Newsline for November 20, 2015




“When did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?” (Matthew 5:44, CEB).
Paper that says
Courtesy of BVS

1) Brethren staff visit Nigeria, assess crisis response with EYN and mission partners

2) NCC issues statement on recent Middle East violence and acts of terrorism

3) Your voice is needed on behalf of refugees: An action alert from the Office of Public Witness

4) Church of the Brethren gardener is honored as a Purpose Prize Fellow

5) Lancaster County church stands with Nigerian terror victim

RESOURCES

6) Share the light of Advent through Shine

7) Brethren bits

Quotes of the week:

“Today, members of the House of Representatives betrayed our nation’s heritage as a country that has welcomed the oppressed. We have a proud history of standing with the vulnerable and protecting the persecuted. This legislation fans the flames of bigotry and fear. Our faith calls us to welcome our refugee brothers and sisters, not to create barriers that prevent them from seeking safety.
CWS president and CEO John L. McCullough, in today’s press release from Church World Service (CWS). The Church of the Brethren is a member denomination of CWS, and has been a partner with CWS for decades working with the ecumenical agency on a variety of efforts mainly through Brethren Disaster Ministries. CWS is one of the main faith-based agencies working on refugee resettlement in the United States. Find the CWS release at www.cwsglobal.org/for-the-press/press-releases/discriminatory-anti-refugee-vote.html.
Religion, overcoming violence, and peacebuilding.
The focus for 2016 in the World Council of Churches (WCC) Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, announced today in a release reviewing the WCC’s recent executive committee meeting. The pilgrimage will have a regional emphasis on justice and peace in the Middle East during 2016, and on Africa in 2017. Activities related to these emphases will be developed in collaboration with leaders and members of regional churches, the release said. It also announced the next WCC general assembly—the 11th Assembly of the WCC—to take place in early 2021, at a venue to be determined.

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A note to readers: Newsline will not appear again until after the Thanksgiving holiday. Please look for the next issue in early December.
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1) Brethren staff visit Nigeria, assess crisis response with EYN and mission partners

Global Mission and Service staff have made a trip to Nigeria to meet with Nigerian Brethren leadership and mission partners, and to assess the Nigeria Crisis Response. Executive director Jay Wittmeyer and associate executive Roy Winter, who also heads up Brethren Disaster Ministries, attended meetings and traveled with Nigerian Brethren leaders to visit various sites.

In related news, on Tuesday, Nov. 17, a bomb blast in the city of Yola in northeast Nigeria killed more than 30 people and injured at least 80 others. The bomb was detonated by a suicide bomber in a market area, according to a report on AllAfrica.com. The bombing happened a few days after the two Church of the Brethren staff had been in the Yola area to visit a camp of displaced people among other visits.

Partnership meetings

The partnership meetings were held with representatives from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), and Mission 21, a longterm mission partner based in Switzerland (formerly known as Basel Mission).

Wittmeyer and Winter also visited the EYN headquarters near Mubi—which had been evacuated last October when the Boko Haram insurgents took over the area.

A long road home

Winter provided the following reflection on the trip:

The bomb blast in Yola just a few days after our departure from this northeastern Nigeria city is a stark reminder of just how difficult the road back home will be for our Nigerian sisters and brothers. Even with this blast and many other suicide bombings in this part of Nigeria, we can still see the security situation has improved.

EYN members are moving back into their homes or land in Mubi, Kwarhi, Biu, and other villages closer to Yola. The further north one travels, the less safe it becomes, with Boko Haram still hiding in the Sambisa Forest. EYN staff share it may be years, if ever, before families from Gwoza, Madagali, Gulak, and other villages can safely to return home.

We were very pleased to finally return to the EYN headquarters in Kwarhi after the October 2014 take over. A bomb or missile believed to be targeting a Boko Haram controlled tank destroyed much of the new clinic and the computer training facility at the headquarters and did shrapnel-like damage to some other buildings and the large conference center. Amazingly, most of the rest of the damage at the headquarters and Kulp Bible College looks more like vandalism. Many broken windows, damaged doors, small amounts of looting, and the pulling down of the ceiling are seen in many buildings. Still, I am amazed that church offices and a seminary library remain unburned. It really appears less repairs are required than we could have hoped.

Our travel included visiting one of the temporary schools supporting IDPs [internally displaced people] in the Yola area, visited the land where construction is beginning for a new relocation center, and went to the American University in Yola. We also visited other partners supporting job development and education. In all points, we left encouraged by the work.

While we ended our time in Yola, this journey started at the EYN temporary headquarters in Jos. A two day consultation with EYN staff and Mission 21 staff centered around supporting EYN and northeast Nigeria through this crisis. Out of this meeting came the focus on the road home... some staff moving back to Kwarhi, some families returning home to rebuild, people harvesting crops, and learning to recover from the trauma. But this is a long road that will be different for each community as the safety allows.

Out of these meetings came a joint focus of the three partners:

  • Continuing limited feeding programs.
  • Providing building materials for home repair in communities returning.
  • Completing construction on three more relocation camps in Jos, Jalingo, and Yola. This is for those that can never go home.
  • Repairs of the Kwarhi headquarters and Kulp Bible College.
  • Trauma healing.
  • A new focus on trauma healing for children with Children’s Disaster Services and EYN Women’s Ministries.
  • Working with the EYN Integrated Community Based Development Program to support the long term recovery in these communities.
  • The Church of the Brethren response also includes partners focused on children’s education, additional feeding programs, and livelihoods.

I leave Nigeria feeling more encouraged and hopeful. Even with a new bombing there is a sense of moving forward and recovering from this crisis. It will take years and years, but there is more hope now than on other trips. I found hope in learning that many EYN churches and schools have been helping with the crisis. In the US we don't really hear much about all the activities of EYN churches, and I now believe they are doing much more than we realized. I found hope in seeing all the crops being harvested around Mubi and Kwarhi. I found hope in seeing schools at Kwarhi functioning and full of children. I found hope in the resilience of the EYN members and Nigerian people.

Recovery will be fraught with setbacks, but God’s people are finding hope and strength to reclaim their land and trust in God. For all this we can be thankful.

A moment of encouragement

Markus Gamache, EYN staff liaison, also provided a report on the encouragement that the Nigerian Brethren received from the visit of the Global Mission staff:

Brother Jay and Roy were here for about eight days and it was a moment of encouragement to the church and communities to see them visit Yola, and travel through Gombi, Kwarhi, and Mubi. The combined visit with Mission 21 has added more and more courage to leaders and members of EYN.

The effect of Boko Haram destruction on the people of the northeast may last for years. The church and the community are still passing through so many difficult challenges that is difficult to explain. From Yola to Michika is a bit more safe, but from Michika to Madagali and Gwoza is a “no go” area.

The Brethren in the United States have showed to the Nigerian people and other parts of the world that we are of one faith and even extending the true love to the Muslims. The interfaith camp at Gurku is growing, though with challenges, but the challenges are meant to keep us strong in a time like this.

Your prayers and all other sacrifices are yielding a lot of results both spiritual and physical. There is a very good harvest this year for those few people in areas that were able to plant crops, but we still have at least another year to feed many families in terms of health, rent (housing), water, food, and psycho-social support.

The EYN comprehensive secondary school has begun classes, and Kulp Bible College also is in session, as is the John Guli Bible School in Michika, the TEE (Theological Education by Extension) program in Mubi. Other church districts that were displaced have started collecting their members gradually. We still have many churches empty, pastors without work, schools in various communities yet to resume, and needs for drinking water, transport for the returnees, food for the returnees, shelter for the returnees, and much more. These are unlimited details that the church and communities have to pass through.

EYN leaders are working hard to manage the situation with all your support. I personally, and Muslims from different communities, want to say thank and may the Lord give you more strength to continue in good health to the glory of the Lord.

For more information about the Nigeria Crisis Response go to www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .

2) NCC issues statement on recent Middle East violence and acts of terrorism

Church of the Brethren general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger has been attending meetings of the National Council of Churches (NCC) Governing Board, which on Tuesday, Nov 17, adopted the following "Statement on Recent Middle East Violence and Acts of Terrorism":

Over many years, the National Council of Churches has often expressed our aspirations and sorrows, our confidence and fears, related to an eventual peace in the Middle East.

At this time,

  • Inter-communal violence is consuming Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
  • Terrorism and civil conflict are raining fire upon Syria and Iraq.
  • Horrific acts of terrorism have recently taken place in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad and many other cities around the world.
  • Afghanistan is sliding back into chaos.
  • Refugees are fleeing the region and entering Europe in large numbers with no end of suffering on the horizon.
  • Religious minorities are being persecuted, and sectarian strife is affecting Christian, Muslim and Jewish populations.

As we approach the celebration of the birth of Christ our hearts are filled with sorrow and fear that peace will remain out of reach in the Middle East for much longer than we could ever have imagined.

We have no illusions that establishing peace will be easy. We lament that the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine is ever more elusive and negotiations are not taking place. We pray for a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict. We call upon religious communities to build upon their historic legacies of inter-religious relationships, dialogue and action. When all these are in sight, we can envision peace. And yet such a vision seems hard to fathom today.

Still, we remain people of hope. The Lord we follow, Jesus Christ, died a violent death. But he was resurrected from the dead in the singular miraculous event that is at the core of our belief. Thus the hope of resurrection, and of the eternal life and profound peace it symbolizes, permeates our being and calls us to be vigilant in our hope for peace in the region where he lived among us.

We witness to this hope for peace with our fellow Christians in the region. We stand together with our Muslim and Jewish and other sisters and brothers of goodwill who seek peace there. As the National Council of Churches, we will continue to encourage our churches and congregations to support a renewed peace settlement as the only option. And we call upon the United States government and the United Nations to enforce previous commitments towards a just peace and do everything to ensure that a just peace has a chance to emerge from today’s chaos and destruction.

Adopted by the NCC Governing Board, November 17, 2015.

— Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The Church of the Brethren is a founding member and one of 37 member communions in the NCC, which include a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American, and Living Peace churches — include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

3) Your voice is needed on behalf of refugees: An action alert from the Office of Public Witness

Following is an Action Alert from the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness, calling church members to help advocate for Syrian refugees, who have been targeted politically in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks:

"You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt" (Exodus 22:21).

"You shall not deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice" (Deuteronomy 24:17).

As people across the United States are donating to help Syrian refugees abroad and volunteering to welcome refugees in their communities, a number of governors recently announced that they want to stop their states from resettling Syrian refugees. This is morally reprehensible and goes against everything for which the United States stands. The Church of the Brethren has historically supported refugees. In 1982, Annual Conference urged the US government "To support and harbor refugees from war, oppression, famine, and natural disasters."

Some members of Congress have even introduced legislation that would stop refugee resettlement altogether. It is critical that public officials hear from their constituents NOW as decisions are being made that will drastically impact the lives of Syrian refugees and refugee resettlement in the United States.

Please take action today. Call your representative and senators at 866-961-4293. If you live in these states, call your governor:
Alabama: 334-242-7100
Arizona: 520-628-6580 / 602-542-4331
Arkansas: 501-682-2345
Florida: 850-488-7146
Georgia: 404-656-1776
Idaho: 208-334-2100
Illinois: 217-782-0244 / 312-814-2121
Indiana: 317-569-0709
Iowa: 515-281-5211
Kansas: 785-296-3232
Louisiana: 225-342-7015
Maine: 207-287-3531 / 855-721-5203
Maryland: 410-974-3901
Massachusetts: 617-725-4005 / 413-784-1200 / 202-624-7713
Michigan: 517-373-3400
New Hampshire: 603-271-2121
New Jersey: 609-292-6000
North Carolina: 919-814-2000
Ohio: 614-466-3555
Oklahoma: 405-521-2342
South Carolina: 803-734-2100
Texas: 800-843-5789 / 512-463-1782
Wisconsin: 608-266-1212

When you call, tell the receptionist that as a constituent, you want to help WELCOME Syrian refugees and that you're against the calls of some governors to reject Syrian refugees. Example: "I'm a constituent from [City] and I support the resettlement of Syrian refugees. I urge the Senator / Representative / Governor to represent me and other constituents who seek to welcome Syrian refugees."

Here are some helpful points that you may want to mention, but the most important point is your story and why your community wants to welcome Syrian refugees:

  • The US government handpicks the refugees who resettle here, and refugees are the most thoroughly vetted people to come to the United States.
  • All refugees resettled in the United States undergo rigorous security screenings by the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Department of Defense and multiple intelligence agencies, including biometric checks, forensic testing, medical screenings, and in-person interviews.
  • This is not an either/or situation. The United States can continue to welcome refugees while also continuing to ensure national security. We must do both.

—Jesse Winter is a peacebuilding and policy associate, and a Brethren Volunteer Service worker at the Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C. To receive action alerts from the Church of the Brethren, sign up online at www.brethren.org/publicwitness .

For more information about the public witness ministries of the Church of the Brethren, contact Nathan Hosler, Director, Office of Public Witness: Nathan Hosler, 337 North Carolina Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003; nhosler@brethren.org ; 717-333-1649.

4 ) Church of the Brethren gardener is honored as a Purpose Prize Fellow

Dawn Blackman Sr. of Champaign (Ill.) Church of the Brethren has been honored as a 2015 Purpose Prize Fellow by Encore.org for her leadership in running a community garden that is associated with the congregation. The Randolph Street Community Garden is one of the gardens that has received grants from the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) through the Going to the Garden initiative.

“The GFCF provided two separate $1,000 grants,” reported GFCF manager Jeff Boshart. Blackman “has many more plans for future expansion and the GFCF hopes to see how we can be part of helping her to keep on dreaming of ways to serve the neighborhood around the Champaign Church of the Brethren.”

The Purpose Prize recognizes social innovators who are over 60 years old. On Nov. 13, Encore.org “honored the achievements of more than 50 outstanding individuals working to improve local communities and the world,” said a release. Encore.org describes itself as “a national nonprofit that is building a movement to tap the experience of people in midlife and beyond who are using their encore years--the time of traditional retirement--to undertake powerful social-impact projects.”

This year Blackman was among 41 Purpose Prize Fellows who were selected from a pool of more than 600 nominees. “Their examples shine as models for millions of Americans who believe they can use their life experience to make a difference,” said the release.

The 26 jurors who chose the Purpose Prize honorees included Sherry Lansing, former CEO of Paramount; Michael D. Eisner, former CEO of The Walt Disney Company and co-founder of The Eisner Foundation; Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post; Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP; Eric Liu, author and founder of Citizen University; and Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The 2015 Purpose Prize winners and fellows will be joined by dozens of previous Purpose Prize honorees at a celebration on Feb. 10, 2016, at the SF Jazz Center in San Francisco, Calif.

Find out more about Blackman’s work and the honor she has received at http://encore.org/purpose-prize/dawn-m-blackman-sr. Find out more about the ministry of the GFCF at www.brethren.ofg/gfcf .

5) Lancaster County church stands with Nigerian terror victim

Upon reading about Sarah, a 14 year-old Nigerian girl and member of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) who lost her leg after being kidnapped by the Boko Haram, Hempfield Church of the Brethren in Lancaster County, Pa., quickly decided to act. They took a special offering to raise the $2,000 needed to reimburse Sarah’s family for the prosthetic leg, and were blessed to send $3,538 to her family.

“Sarah’s story was brought to our attention by a member who thought that the congregation would be more than happy to come alongside this family,” said Kent Rice, pastor for Outreach and Mission. “Her father is a medical officer with the EYN Relief Team in Jos and while they were obviously overjoyed when she was rescued and returned to them, it seemed like this was an opportunity to remind her family that they are not alone. So we challenged the congregation to show our brothers and sisters just how much we care for them and the response was overwhelming.”

Sarah is hoping to return to school next year.

Back story

Abel is the Medical Officer with the EYN Relief Team. In October 2014, his 14-year-old daughter, Sarah, was kidnapped by Boko Haram from her school in Mubi along with other children. The church kept praying for God to strengthen Abel and to show him a sign that his daughter was dead or alive.

In December, word was received that his daughter had been rescued and was in Cameroon with other children. Many children lost their lives during the rescue, while Sarah was wounded in the leg. Her leg was amputated from the knee down without any form of pain relief.

Sarah has now been reunited with her family and her recovery is going well. She is hoping to go back to school and continue with her education. Here is where Hempfield helped. Sarah has now been fitted with a prosthetic leg which cost about $2,000. Her family had borrowed the money to provide Sarah with this leg so she could go on with her life.

-- For more information about the Nigeria Crisis Response go to www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis.

RESOURCES

6) Share the light of Advent through Shine

From a Shine release

If you have not done so already, order Shine Winter 2015-16 products now. Shine is the Christian education curriculum for children and junior youth produced jointly by Brethren Press and MennoMedia. The winter quarter begins on Nov. 29, the first Sunday of Advent.

During Advent, children and junior youth will read about God’s promises in Jeremiah 33 and Psalm 25. They also will hear again the stories of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, Simeon, and Anna--stories of angel visits, shepherds, and the wonder of Jesus born in a humble manger.

Is your church hoping for more intergenerational events that will bring together whole families? Go to www.shinecurriculum.com/intergenerational-events to see plans for an Advent spiral event.

This quarter is a 14-session quarter and ends Feb. 28. January and February continue with stories of Jesus from Luke. Some stories tell events of Jesus’ life—the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Nazareth, the transfiguration, and Jesus chasing the moneychangers from the temple. Some of the sessions are parables Jesus told—about the mustard seed, yeast, a shepherd searching for his lost sheep, and the loving father welcoming home a son.

Find out more about the Shine curriculum at www.brethrenpress.com. Order curriculum products from Brethren Press online or at 800-441-3712.

7) Brethren bits

— The general secretary’s office is requesting stories from congregations that have been involved in resettling refugees within the last 5 to 10 years, for a project of sharing those stories in our communications. “At a time when we’re hearing such incredible rhetoric that is so inconsistent with our understanding of caring for the stranger in our midst, we would like to highlight stories of refugee resettlement within the Church of the Brethren,” Noffsinger said. “If your congregation has participated in resettling a refugee family, we would love pictures if possible, and a short story that we could share with the whole church. At this time when there is so much concern about Syrian refugees it is important to note the vigorous screening process that is in place with the UNHCR and Homeland Security and others. Church World Service has been a stellar part of the process and we hope to work more closely with them.” Send stories and photos to snoffsinger@brethren.org and copy cobnews@brethren.org.

— Prayer is requested for a consultation on the medical and community development ministries connected with Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti). Church staff and leaders from the US and Haitian Brethren leaders will meet together in Haiti later this week to review the vision and progress of the four-year-old Haiti Medical Project. This program of mobile clinics now serves 16 communities. In addition, a series of community development projects have been started in the areas of maternal health and clean water. “Pray for safe travels and good health for the participants,” said the request, “and for the Spirit’s wisdom as they discuss how to most effectively meet the needs of Haitian communities.”

— The board of SERRV will hold meetings at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., from Nov. 19-21. “We look forward to their visit,” said an announcement from the denominational staff. Begun as a Church of the Brethren program, SERRV is a fair trade organization working to eradicate poverty by providing opportunities and support to artisans and farmers worldwide. SERRV is in its 65th year of operation, offering customers unique handcrafted products that help to build a more sustainable world. Find out more and find an online product catalogue at www.serrv.org.

— Shepherd’s Spring Outdoor Ministry Center in Sharpsburg, Md., is seeking a forward-thinking, energetic executive director with a proven track record of effectively leading a performance and outcomes-based organization and staff. Ann Cornell has tendered her resignation as executive director of Shepherd’s Spring, effective the end of June 2016. The center, 220 acres of rolling, wooded land bordering Maryland’s Potomac River and historic C&O Canal, offers a variety of programming and hospitality services that include Christian summer camping, a Road Scholar Adventures in Lifelong Learning program site, a global village experiential learning program affiliated with Heifer International, as well as functions as an active, year-round conference and retreat facility. The executive director will serve as center administrator and leader providing managerial oversight of the various ministry programs, budget and finances, marketing, fundraising, staff and board development. This position will supervise and provide guidance to a diverse staff as well as implement and enforce policies and procedures which will maximize the effectiveness of the ministry. The qualified candidate will be a faithful Christian with a clear understanding and appreciation of the Church of the Brethren and have proven leadership, coaching, and relationship-management experience preferably in a faith-based outdoor ministry program. Membership in the OMA, ACA, IACCA, or other appropriate professional organizations is desirable. Other required qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in a related field or equivalent experience in camp or retreat center administration plus a minimum of five years of management experience. For more information about the center, visit www.shepherdsspring.org . Send inquiries or requests for an application packet to rkhaywood@aol.com.

— “Tuesday evening we stood together for peace and made a bold statement to the community,” writes pastor Sara Haldeman Scarr of First Church of the Brethren in San Diego, Calif. “Our witness for peace, justice, and inclusion continues as we stand together for the human community!” The church was one of the community groups participating in an annual gathering for peace, for which Scarr served as organizer. The event also included partner organization the Islamic Center of San Diego, and concluded with a sharing of aid with those in need. Read the report from a San Diego news station at www.sandiego6.com/news/local/San-Diegans-gather-for-peace-in-City-Heights-park-351263891.html

— “Christmas: An Alternative Way” is the theme of the December edition of "Brethren Voices" community television show produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren. The show provides an interesting video resource for Sunday school discussions at this time of the year, reports producer Ed Groff. “It takes a look at two Brethren-related programs that give individuals a chance to advocate for social justice, work for peace, serve human needs, and care for the creation in a variety of settings in the United States and other countries.” Featured are Heifer International and the New Community Project’s “Give A Girl A Chance,” Springfield (Ore.) Church of the Brethren’s SERRV shop called “Fair Trade On Main,” and Southern Pennsylvania District’s outreach program “Cookies For Truckers” as supported by residents of Cross Keys Village--The Brethren Home Community as well as Brethren congregations around Carlisle, Pa. For copies of this special edition, contact Ed Groff at Groffprod1@msn.com.

— Manchester University is offering the nation’s only pharmacogenomics master’s degree, according to a release from the school. “The intensive one-year program is designed to propel graduates into well-paying jobs in the emerging field of pharmacogenomics (PGx), a key component of personalized medicine. PGx relates an individual’s genes (DNA) to their response to medications. PGx empowers physicians and other clinicians to identify correct medications and to optimize an individual’s drug therapy early on. PGx can replace the trial-and-error approach, greatly decreasing medication costs and side effects,” the release said. “Pharmacogenomics can be utilized across therapeutic areas, such as cardiology and psychiatry. PGx may well have its most dramatic effect on cancer treatment, where approximately 75 percent of patients don’t respond to the initial prescribed medication.” The Master of Science in Pharmacogenomics Program is designed for individuals with an undergraduate science degree or a professional degree in health care or health sciences. Classes begin in the summer term, and enrollment will be limited in order to maximize personal attention and collaboration. Information about the program based at the university’s campus in Fort Wayne, Ind. and how to enroll can be found at http://ww2.manchester.edu/home/pharmacogenomics .

— The Elizabethtown (Pa.) College Alumni Peace Fellowship has established a scholarship in honor of Eugene Clemens, emeritus professor of Religion. According to the campus newspaper “The Etownian,” the $500 scholarship will be awarded to a student who has shown promise in the promotion of peace. Clemens is being honored for his work toward peace and tolerance on the college campus, and is remembered for his efforts during the Vietnam War, the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident, and the Iraq War years. He is an active member of the college’s Alumni Peace Fellowship, the report said, noting his continuing efforts for peace.

— Presenters from Bridgewater (Va.) College will be part of a statewide workshop focusing on the prevention of sexual assault on college and university campuses and how to handle it if it does happen. The event will be held Friday, Nov. 20, at Wintergreen Resort. Other presenters include the Virginia attorney general’s office, the department of education’s office of civil rights in Washington, D.C., and others from the educational community, said a release. The “Navigating Sexual Assault & Title IX Workshop” is on the final day of the Virginia Student Services Conference sponsored by the Virginia Association of Student Personnel Administrators and the Virginia Association of College and University Housing Officers. “Everyone in higher education realizes the gravity of sexual assault and Title IX on our campuses, and this workshop addresses many of the timely components of this issue,” said William D. Miracle, dean of students at Bridgewater College and organizer of the workshop. “For people in higher education to have the opportunity in such a forum to ask questions of the chief attorney of the DC office of OCR is a rare opportunity,” said Miracle. “This should be very enlightening.” The entire three-day VSSC conference may be viewed online at vacuho.org/vssc/schedule.html.

— In the midst of a mounting climate of fear of refugees and immigrants, the World Council of Churches (WCC) is calling on Christians to be true to the biblical imperative to “welcome the stranger,” said a release this week. “A weeklong workshop that concluded in Geneva on Friday, hours before the terrorist attacks in Paris, focused on multiculturalism, ministry, and mission,” the release said. “Twenty-five participants from 13 countries gathered for a five-day workshop (Nov. 9-13) to explore ways of promoting multicultural dialogue and activities at the parish and community levels. The objective was to equip ordained leaders and lay people to work in increasingly culturally mixed communities. Theological education, liturgy, and intergenerational dynamics in migrant churches were featured in the program. The intent was to encourage both established churches and migrant churches to overcome fear and distrust of people different from themselves and to create inclusive and welcoming communities.” The WCC plans further work in the field of multicultural ministry, in order to equip local churches from established and migrant communities to work together to counter rising xenophobia and intolerance in the wake of mass refugee migrations and violent incidents. Read the full release at www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/church-challenge-welcoming-strangers-in-a-climate-of-fear .

— The role of Bethany Theological Seminary in the development of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) is noted in a new feature article in the "Mennonite World Review." The forerunner seminary of AMBS began 70 years ago in Chicago, where for a time classes were hosted on the Bethany campus. "While most Mennonites lived on Woodlawn, classes were held 11 miles away on the campus of the Church of the Brethren’s Bethany Theological Seminary. MBS was affiliated with Bethany, which granted the degrees. MBS professors worked with the Bethany instructors as a practically seamless faculty." Find the article at http://mennoworld.org/2015/11/17/feature/ambs-forerunner-began-70-years-ago .


The editor thanks Jan Fischer-Bachman for her help with this issue of Newsline. Contributors include Jeff Boshart, Markus Gamache, Ed Groff, Mary Kay Heatwole, Carl and Roxane Hill, Steven Martin, Stan Noffsinger, Sara Haldeman Scarr, Walt Wiltschek, Jesse Winter, Roy Winter, Jay Wittmeyer, 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 regularly scheduled issue of Newsline is set for Dec. 4.

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