Newsline for April 22, 2016




Apples and oranges with Genesis 1:31 text
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford


NEWS 
1) Brethren Disaster Ministries supports work of Heifer International in Ecuador

2) Children’s Disaster Services deploys to Texas following floods

3) Majalisa of the Nigerian Brethren focuses on ‘Building EYN for Better Future’

4) Elizabethtown College joins Brethren collaboration on Nigeria research

5) World Council of Churches sends team to US for racial justice listening and support

PERSONNEL
6) Cindy Sanders to serve as executive for Missouri and Arkansas District

7) Terry Grove to serve as executive for Atlantic Southeast District

UPCOMING EVENTS
8) Youth are invited to explore their call at Bethany Seminary

9) Brethren bits: Correction, job openings with the WCC, prayer for CCS, Refugees Welcome Campaign, warning of starvation in northeast Nigeria, disaster auction season begins soon, more


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Quotes of the week:

“...Grim drumbeat of news will loom over the United Nations on Friday--Earth Day--when officials from more than 150 countries gather to sign a landmark agreement aimed at slashing global greenhouse gas emissions and slowing the warming of the planet. It simultaneously will be a moment of understandable celebration and sobering reality. The agreement, forged late last year after intense negotiations in a Paris suburb, has been hailed as a crucial milestone in putting the world’s nations on course to reduce reliance on fossil fuels in favor of cleaner, more sustainable forms of energy. But in the four months since that rare moment of global accord, the near-constant reminders about shifts in the Earth’s climate have underscored that staving off the worst consequences of global warming may require increasingly ambitious actions.”
-- From an April 20 report in the Washington Post, “How Earth itself has dramatically upped the stakes for the Paris climate accord” (www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/04/20/as-nations-gather-to-sign-climate-accord-planet-reaches-new-warming-heights ). At noon today, faith groups called for prayer for the United Nations meeting in New York, and prayer for God’s creation.


“Creation thrives on diversity. Ecosystems are elegant interconnected feedback loops where nothing is wasted. Each  creature has intrinsic worth and serves a purpose in an ecosystem.”
-- From “Care for God's Creatures,” this year's Earth Day resource exploring our Christian call to dominion/stewardship over God's creatures, available at www.creationjustice.org/creatures . In calling for care for all the creatures God has made, the resource cites, among other scripture texts, Ecclesiastes 3:19: “For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other.”
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1) Brethren Disaster Ministries supports work of Heifer International in Ecuador

Earthquake damage in the village of Santa Rosa, Ecuador
Photo courtesy of Heifer International

Earthquake damage in the village of Santa Rosa, Ecuador

Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed a grant of $10,000 from the Church of the Brethren Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to support the work of Heifer International in Ecuador following a massive earthquake last weekend.

The weekend’s earthquake was Ecuador’s largest since 1979, and claimed the lives of at least 577 people and injured more than 2,500. Last week Japan also was hit by two large earthquakes. Because aid agencies at work in Japan still have funding available from previous years’ giving toward earthquake relief, Brethren Disaster Ministries does not plan to allocate a grant for Japan at this time.

A prayer request from the Church of the Brethren Global Mission and Service office asked for prayer for both countries, “for comfort for those who mourn, healing for those injured, and strength for those whose homes and livelihoods were destroyed.”

Aid for Ecuador

The focus of the Brethren Disaster Ministries response in Ecuador will be to support the work of Heifer and the ACT Alliance. Heifer International has a number of partners in Ecuador, including a program in Muisne, about 16 miles from the earthquake epicenter. In this area, Heifer has worked with farmers to restore the mangroves and preserve local sustainable aquaculture (fishing) practices.

On April 16, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake occurred centered approximately 17 miles from the towns of Muisne and Pedernales, in a sparsely populated part of Ecuador. Widespread damage hit homes, businesses, and infrastructure, and was seen in more than a 200-mile radius of the epicenter. 

Heifer International has been working in Ecuador since 1954 and has projects in the area most impacted by the earthquake. Heifer partners, farmers, and families in the communities of Muisne, Manabi, Calceta, and Fortaleza del Valle have sustained significant damage. Immediate needs include shelter, food, and water. Longer term needs will include home reconstruction, rebuilding irrigation systems, crop processing units, and safe structures to preserve crops and protect livelihoods.

This initial grant will help Heifer Ecuador assist 900 families in Fortaleza del Valle and 300 families in Muisne with emergency food, water, and shelter. Future grants will likely be larger and will support community-wide recovery work with Heifer International and the ACT Alliance response.

To contribute to the Emergency Disaster Fund grant go to www.brethren.org/edf .

2) Children’s Disaster Services deploys to Texas following floods

Flooding in Houston, Texas
Photo courtesy of ARC

Flooding in Houston, Texas

By Kristen Hoffman

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) has deployed a team of 10 volunteers to Houston, Texas, in response to heavy flooding. The CDS volunteers were to arrive mid-day April 21, and have tentative plans to continue childcare through the beginning of May.

The American Red Cross alerted the CDS office of the need for two teams to be deployed on Tuesday. Since then, the office has worked hard to gather volunteers and received an incredible response from volunteers across the country who could leave within 48 hours of the request. We have been fortunate in mobilizing so quickly for this response!

Central and eastern parts of Texas have been continually drenched in rainfall in recent days. Earlier this week, 17 inches of rain was reported to have fallen over a period of 24 hours. More than three million people in the Houston area alone have been affected by the high water levels.

Earlier this month, CDS was requested in Monroe, La., to respond with child care for areas of flooding as well. Volunteers for that response were able to work with many children for eight days, in a community center.

Since 1980, Children’s Disaster Services has been meeting the needs of children by setting up child care centers in shelters and disaster assistance centers across the nation. Specially trained to respond to traumatized children, CDS volunteers provide a calm, safe, and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos created by disaster.

-- Kristen Hoffman is program assistant for Children's Disaster Services, a program of Brethren Disaster Ministries and Global Mission and Service. To learn more about the flooding in Texas, see this article from the American Red Cross: www.redcross.org/news/article/Millions-Face-Flash-Flood-Emergency .

3) Majalisa of the Nigerian Brethren focuses on ‘Building EYN for Better Future’

Provided to Newsline by Zakariya Musa

Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) held its 69th General Church Council (Majalisa) from April 12-16 at the Annex Headquarters in Jos, Nigeria. The Majalisa issued a communique noting official actions of the conference, including the naming of new top leadership for the denomination.

Banners that hung at the 2016 Majalisa of EYN
Photo by Jay Wittmeyer

The General Church Council is the highest decision-making body of EYN and meets annually to discuss matters affecting the church. The membership of the council includes but is not limited to the National Executive Committee, Board of Trustees, all ordained ministers in good standing, legal advisers, Local Church Council delegates, district officers, heads of departments and institutions.

The theme of the conference was “Building EYN for Better Future” from Nehemiah 2:17-20. The guest preacher was Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren.

Other guests included Annual Conference secretary Jim Beckwith, Mission and Ministry Board chair Don Fitzkee and his wife Carolyn Fitzkee, Mark Lancaster from the staff of Bethany Seminary, and Uli Bachmann and Yakubu Joseph representing Mission 21 in Switzerland.

The conference included about 1,200 participants. Besides adopting resolutions, having elections, and receiving reports and presentations from different directorates and committees, it observed the second anniversary of the Chibok abductions. Of the 219 missing Chibok schoolgirls, 178 are from EYN.

Outgoing EYN president Samuel Dante Dali, shown here at the head table of the 2016 Majalisa, holds up a plate received as a gift from the delegation representing the Church of the Brethren in the United States.
Photo courtesy of Jay Wittmeyer

Outgoing EYN president Samuel Dante Dali, shown here at the head table of the 2016 Majalisa, holds up a plate received as a gift from the delegation representing the Church of the Brethren in the United States.

EYN names new leadership

The conference elected and appointed new principal officers as follows: Joel Stephen Billi was named president elect; Anthony Ndamsai was named vice president elect; Samuel Birma Shinggu was named spiritual adviser elect. Principal officers appointed by the conference are Daniel Y. C. Mbaya as general secretary and Zakariya Amos re-appointed as administrative secretary.

Bili will take over the mantle of leadership from Samuel Dante Dali, whose term of office as EYN president was to expire in 2015 but was extended because of the insurgency that hit the church. Bili is a renowned clergyman who has served larger congregations such as Local Church Council (LCC) Biu, LCC Maiduguri, LCC Utaku, and LCC Michika, where he has been most recently.

The Majalisa also named new leaders to fill the three top positions in the president’s cabinet, replacing the following who also have been in office for some years: vice president Mbode M. Ndirmbita, general secretary Jinatu L. Wamdeo, and spiritual adviser Musa A. Mambula.

In pursuance of the theme, the conference also inaugurated a Planning Committee for the proposed Brethren University, a Resource/Investment Mobilization Committee, and a proposed Micro Finance Bank Board of Directors.

The election was presided over by the chair of the EYN Board of Trustees, Matthew Abdullahi. The electoral committee includes the EYN legal adviser, members of the Board of Trustees, and Church of the Brethren and Mission 21 representatives.

The outgoing president declared the event as “peaceful.” “I am relieved of trouble years,” he said. Dali also prayed for the new leaders.

Outgoing president’s speech

Dali, who has been a prominent leader for the Nigerian Brethren, centered on the need to rebuild the church for a better future, He gave an overview of the past bitter experiences of the church in which over 70 percent of the church buildings have been destroyed and their members displaced.

However, despite these horrible experiences, the church by the grace of God has recorded some progress. This includes but is not limited to establishment of the Directorate of Disaster Ministry, the Directorate of Women’s Ministry, and construction of resettlement centers for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in safe areas.

While expressing his disappointment with the lukewarm attitude of the Nigerian government and its agencies toward victims, mostly in the Church of the Brethren region, he was quick to appreciate the enormous support from international mission partners. Through the generous contributions of these Christian organizations and the resilience of the members, the church has been matching forward.

Two of the American Brethren (from left) Mission and Ministry Board chair Don Fitzkee and Annual Conference secretary Jim Beckwith, hold a banner that displayed the names of the schoolgirls abducted from Chibok two years ago, who are still missing.
Photo by Jay Wittmeyer

Two of the American Brethren (from left) Mission and Ministry Board chair Don Fitzkee and Annual Conference secretary Jim Beckwith, hold a banner that displayed the names of the schoolgirls abducted from Chibok two years ago, who are still missing.

Resolutions

The following summarizes a number of the many resolutions adopted by the Majalisa:

-- The conference resolved that the Federal Government should as a matter of urgency respond to the appalling condition of the returning IDPs and make the areas safe for the people to go back to their normal life so that they can cultivate their farms this season.

-- The Federal Government should sustain the tempo in reclaiming the towns where the insurgents (Boko Haram) are still in control.

-- NEMA [the Nigerian equivalent of FEMA] should as a matter of urgency move immediately with basic supplies to the returnees who are starving and homeless.

-- The Victim Support Funds Committee should move in to the reclaimed areas and directly embark on the reconstruction and rebuilding of the communities.

-- The church leadership--more especially EYN as the denomination that is worst hit--must be involved in any rebuilding and reconstruction.

-- The conference resolved to construct a Retreat Center at Jimeta-Yola, the state capital of Adamawa State.

-- The conference acknowledged the giant strides being made by the new Nigerian administration in tackling corruption.

-- The conference expressed its concern over the increasing violence in the recent elections.

-- The Conference urged all members and Christians across the nation to remain resolute, hopeful and to pursue justice, peace, and righteousness to help rebuild the church for a better future.

“In conclusion,” said the communique from the Majalisa, “the peace heritage of the church is still the only way consistent with the gospel of Christ which we uphold.”

-- This report combines the official communique and other reporting from the EYN Majalisa provided by Zakariya Musa of the EYN communications staff.

4) Elizabethtown College joins Brethren collaboration on Nigeria research

Elizabethtown College students take part in Nigeria research project
Photo courtesy of Office of Public Witness

Elizabethtown College students take part in Nigeria research project

By Jesse Winter 

As part of the Church of the Brethren’s work on Nigeria through Global Mission and Service, Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS), the Office of Public Witness, and students at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College have partnered to begin data collection and analysis of Boko Haram violence in northeastern Nigeria.

Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has a strong presence in the northeast, an area terrorized by Boko Haram. Because of the Brethren presence in northeast Nigeria, the church is in a unique position to shed light on the impact of Boko Haram’s violence, especially as it targets Christian communities in the northeast.

Using data gathered by Dr. Rebecca Dali of the Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiative (CCEPI), BVSers John and Pat Krabacher initiated organizing Dali’s raw data last year to display the 9,745 people killed by Boko Haram in the northeast. The names were displayed in a “Wall of Healing” seen at Annual Conference in 2015. Pat Krabacher is updating the “Wall” data with the latest data from CCEPI and integrating short stories of victims into new visual data displays with assistance from Justin North of the Church of the Brethren congregation in Columbus, Ohio. 

At Elizabethtown College, Religious Studies and Interfaith Leadership Studies majors will supplement Dr. Dali’s data by gathering a comprehensive collection of existing news reports about Boko Haram. Advised by assistant professor Dr. Richard Newton, they are charting the role of geography, demography, and religion in the conflict.

By capturing these two data sets, we hope this research can better represent the impact of Boko Haram violence which can be communicated to US and international humanitarian aid organizations.

Nathan Hosler, director of the Office of Public Witness, and BVS worker Jesse Winter will work to create a report of this data to be shared with church members and potential advocacy partners. Visual representations of preliminary data should be available through Global Mission and Service at this year’s Annual Conference in Greensboro, N.C.

As we look at the persisting crisis in Nigeria, now two years after the Chibok abductions and nearly seven years after the beginning of Boko Haram’s insurgency in about 2009, we hope this partnership and analysis can help communicate the pain and suffering of our EYN and Muslim neighbors and bring about meaningful peacemaking initiatives.

-- Jesse Winter is a Brethren Volunteer Service worker serving as Peacebuilding and Policy associate at the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C.

5) World Council of Churches sends team to US for racial justice listening and support

From a WCC release
 
A contingent from the World Council of Churches (WCC) are spending April 18-25 in the United States on a racial justice listening and support visit to several US communities which have suffered violent incidents related to race.

On April 18, Jim Winkler, general secretary of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC), facilitated a day of conversation with Jim Wallis of the Sojourners Community, officials of the US State Department whose duties focus on religious freedom and race, as well as with the long-time president and chief executive officer of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Seven visitors from the WCC and two of their hosts from the NCC joined in the talks, led by WCC moderator Agnes Abuom of Kenya and general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit of Norway. Other WCC delegates from diverse nations, including the USA, will join the team as they travel to Charleston, Saint Louis, and Chicago.

Some details of the day’s conversations were private, exploring possibilities and brainstorming informally about approaches that may be undertaken in the WCC journey itself and within the larger context of US society. A report on the visit will be submitted to the WCC Central Committee when it meets in late June at Trondheim in Norway.

Progressive evangelical leader Wallis is the author of “America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America” (Baker Publishing, 2016). He discussed the contemporary state of race relations with the WCC group.

“We have to address our country’s racial injustice and the fundamental difference of opinion and perspective between white and black people about the criminal justice system, education, and economics,” said Wallis.

“We still see racism as a problem that other people have that we can help to fix. We don’t see it in ourselves. It is too easy to point fingers at racism ‘out there.’ It demands much more of us to look in ourselves and see what kinds of prejudices we are carrying around.”

At the US Department of State, the ecumenical team engaged with Ambassador David N. Saperstein, ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom; Shaun Casey, special representative for religion and global affairs; and M. Arsalan Suleman, acting special envoy to the OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference).

Suleman led a lively discussion concerning the Marrakesh Declaration on the protection of the rights of religious minorities in Muslim lands, and its potential as a first step in securing equal rights for all minorities. This led to an account of the WCC’s involvement in promoting better relations among Christians and Muslims, including efforts that have been made in Nigeria and other scenes of tragic hostility and killings.

Tveit stressed the necessity of a sharper focus on instances of violence perpetrated in the name of religion. This dynamic should be recognized and opposed by religious bodies themselves, faith-based organizations, national governments, and international bodies. It was agreed that the State Department and the WCC will share information on their experience in these areas. Casey expressed his particular interest in the positions not only of senior leaders of the world’s faiths but also in evidence of “lived religion” as practiced in communities on the ground.

The series of consultations culminated in an encounter with Washington attorney Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR), an umbrella organization coordinating alliances that promote civil rights and human rights in the US and worldwide.

A former official of the NAACP, Henderson will formally retire at the end of this year. He shared a tremendous wealth of knowledge concerning the civil rights struggle over the decades, and spoke movingly of his determination to invite new generations of activists into leadership in the struggle for equality, the task of building “an America that is as good as its ideals.”

Surrounded as he was by photographs of a movement stretching back more than a century, Henderson insisted nevertheless, “Social justice and social protest require us to use different tactics than we did in the 1960s and 1970s.”

Among the issues that the LCCHR and its member organizations are addressing today are mass incarceration of the poor, detention of undocumented immigrants, the restoration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the pending nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the US Supreme Court, criminal justice reform, improvement of public education, and immigration reform.

Henderson expressed appreciation for the journey being undertaken by the WCC’s international racial justice delegation. Wishing the core group well in their travels to Charleston and Ferguson and Chicago, he added, “If you are willing to listen and to gain information, it will be appreciated.”

 

PERSONNEL

6) Cindy Sanders to serve as executive for Missouri and Arkansas District

Missouri Arkansas District of the Church of the Brethren has called Cindy Sanders to serve as district executive minister beginning May 1. She is a 1995 graduate of Education for Shared Ministry (EFSM), a ministry training program of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. She was ordained in the Church of the Brethren in 1995.

Sanders has served as pastor in several Church of the Brethren congregations. For the last 10 years she has been employed in the business world while providing occasional pulpit supply for the district’s Cabool and New Hope congregations.

She and the district leadership team are working to relocate the district office to the area of Cabool, Mo., as she transitions into her new position. Contact her at 417-254-0858 or revcyn@hotmail.com .

7) Terry Grove to serve as executive for Atlantic Southeast District

The Atlantic Southeast District of the Church of the Brethren has called Terry Grove to serve as district executive minister beginning May 1. Most recently he has been a member of Winter Park Church of the Brethren and New Covenant Church of the Brethren, where he serves as quarter time pastor. He also has been treasurer for the district and Camp Ithiel, and previously served briefly as interim district executive.

In 2017, Grove celebrates 50 years of ministry. He began his connection with the denomination in the Carson Valley (Pa.) Church of the Brethren in the early 1950s, where he was licensed to ministry during high school and later ordained. He went on to complete degrees at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., in 1964, and Bethany Theological Seminary in 1967 and 1985. As a pastor, he has served congregations of the Church of the Brethren in Washington State, Indiana, and Floria.

He also completed 23 years of employment with Church World Service (CWS) and CROP, opening offices for them in New Jersey and Florida. After retiring from CWS/CROP, he pastored a congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC) in Florida for 14 years and served as an interim pastor for Sebring Church of the Brethren.

Contact Grove at 321-276-4958 or asede@brethren.org .

UPCOMING EVENTS

8) Youth are invited to explore their call at Bethany Seminary

“I loved this and it has changed my life. Hardcore. Thank you, endlessly.”

This summer, high school students again have the chance to share in a potentially life-changing experience. Explore Your Call, to be held at Bethany Seminary July 15-25, is offered free of charge for youth who want to see faith, ministry, and the world in a new way:
-- Asking questions and expressing ideas about faith, God, scripture, and the church
-- Talking with and learning from seminary mentors and teachers
-- Enjoying games, picnics, and travel
-- Finding a safe space to share concerns and experiences
-- Shadowing people in ministry
-- Engaging in the meaning and creation of worship
-- Laughing, singing, and talking
-- Discovering new spiritual insights and ways of being called

“Teenagers have a lot of obligations and opportunities each summer, so we work to ensure this program is the best possible use of their time. A lot happens in these ten days in terms of big ideas, close Christian friendships, and hands-on ministry. Young people report the EYC experience really helps them become spiritually ready for college—and for life.” says Russell Haitch, director of the Institute for Ministry with Youth and Young Adults and professor of Christian education at Bethany. Haitch oversees the EYC program and is being assisted by coordinator Brian Mackie, also pastor of the White Branch and Nettle Creek Churches of the Brethren.

Seminary faculty lead classroom sessions, and Bethany students assist with programming. Area pastors host the participants in shadowing experiences. Outdoor activities provide balance and build relationships. And day trips prompt thinking about community, values, and service. All of this is offered at no cost to participants. The program is funded by a generous grant from Barnabas Ltd., a family foundation in New South Wales, Australia, focused on preparing people for ministry.

First developed nearly fifteen years ago, EYC was reinstated in 2011 and since then has welcomed twenty-nine youth from across the country—one of whom said:

“If you are thinking of going, just go because it is amazing and you learn so much.”

To follow in those footsteps, visit www.bethanyseminary.edu/eyc for more information and to apply.

9) Brethren bits

 Orange ribbon is wound around NRCAT resources for torture awareness month in June

This June marks Torture Awareness Month and the National Religious Coalition Against Torture (NRCAT) is inviting people of faith and conscience to join together nationwide to “stand in solidarity with survivors of torture and issue a moral call for human rights for all.” The Church of the Brethren is a part of the coalition. An announcement of anti-torture events planned for June invited congregations “to incorporate the color orange into worship services or other community gatherings throughout the month, as a symbol of solidarity with all who endure torture: those in orange jumpsuits in Guantanamo, to those held in conditions of torture in US prisons, jails, and detention centers in our own communities.” Suggestions include using an orange altar cloth or center piece, wearing orange ribbons, having a leader lead a service or vigil while wearing an orange jumpsuit. A bulletin insert prepared by NRCAT is available, along with poster images to make visible the stories of people enduring torture in our communities. Find resources at www.nrcat.org/TAM2016 . Congregations that take part are invited to send pictures of their events to campaign@nrcat.org. “We will use the pictures to show our elected officials and the American people that people of faith are committed to a torture-free world, without exception,” said the announcement.

-- Correction: The Brethren bits of April 15 that noted the granting of an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Melanie A. Duguid-May by Manchester University at upcoming ceremonies, included some inaccurate information about her academic history. She holds a master of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School, but her master of arts degree and doctorate in Christian theology are from Harvard University.

-- The World Council of Churches (WCC) seeks candidates for the position of program executive for Health and Healing, and coordinator of the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN). WCC offices are located in Geneva, Switzerland.
     The program executive for Health and Healing is responsible for providing support so as to enhance the contributions of the WCC to the ecumenical movement. The position reports to the coordinator of Human Dignity and to the associate general secretary for Public Witness and Diakonia. The deadline for applications is April 24.
     The coordinator of the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network will strengthen the ecumenical network of people with disabilities through reference from the regions, to raise awareness within the ecumenical movement and the churches, and to advocate for a truly inclusive church as a theological and ethical imperative. The appointment will be for a first period of four years, with the possibility of extension. The position reports to the director of Mission and Evangelism. The deadline for applications is May 31.
     All applicants are requested to apply online within the planned time frame. Detailed information is at www.oikoumene.org/en/get-involved/job-openings/job-openings .

-- The Global Mission weekly prayer list includes the 49 participants of the Christian Citizenship Seminar, which begins late this week in New York City on the theme “Proclaiming Freedom: The Racial Injustice of Mass Incarceration.” The group of high school youth and advisors from various Church of the Brethren congregations will spend time in New York and in Washington, D.C., learning more about the problem of mass incarceration and then lobbying their respective government officials. The seminar is co-organized by the Youth and Young Adult Ministry and the Office of Public Witness. “Pray for safe travels and that the youth be imparted with the Spirit's wisdom as they speak truth to power,” said the prayer request. “Pray for the families whose lives are torn apart by the injustices of the incarceration system, and for the lawmakers who have the power to change legislation.”

-- The Office of Public Witness has called attention to a new National Refugees Welcome Campaign. A telephone conference call yesterday, April 21, gathered several speakers to launch the campaign. The invitation for Brethren to join in the campaign cited Romans 15:7: “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” The invitation noted that, “As we approach World Refugee Day upcoming on June 20, faith communities from multiple backgrounds (including the Church of the Brethren), refugee resettlement organizations, refugee and human rights leaders, and organizations that work with refugees are all working in partnership to provide a vibrant welcome to refugees among us, and to encourage our country to continue to respond to the world’s crisis by offering hospitality to vulnerable refugees in need.” The campaign will offer resources for faith and community groups to develop their own Refugees Welcome events during the months leading up to World Refugee Day and beyond. The goal of the campaign is to show the US government that “we are ready to welcome refugees in our communities across the country,” the alert said. For more information contact the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness, 337 North Carolina Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003; nhosler@brethren.org ; 717-333-1649.

-- The latest entry on the Nigeria blog is about the Emir of Kano and the Boko Haram, posted by Nigeria Crisis Response co-directors Carl and Roxane Hill. “This week the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi, is reported to have warned Nigeria and the world that starvation in northeast Nigeria could be a reality due to the destruction caused by Boko Haram. In an article from Nigeria’s NAIJ.com, the Emir is quoted as saying, ‘More children from Borno State may die as a result of famine.’ He believes that Borno State, maybe the hardest hit by Boko Haram...is so devastated that food will soon be the biggest issue there. ‘If things continue as they are,” the Emir continued, “then we may soon start seeing the children of Borno like the pictures of those children we used to see in Ethiopia who were dropping dead on the streets, dying of hunger.’ This is a shocking disclosure, coming from one of the major leaders of the Muslim faith in Nigeria. The Emir of Kano, former head of the country’s Central Bank, spoke from Lagos at a meeting of the University of Lagos’ Alumni lecture over the weekend.... This public statement against the Islamic insurgent movement has placed him in direct opposition to many political forces in Nigeria that are suspected of secretly backing the radical Islamists in the northeast.” Read the full blogpost at http://blog.brethren.org/category/nigeria .

-- It is disaster auction season! Two of the large annual auctions that support disaster relief and the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries are coming up in May, with a third scheduled later this fall:
     The 36th Annual Disaster Response Auction of Mid-Atlantic District is coming up in just a few weeks on Saturday, May 7, at Carroll County Agricultural Center in Westminster, Md. The event opens at 9 a.m., and features auctions of quilts and sales of many other goods including but not limited to plants and flowers, baked goods, and all kinds of food. Every year the auction raises around $65,000 for disaster relief. “Invite a friend or neighbor to visit with you,” said an invitation. “Look forward to seeing you there.” See www.madcob.com/event/2016-disaster-response-auction .
     The Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Auction will be May 20-21 at the Rockingham County (Va.) Fairgrounds. This will be the 24th annual auction in Shenandoah District, and the event “will take over the Rockingham County Fairgrounds with food, plants, quilts, livestock, art, theme baskets, great Brethren fellowship--and much, much more!” said the district newsletter. In addition to auctions, related events include a golf tournament at Heritage Oaks, an oyster and country ham dinner, children's activities, and more. The total net proceeds from the district’s 23 auctions over the years now tops $4.1 million. Last year’s event raised more than $211,000, plus an additional $4,300 for the Nigerian Crisis Fund. Go to www.shencob.org for more information.
     Volunteers will pack 15,000 Gift of the Heart Health Kits on April 29-30 for this fall’s Brethren Disaster Relief Auction. Florin Church of the Brethren is hosting the kit packing. Set up starts at noon on April 29. Assembly starts at 8 a.m. on April 30. This year will be the 40th anniversary Brethren Disaster Relief Auction, taking place at Lebanon (Pa.) Expo and Fairgrounds on Sept. 23-24. For more information go to www.brethrendisasterreliefauction.org .

-- Walnut Grove Church of the Brethren in Johnstown, Pa., will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the dedication of its current church building with a weekend of events: communion service at 6:30 p.m. Friday; ham dinner from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday; anniversary service at 10 a.m. Sunday, with a covered dish dinner to follow; concert by Mountain Anthems at 6:30 p.m. Sunday. All the activities will be held at the church and are open to the public. “Walnut Grove Church of the Brethren can trace its roots to the formation of the Johnstown Congregation of the Church of the Brethren in 1879,” reports the Tribune Democrat newspaper. “After a split in 1882 over the principle of simplicity, the conservative wing of the church built a house of worship on Walnut Grove that was dedicated in 1884.” Read the full article at www.tribdem.com/news/walnut-grove-church-of-the-brethren-to-mark-th-anniversary/article_a82cbc9c-076a-11e6-bf13-bff719f60ff1.html .

-- Jackson Park Church of the Brethren is one of the congregations taking part in the Jonesborough (Tenn.) Area Ministerial Association’s first community-based service on Sunday, May 1. The event starts at 11 a.m. at the David Crockett High School, and all are welcome to attend. Along with the Jackson Park Church, other churches involved in putting on the service include Bethel Christian Church, First Baptist Church, Central Christian Church, Jonesborough Presbyterian Church, Jonesborough United Methodist Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, and Telford United Methodist Church. An article from the Herald and Tribune is at www.heraldandtribune.com/lifestyles/community-worship-service-hopes-bring-members-together .
 
-- Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a performance by the Bridgewater (Va.) College Chorale, under the direction of John McCarty. The concert is planned for Friday, May 6, at 7:30 p.m. An offering will be received to assist the chorale with an upcoming trip to Montreal, Canada.

-- A recording of a concert by the Fairfield Four at Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa., has been posted online by the Folk Show Road Show. The recording includes conversation with Jerry Zolten, plus Red Tail Ring in concert. The Grammy award-winning a capella group Fairfield Four played at Stone Church in November 2015, as part of an event involved Juniata College. “During this broadcast, we hear from music historian Jerry Zolten talking about the history of the group, the concert itself, and a portion of the post-concert question and answer session with members of the group,” said an announcement from Radio WPSU. Find the recording at http://radio.wpsu.org/post/folk-show-road-show-fairfield-four-stone-church-brethren-plus-red-tail-ring .

-- Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren recently hosted a meeting of leaders from more than a dozen churches in the area, for a discussion focused on how they have made their houses of worship safer for children. The discussion also extended to “how parents within their congregations have become more aware of sexual grooming practices by predators, how they have involved teens in those conversations, and how adult survivors of sexual abuse have become church leaders,” said a report about the event. The event, called a convening, gathered leaders of churches that have participated in Samaritan Counseling’s SafeChurch program, which is part of the national Just Beginnings Collaborative working to end child sexual abuse. “SafeChurch recently received a three-year grant of $225,000 from Just Beginnings because of its work with faith-based communities to end child sexual abuse,” said the report. SafeChurch is a nine-month program in which church teams from five to eight churches at a time undergo 21 hours of training. Safechurch also provides a training session for church staff and volunteers to recognize and respond to child sexual abuse and a half-day retreat for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Read the story posted by Lancaster Online at http://lancasteronline.com/features/faith_values/samaritan-counseling-s-safechurch-program-has-made-churches-a-safer/article_edb481ee-fcf9-11e5-8202-ff8f30f950c5.html .

-- A 25th Annual Auction Benefiting the Lehman Center will be held Tuesday, April 26, at the York County (Pa.) 4-H Center. Doors will open at 12 noon for an auction preview, silent auction, and food. The live auction begins at 5 p.m. The Lehman Center is a facility of the Children’s Aid Society of Southern Pennsylvania District.

-- The Southern Pennsylvania District’s Carlisle Truck Stop Ministry is holding a Spring Dinner Concert on May 14, featuring Mercy’s Vessel. The event begins at 5:30 p.m., hosted by First United Presbyterian Church in Newville, Pa. Cost is $12.

-- Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va., is offering Youth Mental Health First Aid Training on May 18. The day of training is free, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. It teaches participants to recognize and respond to warning signs of mental health issues and crises in adolescents ages 12-18, and teaches a five-step action plan for crisis and non-crisis situations. It is an interactive training with hands-on activities, role plays, and simulations. Bring your own lunch or purchase lunch for $9. RSVP to Jenna Stacy by May 1 at 540-992-2940 or CampBethelOffice@gmail.com . Learn more at www.campbethelvirginia.org/may-18-youth-mental-health-first-aid.html .

-- On May 1 the Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community will celebrate Founders' Day with the dedication of the new Huffman Health Center from 2:30-4:30 p.m. The ceremony will be held under the tent at the corner of East Rainbow Drive and Cherry Lane, with handicapped parking available in the Cherry lot. RSVP to 828-2162 or mmccutcheon@brc-online.org by April 25.

-- The Brethren Woods Spring Festival is April 30 from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Brethren Woods is a camp and retreat center in Shenandoah District. The activities will help raise money to support the district's outdoor ministry program. Featured are a fishing contest, pancake breakfast, craft demonstrations, paddle boat rides, hike-a-thon, children's games, petting zoo, Dunk-the-Dunkard, zip line rides, a live auction, food and entertainment. “There's something for everyone, so bring lots of friends!” said an invitation. Go to www.brethrenwoods.org for more details.

-- Jeffery W. Carr, senior pastor at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren, will deliver the message at Bridgewater College’s baccalaureate service on Friday, May 13, at 6 p.m., on the campus mall. The title of his message is “There Will Be Days Like This.” Carr is a 2002 alumnus of Bridgewater College and holds a Master of Divinity degree from Eastern Mennonite Seminary and a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) residency credit from the University of Virginia. He previously served as director of pastoral care at Bridgewater Retirement Community. Delivering the college’s commencement address on Saturday, May 14, at 10 a.m. will be United States Court of Appeals Judge G. Steven Agee, also a Bridgewater College alumnus. More than 400 seniors are expected to receive degrees at the commencement exercises, which will take place on the campus mall.

-- Manchester University will welcome Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou on Tuesday, April 26, for a Peace Week presentation, “Faith in the Age of Ferguson: #BlackLivesMatter, Nonviolence, and the Future of American Democracy.” The event at 3:30 p.m. in Cordier Auditorium at the North Manchester, Ind., campus is free and open to the public. The discussion will be based on the minister’s book “Gods, Gays, and Guns,” examining gay marriage, economic justice, and social movements in today’s society. Sekou has been a central figure in the mobilizations in Ferguson, Mo., over the past year. He is an activist, author, documentary filmmaker, and theologian who has helped train thousands in nonviolent civil disobedience, and is currently the inaugural Bayard Rustin Fellow for the Fellowship of Reconciliation. This presentation is sponsored by the Paul A. and Rachel Hartsough Phillips Endowment Fund. In a follow-up event, his band, Rev. Sekou & the Holy Ghost, is performing at 8 p.m. that evening in Wampler Auditorium.

-- Ken Yohn, a professor of history at McPherson (Kan.) College, will be returning to France this summer for his 20th year as a visiting professor to deliver a course on “Cyberspace, Globalization, and Culture.” The college magazine reports that he was appointed scholar in residence at the School of Telecommunications Engineering at the University of Science and Technology in Lille, France, where last year he spent three months working with intercultural communication specialists in the department of international relations. This past January, the French school’s director of international relations, Dean Hipple, was at McPherson to team-teach a course with Yohn.

-- In a letter to Park Geun-hye, president of South Korea, the World Council of Churches (WCC) expressed disappointment over sanctions and fines imposed on members of the National Council of Churches in (South) Korea (NCCK) after they participated in a dialogue encounter with representatives of the (North) Korean Christians Federation (KCF). “Penalties were imposed on Dr Noh Jungsun, Rev. Jeon Yongho, Rev. Cho Hungjung, Rev. Han Giyang and Rev. Shin Seungmin, all representatives of the NCCK Peace and Reunification Committee, who participated in a meeting with the KCF leadership in Shenyang, China, on 28-29 February this year,” said a WCC release. In the letter, WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit recalled that the WCC has been actively engaged in promoting peace, reconciliation, and reunification on the Korean peninsula for more than 30 years. “Through such national, regional and international ecumenical commitment and cooperation, the ecumenical movement seeks to witness to the peace of Jesus Christ and to make visible the unity of the Church in a divided and conflicted world,” he wrote, in part. “We do not believe that penalizing encounter and dialogue between South Korean and North Korean Christians is a necessary or effective measure for reducing tensions and advancing the cause of peace; on the contrary. Moreover, such a measure impedes and undermines the longstanding inter-church relationship on the Korean peninsula that the WCC has sought to encourage over more than three decades.” Tveit called on the South Korean government to revoke the penalties.

-- A Public Broadcasting System (PBS) “Arts in Focus” video interview with Claire Lynn Ewart, illustrator of the new Brethren Press children’s book, “The Seagoing Cowboy,” is available to view online at https://vimeo.com/161989686#t=785s . The new book written by Peggy Reiff Miller is getting media attention elsewhere as well, including a report in the Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, Ind. The newspaper interviewed Miller and local Church of the Brethren minister and former seagoing cowboy Ken Frantz. He shared letters that he had written to his then-fiancee Miriam Horning in the summer of 1945, and told how the two Manchester College graduates shared the burden of his potentially dangerous decision to volunteer to help take cattle to a war-devastated Europe as a seagoing cowboy. “Peggy Reiff Miller, an author in Goshen, was introduced to the term in 2002 when photographs she received from her father revealed that her grandfather was a ‘seagoing cowboy” in 1946.” Miller told the newspaper, “We’re not taught much about what happens after the war.... I think it’s an important piece because countries have to be repaired. If they’re not repaired, it leads to another war.” See www.journalgazette.net/features/Cowboys-of-the-sea-12525947 .

-- Crystal Marrufo who attends Goshen City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren has been interviewed about the “leap of faith” that brought her to the congregation. She recently talked with the Goshen News about how she and her two children struggled prior to her move to Goshen in 2011, and gave her testimony to the blessings she has received from God since then, and how she has worked to give back to the community. “I was so miserable. I opened my Bible one day to where it talked about moving to the land of Goshen and God providing the needs of the Israelites,” she said in the interview. “I prayed about it and decided to move to Goshen. Within in a week, I had three job offers. God has provided so much more.... I never had a church before and now I have a church family that is so supportive.” She has been accepted into the Habitat for Humanity program and has been working toward completing the required 250 sweat equity hours by helping to build other partner family homes. She also has been raising money for a Heifer Gift Ark through Heifer International. Read the article at www.goshennews.com/news/local_news/crystal-murrufo/article_ce3e7295-2506-54a8-8dd2-8d25b9907a6d.html .


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Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Deborah Brehm, Scott L. Duffey, Mary Kay Heatwole, Kristen Hoffman, Peggy Reiff Miller, Zakariya Musa, Laurent Veyrat-Durebex, Jenny Williams, Jesse Winter, Roy Winter, 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 April 29.

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