“God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).
1) Creation care study committee is named
2) A ‘can-do’ attitude marks the 2016 We Are Able workcamp
3) Global Food Initiative supports water workshops, farmer training, soybean training
4) Congregational Life Ministries offers resources to assist congregations
5) Brethren bits: Remembering Jack McCray, job openings, video highlights Capstone 118 in New Orleans, seagoing cowboy celebration at Staunton Church of the Brethren, caregiving event in Virlina District, new address for N. Indiana District, prayer for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, more
Quote of the week:
“As God’s people, it is important for us to remember and tell God’s story and to sing the songs of our faith--in good times and in bad times--so we don’t forget who we are and whose we are. When we forget who we are and whose we are, when we fail to remember and tell God’s story and to sing the songs of our faith, we run the risk of allowing our identity and lives to be shaped by the prevailing stories of society.”
-- From Rhonda Pittman Gingrich’s “Message from the Moderator” for the Northern Plains District Conference. She is serving as moderator of the district’s 150th annual gathering on the theme “This is our story, this is our song” (Psalm 105:1-6, Colossians 3:12-17).
1) Creation care study committee is named
By James Beckwith
The Standing Committee of district delegates to Annual Conference has concluded its work of electing a Creation Care Study Committee. Three members have been elected to the new study committee.
The study committee has been formed in response to the decision of the 2016 Annual Conference “that a Creation Care study committee be appointed to work, in consultation with Brethren Benefit Trust and other relevant organizations, to develop ways to support and extend our knowledge of renewable energy production with our financial investments and involvement in community projects to reduce our contributions to greenhouse gas concentrations and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.”
Standing Committee received approximately 30 nominations that were submitted during Annual Conference, from which a nominating committee put together a ballot. Standing Committee voted via computer connections in late July, electing:
-- Duane Deardorff of Durham, N.C.
-- Laura Dell-Haro of Beatrice, Neb.
-- Sharon Yohn of Huntingdon, Pa.
These three will serve on the study committee on Creation Care. Please hold them in prayer as they begin their work on behalf of Annual Conference.
-- James Beckwith is secretary of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference.
2) A ‘can-do’ attitude marks the 2016 We Are Able workcamp
By Amanda McLearn-Montz
This past July, 12 people joined me in the hills of Maryland for the We Are Able workcamp. This annual Church of the Brethren program is for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and volunteers who serve as their assistants. The adults with disabilities and the assistants come together for four days to do service projects, fun recreational activities, and devotions. The workcamp is a time of building community and strengthening faith.
This year, our workcamp group served at the SERRV and Material Resources warehouse at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. We priced fair trade products, sorted hygiene kits, and unloaded donations. Participants were given tasks that fit their abilities, and we all enjoyed serving together. While pricing products, we told jokes and made an efficient assembly line. We sang songs while we organized the hygiene kits and pondered where in the world the kits would go. The small group that unloaded donations chatted and laughed with the warehouse workers, and one participant said the unloading was his favorite part of the workcamp.
When our service shifts were over each day, we did different recreational activities. We went bowling, played games, and swam. One afternoon, we went to a state park where we hiked to a waterfall. The hike was harder for some of the participants, but we cheered each other on and all of us completed it. We celebrated finishing the hike with high fives, and then we swam in the lake. We concluded our park outing with a cookout next to the lakeshore. All of our fellowship time strengthened our community, and I loved seeing friendships form and deepen throughout our time together.
Whether we were doing service projects or recreational activities, everyone stayed positive and treated each other with kindness. One of the assistants, Nancy Gingrich, said she was impressed with the “can-do” attitude of the group. This was the first We Are Able Workcamp for her and her son, and they both loved their experience.
“I thought of two words that I didn't hear all week, ‘I can’t!’” Nancy told me. “No one had a negative thought that entire week. What a blessing!”
We hope you will consider being a part of this amazing workcamp in the future. Participants with intellectual or developmental disabilities must be 16 years of age or older, and assistants must be 18 years of age or older. For more information, contact the Workcamp Office at 847-429-4396 or email@example.com or visit www.brethren.org/workcamps . Dates for the 2017 We Are Able workcamp will be posted in the fall.
-- Amanda McLearn-Montz is a Brethren Volunteer Service worker and an assistant coordinator of the 2016 Workcamp Ministry of the Church of the Brethren.
3) Global Food Initiative supports water workshops, farmer training, soybean training
Grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Initiative (formerly Global Food Crisis Fund) support water workshops and farmer training in Burundi, and the attendance by a group from Liberia at a training event at the Soybean Innovation Lab in Ghana.
An allocation of $9,980 funds water filter workshops in Burundi. The grant recipient, Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services (THARS), will use the grant for its Good Water for Burundi training program. Some 60 participants will be trained and equipped to build, maintain, and sell household scale sand/gravel bio-filters. Women from THARS trauma healing groups will be trained in one workshop, and men from the Batwa community in a second workshop. The grant will cover the cost of the workshops including meals, accommodations, travel, materials, and administrative costs.
An allocation of $10,640 funds training for farmers in Burundi, also carried out by THARS. The organization will use the grant for its Farmer Field School activities. The grant will be used for the purchase of seeds, fertilizer, training sessions, plowing, land rental, and administrative costs. This is the second year of what THARS is hoping will be a 5-year project. A previous grant of $16,000 was made to this project in April 2015.
An allocation of $2,836 will support attendance by representatives of Church Aid Liberia at a learning experience hosted by the Soybean Innovation Lab in Ghana. The participants are part of a larger delegation including six representatives from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and Global Food Initiative manager Jeff Boshart. Funds will cover airfare from Liberia to Ghana, meals, visas, and housing during the one-week learning experience.
The mission of the Soybean Innovation Lab is to provide the information needed for successful soybean development to researchers, extensionists, the private sector, NGOs, and others operating across the entire “value chain” from seed to final product. The work of the lab is underwritten by a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is directed by researchers from the University of Illinois.
Find out more about the Global Food Initiative at www.brethren.org/gfi .
4) Congregational Life Ministries offers resources to assist congregations
By Tyler Roebuck
The Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren “provide coaches, collaborators, and consultants to assist congregations in reaching out and connecting with their local communities,” according to the ministries’ webpage. Currently, Congregational Life Ministries staff are making resources available for congregations to discern their gifts, explore their vitality, and teach others about the practices of the church.
Among the resources are the Congregational Vitality Survey, a new congregational ethics self-study resource and a Code of Ethics booklet, the Anabaptist Worship Exchange website, the Vital Ministry Journey, and printable cards giving information about three important practices of the Church of the Brethren--the ordinances of baptism, love feast, and anointing.
Congregational Vitality Survey
The Congregational Vitality Survey is an assessment tool that provides congregations with a guided study of their strengths and areas for growth. Stan Dueck and Joshua Brockway of the Congregational Life Ministries staff work with congregations, and typically the district executive, to discover and discuss three strengths and three areas that could use improvement.
“We create a report and meet with the pastor and leadership team,” Brockway said. “It’s a relational model of coaching.”
Currently six congregations are in the process of carrying out the survey. Brockway expects that 15 to 20 surveys will be administered annually. Congregations interested in utilizing the Congregational Vitality Survey should contact their district executive or the Congregational Life Ministries office at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Congregational ethics self-study
Available now on the Church of the Brethren website is a series of Bible studies and case studies, and the denomination’s Ethics for Congregations polity, to aid congregations in studying their own ethical conduct. Often, when people hear about a code of ethics, they become uneasy and anxious about a list of “dos” and “do nots” that will provoke feelings of guilt. The Congregational Life Ministries resources for congregational ethics are intentionally designed to be less frightening and to provide a description of healthy congregational conduct.
“Ethics isn’t about rules to follow, but rather how good congregations should conduct themselves,” said Brockway. He described the resources as “phrased constructively to name healthy behaviors and processes” and to help congregations identify goals as a community. In addition to the web resources, a Code of Ethics booklet is available. Access the resources at www.brethren.org/discipleship/ethics.html .
Anabaptist Worship Exchange
The Anabaptist Worship Exchange website is a online place to share worship materials among Anabaptist congregations. Users may post any worship resource they have created, including liturgy, music, and sermons, to be shared with other users. “The idea is to open the local church to the denomination,” Brockway said. Resources can be sorted by type of material, lectionary cycle, biblical reference, and contributor. All editing is the responsibility of the user. Visit the website at http://anabaptistworshipexchange.org .
Vital Ministry Journey
The Vital Ministry Journey is for congregations whose leaders desire that their church “recapture a dynamic vision and mission so as to live abundantly and be God’s blessing to its community.” The initial 60-day study, available for all congregations of the Church of the Brethren, guides churches through the process of listening, prayer, and spiritual formation, to discern their part in the mission of God. Additional Vital Ministry Journey study resources include a study of Philippians and “Vital Passions, Holy Practices” to study and assess spiritual gifts. For more information about the Vital Ministry Journey, contact email@example.com .
Baptism, anointing, and love feast--three predominant practices of the Church of the Brethren--are sometimes misunderstood. As a teaching tool, three card-sized digital resources outlining the scriptural reasoning as well as the general practices of these ordinances are available to download from the Church of the Brethren website. Each explains the practice or ordinance in language appropriate for new church members. The downloads are available as JPEG files, for ease of sharing digitally, and are easy to print out and distribute. Access the cards at www.brethren.org/discipleship/practices.html .
-- Tyler Roebuck is a student at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., and a Ministry Summer Service intern with Church of the Brethren communications.
5) Brethren bits
Two district conferences are held this weekend: In related news, a goal of $15,000 has been set for a special fundraiser to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Northern Plains District. “We are asking congregations and individuals to give in response to the many ways we are ‘Tied Together with Love,’” said the district newsletter. “We are tied together and nurtured by those who work on behalf of our 32 congregations.” Congregations are organizing fundraisers or offerings. Additional opportunities to contribute include the auction of two quilts that are being created for the district conference.
Southern Plains District meets Aug. 4-5 at Family Faith Church of the Brethren in Enid, Okla.
Northern Plains District holds its 150th recorded meetings Aug. 5-7 at West Des Moines (Iowa) Christian Church, with Rhonda Pittman Gingrich as moderator. The theme is “This is our story, this is our song.” Guest leaders are Jeff Carter, president of Bethany Theological Seminary, and Carol Hipps Elmore, minister of nurture and music at Oak Grove Church of the Brethren in Virlina District. On Saturday evening, a festival of story and song celebrates the 150th anniversary and the ongoing ministry of God’s people in the district. The district is commemorating the anniversary by challenging its members to collectively engage in 150 random acts of kindness.
Two district conferences are held this weekend:
In related news, a goal of $15,000 has been set for a special fundraiser to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Northern Plains District. “We are asking congregations and individuals to give in response to the many ways we are ‘Tied Together with Love,’” said the district newsletter. “We are tied together and nurtured by those who work on behalf of our 32 congregations.” Congregations are organizing fundraisers or offerings. Additional opportunities to contribute include the auction of two quilts that are being created for the district conference.
-- Remembrance: Jack Cameron McCray, 91, passed away July 24 at his daughter’s home in Kenosha, Wis. He served in the Church of the Brethren mission in India 1960-65 along with his wife, Lila, who in 1981-83 served on the denominational stewardship staff. While in India, he was field treasurer of the mission and was one of the co-managers of the Inter-mission Business Office serving 100 different mission groups and institutions. Born in Los Angeles, Calif., on Sept. 28, 1924, son of Ernest and Florence McCray, much of his early life was spent in Oklahoma. During World War II he was a conscientious objector and served in the Forest Service, Cascade Locks (Ore.) Civilian Public Service unit 21. He became employed by Diamond International in Chico, Calif., and was involved in the early stages of electronic accounting and main frame computers. Later in his career he also was supervisor of computer operations at (Miles) Bayer Corporation. A member of the Church of the Brethren for 72 years, he served in various leadership roles including his service in India. He is survived by his wife, Lila; daughter Karen Modder-Border; son-in-law David Border; daughter-in-law Linda Brooks Broyles; grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 12, at Journey Church in Kenosha.
-- The Church of the Brethren seeks an individual to serve as part-time Yearbook specialist. This person prepares the annual denominational Yearbook, a digital resource that includes the church’s directory and statistics. The ideal candidate will be a well-organized person who enjoys keeping track of many details and has experience in publishing. Applicants should be competent in Microsoft Outlook, Word, and Excel; adept at learning a database system; and able to meet deadlines. Preferably the Yearbook specialist will be familiar with congregational life. This person must be able to work in a religious setting and communicate knowledgeably with congregations, districts, and organizations within the wider church. This part-time position is based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., and reports to the publisher of Brethren Press and communications. Applications will be received beginning immediately and will be accepted until the position is filled. Qualified candidates are invited to request the application form by contacting: Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; firstname.lastname@example.org . is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
-- Southern Pennsylvania District seeks an executive director for Camp Eder, to fill a full-time position at a year-round Church of the Brethren camp and retreat center located near Fairfield, Pa. Camp Eder is a 400-acre facility nestled in the southern Pennsylvania mountains. The district seeks a Christian with a growing faith and a heart for evangelism as well as an understanding and acceptance of Church of the Brethren values. This person needs to be a strong spiritual leader with a passion for outdoor ministry. Qualifications also include the ability to implement the strategic vision plan as directed by the camp board; a bachelor’s degree or equivalent life or work experience; previous administration and camping experience preferred, with strong fiscal, management, and communication skills; ability to do interpretation of the mission and vision of the camp, including fundraising, to area congregations and beyond. Interested and qualified persons may apply by sending a letter of interest, resume, the name and address and phone number of three or four references, and salary expectations to the search committee chairperson: Leon Yoder, 36 S. Carlisle St., Greencastle, PA 17225; email@example.com . The application deadline is Sept. 30. Learn more about Camp Eder at www.campeder.org .
-- The Church of the Brethren Youth and Young Adult Ministry seeks a ministry assistant. This is a Brethren Volunteer Service placement at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., and includes serving as a BVS volunteer and being a member of the Elgin Community House. The position is both a practical ministry position and an administrative position. In 2016-17 the assistant will focus on preparations for Christian Citizenship Seminar 2017, Young Adult Conference 2017, National Junior High Conference 2017, and Ministry Summer Service, which includes the Youth Peace Travel Team. Most of the year is spent preparing for these events in the Elgin offices, while the remainder of the time is spent facilitating these events on-site. Work includes working with various planning teams to envision and carry out the various events by identifying themes, workshops, speakers, and other leaders, as well as managing the administrative side of the various events including setting up online registration, managing budgets, coordinating logistics, tracking contracts and forms. Required skills include gifts for and experience in youth ministry; passion for Christian service and an understanding of mutual ministry, both giving and receiving; emotional and spiritual maturity; organizational and office skills; physical stamina and the ability to travel well; computer skills including experience with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Access, and Publisher). For more information or to request an application, please contact: Becky Ullom Naugle, Youth/Young Adult Ministry Office, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; firstname.lastname@example.org ; 800-323-8039 ext. 385 or 847-429-4385; fax 847-429-4395.
-- During an upcoming medical leave for Julie M. Hostetter, executive director of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, starting Aug. 22 the academy will be overseen by Steve Schweitzer, academic dean at Bethany Seminary. He will work in consultation with Joe Detrick, interim director of the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry. Send requests and questions to Fran Massie, administrative assistant, at email@example.com or 765-983-1824.
-- During a sabbatical leave for Nathan Hosler, director of the Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C., requests and questions are being handled by Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-323-8039 ext. 362.
-- David Young of Capstone 118, a community garden in New Orleans, La., and a partner of the Church of the Brethren Global Food Initiative, has posted a YouTube video that is getting a lot of attention on social media. The brief clip invites volunteers to help Young in his innovative work creating gardens on some 30 city lots abandoned after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Lower 9th Ward. He also is a beekeeper, has the largest aquaponics “farm” in the city, and raises goats and chickens--all in an effort to provide fresh food in an inner city “food desert.” Find the video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=dF9w6WReHgE .
-- On Sunday, Aug. 28, Staunton (Va.) Church of the Brethren will celebrate the seagoing cowboys and Heifer Project. Learning that 14 seagoing cowboys live at Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community, the congregation has invited them all to worship beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the outdoor pavilion behind the church, following by an annual picnic. Worship will include a brief history of Heifer Project and an opportunity for the seagoing cowboys--and one seagoing cowgirl--to share about their experiences. The congregation also is holding collections for Heifer Arks of animals to be shared with families in need around the world, in honor of the seagoing cowboys. Each also will receive a copy of the illustrated children’s book "The Seagoing Cowboys" written by Peggy Reiff Miller, published by Brethren Press.
-- The Camp Mack Golf Outing is Saturday, Aug, 20, at McCormick Creek Golf Course in Nappanee, Ind. Registration is at 8 a.m. with golfing starting at 8:30 a.m. and lunch at 1 p.m. Cost is $75 per player. Call the camp at 574-658-4831.
-- “Caregiving Your Loves Ones: The Good, Bad, and Ugly” is a caregiving event offered by Virlina District on Aug. 20 at Peters Creek Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va. “It comes to us all--that time when our loved ones need special care,” said an invitation. “We consider ourselves privileged to support and care for them, but in the meantime the rest of our lives continue. It takes a toll. This workshop presented by local hospice providers will provide tips for caring for your loved one without exhausting yourself.” Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. The event will begin with worship at 8:45 a.m. and workshops at 9 a.m. This event is free. For a flyer with registration form attached contact the District Resource Center at email@example.com .
-- Northern Indiana District has announced a new address: 301 Mack Drive, Suite A, Nappanee, IN 46526.
-- Virlina District continues to receive an offering for the flood victims in West Virginia. Funds are received at the Virlina District Resource Center, 3402 Plantation Rd., NE, Roanoke, VA 24012; mark the memo line Acct #33506 - West Virginia Flooding. Thus far, the district has received $30,721 from 36 congregations in Virlina and eight in West Marva District. The majority of this, $30,000, has been distributed through ecumenical channels, the district newsletter reported.
-- “Summer camp success!” proclaimed the newsletter of Brethren Woods Camp and Retreat Center near Keezletown, Va. The total number of campers to attend this year was 564, 40 more than last year. “We are so grateful for the 55 volunteers who generously gave of their time to help out,” the newsletter said. “We are deeply thankful for the 28 full time staff members who gave their summers to make this ministry possible.”
-- Aug. 6 and 9 mark the 71st anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two Japanese cities destroyed by atomic bombs during World War II. The combined death toll is estimated at more than 225,000 people. The World Council of Churches (WCC) has called for prayer for the anniversary, in a release. Peter Prove, director of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, commented, “The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki broke the laws of God and of humanity on an unprecedented scale. An era of global fear and suspicion ensued, and continues today.... Now a solid majority of countries in a special UN Working Group are considering negotiating a ban on nuclear weapons. We give thanks for the member churches who are advocating that course of action, for partners in civil society, and for like-minded governments. What happened in Japan 71 years ago must never happen again. The nine states that have nuclear weapons must meet their obligations and eliminate their nuclear arsenals. The suffering inflicted on Hiroshima and Nagasaki requires nothing less.”
Contributors to this issue of Newsline include James Beckwith, Jeff Boshart, Jan Fischer Bachman, Amanda McLearn-Montz, Nancy Miner, Tyler Roebuck, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.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. 12.