Newsline for Jan. 18, 2019




Refresh my heart - leaf on snow with Bible text - 500 px
Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

NEWS
1) BBT president signs on to letter from denominational benefit plans

2) Brethren Faith in Action Fund allocates first grants

3) New theological focus at Bethany Seminary is funded by AAAS grant

4) Global Food Initiative gives grants to agriculture-related projects in Spain, Nigeria, East Africa, the US

5) Nigerian Brethren host the Fellowship of Christian Churches in Nigeria

6) Nigeria Crisis Response helps thousands in 2018

7) Church of the Brethren awards nursing scholarships

UPCOMING EVENTS
8) Summer workcamp registration is open for jr. and sr. high youth and young adults

9) Youth and young adult events include CCS, National Jr. High Conference, Young Adult Conference

10) Spring academy courses cover race and congregation, Bible survey, thinking theologically, church polity

11) Bridgewater College holds symposium on status of Brethren organizations

12) Outdoor Ministries board members offer innovative retreat

13) Brethren bits


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Quote of the week:

“Deep down in our non-violent creed is the conviction there are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they’re worth dying for.... A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.”

-- Martin Luther King, Jr., from a sermon he gave in Selma, Ala., on March 8, 1965, the day after “Bloody Sunday” when civil rights protesters were attacked and beaten by police on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

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New from Messenger Online:

The online edition of the Church of the Brethren magazine “Messenger” has posted new articles including “‘Through God’s will' Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria survives and grows” by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford at www.brethren.org/messenger/articles/2019/through-gods-will.html and “What I wish my preacher knew” by James Benedict at www.brethren.org/messenger/articles/2018/what-i-wish-my-preacher-knew.html .

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1) BBT president signs on to letter from denominational benefit plans

The president of Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT), Nevin Dulabaum, has signed on to a letter to Congressional leaders sent by chief executive officers of denominational benefit plans. The November letter expressed concern about two separate sections of the Internal Revenue Code, one with potential to restrict participation in church retirement income account plans, and the other to potentially impose a tax on church parking lots.

CEOs who signed the letter lead member organizations of a diverse interfaith group representing Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish faith traditions. Their organizations provide retirement and health benefits to more than 1 million clergy, lay workers, and their families.

The letter addressed a recent position taken by the Treasury Department and IRS to ban employees of certain church-affiliated organizations from participating in church retirement income account plans offered under section 403(b)(9) of the Internal Revenue Code.

“The recent Treasury Department and IRS position disregards more than 30 years of practice, precedent, and clear statutory language,” the letter said, in part. “As a result, employees of church-related nursing homes, daycare centers, summer camps, preschools, colleges, universities, hospitals, and other social service organizations stand to lose access to the unique plan features they have come to depend upon in these church plans.”

In addition, the letter raised concern about a separate, unrelated new business income tax provision in section 512(a)(7) of the Internal Revenue Code that would impose a tax on church parking lots.

The letter noted that “well-vetted and bipartisan and bicameral” legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate that would make the necessary clarifications to both sections 403(b)(9) and 512(a)(7).

It strongly encouraged the Senate to advance the legislation before the end of the year “so the resources of America’s religious communities may be properly directed and focused on their mission work.”





2) Brethren Faith in Action Fund allocates first grants

The Brethren Faith in Action Fund provides grants to outreach ministry projects of Church of the Brethren congregations that serve their communities, strengthen the congregation, and expand the reign of God. It was created by the Mission and Ministry Board with monies generated by sale of the upper campus of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Ministries that receiving grants will honor and continue the legacy of service that the center has epitomized, while also addressing the dynamics of the present age.

The fund is being managed so as to preserve principle. Investment performance and other factors will determine the total amount of available grant money each year. For more information go to www.brethren.org/faith-in-action .

The five congregations that received grants in 2018:

Rockford (Ill.) Community Church received a grant of $5,000 to support its community outreach with a mobile tech and art lab. The mobile unit is an ongoing project that offers nonviolence education and training to the local community through skill training in music and coding nonviolent computer games. The grant will underwrite expense including equipment for the labs, website hosting, software, fuel, vehicle maintenance, and trainer and driver stipends.

Alpha and Omega Church of the Brethren in Lancaster, Pa., received a grant of $5,000 to support the church’s 2018 outreach budget. The congregation’s outreach includes the following ministries: food bank, fall festival, day camp, 40-day outreach campaign, and video/Internet ministry.

Sunnybrook Church of the Brethren in Bristol, Tenn., received a $5,000 grant to support purchase of a radio station to broadcast Christian music, worship services, sermons, district announcements, and other programming. The congregation has been in negotiations with the owner to assign the license to the church in exchange for purchase of the necessary equipment. The radio station is part of the congregation’s social media outreach strategies. The congregation’s vision is to provide positive, uplifting, and encouraging Christian messages.

Eglise des Freres Haitiens Church of the Brethren in Miami, Fla., received a grant of $5,000 to support ministry outreach to its community. The congregation provides ministries that address basic human needs and evangelization to more than 350 families on a weekly basis. Each year, the number of families in need of food and assistance increases. The grant will be used for refugee assistance, an after-school program, a radio ministry, a food pantry, and to provide turkeys to families in the community.

Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., received a grant of $5,000 to assist with replacement of aged and dilapidated playground equipment primarily used by a preschool that is a ministry of the congregation. The church offers scholarships to roughly one-third of enrolled students at the preschool. The congregation’s goal is to provide a safe, stimulating, and environmentally friendly play area for the children of the congregation, the preschool, and the neighborhood. The grant covers a portion of the approximately $15,000 total expense.





3) New theological focus at Bethany Seminary is funded by AAAS grant

By Jenny Williams

Two Bethany Theological Seminary faculty members are exploring and expanding educational opportunities at the intersection of theology and science through grant funds awarded. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) awarded Bethany a $75,000 grant through Science for Seminaries, an initiative of its Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) program.

Bethany is one of the first seven seminaries to receive this grant in Phase II of the Science for Seminaries initiative. The goal of this initiative is to support seminaries as they integrate science into theological education and demonstrate its relevance to the life of religious communities. Grant recipients commit to incorporating scientific topics and themes into their core curricula and to hold at least one campus-wide event. Carried out in consultation with the Association of Theological Schools, Phase II is a five-year expansion of a successful pilot program.

Bethany’s new grant-funded program is entitled Binocular Vision: Seeing Life through Eyes of Faith and Science. Faculty members Russell Haitch, professor of theology and human science, and Nate Inglis, assistant professor of theological studies, prepared the grant proposal and are overseeing the program’s components. Inglis learned about the grant in the summer of 2016 when he was selected to attend an AAAS Science for Seminaries Faculty Enrichment Retreat in Maine.

“When I first heard about this grant, I knew that it would be a great opportunity for Bethany and that our seminary would be a great candidate,” says Inglis. “Our students are already always seeking ways to integrate their faith, their ministry, and their sense of service with the cultural issues of our time. A scientific worldview and a society that is increasingly integrated with technology characterize the world in which our students are called to serve. In this setting, a basic science literacy and critical reflection on how new technology impacts our lives are topics that need to become essential parts of seminary education.”

In keeping with the Science for Seminaries initiative parameters, Haitch and Inglis are each revising one of their courses to give scientific themes greater presence. Ministry across Generations, taught by Haitch, has utilized psychology in preparing students to minister to people at various stages of life but will subsequently give more emphasis to neuroscience in the course content. In Introduction to Theological Reflection, Inglis will enhance student learning with comparison and contrast of theological and scientific methods and with the integration of relevant scientific fields.

Bethany will also offer a public conference on the meeting of faith and science entitled Looking at Life, to be held April 25-27, 2019, at the Seminary. Different perspectives on the development of  life in the universe, in terms of the human species, and early human development will be explored. Scholars and speakers from theological and scientific genres will provide leadership through presentations, panel and attendee discussions, and small groups. Scientists at Earlham College and Indiana University East are serving as consultants for event content.

Haitch is leading the planning for the conference. “We wanted to do a conference that would, yes, deal with evolution but also go beyond the tired talking points and acrimony. I ask myself: How can we bring a biblical understanding and Christian frame of mind to questions of origins? So, let’s look at the start of the universe and the start of humanity but also at human development. There are new reproductive technologies. There are new discoveries in epigenetics--ways that children inherit traits not just from DNA.... These areas concern people in ministry.”

Information on the Looking at Life conference will be forthcoming through print and digital media and a new web presence.

To build institutional interest and engagement in the Binocular Vision grant components, Haitch and Inglis have led guided discussions with Bethany employees and the combined Bethany and Earlham School of Religion faculties. Bethany teaching faculty have helped brainstorm ways to integrate theology and science within the educational experience, including topics for the Looking at Life conference and naming theology and science as the theme for the Seminary’s fall 2018 chapel preaching series. (Video recordings of all chapels are available at bethanyseminary.edu/video.) Bethany faculty are also able to utilize the grant resources to incorporate scientific content into their own courses.

Apart from the grant-funded programs, Bethany faculty have also developed a graduate-level Certificate in Theology and Science, offered for the first time during the 2018-19 academic year. Requiring just five courses, the certificate can be completed in one to two years and is available for CEUs. For more information, visit bethanyseminary.edu/certificates.

The Science for Seminaries project was made possible through the support of AAAS and a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The American Association for the Advancement of Science is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science (www.sciencemag.org) family of journals. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes 261 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The nonprofit AAAS (www.aaas.org) is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert! at www.eurekalert.org, the premier science-news website, a service of AAAS.

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





4) Global Food Initiative gives grants to agriculture-related projects in Spain, Nigeria, East Africa, the US

Members of the Church of the Brethren in Spain work in a community garden that receives support from the Global Food Initiative.
Photo by Jeff Boshart

Members of the Church of the Brethren in Spain work in a community garden that receives support from the Global Food Initiative.

The Global Food Initiative (GFI) of the Church of the Brethren has made several grants in the last two months. The grants support long-term hurricane recovery for farmers in Puerto Rico, church-related community garden projects in the US and in Spain, an orchard in Nigeria, a refrigeration project of Lybrook Community Ministries in New Mexico, and Brethren participation in an ECHO East Africa Symposium. Find out more at www.brethren.org/gfi .

Puerto Rico

An allocation of $51,605 provides long-term recovery support to Puerto Rican farmers who suffered damage to their farms during Hurricane Maria. The proposal came with the recommendation of the Puerto Rico District’s disaster response committee and the coordinator for the response, Jose Acevedo. The GFI manager has maintained close communication with the associate executive director of Brethren Disaster Ministries to maintain coordination between the two programs. Previous allocations for this project, made in August and September last year, total $36,399.

“The needs in Puerto Rico are extensive and the agriculture sector of the economy is the backbone of rural communities on the island. This sector was also hit the hardest by Hurricane Maria,” said the grant request. GFI manager Jeff Boshart visited earlier recipients of financial assistance and learned of the positive impact, both economically and spiritually, on their families and their churches. He also learned of the interest of Puerto Rican farmers in giving back through sharing their knowledge of tropical agriculture with sisters and brothers in neighboring island countries such as the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Community gardens

A grant of $15,000 supports purchase of a used tractor for New Carlisle (Ohio) Church of the Brethren’s community garden project. The project recently was offered and took control of an abandoned nine-acre lot owned by the school district. Local officials and the school district are active partners in this project with the ecumenical community of New Carlisle. Some produce is donated each year to a food pantry and some is sold at a farmers market to raise funds for the project. Staff at a nearby school will be involved with providing educational opportunities for students to connect with the gardening project. After purchase of the tractor, any excess funds were to be used for materials to build “high tunnels,” which are low-cost, movable greenhouse-like structures that allow for year-round vegetable production. Previous allocations to this project were made in March 2017 and in March and April 2018 totaling $8,000.

An allocation of $4,455 supports the community garden project of the Gijon and Aviles congregations of Iglesia Evangelica de los Hermanos (the Church of the Brethren in Spain). The project began in 2015 and has supplied many needs in the community. This is the fourth and final grant for this project and has support from the leadership of the Church of the Brethren in Spain. Previous grants given in May 2015, April 2016, and January 2018 total $13,532. Funds will be used for hoses, sprinklers, seeds, land, and tractor rentals.

Nigeria

An allocation of $5,260 supports installation of a fence around an orchard at the headquarters of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The orchard is located on land owned by EYN and operated by the denomination’s agriculture staff working in the Integrated Community Based Development Program (ICBDP). The orchard was established earlier this year, but newly planted grafted fruit trees were stolen and staff anticipate animal damage in the dry season. The orchard serves multiple purposes including demonstration, production, and income generation for the agriculture department. Vegetables will be produced with the use of drip irrigation between trees while trees reach fruit-bearing age. The grant funds supplies, transportation, and labor.

New Mexico

An allocation of $3,000 funds the set-up of one complete solar and refrigeration unit for Lybrook Community Ministries in Cuba, N.M. Director Jim Therrien has been seeking several partners for the project and has applied for grants from non-Brethren sources to cover the costs of installing more units in the homes of elderly members of the community who need refrigeration for medicines and families with young children who need refrigeration for milk and formula. The model unit was to be set up at one of the ministry’s guest cabins to be used as a demonstration for Navajo neighbors and for the ministry to gain experience before installing other units in the community. Three community members have received training in the installation and maintenance of the units. The grant purchases equipment and supplies and helps provide pay for three workers.

East Africa

Allocations have been given to support attendance at an ECHO East Africa Symposium by Brethren from the Democratic Republic of Congo ($2,990); representatives from THARS (Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services), a Brethren-related organization in Burundi ($2,490); and Brethren from Rwanda ($1,830).

The ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization) East Africa Symposium takes place Feb. 12-14 in Arusha, Tanzania. It offers the opportunity for agricultural development leaders from the three communities to interact with Christian development organizations from across the region, and will serve as professional growth for representatives who are working in GFI-supported agriculture projects.

To support the work of the Global Food Initiative, give online at www.brethren.org/gfi .





5) Nigerian Brethren host the Fellowship of Christian Churches in Nigeria

2019 TEKAN Assembly at EYN Headquarters in Kwarhi, Nigeria
Image courtesy of EYN

From a release by Zakariya Musa, EYN Communications

Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) has hosted the 64th annual assembly of TEKAN at EYN headquarters in Kwarhi, Nigeria. TEKAN stands for the Fellowship of Christian Churches in Nigeria and includes 15 primarily Hausa-speaking denominations, making it the largest Christian ecumenical body in Nigeria.

The theme of the gathering Jan. 8-13 was “Church: God’s Light in Darkness.” EYN completed construction of a large new conference and office complex in advance of hosting the gathering of some 200 church leaders from across Nigeria.

The full text of the assembly communique follows:

COMMUNIQUE OF THE FELLOWSHIP OF CHURCHES OF CHRIST IN NIGERIA:

KNOWN IN HAUSA AS “TARAYYAR EKKLESIYOYIN KRISTI A NIJERIYA” (TEKAN) 64TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY HELD AT THE EKKLESIYAR YAN’UWA A NIJERIYA (EYN) HEADQUARTERS, KWARHI, HONG LGA, ADAMAWA STATE FROM 8TH -13TH JANUARY, 2019.

1. PREAMBLE:

The Fellowship of Churches of Christ in Nigeria otherwise known as TEKAN, is a fellowship that has been in existence for over 64 years and has about 30 million members cutting across 15 denominational churches with traceable evangelical ancestry, theological affinity and Christian belief. The churches are:

1) Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN)
2) Nongo u Kristu u i Ser u sha Tar (NKST)
3) Christian Reformed Church- Nigeria (CRC-N)
4) Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa A Nijeriya (EYN)
5) Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN)
6) Reformed Church of Christ for Nations (RCCN)
7) United Methodist Church in Nigeria (UMCN)
8) Evangelical Reformed Church of Christ (ERCC)
9) Mambila Baptist Convention- Nigeria (MBC-N)
10) Evangelical Church of Christ in Nigeria (ECCN)
11) United Church of Christ in Nations (UCCN-HEKAN)
12) Nigeria Reformed Church (NRC)
13) All Nations Christian Assembly (ANCA)
14) United Missionary Church of Africa (UMCA)
15) Christian Evangelical Fellowship of Nigeria (CEFN)

2. ATTENDANCE: The Assembly had in attendance the President of TEKAN; Rev. Dr. Caleb Solomon Ahima, all the TEKAN Executive Council Members, Members of the Board of Trustees, Advisers, Presidents and General Secretaries of Member Churches, delegates and other invited dignitaries.

3. THEME OF THE ASSEMBLY: The Assembly was held under the Theme: “Church: God’s Light in Darkness” (Matthew 5:16). The Assembly makes a commitment to be light in the midst of prevailing darkness that has engulfed the nation and reemphasizes the fact that as Christians we are called upon to emulate the life of Jesus Christ and shine the light in all our endeavors.
The Assembly, in addition to glorious worship services and admonitions on the need for sacrificial love and relationship, resolves to pursue and stand for the truth, equity, fair play and the course of the gospel in all circumstances.

4. CONDOLENCES: The Assembly expresses heartfelt condolences to TEKAN Member Churches who lost their beloved ones after the last General Assembly and all those directly and indirectly affected by the horrific acts of the marauding Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram terrorists in parts of Nigeria particularly Borno, Zamfara, Benue, Adamawa, Taraba, Kaduna, Plateau and Nasarawa States among others.

5. ON ENVIRONMENT: The Assembly notes with concern the high level of environmental degradation occasioned by gully erosions, oil spillages, desertification and its impact on the society and economy of the nation and calls on Government, well-meaning Nigerians and Member-Churches to take drastic measures to redress the anomaly and also clothe the earth of its current nakedness by ensuring that they plant trees annually.
 
6. ON SECURITY:

i) The Assembly acknowledges the effort of the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari in reducing the activities of the insurgents and reclaiming some of the Local Government Areas in the North East Nigeria which were hitherto under the control of the terrorists. At the same time the Assembly calls on the Government to do more to stop the persisted activities of the terrorists, ensure the return of the displaced persons to their homes and provide the communities with needed relief measures and financial support to rebuild their destroyed homes and worship places.
 
ii) The Assembly condemns strongly the unabated kidnappings and killings of Nigerians particularly that of late Agwom Adara in Kaduna State; His Royal Highness Dr Maiwada Galadima JP, the gruesome murder of the former Chief of Defense Staff, Chief Air Marshal Alex Badeh, Major General Jibril Alkali, the soldiers and other security officers in the field and is concerned that if leaders and security experts of their likes can be cheaply killed, then ordinary Nigerians are surely not safe, if the international community led by the United Nations will not come to the help of the country.

iii) The Assembly is deeply saddened by the continuous killings and destruction of property of her numerous members and innocent Nigerians around the country by Fulani herdsmen and persons masquerading as Boko Haram, kidnappers and “unknown gunmen” and wonders why the Government has not done enough to stop the menace despite the outcry by the affected and well-meaning Nigerians.  The Assembly calls on the Federal Government to fully assume its constitutional responsibility and immediately address the issues.

vi) The Assembly is dissatisfied that despite several calls and agitations from well-meaning Nigerians and organizations, particularly TEKAN, to President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the true reflection of Federal Character in the appointments and operations of the security apparatus in the nation, he   has remained indifferent. The Assembly believes that the unbalanced appointments are largely responsible for the interminable state of insecurity in the country and reiterates that the appointment of security chiefs should adequately reflect the Federal Character urgently as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.
   
v) The Assembly is deeply pained that the Federal Government is yet to secure the release of Miss Leah Sharibu who is still in captivity because of her faith in Jesus and Chibok School Girls in Boko Haram custody despite repeated promises by President Muhamadu Buhari to ensure their release.
 
7. PROSECUTION OF PERPETRATORS AND HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES:

i) While the Assembly demands a concrete action on the prosecution of the perpetrators of attacks on the communities, the Assembly rejects the situation where the victims are turned into perpetrators as seen in some cases in Kaduna, Benue and Plateau States.

ii) The Assembly calls on the Federal and State Governments to give premium attention to the protection and defense of the fundamental rights of citizens which is the fulcrum upon which genuine democracy is built. It urges the Federal Government to respect the independence of the Judiciary and also ensure the immediate release of detainees who have been granted bail like Shiite leader Elzakzaki, Retired Col. Sambo Dasuki and many others in continuous detention.
 
8. ON STATE OF THE ECONOMY:

i) While the Assembly appreciates the efforts by the Government to provide food to the nation through improved agricultural mechanization and creating jobs to the youth through the N-Power, the Assembly is concerned at the deplorable state of the nation’s economy and encourages government to step up the said activities and also provide credit facilities and enabling environment for young Nigerians without barrier who have the potentials and are willing to go into businesses to excel in their chosen careers.

ON GENDER EQUALITY: The Assembly strongly calls on Civil Society, Nigerians and all constituted authorities to fight against gender discrimination/dichotomy that has placed women at disadvantage in terms of training, job selections and descriptions due to cultural and social constraints to ensure self-enhancement, self-emancipation and self-reliance of all citizens without border.

9. ON 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS:

i) Mindful of the forth-coming General Elections in the country and the challenges associated with it, the Assembly calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to honor his commitment to conduct free, fair and credible elections.

ii) The Assembly also urges the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remain impartial, transparent, and ensure that the wishes of the people are respected in all the elections.

iii) The Assembly demands that the security agencies be professional in discharging their statutory duties and not to be partisan or seen to be partisan.

iv) The Assembly calls on political parties, candidates and supporters to conduct themselves in a manner that will guarantee peaceful coexistence of the country even after the elections by avoiding inflammatory statements or undertaking activities that are inimical to peace.

v) The Assembly calls on the youths to reject being used for any form of violence and other behaviors capable of destroying their dreams and ambitions for the future.

vi) The Assembly is sad that vote buying and selling is becoming the order of the day and calls on Nigerians to avoid vote selling and buying in whatever form and encourages INEC and security agents to ensure the prosecution of those found wanting.

vii) The Assembly urges her members and other Nigerians to participate actively in the election processes and also turnout en-masse to vote for the candidates of their choice and protect their votes to ensure that leaders that will bring sanity and sanctity to the nation are elected to power.

10. PRAYERS: The Assembly calls on Christians and all well-meaning Nigerians to be more committed to prayers for the forth-coming general elections and peaceful coexistence of all Nigerians, irrespective of tribe, region and religion. Consequently, the Assembly has declared 30th January, 2019 for fasting and prayers for the nation by all her members.

11. CONCLUSION: The Assembly appreciates the Almighty God for successful deliberations and admonishes her Member-churches to continue to be committed to the worship of God, propagation of the gospel, peace-loving and shine the light of Christ in spite of the level of persecution and provocations in the environment they reside in.

Rev. Dr. Caleb Solomon Ahima, TEKAN President
Rev. Moses  Jatau Ebuga, TEKAN General Secretary





6) Nigeria Crisis Response helps thousands in 2018

One of the wells built by EYN Disaster Ministry and the Nigeria Crisis Response

One of the wells built by EYN Disaster Ministry and the Nigeria Crisis Response

By Roxane Hill

Medical assistance, skills and business training for widows and orphans, fertilizer and seeds, trauma healing, education assistance, clean water sources, food distributions, special relief to victims of Fulani herdsmen, and home repairs were all part of the Nigeria Crisis Response relief effort for 2018. The Nigeria Crisis Response is a joint effort of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) and the Church of the Brethren.

Nineteen food distributions were organized for over 2,500 families. One woman who received food had been captured by Boko Haram in 2015 and was freed with help from the Nigerian Army in November 2018. She was so appreciative of the food and household items because once freed they had nothing.

People who received medical help and screening for Hepatitis B numbered 6,300. The medical officer and assistants traveled thousands of miles to hold mobile clinics for the internally displaced people (IDPs) and this year they embarked on a screening and inoculation program for Hepatitis B.

Some 169 homes were rebuilt costing about $1,000 a home. This program is in high demand for all those whose houses were burned by Boko Haram. Only the most needy (about 20 per town) received the assistance and the recipients completed the walls before the EYN Disaster Team provided the roofing.

Trauma workshops and counseling have been provided for around 500 people. This trauma awareness includes being able to tell their stories and is going a long way to help overcome the extreme trauma they have incurred. Forgiveness is emphasized and many who participate in a workshop go home and tell others so the healing is spreading.

The level of education in northeast Nigeria has deteriorated over the past few years. Some schools were closed, some burned to the ground, and others used to house IDPs. The Nigeria Crisis Response sponsors a boarding school, several learning centers, and has provided school fees for more than 1,000 children. Children of the IDPs and many others still have not been able to go to school and more assistance is needed.

Most people in the northeast survive by farming. The response helped 2,500 families with seeds and fertilizer. This year the distribution was streamlined through the EYN districts. The district leader from Mubi said the hardest thing is choosing who will receive the help when so many are in need. With 17 of his district’s 25 churches destroyed, the needs are overwhelming. A Soybean Value Chain project also is being sponsored with help from the Global Food Initiative and Illinois Soybean Innovation Lab.

Good water sources are always in demand. The IDP camps all need to provide and maintain a water source. Some wells were destroyed by Boko Haram and other places have never had clean water. The response provided 11 communities with wells/bore holes, helping thousands of Christian and Muslim households.

Widows and orphans must find ways to support themselves and their families. Five skill training centers operated in 2018, graduating 269 students. Each student received the tools necessary to start a business. In addition, 135 widows were given around $100 as start-up capital. Through the EYN Women’s Ministry, workshops have been held, literacy programs put in place, and peace groups started. The influence of the women is growing throughout the society.

Numerous other activities were held during the year. Seminars were held for capacity building, the district leaders received training in disaster preparedness, the Yola IDP camp was fenced, the Shaffa Theological Education by Extension office was repaired, a new vehicle was purchased, special relief efforts were organized for victims of the Fulani herdsmen attacks, two tripartite meetings were held with EYN and the Church of the Brethren and Mission 21, a Muslim and Christian Peace Conference was organized, a joint church re-building workcamp was held in Michika, and much more. What a year!

Please continue to pray for Nigeria.

-- Roxane Hill is coordinator of the Nigeria Crisis Response, a joint effort of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN) and the Church of the Brethren. For more information go to www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .





7) Church of the Brethren awards nursing scholarships

Many Church of the Brethren nurses have received scholarships over the years. Shown here is Amanda Knupp.

Many Church of the Brethren nurses have received scholarships over the years. Shown here is Amanda Knupp.

Two nursing students are recipients of Church of the Brethren Nursing Scholarships for 2018.  This scholarship, made possible by the Health Education and Research Endowment, is available to members of the Church of the Brethren enrolled in LPN, RN, or nursing graduate programs.

The recipients for 2018 are Ashley Swansboro of Moxham Church of the Brethren, Johnstown, Pa.; and Erica Lowery of Meyersdale (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.

Scholarships of up to $2,000 for RN and graduate nurse candidates and up to $1,000 for LPN candidates are awarded to a limited number of applicants each year. Information on the scholarships, including application form and instructions, is available at 

www.brethren.org/congregationallife/nursingscholarships.html .


Applications and supporting documentation are due by April 1 of each year.





2019 Workcamps logo8) Summer workcamp registration is open for jr. and sr. high youth and young adults

Church of the Brethren summer workcamps are offered for junior high and senior high youth and young adults. This year’s theme is “Grow” (2 Peter 1:5-8).

Junior high workcamps:

June 9-13 at Camp Brethren Heights in Rodney, Mich. ($285)

June 17-21 hosted by New Community Project’s Sustainable Living Homestead in Harrisonburg, Va. ($285)

June 26-30 hosted by Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in South Bend, Ind. ($285)

July 17-21 hosted by First Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va. ($285)

July 21-25 at Camp Blue Diamond in Petersburg, Pa. ($285)

July 21-25 hosted by First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa., and partnering with On Earth Peace and the Brethren Housing Association ($285)

Senior high workcamps:

June 8-14 at Camp Wilbur Stover in New Meadows, Idaho ($335)

June 16-22 hosted by the Haitian Church of the Brethren in Miami, Fla. ($400)

June 23-29 hosted by Lybrook Community Ministries in Lybrook, N.M. ($400)

July 7-13 in Knoxville, Tenn. ($400)

July 14-20 in Boston, Mass. ($425)

July 22-28 at the Family Abuse Center in Waco, Texas ($370)

July 28-Aug. 3 at Heifer International Ranch in Perryville, Ark. ($460)

July 29-Aug. 4 in Portland, Ore, ($400)

Aug. 4-10 at New Horizons Ministries in Cañon City, Colo., sponsored by the Brethren Revival Fellowship (BRF) ($365)

Aug. 5-11 hosted by the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Polity in Washington, D.C ($335)

Young adult workcamps:

May 31-June 10 in Shanxi, China, partnering with You’ai Care and You’ai Hospital, organizations inspired by the former Church of the Brethren mission that was started in China in 1910 ($875). Please also budget for the cost of a passport and a visa (about $140).

June 10-13 We Are Able assistants in Elgin, Ill. ($385). Young adult participants serve for a week to assist the We Are Able workcamp for intellectually disabled youth and young adults.

June 10-13 We Are Able in Elgin, Ill., for youth and young adults living with disabilities, ages 16 to 30 ($385)

Registration fees vary (see information above). A $150 non-refundable deposit is due seven days after the online registration confirmation is sent. The full balance is due by April 1. More information and registration are at www.brethren.org/workcamps . Questions and comments may be sent to cobworkcamp@brethren.org .





CCS Logo 20189) Youth and young adult events include CCS, National Jr. High Conference, Young Adult Conference

A number of events are offered in 2019 for youth and young adults in the Church of the Brethren: Christian Citizenship Seminar (CCS) on April 27-May 2, Young Adult Conference on May 24-26, and National Junior High Conference on June 14-16.

Christian Citizenship Seminar (CCS) takes place April 27-May 2 in New York and Washington, D.C. The seminar provides high school-aged students the chance to explore the relationship between faith and a particular political issue, and then act from a faith perspective. “Creative Solutions to Violent Conflict Worldwide” is the theme, focusing on innovative approaches to resolving conflict and preventing civilian harm. Churches are strongly encouraged to send an advisor with youth, even if only one or two youth attend. Churches are required to send one advisor for every four youth. Registration is limited to the first 60 participants. The $425 fee includes event programming, lodging for five nights, two dinner meals, transportation from New York to Washington. Participants will bring additional money for most meals, sightseeing, personal expense, and subway/taxi fares. Go to www.brethren.org/yya/ccs .

National Junior High Conference 2019

National Junior High Conference is June 14-16 at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College on the theme “Strong and Courageous” (Joshua 1:9). Register by March 31 to take advantage of the “early-bird” fee of $180 per person. Starting April 1, registration increases to $210 per person. A non-refundable deposit of $100 is required within two weeks of submitting an online registration. The conference is for youth who have completed grades 6 to 8 and their adult advisors. Go to www.brethren.org/njhc .

Young Adult Conference 2019 YAC

Jan. 25 is the opening day to register for Young Adult Conference on May 24-26 at Camp Blue Diamond near Petersburg, Pa. The theme is “Enflame Us with Your Love; Empower Us with Your Spirit!” The event offers people ages 18 to 35 a chance to enjoy fellowship, worship, recreation, Bible study, service projects, and more. Registration costs $150 and includes food, lodging, and programming. Upon request, the Youth and Young Adult Ministry will send a letter to your congregation asking them to provide a $75 scholarship. Make scholarship requests by April 1. Scholarships are available to current Brethren Volunteer Service workers. A non-refundable deposit of $75 is due within two weeks of registering. Go to www.brethren.org/yac .





10) Spring academy courses cover race and congregation, Bible survey, thinking theologically, church polity

Several courses are offered by the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership in the spring. These are open to students in the Training in Ministry (TRIM) and Education for Shared Ministry (EFSM) programs, ministers seeking continuing education, and others. The fee per course is $295.

Eric Bishop

Eric Bishop

“Race and the Congregation” with Eric Bishop, vice president of student services for Chaffey Community College in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and an adjunct professor teaching mass media at the University of La Verne and leadership courses in the doctoral program at San Diego State University. This course is hosted at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on Feb. 21-24. For registration contact the academy at 800-287-8822 ext. 1824 or academy@bethanyseminary.edu . Find a brochure at https://bethanyseminary.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Race-and-the-Congregation_brochure_r1.pdf .

“Survey of the Bible” with Bethany Seminary academic dean Steven Schweitzer takes place at Miami (Fla.) Haitian Church of the Brethren on March 1-3. The registration deadline is Jan. 25. Find a brochure at https://bethanyseminary.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Survey-of-the-Bible-brochure.pdf .

“How to Think Theologically” is an online course March 13-May 7, with Bethany Seminary professor Nate Inglis as instructor. The registration deadline is Feb. 6. Find a brochure at https://bethanyseminary.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/How-to-Think-Theologically-Brochure.pdf

“Church of the Brethren Polity” is an online course April 3-May 28, taught by Torin Eikler, district executive minister for Northern Indiana District. The registration deadline is Feb. 27. Find a brochure at https://bethanyseminary.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/CoB-Polity-Brochure.pdf .

For more information go to https://bethanyseminary.edu/brethren-academy/brethren-academy-course-listings .





11) Bridgewater College holds symposium on status of Brethren organizations

On March 14-15, Bridgewater (Va.) College will present a symposium on “The Status of Brethren Organizations: Demise and Momentum.” The event is open to the public.

The gathering will consider the status of four major Church of the Brethren institutions over the past 25 years: Annual Conference, Bethany Theological Seminary, Brethren Press, and the Mission and Ministry Board. “Over the generations, these organizations fostered the Christian faith and Brethren identity of many, but in recent years they have significantly declined in budget, staffing, and participation,” said an announcement of the symposium.

Presenters are Ben Barlow (Mission and Ministry Board); Scott Holland (Brethren Press); Ruthann Knechel Johansen (Bethany Seminary), and Carol Scheppard (Annual Conference). Jeff Carter, Wendy McFadden, and David Steele will respond.

Robert P. Jones, author of “The End of White Christian America,” a book published in 2016, will begin the symposium on Thursday evening, March 14, with a Lyceum event in Cole Hall starting at 7:30 p.m. The other presentations, including a question and answer session with Jones, will occur on March 15 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Lyceum is free; the Friday session has a registration fee of $20 and includes lunch.

The sponsor of the event is the Forum for Brethren Studies. RSVPs are appreciated but walk-ins are welcome. For more information and to RSVP, contact Steve Longenecker at slongene@bridgewater.edu .





12) Outdoor Ministries board members offer innovative retreat

Cultivating a Verdant Faith outdoor ministries retreat

An innovative weekend retreat is offered this spring by board members of the Church of the Brethren Outdoor Ministries Association (OMA). Randall Westfall and Jonathan Stauffer are leading “Cultivating a Verdant Faith” at Camp Emmaus in Mount Morris, Ill., on March 8-10.

“The Christian faith has something to contribute to how we care for creation,” said a description of the retreat. “Instead of being distracted by the politics of the day, we need a metanoia moment (Greek for to turn around) and the church needs to lead with hope and faith. Not a passive hope--waiting for external agencies to bring about what we desire; rather active hope--partnering with God to bring about what God desires because none of this is ours, it’s on loan to us from the one who created it all.”

Stauffer and Westfall “have come to believe that living attuned with God’s creation is now essential to our discipleship with Jesus.”

Sessions will be held in a winter retreat lodge at Camp Emmaus. Each day will weave eco-practices into the fabric of discipleship and spiritual formation by exploring four directions of eco-discipleship along with Bible study, worship, and group discussions. Ages 18 and up are invited to “unplug and rediscover the eco-blueprint of faith that our Creator gave us.” Ministers who attend may earn .8 continuing education units. The registration fee of $75 includes six meals and two nights’ stay.

For more information, a brochure, or to register contact Jonathan Stauffer, staufferjp@gmail.com or 815-973-0247, or Randall Westfall, ancientpaths.os@gmail.com or 231-867-3618. For more about the Outdoor Ministries Association and Church of the Brethren camping go to www.brethren.org/camps .





13) Brethren bits

-- Remembrance: Joan Deeter, who served on the executive staff of the Church of the Brethren, died Jan. 8 at Timbercrest in North Manchester, Ind. During her tenure on the denominational staff she filled two different executive roles, from 1988-92 as executive of the Parish Ministries Commission and then from 1992-97 as associate general secretary for the World Ministries Commission. She retired in 1997 and then worked as chaplain at Timbercrest Senior Living Community until 2008. Among her many contributions to the Church of the Brethren she served on the study committee that developed the 1979 Annual Conference paper on “Biblical Inspiration and Authority,” authoring a study guide for the statement after its adoption; served on the Standing Committee of district delegates to Annual Conference; led Annual Conference Bible studies; and contributed to numerous denominational publications including the Church of the Brethren magazine “Messenger,” “Brethren Life and Thought,” the “Deacon’s Manual,” “Fresh from the Word,” and “Who Are These Brethren?” She also had been a pastor, an adjunct faculty for Bethany Theological Seminary, one of the faculty for Bethany Extension at Bridgewater (Va.) College, a member of the Brethren Health and Welfare Board, the Brethren Journal Association, and the New Church Development Committee, among others. She held leadership roles in South Central Indiana District, including moderator of the district conference. In the late 1960s she was executive director of the Mental Health Association in Wabash County, Ind. In the mid-1960s and again in the early 1980s she was staff for Brethren Colleges Abroad in Marburg, Germany. In 1976 she was one of seven representatives of the Church of the Brethren to the Irish Peace March. She held degrees from Manchester University (then Manchester College), Northwestern University, and Bethany Seminary, and studied at Phillipps University in Marburg. She was preceded in death by her husband, Allen Deeter. She is survived by sons Michael (Abby Alpert) Deeter of Evanston, Ill.; Dan (Jamie Marfurt) Deeter of Spartanburg, S.C.; David (Serena Sheldon) Deeter of Irvine, Calif.; and grandchildren. A memorial service will be held Saturday, Feb. 23, at 2 p.m. at Manchester Church of the Brethren with visitation to follow. Memorial gifts are received to Manchester Church of the Brethren and to Timbercrest Senior Living Community. A full obituary is at www.mckeemortuary.com/notices/Joan-Deeter .

-- Remembrance: Dr. John L. Hamer, 95, former Nigeria mission worker, died on Jan. 15 at Timbercrest Senior Living Community in North Manchester, Ind. A physician and an ordained minister, he and his wife, Esther Rinehart Hamer, worked in a hospital in Lassa, Nigeria, for 16 years from 1953-1969. Following the illness and subsequent death of a nurse co-worker at the hospital, Laura Wine, his insistence that further testing be conducted led to the discovery of the deadly viral disease Lassa Fever. He was born in 1923 in Waterloo, Iowa, to parents O. Stuart Hamer and Gertrude (Sharp) Hamer. In his youth the family moved to North Manchester where he served on the church’s Middle Indiana Youth Cabinet. His life was influenced by church leaders including Heifer founder Dan West and Nigeria mission leader Desmond Bittinger. He earned degrees from Manchester University (then Manchester College), and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, where he met his wife, who was attending the School of Nursing. Upon returning from Nigeria in 1969 he joined a group family practice in LaGrange, Ind., and then had his own family practice of 18 years in Fort Wayne, Ind. He was the first hospice physician when the Parkview Hospital Hospice Program began. He was a member of Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne. He is survived by his wife; daughters Harriet Hamer (Abram Bergen) of South Bend, Ind., and Krista Hamer-Schweer (Thomas Schweer) of Colbe, Germany; step-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren. Service arrangements are pending. Memorial gifts are received to the John L. and Esther L. Rinehart Hamer Endowed Professorship in Music at Manchester University; to Timbercrest; and to Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren. A full obituary is at www.mckeemortuary.com/notices/John-Hamer .

An image of Martin Luther King Jr. that appears in the stained glass window at First Church of the Brethren, Chicago

Martin Luther King Jr. appearing in a stained glass window at First Church of the Brethren, Chicago, Ill.

      Manchester University is hosting a presentation by David Pilgrim, founder and curator of the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University, on holding difficult conversations about race, using lessons from the museum. The museum in Big Rapids, Mich., holds the nation’s largest collection of racist artifacts, said a release. “On Feb. 1, 1968, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to an overflow audience at the campus of what was then Manchester College in rural Indiana. What no one would have predicted then was that this was to be King’s last campus address before his death. Manchester marks the occasion each year with a keynote address for the MLK Remembrance and Rededication Ceremony,” the release said. Pilgrim is a leading expert on issues relating to multiculturalism, diversity, and race relations, currently serving as vice president for Diversity and Inclusion at Ferris State, and is the author of the books “Understanding Jim Crow” and “Watermelons, Nooses, and Straight Razors.” The Jim Crow Museum is a 12,000-piece collection of racist artifacts that is used to educate, teach tolerance, and promote social justice. The presentation at Manchester is sponsored by the university’s Office of Multicultural Affairs with support from the Ira W. and Mable Winger Moomaw Lectureship/Seminar Fund and the Manchester Peace Studies Institute. The presentation is 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, in Cordier Auditorium on the Manchester University campus in North Manchester, Ind. It is free and open to the public.

      “Celebrating the Dream, Continuing the Journey of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” is the theme as Bridgewater (Va.) College invites congregations of Shenandoah District to a day of events on Monday, Jan. 21. Beginning at noon at Oakdale Park in Bridgewater, the day will include a community march to the Bridgewater College campus; an afternoon workshop with Derek Greenfield, a popular speaker who has led a wide range of conferences and gatherings of companies and colleges including McDonald’s Corporation, NCAA, International Conference on Cultural Diversity, Hilton Hotels, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, National Dropout Prevention Conference, Progress Energy, and the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks; and “An Evening of Poetry, Love, and Enlightenment” led by Nikki Giovanni, a renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. All events are free and open to the public. A schedule and more information are at http://wp.bridgewater.edu/mlk2019 .

-- Remembrances: Brethren Press is remembering three former long-term employees who have died over the past month:

     Winfield (Dick/Win) Knechel, 95, died Dec. 20, 2018, in Allentown, Pa. He worked for the Church of the Brethren publishing house in Elgin, Ill., as a bindery operator for 30 years, from 1958 until his retirement in 1988. During World War II he was a conscientious objector and served in Civilian Public Service (CPS) assignments on both coasts. Following the war he accompanied a shipment of relief animals to Poland. Services were held in Allentown on Dec. 24.

     Loring Pease, who had lived in West Dundee, Ill., passed away on Jan. 4. He served at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin as a press operator for 28 years, from 1959 until the presses were closed in 1987. His wife, Catharine Pease, also worked for the Church of the Brethren denomination. She died in 2004.

     Ruby Mae (Koehnke) Warnke, 94, of Fort Collins, Colo., died Jan. 14. She was born in Elgin in 1924 to Charles and Neva (Schairer) Koehnke. As a young adult she became involved with Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren and became a devoted member of the denomination. She worked as a cost accountant for Brethren Press over a span of 40 years starting in 1946, spending one interlude as a switchboard operator and receptionist. In 1968 she married Lee Warnke, a widower with three daughters, and they enjoyed 38 years together before his death in 2006. When they retired in 1986, they moved to Colorado and found a church home at Peace Community Church of the Brethren in Windsor. She was preceded in death by her husband, stepdaughter Jean Kay and husband Willy. She is survived by stepdaughters Dianne and husband Roger Perry, and Andrea Warnke and husband Geoff Brumbaugh, step-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren. A full obituary is at www.legacy.com/obituaries/coloradoan/obituary.aspx?n=ruby-warnke&pid=191277764&fhid=16071.

-- Virlina District has called Mary Sink St. John to serve as director of District Conference, Nurture, and Witness beginning March 1. This new part-time position replaces the former associate district executive minister position. St. John is a member of Ninth Street Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va. She formerly served the district as the first full-time program director at Camp Bethel from 1991 to 1996 and as director of Children, Youth, and Young Adult Ministries from 2007 to 2016. In denominational volunteer positions, she has served on the Outdoor Ministries Association Steering Committee and on the National Junior High Conference team.

-- Shine: Living in God’s Light seeks a part-time contract content editor. Shine is a cooperative curriculum project of Brethren Press and MennoMedia. Contract content editors report to the project director, work closely with curriculum writers, and edit manuscripts in accordance with Shine editorial and production guidelines. Applicants must have excellent editorial and writing skills, understand faith formation and developmental stages, operate well in a collaborative environment, and be well-grounded in Anabaptist beliefs and practices. A bachelor’s degree is required, a graduate degree in theology or education is preferred. Application documents are available online and will be received through Jan. 31 at www.ShineCurriculum.com/jobs . Email Joan Daggett at joand@mennomedia.org with questions.

-- The Brethren Historical Library and Archives seeks an archival intern to work at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The Archival Internship Program develops interest in vocations related to archives, libraries, and Brethren history. The program will provide the intern with work assignments and with opportunities to develop professional contacts. Work will include processing archival materials, writing descriptive inventories, preparing books for cataloging, responding to reference requests, and assisting researchers in the library. Professional contacts may include attending archival and library conferences and workshops, visits to libraries and archives in the Chicago area, and participation in a Brethren Historical Committee meeting. The Brethren Historical Library and Archives is the official repository for Church of the Brethren publications and records with a collection of more than 10,000 volumes, 3,500 linear feet of manuscripts and records, 40,000 photographs, plus videos, films, DVDs, and recordings. The term of service is one year, beginning June 2019 (preferred). Compensation includes housing at a Church of the Brethren volunteer house, stipend of $550 every two weeks, and health insurance. Requirements: a graduate student is preferred, or an undergraduate with at least two years of college; interest in history and/or library and archival work; willingness to work with detail; accurate word processing skills; ability to lift 30-pound boxes. Submit a resume to COBApply@brethren.org or to the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367. All submissions must be completed by April 1.

-- “Christian Peacemaker Teams Palestine needs you!” said a recent announcement from CPT. The urgent call for reservists and interns has been made “due to last year's denials at the border, CPT Palestine is at risk,” said the announcement. “We call on the CPT community for immediate action, so that we may continue to be present with our partners in al-Khalil/Hebron.” The organization is requesting new presence on the Palestine team by the fourth week of January. Both trained CPT volunteers and untrained interns are welcome. The CPT Palestine team works in English. Airfare and costs on the ground will be covered by CPT, with a three-month commitment. Contact Mona el-Zuhairi at monazuhairi@cpt.org .

-- Also from CPT, the organization has announced peacemaking opportunities in 2019 and opportunities to join a CPT delegation. “This year, take another step into the world of nonviolent direct action, and stand in solidarity with CPT's partners,” said an invitation. “Engage with the work of CPT, witness our commitment to nonviolent action firsthand, and share new insights into global peace work!” Find out more about how to join a CPT delegation to the areas of Iraqi Kurdistan, the US/Mexico borderland, Colombia, Palestine, and areas where CPT works in solidarity with indigenous peoples, at https://cpt.org/delegations .

-- Nathan Holser of the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuiding and Policy has been in Nigeria for the past week or more. So far, his trip has included visits with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria); participation in the first International Religious Freedom Roundtable held in Nigeria’s capital city Abuja, along with two members of EYN from Abuja; and visits to two camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). In addition, Hosler has been engaging in discussions and gathering perspectives regarding the upcoming elections and the ongoing conflict in the country; visited Dutse Uku in Jos, Plateau State, and listened to how crisis has affected the area; visited the National Mosque in Abuja; and attended a meeting at the US Embassy where he was able to discuss the trip as well as the concerns of EYN and the Nigeria Working Group. His trip will feed into the continued advocacy of the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy on Nigeria in Washington, D.C., as it convenes the Nigeria Working Group. Watch for a blogpost from Hosler once the trip is complete.

-- The United Nations representative for the Church of the Brethren, Doris Abdullah, has reported a name change for the department where the church’s membership resides. As of Jan. 1, the name of the department is the Department of Global Communications. “The new name anticipates the new ways of working underscoring the interactivity and co-operation in information management between the United Nations and its stakeholders,” said an announcement. The name of the NGO Relations unit is being changed to become the Civil Society Unit. The liaison functions of the former Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS) are a new addition to the unit, “which will allow for a well-rounded coordination of the civil society engagement in UN activities,” the announcement said. The conference that Abdullah has attended in past years as the church’s representative will now be called the United Nations Civil Society Conference. This year, the 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference (formerly known as UN DPI/NGO Conference) will take place in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Aug. 26-28.

-- “The best in classical music will fill Bethany Seminary’s Nicarry Chapel in early 2019 through the seminary’s new partnership with the Richmond (Ind.) Symphony Orchestra,” said a release from Bethany. The seminary and the orchestra have announced the Recital Series, a collaborative performance series that is free and open to the public. It will feature musicians from the orchestra in three performances, including a string quartet, a brass ensemble, and a woodwind ensemble. Concerts will be performed at the seminary chapel. The first of these free Sunday concerts are scheduled for Feb. 10 and March 24 at 4 p.m. (A concert this weekend has been canceled because of the weather forecast for heavy snow.) For more information, email contactus@bethanyseminary.edu .

-- The Western Plains District Office has moved from McPherson (Kan.) College to the Cedars Retirement Community at 1021 Cedars Dr., McPherson, Kan. The move took place Monday, Jan. 14. The district office mailing address remains the same: P.O. Box 394, McPherson, KS 67460. The district office email address is no longer wpcob@sbcglobal.net but has changed to office@wpcob.org .

-- McPherson (Kan.) College assistant professor Kirk MacGregor, who chairs the philosophy and religion department, recently published a textbook titled “Contemporary Theology: An Introduction--Classical, Evangelical, Philosophical, and Global Perspectives.” He also created a 38-lecture video series to accompany the text, according to a release from the college. Published by Zondervan, the book :provides a chronological survey of the major thinkers and schools of thought in modern theology. The text is described as an accessible, wide-ranging overview of the contemporary theological scene,” the release said. MacGregor joined the McPherson faculty in 2016 and was recognized as Professor of the Year in 2018 and received the Non-Tenured Faculty Teaching Award in 2017. He has taught at James Madison University, Radford University, the University of Northern Iowa, Western Illinois University, and Quincy University.

-- Another “Prayer and Worship Summit” is planned for this spring. The event will focus on “Praying for the Vision” and will be held on March 29-30 in Harrisonburg, Va. This is an informal gathering inviting Church of the Brethren members to “devote time for worship and prayer over the visioning process,” said an announcement. Annual Conference moderator Donita Keister and moderator-elect Paul Mundey are among the speakers. The event is free but registration is required. For more information go to www.brethrenprayersummit.com .

-- The Dunker Church (a Brethren meetinghouse) at Antietam is featured in the January 2019 edition of "Brethren Voices," the community television program produced by Portland (Ore.) Peace Church of the Brethren. This current program is a "step back in time” as Brethren Voices visits the National Park of the Antietam Battlefield near Sharpsburg, Md., where an estimated 23,000 soldiers were killed or wounded between 9 a.m.  and noon on Sept. 17, 1862. For the rest of the story about the "Dunker Church," Jeff Bach of the Young Center of Elizabethtown College shares more about this congregation, as it dealt with the Civil War on its doorstep. Brent Carlson, host of “Brethren Voices,” places this battle in the perspective of perhaps our greatest challenge of today, climate change. Youtube.com/Brethrenvoices is the home of over 80 Brethren Voices programs for easy viewing and has nearly 400 subscribers. For a copy of this current program, contact groffprod1@msn.com .

-- Following presidential and parliamentary elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Dec. 30, 2018, the World Council of Churches (WCC) is calling for a peaceful democratic transition of power. The DRC’s National Electoral Commission announced election of opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi as president. “This is a pivotal moment in the history of the DRC,” said WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit. “If confirmed and if no violent unrest ensues, it will be the first since the DRC’s independence in 1960.” The WCC and its member churches have been praying for peace and stability in the DRC, said a release.

-- In more news from the World Council of Churches, the theme for the WCC’s 11th Assembly, to be held in Karlsruhe, Germany in 2021, has been announced. “Christ’s Love Moves the World to Reconciliation and Unity” will be the theme used in development of programs and other preparations. “The theme will help to focus on the ecumenical movement as a movement of love, seeking to follow Christ and witness to Christ’s love--expressed in the search for justice and peace, and unity based on that,” said WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit in a release. “The one human family needs love and needs to love to face our future together.” The assembly is the “supreme legislative body” of the WCC, and meets every eight years to review programs and determine the overall policies of the WCC as well as to elect presidents and appoint a Central Committee to serve as chief governing body of the WCC until the next assembly.

-- Week of Prayer for Christian Unity devotions are offered this year by four heads of communion in the United States and Canada: Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA); Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop and primate, the Episcopal Church; Fred Hiltz, primate, Anglican Church of Canada; and Susan C. Johnson, national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. The series of devotions are for the ecumenical celebration on Jan. 18-25. Each year, churches from around the world mark a week to pray together for Christian unity. The theme for 2019 is based the 16th chapter of Deuteronomy, which states, “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue.” The ELCA is providing a download of the devotions at https://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Four-Way-Week-Devotionals-2019.pdf .

-- Jennie Waering, a member of Central Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., made the front page of “The Roanoke Times” when she retired after 35 years as a federal prosecutor, at the end of 2018. The extensive piece published on Dec. 29 focused on her retirement plans to do more social justice work, “to support more deeply the missions and ministries in the Roanoke Valley that oppose hate, help the poor, and reach across the divisions of faith and ethnicity.” She told the newspaper: “Seems to me we need to stand up to violence and hate in all its forms.... I don’t know all the answers yet. I just know I want to explore it.” The piece highlighted various social justice ministries in Roanoke including that of the Church of the Brethren. Read the article at www.roanoke.com/business/news/roanoke/retiring-federal-prosecutor-plans-further-pursuit-of-justice/article_cf8ad61d-c08e-5f82-9a1b-abe506227730.html .


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Newsline is the email news service of the Church of the Brethren. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Contributors to this issue include Doris Abdullah, Jeff Boshart, Nevin Dulabaum, Ed Groff, Roxane Hill, Susu Lassa, Marilyn Lerch, Steve Longenecker, Nancy Miner, Zakariya Musa, David Steele, Jenny Williams, and Newsline editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Please send news tips and submissions to cobnews@brethren.org . Find the Newsline archive at www.brethren.org/news . Sign up for Newsline and other Church of the Brethren emails, or make changes to your subscription, at www.brethren.org/intouch .

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