Newsline for Feb. 18, 2017




A winter prayer labyrinth at Shepherd's Spring outdoor ministry center
Photo courtesy of Debbie Eisenbise

A winter prayer labyrinth at Shepherd's Spring outdoor ministry center

NEWS
1) Children’s Disaster Services sends team to aid evacuees in northern California
2) Global Food Initiative supports soybean consultation in Africa, community garden in Illinois
3) Nigeria Crisis Response volunteers visit rebuilt church, IDP camp in Maiduguri
4) EYN disaster ministry conducts Hepatitis B screening, aids Bdagu refugees

UPCOMING EVENTS
5) General secretary continues to hold listening sessions
6) Global Mission and Service offers more Nigeria workcamps

PERSONNEL
7) Brethren Benefit Trust announces staffing changes

REFLECTION
8) Values of retirement community cooperative group live on

REMEMBER WHEN
9) Resolution on Justice for Japanese-American World War II Internees: An action of the former General Board of the Church of the Brethren

10) Brethren bits: ACT Alliance names new general secretary, job opening, news from congregations and camps, ULV class on leadership and culture gains attention, Bread for the World reports decreases in poverty and hunger among African Americans, and more


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Quote of the week:

“The experience was too traumatic; it devastated our personhood.... This is my story. I tell it now, to help people to know about and to understand the pain that the internment caused, so that such an atrocity will never happen in this country again.”

-- Florence Daté Smith in a “Messenger” article first published in November 1988. Now now 95 years old, she was one of the Japanese-Americans interned by her own government during World War II. On Sunday, 75 years will have passed since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed executive order 9066 on Feb. 19, 1942, setting in motion the internment of hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans and US citizens. NBC News reports that “over the next five years, more than 120,000 people, two-thirds of whom were native-born United States citizens, were forced to leave their homes and livelihoods for quickly-built camps in some of the country’s most unforgiving climates” (find a special NBC report at www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/75-years-after-executive-order-9066-n721831 ). Look for the full text of Smith’s “Messenger” article, and an update on her work to keep the story of the Japanese-American internment experience alive, in next week’s Newsline.

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1) Children’s Disaster Services sends team to aid evacuees in northern California

A CDS volunteer works with children in Albany, Ga., during a recent response

A CDS volunteer works with children in Albany, Ga., during a recent response

A team of eight volunteers with Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) are serving in Oroville, Calif., at the request of the American Red Cross. The team is offering child care for families affected by the evacuation of the area under threat from the emergency at the Oroville Dam.

The CDS team started yesterday, reported CDS associate director Kathy Fry-Miller. “Mandatory evacuation is lifted, but there are still hundreds of people in shelters,” she said by e-mail. More rain is expected early next week, and evacuations may resume if the situation at the dam worsens again in upcoming days.

Earlier, Fry-Miller had shared an e-mail to the team members reporting that “shelter numbers are down to the hundreds instead of the thousands.... And, of course, those numbers could grow again rapidly with the upcoming storm situation.”

The project manager for the team is Douetta (Douey) Davis. For more information about the ministry of CDS go to www.brethren.org/cds .





2) Global Food Initiative supports soybean consultation in Africa, community garden in Illinois

Global Food Initiative logo banner

With a grant of $2,500, the Church of the Brethren Global Food Initiative (GFI) is supporting a soybean consultation and exchange visit between Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and Church Aid Inc. in Liberia. Another recent grant of $1,000 supports a community gardening initiative of Rockford (Ill.) Community Church of the Brethren.

Soybean consultation

The GFI grant supports the travel of two EYN representatives from Nigeria to Monrovia, Liberia, this month. The representatives are accompanied by the current president of the BEST group, an organization of EYN members who are also businesspeople, whose costs will be covered by BEST. While in Liberia the EYN representatives planned to attend a conference of Church Aid Inc. and engage in field visits and training activities to build on EYN’s experience with soy production and knowledge gained from an October 2016 trip to Ghana with GFI manager Jeff Boshart and Dennis Thompson of the Soybean Innovation Laboratory.

Rockford garden project

The GFI allocation supports community gardens being planned by the Rockford Community Church in northern Illinois. Plans call for two gardens to be established, one on the church property and another in a neighborhood where the church and other community partners have been working for some time. Technical support will come from Illinois Cooperative Extension staff.

Find out more about the ministry of the Global Food Initiative at www.brethren.org/gfi .





3) Nigeria Crisis Response volunteers visit rebuilt church, IDP camp in Maiduguri

By Pat Krabacher

Pat Krabacher visits with displaced people in EYN IDP camp in Maiduguri
Photo by Hamsatu James

Pat Krabacher visits with displaced people in EYN IDP camp in Maiduguri

On Feb. 9, John and I visited the Wulari EYN Maiduguri church of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) in the large northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri. We met the EYN HIV/AIDS Project staff, and met the new pastor Joseph T. Kwaha. The church was rebuilt in 2015 after it was bombed by Boko Haram and totally destroyed in June 2009. We also visited the EYN IDP camp of 8,000 displaced persons located nearby on an old church compound.

Impressive work is being done by the 20-person HIV/AIDs Project staff who manage four programs with international NGOs: Save the Children--food security, livelihood, nutrition, water, sanitation, and hygiene; UNICEF--child protection and follow-up; Christian Aid (UK)--nutrition, water, sanitation, and hygiene; Family Health Initiative--HIV/AIDs, strengthening integrated delivery of HIV/AIDS services.

The staff manage the feeding programs under USAID Food for Peace, community mobilization, and livelihood support benefitting 11,000 people in eight Local Government Areas (LGA) in Borno State, with the help of 255 EYN volunteers. A new program has just started that targets 10,000 households with food vouchers, targets 1,200 “acutely malnourished” children in Konduga LGA, and will drill 20 boreholes and build 25 toilets in Konduga LGA of Borno State. The work of the EYN team is impressive!

Our visit to the nearby EYN IDP camp brought us into the “beehive” of life for displaced people. Plastic UNHCR (United High Commissioner for Refugees) tarpaulins predominated, with hundreds of small children playing, wailing, or just staring at us--the first white people they may have seen. IDP camp chairman John Gwamma introduced us to new people who had just arrived in the camp--an elderly women who had been abducted by Boko Haram and held in Sambisa Forest, and a young new mother who was alone in a small tent with her newborn daughter, born just that morning.

A bright spot of the visit was some evidence of the selling of grains, beans, and other items among the IDPs, two tailors at work, and some children attending school. This EYN camp does not have a school, but a second camp of about 900 IDPs at Shuwari, which we did not visit, has a small school.

Poignant moments remain with us from our visit to the EYN IDP camp, including the story of John who was the first IDP from Gwoza to arrive in Maiduguri. His story shared the pain he and others have endured, watching family being killed, and not eating for 21 days while running from Boko Haram. Also poignant was our meeting with the old woman abducted from Gwoza, who has suffered but when greeted smiled back and tried to give us her cup of rice porridge. We laughed, but her love and care remain with us.

Much more needs to be done to support these vulnerable displaced people, and prayer will surely help them.

-- Pat and John Krabacher are Brethren Volunteer Service workers and volunteers with the Nigeria Crisis Response, a cooperative venture of the Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Find out more at www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .





4) EYN disaster ministry conducts Hepatitis B screening, aids Bdagu refugees

By Zakariya Musa

Following the EYN president’s statement declaring a state of emergency on health, the Disaster Relief Ministry of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) moved to conduct Hepatitis B screening starting with staff and students of Kulp Bible College in Kwarhi.

In more news from the work of the Disaster Relief Ministry, the EYN program has been sharing relief aid with refugees from Bdagu who were camped at Lassa following a recent attack on their village.

Hepatitis B screening
 
Medical personnel Charles Ezra reported that out of 178 people between the ages of 25 to 60 who have been screened so far, 30 were identified positive. A confirmation test is being carried out on those with positive results. After reconfirmation, the group will be undergoing further profiling for medication.

The exercise will continue at the EYN Headquarters, the EYN Ministers Annual Conference, and with staff and students at the EYN secondary school. The demand is high, as people are eager to get screened knowing that the disease has killed some relatives in their communities.

EYN president Joel S. Billi, while narrating concern about the deadly disease, said that EYN has experienced the deaths of young pastors to the killer disease over the years.
 
Emergency response to Bdagu refugees

EYN’s Disaster Relief Ministry conveyed emergency relief material to Bdagu refugees who were camped at Lassa following the recent attack on their village. The relief materials delivered to 124 households included rice, cooking oil, mats, Maggi Cubes, and blankets.

On the EYN team were the director of the Disaster Relief Ministry, Yuguda Z. Mdurvwa; coordinator Amos S. Duwala; project officer Zakariya Musa; accountant Aniya Simon; medical coordinator Charles E. Gaya; driver John Haha; and two other commercial drivers and their conductor. Part of the material budgeted for 300 households was returned.

Each household received one mat, one blanket, one packet of Maggi Cubes, one bag of 25 kilograms of rice, and one liter of cooking oil. Some families are many in number, and only a few have two or three family members. The majority are between 6 and 10 people in each household.

The displaced are sleeping under the burnt buildings of the Vocational Training Center in Lassa. Tanko Waba, one of the displaced, thanked the church for coming to their aid. He called on the government to reconsider the area, which he said faced several attacks.

In the camp was the man whose family was taken away by the Boko Haram at Bdagu. Mallum Abau, about 70, could not control his tears on mentioning the names of his family members abducted during the attack. Mr. Abau listed their names as: Ndalna Mallum, a wife carrying a baby; Pana Mallum, a daughter with baby; Joro Mallum, a son; Adum Mallum, a son; Hauwa Mallum, a daughter; Hauwa Aduwamanji, a brother’s daughter whose husband was killed by Boko Haram in recent years.

Some of the displaced sustained levels of injuries. One of them was Mr. Ayagaja, who sustained wounds. According to Ayagaja, on hearing of gunshots he was confused and ran into a village called Yimirmugza where he fell into a band of vigilante groups who assumed he was Boko Haram. “They tied and seriously beated me until someone who knows me came around to tell them, ‘Isn’t this a man you know?’ Then they untied me,” he said. His left hand was seriously injured. Ayagaja is being cared for by the Disaster Relief Ministry who committed to follow up on his situation.

Bdagu village head Lawan Satumary Chinda was there during the relief distribution. He thanked the church for the gesture. “No human being left in Bdagu,” he said.

The following were killed in the attack which sacked the area: Shakatri Tsukwam, Aliyu Jaduwa, Ushadari Waindu, Ijanada Ngarba--a woman about 95 years old burnt alive in her room, and Yaga Lamido who was slaughtered.
 
In a similar response, 153 households were relieved when maize, rice, Maggi Cubes, cooking oil, and salt were distributed at Munni in EYN DCC Michika, in the Michika Local Government area of Adamawa State. Munni village was damaged in 2014 attacks.

Many villages around Chibok, Lassa, Dille, Madagali, Mildu, etc., are under-reported or unreported in terms of Boko Haram attacks, because most of the areas have no access to communication networks.

-- Zakariya Musa serves on the communications staff of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).





UPCOMING EVENTS

5) General secretary continues to hold listening sessions

David Steele, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren, is holding listening sessions in church districts around the denomination. The meetings are a way for him to listen closely to people within the church, and an opportunity for church members to meet the general secretary. Last fall, several listening sessions were held--mostly in conjunction with district conferences.

In January, listening sessions were held in Illinois and Wisconsin District and Atlantic Southeast District. Beginning this month, more listening sessions will be offered in several districts in the Midwest. All are invited.

Here is a list of upcoming listening sessions scheduled to date:

General secretary David Steele at a listening session in Atlantic Northeast District.
Photo by Glenn Riegel

General secretary David Steele at a listening session in Atlantic Northeast District.

Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. at the Cedars, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in McPherson, Kan. (Western Plains District)

Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. at McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren (Western Plains District)

Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. at First Church of the Brethren in Wichita, Kan. (Western Plains District)

Feb. 26 at 3 p.m. at Warrensburg (Mo.) Church of the Brethren (Missouri and Arkansas District)

March 21 at 2 p.m. at Timbercrest Senior Living Community in North Manchester, Ind. (N. Indiana and South Central Indiana Districts)

March 21 at 7 p.m. at Union Center Church of the Brethren in Nappanee, Ind. (N. Indiana District)

March 22 at 7 p.m. at Anderson (Ind.) Church of the Brethren (South Central Indiana District)

March 27 at 2 p.m. at the Brethren Home Community in Windber, Pa. (Western Pennsylvania District)

March 27 at 7 p.m. at Greensburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren (Western Pennsylvania District)

Additional listening sessions are in the works for late March through June, and will be announced as they are finalized. For more information contact Mark Flory Steury in the Church of the Brethren Donor Relations office at mfsteury@brethren.org or 800-323-8039 ext. 345.





6) Global Mission and Service offers more Nigeria workcamps

A workcamp in Nigeria builds a church
Photo by Donna Parcell

A workcamp in Nigeria builds a church

More Nigeria workcamp opportunities have been announced by the Global Mission and Service office of the Church of the Brethren. American Brethren and others who are interested in joining in a workcamp with members of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) are invited to consider one of two workcamps to be held in April and August.

A workcamp on April 13-30 will serve at the Chinka Brethren Schools in Nigeria. The location for a workcamp tentatively scheduled for Aug. 17-Sept. 3 has not yet been decided. Participants will need to raise about $2,500 to cover the costs of transportation, food, and supplies. Those who apply for a workcamp are warned that they will face extreme heat in northeast Nigeria, as well as intense sun, and the rigors of life in a developing nation. Variables such as a rise in air fares or visa fees may affect the costs. The dates may vary by a day or two, depending on the availability of flights.

EYN also is planning a series of workcamps for its own members, but the Global Mission and Service office is encouraging Brethren from the US to focus on the April and August events. EYN workcamps are tentatively scheduled for May 11-28, June 15-July 2, July 13-30, Sept. 15-Oct. 1, and Oct. 12-29, with locations yet to be determined. The EYN workcamps are held in cooperation with the BEST group of EYN members and businesspeople.

To express interest in attending the Nigeria workcamp in either April or August, contact Kendra Harbeck in the Global Mission and Service office at 800-323-8039 ext. 388 or kharbeck@brethren.org .





PERSONNEL

7) Brethren Benefit Trust announces staffing changes

BBT logo

Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) has announced staffing changes, including a resignation and a new hire at its offices located at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Eric Thompson has tendered his resignation as director of operations for Information Technology. Jeremiah Thompson has accepted the position of director of BBT’s Insurance Operations.

Eric Thompson has tendered his resignation as director of operations for Information Technology, after working for BBT for 16 years. He will continue working with BBT until March 24. He was hired on Jan. 2, 2001, as Information Services support technician. His growing expertise and knowledge of the evolving needs of BBT technology systems prompted his promotion to his current title in 2008. In 2011, his department grew to two people, providing in-house programming. He has accepted a position with the United Methodist Church.

Jeremiah Thompson has accepted the position of director of Insurance Operations, beginning March 20. Most recently, he has been providing oversight for personnel and payroll administration at Judson University in Elgin, Ill., a position he has held since August 2005. He holds a bachelor’s degree in religion with a Christian ministry concentration from Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbonnais, Ill., and a master’s degree in business administration from Judson University. He has served a bi-vocational role as associate pastor for Elgin Church of the Nazarene 2004-13.





REFLECTION

8) Values of retirement community cooperative group live on

By Ralph McFadden

The Peace Church Risk Retention Group and the Peace Church Health Insurance Program hold two annual meetings, in which the Fellowship of Brethren Homes participates. In a recent meeting of the Peace Church Retention Group, which is served by Phil Leaman as COO and Russ Shaner as executive director, we were reminded of the group’s mission and values statements.

In the statements, five commonly held core values or attributes of the three Historic Peace Churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Society of Friends or Quakers) were recognized. The statements were written and approved a number of years ago and, although they are related to the peace churches, they are certainly significant for any of our retirement centers.

Peace Church Risk Retention Group - Values Statement
 
The Church of the Brethren, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and the Mennonite denominations have different roots, theologies, and traditions, yet share many common core values.... The common values of our faith traditions lead us to a shared value set in the work of Peace Church Risk Retention Group:

Community -- With shared values and a commitment to quality, we can together better manage our practice of risk management and our business for liability insurance. We support and respect each other in our work and find there is strength and knowledge in pursuing this work together. Membership in PCRRG is seen as a long-term commitment which recognizes the value of mutual aid and support to our fellow members.

Stewardship -- Our common commitment to stewardship--of missions, resources, and all of our gifts--leads us to a strong sense of responsibility for the trust bestowed in us by member organizations and the need for careful and considered decisions and actions.

Peace -- Our shared commitment to peace and nonviolence is the historical thread which runs through our denominations. This belief guides us to conduct our business and interactions with respect and tolerance.
 
Ethics and Integrity -- We are called to operate from a core of respectfulness, fairness, justice, and simplicity. We conduct our work in an honest and forthright manner, treating each other and those with whom we interact with honor and respect.

Equality -- We believe that there is that of the Divine in each of us and seek to honor the intrinsic value of all. This leads us to appreciate the diversity among us and focus on where we are alike, rather than how we are different.

-- Ralph G. McFadden is executive director of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes, an organization of the Church of the Brethren-related retirement communities. Find out more at www.brethren.org/homes .





REMEMBER WHEN

9) Resolution on Justice for Japanese-American World War II Internees: An action of the former General Board of the Church of the Brethren

In October 1981, the Church of the Brethren General Board adopted a “Resolution on Justice for Japanese-American World War II Internees.” This Sunday, 75 years will have passed since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed executive order 9066 that allowed the internment of hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans.

Here is the full text of the resolution:

Church of the Brethren General Board
Resolution on Justice for Japanese-American World War II Internees

October 10-13, 1981

WHEREAS, the Presidential issuance of Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, placed in motion the uprooting and internment of approximately 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese descent resulting in serious violations of their human rights as well as inestimable personal and material losses; and,

WHEREAS, no hearings or trials were held prior to February 19, 1942, no credible claims of wrongdoing were ever lodged against these innocent victims who were uprooted for more than three and one half years, blatantly violating constitutional guarantees and depriving them of their human rights; and

WHEREAS, we believe that violence takes many forms among which are oppression, denial of justice and a violation of personhood,* and have committed ourselves to work forthrightly for liberation, justice and peace in ways that respect the life and potential of every person and the whole human family;* and

WHEREAS, many among us struggles in the 1940’s for the rights of these interned people and sought to serve through the FarmersvilleWork Camp, Manzanar Relocation Camp, New York City and Chicago Brethren Ministry to resettlers, and

WHEREAS, a U.S. commission onWartime relocation and Internment is now conducting hearings and is empowered to recommend remedies to the congress of the United States;

THEREFORE the Church of the Brethren General Board meeting in Elgin, Illinois, on the 11th of October, 1981, feels compelled to review this sad period of our history; and

BE IT RESOLVED that we encourage this special Commission to call upon the Congress of the United States to:

1. Acknowledge as a nation that the actions taken against American citizens and legal residents of Japanese ancestry during 1942-46 were wrong and contrary to the Constitution of the United States.

2. Make just redress.

3. Enact safeguards and thus provide a lasting memorial so that the arbitrary governmental repression will never again victimize any group of people in the United States.

4. Signal to all the people of the world through such actions that the United States does indeed carry out in practice the ideals embodied in our declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights, and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that we call upon the staff of the General Board to convey this resolution to the President of the United States, appropriate members of the congress of the United States, and members of the Commission onWartime Relocation and Internment.

*Annual Conference Policy Statement, Justice and Nonviolence, June 1977.





10) Brethren bits

Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is one of the churches that are making available yard signs saying, “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor,” in English, Spanish, and Arabic. An announcement from the Lititz congregation said it is making 100 of the signs available for purchase for $10 each. The church will donate any extra funds that are received to a Church of the Brethren refugee/displaced persons fund. These signs, thousands of which are appearing across the country according to NPR, originated with a simple hand-painted sign at Harrisonburg (Va.) Immanuel Mennonite Church. Find the NPR story at www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/09/504969049/a-message-of-tolerance-and-welcome-spreading-from-yard-to-yard .

Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is one of the churches that are making available yard signs saying, “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor,” in English, Spanish, and Arabic. An announcement from the Lititz congregation said it is making 100 of the signs available for purchase for $10 each. The church will donate any extra funds that are received to a Church of the Brethren refugee/displaced persons fund. These signs, thousands of which are appearing across the country according to NPR, originated with a simple hand-painted sign at Harrisonburg (Va.) Immanuel Mennonite Church. Find the NPR story at www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/09/504969049/a-message-of-tolerance-and-welcome-spreading-from-yard-to-yard .

-- Rudelmar Bueno de Faria has been named general secretary of ACT Alliance, an international ecumenical partner organization of the Church of the Brethren and Brethren Disaster Ministries. He will begin his term on June 1. An ACT release noted that he “brings a wealth of experience to the position, having served for 25 years with the World Council of Churches, Lutheran World Federation, and Evangelical Church of Lutheran Confession in Brazil. He currently serves as the WCC’s representative to the United Nations where he has engaged in advocacy, diplomacy, negotiations, and relations with key people in the UN system, member states, CSOs, and ecumenical and interfaith networks. Prior to this position, he spent many years with LWF in a variety of roles in the World Service in Geneva and San Salvador.” Rudelmar will succeed John Nduna, who has served as general secretary of the ACT Alliance since its founding in 2010.

-- Religions for Peace USA is hiring an executive director. “Religions for Peace USA envisions a nation in which people of faith and goodwill live together in respect and mutual support, creating paths to peace and justice,” said the announcement of the job opening. “Religions for Peace USA's mission is to inspire and advance common actions for peace through multireligious cooperation among our nation's religious communities.” The executive director is the organization’s primary organizer and administrator, working to coordinate a bold, shared witness for peace and justice among member religious communities and to provide a moral compass in the religiously pluralistic context of the United States. Learn more at www.idealist.org/view/job/kdTCmb5zTFsP .

-- Lititz (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is one of the churches that are making available yard signs saying, “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor,” in English, Spanish, and Arabic. An announcement from the Lititz congregation said it is making 100 of the signs available for purchase for $10 each. The church will donate any extra funds that are received to a Church of the Brethren refugee/displaced persons fund. These signs, thousands of which are appearing across the country according to NPR, originated with a simple hand-painted sign at Harrisonburg (Va.) Immanuel Mennonite Church. Find the NPR story at www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/09/504969049/a-message-of-tolerance-and-welcome-spreading-from-yard-to-yard .

-- Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., earlier this month sharing a concern about proposed legislation in Indiana, IN Senate bill SB309, that would have dramatically impacted the ability of the church to use its solar panels. The story of Beacon Heights’ solar panels was featured in “Messenger” magazine’s April 2016 issue, and the church has been asking for support in contacting state elected officials about the detrimental effects of the proposed legislation. “For us, this is a matter of faith,” said a statement from pastor Brian Flory. “This is a matter of shining our light and helping our public officials to understand the moral importance of letting our faith community live out the value of being good stewards of God’s creation.” This week, an Indiana Senate committee made changes to the bill that would mitigate some of the worst of its effects on organizations such as Beacon Heights, that have installed solar panels with the expectation of significant savings in energy use and expense. See the Indianapolis Star report at www.indystar.com/story/news/2017/02/16/solar-energy-incentives-gradually-reduced-under-indiana-senate-proposal/97986312 .

-- Camp Eder near Fairfield, Pa., is holding a Maple Madness Pancake Breakfast on Feb. 25 and March 4, partnering with Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve. Cost is $8 for adults, $4 for children. “Come to Camp Eder to learn about ‘Sugaring,’ the process of turning the sap from Maple trees into delicious Maple syrup!” said an invitation. “Strawberry Hill naturalists will demonstrate how to tap a Maple tree, collect the sap, and boil it down into syrup. You can also enjoy the fruits of our labor by sampling real Maple syrup at a pancake breakfast.” Also featured will be local arts and crafts vendors.

-- Camp Harmony near Hooversville, Pa., is offering a “House of Prayer” retreat on April 1, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. “Come and get away for time with the Lord and other brothers and sisters in Christ,” said an announcement. Dave and Kim Butts are the speakers. The cost is $15, which includes lunch and snacks and .5 continuing education credits for ministers. Register by March 1 by contacting Western Pennsylvania District, 115 Spring Rd., Hollsopple, PA 15935.

-- A class on “Leadership and Culture: Building Bridges” at the University of La Verne is the subject of a podcast published by radio station KPCC 89.3. The university is a Church of the Brethren-related school in La Verne, Calif. The class enrolls students from the University of La Verne and CETYS University in the Tijuana area of Mexico. The link for the story, “Amid heated politics, college class brings together US, Mexico students,” was shared by the Pacific Southwest District office: http://www.scpr.org/news/2017/02/16/69095/amid-heated-politics-college-class-brings-together .

-- Bread for the World is reporting that despite gains, African Americans are still disproportionately affected by hunger and poverty. “Over the past year, African Americans have seen significant decreases in hunger and poverty levels, with a nearly 5 percentage point drop in hunger alone. Much of these declines are due to effective federal policy and strong community leadership,” said a release. “However, much more must be done.” Despite the recent gains, however, almost 50 percent of all black children younger than age 6 still live in poverty, which is more than three times the proportion of young white children. “Unemployment and low wages, lack of access to healthy and affordable food, poor schools, and higher incarceration rates are just a few of the factors that contribute to this problem,” the release said. “While African-Americans make up only 13 percent of the U.S. population, they represent 22 percent of those experiencing poverty and hunger.” Download the report “Hunger and Poverty in the African-American Community” at www.bread.org/factsheet . Bread for the World recently released a new graphic, “I Still Rise,” highlighting African-American contributions to ending hunger and poverty over the past century; find it at www.bread.org/rise .

-- A quarterly report from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has been gaining media attention for reporting an increase in the number of American hate groups, particularly anti-Muslim groups. This is “fueled in part by the recent presidential election,” said an article in the Washington Post, which noted that “many of the groups the SPLC identified as part of the rise in extremist activity reject the label of ‘hate group.’” However, the newspaper also noted findings that “hate groups in the United States nearly tripled, from 34 in 2015 to 101 last year. Nearly 50 of those new additions are local chapters of ACT for America, an anti-Muslim activist group.... Diminished are the overt Ku Klux Klan robes and Nazi insignia sometimes associated with extremist hate groups: the number of KKK chapters fell 32 percent, and the use of symbols has diminished in favor of a more ‘intellectual’ approach....” The Post also cited an FBI report of a 60 percent rise in hate crimes targeting Muslims in 2015. Find the Washington Post article at www.washingtonpost.com/national/southern-poverty-law-center-says-american-hate-groups-are-on-the-rise/2017/02/15/7e9cab02-f2d9-11e6-a9b0-ecee7ce475fc_story.html .
     In a review of the SPLC report by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the increase of hate groups was characterized as anti-semitic. “At least 550 of the 917 groups are anti-Semitic in nature,” the article said, in part. “The groups active in 2016 include 99 categorized as neo-Nazi, 100 as white nationalist, 130 as Ku Klux Klan, and 21 as Christian Identity, a religious movement that says whites are the true Israelites and Jews are descended from Satan.” Find the article at www.jta.org/2017/02/15/news-opinion/united-states/number-of-us-hate-groups-rose-in-2016-and-most-are-anti-semitic-civil-rights-center-finds .

-- Todd Flory, a Church of the Brethren member who works at Wheatland Elementary School in Wichita, Kan., is one the teachers featured by National Public Radio (NPR) in “5 Ways Teachers Are Fighting Fake News.” Author Sophia Alvarez Boyd writes, “As the national attention to fake news and the debate over what to do about it continue, one place many are looking for solutions is in the classroom. Since a recent Stanford study showed that students at practically all grade levels can't determine fake news from the real stuff, the push to teach media literacy has gained new momentum.” Flory is working with a teacher in Irvine, Calif., teaming up their fifth grade classes to do “a fake news challenge via Skype,” the piece reported. “Flory’s fourth-graders chose two real articles and wrote a fake article of their own. Then, they presented them to Bedley’s class in California. The fifth-graders had four minutes to do some extra research based on the presentations, and then they decided which article out of the three were fake.” See www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/02/16/514364210/5-ways-teachers-are-fighting-fake-news .


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Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Jeff Boshart, Chris Ford, Mark Flory Steury, Kathy Fry-Miller, Kendra Harbeck, Pat Krabacher, Donna March, Wendy McFadden, Ralph G. McFadden, Nancy Miner, Zakariya Musa, 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 is set for Feb. 24.

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