Newsline for June 25, 2018




Peace dove

"Making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3).


NEWS
1) Bethany Seminary president takes part in ecumenical meeting with Pope Francis
2) Resilience amidst staggering needs in Nigeria
3) Young Adult Conference: Teaching with our lives
4) Young adult workcamp goes to Burundi
5) Bethany Seminary receives ATS Peer Group Grant

RESOURCES
6) ‘Inglenook Desserts,’ Joseph Bible study, children’s Advent devotional now available from Brethren Press
7) Church World Service provides online 'Interfaith Toolkit to End Family Separation'

REFLECTIONS
8) Christ on the run
9) ‘The most challenging letters I've ever written’

10) Brethren bits: Jobs, Brethren Service Center partnership with IMA ends, NYC offerings, Ministry Summer Service orientation, moderator-elect at advocacy summit of Churches for Middle East Peace, prayer request for Yemen, Annual Conference events include Mission Advancement insight session and Brethren Disaster Ministries “Meet & Greet,” more

 
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Quote of the week:

“When one person encounters another and feels appreciation for the meeting, this always touches the heart.”

-- Pope Francis praising the ecumenical atmosphere of his visit to Geneva, Switzerland, celebrating the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches (WCC). He affirmed that “work by churches for peace is a mandate from God in a world threatened by crises,” said a WCC release. Find it and more on the Pope's visit at www.oikoumene.org/en/papal-visit . Comments from Bethany Seminary president Jeff Carter, who represented the Church of the Brethren at the meeting, are in the first story below, and at www.brethren.org/news/2018/bethany-seminary-president-at-wcc-meeting.html .

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ANNUAL CONFERENCE COVERAGE: Onsite coverage of Annual Conference 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio, will be available at www.brethren.org/ac2018 . The coverage begins July 3 with pre-Conference events--Standing Committee meetings of the district delegates, the Ministers’ Association, Mission and Ministry Board, and more. The Conference opens the evening of July 4 with worship led by moderator Samuel Sarpiya. Onsite coverage will include news reports, photo albums, webcasts, the Conference Journal, and additional resources. Go to www.brethren.org/ac2018 .

PLEASE NOTE: The next regularly scheduled issue of Newsline is set for July 9, and will feature a review of the events at the 2018 Annual Conference.

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1) Bethany Seminary president takes part in ecumenical meeting with Pope Francis

Pope Francis speaks at the WCC Central Committee meeting

Pope Francis speaks at the WCC Central Committee meeting

Bethany Seminary president Jeff Carter attended World Council of Churches (WCC) biennial meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, June 15-21. He is the Church of the Brethren representative to the WCC Central Committee, a group of 150 people who represent nearly 40 percent of the WCC’s 348 member churches.

A highlight was a day-long visit from Pope Francis I on June 21, which included a prayer service, time with students at the Ecumenical Institute, and an exchange of messages with WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit and central committee moderator Agnes Abuom.

“The Pope’s visit to the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches is a visible sign and symbol of the church’s yearning for unity and the growing cooperation between Christians throughout the world,” Carter said.

“In the morning worship, Pope Francis stressed our relationship as companions on the pilgrimage of justice and peace. In the afternoon he stressed the evangelical nature of our witness related to unity: ‘Christians do not witness to the gospel when we are divided.’”

Carter added, “Personally it was an uplifting experience to have Pope Francis travel to Geneva to share in the morning prayer service and afternoon lectures.” He also noted the significance of the Pope’s visit for the Church of the Brethren “as a charter member of the World Council of Churches and more importantly, a partner known for service to those most in need.”

“Pope Francis’ visit is an encouragement to all Christians who seek collaboration and partnership in service to the Gospel which calls us to live lives of compassion, grace, and peace.”

This year’s central committee meetings also celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the WCC. Business items included a mid-term review of WCC programs, planning the next WCC assembly in 2021, monitoring the ongoing work of the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, updates on development plans for WCC property, receiving a new landmark study on ecumenical “diakonia” (service to the disadvantaged), and addressing a variety of public issues.

Read the Bethany release on Carter’s participation in the WCC meetings at https://bethanyseminary.edu/president-attends-wcc-meeting . Find out more about the meeting agenda at www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/wccs-central-committee-set-for-packed-agenda-on-unity-justice-and-peace .





2) Resilience amidst staggering needs in Nigeria

Relocation village in Yola, Nigeria
Photo courtesy of Roxane Hill

Relocation village in Yola, Nigeria

by Carl and Roxane Hill 

Early in June, along with Kucheli Shankster Beecham and her son Carter, we had an opportunity to visit the ongoing work of the Nigeria Crisis Response that is a joint effort of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service and Brethren Disaster Ministries.

When we visited the “camp” or Relocation Village in Yola, we were greeted by a large group with songs of welcome and introductions. They proudly took us around their new village and showed us their homes. When this village was first built it was far from surrounding homes, but the area is growing and now they have others around them. They have built a fence around the property to keep nomads and their cows from coming through the village. There is a solar powered water source and some surrounding lands for planting.

Yes, the people have a safe place to live but they still miss their lives back home. Most of these internally displaced persons (IDPs) are from the Gwoza area where Boko Haram is still in control, and they cannot return home. There are many challenges to living in a new village: neighbors are very close by, there is not enough land to plant all the food needed for the upcoming year, there is no school building for the children, the temporary church was blown down in the spring rains, and so on.

As we prepared to leave this new Relocation Village, the women handed us a list of concerns and items they needed. A woman from one of the Yola churches was traveling with us and she took the list, hoping her church would reach out to this new community.

Let us continue to pray for Nigeria and all those living in Relocation Villages. Two million people in northeast Nigeria are still displaced and cannot return home. Pray also for the EYN Disaster Ministry staff as they try to meet the many needs that are a direct result of the Boko Haram insurgency.

-- Roxane Hill works with the Nigeria Crisis Response that is a joint effort of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria and the Church of the Brethren. Her husband, Carl Hill, formerly served alongside her in the response, and now is pastoring a Church of the Brethren congregation in Ohio. Find out more about the Nigeria Crisis Response at www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .





3) Young Adult Conference: Teaching with our lives

by Jess Hoffert

Young Adult Conference 2018
Photo by Jess Hoffert

I was fortunate to attend Church of the Brethren Young Adult Conference in northern Virginia. It marked my first trip outside of California since arriving here in January. And it was just the renewing, inspirational and motivational weekend I needed.

The conference was held at Brethren Woods camp in the rolling, densely wooded Shenandoah Valley. I’ve attended Young Adult Conference (YAC) for the past six years, and each year, it feels more and more like a family reunion as I’m reunited with incredible Brethren young adults from across the country.  We worship, sing, learn, and play games together. It's basically camp for kids at heart.

This year felt a little different, and I expected that. Being in the midst of Brethren service work, I found myself doing as much sharing about my current experiences as I listened to others share of their work around the world. Usually, I like to be a sponge at this conference and absorb all of the great lessons and challenges presented. This year, I presented a workshop about Príncipe de Paz church and what I’ve learned from my experiences here.

About 12 of the conference’s 30-some participants attended the workshop, which was such a cool full-circle moment. Two years ago, I was at this same conference, listening to Pastor Richard talk about his church in Santa Ana and eventually taking him up on his invitation to experience it for myself. This time around, I got to be the one extending the invitation, hopefully planting the seed for the next person to serve after I leave in July.

It took me more than a year to discern that moving to Santa Ana for six months was the best decision for my life at this point (and in hindsight, it totally has been). So I don’t expect someone to make the decision right away. But I was encouraged and thrilled when one of the conference attendees shared that he had been on the fence about committing a year to Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS), and after hearing me and other presenters at the conference, he was moved to officially say “yes” to the call.

This year’s conference theme was “Teach with your life,” inspired by 1 Timothy 4:11-16 in The Message. Here’s an excerpt: “Get the word out. Teach all these things. And don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity.”

The four worship speakers this weekend did a wonderful job of putting their own spin on this scripture. A couple highlights were elementary art teacher Chris Michael’s talk about the importance of learning from and building relationships with his students. It’s so easy to punish a kid for doing something wrong (I can relate as a Sunday school teacher). It’s much harder but also much more meaningful to have a one-on-one talk with the kid and turn something negative into a teachable moment.

Dawna Welch, pastor of spiritual formation at La Verne Church of the Brethren (about 45 minutes from Santa Ana), pleaded with us to stay active and make our voices heard in the church. She was tired of hearing that Millennials are lazy and complacent because she knows from experience that’s largely false. “We need you,” she said. “Will you lead us?”

I also had the opportunity to share a brief testimony about the importance of listening to younger voices, recalling the experience I had in the Sunday school class at Príncipe when I asked the group of 9- to 12-year-olds what they were most afraid of and some of them came back with the answers “the government, school shootings, and the future.” My eyes welled up as I shared my inability to grasp how to handle such answers. How can I teach with my life when my life looks so different from those I’m trying to teach? I prayed for an answer, and my answer was prayer. No matter whether we’re scared of spiders or school shootings, we can pray to God, who is our refuge and strength. We are all in need of something, and God is there to help us in our time of need.

I know that these amazing young adults are also here for me. And so are my church families at Príncipe de Paz and back in Minnesota and Iowa. This past Monday, my laptop was stolen from the church, and I had a few moments of panic before calling Pastor Richard. He calmly (per usual) said not to worry, and that we could use some grant money for my work to cover a new one, so I don’t have to pay anything out of pocket. I can’t even describe how thankful I am for this gift.

While I was at the conference this weekend, the church also took up a collection for me, simply because they felt bad about what happened. So not only do I have a new laptop, but I have additional funds from the church, simply to say, “We love you and wish this hadn’t happened to you.” I’m so blown away by the generosity of this church, a community that teaches with its life by giving more than it receives. That’s what the Brethren are known for. And I couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of this church.

-- Jess Hoffert is a travel writer and former travel magazine editor, and has served as communications staff for Northern Plains District of the Church of the Brethren. Find his blog at www.orangebridges.com .





4) Young adult workcamp goes to Burundi

The young adult workcamp group in Burundi, with David Niyonzima, founder of THARS,
Photo courtesy of Colby Patton

The young adult workcamp group in Burundi, with David Niyonzima, founder of THARS,

by Victoria Bateman 

One of the things that I appreciate most about the Christian faith is that it provides a common denominator between people around the world. This common identity can be a catalyst for important relationship building across national boundaries. In early June, I joined the Church of the Brethren young adult work camp trip to Burundi, hoping to both build relationships and see some of the great peacebuilding work being done in the African Great Lakes region. These relationships and my increased understanding of the challenges in Burundi will feed into the work of the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, as we increase our level of engagement with advocacy relating to the region.

Located south of Rwanda, Burundi is consistently ranked among the poorest countries in the world. In 2017, the GDP per capita was just $818, according to the International Monetary Fund. In addition to poverty and humanitarian concerns, Burundi has a history of genocide and election violence. Conflict between Hutus and Tutsis killed upwards of 300,000 people in several outbreaks of violence between the 1970s and the early 1990s. More recently, political conflict has led to instability. Just a week before our work camp traveled to the region, 15 people were killed in election violence related to a referendum vote.

Our group was hosted by Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services (THARS), a partner of the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service office. THARS provides mental health services to Burundians still impacted by the history of violence. This includes operating listening centers, facilitating support groups, and conducting training workshops. In addition to mental health work, THARS runs two programs that are funded by the Church of the Brethren, including training for farmers and a feeding program for Batwa schoolchildren.

While at THARS, our group worked on two construction projects. At one location, the team knocked down walls in a building that was to be re-purposed as a library. Just down the hill, another group was pouring the concrete floor in a new kitchen facility. Our team worked alongside a Burundian construction crew and the national staff of THARS, who had traveled to Gitega to participate in the work camp.  These projects included a lot of shoveling, carrying bags of sand and rock, and transporting concrete via bucket brigade.

The impact of United States policy on Burundi could be seen everywhere we traveled. The USAID logo denoted vehicles, events and programs that have been funded with U.S. foreign aid money. Because of the reality of this impact, it is important that offices like ours maintain awareness of the situation in the country, and amplify the voices of Burundian peacebuilders in U.S. policy discussions.

My trip provided many useful insights into potential advocacy avenues for our office. During a meeting with one of the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy’s partners in Bujumbura, for example, I heard about one of the biggest challenges facing peacebuilding work in Burundi- a lack of long-term funding for projects. Many peacebuilding projects are only funded for one year, meaning that the work lacks consistency, there is not time to learn from mistakes and adjust programming, and programs have a limited impact. It is important that we share this funding concern with relevant government staff in Washington, D.C, as we seek to make peacebuilding programs as effective as possible.

I am grateful to THARS and the people of Burundi for their hospitality. Going forward, I am excited to engage with the Burundi Working Group in DC on behalf of the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy. Made up of NGOs and government agencies that work in Burundi, the group plans to engage with legislative staff, the administration, the interfaith community, and broader civil society. The group will work to increase awareness of the political and humanitarian situation in the country, and advocate for policy and funding that will support the important peacebuilding work done by partners like THARS.

-- Tori Bateman is a Brethren Volunteer Service worker and an associate in the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy in Washington, D.C. Find out more about the Workcamp Ministry and links to photo albums from this year’s workcamps at www.brethren.org/workcamps .





5) Bethany Seminary receives ATS Peer Group Grant

by Jenny Williams

The Association for Theological Schools (ATS) has awarded Bethany Theological Seminary and four partner schools a $20,000 Peer Group Grant to support the schools’ efforts to minimize the financial cost of obtaining a seminary education.

A proposal request for the grant was made available by ATS to schools that have already received grant funds from Lilly Endowment Inc. as part of its Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers. Bethany was awarded Lilly grants as part of this initiative in 2013 and 2017 and has used these funds to develop its Pillars and Pathways program, which helps students minimize debt and develop good financial stewardship.

Courtney Hess, grant project director for Bethany, wrote and submitted the proposal for the Peer Group Grant to ATS. “I was interested in learning from other seminaries that had created strategies to help students get through school with little or no additional debt. The idea started during a conversation at an ATS conference with a colleague from Duke Divinity School. When I decided to apply, I put a message on the ATS listserv for schools participating in the Lilly Endowment Inc. initiative to see if there were interested parties. The group came together that way.”

The schools joining Bethany, lead seminary on the project, are theologically diverse: Duke Divinity School, North Park Theological Seminary, Sioux Falls Seminary, and Lexington Theological Seminary. The ATS grant funds will be used for (1) a one-day conference to share and brainstorm ways the schools can improve their programs and (2) an opportunity for faculty, administrators, and participating students to meet and do similar brainstorming.

The one-day conference will be open to additional schools that learn about the project and wish to participate. Hess will be overseeing the day’s conversation, which will begin with introductions of each school’s program. The participants expect to also discuss topics such as how to improve current efforts, elements that are sustainable and can be replicated by other seminaries, the impact of efforts on students and the institutions, and next steps for the group. A summary of key findings from the conference will be made available to ATS and interested seminaries.

Bethany’s Pillars and Pathways program helps all students reduce or avoid additional debt and increase financial knowledge and fiscal stewardship skills. The Pillars and Pathways Residency Scholarship, launched in fall 2017, offers additional aid and free housing to students who maintain eligibility for academic scholarship aid, perform community service, commit to community living in the Bethany Neighborhood, and do not incur additional educational and consumer debt.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family—J. K. Lilly Sr. and sons Eli and J. K. Jr.—through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grantmaking is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes. More information can be found at www.lillyendowment.org.

-- Jenny Williams is director of communications for Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind.



Inglenook Desserts



6) ‘Inglenook Desserts,’ Joseph Bible study, children’s Advent devotional now available from Brethren Press

Three new Brethren Press books are now available: “Inglenook Desserts,” the latest in the Inglenook cookbooks series offering recipes from Brethren kitchens; “25 Days to Jesus: A Children’s Advent Devotional” written by Christy Waltersdorff and illustrated by Mitch Miller; and “Joseph,” a Covenant Bible Study written by Eugene F. Roop.

Inglenook Desserts

Inglenook cookbooks are a cherished tradition passed from generation to generation in the Church of the Brethren. The recipes contained in these cookbooks were tested in kitchens across the denomination and selected for their value, excellence, and simplicity. “Inglenook Desserts” is the newest addition to the series with more than 175 recipes and including essays and reflections on family and church traditions related to the recipes. Inglenook cookbooks originate from the rich Brethren heritage of treasuring food and table fellowship, as well as the emphasis on living simply. Available at www.brethrenpress.com or order by calling 800-441-3712. Cost is $25.

25 Days to Jesus by Christy Waltersdorff and Mitch Miller (small)

25 Days to Jesus

This illustrated Advent devotional for children by Christy Waltersdorff and Mitch Miller invites children and their families to meet the people whose lives were changed by the birth of Jesus. Each day’s story also includes a scripture reference and a prayer. The book is designed to offer families a chance to reflect together upon Jesus as God’s greatest gift. Available at www.brethrenpress.com or order by calling 800-441-3712. Cost is $18.95.

Joseph

Joseph Covenant Bible Study by Eugene F. Roop

The story of Joseph concludes the ancestral narratives found in Genesis, fraught with family conflict. In this latest volume in the Covenant Bible Studies series from Brethren Press, Old Testament scholar and former Bethany Seminary president Eugene F. Roop examines the conflicts that include parental favoritism, sibling hatred, and the question of generational sin. Studying this rich story opens up readers to constructive ways to respond to the conflicts experienced in families and congregations today. Small groups that use this resource will discover, as Joseph did, that God is working through, alongside, and beyond the choices we make, and will be invited into God’s new world of shalom and well-being. Available at www.brethrenpress.com or order by calling 800-441-3712. Cost: $10.95.





7) Church World Service provides online 'Interfaith Toolkit to End Family Separation'

Church World Service (CWS) has put together an extensive online resource titled "Interfaith Toolkit to End Family Separation and Keep Families Together." The Church of the Brethren is a member denomination of Church World Service, and partners with CWS through Brethren Disaster Ministries. CWS has worked for decades with refugee resettlement and support for migrants.

The "toolkit" is a compilation of CWS resources and resources from other ecumenical partners as well as interfaith and other sources. It includes several sections:

-- up-to-date background on the government's decision to separate parents and children at the US border and this past week's executive order;

-- "Top Eight Ways for Faith Communities to Take Action" with suggestions such as meeting with members of Congress, writing letters to the editor of local media, signing an online faith statement against family separation, donating to CWS and other organizations working directly with refugees and migrants, taking part in a June 30 event to be held in Washington, D.C., and across the country, among others;

-- answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" such as "How many children are being separated?" "What happens to the children?" "What happens to the parents?" and more;

-- links to numerous faith statements from a wide variety of churches and other faith bodies, as well as additional links.

Find the toolkit at https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vSlGbJ_hCLNs3qF0h4br7rBfvASsAMQlGqMx12xnMiSdR9jyHHu5Hvi_QgR3kD59TYqCaiFAILEyQNA/pub .





8) Christ on the run

A child's empty swing
Photo credit: Pixabay

by Wendy McFadden, first published in Messenger Online

Except for the child’s own safety, the forced separation of children from their parents is never acceptable. I can scarcely believe this needs to be said.

Great damage has been done, and the urgent next step must be to reunite the devastated families. I say this as a person of faith, a citizen of this country, a mother, and one who was brought to the US at the age of the children now being housed in “tender age” shelters. Why are we not treating tenderly those who are of tender age?

Adding to this national pain is the government’s use of scripture to justify such cruelty. Surely there is weeping from the God whom many call Father, the one who calls us children. When Jesus healed on the sabbath, he made it clear that people are more important than the law (Matthew 12:9-13). Another day, Jesus brought over a child and said, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me” (Matthew 18:5).

Care for the stranger and sojourner is deeply and undeniably woven into the biblical text. That is evidence that the Scriptures are best used to defend rather than abuse those who flee violence and hardship.

But at this moment, I am drawn even more to texts that speak of God’s special care for children and families. During Pharaoh’s regime, God acted through a sister, two midwives, and Pharaoh’s own daughter to save the infant Moses and allow him to be nursed by his mother (Exodus 2). Job laments that “the wicked snatch a widow’s child from her breast” (Job 24:9 NLT). When Herod wanted to destroy young Jesus, God led Joseph to escape with his family across the border to Egypt (Matthew 2).

The Church of the Brethren has long spoken and acted on matters of immigration and the plight of refugees. In this time of crisis, let us recall words from an Annual Conference statement in 1982: “Christ has made another appearance among us, as himself an immigrant and refugee, in the person of political dissidents, the economically deprived, and foreigners on the run.”
 
-- Wendy McFadden is publisher of Brethren Press and Communications for the Church of the Brethren. Find more from Messenger Online, website for the Church of the Brethren magazine, at www.brethren.org/messenger .





9) ‘The most challenging letters I've ever written’

by guest columnist Katie, first published in the "DRSP News” of June 2018

“DRSP News” editor's note: It was several years after the Death Row Support Project (DRSP) began before a correspondent had to face the execution of his pen pal. Even as the number of executions peaked in the '90s, there were not many active correspondents whose pen pals were executed. We pray that the death penalty will be abolished before it becomes a common experience. In any case, we are grateful to Katie for sharing her story.

“My connection to the Death Row Support Project (DRSP) began last year. I was feeling called to step up and engage more deeply with my wider community, but I didn’t know how I could serve. My husband and I operate an organic farm, and I home school our two children: big domestic responsibilities that take most of my time.

“It occurred to me that I could perhaps contribute from home and also engage in one of my personal favorite hobbies: writing letters. I knew that many people in U.S. prisons don't have outside connections, so a friend connected me with DRSP, and I eventually received the contact info for Erick, a man living on death row in Texas.

“As I had been counseled might be the case, I had to send Erick several letters before I heard back from him. I wasn't sure what to expect from our pen pal relationship. I had no personal experience with prison, and I was so hesitant to ask questions that might be awkward or uncomfortable for him to answer.

“In one of Erick's early letters to me, he told me not to worry so much — that he was an open book to me and that we were going to have a wonderful honest friendship. We talked back and forth about our interests and our families. I learned to be less cautious and more open in my letters to him. I looked forward to a long friendship and wondered what we might learn from each other over the coming years.

“But earlier this year I learned from Erick that he had been assigned a date: his execution was scheduled for April 25.

“This news shifted everything. Until that moment, it hadn't really occurred to me that execution was a real possibility. I live in Oregon, where the death penalty is not implemented. Killing one person as retribution for other deaths makes no sense to me. More people experience loss.

“I reached out to DRSP for more information about how I could follow Erick's execution process. On their recommendation, I also shared about Erick's impending execution with my church community and friends so that they would know that I was about to lose a friend in a way that wouldn't otherwise be obvious or visible.

“The most challenging letters I've ever written were the last two that I sent to Erick, knowing that they might be the last he'd receive from me. What words of comfort could I offer in such a situation? How to say good-bye to someone I was only just getting to know?

“In one of his final letters to me, Erick wrote that he wasn't afraid of death itself but regretted not getting to see his son grow up. He spent his final weeks attempting to connect with his family, especially his sisters, whom he hadn’t seen since being incarcerated.

“Meanwhile, I wrote a letter on Erick's behalf to the Texas governor and kept praying for clemency.

“On April 25, I alerted friends via Facebook and spent the day praying and checking websites and social media to see if anything changed in Erick's status. Friends also joined me in praying, and two friends subsequently volunteered to become letter writers with DRSP as well.

“The next morning I looked again at the Death Penalty Information Center’s website and saw the change in Erick's status: "EXECUTED."

“I really wasn't prepared for how abruptly this new friendship would end, but I'm thankful to have known Erick, even briefly. I appreciated the gifts of openness and frankness he shared with me. And, I’ve learned on a more personal level about how the death penalty affects individuals and families in our country.

“I am continuing to volunteer with DRSP, grateful that I have found a meaningful way to connect with the world beyond my home.”

Find out more about the Death Row Support Project at www.brethren.org/drsp .




The 2018 Ministry Summer Service orientation was held June 15-18 at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The interns and mentors include April Wells of Huntingdon, Pa., who is serving at Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren with Rachel Witkovsky; Jamie-Claire Chau of Philadelphia, Pa., who is serving at Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren with Ron Tilley; Laura Hay of Modesto, Calif., who is serving as the Youth Peace Advocate; and Zakaria Bulus of Michika, Nigeria, who is serving at the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy in Washington, D.C., with Nate Hosler. Dana Cassell, pastor of Peace Covenant Church of the Brethren in Durham, N.C., offered leadership for the orientation on behalf of the Office of Ministry. Shown here, from left: Ron Tilley, Jamie-Claire Chau, Zakaria Bulus, April Wells, and Rachel Witkovsky (not present for the photo: Laura Hay and Nate Hosler).
Photo by Kelsey Murray

The 2018 Ministry Summer Service orientation was held June 15-18 at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The interns and mentors include April Wells of Huntingdon, Pa., who is serving at Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren with Rachel Witkovsky; Jamie-Claire Chau of Philadelphia, Pa., who is serving at Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren with Ron Tilley; Laura Hay of Modesto, Calif., who is serving as the Youth Peace Advocate; and Zakaria Bulus of Michika, Nigeria, who is serving at the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy in Washington, D.C., with Nate Hosler. Dana Cassell, pastor of Peace Covenant Church of the Brethren in Durham, N.C., offered leadership for the orientation on behalf of the Office of Ministry. Shown here, from left: Ron Tilley, Jamie-Claire Chau, Zakaria Bulus, April Wells, and Rachel Witkovsky (not present for the photo: Laura Hay and Nate Hosler).


10) Brethren bits

-- Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks a full-time administrative director to empower and guide the work of CPT in fulfilling its mission. The administrative director works closely with CPT’s program director in a collaborative, consensus-based, team model. Primary responsibilities include overall financial and administrative oversight, strategic planning and culture formation, and board and staff development, with some international travel to meetings and/or project sites each year. Candidates should demonstrate wisdom and imagination; skilled leadership of group and organizational processes and capacity building; commitment to grow in the journey of undoing oppressions; and ability to work independently and collaboratively as part of a dispersed team across continents. Nonprofit management experience and a focus on grassroots social change organizations is preferred. This is a 40 hours per week, 3-year appointment. Compensation is $24,000 per year. Benefits include 100 percent employer-paid health, dental, and vision coverage; 4 weeks of annual vacation. Location: Chicago, Ill., strongly preferred. Start date is Oct. 1. To apply, submit electronically, in English, the following to hiring@cpt.org : cover letter stating motivation and reasons for interest in this position, a résumé or CV, a list of three references with e-mail and daytime telephone numbers. Find the position description at https://drive.google.com/file/d/13ght1zsiSwntAPV0EcryvxYOCuPndh-0/view . CPT is an international, faith-based, non-profit organization that builds partnerships to transform violence and oppression. CPT seeks individuals who are capable, responsible, and rooted in faith and spirituality to work for peace as members of teams trained in the disciplines of nonviolence. CPT is committed to building an organization that reflects the rich diversity of the human family in ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender identity, language, national origin, race and sexual orientation. All members of CPT receive a subsistence stipend currently capped at $2,000 per month for staff. For more about CPT see www.cpt.org .

-- The Anabaptist Disabilities Network (ADN) Board of Directors seeks a visionary leader to be the ADN public face to constituents, supporters, and congregations. Proven faith-based fundraising and constituent cultivation ability required. A heart for inclusion of persons with disabilities and their families in the life of the church is a must. The ability to regularly connect with regional congregations, supporters, and develop ADN volunteer networks nationwide. See ADNetOnline.org/About/Staff-openings for more information, or contact Anabaptist Disabilities Network at 574-343-1362.

-- Summer warehouse positions are available at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The full-time, temporary positions are for two persons. Responsibilities include opening cartons, removing quilts, flattening cartons, folding quilts, sorting medical supplies, and packing for shipments, with lifting required. Other warehouse duties as assigned. Work hours are Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Email to express interest or send a resume to lwolf@brethren.org, phone 410-635-8795.

-- The Brethren Service Center partnership in warehouse work with IMA World Health has ended, after IMA fully transitioned away from managing and shipping donated medical supplies and drugs. The Church of the Brethren continues as a member denomination of IMA. The annex warehouse at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., originally was built for IMA and contained only medical supplies. The IMA inventory has now been given to an organization called Brother’s Brother Foundation, which has shipped a number of containers. The Church of the Brethren Material Resources program has started working with Brother’s Brother in a newly developing partnership around medical supplies. “We are sad to see our relationship end but hope we may cross paths in the future,” commented Loretta Wolf, director of Material Resources. “We look forward to the opportunity with Brothers Brother Foundation that the ending of IMA inventory has facilitated. Best wishes as IMA continues on a new path.”

Last week, Brethren Press held a book launch for

Last week, Brethren Press held a book launch for "25 Days to Jesus," an illustrated children's Advent devotional by Christy Waltersdorff and Mitch Miller. Shown here, Waltersdorff (at center) holds up a promotional poster for the new book with Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden (at right) and director of marketing and sales Jeff Lennard (at left). The book is now available to purchase at www.brethrenpress.com or call 800-442-3712.

-- Church of the Brethren congregations may participate in three offerings at National Youth Conference on July 21-26, even if they are not sending youth to the event. Offerings may be sent to the NYC Office, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL, 60120. Here are suggestions: Offerings of financial gifts or kit supplies for clean-up buckets for disaster relief (excluding the buckets, laundry detergent, and liquid household cleaner that will be provided on site); NYC hopes to give 450 clean-up buckets to victims of natural disasters. Offerings of new or gently used sewing scissors to help youth cut 2,400 t-shirts into diaper pieces for Diapers for Haiti, providing Midwives for Haiti with a one year’s supply. Offerings to the NYC Scholarship Fund to help up to 20 international Brethren youth from around the world attend the conference. The NYC Scholarship Fund helps with the cost of travel and registration for youth from a number of countries including Brazil, Spain, the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, and India.

-- The Office of Peacebuilding and Policy was represented at the annual advocacy summit of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) in Washington, D.C. The event took place June 17-19 at Lutheran Church of the Reformation under the theme “And Still We Rise,” focusing on the voices of women peacebuilders. Participants were from the interfaith community, focusing on peacebuilding in Israel and Palestine. Annual Conference moderator-elect Donita Keister presented during the summit.

-- The Global Mission and Service office has requested prayer for an end to the violence and suffering in Yemen, which is in its fourth year of civil war. The prayer request noted that many consider Yemen to be the world's worst humanitarian crisis. “Some 8 million people are on the brink of famine and more than 1 million have been infected in a cholera epidemic considered the worst in history. The aid group Save the Children estimates that in just one year in 2017, more than 50,000 children died of starvation, malnutrition, or disease.” Earlier this month, the situation worsened as fighting centered around Hodeida, a large port city that serves as the only remaining major entry point for humanitarian aid, after a blockade closed other access points.

-- Church of the Brethren pastor Carol Yeazell has visited with Iglesia de los Hermanos-Una Luz En Las Naciones (the Church of the Brethren in Spain). Along with visits to congregations, she led ethics training for approximately 25 pastors and leaders preparing to be pastors.

-- The Office of Mission Advancement will be hosting an insight session at Annual Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, on the “Impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 on Estate, Charitable, and Gift Plans.” The session takes place Friday, July 6, 12:30-1:30 p.m., in Room 260. Karen Crim, senior manager of Tax Services at RSM US LLP in Dayton, Ohio, will be the presenter. She will discuss how the act reduced individual and corporate tax rates, eliminated a host of deductions and credits, enhanced other breaks, and made numerous additional changes. “Come to this session to learn how this act may affect your charitable and estate plan giving,” said an invitation.

Brethren Disaster Ministries

-- Brethren Disaster Ministries is holding a "Meet & Greet" at Annual Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Friday, July 6, 7:30-8:30 a.m., in Room 204 of the Duke Energy Convention Center. "All Brethren Disaster Ministries and Children's Disaster Services volunteers are invited to join Roy [Winter], Jenn [Dorsch Messler], and Kathy [Fry-Miller] to share some coffee and fellowship," said an invitation. "Stop in to say hello, chat about BDM happenings, and/or find out how to get involved."

-- Two Church of the Brethren staff participated June 19 in a twice-a-year call with the Alternative Service Program division of the Selective Service System: Kendra Harbeck, manager for the Office of Global Mission and Service, and Dan McFadden, director of Brethren Volunteer Service. The SSS regularly updates those who are connected formally to the Alternative Service Program with program and staff changes. No significant changes were mentioned in this summer update other than some staff changes. The SSS and ASP staff did state that next year, 2019, was going to be a focus year on their Alternative Service Program and they are planning a review of all the Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) signed over the past eight years. The Church of the Brethren and Brethren Volunteer Service signed an MOU in 2010 stating that in the event of a military draft, the Church of the Brethren and BVS will be recognized partners to offer alternative service options for those who identify as conscientious objectors to war. BVS and the Church of the Brethren were partners when the draft was still in force following World War II through the early 1970s. The Selective Service System is one of the only places within the federal government that conscientious objection is formally recognized. 

-- Sipesville (Pa.) Church of the Brethren will be hosting a “Celebration Weekend” for its 100th anniversary on July 28-29. Events on July 28 begin at 5 p.m. with a corn and hot dog roast and mountain pies and s’mores around a campfire at the church pavilion. On July 29 the 10 a.m. worship service will be followed by a celebration meal in the church basement, and a 2 p.m. "Singspiration" with special music from Danny Connor and others from the area. "The members of the Sipesville Church of the Brethren are excited about achieving this wonderful milestone of 100 years and hope that you will join them during this special time," said an invitation in the Western Pennsylvania District newsletter.

-- Shenandoah District shared a “thank you” from Brethren Woods to those who attended the camp’s 60th Anniversary event this past Saturday, June 9. “It was a blessing to have over 100 people gathered to celebrate 60 years of ministry,” said the district e-newsletter. “Sam Flora and Linda Logan participated in a panel discussion with Camp Director Doug Phillips, sharing about the early years of ministry at Brethren Woods. Items from camp history were displayed. Plenty of activities were planned for children and youth to enjoy. After dinner, several individuals who have been active in different decades of camp history shared their experiences. Larry Glick led a campfire worship time to close out the evening. After 60 years, the ministry at Brethren Woods is going strong.”

-- Union Bridge (Md.) Church of the Brethren is receiving media attention from the Carroll County Times for the Union Bridge Early Learning Center that it hosts. Linda Hook, treasurer of the Early Learning Center, said, “The early learning program [helps] children to construct a solid foundation on which to build a lifetime of learning.” Read the article at www.carrollcountytimes.com/news/neighborhoods/westcarroll/cc-nh-west-carroll-062018-story.html .

-- This month's "Brethren Voices" features three Brethren Volunteer Service workers who have played an important role at SnowCap, an emergency food and clothing agency in Portland, Ore. “In the mid 1960s, the basic life needs of many in Portland’s East Multnomah County were not being met by any agency or organization,” said a description. “Peace Church of the Brethren and 25 area churches stepped in to help fill the void, felt by so many residents. Now, and for the past 50 years, SnowCap has been providing emergency food and clothing to over 8,000 low-income neighbors each month. For Peace Church of the Brethren, the involvement  with SnowCap was a ‘natural fit,’ being a community that believes in doing what Jesus did by helping people meet the practical and spiritual needs of day-to-day life.” Since the fall of 2010, Peace Church has supported SnowCap with  BVS volunteers. In this episode, host Brent Carlson meets with Kirsten Wageman, director of SnowCap, and with BVSers Jonathan Faust and Freddie Stoeckman. For a copy, contact producer Ed Groff at groffprod1@msn.com .

-- In related news, Brent Carlson, host of "Brethren Voices," and producer Ed Groff will be attending Annual Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, to conduct interviews and record video for upcoming programs. “Brethren Voices, the community television program produced by Portland Peace Church of the Brethren, has just completed 13 years of monthly programs,” said an announcement. “That amounts to 156 programs of what Brethren have done as a matter of faith.  The programs have been picked up by over 50 community access television stations in the country and recently by Champion Television in Kenya. Currently 350 subscribers are viewing ‘Brethren Voices’ programs on WWW.Youtube.com/Brethrenvoices . During the past 6 years programs have received 162,000 views.”

-- “How old were you when you became an activist for social justice?” asks the Dunker Punks Podcast this week. In this episode about a group of inspired elementary-schoolers raising money to help girls go to school through the Malala Fund, Sarah Ullom-Minnich interviews Lucy and Becky Bowman about their work on the project. Listen at http://bit.ly/DPP_Episode60 or subscribe on iTunes Podcast at http://bit.ly/DPP_iTunes.

-- The World Council of Churches (WCC) central committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, has reaffirmed its commitment to human rights. “This year marks the anniversary not only of the WCC but also of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights,” notes a WCC press release. A WCC statement recalls the historic role of the WCC in formulating “this foundational instrument of modern international human rights law,” and forcefully reasserts its indispensable character and import, especially at a time when human rights are increasingly in jeopardy, the report says. The WCC statement says that a commitment to human rights is rooted in core biblical and Christian convictions. “All human beings are created in the image of God, equal, and infinitely precious in God’s sight and ours,” and “Jesus Christ has bound us to one another by his life, death and resurrection, so that what concerns one concerns us all. It also calls on churches to re-prioritize their support for human rights. Find the WCC statement at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/central-committee/geneva-2018/70th-anniversary-of-the-universal-declaration-of-human-rights/view .

-- A series of hearings by the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service continues in the Chicago area this coming week. These hearings are on the future of the military draft, draft registration, and compulsory service, including compulsory military or national service for women, health care workers, and people with language, IT, or STEM skills. The next hearing will be held Thursday, June 28, 6:30-8 p.m., at Kennedy-King Community College, U Building, 740 W. 63rd St., Chicago, which is in Englewood neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. Peace church members are encouraged to attend and express support for alternative, non-military service in place of a military draft. Written comments are being received by the commission by email to info@inspire2serve.gov with “Docket No. 05-2018-01A” in the subject line of the e-mail message, or use this online form: http://www.inspire2serve.gov/content/share-your-thoughts . The deadline to submit written comments has been extended through Sept. 30.

-- Earl and Vivian Ziegler, Church of the Brethren members living at Brethren Village, will have a special treat this weekend when the South Korean Yemel Chorus performs in Lancaster County, according to Lancaster (Pa.) Online. "The all-female chorus is directed by Hyun Joo Yun. Fifty-three years ago--1965-66--Hyun Joo was an exchange student living with the Zieglers at their home in southern York County. Today, she directs the Yemel Chorus, the Seoul National University Concert Choir and the university’s Faculty Chorus. Hyun Joo, who has a doctoral degree from the Manhattan School of Music, also has performed extensively throughout the United States and South Korea as a concert and opera singer," the news site reports. Find the full article at https://lancasteronline.com/features/faith_values/south-korean-choir-director-will-return-to-visit-her-american/article_56e4814c-7646-11e8-aae8-1f77dcdccca5.html .

-- Also from Lancaster Online, a report on local leaders' opposition to the government's separation of children from their families at the US border, including Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren pastor Greg Davidson Laszakovitz and Church World Service's Lancaster office director Sheila Mastropietro. The newspaper "sought comment from a range of houses of worship Tuesday. Some did not respond, but faith leaders who did were unanimous in condemning a policy they said puts at risk the well-being of children. 'I don’t think any great, moral country can pursue a policy like this and expect to maintain a strong moral presence in the world,' said Greg Davidson Laszakovits." Read the article at https://lancasteronline.com/news/local/lancaster-county-faith-leaders-join-call-to-stop-taking-children/article_dd90a8c8-7403-11e8-b7f0-a7d9c7e00631.html .


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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 of Newsline include Tori Bateman, Zakaria Bulus, Jeff Carter, Jacob Crouse, Ed Groff, Dan McFadden, Jenn Dorsch Messler, Carl and Roxane Hill, Jess Hoffert, Nate Hosler, Jeff Lennard, Wendy McFadden, Becky Ullom Naugle, Traci Rabenstein, Jenny Williams, Roy Winter, Jay Wittmeyer, Loretta Wolf.

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