Newsline for Jan. 15, 2016




Wait for the Lord
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).

1) Brethren funds distribute $77,958, Brethren Disaster Ministries starts new project in West Virginia

2) Church of the Brethren among 500 groups signing letter in support of Syrian refugees

3) Manchester University reaches $1.5 million goal for endowed Peace Studies professorship

RESOURCES
4) ‘Let Us Also Go’ is theme for 2016 Lenten devotional from Brethren Press

5) Brethren bits: Remembering Marianne Michael, Brethren Woods hires program directors, Southeastern District seek district executive, Lancaster Church holds 30 years of prayer breakfasts, Nominating Committee meets, BVS announces start of Winter Orientation, Latvian Christians provide resources for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and much more


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Quote of the week:

“There’s something good about a season that depends on resurrections. Once the coming resurrection is recognized, it’s simply a matter of counting days and being prepared.”

-- Chris Bowman in the introduction to the 2016 Lenten devotional from Brethren Press, “Let Us Also Go.” See the story below or go to www.brethrenpress.com for more information and to order a copy.

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1) Brethren funds distribute $77,958, Brethren Disaster Ministries starts new project in West Virginia

A total of $77,958 has been distributed in recent grants from two funds of the Church of the Brethren, the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) and the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF). The grants provide funding for the completion of a Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuilding project in New Jersey and the start up of a new rebuilding project in West Virginia, as well as a rabbit project in Haiti and assessment of GFCF-sponsored projects in the Africa Great Lakes region.

EDF: Spotswood, N.J.

Brethren Disaster Ministries staff have directed $25,000 from the EDF to close out its rebuilding project in Spotswood, N.J. Since January 2014, volunteers have been working on home repair and rebuilding in various areas of Monmouth County, N.J., most recently with Monmouth County Long Term Recovery Group serving as primary response partner. Until the end of March 2015, this project was funded by a grant from the American Red Cross. Although the recovery work in Monmouth County is still needed, with outside funding options no longer available the local recovery group had to close at the end of 2015. Brethren Disaster Ministries will be working to close out the current project site during the last week of January 2016, preparing to move to a new location in southern West Virginia at the beginning of February for a new flood response project. This grant funds the completion of the rebuilding project in New Jersey.

EDF: Harts, W.Va.

Brethren Disaster Ministries has directed an EDF allocation of $45,000 to begin a new rebuilding project site following flooding in West Virginia in March, April, and July of 2015. More than 1,400 families in 32 counties were affected, in an area with high unemployment rates and a nearly 37 percent poverty rate in many counties, and FEMA assistance was denied for all three events, said the grant request. “An additional challenge is the record number of bridges and water crossing that were damaged or destroyed. A collaborative effort among National VOAD member organizations and committees, state and federal officials, the Army Corp of Engineers, and other public engineering and business sectors has resulted in a pilot project of 20 water crossings to be built in 4 counties.” Brethren Disaster Ministries reported that after monitoring the situation, enough unmet needs were discovered to justify a rebuilding response. Volunteers working on the West Virginia project are expected to help with traditional home repair and rebuilding, but will likely be providing assistance for a bridge project as well. This initial grant will open a new rebuilding project site in Harts, in Lincoln County, W.Va.

GFCF: Africa Great Lakes region

A GFCF grant of $4,900 is funding a program evaluation of three GFCF-sponsored projects in the Africa Great Lakes region, in the nations of Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The evaluation is to be conducted in early 2016 by the staff of Ebenezer University of Minembwe, DR Congo. This university was recommended by Charles Franzen, a member of the Westminster (Md.) Church of the Brethren and country director for World Relief's Democratic Republic of Congo programs.

GFCF: Haiti

A GFCF allocation of $3,058 covers the costs of four training events on rabbit production in Haiti. The recipient of this grant, Hares for Haiti, is a ministry of Juniper Community Missions. The organizer of the trainings, Abe Fisher, is a member of Bunkertown Church of the Brethren in McAlisterville, Pa. One of the four training events will be held for a select group of Haitian Brethren farmers at the Ministry Center of Eglise des Freres d'Haiti. Three members of the agricultural staff of Eglise de Freres d'Haiti attended a training in late 2015, and they recommended the training and feel it would be valuable.

For more about the Global Food Crisis Fund go to www.brethren.org/gfcf . For more about the Emergency Disaster Fund go to www.brethren.org/edf .

A Syrian family displaced by the violence in their home country lives in a refugee camp in Iraq, in this photo from the ACT Alliance
Photo by ACT

A Syrian family displaced by the violence in their home country lives in a refugee camp in Iraq, in this photo from the ACT Alliance

2) Church of the Brethren among 500 groups signing letter in support of Syrian refugees

The Church of the Brethren, through action of general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger and the Office of Public Witness, has signed on to a letter to the US Senate in support of Syrian refugees. The letter also expresses opposition to a piece of legislation being sent to the Senate by the House of Representatives, the “American Security Against Foreign Enemies” (SAFE) Act of 2015 (H.R. 4038).

The Church of the Brethren has a longstanding position of welcome and aid for refugees, expressed in Annual Conference statements such as the 1982 “Statement Addressing the Concern of Undocumented Persons and Refugees in the United States” (online at www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1982refugees.html ) and most recently the 2015 “Resolution on Christian Minority Communities” (online at www.brethren.org/ac/statements/2015resolutiononchristianminoritycommunities.html ).

The letter, organized by the Refugee Council USA and dated today, Jan. 15, has been signed by 199 national organizations and 295 local organizations across the United States. A number of longstanding partners of the Church of the Brethren are on the list including the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Refugee and Immigration Ministries, Church World Service, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Mennonite Central Committee US, National Council of Churches, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and the United Church of Christ, among others.

The letter opposes legislation that would stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the US. “The world is witnessing the largest refugee crisis since World War II,” the letter said, in part. “More than 4 million Syrians have fled from their home country fleeing conflict and violence, and 6.5 million are displaced internally.... Syrian refugees are fleeing exactly the kind of terror that unfolded on the streets of Paris. They have suffered violence just like this for almost five years. Most have lost loved ones to persecution and violence, in addition to having had their country, their community, and everything they own brutally taken from them.”

The letter emphasized the numerous, rigorous screenings that refugees undergo before entering the country as evidence that there is no need for Congress to impose additional restrictions or security measures. “Refugees are the most thoroughly vetted group of people who come to the United States,” the letter said. “Security screenings are rigorous and involve the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Defense, and multiple intelligence agencies. Department of Homeland Security officials interview each refugee to determine whether they meet the refugee definition and whether they are admissible to the United States.”

The letter also emphasized the traditional American value of hospitality for those in need: “Refugees have enriched communities across our country and have been part of the American fabric for generations. Historically our nation has responded to every major war or conflict and has resettled refugees from Africa, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, as well as the Middle East. Closing the door to refugees would be disastrous for not only the refugees themselves, but their family members in the United States who are waiting for them to arrive, and our reputation in the world.”

A related action alert from the Refugee Council USA calls on supporters to contact their senators before a schedule Senate vote on the bill on Jan. 20.

Find the full text of the letter and list of groups that have signed it at www.rcusa.org/uploads/Sign-on%20Letter%20Protecting%20Syrian%20Refugees%20Opposing%20SAFE%20Act%20-%201.15.16%20%281%29.pdf . Find the action alert at www.rcusa.org/uploads/Senate%20Alert%20NO%20on%20HR%204038%201.13.16.pdf .

Peace studies pioneer Gladdys Muir

Peace studies pioneer Gladdys Muir

3) Manchester University reaches $1.5 million goal for endowed Peace Studies professorship

By Anne Gregory, from a Manchester release

Manchester University president Dave McFadden announced today, Jan. 15, that the $1.5 million goal has been reached to establish the Gladdys Muir Endowed Professorship in Peace Studies. Gladdys Muir, a member of the Church of the Brethren, launched the nation’s first undergraduate peace studies program at Manchester in 1948. Her groundbreaking program, which examined issues of interpersonal conflict and structural injustice, was so visionary that 23 years passed before another US institution followed her lead.

“Muir believed that if she planted the seeds of creative nonviolence in the hearts of her students, that they would scatter those potent ideas across the globe. Indeed, over the years, many Manchester graduates have done just that,” McFadden said.

Because it is an endowed fund, the principal will remain invested, with the earnings intended to secure the professorship in perpetuity. The university will seek broad input to develop a job description and expects to launch a national search in the second half of 2016. 

“An endowed professorship is a prestigious achievement for us and aligns closely with our strategic priorities,” McFadden said. “Peace studies is distinctively Manchester. This new position will encourage scholarship and effective teaching, and strengthen our ability to educate students across disciplinary boundaries. What’s more, it further enhances our reputation as a global leader in peace studies education.”

This milestone has been years in the making. A Peace Studies Advisory Council first recommended an endowed professorship in 1992. Major support first came in 2002 from Lilly Endowment Inc., through its Plowshares program, followed by many individual gifts from alumni and friends.

In the closing days of December 2015 and with $46,000 to go toward the $1.5 million goal, an anonymous donor offered to match, dollar for dollar, year-end gifts up to $25,000. Through the generosity of many dedicated alumni and donors, members of the Office of Advancement reached the goal around 4:20 p.m. Dec. 31--with 40 minutes to spare.

“Manchester is deeply grateful to all of those people--too numerous to name here--who nurtured the idea for this professorship. I would, however, like to extend a special thank you to my predecessor, Jo Young Switzer, for shepherding this vision throughout her presidency,” McFadden said.

Manchester University, with campuses in North Manchester and Fort Wayne, Ind., offers more than 60 areas of academic study to 1,500 students in undergraduate programs, a Master of Athletic Training, a Master of Science in Pharmacogenomics, and a four-year professional Doctor of Pharmacy. Learn more about the private, northern Indiana school grounded in the values and traditions of the Church of the Brethren at www.manchester.edu .

-- Anne Gregory works in media relations at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind.

RESOURCES

4) ‘Let Us Also Go’ is theme for 2016 Lenten devotional from Brethren Press

The 2016 Lenten devotional from Brethren Press is written by Chris Bowman and titled, “Let Us Also Go: Devotions for Ash Wednesday Through Easter.” Brethren Press publishes a Lenten and Advent devotional each year, in a pocket-sized format suitable for individual use and for congregations to supply to their members.

“Followers of Jesus, after all, follow Jesus,” said an explanation of the theme for the Lenten devotional. “And if he’s headed toward the cross, so will we. As Thomas said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him’ (John 11:16). This is the moment of discipleship where faithfulness is primary and consequence becomes secondary.”

Author Chris Bowman is lead pastor of Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren, and was moderator of the 2004 Annual Conference. He also served as chair of the Church of the Brethren General Board from 1997-98.

The devotional booklet includes daily devotions, scripture texts, and prayers for each day of the Lenten season from Ash Wednesday, Feb. 10, through Easter Sunday, March 27. Cost per copy is $2.75, or $5.95 for large print. Order online at www.brethrenpress.com or from Brethren Press customer service at 800-441-3712.

5) Brethren bits

Latvian Christians provide resources for the 2016 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Above: Latvian Christians have created the resources for this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This is a photo of Latvia’s oldest baptismal font, which stands at the very center of the Lutheran Cathedral in the country’s capital, Riga, speaking "eloquently of the relationship between baptism and proclamation, and the calling shared by all the baptized to proclaim the mighty acts

The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is set to begin on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, Jan. 18. The week is celebrated every year from Jan. 18-25 in the northern hemisphere, or at Pentecost in the southern hemisphere. It is sponsored by the World Council of Churches with leadership from a different country each year. “As they prepared materials for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2016, Christians in Latvia reflected on this year’s theme from 1 Peter 2:9, ‘Called to proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord,’” said a WCC release. Since 1968, liturgical and biblical resources for the week of prayer have been coordinated jointly by the World Council of Churches Commission on Faith and Order and the Roman Catholic Church through its Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The organizers are proposing three questions for reflection during this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: How do we understand our common call to be “God’s people”? In what ways do we see and respond to God’s “mighty acts”: in worship and song, in work for justice and peace? Knowing the mercy of God, how do we engage in social and charitable projects with other Christians? Resources are available in English, French, German, and Spanish, and include an introduction to the theme. Local congregations are encouraged to adapt the theme in their own local liturgical, social, and cultural contexts. Materials are also available through a new app in collaboration between the WCC and YouVersion, developer of the “Bible App.” For more information go to www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/week-of-prayer/week-of-prayer . Find the app at www.bible.com/reading-plans/2120-week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity-2016 .  

-- Remembrance: Marianne K. Michael, 98, a former mission worker in Nigeria, passed away on Dec. 17, 2015, in Iowa City, Iowa. She had served with her husband Herbert Michael as a Church of the Brethren missionary for 13 years from 1948-61, working at the mission headquarters in the village of Garkida. Her primary work in Nigeria was with women and girls, visiting in homes and teaching Bible, literacy, and sewing classes to women who had not had an opportunity to attend school, and founding and supervising Girls Life Brigade clubs. She was born in Guthrie County, Iowa, on Sept. 14, 1917, to Charles and Helen McLellan Krueger, and grew up on the family farm. She was a graduate of McPherson (Kan.) College, where she also worked as secretary to the college president. Later in her career she also attended Bethany Bible School in Chicago. After teaching high school for a time, she married Herbert D. Michael on May 28, 1944, and joined him at a Civilian Public Service camp for conscientious objectors during World War II. Their oldest child, son Jan, was born while they lived in a tent along the shore of the Columbia River at Cascade Locks in the Columbia Gorge in Oregon. During her time in Nigeria, she also wrote articles for the denominational magazine, then called the “Gospel Messenger.” After returning from Nigeria to Iowa, she earned her master’s degree in social work at the University of Iowa and was a social worker at University Hospital until age 70. In recent years she continued her interest “in all the Nigeria news,” said a remembrance from her family. She is survived by her children Jan Michael and Susan Garzon of Stillwater, Okla.; Rosemary Michael and Robert Wennerholm of Iowa City, Iowa; Peter and Donna Barr Michael of Indianapolis, Ind.; and Elizabeth Michael of Iowa City; grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband Herbert in 2013. Memorial gifts are received to the Nigeria Crisis Fund and to the Free Lunch Program of Iowa City. A full obituary may be found at www.lensingfuneral.com/obituaries/obituary-listings?obId=691271#/obituaryInfo .

-- Brethren Woods has announced the hiring of new program directors Tim Heishman and Katie (Cummings) Heishman, starting on March 1.  The couple are second-year students at Bethany Theological Seminary. Both have served in Brethren Volunteer Service at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., and have helped coordinate National Youth Conference. Katie was a summer counselor at both Brethren Woods and Camp Bethel. Tim spent three summers at Camp Swatara and was a member of the 2010 Youth Peace Travel Team. Brethren Woods is a camp and retreat center in Shenandoah District.

-- The Church of the Brethren’s Southeastern District is seeking a district executive. This is a half-time position which could be filled by an individual or a team. The position is available Aug. 1. The district includes 42 congregations in the states of Alabama, South Carolina, and Tennessee, and a portion of the states of North Carolina and Virginia. The churches are in rural settings, with many small congregations. The district also has two camps, one in Linville, N.C., and the other in Blountville, Tenn. The preferred candidate is someone who upholds the teachings of the New Testament and recognizes that the Bible is the inspired word of God. Responsibilities include to serve as executive officer of the District Board, giving general oversight to the planning and implementation of the ministries as directed by District Conference and the District Board; interpret and share the guidance, direction, and polity of Annual Conference, providing a link between the congregations/district and the wider church by working collaboratively with Annual Conference, its agencies, and their staff; assist congregations and ministers with pastoral placement; encourage pastors and congregations to have open communication and good working relationships; articulate and promote the vision and mission of the district; facilitate and encourage the calling and training of persons to set-apart ministry and lay leadership. Qualifications include strong personal faith expressed through membership in and commitment to the Church of the Brethren; commitment to the vision, mission, and statements of Southeastern District; ordination, with a minimum of five years of pastoral experience; commitment to the New Testament and its values; strong administration and communication skills; experience in leadership development and church growth; following biblical precepts in problem solving, addressing the needs of all parties involved for peaceful, Godly solutions. Apply by sending a letter of interest and a resume via e-mail to officeofministry@brethren.org . Applicants are requested to contact three or four people to provide letters of reference. Upon receipt of the resume, the applicant will be sent a candidate profile that must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. The application deadline is March 11.

-- This week the Conference Office has welcomed the Nominating Committee of Standing Committee to the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., for the committee’s annual meeting. The committee members are George Bowers of Woodstock, Va.; Jaime Diaz of Adjuntas, P.R.; Duane Grady of Goshen, Ind.; Kathy Mack of Rochester, Minn.; Jim Myer of Lititz, Pa.; Roger Schrock of Mountain Grove, Mo.; Ellen Wile of Hurlock, Md.; John Willoughby of Wyoming, Mich. Annual Conference secretary James Beckwith also meets with the committee. The announcement asked, “Please keep them in prayer as they go about their important work for the denomination.”

-- Brethren Volunteer Service is announcing the start of the 2016 BVS Winter Orientation to be held Jan. 24-Feb. 12 at Camp Ithiel in Gotha, Fla. This orientation will be the 312th unit of BVS and will consist of seven volunteers from across the United States. Church of the Brethren members will attend, and the remaining volunteers come from varied faith backgrounds, adding a healthy diversity to the group’s orientation experience. A BVS Potluck is open to all those who are interested on Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 6 p.m. at Camp Ithiel. “Please feel free to come and welcome the new BVS volunteers and to share your own experiences. An evening of contra dancing will follow,” said an invitation from the BVS office. For more information contact the BVS office at 847-429-4384. The announcement also requested prayers for the new volunteers: “As always your thoughts and prayers are welcome and needed. Please remember this new unit and the people they will touch during their year of service through BVS.”

-- The Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC) has announced the first of two continuing education events on the topic “Memory Care.” The first event will be held on April 4, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., at the Nicarry Meetinghouse at the Brethren Home in New Oxford, Pa., with a focus on “Memory Care: Embracing the Journey.” Jennifer Holcomb will lead this course exploreing 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, the physical changes that take place in the brain, and the need for sensitivity throughout the aging process, aiming to prepare students for interactions with those diagnosed with a neurocognitive disorder. Students will participate in hands-on experiences throughout this course. A second workshop will be offered on July 25. Attendance at both is helpful, but not required. The registration deadline is March 17. Register online at www.universe.com/events/memory-care-embracing-the-journey-tickets-new-oxford-JKPCVF . The registration fee of $60 includes a continental breakfast, lunch, and .5 continuing education units.

-- The latest issue of the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) newsletter reports on development of community gardens by Tokahookaadi Church of the Brethren congregation and the Lybrook Community Ministries at Lybrook, N.M. An article by James Therrien reports that “the gardening focus for the 2015 season was to reach out to the community and try to establish two small gardens located on the reservation. The mission has two garden spots on the mission and we are assisting with two gardens on the reservation. Our responsibility is to supply water when needed and assist in any other areas such as tilling, planting, and harvesting. The only thing the mission asks in return is for these families to give 10 percent percent of the produce in the gardens to families in the community. They have also have agreed to assist next year in establishing two more gardens at different locations.” More about the work of Lybrook Community Ministries can be found at www.lcmmission.org .

-- Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is celebrating a record 1,500-plus prayer breakfasts over 30 years, according to an article by Earle Cornelius in Lancaster Online. “On a brutally cold Wednesday morning 30 years ago, 16 people gathered for a prayer breakfast at Lancaster Church of the Brethren.... On Saturday, the group will hold a special prayer breakfast to commemorate having met every week for the past 30 years,” he reported. The breakfast will be held at 8 a.m., prayers will be offered at 8:30, with closing remarks at 9:30. Jack Crowley, president of Water Street Ministries, will be the keynote speaker. Read the full article at http://lancasteronline.com/features/faith_values/lancaster-church-of-the-brethren-still-going-strong-after-prayer/article_a96d6c1c-bb9a-11e5-be9e-93648ecb219c.html .

-- Mid-Atlantic District has announced a mission of building a Habitat for Humanity house for a family in need in Washington County, Md. A Ground Breaking Service has been scheduled for noon on Saturday, March 19, at the site in Hagerstown, Md. The district is inviting each of its congregation to send a representative, and has announced a goal to $65,000 to complete the new house by Advent 2016.

-- Virlina District’s Pilgrimage XX will be held April 1-3 at Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va.. “Pilgrimage is a spiritual retreat for adults of all ages, and God is working through this ministry in wonderful ways,” said an announcement. “The structure of the weekend includes talks, small groups, fun times, inspiring worship services, and much more. God knows where we are on our spiritual journey, and He meets us right there. Whether you need peace, or joy, or forgiveness, or encouragement, or hope, or revival, or a little extra time with Him...He gives more than we even desire.” The district is inviting prayerful consideration “if this is your year to attend.” For more information go to www.experiencepilgrimage.com or contact Karen Haynes at 336-765-5263 or haynesmk1986@yahoo.com .

-- Daniel D’Oleo, a Church of the Brethren pastor and leader in the Renacer movement of Hispanic congregations, has published a commentary piece titled “Latino Voices: Five Reasons Why the Church Matters to Roanoke's Latino Community. The piece appeared on LaConexionVa.org , and cited the nature of the Latino immigrant population as “a very devoted community with a deep faith,” that sees the church “as more than just a place of worship.... For Latino immigrants, “faith goes with them without regard to the experiences emigration has given them. It seems to me that the experiences of immigrants intensify the need to see more in the church than just a place of worship.” Read the full commentary at http://laconexionva.org/en/content/latino-voices-5-reasons-why-church-matters-roanokes-latino-community .

-- Peggy Reiff Miller is publicizing a newly revised and updated website focused on the experience and history of the Seagoing Cowboys who helped transport heifers and other animals to places of need through the Church of the Brethren’s Heifer Project--now Heifer International. The website is “up and running,” she wrote in a Facebook announcement. “Still some tweaks to do, but it feels like a milestone passed. Check it out.” The website is titled, “Seagoing Cowboys: Delivering Hope to a War-Torn World,” and may be found at http://seagoingcowboys.com .

-- Christian Peacemaker Teams is publicizing three CPT Colombia delegations for 2016. “Sign up now!” said an announcement. The three delegations are planned for:
     May 28-June 11 to the Las Pavas community where community members repeatedly have been displaced from their land over the last 20 years by various different armed groups including most recently a palm oil company named Aportes San Isidro. The theme of the delegation is “Free Trade Agreements and Human Rights.”
     June 16-30 to El Guayabo, where 250 families have been working the land to provide sustenance for themselves for more than 30 years. “They have lived peaceably up until two years ago when they found themselves in the middle of a land dispute. By standing up for their right to remain on the land, members of the Guayabo community have received death threats, received brutal treatment from the police, and face a daily fear of displacement from their homes,” said the announcement. The theme of the delegation is “The Phenomenon of Land Grabbing.”
     Sept. 10-24 to Garzal and Nueva Esperanza, two farming communities along the banks of the Magdalena River. “These fertile and prosperous lands have been at the epicenter of a civil war in Colombia for over 50 years. Constant threats from demobilized paramilitaries make life difficult on the land, and the farming community lives in a perpetual state of fear. The state has declared that these lands belong to small farmers, but the titles are caught up in corrupt bureaucracy.... These communities attribute their perseverance to their strong Christian faith...as the country moves through a process of peace negotiations,” said the announcement. The theme of the delegation is “Conflict, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation.”
     The fundraising expectation for participants is $2,800, which includes round-trip airfare from a designated US or Canadian city. Those planning to travel from other countries should contact the CPT office. CPT has limited funds available for scholarships to assist applicants who otherwise couldn’t participate. CPT is committed to undoing racism and will give preference to funding assistance applicants from communities which have been disadvantaged by racism. Physical rigors are involved in most CPT delegations, which could involve hiking in mud, heat, or mountains, hours-long trips by boat or truck, and generally long days. Contact peacemakers@cpt.org or go to www.cpt.org for more information.

-- Michael Himlie, a Church of the Brethren member from Harmony, Minn., and David Jones of Wickenburg, Ariz., are planning a bicycle expedition in 2016 to raise money for peace organizations. “They hope to raise $100,000 for Christian Peacemaker Teams and other organizations devoted to nonviolence,” said a CPT release. The two met last year in Israel/Palestine while participating in a delegation with Christian Peacemaker Teams. Jones, age 60, is retired from the healthcare software industry; Himlie, age 22, is a student at Manchester University in Indiana. They came up with the idea of riding 100 miles in each state over 50 consecutive days. “We are calling it ‘Fifty Centuries in Fifty States in Fifty Consecutive Days,’” said Jones. In May they fly to Hawaii for the first leg of the journey, which starts at midnight on Saturday, May 14. They will ride the same route as those competing in the Ironman Triathlon on the big island of Hawaii. Immediately after completing this initial leg they will fly to Los Angeles to begin riding in the lower 48 states, using support vehicle and drivers to drive them from state to state following each day’s ride. They hope to to stay in churches and community centers in each state. Their route around the lower 48 states will end in Portland, Ore., from where they will fly to Anchorage, Alaska, for the final day of the ride on Saturday, July 2. Find out more at www.cpt.org/biking-for-peace . For more information contact David Jones at 928-415-1037 or david@bikingforpeace.org .

-- The National Council of Churches (NCC) has issued a statement applauding new limits on gun purchasing. The NCC “expresses its gratitude and appreciation for President Obama’s bold announcement of an executive order strengthening background checks and limiting access to loopholes for gun sales in the United States,” said an NCC release. “We applaud him also for his order to provide new funding for access to mental health care, and for additional personnel to perform background checks. We urge Congress to allow these restrictions to remain in place. We hope that, with God’s help, these measures will save lives.” The release added, in part: “While we are grateful for the measures that have been taken, we are aware that additional action is required. The ‘Gun Show Loophole’ needs to be closed completely. Every gun sale should be preceded by a background check. Guns should not be sold to persons on terrorist no-fly lists.” The statement noted that this is not a new position for the organization to take, as the NCC has for decades called for a reduction in gun violence in the nation. Read the full statement at http://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/ncc-applauds-new-gun-rules .

 

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Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jeff Boshart, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, Anne Gregory, Jon Kobel, Steven D. Martin, Rosemary Michael, Nancy Miner, Stan Noffsinger, Jonathan Shively, Jocelyn Snyder, Walt Wiltschek, 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 Jan. 22.

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