Newsline for February 15, 2006

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name….” — Isaiah 43:1b


1) Conference committee meets with Brethren Mennonite Council.
2) Brethren Volunteers take part in vocations program.
3) Bethany Seminary students and friends visit Greece.
4) Brethren bits: Corrections, remembrances, job openings, more.


5) Eshbach resigns as dean of Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center.
6) Krouse completes service as Nigeria mission coordinator.


7) Resources coming soon for Together conversations.


8) Campaign calls peacemakers to ‘Shine the Light’ in Washington.

For more Church of the Brethren news, go to, click on “News” to find a news feature, more “Brethren bits,” links to Brethren in the news, and links to the General Board’s photo albums and the Newsline archive. The page is updated as close to daily as possible.

1) Conference committee meets with Brethren Mennonite Council.

A meeting between the Program and Arrangement Committee of Annual Conference and representatives of the Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Interests (BMC) took place Jan. 21 at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The meeting, held at the invitation of the Program and Arrangements Committee, followed the issuing of revised guidelines for exhibits and literature distribution at Annual Conference.

The committee “felt it was important to have a face-to-face meeting with members of the Brethren Mennonite Council after denying a request for exhibit space at Annual Conference for 2006,” reported Annual Conference moderator Ronald Beachley. BMC, founded in 1976, has requested exhibit space for more than 20 years, according to BMC director Carol Wise. Those requests have been denied.

At the meeting, time was spent talking about the history of BMC, its relationship with the General Board Liaison program, and its relationship with the Program and Arrangements Committee, Beachley said. Those at the meeting watched the video “Body of Dissent,” produced by BMC. The committee’s representatives shared reasons why BMC was not granted exhibit space for the 2006 Annual Conference, and the group talked about how to encourage and foster dialogue. The meeting was “a mutual style conversation, with all of us exploring various ways to foster dialogue and move the church forward,” Wise said.

Beachley reported that “the representatives of the Program and Arrangements Committee felt the major reasons exhibit hall space was not given to BMC had to do with the church’s stance on covenantal homosexual relationships and a concern for those in the denomination who view scripture differently.” The conversation did not produce any major breakthroughs and no decisions were made, he said, “but being at the same table talking was a first step.”

Find the recently revised guidelines for Annual Conference exhibits and literature distribution at click on “Polity, Policies, and Guidelines.”

2) Brethren volunteers take part in vocations program.

A pilot project is giving 11 volunteers with Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) a chance to think about their vocational calling. The year-long project of the Lilly Foundation’s Theological Exploration of Vocation program is for college-age fulltime volunteers. It is being carried out with five volunteer organizations: BVS, Lutheran Volunteer Corps, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Mission Year Program, and the Presbyterian Year in Mission.

Each organization has its own facilitator for the project–the BVS facilitator is David Witkovsky, campus minister at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. James Ellison, an outreach minister of the Presbyterian Church working with at-risk children and youth at the Mother Jones House in Wheeling, W.Va., is a consultant for the project and has been visiting each of the volunteer organizations to interview participants as well as “alumni” volunteers. Leading the team of facilitators is Wayne Meisel, head of the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation that since 1989 has become one of the largest privately-funded service scholarship programs and a philanthropic leader in the anti-hunger movement (see

The Fund for Theological Education became interested in volunteer organizations as a source for the pilot project because they represent a cadre of young people involved in the church who may become church leaders in the future, Ellison explained.

The volunteer organizations–as well as the volunteers–will benefit from a more disciplined approach to the discernment of vocation, Ellison said. BVS hopes that the project will help volunteers “think more seriously about where God’s calling them during this time and afterward,” said director Dan McFadden. Many volunteers choose fulltime service because of the spirituality component of such work, he said.

The project, which began in the late summer of last year, will include three retreats for the 11 BVS participants, led by Witkovsky. Each participating volunteer seeks out a mentor to guide in thinking about call and vocation, and each is asked to participate actively in a local faith community. In March, six participating volunteers from each organization will attend a conference at Princeton University.

Ellison is interviewing the participating volunteers and BVS alumni, visiting the volunteers’ placement sites, and helping with issues that they raise. In the process he will help BVS figure out what works and what does not work for people who are using the volunteer experience to help them discern their calling. A grant of $20,000 has been given to BVS from the Fund for Theological Education to cover expenses for these events as well as some other work that BVS is doing to facilitate conversation with pastors.

The volunteers will learn a lot about themselves, but so will the organizations taking part. Ellison gave examples of weaknesses and strengths the organizations are already discovering through the process of meeting with each other’s staff. “The Brethren model really impressed everybody,” he said. BVS’s three-week orientation is “very in depth,” and it was the only organization to have volunteer placement take place during orientation, he said. BVS also is “unique” in the volunteers’ “strong sense of community and strong identity with the denomination,” he added.

Staff of other volunteer agencies “worried about the way Dan feeds the volunteers during orientation,” Ellison said with a smile. BVS volunteers receive only $2.25 per day for food during orientation, and part of the orientation is spent learning how to shop and eat adequately with that small amount of money. Another concern raised with “tongue-in-cheek” comments by Ellison was the “drop-off day” during orientation, in which pairs of volunteers are dropped off in an unfamiliar location and must find their way back to the orientation after working for free for a family or organization along the way. “In many way they (the other volunteer agencies) thought that was a pretty neat thing to do,” McFadden said of the drop-off day.

Ellison hopes the one-year pilot will expand into a several-year program, and will include more volunteer organizations in the future. The end result of the project will be a report and a design for larger investment into volunteer programs, he said.

McFadden hopes that volunteers who participate “are listening for the call and are paying attention to that call,” he said. “Are we looking for more pastors? Sure. But the bigger picture is that service is for all of us who are trying to follow Christ’s call.”

For more information about BVS see

3) Bethany Seminary students and friends visit Greece.

Thirteen Bethany Theological Seminary students and friends recently spent 12 days touring historical and religious sites in Greece, accompanied by Nadine Pence Frantz, professor of theological studies. Bethany students enrolled in the Master of Divinity (M. Div.) and Master of Arts in Theology (M.A.Th.) degree programs are required to take at least one course in cross-cultural studies which includes direct experience of and reflection on a cultural context other than their own. Cross-cultural courses enhance students’ appreciation and respect for different cultural perspectives, increase their ability to critique their own society and culture, and allow them to explore possibilities for ministry in a different social and cultural context.

The group left the U.S. on December 27, 2005 and returned on January 8, 2006. The trip was Dr. Frantz’s first to lead to Greece, and included Mycenaean, Classical Greek, Roman, early Christian, Byzantine and Greek Orthodox sites on the mainland of Greece and the Peloponese. Cities visited were Athens, Delphi, Olympia, the Lousios Gorge, Mystras, Geraki, Sparti, and Corinth. The students were required to do some reading and to meet for preparatory sessions before the study tour and to do a paper on a particular site or aspect of the trip once they returned. Three of the travelers were not taking it as a course for credit but were interested in learning more about Greece’s history and culture.

“The trip was a wonderful mixture of history, culture and people,” said Dr. Frantz, “and helped us understand the culture and context of the church that developed within the Greek culture.”

The trip was a positive experience for participating students that will be a continuing influence on their studies and faith journeys. Sue Ross of Fort Wayne, Ind., says that the trip allowed her to “see” some of the history that she has read about in books. “Standing in the place of Paul at Corinth brought his letters alive to me.” Kendra Flory of McPherson, Kan., observes, “Physically connecting with the land of our religious and spiritual history has prompted in me many questions and feelings about my beliefs and own spiritual journey, and experiencing contemporary Greek culture and its secular and spiritual traditions has brought me to a special place of reflection about my own traditions.” “The way I approach preaching God’s word will be different since catching a glimpse of the world in which it was told,” says Laura Price of Empire, Cal. “I will remember and cherish this experience forever,” says Sandra Jenkins of Clarksville, Ohio.

For more information about cross-cultural opportunities or Bethany’s educational programs, contact the Admissions Office at 800-287-8822 ext. 1832.

4) Brethren bits: Corrections, remembrances, job openings, more.
  • Corrections: The date of Coretta Scott King’s death was given as Feb. 31 in the Feb 1 issue of Newsline; the correct date is Jan. 31. Also in the Feb. 1 issue, sabbatical dates for Bethany Seminary’s academic dean Stephen Reid were incorrect; correct dates are Dec. 2006-April 2007.
  • Former China and Ecuador missionary Rolland C. Flory, age 93, passed away Feb. 13 at a hospital in Fort Wayne, Ind. He had lived at Timbercrest Church of the Brethren Home in North Manchester, Ind., since 1989. Flory’s work for the Church of the Brethren General Board included service in China during the World War II years, along with his wife Josephine, also deceased. The couple began their work in China in 1940 but in Feb. 1941 moved to the Philippines because of the Japanese occupation of China. By the end of the year they were put in a Japanese internment camp, where they were held until Feb. 1945. During his internment, Flory was one of four missionaries in the camp who suffered beatings and torture while being interrogated. After returning to the US, Flory earned an agriculture degree from Cornell University. The couple then returned to China, spending three years at a Brethren rural mission in Kiangsi Province. After Spanish language study in Costa Rica, they then spent eight years in the Brethren mission in Llano Grande, Ecuador. Returning from Ecuador, the Florys moved to West Lafayette, Ind., where he worked in the Purdue University Grounds Department until retirement in 1978. Flory was raised in China, having traveled there with his missionary parents Raymond C. And Lizzie M. Neher Flory when he was a toddler in 1914, and returning with them to the US in 1927. He attended high school in Grants Pass, Ore., and graduated from Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., in 1938. Flory is survived by son Jim Flory and his wife, Eileen, by son John Flory and his wife, Becky, and by three grandchildren. A memorial service will be held in the Timbercrest Chapel at a later date.
  • Patricia L. “Pattie” Bittinger Stern, age 75, died Feb. 5, in McPherson, Kan. The memorial service was held Feb. 11 at McPherson Church of the Brethren. She and her husband, Irven, served the Church of the Brethren in pastoral ministry, as mission workers in Nigeria and as district co-executives. She was born in Garkida, Nigeria, on Christmas Day 1930, the daughter of Church of the Brethren missionaries Desmond and Irene Bittinger. After graduating at McPherson College and attending Bethany Theological Seminary, Pattie and Irven worked in Nigeria with the Church of the Brethren General Board from 1954-62. They helped start Kulp Bible College of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), with Pattie teaching and serving as principal of the women’s school, and Irven serving as the college’s first principal. In 1962 they returned to Kansas, where Pattie taught in the public schools. In 1974 the couple moved to San Diego. They were co-executive ministers of Pacific Southwest District from 1985 until retirement in 1993–the first husband-wife couple to serve the denomination in such a capacity. Her volunteer work for the denomination included service on the Pacific Southwest District Board, as chair, as well as the board of Brethren Hillcrest Homes in La Verne, Calif., the New Church Coordinating Committee, the Program Coordinating Committee, and Annual Conference study committees on Mission Philosophy and Brotherhood Understanding. Ecumenical involvements included the Council of Religious Leaders in Southern California and the Pacific Conference on World Christian Mission, as dean. She was an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren and, following retirement, the Sterns co-pastored Live Oak (Calif.) Church of the Brethren. McPherson College honored them in 1991 with a Citation of Merit Award as outstanding alumni. Since their move to the Cedars in McPherson, the Sterns have continued to be active in the church and the work of Western Plains District. She is survived by her husband, three children, 6 grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. Memorial gifts are designated for McPherson Church of the Brethren Building Fund working on accessibility or McPherson College.
  • Stanley Wampler, former district executive minister of Shenandoah District and Tri-District Executive, died on Jan. 31 at age 86. A memorial service was held Feb. 4 at First Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg, Va. Wampler was baptized in 1928 at Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren in Weyers Cave, Va., and licensed and ordained to ministry at Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Port Republic, Va. He served pastorates in Virginia and then as a district executive from 1954 until retirement in 1984. He was executive for Northern Virginia District 1954-65, for the Tri-District of Virginia (Eastern, Northern, and Second)1965-67, and for Shenandoah District from its creation in 1967 until 1984. He is remembered for playing a leadership role in recognizing the need for retirement homes in the southeast region of the Church of the Brethren, with a vision that has now become the Bridgewater Retirement Community and two other Brethren-related retirement communities. In volunteer positions Wampler served the denomination on the Council of District Executives as chair, on the Standing Committee of Annual Conference, and on the Committee on Interchurch Relations. He also served on ecumenical committees including the Virginia Council of Churches as president, the Chaplain Services of the Churches of Virginia as president, the Industrial Commercial Ministries and Hospital Chaplaincies Programs, and the Bridgewater Healthcare Foundation Board. In retirement he was minister of visitation and welcome for his congregation. Wampler was a graduate of Bridgewater (Va.) College and Bethany Theological Seminary. He was in the army in the European Theater in 1944-45. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Mazie Kirby Wampler; two sons, Wayne Wampler and wife, Sue, and Jerry Wampler and wife, Barbie; six granddaughters; and a brother and sister. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Joyce Wampler Ferranti, in 2003. The family has designated memorial contributions to the Bridgewater Healthcare Foundation or to First Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg.
  • The Church of the Brethren General Board seeks a mission coordinator in Nigeria, to work through the Global Mission Partnerships program. This fulltime staff position, located in Nigeria, is responsible to be the Nigeria mission team leader and primary link with leadership of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The preferred candidate brings seminary training and pastoral experience, ability to articulate the identity of the Church of the Brethren, strong administrative and communication skills, and the ability to learn some Hausa language. Qualifications include grounding in Church of the Brethren heritage, theology, and polity; oral and written communication skills; ability to facilitate change and motivate others; ability to function collaboratively with colleagues in a team context. Theological education is an asset and international mission experience and/or pastoral experience is a plus. The position will be open in the summer, preferably in June. A position description and application form are available on request. Applications will be received and the search will continue until the position is filled, with an initial deadline of March 7 for candidates to indicate interest. Qualified candidates are invited to complete the General Board application form, submit a resume and letter of application, and to request three references to send letters of recommendation to the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren General Board, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694; 800-323-8039 ext. 259;
  • The Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC) seeks a director of Family and Older Adult Ministries. The position is fulltime, located at the ABC offices, starting May 15. Responsibilities include to provide leadership for the interpretation, development, and integration of the missions and resources of the Older Adult Ministry and Family Life ministries of ABC; and to provide program interpretation and resources that will serve the needs of congregations, districts, and conferences within the Church of the Brethren. Qualifications include a minimum education requirement of a bachelor’s degree with background in social work, family services, gerontology, or related field preferred. Experience required includes a comprehensive knowledge and experience in resource development, leadership training or teaching; experience working with a variety of ages (children, youth, parents, older adults) on issues impacting family life; communication and interpersonal skills; ability to work independently and within a small team; commitment to and understanding of Church of the Brethren structures, beliefs, and practices. Applications will be received beginning immediately, with a deadline of March 14. A position description and application forms are available on request. Qualified candidates are invited to submit a resume, cover letter, application forms, and to request three individuals to send letters of recommendation to Mary Lou Garrison, Director of Human Resources, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; For more information about ABC see
  • Spanish translation volunteers are needed at the 2006 Annual Conference in Des Moines, Iowa. Volunteer translators are needed for simultaneous translation during the business sessions and worship services at the Conference that will be held July 1-5. Any interested individuals should contact Nadine L. Monn at or 215-844-1534 for more information.
  • Resources for Spanish-speaking delegates and guests will be provided at Annual Conference this year. The agency annual reports, worship programs, and new business items will be translated into Spanish for delegate use at the 2006 Annual Conference in Des Moines, Iowa. If you are aware of any Spanish-speaking delegates or invited guests or visitors, please contact Nadine L. Monn for resource planning at or 215-844-1534.
5) Eshbach resigns as dean of Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center.

Warren Eshbach has resigned as dean of the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center, a Brethren Ministry Education Partnership of Bethany Theological Seminary and the districts of Atlantic Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Middle Pennsylvania, Southern Pennsylvania, and Western Pennsylvania. He has filled the part-time position for nine years.

At its winter meeting, the center’s Executive Committee accepted the resignation “with deep regret” according to Bob Neff, chair of the Governing Board. “As a board and a community, we have much to celebrate in Warren’s leadership, an outstanding educational product, an effective and dedicated staff, sound financial management, and record enrollments,” Neff said. “These circumstances enable us to deal with the loss of an excellent leader from a position of strength.”

Eshbach’s leadership in the Church of the Brethren has included positions as director of Pastoral Care at the Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa., 1997-2000; district executive minister for Southern Pennsylvania District 1983-97; chaplain of the Brethren Home Community 1972-76; and three pastorates. He has served as adjunct faculty for Bethany Theological Seminary and has been an instructor for the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership and the Keystone Bible Institute. He also currently works part-time as adjunct faculty for Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pa.

In volunteer positions, he has been a member of the boards of Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, the Brethren Home Community, the Church of the Brethren General Board 1998-2003–where he served as chair for one year–and has served on the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches.

Eshbach plans to work through a time of transition of leadership to provide continuity for the ministry center, then hopes to devote more time to his family, teaching, and writing.

6) Krouse completes service as Nigeria mission coordinator.

Robert Krouse has completed his term of service as mission coordinator for Nigeria, effective July, 2006. At that time he will have served in the position for two years, working through the Global Mission Partnerships Program of the Church of the Brethren General Board since July of 2004.

In Nigeria, he and his wife, Carol, worked with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The Krouses also spent two years in mission work in Nigeria from 1985-87. During that period of time they worked to open a new mission point for EYN.

“Bob has applied his gifts and made important contributions in the areas of congregational renewal and leadership development, leading workshops across the country that have impacted 85 percent of the active pastors in the Nigerian church,” said Merv Keeney, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships. “He and Carol have also served on the planning group for EYN’s AIDS response, and he served on the scholarship committee. All this while leading the Church of the Brethren team in Nigeria.”

This period of time in Nigeria followed almost 10 years of involvement with church planting in Pennsylvania, where Krouse was founding pastor of Cornerstone Christian Church in Lebanon, Pa. Krouse is a graduate of Temple University and Bethany Theological Seminary.

7) Resources coming soon for Together conversations.

A conversation guide for “Together: Conversations on Being the Church” will come off the press soon, just in time for a training event for district representatives in New Windsor, Md., Feb. 24-26. The conversation guide is one of several resources already available or coming soon to facilitate a denomination-wide conversations about what “being the church” means.

The Together conversations were initiated by the Council of District Executives in 2003, with a statement of concern and a call for the denomination to begin a discussion of “ecclesiology,” or what it means to be the church. Planning for carrying out such a conversation denomination-wide has since been carried by a committee of representatives of the district executives and the Annual Conference agencies.

The Together conversation guide written by James Benedict, pastor of Union Bridge (Md.) Church of the Brethren, is published by Brethren Press and will be used at Annual Conference this summer and at many district conferences and regional events this year and next. The guide also is available for Together conversations in congregations, Sunday school classes, and small groups. The guide is specially priced at a discount for groups and may be purchased for $4.95 a copy, plus shipping and handling. Call 800-441-3712.

The conversation guide is supplemented by a short DVD. Groups should order one book for each participant, and one DVD for the group. The DVD has a preliminary price of $4.95, and also may be ordered from Brethren Press.

Another resource for the Together conversations is a website, offering an explanation of the conversation process, background information, worship resources, scriptures, and other materials in English and Spanish. As conversations take place across the denomination, short statements from each discussion group will be posted at the site. For more go to (English) or (Spanish).

An upcoming Bible study in the series, “A Guide for Biblical Studies” is recommended by Brethren Press as a supplemental study for the Together conversations. The Summer (June, July, and August) 2006 Bible study written by James Eikenberry, “Called to Be a Christian Community,” focuses on 1 and 2 Corinthians to consider the nature of the church. It is available from Brethren Press for $2.90 a copy or $5.15 in large-print, plus shipping and handling. Call 800-441-3712.

8) Campaign calls peacemakers to ‘Shine the Light’ in Washington.

By Todd Flory

In the basement of the Washington Peace Center, around a dozen Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) members and supporters gathered to worship, eat, fellowship, and review the logistics of that afternoon’s events. It was Wednesday, and the group was scheduled to protest outside of the weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin’s world headquarters in southern Maryland.

To help demonstrate its opposition to the war in Iraq, CPT held a ‘Shine the Light’ campaign in Washington, D.C., Jan. 19-29, in which a protest was held outside of a different war-compliance institution each day. Each session ended with a prayer vigil outside of the White House. Many supporters of the cause, including the Brethren Witness/Washington Office of the Church of the Brethren General Board, participated with CPT at various times throughout the week-and-a-half campaign.

“The Shine the Light campaign is both shining light on institutions of war and on the captives, those held captive by all aspects of war,” said Church of the Brethren and CPT member Cliff Kindy. “It’s a shine for release. As we work with issues of justice and peace, maybe what’s underneath is an issue of power; who’s in charge.”

Outside of Lockheed Martin, a mix of honks, waves, cheers, and sneers from passengers driving along the road greeted the Shine the Light campaign as its members walked solemnly in front of the corporation in a single-file line holding candles and signs. Two people walking along the sidewalk even stopped for a few minutes to join the group in the protest. “Our presence at these institutions is an invitation to those in there to come out of it, and be changed by the light,” Kindy explained.

Some of the other institutions that the campaign visited included the State Department, military recruiting offices, Internal Revenue Service, Central Intelligence Agency, and Pentagon. According to Kindy, the group was received with the least amount of receptiveness while visiting the Pentagon. When some members of the public stopped to talk with the CPT members, and when they all gathered together to pray, security quintupled from five guards to 25.

Kindy believes that the public’s knowledge of and compassion toward other people and parts of the world, coupled with sociably responsible actions, could further help to bring peace to the world. “We stop paying money to the IRS, and the war stops,” he said. “The recruiters stop getting recruits, and the war stops. Lockheed Martin stops making weapons, and the war stops. If any one of them stops, the war stops. Even pulling out one of the pillars stops the war.”

–Todd Flory is a Brethren Volunteer Service worker and a legislative associate at the Brethren Witness/Washington Office.

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board, on every other Wednesday with other editions as needed. Ronald Beachley, Mary Lou Garrison, Jon Kobel, Jeri S. Kornegay, Mary Schiavoni, and Marcia Shetler contributed to this report. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To receive Newsline by e-mail or to unsubscribe, write or call 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Newsline is available and archived at, click on “News.” For more news and features, subscribe to Messenger magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.


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