Newsline for Aug. 12, 2016




A panorama in Rocky Mountain National Park
Photo by Glenn Riegel

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’” (Isaiah 52:7).


NEWS 
1) BBT updates ministers on IRS rule changes for medical insurance premiums
2) BBT offers new Periodic Payment Plan for members of the Pension Plan

NIGERIA UPDATES
3) Nigeria Crisis Response continues food aid in response to new food shortages, but begins to shift to long-term recovery
4) Initiatives for Nigeria will rebuild churches, collect books for children and Bible college

PERSONNEL
5) Carl Hill resigns from Nigeria Crisis Response, Roxane Hill to continue part-time

UPCOMING EVENTS
6) SVMC continuing education events look at art in worship, preaching the reign of God
7) Brethren Academy announces upcoming courses

8) Brethren bits: Correction, Pleasant Dale Church and Plymouth Church celebrate 100 years, Robins Church holds closing service, “Justice Like Water” at Lancaster, Renacer Fall Fundraiser, World Hunger Auction is this Saturday, plus festivals and auctions and other special events


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Quote of the week:

“I entered into this summer, stepping into the unknown,
Every single part completely outside my comfort zone.

Little did I know that I’d step into love,
From all of you around me, and from up above.

I was given a place to stay, and it became a home,
I’ve found another family, although I came alone...”

-- The first stanzas of a poem by Ministry Summer Service intern Kerrick van Asselt, which he gave as the benediction for his final worship service at Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren, his host congregation for the summer. Find out more about Ministry Summer Service, a leadership development program for college students in the Church of the Brethren, at www.brethren.org/yya/mss .
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1) BBT updates ministers on IRS rule changes for medical insurance premiums

BBT logo

Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) has published an update for ministers about the IRS rules for determining which medical premiums are taxed and which are exempt from tax. The update has been distributed to all of the Church of the Brethren districts as an alert signed by BBT president Nevin Dulabaum. The document includes information important for pastors and for church board chairs, church personnel committees, and church treasurers.

The update follows in full:

Effective July 1, 2015, the IRS changed the rules pertaining to medical insurance premiums reimbursed by employers to congregational employees. Reimbursed medical premiums for some church, district, and camp employees began being treated as taxable income as a result of the change.

The IRS rules for determining which medical premiums are taxable and which are exempt from tax are complicated, so it’s difficult to generalize whether a particular reimbursement arrangement will be pre- or post-tax.

The IRS has continued to face criticism over this issue, but it has not changed its mind that reimbursement of employees’ health insurance premiums creates Affordable Care Act (ACA) violations. However, a “one participant” arrangement is not subject to the ACA requirements that generate financial penalties levied on those who do not comply with ACA provisions. Despite this good news, the IRS has indicated informally that the Section 105(h) nondiscrimination rules applicable to healthcare reimbursement plans will apply to one-participant premium reimbursement arrangements, which may make the reimbursements taxable.

Sound complicated? What does this mean? Here are a couple of general principles that you can use--

First, if you only have one employee--and no more--working any number of hours, then you can reimburse that one employee for individual health care insurance premiums on a pre-tax basis--and you won’t create an Affordable Care Act violation.

Second, if you have more than one employee but you only reimburse one employee, working any number of hours, and the other employees work less than 25 hours per week on a regular basis, the section 105(h) rules won’t be violated as a result of that reimbursement, and the reimbursements are not taxable.

Third, if the person you are reimbursing is not among the highest paid 25 percent of all employees, the section 105(h) rules won’t be violated as a result of that reimbursement, and it can also be provided pre-tax.

Beyond that, the Section 105(h) rules are more difficult to apply. Employees under age 25 can be excluded from Section 105(h) testing, as can employees who have not completed three years of service at the beginning of a “plan year.” If you don’t fit under the “only one employee” or “not in the highest paid 25 percent of all employees” examples given above, you may still be able to pass section 105(h) testing and provide the reimbursement on a pre-tax basis.

BBT is providing this information as a service, but we cannot provide guidance beyond what is outlined here. Few employment situations are alike, and penalties for non-compliance are significant. Thus, to ensure that employees are limiting their tax burden while remaining compliant with ACA and IRS regulations, it is important for each congregation and/or organization to consult with the attorney or accountant who advises your church on tax matters.

We hope you find this information helpful; please feel free to share it. If you know someone who would like to be informed of news like this in the future, please e-mail Jean Bednar at jbednar@cobbt.org , and we will add them to our BBT Alert e-mail list.

Sincerely,
Nevin Dulabaum
BBT President

-- For more information about the ministries of the Brethren Benefit Trust, go to www.cobbt.org .

2) BBT offers new Periodic Payment Plan for members of the Pension Plan

A release from Brethren Benefit Trust

The Brethren Pension Plan now provides an exciting new option for accessing the personal contributions in pension accounts. Brethren Pension Plan members can now withdraw those funds on a schedule that meets their needs by using the new Periodic Payment Plan.

The Periodic Payment Plan provides more flexible options to withdraw money the member has personally contributed to his or her pension account. Payments can be period-specific (a specific number of years over which you would like your balance to be spread) or dollar specific (for example, $500 per month until your balance is depleted). This new feature will replace the annuity option for some of the money sources in the Pension Plan.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions:

What portion of my money can be withdrawn through the Periodic Payment Plan? Any employee contributions you have personally made, or rollover money transferred in from another plan, as well as earnings on those funds can be withdrawn.

What about my employer’s contributions? At this time, employer contributions must still be annuitized.

What portion of my money can no longer be included in the annuity option? Rollover money is no longer eligible to be included in your annuity, but you still have the great flexibility of setting up a payment plan to withdraw that money on a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual basis. Money you have rolled into the Brethren Pension Plan from other sources will now be accessed through the periodic payment plan or a lump-sum withdrawal. If you have already annuitized your employer contributions, and only have personal contributions (and their earnings) remaining in your account, they cannot be annuitized.

Can I still annuitize my personal contributions? Yes, you can still annuitize your personal contributions (except rollovers) as long as they are combined with your employer’s contributions.

How do I sign up for the Periodic Payment Plan? Fill out an online form, or call our office at 800-746-1505.

What is the time frame for setting up a payment plan and getting my payments? It takes approximately 7-10 business days for the initial set-up, and the timing of your payments depends on how often you want to be paid and by what method.

What if I change my mind or need more money later? That’s one of the great benefits of this new plan. You have control over how your money is distributed. You can increase or decrease the amount, change the payment pattern, or stop payments completely if need be.

Who is eligible for the Periodic Payment Plan? You can use the Periodic Payment Plan if you are eligible to receive distributions from your Pension Plan and have a balance in your personal account.

For more information on this new Periodic Payment Plan, please call us at 800-746-1505 and ask for Tammy or Lori.

-- Jean Bednar is director of communications for Brethren Benefit Trust. Find out more about the ministries of BBT at www.cobbt.org .

NIGERIA UPDATES

3) Nigeria Crisis Response continues food aid in response to new food shortages, but begins to shift to long-term recovery

Distribution of food aid in Nigeria
Photo by James Beckwith

Distribution of food aid in Nigeria

As the situation in northeast Nigeria becomes more stable and many displaced people move back home, the Nigeria Crisis Response program is beginning to transition to long-term recovery activities, while still supporting basic needs of displaced Nigerians and members of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). This week, EYN leaders confirmed food shortages in some areas of the northeast, and have requested continued food aid at least through the end of 2016.

Nigerian media have reported hunger and starvation at government-run IDP camps for displaced people in remote areas north and east of the city of Maiduguri--which are not areas of high EYN populations. However, food shortages are occurring in some areas south of Maiduguri where Nigerian Brethren have been returning to their home communities.

In recent weeks, EYN also has recorded some more deaths of church members at the hands of Islamist insurgents, and violence continues to plague some areas of northeast Nigeria.

Material aid continues amid food shortages

With the majority of EYN members having been displaced and living in temporary and difficult circumstances for many months, if not years, the early phases of the Nigeria Crisis Response assisted people with very basic needs including food and shelter. By the middle of 2016, EYN and other partner organizations had distributed food and household supplies to 28,970 family units. Nearly 3,000 people were reached with medical care.

In recent weeks, food shortages have been reported in northeast Nigeria. This week Nigeria Crisis Response co-directors Carl and Roxane Hill spoke with Yuguda Mdurvwa, director of the disaster team of EYN, who confirmed that there is a considerable shortage of food in the IDP camps and areas north of Maiduguri, and in communities around Mubi and Michika. Mdurvwa said the problem is compounded by inflated food prices.

The disaster team, with funding from the Nigeria Crisis Fund, has been providing food monthly to people in the northeast. Mdurvwa has asked that more funds be made available to provide food through the end of 2016.

A before-and-after picture of the rebuilding of housing for Nigerians displaced or otherwise affected by violence
Photos courtesy of Carl and Roxane Hill

A before-and-after picture of the rebuilding of housing for Nigerians displaced or otherwise affected by violence

Housing and rebuilding

As the crisis response moves into long-term recovery, other emphases are helping people to rebuild homes and plant and harvest crops.

However, housing for displaced families who will not be returning to their home areas is still being provided at six care centers, one of which is intentionally interfaith and includes both Christian and Muslim families. So far, 220 houses have been built at these care centers as part of the Nigeria Crisis Response. Some care centers now have schools, and residents are looking forward to harvesting crops they have planted.

For displaced Nigerians who are moving back home, the Nigeria Crisis Response is helping to roof destroyed houses of the most vulnerable people. The re-roofing work has now reached 3 of 5 zones, with 250 houses receiving new metal roofs. 

Trauma healing

In addition to responding to physical needs, EYN members and their neighbors traumatized by violence have required help to heal psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. Six EYN leaders received trauma healing training in Rwanda, and began holding workshops for trauma healing. Other leadership for trauma healing has come from Mennonite Central Committee and from Brethren volunteers from the United States. Some of the first people to attend these workshops were pastors, for whom healing was crucial as they continued to lead in the church.

Some 32 trauma healing workshops have now been held, assisting 800 people, and training 21 facilitators and 20 listening partners.

Suzan Mark, director of EYN’s women’s ministry, reported on the Healing Hearts program offering trauma healing for Nigerian children affected by violence. She reported that 33 teachers attended workshops in Michika, and 22 in Yola, with 16 EYN districts represented. Testimonies from the workshops made her feel happy and fulfilled, she said in the report to Children’s Disaster Services (CDS). She quoted one participant who initially thought the program was just to entertain the children, but now he wants to fully advocate for children’s spiritual growth. This is a photo of two Healing Hearts trainers with dolls created in Nigeria on the pattern of dolls sent by CDS supporters in the United States. “What a wonderful project to have people sewing dolls and stuffed animals in both Nigeria and the US to support trauma healing for the children!” commented CDS associate director Kathleen Fry-Miller.
Photo courtesy of EYN

Suzan Mark, director of EYN’s women’s ministry, reported on the Healing Hearts program offering trauma healing for Nigerian children affected by violence. She reported that 33 teachers attended workshops in Michika, and 22 in Yola, with 16 EYN districts represented. Testimonies from the workshops made her feel happy and fulfilled, she said in the report to Children’s Disaster Services (CDS). She quoted one participant who initially thought the program was just to entertain the children, but now he wants to fully advocate for children’s spiritual growth. This is a photo of two Healing Hearts trainers with dolls created in Nigeria on the pattern of dolls sent by CDS supporters in the United States. “What a wonderful project to have people sewing dolls and stuffed animals in both Nigeria and the US to support trauma healing for the children!” commented CDS associate director Kathleen Fry-Miller.

A new initiative in 2016 has brought trauma healing to children through the Healing Hearts curriculum developed by Children’s Disaster Services. Workshops in May trained 14 facilitators who have in turn trained 55 teachers in trauma healing for children.

Peacebuilding

Peacebuilding is an important aspect of the recovery for EYN. As Christian and Muslim families return to places that have been torn apart by the crisis, trust and a sense of community must be rebuilt as well. This part of the journey home will be neither easy nor quick.

In the midst of continuing violence, EYN has been working to promote peace and reconciliation, particularly with Muslim neighbors who also have been terrorized. In May, EYN and CAMPI (Christian and Muslim Peace Initiative) received the Michael Sattler Peace Prize from the German Mennonite Peace Committee for their work in sharing the message of peace and love together. To help with the peace process, nine EYN leaders have been sent to Rwanda for training in Trauma and Alternatives to Violence.

Livelihood support

Livelihood support, focusing on the most vulnerable--especially women with children--has enabled some displaced people to start supporting themselves through micro-business endeavors. These have involved sewing, knitting, bean cake production, groundnut [peanut] processing, and computer skills. Recipients receive skills training, equipment, tools, materials, and business training to help them be successful.

More than 1,500 micro-businesses have been started, a number of widows have been provided with goats and chickens, and 3 skills acquisition centers have been started where widows and orphans learn computer, sewing, and knitting skills.

Agricultural development

Agriculture is a major element of the long-term recovery in Nigeria. This is critical to helping displaced Nigerians support themselves as they return home.

The Nigeria Crisis Response has distributed corn seeds and fertilizer to more than 2,000 families, and 3,000 families soon will receive bean seeds. Other small projects are planned involving chickens, goats, and sustainable agriculture.

Education

Education for children is critical as well, as a hope-building part of the healing for northern Nigeria. Children have begun studying in temporary schools, tents, and even under trees or beside ruined structures.

Through the work of partners of the Nigeria Crisis Response, some 2,000 children, including orphans, are again receiving education.

Support for EYN

EYN members who are returning to homes in the northeast are gaining strength and hope by beginning to worship together again. Many have built temporary structures next to their broken and burned churches.

The Nigeria Crisis Response and the Church of the Brethren in the US have helped to strengthen and encourage EYN as a church, and to increase the capacity of its leadership.

In 2016, restoration of the EYN headquarters in Kwarhi and of Kulp Bible College--both of which had for a time been overtaken by Boko Haram--has allowed many leaders and students to move back to the northeast.

EYN’s new president, Joel Billi, currently is on a nationwide “Sympathy, Reconciliation and Encouragement Tour” to reach out to church members and support their recovery.

Continued and constant prayer as well as financial support for the Nigeria Crisis Fund will reassure sisters and brothers in Nigeria that they are not forgotten.

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

-- Sharon Franzén, office manager for Brethren Disaster Ministries, and Carl and Roxane Hill, Nigeria Crisis Response co-directors, contributed to this report. Read a blogpost by Zander Willoughby, the most recent US Brethren volunteer to work in Nigeria, at http://blog.brethren.org/category/nigeria . Find the Nigeria Crisis Response website at www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .

4) Initiatives for Nigeria will rebuild churches, collect books for children and Bible college

Students at a school for displaced children in Nigeria. It is children such as these who may benefit from an initiative to collect
Photo by Carl & Roxane Hill

Students at a school for displaced children in Nigeria. It is children such as these who may benefit from an initiative to collect "Books for Nigeria."

The Nigeria Crisis Response and Brethren Disaster Ministries are offering new ways to support Ekklesiyar Yan’ua a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), including a collection of “Books for Nigeria” and a new church rebuilding program.

The Nigeria Crisis Fund also continues to receive monetary donations for ongoing work that aids Nigerian Brethren and others affected by violence through efforts that include food aid, material relief, agricultural development, trauma recovery, education, and rebuilding of homes, among other work.

Books for Nigeria

EYN-related schools are in need of books for their libraries and classrooms. For this collection, donations of new or gently used children’s books that are in good condition are requested. The books should be suitable for children ages 6 to 16. Specifically requested are paperback chapter books for children, such as those recognized by the Newberry Award. Non-fiction books and children’s encyclopedias also are requested. All books should be in good condition and published in the last 20 years.

Kulp Bible College, the ministry training school of EYN, is requesting help to supply its library. The college needs materials for training pastors including books on Christian education, theology, preaching, Hebrew and Greek, pastoral counseling, and ethics, along with Bible commentaries and reference books. All books should be in good condition and published in the last 20 years. The college staff have provided a wish list of specific titles, go to www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis/action.html . Call 410-635-8731 for more information. 

Send books to: Books for Nigeria, Brethren Service Center Annex, 601 Main St., New Windsor, MD 21776. Books must arrive at the Brethren Service Center by Nov.  20.

Church rebuilding

EYN has 458 churches and many more smaller branches and preaching points. The destruction wrought by Boko Haram has destroyed 1,668 of these structures, or nearly 70 percent of EYN’s churches. In recent months, as it has become safe for displaced people to return to some areas of the northeast, some larger congregations have built temporary structures as meeting places.

A special Nigeria Church Rebuilding Fund has been started to provide resources for rebuilding EYN churches. Give online at www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis or send donations to Nigeria Church Rebuilding, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave, Elgin, IL 60120.

PERSONNEL

5) Carl Hill resigns from Nigeria Crisis Response, Roxane Hill to continue part-time

Roxane and Carl Hill
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Roxane and Carl Hill

Carl Hill has resigned as co-director of the Nigeria Crisis Response, a joint program of the Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). He and his wife, Roxane, have served as co-directors since Dec. 1, 2014. Roxane will continue supporting the Nigeria Crisis Response, working half time as coordinator. Carl ends his term Aug. 31, to become pastor of Potsdam (Ohio) Church of the Brethren.

Before starting as co-director of Nigeria Crisis Response, Carl was part of a delegation to Nigeria in Nov. 2014, shortly after the EYN headquarters were overrun by Boko Haram. On that trip, and throughout his term as co-director, he encouraged and supported the Nigerian people and EYN leaders during a very difficult time.

Along with Roxane, Carl coordinated and led delegations to Nigeria, organized the sending of volunteers to support the Nigeria Crisis Response, and was an integral part of the communication between the two countries. His work included making regular visits to Nigeria, providing ongoing reporting of activities, maintaining a blog, assisting with financial matters, and coordinating activities with EYN and other partner organizations. In the United States, he enjoyed visiting churches and encouraging them to support the work in Nigeria.

Previously, the Hills were program volunteers and mission workers in Nigeria, serving through the Global Mission and Service of the denomination. They taught at EYN’s Kulp Bible College from Dec. 2012 to May 2014, until the insurgent group Boko Haram made the area unsafe.  

UPCOMING EVENTS

6) SVMC continuing education events look at art in worship, preaching the reign of God

The Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC) based at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College is publicizing two continuing education events for ministers and other church leaders: “Reimagining Art for Worship” on Sept. 10, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, led by Diane Brandt; and “Preaching the Reign of God: Prophets, Poets, and Conversations” on Nov. 10, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Von Liebig Center at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., led by Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm.

SVMC continuing education event

Reimagining art for worship

“Like the choral anthem, the message, the prayers, and rituals, liturgical art enhances the worship experience,” said the announcement of this workshop. “Each element is meant to awaken us and open our hearts to God. The spiritual disciplines that go into sermon writing--prayer, meditation, study, and reflection--can also be used to create liturgical art. This kind of art-marking can be called co-creation, for one creates in partnership with the Creator, in a process that is itself an act of worship. This workshop will explore fresh possibilities for art in liturgical spaces and lead participants through a process for co-creating art themselves.” The event is led by Diane Brandt, minister of visual arts at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Lancaster, Pa. Cost is $65, which includes a light breakfast, lunch, a fee for materials, and .6 units of continuing education credit for ministers. The registration deadline is Aug. 24.

SVMC continuing education event

Preaching the reign of God

“Continuing the prophetic legacy of ancient Israel, the preaching of Jesus Christ is permeated with references to the kingdom (or reign) of God,” said an announcement. “Where is this reign of God to be found in the church’s relationship to the most difficult problems of our time--to terrorism, income inequality, climate change, and human sexuality? This preaching symposium will examine what Jesus preached about the reign of God, as well as how he did it. It will share new developments in the art and craft of preaching, in particular that of conversational homiletics. Through lecture, worship, small group discussion, and workshop time participants will explore how their own preaching may proclaim God’s life-giving reign among us.” The event is led by Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm, Brightbill Professor of Preaching and Worship at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. The cost is $60, which includes a light breakfast, lunch, and .6 units of continuing education credit for ministers. The registration deadline is Oct. 25. This event is offered in collaboration with Bethany Theological Seminary and the chaplain’s office at Juniata College.

For registration forms contact the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center, One Alpha Dr., Elizabethtown, PA 17022; 717-361-1450; svmc@etown.edu .

7) Brethren Academy announces upcoming courses

Logo of Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership

Upcoming courses offered through the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership are open to students in the Training in Ministry (TRIM) and Education for Shared Ministry (EFSM) programs, pastors and other ministers, and all interested persons.

The academy staff note that while students are accepted after the registration deadlines noted below, those dates help determine whether there are enough students to offer a course. Many courses require pre-course readings, so students need to allow enough time to complete those readings before starting classes. Students are asked to not purchase texts or make travel plans until the registration deadline has passed and a course confirmation is received.

To register, contact the Brethren Academy at academy@bethanyseminary.edu or 765-983-1824. Courses marked “SVMC” are offered through the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center based out of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, find registration forms at www.etown.edu/svmc or contact svmc@etown.edu or 717-361-1450.

Fall 2016

“Brethren Polity” (SVMC) is a course at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College with instructor Randy Yoder, scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 1 and Oct. 28-30. The registration deadline is Aug. 30.

“Introduction to Theology” is an online course with instructor Nate Inglis, set for Oct. 10-Dec. 2. The registration deadline is Sept. 10.

“Introduction to Old Testament” is an online course with instructor Matt Boersma, scheduled for Oct. 16-Dec. 10. The registration deadline is Sept. 16.

“Ministry and Money” is a weekend intensive at McPherson (Kan.) College with instructor Beryl Jantzi on Nov. 10-13. The registration deadline is Oct. 10.

Winter/Spring 2017

“Administration as Pastoral Care” is a January intensive at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., on Jan. 9-11 (plus two follow-up sessions via Zoom). The registration deadline is Dec. 9.

“Transforming Faith: Introduction to Educational Ministry” is an online course with instructor Rhonda Pittman Gingrich on Feb. 1-March 28, 2017. The registration deadline is Jan. 6.

“Baptism: A Window into Comparative Theology” is a weekend intensive at McPherson (Kan.) College with instructor Russell Haitch, taking place April 27-30, 2017. The registration deadline is March 27.

“Paul’s Thought and the Pauline Tradition in the New Testament” (SVMC) is an online course with instructor Bob Cleveland. Dates to be announced.

8) Brethren bits

The Annual Conference officers and Program and Arrangements Committee for the 2017 Conference met this week at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The officers also held meetings with other groups who are helping plan for the denomination's next annual meeting. Additionally, the General Offices this week hosted a meeting of the leadership team for the Ministers Association.
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

The Annual Conference officers and Program and Arrangements Committee for the 2017 Conference met this week at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The officers also held meetings with other groups who are helping plan for the denomination's next annual meeting. Additionally, the General Offices this week hosted a meeting of the leadership team for the Ministers Association.

-- Correction: The new address of Northern Indiana District was incorrect in the last issue of Newsline. The correct address is 301 Mack Dr., Suite A, Nappanee, IN 46550.

-- The Global Mission and Service office is requesting prayer for the 24 pastors and church leaders who have completed the inaugural theological training class of l’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti). Prayers also are requested for the third annual conference of the Haitian church, where some 150 people are expected to gather under the theme, “We Are All Brothers,” led by moderator Lisnel Hauter. The business agenda includes elections, determining priority for church construction, and changes to the church’s constitution.
 
-- Pleasant Dale Church of the Brethren in Fincastle, Va., celebrates its 100th anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 11. The worship service and celebration will be from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by a potluck dinner. Owen G. Stultz, former associate pastor, will be the guest speaker. The White family will provide the special music. 

-- Plymouth (Ind.) Church of the Brethren, which this year is celebrating 100 years in the city of Plymouth, has planned a number of special occasions. Two occurred earlier this year, but two are still to come: an outdoor worship service at Price’s Pond on Sunday, Aug. 14, starting at 10 a.m. and followed by a hot dog and corn roast; and a Homecoming Celebration on Sunday, Sept. 18, starting with a church service at 9:30 a.m. followed by a carry-in dinner at noon. The church invites all who have attended the congregation, and all the friends of the church who are interested in helping celebrate the anniversary.

-- Members and friends of Robins (Iowa) Church of the Brethren are invited to the closing service of the congregation on Saturday, Sept. 10, at 2 p.m. A time of fellowship and refreshments will follow. Northern Plains District has shared some of the history of the congregation, which got its start as Dry Creek German Baptist Church, organized in 1856. “This spring, due to age and infirmity, the remaining members decided to end worship services and close the congregation,” the district newsletter explained. The district board appointed a committee to work with the remaining members to dispose of the church property in accordance with Brethren polity, and to plan a closing celebration service. Jim Benedict, who grew up in the Robins Church and currently pastors Union Bridge (Md.) Church of the Brethren, will preach for the closing service.

-- Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren hosts “Justice Like Water” on Saturday, Aug. 20, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. “Join Gimbiya Kettering, director of Intercultural Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, for a day of discussion about race, immigration, and culture,” Said an invitation from Atlantic Northeast District. Cost is $10, which includes lunch and .3 units of continuing education credit for ministers. Go to http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07ecnsvud48ad488d5&llr=qsqizkxab .

-- The Renacer Fall Fundraiser will be held on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 25, starting at 1 p.m. at the Holiday Inn in Roanoke, Va. The event raises funds for the Renacer movement of Hispanic congregations in the Church of the Brethren. “This will be a great opportunity to get together with others to celebrate what God is doing in our midst through the ministry and outreach of Renacer Roanoke,” said an announcement. “Your prayers, attendance at services, and financial support are all greatly appreciated and very important in helping fulfill the mission of Renacer.” Because a number of businesses and individuals are participating in a sponsorship program, tickets are available at only $10 for adults and $5 for children age 10 and younger. The lunch menu will be a buffet including Chicken Marsala, roast sirloin of beef, salad, fruit and berries compote, and a number of side dishes as well as a selection of desserts, iced tea, and coffee. Pastor Daniel D’Oleo, the Renacer Dancers and Praise Team, and others from Renacer congregations will be sharing in music, dance and testimony. They will update us with exciting news of what our awesome God is doing in the ministry and mission of Renacer Roanoke. We encourage you to mark your calendar, make plans to attend, and bring others with you. To host a table of 10 for $100.00 or to purchase individual tickets, you may contact Pastor Daniel at (540) 892-8791 or e-mail him at renacer.dan@gmail.com.

-- The annual World Hunger Auction take place at Antioch Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va., on Saturday, Aug. 13, starting at 9:30 a.m. The auction includes the sale of crafts, quilts, toys, produce, baked and canned goods, special services, and much more. “Come early for the best selection,” said an invitation from Virlina District. “Through the first 30 years of the World Hunger Auction, the purpose has been to provide as much funding as possible to those facing hunger-related issues. With the exception of some expenses, all the money that is raised goes to organizations working toward that goal. The 10 Churches of the Brethren that sponsor the auction are blessed with the opportunity to serve; however, they do not receive any of the funds.” The money is distributed between Heifer International, Roanoke Area Ministries, the Church of the Brethren Global Food Initiative (formerly Global Food Crisis Fund), and Heavenly Manna, a food pantry in Rocky Mount.

-- The 46th Annual Dunker Church Service will be held in the restored Dunker Church at the Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md., on Sunday, Sept. 18, at 3 p.m. This service will take place on the 154th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam and commemorates the peace witness of the Brethren during the Civil War. Belita Mitchell, pastor at Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren, will be the preacher. The event is sponsored by Mid-Atlantic District and is open to the public. For more information contact one of the three Church of the Brethren pastors who are helping to coordinate the event: Eddie Edmonds at 304-267-4135, Audrey Hollenberg-Duffey at 301-733-3565, or Ed Poling at 301-766-9005.

-- Smith Mountain Lake Community Church of the Brethren will host a day-long event on the theme of reconciliation and peace, on Oct. 15. This “Peace Be Within Us Training Day” is a multi-generational workshop studying conflict resolution. “Based on instruction given in Matthew 18:15-17, this workshop will examine several aspects of conflict, steps to solutions God’s way, and greater personal growth,” said an announcement. The cost is $5 for adults and youth 12 years old and older. Children under 12 may attend for free. For more information or to register contact Smith Mountain Lake Community Church at 540-721-1816 or kathy.meckley@gmail.com . Registrations are due by Oct. 7.

-- A Fraternity Old Meeting House worship service is planned for October. “The Fraternity congregation invites you to experience a unique Brethren worship service in the old 1860 Dunkard meetinghouse located at 4916 Charnel Rd., Winston-Salem [N.C.] on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 2 p.m.,” said an announcement. The worship service will be led by two groups that trace their heritage to this building: Mountain View Old German Baptist Brethren District in Rocky Mount, Va., and Fraternity Church of the Brethren in Winston-Salem. “Come and discover how Brethren in the 19th century worshiped God, and come to hear the beautiful sound of hymns of faith resonating off the wooden walls of this historic structure,” the announcement said. “Most of all, come to worship the Lord!” Following the service, refreshments will be served at Fraternity Church of the Brethren. For more information contact 336-765-0610 or fcobpastor@gmail.com .

-- The latest Dunker Punks podcast, a project sponsored by Arlington (Va.) Church of the Brethren, features Kevin Schatz and Erica Schatz Brown taking a break from preparing for a week at Camp La Verne in southern California to tell how they hear God speak through nature, friends, and fun. Dylan Dell-Haro returns as host and adds his challenges to make time to pay attention to God’s voice. Find the podcast created by Brethren young adults through the show page at http://arlingtoncob.org/dpp .

-- Brethren Disaster Ministries supporters in Southern Ohio District have an opportunity to park cars at the Preble County (Ohio) Pork Festival to raise $1,500 for disaster relief. “About 200,000 people attend the 2-day event on Sept. 17 and 18,” said a district announcement. “There are 55 positions to fill, with most shifts being for 4 to 4 1/2 hours.” Hours start at 5:30 a.m. and some days extend to 8 p.m. Volunteers must be age 16 and older, and may work one shift or multiple shifts. All volunteers are asked to arrive 30 minutes early for their shift. To volunteer, contact Jim Shank at jim3shank@hotmail.com or 937-533-3800.

-- Nineteen Church of the Brethren members from Iowa and Minnesota have been on a Brethren heritage bus tour. The tour included a stop at Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Ind., where the group “viewed the twelve 5.5- by 15-foot murals in the Quinter-Miller Auditorium tracing the history of the Church of the Brethren from its beginnings in Germany in 1708 to modern days,” wrote Northern Plains District executive Tim Button-Harrison on Facebook. “The capable presenter was my colleague Herman Kauffman, who recently retired as the Northern Indiana District executive.” Later stops included the John Kline Homestead and Linville Creek Church of the Brethren in Broadway, Va., among other sites of importance to the Brethren.

-- “Please mark your calendars for a special event at Camp Pine Lake,” said an invitation from Northern Plains District. During an all-ages event on Labor Day weekend the camp will hold a third annual “Songs of the Pines” on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 3, beginning at 2 p.m., followed by a fundraiser supper and pie auction, and a 7:30 p.m. concert by Jonathan Shively. The afternoon and evening will be filled with local musicians, storytellers, and talent sharing. Shively is a singer-songwriter who recently served the Church of the Brethren as executive director of Congregational Life Ministries, and previously directed the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. Shively also will lead joint worship on Sunday with the all-ages camp participants and Ivester Church of the Brethren, with others invited to join in the worship service. Worship will begin at 10:30 a.m. followed by a lunch. A free-will offering will be taken. Sunday afternoon events include the camp tradition of a canoe trip down the river or on the lake. For more information contact Camp Pine Lake program director/pastor Barbara Wise Lewczak at 515-240-0060 or bwlewczak@minburncomm.net .

-- Atlantic Northeast District is highlighting a “Brethren presence” in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa., on Saturday, Oct. 1, as part of an annual re-enactment of the Revolutionary War Battle of Germantown. “Ben Franklin Meets the Brethren/Dunkers,” a skit written by Jobie E. Riley, will be performed at Germantown Church of the Brethren as one of the day’s events. The district also is offering a “Philadelphia Brethren Heritage Tour” by bus on the same day. The bus tour departs at 8 a.m. from Ephrata (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and in addition to experiencing the Germantown activities, will also visit the site of the first Brethren baptism in North America and the site of Christopher Saur’s print shop that produced the first German Bible in North America. Cost for the bus tour is $60, which includes lunch. The deadline to register is Sept. 21. Go to http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07ecrb9rj84c70c190&llr=qsqizkxab .

-- The Brethren Disaster Relief Auction, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, will be held on Sept. 23-24 at the Lebanon (Pa.) Expo and Fairgrounds. Hours are 9 a.m.-9 p.m. on Friday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday. The auction is sponsored by the districts of Atlantic Northeast and Southern Pennsylvania, and proceeds support disaster relief work. In addition to auctions of many different items including quilts and a Heifer Auction, it features sales of crafts and food such the popular Baked Goods Table with home-made pies, a farmer’s market, and more. In addition to raising money for disaster relief, attendees are invited to bring Gift of the Heart kits for Church World Service. There is a blood drive as well. Saturday morning offers devotions and congregational singing at 8:30 a.m. A 5K run/walk for all ages is held Sept. 24, starting at 8 a.m. Register by Aug. 31 to receive a t-shirt. Cash prizes will be awarded in all age groups. For more information go to www.brethrendisasterreliefauction.org .

-- Saturday, Sept. 30, is the date for the 33rd Annual Brethren Heritage Festival at Camp Harmony near Hooversville, Pa. The event is held in cooperation with Western Pennsylvania District. In addition to the Heritage Auction, the day also includes a blood drive, hayrides, children’s activities, music, a pastor’s bake off, pie-eating contest, devotions, and more.
Events start with breakfast at 7:30 a.m. followed by bread and cup communion at 9 a.m. Booths open at 10 a.m. Proceeds are divided between the camp and the district. More information is in the district newsletter at www.westernpacob.org/pdf/WPACOB_August_Sept_2016.pdf .

-- Camp Bethel’s 32nd Annual Heritage Day Festival will be held on Saturday, Oct. 1 at the camp located near Fincastle, Va. The event is a fundraiser for Camp Bethel. Find out more at www.CampBethelVirginia.org/events.html .

-- The Camp Mack Festival is Oct. 3 at the camp near Milford, Ind. The event will include food and crafts booths, an auction, demonstrations, children’s activities, and more. “Come help us celebrate 90 years at camp and plan to attend this fun event!” said an invitation. For more information go to www.campmack.org or call the camp at 574-658-4831.

-- The Bridgewater Home Auxiliary’s Fall Festival will be held 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, at Rockingham County (Va.) Fairgrounds. The festival supports the Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in Bridgewater, Va. A new opportunity has been announced: painted watering cans. “Pick up a watering can at the Volunteer Services Office in the administration building at Bridgewater Retirement Community, add your decorative touches, and return it by Aug. 26. Solicit all your artistic friends to paint some, too!” said an invitation from Shenandoah District. 

-- “Sing Me High” is a family friendly, alcohol-free music festival at CrossRoads, Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va. The event begins at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27. Musicians include the Highlander String Band, the Hatcher Boys, and the Walking Roots Band. The evening will conclude with popcorn and s’mores around the campfire. Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for ages 6-12, and free for children 5 and under. Advance tickets are available at www.SingMeHigh.com or by e-mail at singmehigh@gmail.com . “Buy your tickets before Aug. 17 and receive a free commemorative festival picnic cup,” said an invitation. Parking is at Harrisonburg High School with shuttle service to CrossRoads.

-- A Brethren Heritage Festival is planned at the Young Center at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College on Saturday, Oct. 15, 1-4:30 p.m. The event will include children’s crafts and games, art projects, hands-on experiences like making corn-husk dolls, a quilting bee, a capella singing, and more, according to the newsletter of Atlantic Northeast District. Old-fashioned treats to eat will include bicycle-churned ice cream, apple butter on fresh break, and popcorn from the historic Reist popcorn wagon.

-- An upcoming workshop on “Ministry to Persons with Dementia and Their Families” is sponsored by Good Shepherd Home, Alzheimer’s Association Northwest Ohio Chapter, and Jonah’s People Fellowship, and is being publicized by Northern Ohio District. The workshop is scheduled for Oct. 20, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. with check-in beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Good Shepherd Home in Fostoria, Ohio. Presenters are Barry A. Belknap, the chaplain at Good Shepherd Home and pastor of Jonah’s People in Fostoria, Ohio, who has served in ministry for 36 years including 6 years as a chaplain in two Church of the Brethren nursing homes with dedicated dementia units; and Cheryl J. Conley, program director for the Alzheimer’s Association, Northwest Ohio Chapter, who has worked in the field of aging for more than 30 years in positions that have included regional coordinator of a geriatric education center, a past gerontology faculty member, and social services director at a senior center. Pastors, chaplains, Stephen’s ministers, volunteer lay visitors, social workers, and others are invited to attend. This has been approved for 4.5 clock hours (or .45 continuing education credit) of continuing professional education for social workers. Cost is $15 for those who register by Oct. 6, or $25 after that date. The fee includes a meal, snacks, CEU certificate, and workshop materials. For registration or more information contact Barry Belknap at 419-937-1801 or bbelknap@goodshepherdhome.com .

-- “Nature doesn't create trash,” says an invitation to view the August edition of Brethren Voices, a television program designed for congregations to use on public access cable stations, produced by Peace Church of the Brethren in Portland, Ore. Host Brent Carlson interviews David Radcliff of the New Community Project regarding ways to be part of the solution for the environment, rather than part of the ongoing problem. “Caring for this amazing but endangered planet is the challenge of our lifetime,” said the announcement. “Every one of earth’s systems is in trouble: the climate continues to warm, half of all the earth’s wetlands are gone, extinctions are epidemic, only half of tropical forests remain. The seas are in jeopardy due to threats from many causes.” Quoting Radcliff: “The Earth is in a real pickle. It needs some ‘champions’ who will make a difference to this planet.” In September, Brethren Voices will features the Church of the Brethren Workcamp Ministry with Brethren Volunteer Service worker and workcamp assistant coordinator Deanna Beckner and her father, Dennis Beckner, pastor of Columbia City Church of the Brethren. For more information contact produced Ed Groff at groffprod1@msn.com .

-- Christians across the globe will observe a day of prayer for the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula this Sunday, Aug. 14. In an announcement shared by the National Council of Churches (NCC), this year’s “Sunday of Prayer for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula” comes after a delegation from the National Council of Churches in Korea met with NCC members and policymakers in the US last month to advocate for a permanent peace treaty between North and South Korea.

-- Rebecca J. Bonham who attends Crest Manor Church of the Brethren in South Bend, Ind., this spring was honored by the Studebaker National Museum at its 15th annual Hall of Champions Dinner. Bonham retired this year after serving for 15 years as executive director of the museum. The dinner honors an outstanding individual or company that has contributed to the success of the Studebaker Corp., the museum, the transportation industry, or the auto collector hobby in an extraordinary way, said a newspaper article about the event.

-- A special reunion took place recently in central Kansas, according to an article in the Hutchinson News, published Aug. 9: “Nigerians journey out of the shadows of terrorism to visit Kansas missionary who helped their village more than 50 years ago.” The piece written by Kathy Hanks tells the story of a Nigerian family from the Chibok area, who made a point of visiting former Church of the Brethren mission worker Lois Neher, who with her late husband, Gerald, had worked in Chibok and at Kulp Bible College from 1954-68. “Thlala Kolo...felt a connection to her because they had previously met when he was in his mother’s womb in Chibok,” the newspaper reported. Kolo told the reporter that he “was so deeply influenced by the Nehers’ work in Chibok that he wanted to meet the couple, shake their hands, and thank them.” Go to www.hutchnews.com/news/local_state_news/nigerians-journey-out-of-the-shadows-of-terrorism-to-visit/article_9ae4893e-d000-538e-9f8b-6b01b3e608ac.html


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Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jean Bednar, Tim Button-Harrison, Nevin Dulabaum, Sharon Franzén, Kathleen Fry-Miller, Harriett A. Hamer, Kendra Harbeck, Carl and Roxane Hill, Karen Hodges, Julie Watson, Roy Winter, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at cobnews@brethren.org . Newsline appears every week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. The next regularly scheduled issue of Newsline is set for Aug. 19.

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