Newsline for Feb. 5, 2016





Prayer request for those affected by Zika virus:

Global Mission and Service staff are sharing a call to prayer for areas of South America, Central America, and the Caribbean affected by the Zika virus. A large Zika outbreak is underway, having started in Brazil in mid-2015 and now quickly spreading north through other nations in South and Central America, and the Caribbean. Brethren living in or visiting in those areas may be affected.

     The call to prayer is for the general population of affected areas, and for the Brethren in Brazil, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico, in particular.

     Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that is strongly suspected to be associated with birth defects among children of women who contract the disease while pregnant, including microcephaly--a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected. For most people who get Zika, however, the disease causes no symptoms. For the roughly 20 percent who do develop symptoms, they are usually mild and last only a few days to a week, and may include fever, headache, rash, red eyes, and joint pain. There is no vaccine to prevent the disease, and the best way to avoid contracting it is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. In the United States, the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads Zika and related viruses such as dengue fever only circulate widely in very southern parts of the US and Hawaii.

     In late January the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus a world health emergency. WHO convened an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on the Zika virus on Feb. 1.

     Brethren concerned about travel in areas affected by Zika should be aware that pregnant women are being advised not to go to such areas by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). With regard to others taking part in church workcamps, short-term mission trips, or other visits to affected areas, “it seems very early to make any decisions about the safety of these trips,” said Roy Winter, associate executive of Brethren Disaster Ministries and Global Mission and Service. Brethren Disaster Ministries will monitor the developments and understanding of this virus, and will be available to help other staff and church leaders make appropriate decisions about travel as the medical community gathers more information.

     Travel alerts for countries affected by Zika and additional information about the disease are available at www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html .

“When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous” (Proverbs 21:15a).

NEWS
1) Brethren Disaster Ministries works on new Disaster Recovery Support Initiative
2) Flint Church of the Brethren is a water distribution center during crisis
3) Disabilities ministry announces creation of Open Roof Fellowship
4) Nursing students receive Church of the Brethren scholarships
5) South Sudan church leaders request prayer for peace this Saturday
6) Manchester University to offer new interfaith literacy certificate
7) Marrakesh Declaration affirms rights of religious minorities in Muslim countries

UPCOMING EVENTS
8) Intercultural Ministries staff leads ‘Ministry in Two Americas’ at seminary
9) SVMC continuing education events highlight memory care, Chronicles and the church

RESOURCES
10) Children’s book tells about seagoing cowboys who delivered livestock--and hope

11) Brethren bits: Remembrances, personnel announcements, job openings, encouragement to “keep thinking long term” from BBT, “Heart of Anabaptism” webinar, new board members for COBYS, Bittersweet Gospel Band tour, and more


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Quote of the week:

“Today [Feb. 1] is the 56th anniversary of the lunch counter sit-ins that began in Greensboro. At Annual Conference this summer, I hope you'll take time to go to the Civil Rights Museum now in the old Woolworth's building.”

-- A Facebook note from Conference Office director Chris Douglas. The 2016 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren will be held this summer in Greensboro, N.C., and Douglas is encouraging Conference-goers to take advantage of the location to find out more about the key Civil Rights Movement events that took place there. The Annual Conference will offer bus trips to the Civil Rights Museum which include a guided, group tour. Registration for the Conference opens on Wednesday, Feb. 17, and tickets will be available for purchase. Find an article about the lunch counter sit-in anniversary in the Greensboro “News and Record” at www.greensboro.com/news/four-greensboro-students-sat-down-years-ago-today-to-stand/article_9460a984-7828-520d-b9aa-27b5b75eb77a.html .
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1) Brethren Disaster Ministries works on new Disaster Recovery Support Initiative

Brethren Disaster Ministries is partnering with the disaster ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to form a Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI). The new initiative is intended to help speed up the process of getting volunteers in place to begin repair and rebuilding work following a disaster.

“Usually it has been taking years to ready a site for rebuilding efforts--securing funds, forming a long-term recovery group, and doing the case work to approve families needing help,” explained the announcement from Brethren Disaster Ministries staff. The DRSI will assist local partner organizations in getting a long-term recovery group formed and volunteers in place much more quickly.

As part of this Initiative, the DRSI is supporting recovery work in South Carolina in two ways after the extreme flooding and storms in Oct. 2015. First, a long-term volunteer has been deployed and has been supporting the long-term recovery groups as they are forming, by attending meetings, sharing information, and walking with local leaders as they plan the recovery. A DRSI rebuilding project also has opened to start construction work on damaged and destroyed homes. The state of South Carolina is jump-starting the process by pulling cases from FEMA records. As a result, volunteers are able to apply to work in West Columbia, S.C., as of Jan. 10.

The rebuilding site in West Columbia is not considered a traditional Brethren Disaster Ministries project yet, however. This means that volunteers interested in working there will need to contact Lana Landis at SCprojectdrsi@gmail.com or 330-701-6042 to confirm space for groups of up to 12 volunteers. Volunteers should have their own transportation to the work sites, will purchase and prepare their own meals, and will pay $50 each week to the volunteer housing church, Holy Apostles Orthodox Christian Church at 724 Buff St. In West Columbia.

For more information or to request assistance with the housing costs, call Brethren Disaster Ministries at 800-451-4407.

First Church of the Brethren in Flint, Mich.
Phjoto courtesy of Bill Hammond

First Church of the Brethren in Flint, Mich.

2) Flint Church of the Brethren is a water distribution center during crisis

By Bill Hammond

The following report from Bill Hammond of First Church of the Brethren in Flint, Mich., was received Feb. 2. He reports on the water crisis in Flint and the role the Brethren there are playing in helping to serve the community:

We rent our church building on a shared basis with another congregation and are cooperatively serving as a Distribution Center for water in our neighborhood. Today is the first day we have distributed water.

Things are happening very fast in Flint right now. After many months of no attention we are now swamped with it. There has been a tremendous outpouring of support from across the country and around the world. We are quite challenged with the abundance of bottled water coming into Flint right now. Any churches, agencies, and empty buildings are serving as temporary storage spaces to handle the capacity. We know the attention will die down and the donations will dwindle. We do not yet know how long this crisis will last.

The problem for Flint is a problem of aging infrastructure and an extremely negligent decision to not properly treat the water when it was taken from our local river instead of the Detroit-owned pipeline from Lake Huron. Flint had drawn water from the pipeline for more than 50 years. 

The decision to take water from the river allowed very corrosive water to eat at pipes, and those houses that still had lead service connections or lead internal plumbing began to have lead leach out into the water.

This situation was compounded by Michigan State not monitoring properly, not requiring the correct treatment, and even hiding the test results.

There have been several amounts of money designated for Flint’s water issues but as of yet there is not sufficient funding to replace the infrastructure. There also is not yet consensus as to just what course to follow.

Flint has been returned to the Detroit-sourced water supply, and a protective biofilm is being built up on the lead piping. But the tests are still coming in high for lead content in the water, so the emergency continues.

The status at the church: We have had the water tested at the church, but do not know yet if there is a problem with lead in the water. Given when the building was built we may have lucked out. Most lead service connections were phased out in the 1930s. Our building was built in 1937. However we are acting as though the church does have a lead problem, and we are using bottled water. Our kitchen is original to the building and sadly in need of updating. We are looking at replacing the counter tops, sink and faucet, and flooring, all circa 1937.
        
How to help: Do not send water for the time being. Instead, donations are being received to two funds set up by our local Community Foundation: one fund is for repair or replacement of infrastructure, and the other is for children’s health needs. It is anticipated that funds for children’s health needs will be required for at least the next 20 years. Our mayor just announced that private donations have made it possible to begin replacing lead service connections immediately.

There is an opportunity to volunteer with the local Red Cross to help with water distribution. In addition, plumbers unions have been donating their time and materials to install filters and faucets in Flint, and this past Saturday 400 plumbers from around the state helped with that effort.

-- Bill Hammond is a member of First Church of the Brethren in Flint, Mich., and serves on the city of Flint’s Water Advisory Committee. His wife is a volunteer with the Red Cross. For more information about needs in Flint and how to help, contact Bill Hammond at whamm511@yahoo.com .

Logo for Open Roof Fellowship

3) Disabilities ministry announces creation of Open Roof Fellowship

By Debbie Eisenbise

Mark’s Gospel reminds us that we are called to reach out to persons of all needs and abilities and to go to extraordinary lengths to bring them to Jesus: “Then some people came, bringing to Jesus a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him” (Mark 2:3-4). Church of the Brethren congregations committed to and actively engaged in ministry to and with persons with disabilities are therefore recognized as Open Roof congregations.

This year, we are shifting from offering an award for such efforts to designating congregations with disabilities ministries as members of the Open Roof Fellowship. This fellowship brings together those who are engaged in “ensuring that all may worship, serve, be served, learn, and grow in the presence of God as valued members of the Christian community.”

Engagement in such a ministry may include:
-- facility modifications allowing persons with limited mobility, sight, or hearing to fully participate in the life of the church
-- program changes to accommodate and empower those with developmental and/or learning disabilities
-- staff hires or volunteer designations to advocate for and assist those with varying abilities in the congregation
-- building relationships with community agencies, organizations, and/or group homes that serve persons with disabilities and/or mental illness.

Congregations that are part of the Open Roof Fellowship are enriched through diversity and enlivened by welcoming all into Christian fellowship, worship, education, discipleship, and service. Through this designation, in addition to being connected to each other, congregations will be listed as such in denominational communications, and will receive information of interest from the Disabilities Ministry of the Church of the Brethren and from the Anabaptist
Disabilities Network.

Interested congregations are invited to join by filling out an application and sharing their story at www.brethren.org/disabilities/openroof.html by June 1. Applications received after the due date will be considered for the following year. Certificates of designation are presented at the meeting of the Mission and Ministry Board prior to Annual Conference.

If you have any questions, contact Debbie Eisenbise, Director of Intergenerational Ministries, 800-323-8039 ext. 306 or deisenbise@brethren.org . Additional information, self-assessment tools, resources, and encouragement to begin, continue, expand, and strengthen disabilities ministries in congregations can be found at www.brethren.org/disabilities . Plans are for this webpage to be updated as new resources become available.

-- Debbie Eisenbise is director of Intergenerational Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, and is the member of the Congregational Life Ministries staff who serves the denomination’s Disabilities Ministry.

Shaye Thomas is one of the students who received a Nursing Scholarship in 2015, through the Health Education and Research Endowment.

Shaye Thomas is one of the students who received a Nursing Scholarship in 2015, through the Health Education and Research Endowment.

4) Nursing students receive Church of the Brethren scholarships

By Randi Rowan

Five nursing students are recipients of Church of the Brethren Nursing Scholarships for 2015.  This scholarship, made possible by the Health Education and Research Endowment, is available to members of the Church of the Brethren enrolled in LPN, RN, or nursing graduate programs.

This year’s recipients are Nicole Drawbaugh of West Green Tree Church of the Brethren near Elizabethtown, Pa.; Seth McElroy of Uniontown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; Shaye Thomas of Cedar Grove Church of the Brethren in New Paris, Ohio; Hannah Tomlin of Brookville (Ohio) Church of the Brethren; and Kelsey Wenger of White Oak Church of the Brethren in Manheim, Pa.

Scholarships of up to $2,000 for RN and graduate nurse candidates and up to $1,000 for LPN candidates are awarded to a limited number of applicants each year.

Information on the scholarships, an application form, and instructions are available at www.brethren.org . Applications and supporting documentation are due by April 1 of each year.

-- Randi Rowan is program assistant for the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries.

5) South Sudan church leaders request prayer for peace this Saturday

South Sudan church leaders have requested Christians around the world to join them in a time of prayer for peace in their nation on this Saturday, Feb. 6, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The request is being shared with the Church of the Brethren by members of a delegation that recently visited South Sudan and met with church leaders there.

Roger Schrock, a former mission executive of the Church of the Brethren and a former mission worker in Sudan, was one of the six taking part in the delegation group along with Annual Conference moderator Andy Murray, Leon Neher, Linda Zunkel, Eli Mast, and Brent Carlson. The group visited in South Sudan from Jan. 20-Feb. 1. They were hosted at the Brethren Peace Center in Torit by Global Mission and Service worker Athanasus Ungang.

In a phone call after the group’s return to the US, Schrock reported on the request for a day of prayer for peace in South Sudan. The Brethren group received the request from Father James, general secretary of the South Sudan Council of Churches, Schrock said.

Particular prayers are requested:

-- prayers for both the victims of violence and the perpetrators of violence in South Sudan

-- prayers that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed by the political opponents in South Sudan be implemented

-- prayers that God’s Spirit give peace to South Sudan.

For more information about the Church of the Brethren mission in South Sudan go to www.brethren.org/partners/sudan .

Petrershime Chapel at Manchester University
Photo courtesy of Manchester University

Petrershime Chapel at Manchester University

6) Manchester University to offer new interfaith literacy certificate

From a Manchester University release

Manchester University will offer a new certificate in interfaith literacy at its North Manchester, Ind., campus beginning in 2016-17. Designed to address the challenges and dynamics of a changing and increasingly diverse world, the certificate will help fulfill Manchester’s mission of graduating people “who draw upon their education and faith” and the university’s values of faith, learning, diversity, and community.

The proposal developed over the past year as a collaboration between the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department and the Office of Religious Life. The certificate will be jointly administered by those two areas.

Students who complete the certificate program will be required to take two courses from a list that includes offerings such as “Religion and War,” “Judaism, Christianity, and Islam,” “Religions of India,” “Religions of East Asia,” and “Jewish Faith, Culture, and People.” They also will complete an experiential learning component and write a reflective paper. All students already are required to take at least one religion course as part of the core program at Manchester.

The certificate has two primary learning goals: that students will be able to articulate the main beliefs and practices of at least two religions other than their own; and speak intelligently and interact appropriately with people of a different faith tradition.

It continues Manchester’s commitment to ecumenical and interfaith issues. While Manchester is affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, several dozen Christian denominations and other faith traditions are represented in the student body. Manchester has a student Campus Interfaith Board that plans programs and events each year, and the university participates in the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge. In October 2013, interfaith leader Eboo Patel of Interfaith Youth Core received Manchester’s Innovator of the Year Award and spoke at the North Manchester campus.

Manchester already offers several other certificate programs, including a certificate in innovation, a certificate in libraries and literacies, a certificate in mediation and conflict resolution, and a certificate in scientific computing. For more information visit www.manchester.edu .

 

7) Marrakesh Declaration affirms rights of religious minorities in Muslim countries

By Jim Winkler, National Council of Churches

I was honored to attend a conference recently in Marrakesh, Morocco, on the rights of religious minorities in Muslim lands. My flight out of Washington was the last one to depart in the midst of a blizzard so when we took off after sitting on the tarmac for four hours, I knew God intended for me to be present!

The National Council of Churches (NCC) has long been committed to Muslim-Christian dialogue. Thus, I was eager to participate and I encourage you to read the resulting Marrakesh Declaration (find it at www.marrakeshdeclaration.org/marrakesh-declaration.html ). Those present affirmed “it is unconscionable to employ religion for the purpose of aggressing upon the rights of religious minorities in Muslim countries.” Much else is included in the declaration.

Highly respected Muslim scholars, as well as governmental representatives were present. This conference took place after four years of careful planning and organizing. I pray this will be a step forward.

Clearly, the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known variously as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh, which has declared a worldwide caliphate and claims authority over all Muslims, has created turmoil within and beyond the Muslim world. Indeed, King Mohammed VI in his message to the conference stated, “In normal circumstances, there would have been no need to address a theme such as the one chosen for this conference.... Muslims have to show that certain events which are happening under the guise of Islam are driven or prompted by considerations which have nothing to do with religion.”

However, even in Morocco, a relatively tolerant and open society in which Islam is the state religion, the Supreme Council of Religious Scholars issued a decree as recently as three years ago that Muslims who leave Islam for another faith must be sentenced to death.
 
It occurs to me that extremists in all the world’s major religions are carrying out acts of violence and intolerance in the name of their faith. This is happening not only in Islam, but in Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Wherever and whenever possible, people of good will must come together in solidarity with one another.

That is why Jews, Christians, and Muslims have come together in the United States to create Shoulder to Shoulder, a national campaign of religious and interfaith organizations dedicated to ending anti-Muslim sentiment. This is more urgent than ever when we have presidential candidates calling for a ban on Muslim immigrants and for the registration of all Muslims in the US.

In Morocco, non-Muslim conference participants caucused and affirmed common values between our faiths such as kindness, honor, cooperation, reconciliation, and mercy. We confessed that our faiths and nations have at times been intolerant of Muslims, have not lived up to our own teachings, and have been complicit in war and violence. We challenged our Muslim sisters and brothers to grant full equality to non-Muslims and to do away with apostasy and blasphemy laws, and we committed ourselves to educating our own believers about Islam and to working with Muslims to build a culture of peace.

-- Jim Winkler is president and general secretary of the National Council of Churches (NCC). This report first appeared in the NCC’s e-mail newsletter of Feb. 5.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Intercultural Ministries event at Bethany Seminary in February 2016

8) Intercultural Ministries staff leads ‘Ministry in Two Americas’ at seminary

On Feb. 11-12, the Church of the Brethren’s Intercultural Ministries staff Gimbiya Kettering will lead events at Bethany Theological Seminary on the theme “Ministry in Two Americas.” The campus of Bethany Seminary is located in Richmond, Ind.

A quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., has inspired the theme for the events: “There are literally two Americas.... [One] America is overflowing with the milk of prosperity and the honey of opportunity. But tragically and unfortunately, there is another America.... In this America people are poor by the millions. They find themselves perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.”

Kettering will lead a Peace Forum on Thursday, Feb. 11, from 11:30 a.m.-1:20 p.m. “From the Occupy Movement to #Black Lives Matter to the DREAM Act, the ‘other’ America seems to be in the news a lot lately,” said an announcement. “Whether you are inspired by these protests or frightened by the riots, as Christian leaders we have a calling and commandments that give us insight into how to respond to these issues today.”

On Thursday, Feb. 11, from 4:30-6 p.m., Kettering will give a presentation titled “The Gospel According to ‘The Hunger Games.’” Questions guiding this presentation include: Why did this story hit a nerve for youth? What is it saying about violence and social justice? What do our youth “know” about real oppression? This session is for those interested in how “The Hunger Games” which is both a popular movie series and a popular series of novels for young adults, can be used in a youth ministry setting.

A series of interactive conversations will be led by Kettering on Friday, Feb. 12, from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. on the theme “And What Does the Lord Require of You?” These times for in-depth, interactive conversation will address social justice, intercultural ministries, and seeking diversity for our congregations. The schedule is as follows:
-- 8-8:45 a.m. Social Justice Bible Study (BYOV: Bring Your Own Verse)
-- 9-10:30 a.m. White Privilege...for the Not-So-Privileged White Person
-- 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The Mission Starts Here: Preparing to Minister in America
-- 12:30-1 p.m. What Next?

Find out more about the Intercultural Ministries of the Church of the Brethren and download a flier for the events at Bethany Seminary at www.brethren.org/intercultural .

SVMC continuing education event on Chronicles and the Church

9) SVMC continuing education events highlight memory care, Chronicles and the church

The Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC) is offering three upcoming continuing education events for ministers and others who are interested. Two address memory care, and one offers a study of the Old Testament book of Chronicles and its meaning for the church today.

Memory Care

On April 4, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., “Memory Care: Embracing the Journey” will be led by Jennifer Holcomb at the Nicarry Meetinghouse of Cross Keys Village-The Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa. This course explores the world of dementia and what it means to live in the moment. Students will learn about the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease, the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, the physical changes that take place in the brain and the need for sensitivity throughout the aging process. It aims to prepare participants for difficult interactions with those diagnosed with a neurocognitive disorder. Students will participate in hands-on experiences throughout this course. Holcomb has a master’s degree in human services, is a licensed nursing home administrator, and a certified dementia practitioner who oversees the memory care program at Cross Keys Village-The Brethren Home Community. Cost is $60, which includes a light breakfast, lunch, and .5 continuing education credits. The registration deadline is March 17.

On July 25 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., “Memory Care: Life with Purpose” will be led by Jennifer Holcomb at the Nicarry Meetinghouse of Cross Keys Village-The Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa. Students in this course will learn how to integrate those individuals with a neurocognitive disorder into the faith community. This course will explore the value of engaging in friendships, the importance of faith for those who have dementia, practical tips on how to be present with the person, and how to care for the caregiver. This day will conclude with a tour of the newly constructed Memory Care Residence at Cross Keys Village. Registration costs $60 and includes a continental breakfast, lunch, and .5 continuing education credits. The deadline to register is July 7.

Chronicles and the Church

On April 27, from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., “The Book of Chronicles and the Church” will be led by Steven Schweitzer, academic dean at Bethany Theological Seminary, with panel responses by Old Testament scholars Bob Neff and Christina Bucher. The event takes place in the Susquehanna Room at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. The book of Chronicles contains an alternative vision of Israel’s past, one that promotes innovation while remaining faithful to the people’s heritage. While the book of Kings explains why the people ended up in exile, the book of Chronicles was written after the exile in the midst of significant cultural shifts to provide a way forward. Schweitzer proposes that Chronicles is highly relevant to the church as it attempts to imagine its future. Participants will explore several central themes in the book and think together about how Chronicles may help the church to be faithful in the midst of cultural change, and to consider worship and seeking God as the book's core message for those who participate in God’s Kingdom. The cost of $60 includes a light breakfast, lunch, and .6 continuing education credits. Registration is due by April 11.

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

RESOURCES

Seagoing Cowboy

10) Children’s book tells about seagoing cowboys who delivered livestock--and hope

From a Brethren Press release

Beginning in 1945, while Europe struggled with the desolation left by years of war, more than 7,000 men and boys traveled by ship on missions of mercy. They were seagoing cowboys--farmhands and folks from all walks of life: teachers, students, bankers, preachers, carpenters--who were recruited to care for the thousands of horses and heifers sent for reparations.

Author Peggy Reiff Miller, granddaughter of one such cowboy, tells their story for young readers in “The Seagoing Cowboy,” illustrated by Claire Ewart and published by Brethren Press ($18.99 hardcover, available March 31, www.brethrenpress.com ).

“The Seagoing Cowboy” follows a young man and his friend as they board a ship bound for Poland. One cares for horses, the other for heifers on the weeks-long journey. What they see when they arrive is sobering: the war had left the country in ruins, and many people had nothing left. The horses and heifers would go a long way in helping them rebuild their lives. Archival photographs, a map, and an author’s note supplement the story.

After her grandfather died, Miller’s father gave her a stack of photos. That’s how she learned that her grandfather had participated in this program. “Like my grandfather, many seagoing cowboys never talked about their experience with their grandchildren,” she says. “With this book, I wanted to give families a tool to share the story with the younger generation--a story of how people helped to repair a broken world after a major war.”

The seagoing cowboys program was made possible by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, an international relief agency supported by 44 nations. The Church of the Brethren’s Heifer Project, begun by then-denominational staff member Dan West, played an important role in helping to recruit volunteers and in sending livestock. Ultimately more than 200,000 head of livestock were sent to Europe and other countries devastated by war. The program eventually evolved into today’s Heifer International.

Early bird discounts are available through March 1, for those wanting to purchase quantities of “The Seagoing Cowboy.” Orders of 3 to 9 copies may be purchased for $15 each copy, a savings of $3.99. Orders of 10 or more copies may be purchased for $12 each copy, a savings of $6.99. Contact Brethren Press at 800-441-3712 for further details or visit the Brethren Press website: www.brethrenpress.com .

Bittersweet Gospel Band

The Bittersweet Gospel Band is planning a spring tour of concerts in churches in Pennsylvania. The ministry of the Bittersweet Gospel Band goes back for 40 years, said an announcement. Begun by Church of the Brethren minister Gilbert Romero, the band is part of a larger Bittersweet Ministries that supports a community ministry in Tijuana, Mexico, through workcamps, home building, food ministry, Bible study and worship, and a Christian Community Center. For the past 19 years, Romero has partnered with Brethren minister Scott Duffey in this ministry, writing much of their own music while maintaining some of the familiar. The band has produced two CDs of music: "Through My Lord's Eyes," and "Bittersweet Lane." Brethren videographer David Sollenberger has joined them to produce two music videos: "Jesus In the Line," and "Cardboard Hotel"--a new music video to be released on this tour. The band’s song for the Nigerian Brethren, "We Kneel Together," has been used on a fundraising DVD for the Nigeria Crisis Fund.

The tour dates are:

March 29, 7 p.m., at New Enterprise (Pa.) Church of the Brethren;

March 30, 7 p.m., Martinsburg (Pa.) Memorial Church of the Brethren;

March 31, 7 p.m., at Bermudian Church of the Brethren in East Berlin, Pa.;

April 1, 10:30 a.m., at Brethren Village in Lancaster, Pa.;

April 1, 6:30 p.m., at Alpha y Omega Church of the Brethren in Lancaster, Pa.;

April 2, 3 p.m., at Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren;

April 3, 9:15 a.m., at Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren;

April 3, 1:30 p.m., at Mechanic Grove Church of the Brethren in Quarryville, Pa.

For more information go to www.bittersweetgospelband.blogspot.com or find Bittersweet Gospel Band on Facebook.

11) Brethren bits

-- Remembrance: Mona Lou Teeter, a former Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) volunteer in Haiti, passed away on Jan. 31. A member of Miami (Fla.) First Church of the Brethren, she had suffered a head injury from a fall a week earlier. She served in Haiti for over 36 years, including from 1976-82 as a BVSer at Aide Aux Enfants, a children’s feeding program in Port-au-Prince. She was founder of the New American School in Port-au-Prince, where she served as director for many years. A Facebook post from Miami First Church shared, “Mona was our eldest member and she will be missed so much but we celebrate a true servant of the Lord and rejoice for her going home to be with Him.” A memorial service will be held in Miami on Monday, Feb. 8.

-- Remembrance: Phillip K. Bradley of Cheverly, Md., who led the nationally televised funeral service for Ted Studebaker in 1971, died during emergency surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center on Jan. 9. He was born in Wichita, Kan., on Oct. 7, 1936, to the late Vernon and Dorothy (DeSelms) Bradley. He earned a degree in sociology from McPherson (Kan.) College and a master of divinity and a doctorate of ministry from Bethany Theological Seminary. Throughout his ministry career he served as pastor of nine churches in the states of Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Maryland. He was active in leadership in the local communities where he pastored, and among other activities in West Milton, Ohio, assisted in re-activating the Milton-Union Council of Churches and started the International Christian Youth Exchange program in West Milton. It was in 1971 during his ministry at West Milton Church of the Brethren that Ted Studebaker, a young peace activist from the church serving in alternative service in Vietnam, was killed by the Viet Cong. A portion of the funeral service that Bradley led was aired on the ABC Nightly News, sharing with a larger audience the witness of Ted Studebaker’s life and the peace ministry of the Church of the Brethren. In 1991, Bradley began a second career providing counseling services for victims of domestic violence at the Family Crisis Center of Baltimore County, Md., and served in this capacity until his retirement in 2005. He was an active member of University Park Church of the Brethren in Maryland from 1991 until his death. A memorial service celebrated his life on Jan. 16 at the University Park Church. He is survived by his wife, Janice Siegel; children Phyllis (Paul) Dodd, David (Cindy) Bradley, Pam (Bill) Neilson, and Sheila (Joseph) Robertson; stepchildren Jeremy Siegel and Megan Siegel; grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

-- In two personnel announcements from Bethany Theological Seminary, Monica Rice has resigned as administrative assistant for institutional advancement and coordinator of congregational and alumni/ae relations, effective March 11; and Brian Schleeper was promoted to coordinator of student financial services and Title IX on Jan. 13. Rice is a 2011 master of arts graduate of Bethany, who began serving as administrative assistant for institutional advancement and coordinator of congregational relations in Sept. 2011, and had recently taken on additional responsibilities for alumni/ae relations. Schleeper has served in the Student and Business Services Department since coming to Bethany in 2007. His new responsibilities will include ensuring that Bethany maintains legal compliance with the US Department of Education, granting student financial aid, and coordinating the seminary’s participation in the Federal Work-Study Program.

-- Sarah Butler begins as Brethren Benefit Trust member services representative, Employee Benefits, on Feb. 9. She brings 10 years of experience serving in various roles, much of that time working with credit union members. She is in the process of earning a bachelor of arts degree in organizational leadership through Roosevelt University. She and her family live in Elgin, Ill.

-- As Shepherd’s Spring celebrates 25 years of ministry, the camp and outdoor ministry center in Mid-Atlantic District also is announcing personnel changes. Glenn Gordon is completing three years of service as Shepherd’s Spring program director. He has coordinated the summer camp, Heifer Global Village, and Road Scholar programs, and has assisted with the annual Golf tournament, Birdwatcher’s Retreat, and December events at the camp. The camp is welcoming back Britnee Harbaugh, who will be working into the program director position beginning part-time in February and full-time in March. Formerly serving in the summer camp coordinator position, she returns to Shepherd’s Spring with a master of divinity degree from Bethany Seminary.

-- The Brethren Housing Association in Harrisburg Pa., is seeking an executive director. This position focuses on providing strategic direction and vision consistent with BHA’s mission. Main responsibilities include: assuring the delivery of high-quality services to BHA’s clients, managing a full-time and part-time multi-disciplinary staff, assuring maintenance and good stewardship of housing assets, maintaining fiscally sound operations, developing meaningful relationships with existing and potential BHA donors, and networking with related human service agencies and the local community. Qualifications include: a strong Christian faith, education and/or experience in social work or a human services discipline (master’s degree preferred), five or more years of experience in a management role preferably in a faith-based human services agency. The executive director represents the organization to the general public and donors, and is a full-time, salaried role reporting to the BHA Board of Directors. The position offers competitive salary and benefits including a generous paid leave policy. BHA is a growing, inner city, nonprofit organization that provides a holistic program of secure housing, supportive casework, and educational services and mentoring relationships to homeless and low-income individuals to help them transition to self-sufficiency. BHA’s primary focus is helping homeless women and their children; in addition, it has programs to support individuals, and intact families. Founded in 1989 by two Church of the Brethren congregations, it initially was run entirely by volunteers from these two congregations. Today, BHA owns more than 20 apartments in the area around its offices at 219 Hummel Street in the South Allison Hill section of Harrisburg, has a diverse group of faith-based and non-faith-based donors, and employs professional program, development, and volunteer coordination staff. Applicants should submit a resume, with a cover letter and salary requirements, no later than March 18, to BHA_Search@dasherinc.com .

-- Pinecrest Community in Mount Morris, Ill., is seeking a director of Independent Living Sales. This is a full time position responsible for the promotion of Pinecrest Village apartment living and the daily management of the Pinecrest Village facilities and The Grove. A high school diploma or GED equivalent, with some college experience, is preferred. A prior position or extensive training in marketing along with background in real estate sales person is preferred.  Successful supervisory or management experience is beneficial. Pinecrest Community is a five-star rated Continuing Care Retirement Community, which is related to the Church of the Brethren. Please respond to Victoria Marshall, Director of Human Resources, at Vmarshall@pinecrestcommunity.org . For more information call 815-734-4103.

-- “Keep thinking long term when it comes to your investments,” says a first-quarter greeting to members and clients of Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) from president Nevin Dulabaum. “From a market standpoint, one word that might describe the beginning of 2016 is rocky,” the letter continues. “This can be blamed on everything from China’s economy to plummeting oil prices, to the upcoming presidential election. If you are watching the headlines, you may be feeling anxious about your investments, and how this market and financial volatility going on worldwide might affect you. It’s normal to feel this way. BBT developed investment options with a long-term view in mind, and we believe you should continue thinking long term. Each January we meet with our investment managers, and we have just completed these meetings. They, too, are certainly feeling the effects of global volatility, but join us in believing that a well-balanced
portfolio is still a safe place for investments. You can be assured that our investment managers are watching these things closely, we are watching our investment managers closely, and we encourage you to watch the market closely too.... We urge you to meet with your financial planner, to establish your long-term goals and tolerance for risk, to select an asset allocation model from the funds available to you, and then stay the course, remembering that this recent
meandering by the markets is just what the markets always do.” For more about the ministries of BBT go to www.cobbt.org .

-- The next webinar in the series on “The Heart of Anabaptism” is set for Feb. 11 at 2:30 p.m. (Eastern time). The theme is “Spirituality and Economics.” Leading the event is Joanna (Jo) Frew, who will guide participants in exploring and reflecting on the interconnection of spirituality to economics. “In an individualist and consumerist culture and a world where economic injustice is rife, we are committed to finding ways of living simply, sharing generously, caring for creation and working for justice,” said an invitation. “The webinar looks at ways this conviction is practiced in communities along with its outcomes.” Frew lives and works in a house of hospitality that she and her partner run for destitute asylum seekers in the United Kingdom. For many years, she worked with the SPEAK Network on social justice campaigns and is now active in nonviolent direct action on the arms fair and Trident renewal. She holds a doctorate on the history of the British Empire in India. The webinar is free and no registration is required. Participants in the live event may receive .1 continuing education credit. Join the webinar on the day of the event by clicking on the link at http://brethren.adobeconnect.com/transformation . The webinar is jointly sponsored by the Church of the Brethren’s Congregational Life Ministries, Urban Expression UK, Center for Anabaptist Studies, Bristol Baptist College, and Mennonite Trust. Contact Stan Dueck for more information at 800-323-8039 ext. 343 or sdueck@brethren.org .

-- On Sunday, Jan. 31, Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in Littleton, Colo., hosted a presentation by Tom Mauser on the topic, "A View of Gun Violence through the Lens of the Bible.” Mauser is a new member of the church, according to an announcement, and he and his wife Linda are the parents of son Daniel, who was murdered at Columbine High School. Mauser has been lobbying for stricter gun control, and the announcement noted his ability to give “charming, good natured, and funny” presentations despite the serious subject matter and his personal tragedy, reflecting “his ability to forgive and move forward.” The Prince of Peace Church is located close to the high school where, on April 20, 1999, 13 students and teachers were murdered by the two student gunmen who then committed suicide. Some 23 more people were injured in the attack, the first to bring national attention to the problem of mass shootings at schools.

-- Shane Claiborne will lead a "Radical Christians" workshop at New Carlisle (Ohio) Church of the Brethren on March 12. "Christians are meant to be radical nonconformists, interrupting the patterns of our world with prophetic imagination--a holy counterculture,” said an invitation from the church. “The Kingdom of God is not just something we hope for when we die, but something that we are to bring on earth as it is in heaven. Let's turn off our TVs, pick up our Bibles, and rethink the way we live." Claiborne is a founder amnd board member of "The Simple Way," a faith community in inner-city Philadelphia. His career has taken him from the streets of Calcutta, India, where he worked with Mother Teresa, to the wealthy suburbs of Chicago, where he served at Willow Creek Church. As a peacemaker, he has traveled to some of the most troubled regions of the world, from Rwanda to the West Bank, and has been on peace delegations in Afghanistan and Iraq. He also has been a speaker at the Church of the Brethren’s National Youth Conference.

-- The Bridgewater Home Auxiliary will host Shrove Tuesday pancake meals at Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren on Tuesday, Feb. 9 (snow date Feb. 16). Meals will be served from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4-7 p.m.

-- Montezuma Church of the Brethren will host a program at 7 p.m. on Feb. 10, at Montezuma Hall in Dayton, Va., featuring David Radcliff of New Community Project and Peter Barlow, a church member. The two men have been traveling in Nepal with New Community Project. Their presentation will share what they have witnessed about Nepal’s recovery from the devastating earthquake and the challenges facing the country’s sex traffic victims, said an announcement. The Ears to the Ground Family Band will perform. 

-- Pacific Northwest District’s Spring Event is planned for March 4-6 in Lacey, Wash., featuring Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden leading an exploration of the theme “Story.” The theme will be explored through the sharing of stories from scripture, Brethren heritage, “and our personal lives,” said an announcement. “This gathering brings together people from across our district to celebrate what is happening in our churches, share ideas, worship, and re-connect.”

-- The 2016 Shenandoah District Peace Feast will be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 15 at Harrisonburg (Va.) First Church of the Brethren. Sponsored by the district's Pastors for Peace, the banquet is now in its sixth year, annually honoring a person or persons with the Living Peace Award. This year, Mike Phillips of Cedar Run Church of the Brethren will be recognized for his work in developing sustainable agriculture practices. Tom Benevento of New Community Project will be the guest speaker. Beth Jarrett, pastor of Harrisonburg First Church, will provide special music.

-- Rebecca Fuchs and Lisa Reinhart have joined the Board of Directors of COBYS Family Services. Fuchs is pastor of Mountville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and a 2008 graduate of Lancaster Theological Seminary. She originally graduated from Gettysburg College and worked in the mental health field for several years. Prior to becoming pastor at Mountville, she also volunteered with Encounter, a counseling and child abuse prevention program of the Lancaster County Council of Churches. Reinhart is marketing manager and preservation specialist at her family-owned business Fillmore Container. She is a member of Lampeter Church of the Brethren where she teaches elementary children, is Memorial Garden coordinator, and serves with her husband, Keith, as a deacon. COBYS Family Services educates, supports, and empowers children and adults to reach their full potential through adoption and foster care services, counseling, and family life education.

-- “Living Life Filled with the Spirit, Following a Resurrected Savior” is the title of the Lenten/Easter Spiritual Disciplines folder from the Springs of Living Water initiative for church renewal. The folder is for both individual and congregational spiritual growth.  Following up the theme of the “Come to the Well” Sabbath Rest, this folder emphasizes how to receive Christ’s invitation for Living Water and be empowered by Christ’s Spirit and walk in Christ’s ways. Gospel texts for Sundays in Lent and Easter are from Luke, following the lectionary for year C and the Brethren bulletin series, and run from Feb. 13-March 27. The folder is provided to congregations interested in following the Brethren practice of reading scripture and having daily prayer, with the entire congregation working to grow together spiritually in preparation and celebration of Easter. Sunday scriptures also can be used to coordinate preaching and worship. Vince Cable, interim pastor of Fairchance Church of the Brethren, has written Bible study questions for individual and group use. Find the folder and questions at www.churchrenewalservant.org or contact David and Joan Young at davidyoung@churchrenewalservant.org or 717-615-4515.

-- The United Nations is warning that child protection systems across Europe are completely overwhelmed as the rate of youngsters in the flood of refugees and migrants has soared to one in three--compared with one in 10 less than a year ago. The UN is calling for strengthened steps to prevent exploitation and abuse, said a release. A UNICEF spokesperson told a news briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, that although there is a great risk of trafficking, so far there has only been anecdotal evidence. She noted that for the first time since the start of the refugee crisis, the majority of those crossing from Greece into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, nearly 60 percent have been children and women. The release said that Germany and Sweden have the most thorough data on the numbers of unaccompanied children who have requested asylum--60,000 and 35,400 respectively. Effective guardianship programs for children on the move are needed every step of the way, the release said. The unaccompanied children are mainly adolescents 15-17 years old, coming primarily from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.


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Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jan Fischer Bachman, Jenn Dorsch, Scott L. Duffey, Debbie Eisenbise, Theresa Eshbach, Erika Fitz, Don Fitzkee, Bill Hammond, Gimbiya Kettering, Jeff Lennard, Donna March, Nancy Miner, Randi Rowan, Jenny Williams, Walt Wiltschek, Jim Winkler, 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 Feb. 12.

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