Newsline for March 25, 2017




Holding hands around the world

“Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).

NEWS
1) Large sum released from Emergency Disaster Fund continues Nigeria Crisis Response

PERSONNEL
2)  Michigan District executive Nate Polzin resigns
3) Program assistants resign from Brethren Disaster Ministries
4) Shamek Cardona hired as Church of the Brethren manager of Human Resources

UPCOMING EVENTS
5) Closing service to be held for upper campus of Brethren Service Center
6) Continuing education events for ministers address Leviticus, elder care challenges
7) Ventures courses are offered on Chronicles and faith formation

8) Brethren bits: Remembering Dora Showalter, job opening, Venezuela baptisms, CDS in Missouri, Flint workcamp seeks children’s books, web event on Gaza, Nigeria workcamp reflections, Hillcrest School marks 75 years, pre-Conference training on Kingian Nonviolence, more


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1) Large sum released from Emergency Disaster Fund continues Nigeria Crisis Response

A Nigerian woman receives a bag of food at one of the distributions of aid made through the Nigeria Crisis Response. This distribution was organized by the Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives, one of the Nigerian nonprofits that partner in the Nigeria Crisis Response that is a joint effort of the Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).
Photo by Donna Parcell

A Nigerian woman receives a bag of food at one of the distributions of aid made through the Nigeria Crisis Response. This distribution was organized by the Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives, one of the Nigerian nonprofits that partner in the Nigeria Crisis Response that is a joint effort of the Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

The Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board at its meeting earlier this month gave approval for the release of $500,000 of the Nigeria crisis funds from the denomination’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF). Brethren Disaster Ministries requested this additional allocation to support Nigeria Crisis Response programing through the summer of 2017.

The Nigeria Crisis Response is a joint effort of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) with the Church of the Brethren and its Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries.

The 2017 response plan continues key ministries in Nigeria but at a reduced level of funding because donations toward the effort fell off significantly in 2016, staff reported to the board. Program priorities going forward are more focused on recovery activities that will help families become more self-supporting, now that about 70 percent of EYN members who were displaced by violence and the Boko Haram insurgency have now returned home.

Working with partners, program ministries totaling $690,000 are planned during 2017. EYN continues as the primary partner for the Church of the Brethren, and will receive some 70 percent of the response funds. Other partners include the Center for Caring, Empowerment and Peace Initiatives (CCEPI), Lifeline Compassionate Global Initiative (LCGI), Women and Youth Empowerment for Advancement and Health Initiative (WYEAHI), Favored Sisters Christian Fellowship, and Education Must Continue Initiative (EMCI).

Specific foci for the 2017 work in Nigeria include:

-- Repairing homes damaged by fire and vandalism in the Biu and Lassa areas.

-- Continuing peacebuilding and trauma recovery as a cornerstone of the response. Adult programming will be provided in seven new areas. The program developed by Children’s Disaster Services on trauma healing for children will continued to be expanded by EYN Women’s Ministry.

-- Agriculture as a key part of recovery for displaced families to be able to return to farming and have the ability to support themselves. Seed, fertilizer, and tools will be distributed to 2,000 farmers. A soybean development program is being worked on in consultation with the US Soybean Innovation Labs. Two tractors are being purchased to assist farmers in areas around Abuja and the EYN headquarters in Kwarhi.

-- Livelihood (making a living) as another key for recovery. This programming focuses on the most vulnerable in the community, especially widows with children, providing them with equipment and training for sewing, bean cake businesses, machines for grinding grain and ground nut processing, computer skills, knitting, and soap making.

-- Education for children as a critical part of long term recovery and to reduce the long-term negative impacts of the crisis and trauma. In this crisis, some children have been out of school for more than two years. In addition, through this programming orphans of the crisis are receiving food, clothing, housing, and assistance.

-- Food, medical, and home supplies that continue to be necessary for some families who are still displaced and for families returning to their homes. Supporting the reopening of EYN clinics is an ongoing need. This budget includes $10,000 to assist in repairing the EYN clinic in Kwarhi.

-- The strengthening of EYN (church recovery). These funds are significantly reduced in 2017 with repairs to EYN headquarters and Kulp Bible College completed in 2016. Going forward, funds will support EYN staff, meetings, and publications that are still impacted by crisis.

-- Expenses of the travel of American volunteers and Church of the Brethren staff. This covers the expenses of staff engagement in the response, managing the funds, providing training and technical support, and sending volunteers from the United States to support EYN and the response.

-- Famine and malnutrition. Special reserve funds are being held to help address malnutrition among children and the growing concern about famine in parts of northern Nigeria. Partner organizations will be able to request some or all of the funds to address found needs.


Prior EDF grants for this appeal total $3,800,000 and include initial designations from existing funds made by the Mission and Ministry board to the amount of $500,000 in October 2014 and $1,000,000 in March 2016.

An additional $115,000 that is not part of the EDF has been budgeted from designated Global Mission funds to help with rebuilding churches in Nigeria.

A PowerPoint presentation on the Nigeria Crisis Response that was given to the Mission and Ministry Board at its meeting earlier this month is available online. The presentation gives details about the current status of the relief work in Nigeria, as well as an update on the situation of South Sudan. Find the presentation at www.brethren.org/bdm/files/nigeria-south-sudan-update-2017-3.pdf .





PERSONNEL

2)  Michigan District executive Nate Polzin resigns

Nate Polzin

The Michigan District Leadership Team has received a letter of resignation from Nate Polzin, district executive, effective July 7. He will continue to serve and support the district through Annual Conference this year. On Sept. 1, he will begin serving as pastor of Midland Church of the Brethren as well as continuing his ministry with the Church in Drive in Saginaw, Mich.

Polzin has served as Michigan District’s executive for the last eight years. He began in the position as an interim district executive in March 2009. Polzin also is a church planter, and was the start-up pastor of the Church in Drive. He has served on the board of trustees of Bethany Theological Seminary representing clergy.





3) Program assistants resign from Brethren Disaster Ministries

Program assistants have resigned from Brethren Disaster Ministries. Robin DeYoung has resigned from the Brethren Disaster Ministries domestic rebuilding program. Kristen Hoffman has resigned as the Children’s Disaster Services program assistant. 

DeYoung began her service with Brethren Disaster Ministries on Sept. 8, 2015. She resigned as of March 17. She is a recent graduate of McPherson (Kan.) College. Her previous volunteer and work experiences have include a college internship at Hutchinson Community Foundation in Kansas, work as a section editor and photographer for the McPherson College paper “The Spectator,” and some public relations, marketing, sales, and customer service experience with a variety of companies.

Hoffman began work with Children’s Disaster Services on Sept. 16, 2015. Previously she volunteered in the Youth and Young Adult Ministry at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill., serving through Brethren Volunteer Service and coordinating Christian Citizenship Seminar and National Junior High Conference among other duties. She is a graduate of Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind.





4) Shamek Cardona hired as Church of the Brethren manager of Human Resources

Shamek Cardona of Hanover Park, Ill., has begun work as manager of human resources for the Church of the Brethren, working at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

She is a graduate of William Rainey Harper College, where she earned an associate’s degree in medical administration. She will be completing a bachelor of science in business with a concentration in human resource management in June.

Most recently she worked with Generations at Oakton Pavilion in Des Plaines, Ill., where she had been an administrative assistant and human resources manager since December 2014. Previously she served as human resources coordinator with River View Rehab Center in Elgin, and was a staffing coordinator with Maplewood Health Care Center in Elgin.





UPCOMING EVENTS

5) Closing service to be held for upper campus of Brethren Service Center

A worship service is planned as a closing event for the upper campus of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., on April 30. Sale of the upper campus is expected to be completed in early May.

The lower campus will continue as the Brethren Service Center and will house office and warehouse facilities of Brethren Disaster Ministries, Children’s Disaster Services, and the Material Resources program.

The closing worship service is planned for 4-5 p.m. on Sunday, April 30, to be held outdoors on the lawn at the center. The service is free and open to the public. Bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating.

In advance of the service, the upper campus will be open for guests to walk the grounds, but no upper campus buildings will be open for tours. Tours of the office and warehouse facilities on the lower campus will be offered from 2:30-3:30 p.m., led by staff of Brethren Disaster Ministries and Material Resources.

For more information or questions, contact the Office of the General Secretary at 800-323-8039.





6) Continuing education events for ministers address Leviticus, elder care challenges

The Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC) with offices on the campus of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College is publicizing two continuing education events this spring: “Ten-Plus Reasons to Love Leviticus” on April 24, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., in the Susquehanna Room at Elizabethtown College, and “Cultivating Conversations...Navigating Elder Care Challenges” on May 8, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., at Cross Keys Village in New Oxford, Pa.

Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center Leviticus event

“Ten-Plus Reasons to Love Leviticus” will feature keynote speaker Bob Neff, an Old Testament scholar, president emeritus of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., and former general secretary of the Church of the Brethren. Other speakers will address related topics including Christina Bucher speaking on sexuality in Leviticus from different faith perspectives, David Leiter speaking on social justice and Leviticus, Frank Ramirez speaking on the Brethren and Leviticus 19, and Brody Rike speaking on atonement and orientation to God. Cost is $60 and includes a light breakfast, lunch, and .6 continuing education credits for ministers. Registration is due by April 10.

Elder care training at Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center



“Cultivating Conversations...Navigating Elder Care Challenges” will feature a number of presenters including Clayton Lingg, an elder care attorney, speaking on “Legal Matters”; Joan Groh, a community relations liaison for hospice and community care, speaking on “Comfort and Care When Needed Most”; and Cross Keys’ Memory Care Support Team members Jennifer Holcolm, Kimberly Korge, and Kathy Staub speaking on “Managing Difficult Conversations.” Registration costs $60 and includes a light breakfast, lunch, and .5 continuing education credits for ministers. Registration is due by April 24.

For more information and to register, contact the SVMC office at 717-361-1450 or svmc@etown.edu .





7) Ventures courses are offered on Chronicles and faith formation

Ventures in Christian Discipleship, a program of McPherson College

By Lois Grove

McPherson (Kan.) College’s Ventures program is offering upcoming courses on the book of Chronicles and faith formation. Ventures in Christian Discipleship is an online program of the college, designed to equip church members with skills and understandings for faithful and dynamic Christian living, action, and leadership. All courses are free, but donations are welcome to help continue this effort. Registration information is available at www.mcpherson.edu/ventures .

Chronicles

In an online course postponed from Nov. 11 last year, Ventures in Christian Discipleship will offer “The Book of Chronicles and the Church: Theology, Continuity, Innovation, and the Kingdom of God” presented by Steve Schweitzer, academic dean and professor at Bethany Theological Seminary. The course will be offered on Saturday, April 9, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon (central time).

While the book of Kings explains why the people of Israel ended up in exile, the book of Chronicles was written after the exile, in the midst of significant cultural shifts, to provide a way forward. Participants will explore several central themes in the book and think together about how Chronicles might help the church to be faithful in the midst of cultural change. 

Faith formation

“Beyond Sunday school: Transforming Faith Formation” will be offered on April 22, 9 a.m. to 12 noon (central time), taught by Rhonda Pittman-Gingrich, an ordained Church of the Brethren minister involved in a ministry of teaching, consulting, and writing. This course will challenge participants to engage in faith formation. 

Sunday school is not obsolete, but given the reality of declining attendance patterns, it cannot be a stand-alone enterprise when it comes to nurturing the spiritual lives of our children, youth, or adults. Pittman-Gingrich will emphasize that we must create communities of practice that nurture and transform faith in holistic ways across the life span. Participants will explore various ways and resources to undergird a more holistic approach to faith formation, including lessons from scripture and the concept of spiritual styles.

-- Lois Grove is a member of the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board, and is active in Northern Plains District.





8) Brethren bits

-- Remembrance: Dora Belle Showalter, 98, died on Dec. 10, 2016, in Modesto, Calif. With her late husband, Marion Showalter, she had served as a Church of the Brethren mission worker in Nigeria for almost two decades. The couple lived and worked for 19 years in Garkida, the village where the mission headquarters had been located. The Showalters went to Nigeria in 1964 for a two-year volunteer term with Brethren Volunteer Service, but ended up working in Nigeria until retiring in 1983. Her work at the mission headquarters in Garkida was to serve as a hostess, and she provided room and board for hundreds of guests over the years. She was born July 19, 1918, in Witonka, S.D., to Grant and Elizabeth Catherine Tooker. She was a homemaker and a lifelong member of Empire Church of the Brethren in California. Once she returned from Nigeria, she continued to serve the church in many ways including involvement with church camps such as Camp Peaceful Pines located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. She was preceded in death by her husband of nearly 74 years, Marion Franklin Showalter, as well as her only daughter Kollene. She is survived by grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. Find a full obituary at www.legacy.com/obituaries/modestobee/obituary.aspx?n=dora-belle-showalter&pid=183149478&fhid=3570#sthash.5iYd4owc.dpuf .

-- The Church of the Brethren is seeking an individual to fill a full-time hourly position of program assistant for Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children’s Disaster Services (CDS). This position is located at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Responsibilities include supporting the programming and administration of CDS; providing administrative, programming, and clerical support to the associate director of CDS; support of volunteers, volunteer training, and response; assistance with general administration of Brethren Disaster Ministries. Required skills and knowledge include administrative office skills, ability to relate with integrity and respect, strong interpersonal and written communication skills, ability to manage multiple simultaneous priorities, ability to learn and competently utilize new software, ability to keep information and records confidential, and the ability to uphold and support the basic beliefs and practices of the Church of the Brethren. An associate’s degree or high school graduation with equivalent work experience is required, as is proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite, particularly Word, Excel, and Outlook. Applications are being received and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Request the application form by contacting Human Resources Manager, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367; COBApply@brethren.org .

Venezuela baptism
Photo by Joel Peña

Venezuela baptism

-- The Global Mission and Service office is giving thanks for multiple recent baptisms in two congregations of Iglesia de los Hermanos, the developing church in Venezuela. “Pray for the burgeoning Brethren movement there, as it grows both in members and in its social outreach ministries such as distributions of clothing and medicine,” said a recent prayer request. Venezuela was approved as a mission project of the Church of the Brethren by the Mission and Ministry Board at its spring meeting.

-- Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) volunteers responded in Missouri following tornadoes that hit the state earlier this month. Teams served affected children and families in Oak Grove and Perryville, Mo. CDS staff reported that “news sources report that within the Oak Grove area alone approximately 480 homes were affected by tornado damage.” Gary Gahm, district disaster coordinator for the Missouri and Arkansas District of the Church of the Brethren helped to connect the local Red Cross with the CDS office. Lindsey Murphy served as the project manager for this deployment. For more about the ministry of CDS go to www.childrensdisasterservices.org .

Flint Church of the Brethren book collection

-- The Church of the Brethren Workcamp Ministry is seeking donations of children’s books to be distributed during a workcamp in Flint, Mich., this summer. “Every aspect of life has been affected by the water crisis in Flint, Michigan--including literacy,” said an announcement. “Because of this, we plan to distribute books during the workcamp July 2-8, and we need your help with collecting them.” Send new and gently used children’s books to Flint Church of the Brethren or to the Workcamp Office, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120. Direct questions to Shelley Weachter, 847-429-4328. For more information about this Workcamp Ministry go to www.brethren.org/workcamps .

-- A live stream event with two experts on Gaza is offered by Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), and is being publicized by the Office of Public Witness. The Church of the Brethren is a member of CMEP. “Learn about the current realities of life in Gaza and where there might be opportunities for hope,” said an invitation to the webinar on Tues., March 28, 12 noon-1:30 p.m. (eastern time). The panel of speakers includesa Tania Hary, executive director of Gisha, an Israeli nonprofit organization whose goal is to protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents; Omar Shaban, director of PalThink for Strategic Studies, a nonprofit “think and do tank” that seeks to contribute to the building of a free and modern Palestinian state and democratic society; and moderator Mae Elise Cannon, executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace and an ordained minister in the Evangelical Covenant Church. Formed in 1984, CMEP is a coalition of 27 national church denominations and organizations that works to encourage US government policies that actively promote a just, lasting, and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ensuring security, human rights, and religious freedom for all people of the region. Register at http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5575/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=85427 to receive a link to the live webinar.

-- Find several reflections from recent Nigeria workcamps on the Nigeria Crisis Response blogspot at http://blog.brethren.org/category/nigeria . Recent posts are from Sally Rich, John Krabacher, and Carol Goss.

Hillcrest School 75th anniversary invitation

-- Hillcrest School in Jos, Nigeria, is celebrating its 75th anniversary on May 14. The celebration includes a worship service followed by a lunch. The school was begun by the Church of the Brethren Mission in Nigeria, and then became an ecumenical enterprise shared between several Christian mission groups from various denominational backgrounds.

-- On Earth Peace is inviting those planning to attend the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference this summer to a pre-Conference day of training in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Wednesday, June 28. The training will be focused on Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation, and will provide an introduction to the philosophy and methodology of Martin Luther King Jr. “These trainings are transformational experiences that have helped thousands of people from around the world understand the depth of the philosophy of nonviolence, and learn to begin to bring the practices into their lives and their work. Kingian Nonviolence shows a path to put God’s agape love into action,” said an announcement. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., with the workshop scheduled for 9 a.m.-5 p.m., with an hour break for lunch. The fee is $60. For an additional $10 fee, Church of the Brethren ministers may receive .7 continuing education units. More information and registration are at https://goo.gl/forms/1gNAGv8FscuK2yci2 .

-- Bethany Theological Seminary is holding the next “Explore Your Call” discernment event for high school students on June 16-26. The seminary is located in Richmond, Ind. Participants explore different, exciting paths of Christian ministry and where God is leading them. “Due to a generous grant, all qualified applicants will receive a full scholarship. Students pay only for their transportation to and from the event,” said an announcement. For more information contact professor Russell Haitch at 765-983-1827 or coordinator Brian Mackie at 765-465-5960.

-- GraceWay Church of the Brethren opened in Dundalk, Md., in early February, according to the “Dundalk Eagle” newspaper. “The church touts itself as a multi-cultural hub,” the paper reported, adding that on opening day, “seven nations were represented at the church--Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Congo, Nigeria, Cameroon, and the United States.” Find the newspaper story at www.dundalkeagle.com/news/church/new-church-opens-in-dundalk/article_f54594ba-43fe-50bd-a5aa-34024bc1397e.html

-- Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren has been featured in the news for its public statements exploring the possibility of becoming a sanctuary church--along with other churches in Lancaster County. Pastor Pamela A. Reist shared the article with Newsline, hoping that her congregation may hear from other Brethren congregations around the country who also are exploring sanctuary status, or may be finding other means of response for immigrants in their own communities. The church also hopes to be an encouragement to others with this effort, she said. The church has posted the news article on its Facebook page, with this comment: “As a people who are committed to practicing peace, service and openness to all, we have been preparing for ‘such a time as this.’ We are ready to explore how we might reach out with compassion and love, for we are strangers no more, but part of one humanity...” ( www.facebook.com/EtownCOB ) . Find the article posted by Lancaster Online at http://lancasteronline.com/insider/lancaster-county-churches-consider-becoming-sanctuaries-for-immigrants/article_b30fe450-0696-11e7-9d0b-f3ab66e3a19d.html .

-- Canton (Ohio) Church of the Brethren hosted a “Forum on Poverty” on Thursday, March 23, “to create awareness and promote resolution about poverty in Fulton County,” reported the “Canton Daily Ledger.” Panelists represented Love INC, Spoon River Pregnancy Center, Graham Hospital, the YMCA and YWCA, the First Baptist Church, Canton Union School District 66, and the Health and Wellness Clinic of Fulton County. Find out more at www.cantondailyledger.com/news/20170322/forum-on-poverty-march-23 .

-- Henry Fork Church of the Brethren in Rocky Mount, Va., in cooperation with Living Waters Church will host a second annual prom dress giveaway on Saturday, April 1, reports the “Franklin News Post.” Any girl in need of a prom dress is encouraged to attend, organizer Iris Akers told the newspaper. “All dresses have been generously donated and are clean and gently used,” she said. The event will feature more than 200 dresses in various sizes. See www.thefranklinnewspost.com/news/gently-used-prom-dresses-are-available-for-free/article_8234443c-0efe-11e7-985b-bb8336bcb250.html .

-- La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren hosts college students from the University of La Verne on the third Tuesday of each month of the school year for an evening meal. “We provide a nourishing meal and nurturing hospitality. Students eat well, build community with each other and adult volunteers, as well as learn that the Church of the Brethren is a place of welcome. Many times we will have nearly 400 students including the football team!” said a report in the e-newsletter of Pacific Southwest District. The program is co-sponsored with the university’s Office of Religious and Spiritual Life. The church is seeking more volunteers to help out with the dinners, contact office@lavernecob.org or 909-593-1364.

-- Northern Ohio District shares a prayer request for a group from Dupont Church of the Brethren. The group of 11 people are leaving March 24 for a missions trip to Honduras, planning to return home on April 3. “We pray for safe travels, good health, God’s provision, wisdom, and direction as they travel to serve their brothers and sisters in Honduras,” said an email from Julie Watson, the district administrative secretary.

-- A “Mission Information Event” sponsored by the South Central Indiana District board will be held on Sunday, April 30, 2-4 p.m. at Marion (Ind.) Church of the Brethren. The event will provide an opportunity to learn more about what the Church of the Brethren is doing in Nigeria and Haiti with leadership from Cliff Kindy and others who have been in Nigeria recently, and Brad Yoder bringing information about pure water projects in Haiti. “As a district we will have a fundraising emphasis for these two missions and encourage churches to think about what they can do to be a part of this great emphasis,” said an announcement from the district, which will be receiving a love offering on April 30 to get this fund started.

-- The Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College holds its annual banquet on April 20 at 6 p.m., followed by the Durnbaugh Lecture on the topic, “New Directions in Pennsylvania German Studies.” The presenter is Simon J. Bronner, distinguished professor of American studies and folklore at Penn State Harrisburg. Cost for the dinner is $23 but the lecture is free of charge and reservations are not required. On April 21, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., the center hosts the Durnbaugh Seminar with Joshua R. Brown and several panelists speaking on “Object Lessons: The Meanings of Pennsylvania German Life and Culture.” Cost for the seminar, which includes lunch, is $10. April 6 is the deadline to make reservations for the banquet and the seminar. Call 717-361-1470 or go to www.etown.edu/youngctr/events .

-- The Global Women’s Project steering committee is holding its semi-annual meeting this weekend, hosted by Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. Expressing gratitude for the church’s hospitality, a recent e-mail notice from the group invited readers, “Please join us Sunday, March 26th for Sunday school, service, and fellowship at the Elizabethtown COB. We are looking forward to seeing you.”

-- With “a prayer of great thanksgiving,” a Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) release celebrated a successful conference with Sabeel, an ecumenical center for liberation theology in Jerusalem and a partner of the CPT Palestine team. CPT reservists, administrative staff, and Steering Committee members from five countries joined the Sabeel conference. The conference held two weeks ago was followed by a CPT Steering Committee meeting in Hebron. “Together in unity, we affirm the prophetic call of the Gospel to renounce violence and dominative power,” the release said. “We also give thanks that Steering Committee meetings took place in Hebron so that board members who could travel here had the chance to meet teammates and participate in the work of the Palestine team on-the-ground. With the context in mind they deliberated over matters in order to build an organizational culture of justice, inclusion, mutual respect, and welcome.” Find the CPT faith identity statement at www.cpt.org/participate/peacemaker/membership .

-- “Famine in South Sudan: Remaining food expected to run out in two weeks” is the title of a foreboding release received this week from IMA World Health, a longterm ecumenical partner of the Church of the Brethren. “Of the areas facing famine in South Sudan at the moment, Duk County might be one of the worst,” the release said. “Violence has forced men, women, and children to flee for their lives. Estimates are that more than 41,000--almost a third of the county’s population--have been forced from home. Most are expected to run out of food within two weeks. Medical supplies, including emergency food and nutrition stores, are dwindling.” The release noted that IMA World Health may be the only international public health nonprofit addressing needs in this crisis, working with a local partner the John Dau Foundation to treat the medical complications of malnourishment in Duk.

-- Pearl Beard of Locust Grove Church of the Brethren in Mt. Airy, Md., celebrated her 100th birthday on Jan. 26. She recently moved to Cross Village-the Brethren Home Community, a Church of the Brethren-related retirement community in New Oxford, Pa.


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Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Brian Bultman, Shamek Cardona, Jenn Dorsch, Larry Elliott, Kristen Hoffman, Wanda Joseph, Nancy Miner, Nathan Hosler, Julie Watson, Roy Winter, 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.