Newsline for Oct. 7, 2016




“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
 

NEWS
1) ‘Risk hope’ is a recurring chorus: Annual Conference moderator shares monthly reflection
2) Hurricane Matthew update: Mission staff to assess damage in Haiti, BDM monitors Florida
3) Disability ombudsman serves at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference
4) Atlantic Southeast holds 10th Annual Family Peace Camp
5) Christian, Muslim leaders agree to stand against religious extremism

UPCOMING EVENTS
6) October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
7) Bridgewater College to hold symposium on ‘Anabaptist Nonresistance in Age of Terror’

8) Brethren bits: Remembering Stewart Kauffman, job openings, books for Nigeria, BBT open enrollment, Children’s Sabbath, district conferences, Bread for the World on candidates’ statements about hunger, CPT visits Standing Rock Sioux, Friends with the Weather, more


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1) ‘Risk hope’ is a recurring chorus: Annual Conference moderator shares monthly reflection

"Risk Hope" is the theme for the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in 2017

By Carol Scheppard

Brothers and sisters, as we set our sights on Grand Rapids, I would like to offer a monthly reflection on various elements of the story arc that will be the foundation for our work and worship there. Here is the first message, for October 2016:

Risk hope

Scriptures for study: Psalm 137, Deuteronomy 5:1-21

“Risk Hope,” the 2017 Annual Conference theme, emerges as a recurring chorus from an Old Testament saga of tragedy and redemption--the story of Israel’s progressive descent into exile.  Staring down obstacles and situations very reminiscent of our 21st century challenges, our ancestors in faith made mistakes, suffered consequences, and endured darkness, but in the midst of it all they found their footing in their identity story, and ultimately welcomed God’s powerful presence in their midst. That presence launched them on a new path to abundance and blessing.

This monthly message provides a guided walk through that narrative, a chance to reflect episode by episode, month by month, on the way the past echoes with the present, and to tune our ears to the lessons of yesteryear as we set our sights on Grand Rapids.

So, to begin, read Psalm 137, a psalm from the Exile:

“By the Rivers of Babylon,
     There we sat down
     And there we wept
     When we remembered Zion...”

In anguish, the psalmist vows never to forget the City of God and cries out for vengeance. What once was--the land, the Temple, the Ark of the Covenant--all seem lost. Where is God? Is Israel beyond God’s blessing?

How did it come to this?

To understand, we need to go back in time, tracing the story from years earlier.

Read Deuteronomy 5:1-21.

Moses gathers the people on the East Bank of the Jordan River. After 40 years of wandering, they are poised to enter the Promised Land. They cannot and will not succeed on their own--they must trust God and walk in God’s ways. Moses recounts the way God delivered their parents from slavery and made a covenant with them at Mount Horeb. He tells the story of God’s faithfulness during the years in the wilderness. He recites the law. He insists: “Not with our ancestors did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today.”

Before facing the challenges that will come with the conquest of the land of Canaan, Moses reminds the people who they are and why they are. They are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to whom God promised land, progeny, and blessing. They are the Chosen of God, to whom God gave his “hesed,” his steadfast lovingkindness--made evident in the granting of the law. They are the servants of God, whom God, through the law, commands to share his “hesed” abroad. The directive of the law is clear: Love God alone and take care of each other.

Moses says: Hold fast to who you are: The Chosen of God/The Servant of God. Your story is God’s story. Through it you claim God and God claims you. The story is true, its conditions and consequences are real. Commit yourselves anew to the covenant with God, and step out across the Jordan in faithfulness. 

Questions for consideration

-- What are the stories we tell to recount our relationship with God? Our relationships with one another?

-- What stories best express who we are as a people?

-- How do these stories shape the work we do in the world?

-- How do we recommit with integrity to those relationships? And to those stories?

-- Carol Scheppard is serving as moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference and will preside over the denomination’s next annual meeting in Grand Rapids, Mich., on June 28-July 2, 2017. She is vice president and dean for Academic Affairs at Bridgewater (Va.) College and is a member of Lebanon Church of the Brethren in Mount Sidney, Va. For more about the theme for the 2017 Conference, go to www.brethren.org/ac/2017/theme.html .





2) Hurricane Matthew update: Mission staff to assess damage in Haiti, BDM monitors Florida

Eye of the hurricane
FEMA

As Hurricane Matthew batters Florida today, Brethren Disaster Ministries continues to monitor the situation and is working to determine response plans in the Caribbean and on the east coast. Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) has put volunteers on alert.

“We have a team of 12 ‘on alert’ for Matthew,” reports CDS associate director Kathy Fry-Miller. CDS’s partner contact at the American Red Cross has let her know that any need for disaster childcare in Florida will not be known until tomorrow, Saturday. Although there are many evacuation shelters open now, most of those will close after the danger has passed.

A shortcut to the latest Hurricane Matthew news from the Church of the Brethren has been created: www.brethren.org/hurricane-matthew-news . Support the hurricane response by giving to the Emergency Disaster Fund online at www.brethren.org/edf or by check to Emergency Disaster Fund, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin IL 60120.

Updates from Haiti

Staff in Haiti continue to assess the storm’s effects on congregations of l’Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti). Ilexene Alphonse, staff of Global Mission and Service, plans to visit communities on Saturday.

Midwives for Haiti, a partner organization of the Haiti Medical Project of the Church of the Brethren, also reported on damage. “All of Haiti, including Hinche and the Central Plateau, have received incredible amounts of rain. With rain comes flooding and the risk of landslides,” wrote executive director and founder Nadene Brunk. “In the region where we work, because the rivers are flooding many of the homes along rivers have been destroyed. People are sheltered at schools and churches but food and clean water are hard to get for those without homes. There is great concern about cholera because septic tanks and sewers overflowed and wells are contaminated.”





3) Disability ombudsman serves at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference

By Rebekah Flores

I was honored to serve as Disability Ombudsman for the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference. This was the first year someone has served in this role. There were reports from previous years when people were not able to fully participate in Annual Conference. It was my role to see what could be done to allow people to fully participate.

Disabilities ombudsman Rebekah Flores at Annual Conference, shown here speaking with Frank Ramirez who pastors one of the congregations who joined the Open Roof Fellowship this year.
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Disabilities ombudsman Rebekah Flores at Annual Conference, shown here speaking with Frank Ramirez who pastors one of the congregations who joined the Open Roof Fellowship this year.

I have supported people with disabilities for many years and have found that often it is quick, simple fixes that allow someone to fully participate. I found this to be the case again.  I worked with people to ensure that all the materials were accessible to them in whatever format they required. I worked to ensure that the physical space was accessible as well. I found we were very lucky in the conference space. With only a few exceptions, the physical space was very accessible. I was also available to listen and provide support throughout the week for those with disabilities and their families.

The most rewarding part for me was a facilitating a mutual help support group. The support was for families that included members with autism and Asperger syndrome. I found it very interesting that of the 10 attendees 7 were grandparents looking to find ways to be supportive and helpful for their grandchildren in their home settings. This was very inspiring to me. To hear the stories of challenges spoken with such love was amazing.  It was rewarding to see the families share with each other as well as offer support and love. Following the session I heard from participants just how meaningful this group was for them.

In my ministry supporting people with disabilities I am always amazed at the challenges that people overcome on daily basis. They overcome their challenges with grace and love. I am equally amazed by family members and caregivers. They serve in a unique and special role, and they do this with so much love. I also see openness to learn from each other and the grace to ask for help along the well. My life, faith and ministry is always enriched by experiences like this and the people I am blessed to meet along the way.

As I look forward to serving in this role next year, I hope to raise awareness of the importance of our words. Words used innocently can cause harm to others. I hope to also be more available to provide support for physical as well as emotional challenges that arise during the conference itself. Annual Conference and our places of worship should be places of welcoming where everyone can fully participate, no matter what. We have our work cut out for us, but I am not going anywhere until we reach that goal!

-- Rebekah Flores is a field associate with Anabaptist Disabilities Network and a member of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill.





4) Atlantic Southeast holds 10th Annual Family Peace Camp

By Jerry Eller

Atlantic Southeast District held its 10th Labor Day Weekend Family Peace Camp at Camp Ithiel, Fla., on Sept. 2-4. The theme for the camp was “Pathways to Inner Peace.” The resource leaders were pastor Belita and Don Mitchell from Harrisburg, Pa. Belita Mitchell, a former Annual Conference moderator, provided the focus for the five sessions, while Don Mitchell provided meaningful and stirring music.

The Mitchells were dynamic and engaging. Participants commented on being challenged spiritually as well as being challenged to engage in faith-based actions. Lifted up was “Heeding God’s Call-Actions to end gun violence.”

Rose Cadet and Jerry Eller were the co-deans of the camp. Many others contributed to the Spirit-filled weekend. Karen Neff provided the evening worship activities. Marcus Harden also provided leadership throughout the weekend, from get-acquainted activities to the Farewell Circle on Sunday. Cadet and her daughter led Morning Watch on Saturday. Dawn Ziegler led a Saturday afternoon “fun time break.” Eller hosted the Saturday evening Variety Show. Sunday Morning Watch was facilitated by the Sutton family. Insightful contributions were made by Steve Horrell and Berwyn Oltman. Phil Lersch and Merle Crouse helped with the ongoing flow of the camp and Mike Neff helped meet the conference needs.

The 45 attendees were involved in all aspects of the camp. They represented the diversity that is the Brethren population in Florida. People experienced a profound connection to each other, God, and Jesus. Many wonderful memories came from this Family Peace Camp.

-- Jerry Eller of St. Petersburg, Fla., provided this report and Phil Lersch submitted it on behalf of the Family Peace Camp team.





5) Christian, Muslim leaders agree to stand against religious extremism

Christian and Muslim leaders at dialogue between the Muslim Council of Elders and the World Council of Churches.
Photo by Peter Williams / WCC

Christian and Muslim leaders at dialogue between the Muslim Council of Elders and the World Council of Churches.

A release from the World Council of Churches

The role of religions in promoting peace and countering violence was discussed during a two-day dialogue between the Muslim Council of Elders and the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva, Switzerland, from Sept. 30-Oct. 1. Two sessions of talks, hosted by the WCC, involved presentations and discussions on key aspects of peacebuilding and interreligious dialogue, paying special attention to combating religious extremism leading to violence in many parts of the world.

The dialogue commenced with presentations by Agnes Abuom, moderator of the WCC Central Committee, and WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit.

Religious leadership, both Christian and Muslim, needs to be more courageous than it has been, said Abuom. She noted: “Without directly supporting attacks on the other religion, there have been some occasions when religious leaders have given a sort of silent approval to what their followers are saying and doing.”

It is said starkly in the book of Genesis that murder and the shedding of human blood are prohibited because of the fact that human beings are created in the image of God, Tveit said. “Placing of these words in the early chapters of our Holy Scriptures is an essential heart of our belief that religion should never be used to justify violence,” he said. There have been many times when adherents of both our faiths have tried to use religious motives to justify violent actions. “But if religious people can be honest with each other about the ways in which religion has been used to underpin violence--we can also find the ways together for religion to be part of the solution,” he said.

Representatives from the WCC and Al-Azhar University, including Grand Imam Ahmad al-Tayyeb, have been working cooperatively since 2015, when ECHOS, a commission on youth engagement in the ecumenical movement, met in Cairo, Egypt, from May 8-13. Opening his presentation to the meeting in Geneva last week, Al-Tayyeb said that today’s world seems to be ruled by selfishness, hatred, and conflict. It is a matter of great sadness to see that religions are considered responsible for this dreaded terrorism, noted Al-Tayyeb, who is also chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders.

“Perhaps the authors of these charges are not aware of two important facts in this regard: first, religion came to establish peace between people and lift the injustice of the oppressed as well as to emphasize the sanctity of human blood. Second, terrorism, which blames religions, mainly Islam, does not differentiate while promoting its acts. No difference is made between religious and atheist, or between a Muslim and non-Muslim. At a quick glance at the victims of terrorism, it is confirmed that Muslims themselves are more than paying the price of this terrorism with their blood.”

It is no longer sufficient by the clergy to issue condemnations and statements against acts of violence, terrorism, and hate speech, said Al-Tayyeb. “That is like working on separate islands, which results in weak targets, with no concrete and influential impact on the ground. However, a joint action must be coordinated to confront the phenomenon of violence, scrutinizing the causes of the phenomenon and working on the proposed solutions to intellectually, scientifically, socially, and educationally confront that phenomenon.”

There must be a collaborative attempt to fix what has become a communal problem, said Bishop Angaelos, general bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom. “Developments over the last years are greater than any individual, church, religion, or even state can fix alone,” he said. “There must be a new form of dialogue that changes the narrative from helplessness and conflict to the one of hope and promise. This new dialogue can not have tolerance as its baseline. Acceptance is what we must be aiming for.”

In the world today we cannot draw a clear division between East and West; there are numerous Christian minorities living in the East, and numerous Muslim minorities in the West. “As religious leaders, we must change the narrative that presents the Middle East as the place of conflict,” said Angaelos. “The reality is that the Middle East is undeniably the place of religion and faith. Religion can not be seen as an enemy, but it must be seen as an ally both to the state and civil society. We cannot continue to be seen as a problem, but we must rightly be recognized as a solution.”

We are held accountable for the acts of religious extremists because we are all people of religion, noted Angaelos. “The strong secular lobby throughout the world now continues to look at us and tell us that religion is the problem. This is our battle--no one else’s. Our silence will allow others to speak for us.”

Definitions of extremism were explored at the meeting by Quraish Shihab, former minister of religious affairs of Indonesia and member of the Muslim Council of Elders. “Incapacity to respect any other belief that is different from our own belief or belief of our community, as long as it is peaceful, or ignoring such beliefs is an indicator of isolation, radicalism, and extremism,” said Shihab.

Martin Junge, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, stated in the meeting that the role of religious leaders today is to prophetically stand up against messages, attitudes, and actions that counter God’s intentions of peace for the entire humanity. According to Junge, education is one of necessary action areas to make a difference. “We have a responsibility to educate the religious leaders in our communities toward awareness of extremism and how to be guarded against it. I am particularly keen that we have the courage to identify within our own sacred texts those passages and references which have been used to justify violence based on religious beliefs.”

Interreligious dialogues too often emphasize the peace messages of their own traditions, without admitting that there are also those other texts that could be interpreted to condone or instigate violence, said Junge. “What will we do with those texts? What will we say to our preachers on how to relate to these texts? We can’t fight religious extremism without giving tools to our leaders to relate and interpret these texts.”

Mahmoud Hamdi Zaqzouq introduced the meeting to the Islamic concept of peace, briefly summarizing it in three circles, one leading to another. First, the personal peace each of us wants to achieve for ourselves. Second, our peace with God, exemplified in our religious beliefs. Third, peace with others and the world around us. “God says in the Qur’an that He himself is the peace, and the Arabic term for Islam is derived from the word with a same meaning--peace,” said Zaqzouq.

We may think that these existing conflicts of today hardly affect us because we live far away--but they do, said Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima, vice moderator of the WCC Central Committee. “However, in spite of these polarizing trends, God wants us to stand in the gap and be peacemakers. In fact, this situation grants us an opportunity to share the good news of peace, as it is written in Prophet Isaiah: How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings...” (Isaiah 52:7).

Read full text of the joint communiqué of Oct. 1 at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/general-secretary/joint-declarations/joint-communique-issued-by-the-delegations-representing-the-world-council-of-churches-and-the-muslim-council-of-elders .





UPCOMING EVENTS

6) October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Faith Trust Institute brochure on domestic violence

By Debbie Eisenbise

Throughout October, congregations are encouraged to raise awareness about the serious problem of domestic violence. Activities may include providing members with information through a bulletin insert (available at www.brethren.org/family/domestic-violence.html ); creating a bulletin board with facts about domestic violence; publicizing the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233) and 800-787-3224 (TDD); hosting a speaker from a local domestic violence shelter or the YWCA; and remembering in prayer people who have been affected by domestic violence.
 
In 1997, the Church of the Brethren published a statement encouraging congregations and individuals to engage in ongoing advocacy and education concerning domestic violence. Find the statement at www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1997domesticviolence.html . Educational resources are available at www.brethren.org/family/domestic-violence.html .

A brochure published by FaithTrust Institute, “What Every Congregation Needs to Know about Domestic Violence” is being sent to every congregation in November’s Source packet. Additional copies are available from Congregational Life Ministries by contacting deisenbise@brethren.org or 800-323-8039 ext. 306.

An introduction to the DVD from Faith Trust Institute, “Broken Vows: Religious Perspectives on Domestic Violence,” can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=bR45maMwabQ and purchased through the institute’s online store. This is an excellent resource for clergy, deacons, and anyone seeking to provide assistance to victims of domestic violence. Additional information about domestic violence is available from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence at www.ncadv.org .

-- Debbie Eisenbise is director of intergenerational ministries for the Church of the Brethren, serving on the staff of Congregational Life Ministries.





7) Bridgewater College to hold symposium on ‘Anabaptist Nonresistance in Age of Terror’

Bridgewater (Va.) College’s Forum for Brethren Studies and the Kline-Bowman Institute for Creative Peace-building will host a 2017 symposium, “Anabaptist Non-Resistance in the Age of Terror.”

“It’s not too early to mark your 2017 calendars for this consideration of hard questions about the traditional Anabaptist position of nonviolence and opposition to military action, even as the 21st Century is marked by mass shootings and terrorist activities,” said an announcement.

On Thursday, March 16, the symposium will open with a panel discussion during an evening convocation; on Friday, March 17, morning and afternoon presentations will be offered.

The line-up of speakers will include:

-- Elizabeth Ferris, Georgetown University, on refugee security

-- Robert Johansen, Kroc Center emeritus, University of Notre Dame, Ind., on policing instead of military force

-- Donald Kraybill, Young Center emeritus, Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, on Nickle Mines shooting and personal non-resistance

-- Andrew Loomis, US Department of State, violence prevention

-- Musa Mambula, Bethany Theological Seminary and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria)

-- Andy Murray, Baker Institute emeritus, Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pa.

The evening convocation is free. Registration for the Friday event, including lunch, is $20. Walk-ups will be accepted but advance registration is appreciated. Registration details will be forthcoming. For more information, contact Robert Andersen at randerse@bridgewater.edu or Steve Longenecker at slongene@bridgewater.edu .

Claysburg Church of the Brethren receives new members by baptism

Claysburg Church of the Brethren celebrated 90 years of ministry in the Claysburg area on Sept. 11. “The Claysburg Church began in the early 1920s when some of the Leamersville Brethren thought there should be a Sunday school in Claysburg,” reports pastor Ron Bashore. “A large room over the old bank building was rented, and in 1921 the Sunday school was in operation during the summer months. In 1923 the Middle District started a mission of the Church of the Brethren in Claysburg. Services were held in a summer tabernacle built on the ground where the church stands today. The district board made plans for the construction of the present building in 1925.... On September 1, 1926, the church was officially organized.”
     The church celebrated by welcoming new members on Sunday, Sept. 4. Seven new members were received, some through a letter of transfer from their previous churches, and some through baptism. “The outdoor baptism setting was in the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River near the church,” Bashore reports. “Those who were baptized were Joe Kennedy, Ryan Kennsinger, Susan Dodson, and Jane Strittmatter. Along with them, Jean and Don Matters, as well as two of our existing members, Heidi Kennedy, and Roger Grace, were also baptized.”

A cake for Claysburg Church of the Brethren 90th anniversary

8) Brethren bits
 
-- Remembrance: Stewart Kauffman, 97, of Lancaster, Pa., passed away on Thursday, Oct. 6. He served on the Church of the Brethren denominational staff from 1955-1960 as director of Ministry and Evangelism, and as staff for Stewardship Enlistment/Planned Giving from 1970 until his retirement in 1986. Previously he had been a pastor and was regional executive (a position equivalent to today’s district executive) for the former Eastern Region of the Church of the Brethren from 1953-55. In volunteer service to the church, he also was a member of the former General Board of the denomination from 1963-1970, serving as chair during his final year on the board. In 1961 he was awarded an honorary doctor of divinity degree by Bethany Theological Seminary. He directed both worship and music for Annual Conferences held in the early 1960s. He chaired the Estate and Financial Planning Action Team for the National Council of Churches for six years and was instrumental in shaping the programming of the North American Council of Christian Philanthropy to include the needs of congregations as well as institutions. In 2000 he was recognized for his volunteer work with the Zella J. Gahagan Charitable Trust Advisory Committee, receiving a special commendation from the General Board. The multi-million dollar Gahagan Trust provided yearly income and one-time distributions for ministries with children, youth, and young adults. Kauffman wrote a book about the life and work of Zella Johns Gahagan (1899-1984) titled “Zella’s Mountain,” which was published by Brethren Press. Kauffman earned degrees from Elizabethtown (Pa.) College and Bethany Seminary, did graduate work at Garrett Biblical Institute and the University of Pittsburgh, and also studied at Mansfield College in Oxford, England, and the Bossey Ecumenical Institute in Switzerland. A memorial service for Kauffman will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 1 p.m., in the chapel at Brethren Village Retirement Community in Lancaster.

-- Western Pennsylvania District has called William (Bill) W. Wenger to serve as interim district executive beginning Jan. 1, 2017. The appointment is intended to be for a one-year term. Wenger began his connection with the Church of the Brethren in Shippensburg, Pa. He was licensed to ministry in 1980 and ordained a decade later, at Mount Zion Road Church of the Brethren in Atlantic Northeast District. He is a graduate of Messiah College, Grantham, Pa., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in religion, and earned a Master of Divinity degree from Evangelical School of Theology. In addition to experience in pastoral leadership in congregations, he brings experience of chaplaincy having served at the Peter Becker Community, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in Harleysville, Pa. He currently is pastor at Moxham Church of the Brethren in Johnstown, Pa., and is a member the board of directors of the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC) and serves as adjunct faculty teaching courses in church history, biblical interpretation, and introduction to the Old Testament.

-- Manchester University seeks candidates for the Gladdys Muir Professor of Peace Studies, an endowed professorship in the Peace Studies Program at the university’s campus in North Manchester, Ind. The university invites applications for the position at the associate professor or professor rank depending upon qualifications. This is a full-time, tenure-track position that will begin in the fall of 2017. The program seeks a person with a strong commitment to, and demonstrated excellence in, undergraduate teaching and interdisciplinary collaboration. Manchester University is home to the world’s first undergraduate peace studies program, established in 1948. The program is grounded on commitments to nonviolence, the promotion of human rights, and an international system congenial to just peace. It is coordinated by a council of faculty from across the academic disciplines. For more information about the essential job functions, qualifications, work schedule, pay and benefits, and how to apply, go to www.manchester.edu/about-manchester/news/news-articles/muir-professorship-2016 . Review of applications will begin Oct. 15, and will continue until the position is filled. Manchester University is an equal opportunity employer. Applicants who further diversify the faculty and staff are warmly welcome.

-- The Valley Brethren Mennonite Heritage Center 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. Salary and benefits determined by the board of directors. Send letter of application, resume, and three recommendations to Glen Kauffman, Chair, Search Committee, Everence Financial Advisors, 841 Mt. Clinton Pike, Harrisonburg, VA 22802; glen.kauffman@everence.com . Position open until filled. For more information about the center go to www.vbmhc.org  .

2017 open enrollment flier from BBT

-- “We can cover your insurance needs,” says the 2017 open enrollment announcement from Brethren Benefit Trust. BBT offers the following insurance services, available to all eligible active and retired Church of the Brethren employees: short-term disability, long-term disability, critical illness, accident, Medicare Supplement, dental, vision, and life insurance. Visit cobbt.org/open-enrollment after Oct. 31 for eligibility and to find rates, options, and enrollment forms. Open enrollment takes place Nov. 1-30. Coverage is effective Jan. 1, 2017. Current members do not need to re-apply unless they wish to change their coverage level. To find out more contact insurance@cobbt.org .

-- The Nigeria Crisis Response continues to collect books for Nigeria. EYN-related schools are in need of books for their libraries and classrooms; donations of new or gently used children’s books that are in good condition are requested, suitable for children ages 6 to 16. Specifically requested are paperback chapter books for children, such as those recognized by the Newberry Award. Non-fiction books and children’s encyclopedias also are requested. Books also are being collected for Kulp Bible College, the ministry training school of EYN, which needs materials for training pastors including books on Christian education, theology, preaching, Hebrew and Greek, pastoral counseling, and ethics, along with Bible commentaries and reference books. All books should be in good condition and published in the last 20 years. The college staff have provided a wish list of specific titles, go to www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis/action.html . Call 410-635-8731 for more information. Send books to: Books for Nigeria, Brethren Service Center Annex, 601 Main St., New Windsor, MD 21776. Books must arrive at the Brethren Service Center by Nov.  20.

SVMC brochure for online class on Paul

-- “Paul’s Thought and the Pauline Tradition in the New Testament” is an online course available through the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC) in cooperation with the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, and taught by Bob Cleveland. The course is offered Jan. 30-March 24, 2017. Course fee is $285. Students may receive TRIM or EFSM credit or continuing education units. Registration and payment are due by Dec. 30, 2016. For more information contact 717-361-1450 or svmc@etown.edu or go to the website www.etown.edu/SVMC .

-- The 2016 National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths® Celebration, “Children of Promise: Closing Opportunity Gaps” will be held Oct. 21-23. The focus this year is on closing opportunity gaps due to poverty and lack of access to high-quality early childhood development and a high-quality education so that every child can reach their God-given potential. “For that to happen, we as people of faith need to stand tall within our communities and push our nation to keep our promises of love and justice, equality, and dignity for all,” said an announcement from the National Council of Churches. “Join thousands of churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other faith communities across the country in this celebration by holding a community-wide interfaith special worship service or a special service in your place of worship, add educational programs, and advocacy activities to engage people of faith in improving the lives of children and their families in your community, state and in our nation.” Read more at the Children's Defense Fund website: www.childrensdefense.org/programs/faithbased/faith-based-action-programs-pages/childrens-sabbaths/National-Observance-of-Children-s-Sabbaths.html .

The theme for Mid-Atlantic District's 50th annual conference

The theme for Mid-Atlantic District's 50th annual conference

-- Four Church of the Brethren districts are holding district conferences this weekend:
     Middle Pennsylvania District meets Oct. 7-8 at Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, The theme, “Make My Joy Complete,” comes from Philippians chapter 2. “This is a time when our witness as the Christian church must embody a unity and reconciliation that goes beyond partisanship, nationality, or theological stance,” said an invitation from moderator Dale Dowdy. “If we fail at this important calling, then we shall be like salt that has lost its taste. Paul’s words to us found in Philippians remind us of the awesome responsibility we have to carry the gospel into the world with a joy and oneness of purpose that cannot be denied.” Andy Murray, immediate past moderator of Annual Conference, will deliver the Friday evening message.
Idaho District also holds its conference on Oct. 7-8, meeting at Mountain View Church of the Brethren, Boise, Idaho.
     The Atlantic Northeast District Conference is Oct. 8 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College’s Leffler Chapel.
     Also meeting Oct. 8 is Mid-Atlantic District, using the theme “Coming of, the Moving of, and the Work of, and the Comfort of the Holy Spirit” (2 Timothy 1:7). This is the 50th annual conference for Mid-Atlantic District, which is meeting at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Easton, Md.

-- A new book features Northern Ohio District’s Lick Creek congregation and the family from Vietnam that they helped resettle in the 1980s, reports Kris Hawk, interim district executive. The book is titled “Refugees! A Family’s Search for Freedom and the Church That Helped Them Find It,” and is written by Church of the Brethren authors Jeanne Jacoby Smith and Jan Gilbert Hurst. Find out more at www.amazon.com/gp/product/0997006218 .

-- “Brethren Woods has a new website!” says an announcement from the camp and retreat center near Keezletown, Va. “After many months of hard work, we are pleased to officially announce our new and redesigned website! The web address remains the same but the entire site has been redesigned and reimagined.” Go to www.brethrenwoods.org .

-- This year’s Brethren Disaster Relief Auction raised about $365,000, according to the Lebanon (Pa.) Daily News. The annual auction is held in cooperation with Atlantic Northeast District and Southern Pennsylvania District. The paper reported that the auction “began in 1977 and has provided over $14,000,000 in disaster relief to victims of natural and man-made disasters, both in the US and internationally.” Read the article at www.ldnews.com/story/news/local/community/2016/09/26/brethren-disaster-relief-auction-raises-365000/91108346 .

-- Steve Schweitzer, academic dean and professor at Bethany Theological Seminary, will be the presenter for the next Ventures course, 9 a.m. to 12 noon (central time) on Saturday, Nov. 12.  His topic will be “The Book of Chronicles and the Church: Theology, Continuity, Innovation, and the Kingdom of God.” While the book of Kings explains why the people of Israel ended up in exile, the book of Chronicles was written after the exile, in the midst of significant cultural shifts, to provide a way forward. Participants will explore several central themes in the book and think together about how Chronicles might help the church to be faithful in the midst of cultural change. Registration information is available at  www.mcpherson.edu/ventures . Ventures in Christian Discipleship is an online program of McPherson (Kan.) College, designed to equip church members with skills and understandings for faithful and dynamic Christian living, action, and leadership. All courses are free, but donations are welcome to help continue this effort.

-- On Oct. 30 Steve Longenecker, Edwin L. Turner Distinguished Professor of History at Bridgewater (Va.) College, will give a lecture on “The Politics of Anbaptism.” This Valley Brethren Mennonite Heritage Center lecture is hosted by Community Mennonite Church in Harrisonburg, Va., and starts at 4 p.m.

-- The Indigenous People’s Solidarity Team of Christian Peacemakers Team (CPT) recently organized a short trip to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation “to explore what support they could offer water defenders,” said a CPT release. “The camps have become a gathering place for many peoples opposing the threat the Bakken oil pipeline poses to the Missouri River and other shared waterways.” The delegation visited the Sacred Stone Spirit Camp where they heard from a Lakota tribal historian about objectives including protection of water and land, and opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. “We heard repeatedly that ‘this is a camp founded on prayer,’” the release said. The group also went to the main camp, Oceti Sakowin, and the smaller Red Warrior Camp, where they met with a legal assistance team to learn more about the call for international observers. “We were also able to meet with organizers who are committed to stopping the construction of the pipeline through nonviolent direct action. We heard about recent actions, arrests, and the ongoing need for trained volunteers who can observe and document these actions,” the release said. “A few days before our visit, riot police arrested 24 people at gunpoint during a nonviolent direct action at the nearby construction site, and several leaders reported the presence of snipers in nearby hills.  Police have met the nonviolent actions of camp participants with a heavily militarized response arresting 21 during a September 28 prayer action at the construction site.” Find the full release at www.cpt.org/cptnet/2016/10/06/indigenous-peoples-solidarity-cpt-ips-team-visits-no-dakota-access-pipeline-camps

-- Bread for the World has commented on statements released by presidential candidates Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton prior to their Oct. 9 debate, about how they would address hunger and poverty in the US and around the world. “Both statements provide valuable insights into how each candidate would address hunger and poverty in our country and around the world, and in many ways stand in stark contrast to each other,” said David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, in a release. “The statements also set the stage for Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper, the moderators of this Sunday’s debate, to ask Trump and Clinton to defend their competing plans to reduce hunger and poverty. One in five U.S. children struggles with hunger. So why has there been virtually no mention of hunger and poverty in the presidential and vice-presidential debates?” The statements were provided to Vote to End Hunger, a coalition of 166 groups working to make hunger, poverty, and opportunity a higher political priority in 2016. These and other groups have been working for some time to make hunger and poverty election issues. VTEH has also been coordinating a social media campaign urging the debate moderators to ask about hunger and poverty. Find the Bread for the World release at www.bread.org/news/trump-clinton-release-statements-about-hunger-and-poverty-advance-oct-9-debate . Read the statements from Trump and Clinton at http://votetoendhunger.org/about-hunger/presidential-candidate-videos .

-- Friends with the Weather, a new project from a trio of musicians known for their work with Mutual Kumquat, has released a debut album and is touring in the Midwest. Founders are Seth Hendricks, pastor at Happy Corner Church of the Brethren in Englewood, Ohio; David Hupp, youth choir director and accompanist at Manchester Church of the Brethren and adjunct music professor at Manchester University in Indiana; Chris Good, member at Manchester church currently living in Ann Arbor, Mich. Other musicians involved include producer/guitarist Seth Bernard of the Earthwork Music Collective, bassist Brennan Andes (The Macpodz), drummer Julian Allen (Theo Katzman, Michelle Chamuel), and singers Lindsay Lou and Madelyn Grant. “To be a human is to live in a world of fear, grief, injustice, and disillusionment,” Good explains the new project. “How do we learn and grow in those challenging times, and strive to be sources of love, hope, passion and vision? The weather inevitably comes at us every day...how do we choose to live amidst the unpredictability of the storms and the sunny skies?” “Blessed for the Journey,” the 2014 NYC theme song written by Hendricks and Good, is the opening song on the new album, which also includes “Love Makes a Way,” inspired by NYC speaker and Australian activist Jarrod McKenna. Friends with the Weather has tour stops in Indiana this weekend: a Fall Festival at Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne on Friday, Oct. 7, at 6 p.m.; and Manchester University Homecoming activities in North Manchester on Saturday, Oct. 8, at  3:30-6 p.m. For more see www.friendswiththeweather.com


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Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Debbie Eisenbise, Rebekah Flores, Chris Ford, Chris Good, Kris Hawk, Nancy Miner, Carol Scheppard, 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 Oct. 14.

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