Newsline for May 27, 2016




Revelation 7:9 with photo from new church planting conference 2016
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

“After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9a).

 
NEWS
1) New church planting conference calls for development of hope and imagination
2) Congregational Life Ministries announce interim plan for sharing executive duties
3) Funding is made available for hosting ‘12 Baskets and a Goat,’ among other grants
4) Community gardeners converge in Wisconsin to discuss their work
5) Nigeria Crisis Response continues to meet needs in the face of devastating trauma
6) EYN and CAMPI receive the Michael Sattler Peace Award in Germany

UPCOMING EVENTS
7) Annual Conference ‘Witness to the Host City’ supports children, job readiness
8) Annual Conference Sunday invites Brethren to a joint ‘virtual worship’
9) On Earth Peace offers opportunities to learn about Kingian nonviolence, anti-racism

10) Brethren bits: Remembering Grady Snyder and Beth Burnette, personnel, job openings, Heifer CEO visits General Offices, NYAC, summer workcamps begin, Bethany president on panel at Princeton, BVS seeks applicants for summer orientation, and more


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Quote of the week:

“Prayers of thanksgiving: We have learned that one of the Chibok girls, Amina Ali, was found.... EYN brother Paul Gadzama reports that she has a baby and is healthy, though next steps need to be determined. ‘Praise God for this development,’ he writes.”

-- A May 18 post on the Church of the Brethren Facebook page. Media reports that a second girl also had been released proved to be incorrect--she was not one of the Chibok schoolgirls abducted in April 2014, although she is the daughter of a pastor in Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and was abducted by Boko Haram at another time from another area. Global Mission and Service staff noted that of the 278 Chibok schoolgirls, “216 are still missing. We are hopeful others will be found.” Each Church of the Brethren congregation has been assigned to pray for one of the girls. The following congregations have been praying for Amina Ali: Milledgeville (Ill.) Church of the Brethren; Reisterstown (Md.) Evergreen Church of the Brethren; Olivet Church of the Brethren in Thornville, Ohio; Natrona Heights (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; Topeco Church of the Brethren in Floyd, Va.; and Moorefield (W.Va.) Church of the Brethren.

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For the latest Brethren news go to the main Newsline page

Advance registration for Annual Conference closes June 6. The 2016 Conference takes place June 29-July 3 in Greensboro, N.C. Those who take advantage of the opportunity to register in advance at www.brethren.org/ac may save up to $75. After June 6, onsite registration from June 28-July 3 will cost $360 for a delegate (advance registration is just $285) and $140 for a non-delegate adult attending the full Conference (advance registration is just $105). Detailed information about Annual Conference as well as advance registration is at www.brethren.org/ac .

Regarding hearings at Annual Conference: No hearings will be held on new queries coming this year because only business items that have been accepted by the delegate body are eligible for hearings. Two hearings are scheduled for the first evening, June 29, from 9-10 p.m. Hearings will be held by the Review and Evaluation Committee and the study committee elected for Vitality and Viability. These two committees “will share what they have done in the past year and receive comments and questions from Conference-goers,” reported Conference Office director Chris Douglas. “Neither committee is bringing a final paper to the delegate body this year, so these are interim reports and conversations.”
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A painting by Dave Weiss, created during the new church planting conference in May 2016, illustrates the twin themes of hope and imagination.
Painting by Dave Weiss, photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

A painting by Dave Weiss, created during the new church planting conference in May 2016, illustrates the twin themes of hope and imagination.




1) New church planting conference calls for development of hope and imagination

“Hope, Imagination, Mission”--the theme of the Church of the Brethren new church planting conference May 19-21 in Richmond, Ind., hosted by Bethany Theological Seminary--prompted a new call to the whole church to develop its imagination and foster a new hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some 100 people participated in worship, keynote presentations, workshops, and a special training track in Spanish. The conference was sponsored by Congregational Life Ministries.

Keynote speakers Efrem Smith and Mandy Smith (no relation) emphasized the power of developing a holy imagination, and the way it leads to an increase in hope and therefore in discipleship. Efrem Smith is president and CEO of World Impact, an inner-city missions organization dedicated to planting churches among the unchurched, urban poor in the United States. Mandy Smith, originally from Australia, is lead pastor of University Christian Church, a campus and neighborhood congregation in Cincinnati, Ohio.

A touchstone scripture for the conference came from Revelation 7:9, which also is a key text for the intercultural movement in the Church of the Brethren: “After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.”

Empowered to be the church everywhere

Efrem Smith challenged the gathering to stir their imaginations to ask, “Who are we to be as the church?” Referring to Revelation 7:9, and to the current national conversation about race, he answered with more questions: “What does it mean for the church to be a force for reconciliation? ...What does it mean to be the church robed in Christ, reconciled in Christ? ...To be reconciled to each other across class, across race? ...To bear one another’s burdens in Christ Jesus?”

Efrem Smith
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Efrem Smith

For the church to sustain hope and develop a godly imagination in an upside-down world, Efrem Smith said that worship is the imperative. “Sustain the worship!” he urged. “It is an identifying mark on the church. ...I don’t care how dark the hour, the church must sustain its praise!” How does the church do that? He answered: “Through knowing how empowered we are.... We must lean into the invisible spiritual forces that God surrounds us [with]. They empower us, right now.... We are not alone.”

His advice to church planters was direct and specific: “God sees those who are in trouble.... We know there is triumph on the other side of tribulation.... We should look for the people who are in tribulation and great trouble and bring the church to them.” Likening the church to “a bridge over troubled waters,” he continued: “We need to plant churches everywhere. I’m not just talking about the inner city, there are rural areas and small towns that need the church now more than ever.”




Finding hope despite the challenges

Mandy Smith
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Mandy Smith

Mandy Smith focused the meeting’s attention on the question of how to find hope amid the struggles and challenges faced by church leaders, and church planters in particular. She told her own personal story of discovering the truth of the Apostle Paul’s teaching, that God’s power is made known in our human weakness. In moments of failure, she told the group, she has heard God’s voice telling her: “In your weakness, I am strong.”

“Can we have bad days sometimes?” she asked, noting that the promise of God is not an excuse to be lazy or not work our hardest, but a help for the moments of despair when life seems to be beyond our control. “Can we show weakness sometimes? ...Can I cry, and still have people respect me? ...Can I show joy?”

Using the symbol of emptiness as a sign of God’s presence, she encouraged the conference, “If only we let our emptiness be seen.... As human beings let themselves be human, God can be seen to be God.”

Characterizing weakness as a “limitless ministry resource,” she said that the best Christian ministry grows from a reliance on God. Our culture holds up perfection as the ideal, denying the reality that humanness is brokenness. Instead of trying to live up to some impossible standard that does not exist in reality, she called church leaders and church planters to have the faith to trust that God is found in dark places, through confession of our imperfections, and in weakness.

“How do you delight in these things that seem to disqualify?” she asked. “Invite God to redeem your imagination in how he delights.”

Mandy Smith prayed for the gathering: “We ask, God, that you would heal our hope...that nothing limits you.”

A group of students in the Spanish-language ministry training track of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leaderhship, SeBAH-CoB, share with the conference.
photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

A group of students in the Spanish-language ministry training track of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leaderhship, SeBAH-CoB, share with the conference.

Worship, workshops, and stories shared

The conference also featured worship, numerous workshops, a panel discussion responding to the themes, and a time for story sharing by people involved in brand new church plants as well as those celebrating the success of church plants that are maturing into established congregations.

Special guests were Rachel and Jinatu Wamdeo, former general secretary of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). He gave a short presentation on the current situation of EYN, and shared the gratitude of the Nigerian Brethren for the assistance received from American Brethren. “The Church of the Brethren and EYN is one,” he said. “We are not Church of the Brethren in Nigeria and you are not Church of the Brethren in America, we are one church in Jesus Christ. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

An intercultural dinner gathering featured a presentation reviewing ways slavery and racism historically have divided the Christian church in the United States. The event was hosted by Gimbiya Kettering, director of Intercultural Ministries. The presentation was given by Yakubu Bakfwash, originally from Nigeria, who serves with the Center for Nonviolence and Conflict Transformation and is connected with Rockford (Ill.) Church of the Brethren. His presentation relied on the book written by Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith, “Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America” (2000, Oxford University Press). The book is available to order through Brethren Press, go to www.brethrenpress.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=1343 .

A photo album from the conference is online at www.bluemelon.com/churchofthebrethren/2016newchurchplantingconference . For more about the church planting movement in the Church of the Brethren, go to www.brethren.org/churchplanting .




2) Congregational Life Ministries announce interim plan for sharing executive duties

The Congregational Life Ministries of the Church of the Brethren has announced an interim plan for staff to share executive duties, following the resignation of former executive director Jonathan Shively. Using a collaborative team approach, the plan focuses on sharing oversight of the work of the department and development of staffing and programming.

Two staff members--Josh Brockway, director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship, and Stan Dueck, director of Transforming Practices--are assuming the more particular executive duties. For some other staff, portfolios are being shifted and responsibilities are being rearranged as well.

Supervision of the department’s program assistant, meeting with the Executive Forum, and relationship with the Ecumenical Stewardship Center are added to Brockway’s portfolio that continues to include the Anabaptist Worship Exchange and work with congregational ethics and stewardship.
 
Dueck’s new duties include program oversight, staff development, leadership of quarterly staff meetings, relating to the Annual Conference Vitality Study Committee and to Evangelism Connections, and leadership of the 2016 church planting conference. He also is adding the portfolio for new church development to his continuing portfolios that include the Vital Ministry Journey, webinars, and coaching.

Intercultural Ministries staff Gimbiya Kettering will have responsibility to plan and lead the 2018 church planting conference, in addition to her continuing portfolio that includes the Intercultural Ministries Working Group, Intercultural Symposia, and anti-racism resourcing.

Added responsibilities for Intergenerational Ministries staff Debbie Eisenbise include relating with the Spiritual Directors Network and the Fellowship of Brethren Homes, and new staff hires. Her continuing portfolio includes National Older Adult Conference, Intergenerational Ministries, child protection, and the Disabilities Ministry.

The Youth and Young Adult Ministry led by director Becky Ullom Naugle continues unchanged, and includes responsibilities for National Young Adult Conference, National Youth Conference, National Junior High Conference, Christian Citizenship Seminar, Ministry Summer Service, the Youth Peace Travel Team, the Youth Cabinet, and the Young Adult Steering Committee.

For more information about the Congregational Life Ministries go to www.brethren.org .




3) Funding is made available for hosting ‘12 Baskets and a Goat,’ among other grants

12 Baskets and a Goat, a new play by Ted & Co. in partnership with Heifer International and the Church of the Brethren

New funding has been made available for congregations to host performances of the original play by Ted and Co. Theaterworks that benefits Heifer International, called “12 Baskets and a Goat.” The total allocation of $10,000 comes jointly from the Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) and the Office of the General Secretary.

Other recent GFCF grants support a capacity building conference in the Africa Great Lakes region and community gardens in Spain and Maryland.

‘12 Baskets and a Goat’

A GFCF allocation of $5,000 has been matched by funds from the Office of the General Secretary for a total of $10,000 to help host congregations underwrite the performance of “12 Baskets and a Goat.” The grants to hosting congregations will be limited to a maximum of $1,800 per performance.

Performances raise awareness of world hunger and the work of Heifer International, which got its start as the Church of the Brethren’s Heifer Project and was the brainchild of former denominational staff member Dan West. “It is a natural point of collaboration for our organizations, we all share Dan West’s vision to find a dignified means of passing on our gifts to help others, who in turn can pass on their gifts,” said Global Mission and Service executive director Jay Wittmeyer.

The partnership between Ted and Company Theaterworks, the Church of the Brethren, and Heifer International has set a goal of 20 performances of “12 Baskets and a Goat” and is actively seeking churches, districts, and other organizations to host performances. More information about the play is at www.tedandcompany.com/shows/12-baskets-and-a-goat . Contact the Global Mission and Service office for information about the grants to hosting congregations, at 800-323-8039 ext. 388 or mission@brethren.org .

Capacity building in the African Great Lakes region

An allocation of $4,000 from the GFCF supports an African Great Lakes Batwa capacity building conference, to be held Aug. 15-19 in Gisenyi, Rwanda. This conference will build on the work of Shalom Ministry for Reconciliation and Development (SHAMIRED) in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services (THARS) in Burundi, and a new Brethren group in Rwanda. Each of these partners has received grants from the GFCF for agricultural development work to complement trauma healing work among the Twa people. Outside leadership for the conference will be provided by staff of World Relief in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The 26 participants will include leaders from the Twa communities in the three countries and representatives of Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups. The total budget for the conference of $7,932.46 exceeds the GFCF grant and will be completed with funds from the Church of the Brethren’s Emerging Global Mission Fund.

Grants to community gardens

GFCF allocations are supporting community gardens in two communities related to congregations of the Church of the Brethren in Spain, and a community garden in Maryland that is related to Community of Joy Church of the Brethren.

A grant of $3,968 supports the community garden work of the Bethesda congregation in the city of Oviedo, in the principality of Asturias, Spain. The gardening project will serve 20 families who have little or no employment, with the hope of including another 20 through produce distribution at harvest time. The grant will help cover land rental and preparation costs, the purchase of vegetable seedlings for transplanting, irrigation hoses, and fertilizers.

A grant of $3,425 supports the community garden work of the Oración Contestada, (Answered Prayer) congregation in the city of León, province of León, Spain. This project will serve between 25-30 families who have little or no employment. The grant will help cover land rental and preparation costs, the purchase of vegetable seedlings for transplanting, irrigation hoses, and fertilizers.

A grant of $2,000 supports expansion of the community garden work of Community of Joy Church of the Brethren in Salisbury, Md. This congregation helped to found Camden Community Gardens, and plans to add two new garden sites. Funds will be used to purchase lumber for raised beds and soil for the gardens. The congregation previously received a $1,000 mini-grant through the Going to the Garden initiative of the GFCF and the Office of Public Witness.

For more about the ministry of the GFCF go to www.brethren.org/gfcf .




4) Community gardeners converge in Wisconsin to discuss their work

A gathering of Church of the Brethren community gardeners in Wisconsin in May 2016 focused on discussing their work and dreaming about the next phase of the Going to the Garden initiative.
Photo courtesy of Nate Hosler

A gathering of Church of the Brethren community gardeners in Wisconsin in May 2016 focused on discussing their work and dreaming about the next phase of the Going to the Garden initiative.

Earlier this month, gardeners converged on Wisconsin from many corners of the country to discuss their work and dream about the next phase of the Going to the Garden initiative. Gardeners hailed from New Mexico, Alaska, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Washington D.C.

Projects ranged from gardens in urban settings, to gardens on a Navajo reservation, and from rekindling an older generation’s nearly lost knowledge of growing gardens, to working with communities far detached from agriculture.

The group began by visiting Growing Power, an innovative and now widely acclaimed urban farm in Milwaukee. The group continued on to the family farm of Global Food Crisis Fund (GFCF) manager Jeff Boshart, where they shared about their own experiences in gardening and began to dream about the next steps for Going to the Garden.

Going to the Garden began several years ago as a way to encourage and support efforts of congregations wanting to engage their communities by addressing food insecurity and hunger. This project has been a collaborative effort between the GFCF and the Office of Public Witness. It began by providing grants to start or expand community garden-type projects, and continues to seek ways to connect this work with advocacy and addressing larger issues relating to food.

In addition to building and strengthening connections between those leading community gardening projects, the retreat brought out some interesting ideas for moving forward in supporting advocacy with these diverse endeavors. The main idea that emerged is creation of a Garden Advocate position, through which several interested Going to the Garden partners will be able to apply for funding help to expand their advocacy efforts. Through the GFCF, funding will help community members who are connected with local gardening projects work to expand the capacity of the projects to engage in advocacy on the local and national levels, relating to food security and hunger as well as providing additional support for publicity and outreach.

Keep watch for these developments and connect with the gardening growing season on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GoingToTheGarden and at www.brethren.org/publicwitness/going-to-the-garden.html . Those interested in the Garden Advocate idea may contact Jeffrey S. Boshart, manager of the Global Food Crisis Fund and the Emerging Global Mission Fund, at jboshart@brethren.org .

-- Nathan Hosler and Katie Furrow of the Office of Public Witness contributed this report.




5) Nigeria Crisis Response continues to meet needs in the face of devastating trauma

One of the destroyed churches in Nigeria
Photo by Roxane Hill

One of the destroyed churches in Nigeria

By Carl Hill

The response to the Nigeria crisis from the Church of the Brethren has been nothing short of spectacular. Over the last 16 months we have been able to provide support for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and five NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations).

However, the devastation and trauma inflicted in Nigeria continues to be felt as the insurgency wanes and security is being restored. Unfortunately, the giving from the church has slowed down. Currently we are $300,000 short of meeting our projected $2,166,000 budget for this year.

Recent reports from Nigeria have indicated that the terrorist group known as Boko Haram has been crippled because of joint military action waged by the Nigerian military and troops from neighboring Cameroon, Niger, and Chad. Boko Haram is still claiming responsibility for suicide bombings, primarily in northeast Nigeria and a few in Cameroon. After a slow start in 2015, the military has severely damaged Boko Haram’s offensive power, has killed and captured many of the terrorists, and chased many of the remaining members away from towns and villages and into the area called the Sambisa Forest. This large unincorporated area served as the base of operations for Boko Haram’s earlier strikes but is now its only haven of safety.

The result of pushing the Boko Haram into the Sambisa Forest and making parts of northeast Nigeria safer has been the return of many of the people who had been run out of their homes and communities over the last couple of years. Some estimate the number of people displaced by the insurgency at its height exceeded 1 million. Mission 21, a partner of EYN based in Switzerland, estimated that 750,000 of these displaced persons belong to EYN.

To get an idea of the scope of the rebuilding that has to take place, just imagine what it would be like if this happened to you and your town? What if you had to flee for your life one day and all you took with you was your children and the clothes you were wearing? Now, after living with relatives or in camps for more than a year, you return to find your community in shambles. This is what many Nigerians are facing.

In order to continue to help these people the Nigeria Crisis Response has had to shift gears. This year’s slogan is, “The Long Journey Home.” While this may not encapsulate everything that the response is trying to accomplish, it does represent the intention to assist Nigerians as they return to their homes and begin to rebuild their lives and communities.

This is another huge challenge for Church of the Brethren. The question is whether American Brethren can afford to finance some of the areas that are so critical to helping the Nigerian Brethren get back on their feet and carry on. It would be too bad if, as a denomination, the Church of the Brethren could only accompany EYN just so far. So many Brethren have long-standing ties to Nigeria and part of their hearts has been with the Nigerians. It is these strong ties that bind the two churches together, not only during the current crisis that started in 2009, but in a continuing connection inherited from those who served in the Nigeria mission and dedicated themselves to Nigeria as a lifelong spiritual act of worship.

Now, northeast Nigeria and the church that was founded by Brethren missionaries more than 90 years ago face perhaps the biggest test in its history. We know that God is with them. But is God calling on us, once again, to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus to our closest brothers and sisters in the faith?

-- Carl and Roxane Hill are co-directors of the Nigeria Crisis Response, a joint effort of the Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Find out more at www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .




6) EYN and CAMPI receive the Michael Sattler Peace Award in Germany

Ephraim Kadala of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria and Hussaini Shuaibu of the Christian and Muslim Peace Initiative receive the Michael Sattler Peace Award from the German Mennonite Peace Committee (DMFK), on behalf of their respective organizations. The two men traveled from Nigeria to Germany to receive the award.
Photo by Kristin Flory

Ephraim Kadala of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria and Hussaini Shuaibu of the Christian and Muslim Peace Initiative receive the Michael Sattler Peace Award from the German Mennonite Peace Committee (DMFK), on behalf of their respective organizations. The two men traveled from Nigeria to Germany to receive the award.

By Kristin Flory

“Now I’m back to my roots!” said pastor Ephraim Kadala of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) as he waded in the Eder River in Schwarzenau, Germany. “This is where we come from!” 

The German Mennonite organizers of the 10-town tour through Germany for Kadala and Hussaini Shuaibu of the Christian and Muslim Peace Initiative (CAMPI), remembered that the first Brethren had been baptized in Schwarzenau, and drove the two Nigerians there to visit the river and the Alexander Mack museum and mill.

EYN and CAMPI receive award

The two men were in Germany on behalf of EYN and CAMPI to receive the DMFK’s Michael Sattler Peace Award, which was presented on May 20 in Rottenburg/Neckar. The German Mennonite Peace Committee (DMFK) bestows the award to people or groups whose work is committed to nonviolent Christian witness, to reconciliation between enemies, and to promotion of interfaith dialogue. The award is named after the martyred 16th century Christian Anabaptist Michael Sattler and bestowed in Rottenburg/Neckar on the date of his execution. 

EYN and CAMPI were chosen for their adherence to the peace message of the gospel and rejection of calls for retribution despite the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria. The DMFK release about the award noted that EYN teaches its members and especially the younger generation the biblical messages of peace and reconciliation, establishing contacts with Muslims and mosques who are willing to dialogue. With its programs for peace and justice, EYN works against the economic and political causes of the violence. They thus not only reject violent confrontation--there are many examples of love of enemies--but also contribute actively to the creation of peaceful co-existence of Muslims and Christians.

Award ceremony celebrates a strong faith

After a 2-week tour of about 10 German cities where they spoke in mosques, Mennonite congregations, Protestant churches, and with the German Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Nigerians were the honored guests at the evening award ceremony in the packed Protestant church in Rottenburg. DMFK director Jakob Fehr introduced and thanked Kadala and Shuaibu, acknowledging that the trip had been long and tiring, “but we want to celebrate a small victory of nonviolence and the power of love over hate.” Both men had had to flee their homes in northeast Nigeria and both endured hardships during the violence.   

One of the award committee members, Karen Hinrichs, also praised the Nigerians’ spirit of nonviolence. She admitted that “we here in Germany are weak in the faith” and sometimes doubtful, thinking that military responses may be the answer, and that selling weapons to Nigeria may be a solution. “We need to learn from Michael Sattler that violence is not the answer.” She reminded the gathering to not pay attention to what is reported in the media about Nigeria but to look at the reasons why people become terrorists or refugees, ask how the weapons get there, and finally “make a difference.... Peace grows from good relationships,” she said.

Wolfgang Krauss, a DMFK board member, shared Sattler’s statements at his 1527 trial about not resisting “when the Turks come” for it is written, “Thou shalt not kill. We should not resist any of our persecutors with the sword, but with prayer cling to God, that He may resist and defend.” 

Rottenburg’s mayor reminded the meeting that the centuries-long German-French enmity had eventually been overcome and was an example of hope for Nigeria. He told the two Nigerians that they are the true messengers of peace and are models for all of us. 

Renowned theologian and professor emeritus Jürgen Moltmann from Tubingen gave a laudation for the Nigerian Brethren peace work
Photo by Kristin Floryu

Renowned theologian and professor emeritus Jürgen Moltmann from Tubingen gave a laudation for the Nigerian Brethren peace work

Jürgen Moltmann gives laudation

Renowned theologian and professor emeritus Jürgen Moltmann from Tubingen began his laudation: “With the utmost respect and reverence I stand before the church of the martyrs, both past and present: Michael and Margaret Sattler and the Anabaptist movement of the Reformation era, and now before the ‘Church of the Siblings,’* the Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, who carried and carry the suffering of Christ today.” Moltmann spoke of the early Anabaptists, whom Martin Luther called “dreamers” and historians designate as the “left wing of the Reformation.”  Moltmann considers the Anabaptists (re-baptizers, or adult baptizers) to be the only Reformation, solely because of faith.

From the Constantinian takeover of Christianity to the reformers who remained in the structure of the “holy empire,” Moltmann noted that the Anabaptists rejected the very basis of this state religion and “holy empire” by replacing infant baptism with believers’ baptism; they rejected military service (“because Jesus forbids violence of the sword”); they rejected use of oaths (“because Jesus forbids his disciples from all oaths”) and also participation in secular power. These references to Jesus are in the Schleitheim Confession that Michael Sattler composed in 1527, in which the Anabaptists rejected the state religion and the “holy empire” of that era, and were thus considered enemies of the state and persecuted. Because the Anabaptists were popular, the execution of Michael Sattler was especially cruel and used as a means of deterrence.  

Sattler had been the prior at the well-known St. Peter Abbey in the Black Forest, Moltmann reminded his audience. Sattler was highly educated in theology and the classics. He joined the Baptists in Zürich and preached in Upper Swabia where he gained many followers and baptized them in the Neckar River. His Schleitheim Confession proves that he was of the same caliber as other well-known reformers of his day. Martin Luther freed the church from the “Babylonian captivity” of the pope, Moltmann said, but Michael Sattler freed the church from the “Babylonian captivity of the state.”

Moltmann welcomed Kadala and Shuaibu as brothers “who show us an example of the work for peace and against terror and death.” He went on to describe EYN, which in German is called the “Church of the Siblings,” as founded by the Church of the Brethren in 1923, and as a member church of the World Council of Churches. He noted that 178 of the schoolgirls abducted from Chibok are from EYN, and related that more than 10,000 EYN members had been killed and hundreds of churches destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents. 

“In this dangerous situation, the EYN works for peace,” Moltmann said, “which means living and preserving life. Terror, that is killing and dying. Terrorism begins in the hearts and minds of people and therefore must be overcome in the hearts and minds of people. This is the language of peace, which creates life, and not of violence.

“It is good when the Christian and Muslim Peace Initiative tries to dissuade young men from killing and being killed, and wins them back to life,” Moltmann continued. “It is good when Christians and Muslims care for abused child soldiers, to heal them from the trauma of death. It is good when victims of injustice and violence learn paths out of pain and grief in the workshops of the church.

“Forgiving the people involved in Boko Haram and what they have perpetrated, means showing them the way to life, and to overcome the evil of hate and retribution that they have aroused in their victims,” Moltmann said. “Therefore, forgiving the perpetrators opens up the opportunity for conversion, and releases the victims from fixating on the perpetrators. We hope that the people of Boko Haram will not be destroyed, but that they will be converted to a life in peace.” 

In his response, Kadala thanked “all who have supported us. We want to make a difference despite passing through terrible times. This is not about a magnanimous effort but a little effort. We are glad that far-away people saw what we’re doing and boosted our moral with this award. We are not only walking in the footsteps of Michael Sattler and other peacemakers, but also in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. We dedicate this award to the people who lost their lives in northern Nigeria and to the 219 girls from Chibok, and to all people of the world who love peace.”   

CAMPI mediator and teacher Shuaibu agreed with Kadala, saying that “we’re on the same wave length” and added that he hoped that the next Michael Sattler will come from Africa. The two Nigerians presented a copy of Kadala’s book, “Turn the Other Cheek,” to the German Mennonite Peace Committee and to Moltmann. 

The award ceremony was followed by a reception. In the large crowd of German Mennonites and Protestants were also members of the Church of the Brethren: Bryan Bohrer, a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) volunteer in Ravensburg, and Krista Hamer-Schweer, who lives near Marburg, as well as Kristin Flory of the Brethren Service Europe office.

The tour visited a stone marking the place where early Anabaptist martyr Michael Sattler was tortured, burned, and executed. The inscription reads: “1527, Michael and Margaretha Sattler. They died for their faith.”
Photo by Kristin Flory

The tour visited a stone marking the place where early Anabaptist martyr Michael Sattler was tortured, burned, and executed. The inscription reads: “1527, Michael and Margaretha Sattler. They died for their faith.”

Tour visits Sattler sites

A tour of Rottenburg was given on the following morning. Wolfgang Krauss related many stories from Anabaptist history. Sattler, his wife, and several others were arrested in nearby Horb but brought to be tried in Rottenburg, where there were no sympathetic Anabaptists. Krauss related the religious and temporal history of the region during the 16th century, showed the prison where Sattler was probably held, and the house of the executioner where he read from the minutes of Sattler’s court case. The tour travelled to the place outside the city gates where Sattler was tortured, burned, and executed, and where a memorial stone has been erected. It continued in the nearby town of Horb where Sattler’s congregation was located, and where he preached, but where there is no visible memory of him anywhere to be seen today. 

On that Sunday, Ephraim and Hussaini participated in worship at St Peter’s Church in the Black Forest, where Sattler had been prior in the Benedictine abbey. 

*The German Mennonite Peace Committee and Mission 21 (formerly Basel Mission) call the Church of the Brethren the “Church of the Siblings” in German (Kirche der Geschwister) because of EYN’s translation of its name as “Church of the Children of the Same Mother.”  

-- Kristin Flory of the Brethren Service Office in Geneva, Switzerland, staffs Brethren Volunteer Service in Europe.




UPCOMING EVENTS

7) Annual Conference ‘Witness to the Host City’ supports children, job readiness

Children help out with donations of toothbrushes and toothpaste
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Children help out with donations of toothbrushes and toothpaste

Two local organizations in Greensboro, N.C., will receive support from Conference-goers who attend the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference this summer. The Conference will receive a collection of hygiene items for a project called BackPack Beginnings that supports school children, and a collection of clothing and shoes for the Encore! Boutique Thrift Store and a “Step Up” program for job readiness training.

BackPack Beginnings

The mission of BackPack Beginnings is to provide children in need with nutritious food, comfort items, and basic necessities. The organization was started in 2010 by Parker White, a young mother who wanted to help children in need in her community. From a few boxes of food on her dining room table, this organization has grown to a multi-program organization staffed entirely by a huge volunteer network, that now serves more than 4,000 children.

Because Annual Conference takes place when school is out for the summer and the organization does not have an air-conditioned warehouse, Conference-goers are invited to donate hygiene items for Comfort BackPacks. Here’s what is needed, in order of need: toothbrushes, toothpaste, new backpacks, shampoo, new washcloths, spiral notebooks (wide-ruled), combs, hairbrushes, fleece blankets (rolled and tied with a ribbon). To learn more see www.backpackbeginnings.org .

Encore! Boutique Thrift Store

This unique thrift store is part of the ministry of First Presbyterian Church’s Step Up Program. Step Up provides job readiness training, life skills training, and economic stability. After people have completed job readiness training, the Encore! boutique provides professional clothing for people interviewing for and starting new jobs. Encore! also is open to the public for shopping, with proceeds put back into the Step Up training programs. Since Step Up began in July 2011, more than 1,000 people have graduated from the program and more than 500 of the graduates have found full-time employment.

Conference-goers are invited to donate gently used classic clothing, shoes, and accessories for men and women, including business casual and professional attire. The Conference Office notes that “this is not a way to get rid of old jeans and T-shirts. Please bring only dresses, pantsuits, suits, dress shirts, dress pants, belts, shoes, handbags, etc., that are in top-quality condition.” There is a need for plus-sized clothing and shoes for both men and women. To learn more go to www.stepupgreensboro.org and http://stepupgreensboro.org/volunteer/clothing-closet .



Carry the Light, logo for the 2016 Annual Conference

8) Annual Conference Sunday invites Brethren to a joint ‘virtual worship’

“Join congregations and individuals from around the country as we worship together as one virtual church on Annual Conference Sunday, July 3,” said an invitation from the Conference Office. The 2016 Annual Conference takes place in Greensboro, N.C., on June 29-July 3.

All congregations are invited to come together in celebration during the Sunday morning worship service at Annual Conference by sharing in the worship webcast. Congregations may choose to broadcast the Annual Conference service live in their own church services that morning and in so doing worship across geographical boundaries with thousands of other Brethren from across the denomination and around the world.

The live broadcast will allow for joining in the streaming of the event at any time, or restarting the broadcast from the beginning. Participants in the virtual event can also comment and chat online with webcast coordinator Enten Eller. A bulletin will be available in mid to late June to download and print from the Annual Conference website at www.brethren.org/ac

For more information and instructions for linking to the Annual Conference Sunday service, click the webcasts link at www.brethren.org/ac/2016 or browse directly to the Annual Conference webcast page at www.brethren.org/ac/2016/webcasts .

Webcasts of other Conference sessions

All of the Annual Conference business sessions and worship services will be streamed over the Internet. The schedule for these webcasts is as follows (all times are Eastern time):

Wednesday, June 29:
7-8:30 p.m. Opening Worship

Thursday, June 30:
8:30-11:30 a.m. Morning Business Session
2-4:30 p.m. Afternoon Business Session
7-8:30 p.m. Evening Worship

Friday, July 1:
8:30-11:30 a.m. Morning Business Session
7-8:30 p.m. Evening Worship

Saturday, July 2:
8:30-11:30 a.m. Morning Business Session
2-4:30 p.m. Afternoon Business Session
7-8:30 p.m. Evening Worship

Sunday, July 3:
8:30-10:30 a.m. Closing Worship

There is a cost to providing these webcasts. Viewers are asked to consider making an online donation to help make the ministries of the church known through these webcasts.

9) On Earth Peace offers opportunities to learn about Kingian nonviolence, anti-racism

On Earth Peace is offering opportunities to learn about Kingian nonviolence and to get involved in anti-racism work. “Kingian Nonviolence is a philosophy and curriculum which applies agape love to relationships and community problems,” explained an announcement. “The approach was developed by David Jehnsen and Bernard Lafayette Jr., who both worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s.”

Opportunities include:

A Racial Justice Organizer Clinic on May 31 at 12 noon (Eastern time). This web event will include spiritual grounding, ideas and encouragement from others who are stepping up to catalyze their communities, a time to reflect on personal goals for the next month, an update on On Earth Peace’s racial justice organizing goals for 2016-17, and upcoming opportunities to get involved. A webcam/high speed Internet access is strongly recommended, but telephone-only connection also is possible. Register at http://goo.gl/forms/rr3Ew6bx9GyDj6Yg1 .

A six-hour webinar on June 4 co-facilitated by Matt Guynn of On Earth Peace and Kazu Haga of the East Point Peace Academy. This webinar is recommended as an orientation to the book seminar listed below. Go to http://bit.ly/kingianonline20160604 .

A book seminar “Beyond the Dream: The Radical Love of Martin Luther King Jr.” offered once a month from June through November. The seminar will study Dr. King’s five books along with writings from and about women leaders of the Civil Rights era, hear from elders who worked in the Civil Rights movement, and talk about ways to apply these teachings to today’s social and political movements for justice. The seminar will be held one Wednesday a month at 12 noon (Eastern time) beginning June 22 and ending Nov. 30. Cost is $150, payable in full by the time of first participant check-in on June 22. A $50 deposit is required to register. Limited scholarships may be available. Each call will be 90 minutes long. The June 4 webinar is an orientation to the seminar. Go to http://bit.ly/BeyondtheDream2016 .

For questions, contact Matt Guynn at mguynn@OnEarthPeace.org .

Pierre Ferrari (right), CEO of Heifer International, visited the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., last week to speak about Heifer’s work and its historical ties to the denomination. Also pictured is Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service and a Heifer board member since 2011. “Pierre referred to the Church of the Brethren as the ‘tap root of Heifer’ and expressed deep appreciation for the support of the Brethren community for Heifer's work,” reported Wittmeyer. “Pierre was particularly grateful that the Church of the Brethren was able to give relief grants for the Philippines, Nepal, and just recently Ecuador, which came within days of the earthquake and allowed Heifer staff to implement the funds immediately in impacted communities. Brethren funds in this case were used to reconnected community water systems that were destroyed by the disaster.”
Photo by Matt DeBall

Pierre Ferrari (right), CEO of Heifer International, visited the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., last week to speak about Heifer’s work and its historical ties to the denomination. Also pictured is Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service and a Heifer board member since 2011. “Pierre referred to the Church of the Brethren as the ‘tap root of Heifer’ and expressed deep appreciation for the support of the Brethren community for Heifer's work,” reported Wittmeyer. “Pierre was particularly grateful that the Church of the Brethren was able to give relief grants for the Philippines, Nepal, and just recently Ecuador, which came within days of the earthquake and allowed Heifer staff to implement the funds immediately in impacted communities. Brethren funds in this case were used to reconnected community water systems that were destroyed by the disaster.”




10) Brethren bits

-- Remembrance: Graydon “Grady” F. Snyder, 85, died on May 26 at Timbercrest, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in North Manchester, Ind. He was a former dean and Wieand Professor of New Testament Studies at Bethany Theological Seminary, the Church of the Brethren graduate school of theology, where he taught from 1959-87. “We can be in remembrance and prayer for a fine life of theological scholarship that has impacted several generations of ministers and members of the Church of the Brethren,” said a communication from the Bethany Pastoral Care Team. Snyder left Bethany to teach at Chicago Theological Seminary until his retirement. Over his career he wrote many books, commentaries, articles, and curriculum, including publications for Brethren Press and pieces for “Messenger” magazine. A native of Huntington, W.Va., he was a graduate of Manchester College (now Manchester University), held a bachelor of divinity degree from Bethany Seminary, obtained a doctor of theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, and did graduate work at several European universities. He was active in the Brethren Health and Welfare Association and was a member of the Governing Council of Bethany Hospital formerly located on the west side of Chicago. For many years, he and his wife Lois Horning Snyder were staunch members of Chicago First Church of the Brethren. The family is planning a burial to take place in the Chicago area, and a memorial service to be held at a future date.

-- Remembrance: Beth Burnette passed away on Nov. 20, 2015. She had served in a two-year temporary position with the Church of the Brethren as promotions specialist for “Messenger” magazine, beginning in 2005, after retiring as administrative assistant for the Illinois and Wisconsin District. She also had been Christian education director at York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill. A memorial service will be held at the York Center Church on Saturday, June 4, at 10 a.m. A full obituary can be found at www.legacy.com/obituaries/kcchronicle/obituary.aspx?pid=178053579 .

-- Ann Cornell has begun as interim executive director of Camp Eder, a Church of the Brethren outdoor ministry center near Fairfield, Pa. She began in the interim position on May 9, after completing a long tenure as administrator of Shepherd’s Spring Outdoor Ministry Center, a Church of the Brethren camp and retreat center near Sharpsburg, Md.

-- On Earth Peace has welcomed two new interns: Sarah Bond-Yancey is starting as impact assessment coordinator, working with program staff to develop and improve impact assessment practices and reports. She is a recent graduate of the Evergreen State College in Washington State, with a degree in community-based planning and development. Kristine Harner is starting as social media organizer, managing the On Earth Peace Facebook page. She will be a senior at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia, studying psychology. On Earth Peace offers paid internships for college students, recent graduates, and graduate students. More information, including current openings and application instructions, can be found at http://onearthpeace.org/internships .

-- Brethren Press seeks an individual to work within the customer service team. The ideal candidate will be a person of faith who enjoys helping congregations find the right resources, and is adept at maintaining detailed systems for inventory management. This person must be able to work in a religious setting and communicate knowledgeably with customers in congregations. The customer service representative works with purchasing and inventory, takes orders via the telephone and website, and maintains a thorough knowledge of products offered by Brethren Press. Applicants should be competent in Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, and be a quick learner of new systems. They should have training or experience in areas such as sales and customer service, inventory management, accounting, e-commerce, customer database systems. Candidates should be familiar with congregational life and resources such as Sunday school curriculum, books, hymnals, and bulletins. They should be comfortable handling multiple simultaneous projects, meeting deadlines, and working within a team. This position is full-time, though part-time work can be negotiated. The position is based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Applications will be received beginning immediately and will be reviewed until the position is filled. Qualified candidates are invited to request the application form by contacting Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; humanresources@brethren.org .

-- On Earth Peace has announced two job openings:
     A new full-time job opening for a development director. This position has remained vacant since Bob Gross retired at the end of 2014. The job description for this new role includes a distinct advantage for a fundraising professional who is a person of color. This reflects the emerging commitment to anti-racism transformation work by On Earth Peace, along with a practical assessment of what kind of expertise the agency needs to grow to the next level at this time as a community of practice for justice and peace. The need is for a development professional who can keep pace and work in synergy with ongoing program efforts and achievements toward becoming a fully multiracial community. Find out more at http://faithful-steward.tumblr.com/post/145013562464/development-director-job-description .
    A part-time contract position for an Interim Coordinator of Ministry of Reconciliation (MoR). This person will manage requests for MoR services-such as workshops, trainings, facilitations, mediations, and consultations-from On Earth Peace constituents, mostly Church of the Brethren districts, congregations, families, and other related groups. Meeting these needs with this interim role will give On Earth Peace time to consider and discern what kind of staff configuration we will need going forward as our work continues to change and expand and our community grows. Find out more at http://faithful-steward.tumblr.com/post/145013418504/ministry-of-reconciliation-coordinator-job .
     For both positions, apply by July 15 with a cover letter e-mail, resume, and list of references. Apply to On Earth Peace executive director Bill Scheurer, by e-mail to Bill@OnEarthPeace.org .

-- Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) seeks an executive director to lead the organization. IWJ has been a leader in the fight for economic and worker justice in the United States since 1996. IWJ educates, organizes, and mobilizes people of faith, workers and advocates in support of economic justice, and worker rights at the local, state, and national levels. For more information go to www.iwj.org/about/careers/executive-director-2 .

-- The World Council of Churches is looking for a director of the office of the general secretary, based in Geneva, Switzerland, to be responsible for coordinating the activities of the general secretariat; strengthening program management and development; giving leadership and coordination for specific staff functions; contributing to business analysis and opinion, working together with the finance director; and participating in leadership of the organization as a member of the staff leadership group. The deadline is May 31. For more information go to www.oikoumene.org/en/get-involved/job-openings/vacancy-director-of-the-office-of-the-general-secretary/view .

-- The Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) is seeking nominations for its 2016 Nsedu Obot Witherspoon (NOW) Youth Leadership Award. The award was created as part of the CEHN 20th anniversary celebration in 2012, in honor of executive director Nsedu Obot Witherspoon. This award honors a young person, age 12-21 at the time of the nomination, who has demonstrated exceptional environmental health leadership--efforts to protect human health, especially of most vulnerable populations, through actions including: raising awareness of, advocacy for, and outreach around safer, healthier environments across places. CEHN encourages submissions of nominees who are young leaders involved and committed to environmental health, participate in community action, and have strong leadership skills. Submissions must come from non-family members. This award will be presented at CEHN’s 11th Annual Child Health Advocate Award Event in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 13. The winner must be able to travel to Washington and attend the event to accept their award. Submit nominations by 4 p.m. (Eastern time) on July 15. For more information go to www.cehn.org/nsedu-obot-witherspoon-youth-leadership-award .

-- Young adults from across the denomination are gathering at Manchester University in Indiana on May 27-30 for the 2016 National Young Adult Conference. The theme is “Creating Harmony” (Colossians 3:12-17). Worship and Bible study will center the conference, which also includes workshops, service projects, time for fellowship, and recreation among other activities. Featured speakers are Christy Dowdy, pastor of Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa.; Jim Grossnickle-Batterton of the admissions staff at Bethany Theological Seminary; Drew G. I. Hart, a doctoral candidate in theology, part-time professor, and writer; Eric Landram, pastor of Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren; Waltrina N. Middleton, associate for National Youth Event Programing with the United Church of Christ; and Richard Zapata, who with his wife Becky pastors Príncipe de Paz Church of the Brethren in southern California. For more information go to www.brethren.org/yac .

-- June 2 begins the Church of the Brethren’s summer workcamp season 2016. A young adult workcamp will be serving in Northern Ireland from June 2-12. The first of eight senior high workcamps will be in Washington, D.C., June 6-12. The first of six junior high workcamps takes place in Brooklyn, N.Y., June 15-19. Also on the schedule are intergenerational workcamp experiences and the “We Are Able” workcamp. The theme for this year’s workcamps is “Blazing with Holiness” (1 Peter 1:13-16, The Message version). Find the full workcamp schedule and more information at www.brethren.org/workcamps .

-- The Global Mission and Service office seeks prayer for a group of McPherson (Kan.) College communications students who have been traveling in Haiti, led by Paul Ullom-Minnich, consultant for the Haiti Medical Project. “The group is visiting several communities throughout Haiti to learn about the mobile medical clinics and the other social service programs of Eglise des Freres d’Haiti, the Church of the Brethren in Haiti,” said the request. “Pray for safe travels and meaningful interactions.”

-- Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) is looking for volunteers to begin their year of service in the summer orientation, July 17-Aug. 5. Call Jocelyn Snyder, BVS orientation coordinator, to express interest in beginning a year or two of service. She can be reached at 847-429-4384. For more information about BVS go to www.brethren.org/bvs .

-- The latest issue of the BVS newsletter “The Volunteer” includes articles written by current volunteers Penny Radcliff, serving in New Oxford, Pa.; Rachel Ulrich in Roanoke, Va.; Katy Herder in Chicago, Ill.; and Bernd Phoenix in Hiroshima, Japan. An Alumni Corner has stories shared by Nancy Schall Hildebrand. Go to www.brethren.org/bvs/files/newsletter/newsletter-2015-6-winter.pdf .

-- Kathy Fry-Miller of Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) was one of a “Think Tank Panel” at the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD) Conference in Minneapolis. She spoke about working with vulnerable populations in non-traditional disasters, according to a Facebook post from Brethren Disaster Ministries. Find out about the work of CDS at www.brethren.org/cds .

-- Bethany Theological Seminary president Jeff Carter joined seven seminary presidents who are Princeton Theological Seminary alumni in a panel presentation entitled, “The Future of Theological Education.” The panel was part of PTS Reunion at Princeton and was attended by alumni, faculty, trustees, and friends. “Seminaries represented included McCormick Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Lancaster Theological Seminary, New York Theological Seminary, Columbia Theological Seminary, Near East School of Theology, Indian Sunday School Union, and yes, Bethany Theological Seminary,” Carter wrote in an e-mail report to the Bethany community. “President Barnes opened the discussion with a few questions and then asked the audience for questions. It was an incredible two hours of sharing.” In the audience was Bill Robinson, former president of Manchester University and current trustee chair for Princeton Theological Seminary. Carter reported, “It was both an exciting and humbling experience to be with so many esteemed leaders and now, conversation partners.”

-- On Sunday, April 24, Elkhart Valley Church of the Brethren in Indiana kicked off its 150th anniversary with a concert and hymn sing. Richard Yoder, unofficial church historian, was interviewed by the Goshen News about plans for four special events this year to celebrate the anniversary. Yoder told the paper that Elkhart Valley Church was established in 1866 as a “daughter church” of West Goshen Church of the Brethren, which was the first Brethren church in Elkhart County, Ind. “Yoder said as people in congregations moved and because the ride in the buggy became too far, new churches were started. He said West Goshen Church of the Brethren started both Yellow Creek Church of the Brethren and Elkhart Valley. The two congregations were merged until 1870, although Elkhart Valley Church was built in 1866.” Find the Goshen News report at www.goshennews.com/news/local_news/elkhart-valley-celebrates-years/article_db6cfa2b-b396-5258-98fb-dc4e35b64647.html .

-- Goshen City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren has held a vote to recognize same-sex marriages and to allow its clergy to take part in them. The action has garnered significant media attention in the area. A report in the Elkhart Truth newspaper noted that the church “had been discussing the issue for more than a year,” and quoted a statement from the church that said, in part: “The congregation sees itself as a safe place in the community that provides Christ-centered love and compassion for all individuals--including those who feel marginalized. This vote is another step in discerning how we, as a congregation, can and should move toward a more loving way of being in community with each other.” See www.elkharttruth.com/living/faith/2016/05/23/Goshen-Church-of-the-Brethren-votes-to-recognize-perform-gay-marriages.html . Prior to the vote on Sunday, May 22, the then-pending decision was the subject of a May 17 article in the Goshen News, which interviewed co-pastors Bev Weaver and Steve Norton and the denomination’s director of News Services Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford. “Our vote is about whether the congregation would support pastors in doing weddings for people--gay or straight--who want a Christian wedding,” Weaver told the newspaper. “This is not an advocacy position. This is more of pastoral care as a result of evangelism work of the church. We have people in our midst who love Jesus and are LGBT.” Find the article at www.goshennews.com/news/goshen-church-to-vote-sunday-on-performing-same-sex-marriages/article_4fc15378-82ce-5228-970b-ce1cf0f53501.html .

The Dunkard Valley Live Christian Music Festival
Photo courtesy of Duane Bahn

The Dunkard Valley Live Christian Music Festival

-- Dunkard Valley Live Christian Music Festival is planned for Aug. 6 and 7 (rain dates are Aug. 13 and 14) at Codorus Church of the Brethren in Dallastown, Pa. “The hills and hollows around the Codorus Church of the Brethren will again echo with sounds of Christian music,” said an announcement. “Come hear the gospel being shared through song and the spoken word.” Events take place on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and are free and open to the public. The festival began 13 years ago after Becky Innerst of Red Lion, Pa., attended Creation, the release said. “God laid it on me to do this,” she said. “I was just overwhelmed with the idea, and I said ‘God, I can’t even sing,’ but he kept telling me this was something he wanted me to do.” She took the idea to Duane Bahn who along with Becky formed a committee and the event took shape. Many volunteers help with the festival, including the groups and speakers who perform. The Saturday afternoon and evening is geared toward youth, and features some of the louder groups, the release said. The performances on Sunday are more traditional and family oriented. A kid’s tent provides activities for children. T-shirts will be for sale along with food and desserts. See www.dunkardvalleylive.com .

-- New Fairview Church of the Brethren in York, Pa., is holding a “Cruise-In” on Sunday, June 5, starting at 9 a.m. The event includes a coffee and donut breakfast, worship, lunch, and fellowship. All makes and models of cars, trucks, and bikes are welcome.

-- “The 24th annual Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Auction is now history, and preliminary numbers point to another great success!” said a report on the district’s annual auction. “The two-day income at the fairgrounds totaled $175,162.99; the cattle auction brought in $15,889.50; the other auctions combined for $92,038.50. These numbers do not include any money received at the district office (golf fees, oyster sales, etc.) prior to the auction. And there are always late-arriving bills to be paid and some additional income.” Other outcomes, by the numbers: 1,124 people dined on 75 gallons of oysters plus country ham and chicken; 465 breakfasts were served (265 omelets, 200 pancakes); 226 plate lunches were served. “Thanks to all who volunteered to make the auction a reality and to those who came to eat, bid, buy, and enjoy what has become an annual reunion,” said the district announcement, which also noted that next year the auction will celebrate its 25th anniversary.

-- “All are invited to participate in the June 24-25 ‘Faithful Witness in a Time of Endless War’ conference at the Christopher Dock Mennonite High School featuring Shane Claiborne, Medea Benjamin, Titus Peachey, and others,” said an invitation to Brethren from one of the organizers of the event, Harold Penner. “The event will conclude with a nonviolent public witness at the US military’s new drone warfare command center in Horsham, Pa.” Co-sponsored in part by the Mennonite Church USA Peace and Justice Support Network as well as Mennonite Central Committee East Coast, the conference will pursue the message of the July 2015 resolution on “Faithful Witness amid Endless War” adopted at the Mennonite Church USA convention. For more information contact the Peace Action Education Fund at avega@peacecoalition.org or 609-924-5022. Print a registration form for mailing at  http://interfaithdronenetwork.org . Youth are encouraged to participate free of charge.

-- Southern Pennsylvania District has published a wrap-up report from the 2016 meat canning project, a joint effort with Mid-Atlantic District: 54,240 pounds of chicken were canned, 4 skids of canned chicken will be sent to Honduras and 4 skids to Haiti, each district involved in the project received more than 350 cases of chicken to distribute, and $46,537.05 was donated. “There are 50 cases per skid, and 24 cans per case,” the newsletter noted.

-- Southern Pennsylvania District also is raising funds to purchase a four-wheel drive Land Cruiser for the Church of the Brethren mission in South Sudan. “Traveling in South Sudan, the newest and poorest country in the world, is practically impossible,” explained Eli Mast in the district newsletter. “Roads are almost impassable, especially during the six-month rainy season.... Athanasus Ungang, Church of the Brethren staff person, currently uses a motor bike for travel. This limits his ability to transport people and supplies.” The district hopes to raise $30,000. The district board has designated $5,000 to the fund. Churches and individuals also have contributed, with almost $15,000 raised to date. Donated funds are sent directly to the Global Mission and Service office of the Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill.

-- At a lunch in Palmyra, Pa., on May 17, some 35 people gathered to meet with Rachel and Jinatu Wamdeo, who has served as general secretary of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The event was hosted by Annual Conference secretary Jim Beckwith. Those present were from the districts of Atlantic Northeast and Southern Pennsylvania. Said a report about the event: “Jinatu shared some personal/family information and then gave an update on the church in Nigeria. Though many have been displaced, fleeing to places such as neighboring Cameroon, it has only been by the grace of God that EYN has not closed. They are especially grateful for the US Brethren who have been able to come alongside them in support.... ‘Boko Haram has renewed our faith!’ Jinatu stated.”

-- Missouri and Arkansas District is inviting each of its congregations to take part in a project called “Weave Us Together.” The congregations will each choose two or three people to be visitors, to send to neighboring congregations. “The congregations are asked to have a pre-visit conversation to weave together what they wish to share about the past, present, and possible future life of the church. To explore the ways we make a difference in the lives of our members and the surrounding community,” said the district announcement. “Please hold this process in prayer as we call on Jesus to weave us together.”

-- A first-ever “Church of the Brethren Camp Road Trip Retreat” has been announced by Camp Eder. “Take a journey with us in our shiny school bus! To learn some Church of the Brethren camping history and meet some of our closest friends at nearby camps,” said an invitation. The bus trip from Aug. 12-14 will begin at Camp Eder near Fairfield, Pa., and proceed to Camp Harmony near Hooversville, Pa., and then to Camp Blue Diamond near Petersburg, Pa., and return to Camp Eder. The event is for all ages and costs $95 per person.

-- Bridgewater (Va.) College graduated 417 seniors on May 14--the largest class in the history of the 136-year-old college according to a release. Among the students in the class of 2016, 107 earned bachelor of arts degrees and 279 earned bachelor of science degrees. The degrees were conferred by Bridgewater College president David W. Bushman. Receiving the President's Medal at the ceremony were Julia C. Morton, associate professor of world languages and cultures; Paul J. Bender, professor of mathematics; and Mary Frances Heishman, professor of health and human sciences, all three of whom are retiring. An honorary degree was presented to the ceremony’s keynote speaker, G. Steven Agee, who is a justice on the United States Court of Appeals and a 1974 Bridgewater alumnus as well as a member of the board of trustees of the college.

-- In more news from Bridgewater College, three alumni have been honored for their achievements and humanitarian service. The West-Whitelow Humanitarian Award was presented to Nancy Moore Link, a former mission worker who with her late husband Donald served in Nigeria with the Church of the Brethren from 1966-69. She was an instructor at a teacher training school, and then after a brief furlough in the United States returned to Nigeria to serve as houseparent at Hillcrest School in Jos. More recently, Link volunteered for Children’s Disaster Services, and for some months lived and worked at the Lybrook Mission and Tokahookaadi Church of the Brethren in the Navajo community in New Mexico. At home, the Links established and maintained a 30-mile nest box trail in Augusta County, Va., and Nancy Link continues to monitor and record activity for the Virginia Bluebird Society. Two additional alumni received awards also: the Distinguished Alumnus Award was presented to Robert R. Newlen, chief of staff of the Library of Congress where he has worked for more than 40 years; and the Young Alumnus Award was presented to Holly Wagner Fowler, a public affairs specialist at the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

-- “Thank you to all of you who honored mothers and mother figures in your life with a donation to Global Women's Project for Mother’s Day,” said an e-mail from the GWP. “Over $3,000 was raised in order to support the mission of educating about wealth, power, and oppression, encouraging one another to live more simply, being mindful of our luxuries, and joining in empowerment with women around the world, sharing resources with women’s initiatives.” The GWP is supporting projects in India, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, and Wabash, Ind.

Quilt block featuring the Alexander Mack Seal
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Quilt block featuring the Alexander Mack Seal

-- “Quilting in the Brethren and Mennonite Traditions” takes place June 3-4 at the Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., in cooperation with the Virginia Consortium of Quilters and the Virginia Quilt Museum. On June 3, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., historians will be available to document family heirloom quilts. The documentation fee is $5 per quilt with a three-quilt maximum. Register at www.vbmhc.org . On June 4, visitors may browse a quilt display and learn about quilts at two Quilt Turnings at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Talks on quilt care and on quilting for disaster relief are scheduled as well as a quilting demonstration. Admission for the day is $10; lunch will be available for $5; no registration is required. To volunteer during the event or to offer unique quilts to display call 540-438-1275.

-- “Local and national organizations must be enabled to participate more in humanitarian decision-making,” said a release from ACT Alliance, international faith-based humanitarian and development network in which the Church of the Brethren participates. The release came out of a World Humanitarian Summit roundtable held recently in Turkey. “Moving from delivering aid to ending need requires more participation of local and national organizations in policy and decision-making processes, international faith-based humanitarian and development network,” the release said. ACT Alliance general secretary John Nduna was one of the speakers at the roundtable. “As an alliance committed to the accompaniment of local and national actors, more than 70 percent of our membership are local and national responders rooted in communities before, during, and after crises,” he said. “We are part of the communities we seek to assist, and are emboldened to see commitments which aspire to reinforce local systems, increase genuine community engagement, and enhance complementarity among local, national, and international responders.”

-- June 2 is the Second Annual National Gun Violence Awareness Day, an effort of a number of organizations working against gun violence including Newtown Action Alliance, Connecticut Against Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and Sandy Hook Promise. “Over 100,000 Americans have been killed by guns and over 250,000 Americans have been injured by guns since the tragic shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School,” said an announcement. “We must continue to shed a light on the epidemic of gun violence in our nation to engage more Americans to make gun violence prevention a priority.” The day of national events will include an “Orange Walk” in Newtown, Conn., starting at 6:30 p.m. “If you are not able to join us in Newtown, we encourage you to #WearOrange on June 2nd to honor all victims and survivors of gun violence on National Gun Violence Awareness Day,” said the announcement. For more information contact info@newtownaction.org .

-- Retired Church of the Brethren minister Bob Kettering will lead a hymn sing at the 1871 Historic Wenger Meetinghouse in Jonestown, Pa., on Sunday, June 12 at 2:30 p.m. Kettering “is known for his hymn leading of congregations, his participation with the quartet the Ministers of Music, and his involvement with Mt. Gretna Camp Meeting,” said a notice in the Lebanon Daily News. Hymns will be sung a capella from the 20th century, when the Wenger Meetinghouse was in use by the United Zion Church. An open house of the restored meetinghouse will be held at 2 p.m., before the hymn sing begins. A freewill offering will be taken to support the restoration.

-- Don Wagstaff, former pastor of Piqua (Ohio) Church of the Brethren, has been honored by the Piqua Association of Churches with a “Hero of Faith” award. PAC president Paul Green told the Pique Daily Call newspaper that Wagstaff was chosen because of his personal qualities: “You can’t go into ministry and not affect somebody’s life, and you can tell how...by seeing those people around him.” See https://dailycall.com/news/11207/hero-of-faith-honored .


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Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jeff Boshart, Deborah Brehm, Josh Brockway, Chris Douglas, Stan Dueck, Kristin Flory, Katie Furrow, Matt Guynn, Mary Kay Heatwole, Carl and Roxane Hill, Nathan Hosler, Jon Kobel, Wendy McFadden, Nancy Miner, Harold Penner, Jay Wittmeyer, Leon Yoder, and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Contact the editor at cobnews@brethren.org . Newsline appears every week, with special issues as needed. Stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. The next regularly scheduled issue of Newsline is set for June 3.

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