Newsline for Jan. 13, 2018




Marilla Church of the Brethren, in the snow

NEWS
1) Ending of temporary protected status affects Haitian Brethren and their churches
2) Nigeria Crisis Response celebrates work and achievements in 2017
3) Building dedication marks beginning of classes in EYN-Bethany partnership
4) EYN commissions multi-million Naira project with Bethany Seminary
5) Brethren Microfinance Bank Board of Directors is inaugurated by EYN

PERSONNEL
6) Roxanne Aguirre to coordinate Spanish-language ministry training
7) New units of BVS volunteers work across US, N. Ireland, Japan

RESOURCES
8) Brethren Press publishes Lenten devotional, distributes ‘Shine On’ story Bible to churches

UPCOMING EVENTS
9) National Youth Conference registration opens next week

10) Brethren bits: Remembering Sam Moledina, personnel, jobs, moderator’s Town Hall, mission vehicle for S. Sudan, Service Sunday, Office of Public Witness upcoming events in D.C., Global Women’s Project’s 40th, WCC’s 70th, and more


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Quote of the week:

“We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization.”

-- Martin Luther King Jr. in “Facing the Challenge of a New Age,” his address to the First Annual Institute on Nonviolence and Social Change at Holt Street Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., in 1956. Find the speech at https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/facing-challenge-new-age-address-delivered-first-annual-institute-nonviolence .

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1) Ending of temporary protected status affects Haitian Brethren and their churches

by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Ilexene Alphonse is interim pastor of Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami, Fla. Previously, he was a program volunteer for the Global Mission and Service program in Haiti.
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Ilexene Alphonse is interim pastor of Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami, Fla. Previously, he was a program volunteer for the Global Mission and Service program in Haiti.

In November, the Trump administration rescinded the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) that gave protections against deportation for some 60,000 Haitians who came to the US after a massive earthquake hit their country. Yesterday was the eighth anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010.

“The situation is very scary for our people because they don’t know what really is going to happen,” says Ilexene Alphonse, interim pastor of Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami, Fla., a Church of the Brethren congregation. “Is it time for them to get out of the country? They are in limbo. It is heartbreaking.”

Last year Alphonse transitioned to leadership of the Miami congregation, one of the largest Haitian Brethren churches, after serving as Church of the Brethren staff in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

The rescission of TPS status for Haiti goes into effect in July 2019. According to media reports, the administration also has announced rescission of TPS status for El Salvador and Nicaragua, with varying cut-off dates. TPS status for El Salvador will end in September 2019, affecting an estimated 200,000 people. TPS for Nicaragua is set to expire in January 2019, affecting more than 5,000. A decision on ending TPS for Honduras has been delayed and it currently is extended through July this year, affecting an estimated 86,000.

Some 15 families have TPS status in Alphonse’s congregation of 198 families--representing about a twelfth of the congregation--but he has a feeling there are more he does not know about. “Some of them don’t really want to talk about it,” he says.

“We are fortunate,” he adds. “Smaller churches will be having more problems.” He thinks smaller Haitian American churches will have higher percentages of TPS holders.

Two families from his church already have left for Canada, since the TPS rescission was announced, but none have returned to Haiti. None are planning to return to Haiti, at least for now. They are waiting instead to see what happens. The time of waiting is full of fear, he says. These families are afraid of what the US government might do as the deadline approaches, and afraid of the chaos that will ensue.

Top on their list of reasons not to return to Haiti is that “many of them don’t have a place to go,” Alphonse says. Many with TPS status no longer have immediate family in Haiti, or they do not know anyone who could put them up or offer housing or jobs on their return. He gives the example of a man with a wife and several children as someone who cannot simply announce, “We’re coming to stay.”

Another top reason for not returning to Haiti are their American-born children. Haitian parents may face deportation, but their American children do not. All of the 15 families with TPS status in the Miami congregation have children born in the US.

These parents “don’t know what to do,” Alphonse says. “The mother and father will have to leave. Whether they will take the children with them to Haiti or keep them here in school.... For many of them, there is nothing in Haiti. To take children with them, that is a concern.”

The church’s role is to stand by these families, Alphonse says, “to see what we can do to keep families together.” He is meeting with an immigration lawyer, seeking advice about what the church can do, if anything. At this time, he says, “we don’t know what that might be.”

Alphonse’s church is involved in planning a march for immigrants in the Miami area, to take place later this spring, and will be inviting other congregations and the community to join in.

“We need prayer,” he responds, when asked what he would like to tell the wider church. In light of President Trump’s comments yesterday about Haiti and African nations, among others, he concludes that “we can’t rely on the government for anything.” Their dependence is solely upon God, and the grace received through Christ.

-- Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford is director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.





2) Nigeria Crisis Response celebrates work and achievements in 2017

by Roxane Hill

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).

I am amazed at the end of each year when I add up and record all the work that has been done in Nigeria by the Nigeria Crisis Response, a joint effort of the Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Last year, 2017, was no different.

Although our funds were considerably less, the number of people helped is incredible. The organizations we sponsored have worked tirelessly to help their own people, as they struggle with the Boko Haram insurgency and its effects. Other organizations helping fund this work include Mission 21 and Mennonite Central Committee.

Here is a recap of 2017:

24 food distributions to 75 to 250 families at each distribution.

3,600 families received seeds, and 1,800 families received fertilizer, in 29 districts of EYN and 2 relocation villages.

1,664 orphans and vulnerable children assisted through independent learning centers, school fees, and full-time care.

472 women helped with businesses and empowered to care for themselves, through seminars, literacy programs, and cash start-ups.

16 medical responses to groups of 400 to 950 people at a time.

50-plus communities involved in a joint soy beans project of EYN, the Illinois-based Soybean Innovation Lab, and the Global Food Initiative of the Church of the Brethren.

Agricultural trainings held in Kenya with Farming God’s Way, and an ECHO training in Nigeria.

2 tractors purchased and put in use in the Kwarhi and Abuja areas.

9 people participated in a peace training in Rwanda through Turning the Tides of Violence.
 
10 workshops for peace and trauma healing were held at various locations, including training of Listening Companions at the local level.

Real-time evaluation conducted of the EYN disaster work, and a Tripartite meeting was held.

An EYN Solar Powered Internet café was put in place.

100 homes destroyed by Boko Haram received new roofing.

Building projects including the Kwarhi Medical Clinic, new offices for EYN, and roofing of a classroom at Kulp Bible College.

10 new water sources including one at the EYN relocation camp in Maiduguri.

Assistance to the area of Numan following an attack by Fulani herdsmen.

Shipment of a container of books and distribution of books to children’s schools and EYN Bible schools.

Assistance for the medical bills of one of the Chibok schoolgirls who has been released from captivity.

-- Roxane Hill coordinates the Nigeria Crisis Response. For more information go to www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .





3) Building dedication marks beginning of classes in EYN-Bethany partnership

by Jenny Williams, Bethany Theological Seminary
 
As 2018 begins, the educational partnership between Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and Bethany Theological Seminary is welcoming its first students into the classroom. Six members of EYN are enrolled in “Global Perspectives on Scripture: 1 Corinthians,” being held at Bethany in Richmond, Ind. From their new technology classroom building in Jos, Nigeria, they are joining 11 North American students via Zoom in real time.
 
To mark this milestone, a dedication for the classroom building was held on Monday, Jan. 8, in Nigeria. The ceremony was webcast live at www.youtube.com/channel/UC92CpmN4oWKIS8jl3pGlPCw/live, and the link will be posted on Bethany’s website at www.bethanyseminary.edu/webcasts for future viewing.
 
Bethany was represented at the dedication ceremony by Jeff Carter, president; Mark Lancaster, executive director of institutional advancement; and Musa Mambula, international scholar in residence and a member of EYN who has assisted in developing the partnership. Carter delivered an address as part of the program. A majority of the EYN leadership and 200 dignitaries from across Nigeria also were in attendance, along with Global Mission and Service executive director Jay Wittmeyer, representing the Church of the Brethren.
 
Built between July and December 2017, the technology building has two classrooms and kitchen and restroom facilities. Modeled after the technology classrooms at Bethany, each classroom has a large monitor that allows viewers to see all the Bethany students half a world away. Mounted cameras allow those in the Bethany classroom to see their Nigerian counterparts as well. The construction was made possible by the generous support of members and congregations of the Church of the Brethren. A photo gallery of the construction process is at www.bethanyseminary.edu/educational-partnership-with-eyn/gallery-tech-center-construction .

The EYN leadership and Bethany representatives also held meeting on Jan. 7 and 8 to discuss ways to strengthen the educational partnership, including the establishment of an advisory committee.

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





4) EYN commissions multi-million Naira project with Bethany Seminary

by Zakariya Musa, Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria

The new Bethany Seminary center in Nigeria is commissioned with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Cutting the ribbon are (from left) Jeff Carter, president of Bethany Theological Seminary; Dan Manjan, the representative of the Plateau State Governor and the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity; and EYN president Joel S. Billi, representing Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).
Photo by Zakariya Musa

The new Bethany Seminary center in Nigeria is commissioned with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Cutting the ribbon are (from left) Jeff Carter, president of Bethany Theological Seminary; Dan Manjan, the representative of the Plateau State Governor and the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity; and EYN president Joel S. Billi, representing Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

A multi-million Naira Technological Centre was dedicated and commissioned by Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) president Joel S. Billi on Monday, Jan. 8, in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. In his address at the occasion, the president stated that the facility would not be standing today if it were not for the tremendous financial support received from brothers and sisters in America.

He commended those who worked very hard to achieve the mission, mentioning but not restricted to Mark Lancaster [staff of Bethany Seminary], Musa Mambula [a visiting international scholar at Bethany], and architect Ali Abbas.

“In keeping with our Brethren heritage, I am pleased to announce that the facility will not only be utilized by EYN. Sister denominations and organizations are welcome to make use of it for video conference, trainings, etc., at a minimal fee. We have enjoyed your support and encouragement in our journey together, we shall also enjoy God’s abundant provisions together,” Billi said.

According to the officials, the partnership idea to establish the center is to:

-- Assist the church establish a Bethany Seminary Centre in EYN with the aim of contributing in the training of manpower for the church in Nigeria.

-- Provide an opportunity for people who intend to study at Bethany Seminary in the USA but are unable because of visa and TOEFL issues, receive such training online without necessarily going to Bethany at the initial stage.

-- Reduce the cost of other challenges of study in America since it is cheaper to train more leaders in Nigeria.

-- Enable the candidates to study in their familiar environment while also interacting with students of Bethany Seminary.

-- Bring Bethany Theological Seminary to the church in Nigeria.

-- Enhance the written and spoken English of intending candidates as they are required to undergo two-week intensive English proficiency training and must pass TOEFL if they are interested in going to Bethany subsequently.

The first set of students has been admitted and are working toward a Certificate of Achievement in Theological Studies (CATS).

Speaking from the side of the US Brethren, Jeff Carter, president of the Bethany Theological Seminary, said this technology center represents such a vision and continues a long-held tradition of calling, educating, and empowering leaders to serve the church and world.

“We did not know that there would be a class of students from Nigeria and the United States, when we signed the educational partnership agreement. We did so in faith, knowing the Spirit was moving in ways both known and yet to be revealed,” he said.

Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren, along with Jay Marvin Oberhotzer, Mark Lancaster, and Musa A. Mambula were the representatives from the US at the event that brought the presence of top officials of the Plateau State Government to congratulate EYN over the innovation. 

Other dignitaries present included professors Pandam Yamtasat and Yohanna Byo and Peter N. Lassa, speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly Peter Ajang Azi, and many heads of churches. Elder Malla Gadzama was the chairman of the occasion, held in front of the building at Boulder Hill in Jos.

-- Zakariya Musa is on the communications staff of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria.





5) Brethren Microfinance Bank Board of Directors is inaugurated by EYN

by Zakariya Musa, Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria

Eugenia L. Zoaka is installed as chair of the board of directors of the EYN-sponsored Brethren Microfinance Bank. The board also includes secretary Daniel Y. C. Mbaya, Paul Mele Gadzama, Samuel Wiam, Sani Drmbi Zira, Joseph Yabwa, and Rebecca S. Dali.
Photo by Zakariya Musa

Eugenia L. Zoaka is installed as chair of the board of directors of the EYN-sponsored Brethren Microfinance Bank. The board also includes secretary Daniel Y. C. Mbaya, Paul Mele Gadzama, Samuel Wiam, Sani Drmbi Zira, Joseph Yabwa, and Rebecca S. Dali.

A Brethren Microfinance Bank Board of Directors was inaugurated by Joel S. Billi, president of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) on Saturday, Jan. 5, at the EYN Headquarters, Kwarhi. The seven-person board is to be chaired by Eugenia L. Zoaka, and has Daniel Y. C. Mbaya as its secretary. Other members include Paul Mele Gadzama, Samuel Wiam, Sani Drmbi Zira, Rebecca S. Dali, and Joseph Yabwa.

The development followed the Central Bank of Nigeria’s approval to operate as the Brethren Microfinance Bank Limited: “We refer to your application dated July 27, 2017, on the above subject and write to convey the Central Bank of Nigeria approval for your company to operate a state Microfinance Bank in the name of BRETHREN MICROFINANCE BANK LIMITED.”

President Billi speaking to journalists said that jobless youth who have graduated from universities, colleges, and polytechnics are stranded, depending on parents and relatives, which is worrisome these days. Through this bank, EYN will give the church some financial strength and grant the youth scholarships, capital, and the like. He also ensured that the bank, like other commercial banks, will serve Christians, Muslims, and everyone who would want to partner with it.

“The door is open to all” he said.  

In her acceptance address after inauguration, chairperson Mrs. Zoaka said, “We are going to work as a team, not to our own interest but to empower people. This is God’s Bank,” she said.

Chief Machar A. Zoaka, who served as chairman of the Technical Committee for five years of the hard work [to start the bank], stated that the bank “has enough capital to take off.” He iterated that most of the shareholders are members of the EYN church, and that the bank is a financial institution and is not going to serve just the church but to serve the entire public. It also is part of the church’s vision and also will contribute to the environment of empowerment especially in the northeast of Nigeria, and also nationwide.

The eight-man Technical Committee that picked up the “hard call” five years ago was dissolved, after commendations from well-wishers for its historic achievement in the life of the 95-year-old EYN denomination that largely depends on offerings.
        
Dignitaries at the occasion included former EYN presidents Bitrus Kwajihue and Filibus K. Gwama, current vice president Anthony A. Ndamsai, former vice presidents Mbode M. Ndirmbita, Samuel B. Shingu, and Jinatu L. Wamdeo, among others.

A National Standing Committee meeting with the Technical Committee, Board of Directors, and the Managing Director of the Brethren Microfinance Bank Ltd. was held at the EYN Conference Hall in Kwarhi on the eve of the inauguration.

-- Zakariya Musa is on the communications staff of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria.





6) Roxanne Aguirre to coordinate Spanish-language ministry training

Roxanne Aguirre begins Jan. 16 as part-time coordinator of Spanish-language ministry training programs at the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. She will work from her home in central California. The academy is a ministry training partnership of Bethany Theological Seminary and the Church of the Brethren.

Aguirre holds a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from California State University Fresno. Over the past 10 years, she has worked with persons of all ages in mental and behavioral health settings, education centers, and the public school system.

In her new role, Aguirre will administer the academy’s certificate-level ministry training programs in Spanish: Seminario Biblico Anabautista Hispano-de la Iglesia de los Hermanos (SeBAH-CoB) and Educación para un Ministerio Compartido, the new track of Education for a Shared Ministry.

She serves on the district board of the Church of the Brethren’s Pacific Southwest District.





7) New units of BVS volunteers work across US, N. Ireland, Japan
     
Volunteers in the latest units of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) have been placed and are at work at project sites across the United States, Northern Ireland, and Japan. The volunteers in BVS orientation units 316 and 318 trained in the summer and fall of 2017. (Unit 317, which would have been a joint unit with the Brethren Revival Fellowship, was cancelled because of a lack of participants.)

The names of the volunteers, their congregations or hometowns, and project sites follow:

BVS Unit 316

The members of BVS Unit 316: (front, from left) Katie Hiscock, Kyrie Branaman, Bev O’Neal, Maya Davis, Sam Farley, Tori Bateman, Verena Jauss; (second row, kneeling) Dannie Otto, Frieden Gresh, Joan Huston; (third row, standing) Kelsey Murray, Barb Shenk, Lea Herres, Megan Wiens, Erv Huston, Hannah Tutwiler, Justin Domingos, Lisa Hoesel, Deborah Mowry, Stephen Miller, Bob O’Neal, Eske Hicken.

The members of BVS Unit 316: (front, from left) Katie Hiscock, Kyrie Branaman, Bev O’Neal, Maya Davis, Sam Farley, Tori Bateman, Verena Jauss; (second row, kneeling) Dannie Otto, Frieden Gresh, Joan Huston; (third row, standing) Kelsey Murray, Barb Shenk, Lea Herres, Megan Wiens, Erv Huston, Hannah Tutwiler, Justin Domingos, Lisa Hoesel, Deborah Mowry, Stephen Miller, Bob O’Neal, Eske Hicken.

Tori Bateman of Indian Creek Church of the Brethren in Harleysville, Pa., is with the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness, Washington, D.C.

Kyrie Branaman of Wheat Ridge, Colo., and Maya Davis of La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, are working at Quaker Cottage in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Justin Domingos of Lakeside, Calif., is serving at the San Diego (Calif.) Peace Campus

Sam Farley of Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., is at Camp Mardela in Denton, Md.

Frieden Gresh of Fairview Church of the Brethren in Maryland, and Lea Herres of Wittlich, Germany, are working with ABODE Services, Fremont, Calif.

Eske Hicken of Offenbach, Germany, and Deborah Mowry of Loysburg, Pa., are at Sisters of the Road in Portland, Ore.

Katie Hiscock of Kalamazoo, Mich., is serving with Casa de Esperanza de los Ninos in Houston, Texas

Lisa Hoesel of Herrnhut, Germany, is working for Habitat for Humanity in Lancaster, Pa.

Erv and Joan Huston of Mount Wilson Church of the Brethren in Lebanon, Pa., are volunteering with Brethren Disaster Ministries at a rebuilding project in Eureka, Mo.

Verena Jauss of Weil im Schoenbuch, Germany, and Bob and Bev O’Neal of Memorial Church of the Brethren in Martinsburg, Pa., are at Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Ark.

Stephen Miller of Bridgewater (Va.) Church of the Brethren, is at the Asian Rural Institute in Japan
  
Kelsey Murray of Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is the National Youth Conference coordinator at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

Dannie Otto and Barb Shenk of Urbana, Ill., are at the World Friendship Center, Hiroshima, Japan

Hannah Tutwiler of Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren in Virginia, is with Human Solutions in Portland, Ore.

Megan Wiens of McPherson, Kan., is serving with Creation Justice Ministries in Washington, D.C.

BVS Unit 318

The members of BVS Unit 318: (front, from left) Chloe Soliday, Grey Robinson, Justyna Krumpholz, Hannah Hernley, Jan Kock; (back) Katinka Kalusche, Marvin Best, Tyrese Taylor, Jonathan Faust, Daylon Frye.

The members of BVS Unit 318: (front, from left) Chloe Soliday, Grey Robinson, Justyna Krumpholz, Hannah Hernley, Jan Kock; (back) Katinka Kalusche, Marvin Best, Tyrese Taylor, Jonathan Faust, Daylon Frye.

Marvin Best of Hohr-Grenshausen, Germany, and Tyrese Taylor of North Manchester (Ind.) Church of the Brethren, are at ABODE Services in Fremont, Calif.

Jonathan Faust of Bad Feilnbach, Germany, serves with SnowCap in Portland, Ore.

Daylon Frye of Goshen, Ind., is with Habitat for Humanity in Lancaster, Pa.

Hannah Hernley of New Paris, Pa., works at Capstone in New Orleans, La.

Katinka Kalusche of Hamburg, Germany, is working at Highland Park Elementary in Roanoke, Va.

Jan Kock of Wesel, Germany, serves at Deep Roots in Earleville, Md.

Justyna Krumpholz of Wiesloch, Germany, is at Project PLASE in Baltimore, Md.

Grey Robinson of Glade Spring, Va., is working for the Church of the Brethren Workcamp Ministry in Elgin, Ill.

Chloe Soliday of Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa., is serving at Creation Justice Ministries, Washington D.C.


-- For more about Brethren Volunteer Service go to www.brethren.org/bvs .





8) Brethren Press publishes Lenten devotional, distributes ‘Shine On’ story Bible to churches

This year’s Lenten devotional from Brethren Press, written by Erin Matteson, is titled “Growing in God’s Garden.” The pocket-sized paperback includes daily devotions, scriptures, and prayers for Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14, through Easter Sunday, April 1.

In more news from Brethren Press, 425 copies of “Shine On: A Story Bible,” including 5 copies of the Spanish version, have been sent to congregations through an offering taken up at the 2017 Annual Conference. Shine is a curriculum jointly produced by Brethren Press and MennoMedia.

Growing in God's Garden by Erin Matteson, the 2018 Lenten devotional from Brethren Press

‘Growing in God’s Garden’

“Each life is like a garden, created and nurtured by God,” said an announcement of the new Lenten devotional. “Lent invites 40 days of intentional soul work. It gives us time to reflect on God’s word and pray, trusting God to tend our garden and bring forth new life.”

Author Erin Matteson is a spiritual director, retreat leader, writer, speaker, and ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. She previously served as a pastor for nearly 25 years, and lives in Modesto, Calif.

Readers are encouraged to use the devotional for individual devotions, and for congregations to give to their members. Cost is $3.50 for regular print, $6.95 for large print. Purchase online at www.brethrenpress.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=8496 or order from Brethren Press by call 800-441-3712.

Front cover of the Shine On story Bible for children, to be available in March 2014 from Brethren Press

‘Shine On’ story Bibles

Here is the cover letter that accompanied the mailing of story Bibles:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

This story Bible is coming to you compliments of Brethren Press and the people at this year’s Annual Conference.

You know that the stories children hear early on set the foundation for faith. The good news we all share with children transforms their lives. At Brethren Press we call this “Starting small.”

Annual Conference shares this vision and has partnered with Brethren Press for a special initiative aimed at growing faith in children. Through an offering received in Grand Rapids, we are able to send you a copy of “Shine On: A Story Bible.” Please accept this gift from all of us.

This book has over 150 Bible stories that will excite the imaginations of children and enrich your church’s faith formation ministry. The story Bible also serves as an introduction to the Shine Sunday school curriculum.

To learn more about Shine visit: www.brethren.org/bp.

Together in Christ,

Jeff Lennard
Director of marketing and sales

-- To order the Lenten devotional, the “Shine On” story Bible, and other Brethren Press products, go to www.brethrenpress.com .





9) National Youth Conference registration opens next week

National Youth Conference 2018 logo

Registration for the 2018 National Youth Conference of the Church of the Brethren opens Thursday, Jan. 18, at 6 p.m. (central time). NYC takes place at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., on July 21-26. Find the registration site, samples of registrations, and details about the conference at www.brethren.org/nyc .

“Check out what the registration forms will look like, and see exactly what registration information you will need,” said an invitation from NYC coordinator Kelsey Murray. “Don’t forget you’ll receive a free drawstring backpack for registering by Jan. 21 at midnight!”

The registration fee is $500; a non-refundable deposit of $250 must be paid at the time of registration. Youth groups are encouraged to register together, and may pay by mailing a check to the Youth and Young Adult Ministry office or by paying online with a credit card. If paying by check, the deposit is due within a week of registering. The rest of the registration payment is due by April 30.

When registering for NYC, remember to order an official blue NYC t-shirt. Sunday, July 22, will be NYC Shirt Day during the conference. “Let’s fill Moby Arena with blue!” said Murray’s invitation. Shirts cost $20 and will be mailed to participants in June.

The NYC office will be offering a Facebook live video that day at 6:45 p.m. (central time) so that people who are making registrations may ask questions about the process and receive answers in real time. After the Facebook live video event closes, an Instagram live video is planned to follow immediately thereafter. Find the NYC Facebook page at www.facebook.com/nyc2018 . Link to NYC’s Instagram at www.instagram.com/cobnyc2018 .

Registration parties and lock-ins

“We would love to see photos from your registration parties and lock-ins!” Murray says. “We can't wait to see all the fun youth are having and the excitement building around NYC 2018!” E-mail photos to cobyouth@brethren.org or message them to the NYC Facebook page or NYC Instagram account.

Air travel update

NYC has an agreement with Southwest Airlines for discounted fares to Denver, Colo. To receive the discount, purchase tickets between Jan. 15 and June 30. The link to the discount webpage will be shared on Jan. 15. Participants will receive 2 percent off “Wanna get away” fares, 8 percent off “Any time” fares, or 8 percent off “Business select” fares. As always, Southwest offers two free checked bags. All bookings must include one traveler who is 18 years or older at the time of booking.

NYC Speech Contest

Youth are invited to submit entries for the NYC Speech Contest. “Do you have a message to share?” said Murray’s invitation. “How does the theme scripture speak to your life and context? What would you want to be heard among your generation and greater denomination? Write it down, record it, and send it in!”

The topic of speeches should center on the NYC theme, “Bound Together: Clothed in Christ” (Colossians 3:12-15, with emphasis on verse 14). Only youth attending NYC 2018 are invited to enter. Entries must include a written and an audio or video copy of the speech. Entries should be 500-700 words (about 10 minutes spoken), and e-mailed to the NYC Office by April 1.

For more information see www.brethren.org/nyc . E-mail questions to cobyouth@brethren.org .





10) Brethren bits


Quaker Cottage in N. Ireland seeks a BVS volunteer 

Brethren Volunteer Service is advertising an urgent need for a volunteer to place with Quaker Cottage in Belfast, Northern Ireland. BVS is offering a special fast-track process for placement at this project. For information, please contact the BVS office at bvs@brethren.org or 847-429-4396.

-- Remembrance: Samsudin Moledina, a former employee of the Church of the Brethren Material Resources program at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., passed away on Dec. 21, 2017, in Orange Park, Fla. He began work at the Brethren Service Center on July 1, 1975, and continued until his retirement on Dec. 31, 2011. In his role, he received and tracked all IMA World Health inventory. He was very knowledgeable about the warehouse and many other subjects. Most recently, he lived in Florida near his four daughters and grandchildren. He also has a son and grandchildren who live in Westminster, Md. A memorial service was held on Dec. 27.

-- John M. Loop began Jan. 8 as chief executive officer at Timbercrest Retirement Community in North Manchester, Ind. He is a former administrator of Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg, Md., and holds degrees from Ohio State University and Valparaiso University. He succeeds David Lawrenz, who retired after 45 years of service at Timbercrest.

-- Rick Villalobos has been hired as production coordinator for Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT), working in the communications area. He will begin his duties on Jan. 29. He brings to the job creative and organizational skills from his previous experiences in graphic design, copywriting, and journalism. He is fluent in both English and Spanish. He received a bachelor’s degree in communications from DePaul University, with a minor in graphic design. Villalobos lives in West Chicago, Ill., where he is a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

-- Camp Galilee in West Marva District has announced new staff: Asa Smith has been hired to serve as the camp caretaker. He and his family are now residing at Camp Galilee. Elizabeth Thorne has accepted the position of camp manager. She served as assistant camp manager during last year’s camping season.

-- Bethany Theological Seminary seeks a full-time financial aid and enrollment assistant with an immediate starting date. This is an opportunity for a person with strengths in caring for details and supporting colleagues in the mission of the Admissions and Student Services Department on the seminary campus in Richmond, Ind. Responsibilities include overseeing student accounts, financial aid, and the Federal Work-Study program. This person also will be a vital part of the admissions team and will provide needed support to student development and alumni/ae relations. Eligible applicants will hold the minimum of an associate’s degree. Affinity with the values and mission of the seminary is required. Experience in student billing and the handling of confidential materials is preferred. Qualified applicants will be personable and able to be self-directed, manage a complex workload with attention to details, offer office support to colleagues, and quickly respond to phone and e-mail requests from prospective and current students. Experience with Salesforce, Excel, iContact, Cougar Mountain, or other accounting software, and creating web forms would be helpful. A complete job description is available. Application review will begin immediately and will continue until an appointment is made. Send a letter of interest, resume, and contact information for three references to recruitment@bethanyseminary.edu or to Bethany Theological Seminary, Attention: Lori Current, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374. Bethany Theological Seminary’s policy prohibits discrimination in employment opportunities or practices with regard to race, gender, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, or religion.

-- Jan. 25 is the date of the next online Town Hall with Samuel Sarpiya, moderator of the Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren. The conversation takes place at 7 p.m. (central time). These events are being held each month, as live online conversations using Zoom technology and sponsored by the Annual Conference office. For more information, go to www.brethren.org/ac/2018/theme.html .

-- Children’s Disaster Services has not yet received a request for childcare teams to aid children and families affected by the mudslides in southern California. “We have a team ready to go if needed,” reported associate director Kathleen Fry-Miller. For information about the work of CDS and its volunteers, go to www.brethren.org/cds .

A new vehicle is delivered to the Brethren Peace Center in South Sudan

A new vehicle is delivered to the Brethren Peace Center in South Sudan

-- Global Mission and Service is praising God for the successful delivery of a vehicle to the Brethren Peace Center in Torit, South Sudan. The vehicle was sponsored by Church of the Brethren donors through the Emergency Disaster Fund, and “will greatly enhance Global Mission worker Athanasus Ungang's ministry and enable him to better provide food and supply assistance to displaced persons,” said the prayer request.

-- Two upcoming events in Washington, D.C., are being sponsored or publicized by the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness: a seminar on Christian Minority Communities on March 2, and the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days on April 20-23 on the theme “A World Uprooted.”
     The Office of Public Witness will host a day-long seminar on Christian Minority Communities from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 2. A .5 continuing education credit is available. “We will discuss the historic and current situation, relevant US and international policies, and the theological implications of these communities,” said the announcement. “The day will consist of guest speakers from government and faith-based organizations, discussions, and action items for further reflection and advocacy.” For more information contact vbateman@brethren.org . Register at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe38PVLBf9jF6iNhhmaRqJYrILnpALCJZFs-wfDPB-SleE2Eg/viewform?usp=sf_link .
     “Ecumenical Advocacy Days 2018: A World Uprooted” is April 20-23. “Ecumenical Advocacy Days is a movement of the ecumenical Christian community that works to mobilize for advocacy on a wide variety of US domestic and international policy issues,” said an announcement. “The 2018 theme is ‘A World Uprooted: Responding to Migrants, Refugees and Displaced People.’ Through prayer, worship, advocacy training, and networking, attendees will seek policy changes that advance hope and overcome the devastating impacts of conflict, climate change, and corruption on God's people.” Learn more and register at https://advocacydays.org/2018-a-world-uprooted .

Service Sunday 2018

-- Worship resources for Service Sunday in the Church of the Brethren are available online now at www.brethren.org/servicesunday . This annual observance is schedule for Sunday, Feb. 4, and celebrates the many ways to serve in the name of Christ, including Brethren Volunteer Service, workcamps, Brethren Disaster Ministries, and many more volunteer ministries across the denomination.

-- The city of Elgin, Ill., is holding its annual Martin Luther King Day food drive on Monday, and the collection point again this year is the Church of the Brethren General Offices warehouse facility. Food collected in the drive will be received and sorted and distributed out of the warehouse facility, and will supply food pantries and soup kitchens throughout the area.

-- Germantown Church of the Brethren, the “Mother Church” of the denomination, is gaining media recognition for its service to and presence in the Germantown neighborhood near Philadelphia, Pa. “While stores were closing early for the holidays, the Germantown Church of the Brethren opened its doors to local organizations that distributed about 500 toys to children who otherwise might have gone without something under the tree,” reported the Philadelphia Tribune, “and frozen turkeys were distributed for free to parents after Sunday Service.” Pastor Richard Kyerematen commented, “We are one of the few mother churches in America that still have worshiping congregations in the very same spot.... A lot of mother churches have either been turned into museums or have closed down or forced to relocate so were just proud of the continuation from 1723 to this point,” he said. Find the article, and many details about this historic, first congregation of the Church of the Brethren in the Americas, at www.phillytrib.com/religion/germantown-church-of-the-brethren-long-heritage-of-outreach-love/article_2567258c-fcbc-57f7-8672-4fe321fb5405.html .

-- Buffalo Valley Church of the Brethren near Mifflinburg, Pa., is the location for a Penn State Extension crops conference on Jan. 26 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. “Producers will have the opportunity to learn about farm transition... Xtend soybeans and Dicamba... top disease issues from 2017... and soil health for sustainable and environmentally sound high yields...,” said an announcement. “Other topics will be covered throughout the day with the opportunity to get 2 Core and 3 Category Pesticide Applicator Credits.” The announcement published in the “Daily Item” newspaper also noted that local agricultural companies will be on hand to discuss new products. Cost is $20 if pre-registered by Jan. 29, or $25 after Jan. 29 and at the door. Lunch is included. To register visit extension.psu.edu/plants/crops/courses/crops-conferences or call 877-345-0691.

-- Western Pennsylvania District is holding a 2018 New Year’s Prayer Gathering on this Sunday, Jan. 14, at 3:30 p.m., at Indiana (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. “All Brethren folk are invited to gather and pray for 2018 to be a year of church growth and seeing new people come to Christ!” said an invitation from the district office.

-- Southern Ohio District is holding a Sewing Bee to sew school bags for disaster relief on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 9 a.m. at Greenville Church of the Brethren. “Bring your sewing machine, an extension cord, and a sack lunch. These bags will be used for CWS school kits. Come not only to sew, but for great fellowship too,” said an announcement. For more information contact Barb Brower at 937-336-2442.
 
-- Also in Southern Ohio Disrict, a Hygiene Kit Assembly to put together CWS disaster relief kits is planned for Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. at Mill Ridge Village Community Center in Union, Ohio. The district’s disaster relief ministry is ordering supplies for 1,000 kits. “The need is great, due to a large number of hygiene kits being distributed this fall when hurricanes struck Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands,” said an announcement.

-- Shepherd’s Spring Outdoor Education Center, a Church of the Brethren-related camp and outdoor ministry center in Sharpsburg, Md., is hosting the Interfaith Coalition of Washington County’s interfaith winter retreat on Feb. 3 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The all-day retreat will be led by Church of the Brethren minister Ed Poling on the theme “Interfaith Sacred Listening Circles.” Poling is a minister and a spiritual director, and the coordinator of the coalition. People of all faith traditions are invited to participate, said an announcement. The retreat will offer participants an opportunity to have “soul conversations” and small-group experiences of listening to one another’s stories of faith in an atmosphere of trust and confidentiality. The goal is to build a stronger sense of community and create spiritual friendships that bridge the gap between cultures and religions. Cost is $42, or $38 if registered before Jan. 27. The Interfaith Coalition of Washington County is affiliated with the Hagerstown (Md.) Area Religious Council. To register or for more information, contact Poling at 301-766-9005 or elpoling1@gmail.com .

-- “This is a very exciting year for Global Women’s Project as we mark our 40th anniversary,” said an announcement from the project’s Steering Committee. “We hope that you will join us as we celebrate the countless women that this organization has touched over the years.” To celebrate its 40 years, the project will be offering a “Challenge of the Month” throughout 2018. “We look forward to offering one each month to educate ourselves, live simply, empower women, and share resources. We know you are up to the challenge!” said the announcement. The Challenge of the Month for January is to “start the New Year off right by thinking of one woman who is at least 40 years old who inspires you and empowers you to be a force for good. Write a letter to her, make a phone call, do a Facebook post, or if she isn’t someone you can reach, write in your journal about what it is about her that inspires you, and think about ways you can show your care for women.”

-- The National Council of Churches (NCC) has issued a statement condemning “President Trump’s obscene remarks” concerning Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries. The remarks “were deeply disturbing” and the NCC unequivocally condemns them, the statement said in part. “Further, President Trump’s stated preference for immigrants from nations such as Norway, combined with numerous other comments he has made over past years, reveals a deep-seated racism that is unacceptable. These attitudes must be publicly rejected by all people of faith.” The statement went on to call for the President to renounce his statements and apologize. The statement also sought concrete actions by the administration in support and welcome of immigrants, urged assistance to refugees, urged support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and urged Congressional action to protect immigrants. The statement concluded: “As followers of Jesus the Christ, himself a resident of and refugee from a poor and marginalized country, we ask everyone to join us, to act now, to unite, and to end racism.”

-- The World Council of Churches (WCC) has begun celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2018, starting with a delegation to China. “In Beijing on Jan. 7, WCC general secretary Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit preached in Chongwenmen Church, one of the oldest Protestant churches in China, on the theme ‘Jesus Christ, the Joy of the World,’” the WCC reported in a release. “Chongwenmen Church is one of the oldest Protestant churches in China, built by American Methodists in 1870. In 1900, the church was destroyed in the Boxer Rebellion and then rebuilt in 1904. The church was closed during the Cultural Revolution, and it was reopened in 1980 and a point of reference for thousands of Christians. They celebrate five worship services every Sunday with many young participants. Today approximately 1,000 came to the worship service to pray together.” Tveit said, in his sermon, “We are called to share the good news of God’s love and God’s peace for all people, whoever they are, whatever people they belong to.” He especially mentioned the role of the churches in China and the WCC, protecting children and peace efforts on the Korean Peninsula, in the Middle East, and Colombia. Tveit and the WCC delegation also visited other member churches in China from Jan. 7-16, as well as seminaries and Bible schools, and will meet representatives from the State Administration for Religious Affairs in Beijing.


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Newsline is the e-mail news service of the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Please send news tips and submissions to editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren, at cobnews@brethren.org . Contributors to this issue include Tori Bateman, Kathy Fry-Miller, Roxane Hill, Wendy McFadden, Donna March, Kelsey Murray, Zakariya Musa, Howard Royer, Frances Townsend, Emily Tyler, Jenny Williams.

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