Newsline Extra for September 12, 2007

September 12, 2007

1) 300th Anniversary update: Annual Conference 2008 theme reflects anniversary theme.
2) 300th Anniversary bits and pieces.
3) Cross-Cultural Consultation furthers Revelation 7:9 vision.
3b) La Consulta y Celebración Multiétnica de 2008 profundizará más en la visión de Apocalipsis 7:9.
4) Mission offering invites Brethren to ‘widen the circle.’
5) New resources are available for observing National Children’s Sabbath.

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1) Annual Conference 2008 theme reflects 300th anniversary theme.

The following theme statement has been adopted for the 2008 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Brethren movement. The statement–taken from the 300th anniversary theme–was adopted by both the Church of the Brethren and the Brethren Church. The two denominations are participating together in the joint annual meeting on July 12-16, 2008, in Richmond, Va.

“Surrendered to God–Transformed in Christ–Empowered by the Spirit:

“‘Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me’ (John 12:24-26a).

“Our Scripture Focus: John 12:24-26a catches up the different aspects of the 300th Anniversary theme. As the grain of wheat falls into earth, so we surrender to God, in order to be made fully alive as we are transformed in Christ. As we are empowered by the Spirit, God can bear fruit in our lives and in the church. The Brethren began as people who were willing to surrender their lives to God in order to receive the life that God gives. They became servants of Christ Jesus by following him and bearing fruit through the Spirit’s power. The 300th Anniversary is a time to celebrate what God has done in our midst in the past, and to seek prayerfully new surrender to God, new transformation through Christ, and new empowerment by the Holy Spirit in faithful witness to God for the future.

“Surrendered to God: Surrendered to God points to the attitude of the early Brethren as they decided to form a body of believers in the bond of faith and baptism. Surrender to God is also the starting point for any one entering the Christian faith. Surrender to God is not passive, but a total yielding of self for God’s will to become active in our lives individually and as a church. This phrase catches some of the Pietist emphasis on letting go of self in order to enter fully into faith and active discipleship. Our celebration of the 300th anniversary of the beginning of the Brethren holds up the total surrender of the early Brethren to God, and our hope that Brethren can move faithfully into the future with full surrender of our lives to God.

“Transformed in Christ: The surrender to God acknowledges that we need to be transformed in Christ, forgiven of sin by God’s gracious redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Transformation forgives and begins to form believers for Christ-like living, trusting in God’s grace in order to live as disciples. The early Brethren saw themselves being transformed in Christ as believers and as a body, seeking to live in obedience born of faith in and love for Christ. This catches some of the Anabaptist emphasis on transformation for discipleship, taking up the cross, risking everything for faithfulness, and sharing faith joyfully with others. As Brethren celebrate the 300th anniversary by seeking the fullness of transformation in Christ, the church can experience anew God’s gift of forgiveness and fresh vitality in our desire to be formed into the likeness of Christ.

“Empowered by the Spirit: Disciples who are surrendered to God and transformed by Christ engage in ministry empowered by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives power for believers to live and minister faithfully together in the variety of spiritual gifts and fruit born by the Spirit. Brethren have had a long history of active ministry sharing material aid, comfort, and the good news of Jesus Christ near and far. We celebrate this extension of ministry outward through the power of the Holy Spirit during the last 300 years. We look forward to new ministries empowered by the Holy Spirit as we follow the Spirit’s leading into the future.

“The phrase ‘Surrendered to God, transformed in Christ, empowered by the Spirit’ names our trinitarian faith in God. It acknowledges God’s redemptive gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ, both vital components of the biblical faith of the Brethren. The theme celebrates our past journey, embraces confessional faith and practice in the present, and seeks renewed faithfulness in moving toward the future God has for us.”

2) 300th Anniversary bits and pieces.

  • The opening celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Church of the Brethren takes place this weekend, Sept. 15-16, at Germantown (Pa.) Church of the Brethren near Philadelphia–the “mother church” of the Brethren in the United States. On the schedule for Saturday afternoon are children’s activities, a historic simulation of crossing the Atlantic ocean, and a number of short afternoon presentations such as a Bible study on the anniversary scripture, guided exploration of the Germantown Cemetery, and a presentation of the current work and vision of Germantown Outreach Ministries, among many others. On Saturday evening Coventry Church of the Brethren will hold a Historical Presentation and Hymn Sing. On Sunday morning, worship is planned by the Germantown congregation led by pastor Richard Kyerematen, with guest preacher Earl K. Ziegler. Afternoon worship will feature guest preacher Belita Mitchell, moderator of the 2007 Annual Conference, marking the official opening of the anniversary year. For more information go to
  • Registration is required by Sept. 20 for an academic conference titled “Honoring a Legacy, Embracing a Future: Three Hundred Years of Brethren Heritage” hosted by the Young Center at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College from Oct. 11-13. Designed for scholars, pastors, church leaders, and others in various forms of ministry, the conference will feature plenary speakers and more than two dozen papers related to Brethren history and contemporary issues. On Oct. 13 following the conference, at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m., Young Center director Jeff Bach will lead and interpret a special Love Feast celebration. The service will last approximately two hours and will combine scripture readings, devotional commentary, and hymn singing. A traditional meal of beef-and-bread soup will be served, and a freewill offering will be taken. Registration is required to attend the conference and the Love Feast. Contact the Young Center at 717-361-1470 or visit for more information.
  • Additional 300th anniversary events at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College include an exhibit of artifacts, pictures, and descriptive material about the Brethren Love Feast from Sept. 4, 2007, through March 15, 2008, in the lobby of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies. A hymnody exhibit will open in late March 2008 at the Young Center, featuring a display of historic hymnbooks and interpreting some of the hymn traditions of Lutherans, Anabaptists, and Pietists. In conjunction with this, the Elizabethtown College Concert Choir will present a concert of Anabaptist and Pietist hymns on April 5, 2008, in the Leffler Chapel and Performance Center.
  • The 300-day deadline–Sept. 16–is approaching for those who plan to take up the 300-Day Anniversary Challenge issued by the Wellness Ministry of the Church of the Brethren. Participants in the challenge are invited to commit to doing at least one health-promoting activity a day to celebrate the anniversary, and to mark it on a personal chart. “Are you up to the challenge?” asked Wellness director Mary Lou Garrison. “Brethren individuals, congregations, and agency staff are already taking on the challenge to be well in body, mind, and spirit. Sept. 16 is exactly 300 days before Annual Conference 2008, so start today!” Details are at Share stories, successes, and photos with the Wellness Ministry by sending them to The ministry is a joint program of the Church of the Brethren General Board, Association of Brethren Caregivers, and Brethren Benefit Trust.
  • Sept. 23 is the date for the kick-off 300th anniversary event hosted by Atlantic Northeast and Southern Pennsylvania Districts. An inspirational worship service will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 23, at the Sight and Sound Millennium Theatre located six miles east of Lancaster, Pa. The speaker will be Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren General Board. Music will be provided by the Brethren Heritage Singers. There is no charge for the event. A freewill offering will be taken toward expenses and disaster relief. Brochures are available from the Annual Conference office at 800-688-5186.
  • The 300th Anniversary District Committee for Northern Indiana District has been hard at work, according to the district newsletter. Northern Indiana’s 300th Anniversary District Celebration is planned for April 20, 2008. Every church in the district also is encouraged to have a congregational celebration during the year of 2008, and are invited to request a visit from the district’s Youth Heritage Team. The committee has been planning an exhibit and insight session at District Conference, with 300th anniversary calendars also available for purchase. The district plans to make a District Quilt for the 300th anniversary, with fabric pieces sent to every congregation.
  • Hollins Road Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., celebrated the 300th anniversary of the denomination on Sept. 9 with a special worship service in the morning, a lunch, and activities for children including sack races, face painting, a giant fun slide, and mini moonwalk. Music was to be provided by “Larry and the Gang.” The Homecoming Committee created a bookmaker with anniversary logo and logo explanation, a picture DVD, and booklet of the church’s rich past that was given to each family. In addition, at each table at the luncheon, picture centerpieces were placed, with albums of remaining pictures displayed in a hallway named “Memory Lane.” The event was planned to “celebrate our past, witness in the present, and look to Christ Jesus for the future,” said the Virlina District newsletter.

3) Cross-Cultural Consultation furthers Revelation 7:9 vision.

The Church of the Brethren’s 10th consecutive Cross-Cultural Consultation and Celebration will be held April 24-27, 2008, at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. During this 300th anniversary year of the Church of the Brethren, the consultation will consider Brethren history and look ahead to envision where God is leading the church.

“Predominantly, we gather in Jesus’ name as we further the Kingdom’s vision expressed in Revelation 7:9,” said an announcement from Duane Grady, one of the Congregational Life Teams staff working with the steering committee that coordinates the event. Also working with the event is staff member Carol Yeazell.

The consultation will include an opportunity to see the offices of several Brethren agencies and to meet their staff. The group also will visit congregations in the greater Chicago area, where participants will be hosted for meals and worship.

There is no registration fee for the event. Freewill offerings will be collected during the worship service each evening to offset expenses incurred for meals, airport transportation, travel, and other expenses related to hosting this annual event. The General Board can provide travel assistance for one to two people per congregation.

Options for housing will include two hotels in the Elgin area, and private homes. Hosts will be asked to provide transportation each day from their homes to the Church of the Brethren General Offices, and to provide breakfasts.

Members of the Cross Cultural Ministries Team Steering Committee are Barbara Date, Springfield Church of the Brethren, Oregon/Washington District; Thomas Dowdy, Imperial Heights Church of the Brethren, Pacific Southwest District; Carla Gillespie, Bethany Seminary, South/Central Indiana District; Sonja Griffith, First Central Church of the Brethren, Kansas City, Western Plains District; Robert Jackson, Lower Miami Church of the Brethren, Southern Ohio District; Marisel Olivencia, Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren, Atlantic Northeast District; Gilbert Romero, Bella Vista Church of the Brethren, Pacific Southwest District; Dennis Webb, Naperville Church of the Brethren, Illinois/Wisconsin District.

Advance registration will assist with the planning for the conference. Registration and schedule information are available at, follow the keywords to “Cross Cultural Ministries.” Registration forms are available in Spanish and English and are due Feb. 1, 2008. Online registration will be available after Dec. 1. For more information contact Joy Willrett at the Congregational Life Ministries office, 800-323-8039 or

3b) La Consulta y Celebración Multiétnica de 2008 profundizará más en la visión de Apocalipsis 7:9.

La décima y consecutiva Consulta y Celebración Multiétnica de la Iglesia de los Hermanos se llevará a cabo del 24 al 27 de abril de 2008 en las Oficinas Generales de la Iglesia de los Hermanos en Elgin, Ill. Durante este 300avo aniversario de la Iglesia de los Hermanos, la consulta considerará la historia de los Hermanos y verá adelante para generar una visión clara de lo que Dios espera de la iglesia.

Según el mensaje de Duane Grady, un empleado del Equipo de Vida Congregacional que trabaja con el comité coordinador del evento, “Nos reunimos primordialmente en el nombre de Jesús para promover la visión del Reino expresada en Apocalipsis 7:9.” Carol Yeazell es otra empleada que también trabajará en este evento.

Esta consulta incluirá oportunidad de visitar las oficinas de varias agencias de los Hermanos y reunirse con los empleados. El grupo también visitará algunas congregaciones en el área mayor de Chicago, donde los participantes serán invitados a comidas y cultos de adoración.

No habrá costo de registro para el evento. Habrá ofrendas de amor durante los cultos cada noche para ayudar con los gastos de comida, transporte del aeropuerto, viaje, y otros gastos relacionados con este evento anual. La Junta Nacional puede proveer asistencia de transporte para una o dos personas por congregación.

Las opciones de hospedaje incluyen dos hoteles en el área de Elgin y casas familiares. Se les pedirá a los anfitriones que provean transporte diario de sus casas a las Oficinas Generales de la Iglesia de los Hermanos, así como desayuno.

Los miembros del Comité de Guía de la Junta de Ministerios Multiétnicos son Barbara Date, de la Iglesia de los Hermanos Springfield, Distrito de Oregon/Washington; Thomas Dowdy, de la Iglesia de los Hermanos Imperial Heights, Distrito Pacífico Sudoeste; Carla Gillespie, del Seminario Bethany, Distrito Sur/Central de Indiana; Sonja Griffith, de la Primera Iglesia Central de los Hermanos en la Ciudad de Kansas, Distrito Planos del Oeste; Robert Jackson, de la Iglesia de Los Hermanos Lower Miami, Distrito del Sur de Ohio; Marisel Olivencia, de la Primera Iglesia de los Hermanos en Harrisburg (Pa.), Distrito Atlántico Noreste; Gilbert Romero, de la Iglesia de los Hermanos Bella Vista, Distrito Pacífico Suroeste; y Dennis Webb, de la Iglesia de los Hermanos Naperville, Distrito Illinois/Wisconsin.

La registración antes del evento ayudará con el planeamiento de la conferencia. Tanto la información para la registración como el itinerario están disponibles en, siga las instrucciones hasta “Cross Cultural Ministries.” Los formularios de registro están disponibles en español e inglés y deberán entregarse antes del primero de febrero de 2008. Registración por Internet estará disponible después del primero de diciembre. Para más información llame a Joy Willrett en la Oficina de Ministerios de Vida Congregacional al 800-323-8039, o mándele un correo electrónico a

4) Mission offering invites Brethren to ‘widen the circle.’

“Called to love all: Widening the circle of God’s Love” is the theme for the 2007 World Mission Offering of the Church of the Brethren General Board. The suggested date for the offering is Sunday, Oct. 14.

“The call to share God’s love with everyone is integral to living the faith,” said Carol Bowman, coordinator of stewardship formation for the General Board. “In addition to the reality of already living in multicultural communities, we know that globalization and immigration are bringing persons of varied cultural and religious backgrounds into our everyday lives, challenging many of us to expand our comfort zones of love and inclusion. Simply put, the world is with us.”

A packet of World Mission Offering materials has been mailed to all Church of the Brethren congregations. The resources were developed in a collaboration between the board’s stewardship office and Global Mission Partnerships, to help congregations reach out across the globe and across town as they participate in the offering. Included are ideas for sermons and theological reflection, options for planning a worship service on the theme, a bulletin insert, an offering envelope, a pamphlet about current Brethren mission workers and their calling, and an order form to receive quantities of resources for distribution in a congregation. Resources are offered in Spanish and English.

The pamphlet titled, “Stories of God’s Call to Mission,” also includes study questions to help church members reflect on their own personal and congregational calls to mission. Multiple copies are available by contacting Janis Pyle, coordinator for mission connections, at 800-323-8039 ext. 227 or

The resources are posted at, along with downloadable slides for PowerPoint or media presentations in congregations.

5) New resources are available for observing National Children’s Sabbath.

Worship materials and study resources for observing the National Children’s Sabbath on Oct. 19-21 are available from the Association of Brethren Caregivers website,

Every year, the Children’s Defense Fund National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths encourages faith communities to help children and families through prayer, education, and service. The Association of Brethren Caregivers is inviting Church of the Brethren individuals, families, and congregations to join with faith communities across the nation to consider ways to create a safe harbor of hope and health care for all children.

“Following Jesus’ teachings about love, nonviolence, justice, and reconciliation, the church is uniquely equipped to reach out with compassion to all children and families in need,” said Kim Ebersole, director of Family and Older Adult Ministry for the Association of Brethren Caregivers.

Online materials include resources for worship services, educational programs, and community service activities. Congregations can order a Children’s Sabbath Manual titled “My Boat Is So Small: Creating a Harbor of Hope and Health Care for All Children–National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths® Manual” by downloading the order form at

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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. Carol Bowman, Mary Dulabaum, Lerry Fogle, Mary Lou Garrison, Duane Grady, Janis Pyle, Joy Willrett, and Sara Wolf contributed to this report. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with the next regularly scheduled Newsline set for Sept. 26. 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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