Newsline for Dec. 21, 2017




“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Nativity scene
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

NEWS
1) Puerto Rico churches continue to develop hurricane response
2) Brethren leaders endorse Christmas letter regarding federal budget
3) Global Mission helps fund repairs to school of theology in India
4) Church of the Brethren Yearbook is published on a USB flash drive card
5) EYN disaster team aids sick Chibok girl

UPCOMING EVENTS
6) NYC 2018 service projects to take place on campus

REFLECTION
7) Waiting on the Lord: A reflection from Nigeria

8) Brethren bits: Holiday closings, personnel, jobs, moderator’s Christmas greeting, update from Children’s Disaster Services, Global Mission prayer requests, Clergy Tax Seminar, more


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Quote of the week:

“Sometimes it’s hard for us to see both everyday miracles and God’s reality. There is the ordinary world--sometimes hard, sometimes wonderful. And then there is God--mysterious and beyond. But they came together on Christmas morning, and something new and lovely was released into the cosmos. Tiny and huge--that’s Christmas!”

-- James H. Lehman in the devotion for Christmas Day from “The Magnificent Story,” the 2017 Advent devotional published by Brethren Press.

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1) Puerto Rico churches continue to develop hurricane response

By Roy Winter, Brethren Disaster Ministries

A clown amuses children at a medical clinic offered in Puerto Rico by the Rio Prieto Church and staff from Castaner Hospital.
Photo by Jose Callejo Otero

A clown amuses children at a medical clinic offered in Puerto Rico by the Rio Prieto Church and staff from Castaner Hospital.

Hurricane Maria recovery in Puerto Rico is slow, but there is progress. When a whole island has extensive damage to basic services like electricity, running water, and cellular communication, recovery is difficult and long. Power is returning to more areas, but less than half the residents have power. Cellular service is improving, and church leaders are able to communicate better.

Brethren Disaster Ministries continues to work closely with Puerto Rico District and district executive José Callejo Otero. In early December, he and I worked on developing a long-term recovery program, establishing relationship with FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the Puerto Rico VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) and planning for volunteer support of the recovery. He shared this planning information and many questions at the district board meeting on Dec. 9. This was the first meeting of the whole district board since Hurricane Maria changed everyone’s lives. 

Grants from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF), and some received directly from other Church of the Brethren districts, have supported each Church of the Brethren congregation in Puerto Rico. The churches have been busy providing ministry in their communities, such as providing food, services, minor repairs, rent assistance, and other programs that meet people’s needs. Here are some examples: a Thanksgiving Day breakfast provided by the Vega Baja church caused traffic jams as families came to enjoy hot food; the Rio Pietro church has provided reoccurring medical clinics with staff from the Castañer Hospital providing the service; the recent clinic included food distributions to help struggling families living in this mountain region. 

The long-delayed container of emergency supplies shipped from the Brethren Service Center, by the Church of the Brethren Material Resources program, has arrived in Puerto Rico. It is still clearing customs, but should be available for delivery soon--we pray before Christmas.

The road to recovery will be long for Puerto Rican families. Watch for more information on response plans and opportunities to support home repair in the coming months. 

-- Roy Winter is associate executive director of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries. Find out more about Brethren Disaster Ministries at www.brethren.org/bdm . Support the work in Puerto Rico by donating to the Emergency Disaster Fund at www.brethren.org/edf .





2) Brethren leaders endorse Christmas letter regarding federal budget

Church of the Brethren general secretary David Steele and Office of Public Witness director Nathan Hosler have given endorsement to a Christmas letter to Vice President Mike Pence “to protect the humanitarian, diplomatic, and peacebuilding budget in the FY19 budget” of the federal government.

The letter was organized by Search for Common Ground ( www.sfcg.org ) and was hand-delivered to the Vice President’s office on Wednesday, Dec. 20. It was copied by e-mail to other government officials at the White House, USAID, the State Department, and Congress as key decision makers in the budget development process.

Many other religious, ecumenical and humanitarian leaders have given endorsement to the letter, including leaders of major ecumenical groups such as the National Council of Churches, Church World Service, and the National Association of Evangelicals; peace church representatives from the Mennonite Central Committee US and the Friends Committee on National Legislation, among others; and leaders of humanitarian and education nonprofits including Bread for the World, the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

The full text of the letter follows:

Dear Mr. Vice President: We write to you during this holy season as we celebrate the birth of Christ and remember the hope, joy, and peace that this birth brings to our broken world. We also write as leaders of Christian organizations that are striving to respond to Christ’s call to serve the neediest especially those who are facing war, hunger, and oppression. We believe that robust U.S. assistance to these communities is a critical part of responding to the calling of our faith. As the Office of Management and the Budget prepares the international affairs budget for fiscal year 2019, we urge you to fully fund diplomatic, humanitarian, and peacebuilding assistance to the most vulnerable.

As 2017 comes to a close, the world remains in crisis. Violence is uprooting families and forcing displacement on a global scale. New violence has erupted in fragile countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burma, Mali, Afghanistan and the Central African Republic. Gang violence threatens lives throughout Central America. Despite military gains over terrorist groups such as the Islamic State, humanitarian crises in Iraq and Syria threaten to linger for years to come.

Armed conflicts in Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, and Northeast Nigeria have fueled famines on a scale not seen in years. More families will spend this Christmas in refugee camps and informal settlements than at any time in recent history. From Bangui to Baghdad, hundreds of thousands will greet the New Year grieving the loss of their loved ones and fearing the future.

We are grateful to President Trump’s remarks at this year’s UN General Assembly when he stated that “the United States continues to lead the world in humanitarian assistance, including famine prevention and relief in South Sudan, Somalia, and northern Nigeria and Yemen.” We agree with the President that the U.S. is a global leader in providing assistance to the most needy and we stand ready to support the Trump Administration’s efforts to continue America’s global leadership role.

The American people are generous, and they are problem-solvers. Even as we aid the millions who are suffering we need our government’s help to address the root causes of violence. We need American diplomacy to work with allies and regional partners to help end crises in places like the Central African Republic, Burundi, and Burma.

We also need American development assistance to support local religious, women’s and civil society groups working on-the-ground to end war and oppression. Without adequate resources to manage and mitigate conflict, support human rights and democracy, and respond rapidly to complex crises, the number of those exposed to death, hunger and fear will continue to grow, exacerbating human suffering and leaving a vacuum for extremists to fill, making America less secure.

America’s greatness lies in our faith, hope and support of the most downtrodden of our brothers and sisters. Every year, we raise millions of dollars to help the neediest around the world and our Churches inspire tens of thousands of Americans to serve in non-profit humanitarian, peacebuilding, and poverty alleviation organizations. But we also need our government’s continued moral, political, and financial support to complement our efforts.

As you ensure the judicious and responsible stewardship of taxpayer resources, we ask that you not forget the neediest this Christmas, and ensure that the American government has the resources and commitment to end the violence that drives the suffering of so many of our brothers and sisters around the globe and help them rebuild their lives. We urge you to fully fund without further cutting the international affairs budget for fiscal year 2019.

Together we stand ready to work with you, President Trump, and the rest of the Administration to foster peace on Earth this Christmas and beyond.





3) Global Mission helps fund repairs to school of theology in India

Gujarat United School of Theology (GUST) in the State of Gujarat, India
Photo courtesy of GUST

Gujarat United School of Theology (GUST) in the State of Gujarat, India

A grant of $15,000 has been given by the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service office to Gujarat United School of Theology (GUST) in India. The grant assists the school with much-needed repairs to classrooms and other facilities.

GUST is a seminary of the Church of North India (CNI), a long-standing ecumenical partner of the Church of the Brethren. Silvans Christian, bishop of the CNI Gujarat Diocese, serves as chair of the GUST board.

The school is known as a premier institution for the Christian community in State of Gujarat, having had a significant influence on the churches in Gujarat by producing the most number of theologically trained spiritual leaders. It is located in the city of Ahmedabad, recently declared a Heritage City by UNESCO. “The value of GUST buildings increases as they are part of the rich heritage the city boasts about,” said the project proposal for repair work.

The GUST building was dedicated for theological education in 1913. The last major renovation work was carried out in 2001, after the Gujarat earthquake.

The repair work is divided into three areas: first, repairing damaged cement plaster on walls and repainting student rooms, staff quarters, and the main college building; second, containing water seepage from roofs and into foundations, which is threatening the strength of the building; third, building attached bathrooms in student rooms, which currently share common bathrooms.

Global Mission and Service is seeking to raise more funds to assist GUST in its repairs, which will cost an estimated total of around $45,000. For more information contact Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service, at jwittmeyer@brethren.org .

2017 Yearbook published on USB flash drive card





4) Church of the Brethren Yearbook is published on a USB flash drive card

Brethren Press has released the “Church of the Brethren Yearbook 2017” in a new format. Previously, the Yearbook was published as a searchable pdf file on a CD. The 2017 Yearbook is a searchable pdf on a USB flash drive that looks like and is the size of a credit card.

To download the 2017 Yearbook from the card, users simply turn the card over, press on the black USB area to flip open the flash drive, and insert the flash drive into a computer’s USB port.

The Yearbook is the annual directory of the Church of the Brethren. It includes detailed contact information for each congregation in the Church of the Brethren, along with information about each of the denomination’s districts, agencies of the church, the denominational staff, and more.

In the statistical reporting section of the Yearbook, statistics are collected for the denomination and its districts in the previous year. In the 2017 Yearbook, the statistical section reports numbers for 2016.

Those on the standing order list at Brethren Press may have received the 2017 Yearbook in the mail already. The 2017 Yearbook may be purchased for $24.95 and downloaded from the Brethren Press online store at www.brethrenpress.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=70 or may be purchased as a USB flash drive card by calling Brethren Press at 800-441-3712.










5) EYN disaster team aids sick Chibok girl

The Chibok girl with her family and members of the EYN Disaster Team
Photo courtesy of EYN

The Chibok girl with her family and members of the EYN Disaster Team

by Roxane Hill

Rev. Yuguda, head of the Disaster Team of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) sent information about their trip to Chibok to take money to one of the Chibok schoolgirls* who is sick. The government was not paying her medical bills.

We have received $10,000 in donations specifically for the Chibok girls and their families. We used around $700 to pay for this girl’s medical bills and her travel to and from the hospital. She is one of the 82 Chibok girls released in May of this year.

Here is what Rev. Yuguda wrote, in part:

“We have met [the girl*] today at Chibok, she and her mother just returned from Abuja for her medical test. Indeed, she has gone through pains and trauma, in all these she remains grateful to God....

“She told us that some of the remaining abducted girls agreed to marry Boko Haram men in Sambisa and that some have died and others are dumb due to bomb blasts, while [a] few have refused to come back home as they accepted Islam as their new faith, what a sad moment and heart breaking.

“We therefore presented the sum of Naira 250,000 to pay her medical bills and subsequent tests in Abuja, she came from a poor family background.”

*The Chibok girl’s name has been omitted out of respect for her privacy.

-- Roxane Hill is coordinator of the Nigeria Crisis Response, a collaboration of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). For more information go to www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .





6) NYC 2018 service projects to take place on campus

by Kelsey Murray

National Youth Conference 2018 logo

New to National Youth Conference in 2018: all service projects will take place on the campus of Colorado State University. NYC will be hosted at CSU in Fort Collins, Colo., on July 21-26, 2018. Registration opens online on Jan. 18, 2018, at 6 p.m. (central time) at www.brethren.org/nyc .

Those registering by Jan. 21 will get a free NYC 2018 drawstring backpack. The registration fee is $500; a non-refundable deposit of $250 must be paid at the time of registration. The balance is due by April 30, 2018.

Three service projects

NYC participants may choose one of three service projects. The three possibilities are: Participants will be guided by staff of Brethren Disaster Ministries to organize and pack clean-up buckets, to be distributed to disaster survivors by Church World Service (CWS). Participants may make diapers from t-shirts to send to Midwives for Haiti, in a project that will include organizing, tracing, and cutting diaper patterns. Finally, participants may help host a fun summer day camp for two local organizations serving youth in the Fort Collins area: Boys and Girls Club ( www.begreatlarimer.org ); and Base Camp ( www.mybasecampkids.org/summercamp ).

These are all ways we will spread the love and light of Jesus Christ to the Fort Collins area and far beyond!

When you register for NYC, remember to order an official NYC shirt. Sunday, July 22, 2018, will be NYC Shirt Day, and we want anyone with an NYC shirt to wear it that day. Let’s fill Moby Arena with blue! Shirts cost $20 and will be mailed in June.

-- Kelsey Murray is coordinator of National Youth Conference 2018, serving through Brethren Volunteer Service. For more information go to www.brethren.org/nyc .





7) Waiting on the Lord: A reflection from Nigeria

Advent Candles, watercolor style
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

by Markus Gamache

The report of the Nigerian government to the outside world is that Boko Haram have been defeated. But the government is still losing soldiers, losing billions of Naira for security, and also losing lives. The internal situation is clearly different from the government report.

The international NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have their areas of operation in Nigeria, and the locals are happy with the food and non-food items being distributed. The NGOs have created job opportunity to thousands of youths.

Places where there is no communication, no electricity, no transport and no enough security, however, are still under attack. Killings, rape, kidnapings, and all sort of unbelievable things are going on.

Every week, the Madagali area is under attack and reports have never been captured that fact very well. The last three weeks, it looked like daily attacks. In Wunu, in the Madagali local government area, two people were killed, five injured, and more houses burnt. This village is on the border of Cameroon. The Mubi mosque bombing was not a surprise. Mubi and Michika have been the only safe places in the north region of Adamawa State.

The Biu market bombing came as a surprise to everyone. Biu has been secured from the attacks since 2014. Biu experienced what we call community dialogue, community cooperation, where the local security and government security worked together from the beginning of the few attacks.

Recently bomb attacks on Maiduguri are on the increase, which people think is because of politics coming closer.

The Fulani militants, as they are called, have claimed lives and properties in Numan and Demsa local government areas. These places have majority Christian populations and are very close to Yola--indeed within a 30-minute drive. The fight between the Fulanis and the Bachamas, the local people in Numan, has been going on for years, and there was a religious crisis between the indigenous people and the Hausas some years back.

Some of the weapons used in these recent attacks are highly sophisticated. There has been a rumor of Islamic militants regrouping, and going to Numan for more attacks. Christians are still vacating these areas and taking refuge in nearby villages. Some of the displaced people that we are caring for in Numan are stranded and losing hope. Some of the IDP (internally displaced people) camps that we are caring for are also fearing what will happen next.

The killings by the Fulanis have increased since Boko Haram started. We cannot see a physical connection between the two, but there are indications that may reveal their operations to be closely linked. In Jos Meyangu area, two separate attacks on Christian communities, and an attack in Ryom in less than two months, revealed more intent of the attackers to have their mission only against Christian communities.

In the Gurku Interfaith Camp for displaced people, during the harvesting period some families--including mine--lost maize and beans to Fulani cattle. We have agreed that we will not fight back, we will not draw the attention of the host community to avoid conflict between them and the Fulani herdsmen. The camp committee decided to go to the Fulani leaders for dialogue and understanding to prevent future events. Some of the displaced people at the camp appreciated the method and have indeed increased our neighborly relationship with the Fulanis.

To my own human understanding, it is most difficult to estimate or analyze the direction of this present situation. Villagers from all sorts of places are regrouping to take over their lands and burnt houses, but again, the security is not there. We have started building new churches and homes, but the security is not there. The body of Christ in Nigeria (the churches) are not united at any level. Many Nigerians today do not know what is happening in the north. The government itself is getting weaker and tired of the whole situation. Life is difficult not only for the displaced, but for every common person. The gap between the rich and poor is always on the increase. People are hungry, people are very desperate. Some of the young girls carrying out suicide bombing are sold by their own parents. Many children, both boys and girls, may not know their biological parents. It is easy to use such children as agents of violence.

Where is Nigeria heading? If this is truly a Christian persecution, then where are we running to? If it is an ethnic cleansing, we have more than 371 ethnic groups in Nigeria. Which one will cleanse which? The two faiths in Nigeria are both claiming to be the majority.

Humanly it is hopeless. People have waited too long for our savior to come. It is almost becoming unbearable, waiting on the Lord. Only His own power and His miracle can change the situation. God please come and save us before the wicked ones convert your dear children forcefully.

We have to prepare for more prayers and not lose hope. What kind of preparedness do I need, being part of the region? God have mercy.

-- Markus Gamache is staff liaison for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).





8) Brethren bits

An update from Children's Disaster Services: The CDS team who went to Washington State to respond to the train derailment was scheduled to serve, but the deployment was cancelled the same day of departure. A team of volunteers scheduled to go on Christmas Day to California for wildfire response is no longer needed as well, and the current California team will depart by Christmas Eve at the latest. “All teams will be home for Christmas!” reports the Children's Disaster Services office.

Shown here: two of the children who were served by the CDS volunteers who responded to the wildfires in southern California.
Photo by John Elms

An update from Children's Disaster Services: The CDS team who went to Washington State to respond to the train derailment was scheduled to serve, but the deployment was cancelled the same day of departure. A team of volunteers scheduled to go on Christmas Day to California for wildfire response is no longer needed as well, and the current California team will depart by Christmas Eve at the latest. “All teams will be home for Christmas!” reports the Children's Disaster Services office. Shown here: two of the children who were served by the CDS volunteers who responded to the wildfires in southern California.

-- Church of the Brethren offices will be closed for Christmas and New Year’s. The Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., and the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., will be closed on Friday, Dec. 22; Christmas Day, Monday, Dec. 25; and New Year’s Day, Monday, Jan. 2.

-- Beth Sollenberger has been called to serve as quarter-time interim district executive for Michigan District, beginning Jan. 1, 2018. She has been district executive minister of South Central Indiana District since 2011, and will continue in that role. In previous positions in the denomination, she has served pastorates in Florida, Ohio, Maryland, and Indiana; served the former Church of the Brethren General Board as director of Stewardship Education (1995-97) and as coordinator of Congregational Life Team, Area 2 (1997-2004). Once the Michigan District Leadership Team fills an administrative assistant position, the Michigan District office will be moved to a location accessible to Sollenberger and the administrative assistant.

-- Sarah Long begins Jan. 2 as administrative assistant in the Shenandoah District office. She formerly served the district as financial secretary. She is a graduate of the Christian Growth Institute (CGI), where she has been coordinator and registrar. She brings extensive office management experience in accounting and payroll, including more than 20 years at Valley Blox, where she was administrative assistant to the president for 10 years. She also has worked as project coordinator in site acquisitions for NB+C, a wireless site development firm. She is a member of Dayton Church of the Brethren.

-- Shawn Flory Replogle and Jen Jensen have begun a new collaboration as co-coordinators of district youth ministry for Western Plains District. Flory Replogle has served as the district youth coordinator for the past five years. For the seven years prior to that, Jensen served as district youth coordinator. Since then, in her role as director of Spiritual Life at McPherson (Kan.) College, she planned Regional Youth Conference has remained in close contact with the district’s youth ministry. A statement from Flory Replogle in the district newsletter said, “With the addition of Jen, we’ll be able to continue the excellent youth ministry events that have existed for the better part of a decade, and also work at the relational aspects of developing leaders, all within the context of the district youth coordinator position.”

-- The Church of the Brethren seeks to fill a full-time salaried position of director of Information Technology, based at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The major responsibility is to give oversight to information technology needs and to manage information technology activities including application design, development, maintenance, equipment purchase, and network applications. Skills and knowledge required include understanding of Church of the Brethren heritage, theology, and polity; ability to articulate and operate out of the vision of the Church of the Brethren; knowledge and experience to plan and implement a vision for on-going technical growth that will coordinate efforts at many levels of the denomination; strong technical skills in database management and systems analysis; excellent verbal and written communication skills; progressive administrative and management skills; positive customer service attitude; knowledge and expertise in budget development and management; knowledge of Raiser’s Edge system and VOIP phone systems. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in information technology or a related field is required. Applications will be received beginning immediately, and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Send a resume to COBApply@brethren.org or contact Human Resources Manager, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Avenue, Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367.

-- The Church of the Brethren seeks to fill a full-time hourly position of program assistant for the Office of Ministry, based at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The major responsibilities of this position are to enhance and support the functions of the Office of Ministry through administration of a variety of tasks. Skills and knowledge required include excellent administrative and organizational skills; ability to handle sensitive information and maintain confidentiality; strong oral and written communication skills; personable qualities and capability to develop excellent working relationships with staff colleagues, districts, and pastoral personnel; skill in computer applications with capacity and willingness to learn new software applications; ability to work with minimum supervision, be a self-starter, readily adaptable to change, and work well under pressure; maturity in judgment and character; appreciation for the role of ministerial leadership in the life of the church. A bachelor’s degree or commensurate education, life, and work experience is preferred. Applications will be received beginning immediately, and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Send a resume to COBApply@brethren.org or contact the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Avenue, Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367.

-- Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks a three-quarter-time psychosocial care coordinator to resource the well-being of its service workers. The position entails ensuring independent spiritual and psychosocial support for CPT members whose work involves physical rigor, communication in crisis situations, and exposure to violence and trauma. Responsibilities include: 1) providing psychosocial support to individual CPT Corps members and teams; 2) coordinating CPT’s Circle of Care (a network of volunteer counselors, healers, and care providers); 3) enhancing organizational structures that foster a culture of self-care and sustainability in peace work; 4) working with CPT staff to coordinate holistic responses to teams in emergencies. The position involves some international travel to project sites and organizational meetings. Candidates should demonstrate passion for the spiritual and psychological health of others, commitment to grow in the journey of undoing oppressions, and ability to work independently and collaboratively as part of a dispersed team across continents. Experience in the field of psychology or social work and a trauma-informed approach is preferred. This is a 30 hours per week, three-year appointment. Compensation is $18,000 per year. Benefits include 100 percent employer-paid health, dental, and vision coverage; three weeks of annual vacation. Location: no preference. Start date is negotiable; the position is available as of Feb. 1, 2018. To apply submit electronically, in English, the following to hiring@cpt.org : cover letter stating motivation/reasons for interest in this position; résumé/CV; a list of three references with e-mail and daytime telephone numbers. Application review begins Jan. 5, 2018. For more about Christian Peacemaker Teams go to www.cpt.org .
 
-- Annual Conference moderator Samuel Sarpiya is sharing Christmas greetings with the denomination. Find his Christmas video posted online at www.youtube.com/watch?v=iR83CO67V54&feature=youtu.be .

-- An update from Children's Disaster Services: The CDS team who went to Washington State to respond to the train derailment was scheduled to serve, but the deployment was cancelled the same day of departure. A team of volunteers scheduled to go on Christmas Day to California for wildfire response is no longer needed as well, and the current California team will depart by Christmas Eve at the latest. “All teams will be home for Christmas!” reports the Children's Disaster Services office.

-- The Global Mission and Service office requests prayer for the victims of a church bombing in Quetta, Pakistan, which killed 9 people and injured at least 50 more. Also in this week’s mission prayer request was the country of Venezuela, and those affected by the severe economic crisis there. “Hyperinflation and food shortages have led to a massive hunger crisis,” the prayer request said. “Infants and children have been especially victimized, with hundreds dying from severe malnutrition. Overrun hospitals have lacked the space and resources to treat the record number of malnourished children brought in, especially as the hospitals have not been able to access the needed medications.”

-- Registration for the Clergy Tax Seminar on Jan. 27 is due by Jan. 19. The event is offered by the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership and takes place online and onsite at Bethany Seminary in Richmond, Ind. Cost is $30 per person. Current students of Bethany Seminary, TRIM/EFSM/SeBAH, and Earlham School of Religion may attend at no cost, although registration is still required. Registrations are not complete until payment is received. Space will be limited, so prompt registration is advised. Leading the seminar is Deb Oskin, who has been doing clergy tax returns since 1989 when her husband left seminary to pastor a small, rural Church of the Brethren congregation. She is a tax professional, having spent 12 years with H&R Block, and then starting her own tax practice specializing in clergy taxes. Go to https://bethanyseminary.edu/brethren-academy/clergy-tax-seminar .

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Palmyra Community Band Concert

- Roanoke (Va.) Iglesia Cristiana Renacer Fellowship was received as a congregation of the Church of the Brethren by the 2017 District Conference of Virlina District. The District Conference met Nov. 10-11 on the theme, “Listen to the Spirit!” (Revelation 3:13-22). Aggregate attendance including youth and children was 398 persons, reported the district newsletter, and included 164 delegates and 172 non-delegates from 77 congregations. Tim Emmons, pastor of Nineveh Church of the Brethren in Franklin County, Va., served as moderator.

-- Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in Littleton, Colo., in the Denver area, is hosting a Stand-Up for Nigeria Comedy Fundraiser for the victims of Boko Haram in Nigeria. The night of stand-up comedy is planned for Saturday, Jan. 13, starting at 6:30 p.m. Nigerian Brethren leaders Samuel and Rebecca Dali will be present to share updates about efforts to provide help for widows and other victims of Boko Haram violence, and congregations destroyed in the violence. The event benefits the Nigerian non-profit Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiative (CCEPI), which is led and founded by Rebecca Dali.

-- Western Pennsylvania District is holding a special all-district 2018 New Year’s Prayer Gathering on Sunday, Jan. 14, at 3:30 p.m., at Indiana (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. Said an invitation: “All Brethren folk are invited to gather and pray for 2018 to be a year of church growth and seeing new people come to Christ!”

-- Western Plains District has created a new “Peace Corner” in its district newsletter, to feature updates on peace and justice education, activism, and events. “Our current Peace & Justice Coordinator is Terri Torres from the Community Church of the Brethren in Hutchinson, Kan.,” said the announcement from the district. Go to www.westernplainschurchofthebrethren.org/2017/12/06/samuel-and-rebecca-dali-visit-mcpherson-college-campus for the latest story in the “Peace Corner,” about a visit to McPherson (Kan.) College by Nigerian Brethren leaders Samuel and Rebecca Dali. Author June Switzer reports that the Dalis are making their home in the United States at this time because “as high profile leaders of Christian endeavors, they became prime targets of Boko Haram and it was necessary for them to flee the country.” The Dalis “continue to work and speak on behalf of those in Nigeria living in unsafe and life threatening surroundings.”
 
-- Camp Bethel near Fincastle, Va., is planning and publicizing its Winter Camp Youth and Kids’ Retreat for ages 6-18. The event takes place Dec 30-31. Cost is $70. “Register, then send us your creative 3-second ‘I'll be at Winter Camp!’ video,” said an invitation. “There s-now getting around it; it will be ICE to see you at Winter Camp!” Register and find more information at www.campbethelvirginia.org/winter-camp.html .

-- Miller Library at McPherson (Kan.) College seeks volunteers to convert Brethren publications from microfilm to digital formats. It is one of the libraries connected with the Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA). The publications being converted to digital format include the “Brethren Evangelist,” “Gospel Preacher,” reports of the General Conference 1892-1913, minutes of the Annual / General Conference 1914-1920, “Brethren’s Annual for the Year of Grace” / “Brethren Almanac for the Year of Our Lord” 1883-1896, “Brethren Annual” or “Church Year Book” 1897-1916, Progressive Convention / Dayton Convention / General Convention 1882-1887, “Brethren Evangelist” 1883-1917. Good eyesight is required, as is ability to carry out a process that includes using a microfilm digital scanner, cleaning up the images, converting the images to PDF files, running the PDFs though conversion software to make them searchable, and proofreading the searchable files for software mistakes in reading the PDFs. To view materials that already have been converted go to https://archive.org/details/brethrendigitalarchives . Contact Mary L. Hester, Director of Library Services, Miller Library, McPherson College, 1600 East Euclid, McPherson, KS 67460; 620-242-0487; hesterm@mcpherson.edu ; www.mcpherson.edu/library .

-- The Springs of Living Water initiative for church renewal has started a White Candle Project this winter, inspired by a “discovery of new life” at Quinter (Kan.) Church of the Brethren. David Young reports that this year the churches that participate in the initiative will offer a Spiritual Disciplines Folder for Epiphany, “the season of Light for the New Year,” along with a candle at Christmas Eve services. The folder titled “Who Is Jesus?” is written by Barry Conn, pastor of County Line Church of the Brethren. Individuals and families at participating churches are invited to light their candle daily, and in the folder read a short scripture once, then twice, discerning its meaning to guide them through that day. Als in the folder is a service of re-commitment to baptismal vows. Says the announcement: “The White Candle Project points us to Jesus, in whose Grace and Love we live as Disciples in the Light of Life.”

Doris Abdullah (left) with Navi Pillay, the former High Commissioner for Human Rights, at the 70th anniversary celebration of the Declaration of Human Rights.

Doris Abdullah (left) with Navi Pillay, the former High Commissioner for Human Rights, at the 70th anniversary celebration of the Declaration of Human Rights.

-- Doris Abdullah, the Church of the Brethren representative to the United Nations, attended the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at UN Headquarters in New York City. The theme for the celebration was STANDUP4HUMANRIGHTS, Abdulla reports. Highlights of the program were statements by UN secretary general Antonio Guterres and by the president of the General Assembly, Miroslav Lajak. Reflections were given by Navi Pillay, the former High Commissioner for Human Rights; Louise Arbour, former High Commissioner and current representative for International Migration; Liu Zhenmin, under secretary general for Economic and Social Affairs; and Susan Marie Frontczak’s presentaton as Eleanor Roosevelt. Abdullah is shown here with Navi Pillay, the former High Commissioner for Human Rights.


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Newsline is the e-mail news service of the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Please send news tips and submissions to the editor--Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren--at cobnews@brethren.org . Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Doris Abdullah, Sherry Chastain, Markus Gamache, Roxane Hill, Nate Hosler, Kelsey Murray, Roy Winter, Jay Wittmeyer, David Young.

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