve as chair, and Jonathan Prater was selected to serve as recorder. Other committee members include Jerry Crouse, Belita Mitchell, Pam Reist, Patrick Starkey, and David Steele. The committee spent time reflecting on the magnitude of their task and examining resource materials provided by the Transition Team before delving into the ambitious agenda. Work was begun to prepare a position description and job announcement for review and approval by the Mission and Ministry Board at the Oct. 2015 meeting. The committee determined times and preliminary agendas for future in-person meetings and conferencing.

-- Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., seeks a regular part-time receptionist for 20-22 hours per week. The receptionist will staff Bethany’s front desk 8 a.m.-12 noon, providing a welcoming environment and serving as the first point of contact for those entering the seminary. Main responsibilities include greeting visitors, answering the phone, and caring for the mail. Candidates will have a high school diploma or equivalent certification, with an associate’s degree preferred. A job description is at www.bethanyseminary.edu/opportunities/employment . Resumes and letters of interest may be sent to receptionist@bethanyseminary.edu and will be accepted until Sept. 15 or until the position is filled. Bethany Seminary’s policy prohibits discrimination in employment opportunities or practices with regard to race, gender, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, or religion.

-- Camp Alexander Mack seeks an executive director. The camp is located on Lake Waubee in Milford, Ind., and is a year-round camping and retreat ministry of the Indiana Churches of the Brethren. The camp is 65 acres with additional 180 acres of wilderness area. Camp Mack was founded in 1925 and continues to serve 1,000-plus users per year. The executive director will serve as the camp administrator and will develop policy and long-range goals for the camping ministry in partnership with the Board of Directors. This full-time position has responsibility for developing and implementing policies and programs of the Board of Directors; staffing; overseeing the promotion and scheduling of programs and facilities; overseeing administration of the camp; maintaining professional standards; fundraising in coordination with the Board of Directors. The qualified candidate will be a faithful Christian with a clear understanding and appreciation of the Church of the Brethren; have a bachelor degree, with IACCA certification preferred; have proven supervisory experience in outdoor ministries; have appropriate emotional maturity and stability and be able to create excitement in persons of diverse backgrounds; be gifted in interpreting the camp’s mission. For more information about the camp visit www.campmack.org . Send inquires, letters of interest and resumes to CampMackSearch@gmail.com . ACA accredited.

-- The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), in which the Church of the Brethren participates, seeks an individual to be the NRCAT Human Rights Fellow. This new fellowship will involve full-time work for one academic year (Oct. 2015-May 2016), and will involve working directly with NRCAT staff and interfaith partners, gaining first-hand knowledge of the education, organizing, and communications work necessary for policy change and social transformation in an interfaith context. Application deadline is Sept. 15. Find out more about the fellowship and how to apply at www.idealist.org/view/job/c8JxFdjHbTnp .

-- The "Carroll County Times" gave front-page billing to a fashion show hosted at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The “Fair Fall Fashion Show” featured 11 volunteers who modeled fashions from SERRV, a nonprofit that was started by the Church of the Brethren, and aims to eradicate poverty by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers around the world by paying them fair wages. The show was held in the Zigler Hospitality Center, which offers banquet hall rentals, hotel-style lodging, dining services, and a place for business and family gatherings. Find the news piece and photos at www.carrollcountytimes.com/news/local/ph-cc-fashion-show-20150829-story.html .

-- Fraternity Church of the Brethren near Winston-Salem, N.C., celebrates its 240th anniversary on Sept. 18-20.

The community garden at Chicago First Church of the Brethren
Photo courtesy of Chicago First Church of the Brethren

The community garden at Chicago First Church of the Brethren

-- “Rest, relax, and rejuvenate in the garden,” said a recent Facebook invitation from pastor LaDonna Sanders Nkosi of First Church of the Brethren in Chicago, Ill. Sharing a photo from the church’s community garden, which is located adjacent to the historic church building on Chicago’s west side, Nkosi wrote, “Tonight and each Wednesday night at 5:30 p.m. Come and join us! You are welcome here!” Along with the First Chicago congregation, the building also hosts Chicago Community Mennonite Church.

-- The Senior High Camp at Camp Emmaus in northern Illinois designated the Foods Resource Bank for its annual funding project, according to the newsletter of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill. The choice was inspired by the Polo Growing Project that is supported by Polo (Ill.) Church of the Brethren and Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren, among other congregations. The campers raised $1,600. Sara Garner, a member at Highland Avenue, was co-director of the camp.

-- Sept. 18-19 is a banner weekend for district conferences, with five Church of the Brethren districts holding their annual meetings: on Sept. 18-19, Northern Indiana District meets at Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Ind.; on Sept. 18-19, Missouri and Arkansas District meets at Windermere Conference Center in Roach, Mo.; on Sept. 18-19, Southern Pennsylvania District meets at Ridge Church of the Brethren in Shippensburg, Pa.; on Sept. 18-19, West Marva District meets at Moorefield (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren; and on Sept. 19, South-Central Indiana District meets at Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind.

-- The 45th Annual Dunker Church Service at Antietam National Battlefield, a Civil War battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md., will be held on Sunday, Sept. 20, at 3 p.m. The annual service is sponsored by Mid-Atlantic District and held in the restored Mumma Meeting House, commonly referred to today as the Dunker Church, located in the national battlefield park. Preaching for the service is Larry Glick, a member of First Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg, Va., who has served as associate executive for Shenandoah District and a field associate for ministry training programs in the Church of the Brethren. For more than 25 years he has been portraying Brethren characters from history including the founder of the Brethren movement Alexander Mack Sr., whom Glick portrays as “A. Mack,” and Civil War-era leader and martyr for peace Elder John Kline. Glick’s history portrayals are a way “to help enhance our knowledge of past church leaders, and to understand how Brethren Heritage can inform our discipleship today,” said an invitation to the worship service at Antietam. “We extend our gratitude to the National Park Service for their cooperation, for the use of this meeting house, and the loan of the Mumma Bible,” said the organizers in the announcement. For more information, contact one of the pastors who are organizing and leading the event: Eddie Edmonds, 304-267-4135 or 304-671-4775; Tom Fralin, 301-432-2653 or 301-667-2291; Ed Poling, 301-766-9005.

This summer, the Vacation Bible School at Keyser (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren, with some generous help from members of the congregation, raised $1,000
Photo courtesy of Keyser Church of the Brethren

This summer, the Vacation Bible School at Keyser (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren, with some generous help from members of the congregation, raised $1,000 "to help our brothers and sisters in Nigeria," said a note from the church. The VBS took place June 15-19 on the theme "Fully Rely on God."

-- “Proactive Planning for Retirement” is the topic for the September edition of "Brethren Voices," a community television program produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren. It features retired pastor Kerby Lauderdale. “When it comes to retirement planning, to often people just think about the money that is needed for retirement. Another thing that needs to be planned is the place where the person will be living and the care that might be needed,” says Lauderdale, who has seen some in his congregation wait too long to begin the process of implementing plans for the latter stages of their lives. “Everything dies in life including people and institutions. We need to mark our calendars of the decade that we turn 70-80 years of age and have a plan in place for our care. It is during those years that people naturally experience life threatening health problems necessitating special care. If we do not have a plan, then someone else is going to have to do the work. In most cases that means our children or relatives.” Lauderdale is interviewed by “Brethren Voices” in a before and after show about his planned move to a retirement home in Portland. DVD copies of the program are available from producer Ed Groff at Groffprod1@msn.com . Brethren Voices also may be viewed on www.Youtube.com/Brethrenvoices . Groff notes that “some congregations also place the program on their community television station for their whole community can see what Brethren do as a matter of their faith. Madison Avenue Church of the Brethren and Westminster Church of the Brethren have been a part of  Brethren Community Television for over 10 years. Their stations broadcast Brethren Voices over 10 times during the month with credits for the local congregation.”

-- A Dunker Punks project “1,000+ Letters for Nigeria” is on day 365, achieving a whole year of letter writing. The initiative has sent letters around the country seeking support for those affected by violence and displacement in Nigeria. Letters have gone to a wide variety of organizations and groups, for example Monday’s went to Partners for International Development, Project Harmony International, and Physicians for Peace. The campaign is led by Dunker Punks blogger Emmett Eldred, who notes on the blogsite today: “Today is day 365! The last day of the letters for Nigeria project! At least this stage of it. Now comes follow-ups with all the organizations I've written to about the Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria.” Find out more, sign up for e-mail alerts, or join in as a participant in the Dunker Punks movement at http://dunkerpunks.com .

-- The World Council of Churches (WCC) and National Council of Churches (NCC) are collaborating to offer webinars focusing on evangelism in the 21st century, in preparation for a WCC conference on evangelism later this year. A webinar on “Evangelism in the Context of Small Congregations” is offered on Sept. 15 at 12 noon (Eastern time) with leadership from Andrew Irvine, professor of Pastoral Theology at Knox College, Toronto School of Theology, and Heather Heinzman Lear, director of Evangelism Ministries for the United Methodist Church. The NCC's Tony Kireopoulos will serve as moderator. Pre-register for this free webinar at http://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/pages/webinar-6 .


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Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jeff Boshart, Tom and Janet Crago, Jeanne Davies, Nevin Dulabaum, Kim Ebersole, Emmett Eldred, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Ed Groff, Kendra Harbeck, Carl and Roxane Hill, Nathan Hosler, Gimbiya Kettering, Belita Mitchell, Jim Mitchell, Nancy Miner, Adam Pracht, Howard Royer, Samuel Sarpiya, Zandra Wagoner, Jenny Williams, Walt Wiltschek, 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 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 review the 2015 National Older Adult Conference (NOAC), which takes place in Lake Junaluska, N.C., on Sept. 7-11. Follow NOAC online next week through daily reporting, photo albums, and more at www.brethren.org/news/2015/noac.html .

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