Newsline Extra for October 10, 2007

October 10, 2007

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness” (Psalm 115:1)

1) 300th Anniversary update: Music and worship fill Sight and Sound theater.
2) 300th Anniversary bits and pieces.

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1) 300th Anniversary update: Music and worship fill Sight and Sound theater.

A 300th Anniversary inspirational worship service hosted by Atlantic Northeast District and Southern Pennsylvania District was held the afternoon of Sept. 23, at the Sight and Sound Millennium Theater a few miles east of Lancaster, Pa.

It was a gathering of many Brethren dignitaries: Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren General Board, was the main speaker. Co-hosts for the celebration were Craig Smith and Joe Detrick, district executives of Atlantic Northeast District and Southern Pennsylvania District respectively. Assisting in leadership for the worship service were James Beckwith, the Annual Conference moderator for 2008, and Belita Mitchell, immediate past moderator. Ron Lutz, a longtime leader at the “mother church” of the Brethren–Germantown Church of the Brethren in Philadelphia–summarized key aspects of Brethren history. Glenn Eshelman, founder and producer of Sight and Sound events, described his beginnings in several Brethren congregations in Lancaster County, Pa.

This second major event, occurring only a week after the opening 300th Anniversary celebration for the denomination, was a splendid success. During the six months or more that the committee planned the event, there was no way of knowing how many people would come, since no tickets were sold. However, telephone calls and e-mails began coming in from churches wanting to make sure there would be room for a busload, two busloads, and even three busloads of members.

According to Eshelman, the auditorium seats 2,100 people. That number was exceeded by at least 400. The ushers did a fine job. A committee member counted empty seats–only 20 in the entire auditorium, with some people standing in the back.

On the huge Sight and Sound stage were a 60-piece orchestra, a choir of close to 300 voices, and the Brethren Heritage Singers. The latter is a group of 20 men and women from the local area who don 1900s-era garb and sing hymns from that period in both German and English. Their selections included the Lord’s Prayer in German. One of the selections sung by the chorus was an anthem composed especially for the event by Ralph Lehman, a well-known local musician and composer.

Both the orchestra and chorus were directed by David Diehl, director of music at York (Pa.) Church of the Brethren. Emery DeWitt, director of music at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, coordinated the choral music and recruited the chorus, and also played oboe in the orchestra. Venona Detrick coordinated the orchestral music and recruited the orchestra, and also played violin.

Lebanon (Pa.) radio station WLBR 1270 AM recorded the program to broadcast it as part of the station’s Brethren Hour series on Oct. 7.

The offering, collected in the green bags borrowed from the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, amounted to $17,570.30. After expenses are paid, the balance will be donated to the districts’ Disaster Relief Auction.

The planning committee consisted of Emery DeWitt, Bob Hess, Kenneth Kreider, Jobie Riley, Donna Steiner, and Guy Wampler from Atlantic Northeast District; Joe and Venona Detrick, Warren and Theresa Eshbach, David Diehl, and Georgia Markey from Southern Pennsylvania District.

To find a photo journal of the service, by photographer Glenn Riegel, go to

2) 300th Anniversary bits and pieces.

The Church of the Brethren webcast series at is offering interactive live video webcasting from the 300th Anniversary academic conference on Oct. 11-13. The conference titled “Honoring a Legacy, Embracing a Future: 300 Years of Brethren Heritage,” is sponsored by the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. It begins Thursday evening Oct. 11, continues with Friday morning, afternoon, and evening sessions on Oct. 12, and concludes with a Saturday morning session on Oct. 13. To view the video webcasts go to and follow log-in instructions. The interactive site will provide the capability for questions to be sent from viewers. As each session that is able to be webcast begins, links will allow viewing of the session. Viewers may log in at any time, but will not be able to see live video until a session is being broadcast. To choose sessions that are of interest, follow the conference schedule at Several days after the conference, links to recordings of sessions will become available at For questions or technical support contact

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Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Jobie Riley contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with the next regularly scheduled Newsline set for Oct. 24. Other special issues may be sent as needed. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine, call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.

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