Newsline for Dec. 9, 2017




poinsettias
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

“He has brought down the powerful...and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry...and sent the rich away empty” (Luke 1:52-53).

NEWS
1) Children’s Disaster Services responds to fires in southern California
2) EYN disaster team coordinates housing repairs in remote areas
3) Action alert from Office of Public Witness calls for action on drone warfare
4) National Trust for Historic Preservation offers tour of denominational offices
5) Pacific Southwest District celebrates a weekend of witness and ‘withness’
6) Atlantic Northeast District delivers 455 clean-up buckets to New Windsor
7) Elizabethtown pastor stands in support of ‘Dreamers’
8) Unique quilt supports ongoing needs in Nigeria

PERSONNEL
9) Mark Hartwig retires as IT director for the Church of the Brethren
10) Patrice Nightingale retires as Brethren Benefit Trust manager of production

UPCOMING EVENTS
11) National Youth Conference registration opens in January
12) January Ventures course to focus on ‘Congregation in Mission’

13) Brethren bits: personnel, jobs, volunteer opportunities, Christmas cards for BVSers, Bethany Day at Seminaries that Change the World, Clergy Tax Seminar, “Brethren Voices” features Brethren Disaster Ministries, and more from churches, districts, colleges, ecumenical partners


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Quote of the week:

“The coming of Christ is all about the ‘lowly’ being lifted up. This theme set by Mary recurs over and over in Jesus’ life and ministry.... O God, let us never forget that you love and lift up the lowly, filling us with your spirit of good news and generosity.”

-- James H. Lehman in this year’s Advent devotional from Brethren Press, “The Magnificent Story.” Find out more about the Brethren Press devotionals at www.brethrenpress.com .

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1) Children’s Disaster Services responds to fires in southern California

Smoke plumes from the fires in southern California appear in this photograph taken from space, courtesy of NASA
Photograph: NASA

Smoke plumes from the fires in southern California appear in this photograph taken from space, courtesy of NASA

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) is responding to the fires in southern California, at the end of a week in which wildfires stoked by strong Santa Ana winds started northwest of Los Angeles and now have begun in the San Diego area as well. CDS is deploying a team of eight volunteers to serve affected children and families in southern California beginning this weekend. 

Also this week, CDS has been asked to gather a team of childcare givers to assist in a Disaster Assistance Service Center in Philadelphia, Pa. The CDS team is leaving for Philadelphia on Sunday, serving in a center set up by local Philadelphia government to support families arriving from Puerto Rico who have been affected by the hurricanes.

“We look forward to being able to assist these families during their time of need,” said a note from the CDS staff.

In related news, no Church of the Brethren congregations or church members are as yet directly affected by fires in southern California, according to Pacific Southwest District executive Russ Matteson. He reported by e-mail, “I have not heard from any of our congregations with concern that fires are close to them.”

CDS associate director Kathleen Fry-Miller commented, “The disasters continue!” This year, the program has provided numerous teams of volunteers to respond to disasters across the country--many more than in most years. So far in 2017, CDS volunteers have aided children and families affected by tornados in Georgia, floods and tornados in Missouri, flooding in New York State, fires in northern California, hurricanes in Texas and Florida, and the mass shooting in Las Vegas, in addition to these new responses in Philadelphia and southern California.

Find out more about CDS, which is a part of Brethren Disaster Ministries, at www.brethren.org/cds . Support CDS through gifts to the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund at www.brethren.org/edf .




Roof repairs in Nigeria
Courtesy of Nigeria Crisis Response

Roof repairs in Nigeria


2) EYN disaster team coordinates housing repairs in remote areas

by Roxane Hill
 
Many of the church buildings of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) were destroyed by fire during the Boko Haram insurgency. Many homes also were burned and destroyed. The EYN Disaster Team has been working to re-roof the houses of the most vulnerable.

Now that it is dry season in northeastern Nigeria, the housing repairs are in full gear. A total of 57 homes recently were re-roofed in some remote areas.
 
The disaster team reported, “There were a lot of challenges because of the distance to the hilly remote villages. People participated voluntarily to carry the materials from where the truck stopped and to trek about 10 kilometers to the villages. The housing repair is 100 percent complete at Gwallam and Wagdang. This project has touched the hearts of even some unbelievers and they confess that they are ready to accept Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. The carpenter succeeded in roofing 57 instead of 50 houses as planned.”

Those who benefited from the repairs are extremely grateful.

-- Roxane Hill serves as coordinator of the Nigeria Crisis Response, a joint effort 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).





3) Action alert from Office of Public Witness calls for action on drone warfare

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by Tori Bateman

Each year on Dec. 10, the global community recognizes the inherent dignity of each human by celebrating Human Rights Day. The value of human life and the importance of right relationships are central to the Christian faith, and we believe that Christians must earnestly seek to live out these values in our interactions with individuals, groups, and nations.

Drone strikes by the United States consistently violate the basic human rights of people in targeted regions of the world. Using “signature strikes,” the military kills human beings without a trial--not because they are known threats, but because they fit the profile of someone who may be a threat. Civilians often are killed in the strikes, and the strikes erode the trust between the US and affected populations.

In the 2013 Church of the Brethren “Resolution Against Drone Warfare,” the church affirmed that,

“All killing mocks the God who creates and gives life. Jesus, as the Word incarnate, came to dwell among us (John 1:14) in order to reconcile humanity to God and bring about peace and healing. In contrast, our government’s expanding use of armed drones distances the decisions to use lethal force from communities in which these deadly strikes take place. We find the efforts of the United States to distance the act of killing from the site of violence to be in direct conflict to the witness of Christ Jesus.”

On this Human Rights Day, you can take action to hold the US to a higher standard.

-- Share the truth about drone strikes with your congregation and community.

-- The Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare has put together five 30-minute documentaries that showcase the moral, religious, and policy problems with drone strikes. These videos can be shown, for free, to your congregation. Work with the Office of Public Witness to host an event or lead Sunday school classes focused on this important issue! To watch the videos, visit www.interfaithdronenetwork.org .

-- These videos were produced by the Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare, and the future funding for similar projects is contingent on the number of congregations who view these documentaries. By screening the films in your congregation, you help the network secure funding for future projects!

-- Call your senators and representatives and tell them to end the CIA’s authority to carry out drone strikes.

Sample script: Hello. My name is _______, and I am a constituent from _____________. As a person of faith, I believe in the dignity of each human life. The CIA’s drone program lacks transparency, and results in an unacceptable level of civilian deaths. Please work to end the CIA's authority to carry out drone strikes.

You can look up your legislators here: www.brethren.org/publicwitness/legislator-lookup.html .

-- Tori Bateman is peacebuilding and policy associate at the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C. Find this Action Alert online at http://support.brethren.org/site/MessageViewer?current=true&em_id=37020.0 .




Tour group members inspect the fixtures in the cafeteria at the Church of the Brethren General Offices.
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Tour group members inspect the fixtures in the cafeteria at the Church of the Brethren General Offices.


4) National Trust for Historic Preservation offers tour of denominational offices

The Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., last month was on a tour of the PastForward Conference of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. About 40 people from around the country took the bus tour from Chicago to Elgin for a “field study” of mid-20th century buildings. “Working Around the Clock to Preserve the Mid-Century” provided the theme.

Other stops in Elgin included City Hall, the Elgin Post Office, Illinois Second Appellate Court, Union National Bank, and a laundry building on the campus of the Elgin Mental Health Center, among others. In addition to architecture, the tour also paid attention to original furnishings.

Leading the tour of the General Offices were Elgin Historic Preservation Planner Christen Sundquist, Anthony Rubano of the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office, and local historian Bill Briska, with Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden hosting the group.

The General Offices is considered a fine example of the mid-century modern movement in architecture. It was built in 1959 by Frazier, Raftery, Orr, Fairbank of Geneva, Ill. As the tour made its way around the building, leaders pointed out the walls of stainless steel-bordered glass windows and doors, which also surround two courtyards. The design intentionally brings the outdoors in, and allows natural light into almost every office space.

As a contrasting element, solid granite fieldstone makes up the walls of the chapel, considered by many to be the building’s “gem”--a unique elliptical worship space dotted with small, jewel-like stained glass windows.

Stone also is featured on the front terrace. In another example of thin boundaries between natural and human space, glass front doors “float” in panels of glass that make visible the continuation of flagstone into the main lobby, which is floored with polished Pennsylvania bluestone.

Modular oak paneling makes up the interior office walls, and was admired for its flexibility. Rubano noted it as a precursor to the cubicle. Each panel--some with inset window or door--may be moved, which has allowed the configuration of the offices to be remade to meet different needs over the years.

Shortly after construction, the building was fully furnished with high-quality contemporary furniture. Much of that original furniture is still in use. As the tour progressed, staff found interested preservationists inspecting their office chairs, desks, and tables, delighted to discover pieces by some famous designers.

Among the pieces pointed out by Rubano: a coffee table by Eero Saarinen, Finnish architect and designer who teamed up with architect Charles Eames to develop furniture using molded, laminated wood; sofas by Florence Knoll, an architect and designer who trained under Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Eliel Saarinen; a wall clock by architect George Nelson for Herman Miller, who founded Star Furniture Company in 1905--the two worked together to produce some of the most influential furniture of the time, said one of the tour leaders. The yellow cafeteria chairs are by Charles and Ray Eames and produced by Herman Miller.

McFadden gave credit to the Brethren leaders of the mid-20th century for working with the architects to create a building and a work space that is practical, sturdy, durable, and beautiful in its simplicity. More than a half century later, their choices still serve the denomination well.

Go to www.brethren.org/album to find a link to a photo album of the National Trust tour of the General Offices.





5) Pacific Southwest District celebrates a weekend of witness and ‘withness’

Delegates sit at round tables at the Pacific Southwest District Conference
Photo by Joe Vecchio

Delegates sit at round tables at the Pacific Southwest District Conference

by Russ Matteson

Gathering together with a worship focus on the Beatitudes, the 54th annual Pacific Southwest District Conference brought together folk from 23 of our congregations for time in worship, study, business, and fellowship. Friday evening’s sermon was brought by author and public theologian Brian McLaren, who invited the district into an examination of the Beatitudes.

McLaren invited us to consider that what divides us today is not so much our differences, but rather the spirit in which we hold our differences with each other. He invited us to find in the Beatitudes a teaching from Jesus that shows us a new way of being with one another, that might give us a way of staying together.

McLaren shared as the opening preacher, and he provided the leadership for the pre-conference continuing education event that was attended by about 30 ministers and congregational leaders around the conference theme. On Thursday he shared the Fasnacht Lecture on Religion and Public Life at the University of La Verne, with a focus on what he has called the Great Spiritual Migration taking place in society. It was a partnership between the university and the district that brought McLaren to California for these events.

Business Saturday was once again conducted around tables, inviting delegates from across the district to meet and share with one another on items of faith and business. The opening Bible study was one that moderator Sara Haldeman-Scarr had used throughout the year in various settings. She invited participants to reflect on a favorite Jesus story of theirs, and then relate how Jesus was a witness in the story. In a second sharing, participants related how Jesus showed “withness” in the story. While participants shared, they wove together playdough ropes into tapestries that formed the centerpieces of their tables, recognizing in the stories of Jesus our connections with one another.

Many reports were shared as a part of the conference. Special focus was given to renewed efforts in developing new congregations. This included an introductory report from the Church Planting Task Group, and the welcoming of the new Los Banos project. The delegates also received encouragement to consider serving with Brethren Disaster Ministries through the district, and to have their congregations apply for district Ministry Partnership Funds and take a risk to reach out into their community with the love of Christ.

Insight sessions engaged the conference theme with a Bible study by Richard Zapata, presentations from the University of La Verne Interfaith Fellows, and sessions by an Islamic scholar on Muslim-Christian relationships and understanding. Other workshops focused on spiritual practices, congregational growth and leadership, congregational ethics, and board responsibilities.

A 2018 budget of $425,000 was approved. This represents a reduction by half of the overall spending from five years ago, as the district board looks to stabilize district finances and provide for longer term security for the district to work to support congregations. An expense maximum for 2019 also was approved.

Worship Saturday evening provided for a district love feast that included feetwashing, a simple meal, and communion. Many were touched by an interpretive dance shared by Elizabeth Piazza as we came into the feetwashing portion of the evening. Sunday morning worship included the consecration of leadership for the year ahead, reaffirming the licensed ministers in the district and recognizing ordination anniversaries. The Sunday offering of more than $5,000 benefits Puerto Rico District as a witness and “withness” in their response to the impact of Hurricane Maria.

-- Russ Matteson is district executive minister of Pacific Southwest District.




Clean-up bucket assembly at Annville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren
Photo courtesy of Atlantic Northeast District

Clean-up bucket assembly at Annville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren


6) Atlantic Northeast District delivers 455 clean-up buckets to New Windsor

from the Atlantic Northeast District newsletter

What a wonderful God we serve! In August, Church World Service (CWS) announced the need for more disaster relief clean-up buckets in the warehouse at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. This request was prompted by Hurricane Harvey’s devastation of Houston, Texas. Little did they know Irma, Jose, and Maria were on their way, as well as a devastating earthquake in Mexico.

Mountville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, whose outreach is to supply buckets on a regular basis, has been an essential key to coordinating a large initiative to put together clean-up buckets in our district. Three congregations--Ephrata, Elizabethtown, and Mountville--agreed to be drop-off points for others in the district. Many smaller congregations delivered buckets to district conference to be included in the delivery. Ephrata Church of the Brethren reached out and volunteered to transport all the collected buckets to the Brethren Service Center for CWS on Oct. 10.

Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren and Annville Church of the Brethren along with the Ephrata congregations each put together 100 buckets for this delivery. At our district conference on Oct. 7, close to 100 more buckets were collected, along with hygiene kits, to be placed on the truck.

We are pleased that our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ have come together to assist Church World Service at this time.








7) Elizabethtown pastor stands in support of ‘Dreamers’

from a Church World Service (CWS) release

A tweet by Greg Davidson Laszakovits from the event in support of 'Dreamers'
Courtesy of CWS

A tweet by Greg Davidson Laszakovits from the event in support of 'Dreamers'

On Dec. 5 and 6, Greg Davidson Laszakovits, pastor of Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, and constituent of Senator Pat Toomey, Senator Bob Casey, and Congressman Lloyd Smucker (PA-16), traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with policy staff in each of these offices to push support for a clean Dream Act. The legislation serves as a means to prevent deportation of 800,000 undocumented youth who came to the United States as children.

Laszakovits also stood in support of hundreds of people, many of them faith leaders, who were arrested by Capitol police in an act of civil disobedience to bring attention to the urgency of this issue.

According to Laszakovits, 122 so-called “Dreamers” lose their legal protection every day and are at risk of being separated from their families and leaving their employers high and dry.

“This is a moral, religious, and community issue,” he said. “Morally, the terror in which we are forcing these law-abiding, productive young people and their families to live is disgraceful. As a nation of immigrants we can and must do better. As a Christian entering the Christmas season, I cannot help but remember Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were also refugees, foreigners as they were forced to flee to Egypt. Pragmatically, they are responsible for hundreds millions of dollars to our national economy as students and members of the workforce.” 







Nigeria quilt made by Karen Shankster
Photo courtesy of Karen Shankster

Nigeria quilt made by Karen Shankster


8) Unique quilt supports ongoing needs in Nigeria

by Karen Shankster

Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) had its origins in the work of missionaries sent by the Church of the Brethren starting in 1923. My husband, Don Shankster, pastor of Papago Buttes Church of the Brethren in Scottsdale, Ariz., was one of the children of the missionaries who helped give EYN its start. He was born and raised in Nigeria. His parents, Owen and Celia Shankster, were in mission in Nigeria for more than 40 years.
 
Since 2014, EYN has been in crisis, affected by the actions of the terrorist group Boko Haram. In 2015, some members of EYN, including members of the Women’s Fellowship choir, attended Annual Conference in Tampa, Fla. The red fabric that the choir wears is specific to the Women’s Fellowship.  Other representatives from EYN wear the same fabric, but in other colors. Some Nigerian fabric was sold by the group to help with their recovery efforts, but not the red Women’s Fellowship material.

I inquired about the availability of the red fabric worn by the Women’s Fellowship, and Carl and Roxane Hill graciously sent some yards for a payment made to the Nigeria Crisis Fund. Since that time, I have been working to make something special with it, to support the ongoing needs in Nigeria through the Nigeria Crisis Fund and Brethren Disaster Ministries.

The result is this quilted wall hanging. Our Papago Buttes Women’s Fellowship has offered feedback and support along the way. This summer, Suzie Evenstad referred me to a quilter in Chandler who did the machine quilting. The “Nigeria Quilt” is now completed!

-- Karen Shankster is a member of Papago Buttes Church of the Brethren in Scottsdale, Ariz.





9) Mark Hartwig retires as IT director for the Church of the Brethren

Mark Hartwig is retiring as director of Information Technology for the Church of the Brethren, effective Dec. 22. He has worked at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill., for more than 12 years.

Hartwig began his work with the former Church of the Brethren General Board in March 2005 as a computer and applications specialist. In March 2007, he was promoted to the position of director of Information Services.
 
Prior to joining the denominational staff, he had more than 20 years of experience in the information technology field. His prior experience included positions as computer coordinator/trainer and information services manager. He also holds a master’s degree in pastoral studies and is a spiritual director.





10) Patrice Nightingale retires as Brethren Benefit Trust manager of production

Patrice Nightingale has announced her retirement as manager of production for Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT), as of Dec. 31. She joined the BBT communications staff on May 5, 2008. On Oct. 20 of the same year, she succeeded Nevin Dulabaum as director of communications. In late 2011, BBT went through an organizational change due to economic factors, and she was transitioned to her current position. 

In her various roles in the communications department, Nightingale has provided leadership in marketing, promotions, publications, and electronic media initiatives, and also served as chief copy editor. In addition, she has represented BBT at district conferences and many Annual Conferences. She has served on the communications team of the Church Benefits Association since 2010. She is a member of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill.

BBT held a celebration of her nearly 10 years of employment on Thursday, Dec. 7, at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin.





11) National Youth Conference registration opens in January

by Kelsey Murray

Church of the Brethren staff put together packets of information for National Youth Conference (NYC) 2018.
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Church of the Brethren staff put together packets of information for National Youth Conference (NYC) 2018.

National Youth Conference (NYC) registration opens in a little over a month. Sample registrations are available online at www.brethren.org/nyc . NYC is a Church of the Brethren conference held every four years for youth who have completed grade 9 through the first year of college or age equivalent, and their adult advisors.

The sample NYC registrations give a look at the registration forms and exactly what information will be needed to register. Registration opens Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. (central time). Don’t forget you’ll receive a free drawstring backpack for registering by Jan. 21 at midnight!

Speakers for NYC 2018, which takes place July 21-26 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., are being announced every Tuesday via NYC’s social media accounts--Faceebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. So far, the speakers include Michaela Alphonse, Eric Landram, Laura Stone, and Jarrod McKenna.

-- Kelsey Murray is the NYC coordinator, serving through BVS. For more about NYC 2018, including videos on the meaning of the theme, “Bound Together, Clothed in Christ,” an outline of the NYC schedule, FAQ sheets for youth and adult advisors, and more go to www.brethren.org/nyc .





12) January Ventures course to focus on ‘Congregation in Mission’

The next course offering from the “Ventures in Christian Discipleship” program at McPherson (Kan.) College will be “Congregation in Mission.” Congregational life provides settings for persons in community to flourish in their faith. What are the dynamics to allow this to happen?  What are the impediments that get in the way of this flourishing? These and other questions can be a spring board for drawing us into a lively discussion.

The event will work on the concepts of “settler” versus “frontier” churches, and explore how these concepts impact congregational life and mission. The class will be held online Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, at 9 a.m. to 12 noon (central time). It will be taught by Jim Tomlonson, who has served the denomination in many ways including as district executive minister, campus minister, and associate pastor. He also has served in rural parish ministry.

All classes are donation-based and continuing education credit is available for $10 per course. To learn more about Ventures and to register for courses, visit www.mcpherson.edu/ventures .

-- Kendra Flory, advancement assistant at McPherson (Kan.) College, contributed this report to Newsline.





13) Brethren bits

-- Sandy Kinsey, Shenandoah District office administrative assistant, has announced her retirement effective Nov. 30. She will continue to be employed part-time through Dec. 21.

-- Tina Rieman will end her tenure with the Brethren Leadership Institute (BLI) of South Central Indiana District this month. “Many thanks to Tina for her administrative skills that have been integral to launching BLI in our district,” said an announcement in the district newsletter. “BLI’s approval by the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership as a credentialed program is almost complete,” the announcement continued. “Ongoing BLI task force members are Marie Willoughby, Erin Huiras, Larry Fourman, and Beth Sollenberger.”

-- The Church of the Brethren seeks to fill a full-time salaried position of Donor Relations specialist. This position is part of the Donor Relations team and reports to the director of Donor Relations. The major responsibility is to strengthen and nurture the individual and congregational stewardship, direct gift, planned giving, and enlistment programs of the Church of the Brethren through face-to-face visits with individuals and congregations. Primary focus will be on positively impacting individual giving in support of denominational ministries. Required skills and knowledge include grounding in Church of the Brethren heritage, theology, and polity; ability to articulate and operate out of the vision of the Church of the Brethren; at least three years of experience in planned/deferred giving and/or five years in development-related activities in the not-for-profit sector, or other comparable experience; ability to relate with individuals and groups; basic computer skills working with Microsoft Word, Excel, e-mail, Internet access; a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience. Location is flexible; the candidate must be willing to travel to the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., for individual and department meetings as needed. Applications are received beginning immediately and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Send a resume to COBApply@brethren.org or to the Human Resources Manager, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367.

-- Bethany Theological Seminary is seeking a full-time executive director of finance and administration who is entrepreneurial, is able to multitask, seeks collaborative solutions, and provides a positive and productive impact with both strategic and tactical initiatives. A successful candidate will be invited to join the seminary’s leadership team starting no later than March 2018. The position reports to the president. Bethany Theological Seminary is located in Richmond, Ind. The executive director will oversee short- and long-term financial planning, accounting, payroll, facilities management, and human resources and will supervise the Business Services Office staff. This person will advise the president and Leadership Team on financial planning, budgeting, cash flow, investment priorities, and policy matters. In all matters, this person will employ clear and continuous lines of communication, keeping the president informed of all critical issues. Salary is commensurate with qualifications. A master’s degree in business administration and/or qualification as a certified public accountant is preferred; a bachelor’s degree in business or accounting with finance experience is acceptable. This person must have a proven track record of excellent judgment; skills in administration, leadership, and interpersonal communication; and demonstrate a commitment to personal and professional growth. Affinity with the values and mission of the seminary is required. For a complete job description, visit www.bethanyseminary.edu/about/employment . Application review will begin immediately and will continue until an appointment is made. To apply, send a letter of interest, resume, and contact information for three references to president@bethanyseminary.edu or Attn: President Jeff Carter, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374. Bethany Theological Seminary’s policy prohibits discrimination in employment opportunities or practices with regard to race, gender, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, or religion.

-- Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) seeks a production coordinator to fill a full-time position located in Elgin, Ill. The primary function is to serve as the desktop publishing/graphic design staff person, as well as follow-through production for publications, departmental resources, and special projects. Additional function would involve website management, organization of communication materials and inventory, and coordination of mailings. Duties include layout and design, scanning, photo manipulation, printing or replication, website content maintenance, and distribution tasks. This position works with consultants/vendors in producing departmental resources and on other special projects, including both traditional print and electronic media. The ideal candidate will have an undergraduate degree in graphic design and a working knowledge of production and copy editing. Must have experience with Adobe Creative Suite; knowledge of QuarkXPress is a plus, and proficiency in Microsoft Office as well. This position requires a person who is very deadline-oriented and has strong organizational skills, with the ability to prioritize workloads and juggle projects; knowledge of website management is a must. BBT seeks candidates with strong verbal and written communications skills, the ability to design materials, review and update website content, and manage mailing list data. Current and active membership in the Church of the Brethren is preferred; current and active membership in a faith community is required. Salary and benefits are competitive with Church Benefits Association agencies of comparable size and scope of services. A full benefits package is included. Send a letter of interest, résumé, three professional references, and salary-range expectation to Donna March at 1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120, or dmarch@cobbt.org . For more information about Brethren Benefit Trust, visit www.cobbt.org .

-- The Workcamp Ministry invites young adults in the Church of the Brethren to apply for the Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) position of assistant coordinator. Assistant coordinators of the Workcamp Ministry serve at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., from the end of August 2018 to May 2019, preparing for summer workcamps. They travel throughout the summer of 2019, coordinating the workcamps. The workcamps are week-long service projects both in and outside of the United States. The position description and online application are available at www.brethren.org/workcamps . Direct questions to Emily Tyler, coordinator of Workcamps and BVS Recruitment, at etyler@brethren.org or 847-429-4396.

-- Ministry Summer Service is looking for young adult interns, ministry sites, and mentors to join this Church of the Brethren program. Applications for the summer of 2018, available at www.brethren.org/mss , are due Jan. 5, 2018. This program is open to Church of the Brethren students, regardless of which college/university they are attending. MSS challenges Church of the Brethren college students and congregations/ministry sites to consider God’s call on their lives. MSS partners with ministry sites and mentors to offer interns the opportunity to engage the questions of call, vocation, and discernment in the context of a deeply rooted faith. The Youth Peace Travel Team is also a part of MSS. Interns find space to do deep discernment in the context of a faith community, and mentors/communities find new opportunities to consider how God is moving in their ministry setting. Interns attend a week of orientation in Elgin, Ill., before serving for nine weeks in a ministry setting, developing leadership skills and exploring their sense of God’s call on their lives. In exchange for their leadership and work, interns receive a $2,500 college scholarship, as well as food, housing, a $100 monthly stipend, and transportation for the summer. Mentors and ministry sites will be able to welcome an intern into their life and the work of their communities for nine weeks, being open to their new perspectives, challenging questions and God-given gifts. They will help to create an atmosphere for learning, reflection and discernment for the intern. Together, interns, mentors and ministry sites explore the ways that working in and for the church can be a way to address the world’s deep need. For more information or to receive some brochures, please contact Becky Ullom Naugle, director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Church of the Brethren, at bullumnaugle@brethren.org or contact Dana Cassell at dcassell@brethren.org .

BVS application deadline Dec. 15, 2017

-- Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) has openings at two upcoming orientation units, for those interested in giving a year or more of volunteer service. The winter orientation, Unit 319, will be held from Jan. 28 to Feb. 16, 2018, at Gotha, Fla.; applications are due by Dec. 15. The summer orientation, Unit 320, will be held from July 29 to Aug. 17, 2018, at Camp Colorado in Sedalia, Colo.; applications are due by June 15, 2018. For more about volunteering, go to www.brethren.org/bvs .

-- The Church of the Brethren workcamp office is offering sample 2018 registrations for Junior High, Senior High, Young Adult, Adult, Advisor, and We Are Able participants. The office hopes that these sample forms will give registrants the ability to familiarize themselves with the information need in the form, as well as contact the workcamp office with any questions they may have before registration opens on Jan. 11, 2018, at 7 p.m. (central time). The sample registrations can be found at www.brethren.org/workcamps . Any questions or comments concerning the 2018 workcamps schedule and registration can be sent to cobworkcamp@brethren.org .

-- The World Council of Churches (WCC) invites young adults to be stewards at the 2018 Central Committee in Geneva, Switzerland. The application deadline is Jan. 31, 2018. The Stewards Program aims to bring together a dynamic and diverse group of 20 young people from all over the world, to serve from June 5-23, 2018. The invitation is open to people from a variety of backgrounds, churches, and regions. “As a diverse community, stewards bring their faith, experiences and visions to an ecumenical experience of togetherness and friendship,” explains Joy Eva Bohol, WCC program executive for Youth Engagement. Bohol, a former steward herself, highlights the value such an experience can give to those interested in engaging in the ecumenical movement. ”This is both an opportunity to listen, learn, and experience the work of the WCC and its efforts towards Christian unity, and a chance to contribute your own experience, and to dive into the work hands-on. Although the work is often done under tight deadlines and high pressure, it is an opportunity not to be missed,” Bohol says. Stewards are young people between the ages of 18 and 30. English is the working language of the program, and patience, ability to work with people from other countries and cultures, as well as a willingness to work together as a team, are key. Application guidelines for the WCC Stewards Program for Central Committee 2018 are online at www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/events/wcc-invites-applications-to-central-committee-stewards-programme .

-- Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) invites church members and friends to send Christmas cards to BVS volunteers this December. “If you, your family, congregation, or small group would like to send Christmas greetings to the current volunteers in BVS, please contact the BVS office at bvs@brethren.org for the mailing list. Our volunteers love receiving cards and greetings from Brethren congregations!” said an invitation.

-- Thursday was Bethany Day on the Seminaries that Change the World’s “Advent Calendar for Hope, Justice, and Joy.” Bethany Seminary has been named to the list of “Seminaries that Change the World” again this year, in a program of the Center for Faith and Service based out of McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Ill. The theme for the day was “Serving Where You’re Needed,” from Matthew 25:31-46. Find out more at www.stctw.org/december-7.html .

-- “Join us for this informational and instructive seminar!” invites the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. The next Clergy Tax Seminar is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a break for lunch. Deb Oskin returns as the leader for this event. Students, pastors, and other church leaders are invited to attend either in person at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., or online. Participants will learn how to file clergy taxes correctly and legally, and how to comply with regulations while maximizing tax deductions. Participants may earn .3 continuing education credit. This seminar is highly recommended for all pastors and all other church leaders who wish to understand clergy taxes including treasurers, steward commission chairs, and church board chairs. Sponsors include the Brethren Academy, the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry, and Bethany Theological Seminary. Registration costs $30 per person. Current Bethany, TRIM/EFSM/SeBAH, and Earlham School of Religion students may attend at no cost, although registration is still required. Registrations are not complete until payment is received. The registration deadline is Jan. 19, 2018. Register at https://bethanyseminary.edu/brethren-academy/clergy-tax-seminar .

-- Each year, “Brethren Voices” features alternative giving ideas for the holiday season. “Brethren Voices” is a Brethren-made community television show, produced by Peace Church of the Brethren in Portland, Ore. “This year we are grateful that they have chosen to feature Brethren Disaster Ministries,” said a note from the denomination’s disaster staff. Brent Carlson hosts the show, as the district disaster coordinator for Pacific Northwest District. Watch this episode of “Brethren Voices” on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQPeF4erAnQ .

-- Mohrsville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren celebrated its 150th anniversary with a homecoming on Nov. 12. Jeff Bach of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College was the guest preacher. Worship was followed by a lunch with church family and friends.

-- Many Church of the Brethren congregations are hosting Christmas festivities during this Advent season. Among them, Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is hosting a performance by the Susquehanna Chorale, which will present its annual Candlelight Christmas concert at the church at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 16. The group will perform Benjamin Britten’s “A Ceremony of Carol” and other new and traditional carols arranged by contemporary composers. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door for adults, $5 for students. For more information go to http://cumberlink.com/entertainment/local-scene/music-susquehanna-chorale-to-perform-annual-christmas-concert/article_f1eb43d1-d4be-5342-a5fb-945d6b711f9e.html .

-- South Waterloo (Iowa) Church of the Brethren is one of the congregations planning a live nativity this Advent season. The South Waterloo church is hosting its 27th annual live nativity tomorrow evening, Saturday, Dec. 9, from 6-8 p.m., according to “The Courier” newspaper. The free event includes refreshments and fellowship time in the church’s Family Life Center.

-- Kevin Kessler, district executive minister for Illinois and Wisconsin District, has been announced as the preacher for the opening of the 2018 Illinois Conference of Churches Annual Assembly. The theme for the event to be held in Champaign, Ill., next Sept. 28 will be “Christian Healing in a Fractured World: An Ecumenical Perspective on Polarization in the USA 2018.”

-- Virlina District continues to receive a disaster response offering for hurricane relief. “As of November 30, 2017 we have received $52,230 from forty-five congregations and twenty-four households. We will continue to receive offerings from our congregations to underwrite denominational efforts in response to the hurricanes that have devastated the Gulf Coast of the United States and the entire Caribbean basin,” said the district newsletter. “Thus far, we have sent $40,000 to assist our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico. We expect to send the remainder to other affected areas soon.”

-- Southern Ohio District is working on a new venture called the “Together” magazine. The Connections Commission and the District Board are working on the new magazine, according to a notice in the district newsletter. “This magazine will feature inspirational and informational articles and other items from members of our district. The magazine will be sent twice a year as an insert in Messenger magazine, the official magazine of the Church of the Brethren,” the newsletter said. The publication will be sent to all the addresses in the district data base including those who do not currently subscribe to “Messenger.”

-- Also from Southern Ohio District, the Connections Commission is sponsoring a fun experience called the Great Southern Ohio/Kentucky Passport Adventure. “The purpose of this experience is to get acquainted with sisters and brothers in our district who attend church at some other congregation,” the newsletter said. “The Passport Commission has assembled a book of our churches, their location, and their worship times.” Participants download the book from a website, then choose a church to visit. They make themselves known once they arrive at the church they are visiting, or visit incognito. “Enjoy yourself, then share your experience on Facebook in the group that has been created for this purpose,” the announcement said.

-- A group of student athletes at Bridgewater (Va.) College dedicated to promoting a safer, healthier campus environment has won one of only five national awards for its education of high-risk students about alcohol and making responsible decisions in the presence of alcohol. According to a release from the college, STEP UP was presented the Outstanding Peer Education Group award from Boosting Alcohol Consciousness Concerning the Health of University Students (BACCHUS), a student organization founded in 1975 at the University of Florida. BACCHUS operates under the auspices of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. The award, which was given to the Bridgewater group for its work during the 2016-17 academic year, acknowledged STEP UP Bridgewater’s creativity and overall effectiveness in campus awareness and education. The vision of STEP UP Bridgewater is to see fewer incidents of negative consequences associated with consuming alcohol.

-- A project that combines branding, outreach, and a commercial to raise awareness of the plight of the Ecuadorian rainforest was the winning proposal in this year’s Global Enterprise Challenge at McPherson (Kan.) College. A proposal by Jaden Hilgers, a junior from Wichita, was selected from a field of six entries and earned Hilgers a week-long learning tour in Ecuador, according to a release from the college. The Global Enterprise Challenge is a competition that encourages students to address significant global issues through entrepreneurial thinking. This year’s competition challenged students to take on the issue of globalization, specifically in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. The students were asked to plan a project that would help give voice to the marginalized populations that depend on the rainforest for a variety of resources. McPherson College worked with the New Community Project to provide a platform of this year’s challenge.  The winning student project could become a tangible product used by The New Community Project to share the Ecuadorian people’s story.

Donna Derr Fund for Women and Children

-- Donna J. Derr, a former member of the Church of the Brethren denominational staff who passed away in early September, has been honored for her exceptional and long-term service with Church World Service. She served with the Church of the Brethren’s refugee and disaster services in New Windsor, Md., first as administrative assistant (1981-1987), then as director (1987-1996). In 1998, she joined the staff of CWS, a long-time partner of the Church of the Brethren through which Brethren Disaster Ministries extends its work internationally. CWS has established the “Donna J. Derr Fund for Women and Children” to continue the work that was so important to her. “Donna’s leadership over many years in global relief and development, refugee ministries, and humanitarian assistance was highly respected,” said the announcement. CWS noted “her commitment, compassion, and caring for people and communities around the globe” in announcing a fund that has been “created so that her impact will continue to be felt for years to come.” The fund will provide support for empowering women and nurturing children in communities around the world through the programs of CWS.

2018 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

-- The 2018 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is scheduled for Jan. 18-25. The theme for the 2018 observance: “Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power,” inspired by Exodus 15:6. The resources for the week have been prepared by members of different churches in the Caribbean. Find resources and more information at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/commissions/faith-and-order/xi-week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity/2018/2018 .

-- Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) and the National Council of Churches (NCC)--both ecumenical partners of the Church of the Brethren--are among the Christian organizations opposing the US decision to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. “In 1980, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA adopted a policy statement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said an NCC release, in part. “In that statement, the NCC said, ‘Unilateral actions by any one group in relation to Jerusalem will only perpetuate antagonisms that will threaten the peace of the city and possibly of the region.’ In 2007, the NCC again affirmed a shared Jerusalem. We reiterate those statements today.... The status of Jerusalem has long been at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While West Jerusalem serves as the de facto capital of Israel, East Jerusalem has always been considered the capital of the future state of Palestine.”

-- In a global campaign called “A Light of Peace,” the World Council of Churches (WCC) invites people across the globe to unite in prayer for the Korean Peninsula and for a world free from nuclear weapons. “The candle of the first week of Advent reminds us of the coming light of Christ,” says one of the prayers, shared in a WCC release. “Together with sisters and brothers in North and South Korea, and people around the world campaigning to abolish nuclear weapons, we are waiting for the days when the nations will no longer be divided and the nations will beat their weapons into ploughshares.” On the first week of Advent, the WCC invited the global Christian fellowship to express solidarity for the Korean people and to support efforts to ease tensions and sustain hope. On the second Sunday in Advent, Dec. 10, one of WCC’s partners, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, will receive the Nobel Peace Prize at an award ceremony in Oslo, Norway. “By lighting candles during special prayers and worship services two Sundays in a row, people in many nations from many faith traditions can unify and amplify voices of peace,” the release said. Prayer resources are online at www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/events/a-light-of-peace-for-the-korean-peninsula-and-a-world-free-from-nuclear-weapons .


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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 editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren, at cobnews@brethren.org . Contributors to this Newsline also include Shamek Cardona, Sherry Chastain, Kendra Flory, Kathleen Fry-Miller, Tina Goodwin, Kendra Harbeck, Roxane Hill, Donna March, Russ Matteson, Kelsey Murray, Karen Shankster, Emily Tyler, Joe Vecchio, Jenny Williams, and Jay Wittmeyer.

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