Newsline for June 3, 2017




“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

The theme scripture for Young Adult Conference, held on the theme “Loving Neighbor.” Young adults and presenters gathered May 26-28 at Camp Harmony near Hooversville, Pa. A review the conference and photo albums are in the works for the next issue of Newsline.

The theme scripture for Young Adult Conference, held on the theme “Loving Neighbor.” Young adults and presenters gathered May 26-28 at Camp Harmony near Hooversville, Pa. A review the conference and photo albums are in the works for the next issue of Newsline.


NEWS
1) Most of the Chibok girls released in May were prayed for by Church of the Brethren congregations
2) Nigeria Crisis Response shares updates on its relief work
3) Bethany Seminary and EYN form educational partnership
4) EYN general secretary is first to receive doctorate from Bossey Ecumenical Institute
5) Vigil against hate draws hundreds in Ambler

UPCOMING EVENTS
6) Two ‘Crucible Webinars’ are offered this summer

REFLECTIONS
7) Moderator’s Bible study for June focuses on the ‘chosen of God’
8) Remember when: Church of the Brethren statements on care for Creation

9) Brethren bits: Personnel, jobs, Listening Sessions in N. Ohio District, Ministry Summer Service orientation, Children’s Disaster Services wraps up in Missouri, prayer requested for workcamp in Nepal, webinar organized by the Christian Peace Circle, Deacon Workshop, more

**********

Quote of the week:

“As Christians, we can reform our theology and contribute to society a new appreciation for the sacredness of all creation. Individually and collectively, we can change the way we live so that instead of destroying the earth, we help it to thrive, today and for future generations to come.”

-- From “Creation: Called to Care,” a Church of the Brethren Annual Conference statement made in 1991 ( www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1991creationcalledtocare.html ).

**********






1) Most of the Chibok girls released in May were prayed for by Church of the Brethren congregations

Remembering our sisters abducted from Chibok (300)
Artwork by Brian Meyer

Sixty of the Chibok girls who were released in a prisoner swap in early May were among those who have been held in prayer by Church of the Brethren congregations since 2014. Each of those congregations has received a letter from the Church of the Brethren.

Continued prayer is requested for the approximately 106 Chibok girls who remain in captivity, and for the hundreds of other children and adults who have been abducted by Boko Haram over recent years.

The 82 girls released last month were among the more than 270 abducted from a school in Chibok, Nigeria, on April 14, 2014. The majority were from families who attend congregations of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), although Muslim as well as Christian girls were kidnapped. When EYN asked for prayer and fasting, a letter was sent to the Church of the Brethren congregations in the US and Puerto Rico assigning a girl’s name to each church for prayer.

A few girls escaped almost immediately, and within the first two weeks 57 had escaped. In 2016, another escaped, one was killed by her captors, one was rescued by the Nigerian military, and the Nigerian government negotiated the release of 21 with help from the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss government.

Here is a listing of the girls released in May who had been assigned to congregations for prayer (listing provided by the Global Mission and Service staff):

Awa Abge -- Community, Guernsey, Spring Branch, Carson Valley, Waynesboro, Roanoke Oak Grove

Naomi Adamu -- Goshen City, Living Peace, Shanks, Maple Grove, Lebanon

**Christiana Ali may be Christy Yahi who was prayed for by Koinonia, N. Winona, Akron Springfield, Hatfield, Johnson City, Oakton

Ruth Amos -- Pleasant Chapel, Stone Bridge, Portland Peace, Pottstown, Mount Airy First, Crummet Run

Saratu Ayuba -- Yellow Creek, Onekama, Chambersburg, Salisbury, Walker’s Chapel

Na’omi Bitrus -- Peace, Canton, Bear Creek, Brownsville, Eaton, Mount Pleasant, Lirio de los Valles, Smithfield, Crab Run, Danville Emmanuel, Brookside, New Hope

Rahila Bitrus -- South Ferncreek, Quinter, Zion Hill, Johnstown Westmont, Blue Ridge, Salkum

Abigail Bukar -- Bremen, Sanford, Weston, Harmonyville, Hopewell, South Mill Creek

Yana Bukar -- Columbia City, Lost and Found, Ambler, E. Cocalico, Trinity

Maryamu Bulama -- Walnut, Downsville, Living Stream, Schuylkill Big Dam, Dranesville, Onego

Muwa Daniel -- Living Faith, Skyridge, Nuevo Amanecer, Amaranth, Mtn. View McGaheysville

Filo Dauda -- Rock Community, Edgewood, Woodworth, Buffalo Valley, Columbia Furnace, Fellowship

Mary Dauda -- Bakersfield, Union Center, Concord Living Faith, Elizabethtown, Scalp Level, Henry Fork

Aisha Ezekial -- Church of the Living Savior, Peru, Mt. Carmel, Fairchance, La Casa del Amigo, Pine Ridge

**Liatu Habila may be Liyatu Habitu who was prayed for by Hurricane Creek, Glade Valley, White Cottage, Green Tree, Mt. Pleasant, Capon Chapel

Lydia Habila -- Community, University Park, Cedar Grove, Diehl's Crossroads, Trinity, Goshen

Febi Haruna -- Franklin Grove, Sam’s Creek, Potsdam, Free Spring, Palmyra Fellowship, Mathias

**Tobita Hellapa may be Tabitha Hyelampa who was prayed for by Santa Ana Principe de Paz, W. Eel River, Tokahookaadi, Greencastle, Travelers Rest, Mt. Olivet

Ladi Ibrahim -- Anderson, Meadow Branch, Pleasant Plains, Germantown, Pine Grove, Bean Settlement

Hanatu Ishaku - Glendale, Bethany, Eden, W. Green Tree, Woodbury, Oak Grove S.

Ruth Ishaku -- Freeport, Bethesda, Living Peace, Bear Run, Wakemans Grove, Mt. View

Hauwa Ishaya -- Little Pine, Zion, Center, Raven Run, Emmanuel

Rebeca Joseph -- Romine, Union Bridge, Mohican, Newville, Harrisonburg First, Rough Run

Esther Joshua -- Decatur, Locust Grove, Silver Creek, Mechanicsburg, Mount Bethel, Oakvale

**Yagana Joshua may be Yana Joshua  who was prayed for by Ankeny, Rock House, Defiance, Alpha and Omega, Summit, Pine Grove-Pocahontas

Ruth Kollo -- Live Oak, Pine Creek, New Haven, Renacer-Ephrata, New Fairview, Masons Cove

**Kawa Luka may be Kauna Luka who was prayed for by Lower Deer Creek, Shalom Ann Arbor, Altoona First, Mechanic Grove, Mt. Zion Linville

Na’omi Luka -- Fredericksburg Hillcrest, Manor, Oakland, Mount Zion Rd., Jeters Chapel, Bowden Family Worship Center

Laraba Maman -- Venice, Topeka, Mack Memorial, Center Hill, Bethlehem, Ellisforde

Asabe Manu -- New Hope, Buck Creek, Big Sky, Bermudian, Fairview, Roanoke Summerdean

Hauwa Musa -- Polo, Thurmont, W. Alexandria, Dunnings Creek, Nineveh, Bethel

Maryamu Musa -- Panther Creek, Beaver Dam, Prices Creek, Heidelberg, Smith Mtn. Lake, Brake

Palmata Musa -- Neighborhood, Ridgely, Good Shepherd, Pleasant Ridge, Hollywood, Walnut Grove

Lugwa Mutah -- Camp Creek, Woodgrove Brethren Christian Parish, Little Swatara, Robinson, Hiner

Hauwa Nkeki -- Indianapolis Northview, Root River, Montgomery, Sugar Run, Mill Creek

Racheal Nkeki -- Girard, Fairview, Ross, Mohrsville, Ewing, New Dale

Grace Paul -- Oak Grove, Danville, Sugarcreek East, Nanty Glo, Red Oak Grove, Shiloh

Jummai Paul -- Jacksonville, Osage, Bristolville, Huntingdon Stone, Arlington, Woodbridge

Deborah Peter -- Miami First, Parsons, Happy Corner, Johnstown Roxbury, Good Shepherd Blacksburg, Richland Valley

Rhoda Peter -- Community Waterford, New Life, Huntsdale, Providence, Pleasant View

Naomi Philimon -- Virden, Westernport, Big Creek, Palmyra, Fairview Mt. Clinton, Harpers Chapel

Tabitha Pogu -- La Verne, New Paris, Brummetts Creek, Ephrata, Wyomissing, Cedar Grove Ruckersville 

Luggwa Samuel -- Panora, Baltimore Dundalk, Reading, Parkview, Koinonia Fellowship, Shady Grove

Yanke Shittima -- Eglise des Freres Haitiens, Newton, Lick Creek, Indiana, Mt. Lebanon, Meadow Mills

Tabitha Silas -- Ivester, Fairview, Greenville, Conestoga, Buena Vista Stone, Cedar Grove Brandywine

Kwanta Simon -- Paradise, Blissville, Mill Creek, Maple Glen, Sierra Bayamon, Barren Ridge

Rifkatu Soloman -- La Place, Gortner Union, Lake Breeze, Monroeville, Ferrum, Brick

Hana Stephen -- Pomona Fellowship, Portland, Enders, Rayman, Rio Prieto, Arbor Hill

Solomi Titus -- Living Light of Peace, Wabash, Light of the Gospel, Harrisburg First, Hawthorne, New Bethel

Esther Usman -- Los Angeles, Central Evangelical, Manchester, Peak Creek, Erie Community United, York Second, Selma

Maimuna Usman -- Rockford, Pipe Creek, W. Milton, Mt. Olivet, Garbers, Petersburg Memorial

Maryamu Wavi -- Bowmont, Trinity, Bethel, Clover Creek, Daleville, Smith Creek

Mairama Yahaya -- Cherry Grove, Laurel Glen, Sidney Trinity, Florin, Pleasant Dale, Harness Run

Na’omi Yahonna -- Bethel, Poplar Grove, Haitian First New York, Indian Creek, Mtn. Valley, Round Hill

Hadiza Yakubu -- Pyrmont, Florence, Bedford, Richland, Manassas

Juliana Yakubu -- Bradenton Good Shepherd, Lenexa Fellowship, Bellefontaine, Sugar Grove, French Broad, Parkway

Maryamu Yakubu -- Fruitland, Hagerstown, New Carlisle, Beech Run, Forest Chapel, Friends Run

Mary Yakubu -- Elkhart Valley, Hope, Brothersvalley, Roaring Spring First, Valley Pike

Margret Yama -- Fort Wayne Agape, New Haven, Burnham, Middlecreek, Moneta Lake Side

Saraya Yanga -- Burnettsville, Adrian, Altoona Juniata, Quakertown First, Bethel Keezletown, Wiley Ford

Naomi Zakaria -- Bethany, Community, Maple Grove, Way of Hope, Limestone, Waynesboro

*This number has differed in various media reports. The number of names in the list shared for prayer with the Church of the Brethren did not include the 57 who escaped in the first two weeks after the abduction.

**These names differ slightly from the names in the original list shared for prayer.





2) Nigeria Crisis Response shares updates on its relief work

Nigeria Crisis Response coordinator Roxane Hill has shared updates on the relief work ongoing in northeast Nigeria. The Nigeria Crisis Response is a joint effort of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria and the Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries of the Church of the Brethren, working with several partner organizations in Nigeria. (Learn more at www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .)

A member of the EYN disaster team distributes relief food
Photo courtesy of Roxane Hill

A member of the EYN disaster team distributes relief food

EYN Disaster Team

The EYN Disaster Team has been active in a number of areas over the past few months. Some of these projects have been joint efforts with Mission 21, a Switzerland-based longterm mission partner of EYN and the Church of the Brethren. The following dollar amounts report funding from the Nigeria Crisis Fund.

-- Peace and trauma healing work continues with basic workshops held at the EYN headquarters in Kwarhi, and in Maiduguri. A “Training of Trainers” around the Maiduguri area was held, with $37,000 in funding.

-- Food and household supplies were distributed along with medical services at the communities of Muni, Lassa, Dagu, Masaka, and Watu ($31,000).

-- Repairs were carried out at the Kwarhi Clinic of EYN ($10,000).

-- A Cyber Café was created, bringing much needed Internet service to the EYN headquarters area. ($2,800).

-- A soybeans project to educate and encourage the growing of soybeans, and building a value chain of products for sustainability, has been underway ($25,000).

-- Two tractors were purchased for use on large tracts of land to produce cash crops for independence of EYN, and to produce cash to purchase food for the needy and cover medical costs and school fees ($67,000).

Relocation villages

Some new families who were rescued from the Gwoza area are coming to relocation villages, Hill reports, including a young 17-year-old girl with a two-month old baby whose father was a Boko Haram member. Gwoza has been one of the areas hit hardest by the Boko Haram insurgency, and has four districts that have been closed. Another woman who had been forced into marriage with a Boko Haram member was able to escape when he ran from the Nigerian military. A woman who was rescued from the area with her four children had been separated from her husband, who is still missing.

EYN Women’s Ministry (ZME)

Women are benefiting from Livelihood Trainings through the EYN Women’s Ministry (ZME). In one example, a woman was able to start a store in Uba where she is offering training to other women in need. They are learning sewing, knitting, soap making, and bead making. “It is wonderful to see Mary benefiting, making a living from the assistance, and sharing her knowledge with others,” Hill reported.

Refugee camp in Cameroon 

Markus Gamache, EYN’s staff liaison, shared that a group of women from ZME and choir leaders visited the refugee camp at Minawao, Cameroon. “The situation there is not good,” Hill reported. In his report, Gamache said that both Christian and Muslim families are trying to leave the place for various reasons including lack of food and water, and abuse of women. With regard to food distribution, “the quantity and quality is reduced and there is no other alternative to get something to eat,” Gamache reported. In addition, “more and more women are raped even at the camp. For other sources of water, men and women have to travel a great distance late at night and in the process have been trapped or harmed.”

The governor of Nigeria’s Borno State promised to send a truck to bring families back to Nigeria, but the families waited, with their bags, for three nights, Gamache said. Transportation through the border is difficult and the cost is very high.

Gamache found two families at the refugee camp who have relatives in the Gurku Interfaith Camp near Abuja, which is supported by the Nigeria Crisis Response, and he has been working to find a way to bring them back to Nigeria and unite them with their families at Gurku.

Books for Nigeria

The Global Mission office reports that a shipment of 476 boxes of books has been made to EYN. Approximately half of the books were donated by Church of the Brethren members and congregations across the United States, with the rest were provided by Books for Africa, the organization that is shipping the books. Once the books reach Jos, Nigeria, they will be distributed to Kulp Bible College and various other EYN schools and educational groups.

-- Roxane Hill, coordinator of the Nigeria Crisis Response, contributed to this report.





3) Bethany Seminary and EYN form educational partnership

Bethany Seminary president Jeff Carter (at right) with EYN leaders, during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for the new agreement on theological education: (from left) Musa Mambula, a visiting scholar at Bethany; Markus Gamache, EYN staff liaison; and Joel S. Billi, EYN president.
Photo courtesy of Bethany Seminary

Bethany Seminary president Jeff Carter (at right) with EYN leaders, during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for the new agreement on theological education: (from left) Musa Mambula, a visiting scholar at Bethany; Markus Gamache, EYN staff liaison; and Joel S. Billi, EYN president.

By Jenny Williams

Bethany Theological Seminary and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) have entered into an historic relationship, the first of its kind between the seminary and a Church of the Brethren group outside the United States. At the 2016 Annual Conference, Bethany president Jeff Carter and EYN president Joel Billi signed a Memorandum of Understanding which outlined a new intercontinental online education program. Conceived as a way to facilitate theological study at Bethany for EYN members, the program is a joint effort between the seminary and EYN.

The first graduate academic program at Bethany made available to EYN students through the partnership will be the Certificate of Achievement in Theological Studies (CATS), requiring one course each in biblical, historical, theological, ministry, and peace studies, and one elective. To be eligible for study at Bethany, international students must pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). To help students prepare for the TOEFL, Bethany is arranging the offering of an initial English language course in the fall of 2017. Students who demonstrate proficiency in English will be able to enroll in their first Bethany course, “Global Perspectives on Scripture: 1 Corinthians,” currently scheduled for January 2018.*

Reflecting the importance of collaboration in this new partnership, this first course will be taught by both Dan Ulrich, Wieand Professor of New Testament Studies at Bethany, and Pandang Yamsat, chief executive director of the Center for Value and Attitudinal Reawakening. A New Testament scholar, Yamsat recently retired from the faculty of the Theological College of Northern Nigeria. The two met at Bethany early in May to begin planning the course.

“I am especially delighted that Dr. Yamsat took time to visit Bethany during a brief personal visit to the United States and to begin planning for our January course,” says Ulrich. “Our planning sessions were very productive: we were able to finalize the course objectives, outline the work needed to meet those objectives, and develop a rough schedule for each class session. We have developed a strong working relationship, and I am confident that we can model the kind of intercultural interpretation we hope our students will learn.”

Key to the program’s success will be the completion of a new technology center in Jos, Nigeria, where EYN students will take all their classes online. Plans for the facility call for two large flat-panel screens and multiple cameras and microphones, similar to the technology now available in one of Bethany’s classrooms. Students on campus at Bethany, students in Jos, and faculty in both locations will share the classroom, able to see and hear each other in real time. Course content may also be offered through recorded class sessions, and faculty and students will communicate by e-mail and texts.

While the center will belong to EYN, Bethany is assuming responsibility for raising funds to cover the construction cost of $150,000. Mark Lancaster, executive director of institutional advancement, and Musa Mambula, Bethany’s international scholar in residence, have taken the lead in this effort, meeting with Church of the Brethren members across the denomination to make them aware of this opportunity for involvement in an empowering mission with EYN. To date, more than 50 percent of the goal has been raised.** Bethany has also been in communication with the BEST organization in Nigeria--a group of professionals who are members of EYN--regarding funding a portion of the facility. They have expressed enthusiasm and plan to send Bethany a proposal of support. 

Originally from Borno State, Nigeria, Musa Mambula is Bethany’s first international scholar in residence and earned a master of arts in theology from Bethany in 1983. From the beginning of the partnership, he has helped to make connections between the Bethany administration and EYN leadership and will assist in determining EYN student eligibility for the program. Mambula spent 16 years as dean at Kashim Ibrahim College of Education in Maiduguri, where he was also promoted to professor, and was provost at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria. He has served as spiritual director for EYN and has provided leadership for professional associations and national institutions in Nigeria.

As the program develops, Bethany plans to offer accessible courses in theological and historical studies, ministry studies, and peace studies. Developed or adapted in conversation with Nigerian church leaders, these courses will be designed to encourage mutual learning on topics of interest to students in Nigeria as well as America. Courses will be offered in intensive formats so that students can complete them during a short stay in Jos.

It is hoped that this innovative program will create a pathway for more EYN students to enroll as degree students and study on campus at Bethany. Courses taken for the CATS can be transferred directly into the master of divinity or master of arts program at Bethany. As EYN moves from a state of crisis to one of greater independence after enduring widespread violence and destruction at the hands of Boko Haram, this educational partnership can help strengthen the leadership, mission, and ministry of a resilient and growing denomination.

*The intensive course “Global Perspectives on Scripture: 1 Corinthians” is open to interested persons who would like to enroll or audit. The dates of the course are Jan. 2-12, 2018. For information, please contact Lori Current, executive director of admissions and student services, at currelo@bethanyseminary.edu or 800-287-8822.

**For more information about supporting the building project and naming opportunities, please contact Mark Lancaster at lancama@bethanyseminary.edu or 765-983-1805.

-- Jenny Williams is director of communications for Bethany Theological Seminary.





4) EYN general secretary is first to receive doctorate from Bossey Ecumenical Institute

Daniel Mbaya, general secretary of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, is the first to complete the doctoral program at the Bossey Ecumenical Institute.
Photo by Michel Grandjean, courtesy of the WCC

Daniel Mbaya, general secretary of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, is the first to complete the doctoral program at the Bossey Ecumenical Institute.

From a World Council of Churches release

Marking an important milestone in the history of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Ecumenical Institute at Château de Bossey, the first candidate of the institute’s doctoral program successfully completed his research with a viva voce examination at the University of Geneva on May 24.

The candidate, Daniel Y. Mbaya, who is general secretary of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), defended a thesis on the witness of nonviolence of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, and the process toward ecumenical collaboration.

The program leading to the conferment of the title of a doctor in theology (special mention ecumenism) is carried out in collaboration with the Autonomous Faculty of Protestant Theology of the University of Geneva. The occasion underlines the efforts of the Ecumenical Institute to contribute to the development of theological leadership capacities in WCC member churches worldwide.

Focusing on the life and witness of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria as a historic peace church in confrontation with rampant and extremist violence, particularly in the northern part of the country, Mbaya’s research contributes to building knowledge in one of the most challenging contemporary ethical fields.

Mbaya shows how the church has remained faithful to its tenet of nonviolence despite a societal environment with increasingly high levels of violence, also from terrorist groups. The Church of the Brethren in Nigeria contributes to the development of a climate in which churches support each other in their commitment to re-establish peace, as he underscores in his thesis: “In developing an ethics and culture of peace and nonviolence, it should not be the responsibility of a single denomination.... It should be the collective responsibility of the entire body of Christ in the Nigerian context....”

Amélé Ekué, professor of Ecumenical Social Ethics at the Ecumenical Institute, who supervised the research together with Prof. Ghislain Waterlot of the University of Geneva, stresses that Mbaya’s work is not only an individual achievement, but one that “will stand him in good stead as he seeks to encourage and prepare the next generation of leaders from his church for ecumenical and interreligious collaboration.”

“This doctorate is at the same time a multiplier for the ecumenical vision and the message of peace as lived and witnessed by a church under recurrent assault,” Ekué adds.

In the next three weeks, the viva examinations of two other Bossey candidates will take place, with students from India and Rwanda respectively.

The Ecumenical Institute, academically attached to the University of Geneva, through which all its study programs are accredited, is committed to ecumenical formation in its broadest expression. Every year the institute welcomes students from all parts of the world, who engage with key themes of the ecumenical movement as part of four academic study programs. At the same time the WCC offers through its Ecumenical Theological Education and Ecumenical Continuing Formation programs a series of short-term courses and inter-regional consultation processes on cutting-edge issues of the ecumenical fellowship.

Find out more about Bossey Ecumenical Institute at https://institute.oikoumene.org/en .





5) Vigil against hate draws hundreds in Ambler

An article about the vigil written for the church's newsletter by journalist and church member Angela Mountain, closed with this comment: “The service was moving and inspirational, and Ambler Church of the Brethren was privileged to host the community for the evening. May we continue to stand together and shine light for those who struggle against the darkness.”
Photo by Angela Mountain, courtesy of the Ambler Church.

An article about the vigil written for the church's newsletter by journalist and church member Angela Mountain, closed with this comment: “The service was moving and inspirational, and Ambler Church of the Brethren was privileged to host the community for the evening. May we continue to stand together and shine light for those who struggle against the darkness.”

By Linda Finarelli, “Ambler Gazette”

More than 300 members of the greater Ambler, Pa., community packed the Church of the Brethren, where the resonating message by religious and civic leaders was “there is no place for hate in our community.” The May 25 candlelight vigil was a reaction to Ku Klux Klan literature left in the driveways of Maple Glen homes and “KKK” and four-letter words found spray-painted along the Power Line Trail in Horsham 10 days before.

“You are welcome here, whoever you are,” Church of the Brethren pastor Enten Eller told the standing room only crowd. “We stand together against actions that would divide us.

“We are here to be a light in the darkness,” said Eller, president of the Wissahickon Faith Community Association, which sponsored the event billed as “A light in the darkness: An interfaith show of solidarity.”

Quoting the late Martin Luther King Jr., he said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

“We are united together not as all believing the same way, but in celebration of the diversity that strengthens us,” Eller said. “Those who accept evil without protesting are really cooperating with it. Thank you for not cooperating with racism.”

Montgomery County Commissioners vice chairman Val Arkoosh said she was “saddened by the overt racism, Islamophobia, desecration of cemeteries, mosques being burned down,” but “heartened by those coming together to say we will not stand for this in our community.”

Noting Upper Dublin High School is recognized as a No Place for Hate School, principal Robert Schultz said, “We recognize we have a long road to travel.... We will continue the efforts together. Upper Dublin High School will stand with all of you against hate and bigotry.”

“Acts of hate will not be tolerated in Upper Dublin,” township commissioner Ron Feldman said. “The commissioners will strive to make it a better place to live, and work to make sure people understand this shouldn’t happen.”

“I was prayerful we had moved beyond this,” said Charles Quann, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church. “All Muslims are not terrorists; all African Americans are not hoodlums. I pray tonight we will begin to turn around.

“I want us to be ready to make a difference. We are not going back. We are fired up and ready to go,” Quann said, bringing the crowd to their feet. “We’re here together, black and white to stand together. We will make a difference.”

“We know light will ultimately vanquish the darkness,” Or Hadash rabbi Joshua Waxman offered. “All of you are that light.”

“Racism and prejudice and judging our neighbors, increasing divisiveness in our nation, we need to put that back on its heels,” said Upper Dublin Lutheran Church pastor Dyan Lawlor. “The time has come to fight all the ‘isms,’ to flush it out of our system.”

“Hate did not just start today, for a time it was silenced...a time when people would never speak those hateful words,” said Congregation Beth Or rabbi Gregory Marx. Without naming the president, but quoting some of the divisive comments he made during the campaign, Marx said, “When this becomes public discourse and becomes acceptable, then America is in trouble.

“We are all responsible and we cannot wash our hands and walk away...we must rally and offer communal support.”

Wiping tears from her eyes at the end of the moving event, where those gathered held candles high and sang, “We Shall Overcome,” Abington resident Maria Banks said she felt both fear and sadness, and was concerned for the children of her siblings, who were in “interracial marriages based and built on love,” and hoped that “no horrific things happening in the world may impact them.”

Upper Dublin resident Bari Goldenberg said she was there, because “I thought it was my responsibility. I want to do something to make a difference and make hate go away.”

“It is not OK to put someone else ahead of you,” Upper Dublin resident Jane Beier said. “We are all mankind, all one. We are a community.”

-- Reprinted with permission. Credit: Digital First Media. Find this report published online by the “Ambler Gazette” at www.montgomerynews.com/amblergazette/news/photos-vigil-against-hate-draws-hundreds-in-ambler/article_428c567f-f9db-5186-8bd0-1d2fd80399a4.html . Find a television news report on the vigil at www.fox29.com/news/257042471-story .





UPCOMING EVENTS

6) Two ‘Crucible Webinars’ are offered this summer

Crucible Webinar, the Art of Resilience

Congregational Life Ministries is partnering with organizations in the United Kingdom to present “Crucible Webinars” in June and July, on the topics “The Virtual Self” and “The Art of Resilience: Nurturing Practices for Flourishing.” Sponsors include the Church of the Brethren Congregational Life Ministries, Anabaptist Network UK, Bristol Baptist College, Mennonite Trust, and Urban Expression UK.

“The Virtual Self” is presented by Simon Jay on Wednesday, June 14, from 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Eastern time). Jay lives in Birmingham, England, and with his wife, Rachel, set up the Haven Community Project. They intentionally moved into the area leading an Urban Expression team working alongside the community. He is a graduate student at Bristol Baptist College, and is involved with various agencies dedicated to foster caregiving. “As we create and interact with our online digital presence, what is happening to our identity?” asked a description of the webinar. “Is this new world of online identities enabling us to connect with more people or creating isolation? Can we use this forum as an influence for good or are their other agendas influencing us?”

“The Art of Resilience: Nurturing Practices for Flourishing” is presented by Alexandra (Alex) Ellish on Thursday, July 20, from 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Eastern time). After six years of ministry in London’s multicultural east side, Ellish moved with her family to join an Urban Expression church-planting team in East London. She is a coordinator with Urban Expression UK and works with the Anabaptist Network and Mennonite Trust as a development worker. Her ministry focuses on engaging younger adults and activists interested in following Jesus in a peacemaking tradition and building relationships with organizations committed to nonviolence and social justice.

A continuing education credit of 0.1 for each webinar is available for ministers who attend the live events only. A link to the webinars and more information is at www.brethren.org/webcasts .





REFLECTIONS

7) Moderator’s Bible study for June focuses on the ‘chosen of God’

By Carol Scheppard

Brothers and Sisters, as we set our sights on Grand Rapids, we take stock of our scriptural/spiritual journey thus far, and commence our final approach to Annual Conference. This month we come full circle, looking again at the lessons that launched us on our study, and committing ourselves to living them out in the presence of God and one another.

-- Carol Scheppard, moderator, Church of the Brethren Annual Conference


The Chosen of God, the Servant of God, the Body of Christ

Scriptures for study: Deuteronomy 5:1-21, Matthew 22:34-40, Psalm 121 (Psalms 120-134).

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

This year, as we shared that journey with the Exiled of Israel and Judah, we learned their lessons with them. We joined them in their freefall into darkness, and we cautiously turned with them to venture timid blinks in the bright light of God’s new dawn. As we step out into the new day, let us hear again the words of wisdom that Moses, and all of his successors, spoke to those who have ears to hear. We listen with keen expectation for words of life--words that point the way as we prepare to gather together in Grand Rapids.

Read Deuteronomy 5:1-21.

“Hear O Israel the statues and ordinances that I am addressing to you today; you shall learn them and observe them diligently. The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. Not with our ancestors did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today.”

The covenant between God and God’s people is a living, enduring covenant. It breathes uniquely in each new day, each new year, and each new era. We, the People of God in 2017, must hear, learn, and observe diligently this covenant of life. Failing to do so dislodges the packed ice and begins a new avalanche into darkness.

“The Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.”

Our God is true. Scripture bears witness to His steadfast love and enduring grace. We do not Risk Hope in a vacuum, but rather stand firm in faith in a God we know enacts His will and His way in history, and in our midst. He is worthy to be praised and warrants our undivided allegiance. Annual Conference is a privilege and an opportunity for us to live out that allegiance and engage in that ceaseless praise. All we do, whether we are singing in worship, debating in business sessions, fellowshipping over meals, learning through insight sessions, or poking through the exhibit hall, we do in worship and praise to our God.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”

As we’ve seen, idolatry was a huge problem for the people of Israel and remains a formidable challenge for us in the Church today. If we are to be worshipful in all we do, we must set aside the idols that distract us and cause us to turn our backs on the true God. As we gather together in Grand Rapids, may we leave behind our pride, our need to win, our “better ways” of worshiping, singing, understanding scripture, and/or achieving spiritual growth. Any position we must defend at all costs distracts us from worship and blocks the free and full movement of the Holy Spirit. May we come together in open expectation that the Holy Spirit will move in our midst, and honest recognition that the force of that movement will likely change us in unexpected ways.

“Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work--you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you.”

Observing the Sabbath was for the Exiled in Babylon both a simple, doable observance in a foreign land and a radical testimony to the ongoing power of God in the midst of non-believers. It is the core mandate at the heart of the Decalogue and our simple duty as the People of God. Notice how everything stops for the Sabbath--no business is conducted at all--not even the donkeys are expected and/or allowed to work on the Sabbath. All economic activities come to a halt, and all social/cultural differentiations are set aside. The slave and the master both worship; the man and the woman both worship; the son and the daughter both worship; the alien and the local both worship. As we gather together for worship in Grand Rapids, we must be about nothing else--letting worship permeate all of our Conference activity. And we must do it together, recognizing that the act of worshiping God eliminates the distances between us and merges us all in one living Body of Christ.

“Honor your father and mother; you shall not murder; neither shall you commit adultery; neither shall you steal; neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor; neither shall you covet your neighbor’s wife; neither shall you desire your neighbor’s house, or field, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

How we treat one another indicates the heart we bring before God. No matter what we say about what we believe or who we are, we are known by our actions. As we gather together for this Annual Conference, may we be ever mindful that the details matter. How we respond to a brother or sister at the business tables, how we refer to one another at the microphones, how we engage one another in the exhibit hall, how we listen to one another and even how we think about one another bears witness to our devotion to God and our commitment to living out God’s covenant in the world.

Read Matthew 22:34-40.

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all you heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

With this declaration, Jesus affirms Moses’ point: Not with our ancestors did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today. The mandate to worship God alone and take care of each other is not an artifact from the past, but rather the heart of a living, enduring covenant. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Worship God alone and take care of each other--simple instructions, yet profound wisdom, for our lives as believers and our time together at Annual Conference.

Read Psalm 121 or any of Psalms 120-134: the Psalms of Ascent.

Psalms 120-134 include the superscription “A Song of Ascent.” Many scholars believe that this is a reference to the ascent of the pilgrims approaching Jerusalem--ascending Mount Zion to worship God there. They believe the pilgrims may have sung these Psalms on the ascent into the city. How appropriate that we, on our approach to Grand Rapids, would prepare ourselves by raising songs of praise to our God.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills--from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121).

“I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” (Psalm 122).

“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time on and forevermore” (Psalm 125).

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127).

“How very good and pleasant is it when kindred live together in unity!” (Psalm 133).

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning” (Psalm 130).

As we prepare our hearts and minds for our time together in Grand Rapids, let us too wait upon the Lord, praising His name and Risking Hope that the one who has promised is faithful.

Questions for consideration:

-- Conducting a pre-conference self-examination process (here prompted by our review of the Ten Commandments) resonates well with our Brethren heritage. It is traditional practice among Brethren for deacons to visit brothers and sisters in the days and weeks before Love Feast, asking questions to help them prepare. The questions include: Are you still in the faith of the Gospel, as you declared when you were baptized? Are you, as far as you know, in peace and union with the church? Will you still labor with the Brethren for an increase of holiness, both in yourself and others?

-- What do you consider to be the most important questions for Brethren to consider as they prepare to gather as the Body of Christ at Annual Conference? What among the questions/directives listed seem particular relevant for our gathering in Grand Rapids. Why? What additional guidelines would you suggest for Conference preparation?

-- What are the implications of considering all we do as the Body of Christ to be worship? Can you think of additional activities, beyond those listed above, where Christians worship God in what they do? What would be the implication of considering every minute of every day as an opportunity for worship? How might our thoughts and actions be different?

-- The Psalms of Ascent remind us that while there may be special destinations for corporate worship, the journey is an integral part of the event. How might we incorporate praise and worship into all of the various stages of our preparation for and journey to Annual Conference?

For more about Annual Conference go to www.brethren.org/ac .





8) Remember when: Church of the Brethren statements on care for Creation

As early as 1991, the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference adopted a statement titled “Creation: Called to Care” ( www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1991creationcalledtocare.html ).

“Why should Christians care about the environment?” the statement reads, in part. “Simply because we learn in Genesis that God has promised to fulfill all of creation, not just humanity, and has made humans the stewards of it. More importantly, God sent Christ into the very midst of creation to be ‘God with us’ and to fulfill the promise to save humankind and nature. God’s redemption makes the creation whole, the place where God’s will is being done on earth as it is in heaven....

“Planet earth is in danger,” the statement continues. “The ecological crisis that threatens the survival of life on earth is evident now not only to professional biologists, botanists, environmental scientists, but to all. Awareness grows that humanity is facing a global crisis....

A section of the statement on “The Church’s Challenge” reads, in part: “...Since industrialism’s ravenous appetite daily diminishes the health and life of the ecosystem, the conflict is between us and our children: our lifestyle versus their future.... Can a culture repent and take steps to halt its deterioration? There are some signs of hope but there are also signs that the lesson is not yet learned; that comfort and convenience are more important than care of the environment. The environment will no doubt survive. The question is ‘will our kind remain?’ As Christians, we can reform our theology and contribute to society a new appreciation for the sacredness of all creation. Individually and collectively, we can change the way we live so that instead of destroying the earth, we help it to thrive, today and for future generations to come....”

In 2001, the General Board of the Church of the Brethren adopted a “Resolution on Global Warming/Climate Change” ( www.brethren.org/about/statements/2001-global-warming.pdf ).

“Our vastly increased use of fossil fuels has the potential to bring about irreversible changes in the climate and immense suffering for the poor and for people living in the coastal areas around the world,” the resolution states, in part. It resolves that the United States should, “move beyond its dependence on high carbon fossil fuels that produce emissions leading to climate change.”





9) Brethren bits

-- Terry Goodger has been hired by the Church of the Brethren as program assistant for the Brethren Disaster Ministries home rebuilding program, starting June 5. She will work out of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. In previous service to the church, she worked from Sept. 13, 2006, until Sept. 2, 2016, as office coordinator for Material Resources.

-- Kayla Alphonse is transitioning out of her full-time work with l’Eglise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti) in order to serve as pastor at Miami (Fla.) First Church of the Brethren. She will travel regularly to Haiti to continue building leadership capacity in the church’s theological training, student scholarship, and student health programs.

-- Northern Plains District has announced the hiring of Doug Riggs as a new director for Camp Pine Lake, joining long-time staff program director/pastor Barbara Wise Lewczak and property manager Matt Kuecker. “We are excited about this trio of leaders as they further the ministry of CPL,” said the district newsletter. The camp is located adjacent to Pine Lake State Park outside Eldora, Iowa.

-- Camp Bethel in Fincastle, Va., seeks a food services coordinator to fill a full-time salaried position. Culinary experience or training is required, and staff management experience is preferred. This position was available beginning May 30, and must be filled no later than July 1. Employee will overlap and work with the current coordinator until July 31. Starting benefits package includes salary of $29,000, optional family medical insurance plan, a pension plan, and professional growth funds. Read the online application instructions, a detailed position description, and more at www.CampBethelVirginia.org/jobs .

-- Camp Bethel’s current food services coordinator, Brigitte Burton, will enter Law School this fall and her last day at the camp will be July 31. “Since 2011 she has fed thousands during summer camps, retreats, and banquets. We celebrate with a big ‘Thank You!’ to Brigitte for seven excellent years of service in Camp Bethel’s Ark Dining Hall,” said an announcement in the Virlina District newsletter.

-- Chambersburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is accepting applications for two teaching positions for the church’s Nursery School, starting with the 2017-18 school year. Preferred background includes some early childhood training and/or two years of teaching experience, a Christian worldview, a love for young children, and an out-going personality. Send a resume to the church at 260 S. Fourth St., Chambersburg, PA 17201; or by e-mail to chambcob@gmail.com attention Jamie Rhodes. For questions call the church at 717-264-6957. The deadline for resume submission is June 30.

-- Church of the Brethren general secretary David Steele is holding Listening Sessions in Northern Ohio District on June 7-8. On June 7, at 2 p.m., a session will be offered at the Good Shepherd Home in Fostoria, Ohio. At 7 p.m. that evening, Ashland (Ohio) First Church of the Brethren will host a session. On June 8, at 7 p.m., a session will be held at Akron (Ohio) Springfield Church of the Brethren. “Come for a time of conversation with our new general secretary and fellowship with other supporters of the denomination,” said an invitation. “All are welcome.”

-- Ministry Summer Service orientation began June 2, when the six interns to serve in MSS this summer arrived at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Their mentors arrive Monday, June 5, and the orientation ends Wednesday, June 7. The interns this year are: Brooks Eisenbise of Kalamazoo, Mich., who will serve at Hollidaysburg Church of the Brethren with mentor Marlys Hershberger; Laura Hay of Modesto, Calif., who will serve at Manassas (Va.) Church of the Brethren with mentor Chris Bowman; Cassie Imhoff of Sterling, Ohio, who will serve at Camp Mardela with mentor Gieta Gresh; Nolan McBride of Elkhart, Ind., who will serve at Camp Mack with mentor Gene Hollenberg; Monica McFadden of Elgin, Ill., who will serve at the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C., with mentor Nate Hosler; and Kaylie Penner of Huntindgon, Pa., who will serve at Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren with mentor Rachel Witkovsky.

-- Children’s Disaster Services has wrapped up its response in Missouri following flooding. CDS sent two teams totaling eight volunteers to care for children in 12 communities across Missouri in May. Childcare centers were set up in MARCs (Multi Agency Resource Centers) to serve families who needed assistance following record spring flooding across the state. “The childcare centers offered an opportunity for children to engage in creative and expressive play, supervised by CDS volunteers trained to provide compassionate care for children after traumatic events,” reported CDS staff. “Cardboard boxes, play dough, and costumes for role play proved to be some of the children's favorite playthings. CDS reported 161 contacts with children during the ‘road trip’ across southern and eastern Missouri.” This response was in addition to the three MARCs at which CDS volunteers served earlier in the year following tornados.

Participants in the young adult workcamp in Nepal, June 2017
Emily Tyler

Participants in the young adult workcamp in Nepal, June 2017

-- The Global Mission and Service office is requesting prayer for the Church of the Brethren Workcamp Ministry. In particular, the prayer request mentioned the 14 participants in a young adult work traveling in Nepal this week to serve families affected by the 2015 earthquake. The disaster “killed thousands of people and devastated whole communities. The workcamp is partnering with Heifer International to assist in rebuilding homes and livelihood buildings. Pray for the families they will work with and learn from. Pray for safety and good health for all involved.”

-- A webinar organized by the Christian Peace Circle, which is part of the US church continuation of the Decade to Overcome Violence, is recommended by the Office of Public Witness. “Why Nonviolence? Faithful Practices and Active Resistance” takes place 12-1:30 p.m. (Eastern time) on Tuesday, June 6. “Join us for a live webinar and conversation with Sarah Thompson and Matt Guynn to learn more about the foundations of Kingian Nonviolence and how to put these practices into action when you see someone experiencing violence,” said the invitation. Sarah Thompson is executive director of Christian Peacemaker Teams. Matt Guynn is director of nonviolent social change organizing with On Earth Peace. Find instructions for logging in to the webinar and more information on the Facebook event page https://www.facebook.com/events/830632293758514 .

-- A Deacon Workshop will be presented by Stan Dueck of the Congregational Life Ministries staff on June 10, hosted at Chambersburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. The event takes place from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and lunch will be provided. Cost is $7 per person. Ministers may earn 0.4 continuing education units, at an additional cost of $10. Contact 717-264-6957.

-- “A Biblical Basis for Befriending Foreigners” on June 17 offers a day of biblical study sponsored by the Southern Ohio District’s Refugee Resettlement Committee and hosted at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind. The event takes place in the Nicarry Chapel from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. “We live in a time when the fear of terrorists can lead to a more general fear of foreigners. God, however, wants to fill us with love that overcomes fear and opens the door to life-giving friendships,” said an announcement. The day will include a series of four lessons led by New Testament professor Dan Ulrich, lifting up various scriptures from both testaments that encourage pursuing “the love of foreigners” (Romans 12:13), and offer a biblical foundation for welcoming refugees and befriending other neighbors. Cost is $10 paid at the door. Continuing education credit will be offered to ministers upon request. Contact cschaub@spieglerusa.com or 937-681-5867. 

-- Ivester Church of the Brethren in Northern Plains District is celebrating 150 years on June 17-18, with events including a Cemetery Walk, hymn singing, special displays, Sunday morning worship, a Sunday afternoon program of “Plans and Dreams for the Future,” meals hosted at the church, and home made ice cream. Ivester’s Sesquicentennial Committee includes Alice Draper, Sabrina Russell, Marlene Neher, and Dorothy Sheller.

-- “Beyond the City Limits,” a one-day intercultural ministry conference hosted by Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, included participants from 15 congregations. A report in the newsletter of First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa.--one of the congregations represented--reported that “the event was the brainchild of the Urban Ministries Initiative under the leadership of [Atlantic Northeast] District director of Witness and Outreach, Mary Etta Reinhart. The keynote speaker was a dynamic pastor and church planter from Harrisonburg, Va.... The originating idea behind this conference was to challenge and equip congregations to expand their horizons and consider new ways to connect with one another and their communities.” The day featured worship and workshops.

-- In related news, First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg is hosting students from Elizabethtown (Pa.) College in a “Christ centered multi cultural community in the inner city.” The church has hosted a class from Elizabethtown College, exploring how the congregation approaches music in its urban, multi-ethnic worship service. The project required the students to interview a select number of members and the ministerial staff. “This is just one example of the unfolding vision of First Church as a ‘teaching’ church,” the newsletter said. “Our additional opportunity lies in the making of disciples. This important work will require each of us to participate in sharing our gifts and walking alongside our newer members and attendees.”

-- A Run for Peace 5K is hosted by Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren on Saturday, June 10, at 9-11 a.m. "A local tradition since 1982, the Run-Walk for Peace 5K supports local and global efforts to promote peace," said an announcement. "This family-friendly event invites participation by peacemakers of all ages. In addition to the race, younger participants can complete the Kids' Fun Run. We will also make Equal Exchange fair trade products available for purchase, along with sneaker recycling and baked-good door prizes. Age-group winners will receive fair-trade awards." Find out more at the Facebook event page www.facebook.com/events/750554221750381 .

-- A fire forced the evacuation of Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren on Sunday morning, reported Lancaster Online. The church’s 8 a.m. worship service was interrupted after firefighters responded to “reports of flickering lights and smoky conditions,” the report said. Some 50 people were evacuated, and no one was injured. The small fire was in a ceiling in only one section of the building. After the evacuation “a number of worshipers convened outside for an impromptu service, conducted by Senior Pastor Jeffrey Rill,” the report said. Read it at http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/lancaster-church-of-the-brethren-evacuated-as-fire-breaks-out/article_a5bd5b9c-43be-11e7-87d2-9b6251b9f943.html .

-- Organist Jonathan Emmons, who has played at recent Annual Conferences and at National Older Adult Conference, will preview some of the music he is to play at a concert at this year’s Conference. The event starts at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 11, at Antioch Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va. It is part of the congregation’s annual World Hunger Auction.

-- “The 19th annual Shenandoah District Disaster Ministries Auction Golf Tournament turned out to be a big day for Bob Curns, pastor of Mathias Church of the Brethren,” reported the Shenandoah District newsletter. He made a hole-in-one during the tournament. The winning team included Wes Allred, Doug Painter, Frank Thacker, and Larry Wittig. “Organizers expect that the 2017 tournament matched or exceeded the $21,000-plus raised last year,” according to the newsletter.

-- In more news from Shenandoah District, the Church World Service (CWS) Kit Depot housed at the Brethren Disaster Ministries Center at the district office this spring “was a huge success,” the district newsletter reported. “On Thursday, May 25, a crew of volunteers loaded approximately 6,230 pounds of school kits, health kits, and clean-up buckets onto the tractor trailer headed to the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. ...Included were 39 boxes of school kits (1,560 kits), 14 boxes of health kits (1,120 kits), and 178 clean-up buckets, including the 85 sponsored and packed by the youth of New Hope Church of the Brethren in Dunmore, W.Va. Additionally, 129 boxes of quilts and kits donated by Lutheran World Relief were packed into the trailer.”

-- On June 9, the Lehman Center in York, Pa., which is a part of the Children’s Aid Society of Southern Pennsylvania District, is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Events begin at 2 p.m.

-- Southern Ohio District’s new Connections Commission is announcing a District Deacons Ministry. “Many of us are familiar with the way deacon ministry functions on a congregational level, now we are learning and creating what the deacon ministry would look like on a district wide level,” said the announcement in the district newsletter. “Our goal is to comprise a team of 50 or so members paired into 25 teams of 2 who will serve 2 to 3 congregations each for 3 to 5 years. This team will covenant to pray for, support, and visit their assigned congregations annually.” Keeping with the tradition of calling deacons on a congregational level, the district is collecting prayerfully considered nominations for those who would be gifted in spiritual caregiving.

-- Roger and Carolyn Schrock are giving two presentations at the Wellness Center of the Cedars, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in McPherson, Kan. On Wednesday, June 7, they will speak on the topic “Africa: A Place to Love”; and on Wednesday, June 21, they will present “Sudan Rivers We’ve Been Up.” Both presentations start at 7 p.m. The Schrocks are former mission workers for the Church of the Brethren who lived and worked in Nigeria and Sudan. “Having resided in Africa for 17 years, Roger and Carolyn Schrock, residents of the Cedars Village, are willing to share their knowledge, experiences and love for Africa through slides and stories,” said the announcement. “You’re welcome to invite your friends and family for this informative presentation.” Refreshments will be served, and donations will be received to help with expenses.

-- In more news from the Cedars, the community is offering residents an educational tour of Ellsworth Correctional Facility on June 23. The group will see the industrial yard and the woodworking and welding areas where bicycles and wheelchairs are refurbished by offenders, will visit the chapel that was built by offenders, will hear about the dog training program and the band and drama groups, will go into a cell in the dorm “cube,” and after the offenders eat, will eat in the same lunch room and have the same menu that will be served to the offenders that day. The tour will end with a time of learning more about prison life and an opportunity for questions. In the announcement of the event in the Cedars newsletter, it was noted that participants in the tour must abide by a dress code, may not carry cell phones, metal items, jewelry, purses, or keys, should be prepared to remove shoes and belts, and have to provide their date of birth in advance to organizers Dave and Bonnie Fruth.

Camp Swatara Trail Trek 2017

-- Camp Swatara holds its Trail Trek fundraiser on June 24. The camp is located near Bethel, Pa. “Hike one (or more) of our four designated Trail Trek routes at camp to obtain the most ‘punches,’” said an announcement. “The more punches you find, the more opportunities you will have to win prizes. At the conclusion of your hike, join us for ice cream in the West Area!” To participate, hikers must collect at least $10 worth of sponsorships. Children age 5 and younger are free. The group of five or more people who raise the most money receives a free weekend in one of the camp facilities. Register at www.bridges.campswatara.org/trail-trek .

-- The June edition of “Brethren Voices,” the community television program of Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren, features the Dunker Punks Podcasts, a creation of Arlington (Va.) Church of the Brethren. “On the evening of July 23, 2014, Jarrod McKenna, a teaching pastor of the West City Church, Wembly, Western Australia, labeled the eight German founders of the Church of the Brethren as Dunker Punks,” explained an announcement of the program. “In the same light, he challenged the youth of the Church of the Brethren 2014 National Youth Conference to embrace their spiritual heritage. Referring to the ‘Mustard Seed Revolution’ that heralded to the genesis of the Church of the Brethren and Jesus’ plan to plant the kingdom of Heaven here on Earth, he challenged the Dunker Punks of today, to radically follow Jesus by offering themselves in service to others. Feeling that youth get their information from a new technology of podcasts, the Arlington Church of the Brethren put together a team and created the Dunker Punk Podcasts.” The program features an interview with Suzanne Lay,
communications minister, and pastor Nancy Fitzgerald, with Laura Weimer and Melody Foster Fitzgerald. For more information about “Brethren Voices” contact producer Ed Groff at groffprod1@msn.com .

-- The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) is inviting participation in activities during June, which is Torture Awareness Month. “On June 26, 1987, the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into force and the United Nations later declared June 26th The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture,” a release explained. NRCAT’s core message is that “Torture is a Moral Issue.” For resources to involve communities in Torture Awareness Month go to www.nrcat.org/tam .

Photo courtesy of World Council of Churches

-- The World Council of Churches (WCC) is calling Christians all over the world to join in a prayer for justice and peace on Monday, June 5, the day after Pentecost. A release explained: “The prayer, initiated by church leaders in Jerusalem, is being held 50 years after Israel began its occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights after a six-day war in 1967 by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.” The Peace Prayer service in Jerusalem takes place at 11 a.m. on Monday, at the Dormition Abbey. The WCC release included a prayer by Ecumenical Patriarch Constantinople, Bartholomew: “Almighty Father, who created all things out of love and fashioned all people in your image, who sent your only Son for the life of the world, to bring light to those dwelling in darkness: look down from the heavens and hear our prayer for unity and peace.” Find more prayers from church leaders at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/spiritual-life/pentecost-prayers-for-unity-and-just-peace-in-the-holy-land-from-church-leaders-worldwide-1 . Share your prayer via Facebook at www.facebook.com/events/430771483944008 . Find the prayer wall where shared prayers are displayed at www.oikoumene.org/en/what-we-do/spirituality-and-worship/share-your-prayer-for-just-peace-in-the-holy-land . An order of service for “The Global Day of Prayer for Just Peace in the Holy Land” is at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/spiritual-life/pentecost-ecumenical-prayer-for-unity-and-just-peace-pentecost-2017 .


**********
Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Shamek Cardona, Stan Dueck, Linda Finarelli, Kendra Harbeck, Roxane Hill, Gimbiya Kettering, Ralph McFadden, Belita Mitchell, Becky Ullom Naugle, Jenny Williams, 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.

Go to www.brethren.org/Newsline to subscribe to the Church of the Brethren Newsline free e-mail news service and receive church news every week.