Newsline Extra for March 9, 2007

“…And your hope will not be cut off….” — Proverbs 24:14b


1) Voices from the Gulf Coast featured in General Board’s first webcast.
2) General Board to meet this weekend.


3) Wrestling with Lent: A reflection on the Christian Peace Witness marking the 4th anniversary of the Iraq War.

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1) Voices from the Gulf Coast featured in General Board’s first webcast.

The new Church of the Brethren webcast series has posted a disaster response report from the Gulf Coast, as its second bi-weekly offering. This marks the inaugural webcast of the Church of the Brethren General Board.

Brethren members and others are invited to listen in as the Executive Committee of the board visits Brethren Disaster Response and Disaster Child Care projects in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida in a three-day whirlwind tour. “Find out what stirrings God created in the souls of these Brethren as they traveled,” invites Becky Ullom, director of Identity and Relations, who produced and narrated the documentary webcast.

The experience began in New Orleans and the surround area, where the committee gained a deeper understanding of the trials and triumphs related to Hurricane Katrina recovery. With a stop at a house dedication in Mississippi, the group ended the trip in Pensacola, Fla., where recovery efforts related to Hurricanes Ivan and Andrew are nearly complete.

Throughout these experiences, several questions remained for the group. How is God calling the Church of the Brethren to be involved in helping our brothers and sisters recover from disasters? How is God calling us to respond, especially in the New Orleans area?

Members of the General Board’s Executive Committee include chair Jeff Neuman-Lee, vice-chair Tim Harvey, Dale Minnich, Vickie Whitacre Samland, Ken Wenger, and Angela Lahman Yoder. Roy Winter, director of Emergency Response, Zach Wolgemuth, assistant director of Emergency Response, and Ullom accompanied the group.

The webcast series is available to hear or download at For more information contact Enten Eller at Bethany Seminary, 800-287-8822 ext. 1831 or


2) General Board to meet this weekend.

The Church of the Brethren General Board holds its spring meeting this weekend, beginning today with Executive Committee meetings and closing on Monday, March 12. The meetings take place at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.

The board’s agenda includes an interim report from the committee studying ministry options at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., as well as an update of the 1996 document “Ethics in Ministry Relations.”

A special report to the board will be given by Brethren scholar Carl Bowman about the Brethren Member Profile study, “The Brethren at 300.” A companion evening event features Martha Grace Reese, author of a new book about evangelism in mainline Protestant churches titled “Unbinding the Gospel” (available from Brethren Press, call 800-441-3712).

Annual Conference moderator Belita Mitchell will give a briefing about her just-completed trip to Nigeria, where she visited with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).

Also on the agenda are an emergency response report from the Gulf region, a report on the Global Food Crisis Fund, a report from the Brethren Witness/Washington Office’s Faith Expedition to Vietnam, an update on the work of the 300th Anniversary Committee, and financial reports, among other reports.

International guests at the meetings representing Brethren bodies in Brazil and Haiti will lead worship for the board: Marcos and Suely Inhauser of the Igreja da Irmandade (Church of the Brethren) in Brazil, and Ludovic St. Fleur, a leader of the Church of the Brethren mission in Haiti pastor of in Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami and the Orlando (Fla.) Haitian Fellowship.

For more information about the Church of the Brethren General Board visit


3) Wrestling with Lent: A reflection on the Christian Peace Witness marking the 4th anniversary of the Iraq War.
By Phil Jones

A Christian Peace Witness for Iraq ( is planned for Washington, D.C., on March 16-17, marking the 4th anniversary of the Iraq War. Two Church of the Brethren ministries–the Brethren Witness/Washington Office of the General Board and On Earth Peace–are among organizations partnering to sponsor the event. In the following reflection, the director of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office reflects on how this witness is helping him “wrestle with Lent”:

“On Ash Wednesday I did not go to church to receive the mark of the cross on my forehead. For one thing, it is not a particularly Brethren thing to do, although some of our congregations do join in this ritual. I tried it a couple of times when pastoring in North Carolina. While some of our former Catholic members appreciated it, few others turned out for the worship service.

“Brethren Press has published an excellent Lenten devotional booklet written by Rhonda Pittman Gingrich. Thursday’s reading on the issue of “saying I am sorry and really meaning it” is one that really resonates with me during this time of Lent–even though I am not sure I am ready to fully engage the season.

“That is the second reason I did not receive ashes on Wednesday: I am wrestling with Lent.

“Some describe Lent as an intentionally prayerful and reflective effort to renew the Spirit within us. Others say Lent is a season for soul-searching and repentance. It is a season for reflection and taking stock. This is all great. Prayer and reflection rank high on my list as faithful duty. More than that, prayer keeps me going and gets me motivated.

“But this 40-day thing modeled after Jesus and his time in the wilderness presents a huge challenge for me. Reflection and prayer just do not seem like enough.

“As I wrestled with Lent, I did what I do whenever I tackle an issue here at the Brethren Witness/Washington Office: I researched what the Church of the Brethren has said in the past about this issue. A quick look, although not exhaustive, did not uncover any real directive from Brethren policy.

“But I did find something very interesting from the minutes of the 1851 Annual Meeting: ‘Considered, inasmuch as the gospel teaches us to fast and pray, to always pray, and never faint; and the Great Teacher says, a certain species of evil spirits cannot be cast out but by fasting and prayer, we hope that every Christian shepherd will teach (their) flock to pray and fast oftener than once a year as we do not know the time when the one that goeth about as a roaring lion may tempt or deceive us.’

“I knew I could count on the historical record. This gets me going. Pray and fast and watch for the roaring lion.

“I wrestle with Lent because I am afraid we have done too much reflecting already and not enough lion-hunting. We have had 300 years of reflection about who we are as a peace church; our continued prayers and reflection about how we live this out are imperative. Spend your Lenten season doing that, but wrestle with Lent as well. Do not just pray and reflect, but act.

“On the 17th day of Lent this year, you will have an excellent opportunity. Pray and fast and reflect and discern–and come and join us. It is time to name the lion and demand that the violence of this war in Iraq come to an end.

“Thousands of Christians from across the country will worship together on March 16 to mark the fourth anniversary of the Iraq War. This Christian Peace Witness for Iraq, organized by a broad cross-section of denominational peace groups and organizations, is expected to be the largest peace gathering of Christians expressing opposition to the war since it began four years ago.

“Prominent religious leaders and peace activists including Jim Wallis, Celeste Zappala, and Bernice Powell Jackson will speak at a worship service at 7 p.m. at the National Cathedral. Then thousands of Christians will make a two-mile, candlelit procession to the White House, where a solemn, prayerful vigil will dramatize the Christian call for peace in Iraq. Following the vigil, hundreds of participants including many clergy will encircle the White House with a band of candlelight to express their conviction that the teachings of Jesus call unequivocally for an end to the war. Many will choose to participate in an act of nonviolence, risking arrest as a witness to their passion for bringing an end to the war.

“‘We will…send a message to our leaders and the world that peace and reconciliation stand at the very heart of the Christian message and our respective traditions,’ said Rick Ufford-Chase, convener of the national steering committee for the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq.

“Join in this season of Lent. Wrestle with the challenges of our faith. Pray and reflect and seek God’s direction. Come and give witness in the nation’s capital or in your own community. Say you are sorry for the culture of violence in our nation, and really mean it. Live out the teachings of Jesus, who came out of his 40 days with a roar of his own.”

–Contact Phil Jones at the Brethren Witness/Washington Office, 800-785-3246 or


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