“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness” (Matthew 9:35).
ANNUAL CONFERENCE PREVIEW
1) Living parables: A preview of Annual Conference 2018
2) Conference business ranges from changes in delegate representation to a new vision for mission to creation care and more
3) ‘New and Renew’ conference: Reflections from one participant
4) Children’s Disaster Services volunteers respond to Hawaii eruption
5) Bethany Seminary holds commencement
6) Brethren attend ‘Reclaiming Jesus’ event in nation’s capital
7) Ecumenical delegation visits North Korea
8) Todd Bauer ends service with BVS as Latin America coordinator
9) Fellowship of Brethren Homes announces leadership transition
10) Sixth Brethren World Assembly set for August in Indiana
11) Brethren bits: Remembering John Crumley, personnel, jobs, commissioning for Workcampers, prayer requested for tensions in the DR, new podcasts from Frederick Church and Dunker Punks, Brethren Woods is 60, “Farm to Table Dinners” at Shepherd’s Spring, more
Quote of the week:
“‘Living Parables’ is a foundational call to be involved with the ministries of Jesus. It calls us to work for peace, reconciliation, and transformation of all things, visible and invisible. As living parables, Christ calls us to learn how to share our lives in grace with others.”
-- Annual Conference moderator Samuel K. Sarpiya, in the theme statement for the 2018 annual meeting of the Church of the Brethren.
1) Living parables: A preview of Annual Conference 2018
Annual Conference 2018 takes place at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 4-8. The theme is “Living Parables” (Matthew 9:35-38).
Online registration is open through June 11 at www.brethren.org/ac . After that date, registration will take place onsite in Cincinnati, at an increased cost.
Moderator Samuel K. Sarpiya will be assisted by moderator-elect Donita Keister and secretary James Beckwith. Serving on the Program and Arrangements Committee are Founa Inola Augustin-Badet of Miami, Fla.; John Shafer of Oakton, Va.; and Jan King of Martinsburg, Pa. Chris Douglas is the Conference director.
In addition to business sessions, Annual Conference offers opportunities for non-delegates to participate in spiritual enrichment, earn continuing education credit, take part in family friendly activities, and fellowship with Brethren from across the country and around the world.
Delegates will address 11 new and unfinished items of business and will receive numerous reports. New business includes “Change in Delegate Representation at Annual Conference,” “Vision for a Global Church of the Brethren,” “Brethren Values Investing,” “Polity for Electing Brethren Benefit Trust Board Directors,” “Polity for Electing the District Representative to the Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee.” Unfinished business includes “Vision of Ecumenism for the 21st Century,” “Vitality and Viability,” “Creation Care,” “Compelling Vision,” “Denominational Leadership Gathering,” and various amendments to the denomination’s bylaws. See the article below for brief descriptions of the business items. Find the full text of business items at www.brethren.org/ac/2018/business .
Preachers for the Conference are moderator Samuel Sarpiya, pastor of Rockford (Ill.) Community Church of the Brethren, Wednesday; Brian Messler, pastor of Ephrata (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, Thursday; Rosanna Eller McFadden, pastor of Creekside Church of the Brethren, Elkhart, Ind., Friday; Angela Finet, pastor of Nokesville (Va.) Church of the Brethren, Saturday; and Leonard Sweet, the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University in New Jersey, Sunday.
Offerings will be received for the Nigeria Crisis Fund on Wednesday; Church of the Brethren Core Ministries on Thursday; Puerto Rico hurricane response on Friday; assistance to the Batwa-Pygmy communities in the Great Lakes region of Africa on Saturday; and funding of Spanish translation at Annual Conference on Sunday.
In pre-Conference activities, theologian and author Diana Butler Bass is the speaker for the Ministers’ Association event on “Gratitude: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks.” Three sessions will be led by Butler Bass on Tuesday evening, July 3, and Wednesday morning and afternoon, July 4. See www.brethren.org/ministryoffice/sustaining.html .
Dikaios & Discipleship, a July 3-4 event combining a bus tour with group discussions, will focus on the history of race and slavery in the Cincinnati area, sponsored by Intercultural Ministries. “The Ohio River has long been a symbol: On one side slavery and on the other, freedom,” said an announcement. “Our history, as a denomination and as a nation, is just as interwoven with the complexities of race and racism. Of freedom and enslavement. Of oppression and injustice.” The tour will visit the Harriet Beecher Stowe Museum and the house where Uncle Tom’s Cabin was written; stops on the Underground Railroad; site of a former slave market; sites connected with 2001 race protests; sites connected with William Bradley--a governor who spoke up in the Jim Crow era; and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Although the tour is filled, go to www.brethren.org/congregationallife/dikaios to be placed on a waiting list.
A tour to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is offered for nondelegates on the afternoon of July 6. Cost is $15.
A group outing to see the Cincinnati Reds play the Chicago White Sox is Tuesday evening, July 3. Tickets are $12.
This year’s Witness to the Host City will benefit First Step Home, a treatment center that helps women rebuild their families as they break the cycle of drug and alcohol addiction. This is the only addiction treatment center in Cincinnati allowing children to live with mothers who are in treatment. Conference-goers are invited to bring donations of needed items. Find a list at www.brethren.org/ac/2018/activities/witness-to-the-host-city.html .
Go to www.brethren.org/ac for more information about the Conference schedule and activities. Daily worship services and business sessions will be webcast live online, find the webcast schedule at www.brethren.org/ac/2018/webcasts .
2) Conference business ranges from changes in delegate representation, to a new vision for mission, to creation care, and more
Delegates to this year’s Annual Conference will address 11 new and unfinished items of business.
New business includes “Change in Delegate Representation at Annual Conference,” “Vision for a Global Church of the Brethren,” “Brethren Values Investing,” “Polity for Electing Brethren Benefit Trust Board Directors,” “Polity for Electing the District Representative to the Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee.”
Unfinished business includes “Vision of Ecumenism for the 21st Century,” “Vitality and Viability,” “Creation Care,” “Compelling Vision,” “Denominational Leadership Gathering,” and various amendments to the denomination’s bylaws.
Change in Delegate Representation at Annual Conference
Recommended by the denomination’s Leadership Team (Conference officers, general secretary, and a representative of the Council of District Executives), these changes would increase the ratio of Annual Conference delegates to membership of congregations and districts. The ratio for congregations would increase from 1 delegate per 200 members to 1 per 100 members, and for districts from 1 per 5,000 members to 1 per 4,000 members. This would add five people to the Standing Committee of district delegates. The document explains, “Conversations around decreasing membership often lead us to hold at arm’s length its realities and simply hope for ‘better times.’ The Leadership Team would rather actively walk with this current reality and seek ways to increase the vitality and effectiveness of Annual Conference.” Go to www.brethren.org/ac/2018/business/NB/NB-5-Change-in-Delegate-Representation.pdf .
Vision for a Global Church of the Brethren
Adopted by the Mission and Ministry Board at the initiative of staff of Global Mission and Service, the document has been in process for some time. Those involved in its development include the Mission Advisory Committee and church leaders from several countries. Impetus came from a disconnect between polity and practice. An Annual Conference mandate for a global church is present in previous statements, but those call for international districts rather than the independent denominations that have developed. The new vision is for a global Church of the Brethren “as a union of autonomous bodies, a spiritual community bound together by a common passion to be followers of Christ, a common New Testament theology of peace and service, and a common commitment to be in relationship with one another.” Go to www.brethren.org/ac/2018/business/NB/NB-3-Vision-for-a-Global-Church-of-the-Brethren.pdf .
Brethren Values Investing
This change to the Articles of Organization of Brethren Benefit Trust proposes the term “Brethren Values Investing” in place of “Socially Responsible Investing.” Go to www.brethren.org/ac/2018/business/NB/NB-3-Vision-for-a-Global-Church-of-the-Brethren.pdf .
Polity for Electing Brethren Benefit Trust Board Directors
This change to BBT Articles of Organization would require no more than two nominees for election of a director to the BBT board, replacing the current requirement for four nominees. Go to www.brethren.org/ac/2018/business/NB/NB-2-Polity-for-Electing-BBT-Board-Directors.pdf .
Polity for Electing the District Representative to the Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee
To align polity with practice, the Leadership Team recommends changes regarding where the committee makes its recommendation about pastoral salaries and howthe district executive member of the committee is chosen. Go to www.brethren.org/ac/2018/business/NB/NB-4-Polity-for-Electing-the-DE-Repr-to-the-PCBAC.pdf .
Vision of Ecumenism for the 21st Century
This proposed new statement guides the denomination’s ecumenical witness in a time of increased religiousdiversity. It comes from a committee established as part of a recommendation in 2012 from an Interchurch Relations Study Committee. It states, in part: “We will continue to build and nurture positive relationships with other faith communities. In doing so, we strengthen a history of service and missions, disaster response and relief ministries, and peace witness—nationally and globally. These relationships further our understanding of opportunities for mission and ministry, and they instill a cooperative readiness to act upon needs and areas of common concern when they arise.” Go to www.brethren.org/ac/2018/business/UB/UB-1-Vision-of-Ecumenism-for-the-21st-Century.pdf .
Vitality and Viability
This report originated with a query from Mid- Atlantic District on “Future DistrictStructure.” The 2015 Conference returned the query but called a committee to study its concerns related to vitality and viability. The report takes into account the work of the Mission and Ministry Board and the 2017 Review and Evaluation Committee. The report aims to articulate “matters of the heart,” and calls the church to “a time of renewal of relationships with our Lord and Savior and with each other,” outlining structure for a “Year of Sabbath Rest and Renewal.” The document identifies differences regarding human sexuality and approaches to scripture. It makes some specific recommendations for dealing with differing perspectives in the church and recommends a process “to ensure that congregations who may leave do so in an accountable, amicable, and gracious process...avoiding litigation.” It concludes with a series of five Bible studies. Go to www.brethren.org/ac/2018/business/UB/UB-2-Vitality-and-Viability.pdf .
This report comes from a study committee elected in 2016 to respond to a query from Illinois and Wisconsin District. The report focuses “on the charge given to us by Annual Conference by examining the impact of the use of fossil fuels and contributions to climate change on our brothers and sisters around the world, and how Brethren can take action to reduce that impact.” Outcomes of the committee’s work include a website offering a series of resources related to energy efficiency, renewable energy, financial matters, faith and liturgical resources, and community action; and a commitment by the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy to coordinate a Brethren Creation Care Network. Detailed recommendations encourage Brethren “to integrate an understanding about the real cost of fossil fuels and climate change into every part of your life, as an individual, as a member of a congregation, and as a member of the denomination.” Go to www.brethren.org/ac/2018/business/UB/UB-3-Creation-Care.pdf .
A report from the Leadership Team reviews ongoing work toward a “compelling vision” to guide the Church of the Brethren. The process begins at this year’s Conference, where a full business session and a portion of a second will be dedicated to engaging attendees, followed by further opportunities in districts throughout this year. The recommendation is “that all new business for the 2019 Annual Conference be set aside so that the delegate body and other Annual Conference participants can focus their attention on the essential conversations that will lead to discerning the compelling vision that Christ intends for the Church of the Brethren.” Go to www.brethren.org/ac/2018/business/UB/UB-4-Compelling-Vision.pdf .
Amendments to the Bylaws of the Church of the Brethren Inc.
The Mission and Ministry Board recommends bylaws changes in response to the 2017 Review and Evaluation Committee. The changes would affect the coordination of denominational envisioning; oversight of the Annual Conference office, director, and budget; membership of the Leadership Team; and some terminology. One amendment would update the name of Southern Ohio District to “Southern Ohio-Kentucky District.” Go to www.brethren.org/ac/2018/business/UB/UB-6-Amendments-to-the-Bylaws-of-the-Church-of-the-Brethren-Inc.pdf .
Denominational Leadership Gathering
Last year’s Review and Evaluation Committee recommended a gathering of denominational leadership every three to five years, and action was delayed for a year to do a feasibility study. The Program Feasibility Committee determined that current structures provide enough collaboration and that the cost is too high. The original recommendation returns to the floor this year for action. Go to www.brethren.org/ac/2018/business/UB/UB-7-Denominational-Leadership-Gathering.pdf .
Find the listing of business items at www.brethren.org/ac/2018/business .
3) ‘New and Renew’ conference: Reflections from one participant
by Karen Garrett
On May 17-19, with a pre-conference worship service on May 16, people from across the country met at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., to worship and renew. The event was “New and Renew: Revitalize, Plant, Grow,” the Church of the Brethren’s church planting and church development conference for 2018. The event was sponsored and organized by the Discipleship Ministries (formerly Congregational Life Ministries) of the Church of the Brethren.
I am not a church planter. I attend an established congregation that celebrated 200 years as a congregation in 2011. However, in 2018 I see the need for my congregation to do something to renew our mission or we will not exist in 10 years. This is probably true for many congregations across the denomination. I decided to attend “New and Renew” along with my pastor, in the hopes that we could find ideas for renewal.
My main take-away, however, was a sense of renewal in my own spirit. At some point, my pastor and I will meet and compare notes, and pray about steps--perhaps small steps--we can take to help our congregation renew and revitalize. For now, I simply thank God and the conference planners for providing space for my spirit to be nourished.
Some observations and quotes to share (the quotes are taken from my notes directly as I wrote them so they may not be word-for-word what the presenters said, but they are what my spirit heard):
It was refreshing for my Caucasian face to be in a minority. This was an intercultural event and that made the experience rich. My Latino and Latina brothers and sisters sing and worship with enthusiasm and heartfelt expressions of faith. The experience was enhanced by the deep abiding faith and prayer life of brothers and sisters of many skin tones. I had been feeling discouraged about the state of our denomination, but for two days I was energized by people who together care about being a witness for Jesus Christ. We met to learn and encourage one another.
Two keynote speakers shared from their ministries to encourage us to risk finding God’s mission for us. Orlando Crespo from the Bronx left me with the following quote: “We can’t be the incarnation--Christ did that. We can be the embodiment of Christ.” Yes, my desire is to embody Christ as I interact with my neighbors and my congregation. Christiana Rice from San Diego used the metaphor of a midwife to help us see “God crying out for a new thing to be born. We need to reach out in anticipation, because God is already at work.” I need to focus on joining God, rather that asking God to help me.
Bethany Seminary dean Steve Schweitzer led a Bible study on the broad topic of “Risk and Reward in Scripture.” According to him, that topic includes most of scripture. He narrowed his list down to nine:
-- 2 Chronicles 20: Jehosophat called for a fast as he risked everything and depended on God.
-- Daniel 3: Three Hebrews chose to do what was right, regardless of whether God would save them or not.
-- Philippians 3: A passage where Paul discussed loss and gain.
-- James 1:27: To be faithful, we must work at both holiness and social justice.
-- James 2:14-19: Our work for Christ should be as a result of faith and as a demonstration of faith.
-- Colossians 4:5-6: Our public witness must include word and deed.
-- 1 Peter 2:9-12: We are chosen for a purpose beyond ourselves.
-- 1 Peter 3:8-17: Be ready to risk with action and speech.
-- Acts 20:24: God is concerned for the individual and the community.
Schweitzer closed with a question for himself and for us “What am I willing to risk?”
In addition there were a variety of workshops, breaks, and meals to connect with old friends and new acquaintances, and an Intercultural Dinner where Annual Conference moderator Samuel Sarpiya shared from his doctor of ministry project. My take-away quote from that evening: “Serve the purposes of God for your community, and for this time.” To do that we must “hear the heart of God.”
-- Karen A. Garrett is managing editor for "Brethren Life & Thought" and coordinator of assessment for Bethany Seminary.
4) Children’s Disaster Services volunteers respond to Hawaii eruption
by Kathleen Fry-Miller
Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) volunteers Petie Brown and Randy Kawate have cared for children at the shelter in Pahoa on the “Big Island” of Hawaii. The effort has aided children and families affected by the volcanic eruption that has displaced hundreds of residents.
Brown and Kawate, who live on the “Big Island,” were able to set up a children’s area in the Pahoa shelter with support from Red Cross and local church volunteers. The number of families and children affected by the volcanic eruptions has been in flux, as nearby residents try to figure out where to go in the midst of unpredictable eruptions of lava, gas, ash, and earthquakes.
The CDS volunteers have cared for 49 children over the past 2 1/2 weeks. Red Cross will be re-assessing needs for child care, especially once schools are out for the summer next week. Children have been using the area for play at other times also. Schools have been open, so during the week very few children have been in the shelter. This could change, depending on what happens with the volcano and earthquakes. Brown and Kawate have shared information that another shelter could be opening up, so CDS will be alert to what the needs are at that point.
This is a time of lots of stress and uncertainty for everyone on the island. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers continue for the people of Hawaii.’
-- Kathleen Fry-Miller is associate director of Children’s Disaster Services, a ministry within Brethren Disaster Ministries. For more go to www.brethren.org/cds .
5) Bethany Seminary holds commencement
by Jenny Williams
Sixteen graduates were honored at Bethany Theological Seminary’s 2018 commencement on Saturday, May 5, in the presence of family, friends, and the Bethany community. The following degrees and graduate certificates were awarded:
Master of Divinity
Steven P. Fox of Farmersville, Ohio
Mycal C. J. Gresh of Denton, Md.
Katelynn E. Heishman of Keezletown, Va.
Timothy S. Heishman of Keezletown, Va.
Patricia A. Kapusta of Corning, N.Y., ministry focus in pastoral care
Sarah M. Neher of Overland Park, Kan., ministry focus in youth and young adults
Shayne (Chibuzo) T. Petty of Shreveport, La., emphasis in intercultural leadership
Susan L. Smith of Lutz, Fla.
Master of Arts
Karen M. Duhai of Richmond, Ind., concentration in theological studies
Charlotte D. Loewen of Mountain Lake, Minn., concentration in Brethren studies
Jonathan A. Prater of Rockingham, Va., concentration in theological studies
Brody Rike of Eaton, Ohio, concentration in biblical studies
Rudolph H. Taylor III of Blue Ridge, Va., concentration in biblical studies
Certificate of Achievement in Theological Studies
Kyle A. Remnant of Cincinnati, Ohio
Certificate in Intercultural Biblical Interpretation
Shayne (Chibuzo) T. Petty of Shreveport, La.
Certificate in Theopoetics and Theological Imagination
Martin Jockel-Giessen froom the State of Hesse, Germany
Kindra S. Kreislers of Saginaw, Mich.
Jonathan A. Prater of Rockingham, Va.
The weekend’s activities began with the traditional worship service planned and led by the graduating class on Friday, May 4. Patricia Kapusta welcomed those gathered and presented a call to worship. Jonathan Prater, Sarah Neher, and Kyle Remnant each offered personal reflections on the themes in Psalm 46, following readings of the psalm in different versions. Faculty members then anointed each of the graduates as a blessing and ritual of sending. Graduates and families were joined by members of the Bethany community for an evening banquet, during which faculty members offered personal tributes for each graduate.
The speaker for Saturday’s academic ceremony was Bethany alumnus Russ Matteson. In an address entitled “Embodying Radical Obedience to the Spirit of Christ,” he drew on Romans 8:5-17, which calls for trust in the workings of God instead of reliance on oneself. “When we give God that kind of attention, when we can allow our lives to be filled with the living and breathing God, then God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.... I think that that is what the invitation to life in Christ is really all about.” Reminding the graduates of the radical obedience of the first Brethren in the face of oppression, Matteson stated, “I believe that that is the true genius of the Brethren movement: gathering a people who meet together in committed communities to search the scriptures and to pray about the word and the world and to trust and test the nudgings of the Holy Spirit...even as it may upset the settled order and understandings of the church or the world around them. It is my deepest hope that some of this has rubbed off on your faith during your time here at Bethany...and that you will continue to be challenged and encouraged by the witness that is behind the tradition of your seminary.”
Matteson is the district executive of the Pacific Southwest District in the Church of the Brethren and lives in Modesto, California. Prior to this call, he and his spouse copastored two California congregations: Fellowship in Christ in Fremont and Modesto Church of the Brethren. He also served as director of marketing and sales for Brethren Press from 1999 to 2003. Matteson earned an MDiv from Bethany in 1993.
President Jeff Carter addressed the class as one of “high academic quality: nine designations of honors for work completed with distinction.... You have grown in your confidence, you have found voice for your passions, and you have moved your thinking and your discovery in some familiar and new ways. You have tackled tough topics in scripture and ministry. And you have been brave.... I have confidence that bravery will continue.”
Video recordings of both the worship service and ceremony are available for viewing at https://bethanyseminary.edu/events-resources/video-vault .
-- Jenny Williams is director of communications for Bethany Seminary.
6) Brethren attend ‘Reclaiming Jesus’ event in nation’s capital
by Walt Wiltschek
More than half a dozen Brethren attended the major “Reclaiming Jesus” witness event held at National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C., on May 24. The event, organized by a variety of progressive-leaning Christian leaders, was centered around a series of declarations against lying, misogyny, authoritarianism, xenophobia, and other issues that recently have dominated cultural discourse.
“Sojourners” editor Jim Wallis, one of the lead organizers, said, “We face in this nation right now a moral test.” Episcopal presiding bishop Michael Curry called it “a Jesus movement” and a “Pentecost moment,” and said it boils down to Jesus’ command to “Love your neighbor. That’s why we’re here.” Other speakers included author/theologian Walter Brueggemann, Riverside Church senior minister emeritus James Forbes, author/spiritual leader Tony Campolo, author and Franciscan friar Richard Rohr, and former president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Sharon Watkins.
Organizers estimated about 2,000 people in attendance. Following the service at the church, the group processed with candles to the White House about six blocks away for a vigil and prayer. “May we walk with confidence and clear love in our hearts,” Rohr said.
The Brethren and many others at the event were in Washington for the week-long Festival of Homiletics, which focused on the theme “Preaching and Politics.”
-- Walt Wiltschek is pastor of Easton (Md.) Church of the Brethren and at-large editor for “Messenger,” the Church of the Brethren magazine.
7) Ecumenical delegation visits North Korea
a release from the World Council of Churches
A six-person international ecumenical delegation, comprised of representatives of the World Council of Churches and the World Communion of Reformed Churches and led by WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit and WCRC general secretary Chris Ferguson, visited Pyongyang on May 3-7, at the invitation of the Korean Christian Federation (KCF) of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
This visit took place just a few days after the historic events of the Inter-Korean Summit at Panmunjom on April 27, at which president Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea and chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK jointly signed the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula. These extraordinary initiatives have created a new momentum for peace which the delegation strongly wishes to affirm, support and encourage.
The worldwide ecumenical movement has been engaged in promoting dialogue, peaceful co-existence, and the reunification of the divided Korean people for more than 30 years, especially since the 1984 “Tozanso Consultation” convened by the WCC.
Relationships with and between the KCF of the DPRK, the National Council of Churches in South Korea (NCCK), and WCC and WCRC member churches in South Korea have been at the center of this ecumenical solidarity movement for peace and reunification of the Korean Peninsula.
The statement published after the visit reads: “We give thanks to God that today we are able to celebrate together with KCF and the NCCK the political commitments expressed in the Panmunjom Declaration, encompassing so many long-held ecumenical hopes and aspirations for peace on the Korean Peninsula, including especially the commitments to joint efforts to alleviate military tensions, to promoting inter-Korean exchange and cooperation, to achieving a peace treaty to replace the 1953 Armistice Agreement, and the solemn declaration that there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula.”
The statement added: “We celebrate and affirm the joint declaration of commitment to realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula--in the context of our efforts for a nuclear-free world through advocacy for universal ratification and implementation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).”
During the visit to the DPRK, the delegation met and discussed with representatives from the KCF, as well as with H.E. Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme Peoples Assembly of the DPRK, and with Ri Jong Hyok, president of the National Reunification Institute.
Tveit and Ferguson met in Seoul prior to traveling to the DPRK with H.E. Cho Myoung-Gyon, South Korean Minister for Unification, and the ecumenical delegation met with President Kim Yong Nam of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly in the DPRK and they affirmed and emphasized the importance of the role of church leaders and faith communities in past and future efforts for peace and reunification of the Korean people.
The delegation saw the Inter-Korean Summit and its outcomes as an almost miraculous new spring for peace in the region, after months and years of dangerously escalating tensions. “We visited Pyongyang in a beautiful new spring season, not only in the natural world but also in the relations between the people and governments of the Korean peninsula,” said Tveit. “We know that spring is also a season in which to work, to ensure that we reap a good harvest of what has been sown.”
Chris Ferguson, WCRC general secretary added: “Together, the WCC and the WCRC are committed to mobilizing our churches around the world in support of these new steps towards the peace that we have so long sought and desired for the people of the peninsula and the northeast Asian region.”
The delegation urges “all churches, all Christians called by our Lord Jesus Christ to be peacemakers, and all people of good will around the world to join in supporting the Korean-led initiatives for peace expressed in the Panmunjom Declaration, as a foundation and framework for achieving a sustainable peace for the Korean people, for the region, and for the world.”
Read the full statement from the ecumenical delegation to DPRK, published May 7, at www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/statement-international-ecumenical-delegation-visit-to-dprk-3-7-may-2018 .
8) Todd Bauer ends service with BVS as Latin America coordinator
Todd Bauer’s contract with Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) as Latin America coordinator will come to an end at the end of May. BVS is reevaluating how it coordinates its work in Latin America in light of lower numbers and tightening budgets. Bauer has served in the position for nearly 11 years.
Bauer was a BVS volunteer from 2001 to 2006 in Ixtahuacán, Guatemala, where he coordinated the nursery and agricultural development for the local Catholic church in partnership with Trees for Life in Wichita, Kan. He became the BVS coordinator for Latin America in July 2007. His gifts for the ministry included a deep sensitivity to and love for the culture and people of Latin America, his ability to help volunteers and staff navigate their way through the cultural issues of BVS placements in Central American communities, and his deep faith. Bauer and his family live in Ixtahuacán.
For more about BVS go to www.brethren.org/bvs .
9) Fellowship of Brethren Homes announces leadership transition
Leadership of the Fellowship of Brethren Homes is in transition following the resignation of executive director Ralph McFadden, who resigned earlier this year. McFadden had been staying on until a successor was found. The fellowship in mid-May announced that Dave Lawrenz, who recently retired from leadership of Timbercrest, a Church of the Brethren retirement community in North Manchester, Ind., has agreed to take the executive director role.
McFadden began as executive director in January 2015. “Ralph brought a lot of energy and vitality to the role, helping us always to think about ‘next steps’ while also keeping us firmly in touch with our organization’s Brethren roots,” said an announcement from Jeff Shireman, chair of the executive committee for the fellowship. McFadden will wind down his involvement with the fellowship over the next few months, and will officially retire at the end of July.
Lawrenz begins as executive director in mid-July. “We have had several executive directors in the last 15 years, and each one has brought their own talents and spiritual gifts to bear in moving the organization forward,” said the announcement from Shireman. “Just as all of our ‘homes’ are adjusting to new ways of doing things in this volatile environment, we look forward to working with Dave and benefitting from the unique spin he will put on his leadership of the Fellowship.”
For more about the Fellowship of Brethren Homes, a collaborate ministry of the 22 retirement communities that are related to the Church of the Brethren, go to www.brethren.org/homes .
10) Sixth Brethren World Assembly set for August in Indiana
by Terry White
Registrations are now being received for the Sixth Brethren World Assembly, to be held Aug. 9-12 in Winona Lake, Ind. This gathering happens every five years for Brethren groups descended from Alexander Mack in 1708 and it is sponsored by the Brethren Encyclopedia, Inc.
“Brethren Intersections: History, Identity, Crosscurrents” is the working theme for the four-day assembly, which will be hosted by the Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church. The event is open to all, and will feature some 20 speakers giving lectures, panel discussions, historical tours, worship services, and much more.
The first day of the assembly will be Thursday, Aug. 9, with several plenary sessions focusing on historical and religious intersections for the Brethren, and it will conclude with a worship service and ice cream social. The second day, Friday, Aug. 10, will include sessions that focus on the Brethren-evangelical relationship in the eras of Charles G. Finney, Billy Sunday, and Billy Graham. Afternoon panels and sessions will include a bus tour of sites in and around historic Winona Lake, once home of the world’s largest Bible conference, and a central conference point for Brethren groups since the 1880s.
The third day, Saturday, Aug. 11, will focus on themes of social justice, relationship with the military, gender questions, and will include a bus tour of historic Brethren sites at Arnold’s Grove in Milford, Ind., and Camp Alexander Mack on Lake Waubee. On Sunday attendees are encouraged to worship with local Brethren congregations not of their own groups.
A modest registration fee will include seven meals, admittance to all sessions, ice cream socials, a follow-up book containing all proceedings, and more. Attendees will be responsible for finding their own lodging in the Warsaw/Winona Lake area.
Brethren Encyclopedia publishes encyclopedias and monographs of Brethren interest. The group comprises representatives of the seven groups descended from Alexander Mack, which include Church of the Brethren, Brethren Church, Dunkard Brethren Church, Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (Charis Fellowship), Conservative Grace Brethren Churches International, and two groups from the Old Order German Baptist Brethren heritage.
To access a downloadable program schedule and online registration form, log onto www.brethrenencyclopedia.org or call 574-527-9573 for more information.
11) Brethren bits
-- Remembrance: John Crumley, a former Church of the Brethren mission worker in Nigeria, passed away suddenly on May 18. He and his wife, Patricia, served in Jos, Nigeria, from December 1999 to July 2004. His work there began as a supportive role to Patricia, who taught music at Hillcrest School. He repaired musical instruments and tutored students as needed, while being a house husband and father. He also sought ways to support the local Nigerian Brethren congregation and its outreach ministries. During their final year in Jos, he was invited to teach at the women’s program of the Theological College of Northern Nigeria. A memorial service was held on Thursday, May 24, at Polo (Ill.) Church of the Brethren.
-- Former mission workers Carolyn and Roger Schrock are traveling to South Sudan for two and a half months of volunteer service with the Brethren Peace Center in Torit. The Schrocks will train agronomists and work with the Eastern Equatoria Farmer's Association, an organization seeking to fight the region's pervasive hunger by encouraging farmers to pool resources and leverage assets. The Global Mission and Service office of the Church of the Brethren is requesting prayer for the Schrocks' health and safety as they serve. “Pray for the efforts of all working to ease the hunger crisis in South Sudan,” said the announcement.
-- Bethany Theological Seminary has announced that Mark Lancaster’s role will change. He will begin work in the newly created position of assistant to the president for strategic initiatives on Aug. 1. He has been executive director of institutional advancement since July 2015. In his new part-time role, he will focus on goals and objectives of Bethany’s new Strategic Vision Implementation Plan, working to maintain Bethany’s relationship and education partnership with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), explore grants and other funding sources, and continue to maintain institutional connections with major donors.
In related news, Lancaster also will begin Aug. 1 as part-time director of the Brethren Heritage Center in Brookville, Ohio. “The Brethren Heritage Center has reached a level in its 15-year history where the need for a salaried director is recognized,” said an announcement. “The hiring of Mark Lancaster by the Board of Directors moves the BHC from an all-volunteer staff.” Lancaster brings to the position more than 40 years of experience in working with mostly nonprofit organizations including Heifer International and American Friends Service Committee as well as Bethany Seminary. Some of the activities he will lead include strategic planning, outreach, fundraising, donor relations, supervision of volunteer staff, and promotion of the archives regionally, nationally, and internationally. The center is a research and educational facility focusing on the history and genealogy of a number of the bodies that share the heritage of the Brethren movement that began in 1708 in Schwarzenua, Germany.
-- Ed Shannon has accepted the position of retirement planning consultant for Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) beginning June 18. He has been a retirement plan specialist for Converge Retirement for just over five years and has a background in Defined Benefit and Defined Contributions Church Plans. He holds a degree in Human Resources Management from Judson University in Elgin, Ill., where he and his family live and are members of First Baptist Church of Elgin.
-- The Church of the Brethren seeks an associate director for the Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) program within Brethren Disaster Ministries and Global Mission and Service. Major responsibilities include providing oversight, leadership, and administration of CDS. Additional responsibilities include leading the response of CDS volunteers, leading and coordinating new program development and expansion of CDS, managing and supporting the development of ecumenical relationships, and providing sound financial management of CDS. Required skills and knowledge include program development and management, volunteer management, effective training and presentation skills, knowledge of child development and the impact of trauma on child development, strong written and verbal skills in English, ability to communicate effectively with multiple agencies and constituencies and deal gracefully with the public, ability to work with minimal supervision, appreciation for the church’s role in mission with an awareness of mission operations, and ability to act within a multicultural and multi-generational team environment. Training or experience making effective presentations, managing staff and volunteers, working directly with children (teaching, counseling, providing program, etc.), and skilled competency in Microsoft Office component applications are required. Previous disaster response experience is preferred. A bachelor’s degree is required with a preference for an advanced degree. This position is based in the Brethren Disaster Ministries office at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Applications will be received beginning immediately and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Send a resume to COBApply@brethren.org or Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367. The Church of the Brethren is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
-- The denomination’s Workcamp Ministry, in preparation for the summer 2018 workcamp season, has prepared commissioning materials for churches to use to affirm and support youth, young adults, and advisors participating in workcamps this year. Materials include a litany and prayer that revolve around the workcamp theme scripture, as well as a description of the service being done at each workcamp. Commissioning materials were sent out to the pastors of churches that have youth, young adults, and advisors participating from their congregations. The resources also may be found online at www.brethren.org/workcamps . The workcamp office would encourage all congregations to support the workcamp ministry through their prayers.
-- Global Mission and Service is sharing a prayer request from Gustavo Lendi Bueno, president of Iglesia de los Hermanos (Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic). Prayer is needed because of tensions between Dominicans and Haitians living in the DR. “There has been an increase in retaliatory attacks on innocent Haitian families, such as when one Haitian commits a crime of robbery or assault against a Dominican, mobs form to attack Haitians or burn their homes in response. Many Haitians in the Dominican Republic are especially vulnerable because they lack citizenship or residency rights and thus face discrimination and inadequate access to government services. Gustavo requests prayers for himself and other members of the Dominican-Haitian Pastors for Peace group as they work against hate and try to help people gain residency. Pray for an end to the cycle of violence, for improved relationships between Haitians and Dominicans in the DR, and for more effective cooperation between the two countries’ governments.”
-- The SERRV board of directors was hosted by the Church of the Brethren General Offices for meetings on May 9-11. SERRV International is a fair trade organization that had its start as a Church of the Brethren program. SERRV headquarters are in Madison, Wis., but the organization continues to maintain a distribution center at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.
-- Frederick (Md.) Church of the Brethren is releasing a set of six podcasts on the first 11 chapters of Genesis. The series, called “Other Questions,” has been created by James Benedict, interim pastor for Spiritual Formation and Discipleship. “Each podcast is between 15 and 20 minutes long, and may be listened to online or downloaded. They are designed for people on the go or others who may be looking for a way to go deeper in their understanding of scripture,” said an announcement. Benedict holds four graduate degrees including a master of divinity from Bethany Theological Seminary, a doctor of ministry from United Lutheran Seminary in Pennsylvania, and a doctorate from Duquesne University. He has served as a pastor in the Church of the Brethren for more than 30 years. Links to the podcasts are at http://fcob.net/get-involved/grow .
-- Two new episodes of the Dunker Punks Podcast are available for listening. A recent Brethren Volunteer Service worker with the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, Emmy Goering, reflects on “the good grown from giving ourselves for others.” And Tori Bateman, who currently serves in the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, interviews Gimbiya Kettering, director of Intercultural Ministries for the Church of the Brethren, who shares her insights on race relations within and beyond the church. “Learn how the Church of the Brethren and Martin Luther King Jr. are connected in ways you may not expect,” said an announcement. The Dunker Punks Podcast is an audio show created by more than a dozen Brethren young adults across the country. Listen to the latest on the episode pages http://bit.ly/DPP_Episode57 and http://bit.ly/DPP_Episode58 or subscribe on iTunes: http://bit.ly/DPP_iTunes.
-- “Brethren Woods is turning 60!” says an announcement from Shenandoah District. “Join Brethren Woods for a fun day of celebrating 60 years of ministry!” The 60th Anniversary Party and Campfire will take place Saturday, June 9, from 3-8 p.m. From 3-5 p.m., activities feature the pool, waterslide, fishing, paddle boats, a photo booth, camp store, a history exhibit, and a nature talk. Dinner, a program, and campfire worship will follow. RSVP to the camp office at 540-269-2741 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
-- “Farm to Table Dinners” are being presented at Shepherd’s Spring, an outdoor ministry center near Sharpsburg, Md., in Mid-Atlantic District, on May 26 and June 23 from 1-3 p.m. These meals are prepared by Chef Heilman for $30 per person as a special “taste of spring and summer.” The menu and more information is at www.shepherdsspring.org .
-- Peter Becker Community is hosting a groundbreaking ceremony for its newest cottage neighborhood, Maplewood Crossing, on Monday, June 21, at 2 p.m. Peter Becker is a retirement community in Harleysville, Pa., that is related to the Church of the Brethren. The event will be held on the sites of the #1 and #2 Maplewood Crossing Cottages at Maplewood Estates. “There are nine cottages in the project that will connect our existing cottage neighborhood to the Maplewood Estates apartment complex,” said a release. “This event will host the individuals and organizations who are making this expansion possible including top executives, board members, architects, designers, future home owners and more.” For more information go to www.peterbeckercommunity.com .
-- Carol Scheppard, professor of philosophy and religion at Bridgewater College and past Annual Conference moderator for the Church of the Brethren, delivered the message at the Bridgewater baccalaureate service on May 4. Approximately 398 seniors received degrees on May 5, in a ceremony on the campus mall. Among the 398 students in the class of 2018, 157 earned bachelor of arts degrees and 142 earned bachelor of science degrees; 17 graduated summa cum laude--the top academic honor which requires students to achieve at least a 3.9 grade point average on a 4.0 scale; 22 earned magna cum laude honors--a 3.7 or better average; and 55 earned cum laude honors, requiring a 3.4 grade point average.
-- In more news from Bridgewater College, four juniors have received the college’s 2018 Summer Christian Experience Scholarship and will work at a variety of church-related camps this summer. Each student was awarded $3,000 from the scholarship program, which is funded by the Bridgewater College endowment fund. Receiving the scholarships are Rosanni Lake Montero, a psychology major, who will serve at Camp Mardela in Denton, Md.; Clara O’Connor, a family and consumer sciences major, Selena Spriggs, a sociology major with a minor in cultural studies, and Jasmine Monique Wright, a psychology major with a minor in neuroscience, who will all serve at Shepherd’s Spring Outdoor Ministry Center in Sharpsburg, Md. The Summer Christian Experience Scholarship Program was created by Bridgewater College to memorialize a number of outstanding church leaders.
-- Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) has issued a statement that it “fervently opposes the decision to relocate the American Embassy to Jerusalem and the subsequent refusal of the administration to acknowledge the role of this decision in the escalation of violence in Gaza.” In an email sharing the statement, director of communications Katie McRoberts wrote, “We support the sharing of Jerusalem by the two peoples and the three faiths--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Unilateral actions in Jerusalem and incitement to violence create tensions that undermine trust and make resuming meaningful negotiations and achieving a two-state solution more difficult.” Read the full text of the statement at http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5575/t/0/blastContent.jsp?email_blast_KEY=1415427 .
-- Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is seeking participants for a delegation to Colombia on June 26-July 6, and for an Indigenous People’s Solidarity delegation to Canada on July 20-30.
About the Colombia delegation, a CPT announcement explained that the “El Magdalena Medio is a region rich in renewable and non-renewable natural resources. Due to its richness and strategic position in the country, the city of Barrancabermeja and the Magdalena Medio region have suffered high levels of violence. Massacres and forced displacements left whole communities uprooted where criminal interests took advantage to take the lands and develop their economic projects. Armed groups and paramilitaries control Barrancabermeja and the region. High levels of unemployment and poverty have created a situation where young people see no other options but to get involved with these groups. When judicial efforts to evict communities from their lands do not work, paramilitary groups are used to threaten them.” The Colombia delegation will learn how national agrarian policies of development violate the human rights of campesinos and will delve into the history of the armed conflict and learn how its legacy continues to haunt the people of the area.
About the Indigenous People’s Solidarity delegation, a CPT announcement said that the group will “explore what it means to be an ally to indigenous communities engaged in healing, resisting colonialism, and struggling for sovereignty. For years, Anishinaabe people in treaty 3 have been defending their land and way of life, and resisting imposed crises, such as mercury contamination of the English-Wabigoon river system 40 years ago which continues to poison fish that is a traditional staple of their diet. Also, clear-cut logging on their traditional land.” Starting in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the delegation will meet with community development workers and indigenous leaders, spend time with the community in Grassy Narrows, undertake an analysis of colonialism, participate in anti-racism exercises, and critically reflect on how to live in right relations with the Earth and indigenous neighbors.
More information about the delegations is at https://cpt.org/participate/delegation/schedule .
-- Ruth Willert of Glendora (Calif.) Church of the Brethren, age 96, was celebrated recently for almost four decades of service as church organist. “Before she first played the organ at the Church of the Brethren in Glendora (at age 60), she was already a longtime piano teacher and accompanist with Glendora Unified School District,” reported the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. “This month, Willert, at a gracious 96 years old, retires from her post at Sunday services. She’s been making music here for more than 36 years.” Find the newspaper article at www.sgvtribune.com/2018/05/11/96-year-old-glendora-church-organists-career-ends-with-a-crescendo .
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 email@example.com . Contributors to this issue of Newsline include Colleen M. Algeo, Shamek Cardona, Kathleen Fry-Miller, Karen Garrett, Mary Kay Heatwole, Suzanne Lay, Ralph McFadden, Wendy McFadden, Nancy Miner, Grey Robinson, Kevin Schatz, Jeff Shireman, David Steele, Joe Vecchio, Terry White, Walt Wiltschek, Jenny Williams.