Newsline for March 18, 2017




“[Jesus] said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14:29-31).

A view of the ocean with verse from Matthew 14

NEWS
1) Mission and Ministry Board approves new areas of global mission
2) CCT issues call to prayer for Congress in upcoming decisions affecting those in poverty
3) Christian Churches Together holds forum on ‘the persecuted church’
4) Haiti Medical Project has a new focus on pure water for Haiti

UPCOMING EVENTS
5) Jubilee afternoon will be a breath of rejuvenation for Annual Conference
6) National Youth Conference 2018 theme is announced

FEATURE
7) Please help them: Reflection of a Latino Brethren

8) Brethren bits: Jobs, personnel, new dates for Nigeria workcamp, next webinars, new Brethren Disaster Ministries video, remembrance weekend at Brethren Service Center, Office of Public Witness blogpost on indigenous opposition to pipeline, and more


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Quote of the week:

“With faith in action, Peter got out of the boat and moved toward Jesus.... Sometimes we find ourselves in a sinking ship.... Sometimes we find ourselves in a sinking church.... You have a legacy. Trust God. Lean toward his word and hope. Take the risk. Get out of the boat.”

-- Mission and Ministry Board member Thomas M. Dowdy Jr., who pastors Imperial Heights Church of the Brethren in Los Angeles, Calif. He was preaching on Matthew 14:2-33, the story of Jesus walking on the water, for the closing worship service of the spring meetings of the Church of the Brethren denominational board.

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1) Mission and Ministry Board approves new areas of global mission

The Mission and Ministry Board met in March at the Church of the Brethren General Offices
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

The Mission and Ministry Board met in March at the Church of the Brethren General Offices

By Wendy McFadden

Fledgling Church of the Brethren mission projects in two areas of the world--Venezuela and the Great Lakes region of Africa--have been formally approved by the denomination’s Mission and Ministry Board, at its March 3-8 meeting.

The Great Lakes project, which involves the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi, follows nine years of conversation and a number of visits by Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer and other Brethren from the US. The Church of the Brethren has funded agricultural projects, disaster relief efforts, scholarship programs, and church construction in the region. The Brethren also have ponsored a tri-nation Batwa Pygmy conference and ministries in reconciliation and trauma healing.

The Venezuela project began with connections in the Dominican Republic. Since a first visit in 2015, there have been several subsequent meetings with American Hispanic leaders and with Alexandre Gonçalves from the Brazilian Church of the Brethren. At a meeting last fall, more than 200 individuals from 64 churches participated. The ministry has focused on teaching and preaching.

The board engaged in a first reading of “Vision for a Global Church of the Brethren,” a mission philosophy paper that will return to the board next fall for approval. The paper does not create a new mission philosophy, Wittmeyer explained, but stands on previous Annual Conference statements. The document works at clarifying a global structure of “autonomous Brethren groups in different areas of the world.”

Board members heard an update on sale of the upper campus of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., which is expected to be completed by April 30, and decided how to use the expected net proceeds of some $4 million. Up to $100,000 will be used for repairs and preservation of the historic Germantown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. “It seems fitting,” they said, to use funds “derived from one hallowed property to support the needs of another property of significance to the Brethren.”

Thirty percent of the proceeds will be used to create a Brethren Faith in Action Fund that will provide grants to congregational outreach projects. This “new thing” carries on “the New Windsor legacy of living out the faith.” The remaining proceeds from the sale will be invested to promote the long-term sustainability of denominational ministries. “By replenishing and adding to invested funds we help ensure the vitality of all of our ministries, including service ministries like those associated with New Windsor.”

A board committee received input for its work on last year’s Annual Conference query on “Living Together as Christ Calls.” The board reviewed a proposed statement on a “Vision for Ecumenism for the 21st Century” that is headed to Annual Conference delegates this summer, and approved the appointment of Terrell Barkley to a four-year term on the Brethren Historical Committee.

Finance staff reported that in 2016 congregational giving to core ministries increased for the first time since 2006, although individual giving was at its lowest total in 10 years. Combined giving to core ministries decreased 2.2 percent.

-- Wendy McFadden is the publisher of Brethren Press.





2) CCT issues call to prayer for Congress in upcoming decisions affecting those in poverty

Citing scripture reminding of God’s concern for the poor, Christian Churches Together (CCT) has issued a call to prayer for the US Congress, noting that “during the last three weeks of March, the US Congress will make critical decisions that will affect the lives of millions of our brothers and sisters living in poverty. The right decisions could alleviate and pull people out of poverty; the wrong decisions will increase poverty and put the lives of hundreds of thousands at risk.” CCT is an ecumenical organization made up of five “families” of Christian denominations across the country. The Church of the Brethren is a member denomination. The full text of the document follows:

Call to Prayer

For more than eight years the communions and organizations in Christian Churches Together have been calling the attention of members of our churches and all Americans to the moral task of eradicating hunger and poverty in our land.

The scriptures remind us again and again of God’s concern for the poor, “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God”--Proverbs 14:31.

During the last three weeks of March, the US Congress will make critical decisions that will affect the lives of millions of our brothers and sisters living in poverty. The right decisions could alleviate and pull people out of poverty; the wrong decisions will increase poverty and put the lives of hundreds of thousands at risk.

We are grateful for the vast array of ways our churches are already helping millions of struggling people. We want to build on these efforts, learn from each other, and collaborate more closely. But we can, we must, do more.
 
We also recognize and encourage leaders in community, economic and public life who seek justice for poor people in our land. But we can, we must, do more. Our goal must be the elimination of poverty in this land.

We affirm our unanimous conviction that, our service to the poor and our work for justice is “at the center of Christian life and witness.” And we commit to renew our prayers, and to understand and live in faithfulness to our Lord’s teaching that when we serve “the least of these,” we truly minister to our Lord Himself.

We are leaders of the Christian community, not an interest group. We have no partisan political agenda. Together we believe that our faith demands and the people of this land yearn for concrete proposals that transcend divisive political divisions and place the lives and well-being of people above anything else.

In the spirit of Jesus, we call our brothers and sisters to lift the US Congress and our President up in prayer, as they make decisions that will affect the lives of millions of our brothers and sisters living in poverty in our country and around the world.

Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski -- Catholic Family
Rev. Gary Walter -- Evangelical/Pentecostal Family
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian -- Orthodox Family
Rev. Samuel C. Tolbert, Jr. -- Historic Black Family
Rev. David Guthrie -- Historic Protestant Family
Rev. Carlos L. Malavé -- Executive Director CCT





3) Christian Churches Together holds forum on ‘the persecuted church’

At the Christian Churches Together meeting on the persecuted church, a chat between His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aprhem II of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Cardinal Joseph Tobin of the Catholic Church, Newark Archdiocese.
Photo by Jay Wittmeyer

At the Christian Churches Together meeting on the persecuted church, a chat between His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aprhem II of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Cardinal Joseph Tobin of the Catholic Church, Newark Archdiocese.

By Jay Wittmeyer

More than 40 leaders from Christian Churches Together (CCT) joined a forum in Newark, N.J., on March 2-3 to discuss the ongoing persecution of Christians around the globe. I was invited to speak on behalf of the Church of the Brethren regarding the impact of Boko Haram on the Christian community in Nigeria. 

The primary goals of the forum were to pray together for the persecuted churches and discuss best practices in meeting the needs of suffering churches. Dialogue centered on methods to raise awareness of the realities of anti-Christian violence and persecution, and mobilizing Christians in the US to act. Presentations also discussed theologies on the issue in order to build bridges of understanding.

The forum reported that each month 322 Christians are killed for their faith and 214 churches and Christian properties are destroyed. Christians are regularly attacked and discriminated against in various forms around the globe. Open Doors, a Christian organization focused on persecution, shared its World Watch List of persecution and the scale it uses to categorize persecution in countries. The scale is scored on the various forms of violence Christians suffer, as well as the pressures put on them in their private and corporate lives. In its latest chart, the Democratic Republic of North Korea is rated as the worst country for Christians, Somalia is second, and Nigeria is twelfth.

The forum highlighted the need for governments and United Nation agencies to strongly enforce Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which states “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.”

Archbishop Vicken Aykazian of the Armenian Orthodox Church spoke about the persecution and killing of Christians in the Middle East today. “Christians are suffering more than any other people on the face of the earth today,” he said. “We are completely forgotten.”

The forum also noted that many Christians persecute each other, not respecting other branches of Christendom. Examples were given how Pentecostals and Catholics fight among themselves in Mexico.

In speaking about the situation in Nigeria, I shared about the abduction of girls from Chibok and Boko Haram’s attempt to establish a strict Islamic Caliphate, driving out Christians from the north and destroying thousands of churches. I also shared that an equal number of Muslims have been killed in the violence. “Persecution” is such a divisive term, that it is difficult to work at interfaith dialogue and peace when we alienate others by using the term.

-- Jay Wittmeyer is executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren.





4) Haiti Medical Project has a new focus on pure water for Haiti

By Dale Minnich

People get clean water at one of the Haiti Medical Project's pure water project sites
Photo by Vildor Archange

People get clean water at one of the Haiti Medical Project's pure water project sites

For the past 18 months, the Church of the Brethren has been addressing the need for pure drinking water in our related communities in Haiti through the work of the Haiti Medical Project in cooperation with l’Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Church of the Brethren in Haiti). The mobile medical clinics offered since late 2011 treat many children and adults suffering from dysentery and other serious infectious diseases that often result from untreated water.

There are very few examples of improved water in the 20 communities in which we currently work. Providing better water is an urgent priority often identified by community leaders in these locations.

In 2015 the Haiti Medical Project leaders expanded the project’s community health initiatives by launching a community development team working with community leaders on a range of community issues--especially food sustainability, maternal care, and pure water. Those working directly with water projects include Vildor Archange, Jean Bily Telfort, and Adias Docteur.  Global Food Initiative (GFI) manager Jeff Boshart offers helpful technical expertise.

Where pure water is a goal to be addressed, a basic way of working is to call out a water committee of community leaders. This group works closely with our staff to assess the need, provide local resources, and lead out in selecting a method to address the need. Strong local leadership and ownership is crucial to a successful project.

The focus of all our early water projects is to provide an excellent source of water for an important sector of the community rather than developing individual household systems. Our goal is to provide pure, life-giving water to as many people as possible.

Pure, clean water is made available through the Haiti Medical Project
Photo by Vildor Archange

In many cases the most inexpensive way of providing pure water is to harvest rain water from nearby roof tops, move it via guttering and spouting to a cement cistern, clean and purify the water through a sand bio-filter system, and add moderate chlorination as indicated by water testing. We are benefitting greatly from technical assistance in building and maintaining the sand bio-filter systems from faculty and graduate students from the University of Maryland and the University of the District of Colombia. These systems utilize locally available sand of various grades, are simple for community leaders to learn to maintain, and are well received by the community. Since Haiti has dry seasons and rainy seasons, it is important to have a cistern large enough to store enough water to serve throughout the dry season.

In some cases we contract to have a well drilled. A well can be used in conjunction with a cistern or other storage tank to cover the frequent times when electric power is not available to run a pump. It also can use sand bio-filters for purification in many cases. However, in a number of the areas near the coast, well water tends to have a salty taste that makes it much less desirable for human use. In cases where we work with an existing well that has this problem, the best solution is a reverse osmosis purification system--much more expensive than a sand bio-filter--to eliminate the salinity.

We recently discovered a resource near the Haitian church’s ministry center in Croix des Bouquets: a water school run by a service agency from the Netherlands. The project’s entire community development staff has been enrolled in a water purification course that includes learning to use reverse osmosis. We also have discovered a Brethren technician in Mexico who has extensive experience to advise us where reverse osmosis is needed. Learning and teaching the appropriate technology is highly important.
 
In 2015 and 2016 the Haiti Medical Project partnered with local communities to design and install successful pure water projects in St. Louis du Nord, Acajou, La Tortue, Raymonsaint, Morne Boulage, and at the Croix des Bouquets guest house. All of these use the sand bio-filter system. The Haiti Medical Project invested a total of $45,218 in these six projects in addition to the cost of materials, labor, and some financial investment contributed by the communities served.

New projects are in view for 2017-18, as funds become available. We hope to more than double the pure water systems during the next two years. While community leadership development and discernment will be cultivated before any project is approved, the following list of our present assessment of the needs is a focus for water development planned for 2017 and 2018:

-- Cap Haitian and Gonaives: Improvement of existing wells through reverse osmosis  
           
-- Raymonsaint: Bio-filter system for a community where a new cistern was constructed in 2016
        
-- Gran Bwa: Capture spring water, provide cistern, sand bio filter, and distribution system
        
-- La Tortue: Purify water in an existing pond
 
-- Cap Haitian, Catienne, Croix des Bouquets, Jerusalem, La Ferriere, Perisse, Savanette: Capture rain water from rooftops, construct cisterns and provide sand bio-filter systems    
The preliminary estimate for the projected community pure water systems for 2017-18 is $148,000. How much can be done will be determined by the amount of special gifts for this purpose. 

There are many ways congregations and individuals can get involved in supporting pure water in Haiti. For example, West Goshen (Ind.) Church of the Brethren sponsored the full cost of a well project. The children of Chiques Church of the Brethren near Manheim, Pa., contributed their regular Sunday school offerings to support water projects, amounting to $3,200 to date.

Congregations and individuals can support the full or partial cost of a current project as they choose. Contact Jeff Boshart at Jboshart@brethren.org or Dale Minnich at dale@minnichnet.org to discuss how to be a part of this important enterprise. Find out more about the Haiti Medical Project at www.brethren.org/haiti-medical-project .

-- Dale Minnich is a volunteer consultant for interpretation for the Haiti Medical Project, and recently concluded a term of service as interim general secretary of the Church of the Brethren.





UPCOMING EVENTS

5) Jubilee afternoon will be a breath of rejuvenation for Annual Conference

By Carol Scheppard, Annual Conference moderator

Hymn singing was one of the topics for Jubilee afternoon workshops in 2016. Shown here, Nancy Faus Mullen leads a joyful group in singing.
Photo by Glenn Riegel

Hymn singing was one of the topics for Jubilee afternoon workshops in 2016. Shown here, Nancy Faus Mullen leads a joyful group in singing.

For a second year in a row the 2017 Annual Conference schedule will include a Jubilee break from business on Friday afternoon. To understand how Jubilee came to be a part of Annual Conference, it is helpful to look at its origins in scripture.

Leviticus 25:10-12: “And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family. That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you: you shall not sow, or reap the aftergrowth, or harvest the unpruned vines. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat only what the field itself produces.”

The practice of jubilee established in Leviticus 25 dealt specifically with Israelites who had become so poor that they had to give up their land and sell themselves into slavery to survive. The law protected those so disadvantaged by allowing them to return to their land and their families in the jubilee year. Every 50 years Hebrew slaves were freed, the people rested from their farming labor, and all debts were forgiven.

The concept of a Jubilee year resonated powerfully in the Christian tradition. Pope Boniface VIII instituted the first well-documented Jubilee celebration in 1300, understanding it as a year of forgiveness and freedom from punishment for sin. In recent years it has been seen more generally as a reminder of God’s blessing and mercy, and a time for the community to return to right relationship with God and with one another.

It was in that spirit of celebrating God’s blessing and mercy and of returning to right relationship with God and with each other that Annual Conference instituted its first Jubilee afternoon last year in Greensboro. The plan rose in response to concerns voiced by brothers and sisters from across the denomination. They worried that the heavy focus on contentious issues during business sessions would eventually erode the effectiveness of Annual Conference in meeting its own mission statement: “The Church of the Brethren Annual Conference exists to unite, strengthen and equip the Church of the Brethren to follow Jesus.” When brothers and sisters become locked in on-going rancorous debate, Annual Conference struggles to realize its vision to glorify God, to humbly celebrate both our oneness and our diversity in the Body, and to build one another up in worship, service and community. Annual Conference strives to proclaim the Lordship of Christ and in all things to unite, strengthen and equip the Body for doing the Lord’s work.

So, acknowledging that the season had come to rest for a period from the work of Conference business, the Program and Arrangements Committee set aside a time Friday afternoon in Greensboro to celebrate God’s abundance in our midst, to restore our fellowship, and to equip ourselves for the work Christ sets before us. The response from the gathered body, both during and following Annual Conference 2016, was overwhelmingly positive. The music, the fellowship, the equipping workshops, the service projects, the special programming, and the afternoon of rest allowed for a time of essential bonding and being that the busy Annual Conference agendas had threatened to choke out in the past. 

So, we celebrate the success of last year’s Jubilee afternoon, and look forward to its return in our schedule in Grand Rapids. Once again we will take a break from business on Friday afternoon to enjoy a special period of being the Body of Christ together.

This year’s Jubilee afternoon will include, among other things, special musical performances by Ken Medema and Jonathan Emmons; opportunities to visit the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, the Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park (with a special exhibit by the famed artist Ai Weiwei), and the Grand Rapids Art Museum; a new set of equipping workshops; special programming in the exhibit hall; and service projects benefitting greater Grand Rapids.

We hope that this year’s Jubilee will again bring rest from our labors and new opportunities to unite, strengthen and equip the Body of Christ.

-- Carol A. Scheppard is serving as moderator of the 2017 Annual Conference. Find out more about the Conference and register to attend at www.brethren.org/ac .





6) National Youth Conference 2018 theme is announced

Exuberant participants in the 5K at the last National Youth Conference, held in 2014. The event for youth in high school through the first year in college is held only once every four years. It returns in 2018 in Fort Collins, Colo.
Photo by Nevin Dulabaum

Exuberant participants in the 5K at the last National Youth Conference, held in 2014. The event for youth in high school through the first year in college is held only once every four years. It returns in 2018 in Fort Collins, Colo.

By Becky Ullom Naugle

Participants in National Youth Conference (NYC) 2018 will focus on the theme “Bound Together: Clothed in Christ.” The scriptural theme is from Colossians 3:12-15: “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.”

The 2017-18 National Youth Cabinet gathered at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on Feb. 10-12 to begin planning for NYC 2018. “God led us to this theme because we felt the Holy Spirit telling us that we need more unity in the youth of our denomination,” said Hannah Buck, cabinet member. “I am so excited for youth to explore this theme during the week of NYC and be able to really dissect what it means to clothe ourselves with these bold, dynamic words and actions in our daily lives,” said Kelsey Murray, NYC coordinator.

NYC will take place July 21-26, 2018, in Fort Collins, Colo. The event is for youth who have completed ninth grade through one year of college at the time of NYC (or are age equivalent to this range) and their advisors. Programming, lodging, and meals are included in the registration fee. Registration will be online and will open in January 2018. Visit www.brethren.org/nyc for more information, or be in touch with the Youth/Young Adult Ministry office at 800-323-8039 ext. 485.

-- Becky Ullom Naugle is director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Church of the Brethren.





FEATURE

7) Please help them: Reflection of a Latino Brethren

By Daniel D’Oleo

helping hands

The result of the presidential election and the politics in regards to immigration issues has impacted America in so many ways. Being a Latino pastor in a country where the Latino population reaches close to 60 million people gives me the opportunity to not only share the gospel in Spanish, but also to be concerned with the issues that affect my community.

My heart feels for those who are facing the uncertainty of their current immigration status. Moreover, I am writing from the bottom of my heart to present a plea for my brothers and sisters who at this time are concerned with their future and the future of their children. My intention here is to beseech my own denomination to intentionally reach out and help the Latino community in United States.

The Church of the Brethren is known for the size of its heart in regards to social issues, humanitarian concern, and humane relief. It is in our DNA to respond to injustice, be concerned with people in need, and help those without a voice. Since we have the heart for those who are suffering, it will come naturally that we as a church respond to the current situation with the love of Christ to the many families affected by deportations. It seems to me that we have been silenced to this issue, thus losing the opportunity to preach the gospel of love in the language we know best: helping others in need.

We have helped people in other countries during hurricanes, tsunamis, and arson, yet it seems to be that we have failed to see and respond to needs of the Latinos in our own back yard. For instance, “The Obama administration deported 414,481 unauthorized immigrants in fiscal year 2014.... [also] A total 2.4 million were deported under the administration from fiscal 2009 to 2014, including a record 435,000 in 2013,” according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the data.

The question is this: are we as a church ready to see this reality not as a political issue, but as an opportunity to minister to those who are in need? Are we ready to be intentional in reaching out to the largest minority group in this country? Are we ready to establish an office, focused to deal with the social and spiritual issues of the Latino community? Could our congregations make a meaningful presence in our communities by providing a welcoming space? Can our congregations become a part of a social/spiritual movement in which the gospel of Christ is taught with a serving love that breaks all language barriers?

Here is an example of what I have been experiencing: A couple of weeks ago I picked up six of the kids who normally come to our Wednesday night program. The difference this time was that the conversation among them became a bit intense due to the current immigration news we have been experiencing. I noticed that the conversation among them became more and more political as they discuss the future of their parents, if they were to be deported.

That is when a nine-year-old boy with a Honduran undocumented mother said to me, “Pastor, my mother told me that if she was deported I should go and live with you. Can we?” At the exact moment, his little sister also asked the same question: “Pastor, will you let us stay with you? “My immediate response was, “But of course!”

But as the days passed I began to reflect on what had happened. I pondered; what is the true role of the church toward those with whom we minister? Where do we draw the line? Are we only interested in their eternal future or are we also concern for the struggles they are experiencing?

As an immigrant myself, having had four different visas and having to wait almost 25 years in this country before becoming a United States citizen, my heart feels for those who may never have that privilege--no matter how long they wait. I can honestly say that my denomination played an important part in helping me get the legal documents needed to establish my life and make my future in this country. I am not only an immigrant, I am also the product of what a loving church can do for those who struggle with a broken immigration system.

After more than 20 years of being a Latino pastor in this country, I see the need for our denomination to do more. We can be united in a nation-wide program to alleviate members of our Latino congregations in this country. We can create venues in which we support Latino immigrant families left behind without their bread winners. We can redirect money invested in failing programs to nurture social outreach program sponsored by our Latino congregations. My plea is for those whom we are pastoring and who are afraid of even driving to church or being in large gatherings. So, let us:

a. Find ways to provide free immigration consultation for Latino immigrants in our communities.

b. Partner with Latino Church of the Brethren congregations in their efforts responding to Latino social needs.

c. Open the doors of our congregations for Latino community events such as quinceañeras, baby showers, birthday parties, etc. (This will extend our love and show that we are concerned more about people than our buildings).

d. Challenge the members of our congregations to know and be friends with the Latinos in their neighborhoods.

e. Find volunteers in our congregations who would teach English classes, tutor, or even provide interpretation for Spanish speakers.

f. Do a congregational “Latino small business support day”: gather 20 to 40 people from a congregation and go to a Latino grocery store and purchase something all at the same time.

g. Adopt a family. Find out how possible it would be for a congregation to adopt and support a single Latino mother. Some mothers are now the sole bread winners for their families, because their husbands have been deported and they are left with the children.

I believe our denomination has a huge potential to minister to the immediate needs of the Latino community in this country. We must be sensitive to what is happening around us and in our congregations. Please listen to the plea of a Latino Brethren. Let us help our brother and sisters.

I am a Latino Brethren and this is my reflection!

-- Daniel D'Oleo is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren and a leader and pastor in the Renacer movement of Latino congregations.


8) Brethren bits

 Hands

“Finding Creative Ways to Work at Race Relations” is the theme for a series of area clergy meetings in Northern Ohio District this spring, presented by James and Sandra Washington from “TIME-OUT” Ministries. James Washington Sr. is serving as an interim pastor in the district. The Washingtons co-founded “TIME-OUT” Ministries (Today’s Interaction May Encourage Our Unity Tomorrow) as a faith-built program to develop relationships and goals to grow in the Lord, and are also members of “Best Friends,” a multicultural singing group that has performed at Church of the Brethren intercultural events. “We live in a world saturated with racism--much of it below the surface of our awareness,” said an invitation from the district. “Come as we learn about what the church can and should bring to race relations within our communities.” Ministers may earn .2 continuing education credit. Meetings are held at various locations throughout the district, March 18 through March 29. For more information contact Northern Ohio District Church of the Brethren, 419-281-3058.

-- The Church of the Brethren is seeking candidates for the position of director of Ministry. This position, within the office of the general secretary, reports directly to the general secretary. Responsibilities include directing the program and ministry of the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry, including working collaboratively with the Council of District Executives, and the academic dean of Bethany Theological Seminary in shared oversight of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. Additional responsibilities include discerning the leadership needs of the denomination and developing new programs to meet the needs while consulting with partners in ministry; overseeing processes for the calling, training, credentialing, placing, and nurturing of leaders, especially pastors; overseeing the Office of Ministry administration including supervision of the program assistant, and serving as steward of ministry documentation; serving as consultant and direct placement for district ministries; collaborating with Global Mission and Service in establishing guidelines for ministerial credentialing in new mission initiatives; collaborating with Congregational Life Ministries; and serving on various programs, committees, and groups. Requirements include grounding in Church of the Brethren heritage, theology, and polity; ability to articulate and operate out of the vision of the Church of the Brethren; 15 years of pastoral ministry including administration; expertise and skills in group dynamics, including networking with diverse groups of people; knowledge and experience in budget development and management. A master of divinity degree or equivalent is required. This position is based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Applications are being received, with interviews beginning immediately and continuing through April 17. To apply request the application form and complete job description, submit a résumé and letter of application, and request three letters of reference to be sent to Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; COBApply@brethren.org . The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

-- Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) is seeking candidates for the position of network administrator, to develop and maintain a working knowledge of all infrastructure systems to provide server, database, and network leadership; PC support; and Internet security. This person will be proactive in assisting BBT staff leverage technology for efficiency and effectiveness. This is a full-time, exempt position based in Elgin, Ill., for a not-for-profit, faith-based organization that provides employer-based pension, insurance, and asset management services for 5,000 individuals and client organizations nationwide. The ideal candidate will have an undergraduate degree in information technology or equivalent work experience in the information technology field. This position requires a high level of technical knowledge and aptitude, intense attention to detail, and proficiency with computer systems and applications. The candidate must be able to interact effectively with colleagues and customers to provide information in response to technical help-desk inquiries. For a detailed job description and requirements, contact Diane Parrott at dparrott@cobbt.org. For more information about Brethren Benefit Trust, visit www.cobbt.org . Applications are due by March 27.

-- The Cedars is accepting resumes for the position of Licensed Nursing Home Administrator. The Cedars is a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in McPherson, Kan., and is a member of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes. Candidates must have a valid Kansas state administrator license and have previous experience in a Continuous Care Retirement Community. Apply by e-mailing a resume to rkeasling@thecedars.org . For more information go to www.thecedars.org . The Cedars is an Equal Opportunity Employer.        

-- The National VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) is hiring a new Members Services manager based out of an Arlington, Va., office. Follow this link for more information: www.nvoad.org/job/member-services-manager .

-- German Gongora has been promoted to the position of director of Operations for Information Technology for Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) effective March 27. He will be in charge of the administration of the IT department, provide oversight to the new network administrator, and continue to serve as program developer for BBT. He was first hired by BBT on Sept. 19, 2011, as a programmer analyst and technology support specialist. He holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from Universidad del Rosario, Bogota, Colombia, and a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Universidad Catolica de Colombia in Bogota; has taught Spanish at Berlitz Chicago; and has taught computer courses in Miami and Colombia. 

-- A date change has been announced for the next Nigeria workcamp. The workcamp will now be held from May 12-28. This change was announced by leadership of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) after the national airport in Abuja was closed from March 8 to April 30, and most airlines have not accepted an alternative route into the Kaduna airport. The EYN leadership reported to the Global Mission and Service office that “we are not sure of security movement from Kaduna to Abuja.” In addition, the date that had been selected did not consider the Easter period from April 16-18.

-- New webinars have been announced by Congregational Life Ministries:
     “Mental Health: Developing Inclusive Communities, Promoting Wellbeing” will be presented by Jo Fitzsimmons on Wed., March 22. This event will address how to safely support children, young people, adults, and whole families in our faith communities in regard to mental
health issues, and related questions. Fitzsimmons is a youth and community worker and counselor.
     “What Have the Children Done for Us?” will be presented by Sara Barron on Thurs., April 20. This event explores how to grow intergenerational communities that enable people of all ages to flourish. Barron is a Baptist minister and a development worker for CURBS, which resources, trains, and supports children’s workers in urban and housing development areas.
     Webinars are held at 2:30-3:30 p.m. (Eastern time). To connect go to www.brethren.org/webcasts . Ministers may receive .1 continuing education credit for attending a live event. For more information contact sdueck@brethren.org .

-- Brethren Disaster Ministries is sharing a new video about its work and ministries. The piece has been posted to YouTube. Find it at https://youtu.be/ieLACrpRL_g .

-- The Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., is hosting a weekend event for people who feel a special connection with the center and its ministries to gather to remember and celebrate. A sale of the “upper campus” of the center is expected in the next few weeks, with the “lower campus” continuing as the Brethren Service Center housing the offices of Brethren Disaster Ministries and warehouses of Material Resources program. Find a “Baltimore Sun” article opn the remembrance weekend at www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/carroll .

-- “Pray for an upcoming assembly of Igreja da Irmandade-Brasil, the Church of the Brethren in Brazil,” said this week’s prayer request from Global Mission and Service. Some 30 members of the Brazilian church will gather in the city of Campinas to elect the church’s national board.

-- Quoting from Leviticus 25:23, “The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me,” a new blogpost from the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness expresses support for indigenous people opposing the Dakota access pipeline. The group “braved the sleet and 30 degree weather in Washington, D.C., on Friday, March 10th to once again take a stand for Standing Rock,” said the blogpost, in part. “Years of work by water protectors was written away with the swipe of a pen on January 24th, when an order was presented to begin construction of the Dakota accesses pipeline, a 1,100-mile oil pipeline and Keystone XL pipeline through Indigenous land.” This year’s Christian Citizenship Seminar will also connect with the struggles of indigenous people. See http://blog.brethren.org/2017/today-we-pray-tomorrow-we-act-still-standing-for-standing-rock .

-- “Are you a college student, a seminary student, a graduate school student, or a high school student? Or do you know somebody who is? Enter the Bethany Theological Seminary Peace Essay Contest!” said an invitation. The theme is “Where Do You See Peace?” The deadline to submit essays is March 27. The contest offers a first-place prize of $2,000, a second-place prize of $1,000, and a third-place prize of $500. Learn more about the theme, essay guidelines, and details at https://bethanyseminary.edu/2017-peace-essay-contest-announced . Submit essays at https://bethanyseminary.edu/events-resources/special-events-at-bethany/2017-peace-essay-contest/bethany-peace-essay-contest-submission .

-- Bethany Theological Seminary was one of the sponsors of “Theopoetics: A Transdisciplinary Conference with Workshops and Dialogue” held at The Hive: A Center for Contemplation, Art, and Action in Cincinnati, Ohio. To learn more about the conference go to http://theopoeticsconference.org .

-- In more news from Bethany, the seminary is holding “An Evening of Inspiration with Shawn Kirchner” in Nicarry Chapel on Friday, March 31, from 7-8:30 p.m. “Join Shawn Kirchner and the Bethany Theological Seminary community for a group sing of your favorite hymns and songs, along with an exploration of ancient and contemporary gems in the Church of the Brethren hymnal. Return home humming, with new ideas and materials to make your worship vibrant,” said an announcement. Hymnals will be provided, but guests are invited to bring their own if they choose. Kirchner, who is a member of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, works as a professional musician and composer, and has led music at all levels of the Church of the Brethren denomination including at last year’s Annual Conference.

-- Warrensburg (Mo.) Church of the Brethren is holding a retirement reception for pastor Ethmer Erisman, including a celebration of his 74 years of ministry. The reception is Saturday, March 18, from 2-4 p.m., with a special recognition planned for 2:45 p.m. An article in the “Daily Star Journal” reports that Erisman began his ministry in 1942 at Shoal Creek Church of the Brethren in Fairview, Mo.; was ordained in 1944; served churches in Johnson County, Mo., including Kingsville, Leeton, and Warrensburg, until 2016; and spent the last 14 years at the Warrensburg Church participating in a team ministry. For more information contact pastor Becky Crouse at 660-422-8165. Find the newspaper article at www.dailystarjournal.com/people/community/pastor-retires-after-years-of-ministry/article_ca67c973-4709-51e2-addb-93275cca9554.html.

-- The Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center is holding a hymn sing, "How Can We Keep From Singing," featuring songs of hope and peace, at 7 p.m. on Sunday, March 19, at Harrisonburg (Va.) First Church of the Brethren. Mennonite and Brethren song leaders and pastors will lead the program as people from different faith traditions come together to celebrate in unity the beliefs we hold in common. An offering will support the ministry of the Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center.

-- “Finding Creative Ways to Work at Race Relations” is the theme for a series of area clergy meetings in Northern Ohio District this spring, presented by James and Sandra Washington from “TIME-OUT” Ministries. James Washington Sr. is serving as an interim pastor in the district. The Washingtons co-founded “TIME-OUT” Ministries (Today’s Interaction May Encourage Our Unity Tomorrow) as a faith-built program to develop relationships and goals to grow in the Lord, and are also members of “Best Friends,” a multicultural singing group that has performed at Church of the Brethren intercultural events. “We live in a world saturated with racism--much of it below the surface of our awareness,” said an invitation from the district. “Come as we learn about what the church can and should bring to race relations within our communities.” Ministers may earn .2 continuing education credit. Meetings are held at various locations throughout the district, March 18 through March 29. For more information contact Northern Ohio District Church of the Brethren, 419-281-3058.

-- Bridgewater (Va.) Retirement Community will present a workshop for pastors, "How to Become a Dementia-Friendly Faith Community," from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5, in the Houff Community Center. A box lunch will be provided. The speaker, Annie Mars, is family services director for the Alzheimer's Association of Central and Western Virginia. Ministers may earn .2 continuing education units. To register, contact Marilyn Miller at 540-828-2652 or mmiller@brcliving.org . The deadline to register is April 3.

-- “Bread for the World is alarmed by today’s release of the Trump administration’s ‘skinny’ budget for fiscal year 2018, which targets international and domestic programs that serve poor and hungry people,” said a Bread for the World release this week. “If passed, this budget would make it nearly impossible to end hunger and extreme poverty. The unprecedented spending cuts President Trump is proposing to the State Department and other international programs would roll back the tremendous progress we have made against hunger and poverty.” The release notes that the proposed budget would make a 31 percent cut to the State Department and USAID, which fund many of the United States’ foreign aid and development assistance programs; would eliminate the Africa Development Fund and the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, which in 2015 benefited 2.9 million children; includes significant cuts to programs that serve poor and hungry Americans, such as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program that supports before-school and after-school and summer programs for at-risk youth. Bread for the World’s 2017 “Offering of Letters: Doing Our Part to End Hunger” initiative asks Congress to pass a budget that puts us on track to end hunger by 2030. Bread for the World (www.bread.org) is a collective Christian voice urging the nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.

-- A United Nations peace emphasis is being publicized by Doris Abdullah, the Church of the Brethren UN representative. Japan is the collaborating member state this year, she reports. This is part of the UN’s annual agenda theme, with a series of events entitled, “Peace is ...” The purpose of these events “is for Japan and other member states to show their support to the three pillars of the UN agenda (Peace and Security, Development, and Human Rights) in the form of interactive cultural events. This year’s theme is peace, which can be expressed in diverse ways. Peace is family, water, and education, just to name a few examples. The Japan Mission, along with the DPI and other Member States, will decide on a topic to be highlighted each month.”

-- A video clip of Slim Whitman singing at the 1982 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren recently was rediscovered by Brethren videographer David Sollenberger, who has posted it to the denomination’s YouTube channel. “I think it’s the only known video version of that performance,” Sollenberger reported to Newsline. “I checked with Bill Kostlevy in the Brethren Historical Library and Archives, and he can’t find any other footage of that appearance, only an audio copy. No one knows who shot the footage,” he added. The videotape had been in a district library for 35 years until all the VHS tapes were discarded as obsolete, and Sollenberger acquired it. Country singer Slim Whitman was a longtime member and deacon emeritus at Jacksonville (Fla.) Church of the Brethren, ande was the subject of the 1982 Brethren Press book “Mr. Songman,” written by Kenneth L. Gibble. He died on June 19, 2013; find the Newsline remembrance at www.brethren.org/news/2013/remembering-slim-whitman-the.html . View the video clip of his Annual Conference performance at www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=AZXN1edX2lE .


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Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Doris Abdullah, Brian Bultman, Jeff Carter, Jenn Dorsch, Stan Dueck, Chris Ford, Kendra Harbeck, Kris Hawk, Donna March, Ralph McFadden, Wendy McFadden, Nancy Miner, Becky Ullom Naugle, Diane Parrott, David Sollenberger, David Steele, Jenny Williams, Jay Wittmeyer, 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 March 24.

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.