Newsline Extra for December 19, 2007

December 19, 2007

“If you do not stand firm in faith, you shall not stand at all” (Isaiah 7:9b).

1) New from Brethren Press: Devotionals, study of Hebrews, Talkabout decoder wheel.
2) Brethren Press offers special Living Word Bulletin for 300th Anniversary, plans joint series with Mennonites.
3) Update of Spanish language minister’s manual to be available soon.
4) Resources bits and pieces: New denominational Polity Manual, books for intercultural understanding and evangelism, ‘green’ Bible, and more.

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1) New from Brethren Press: Devotionals, study of Hebrews, Talkabout decoder wheel.

New resources from Brethren Press include a Lent and Easter devotional booklet, a Covenant Bible study on Hebrews, and a Talkabout decoder wheel from the Gather ’Round curriculum, among others.

“He Set His Face,” the devotional booklet for Lent and Easter 2008 by James L. Benedict, pastor of Union Bridge (Md.) Church of the Brethren, is available from Brethren Press for $2.25 each, plus shipping and handling; call 800-441-3712. Through reflection and prayer, two pillars of the Lenten observance, the daily devotions from Ash Wednesday through Easter encourage renewal of our understanding of discipleship and deepening commitment to being followers of Jesus. Each day’s devotion includes a scripture, meditation, and prayer.

More than 14,000 copies of the 300th Anniversary devotional “Fresh from the Word” have already sold in anticipation of the 300th anniversary year, which begins Jan. 1, 2008. This historic collection draws from each of the six Brethren bodies and is perpetually dated so it can be enjoyed for years to come. Readers will join together with thousands of Brethren in daily meditation, lifting up God’s word fresh for each day of the 300th anniversary year. Copies are still available from Brethren Press for $20 plus shipping and handling, and orders of 10 or more may be made for $15 each copy plus shipping and handling.

“Hebrews: Beyond Christianity 101” is the new Covenant Bible Study from Brethren Press, written by Edward L. Poling, pastor of Hagerstown (Md.) Church of the Brethren. It is available for $6.95 plus shipping and handling. Covenant Bible Studies are relational Bible studies for small groups. Each book contains 10 sessions that promote group interaction and encourage open discussion about practical aspects of the Christian faith. This study takes a look at the book of Hebrews, written to believers who were ready to walk away from their communities of faith. The study aims to help readers revitalize their faith and move beyond elementary beliefs into deeper waters, providing a model of Christian discipleship full of meaning and hope.

The Spring 2008 Talkabout from the Gather ’Round curriculum is a “Decoder Wheel” (available for $5.95 each plus shipping and handling). Gather ’Round is published jointly by Brethren Press and the Mennonite Publishing House. The Talkabout is a Sunday school take-home piece to help connect the themes of Christian education with family life at home. Using the “Talkabout Decoder Wheel,” family members will take turns answering questions about the weekly Bible stories they learn in Sunday school by unscrambling words and decoding hints. Discussion starters, prayers, and activity suggestions will bring the Bible home.

“Living the Good News Together” is the theme for the Spring 2008 quarter of Gather ’Round, taken from the Easter text of Jesus’ resurrection that also includes the great commission, a call to the disciples to “go and teach.” Many Gather ’Round teachers experience God’s call to mission as they share the stories of Jesus and the early church with children, junior high, youth, and parents/caregivers classes. A variety of curriculum materials are available; view Gather ’Round materials online at

To order Gather ’Round curriculum or any other Brethren Press resource, call 800-441-3712.

2) Brethren Press offers special bulletin cover for 300th Anniversary, Mennonites to join bulletin series in 2009.

A special 300th Anniversary commerative bulletin cover, featured in the Living Word Bulletin series, is being offered to congregations. This special bulletin cover may be particularly appropriate for use on Aug. 3, 2008, which has been designated as the 300th Anniversary Celebration Sunday for the Church of the Brethren.

“We have contracted with Anchor Wallace publishers to have a limited number of these covers printed,” said Jeff Lennard, director of marketing and sales for Brethren Press. “Churches who participate in the Living Word Bulletin series will receive these covers as part of the program. Churches not enrolled in the program will have their orders filled on a first come, first served basis.”

The commemorative bulletins will be ready for shipment by June. Interested churches can place their orders by calling Brethren Press customer service at 800-441-3712.

In other news, the Mennonite Publishing Network will be joining Brethren Press in the Living Word Bulletin Series. The new partnership will begin with the 2009 series of bulletins. The two publishing houses already work together on the Gather ’Round curriculum.

Mennonite Publishing Network staff in November took part in a photo selection meeting for the 2009 bulletin covers at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The bulletin covers are offered for weekly worship services, and feature a cover theme based on the scripture text, which is printed on the back of the bulletin along with a short meditation or worship resource. Beginning in 2009, Mennonite customers will be using the same bulletin cover images and scriptures on the same Sundays as Church of the Brethren congregations across the country.

3) Update of Spanish language minister’s manual to be available soon.

An update of the Spanish-language edition of the manual for Church of the Brethren ministers published by Brethren Press, “For All Who Minister,” may be in print and available in early 2008.

Mary Jo Flory-Steury, director of the Office of Ministry for the Church of the Brethren General Board, and Carol Yeazell of Congregational Life Ministries, are working on the project with Brethren Press. The previous Spanish-language edition of the ministers’ manual titled “Manual del Pastor,” dated from some years ago, is no longer available in print. It was translated, type set, and printed in the Dominican Republic.

The new edition is being edited by a professional Spanish-language editor, and will be redesigned as a spiral-bound book with a flexible Lexotone cover. The final title is not yet confirmed. Congregational Life Ministries is helping to cover expenses of the project, and Brethren Press staff are assisting with consultation and production.

4) Resources bits and pieces: Denominational Polity Manual, books for intercultural understanding and evangelism, ‘green’ Bible, and more.

  • The Annual Conference Council recently completed revisions to the Church of the Brethren’s denominational Polity Manual. Revisions include changes to polity created by Annual Conference actions through the most recent annual meeting in July 2007. The 2008 version of the manual is now available free of charge at in downloadable pdf format. Congregations without Internet access may request a printed copy for $10, including shipping and handling. Send orders and checks made out to “Annual Conference” to the Annual Conference Office, P.O. Box 720, New Windsor, MD 21776-0720.
  • Recommended by the publisher: three books for intercultural understanding. Following passage of the 2007 Annual Conference statement, “Separate No More,” Brethren Press executive director Wendy McFadden has recommended three books to help church leaders increase intercultural understanding. All three may be ordered through Brethren Press, call 800-441-3712; shipping and handling charges will be added to the prices listed below, call 800-441-3712. “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity” by Beverly Daniel Tatum (Basic Books, revised 2003), $15.95 from Brethren Press; “It’s the Little Things: Everyday Interactions that Anger, Annoy, and Divide the Races” by Lena Williams (Harcourt, Inc., 2000), $14 from Brethren Press; “Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America” by Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith (Oxford University Press, 2000), $17.95 from Brethren Press.
  • The first-ever recognized “green” Bible–a Charles Stanley “Life Principles” daily Bible in the New King James Version, published by Thomas Nelson–is now available for purchase through Brethren Press for $19.99 plus shipping and handling, call 800-441-3712. Nelson worked on the project with paper manufacturer Domtar and the Green Press Initiative, a nonprofit that works with the book industry to conserve environmental resources. The new Bible fits into the “Treatise on Responsible Paper Use,” an industry-developed agreement that defines shared goals for improving environmental impacts associated with book publishing.
  • “Unbinding Your Heart: 40 Days of Prayer and Faith Sharing” (Chalice Press) is a new all-congregation evangelism study by Martha Grace Reese, available from Brethren Press for $19.99 plus shipping and handling. The study is a six-week, churchwide, small group evangelism event perfect for Lenten, summer, or fall study for all established classes and church groups. Based on the best-selling book “Unbinding the Gospel,” this addition to the series includes 40 days of individual prayer exercises coordinated with each chapter. “Unbinding Your Heart” will enrich a church’s community life and help individuals risk fact-to-face encounters with God.
  • Brethren Press is hosting a meet and greet with Chicago poet Anne Basye, author of the newly released book “Sustaining Simplicity: A Journal,” on Jan. 9, 2008, at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The book has been described as “an emotionally honest exploration of mindful lifestyle decisions” and shows how faith and daily life intersect. The reception will follow Basye’s chapel message at 9:15 a.m. that Wednesday. On the same day, at 12:10 p.m., Basye will also give a Brown Bag Briefing at the General Offices on the topic of “Sustaining Simplicity in the New Year.” Her book is available for purchase from Brethren Press for $12 plus shipping and handling.
  • In a congregational renewal project in some districts of the Church of the Brethren, the 300th Anniversary devotional from Brethren Press, “Fresh from the Word,” is being accompanied by a study guide for church renewal. The study guide was prepared by David Young and the Springs of Living Water renewal initiative. It offers a spiritual disciplines guide to help members of congregations, with the hoped-for outcome of new focus, energy, and growth in the church. The guide uses the same scriptures as the 300th Anniversary devotional book, looks like a bulletin, and includes instructions, daily texts, and an insert on spiritual disciplines. Young anticipates offering new guides for each quarter of 2008. He also reported that the guide may be used by the Church of the Brethren in Brazil, and is being translated into Portuguese. Contact David Young, 464 Ridge Ave., Ephrata, PA 17522; 717-738-1887;
  • In honor of the 300th Anniversary of the first Brethren baptism, the Tercentennial Committee of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren is offering a year’s worth of one-minute meditations focused on events in Brethren history. The “Tercentennial Minutes” are designed to be read one a week in worship or Sunday school settings, starting with Sunday, Dec. 23. On that day, the one-minute meditation will focus on the first Brethren baptism in America, which took place on Christmas Day in 1723. Upcoming minutes will tell stories from Brethren history, such as the Brethren connection with Billy the Kid, Abraham Harley Cassel’s visit to the nation’s centennial in 1876, Julia Gilbert’s impassioned speech at Annual Meeting in 1910, Evelyn Trostle’s brave stand to protect Armenian orphans from the Turks in 1920, and many others. Each is written in an entertaining style by Frank Ramirez, pastor of the Everett congregation. The Everett church will share the “Tercentennial Minutes” by e-mail with any church interested in receiving and using them. Contact the congregation at
  • The Juniata College Concert Choir has released its first CD, called “Velvet Light: Christmas Carol Arrangements by Shawn Kirchner.” Kirchner is the former music director at La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren. The recording was inspired by the Church of the Brethren’s Christmas Eve special on CBS, for which Kirchner also served as music director. The music on “Velvet Light” is scored for string quartet, oboe, flute, guitar, piano, and percussion, as well as the choir from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., and offers a fresh approach to Christmas music. The CD is available for $15 plus shipping and handling from Brethren Press, call 800-441-3712

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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. Lerry Fogle, Jeff Lennard, Wendy McFadden, Frank Ramirez, and David Young contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with other special issues sent as needed. The next regularly scheduled issue is set for Jan. 2, 2008. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. For more Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine, call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.

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