Newsline Extra for June 7, 2007

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God….”

Romans 1:16a


1) Global Mission and Congregational Life programs combine dinner events at 2007 Annual Conference.
2) Annual Conference bits and pieces.


3) 300th anniversary curriculum: ‘Piecing Together the Brethren Way.’
4) 300th anniversary bits and pieces.

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1) Global Mission and Congregational Life programs combine dinner events at 2007 Annual Conference.

A dinner on the theme, “Growing the Church–The Anabaptist Way,” combines annual dinner events of Global Mission Partnerships and Congregational Life Ministries at the Church of the Brethren’s 2007 Annual Conference. Both are ministries of the Church of the Brethren General Board. Craig Sider, bishop of the Atlantic and Southeast Conferences of the Brethren in Christ Church, is the keynote speaker.

The dinner will be held during the week of the Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, June 30-July 4. The dinner is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on July 3 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Sider has oversight over 86 congregations and is considered his denomination’s most successful church planter. “Both Global Mission Partnerships and Congregational Life Ministries have a shared interest in evangelism and church planting, so a speaker such as Bishop Sider brings new insights and challenges from his years of experience in growing the church in Canada and the US,” said Merv Keeney, executive director of Global Mission Partnerships.

Carol Yeazell, interim director of the Congregational Life Teams, added, “His gifting and experience are applicable to both local church development and international mission. He is considered an apostle in his denomination, one who is a missionary. Church planting has international ramifications, of course, but our country is becoming a new mission field. Missional church development is reaching out to the unchurched communities. With immigration, many nations have been coming to us.”

The acclaimed Three Rivers Jenbe Ensemble of Fort Wayne, Ind., will also perform at the dinner. This drum and dance group consists of 8- to 17-year-old African American children and youth who preserve authentic African traditions through study, performance, and community involvement.

For more information, contact Janis Pyle, coordinator for mission connections, at 800-323-8039, ext. 227, or jpyle_gb@brethren.org.

2) Annual Conference bits and pieces.

  • Go to http://www.cobwebcast.bethanyseminary.edu/ for an interview with Belita Mitchell, moderator of the 2007 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, and Lerry Fogle, executive director of the Conference. The webcast reviews the Conference that will be held in Cleveland, Ohio, on June 30-July 4. Mitchell and Fogle discuss the many areas of preparation, from inspiring worship and challenging business, to Bible studies, age-group activities, and other arrangements. They call for Brethren to prepare for worship and business sessions with prayer, study, dialogue, and discernment.
  • Several congregations in Northern Ohio District are working together to sponsor bus trips to the 2007 Annual Conference in Cleveland, according to the district newsletter. Buses are planned from the Akron area, sponsored by Akron Springfield and Akron Eastwood congregations, cost $14 per person per day, call 330-628-3058 or 330-699-9800; from the Ashland area on Sunday, July 1, cost $11 per person, call 419-945-2327; from Lick Creek church (Bryan area) on July 1, cost $35 per person, call 419-6892-1522; from the Poplar Ridge church (Defiance area), on July 1, cost $15 per person, call 419-497-3311; and from the Water Street church (Kent area), where tentative plans are to take the entire congregation to the Conference on Sunday, July 1, call 330-733-8181.
  • A session to talk about the April 16 shootings at Virginia Tech has been scheduled to take place at Annual Conference. Pastor Marilyn Lerch of Good Shepherd Church of the Brethren in Blacksburg, Va., will host the session for those who seek a place to talk about the tragedy and its aftermath. Those who are in congregations that include Virginia Tech students or graduates, as well as those who continue to process the meaning and implications of this event, may find the session helpful. It will be held on July 2, 4:45-5:45 p.m., in Room 209 of the Cleveland Convention Center.
  • The Church-College Relations Council of Juniata College will host a reception for alumni and friends during Annual Conference in Cleveland. The reception is set for Sunday, July 1, 5-7 p.m., at John Q’s Steakhouse. The event will offer an opportunity to socialize in a relaxed atmosphere, and feature a brief program at 6 p.m. including greetings from Juniata president Thomas Kepple and chaplain David Witkovsky, and the presentation of church-college service awards. Cost is $10. Tickets are available from the Juniata College Campus Ministry Office at 814-641-3361 or campusministry@juniata.edu, or online at www.juniata.edu/alumni.

3) 300th anniversary curriculum: ‘Piecing Together the Brethren Way.’

A curriculum for the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Brethren movement, titled “Piecing Together the Brethren Way,” is designed to help children explore the marks and practices of faith that are distinctively Brethren, and to help children internalize these marks and practices so that they give shape to their faith.

Written by Jean Moyer of Elizabethtown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren and Joanne Thurston-Griswold of Stone Church of the Brethren in Huntingdon, Pa., the 14-session curriculum can be used for a quarter of Sunday school, as an after-school or midweek program, as a foundation for monthly intergenerational events in a congregation, or for Vacation Bible School.

Each lesson is shaped by an “Essential Question” and an “Enduring Understanding.” The questions are those children might ask as they begin exploring a topic; the understanding is the kernel of truth the curriculum hopes to help children integrate into their faith. For example, the topic for the first lesson is “Church/Believers Church,” and the question is “What is church?” The enduring understanding for the first lesson: “Grounded in Word, prayer, and love, believers walk together in the way of Jesus.”

Each lesson also will provide opportunities for students to explore the topics through multi-sensory activities, a take-home page for families to interact with children and reinforce the lesson, and suggestions for how to draw youth into the process with special projects.

The lesson materials will be available on CD-Rom and the curriculum will include a copy of “River Still Running,” a new CD of Andy and Terry Murray’s Brethren heritage music featuring an original theme song as the title track.

Brethren Press is handling sales of the curriculum. A special launch price of $42.95 will be available at the Brethren Press Bookstore at the 2007 Annual Conference in Cleveland, Ohio; or the curriculum may be ordered for $49.95 after the Conference, call 800-441-3712.

Other anniversary resources for youth are available at www.churchofthebrethrenanniversary.org/youth.html. Study guides for the anniversary, for use by adults and youth, are at www.churchofthebrethrenanniversary.org/guide.html.

4) 300th anniversary bits and pieces.

  • ”Honoring a Legacy, Embracing a Future: Three Hundred Years of Brethren Heritage” is sponsored by the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College. This academic conference on Oct. 11-13, 2007, is designed for scholars, pastors, leaders, and others in various forms of ministry. It will feature plenary speakers and more than two dozen papers related to Brethren history and contemporary issues. On Saturday evening, Oct. 13, following the conference, Young Center director Jeff Bach will lead and interpret a special love feast celebration. Reservations are required and can be made by calling the Young Center at 717-361-1470. Registration for the conference will begin after July 1 at www.etown.edu/YoungCenter.aspx?topic=Brethren+Conference.
  • Atlantic Northeast and Southern Pennsylvania Districts are planning a joint 300th anniversary launch event at Sight and Sound Theatres in Strasburg, Pa., on Sept. 23, 2007. Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren General Board, is scheduled as keynote speaker.
  • The 300th Anniversary District Committee of Northern Indiana District has been hard at work to come up with local and district celebrations, according to the district newsletter. Every church is encouraged to have a congregational celebration during the year 2008 to commemorate the anniversary, and in April 2008, there will be a 300th Anniversary District Celebration. The committee also plans to have an exhibit at District Conference, where the 300th anniversary calendars will be available for purchase, and the committee will help provide an insight session. A Northern Indiana District Quilt also will be made for the anniversary, and the committee will send fabric to every congregation for participation in this unique historical project.
  • Middle Pennsylvania District plans to combine its 2008 District Conference and Heritage Fair into one weekend of a “big tent” style meeting on Sept 26-28, 2008, at Camp Blue Diamond. “The Coordinating Team (formerly the District Board), along with the District Conference Program and Arrangements Committee and the Heritage Fair Committee are all very excited about this combined event in 2008 as a way of celebrating the 300th anniversary,” reported the district newsletter.
  • The first major 300th anniversary event in Virlina District will be a “Mother Congregations” bus tour on Oct. 20, 2007. The tour will begin at Daleville Church of the Brethren, then proceed via the Daleville Academy to the Peters Creek, Germantown Brick, Fraternity (N.C.), Topeco, and Spruce Run (W.Va.) congregations. “Travel time on the 54-passenger tour bus through the splendor of fall foliage will be brightened by the stories and insights of David Shumate, our district executive,” reported the district newsletter. The district’s Historical and 300th Anniversary Committee developed the tour with the assistance of host churches and Abbott Trailways bus company. Cost will be $33.33 to cover the bus and a bag lunch prepared by Fraternity hosts. Participants will pay individually for a buffet supper. Tickets are available on a “first come, first served” basis until Sept. 1, contact Sandra Bolton, 1917 Roanoke Rd., Daleville, VA 24083.
  • On April 5, 2008, the Elizabethtown (Pa.) College Concert Choir plans to present a concert of Pietist, Anabaptist, and Brethren hymns from 300 years of Brethren heritage. This event also will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies. For more information go to www.etown.edu/youngctr or call 717-361-1470.
  • The Brethren Church is making plans for a tour to Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands in late July and early August 2008, to visit sites of historic importance to the Brethren movement. For more information Contact Dale Stoffer at 419-289-5985 or dstoffer@ashland.edu.

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board, cobnews@brethren.org or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Rhonda Pittman Gingrich and Janis Pyle contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with the next regularly scheduled Newsline set for June 20; 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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