Newsline for June 24, 2016




“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).

Carry the Light, logo for the 2016 Annual Conference

Preparing for Annual Conference:

“Reflejando el rostro de Dios: Queridos hermanos y hermanas, Mi última nota a ustedes venía con un corazón más ligero. Hoy, como yo estoy de luto con nuestro país por la tragedia en Orlando quiero compartir una vez más, ahora con una tristeza y urgencia motivada por nuestro remordimiento nacional. Probablemente no es necesario que yo añade a la especulación sobre lo que tenemos que hacer como país. Quiero hablar de lo que podemos hacer como Iglesia, sobre todo cuando nos aproximamos a reunirnos en Greensboro...” www.brethren.org/news/2016/reflejando-el-rostro-de-Dios.html

Above: The moderator’s letter following on the Orlando gun massacre has been translated into Spanish at www.brethren.org/news/2016/reflejando-el-rostro-de-Dios.html . The letter in English continues to be available at www.brethren.org/news/2016/reflecting-the-face-of-god.html .

Brethren are invited to provide continuous prayer during Annual Conference and pre-Conference meetings that take place in Greensboro, N.C., beginning Sunday, June 26. This effort is organized by Annual Conference chaplain Karen B. Cassell. An online site helps choose specific times during which to commit to hold Annual Conference in prayer (all information is confidential and only available to Cassell as administrator of the site). Go to
www.signupgenius.com/go/10c084aacab2aa3f58-intercessory . Those without Internet access are invited to set aside a time to pray for Annual Conference any time from June 26-July 3.

Intercultural Ministries is looking for extra help translating Annual Conference business sessions and worship services for Spanish-speaking participants. There will be a sign up sheet at the translation table in the main meetingroom, or contact Gimbiya Kettering, director of Intercultural Ministries, at gkettering@brethren.org .

Follow events at Annual Conference at www.brethren.org/news/2016/ac where onsite coverage begins June 27. This news index page will feature links to news stories posted from Greensboro, photo albums of the Conference, links to webcasts of business and worship, bulletins and sermon texts, a two-page Wrap Up to download in pdf format after the Conference ends, and more. Look for a full review of the 2016 Annual Conference in the next regularly scheduled Newsline, to appear July 5.

Delegates are invited to purchase the Conference wrap up videos from Brethren Press: the Annual Conference Wrap Up DVD with highlights from Greensboro, created by videographer David Sollenberger ($29.95, save $10 off the price by ordering before July 2) and the Annual Conference Sermons DVD ($24.95). Call Brethren Press at 800-441-3712 or use the order form in the delegate packet


NEWS
1) On Earth Peace issues response to queries coming to Annual Conference
2) Global Food Initiative announces new name for continuing program, new gardening grants
3) Children’s Disaster Services sends third team to Houston, Orlando team completes service

4) Brethren bits: Former general secretary named to staff of WCC, Bethany hires admissions counselor, Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center seeks executive, BHLA celebrates Quinter, and more


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Quotes of the week:

“Jesus calls us to the law of love that is equally expressed between our enemies and our friends.  It knows no differentiation.”

-- Words shared in the opening worship service of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee by Gloria Ulloa Alvarado of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, and a WCC president for Latin America and the Carribean. The WCC Central Committee meeting being held in Trondheim, Norway, is “themed around discerning new landscapes in its Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace,” said a WCC release. In order to highlight the theme of pilgrimage and to prepare for the meeting, Knut Refsdal, general secretary of the Christian Council of Norway, spent nearly a month walking the 643 k.m. St. Olav’s Way, a medieval pilgrim route. “The pilgrimage enabled Refsdal to meet and walk with persons of very different orientations and convictions,” the release reported, “for example, walking with a Pentecostal minister and an imam. Walking together, says Refsdal, forces one to concentrate not on differences between pilgrims but on the shared basics of food, water, and battling tiredness. ‘We just became fellow human beings,’ he said. His pilgrimage...also enabled him to realize ‘that the potential in churches is strong enough to invite collaboration with other organizations, and all people of good will, to work together to sustain local communities.’”


“The difficulties encountered in the historic gathering are the kind of labors that yield mutual understanding and appreciation.”

-- From a WCC report on the Holy and Great Council of Orthodox Christian leaders from around the world, held this week on the island of Crete. Ten of the world’s 14 self-governing Orthodox churches are present at the council. It has been a half-century since the last such event, and the agenda for this council has been discussed for more than 50 years.

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1) On Earth Peace issues response to queries coming to Annual Conference

On Earth Peace leadership has issued a written response to the queries about the agency that are coming to this year’s Church of the Brethren Annual Conference. The On Earth Peace response was distributed in an e-newsletter earlier this week, and is signed by Bill Scheurer, executive director, and Jordan Bles, board chair.

In related news, On Earth Peace is requesting the aid of supporters during the Conference, and is giving suggestions for action. On Earth Peace is requesting supporters who will be at the Conference to sign up online at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ZN4vWUT-mGtg-QciLwNqjvnZmbXWMisrjk6CdmDNFU0 .

On Earth Peace response to queries

The On Earth Peace document follows in full, and also may be found at http://files.ctctcdn.com/0c07cc78001/e5e62796-05ca-4dff-b221-4636d0cb8527.pdf :


June 16, 2016

Brothers and Sisters,

Since 1974, when Brother MR Zigler brought together people seeking a renewing of the Church of the Brethren’s historic peace witness in New Windsor, MD, On Earth Peace has strived to continue being just that - a place where the historic peace witness of the Church of the Brethren can continue to be renewed, refreshed, and lived out in the church and society around us.

Today that witness is borne out in the work of the Ministry of Reconciliation, teaching and leading healthy, faithful responses to conflict; young peacebuilders, developing leadership for peace in each new generation; and through nonviolent social change, nurturing spirit-filled discipleship and active response to violence.

On Earth Peace continues to work within the Church of the Brethren and throughout our communities, building communities of practice in all of these areas. We continue to seek a renewing of the historical peace witness of the Church of the Brethren, and continue to equip followers of Jesus Christ to live that witness out.

In 1998, On Earth Peace became an official agency of the Church of the Brethren - although we felt before and continue to feel today that we are an integral part of the church, and that the church is an integral part of us. Our work continues to be grounded in the historic peace witness of the church, and we seek continuing and new ways to live that out within our churches, our districts, and our denomination, and in our communities, our nation, and our world.

At our 2016 spring board meeting, we adopted a set of values as a board and staff. These values of Christ-like love, reconciliation, justice, active nonviolence, relationship, beloved community, multiplicity of gifts, safe space, and integrity are values that we seek to live not only through our work, but in the way we do our work with each other.

These values are first and foremost Brethren values - well before they are On Earth Peace values. The Church of the Brethren, and the peace witness it represents, are what gave birth to On Earth Peace, and the home that continues to nourish the work of peace that our world so desperately needs.

Below, we strive to answer the concerns expressed in the queries from the West Marva and Southeastern Districts, sharing our clarifications, perspectives. As always, we welcome conversation. We, as On Earth Peace, look forward to continuing our journey together with the Church of the Brethren, seeking to continue the work of Jesus - simply, peacefully, and together.

In God’s Peace,

Jordan Bles, Board Chair
Bill Scheurer, Executive Director


West Marva District Query: On Earth Peace Reportability/Accountability to Annual Conference

Whereas the 1998 Annual Conference delegate body adopted the On Earth Peace Assembly Request for Reportability/Accountability to Annual Conference. Included in their request was a statement to: “commit itself to providing ministry that is within the scope of Annual Conference directives and congruent with articulated values of the Church of the Brethren.” On Earth Peace further stated, “If Annual Conference agency status is granted, the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference is now advised of On Earth Peace Assembly’s intent and commitment to work honorably, as a full program partner, to further build the institution of the Church of the Brethren and the peaceful kingdom of God here on earth as in heaven.”

Whereas during its 2011 fall meeting, the On Earth Peace board of directors issued the following statement of inclusion: We are troubled by attitudes and actions in the church, which exclude persons on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or any other aspect of human identity. We believe God calls the church to welcome all persons into full participation in the life of the faith community.

Our board and staff have discussed concerns regarding exclusion of women, people of color, and LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or queer (and/or questioning)) individuals for several years. The 2011 Annual Conference was especially difficult for so many in our denomination, not just because of the subject matter at hand, but also because of the language and actions made at the conference. Unkind and aggressive words were used on all sides of the issue, but the death threat made to an openly gay member of our denomination is especially disheartening, saddening, and deplorable. While the 2011 Annual Conference was the most recent example that moved us to make a statement, it was definitely not the only impetus.

Our statement includes two sentences. The first expresses our deep concern about un-Christ-like actions and attitudes, and the second expresses a belief in the church's call to follow the teachings and examples of Jesus as we see him in scripture. Our statement came as a result of a prayerful and careful consensus process, where seeking the mind of Christ was our utmost concern. We would ask no less of ourselves, knowing that a similar dilemma faced the original 8 Brethren as they engaged civil disobedience to be rebaptized.

When the 2011 Annual Conference re-affirmed the 1983 Statement, Human Sexuality from a Christian Perspective, we took heed that the statement encourages relationship and open communication rather than exclusion. We believe we are acting in accord with that counsel.

Whereas the 2015 On Earth Peace flyer that accompanied the On Earth Peace report in the Annual Conference packet referenced the scripture, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, She has anointed me to…” referring to God as “She.” This same flyer includes a picture of a rainbow-scarved pastor and the concept of “Inclusion.”

[Using “she” to reference “The Spirit of the Lord”] is not an attempt to reinterpret, misinterpret, or retranslate scripture. The Hebrew, in which Isaiah was written, the word for Spirit is a feminine noun. Our intent was to raise questions of gender around the Holy Spirit. Is the Holy Spirit gendered? If so, what does that mean for a spirit? If not, what does it say about us that we traditionally use male language when referring to all persons of the Trinity, and how does this affect how we structure our church and our society? Recovering this biblical understanding could help us to recognize that all, women and men, are created in the image of God. Brethren, in line with our 1979 Statement on Biblical Authority and Inspiration, read and interpret scripture in community. We hope that our reading of this scripture adds to our community conversation about how we live out scripture today.

On Earth Peace, in line with our 2011 statement, will continue to work for the welcome and inclusion of all believers and seekers into the life of the church. We also hope that the rainbow is seen the way God used it with Noah - not as a symbol of division, but as one of healing, restoration, and covenant not to destroy, but to live in relationship. A covenant made flesh in Jesus Christ.

Whereas the On Earth Peace website Ministers of Reconciliation page states “Ministers of Reconciliation are a diverse group of trained volunteers who serve the church by being present and attentive, ready to respond where confusion, conflict or negative emotions are causing a problem in the gathered body.” Yet, while the declared intent is to work through conflict and resolve disputes, On Earth Peace, since 2011, through reports, statements, and actions, has brought more tension than peace.

Therefore we the Bear Creek Church of the Brethren of Accident, Md., convened in congregational business meeting on August 9, 2015, petition the Annual Conference through the West Marva District Conference meeting at Moorefield, W.Va., September 18-19, 2015, to consider if it is the will of Annual Conference for On Earth Peace to remain an agency of the Church of the Brethren with reportability and accountability to Annual Conference.
-- Joyce Lander, Church Board Chair; Linda Sanders, Church Clerk

On Earth Peace confesses to being an organization comprised of fallible human beings who often fall short of their aim to glorify God. Any pain our words or actions have caused has been unintentional. We regret the pain. We regret that out of the pain of our own brokenness we have not always articulated or engaged tension and conflict well or effectively.

This being said, we name that there is also pain borne out in those who have been excluded from the life of the church. Pain that has existed for generations, and which too often goes unrecognized by the body.

Furthermore, we do not regret tension and conflict. We recognize that these are not inherently bad things. When there is brokenness, the path to peace and reconciliation often means acknowledging and working through tension and conflict. We lament our brokenness, and therefore we stand in hope for what we believe God has in store for us.

Conflict is complex and uncomfortable at best and painful at worst, but it is the only way to get from brokenness to peace. We are willing to enter the struggle together. We are not willing to close our eyes and our ears and our mouths to injustice.

A definition of constructive conflict which might be helpful comes from the Ministry of Reconciliation Discipleship & Reconciliation Committee Handbook, 1995, excerpt from Chapter 8, “Intervening in Conflict: A Comprehensive Model” by Jim Yaussy Albright. “Redefining conflict has implications for understanding the work of intervention in church conflict. Clearly, it is not the goal of intervention to eliminate conflict. Logically, then, neither is the goal to identify and punish the person or persons who caused conflict. Rather, the goal is to preserve the authenticity of the individual and the integrity of the community; to, in effect, redeem the differences.”

Southeastern District Query: Viability of On Earth Peace as an Agency of the Church of the Brethren

Whereas: The Church of the Brethren is and has been a living peace church since 1708; and

Whereas: Ministries of peace, non-violence, and justice for all are a concern of the denomination; and

Whereas: Both the staff of the Church of the Brethren, Inc. and On Earth Peace seem to have overlapping responsibilities and ministries, and

It is certainly true that the Church of the Brethren exists as a living peace church, and our ministries of peace, nonviolence, and justice are a concern for all of us as a denomination. We do not, however, believe that it is true that the Church of the Brethren, Inc., and On Earth Peace have overlapping responsibilities and ministries.

The Ministry of Reconciliation, our nonviolent social change ministry, and young peacemakers programs such as Agape-Satyagraha Training and Peace Retreats, particularly through our community of practice model, have no duplication within the ministries of Church of the Brethren, Inc., - much as their ministries of church planting and church growth, Brethren Disaster Ministries, and others find no duplication in our work. While we certainly collaborate on ministries such as Youth Peace Travel Teams, these ministries are true collaborations, and not duplications of resources and efforts.

On Earth Peace celebrates anything the CoB Inc does in the realm of peace and justice, given our shared identity as agencies serving and equipping a living peace church.

However, given that Christian peacemaking ministry is our sole commitment, On Earth Peace has maintained the denomination's most consistent and broad programming and staff for peace-focused ministries in the Church of the Brethren. Indeed, renewing the church's heritage of peace was the genesis of our ministry in 1974, and the concept of the renewal of the Church of the Brethren identifying as a “living peace church” came directly through the active ministry of On Earth Peace in 2003.

Whereas: The recent actions of On Earth Peace, during the last three years, have brought more conflict in the denomination and reflect their unwillingness to follow Annual Conference mandates or directives; and

On Earth Peace confesses to being an organization comprised of fallible human beings who often fall short of their aim to glorify God. Any pain our words or actions have caused has been unintentional. We regret the pain. We regret that out of the pain of our own brokenness we have not always articulated or engaged tension and conflict well or effectively.

This being said, we name that there is also pain borne out in those who have been excluded from the life of the church. Pain that has existed for generations, and which too often goes unrecognized by the body.

Furthermore, we do not regret tension and conflict. We recognize that these are not inherently bad things. When there is brokenness, the path to peace and reconciliation often means acknowledging and working through tension and conflict. We lament our brokenness, and therefore we stand in hope for what we believe God has in store for us.

Conflict is complex and uncomfortable at best and painful at worst, but it is the only way to get from brokenness to peace. We are willing to enter the struggle together. We are not willing to close our eyes and our ears and our mouths to injustice.

“Redefining conflict has implications for understanding the work of intervention in church conflict. Clearly, it is not the goal of intervention to eliminate conflict. Logically, then, neither is the goal to identify and punish the person or persons who caused conflict. Rather, the goal is to preserve the authenticity of the individual and the integrity of the community; to, in effect, redeem the differences.”
-From the Ministry of Reconciliation Discipleship & Reconciliation Committee Handbook, 1995, excerpt from Chapter 8, “Intervening in Conflict: A Comprehensive Model” by Jim Yaussy Albright.

Whereas: The denomination’s diminishing membership and reduction of resources reflects the need for less structure and more efficient administration.

Therefore: We the Hawthorne Church of the Brethren, who met on July 19, 2015, petition the Southeastern District Church of the Brethren District Board to review and evaluate the question “Would the denomination be better served by dissolving On Earth Peace as an agency of Annual Conference and their responsibilities integrated into the general work of the staff of the Church of the Brethren, Inc.?”

When given the opportunity to join the Church of the Brethren, Inc, On Earth Peace made a conscious decision not to do so - recognizing that peace and justice programming was often what was cut when funding became tight. The reason On Earth Peace was removed from the (then) General Board in 1998 was, in part, so that those who wanted to support OEP’s unique ministry could do so and those who disagreed (for a variety of reasons) could focus their support on the denomination’s other ministries.

From the 2001 Report of the Review and Evaluation Committee: “For over a decade we have gradually moved in that direction, and our denomination has changed substantially from unified giving to designated giving to those programs which individuals and congregations wish to support. The recent redesign and dismantling of many of the General Board's responsibilities, and Annual Conference's recognition of separate agencies, are a direct result of that direction [...] The Committee suggests that as a denomination we need to recognize that this new direction allows for and expects separate programs to enlist our support. It now becomes important for local churches and individuals to become aware of the programs offered, to receive a variety of requests, and to give due attention to equitable support to the entire denominational program. It becomes important for the various agencies to be cognizant of the solicitation load to which constituents are asked to respond and, if possible, find ways to collaborate on funding.

The reality is that the presence of On Earth Peace as an agency of Annual Conference is not diverting funds from other parts of the Church of the Brethren community. In fact, it is preserving it, while at the same time attracting new sources of funding and new people into the movement. Without On Earth Peace, Church of the Brethren donors would look outside the denomination to support the work we carry out.

Any attempt to dissolve On Earth Peace as an agency, and to ask the Church of the Brethren, Inc., to pick up the work of our existing ministry, would cause greater pressure on a dwindling staff in Elgin, and result in an overall loss of peace and justice ministry and funding within the Church of the Brethren as a whole.

2) Global Food Initiative announces new name for continuing program, new gardening grants

Global Food Initiative logo banner

Global Food Initiative (GFI) has been announced as the new name for the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF). The program of the former GFCF continues under the new name, and with a new logo and a redesigned website.

In related news, GFI has made a number of grants supporting Church of the Brethren gardening projects in Pennsylvania and New Mexico, and a gardening project in Hebron, Palestine, in collaboration with Manchester University.

Harrisburg, Pa.

GFI has allocated $3,952 to establish a community garden at Harrisburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. “The community, located in the inner city, can be described as a ‘food desert,’ with quality food, fresh fruit, and vegetables being virtually non-existent in markets serving the immediate residential area, said the grant request. “Improved community health and better access to fresh vegetables is a definite need. Positive activities to meet these needs will also provide a sense of community building and empowerment.” Funds will be used for building materials for raised garden beds, rain barrel, landscape cloth, top soil, composter, gardening tools, and seeds.

Lybrook Community Ministries, N.M.

Two grants support a new prayer/herb garden and training for an intern at Lybrook Community Ministries, a Church of the Brethren ministry located in the Navajo area of New Mexico and supported by Western Plains District.

An allocation of $1,500 supports creation of a prayer/herb garden. Plans for the project are to grow a few vegetables and a variety of herbs. Community members will be involved in upkeep of the garden, harvesting and cooking of produce, sharing of produce with others in the community, and education about how to use the produce. The grant will purchase materials to install a herb garden including fencing, posts, soil, compost, concrete mix, water, rocks, and plants.

A grant of $1,800 offers funding for an intern to spend two months with the Capstone 118 community garden project in New Orleans, La., to learn more about community gardening and food ministries. One person involved with Lybrook Community Ministries who has expressed interest in growing produce and helping their community will spend two months at another community garden project, and then return to the mission and assist in educating garden participants on better and more efficient ways of growing. The goal is to involve community members in assisting each other to meet the need for fresh produce. Funds will be used for the intern’s airfare and room and board. 

These grants follow on a previous $1,000 grant through the Going to the Garden initiative of the Global Food Initiative and the Office of Public Witness, and a $10,000 grant from the former GFCF for materials to build several high tunnels or unheated greenhouses.

Manchester University project in Hebron, Palestine

An allocation of $956 has gone to Manchester University’s Center for Service Opportunities, which is supporting a gardening project in Hebron, Palestine. Manchester is a Brethren-related university based in North Manchester, Ind. The proposal is for a pilot program to provide 30 households/persons with seeds and tools/supplies for a trial of the variety and the utility of growing vegetables in a small space. The project would be undertaken by Lucas Al-Zoughbi, student director of the Center for Service Opportunities, and Psychology Department student assistant, in collaboration with Robert Shank, a Global Mission and Service worker who has taught agriculture at a university in Pyongyang, North Korea. Funds will purchase seeds, pots, fertilizer, potting soil, and gardening tools for growing vegetables in Hebron, Palestine.

For more about the Global Food Initiative go to www.brethren.org/gfi .

3) Children’s Disaster Services sends third team to Houston, Orlando team completes service

A Children's Disaster Services volunteer reads to a child at a MARC near Houston, Texas.
Photo courtesy of CDS

A Children's Disaster Services volunteer reads to a child at a MARC near Houston, Texas.

“We have another team headed out to Houston, Texas, this week, third one this summer,” reports Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) associate director Kathleen Fry-Miller. “I know the people there are getting very weary of all the flooding and water. I’m so grateful that we have volunteers willing to go.”

In related news, the CDS team who served in Orlando following the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub has completed its work caring for children and families affected by the gun massacre. In addition, more CDS volunteers are on alert to respond to the California fires and West Virginia floods, as the American Red Cross determines needs for childcare.

Houston

The third team of CDS volunteers to serve in the Houston area this year continues to aid children and families affected by flooding. The five-member team traveled to Houston on June 21. They have set up a childcare center in a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) in Angleton, in the Houston area, in cooperation with the American Red Cross. They are expected to provide services there through Monday, June 27. The team includes project manager Donna Savage, Mary Geisler, Pearl Miller, Vivian Woods, and Myrna Jones.

On the first day of their work, the Houston team served 25 children. Savage reported in a CDS Facebook post that the children were calm and playful. About the team, she said, “We’ve got a great group here!”

Orlando

The CDS Orlando team has completed its service. As of June 21, the team served 53 children at the Family Assistance Center (FAC) in Orlando, at off-site meetings, and at the hospital. More than 650 individuals were cared for at the FAC, the team reported in a CDS Facebook post.

“It has been an emotional and intense week and a half for everyone involved, including the service providers,” said CDS on Facebook. Project manager John Kinsel said, “It’s been an honor and a blessing to be a part of this.”

The work of CDS received media attention in Orlando, including an interview with team member Erin Silber by WTSP Channel 10 News. Find it at www.wtsp.com/news/local/tampa-volunteer-recounts-helping-orlando-victims-families/247576594 .

Kinsel received a “shout out” on Facebook from Layron Livingston, a reporter with WPLG Local 10, who wrote in a post on June 17: “For my Dayton friends...meet John Kinsel--in Orlando from Beavercreek [Ohio]--helping provide assistance to the children involved in the Orlando shooting... He came over to say, ‘Hello’... As he put it, he heard my voice and looked up saw an old familiar face among the TV cameras during a recent press conference... God Bless Him, and the people with Children's Disaster Services and the Church of the Brethren.”

For more about the ministry of Children’s Disaster Services go to www.brethren.org/cds .

4) Brethren bits

Orthodox Christian leaders gathered in Crete for a special council

Orthodox Christian leaders from around the world are gathering at a Holy and Great Council this week on the island of Crete, in Greece. The World Council of Churches (WCC) has called this synod “a spiritual gift” to other churches. “We hope this meeting will serve both the unity of the Orthodox churches and the unity of our whole family of churches,” said WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit, in a release. Ten of the world’s 14 self-governing Orthodox churches are present at the council, which opened June 20 and ends June 25. “Orthodox primates are discussing the contemporary mission of the Orthodox church, marriage regulations, fasting guidelines, the place of Orthodox churches outside their historic venues, and ecumenical relations with non-Orthodox churches,” the release said. Commented WCC Faith and Order director Odair Pedroso Mateus: “The agenda for the Holy and Great Council has been discussed for more than 50 years, a time span that might surprise those unfamiliar with Orthodox tradition.... The fact that the synod has been in preparation for more than half a century is another gift of the Orthodox church to the ecumenical movement: an expression of the importance of understanding Christian faith as a corporate faith before an individualistic faith. Nobody is saved alone! We cannot have God as Father if we do not have the Church as Mother.” The difficulties encountered in the historic gathering are the kind of labors that yield mutual understanding and appreciation, he added. Find the WCC release at www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/orthodox-synod-201ca-spiritual-gift201d-to-other-churches .

Photo by Sean Hawkey, courtesy of the World Council of Churches (WCC)

-- Former Church of the Brethren general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger has been appointed director of the Office of the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The announcement was made by WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit earlier this week. Noffsinger’s work with the WCC will begin in July, with a relocation to Geneva, Switzerland, in September. In the meantime, he currently is attending the WCC Central Committee meeting in Trondheim, Norway. Noffsinger was elected to the WCC Central Committee at the WCC’s 10th Assembly in South Korea in 2013.

-- Amy Beery has been hired as admissions counselor at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. A 2013 Bethany graduate, she brings chaplaincy experience to her new role, and a passion for helping others discern God’s call, said an announcement from Bethany president Jeff Carter. She begins work June 29 at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Greensboro, N.C.

-- The Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center ( www.vbmhc.org ) in Harrisonburg, Va., invites applications for the position of full-time executive director. The successful candidate should have expertise in program visioning, strategic planning, fundraising, marketing, administration, public relations, volunteer coordination, and interpreting the vision of the center to the church and community. The director should be committed to the heritage that Brethren and Mennonites share, especially in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Salary and benefits as determined by the Board of Directors. Send a letter of application, resume, and three recommendations to J.D. Glick, Chair, Search Committee, 14 Joseph Court, Bridgewater, VA 22812 ( jdglick@Verizon.net ). The position is open until filled.

-- The latest “News and Notes” newsletter of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) is now online. This issue focuses on the 200th anniversary of the 1816 birthday of James Quinter, whom the newsletter characterizes as “founder of the modern Brethren.... Known as the ‘boy preacher’ Quinter’s circle that included the noted woman preacher Sarah Righter Major pioneered in the use of such innovative religious strategies as protracted or revival meetings, Sunday schools, prayer meetings, publishing, foreign missions, higher education, supported the temperance movement, and opposed slavery,” the newsletter says, in part. Go to www.brethren.org/bhla .

-- Limestone (Tenn.) Church of the Brethren is celebrating 170 years of service to God on Saturday, July 16, with an open house from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. “We will be serving hamburgers and hotdogs with sides. There will be activities throughout the day including door prizes. This is a great time to come by and walk through our church, and see the history of where God has brought us,” said an invitation. For more information call 423-534-0450.

-- Elkins Church of the Brethren in West Marva District celebrated its 65th anniversary on June 18.

-- New Carlisle (Ohio) Church of the Brethren has joined with Donnelsville Elementary School and the Korrect Plumbing (Ivan and Clara Patterson) Foundation in a service project for Heifer International, reports the “New Carlisle News.” With an initial goal of raising enough money to purchase an Ark of animals, the project netted over $10,000, with Heifer International matching that amount, the report said. Find the news article at www.newcarlislenews.net/index.php/school-news/tecumseh/1596-donnelsville-elementary-church-of-the-brethren-join-in-service-project .

-- Mount Hermon Church of the Brethren in Bassett, Va., has built a Pneuma Pit for outdoor worship, concerts, and other activities. A dedication service will be held at 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 26. “Everyone is invited to come for the dedication and worship,” said the Virlina District newsletter.

--  Bradford Church of the Brethren in Piqua, Ohio, is raising funds for a mission trip to Haiti by selling tickets for a chicken dinner, according to the “Piqua Daily Call.” Tickets sell for $7.50 per dinner and must be purchased by July 17. Dinners may be picked up at the church on July 23 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Contact the church at 937-448-2215 or bcoboffice@gmail.com .

-- Virlina District has shared with gratitude and thanksgiving that district executive minister David Shumate has been released by his doctor to return to work on June 25. He has endured a lengthy hospitalization during which time Emma Jean Woodard has served as acting district executive. Shumate will return to work at the district office on a gradual basis, as his strength allows.

-- Sam Hornish Jr., a NASCAR driver who was baptized at Poplar Ridge Church of the Brethren in Defiance, Ohio, returned to racing fame last Sunday when he won the NASCAR XFINITY Series American Ethanol 250. The win came after a tough four seasons on the racing circuit, and in recent months, media reports note that he has been working as a substitute teacher and taking time for family. On June 15, he received a call from Joe Gibbs Racing asking him to fill in for an injured driver in Sunday’s race. Hornish had not been in a car for 270 days, last appearing in a race in November. “I was so nervous on Friday getting into the car thinking I’m going to make a mistake,” he said in an interview with Nascar.com news. But he won Sunday’s race, holding the lead from lap 139 until the finish. In response to his Father’s Day victory, with his wife and children present to celebrate with him, Hornish commented “it doesn’t get much better than that.” Find the Nascar.com reports at www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2016/6/19/iowa-speedway-race-results-winner-xfinity-series.html and www.nascar.com/en_us/news-media/articles/2016/6/23/sam-hornish-jr-wins-with-famiy-after-off-time-iowa-speedway-xfinity-series.html .


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Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jan Fischer Bachman, Jordan Bles, Jeff Boshart, Beryl H. Brubaker, Jenn Dorsch, Chris Douglas, Kathleen Fry-Miller, Bill Kostlevy, Nancy Miner, Stan Noffsinger, Tyler Roebuck, Bill Scheurer, 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. Look for a full review of the 2016 Annual Conference in the next regularly scheduled Newsline, to appear July 5.

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