Newsline for January 4, 2006

“…You are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.” — Ephesians 2:19b


1) Committee holds first meeting on new mission in Haiti.
2) Manchester College researchers report decline in violence but ‘alarming’ trends for most vulnerable in nation.
3) On tsunami anniversary, Church World Service sees signs of recovery at ‘people level.’
4) Brethren bits: Job openings, Martin Luther King Day events, and more.


5) Group plans workcamp trip to Nigeria.
6) Deacon ministry training events, nursing scholarships are announced.
7) Registration closes soon for Cross-Cultural Celebration.


8) Samples of Gather ’Round curriculum are posted online.
9) The Hymnal Supplement series is now complete.

1) Committee holds first meeting on new mission in Haiti.

The Haiti Advisory Committee for the Church of the Brethren mission in Haiti held its first meeting on Dec. 17, 2005, at L’Eglise des Freres Haitiens (Haitian Church of the Brethren) in Miami, Fla. While seeking to clarify its role in the new mission effort, the group received a report of a fledgling Church of the Brethren congregation in Haiti.

Those present included Ludovic St. Fleur, pastor of L’Eglise des Freres Haitiens, Volcy Beauplan, Jonathan Cadette, Marc Labranche, Jean Nixon Aubel, Wayne Sutton, Merle Crouse, Renel Exceus, Jeff Boshart, and Merv Keeney, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships for the Church of the Brethren General Board. Boshart provided this report of the meeting.

The committee sought to define its role and clarify how it may support the mission effort. It also began to think about ways to report about the mission, and to connect the effort more widely. The advisory committee model is an effort to support St. Fleur and Haitian leadership who have been assigned the responsibility for guiding the new mission effort under the General Board’s international mission structure, the Global Mission Partnerships office.

The Haiti mission was approved by the General Board in Oct. 2004 as a “Haitian-led” endeavor, a new model for the church according to Keeney. The proposal came to the General Board from the Mission and Ministries Planning Council following lengthy exploration with Brethren districts, congregations, and individuals already at work in Haiti.

St. Fleur shared that a “mother congregation” has been formed in Haiti’s capital of Port au Prince. Over 100 people are attending worship, and leadership development is under way. The church building is located on land leased from the Haitian government, near one of the most dangerous parts of the city. As there is tremendous uncertainty regarding the stability of the government, a new location for worship is being investigated. St. Fleur said the greatest needs of the new congregation at this time are for much prayer, more Brethren printed materials to be translated into Haitian Creole, and the necessity of locating a new place of worship.

Jonathan Cadette of First Church of the Brethren in Miami, Fla., who worked as a lawyer in Haiti before coming to the US, said that to be recognized as a denomination in Haiti the Church of the Brethren will have to meet certain criteria including establishment of a headquarters, formation of at least five congregations, and initiation of a social outreach, for example in education, health, agriculture, etc. Work will be done toward meeting the requirements, but the committee felt that practically speaking they do not have any immediate impact on the fledgling congregation.

Former General Board mission staff Merle Crouse, of New Covenant Church of the Brethren in Gotha, Fla., recounted previous Brethren involvement in Haiti and expressed his hope that some connections will be made with remnants of that earlier work. Committee members will follow up on various contacts both in the US and in Haiti.

The general feeling of the meeting was one of optimism and a desire to see the work in Haiti grow and flourish. “We need to keep God in first place, use our knees, leave room for our faith to act, and remember that the future does not belong to us,” said Cadette. June 3 was selected for the committee’s next meeting.

2) Manchester College researchers report decline in violence but ‘alarming’ trends for most vulnerable in nation.

While violence statistically is on the decline in the US, the nation is setting an alarming trend in how it treats the most vulnerable–the hungry, homeless, and uninsured families. That’s the report from researchers at Manchester College in their latest National Index of Violence and Harm, according to a press release from the college located in North Manchester, Ind. Manchester is a Church of the Brethren liberal arts college.

Even before the Gulf Coast devastation of Hurricane Katrina, emergency food requests had increased 14.4 percent in just one year–from 2003 to 2004–with 38.2 million people or 13.2 percent of the population living in households experiencing “food insecurity,” according to the study.

Several other statistically significant trends emerged in the study of US Census data by three faculty members and a student at Manchester. The team examined 1995-2004 poverty and income levels for several groups in the US population. In 2004, more than 81 percent of US major cities turned people away from overwhelmed shelters, while families with children comprised 35-40 percent of the US homeless population. In that same year, 45.8 million people were without health insurance.

Nevertheless, the latest National Index of Harm and Violence shows positive trends in 14 of the 19 variables measured over the nine-year study period. The index is divided into two broad categories of violence/harm. The Personal Index includes, for example, homicide, suicide, and drug deaths. The Societal Index includes, for example, police abuse, corporate pollution, and child abuse. It also includes harm resulting from the structuring of society, such as poverty and discrimination.

Street crime declined sharply, the index shows, helping to fuel an overall 14 percent drop in the Personal Index since 1995. The Societal Index also dropped, although it did include an increase in the government category (correctional system and law enforcement).

“As opposed to the more familiar and dramatic personal harm, such as homicide, societal harm is just as destructive and is far more pervasive in our society,” noted sociology and social work professor Bradley L. Yoder, one of the researchers. “Many more people are adversely affected by structural and institutional forces.”

The clearest example of worsening societal harm is social negligence, which continues to climb. Although the high school dropout rate fell significantly in 2002 to 3.4 percent, after hovering near 4.5 percent for six years, in 2003 it bounced up to 3.8 percent.

Other social negligence indicators continued to rise in 2003, some dramatically: lack of health insurance–from 15.2 to 15.6 percent of the population, with 45 million uninsured in 2003; hunger–more than 12.5 million households experienced food insecurity up from 12.1 million in 2002, according to the US Department of Agriculture; homelessness–in 2003 an average increase of 7 percent in requests for emergency housing across major metropolitan areas.

The Manchester College research team is led by psychology professor Neil J. Wollman, and also includes James Brumbaugh-Smith, associate professor of mathematics and computer science, and sophomore Jonathan Largent of Muncie, Ind. The faculty members have been compiling the Index since 1995.

The Manchester College research is unique in considering the homelessness and dropout rates together, said Wollman, senior fellow of the Manchester College Peace Studies Institute and professor of psychology. “By examining them together, we can see whether our society responds adequately to the needs of its citizens, particularly those who are most vulnerable,” he said. “Given the basic nature of these long unfulfilled needs–and the fact that all other industrialized countries do provide in these areas–we may need to look more closely at ourselves and our self-image of being a compassionate people.”

For example, non-whites were still 2.7 times more likely to be in poverty in 2003. And, while the gap in poverty disparity declined strongly for gender, race, and age, class differences continued to climb. The disparity for 2003 was the greatest on record.

To learn more about the National Index of Harm and Violence and to contact the researchers, visit The independent, liberal arts Manchester College is home to the nation’s first undergraduate peace studies program and the Graduation Pledge Alliance. To learn more about Manchester visit

3) On tsunami anniversary, Church World Service sees signs of recovery at ‘people level.’

Dec. 26, 2005, marked the first anniversary of the tsunami that claimed some 275,000 lives in south Asia. Church World Service (CWS) said the tsunami generated the single largest organizational mobilization in response to a natural disaster in the agency’s 60-year history.

As of late December, CWS said in a press release that progress is visibly spreading in affected areas despite continuing challenges. Hundreds of thousands of people, however, are still homeless and living in tents, improvised emergency shelters, and transitional living centers.

CWS has raised $11,436,822 in cash and $6,612,010 in material goods for tsunami relief, the release said. Most of that aid has been directed to Indonesia but also was distributed in Sri Lanka, India, Somalia, and Thailand. CWS Emergency Response Program director Donna Derr said the cash expenditures and material donations have included food aid, emergency shelter, medical assistance, clean water and sanitation facilities reconstruction, psycho-social programs for children, health and nutritional support, reconstruction of homes, and livelihoods recovery programs.

The release cited examples of progress, such as the village of Meue in Aceh Province, Indonesia, where the tsunami destroyed the fishing fleet, most houses, and nearly all livestock. Sounds of renewed enterprise and life are filling the air again in Meue, the release said. In partnership with villagers, CWS teams have drawn from nearby communities and local contractors to help rebuild the village. CWS began a livelihoods recovery project in Meue soon after the tsunami, but further assessments also revealed a continued and urgent need for shelter. CWS Indonesia director Maurice Bloem said the agency has since provided shelter assistance to the village.

“In terms of where affected areas of Indonesia were on the day after the tsunami and where they are now, progress has been such that survivors now have access to basic health, nutrition, education, water services, sanitation facilities, and temporary shelter, as well as increasing access to permanent housing and recovery of livelihoods,” said John L. McCullough, CWS executive director.

“Church World Service and our partners in Aceh have been focusing on people first, and on community needs. We’ve made great strides in either restoring or building new water and sanitation facilities throughout the region,” said Bloem. The greatest challenges, however, “are still to provide permanent shelters and better living conditions for people made homeless by the tsunami, and to assist affected communities in recovering their livelihoods,” he said.

The reconstruction process will take years, according to Bloem, “because of poor infrastructure, even pre-tsunami, and supply bottlenecks for everything from building materials to skilled labor. Fishing boats cannot be replaced overnight and re-building livelihoods takes longterm commitment,” he said. “Especially in Nias, all this is happening against a backdrop of extreme poverty and decades of government neglect, while in Aceh a civil war has just ended after three decades.”

Among continuing challenges CWS cited persisting needs for building materials, educational resources for children, and health and medical resources. “This is why Church World Service is continuing to raise funds,” Bloem said. “Longterm recovery means just that, and proper financial and programmatic support will be the ‘make or break’ of this region’s future.” The agency plans to continue its public fundraising appeal for another 14 months and anticipates continuing recovery programs in Indonesia for some years to come.

Many of the agency’s beneficiaries are children, the release said. In Aceh Province, nine-year-old Kursiah lost her father in the tsunami and nearly lost her mother, who was swept away by the water but survived. Now living in Cot Kilat Barracks, maintained by the Indonesian government, Kursiah participates in CWS-run activities for children called Fun and Educational Activities in Tents (FEAT). Kursiah says the games and activities keep her busy so that she doesn’t become sad thinking about her father.

For more details see The Church of the Brethren contributes to the work of Church World Service through grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund of the General Board. For more about the fund and the General Board’s Emergency Response/Service Ministries see

4) Brethren bits: Job openings, Martin Luther King Day events, and more.
  • Bethany Theological Seminary announces a faculty opening for director of Distributed Education and Electronic Communications, to administer the distributed education track of the M.Div. program. The fulltime position is based in Richmond, Ind., beginning July 1. Responsibilities include providing support to teaching faculty as they design and teach distributed education courses; serving as liaison with distributed education students and the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center in Pennsylvania; teaching up to one course annually; assisting the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership in designing online education; maintaining a website and working with staff in providing electronic communications; working on joint computing resources with Earlham School of Religion. Qualifications include a theological degree at the master’s level, earned doctorate in education, theology, or appropriate field preferred; successful completion of a professional development program in distance education or equivalent experience; skills in computer technology, programming, web design, and dynamic website management; familiarity with adult education and teaching experience in religion or theology; administration skills; membership and leadership in a Christian community of faith; ability to work with people of diverse faith experiences; commitment to the mission and values of the seminary to prepare people for ministry in the Church of the Brethren and wider Christian community. Submit letter of application and curriculum vitae, and request three references to submit letters of recommendation by Feb. 1 to: Academic Dean, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Rd. W., Richmond, IN 47374-4019.
  • The National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund continues its search for a candidate for executive director. To apply, send a resume by Jan. 17 to NCPTF, 2121 Decatur Pl. NW, Washington, DC 20008; For a job description, visit Tim Godshall has been appointed interim executive director until June 30, taking over the duties of longtime executive director Marian Franz, who has served in the position for the past 23 years. Godshall has been director of Outreach and Development for the campaign.
  • The 2005-07 edition of Bridgewater (Va.) College’s Speakers Bureau, listing more than 85 presentations by 25 faculty and staff members, is now available. Program topics range from “BambaZonke”–a variety show of African stories–to creating effective websites for churches and other organizations. Speakers are available with expertise on playing the game of chess, hydroponics, and the art of storytelling. Topics also include learning disabilities and differences, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and teaching memory strategies to children to help them learn. Experts also are available to help high school students prepare for college, understand the college admissions process, and learn what it is like to be a college student. Request a copy of the Speakers Bureau from the Media Relations Office at 540-828-5486 or e-mail
  • Bridgewater College also has announced upcoming events. On Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m. in Cole Hall, the Anna B. Mow Endowed Lecture will sponsor “A Debate on Assisted Suicide” with Lawrence D. Egbert of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Felicia Cohn of the University of California, Irvine, College of Medicine. The Vienna Choir Boys will perform sacred and secular works as part of a tour of North America on Feb. 6 at 8 p.m. at the Carter Center; tickets are $13 for adults and $10 for seniors, non-Bridgewater students, and children. Alexander Kobrin, the 2005 gold medalist of the Van Cliburn Piano Competition, will perform as part of his 2005-06 concert tour on Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. at the Carter Center; tickets are $13 for adults and $10 for seniors, non-Bridgewater students, and children.
  • The National Council of Churches (NCC) is inviting faith and community groups to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by joining in advocacy for a living wage on the weekend of his birthday, Jan. 14-16. “Let Justice Roll Living Wage Days” will include worship services, rallies, and other events to inspire congregations and community organizations to support raising the minimum wage at federal and state levels, the NCC said in a release. “There is nothing but a lack of social vision to prevent us from paying an adequate wage to every American (worker) whether he is a hospital worker, laundry worker, maid, or day laborer,” King wrote more than 35 years ago in his book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community.” Recent data compiled by the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign show that since the last increase in the minimum wage in 1997, the value has eroded by more than 15 percent, the NCC said. To have the purchasing power it had in 1968, the year that King was assassinated, the minimum wage would have to be $9.09 an hour today, not $5.15. More information is at
  • “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” from Matthew 18:20 is the theme for the 2006 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Jan. 18-25. The observance is sponsored jointly by the World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church. The theme this year was chosen by an ecumenical group in Ireland, which “wished to draw attention to Jesus as the source of our unity” and to underline “the simplicity of two or three coming together in Christian mutual love as a vital means of building up relations between divided peoples and communities.” Resources include an ecumenical worship service that churches may adapt for their own contexts, biblical reflections, prayers, and an overview of the ecumenical situation in the particular country that prepared the material. Go to
  • A Place Apart, an initiative to establish a Brethren spiritual retreat center, will hold trainings during the spring of 2006 at three locations: Camp Swatara in Bethel, Pa., on April 6-9; Camp Shepherd’s Spring in Sharpsburg, Md., on April 27-30; and Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Ind., on May 4-7. “Participants will learn how to be more aware of God’s presence in all of creation, how to develop strategies for living within a daily rhythm of worship, and how following Jesus means training ourselves to be mystics, monks, and warriors,” said Jim Stokes-Buckles in a notice of the events. Cost is $189 including meals and activities. Paul Grout, a former moderator of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, is director of A Place Apart, which is described as “a place where all kinds of people can come for a time to break with the frenzied pace and empty value systems of the world.” For registration forms and more information contact A Place Apart, P.O. Box 307, Putney VT 05346; 802-387-4517;
  • The New Community Project, a Brethren-related nonprofit organization, has announced its schedule of Learning Tours for the coming year. The trips are open to all ages, with some scholarship aid for youth and young adults. Learning Tours are designed to increase understanding, deepen faith, build relationships, and show solidarity with God’s people and God’s creation. Upcoming trips include: El Salvador/Guatemala, Mar. 1-11, cost $600; Guatemala, May 18-30, $500; “Cancer Alley” Louisiana, May 28-31, $350; Honduras, June 19-29, $625; Denali/Kenai Fjords National Parks, Alaska, Aug. 12-21, $500; Arctic Village, Alaska, Aug. 22-30, $800; Nepal, Oct. 16-27, $700; Sudan, Jan. 8-24, $1,300. Costs do not include airfare. Visit for more information, or contact New Community Project director David Radcliff at 718 Wilder St., Elgin, IL 60123; 888-800-2985;
  • Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has begun a “Shine the Light” campaign on torture, hostage-taking, and abuse of detainees. CPT is still awaiting word on four volunteers who were taken hostage in Iraq on Nov. 26. Beginning Jan. 15–the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.–through Jan. 29, CPT will hold daily processions in Washington, D.C., at institutions that bear responsibility for war-making and ending with prayer in front of the White House. Candle-carrying participants will walk in silence guided by a torchbearer shining light on a hooded detainee representing people held captive by war and occupation. CPT invites supporters to join the witness in Washington or to organize processions in their own communities. “Communities may wish to ‘Shine the Light’ throughout the Lenten season or the period leading up to Mar. 19-20–the third anniversary of the (Iraq) war,” CPT said. The campaign will be preceded by a “Follow the Light” Epiphany fast in front of the White House, Jan. 6-8. Go to for resources or to register events. For more information contact Cliff Kindy at 312-933-0546 or Kindy is a Church of the Brethren member who has worked with CPT in Iraq. Originally a violence-reduction initiative of the historic peace churches (Mennonite, Church of the Brethren and Quaker), CPT enjoys support and membership from a wide range of Christian denominations.
5) Group plans workcamp trip to Nigeria.

David Whitten, pastor of Moscow Church of the Brethren in Mount Solon, Va., views his upcoming trip to coordinate the 2006 Nigeria workcamp as a kind of homecoming. The Jan. 16-Feb. 12 workcamp, sponsored by the Global Mission Partnerships of the Church of the Brethren General Board, will be his fourth stay in Nigeria.

Whitten worked as mission staff for the Church of the Brethren’s rural development program in Nigeria from 1991-94. “I look forward to reuniting with a lot of friends from the past,” he said.

This year’s workcamp will have three continents represented, he said. Six American participants will join others from Europe and about two dozen Nigerians to continue construction on the Comprehensive Secondary School at the headquarters of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). The headquarters are located near the city of Mubi in northeastern Nigeria.

Participants from the US include Kyle and Kathleen Brinkmeier of Yellow Creek Church of the Brethren, Pearl City, Ill.; Rebecca Keister of Buffalo Valley Church of the Brethren, Mifflinburg, Pa.; David Whitten and Wesley Grove of Moscow Church of the Brethren; and Joseph Wampler of Santa Cruz, Calif., whose parents were Church of the Brethren missionaries in China.

6) Deacon ministry training events, nursing scholarships are announced.

The Association of Brethren Caregivers will hold three deacon ministry training events this spring in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Florida. Each event will follow the theme, “Healing Balm.” Members of the Deacon Ministry Cabinet are helping to plan the one-day training opportunities.

The association also is seeking candidates for its 2006 Nursing Scholarships.

The training events will be held from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on April 8 at The Palms of Sebring, a Church of the Brethren retirement center in Sebring, Fla.; on April 22 at Timbercrest Senior Living in North Manchester, Ind.; and on May 20 at the Brethren Home Community in New Oxford, Pa.

Each event will feature Bible study, keynote presentations, workshops, and worship. Workshops will address issues such as deacon roles and functions, care circles, love feast, resolving conflict, advance directives, and being a healing presence. Cost is $15 per person. Registration materials are available at

In 2005, the Association of Brethren Caregivers awarded $22,000 in nursing scholarships. Candidates are now sought for the 2006 program. Candidates must be members of the Church of the Brethren and accepted into an LPN, RN, or nursing graduate program. More information is at Applications submitted by April 1 will be considered for the academic year beginning Fall 2006.

7) Registration closes soon for Cross-Cultural Celebration.

Registrations are due Jan. 15 for the annual Cross-Cultural Consultation and Celebration sponsored by the Church of the Brethren Cross Cultural Ministries Team and the Congregational Life Teams of the General Board. The event will be held May 4-7 in Lancaster, Pa., on the theme, “Built Together, the Household of God” from Ephesians 2:17-22.

Plans for the consultation include daily worship in a variety of traditions, Bible study, discussion groups, and prayer circles, with the Friday evening service May 5 featuring bread and cup communion. Sessions are planned on anti-racism, the Annual Conference Intercultural Study Committee, and Disaster Child Care. A new option this year is a work project on Saturday afternoon May 6. Also on Saturday, area youth are invited to participate in special events including a session for conversation between youth and consultation participants on their vision and plans for the future.

There is no registration fee for the event. Free-will offerings will be taken to help cover some expenses. The General Board will provide travel assistance for one to two people per congregation. Lodging is available with host families or participants may make other arrangements at their own expense. Registration information is available in English and Spanish. To register go to and follow keyword links to “Cross Cultural Ministries.” For more information call Duane Grady at 800-505-1596.

8) Samples of Gather ’Round curriculum are posted online.

Free sample sessions of teacher and student materials from Gather ’Round: Hearing and Sharing God’s Good News are now posted at Gather ’Round is a curriculum for children, youth, and parents in the Church of the Brethren, Mennonite Church Canada, and Mennonite Church USA.

The website also includes a price list, Bible outlines, and other basic information. Customers without internet access may call 800-245-7894 for assistance. Sample kits will be available for purchase in February, and congregational use will begin in the fall.

In addition to quarterly teacher and student books, Gather ’Round will offer quarterly classroom packs that include such items as teaching pictures and posters. One resource, for example, is a memory verse poster with photographs of children depicting American Sign Language words to represent the memory text, Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

A key emphasis is strengthening the connection between home and church. One way Gather ’Round works at this is through the quarterly “Talkabout,” an item to use at the family dinner table. Talkabout will help families extend the Sunday school experience through short scripture readings, prayers, and ideas for service and learning.

A major training event will be held Feb. 10-12, 2006, at Gilmary Retreat Center near Pittsburgh, Pa. Each Church of the Brethren district and Mennonite area conference has been invited to send representatives. Those trained in February will facilitate training in their own regions.

Gather ’Round offers materials for seven levels: “Preschool,” ages 3-4 with tips for 2s; “Primary,” grades K-2; “Middler,” grades 3-5; “Junior Youth,” grades 6-8; “Youth,” grades 9-12; “Multiage,” grades K-6 with tips for older students; “Parent/Caregiver,” designed for adult classes or individual study.

Gather ’Round is a joint project of Brethren Press and Mennonite Publishing Network. It follows Jubilee: God’s Good News, used in Mennonite and Brethren congregations since 1994.

9) The Hymnal Supplement series is now complete.

Brethren Press has shipped Supplement 10, “Confessing/Reconciling,” the final in the Hymnal Supplement Series. Publication of the series began in 2001. Previous instalments provided hymns for seasons of the church year as well as focuses on “Praising, Adoring,” “Gathering, Sending,” “Rituals and Ordinances,” “Witnessing: Peace and Justice,” along with other worship topics.

Members of the committee that guided development of the resource are Nancy Faus (chair), Lee-Lani Wright, Jonathan Shively, Michelle Grimm, and Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden.

At Annual Conference 2006, attendees will have an opportunity to “Sing Through the Hymnal Supplement” at an insight session this coming July.

Order Supplement 10 from Brethren Press for $1.50 each plus shipping and handling; order the complete “Hymnal Supplement,” which comes unassembled with a navy blue binder that matches “Hymnal: A Worship Book,” for $13.95 plus shipping and handling. Call 800-441-3712.

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. Jeff Boshart, Mary Kay Heatwole, Jeri S. Kornegay, Wendy McFadden, Janis Pyle, David Radcliff, and Jim Stokes-Buckles 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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